Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Scratching the Surface of Joshua
Scratching the Surface of Joshua
Harold F. Mante was my pastor for many years; guiding me through confirmation class, college, seminary, and graduate schools.
I'll always remember how he'd always greet me: "Blessings on you!"
I'll always remember what he'd always say in parting: "Keep the faith!"
When I asked him about the greeting, he explained, "That means I want God to bless you with His best even though you like everybody else don't deserve it. That's grace."
I never asked about the parting because he was always exemplifying faithfulness by being consistently courageous about his loving Jesus by loving like Jesus.
In short, he was a Godly pastor/leader.
He taught me by exhortation and example that Godly pastors/leaders/people are Godly.
Fleshing that out a bit like he did, a Godly pastor/leader/person expresses professed dedication to God by looking up, standing up, speaking up, and acting up for Him whenever, wherever, and whatever with whomever.
Paul put it so well: "Set your mind on heaven above...Stay focused on what's above."
Hebrews was specific: "Stay focused on Jesus."
A Godly pastor/leader/person is focused on God as personified in Jesus and prescribed by Holy Scripture and filters every thought, word, and action through Him as personified in Jesus and prescribed in Holy Scripture.
That's why all Godly people are headed together in His direction.
They've got the same Source, Starter, Sovereign, and Savior.
Godly people remember who He is and what it means to be His as personified in Jesus and prescribed in Holy Scripture, repeat behavior based on that belief, and retool it to the times as in moving from a lead pencil to smart phone in worship, witness, and work.
Unfortunately, attention spans have become as short as sound bytes on the evening news.
It's hard to stay focused on God with so many distractions from Him.
We wander: "All we like sheep have gone astray. We've gone our own ways down our own paths."
Sheep need shepherds who remember shepherds don't follow sheep because sheep always get into trouble without shepherds.
Or something like that.
That's what Joshua is all about.
Joshua was reminded by God to follow the example of Moses by reminding people how to stay safe: "Always be strong and courageous, and always live by all of the law I gave to my servant Moses, never turning from it...so that you may succeed wherever you go."
Specifically, God reveals His formula for existential as well as eternal success to Joshua and all undershepherds (aka pastors/leaders) of God the Good Shepherd as Source, Starter, Sovereign, and Savior: "Let the words from the book of the law be always on your lips. Meditate on them day and night so that you may be careful to live by all that is written in it. If you do, as you make your way through this world, you will prosper and always find success."
It/He reminds me of an old gospel song, "Trust and obey, for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey."
It's like Pastor Mante explained the three most important qualifications in hiring anyone: (1) Loyalty; (2) Loyalty; and (3) Loyalty.
He counseled, "When you hire somebody, you want them to be loyal to God which will make them loyal to you and loyal to the people that they're called to serve. If you aren't convinced that thread of loyalty is in the prospect for employment and hire them, you're just asking for trouble sometime down the line."
I've come to realize the most important question in any interview for anything (e.g., church membership, ordination, employment, whatever...) is this: "Do you believe in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior?" If they say no, there's a big, big, big problem with existential and eternal consequences. If they say yes, there's an important follow-up just to make sure the person isn't lying to get what they want, understand what's ultimately important, and isn't confused about our priority for life and ministry: "Excellent! Now please tell us a little about your relationship with Jesus and how it affects your..."
If a person is right with Jesus more than less, things will work out sooner or later and definitely in the end.
That's what Joshua is all about; reminding people that believing in God and behaving like you believe in God is the only way to succeed.
Yet as you read this book and the rest of them and couple that with your own life and observations of others, the sad reality is even Godly leaders catch hell.
Jesus said, "You will be hated because you love Me."
People who don't love Jesus hate people who love Jesus.
That's why so many leaders are so sorely tempted to quit.
The ones really called into undershepherding leadership don't quit because they know the Source, Starter, Sovereign, and Savior of their undershepherding leadership: "I will be with you just as I was with Moses, and I will never fail or abandon you. So be strong and courageous."
Jesus as enfleshed Source, Starter, Sovereign, and Savior reassured, "I have taught you, and show them how to follow the commands I have laid down for you. And I will be with you, day by day, to the end of the age."
That's why Godly leaders say so strongly and courageously with Joshua even when faced with the greatest challenges offered by this world, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!"
That's why Pastor Mante always greeted everyone, "Blessings on you!"
That's why he would always part by saying, "Keep the faith!"
He joined Joshua and the faithful of all ages to remind us to trust and obey God in all things at all times in all places with all people to be blessed.
It's the only repeatedly effective formula for success.
Blessings on you!
Keep the faith!
...to be continued...
Blessings and Love!