Friday, May 30, 2008

“Spiritual Smirutual…” - catching the vision

“12And to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh Joshua said, 13"Remember the word that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, saying, 'The LORD your God is providing you a place of rest and will give you this land.' 14Your wives, your little ones, and your livestock shall remain in the land that Moses gave you beyond the Jordan, but all the men of valor among you shall pass over armed before your brothers and shall help them, 15 until the LORD gives rest to your brothers as he has to you, and they also take possession of the land that the LORD your God is giving them. Then you shall return to the land of your possession and shall possess it, the land that Moses the servant of the LORD gave you beyond the Jordan toward the sunrise."

16And they answered Joshua, "All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. 17Just as we obeyed Moses in all things, so we will obey you. Only may the LORD your God be with you, as he was with Moses! 18Whoever rebels against your commandment and disobeys your words, whatever you command him, shall be put to death. Only be strong and courageous."”

[ Joshua 12-18 ]

In this passage we see that Joshua had been given the mantle of leadership of the Israel people. God had given him the charge:

        “’Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all         this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel.’”

                                                        - Joshua 3:2

And Joshua, having been Moses assistant, caught that vision quickly. He knew exactly what he needed to do. And as we see in the rest of the passage he took charge and “…commanded the officers of the people, 11"Pass through the midst of the camp and command the people, 'Prepare your provisions, for within three days you are to pass over this Jordan to go in to take possession of the land that the LORD your God is giving you to possess.'"

Then we see him reminding the Reubenites, the Gadites and the tribe of Manasseh of their oath that they had made to Moses. And he passed down the vision of taking the land that the Lord had promised. He passed on all that the Lord had given him and made it clear as day as to what they had to do. They caught the vision. As we see above in verses 16-18, they were on board and were ready to go. The vision was clear and they were encouraged to obey the Lord and obey Joshua, the Lord’s chosen leader over His people.

I have always struggled with vision. At New Hope it seems that vision is constantly being pushed. We have to have vision, we have to catch the vision, we have to cast the vision. But what is it? To your average churchgoer it might sound like a supernatural occurrence where you receive this vision from the Lord in a dream and then wake up knowing exactly what you need to do. I know that I used to think that growing up.

But I also know that just because it does not come in the form of a dream or an actual vision form the Lord it does not mean it is not supernatural.

In the quest to be balanced and theologically correct in their own estimation I think too many people have gone astray in thinking that experience has nothing to do with Christianity. They rely solely on their own abilities and are dreadfully frightened of the more spiritual aspects of life in Christ. Yet the very reason we have a relationship with Christ in the first place is the Holy Spirit. To be sure there are fanatics who take the “spirituality” and the “experience” of Christianity to new levels never mentioned in the Bible. But let us never forsake our relationship with the Spirit of God for the sake of distancing us from that sort of extra biblical fanaticism. He is as the bible describes Him, our guide, mentor, teacher and friend. He is the one that passes on the vision we are to have as leaders.

In sitting down and hashing out the vision that God has for our ministry we must include Him in the process or else it becomes our vision and our ministry. It becomes about how visionary we are and it becomes about our leadership gift. But let it never be. We never want to take the glory from God and so we must always give the chance to work through us. He will never force us to obey Him because he wants our true worship and obedience.

In writing sermons and prepping for messages and even right before I open my mouth to preach I pray to God that the words coming out of my mouth are His words to the people. That the things I prep for are what He wants His people, including me, to catch.

Yet even in praying this I don’t think that what comes out of my mouth are just forced words from God being released through me, the vessel. If they were, He might as well use a radio. He could even speak through a demon for that matter. But what does occur is that, as I commune with Him daily and He implants emotions and affections in my heart about Him and His word, His character and His desires become clear. Feelings of thankfulness, admiration, glory, repentance and others that define my relationship with Christ form the base. And out of that base a message takes form. Words that stem from those emotions, come out of my mouth and its those words combined with the workings and impressions of the Holy Spirit upon my heart that create an effective and authentic message form the Lord.

Now how do I take that principle and apply it to vision. When working out vision I too often try to go it alone.

Joshua’s vision for the people was directly given by the Lord. But in casting that vision upon the people he communicated it through the heart that he had for the Lord. His passion, his zeal and his earnestness came through. God used everything that was Joshua to communicate His plan. Again he could have just used a rock to speak to the people. But he didn’t.

God commanded Joshua to keep His word in his heart.

        This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate         on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is         written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have         good success.
                                                        - Joshua 1:8

This was not for posterity’s sake. It was to encourage, bless and protect His people. It was to keep Joshua’s heart in line with His.

We must do the same.

So as we as leaders go about building a vision let’s not forsake the supernatural. Let’s stick close to Jesus and imbed and meditate on His Word.

The clear vision makes decision making easy. And so we must allow the Holy Spirit to implant that vision into our hearts by meditating on His word and His relation to us. So that our decisions which greatly affect others whether we know it or not are in line with the will of God.

God, I pray that you would continue to draw me in. Forgive me for the times when I’ve tried to go it alone. It was never Joshua’s vision, or Moses’ vision. It was always yours. Help me to keep the communication lines clear by sticking close to you. Let no one ever say, “What great vision Leon has for the ministry.” Rather, let all the glory go to you.
In Jesus name, amen.