Aaron Summers

Posts Tagged ‘Egypt’

4 Moves to Beating Betrayal

In Betrayal, Leadership on August 28, 2014 at 7:47 am

overcoming-betrayal_t_nv

Betrayal brings a sickening feeling to mind, body, and soul.  When those who were warm become cold we panic.  When everything seems to be fine and then we are handed our walking papers our hearts sink.  How do we handle the stress of betrayal?  What are we supposed to do?  Whether it is friendships that falter, marriages that fail, or jobs that are ripped from our grip, betrayal shakes us to the core.  Paranoia establishes itself as you begin to fantasize about who the next betrayer will be.  You start to over-analyze the smallest decisions, trying to maintain a mental and emotional balance.

John and his wife had been married for a several years and had raised their family.  The perfect couple, by community standards, ended in divorce because of an infidelity that resulted in a child from earlier in the marriage.  An entire family, church, and community rocked because of betrayal.

Billy had been brought in to lead the organization.  This young, bright leader brought to the table fresh ideas that would enhance the morale and economy.  After a few years he was fired by the same people who hired him citing that he just wasn’t the right leader.  In actuality, Billy was introducing new players into the decision-making process and the power base had been threatened.  A man’s psyche and family lay in ruins because of dissension and betrayal.

Moses had been given the job of leading a miserable lot of people by the very hand of God.  The people had been given their freedom from the hand of Pharaoh’s taskmasters.  God proved His might by parting the Red Sea sealing off the Egyptian army inside the walls of water.  For the multitude the voice of God was the voice of Moses.  The hand of God was the hand of Moses.  He personified God for them in the midst of good and difficult times.  He had given his life to leading them.  What went wrong?

1 Then the whole community broke into loud cries, and the people wept that night. 2 All the Israelites complained about Moses and Aaron, and the whole community told them, “If only we had died in the land of Egypt, or if only we had died in this wilderness! 3 Why is the Lord bringing us into this land to die by the sword? Our wives and little children will become plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?”

4 So they said to one another, “Let’s appoint a leader and go back to Egypt.”
5 Then Moses and Aaron fell down with their faces [to the ground] in front of the whole assembly of the Israelite community.

There are thousands of stories among us that speak to this issue of betrayal and dissension.   How do we handle betrayal from those closest to us or held most dear?  How should we respond in these moments?  The resolve necessary to walk away with the fewest scars comes from God.  Peek into the next few moments in Moses’ life and we find a few truths to take with us.

Move #1  Feel the Weight

Moses and Aaron fell down before the people.  It is impossible to not feel the emotional weight of such an occasion.  Feel the weight.  Emote.  Allow grief to run its course.

Move #2  Stay Close to God

It is easy to interpret Moses’ falling down before the people as a posture of worship before God.  No matter how much you have been hurt, God is the ultimate balm for the wounds of the soul.  Good grief affords faith the proper room to breathe and relieve us of the pain and stress.

Move #3  Have Integrity

When given the opportunity to respond about your situation be kind.  Moses sticks up for those who were calling for his head and position.  When God, an outside source, wishes to inflict damage Moses responds with logic and kindness.

Move #4  Let God Fight the Battle

Our sincere response of kindness and integrity is honorable before God.  We must accept the sovereignty of God as supreme in its judicial process.  However, we must not groan or glory in His decision.

8 Mankind, He has told you what is good and what it is the Lord requires of you: to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6

We cannot control every facet of life.  We do have considerable control, and responsibility, over what we say and do in response to betrayal.  In the hurt, bow down with your face to ground before God and wait for Him to reveal His majesty and glory.

Power Through the Pain

In Appreciation on July 9, 2014 at 8:29 am

memory-post-its-400x400

5 We remember the free fish we ate in Egypt, along with the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic.

This verse is sadly humorous to me. The very people who not two years ago were crying out to God for relief because the Egyptians were too harsh are now suggesting they got free food. Amazing! The people had to work long hours for very little pay. What was once a blessing under the former dynasty, became slavery. Unfortunately, when the first sign of discomfort arrived in their new journey of freedom all was forgotten. The complaints started rolling in about how much better they had it in Egypt. They actually wanted to return to that place.

Our journey with Jesus will not always be easy because of the culture in which we live. I have witnessed dozens of people who gave their life over to God but later seemed to regret it. Some even reverted back to their life before. How sad! The King has given you freedom from all that was harmful to you in your sin. He has forgiven your rebellion. The demands on our life now are in service to the King who freed you from the chains of sin and death. He gave you life that will last for eternity.  The remarks of people today are insignificant in comparison to the lavish love of the King in His Kingdom.

Go back? Why would I ever want to go back?  Instead, let us remember what God has done for us.  Our memories tend to view the negative about our lives.  Let us examine the pathway and how God used every situation.  Make a list of what God has done for you.  Look back across your prayer journal and review the prayers He has answered.  Contemplate those in which He did not give you want you wanted, but what you needed.  How much richer is your life as a result?  The temptation to focus on the “No” and the negative is from Satan.  God has your best interest in mind!

Prayer:
God help me to keep in mind how good You have been to me.  Help me to focus on the joys of this new life. Strengthen my resolve so that I will not entertain the option of going back to a former way of life. A slave I might be in your Kingdom, but it is totally worth it. God you are my King.

Do You Trust Me?

In behavior, Commitment, Faithfulness, Jesus, Numbers, Trust on March 12, 2011 at 9:27 am

I was sitting in the office one day when I received a call.  The director of the local rehab facility was calling to ask if I would go and teach a class on grief.  The chaplain they had was gone and they needed a substitute.  I prepared a few things and went down there the next week. To be honest, I was scared to death.  I had nothing in common with anyone in the room.  I had no relationship with them. I was the hired hand that was teaching a lesson.  We all got through it together.  The director encouraged me and I went back to the office feeling like nothing had been accomplished.  The director called me the next week and asked if I wanted to return on a weekly basis.  From that point, every Thursday for three years I went to the Next Step Network as a chaplain.

Over time I built relationships and felt very helpful in the position.  One concept was repeated more than any others: God loves you, but the consequences must be faced.  Every person that heard that would leave depressed.  There was a belief, albeit an unbiblical one, that belief in God would remove all the bad from their life.  Time after time I would explain that God loved them, Jesus died for them, and God wanted to forgive them.  However, there were physical, financial, and relational, and mental consequences of their choices for which there was no guarantee.  There is a wide gap between what God can do and what God will do.

Moses had a difficult group which with to deal.  They complained.  They whined.  They betrayed.  They followed after other gods.  Yet, Moses still came before God and pleaded for their lives and for mercy.

20 The Lord responded, “I have pardoned [them] as you requested. 21 Yet as surely as I live and as the whole earth is filled with the Lord’s glory, 22 none of the men who have seen My glory and the signs I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tested Me these 10 times and did not obey Me, 23 will ever see the land I swore to [give] their fathers. None of those who have despised Me will see it.

Numbers 14

Could God have removed all consequence?  Absolutely.  God is sovereign over the entire universe.  He can do whatever He chooses.  He just is not required.  The addict should not expect to have be without headaches and ulcers.  The one who has had multiple affairs should not expect his marriage to continue.  The alcoholic should not be surprised with liver damage.  Could God fix all of these issues?  Yes.  Will God fix these issues?  Sometimes He does.  In our way of thinking there is no rhyme or reason to His activities and choices.  God’s plan is sure.  Our comprehension is shaky.  There are several faith groups that would disagree with me on this point stating that a person who has enough faith can have all of the bad removed.  I believe God can do it.  I simply do not feel I have the right to demand of God or try to use some prayer formula that puts a bit in the mouth of God in order to drive Him where I want.  God is sovereign.  I am a  sinner.  The issue is a matter of trust.  Once a person has put their faith into Jesus Christ and made peace with God every day comes down to a choice.  Will I trust God no matter what?  When the marriage crumbles will I trust God?  When the aches and shakes come will I trust God?  When the liver fails or cancer comes will I trust God?

Will I trust God no matter what?

Dealing with Betrayal

In Anger, Betrayal, Control, Faithfulness, Leadership, Numbers, Trust on March 11, 2011 at 6:07 am

Betrayal brings a sickening feeling to mind, body, and soul.  When those who were warm become cold we panic.  When everything seems to be fine and then we are handed our walking papers our hearts sink.  How do we handle the stress of betrayal?  What are we supposed to do?  Whether it is friendships that falter, marriages that fail, or jobs that are ripped from our grip betrayal shakes us to the core.  Paranoia establishes itself as you begin to fantasize about who the next betrayer will be.  You start to over analyze the smallest decisions in an attempt to maintain a mental and emotional balance.

John and his wife had been married for a number of years and had raised their family.  The perfect couple by community standards ended in divorce because of an infidelity that resulted in a child from earlier in the marriage.  An entire family, church, and community rocked because of betrayal.

Billy had been brought in to lead the organization.  This young, bright leader brought to the table fresh ideas that would enhance the morale and economy.  After a few years he was fired by the same people who hired him citing that he just wasn’t the right leader.  In actuality, Billy was introducing new players into the decision-making process and the power base had been threatened.  A man’s psyche and family lay in ruins because of dissension and betrayal.

Moses had been given the job of leading this miserable lot of people by the very hand of God.  The people had been given their freedom from the hand of Pharaoh’s taskmasters.  God proved His might by parting the Red Sea sealing off the Egyptian army inside the walls of water.  For the multitude the voice of God was the voice of Moses.  The hand of God was the hand of Moses.  He personified God for them in the midst of good and difficult times.  He had given his life to leading them.  What went wrong?

1 Then the whole community broke into loud cries, and the people wept that night. 2 All the Israelites complained about Moses and Aaron, and the whole community told them, “If only we had died in the land of Egypt, or if only we had died in this wilderness! 3 Why is the Lord bringing us into this land to die by the sword? Our wives and little children will become plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?”

4 So they said to one another, “Let’s appoint a leader and go back to Egypt.”
5 Then Moses and Aaron fell down with their faces [to the ground] in front of the whole assembly of the Israelite community.

Numbers 14

There are thousands of stories among us that speak to this issue of betrayal and dissension.   How do we handle betrayal from those closest to us or held most dear?  How should we respond in these moments?  The resolve necessary to walk away with the fewest scars comes from God.  Peek into the next few moments in Moses’ life and we find a few truths to take with us.

1.  Feel the Weight – Moses and Aaron fell down before the people.  It is impossible to not feel the emotional weight of such an occasion.  Feel the weight.  Emote.  Allow grief to run its course.

2.  Stay Close to God – It is easy to interpret Moses’ falling down before the people as a posture of worship before God.  No matter how much you have been hurt, God is the ultimate balm for the wounds of the soul.  Good grief affords faith the proper room to breathe and relieve us of the pain and stress.

3.  Have Integrity – when given the opportunity to respond about your situation be kind.  Moses sticks up for those who were calling for his head and position.  When God, an outside source, wishes to inflict damage Moses responds with logic and kindness.

4.  Let God Fight the Battle – our sincere response of kindness and integrity is honorable before God.  We must accept the sovereignty of God as supreme in its judicial process.  However, we must not groan or glory in His decision.

8 Mankind, He has told you what is good
and what it is the Lord requires of you:
to act justly,
to love faithfulness,
and to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6

We cannot control every facet of life.  We do have considerable control and responsibility over what we say and do in response to betrayal.  In the hurt, bow down with your face to ground before God and wait for Him to reveal His majesty and glory.

5 Ways to Not Lose Your Mind As A Leader

In Church, Enlistment, Leadership, Numbers on March 10, 2011 at 6:58 am

Leadership is often like being a new parent.

The first few days of a child’s life for the parent can be absolutely draining.  I have been there twice!  The overnight feedings, diaper changes, and seemingly incessant crying can drive any normal God-fearing person to insanity.  The sleepless nights incur the chronic fatigue after the second day home.  In those moments we beg God for relief.  We ask for mercy on our souls.  When grandma shows up the Hallelujah chorus erupts out of sheer excitement from within our hearts.  The help is greatly needed and appreciated.

Moses had been chosen by God to lead the people out of Egypt.  The people hated being slaves.  Yet they were not too happy about how things were going even before leaving Egypt.  After the plagues and the parting of the Red Sea, one would wonder what their problem is.  If God can do all of that, then He can handle their needs.  How easy it is for us to talk smack about a people unable to defend themselves.  Let us not forget that for an entire year they had the same thing to eat 3 meals a day.  It is no wonder that frustration and aggravation came.

10 Moses heard the people, family after family, crying at the entrance of their tents. The Lord was very angry; Moses was also provoked. 11 So Moses asked the Lord, “Why have You brought such trouble on Your servant? Why are You angry with me, and why do You burden me with all these people? 12 Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth so You should tell me, ‘Carry them at your breast, as a nursing woman carries a baby,’ to the land that You swore to [give] their fathers? 13 Where can I get meat to give all these people? For they crying to me: ‘Give us meat to eat!’ 14 I can’t carry all these people by myself. They are too much for me. 15 If You are going to treat me like this, please kill me right now. If You are pleased with me, don’t let me see my misery [anymore].”

Number 11

The Lord was angry and Moses was provoked.  Did you notice?  The families were whining that they had it better in Egypt.  They craved the fish and other delights. The aggravation is heavy on Moses.  He cannot carry the burden.  He needs help.  Leadership can be rewarding.  Leadership can also be aggravating.  The principle we learn from this passage is that we are not designed to do this alone.  Moses was instructed to find 70 people who are well-known as leaders and officers.  They would be set apart and put in charge.

24 Moses went out and told the people the words of the Lord. He brought 70 men from the elders of the people and had them stand around the tent. 25 Then the Lord descended in the cloud and spoke to him. He took some of the Spirit that was on Moses and placed [the Spirit] on the 70 elders. As the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied, but they never did it again.

Number 11

The fact that some of the Spirit would be passed to them reveals the importance God was placing on them in their assistance.  We can learn an incredible lesson here:  We cannot bear the burden alone.  Leadership can be a lonely experience.  Lack of delegation leads to insanity.  Constantly keeping the plates spinning is a game that cannot be maintained.  What God did is exactly what we are to do no matter the size of company or church: get help.  God provided 70 extra people to do what Moses was doing.  Let’s not forget that Moses already had an organized hierarchy of those who listened to 1000, 100, or 10 depending on skill.  Here are 5 actions to continue as you lead people.

1.  Evaluate – always be on the lookout for the next person who can help.  Both the young and old have so much to offer if you are looking for it.  The young have the energy and technology.  The older have time and wisdom.  Evaluate their sphere of interest in relation to your  needs.

2.  Engage – after the analysis of needs and evaluation of those around, spend some time building a relationship with them.  Caution must be employed at this point to ensure that people don’t get used and abused.  God’s blessing is dispensed in accordance to service.  We engage them because we see God’s potential with them and wish to see God’s Kingdom develop.  Love, beyond measure, must be involved authentically.

3.  Express – the needs of your organization must be publicized.  The analysis has been done so share the results.

4.  Enlist – there will be a few who will step out and desire to provide their skill to fulfill the needs.  More often I find that people need to have personal invitations.  Go to those whom who have evaluated and share with them how they can help to fulfill God’s desires for them and for the organization.

5.  Rinse and Repeat.

Leadership is a lot like parenting.  The beginning is quite stressful and tiring, but you learn to manage.  Once they start developing skills you can channel those skills to the entire household’s benefit.  Just because you are a leader does not mean you have to lose your mind!

GPS

In Direction, Faithfulness, Journey, Numbers, Trust on March 3, 2011 at 7:00 am

Bossy Bertha. 

That’s the name we gave to the voice on the GPS application we have on our phones. The first time we used her was on a trip to Kansas City.  The phones were new and we were on vacation for a week.  I plugged in the destination and waited.  The map pulled up and the voice came alive telling me everything turn-by-turn.

“In 1/4 of a mile take a right and head North.”  How wonderful, right?

Five turns later I muted her and she was given the name Bossy Bertha.  While completely accurate, she is also completely annoying.  If I want to get where I need to be in an unfamiliar place, then I had better follow every word and turn provided.   I had never been to the location we were going and I made it there without a single problem.  There were those moments I was not sure if she knew where we were going, but I did what I was told.  We rounded the last turn and there it was: Great Wolf Lodge!  Kids are screaming, parents are laughing, and Bertha was still telling me I had arrived at my location!

The Israelites were on a journey.  Not one of them had been to where they were going.  After leaving Egypt they had set up camp at Mt. Sinai.  It was there they received the law and built the tabernacle.  Everyone had been ordained.  They Levites were prepped.  Everyone had sufficient practice in the customs and manners that would be equated with this nation of people forever.  God then led them by a pillar of clouds in the day and fire by night.

15 On the day the tabernacle was set up, the cloud covered the tabernacle, the tent of the testimony, and it appeared like fire above the tabernacle from evening until morning. 16 It remained that way continuously: the cloud would cover it, appearing like fire at night. 17 Whenever the cloud was lifted up above the tent, the Israelites would set out; at the place where the cloud stopped, there the Israelites camped.

18 At the Lord’s command the Israelites set out, and at the Lord’s command they camped. As long as the cloud stayed over the tabernacle, they camped.

Numbers 9

We do not know what will happen next year or next month.  Not one of us knows what even tomorrow brings.  All we know is what is in the past and what is right now.  We worry and stress over what tomorrow brings.  God knows all the answers to all the questions we have.  God knows where the path leads.  God knows where the journey will take us.  God knows.  We don’t.

Who will you follow?  I suggest we follow God.  While He may not use a pillar of cloud or fire anymore, there are still valid ways He chooses to guide.  The most common way is through His Word and the Holy Spirit.  Like an internal guidance system, the Spirit of God will lead us through our lives on our journey with Jesus.  We read.  We pray.  We listen.  As our hearts get in tune with His, we begin to hear the faint sounds in the distance and we move.  As our lives begin to align with his Word, the siren song increases its volume and we find it easier to follow.  With faithfulness to God through communication and conviction, the fog lifts and we see clearly the path we are to take in the forks along the way.  The stress is removed from the choice.  Anxiety lessens over temporal issues such as money, possessions, and desires.  We find the soothing waves of the Spirit guiding us and it feels effortless.

Those are the best days, the glory days, of life.

Carpe Diem

In Control, Leviticus, Trust on February 19, 2011 at 9:15 am

Dead Poets Society

Image via Wikipedia

Several years ago Dead Poets Society engaged many viewers.  Though not a new statement, “Carpe Diem” became popular again.  Every one of us went around using that on posters, in speeches, to the lunch ladies….  Seize the day!  Take advantage of every moment.  Why should we waste precious time trying to fix or change that which cannot: the past?  Why should we worry over things that are yet to be that we have not control over: the future?  Let us seize the day.

1 Then the Lord said to Moses, 2 “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. I am the Lord your God. 3 So do not act like the people in Egypt, where you used to live, or like the people of Canaan, where I am taking you. You must not imitate their way of life. 4 You must obey all my regulations and be careful to obey my decrees, for I am the Lord your God. 5 If you obey my decrees and my regulations, you will find life through them. I am the Lord.

Leviticus 18:1-5

Countless people lose sleep and years of life trying to get back to an earlier time of life when things were seemingly more serene and special.  You know them as “the good old days”.  We all have them.  For some it is the post-war abundance and joy.  For others it was the free love and Woodstock.  For me, the 80’s encompassed what is the good old days.  I think it has something to do with our teenage years.  Those years when all is wrong and yet everything is right;  when every bump is a mountain to climb and every mountain is the hill worth dying on the for principle of the matter.  We look back.  We yearn for the innocence when we did not understand bills and babies, and insurance and insufficient funds.  We wish to embrace the days of puppy love and passionate kisses.

Unfortunately, those days are gone.  The Lord expresses to us through this scripture that we are not to look back to Egypt and fall back into unhealthy patterns.  In addition, we are not to look forward to the Canaanites and engage in defiance and rebellion.  How man of us obsess over the weather?  The Weather Channel for tv, web, and app has created an obsession for me I never knew.  During a cold snap recently, I found myself looking at the weather often.  Who did I think I was?  Can I change the weather?  If I look one more time will it suddenly give me a portal into the cosmic weather station and allow adjustments?  Of course not.  However, that would be COOL! We cannot change anything about tomorrow.

We do have the ability and responsibility for today.  Carpe Diem.  Take hold of God today while you can.  We cannot change yesterday and God still loves you.  You cannot determine tomorrow so let God handle it.  Your effect comes right now.  Choose God.  Trust and obey for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus!

Carpe Diem!

I Love My Church

In Church, Exodus, love on February 10, 2011 at 12:07 pm

Do you love your church? In this context, I do mean the building. While I know that the church is the people, God is not overlooking the building in which we worship, serve, learn, and teach. The Israelites were not far from Egypt when God expresses that there should be a facility built in which the people can sacrifice and serve God.

He gave specific instructions. Don’t you think that it is important to God? If so, let us make sure the church building is outfitted with what is needed not what is cheap. Many churches have taken a lot of heat over the exquisite nature of the furnishings and finishes. While I don’t think a church need be the Waldorf. I think this passage of scripture teaches us to put our best together for the Lord.

I love my church. Do you? Get involved and make sure it is presentable to the Creator and Sustainer.

8 “Have the people of Israel build me a holy sanctuary so I can live among them. 9 You must build this Tabernacle and its furnishings exactly according to the pattern I will show you.   Exodus 25:8-9

Black and White

In Church, Cleansing, Commitment, Exodus on February 10, 2011 at 12:56 am

It seems these days that there are very few things that are considered in black and white terms. We seem to be living in a state of flux and state of gray. Everything is situational and relative. A quick read through Exodus 31 and 32 reveals a picture in black and white.

White.

Moses is up on the mountain talking with God. Imagine actually being in that type of proximity to God! He is being given all the laws and requirements. Not much room was given. As God is wrapping it up the concept of the Sabbath is discussed. God speaks of setting aside one day as special and of the covenant with Him that it represents. The depth of feeling and desired relationship is evident in reading this passage. It is a covenant. It is holy. The meaning and message should be passed down from generation to generation. Going to church was an event and an experience, but it wholly about GOD.

Black.

Exodus 32 begins with a different scene. The people are impatient, assume Moses has died, and demand to worship something. Items are gathered, melted, and fashioned into a calf. They begin celebrating and worshiping this idol as if it had brought them up out of Egypt.

Amazing how things can be so different than intended. God intends that church be a time that focuses on Him and the covenant relationship we have together. God intends that church be attended, desired, and taught to the next generation. It is really black and white. God initiated the covenant. God initiated the relationship. God wrote the rulebook. The least we can do is go, seek God, and show Him some love.

See you Sunday.

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