Mountains and Mole Hills
In ministry pastors and ministers are encouraged, almost challenged to make sure they don’t lose perspective of what is most important. Clichés such as “Don’t sweat the small stuff; and everything is small stuff.” Another one would be “Keep the Main thing the Main thing.” These all sound well as long as everything is going well. When a revitalizer or minister finds himself in a negative environment it is difficult to remember that we were “suppose to drain the pool; all the while fighting the alligators!”
While I lived in Illinois, I encountered a nemesis, really a pest! It seems that my aggravation would come from a little creature called a Mole! I would wake up in the morning and stroll around our two acres and notice these ugly places where the ground had been bulged; better known as Mole Runs. I then would try to set traps and various other means in an attempt to catch this little varmint. I found that if you wait long enough, the little critter will move and then I would pounce on its slightest twitch of the ground with a shovel to dig it up and expose it to the bright sun! Needless to say, the mole usually escaped my tenacious tactics to rid my lawn of these pests.
I say all that to give an illustration in ministry about making a mountain out of a Mole Hill! Yes, I have dug up great mounds of dirt to try and get rid of a pesky little rodent. If one is not careful you can actually do more damage than the mole does.
When there is a negative environment within the church, we have a couple of options. You could approach it with vigor and relentlessness to rid yourself and the church of the problem – but in the meantime do more damage than good. Like my mole problem, I had to understand that my issue was not the damaged lawn, but that which lie under the surface. Too many times we get so focused on the negative “surface” that we fail to take into account there is something bigger at work. Again, “Don’t make a mountain out of a Mole Hill.”
In dealing with a problem, first Identify what the real problem is, don’t assume you know what the cause of the conflict is all about. We do not wrestle against flesh and blood [Ephesians6:10-18]. We often attribute the cause of our frustration is what we see; yet often it what’s we don’t see below the surface at work. In Church Revitalization it is imperative that proper diagnosis be made. If there is misidentification of the SOURCE of the problem, you are going to waste effort and resources fighting against the wrong culprit. Identification of the ROOT is necessary, for if we just treat the surface animal; the animal will have the ability to come back and repeat the destruction and havoc it did previously.
Secondly, Simplify the issue. We just make circumstances and personal issues bigger than they really are. I may think that my lawn is overrun with Moles and that the entire yard of grass will be destroyed. Now, there is a possibility of a lot of damage when a negative conflict arises – but the revitalizer must make sure He isn’t the one making the mess. Simplifying an issue often takes time and further investigation. For example, I had to talk to other people who had moles – yes there are people that are battling the same pesky varmints we are fighting! How did they deal with them? Do I focus on eliminating the Moles and thus dig up my own yard trying to get them; or can I eliminate them by taking away what is attracting them to my yard. Moles eat grubs; get rid of the grubs and the Moles will move to another area – Oh, yeah, your neighbors won’t like you – but you will be free from the pests. Now that really isn’t very Christian is it – because all we did was pass our problem off to another “church”, so we really didn’t deal with the problem, we just made it NOT OUR PROBLEM anymore. To work through a negative situation, break it down into simple stated facts. Deal with what you know, not what you have been told. Make the problem manageable. Eliminate the ‘We and they; Us and them” language. Once you identify the various parts of the problem, simplify each prong and address the necessary action to resolve it. Which brings me to the third point -Rectify the problem.
Rectify is used in electricity. A rectifier is used to change an alternating current [A/C] into a Direct Current. [D/C] A lot of tools and other electrical equipment uses D/C, not A/C. It is rectified [changed] so that the power is useable. I think you get the point, if there is a problem environment, CHANGE the problem to a positive. By rectifying a problem use turn the negative into a positive; which then can be useful in Kingdom work. How do you go about rectifying a problem? Know what you are dealing with up front; know what you need as a result or resource; then take leadership and managerial steps to switch the unusable into the useable. Obviously, one will have to experiment at times to get the best out of a bad situation. Rectifying takes more work that eliminating the problem. We all have people that have great skills and talents, but often seem like a pest or worse an adversary when you and I try to do the work of the ministry. Don’t shove the problem off to another church; deal with what you have been given. As a point – you may be the one that needs to be rectified!
Finally, after taking the bull by the horns so to speak, you then can move to a Glorify position. God sends us people to be used for His kingdom. Our struggle often is we don’t know how to use what we have been given. I did find out that the pesky Mole was good for the yard, it aeriated it and ate all the grubs that would destroy my lawn. In conflict, there is the possibility that God meant it for Good what we thought was bad. I was a pastor for 22 years; there were many times that I would erupt over a small issue. I could explode inside with rage about how someone was unwilling to accept that I knew what I was doing – “Work with me here” seemed to be my lament. Scripture tells us that “Iron Sharpens Iron;” could it be that we have become dull and the Lord needed to send a sharpener? In the end by dealing with a negative situation, God gets the Glory. Neglecting or refusing to address the problem will only increase our frustration and desire to “Kill the Mole.”
Monthly Archives: June 2019
Mountains and Mole Hills
1 Chronicles 10-13 tells us the exploits of 30 men of valor, often referred to as the “30”. Actually there were 37 in total listed as part of the heroic group of fighting men. Saul was known for his “drafting” men in support of Israel’s army. David did not draft men, they were “attracted” to him. These chapters record for us the mighty men of valor who surrounded David in his struggle and battles with King Saul and the Philistines to be the reigning king as Samuel the Judge and Prophet had anointed him to be.
I personally like this passage for it reminds me of what men use to be like. My father was a noble man, not a large man at 5′ 7″, but every ounce was true man. All you had to do was talk with him or shake his hand and you would recognize him to be a “man’s man!”
Some of the names are missing from the list here in Chronicles, but found else where [2 Samuel 23:11-12]. I kept on looking for the third man to be named, but had to research it and find his name in the 2 Samuel 23 passage.
It is interesting to see the list as they are presented to us from each of the tribes. Now having already read the Books of Kings, we know that that Judah and Israel were divided over David. Judah quickly embraced David as King, but many in Israel [to become the Northern tribes later] held out over David, but chose to embrace Ishbosheth instead. Eventually, all of the tribes came to David and claimed him as King.
There is a name that I happen to stumble on of the listed names, but hadn’t made the connection. Really, many names are repeated over and over, so I didn’t make the correlation. The Name is Uriah the Hittite in 1 Chronicles 11:41. Yes you guessed it, this is the same Uriah that King David had an affair with his wife – Bathsheba. Yes the same Uriah that was eventually slain in the battlefield, after Joab left him in the heat of the battle against the enemy. Whoa! Let that sink in a bit. In our reading we find these men are men of distinction and valor. Valor means great courage in the face of danger, especially in battle; Strength of mind in regard to danger; that quality which enables a person to encounter danger with firmness; personal bravery; courage; prowess; intrepidity.
Okay, now that we have identified what kind of man Uriah was, we know what kind of death he was subjected to – does anyone else see the great hypocrisy of David exposed here? The betrayal is beyond words. Uriah counted as one of the “30 men of valor” that secured David the throne of Israel is treated with such utter contempt!
I get the image of Jesus looking at Peter after he denied him three times. Uriah had done nothing wrong, and gave unwavering allegiance to David, and without so much as a second thought David orders Joab to put Uriah up front then withdraw from him so he would be killed – why? SO that David’s sin would be hid – or so he thought.
Sin affects innocent people, valorous people. We live in a world today that is filled with contempt for other human life. I don’t know how many who are reading this have ever been betrayed by someone who took their allegiance and friendship of no value? There will be times in our living that those whom we hold the dearest will let us down, even betray us, cheapened our lives as meaningless. Uriah died – but many of us are still alive. We must know that as believers Jesus has sent us our like lambs before ravenous wolves. Our resolve must be like that of Uriah – faithful to the end.
1 Chronicles 1-7 are very important to Jewish history and property rights. Many times Christians come to genealogical records and just skip over all the unpronounceable names. Here in our reading we are privileged to read the multiple records of Judah/Israel ancestries. Genesis is broken-down into various “Record books” of lineage. I just did the 23 and Me genealogy test to find out more about my ancestry. Some people are afraid to do such a thing for fear of what they might find out about their relatives. The capturing of Israel/Judah history speaks to the authenticity of the Bible. If man were writing the Bible we would have left out a lot of the negative shenanigans of the people and cleaned it up to make us look favorable. The writer of 1/2 Chronicles has been attributed to Ezra, the scribe. All of the names and lineages begin with Adam and include the Patriarchal Fathers like Noah, Seth, Abraham, Isaac and Israel [Jacob]. We are given the lines of Isaac and Ishmael and the sons of Keturah, Abraham’s second wife. Quickly the writer delves into the 12 sons of Jacob and their ancestors. We are given extensive accounting of King David’s line, to include his many wives and children. There is a method to all the names; in that the writer is getting to a point of identifying the ancestry line of Jesus Christ. This line can be found in Matthew 1 and Luke 3. It becomes obvious to the reader that the line from Judah is most important; for from that line will come the Messiah.
A question I am sure everyone asks while reading the myriad of names is WHY are they so important? Well, 1 Chronicles gives us the historical line from creation to Abraham, then through Jacob’s son’s then through David’s line. The Messianic Line; the line of Promise and perpetual covenant. David was promised that there would always be one of his line on the throne of Judah. Jesus being the final King to sit upon the throne – as He becomes the Lion of Judah. While there is prophetic and Messianic connections there is one more point that makes the lineage connections important.
With the deportation of all the nobles, craftsmen and skilled people to Babylon and only the poorest of people left remaining; how can the Jews [as they are now called] reestablish their inheritance in the Promise Land when they return? In other words who is rightful owner of the property, what tribe do they belong to and what authority do they have to inhabit the Land? The problem comes when “rightful” owners had to prove their ancestry and inheritance lines. During the 70 years of deportation and exile, the left behind people inter-married with the Assyrian “imported” people. Understanding the rightful owner had to prove purity of line. Ezra condemned the inter-marrying that occurred; not on racial basis, but spiritual lines. [Ezra 9]
The extensive details of who begat who was the litmus test to proving ones line and right to the land upon returning from Babylon. If you could not prove you lineage, you forfeited any claim to the Promised Land. So what does all this mean for us today? While there is growing interest in where we came from, as Believers the ability to prove our lineage/ancestry enables us to know Where we are going.
We are [those by faith in Jesus Christ] now the Sons of God, heirs and joint-heirs with Jesus. There will be a similar requirement of identification. It is found in Revelation 20:11-15. In this verification of lineage; those whose names are recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life will enter into an inheritance of Eternal Life in the New Jerusalem. Those whose names are missing, will be cast out of the Hold City and exiled to Gehenna Hell. Our heavenly ancestry avails us to all rights and privileges of the King – King of Kings and Lord of Lords – Jesus Christ the Son of God who died and gave Himself for me.
It is interesting to know where one came from; but more important to know where was is bound! There are many I am sure that think that because they hang around with heirs of Salvation, that they get to come along, but sadly, only those whom the King recognizes as His will obtain the unsearchable riches of God.
2 Kings 24-25; the end of the road for Judah. Fallen is Samaria and Israel – the Northern Kingdom [Lost 10 tribes]; a 150 later noting has been learned by Judah. Assyria and Egypt had been fighting for control of the “Promised Land” – somehow through pay-offs and treaties Judah was able to live in relative peace. Kings like Uzziah and Hezekiah who did right in the eyes of the Lord extended their existence. Judah was not without sin; but God was faithful to keep His covenant that he made with David even though Judah deserved the same judgment as Israel for their idolatrous ways. I think that Israel/Judah felt they were exempt from the judgment of God that He displayed on the Canaanite tribes. However, Israel and Judah followed the sins, iniquities, transgressions and abominations of the nations God had expelled out of the “inheritance” of Israel. This is not the first or the last time that arrogance and pride will cause Judah/Israel to be led into captivity. Jeremiah and so many other prophetic voices warned Israel and Judah to repent and return to the ways of the Lord. Jeremiah preaches 50 years, yet all he gain was deaf ears to his message.
After faithful King Josiah is killed, there is a series of kings with a very limited reign and influence. The world power shifts at this point from Egypt and Assyria to Babylon, more specifically to King Nebuchadnezzar. Because Judah persisted in rebellion and idol worship, God allowed Babylon to come to power and lead them [Judah] into captivity and make the Promise Land desolate except for the poorest of people. The Promise Land laid waste!!!!!!! Why? Easy answer Judah and Israel left God for gods – But I think that the Promise Land had become so polluted, God and to “Purge” the land of the people and idols so He could restore it again under Ezra and Nehemiah. Sometimes I think that there needs to be a purging of the Church Body before God can do His work in the lives of the Remnant.
An undertone is how God is Merciful even in His judgment. There were three deportations by Babylon – the land was stripped of all the royalty, educated, skilled and craftsmen. Judah was also allowed to continue [return] to worship Yahweh. The exile of Judah was prescribed and implemented under the Hand of God. Jeremiah told Judah “don’t resist the Babylonians, but go into the land, build houses and live among your captive masters. Isaiah 45-66 is called the Post-Exilic chapters of Isaiah or better known as Deutro-Isaiah. Many prophets foretold of the return of God’s people after 70 years in exile.
As bad as it was in the destruction and deportation of Judah, the siege of Jerusalem and the starvation of the people; God was still merciful in that He did not destroy all the people, but left a remnant. We may be looking at a similar situation here in our own USA; the condition of the Church is deplorable; the Gospel has been polluted; we worship our worship not God in our services. I truly believe God is not pleased with the Bride! But there is a remnant that hold to the Truth of God’s Word, it will be the Remnant that God will use – like the Church in Sardis there are those who have not “soiled their garments.” We the Church today must take heed to the warning given to Strengthen what remains, to Hold fast to the Truth.
Years ago America thought it was invincible from attack from an enemy on its own shores – thinking that the distance was too far for the enemy to attack unnoticed – then Pearl Harbor happened and took away the arrogance and pride of invincibility. God is doing a great work among many other “pagan” nations. The Chinese and the Muslim countries are experiencing great numbers of converts to Christ. Yet here in America the church is dying and has gone into apostasy in much of the land.
Will America be restored? Will there be a revival? Will the Church heed the warnings of Israel and Judah? Will America have to Fall before it returns to the Lord? All questions we must answer personally and collectively.
2 Kings 22-23 is the account of Josiah the 8 year old king of Judah and how he grows into a man of God. When we left off Kings Hezekiah was sick and asked the Lord to heal him and extend his life. God hears his prayers and grants him 15 more years to live. The are not productive years, for he acts foolish during those years with prideful boasting of the riches in the Temple. He also has a son names Manasseh, the most wicked immoral king Judah ever had. He worshipped the god Molech and makes Judah sin by throwing their sons into the fire to appease Molech. Now it makes you wonder sometimes, if it would have been better for Hezekiah to have died earlier instead of getting a longer life? We would not have had Manasseh or Amon the two wicked idolatrous kings rule over Judah; but then again we would have had Josiah as king either. Amon doesn’t reign very long as king, I suppose the people got tired of all the idolatry. Anyway Josiah becomes king at 8 years old. At 18 we read that he tells all the money collected in the Temple tax from the people to be used to restore and repair the dilapidated Temple of Solomon. Incidentally; Jeremiah begins his prophetic ministry during this time. [See Jeremiah 1]
A sad commentary happens when the priest Hilkiah tells Shaphan the scribe that he has found the “book of the Law” in the ruins of the Temple. Now before you get to thinking too far in advance – the Temple had not been attacked by outsiders, but had been neglected by the people of God. I have seen this happen in my time as pastor, where the Church facility had become a disgrace to the Lord and the public because it had not been cared for properly. Some may be saying right now that the Church isn’t the building – sure but it is the place of worship and people come to it to worship – what statement does your church facilities say about your commitment to God? The community does notice such things. The sad thing here is the Temple [Church] is in ruins from neglect, yet there was plenty of money to do what was necessary – in fact they didn’t even keep strict accounting of what was spent! Back to the Book of the Law, most likely it is the Book of Deuteronomy. When it is read Josiah tears his clothes in sorrow and repentence.
I have an outline for you here:
Remember, read, repent, restore and reform.
This is what happened when Josiah heard the Word of God. It sound like it could be a prescription for revitalization and revival. Josiah this child King will bring glory back to the House of the Lord, and begin tearing down the “high places” that his grandfather and father built and maintained. It is said that Josiah did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord. Josiah had to tear down the high places that even Solomon built for Ashtoreth and Baal. The reason they were built was Solomon married many foreign women as a means to keep peace on his borders; but the result was apostasy for Judah.
Josiah does extensive reforms during his short time as king [31 years]; the problem was that it was a result of Josiah coming under convictions and repentance not the people. For as soon as Josiah dies [because of an ill-advised war] the people and priesthood return to idolatry with Baal.
In chapter 23:21 a very confusing statement – Josiah commands that the Passover be reinstituted, for it had not been observed since the time of the Judges. What is the world? That’s over 500 years of failure to remember what God did miraculously at the Red Sea and Egypt? Scripture also tells us that Josiah removes the “mediums, spiritisms, teraphim, idols and all the abominations.” How low Judah had fallen; yet we cannot say much because if we look at our own churches and nation, we will be indicted for our idolatry – oh that we would remember the Word of the Lord, Read it and Repent of our sins, begin to restore the glory of God back to His place of worship and institute Reforms for the Church and the Community. Sadly, Josiah was the las king to have favorable comments from the Lord about him.