Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Saul's Leadership Lesson - What Not To Do - Lesson #3

The last few weeks we’ve looked at Saul and what NOT to do when you’re in a leadership position. 

We ended last week with these heartbreaking words from Samuel, the prophet, “…But now your kingdom must end, for the Lord has sought out a man after His own heart.  The Lord has already appointed him to be the leader of the people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.  1 Samuel 13:14 (NLT)

The Bible doesn’t tell us how Saul reacts to this revelation.  I wonder if he really grasps the implications of Samuel’s words.  Does he understand that God has left him? Does he have any concept of how that affects his future?  It’s a chilling thought!

Regardless, we catch up with Saul again in 1 Samuel 14.  He and the 600 men remaining in his army are camped close to the Philistine troops.  I’m guessing they’re probably demoralized and pretty scared right now.

But Jonathan, Saul’s son, decides to take action.   With God’s help, he succeeds in throwing the Philistine camp into confusion.  Saul’s army witnesses a bizarre sight.  There’s an earthquake, Philistines are running in all directions, and mayhem reigns. 

Saul realizes Jonathan is gone, and is probably the cause of the confusion in the Philistine camp.  Excited Saul calls for the priest, no doubt to determine God’s will in the matter.  Should he attack?

Before the priest can go through the ritual for determining God’s will, the confusion in the enemy camp rises to frenzied proportions.  Saul can barely contain himself.  Read his next words carefully.

“…But while Saul was talking to the priest, the confusion in the Philistine camp grew louder and louder.  So Saul said to the priest, ‘Never mind; let’s get going!’”  1 Samuel 14:19

NEVER MIND, LET’S GET GOING!  Yes, you heard right!  Rather than wait for the priest to determine God’s will Saul says, “Never mind, let’s get going!”  In other words, I don’t have time to wait for God.  I don’t need His help.  I’ve got this one covered.

Right now I’m shaking my head, thinking, “Dude…really…you just couldn’t wait!?! 

But what I hypocrite I am!  I do the same thing all the time!

How often have you rushed into a situation without consulting God?  How many times have you tried to do things in your own strength, leaving God out of the picture?

Saul’s Leadership Lesson #3…
In your leadership role or in any decision you make…always take time to consult God.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Saul's Leadership Lesson - What Not to Do - Lesson #2

In Saul’s Leadership Lesson #1 from last week we talked about not taking credit for someone else’s ideas.  We see Saul do this when his son, Jonathan, defeats the Philistines.  This account is found in 1 Samuel 13:1-4.

The Philistines aren’t a nation to take defeat lightly.  They raise up a massive army and make plans to attack the Israelites.

How do the Israelites respond?

“The men of Israel saw what a tight spot they were in; and because they were hard pressed by the enemy, they tried to hide in caves, thickets, rocks, holes, and cisterns.  Some of them crossed the Jordan River and escaped into the land of Gad and Gilead...”  1 Samuel 13:6-7 (NLT)

That’s right, the people of God cower in fear of their enemies.  They forget about God’s deliverance from their previous battles.

What about their king?  What’s he doing?  He’s waiting for Samuel, the priest, to show up.  Samuel is to make a sacrifice to God and ask for His help in battle. 

Waiting on God and relying on Him to guide the army into battle is what Saul should do.  The problem starts when he gets impatient waiting for Samuel.

“…Meanwhile, Saul stayed at Gilgal, and his men were trembling with fear.  Saul waited there seven days for Samuel, as Samuel had instructed him earlier, but Samuel still didn’t come.  Saul realized that his troops were rapidly slipping away.  So he demanded, ‘Bring me the burnt offering and peace offerings!’ And Saul sacrificed the burn offering himself.  1 Samuel 13:7-9 (NLT)

Samuel arrives just as Saul finishes the sacrifices.  He questions Saul about what he’s done.  Saul’s answer is filled with pride.

“…The Philistines are ready to march against us at Gilgal, and I haven’t even asked for the Lord’s help!  So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering myself before you came.”  1 Samuel 13:12 (NLT)

What did Saul do wrong?  Offering sacrifices is the specific work of the priest.  His comment, “I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering myself…” indicates he feels he is just as capable of performing the holy sacrifice as the priest; when really he’s breaking God’s sacred law.

What's the result of Saul's pride-filled decision?

“How foolish!” Samuel exclaimed.  ‘You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you.  Had you kept it, the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever.  But now your kingdom must end, for the Lord has sought out a man after His own heart.  The Lord has already appointed him to be the leader of the people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.”  1 Samuel 13:13-14 (NLT)

It’s humbling when pride leads you to think you can do someone else's job better than they can…and you fail.  Sadly, I speak from experience on this one.   My foray down the pride-filled road only cost me a lesson in humility, but Saul’s costs him the kingship of Israel.

Saul’s Leadership Lesson #2…
Don’t let your pride allow you to think you know better than everyone else on your team, so you try to do their jobs as well as your own.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Saul's Leadership Lesson - What Not To Do - Lesson #1

Last week I suggested that Saul was an insecure leader.  He’s found hiding in the baggage at his own coronation.  If that’s not insecure I don’t know what is.
 
Saul has a few other weaknesses besides insecurity.  He’s an outstanding example of what NOT to do in leadership.
 
1 Samuel 13, opens with an account of Jonathan, Saul’s son, leading a successful attack on the Philistines, Israel’s enemies.
 
When Saul hears the news of his son’s victory he decides to use it to his advantage…
 
“Soon after this, Jonathan attacked and defeated the garrison of Philistines at Geba.  The news spread quickly among the Philistines.  So Saul blew the ram’s horn throughout the land, saying, ‘Hebrews, hear this! Rise up in revolt!’  All Israel heard the news that Saul had destroyed the Philistine garrison at Geba and that the Philistines now hated the Israelites more than ever.  So the entire arm was summoned to join Saul at Gilgal.”  1 Samuel 13:3-4 (NLT)
 
Did you catch that?  The part that says, “…All Israel heard the news that SAUL had destroyed the Philistine garrison….”
 
But doesn’t the story start by telling us JONATHAN defeated the Philistines? 
 
So Saul, the anointed king of Israel, takes credit for his son’s triumph, then uses it to his advantage to rally his army around him.
 
Before we’re too hard on Saul, I want to share what the commentary notes in my study bible say about this chapter.  It does indicate that it was normal in this cultural context for Saul to take credit for his son’s victory. 
 
But does that make it right for us today? 
 
Do you know a leader who’s stolen someone else’s idea and used it to climb the corporate ladder?  Maybe someone’s taken credit for your own work and you’re left choking on the bitter taste of betrayal.
 
If you’re in a leadership position today, always remember to give credit to the person with whom an idea originates.
 
Saul’s Leadership Lesson #1…
Don’t take credit away from someone else.  Always give credit where it’s due!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Getting It Right

There’s so much good stuff in the Old Testament.  There are lots of examples of what to do and how to do it right, but the ones I learn from best are the examples that illustrate what NOT to do!

Look at Abraham and David.  Both are held up as great men of God.  It seems almost impossible to live up to their examples.

But here’s the beauty of the Bible.  It’s not all about people’s success stories.  The Bible also shares the short comings of both Abraham and David.  And then there’s the account of Saul’s life; riddled with failure to remain in the perfect will of God. 

When I read these stories, I realize Abraham and David and Saul are just people.  People like me and you; trying to do their best to follow God’s leading.

Sometimes they do a fantastic job, and other times they fail dismally. 

But, they’re always wise enough to know when they fail, they need to come to God, own their short comings, confess them, ask for forgiveness, and receive it.   

We’re no different.  It’s only considered failure if we don’t come back to God, re-group, own our mistakes, ask forgiveness from God and the people we’ve wronged, and set out in faith to get it right the next time.

I really do feel for Saul in his role as a leader.  Over the next four weeks I want to look at four lessons in leadership we can learn from two chapters about Saul’s life in the book of 1 Samuel.

As a means of introduction to the next four posts I want to consider the following…

I’m fairly certain Saul suffers from insecurity.  This becomes evident early on in his role as king; as early as his coronation.  Samuel, the prophet, introduces Saul as the first ever human king of Israel. 

The rank and file of the tribes of Israel are called, leading up to the big moment of Saul’s introduction.  But where is he? 

“So Samuel brought all the tribes of Israel before the Lord, and the tribe of Benjamin was chosen by lot.  Then he brought each family of the tribe of Benjamin before the Lord, and the family of the Matrites was chosen.  And finally Saul son of Kish was chosen from among them.  But when they looked for him, he had disappeared!  So they asked the Lord, “Where is he?”  And the Lord replied, “He is hiding among the baggage.”  1 Samuel 10:20-22 (NLT)

Starting a new job is intimidating.  I imagine being crowned the leader of God’s chosen people is a fairly scary prospect.  Scary enough that Saul cowers in fear among the baggage at the thought. 

Saul has his work cut out for him, but God is on his side…until Saul lets his insecurity and pride override his trust in God. 

We’ll look closer at the dangers of an insecure, pride-filled leader next week.

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT:
When you fail in your walk with God do you immediately return to Him to seek forgiveness or do you wallow in guilt, beating yourself up over your failure?

Share your thoughts by clicking on “comments” below.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Gluten Free Berry Ginger Delight

Last week I volunteered to bring dessert for a meeting.  I found myself wracking my brain for a dessert that would meet everyone's dietary restrictions.  It had to be lactose free, gluten free, and relatively sugar free, but NOT taste free!

Since I only had an hour prep time it also needed to be quick and easy to make.

Gluten Free Berry Ginger Delight is the experiment birthed by my brain's imagination.  Since very little remained in the pan at the end of the meeting I can only assume that everyone else enjoyed it as much as I did!

Here's what you need.

1 pkg gluten free ginger cookies

 750 mL lactose free whipping cream

2 tsp. vanilla

An assortment of fresh berries - I used sliced strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries, but pick and choose what you like

Dark chocolate squares

Crumble the cookies into the bottom of a 9" x 12" pan.  Melt chocolate and drizzle liberally over the cookies.  Sprinkle blueberries and raspberries over top. 

Whip the cream until fluffy and flavour with vanilla, spoon onto base.  Sprinkle the remainder of the berries over top, and drizzle liberally with melted chocolate.  Chill and eat.

HINT:  To drizzle chocolate - pour melted chocolate into a small zip lock bag.  Tilt bag so chocolate runs into one corner.  With sharp scissors cut a small portion of the corner off (make sure you don't cut off too much otherwise you won't be able to control the flow of the chocolate).  You now have an "icing bag" for chocolate. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Solid and Permanent

I’m blessed to live in a province that’s home to some of the most awe inspiring natural vistas in the world.  The Rocky Mountains.  Spiked grey crags and snow-capped peaks blaze stark and bright against a cloudless blue sky.

I gaze in wonder.  These are my friends.  Their familiar shapes welcome me.  Visit after visit, year after year they don’t disappoint.  They don’t change, they’re always there, ready to amaze and inspire, beckoning me closer to God, the Creator.

I wonder if the psalmist who wrote psalm 121 felt the same way about mountains.  He starts out by saying,

“I look up to the mountains – does my help come from there?  My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth!”

I look at the mountains and I can’t help but think of God.  His handy work is everywhere. 


In the brush strokes of wild flowers blooming in a mountain meadow.




In the roar of a cascading waterfall.


In the stillness of an emerald lake






In the majestic permanence of rock





In the whimsical flip of chipmunk's tail

 
In the liquid brown gentleness of an elk’s gaze.
 










I could go on, but I think you get the point.  God is everywhere.  And in the midst of it all, God is with you, watching over you.  Read Psalm 121…

“I look up to the mountains – does my help come from there?  My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth!

He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber.  Indeed, He who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps.

The Lord Himself watches over you!  The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.  The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night.

The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life.  The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.”
Psalm 121 (NLT)

What an awesome thought!  Even more impressive than the mountains is God, Himself; watching over you.  Caring for you in your time of stress, of illness, of financial difficulty - whatever your trouble, God watches over you.

You can sleep soundly, knowing God doesn’t rest.  He’s always there, solid and permanent.

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT
What are you worried about today?  Trust God to watch over you.

Share your thoughts by clicking on “comments” below.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Do Not Be Afraid

What are you afraid of?  What thoughts fill you with stomach churning dread?

There are times and events in life we’d like to fast forward over...

  • the devastating cancer diagnosis,
  • the hard conversation at work, or with a spouse,
  • the breakdown of a marriage,
  • the loss of a loved one

The thought of any of these is enough to tie your stomach in a series of knots so tight you'd be awarded your Boy Scout Knot Merit Badge.

As I write this I’m faced with the unenviable task of a tough conversation at work.  It’s a black cloud on the horizon of tomorrow.

But throughout this week, I’ve been reading the book of Joshua and one overarching theme has come through.

I’ve lost count of the number of times the following words appear in some format…

BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS.  DO NOT BE AFRAID.  GOD WILL BE WITH YOU AND WILL NEVER FORSAKE YOU.

The first instance of the words, “be strong and courageous” appears in Joshua 1:6, it repeats in verse 7, and again in verse 9 and verse 18.

The Israelites are faced with many challenges as they move into the Promised Land.  It would be easy to let fear over take them, and yet over, and over again Joshua reminds the nation…

“Don’t ever be afraid or discouraged…be strong and courageous…”

This is a good reminder for all of us.  God is with us and will see us through the dreaded black clouds of life.  Pray for His divine strength and courage today.

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT
Where do you need to be strong and courageous in your life?

Share your thoughts by clicking on “comments” below.