Leading the Leaders

The reign of Hezekiah has always thrilled me. If I had to pick a favorite king of Judah, he would be the one. After generations of sinfulness and disobedience, Hezekiah decides to do it right.

He wastes no time beginning reforms.

In the first year of his reign, in the first month, he opened the doors of the house of the Lord and repaired them. He brought in the priests and the Levites and gathered them into the square on the east. Then he said to them, “Listen to me, O Levites. Consecrate yourselves now, and consecrate the house of the Lord, the God of your fathers, and carry the uncleanness out from the holy place. 2 Chronicles 29:3-5

Who’s in Charge?

There is something I find interesting in this story. Hezekiah instructs the priests and Levites right here in the very beginning. Yet all through the reforms, a certain theme is repeated:

But the priests were too few, so that they were unable to skin all the burnt offerings; therefore their brothers the Levites helped them until the work was completed and until the other priests had consecrated themselves. For the Levites were more conscientious to consecrate themselves than the priests. 2 Chronicles 29:34

For the king and his princes and all the assembly in Jerusalem had decided to celebrate the Passover in the second month, 3 since they could not celebrate it at that time, because the priests had not consecrated themselves in sufficient numbers, nor had the people been gathered to Jerusalem. 2 Chronicles 30:3-4

Then they slaughtered the Passover lambs on the fourteenth of the second month. And the priests and Levites were ashamed of themselves, and consecrated themselves and brought burnt offerings to the house of the Lord. 2 Chronicles 30:15

For Hezekiah king of Judah had contributed to the assembly 1,000 bulls and 7,000 sheep, and the princes had contributed to the assembly 1,000 bulls and 10,000 sheep; and a large number of priests consecrated themselves. 2 Chronicles 30:24

Do you see the progression here?

- Hezekiah initiated.
- Some of the religious leaders responded, but not all.
- The people responded in greater numbers.
- The religious leaders slowly came around, feeling convicted because of the response of the people.

There are a couple of lessons to learn from this.

First, our positions mean something! Hezekiah should not have been the initiator. The people should not have been ahead of the priests and Levites. It was their job to instruct the king and be spiritual leaders for the people. They failed and then had to play catch-up when they should have been leading.

Fortunately, others stepped up! This leads directly to the second lesson.

Don’t wait for the “right” person to act! Leaders do not always lead as they should. Sometimes they get complacent. That does not give followers an excuse. Sometimes people must be willing to motivate their leaders to action.

You might not see yourself as a leader, but you still have no excuse. If you are choosing to sit around and do nothing simply because your leaders are not acting, then you are living in sin. You are jointly responsible. And you are capable of instigating a change!

The priests should have been the ones to direct the king and mobilize the Levites. The Levites should have been the ones to teach the people, stirring them to action. Instead, Hezekiah pushed the priests and Levites. Then he stirred the people to action. The Levites got a more decent start than the priests, but it was only the amazing responsiveness of the people that truly lit a fire under the sluggish priests. The ones who should have started everything were the last to respond.

Where will you and I fall? May we be the first!

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Marriage Monday: Protection

So many things in marriage need protection. In a matter of seconds, all of us could rattle off a list of ways we can and must protect our marriages from adultery, from breaking under stress, or simply from growing cold.

But there are other areas of marriage that I think we forget to protect. Even when our marriages are strong, little things threaten to chip away at the intimacy we share.

Think about a few of these things with me, if you will.

SUCCESS – Are you your spouse’s biggest cheerleader?

How often do we consciously remember to protect the success of our spouses? I fail at this one so frequently. My husband is amazing. He succeeds in so many ways, but many of those successes are never applauded. Why? Because Doug is a behind-the-scenes kind of guy. He is the idea person behind the success of others. In all honesty, he prefers to be in the background. But, this world measures success by what they can see. So, if my husband’s success is only visible as the success of others, it can be easy for him to feel like a failure.

I must protect his sense of success! It is absolutely critical for me to acknowledge and cheer on his skills because I am the one who sees them. If I do not protect his success, then I am promoting his failure.

On the other hand…

FAILURE – Do you allow your spouse to fail?

No one likes to fail. But it is so easy to take a personal dislike for failure and turn it into a prison for someone else, especially a spouse. We hold an expectation of perfection over our spouses and magnify every one of their failures.

Protecting our spouses’ freedom to fail is almost as important as protecting their successes. Marriage needs to be the safest place to fail. (Now, keep in mind that I am not talking about a failure to keep marriage vows.) My husband needs to know that my love is not based on his ability to avoid failure. In fact, his greatest growth often comes from moments of failure. It is important for him to know that I applaud, support, encourage, and protect all growth, even growth through failure.

PREFERENCES – Is your spouse free to have preferences?

This may seem to contradict our recent discussion in “The Things He Loves.” Yes, we should grow to share likes and interests. But, support of personal interests is also absolutely critical.

Far too many people poke fun at the interest of their spouses. She criticizes his love for hunting while he mocks her enjoyment of a chick flick, especially if it is a sappy one that makes her cry. She does not understand his innate need to yell at the umpires while he does not grasp the therapy of a shopping trip. (Of course, I don’t really grasp that last one myself!)

Instead of criticizing what we do not understand, we must protect one another’s interests. Some of my husband’s passions make my head whirl. I can’t always keep straight all of the nuances of his interest in guns or politics or even some of the deeper aspects of theology. But I love to see that passion. And I want to protect his freedom to enjoy those things without criticism.

Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list. But perhaps it will stir our imaginations a bit. Maybe by pondering how to protect these aspects of our marriage, we will consider other areas that need protection. Personality traits. Pursuits. Choices. Habits. Methods of relaxation. Work ethic. The list goes on and on.

What can you protect for your spouse this week?

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The Freedom to Lead

Today those of us who are from the United States celebrate our nation’s birthday. Although many dates play into the history of the birth of our nation, July 4, 1776, is the day we have officially adopted. So, today we honor the 238th birthday of the United States of America.

Many of us take less pride in our nation today than we once did. We have made some foolish and sinful decisions, and we are very divided. We do not always use our wealth well, and we have gotten our priorities out of whack.

But there are still many things to celebrate today.

The one that stands out the most to me is that, as American citizens, we have the freedom to be leaders!

No matter who you are, where you are from, or what your story looks like, you can be a leader. You have the freedom to influence others. You have the ability to start a wave. You can be a leader.

In so many other countries around the world, the masses are forced to submit. Becoming a leader from among the populace is exceedingly risky at best. At worst, it is impossible.

But that is not the case here. Here were are free to lead!

Now, what will we do with that freedom?

As you celebrate today, I encourage you to prayerfully consider how God wants you to lead. God’s answer might not be what you expect. Sometimes leadership simply involves motivating others to obedience, even if you never truly lead a great movement yourself.

Over the next couple of weeks, I intend to share some thoughts from Scripture about leadership. But today God has a plan for you. He has given you freedom to lead for a reason. What will you do with it?

Happy Independence Day!

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Around the Web

Happy Wednesday to you! What have you found as you’ve perused the Internet this week? I have seen everything from hilarious to sobering.

Here’s just a glimpse:

The Princess Bride and Legos

Is that not a fun combination? I did not sit through this whole twelve-minute video, but I did skim through it to see the different scenes created in Legos. Yes, it’s fun. And yes, some people just have too much time on their hands.

 

Doug’s Blog

If you follow me on social media, you know that I go through spurts sharing Doug’s blog posts. Then I get behind on reading and have to catch up. Well, I’m in catch-up mode again, determined to become more regular about reading and sharing. But I thought it might be fun to share his weekly sermon post here.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

 

Adoption

After a recent trip to Kenya, these were the thoughts on Tricia Goyer’s heart:

The Sad News About Adoption in Our World

I have seen and experienced the reality that, contrary to Tricia’s experience, not everyone can easily adopt from the foster system in the state of Arkansas. But, our hurdles are mere rumble strips compared to adoption issues in places like Kenya. And, we often allow ourselves to be derailed by obstacles much more easily than we should. This is not only true of adoption but of many challenges that face the western church. When the biggest challenges to our faith are health issues and inconveniences, we must realize that we have it easy.

Please don’t get me wrong. A precious, precious family said a final goodbye to their young daughter/niece/granddaughter last week when she lost her earthly battle with cancer. There is nothing easy about that! But from a spiritual level, it is relatively easy to keep our faith and be Christians in our culture when the biggest challenges are things like cancer.

But I digress.

Tricia’s article is a good one that made me think about many issues. Worth the read.

 

Plans to Grow?

And while we’re on the topic of adoption. Need more sleeping space to fit the growing family? How about this?

Triple Bunk Bed Plans

Have a great week, and don’t forget to share what you’ve found around the web this week!

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The Things He Loves

When my husband and I first got together, I loved rock music and hated country. His taste for rock was limited to a handful of songs, and he couldn’t get enough of country.

But we did have one music love in common: Wayne Watson.

The same was true of other aspects of our lives. We had different interests and tastes. We enjoyed different activities. But we could always find something that we had in common.

Beyond the Common Bond

It might surprise you, though, to hear me say that those common things are not what have grown our marriage. No, the growth came when we decided to stretch beyond what we had in common.

He started to enjoy some rock with me, and I discovered that I actually liked some country.

We started expanding into each other’s interests in movies, activities, and even ways of thinking. As each of us learned to branch out beyond our own interests, we also became bold and began exploring interests that were new to both of us.

Recently we contemplated some of our current tastes and realized we never would have even given some of those things a second thought ten years ago. But we like them now because we were willing to try something new. To branch out a bit.

Something New!

Leaving and cleaving involves creating a new being. Two becoming one. And that one becoming much more than the two ever could have been individually. But that doesn’t happen if we cling stubbornly to what we know and love, refusing to branch out.

Now, don’t get me wrong. What you love does not have to go away. But, it does need to grow. When Doug and I got married we had wide ranges of personal interests that merged into a relatively narrow joint in the middle. Now, that middle joint is huge, and the personal interests on each end are much smaller. I don’t need my “Ann” fixes like I did early in our marriage because there is so much in the joint department that fills the need. And to be honest, I would much rather do something enjoyable with Doug than without him. I want to share with him! I want to be with him! When I’m not, it is odd. Something is not quite right.

Take a look at the bar of interests between you and your spouse. How big are the personal interest ranges at each end? How do they compare to the joint in the middle? If the joint is small, I encourage you to expand a bit. Dive in to something your spouse loves. Learn about it. See what makes it so fascinating. Maybe it won’t “grab” you, but it could. I guarantee, though, it will open your mind to new interests. Before you know it, you just might find something new to enjoy together.

That cannot help but make you stronger together.

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Review: Crater Trueblood and the Lunar Rescue Company

Instead of my typical Around the Web post for Wednesday, here’s a new review from Olivia, my resident young adult reviewer! This book fits into an adult fiction genre, but it is acceptable for young adult readers.

Crater Trueblood and the Lunar Rescue Company by Homer Hickam is science fiction. It the third in a series called the Helium-3 series. This series is about Crater, a normal helium-3 miner on the moon who really just wants to stick to his mining job. But now there is a war and Crater must help fight it.

Homer Hickam is very good at combining real science with his fiction. I love his writing style. The character development throughout this book is fascinating. The characters are not just characters in a book, they come to life.

I don’t have any real cons, but I did notice that you definitely have to read the previous two books to understand this one. But other than that, the book was fantastic!

I recommend this book for ages thirteen through adult.

This book was sent to us by Book Look in exchange for an honest review.

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Marriage Monday: The Modest Wife?

Modesty.

Some say it is “hot”. Still others argue that we defeat the purpose of modesty when we present it as the alternative for good Christians who desire to be attractive to the opposite sex.

Some argue that a person’s dress choices heavily influence the self-control of the opposite sex. Others say that the opposite sex needs to just learn to exercise self control.

(As a side note, take a look at this hilarious satirical post – When Suits Become a Stumbling Block. I must admit, I definitely like MY man in a suit!)

This topic has been discussed again and again regarding the dress and behavior of the young and single. We teach our young women to honor God in their appearance, trusting that He will open doors for young men to be attracted to them in a godly manner.

But what about those of us who are married?

Should married Christians automatically adhere to the exact same principles of dress as those who are single? Does honoring God with our dress look the same for both groups?

I would argue that the answer to both questions is no.

No, I am not giving married women license to dress provocatively. That is asking for trouble. But, I do have to wonder if our concern for modesty forces us to forget something very important.

Being attractive to our husbands is important!

My husband is a man. He is visual. He has consciously determined that a somewhat overweight 5’2” brunette is his ideal woman. But, in a world where media blares a very different message, both regarding body image and singular focus, he must make that determination continuously and actively. While it is his responsibility to keep control of his mind and thoughts no matter what anyone else wears or does, there are still things I can do to help him succeed.

As married women, we think that we have to find a balance – the fine line between dressing to attract the attention of our husbands while still honoring God before other men.

Allow me to encourage you to think in another direction.

Do you know which look your husband likes the most?

What brings a smile to his face? His choice might have nothing to do with society’s standard of sexiness. Instead, it is personal. His favorite serves as a visual reminder of something relational between the two of you. When you wear it, you send him a very special message.

It could be something you wore on a significant day in your marriage.
It could be a certain way you do your hair.
It could be a specific style that personifies what he sees in you.
It could even be the way you carry yourself, no matter what your wearing.
An attitude.
A look.
A touch.

Do you have any idea what does it for your husband?

Believe it or not, as God-honoring women, we can rather easily please our husbands visually. But, first we have to accept the challenge of digging a little bit relationally. We have to be willing to help our husbands learn to communicate what they like the most about us. We have to pay attention when they comment about certain looks or actions. (How many of us really know what we like without seeing or experiencing it first?) We have to be willing to graciously listen when they tell us that they do not like certain looks or outfits or styles.

If you do not know what pleases your husband, I encourage you to start digging today. You might be surprised and very pleased by what you discover!

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