Tag Archives: leadership

Judges 19-21; Mark 16

Now in those days Israel had no king (Judges 19:1a, NLT).

These are the opening words to a tragedy. A story that ends with this:

25 In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes (Judges 21:25, NLT).


The tragic story in Judges 19-21 didn’t begin when the troublemakers of Gibeah beat on an old man’s door.

22 While they were enjoying themselves, a crowd of troublemakers from the town surrounded the house. They began beating at the door and shouting to the old man, “Bring out the man who is staying with you so we can have sex with him” (Judges 19:22, NLT).

It began here:

There was a man from the tribe of Levi living in a remote area of the hill country of Ephraim. One day he brought home a woman from Bethlehem in Judah to be his concubine. 2 But she became angry with him and returned to her father’s home in Bethlehem (Judges 19:1b-2, NLT).

Whatever happened between them, I don’t know. But something happened, and she reacted. Likely, he didn’t count the cost of his actions. Surely, she didn’t count the cost of her actions. Catastrophe starts small, with an unchecked thought, word or action.

I sit with words, watching a scene unfold, grimacing at the abandonment (a host abandoning his daughter; a husband abandoning his wife; troublemakers abandoning all decency and mercy), eyes widening in shock as deaths mount by the thousands in a warfare of tribe against tribe.

I can look all over these scriptures and point out places where there’s fault. And maybe there’s something to their opening and end:

Now in those days Israel had no king (Judges 19:1a, NLT) … 25 In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes (Judges 21:25, NLT).

Father God, you are Lord over all. Be Lord over my life. Be Lord over my heart. Be Lord over my words. Be Lord over my actions. I don’t want to be right in my own eyes. I want to live right by your standards. I only want your approval.

Courtney (66books365)

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Numbers 12-14; Acts 17; Psalms 27

“They said, “Has the Lord spoken only through Moses? Hasn’t he spoken through us, too?” But the Lord heard them. (Now Moses was very humble-more humble than any other person on earth.) “And the Lord said to them, “Now listen to what I say: “If there were prophets among you, I, the Lord, would reveal myself in visions. I would speak to them in dreams. But not with my servant Moses. Of all my house, he is the one I trust. I speak to him face to face, clearly, and not in riddles! He sees the Lord as he is. So why were you not afraid to criticize my servant Moses?” Numbers 12:2,6-8 NLT

What does it mean to ‘see the Lord as he is?’ Is it trusting in his goodness, even when life seems out of control? So often, I am like the Israelites and question his plan. I sit too long with the past, instead of moving forward.

“Why is the Lord taking us to this country only to have us die in battle? Our wives and our little ones will be carried off in plunder! Wouldn’t it be better for us to return to Egypt?” Then they plotted against themselves, “Let’s choose a new leader and go back to Egypt!”  “And the Lord said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? Will they never believe me. even after all the miraculous signs I have done among them?” Numbers 14:3&4, 11 NLT

The Israelites wanted a new leader. But, their rejection did not detour Moses from pleading to the Lord on their behalf (Numbers 14:17). His humble spirit shown through. He might have been hurt, but he didn’t let his feelings get in the way of God’s call on his life. He trusted the Lord.

“The Lord is my light and my salvation – so why should I be afraid? The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble? When evil people devour me, when my enemies and foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. Though a mighty army surrounds me, my heart will not be afraid. Even if I am attacked, I will remain confident.” Psalms 27:1-3 NLT

Dear Father, thank you that you are not a God of confusion. But of clarity and peace. Help me to listen to your voice. And not be so quick to lose heart. Thank you for your faithfulness to me. Amen.

Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living.” Psalms 27:13 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

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2 Chronicles 15-16; 1 Kings 16; Philemon

I didn’t see it coming. As Asa’s story unfolded, I felt bolstered by the prophet’s words: “Whenever you seek him, you will find him,” and “be strong and courageous” (2 Chronicles 15). Asa heard and took courage. He removed idols, repaired an altar, and called together the people. There were covenants made and sacrifices offered. Asa’s heart remained faithful throughout his life (2 Chronicles 15:17b, NLT. Note this.).

So I didn’t see it coming, when in 2 Chronicles 16, he would overlook consulting the Lord, a decision that carried crucial consequences. His first thirty-five years of reign were marked by an intentional abiding, but the last years of leadership are an unraveling of sorts–misplaced trust, anger and oppression.

What happened?

***

While disappointing to read, was it a surprise that Israel’s leaders were evil and angered the Lord time after time?

25 But Omri did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, even more than any of the kings before him. 26 He followed the example of Jeroboam son of Nebat in all the sins he had committed and led Israel to commit. The people provoked the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, with their worthless idols. (1 Kings 16:25-26, NLT)

I think long on examples. I consider influences in my lifetime (some influenced me not to follow them!). But how often do I take into consideration my own words and actions and the influence they have on those around me?

***

I’ve spent the past few days working on a baby’s knit hat, and I’ve started it over so many times I’ve lost count. I noticed that sometimes the row was a stitch or two longer than it should have been, or that I dropped a stitch accidentally and there was a big hole in it. These mistakes weren’t made on purpose. They were so very unintentional.

***

I always thank my God when I pray for you, Philemon, because I keep hearing about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all of God’s people. And I am praying that you will put into action the generosity that comes from your faith as you understand and experience all the good things we have in Christ. Your love has given me much joy and comfort, my brother, for your kindness has often refreshed the hearts of God’s people. (Philemon 4-7, NLT)

Paul writes to Philemon, reminding him of his generosity and love–and to take it a step further (to extend grace, forgiveness, or welcome to someone who has wronged him).

17 So if you consider me your partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. 18 If he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge it to me. 19 I, PAUL, WRITE THIS WITH MY OWN HAND: I WILL REPAY IT. AND I WON’T MENTION THAT YOU OWE ME YOUR VERY SOUL!

20 Yes, my brother, please do me this favor for the Lord’s sake. Give me this encouragement in Christ.

21 I am confident as I write this letter that you will do what I ask and even more! (Philemon 17-21, NLT)

Paul’s letter to Philemon reads like encouragement and caution.

***

I’m not responsible for the decisions other people make–and lately I’ve been surprised at how someone’s choice can influence my response. I do pause and wonder: should it? Like Philemon, if someone has wronged me, should I be less loving or generous in my own behaviors, or like Paul suggests–to do as much or more than expected? Do I stay true to how God has wired me? If I’m not intentional, abiding in Christ, I could look back at the fabric of the story of my life and see holes and wonder, “What happened?”

Lord, I’m so imperfect, but I know that you are at work in my heart. Help me to be true to who you’ve created me to be, independent of how another behaves. Some days effort seems grossly out of proportion to return. I am humbled and saddened as I wonder over the question of what’s in it for me? I pray that I continue strong, even in seasons of drought, because it pleases you.

Courtney (66books365)

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Hosea 14; 2 Chronicles 26-27; Psalm 61; Matthew 20

“O Israel, stay away from idols!
    I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you.
I am like a tree that is always green;
    all your fruit comes from me.”

Let those who are wise understand these things.
    Let those with discernment listen carefully.
The paths of the Lord are true and right,
    and righteous people live by walking in them.
    But in those paths sinners stumble and fall. Hosea 14:8-9, NLT

***

O God, listen to my cry!
    Hear my prayer!
From the ends of the earth,
    I cry to you for help
    when my heart is overwhelmed.
Lead me to the towering rock of safety,
    for you are my safe refuge,
    a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me.
Let me live forever in your sanctuary,
    safe beneath the shelter of your wings! Psalm 61:1-4

 

***

25 But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. 26 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. 28 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:25-28, NLT

***

Leadership matters. I look for examples of leaders in history pages. I look for examples of leaders all around me. I think long on the role I play as a leader and influencer–wife, mother, friend, neighbor, teacher–there are opportunities for influence everywhere. Where I set my gaze sets my course–and not just mine; the effects ripple around me.

Who is influencing me? And how does their influence affect my heart, my home and my other friendships?

Lord, please be at the heart of my heart. Please be at the heart of my home. Please be at the heart of my friendships.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Samuel 6-8; Acts 7

I’ve enjoyed studying history with my kids. We take a cyclical world view approach and repeat it every four years, going into greater detail each time. Ancient one year, medieval the next, early modern after that, and wrap up with modern. Repeat. Because my education wasn’t as fluid, I only knew specific parts of history, and mostly just about a specific area. This broader approach has been fascinating to me, and I enjoy learning as much as my kids do.

One of the things I focus on and hope to draw to their attention is who the leaders are; how they are motivated; what their character is like; and how they are influenced. This is not a political post. Governments aside, leadership opportunities are everywhere. People lead corporations. They lead churches. They lead communities. They can even lead in friendships.

In the car yesterday, one of my kids remarked about a friend following another’s poor example, and it frustrated her to see them behaving the way they did. It was a good moment to talk about the influence friends have on us and how their influence can bring out the best, the worst, or the immature in us. In the moments that followed, I thought of some of my closest friends and how my friendships have changed over the years. I thank God for removing some of the influences that (had and) could have shaped me in a negative way. I thank him for others who, whether they walked the same streets I have, or come to life in history pages, lead a path that points to him.

Samuel 8, the people want a leader. The Lord tells Samuel to warn them of what that means.

19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel’s warning. “Even so, we still want a king,” they said. 20 “We want to be like the nations around us. Our king will judge us and lead us into battle.”

21 So Samuel repeated to the Lord what the people had said, 22 and the Lord replied, “Do as they say, and give them a king.” Then Samuel agreed and sent the people home. Samuel 8:19-22, NLT.

Leadership seeps through Stephen’s testimony in Acts 7.

37 “Moses himself told the people of Israel, ‘God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from among your own people.’ 38 Moses was with our ancestors, the assembly of God’s people in the wilderness, when the angel spoke to him at Mount Sinai. And there Moses received life-giving words to pass on to us.

39 “But our ancestors refused to listen to Moses. They rejected him and wanted to return to Egypt. 40 They told Aaron, ‘Make us some gods who can lead us, for we don’t know what has become of this Moses, who brought us out of Egypt.’ 41 So they made an idol shaped like a calf, and they sacrificed to it and celebrated over this thing they had made. 42 Then God turned away from them and abandoned them to serve the stars of heaven as their gods! Acts 7:37-42, NLT.

Lord, I just want to listen to your voice.

Courtney (66books365)

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Judges 19-21; Acts 2

Now in those days Israel had no king. Judges 19:1a, NLT.

Community is my word for the year this year, and it stood out in these chapters, but not on the first pass. This reading left a series of impressions on leadership, sin, warfare, division, fighting, and loss–even in victory.

Eleven Israelite tribes unite against the tribe of Benjamin. They consult the Lord for direction.

22 But the Israelites encouraged each other and took their positions again at the same place they had fought the previous day. 23 For they had gone up to Bethel and wept in the presence of the Lord until evening. They had asked the Lord, “Should we fight against our relatives from Benjamin again?

And the Lord had said, “Go out and fight against them.” Judges 20:22-23, NLT.

And while victory was eventually theirs, they still felt a great sting–not only were thousands of lives lost in these battles, but they also recognized the potential impact of losing one of the twelve tribes.

25 In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes. Judges 21:25, NLT.

People will follow something: a good leader, a bad leader, or their own passions.

The apostles preach the saving Gospel and many lives are changed. The Holy Spirit inhabits hearts.

37 Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?”

38 Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 This promise is to you, to your children, and to those far away—all who have been called by the Lord our God.” Acts 2:37-39, NLT.

Community.

42 All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.

43 A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. 44 And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. 45 They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. 46 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity— 47 all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved. Acts 2:42-47, NLT.

In the Old Testament, a community rallied within the tribe of Benjamin to support the sinful deeds of a few, while a larger community (the other eleven tribes) fought for justice and the integrity of the whole. In the New Testament, believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to fellowship, to sharing meals together, and to prayer.

These scriptures give me lots to think on regarding influence, leadership, and community.

Lord, I want your Holy Spirit to be my influence and leadership. I thank you for revealing a healthy view of community, and for bringing other believers into my life who share the same vision. I want to live in the awe of who you are and to experience life with you. I praise you.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Kings 15-16; Matthew 21

I recently read of a high school teacher’s death in the comments section under a photo in Facebook. He was a music teacher, and I knew of him even though I never played an instrument. I wondered about him and looked up his name online. I found a small paragraph about him from the funeral home’s website. His life was all about music, and whether or not he was a believer, I have no doubt God put that beautiful desire and skill in his heart. This teacher continued his own studies after kids he taught had graduated. He even played on stage with famous names.

Reading about his life made me think long on legacy and influence.

2 Kings 15-16 chronicles leaders.

Uzziah son of Amaziah began to rule over Judah in the twenty-seventh year of the reign of King Jeroboam II of Israel. He was sixteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-two years. His mother was Jecoliah from Jerusalem.

He did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight, just as his father, Amaziah, had done. But he did not destroy the pagan shrines, and the people still offered sacrifices and burned incense there. The Lord struck the king with leprosy, which lasted until the day he died. He lived in isolation in a separate house. The king’s son Jotham was put in charge of the royal palace, and he governed the people of the land. 2 Kings 15:1-5, NLT.

Or this:

13 Shallum son of Jabesh began to rule over Israel in the thirty-ninth year of King Uzziah’s reign in Judah. Shallum reigned in Samaria only one month. 14 Then Menahem son of Gadi went to Samaria from Tirzah and assassinated him, and he became the next king.

16 At that time Menahem destroyed the town of Tappuah and all the surrounding countryside as far as Tirzah, because its citizens refused to surrender the town. He killed the entire population and ripped open the pregnant women.

17 Menahem son of Gadi began to rule over Israel in the thirty-ninth year of King Uzziah’s reign in Judah. He reigned in Samaria ten years. 18 But Menahem did what was evil in the Lord’s sight. During his entire reign, he refused to turn from the sins that Jeroboam son of Nebat had led Israel to commit. 2 Kings 15:13-18, NLT.

How humbling that lifetimes and legacy can be summarized in a few lines.

18 In the morning, as Jesus was returning to Jerusalem, he was hungry, 19 and he noticed a fig tree beside the road. He went over to see if there were any figs, but there were only leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” And immediately the fig tree withered up. Matthew 21:18-19, NLT.

The fig tree gave the impression of health and fullness, but it produced no fruit.

Lord, help me to prepare my thoughts and heart for the tasks ahead of me. I need you every minute of the day. You have wired me to do certain things–and I pray that I do them wholeheartedly for you.

Courtney (66books365)

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