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Posts Tagged ‘leadership’

Joseph and MaryJoseph, a young man from the house of David, was probably like every other soon-to-be husband: nervous, but excited all the same.  That is, until his fiancée came to him with shocking news.  Mary was pregnant, but Joseph was not the father.  The world, as Joseph knew it, had collapsed around him.  He felt betrayed, hurt, angry.  Break the engagement, whispered his pride, and walk away from this woman.

Everything had changed.  Plans were ruined.  Reputation was at stake.  Unchartered territory lay ahead.  At this precarious moment in his life, Joseph had nothing to hang on to… nothing, that is, except the Word of the Lord.

The Word gave Joseph courage.  “Don’t be afraid!”  It was the word that showed Joseph how to be faithful.  “Take Mary as your wife.  She will give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus” (Matthew 1:20-21).

Perhaps, in holding on to the Word, Joseph remembered the experience of his ancestor, Adam.  Perhaps, in a moment of truth and with eyes focused, Joseph could picture Adam standing next to his wife, Eve.  Perhaps, with wisdom only from the Holy Spirit, Joseph recognized the significance of Eve’s creation by God from man’s rib.

God made (literally: “built”) woman using part of man.  With this, He established their relationship within the order of creation.  A rib is structural; it supports.  A rib guards and protects the heart and breath of life, yet it is vulnerable.  Under attack, it can easily be fractured or even broken.  Satan despises the order of creation that God uses to protect the man and woman He so loves.  So, that day in the Garden, Satan set his target and went straight to Adam’s rib.  The man was responsible for using God’s Word to cover his wife, yet he did nothing.  Joseph knew the consequences that followed.

Perhaps, with discernment only from God, Joseph understood that he must not repeat the sin of his ancestor and do to his rib what Adam had done to his.

Perhaps, in remembering what Adam had failed to do, Joseph was given the courage to cover his wife, Mary, and lead her to safety.  Let the village talk!  Adjust carefully-made plans!  Trust the Word of the Lord!  Although it meant leaving his zone of comfort, Joseph did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him to do.  He covered his rib by taking Mary as his wife.  And, when Mary’s child was born, Joseph named Him Jesus.

God wanted Joseph to make a difference – a difference that would impact the world.  But, such a difference could be made only by being faithful.  Such faithfulness required that Joseph leave all that was familiar and put his life and the life of Mary into the hands of God.

Today, when a young man pressures his girlfriend to have sex, he is leaving her physically, emotionally, and spiritually vulnerable.  He has placed his “needs” before hers and, in so doing, left her open to attack.  When a man does not promise to love, cherish, and cover a woman with his name, but simply share living quarters and a bed, he is leaving her open to attack.  When a man fathers a child but does not accept the privilege and responsibility of being a daddy, he is leaving both mother and child uncovered and vulnerable to the world.

But, when a man remembers God and His call to leadership, he is able to make a difference.  A young man who guards his girlfriend’s virtue makes a difference.  A husband who remains true to his wife makes a difference.  A dad who understands the privilege, responsibility, and generational influence of fatherhood makes a difference.  Men of faithfulness have a grand opportunity to defend against chaos and leave a legacy of hope.

Convenience told Joseph to walk away from Mary.  Self-defense told Joseph to think of “number one.”  Pride told Joseph that he could do better.  Fear told Joseph to hide.  But, God told Joseph not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife.

Joseph did what the angel of the Lord commanded.  He covered Mary, his rib, and the unborn Child whose heart beat under her own.  And, after the Baby was born in the most humble of circumstances, Joseph named the Child Jesus.  Through all the frightening days ahead, Joseph remembered the Word of the Lord.  And the Lord did not forget Joseph.  In the midst of danger, the angel of the Lord warned Joseph.  When uncertainty abounded, the angel of the Lord directed Joseph.

It’s true that life wasn’t ever the same for Joseph.  It certainly wasn’t what he had planned.  But, Joseph remembered the Word of the Lord.  And, in doing so, he received courage to do what was asked of him.  Joseph was faithful to cover Mary, his rib.  He raised her Son Jesus in a godly home and took Him to worship.  Some 2000 years later, the Boy who grew to be a Man in the house of a carpenter is still changing lives.

Joseph made a difference.

Copyright 2010

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It’s easy to become discouraged these days.  Those who don’t want to acknowledge the Creator God are bold.  Those who want to acknowledge Him long enough to blame Him for all the ills of the world are just as bold.  All worldviews except the Biblical worldview are tolerated on campuses.  A “progressive” media scoffs at the “downward-sloped forehead” people who live in virtually every state except along certain coastlines.  The culture, in general, is certainly more coarse.  Immodest.  Selfish.

New York state legislators and the governor rammed through so-called “gay marriage” earlier this year.  Iowa’s Supreme Court did the same last year.  Most Americans oppose this redefinition of marriage.  It has failed in 31 states where it was put to a vote.  But, through the efforts of a small group of activists, America appears to be closer to embracing a radical social experiment that will, without any doubt, undermine marriage, hurt children, and destroy religious liberty.

Of course, having said all this, I run the risk of being labeled “intolerant.”  “Judgmental.”  A “theocrat.” A “dominionist.”  Or a “Christianist.”  (I run this risk because I don’t believe that my faith is a private matter.)

In spite of all this, there is hope.  (Ezerwoman believes there is always hope.)  “Think about it,” writes Chuck Colson.  “Most surveys estimate the number of homosexuals in America is only around two to four percent.  If these few people, with the help of like-minded liberal elites, can bring America to this dangerous tipping point, why can’t faithful, orthodox Christians — who make up a far greater percentage of the population — bring some sanity to the critical moral and cultural issues of the day?”

Colson references an article in ScienceDaily.  “Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) have found that when just 10 percent of the population holds an unshakable belief, their belief will always be adopted by the majority of the society.”

Did you know this?  Why might this be?  Colson explains.  “Researchers at RPI note that this is possible because people do not like to hold unpopular opinions and are always seeking to reach a consensus.”

As a Lutheran, I’m compelled to ask, “What does this mean?”  It means there is hope!  Colson writes, “Those who stick to their intellectual and moral guns can eventually influence their undecided neighbors to adopt their views — and begin to spread them themselves!”

The very thing that Jesus did He asks us to do.  Jesus launched a movement that greatly impacted the world for good starting with twelve disciples.  Twelve ordinary, kinda-like-you-and-me people.  Those disciples became agents of change.  Modern Christians who use God’s Word and try to practice their faith wherever they are and in every circumstance are agents of change.

Well over 10 percent of the U.S. population, according to every survey conducted by any polling group, identifies itself as having unshakable Christian beliefs.  So why do we appear to be losing on so many cultural fronts?

Colson answers well.  “We need to be more active in sharing our beliefs about absolute truth in our pluralistic society.  Too many culture-war-weary Christians have retreated to the pews.  Too many so-called ‘Christian leaders’ are advising the rest of us to do the same.  Nonsense.  We must speak up.”

Second, says Colson, “we need to make our case confidently, winsomely, and positively.  The Christian worldview provides the only way to live rationally in the world.  It is the blueprint for human flourishing.  And it is visible whenever we defend the dignity of every man, woman, and child; when we feed the hungry and clothe the naked; and when our marriages and families and churches and schools are refuges for love and learning.”  (Breakpoint.org 8-19-11)

For most of my life, I’ve been surrounded by agents of change.  This was no accident.  God placed them in my life so that I could learn how to be one, too.

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What you are about to read is not this ezerwoman’s attempt to campaign.  It is, however, an opportunity to point out personal convictions.  Ideologies.  Worldviews… and why they matter.

Rick Santorum is the former senator from Pennsylvania.  He is the father of seven and, together with his wife, homeschools his children.  I have the Santorum book, It Takes a Family, in my library.  Santorum understands the roles of family and government in light of a particular worldview.  That worldview puts him at odds with the media and many other politicians.  But, it also compels him to run for high office in spite of the odds.

Many will not consider Santorum electable; nevertheless, he needs to be heard.  Here’s what I heard him say at a recent townhall meeting:

We have an out-of-control entitlement program.  Santorum believes “Obamacare” will rob the U.S. of its soul.   Freedoms are removed when citizens become dependent on government.  Citizens are not to be “hooked” and then made captive.  Santorum believes that The Constitution without the Bill of Rights is a hollow document.  We are not granted happiness — or the right to instant gratification; we are gifted with the pursuit of happiness.  (See my previous blog.)

We are Americans not ethnically, says Santorum, but because we believe in the ideology of America.  Students of history remember John Adams who said democracy can stand only if the people are moral.  Parents, not government, are responsible for children and our education system needs to see parents as the customer.  Leadership needs to urge parental involvement and accountability.  Character development, perhaps even more than academic, is necessary.  A person of character, notes Santorum, can be mentored into leadership.

Santorum does not waiver on the sanctity of life and marriage.  God is the creator of life.  He is the creator and, thus, definer of marriage.  Marriage existed before government.  Santorum believes that God reveals Himself in nature and in us.  He is not distant.  Marriage is what it is, what God created it to be and what natural law confirms it to be.  To treat marriage other than what it is, says Santorum, will have a huge impact beyond marriage; it will have an impact on freedom of religion.  We have now created a right, he says, a “super right” to sexual freedom that isn’t in the Constitution — but the courts have created it and it will, let me assure you, with future court decisions, trump religious rights.  So, if you are a marriage counselor in Iowa you have to get a license and you won’t counsel for same sex couples; well, maybe right now there are laws in place that say you won’t lose your license, but that’s just for now.  Once this becomes more accepted then we will say: You know what?  We really shouldn’t give bigots licenses.   Look at what’s already happened in Boston . . . the Catholic Church, the biggest adoption agency in the state of Massachusetts, was told gay adoptions are legal and, therefore, if you don’t do gay adoptions, you can’t be legal.  The Church got out voluntarily, but they didn’t want to . . . And, what if your church says “no” to doing a same-sex “marriage”?

The above is offered simply for your personal pondering because I believe worldviews matter.  There is a hopeless and generationally-damaging worldview in the White House right now.  Therefore, in my role of citizen, I am obligated to carefully study the people who seek leadership.  I am doing that — right now.

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My husband and I believe in exercising our minds while enjoying a meal.  If at home, Paul grills.  I steam veggies, broil some garlic bread, and mix a salad.  Plates in hand, we settle by a window overlooking a forest of hickory and oak.  Or, on a less humid day, we move out onto the deck.  We discuss matters of family, theology, and culture.  At some point, we slip on our worldview glasses.  There are only two pair: God’s — and any other.

Family, theology and culture take on a different perspective depending upon one’s worldview.  The same is true with life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

This Saturday is the Iowa Straw Poll.  I plan to go, not so much to cast a vote, but to meander through the crowd.  To listen.  Watch.  Learn which pair of glasses the people have chosen to wear.   Most eyes are focused on the economy.  But, my worldview tells me that our economic problems have deep moral roots.  America may be collapsing on itself because its worldview of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is hopeless.

Life.  Abortion fails to see the value of life created by God and redeemed at high price.  Abortion is about “me.”  “My” fears.  “My” needs.  It sees no future.  It acts in desperation.  Legalized abortion is a root cause of our social security and health care woes.  I have long been concerned that the babyboomers who ushered in abortion will be ushered out by euthanasia.

Liberty.  To worship at the altar of sexual freedom is to eventually loose religious freedom.  “Righteous” folk who “tell me” that I have no “right to liberated” behavior, but must instead practice self-control, are “bigoted” and “must be silenced”.

Pursuit of happiness.  Some Americans think we are entitled to happiness or the right to instant gratification.  But, wearing his worldview glasses, former Senator Rick Santorum disagrees.  We are, he says, “gifted with the pursuit of happiness.”

Santorum, speaking in my town earlier this week, asked, “What is the pursuit of happiness?  Is it doing what we want, or doing . . . .”  He paused, waiting for someone to finish the sentence.  From my place in the back of the room, I did so:  It’s doing “what we should (ought).”  Correct answer.  I think many in the audience agreed.  But, as citizens, have we correctly pursued happiness?

America has given its citizens the freedom to pursue happiness.  But, believing happiness to be “my right to do whatever I want,” leads us to pursue wrongly.  Selfishly.  Dangerously.  Right down a slippery slope into despair.

So, my husband and I remind each other to polish our worldview glasses.  Clarify hope and change.  Look for leaders who pursue not what they can, but what they should.  And, correct our own pursuit of happiness.

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For centuries, the rule of the sea was “women and children first.”  Survivors of the sinking ship, Titanic, remember men who gave their lives so that women and children might live.  Whether Christian or not, these men were influenced by a teaching that had shaped their thinking and behavior.  Their sacrifice modeled that of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:25).

In 1996, another ship sank off the coast of Indonesia.  Men on board this ship saved themselves first.  Women and children died that men might live.  This is the inevitable consequence of forgetting or rejecting Jesus Christ.

Jesus did more than speak about humility and service.  He demonstrated it (John 13:12-17).  With His example, He established a pattern for men and women to follow.  A hero of titanic proportions is a man who practices self-control for the sake of a woman.  A husband who covers his wife with his name.  A father who rescues his child from death.

Ninety-three percent of the abortions performed in the U.S. are for convenience.  Studies show the top three reasons for abortion are:

  • “A baby at this time would interfere with work, school, or other responsibilities.”
  • “I cannot afford a baby.”
  • “I do not want to be a single parent,” or “I’m having problems” with husband or partner.  (Source: The Alan Guttmacher Institute, 1/97, A. Torres and J.D. Forrest, “Why Do Women Have Abortions?,” Family Planning Perspectives, 1988)

When it appears the ship is sinking — and life hangs in the balance, God desires that men step forward.  Engage deceit with Truth.  Do battle for the honor of women and lives of children.  Adam, the first man, failed.  He was silent.  Unwilling to engage.  Lead away from death.  His passivity left woman vulnerable.  His rib exposed.  A target.  At risk.  When he joined with her in sin, he forever changed the course of history.  Children would pay the highest price.

Indeed, they do.

But, must they continue to pay with their lives?

No.  God brought hope to Adam and Eve with a promise.  The promise was kept when Jesus Christ sacrificed His life on the cross.  Became the Savior of the world.  Proclaimed victory over Satan.  Gave men and women authority over lies and deceit.  Jesus Christ  removed all reasons for any parent to sacrifice the life of their child.

Today, men bring order out of chaos every time they remember and use God’s Word.  Choose life over death.  Involve themselves with the teaching and disciplining of children.  Deny themselves for the mother of their child.  Lead away from danger with a servant’s heart.  Deposit sin baggage at the Cross of Christ.  Forgive as they have been forgiven.  Re-build.

This is titanic love.

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I’m the mom of two sons.  Aunt of twelve nephews.  Grandmother of four grandsons. Men matter to me.

I’ve lived in the presence of faithful men.  These men — my grandfathers, dad, husband, brother, brother-in-laws, friends — are all aware of their inadequacies.  They know they frustrate.  Disappoint.  Fail.  But, they also seek wisdom in God’s Word.  They find strength in the humility and servanthood of Christ.  Because of this, I trust these men with my life.

There are other men.  Abusive, undisciplined, selfish men.  Men who have never been taught God’s Word for their life or rejected it.  These men have no concept of chivalry.  Instead, they dominate.  Worship self.  Fall to evil rather than good.  I could not trust them.  The women in their lives don’t.

A Biblical man stands in contrast.   The man who knows God as the Creator of male and female persons appreciates woman as his helper, not his possession.   The man who knows that God came to walk among us recognizes Jesus’ high regard for women.   A man familiar with the Word knows he was not made in the image of animals, but in the image of God.  Though fallen from that perfect image, he has attributes and characteristics of his Maker.  He is capable of thinking out his actions, weighing the consequences, and controlling his behavior for the benefit of family and society.

A godly man recognizes the leadership style of Christ.  Jesus laid down His life for His bride, the Church (Eph. 5:25).  He accepted responsibility.  On earth, Jesus was tempted.  The devil came to Him.  Tried to play with His mind.  Tease the flesh.  Even quoted Scripture.  The devil went away, then returned to tempt again.  But, Jesus stood firm.  The Christian man knows he, too, will be tempted.  Over and over again.  There is struggle in this world.  Knowing the battle is for the souls of his children, a father holds tight the Sword of Truth.  He wields its Law and Gospel with proper discernment.  This is a man of hope.

The man who wants to make a positive difference helps reconnect earthly fatherhood with the heavenly model.  The Heavenly Father is neither passive nor preoccupied.  He does not abandon His creation, but is involved with and committed to His children.  The Heavenly Father brings order out of chaos.  Sees male and female as equals, but delights in their differences.  Does not mentor girls in the same way as boys.   Sets boundaries for the protection of those He loves.  Explains the consequences of every choice — good or bad.  Pursues the lost.  Knows the desperate.  Welcomes all to lay the burden of every sin at the foot of His Son’s Cross.  Forgives.  His mercy in Jesus Christ is new every morning.

So, on Father’s Day — and with appreciation for faithful men — I promise my help.  My encouragement.  My supporting role as a rib.  Faithful men are needed by women.  Wives.  Sons.  Daughters.  Civilization itself.

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Gentlemen.  What words are there for you?  As a mom, I can speak to my sons about women.  I can describe feelings, emotions, and the complexities of my gender.  But, any wisdom and true instruction I have for men comes only from God.

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.  And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die'” (Genesis 2:15-17).

“. . . [T]he man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.  But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?'” (vv. 8-9).

God created man to be the head and steward of His creation.  It is to man that God gave the words of life and the warning away from death.  Man was to pass on the Word of Truth — to his wife, their children, and their children’s children.  Even though the woman was the first to disobey God, man was held responsible.  Such is the order of God’s creation.  Even after sin, God brings order out of chaos using the leadership of godly men.

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of the water with the word, so that He might present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.  In the same way husbands should love their wives as they love their own bodies.  He who loves his wife loves himself.  For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of His body” (Ephesians 5:25-30).

The husband is not to rule his wife, but to love her (Colossians 3:19).  St. Paul wrote more to the husband than to the wife because it is an opportunity to rejoice in the Gospel.  If a husband’s love for his wife is Christlike, he is willing to give up his very life for her (Galatians 2:20; Titus 2:14; 1 John 3:16).  St. Paul notes that the husband is the “head” in a marriage.  Perhaps it follows, then, that the wife is the “heart.”  One is not more important than the other; both are necessary for life.  Neither man nor woman honor God or themselves by asking: “What can I get out of this marriage?”  Instead, everything a husband  — or a wife — does should be a living illustration of Christ’s love.

“Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered” (1 Peter 3:7).

Feminists may be offended by the expression “weaker vessel.”  But, as students of history, we do well to remember that the culture of the Apostle Peter’s time had little respect for women.  For this reason, the apostle was guided to choose his words with express care for women.  Physically, women are typically smaller in size and weaker in strength then men, which could make them vulnerable to abuse.  Peter admonishes husbands not to exploit a woman’s size and strength in unkind ways.  Viewing husband and wife through Biblical eyes, each was made to complement the other.  Both are heirs of God’s saving grace.

What about the unmarried man?  How is he to treat a girl or woman?  St. Paul prepares the young man Timothy for ministry with these words:

“Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity” (1 Timothy 5:1-2).

A man is called by God to treat all people as Jesus did — as members of His own family (Matthew 12:46-50).  Here is a culturally-transforming opportunity for men.  Can you imagine how esteemed and safe women — and, therefore, children — would be if they were treated like mothers and sisters?

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