Dealing with People

I recently heard a minister say, “Being a pastor of a church would be easy if you didn’t have to deal with people.”  I also heard a business person say, “I really enjoy owning my own business, but most of my problems are dealing with people.”

I have read recently of some very interesting ways in which people deal with each other.  In November of 2015 a Scottish traveler boarded a plane to Dublin.  When he began to look for his seat on the plane, he discovered a guy sitting in his seat.  Neil Douglas was shocked when he told the stranger, Robert Stirling, that he was in the wrong seat.  When the man looked up, he looked exactly like Neil Douglas.  He had a similar haircut, a bushy red beard, and he would pass as a twin.

The pair laughed about it and had a good conversation about their situation.  They got off the plane and went their separate ways.  Would you believe that when Douglas arrived at his Galway hotel, he discovered that Robert was staying at the same hotel?  They are still discussing how that connection was made.

Amy Giberson and Justin Pounders met online.  This Florida couple started dating and after a year they realized that they had been sweethearts 30 years earlier.  In a conversation Pounders said that he had a crush on a girl named Amy at Sunshine Preschool in St. Petersburg.  Giberson said that she attended the same school.  When they checked with their moms, they discovered that they were in the same class and had been inseparable as three-year-olds.

This discovery was made in November 2015.  I don’t know how far it will go.  Giberson did say, “To find out that you’ve been circling each other your whole life – it overwhelmed me with happiness.”  They still are trying to understand how all of this happened.

Some creative people try to help put people together.  In Brooklyn, New York, Nina Keneally decided that a lot of Millennials needed someone to whom they could relate as a mom.  She has developed a business call “Rent-a-mom.”  For $40 an hour Nina will cook meals, go shopping, and offer guilt-free motherly advice.  She says, “Everybody needs a mom now and then.”

One of the problems in relationships occurs when people break up.  Some folks have a difficult time facing that situation, especially in telling the other person about the breakup.  Enter a Canadian company that has launched “The Breakup Shop,” which is a service that helps people end romantic relationships by sending a personalized text or making a phone call to the soon-to-be ex.  You pay $10 for the text and $29 for the phone call.

People have wondered how the Breakup Shop might begin using a smartphone app.  Some have suggested that such an app could be called “Instascram,” or “Quitter” or “Return to Tinder.”  One tap of the app and the relationship is ended.

People bring challenges – but they also bring opportunities.  The best way to relate to people is to remember the words of Jesus, “Love God with all of your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and then love your neighbor as yourself (Matt. 22:37-39).

Deal with at people as possibilities, not as problems.  Practice looking at people as Jesus looked at people.  It will make church, business, family, sports – all of life more interesting.

Happy New You

Everybody makes mistakes.  Every mistake always has a consequence.  The bigger the mistake, the bigger the consequence.  But is there hope to change after encountering the consequences?

Let me tell you about Joel Sweeney.  He lives in River Falls, Wisconsin, and he has had eight drunk-driving infractions.  He has had three near-death experiences and spent three years in jail.  He made bad choices, and he suffered bad consequences.

But somebody talked to Sweeney about changing his life.  Could he be different?  Sweeney made a conscious decision to change direction for his life.

Since 2013, he has been the town’s designated driver.  He gives free rides to people when they leave the bars.  He has become so effective in his new lifestyle that he now owns four SUVs and hires other drivers when he is too busy.

Sweeney confesses, “I was an awful person.  This is my way of saying I’m sorry to my community.  I was looking for a change in life, and this was it.”  That is a turn around.

Chernobyl was a terrible experience.  It caused a lot of people to suffer a lot of bad consequences.  The radioactive “exclusion zone” made it a place of death and deformity.

But scientists are now reporting that even the area around Chernobyl is changing.  It is teeming with wildlife, including elk, deer, wild boar, and wolves.  It even rivals the world’s most abundant nature preserves.  It has changed.  It is different.

Life can be different.  The Bible teaches us that each of us has sinned, but sin does not have to always be the dominating force in our life.  The Bible says, “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9).  He will give us a new chance in life.

Paul is an example of the hope that a person can turn around.  He did everything wrong in life until God changed him.  He says, “Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (NLT II Cor. 5:17)

David made terrible mistakes in his life.  He committed adultery and murder.  But those were not his legacy.  He confessed his sin, and his life was dramatically changed.  Read II Samuel 11, 12.  He became a great leader.  In Psalm 51, David says, “Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow (v. 7). Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me (v. 10). Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you (v. 12).  Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you (v. 13).”

If you live with mistakes, they will ruin you.  If you are willing to ask God to help you change your mistakes, He can take your mess and make a message out of it. (Tweet this) We experience a new year every January 1.  Any person can experience a new you on any day of the year!

Happy New You!

Choices Determine Consequences

Bad choices lead to bad consequences.  Oftentimes we think that we can do something wrong and it will be alright.  It is not.  Every choice has a consequence.

Brad Lynn Hemby ws an Alabama burglary suspect.  When he tried to get away from police he crashed his truck. He ran into a cow pasture guarded by a territorial bull.  He quickly got the attention of the resident bull.  Sheriff Scott Walls said, “The bull gave chase, along with his deputies.”  As you might imagine, Hemby panicked when he got tangled up in a barbed-wire fence.  He felt safer with the police than the bull.  Every choice has a consequence.

This summer there was a 46-year-old Italian man scheduled to fly from Turin to Rome.  He was running late for his flight so he phoned in a bomb threat.  The plane delayed its takeoff and returned to the terminal to be searched.

The man arrived at the airport and said that he wanted to get on the plane.  Upon questioning him, they discovered he was the one who had phoned in the bomb threat.  He was arrested.  He won’t be making any flights in the near future as he will be serving a lengthy prison sentence.  Choices always have consequences.

One of the new technological gadgets is the Fitbit.  It records a lot of data that can be helpful to you.  It can also reveal some things you don’t want revealed.

A woman in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, filed a police report saying that an intruder had sexually assaulted her in bed at midnight.  The assault scene had a lot of overturned furniture and a bottle of vodka.  The woman also had a Fitbit.  When the police downloaded the information, they discovered that the woman was awake and walking around at the time she told police she had been sleeping.  The Fitbit contradicted her whole account of the attempted rape.  The woman now faces three misdemeanor counts for prompting an emergency response and manhunt.  Choices bring consequences.

Serena Williams, the Woman Athlete of the Year, was in a restaurant in San Francisco.  A thief snatched  her cell phone and started running.  Serena was faster and ran him down.  She caught the man and asked in the “most menacing yet calm no-nonsense voice” whether he had “accidentally” taken the wrong phone.  The man was caught.  He quickly said, “Gosh, you know what – I did!”  Serena got a standing ovation from the other patrons in the restaurant.  The man’s bad choice had a bad consequence.

A high school football team in Canon City, Colorado circulated 300 to 400 nude photographs of more than 100 different kids.  They used a special cell phone “vault app.”  The app is made to look like a calculator, but reveals hidden photos after a password is entered.  Some of the pictures involved kids in the eighth grade.  They then learned that a significant part of the student body participated.  Bad choices by the football team – and bad consequences.

The Bible says that what we plant we will also reap (Galatians 6:7).  You can’t plant weeds and expect to harvest corn.  You can’t sow wild oats during the week and then come to Church on Sunday and pray for a crop failure. (Tweet this) The consequence is determined by the choice.

What Can We Learn?

On January 11, 2016 one of the biggest events of the year occurred and a man accomplished something in his profession that no other person has ever accomplished.  That event was a National Championship Football game.  It made a lot of people glad and a lot of people sad.  It has been hashed and rehashed by the news media and sports talk programs.  Some football fans are ready to make Nick Saban the fourth member of the Trinity.  Other football fans are very critical of him and his program.  It has created excessive celebrations and new levels of frustration.

I want to try the impossible – ask everybody to hit the pause button on their emotions and simply ask the question “What can I learn from a successful man who won his 4th National Championship in seven years that can make me more effective in my work and my life?”  People who are willing to learn from people who are successful are able to accomplish more in their own lives.  Here are some things I learned:

Coach Saban has a plan.  He refers to it as a process.  He always stays focused on the process, but realizes that the process sometimes has to be improved and tweaked since football has changed since he came to Tuscaloosa.  Do we have a plan?

Coach Saban became quite a topic of controversy just a few years ago with the up-tempo offensive minded people.  He listened to the discussion, did not become stubborn, and decided there were some parts of this new offense that he could implement into his process.  Now he sometimes uses a no-huddle scheme.  He intentionally looks for match ups with great receivers covered by slower linebackers.  In the National Championship game he was required to adapt and resort to the very things he decried a couple of years ago as the earmark of an inferior brand of football.  He was willing to change.  Do we change?

He shocked the football world two years ago when he brought in Lane Kiffin who didn’t think like he did.  He saw in Kiffin somebody who would challenge and help elevate his own way of thinking and improve his offensive output.  Kiffin brought in new ideas.  The number of plays run and the points scored in crucial games have increased remarkably. Do we seek new ideas?

Coach Saban realized that football was not just about coaches who could execute through x’s and o’s.  He saw that he was dealing with young men, not robots to be trained.  Therefore, he deployed new ideas for helping develop his football players.  He utilized different folks to help with motivation for the team.  He employed professional help to test his players and coaches and understand what kind of motivation to which they best respond.  Some players best respond to being chewed out – some players rebel against it.  He relates to his players in the manner in which they best respond.  His coaches have been amazed at how much more can be accomplished with this new knowledge.  How do we relate to people?

He is willing to take risks.  With the score tied 24-24 at the National Championship game, he called for an on-side kick.  If it had failed, it would have given the ball to Clemson with excellent field position and could have been the end of the ball game.  He was willing to take the risk, recover the kick, went on to score, and changed the momentum of the game.  What kind of risks are we willing to take?

He learned last year he needed to change his preparation schedule and model for the play offs and championship game.  Preparing for a bowl game is different from preparing for a championship game.  Notice any difference in the results this year?

He has an uncanny ability to evaluate talent.  He does a great job of picking the right people to play the right position.  If a coach picks the wrong guy or girl to play a strategic position, the team won’t be very good.  Great coaches put the right people in the right position.  This is true in any organization.

The best lasting effects of January 11, 2016 will be what we can learn to improve as individuals, teams, and organizations.  Good learners become good leaders!  What did you learn?

Radical Generosity

One of the terms being used a lot today is generosity. It occurs when people go beyond what is expected in giving.  Oftentimes generosity is a direct reference to financial matters.  Here are a couple of great examples of radical generosity:

Frazer’s departments of Music, Arts, and Drama made a tremendous Christmas presentation on Sunday afternoon, December 13 at 4:00 pm. Lynn and I invited Bishop and Mrs. Paul Leeland to attend and then go eat dinner afterwards.  We decided to go to Jim N Nick’s for barbeque.  The manager of this restaurant is Jim Wolf, and I had the privilege of officiating at his wedding several years ago.  He came over to our table and spoke to the four of us.

He had a tear of joy in his eyes when he said he wanted to share something with us.   He said that a few minutes earlier a young couple in their twenties came in to eat.  The waitress who served them was a single mom struggling financially at Christmas.  Somehow the young couple knew about this.

Then he showed us their bill. The cost of their meal was $27.51.  On the line that designates a tip, they left a $400 tip!!  The waitress was overwhelmed.  She did not really see it until the couple left the restaurant.  She ran out trying to find them, but they were gone.

The $400 tip from a young couple in their twenties – that’s radical generosity!

I was speaking at an event in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and Lynn and I went to a restaurant on the main street. We were given a table right next to a window by the sidewalk.  We enjoyed watching the people walking back and forth in Gatlinburg.

Lynn noticed a young lady about 30 years old standing near a post, and she was smiling at us. About that time, a nice looking young man appeared at our table.  He looked at me and said, “I know you are John Ed Mathison.  I am a Baptist evangelist, and my wife and I travel all the time.  That’s her standing out there next to the pole.  Because of our travel and preaching, we don’t get to have a regular place to worship.  We found your worship service on television.  We live in Tennessee, but wherever we are in the United States, we reserve that time on Thursday night to worship with you by television.  Thanks for being my pastor.”

Lynn and I were sitting there trying to take this in. About that time, the young man said, “Thank you.”  He then opened his hand and put down a $100 bill on the table.

Lynn and I were caught off guard. Then I looked back up and the young man had already exited the restaurant.  We saw his wife meet him, and they disappeared into the crowd.  I tried to get to the sidewalk, but it was too late.

I know a young Baptist evangelist does not make much money. I know a $100 gift was a huge sacrifice on his part.  That’s radical generosity!!  I was able to pass the $100 bill on to a young pastor from Beeson Seminary with whom I was working.

At Christmas time, we often ask kids, “What did you get for Christmas?” Maybe a better question to ask is “What did you give for Christmas?”  In fact, it might be good if we ask that quite often in 2016 of ourselves and our friends – “What have you given lately?”

Generosity – The Bible says it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). Mark 10:29, 30 also says what we give will come back a hundred-fold.  I know that a young couple in their twenties and a young Baptist evangelist couple in their thirties have some radical blessings in store for them!!

Go Forward!

We are moving into a new year – 2016.  Highly reputable polls, surveys, and news reports paint a pessimistic picture of gloom hovering over us.  People are scared, confused, and unsure about issues like terrorism, the economy, politics, etc.

83% of voters fear there will be a large-scale terrorist attack in the U.S. in the near future. 60% think it’s likely that terrorists are living in their hometown. In 2015 we witnessed 351 mass shootings in the U.S.  A mass shooting is defined as incidences in which four or more people, including the gunman, are killed or injured by gunfire.  Following the shootings in San Bernardino, CA The New York Times invited people to respond. Over 5,000 did immediately.  Some war veterans said that they felt safer in war zones that on the streets of America.  Others indicated fear whenever they see a woman reach into a pocketbook or a man checking the time on his wristwatch.  Many said they would not attend large public gatherings.

59% believe the economy is doing poorly. 69% of Americans think the nation is on the wrong track. 47% say that their family is scraping by, making only enough to pay bills and obligations. 56% believe most children in the U.S. will grow up to be worse off than their parents.

In 2015 we learned a lot more things are not good for us.  Shift work can be unhealthy and increase the risk of heart disease, obesity, and metabolic disorder.  Injuries involving women wearing high-heeled footwear doubled in the U. S. between 2002 and 2012.  Dietary supplements were responsible for 2,100 hospital admissions in the U.S. last year.  Belly fat is linked to a buildup of deep visceral fat that wraps around internal organs, increasing the risk for heart attack, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.  We are told to worry about waist loss as much as weight loss.

I suggest a word for us for 2016 – FORWARD. It may be a pessimistic picture of gloom, as we enter 2016, but let’s move forward! Going backwards will usually get us into trouble.  Going forward opens up possibilities of what God can do.

When the 12 spies went to scout the Promised Land, 10 reported that it was occupied by giants and would be impossible to enter.  Caleb interrupted them and declared “Let’s go forward and take the land.  We can do it!” (Numbers 13:30)

I have a choice of focusing on the rearview mirror in my car or the front windshield.  The mirror sees what is behind me.  The windshield sees what is in front.  My windshield is 100 times larger than my rearview mirror.  I need to spend 100 times more time looking forward than backwards!  My car has several gears.  Only one is for reverse to go backwards.  There are several gears to help me go forward.  Keep going forward.

Helen Keller once said, “If we keep our eyes focused forward on the sunshine, we will never see our shadow behind us.”  If our memories ever exceed our dreams – we are in trouble!

Going forward focuses on faith.  Looking back creates fear.  We have a choice to choose fear or faith.  Fear paralyzes – Faith sets us free.  Fear takes us backwards, Faith takes us forward.

Ecclesiastes 11:13 says, “If you wait for perfect conditions you will never get anything done.”  Job said, “The righteous keep moving forward.” (Job 17:9)  Paul said, “I focus on this one thing forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.” (Philippians 3:13)

Go Forward!

Predictions Must Produce Performance

We love to make predictions.  At the end of every year people will predict a lot of things about the upcoming year.  I enjoy listening to sports talk programs where people are encouraged to predict who is going to win ballgames.  It is an interesting exercise, but nobody is really good at it.

Sports Illustrated (SI) has always been regarded as an expert in sports.  Check these predictions:

  • On November 26, 1979, SI said, “The character of O.J. Simpson will endure.  It will be his legacy.”  Fifteen years later he was tried for the murder of his ex-wife.
  •  On March 11, 1985, they predicted that Gary Nicklaus would be “The next Nicklaus.”  He only made one PGA Tour top 10.
  • April 19, 1999, they predicted Tim Couch “The No. 1 pick will lead the Browns to greatness.”  The Browns went to no playoffs.
  • On August 29, 2005, SI referred to Jeff Francoeur as “Georgia’s new peach.”  In nine seasons he made the All-Stars zero times.
  • November 28, 2005, SI said that Jimmy Clausen is “A once-in-a-generation talent.”  He had one win in four years as an NFL quarterback.
  • In 1967 SI predicted 12-foot college basketball rims.
  • In 1986 SI wrote, “TV sports are in big trouble.”
  • In 1993 SI predicted the demise of the NFL by saying “Can the NFL be saved?”
  • In 1994 SI questioned, “Is tennis dying?”
  • In the 2013 baseball preview SI picked the Washington Nationals to win the World Series – they didn’t even make the playoffs.  The team that did win it, the Boston Red Sox, was slotted for last place in the American League East.

How are these predictions turning out?

  • In 1876 Western Union said, “The telephone concept has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication.”
  • In 1899 Charles Duell, Commissioner of the U.S. Office of Patents, said, “Everything that can be invented has been invented.”
  • In 1943 Thomas Watson, the President of IBM, said, “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.”
  • In 1954 the Grand Ole Opry told Elvis Presley, “You ain’t going nowhere son.  You ought to go back to driving a truck.”
  • In 1962 Decca Recording Company rejected the Beatles saying, “We don’t like their sound and guitar music is on the way out.”
  • In 1981 Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft said, “640K ought to be enough computer memory for anybody.”
  • At the beginning of 2015 SEC Conference sports football writers picked Georgia to win the East and Auburn to win the West.

I will conclude by making a few predictions myself:

  • I predict that no man will ever predict accurately the date of the end of the world. (Matthew 24, 25)  I do predict that today we are one day closer than we were yesterday!
  • I predict that God’s group will ultimately win in the end.  I have read the last chapter of His book and I know Who is going to win. (Revelation 22)
  • I predict God has a plan and a purpose for each of us and I predict that your life and my life will work out best when we follow His plan. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Only believe a prediction you know to be true from God’s Word

Emmanuel

One night Joseph’s sleep was interrupted by a visit from an angel who announced that he was going to be a father and that his fiancée Mary was going to conceive a child by the Holy Spirit.  The angel then declares that the prophesy is coming true which says, “Behold the virgin shall be child and shall bear a child son and they shall call His name Emmanuel which translated means God is with us.” (Matthew 1:20-23)

Christmas is a story of how God elected to become a human like us to be with us in the form of His Son.  The description of His arrival on earth is fascinating and demonstrates the awesome power of God who can do anything.  When He was here, He said that He would always be with us. (Matthew 28:20) The everyday presence of Christ means that Christmas lives on every day.

Dr. G. Campbell Morgan was once visiting an elderly woman and reading the Bible to her.  At the end of Matthew’s gospel Dr. Morgan read, “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”

At this point the pastor thought he would make a theological comment by saying, “That is a great promise.”  The old woman quickly replied, “That is not a promise at all – that is a fact.”

The coming of Jesus had been promised in the Old Testament.  But the real meaning of Christmas lies in our understanding that it is a fact because we experience His presence today.  Jesus was not just born 2,000 years ago – He is born into the hearts of every person who receives Him today.  It is a fact that His presence is very noticeable!

On the day of his anointing by Samuel, David experienced the presence of God.  I Samuel 16:13 says, “The Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward.”  Verse 18 affirms the fact that others recognized that “the Lord is with him.” The presence of God was evident in the life of David – and other people recognized it.

I read a great story about Bishop King of Lincoln, England.  One day he went to see a dying man.  It was a very lonely road on a dark night.  After traveling a good ways, Bishop King reached the address of the house and there was no one there.  He was perplexed.

Years later, and when he was a Bishop, he visited a man in prison who was serving a death sentence and to his surprise the criminal asked the Bishop if he remembered that incident.  The prisoner said, “It was I who gave you the false message.  I wanted to lure you out that I might rob you on the lonely road.”  The Bishop then asked, “Why didn’t you attack me?”  The prisoner’s reply was extraordinary.  “I couldn’t do it.  I lay in hiding determined to attack you on your way back, but I saw that you were NOT ALONE.”  The Bishop insisted, “But I was alone.”  The prisoner quickly said, “No you were not.  There was a mysterious looking stranger walking close beside you who followed you to your house and then he disappeared.  My chance to attack you was gone.”

Bishop King said that he would have a difficult time explaining that, except that he knew it was the presence of God that the robber saw.  He then thought that maybe the robber saw something that even he had not been as open to see in himself – the presence of God in his life.

My prayer this Christmas is that you experience the marvelous joy of the presence of God through His Son Jesus Christ in your life.  He is your best friend, your companion, your partner, your protector, your guide, your leader, your mentor, your fact – God is with us!

Emmanuel!!

Money – Attitude and Action

Money is neither good nor bad.  The amount of money is neither good nor bad.  Its value depends on what we do with it.  That involves attitude and action.

ATTITUDE

Money can create a selfish, greedy attitude.  We assume that the money belongs to us.  We assume that ever how much we have, we ought to get more.  Have you ever met anybody who said they had enough?

The Bible says, “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” (I Timothy 6:10 NIV)  The love of money creates in us a mindset that is totally self-centered rather than centered on God and others.  That attitude begins to shape our value system and core responsibilities.

A couple of studies shed light here.  In 2011, the people who gave the largest percentage of their income to charity were the poorest 20 percent of Americans.  They gave 3.2 percent of their income to charity.  The wealthiest 20 percent gave just 1.3 percent.  One of the researchers suggested that the poor may have given more because they have “higher empathy” because they are more exposed to need.

Another study in 2014 showed having more sometimes tends to affect our moral behavior.  People with annual incomes ranging between $16,000 and $150,000 served as volunteers in a study.  It was found that the wealthiest were more likely to cheat to win a $50 prize, take candy from children, and even pocket extra change if it was given to them by mistake.  It was concluded that people who drive high priced cars were four times more likely than those who drove cheaper models to cut off other drivers and pedestrians.

The study author, Paul Piff, says that one of the dangers of becoming rich makes us more likely to lie, cheat and steal.  He concludes that money sometimes insulates us from the outside world and makes us “less likely to perceive the impact.”

ACTION

While the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, the love of God’s mission is the root of all kinds of good.  God’s mission, simply stated, is “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”  (Mathew 22:37-39)  Paul writes, “…use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need.” (Ephesians 4:28) The purpose of money is to be used to fulfill God’s mission, not create my own empire. (Tweet this)

Tony Campolo describes the modern man’s effort to get more as “Affluenza.”  It is the cancer of the soul of modern people.  It’s far more deadly than any strain of influenza.  The cure for affluenza is giving.  Rather than getting more, we give more.  Money fulfills its purpose when it is used to fulfill God’s purpose.

Money is neutral.  It is neither good nor bad.  It can be deceptive.  It can be an obstacle or an opportunity. What we do with it determines the value we receive from it.  It can create in us a sense of greed and selfishness, or it can create in us a generous spirit that does something for God’s mission.

John Wesley was right when he said, “Make all you can.  Save all you can.  Give all you can.”  That is a healthy attitude towards money – and produces positive actions!

 

Step In The Water!

One of the most intriguing stories in the history of mankind is recorded in the Book of Exodus.  It contains the reality of how people are in bondage, the attributes of leadership to lead the people out of bondage, the reluctance of people to have faith to follow, the command of God to always go forward, and the awesome power of God to lead the people through impossible situations.

The Israelites were in bondage to the Egyptians.  Moses was selected by God to free them.  As they were leaving Egypt, they were pursued by the Egyptians.  They came to the impossible task of crossing the Red Sea.  Exodus 14 tells of how the people of Israel wanted to go back to Egypt.  They felt they were safer there.  They formed the “back to Egypt” committee.

Moses kept telling them to obey God and follow Him.  A key phrase that is always important when we face difficult situations is found in Exodus 14:15 when God said to Moses, “Tell the sons of Israel to go forward.”

When you face a situation in life that seems to be impossible, remember that God can redefine the possible.  God is greater than any enemy that is behind us and greater than any force that is in front of us.  We must obey and go forward.

Moses had to step in the water.  God told him to stretch out his hand and God sent a strong east wind that held the water back and turned the sea into dry land.  The people of Israel went through the midst of the sea on dry land and came safely to the other side.  The Egyptians didn’t make it.

God raises up leaders today who, like Moses, don’t listen to the wisdom of people, but follow the command of God.  Godly leaders don’t necessarily win popularity polls.  They don’t make decisions based on what seems to be the most obvious to everybody else.  Godly leaders follow the command of God.

Exodus 14:22 says that the people of Israel “went through the midst of the sea on the dry land.”  God didn’t just take them out to the middle of the situation and abandon them, but they kept going forward and He led them through the danger.

When you face a big situation in life don’t just walk up to it and face it and half-heartedly begin to trust God.  He wants us not to just go into the situation, but to go through the situation!

Remember how David said in the 23rd Psalm that “when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death we will fear no evil for God is with us and His rod and staff comfort us.”  We don’t stay in the valley – we go through it.  The reason we can go through it is that God is with us and His rod and staff are always there to comfort and protect us.

Moses later passed the mantle of leadership to Joshua.  He followed in Moses footsteps.  He was leading the people and they came to the Jordan River.  When the people were fearful and saw the impossibility of crossing the river, Joshua said, “Tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.”  (Joshua 3:5)

God told Joshua to put his feet in the Jordan and the water would back up and the people could walk through.  Joshua obeyed  – God was faithful, and the people went through that impossible situation.

What water obstacle are you facing today?  In what area of life is God calling you to be a Godly leader?  Are you willing to trust and obey Him?  Are you willing to keep going forward and walk through the water?  God provides everything necessary to do that.

Step in the water!