April 28, 2020
Exodus 17:8-13 (NIV)
8 The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. 9 Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.”
10 So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. 11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. 12 When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. 13 So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.
The Israelites’ wilderness struggle goes next level today. They run into a bonafide enemy: The dreaded Amalekites. Gandalf, I mean Moses, taps his lay leader, Joshua: “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites.” Now, watch what Moses does: “Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.”
“Hang on Pastor,” Joshua must have thought. “Isn’t that your job?” Shouldn’t you be going to the battlefield to swing the staff of God while we go to the bleachers—I mean mountain—to pray for you?” I know. I know. That’s eisegesis (i.e. reading my own agenda into the text). I’m calling my own foul, and whether the text supports my point or not, we all know the point is “on point.”
While I am a deep appreciator of ordained clergy people (men and women)—I am one— I think the system many of our churches have devolved into has become toxic for the whole people of God. It’s why the proverbial Amalekites are running up the score against our local churches, towns and cities for the past too-many-years-to-count.
Can we be honest about something? The church doesn’t have lay people. The Church is lay people. If I hear one more person say anything to the effect of, “I’m just a layperson,” I’m going to swat them with the staff of God. And I know it’s not your fault, lay people. It’s the system and church culture many of us find ourselves in. Too often, when a layperson tries to get in the game (which effectively means starting a new game) they get the Heisman, (stiff-arm) not so much from the leadership but from the model. Its not the clergy’s fault either. It’s the broken model’s fault.
Here’s what we all know. We need the army on the field and on the mountain, everyone playing their distinctive part (lay and clergy) in the work of sowing for great awakening. To be clear, I’m not talking about church activities here, but the movement of God’s mission into all the places in a community (and the world) it takes the whole church to go. I’m talking about a bonafide New Testament model of Church.
As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning.
Great Awakening depends on real, deep, and sustained movement at the level of our local churches. The next great program cannot do this. We have all been through enough Bishops’ initiatives and five-point strategic plans to know that they will never get it done. I mean no disrespect to our leaders in saying this—they know it too.
Perhaps the biggest delusion we have all labored under for the past hundred years is we can get to the future we want by changing the model or the method– as though rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic could somehow solve the problem. Only an awakening can turn this ship around; not a passing revival or a brief refreshing, but a comprehensive, broad based awakening that touches and transforms every sector of our society—beginning with the house of God.
Yes, it will take a broad-based person-by-person awakening to see the movement of God’s Spirit sweep across and heal our land. This is all at once a lot easier than any of us imagine—because God will do it—yet it will require a very challenging set of dispositional shifts on our part. It will take a riveted focus on the ministry of Word and Spirit, prayer with fasting, banded discipleship and the imaginative expansion of the Kingdom of God, on Earth as it is in Heaven. (And those links aren’t pitches; just representative examples to show you the skin we have in the game. We are all-in on this.)
When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset.
So here’s the invitation. While COVID-19 is taking a toll on all of our old worlds with their systems, structures, and budgets, it is accelerating our plans to do the real work we hear God calling us to. We hear the call to launch a global network to gather, connect, and resource the people of God to sow for a Great Awakening.
I see myself as Hur. I’m alongside you day in and day out, holding up at least one of your arms over the mission field of your life. There is a much larger Aaron and Hur (and Moses and Joshua and Miriam and Samantha and Bill and Paul and Carol and John and Robyn and Bauta and Gordon and Laura and . . .) kind of work we are all called to. It is the work of sowing for a Great Awakening. It is a together-work. It will be fiercely local and local church oriented yet broadly connected as we read together, pray together, meet together, and sow together.
I don’t want to be over-dramatic, but I think every daily text I have ever written leads to this next question—indeed my whole life to this point: This is why I have come to this work. This is what it is all for.
Are your arms raised? Is your heart as mine? Do you want to explore this? Answer these five quick questions here and we will go from there. I’m not moving to close here but to open; not asking for a commitment but curiosity. This is not a sales pitch. It’s a sowing pitch. Nobody pays. Everybody sows.
So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.
And about our sword? Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:17)
Father, reveal to me the deeper wisdom of your will and ways in the wilderness. Thank you for the mortality check of the wilderness; the urgency it requires and the deeper inner searching you invite in the midst of the struggle. I want my life to count. It’s the only one I have. Would you give me a share in a great awakening? O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy his consolations, through Christ Our Lord, Amen.
As the world gears up for re-opening into its “new normal” (which will be another version of the old normal) how might this COVID-19 crisis be used of God in your life to pivot you into a new mind, heart, direction, aspiration, vision, or anything else?
For the Awakening,