That Chaos Moment

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In Exodus 14:14, Moses tells the Israelites:
“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

And, then in the very next verse,

Exodus 14:15, God tells Moses this:
“Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on.” 

Ladies and Gentlemen, That Chaos Moment.  The moment when communication breaks down, and vision grows fuzzy.

It’s no wonder that God and Moses got their wires crossed.  Moses said, “God’s got this.  Be still.”  God said, “I’ve got this.  Keep moving!”  For a moment there, the communication lines between God, Moses, and the Hebrews were about as shaky as it gets.

We give the Hebrews a lot of grief for being whiney and complaining but, you know, none of them had ever done this before.  Crossing the red sea?  Chariots chasing them?  This was all chaos to them.

We would probably be smart to recognize that such a moment can happen to churches, too, especially ones moving into uncharted territory.  The pastor or church leadership may have one direction in mind, the people may be impatient or uncertain, and God may be desperately trying to move the church in yet another direction.

That Chaos Moment may be necessary, and not nearly as scary as it sounds.  God’s advice is rarely wrong, of course.  We just need to heed God’s call to “keep moving”–to step boldly into the uncertain.   That doesn’t mean our Moses-types are necessarily wrong, encouraging the “stillness” of discernment.  It is, after all, a sure way to reacquire God’s signal and direction.

And as for the impatient, even complaining person in the pew?  They can be a potent reminder that the vision must be shared amongst everyone.  Of course, even the best communicated vision can fail to bring along all the stragglers, but when the core people reengage with God and church leaders, there’s no barrier that cannot be crossed over.  Or through.

That Chaos Moment can hit any church, any time, but especially the church that’s charted a course towards a spiritual unknown.   It takes faith to pass through the waters of chaos and see the dry land of the very next moment…

Here it comes…

That Liberation Moment.

Have a Great Week,

Mitch

part-red-sea



 

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Wonderful Counselor

 

Christmas Quiz:  Which of the following counts as “Wonderful Counselor”?

A.  Deanna Troi, from Star Trek: The Next Generation

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B.  Carl Jung, founder of analytical pyschology.

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C.  Jesus Christ, Savior.

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D.  All of the Above.

– – – –

I could see why you might be tempted to say “D”.

After all, Counselor Troi was a pretty valuable, if fictitious, addition to the crew of the Enterprise.

And Carl Jung (very much real!) made some amazing advances to understanding and treating the mind.

But of all the counselors in all the world, only Jesus can claim that phrase as a bestowed title.

It’s not just a description–it’s a name!

The answer is “C”.

– – – –

In Isaiah, chapter 9 we read these words:

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.

And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  –Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)

– – – –

Awesome words from Isaiah.  We Christians look back at those words and see them as descriptive of Jesus.

There’s Prince of Peace and Mighty God, and even Everlasting Father.

I can see how those all fit.

But why “Wonderful Counselor?”  What is that supposed to even mean?

Does that mean Jesus wants us to lie down on his couch and talk about our earliest memories?

Not exactly…it helps to look at the Hebrew behind the words.

The word we translate as “Wonderful” is a Hebrew word, pele.  It’s a word only used to talk about God.  It refers to something wonder-filled, that only God can do.

And the word for “Counselor” is yoetz. It means to advise, or guide.  It’s less like our modern understanding of talk-therapy, and more like strategizing.

– – – –

When you put the two words together, a picture emerges of Jesus as:

Our Ultimate Guide.

Our Excellent Spiritual Advisor.

Our Wonderful Counselor.

Isaiah could have used all kinds of words and phrases to describe the Child who is to be born, but the Savior that he describes is the very one we desperately need.

Speaking of… if you’re feeling desperate this season, seek out some help.  Sit down with someone and talk it out.

But this Advent journey is an invitation for everyone to make an appointment…

with the most Wonderful Counselor of all.

(He can see you right away.)

Have a Great Week,

Mitch

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