In the first chapter of Joshua, we see a young leader who is struggling to find his identity. Leadership has just been thrust upon him and he is understandably afraid. Here he is with an entire nation to lead and very little experience or training to qualify him for this position. What's more he is about to lead this nation to conquer a land reported to be populated by giants and which is so treacherous that it devours its own inhabitants. This is a nation of people who were difficult for even his mentor, Moses, to lead effectively. Where does he start? What does he do? You can understand if the guy is overwhelmed.
9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
That’s what God says to Joshua and I believe it’s what He says to us today.
We live in a very fearful time.
If you look around, it seems our society has become increasingly fearful. Some of it is our own success. You don't worry about losing what you have as much when you have nothing. We have become so successful and so affluent and as a result, so material, that we create entire industries on dealing with our fears. We insure everything against every fear that we can imagine. We buy increasingly more intricate and technologically advanced security systems in order to protect our lives. We feed these fears with our time and our money. It's prevalent in our politics. On both sides of the aisle, whatever party affiliation you profess, you hear politicians playing to our fears. They are desperately convincing entire populations that there are the ubiquitous “others” out there who are trying to destroy their way of life. This fear of the unknown keeps feeding their political machine and keeps people coming out to stop the impending invasion. You can see the same fear creeping into our churches. We mobilize because of whatever real or perceived persecution that we believe is coming. We cry out that we are being treated unfairly and that our liberties and religious freedom is being trampled upon all the while Christians are being executed in other countries for simply owning a Bible. If you turn on the TV, you will see “reality” shows like “Doomsday Preppers” which chronicles the lives and preparations, and fears, of families who are devoting all their time, money and energy preparing for disaster and feeding their fear. Fear dominates our society.
As we increasingly live in a culture permeated by fear, we have to remember that God is with us and the battle belongs to Him.
Over and over Joshua is called to overcome his fear. Because that is the definition of courage. Courage is not the absence of fear. The absence of fear is closer to insanity than courage. Courage is overcoming fear. Pushing past the fear and moving ahead towards our goal. Towards the win.
Joshua was given an identity and a clear direction for leadership. He had a specific goal and he knew the necessary steps to reach that goal.
Unfortunately, that’s not always true in churches. We know we want to serve God but we’re not really sure if we’re spinning our wheels or not. It's easy to get ourselves in a rut of doing "what we've always done" or to become so overwhelmingly busy that we miss the call of Jesus. We are not called to "do church." We are called to BE the church.
Our mission is simple: TO GROW IN FAITH, BRING HOPE TO A DYING WORLD, AND TO BE KNOWN BY OUR LOVE.
But how do we know when we're doing it? How do we know when we're successful or even just heading in the right direction?
Starting Sept 25th we will have some one-afternoon vision casting sessions in the Multi Purpose Building. These will be lunch sessions with childcare so that you can connect with the direction and mission of East Side. These sessions will be limited to just a few families each time so you can sign up for the one that best suits you. Hopefully you will be able to connect with the vision and direction of the church and help find your place in fulfilling that vision.
You may sign up in the back of the auditorium starting this Sunday. I hope you will join us. However, if you can’t, there will be about one of these a month for the next few months.
I truly hope you will join us during this time. I’ve said before that this is an exciting time to be at East Side. Things are changing and God is at work. I hope you will find a way to be a vital part of that as we step into the next phase of His vision for us.