Presentation March 10, 2012: The Joseph paradigm - We need both revelation and implementation skills
- Presenter: Roberto Miranda
- Date: March 10, 2011
I’m honored to be here, encouraged, blessed, edified, all those good words. Last night was a wonderful time, just receiving from the Lord and being around men and women who love the spirit, who love Christ, who are restless to do great things for the kingdom and who are measuring the times and seeking to align ourselves with what God is seeking to do in this pregnant moment in history. So, it’s just great to be here. Thank you so much for having me.
As I sat there and listened to this amazing panel discussion, I said, either this is the greatest introduction I’ve ever been given, to what I’m going to present, or it’s just made me completely redundant. I should just say, forget about it. Everything is been said already and I don’t need to say anything else.
I believe it’s a wonderful spirit coordinated synchrony that we have here. I didn’t get a chance to speak to John about what I was going to present, he’s a man of faith and didn’t even ask me, which is great. But really, I see the coordination between the two moments and I do hope that I can do justice to this kind of alignment of mentalities and spirits.
As far as the introduction is concerned, the very bare piece and then hopefully a little bit will unfold as I make my presentation. I’m a pastor. I pastor in a Latino congregation in Boston inner city, Congregación León de Judá, and at the end of this presentation I’m going to test some of you to see if you remember how to pronounce it.
We have been in our present location for about 15 years. We took a warehouse building, in a dilapidated, at that time, neighborhood 17 years ago, now turned into one of the most sought after sectors of the city. And also it has the dubious distinction being sort of the San Francisco of the Northeast. The south end has one of the most powerful influential gay communities, I think anywhere in the United States really, very strategic thinking, very powerful. No coincidence as Massachusetts was the first state to institute gay marriage, but does not even go there and get lost in that little haystack.
After that we purchased another building right next door. We have rehabbed both buildings and I’ve been in construction for the past 17 years of my life. Each time I finish something, I swear that I will never again do another building, and somehow the Lord presents another. And right now we are in the midst of a building from scratch a 10000 square foot building, four storey, with a new sanctuary, with a very small parking lot and a fourth floor of classroom and office spaces, and linking that building to the other two that we own.
I mention this because during all this time of doing construction and renovation and total construction, I’ve learned a lot about structures and about planning and about strategic thinking and so on and so forth, and I believe the Lord has set me into a metaphor to live it out, or into a prophetic action whichever you want to look at it, to really dwell a lot on what it takes to build structures, to set foundations, to think in a structural fashion and to meditate on where we are now as a church, not just as a local congregation, but a church of Jesus Christ of inhabiting cities and rehabbing broken structures and turning them into functional places for the kingdom, and exercising the proper mental, strategic outlooks that are required to carry out these tasks. Because I think that’s what we have to do with society and with the world. Society is broken, it has beautiful possibilities, just as those red brick industrial buildings that we see all over the places, that have been rehabbed and turned into amazing, beautiful, functional structures.
God’s creation is wonderful, it’s great, it’s a beautiful construction. It’s has great potential, but of course, it’s broken down, it’s dysfunctional, and the church is called to turn these broken down structures into functional, beautiful, harmonious, God honoring structures.
The church has been called to do that. How will we do that? And how will we transmit the energy of the Kingdom of God, all its power, all its beauty, all its potential, into transformative energy that can interact with time and space and have the proper way of being channeled into actions, initiatives that will change structures. It’s not just spiritual energy, it has to translate it into time and space bound energy that can change things.
And we have to have a language to communicate with engineers, and with scientists, and with sociologists, and artists, and technologists, and all the different people of the world, the culture. We have the energy, we have the power, we have the gifting, we have the wisdom and God wants to teach us how to minimize that amazing energy and channel it through very thin conduits that can turn it into action, light, energy, power, transformation, knowledge.
And that is what we are at. That is where the church is at, because I think that we’re living in a kyros moment in history, where God wants to do transformative things, in a scale unlike any other in human history. I am not buying my white robe yet to go into eternity, because I think God still has amazing things to do.
Now, he may choose to do before I finish this presentation, but I really believe in my heart, in my spirit I hope, that it’s going to take a good while yet, and there’s a lot of wonderful things that we need to engage in, a lot of wonderful learning yet to be done. God may not be yet into destroying Nineveh; he may want to redeem it for a while longer. He will destroy it at some point, in his time, but he may yet have something else here for his creation, and his plans may be for good and not for evil, for a while, because in the end it will happen, there will be a new earth and a new heaven.
But meanwhile there may be a lot of work that needs to be done yet. And we need to learn how to move in this time. We must discern what God is about to do and what he already is seeking to do behind the stage, behind the scene, behind the obvious. Even as when we contemplate the obvious, it seems that it’s the very opposite, the exterior surface is going to the dogs and we’re inclined actually to become depressed, rather than excited about what God is about to do in history.
But this is all to say, and again, one of my big problems is how can I say what I have in my spirit in the time? And that’s the challenge of all pastors. Do not hesitate, John, to be very obvious and tell me, hey, stop. I ask you. Maybe a ten minute warning.
Here’s something I want to suggest to you. The need to acquire and develop, what I’m going to call for a lack of better term, a Joseph outlook. Why is that? Because Joseph in a way, for me, is like a paradigm, and I developed this idea just recently trying to encourage our grandson, three and half years old, who is into super heroes and to all this kind of stuff now, to look at scripture, and by the way, my wife, I must give credit to her, was the origin of that impulse. So, we’ve been seeking in YouTube and in the movies and so on, ways to interest him in scripture, and scriptural principles. And I happen to look into Netflix that Joseph, I think it’s King of Dreams, the Joseph movie, and as I looked at it with him and try to explain to him what’s going on, I said, guau, interestingly enough it brought out and entirely new dimension of the story of Joseph to me, a preacher, who has preached so many times on Joseph, I’ve dwelled on him.
Interestingly enough, it took a secular movie to bring out certain aspects of scripture. Why can Christians produce that quality of stuff? I just saw Hugo, and again, [inaudible] these are illustrations. I saw Hugo recently, by Martin Scorsese, a well known movie director, and what an amazing movie. It teaches powerful spiritual ethical principles. It’s a delight to just look at that movie for 2 plus hours and drink of the beauty that it has in it. The characters, the drama, the plot, the cinematography, the technology that went into making that movie, the types that are there, the ethical elements, they enrich us.
I say, why cannot Christians learn the subtlety and the nuance, and the sophistication and the depth that this secular world commands and turn it for kingdom values. Why cannot we portray truth of scripture into such nuanced ways without hitting people over the head with a bat, like we feel we have to do in seeking to produce art. That’s another story.
The point is really, how do we acquire the mentality that is necessary right now, to interact, to extend those fingers that someone was talking about earlier, into the culture and use media and art and finance, and politics, and intellect and all the elements of science and so on, to exert our influence into the world.
There is a mentality that is needed. There is a balance that is needed. There is a tension that is needed. There is a bipolarity, if you will, that is required that I think is exemplified by Joseph and his drama.
I saw things in the Joseph story that inclined me to think of a Joseph paradigm and the point that I want to make is that Joseph exemplified two things that I think need to be acquiered by us as we seek to interact effectively with the culture in this time that we’re living. I’ll give you the punch line before I try to develop it a little bit.
This bipolarity on the one hand revelational knowledge, what I would call a super natural outlook, proceeding and living according to kingdom principles, parsing of the world and processing the world through a lens of super naturalness which is often counter intuitive, counter rational, or at least transrational, and on the other hand, also what I would call the strategic knowledge and administrative knowledge, one I would say, is vertical outlook and the other is a horizontal outlook. One is founded on eternity and spirit, the other is very much within time and space and more oriented to the intellect and to reason.
But the two need to learn to cohabit. They need to learn to dialogue with each other, they need to learn to collaborate and to live in tension with each other within the same soul, within the same being, within the same church. And we need to maintain that balance, we need to establish that tension in our lives, in our ministries, in everything that we do, and we need, as charismatics and Pentecostals, who glory in the spirit and in the eternal, and in the gifts of the spirit, we also need to learn how to set our minds and our eyes on the other dimension, without thinking that somehow we’re betraying the first dimension, that is the dimension of the quotidian, the daily, the repetitive.
There are so many words that we could use, the detail oriented, the specific, the horizontal, the time and space, the technological, the not to attractive or spectacular or dramatic, and learn how to do that oxen like work daily, and to revel in it. And to know that even as we do that, we are glorifying God and we are processing his energy and his power, because God didn’t just create something that was a theory or in spiritual, he created matter, he created history, he created time and space, he created bodies, he created plants and animals, and institutions, and processes that govern these things. And that is also spirit, that is also Godly and we need to stop rejecting the body, and we need to welcome the body, and we need to welcome nature, we need to welcome science, and we need to welcome linear thinking, we need to welcome reason and see it as God given, God glorifying, as long as it seeks its glory and humbles himself before him. That is the difference. Otherwise it’s as much of a illegitimate territory for the church to occupy as any other.
Going back to Joseph, here is the point, I mean, there are so many things that I see in the Joseph paradigm and I call it a paradigm because paradigms are like − the Bible gives us many of them, they’re simply to be meditated upon and to be applied to other areas. They have almost unlimited possibilities of application and interpretation. They’re merely excuses and scaffolding for all kinds of things that we can extract from, they are not [inaudible] themselves, just simply something that God put in there to illuminate his church through thousands of years of existence, and that’s all it is.
I’m going to try to limit myself and read some of these things. By the way, it’s not just Joseph, I see that in Daniel, I see that in Nehemiah, I see it in the Apostle Paul, I see it in Salomon, I see it all the great, great leaders of Scripture that had this double capacity.
We live in mementos times, times of imminence and great moves of God. God is going to do something spectacular, mind blowing, beyond anything that even we, who believe for great things, are able to contemplate. I believe that what we are expecting in coming is a transformation for a while of the human consciousness at a level that we can’t even imagine. Our meager, poor conceptions of revival really dishonor really what God wants to do, the scale that he wants to do it and I’m still trying to put it in the proper place, biblically.
But God is quietly but purposely at work, just as he was in Joseph’s time. We know that God was preparing the scenery for his people to come into Egypt and for Egypt to become a womb for the formation of the Israelite, the Jewish people, and all that he was going to do throughout human history.
Imagine, it was a pregnant moment in history where God was merely using Joseph as the harbinger and the herald of a great time in human history. And Joseph was the instrument that God, the spear head that God uses to enter into Egypt and have Egypt be the womb for the birth of his people. And then when the time for those people to − they have been formed into a one million or more strong people, he would turn that womb into something hostile and take them out and set them into the next stage of the destiny.
So, here is God working but nobody knows about it. Joseph didn’t know about it, his father, his brothers didn’t know about it. They didn’t know that they were involved in the cosmic drama that we can now, with the perspective of Scripture, know what was happening. Just like that, we’re living right now pregnant times and here we are in this gathering. We don’t realize what God is doing behind the scenes, because God is a master strategist and he does all kinds of things quietly, he’s not under any pressure, he doesn’t have to prove himself to anybody, but he’s doing amazing things in history right now.
So, we live in those moments. It’s happening. We may, in fact, see the very opposite, things getting worse spiritually, but God is at work in the advancing his purposes and preparing his scenario.
Joseph didn’t see it and for him things had truly gotten worse. You know the story very well. I mean, he’s at the lowest point of his existence in that jail, wrongfully accused, forgotten. His dreams almost crumbling and asking himself, man, those beautiful dreams that God gave me when I 14, 13, were they just imaginations and that was it?
How many of us ask ourselves today, man, was the call that I received from God, was that intuition that revival was at foot, was that belief that God had called me into Maine, or into Boston, because he was positioning to do something extraordinary, was it just a pipe dream? Was it just adrenaline?
How many of us have asked that? I’ll be the first one to raise my hand. I know a lot of others who expected God to have moved several years ago and he still hasn’t done it. And things keep getting worse, worse and worse. Look at politics, finances, on and on.
So, Joseph and his story have a lot to teach us in these times we are living, as God’s church in the western world, in the XXI century, perhaps in the world as a whole. We’re in a time of crisis just as Joseph was in a time of his own crisis. I think the church is in crisis, society is in crisis and we cannot see the obvious signs of God’s work.
But, you know what? God has determined his favor on us, just as he had determined his favor over Joseph’s life since his childhood. God had a plan for Joseph. God has a plan for his church. But as everything with God, it’s complex, there is always process involved. God is a God of processes. He’s a God of journeys. He doesn’t just go from A to C, he loves to take the long route and to see the scenery and to extract as much glory for his name as he can from the falls and the zigzagging and the meanderings and the detours. We are in a rush, because we’re time conditioned, but God is eternal. So, he’s not in a rush at all, actually, he revels in the process. He takes his sweet time and he extracts every bit of juice from even the falls and the failures and the mistakes of his people, because he’s the master creator and master creators revel in process nuance plot. So it’s going to take time. We are in a rush.
Joseph’s progress was not linear, it wasn’t from A to C, it took time, it involved training and preparation for leadership. It involved breaking and positioning, and it involved testing and purification.
Perhaps it even involved the struggle and spiritual warfare. If we could see deeper, like in the case of Job, who knows, there was also probably demonic activity in his life, trying to hold back, just as in Daniel’s prayers trying to hold back the consummation of God’s plan in his life. And God allows all of that, again, for his glory and to put, as in the folds of the brain and in the meanderings of the lungs as much surface area as possible for teaching and for illumination.
In that same way God is sure in his purposes for our time, but it takes time and process for all of this to unfold. We must be patient and maintain a long term outlook. We must use the time of waiting to train and prepare, to develop the appropriate mentality and outlook. We must continue to be faithful and observant in order to profit to the maximum from this time of waiting and pruning.
In this time that God is taking his sweet time and putting me to sweat every day, I’m trying to get the most out of this time. I’m trying to build structures, I’m trying to learn, I’m reading, I’m preparing my leadership, I’m reflecting, I’m trying to have him break me more and more. I’m trying to become more cognizant of my limitations and my flaws. I’m trying to yield to him my life.
There is a lot of self mastery to use your term that needs to take place in order for the church to do what needs to be done. Let’s use this time. If God is not entering us into the fullness of war, let us take the time to prepare, to train, to go over the manual for the 30th time and to drill into our spirits all the insights that he needs for us, so that when the time comes we’re ready, because we’re not ready now.
If the Lord gave us the creation right now we would squander in it, we would not know what to do with it. The charismatic Pentecostal church, the people who love the spirit were not ready. I can tell you with absolute certainty; we’re not ready to be handed over society. We would make a mess of it, as we make messes of our little churches so many times in our ministries, and our own lives and our families. If we cannot command those little structures that God gives us to learn to manage, how can we manage creation? How can we manage the world’s international scenes? How can we exert Godly, powerful, admirable influence over finances, over politics, over science, art? We can’t. We’re not ready.
So, let us use this time of waiting and of agony, to prepare ourselves, to reflect, do discern from God and to make creative experiments, to learn how to manage the technology that God wants us to manage, so that when he hands it over we’re ready, and we may not even be ready when he hands it over, but at least that we would have made the best of time. We must use this time to prepare and to profit to the maximum.
There was a kyros moment that Joseph had to wait for. You see, what makes me kind of hopeful and at the same time agonic in this process that I’m living, that most of us are living, is the fact that I know that there are certain pieces of the puzzle that only God holds in his hand and that no matter how much I pray, agonize, squeal and protest, God is not going to move until he’s ready to move. He has cards in his deck that I don’t even know about. He’s dealing with circumstances and processes at the cosmic level, at the history level, that I don’t even know about.
One of the things I’ve learned over the past few years is to pace myself, to enjoy ministry, to learn about ministry, to cultivate my garden, to make sure that I’m doing well in my church, to reflect in my own, in what I need and the very great things that God is doing in my life, to prepare my people, to have fun, to read good books, to be with my family and my wife, to enjoy my children, to enjoy our grandson, just to enjoy the creation and wait and keep as much as possible the Sabbath as well. God is taking his sweet time, so why should I agonize.
Sometimes that’s the problem, we’re trying to do God’s work and we’re protesting to him, hey, why aren’t you moving? Come on, look what Obama is doing up in Washington, aren’t you aware of that? Elijah, you know, being concerned and God says, come on, I have somebody to replace him whenever he wants, maybe not this administration but maybe the next. He says, don t worry about it. I got the world in my hands truly. So, enjoy life, let me treat you to a good dinner, take some rest, as he said to Elijah.
And we need to do that too, by the way, because we can’t just be work, work, work. We need to do much more than that during this time. There’s something Joseph had to wait for. God had the intention but there were circumstances that needed to come into place, historical junctures that needed to mature and come into coordination. There are pieces that God needs to mount in the Middle East and Europe, here in America, in African, Latin America, Asia, all of these things need to come together, in the financial sphere, in the political sphere, in the technological sphere, because God is a master coordinator and strategist. So he knows what he needs to do.
And there’s an element, that dimension that is beyond our control, we can affect a lot of things here, yes, but there’s a lot of stuff that we simply need to wait until they come into place and God will tell us in his own sweet time.
As I said before, this has an element of agony and uncertainty, an inner conflict to our lives and ministries, as we await God’s powerful time conditioned moves.
We discerned correctly, yes, God is going to do something; he is going to transform history. He is calling us to great, great things. There are exciting times awaiting us and perhaps our children, who knows, even our grandchildren more than that. We have discerned correctly, but it is not for us to move history as we want, there are pieces of the puzzles that only God holds.
Unfortunately, he doesn’t tell us everything that is in his mind just to reassure us. This requires great faith and long term thinking on our part. We must learn to pace ourselves as God takes his time in putting the necessary pieces into place and sets up the appropriate scenario for our arrival, just as he did with Joseph.
I mean, why does Joseph have to go through this process? be brought into Egypt, take this detour [inaudible] house, have this sinister woman denounce him and then he goes into jail and just roast at slow fire for how many years there. Just waiting. Meanwhile God is working in pharaoh’s house and perhaps the woman who is going to become Joseph’s wife had to grow up first, who knows? There’s all kind of stuff that needed to take place.
God needed to set up the scenario, maybe even nature needed to be prepared for the famine and the great abundance. Meanwhile Joseph is in the waiting room, going through all these processes that are preparing his character, his mind, training him, he’s learning administrative things, he’s learning character, faith, humility, he’s probably training himself in discernment of dreams and the gift that God has given him. All these things were probably taking place while on the other sphere, world’s sphere, the political sphere, God is setting up another scenario, the sphere of nature, pharaoh’s own mind and psyche.
So, when everything is ready, things happen. When that happens, when that moment comes, we need to be prepared. And we will require these two faculties that I spoke about, that Joseph had at that moment, and that others who have been used by him in like manner, in Scripture and outside Scripture, had also.
As I said before, Joseph had revelational knowledge and wisdom and power and skill, and gifting, and he also had strategic and administrative knowledge. How many of us have given a sermon on the strategic face of Joseph’s life? That doesn’t make for good alleluia, praise the Lord, sermons. We romanticize that beautiful moment when Joseph arrives from obscurity and from the jail, all haggard and gaunt and coming before pharaoh and reveals to pharaoh the dream that he had and the meaning of it. And we stop there generally. Oh yes, we acknowledged, but we forget about it to a certain degree, we minimize it in most circumstances. And yet, that is the other piece of the drama. And if we don’t dwell on it and extract from it an equal amount of teaching, then we have lost half of God’s intention.
And if we look at it really what impresses pharaoh the most, I think, and what leads him to put Joseph where he put him, was the fact that Joseph showed, demonstrated in a bit of time that he had administrative knowledge, that he had strategic thinking, that he knew what to do with the revelation.
And over and over I see that in Scripture. Nehemiah, the Apostle Paul, we glorify Paul’s teaching and when God threw him from the horse, we’re like little children, we love the moment of drama and spectacle but then we put like my grandson, put our little finger on the line and we just want to go to the next moment of action. And we don’t want the process part.
And yet there’s so much to learn from it, and really that’s where the church is right now, that is the front that we need to cultivate. That is where the learning curve is for us, that is where the true growth now needs to take to take place for us charismatic and Pentecostals who discern the spirit of God, love the gifts, have a super natural mentality, are aware of the mysteries of Scripture, we have that, but the other part we’re really deficient and defective. That’s why I have this thing, this urge that just announces and declares in many, many different ways and to see that in Scripture, I see it all over the place.
Because as I said, Paul, we don’t see the other side of Paul, the theologian, the man who set the foundation for the theology of the church for the next two thousand years, the master thinker, the writer of Romans which is a masterpiece of theological reasoning and system, the man who could understand the whole outlook and put the Old Testament and the New Testament together, the man who speaks about church structures, about bishops, and teachers and prophets, and who sets up at least the foundation of the structure of the church, the guy who understood that you had to get cities if you wanted to go to the place of leverage for what God wanted to do.
So, he knew that he was a strategic thinker. He didn’t go to the little hovel somewhere, the little hamlets, no, cities, because that’s where it’s happening. If I get a city, I will transfer the energy of the kingdom all over the world, because cities control the world. So he knew that. He spoke probably more than Hebrew. He was a Roman citizen.
Why did God choose him? Why didn’t God choose some other person? Why did he have to choose a persecutor of the church and a Pharisee and not maybe some other disciple who was a little more pliant and more up to speed? No, because God is a master thinker and he uses the natural to do the supernatural. And we don’t understand that many times.
So, he had to choose somebody who had a Roman citizenship that could get him all over the place and get him out of problems when he got into them. He was a Pharisee trained to reason logically and rationally. He knew about the complexity of the Greco-Roman world, about culture, and he had a heart also, yes, he had integrity and a lot of other things. But God took all of these things together.
And so I see, when you have the lens to look at it properly and to analyze Scripture you see that God is as concerned about the horizontal and historical, as he is about the eternal. It’s all his. Only we artificially divide the world into this false dichotomy of spirit and nature. God is master of both and we need to serve both with equal ease.
We need to cultivate revelation knowledge and also strategic administrative knowledge. What I would call vertical knowledge and horizontal knowledge, right brain and left brain dexterities, meaning right brain in simplistic terms because today the brain is being mapped in such a incredible ways, but the right brain is supposedly the area where art and music, and the synthetic simultaneous processes of the brain, that can see things in whole way, and the left brain is mathematics and science, and linear reasoning, and sequential things and so on and so forth.
We need to combine the artist and the scientist, the mystic and the theologian. They need to be put all into one because our brain is two hemispheres that communicate with each other in a coherent way in most cases. When they don’t you’ve got schizophrenia, you get neurosis. And I think the church is neurotic, by the way, and schizophrenic and bipolar many times. We are either manic or we’re depressive, and we can’t be both, I think we need to be both simultaneously and keep the tension in other − we need to learn to serve the right brain and the left brain.
The church of today needs to develop both dimensions of spirituality. We must master the vertical and the horizontal. We are too vertically oriented and that’s why we’re no good to anybody. Usually, the charismatic Pentecostal world is so on fire that we burn our house and ourselves and our ministries down. We’re so spiritually minded that we’re no good for material things, unfortunately.
We’re so prophetic that we cannot manage and administer. We’re so into intuiting the word of God and going up into the mountain that then we forget about team work and delegation, and accountability and explaining ourselves to our people and taking the time to disciple and to manage.
We are so focused on one dimension of the Christian life and of leadership that we have forgotten the other. We’re like a great weight lifter that has one side amazingly developed and then a scrawny leg and a scrawny arm on the other, because he doesn’t take time. Or, have you seen those weigh lifters, huge body from torso up and then scrawny legs because they don’t take time to run or to develop themselves in the bottom part of their body, because it’s all cosmetic. It’s not really about taking time to develop resistance and energy, and stamina.
And many of us are like that, by the way. I think one of the problems today, even as we acknowledge today, and I don’t want to go into another [inaudible], even as we acknowledge in the charismatic church these beautiful, wonderful things that we have, we need to be careful that we’re not simply climbing on to the next popular band wagon, because we’re always doing that.
Where is the next band wagon? Seven mountains. So everybody is now on Seven mountains. Now, we’re managing this vocabulary, this rhetoric of the seven mountains, but the seven mountains hasn’t come into our heart, into our minds and to the structures of our churches, into a way of administering things, to our marriages, into our governance structures. It’s a beautiful language that has dazzled us and we have learned to parrot it, but it hasn’t entered into our minds, into our hearts, into our bodies, into our lives.
Am I making sense there? Because that’s a complex thing. We need to go through the pain of letting this truth that God is downloading into the church kill us and revive and resurrect us, because otherwise what we will have is people who will know how to speak the language and put our goals and mission vision statements on the walls and then we’ll forget about it, we don’t see them again. We do our strategic plans and just forget about them.
I see that schizophrenia all the time in our time. So, I want to denounce that, for hopefully our good and for my own good. We have to tether ourselves to these concepts and then we have to go through the painful, slow agony of integrating them into every area of our lives and our ministries.
So, if we don’t do that, it’ll be merely cosmetic, esthetic but not structural and thorough as God wants it to be, and God’s transforming processes always have to be.
God is moving, about to move in spectacular, dramatic ways. We have a role to play like Joseph and we need to prepare and position ourselves. We need a Joseph outlook, a Joseph balance.
On the world political theatre God [inaudible] circumstances for Joseph advancement on to center stage. He was working on pharaoh, informing him of his intending actions. And God provoked confusing and fear in pharaoh’s mind, in order to bring Joseph on stage. Joseph had what pharaoh lacked, revelation knowledge and administrative knowledge.
God will bring about a set of circumstances in the world stage that will set up the conditions for the advancement of his people on to center stage in our times. That is going to come, wait for it. Prepare for it. I’m waiting. I’m like a horse inside an enclosure and the rider is on top of me and I’m just waiting for the thing to open and just to bolt out of there. I’m anxious and I’m impatient, I’m just waiting, because I know he’s going to do it.
Now, there will be great upheavals in the world scene. We have already be gone to see this happening in the recent ongoing financial crisis that we are experiencing, many of the debacles and the great cataclysms that [inaudible] we’ve seen, Japan, the situation there, 9/11, these are simply harbingers of something much greater that will come. This is the creation and nature, they’re the drumlins of the womb before it gives birth, and that’s all they are, they’re simply preludes.
People and societies will become aware of their ignorance and impotence to solve the crisis that they are and will be facing. Right now we have a bunch of crisis in the world scene. We have the leadership crisis; look at America right now, in this elective time. The youth crisis, the financial crisis, the moral crisis, the Middle East crisis, the advance of terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism, the social political and national fragmentation of our nation and our cultures. It’s happening in northern Europe right now with the Islam and these very liberal cultures that have found that liberalism doesn’t show them what they can do with this Islamic invasion that is going to force into violate their own liberal principles, in order to survive.
There’s a crisis all over the world. There’s the immigration crisis here in America, that requires creative, organic, just solutions. There will be required people, institutions who can provide answers to these crises, like Joseph could provide an answer to Pharaoh’s crisis.
In these times God doesn’t just want spiritual revival in the limited ways that we, evangelicals, can sometimes conceive it. He wants total transformation, systemic, moral, political, economic, cultural and intellectual on a world scale, nothing [inaudible] of a millennium scale. That is what God wants. It’s not just 300 people in Florida or in Toronto having a party, and then the lights go out and then the world is exactly as it was before it started. God wants something transformative.
I’m not interested in that, and I hope that I’m not being irreverent in saying that. I don’t want a revival that lasts two months, even if it’s put through God TV. Only Christians watch God TV. I want something that CBS and CNN will be compelled to put it on. That’s really what interests me. The other stuff I don’t really care about, I’d be happy just to pastor my little church and have a good time at it, instead of spending my time doing something that really doesn’t transform the world. God wants something much more powerful.
We cannot limit ourselves to a Jeremiah like lamenting position simply denouncing, and lamenting the years of our time. We must also be ready to provide unique, admirable solutions. We must receive administrative wisdom from God to speak to the powers that be and show them the way out of their confusion.
God’s role will be to arrange circumstances in such a way that we will be brought into the position to provide the solutions to these confused authorities and powers. He controls the processes and the circumstances. Our role is to prepare ourselves to make ourselves ready vessels for his wisdom and anointing.
Now, Joseph had both, revelation from God regarding pharaoh’s dream and the strategic administrative knowledge to know what to do with it. You see, read the passage, I have it here but my time is up already almost.
Joseph knew how to implement and execute the revelation and how to obtain maximum advantage from it. And I would say that this is what most impressed pharaoh. He realized that Joseph knew what had to be done in the light of the revelations that God had given him. I mean, God didn’t just want to say, I’m about to send the most powerful famine that you’ve ever experienced. Alleluia! Aren’t you happy to know that?
Joseph knew what to do with the revelation, what policy formulations were required in the light of God’s revelation. Imagine what would had happened if Joseph had only known the bare interpretation to pharaoh’s dream. Knowledge of impending disaster, but no effective options, no solution, no polity to remedy the coming tragedy.
Charismatic are often dazzled with the prophetic and with revelational knowledge. We often feel that if we receive this that’s all we need. But this is only the beginning. It’s only the point of departure. We also need to know what to do with it, how to channel it, how to interpret it, how to put that bare energy into a cable that can light a building or send a sound wave or be downloaded into teaching or into a computer program or into a movie, or into a novel, or into a lecture at the university, or into a cultural program.
We need to know what to do with revelation, how to translated into actionable wisdom, strategic information. This requires knowledge, left brain skill. This is important, if I don’t say this I’m leaving you with half puzzle, God can also provide this kind of understanding but we must ask for it. There is a set of things that I would suggest, [inaudible] we must ask for it, we must set about developing and exercising it, we must treasure it and value it like gold. Treasuring this kind of knowledge is a prophetic act, it’s not just, oh, I treasure it. No. it is an action and it is a magnet that will attract it.
That’s when you read the book of Proverbs, it says, if you treasure knowledge, if you seek it like gold, it will be given to you. But the thing is that since we don’t value, as a matter of fact, we’re clueless about this dimension of our spirituality, it sits there as pure potential.
God wants to translate that into kinetic desiring and exercising and experimenting, and he will continue to develop. As we do these little things, buying a farm somewhere and learning how to interact with the world, taking our dilapidated buildings and turn them into exemplary structures, learning how to manage our institutions, how to do team work, how to do leadership train, how to have proper governance, how to have proper finances, how to interact with foundations and philanthropic institutions and the federal government and so on, and to have the kind of accountability and excellence and administration that will command the respect. Then we’re ready to do what God wants us to do.
And we must set about developing and treasuring that kind of capacity, as much as revelation knowledge really, Joseph’s wisdom, horizontal, illuminated, incandescent knowledge, we need that.
We must place great importance on these less spectacular hard skills of leadership, they will be required like at no other time in human history. The role that awaits the church in the XXI century is not only spiritual; it is also administrative, political, cultural, financial, strategic. It will require great strategic wisdom and intelligence. We must be preparing ourselves and our churches to reflect this kind of leadership. Our churches and pastorates should reflect the great deal of excellence in our organizational acumen.
We must become adept students, art students of leadership. We must go to Egypt to become adept in these skills of leadership, just like Moses. Why did God put Moses in Egypt, in the house of pharaoh? Because he needed to prepare a statesman, a warrior, a strategic thinker to lead million plus people out of one place and have them migrate to another place and keep them together. We know how difficult that was.
So, God always uses science and technology, and the latest knowledge and nature to further his purposes, not because he can’t do otherwise, but he revels in that. That’s the way he chose to work, and we must also work in like manner.
We try to be better than God and try to be bomb, as you would saying in that wonderful image, we want God to come and open the Red Sea and we want to bomb culture, and we want God somehow to break it open in a second, then we come in and we conquer. No. God is going to take longer than that. There’s going to be a lot more process oriented than that.
We must study the great secular manuals of leadership and milk them for what they can give us. Then, we need to sanctify these principles and submit them to the principles of Scripture, because the latter should always prevail.
This horizontal wisdom must be inserted into a super natural mentality. So, charismatic institutions are often the weakest and most ephemeral. Look at the duration of most of our churches and our ministries. Our leaders often show the least character in kingdom order in their lives. I speak as a charismatic and I think that we know what we’re talking about.
Lee Grady who writes for Charisma Magazine I think he’s taken upon himself, perhaps it’s his prophetic call, to denounce the excesses, the cheapness of so much charismatic conduct and the absolute lack of integrity and structure, in so many of our charismatic practices. By the way, that’s the greatest argument for unity, the fact that the evangelical world, those poor devils that don’t know about the gifts of the spirit, they have things that they can teach us. And we can teach them about the spirit.
The liturgical world has areas about history and about the accumulation of knowledge and the blessing of the Father and this long history in their understanding of liturgy and ritual, there’s a beauty to that as well, and that activistic world of the liberals, the Christians who are trying to affect justice and so on and so forth, they have something to teach us as well. And those fundamentalist devils that are just interested in maintaining the purity of Scripture, they have something to teach us as well and we should respect them, because they have something very important.
By the way, I would say that as those fingers of the church are extended into the world it’s not a merely passive thing, it’s not just the church that is going to be influencing the world, it just gives the world more surface to influence us and that is the biggest danger of all. And so we better tether ourselves in Scripture, even as we go into that world very gingerly and carefully, because we have no option, but know that the world is going to push back and the principalities and powers are also going to push back. And the pressure is going to be equal or even greater sometimes, because the world of the devil has the capacity to seduce the church like no other.
So, know that this is not a purely innocent thing. No. this is a very dangerous thing that you are undertaking. As you seek to influence the world, and you interact with it, the world interacts with you. Those doctors and those lawyers, and those sociologist and those college professors, they will come into your church with this worldly mentality and they will seek to influence your preaching and your teaching, and your governance, and you will be dazzled by their presence and you will want to please them. Before you know it, you will have lost your soul, and change your church.
So, what I’m saying is that all of these different elements of the church, to me, that’s the biggest argument for unity. We need that cross pollination and God is delighted to not give everybody, or just one segment of the church the entire enchilada, the little pieces that we almost come together and put them together.
So, let me stop here and just say is that what God is asking us to do is to dedicate time and to be afraid and not afraid of developing these skills and to exercise them. I spent the past few years of my life trying to learn how to do that in my church. Right now we’re building a ten million dollar building and we had to do it for four million. And I’ve had to learn how to do things better than the world.
Now, I have a Harvard trained architect, and I have a project manager of 25 years of experience, and I have a construction company and a site manager, and I lonely pastor, I’m in battle daily with all of them, and I’ve learned to admire them in their processes, but I’ve also learned to take it with a grain of salt, because when God gives wisdom he can teach you to go beyond that. You rise above the clouds and you can see things that the experts don’t see, and that is what can enable you to do things the way the world doesn’t know how to do it, ten times better. So, you build buildings that are ten million for four million, I pray that the Lord will keep us until we conclude it, so far he’s been amazing and I’m surprised myself. I expected great moments of terror, so far, they haven’t materialized. I hope that it will be like that, Lord.
So, I’ve learned to respect that dimension but also to question it and it’s both. We need to live in the tension. Thank you for your time.
(Editorial note - To deepen this reflection we recommend Brandt Gillespie: Building big lives not big churches)