Consistently Emmanuel

“Emmanuel” – This name for God is always popular around Christmas because it means, “God with us.” It makes sense that people would remember Him with this name during this time of year since Christmas is a celebration of Jesus coming to earth – God being present with us.

I’ve been studying Joshua quite a bit lately, and there’s this obscure little passage in Joshua 5:13. Joshua is about to lead Israel into the battle of Jericho and he comes across what he thinks is a man in the desert with a drawn sword. Joshua asks if he is “for us or against us.” Can you hear it? Joshua wants to know if He is with them. (Remember: “Emmanuel”means “God with us”) Revealing Himself as the “commander of the Lord’s army,” He answers saying he is not with him or against him, but that Joshua is on holy ground. Joshua immediately begins to worship, and the commander of the Lord’s army begins to give Joshua the details of how to take Jericho. The whole story is tied to Moses’ experience with the burning bush (even some of the same language is used – “take off shoes” “holy ground”) – anyway, it’s about God calling a man to follow him.

Ultimately, it’s sort of like Joshua was asking the wrong question. The right question to ask God is not “Are you for us?” but “Are we with You?” I wonder if we’ve been missing something at Christmas. Yes, it’s important to recognize “Emmanuel” – that “God is with us.” But what about the other question? – “Are we with God?” It’s the difference between asking Him to bless the things I’m involved in as opposed to me getting involved in the things He is blessing – His work. Do I serve God or is He here to serve me? I can’t speak for you, but I know in my life, God has proven Himself to be “with me” over and over again. On the other hand, I’ve failed to be “with Him” over and over again too. Emmanuel is consistently Emmanuel – always “God with us.” I’m not very consistent.

Like Joshua, I believe we are being called. God is calling us to join Him, to follow Him, to be “with Him.” Maybe the most important thing is for me to work for that.

Emmanuel is a great reminder of God’s faithfulness, but it also makes me recognize my own failures. My bride is a good example – the more she loves me, the more I realize I desire to do things for her. Her love inspires me to love her more. Emmanuel inspires me to love Him more because I recognize how amazing He truly is!

Prayer: Lord You are consistently, always, faithfully “Emmanuel.” Help me to be “with You” too.

Fresh Perspectives and Barbaric Yawps

Perspective2 There’s a great scene in the movie Dead Poet’s Society, where Robin Williams’ character (a teacher) tells his students to stand on top of a desk and look at the world differently. He encourages them to see things differently, to think differently, to become who they are and to find their “barbaric yawp.”

Perspective makes all the difference – one sees a a fearful unknown, while another sees an adventure. In 1 Sam16, a father sees a shepherd boy, but Jesse sees a king. In the next chapter, an army sees an mighty warrior giant, but David sees a mere human coming against God. It’s been proven over and over throughout time. Do you see big and crazy circumstances, or do you see a bigger God. AW Tozer said it this way: “What you think about God is the most important thing about you.”

So how do you gain this perspective? When you’ve tried standing on everything there is to stand on and you’ve looked at every possible angle? When you know it’s gotta change, but you just can’t seem to see a way to make things work. What do you do? What do you do, when you’re “yawp” isn’t very “barbaric” because you’re not really even sure it’s gonna work?

Perspective It’s tough, but I gotta say, the best answer is to wait a little longer for clarity, but eventually there comes a time when you just gotta “yawp” as “barbarically” as possible anyway! Let your “yawp” rise up from within you and then stand up and boldly proclaim your “barbaric yawp.” Think about Joshua as he marched around Jericho. Surely, he had some questions about how it was gonna all play out. He had to wonder if this was the right perspective or if he had somehow missed something. Surely, he wasn’t very “barbaric” about this decision on the inside. But on the outside – he stood strong – and when the timing was right, and his “yawp” had risen up within him, he just went for it and trusted that the perspective he had been shown was from God.

Mark Batterson talks about leaders as lion chasers, and he says that they are people who are willing to “look foolish.” Joshua would have looked pretty foolish if he hadn’t trusted God’s voice and the perspective he had been given. He “yawped” with the best of ’em that day. It was more than “barbaric” to do battle with some lanterns, horns, and some marching men. And had they been defeated that day, well. . . can you imagine the headlines the next day?

Yawp Anyway, I think there are way too many people who never “yawp.” They come to a defining moment, and aren’t prepared, or are just too scared and they cower. What a tragedy to get to the end of life to have never found your voice, your calling, your purpose, your “yawp.” Another quote from the movie sums up this thought: “I went into the woods because I wanted to live deliberately. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life… to put to rout all that was not life; and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

So what is your “Yawp?” Will you let it rise up in you and allow it to burst forth? A “barbaric yawp” is one which is supported by the whole of your being. It’s from the gut, from the heart, deep, passionate, untamed – barbaric. It’s not something you can undo either. You either go for it and fail miserably, or you miss your opportunity and regret it forever.