Friday, October 23, 2015

Herding Cats

  When someone is given the frustrating job of getting a large group of people to work together to accomplish a singular assignment, there is a commonly used expression to describe the experience, "It's like trying to herd cats."  Cats are not known for being the most cooperative animals. They tend to be very independent, and like to go their own way, usually scattering in all directions. Felines do not move smoothly along like a herd of cattle. Now try to imagine a herdsman attempting to move a herd of a thousand cats from one place to another. Can you see it? Crazy cats running every which way. Cats going in every direction, except the direction the herdsman wanted them to go.  Pure Chaos!

Now again try to imagine the task that General George McCellan faced when President Lincoln appointed him General in Chief of the entire Union Army. He inherited a huge untrained, undisciplined, demoralized army, fresh from a defeat in their first encounter with the Confederate rebels. A battle that most expected the Union to easily win. What now?  Just to get hundreds of raw recruits to march in unison would be the first simple order of business. Not many generals would have been up to such an assignment delegated to them. A few men when faced with such difficulties would have considered giving up, and just make peace and go home. The job is too difficult.  Thankfully, for the Union they not only had a strong willed general in charge, but a determined President and a determined Nation to push through the great challenges ahead.

I'm sure anyone in Church leadership can relate. In the Scriptures, the people of God are often referred to as Sheep. But, more often than not, Christ's disciples act more like cats than sheep, running in every different direction, rather than moving together. It is a daily challenge to corral  independent, opinionated, talented, but busy Christian people together. As I said in the beginning, it can be frustrating being a leader. If I had lived Two Thousand years ago, and a man had come up with the idea of the Church, and its success would be dependent on people working in unity together, I would have cynically said, "It will never work. People!, working unselfishly together? No Way!"  It would be as successful as trying to herd cats.

But, It was not a man's idea. It was God's.
The work of the Kingdom, and the success of the Church, is not totally dependent on Man. Jesus is the Good Shepherd. "I AM the Good Shepherd, and the sheep hear My voice... and they follow Me."
John 10:1-4  
 He knows how to herd cats. Thank God.
Two Thousand years later, the Church has reached every corner of the globe, and billions of people, people of every tongue and nation, know His story.  He definitely knows how to get "cats" working together and moving in the same direction.
Christ proclaimed, "I will build My Church, and the gates of hell will not stop it."  (Matt. 16:18)
And crazy cats can't stop it either.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Fog of War

  Military operations during the Civil War depended heavily on communications and intelligence to be successful. When one or both of these elements become compromised, the result is often called the F
og of War. This phrase encompasses all of the confusions and miscalculations that can occur during an actual combat situation. 

The most common forms of wartime communication were the spoken word, newspapers, mail, written reports and dispatches, and the telegraph. On the battlefield communication was achieved by the signal corps use of: wigwag flags or torches, battle flags, drums, and bugles. The new art of photography produced images of loved ones, military installations, landscapes, cityscapes and gruesomely, the dead on the battlefield. These important forms of communication were used to inform, control, and maneuver a commander's forces. On the other hand, an enemy would deploy counterfeit signals to confuse or intimidate the enemy. During battle things could get really obscured.

Several years ago I awoke to an extraordinarily foggy morning in Pittsburgh. The weather reminded me of the fog I used to experience when I lived in central California. It would get so extremely foggy, you literally could not see beyond the hood of your car. The only way to safely navigate was to follow the reflectors in the road. You could not stop, or even slow down for fear of being hit from behind. You did not dare follow the car in front of you, because it may be running off the road because of the fog. You could not risk pulling over either, since you did not know where the side of the road was, or someone might follow you over a ledge.

Christians today are encountering the same dangerous, foggy conditions, but in a spiritual sense. The Road of truth, morality, values, and who God is, have become an extremely treacherous road to travel. The clear skies of right and wrong, truth and error, have become increasing obscured by the fog of Man's opinions. What is the Believer to do, to safely navigate through such times? We do the same thing I did in California.

We follow the lines in the road.  We follow the clear plans of our Spiritual Commander in Chief.
"Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, a light unto my path." Psalms 119:105

We follow the reflectors, set in the road by the designer.
"I Am the light of the world, they that follow me shall not walk in darkness."  John 8:12

We don't slow down or stop, because someone is surely following you.
"I have set you as lights to this world, that you would show them the way to safety." Acts 13:47