Pastor's Pastor

Pastor's Pastor: Young men see visions; Old men draw maps

Pastor's Pastor: Young men see visions; Old men draw maps

The Old Testament provides just such a map. We view the book of Joshua as a dynamic story of mighty deliverance, powerful acts, and conquering glory. Of course, Joshua is all this and more. But remember, this narrative is first a historical record of what had already occurred.

James A. Cress is the Ministerial Secretary of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

Recently I experienced a déjà vu moment when my colleague’s father-in-law carefully detailed driving instructions for an oft-traveled route. When the old man finished, my colleague whispered, “Watch! He will instruct us again before we leave.”

Sure enough, once we were in the car, ready to depart, the same excruciating details were repeated. The scenario recalled memories of my own father’s little maps that he repetitiously thrust into his sons’ hands to instruct us how to drive—even the familiar route back home. My colleague understood this preoccupation of old men—drawing maps to assure themselves that those who come afterward will find their way home safely.

The Old Testament provides just such a map. We view the book of Joshua as a dynamic story of mighty deliverance, powerful acts, and conquering glory. Of course, Joshua is all this and more. But remember, this narrative is first a historical record of what had already occurred.

You probably picture Joshua as the strong warrior who assisted Moses, spied out the land, stood for justice, led Israel across the Jordan River, and conquered Jericho. I easily imagine Joshua in his prime, maybe 40 years of age. But Joshua was a senior citizen when Moses died. His spying partner, Caleb, already had reached 85 years. So when I heard Pastor Guideo Quinteros, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Chile, preach these points from Joshua’s account, I recognized that he was bringing to mind a road map for faithfulness.

God spoke to Joshua (Joshua 1:1). God enjoys speaking to His leaders today just as He spoke with Joshua. Thus, prayer is not only pouring our petitions into God’s ear but also hearing His voice speak to our mind and heart. How shall we respond? Listen! God instructed Joshua (Joshua 1:2). “ ‘Go over this Jordan, you and all this people.’ ” God’s distinct purpose for His people—“You are here. I want you there!” Following God’s instructions propels people into the Promised Land. How shall we respond? Move!

God promised success (Joshua 1:3, 5). “You will possess the land where you make your stand; No one will dare confront you.” Leaders who follow God’s direction are imbued with heavenly power. Neither human nor demonic forces will attain advantage when your dream matches God’s dream and you follow His instructions. How shall we respond? Venture!

God called Joshua to strength and courage (Joshua 1:6, 7b). “Don’t waver; remain in the center; turning neither to extremes of left or right.” Leaders cannot halt between two opinions. They must stand for something, or they will fall for anything. Endeavor boldly! How shall we respond? Achieve!

God expected sanctified people to anticipate great wonders (Joshua 3:5). When the Holy Spirit moves, people are called to holy living. A living, experiential, experimental faith takes God’s word seriously, envisions victory, and lives in eager anticipation of God’s faithfulness to accomplish what He has promised.

How shall we respond? Expect! God assured He would expand Joshua’s influence (Joshua 3:7). “I will help you do great things. I will bring you good success. I will increase your ministry to the extent you permit me to increase your vision. You can trust your reputation to my strength.” How shall we respond? Dream! God prepared His ministers for success (Joshua 3:8). “ ‘Command the priests, . . . “stand in the Jordan.’ ” Take the leadership initiative. Nothing miraculous occurred until the leaders stepped into the water. There is a time to wait on the Lord and there is a time when pastors must move, step up to the challenge, and walk in anticipation of God’s deliverance. How shall we respond? Lead! God commanded His people to memorialize His power (Joshua 4:7). Once they had crossed the Jordan River, Israel still faced great challenges and great opportunities: cities to fall, enemies to drive out, and continuing spiritual renewal and reform. First, however, Israel needed to memorialize God’s mighty works. So mighty men transported huge stones from the riverbed to establish a memorial where future generations would pause, worship, and remember. For this same purpose Jesus created the Sabbath—a holy seventh of each week in which God’s people pause, worship, and recall His providences. How shall we respond? Remember! How do we remember? Remember that Jesus made us and not we ourselves. Remember we are the work of God’s hand and the sheep of His pasture. Remember we are the bride of His second coming, His chosen ones, His special people, His royal priesthood, His beloved. Remember God never abandons His own. Remember His plan. Remember His will. Remember His map!

Young men dream dreams. Old men draw maps. How shall we respond? Follow the map! Get ready. Get going. Get home safe. Choose ye this day. Choose life. Choose Jesus!

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James A. Cress is the Ministerial Secretary of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

May 2008

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