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04 Dec '10

Calebs and Joshuas: The Key to Healthy Ministries

Posted by T.J. Addington in faith, The heart, trust, vision
Our world is filled with naysayers: those who have little vision, small faith, high fear and frankly don't believe that God is capable of doing great things. This is true in the church, in missions, and any number of Christian organizations. The book written years ago "Your God is Too Small" applies today.

Small vision, little faith, and high fear factors to try something significant for God are responsible for much of the lack of fruit in many ministries. Board members who say "we've never done that before," pastors who are comfortable with the status quo, missionaries who don't really believe that God can break in and do something because of the "hard soil" all contribute to ministry initiatives that lack vision and faith or entrepreneurial spirit. It is life in the comfort zone of diminished and empty faith rather than life lived on faith that God can do what we cannot do!

The difference between those of small faith and those of big faith is this. The first group defines faith as that which we can accomplish by ourselves. The second group defines faith as that which only God can accomplish. The first is all about human effort and the second is all about divine power.

This was the divide between those who were sent by Moses into Canaan to explore it on behalf of the Israelites (Numbers 13-15). Ten of those who reported back reported what were probably true facts as they had seen them. Their conclusion was that the Israelites would never be successful in taking the land. They saw through human eyes and from that standpoint were probably quite accurate.

Caleb and Joshua, however, saw through divine eyes and they simply said, "We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it" (Numbers 13:30).

Their confidence was in the power of God rather than the strength of their army. "The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them" (Numbers 14:7-9).

The negative ten focused on fear and human efforts. Caleb and Joshua focused on faith and God's provision. And it made all the difference in their perspective.

The church in the affluent west often bases their faith on what they can accomplish (or not) with their gifts, resources and plans. The missing factor is faith in Christ's ability and power to do far more than we could ever humanly do. After all, "Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not (and cannot see)" Hebrews 12:1. If our plans and strategies and expectations of fruit only goes to what we ourselves can do we have shortchanged ourselves and underestimated God. God is not interested in what we can do by ourselves. He wants us to reach for things that only He can make possible so that He is the One who gets the glory - not us.

The church today is full of people like the ten who said, we cannot take the land. The church desperately needs the two - Caleb and Joshua who declare that we can - but only because it is God who goes before us. The mission world has many like the ten who really don't believe that God will actually break through in amazing ways. It too needs Calebs and Joshuas who live in the realm of deep abiding faith in the power and purpose of God to do far beyond what we could ask or imagine - in his strength, not ours.

Are you a Caleb or Joshua or more like the other ten? God calls us to "abundant and copious fruit (John 15) for the Kingdom based on his presence and power and Kingdom authority (Matthew 28:18-20). That takes vision, faith, belief and reliance on a power far greater than our own. Small faith leads to wandering in the wilderness like the Israelites. Courageous faith leads to the taking of the land. Which world do you live in today?