Currahee

The summer after my freshmen year of college, my dad and I watched the Band of Brothers HBO mini-series. It was a sort of coming of age moment for me, and to watch it alongside my dad was a great experience. This blog is not the space to address thoughts on entertainment, war, etc. I will say however that if you choose to watch this, skip the start of Episode 9.

Anyways, the first episode is entitled “Currahee” and it documents the training of Easy Company, which the mini-series will follow throughout the entirety of WW2. In this episode we see two leaders. One is a horrible example and the other is worthy of emulation. The entire series is big on leadership, but this opening episode teaches us a lot on what makes a good leader.

You see, our churches are full of broken and imperfect leaders. Broken and imperfect men and women. Broken and flawed leaders who hurt people in their congregation. There is obviously a wide range of leadership deficiencies resulting in a wide range of damage done.

Just today a humongous network of priests in Pennsylvania I believe got busted in a sexual sin cover-up that had over 1000 victims involved. That is an extreme example of the way that those in spiritual leadership have abused their power and shown their flaws.

Again, that is an extreme example. But misogyny, deception, abrasiveness, anger, pride, and the like could describe way too many ministers and leaders in our churches. I’ve sadly heard many stories from those I love who have been burned by the church, particularly those who are in positions of authority in the church.

Even people raised in churches have been let down, bruised, and abused by those who claimed to be Christ’s shepherds. – Jonathan Leeman 

To be in leadership in a church is to be serving a flock under the Lordship of Christ. Yet many men and women, including yours truly at times, make it about their own kingdoms of sand. That is why I deeply desire men and women to be praying for me daily. I know that left to my own selfish and sinful devices, I will harm those in my congregation and make ministry about my name instead of His.

Anyway, all that to say, let’s look at Band of Brothers and Scripture to teach us about what anyone in ministry should look like (whether that is vocational ministry, volunteer ministry, teaching a Sunday school class or organizing a meal for those in your church who can’t get out).

Herbert Sobel

Captain Sobel is best described as a turd. He is power-hungry, leads with fear, antagonizes his troops, deceives them, manipulates them, and altogether makes them hate him. Now while there is a component of his leadership style that actually lended itself to good results (they all banded together in their mutual hatred of him), he ultimately was removed from his position of leadership over Easy Company. In part because he was ill-equipped to lead in combat drills and in part because he did not have the respect of his men.

I find it intriguing that Scripture has its fair share of Sobels. Scripture has plenty of examples of poor leadership. Now I would for sure caution us against approaching Scripture as primarily a leadership manual or handbook, treating it as if producing godly leaders is its purpose. That being said, there are sections of Scripture that can teach us quite a great deal on the subject.

For instance look with me at 3 John.

I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say. For this reason, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words; and not satisfied with this, he himself does not receive the brethren, either, and he forbids those who desire to do so and puts them out of the church. – 3 John 9-10

Diotrephes. Dio-stinking-trephes. John was writing to a house church, encouraging them in their hospitality towards those who were carrying the good news of Jesus. Yet we have this man in a role of leadership, who loves to be first, loves the praise. He not only loves being the center of attention, he also kicks out of the church any who are choosing to be hospitable because it goes against his opinion on the matter. What a turd.

Major Winters 

Here we see a man of courage, humility, quiet strength, meekness, and integrity. Throughout the entire mini-series, he leads with dedication first and foremost to his men. He braves the scene of battle with them, and is incredibly frustrated when he is not able to be with them. He is full of integrity, and although he has the right to be abrasive and lead with as much meanness as Sobel, he decides to lead instead with meekness and quiet strength.

Again, the Bible is not about leadership primarily.

Nor is Paul a perfect leader.

However, in the small book of Philemon he exhibits an aspect of leadership that I pray I and every pastor I know would model.

Therefore, though I have enough confidence in Christ to order you to do what is proper, yet for love’s sake I rather appeal to you – since I am such a person as Paul, the aged, and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus – Philemon 8-9

Paul was an apostle. This made him a big deal in the early church. Again I don’t think he was perfect, and Scripture makes it pretty clear to me that he was far from it. But this apostleship gave him incredible authority. Authority that meant what he spoke to a church should be followed because he had seen the risen Christ. But here in this letter, he chooses to appeal to them out of his love, not his authority.

Man, that’s a good example of leadership.

Loving those under your leadership, not simply commanding them. I am grateful to be in a season where I am under such loving leadership. It gives those who are under this type of leader the opportunity to thrive outside of fear.

My prayer is that every follower of Jesus would be more like Christ. Yes, Dick Winters was an amazing man. But even he is simply a shadow of Christ.

My prayer is that every follower of Jesus would lead in whatever area they find themselves in with humility and love.

I always appreciate feedback and discussion. You can follow my blog below.

In His Name,

Nathan Roach

He’s Still On The Throne

He’s still on the throne.

throne
I know Jesus doesn’t sit on a middle-earth throne, but this sure looks cool.

A couple years ago, my mom texted me this amidst a conversation about the trials and difficulties that were present in my life at the time. Certain aspects of the world as I knew it were spiraling out of control in some ways and my mom knew just what to encourage me with. Jesus was still on the throne, even in the midst of what seemed like chaos.

The second Psalm can be a source of great encouragement when the leaders and rulers of our world are prone to evil and wickedness, and when disaster strikes our world, our country, our city, or our family.

Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand, and the rulers conspire together against the Lord and his Anointed One. “Let’s tear off their chains and throw their ropes off of us.” – Psalm 2:1-3

Here’s a pretty accurate illustration of the way that Jesus is treated in the minds and hearts of so many in our world. So many in our day take their stand against the Lord and his Anointed One. Now in the case of this Psalm, that Anointed One would be David. But in the case of our day, the one who holds all things together and rules over all is none other than Jesus Christ. The godly man or woman understands that they are submitting to the ultimate rule and reign of Jesus. The ungodly man or woman however is the one who sees submission to Christ as bondage and seeks to break the chains of God’s sovereign hand over their lives.

The one enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord ridicules them. Then he speaks to them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath: “I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.” – Psalm 2:4-6

This is simultaneously one of the most encouraging and fear-inducing passages in the Psalms for me. The Lord laughs at those who seek to break free of His rule and reign. He isn’t scared, intimidated, worried, or anxious when the men and women of this world seek to break free of His rule and reign. Instead He just laughs. He finds it humorous that man would strive to buck up against His rule and reign. Then his anger and wrath are felt as He reminds the wicked of this world that He has installed His King on Zion, on His holy mountain. Jesus has been enthroned. He is enthroned over the cosmos, and He should be given His rightful place on the throne in each of our lives.

I will declare the Lord’s decree. He said to me, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance and the ends of the earth your possession. You will break them with an iron scepter; you will shatter them like pottery.” – Psalm 2:7-9

This shows us just how powerful King Jesus is. The nations are at His disposal. The very ends of the earth are under His control. He can shatter the wicked with an iron scepter, breaking them like pottery. The picture of Jesus that is all too often portrayed and presented in our culture is the Jesus that is simply a lover. A guy who sprinkles grace onto our unrepentant sins and personal brokenness, inviting us into a moment of intentional worship and transparent fellowship. While Jesus certainly is a loving Shepherd of the broken, He is also the Victorious King, the One who defeated death, evil, Satan, and every wicked scheme of the enemy. King Jesus is powerful.

So now, kings, be wise; receive instruction, you judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with reverential awe and rejoice with trembling. Pay homage to the Son or he will be angry and you will perish in your rebellion, for his anger may ignite at any moment. All who take refuge in him are happy. – Psalm 2:10-12

Servitude, humility, awe, reverence, respect. When we come to terms with who King Jesus is, that should be our response. We should come to his feet and worship Him for who He is. Instead of following our sinful desires and bucking up against His rule and reign, we should submit to King Jesus and let Him have his rightful place on the throne of our hearts and our lives. The man who is happy is the man who takes refuge in Him, the man who submits to King Jesus.

In Acts chapter 4, Peter and John were imprisoned and tried for their outspoken faith in Jesus. Upon their release they went to the community of faith and shared with everyone what they had experienced. They used this very Psalm as encouragement in the face of pronounced and intimidating persecution from the governmental and religious leaders of their day.

I do not know what you are going through today.

Maybe you are facing persecution for your faith in and submission to King Jesus.

Maybe you are facing the aftermath of terrible destruction or disaster in your life.

Maybe you are fearful of the future, and the headlines of the news get you more and more worried.

The reality of evil can’t be avoided or run from. However we don’t have to meditate or dwell on evil. We can meditate on the fact that Christ has defeated Satan.

Brother or sister in Christ, may you be encouraged that King Jesus sits on the throne. May you be strengthened in your resolve, strengthened in your faith and trust that King Jesus is not frightened by the news articles that you see on your social media accounts. Brother or sister in Christ, may you be drawn deeper into fellowship with the Powerful King Jesus.

If you’re not sure where you stand with King Jesus today, tell Him so. One thing I love about the Psalms is that they are honest, full of cries to God and raw emotions.

Ask King Jesus to help you trust Him more.

In His Name,

Nathan Roach

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Faithful But Flawed

The opening chapter of the book of Judges outlines the conquest of Canaan by the people of God. The first verse draws our attention to the book that immediately precedes this one, the book of Joshua. In that book we see God’s commands to Joshua and to His people as a whole, that they are to rely on Him for strength and courage in the face of overwhelming odds. Read about this at https://nathanpatrickroachblog.wordpress.com/2017/03/07/israels-total-failure/

However, at the onset of the book of Judges we see the people of God begin to stray from relying on Him and Him alone for victory and strength. Instead, compromise and half-hearted obedience saturate almost every story and circumstance. Let’s take a look at Judges 1-1-2-5Judges 1:1-11.

After the death of Joshua, the Israelites asked the Lord, “Who of us is to go up first to fight against the Canaanites?” The Lord answered, “Judah shall go up; I have given the land into their hands.” The men of Judah then said to the Simeonites their fellow Israelites, “Come up with us into the territory allotted to us, to fight against the Canaanites. We in turn will go with you into yours.” So the Simeonites went with them. – Judges 1:1-3

The Israelites are off to a pretty rocky start. We see in these opening verses their half-way obedience. We see quickly that the Israelites were both faithful and flawed. The tribes of Israel inquire of the Lord, asking who is to go up first to fight against the Canaanites. Good start. They know that God is ultimately the One who brings victory so they ask for His guidance. However, after He answers that it should be the tribe of Judah, they don’t fully submit to the Lord. Instead the tribe of Judah immediately asks the tribe of Simeon to help. Instead of relying on God for victory, they rely on military might. The people of God choose to follow conventional wisdom instead of relying on God by faith.

Faith in God’s promises means not always following the expected, rational path. – Timothy Keller

When Judah attacked, the Lord gave the Canaanites and Perizzites into their hands, and they struck down ten thousand men at Bezek. It was there that they found Adoni-Bezek and fought against him, putting to rout the Canaanites and Perizzites. Adoni-Bezek fled, but they chased him and caught him, and cut off his thumbs and big toes. Then Adoni-Bezek said, “Seventy kings with their thumbs and big toes cut off have picked up scraps under my table. Now God has paid me back for what I did to them.” They brought him to Jerusalem,and he died there. – Judges 1:4-7

Despite their half-way obedience, we see that God is graciously with them (His judgment will come when their faithlessness is present in everything they do). The tribes of Judah and Simeon obtain victory. They chase Adoni-Bezek (the Lord of Bezek), catching him and mutilating him. It was a violent cultural practice in that day to cut off the toes and thumbs of prisoners so that they couldn’t fight or wield a sword ever again.

There are two camps in regards to what happens here. Some theologians believe that the Israelites acted rightly in their treatment of this king. They believe that God vindicated their actions. The other camp believes that the Israelites were in the wrong, as they acted in accord with the pagan practice of the day. This second camp also uses the fact that Adoni-Bezek didn’t use the name of Yawheh, but rather just ‘god’ when talking in verse seven as affirmation of their beliefs.Judges 1-1-2-5 (3)

I fall into this second camp. I believe the mutilation of this king was another example of the Israelites acting like the other nations around them, instead of being set apart. However, this is just an opinion.

This is not to say that God never repays the wicked for what they have done. Look for instance at Psalm 64.

Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked, from the throng of evildoers, who whet their tongues like swords, who aim bitter words like arrows, shooting from ambush at the blameless, shooting at him suddenly and without fear. . . But God shoots his arrow at them; they are wounded suddenly. They are brought to ruin, with their own tongues turned against them; all who see them will wag their heads. – Psalm 64:2-4, 7-8

So yes, there is tension between God’s judgment and His people’s part to play in that judgment. However, mutilation does not in my opinion fall in with God’s judgment in this situation.

God has always intended for His people to be unlike the other nations. God has always intended for His people to be an example of what God is like.

You may immediately be questioning why then that God led them into war, as that seems to be how the nations outside of the worship of God behave. We will see later in this chapter that this war is not war for war’s sake. It is an issue of idolatry and worship.

The men of Judah attacked Jerusalem also and took it. They put the city to the sword and set it on fire.  After that, Judah went down to fight against the Canaanites living in the hill country, the Negev and the western foothills. They advanced against the Canaanites living in Hebron (formerly called Kiriath Arba) and defeated Sheshai, Ahiman and Talmai. From there they advanced against the people living in Debir (formerly called Kiriath Sepher). – Judges 1:8-11

These final verses that we’re looking at today show that God continued to provide for His people, allowing them to for the time being achieve victory over their enemies.

God gives more grace, even when His people are undeserving.

God gives more grace to you and me, even when we too live according to what’s rational and live with a half-hearted obedience to Him.

Yet may we learn from the mistakes of God’s people in Judges and choose to rely on God in full obedience and faith.

He is worthy of our all.

He is gracious even when we’re both faithful and flawed.

In His Name,

Nathan Roach

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Israel’s Total Failure

The book of Judges is a dark one. It’s full of gory and vile atrocities, faithless people, and at times it even seems like God isn’t present. However, when we look deeper at the narratives found in this book, we see that God not only is sovereign over all nations, but that He is faithful even in the total failures of His people. From the beginning depictions of Israel’s half-hearted obedience, to the final narratives of Israel’s total loss of morality and godliness, we see the cross of Christ shining bright in the darkness.Judges 1-1-2-5

Judges is not just about Deborah, Gideon, and Sampson. Judges is way more than that. The book of Judges is about Israel’s total failure and God’s total faithfulness. Let’s dive in together.

The opening of the book of Judges prompts us to look backwards at what has transpired.

After the death of Joshua, the people of Israel inquired of the Lord, “Who shall go up first for us against the Canaanites, to fight against them?” – Judges 1:1

Joshua was appointed by God to lead the Israelites into the promised land after the death of Moses. Joshua had remained faithful to the Lord, trusting that God would provide for His people and bring them into the promised land despite what was seen as impossible odds. It was only Joshua and Caleb who exhibited such faith, and so God proclaimed that they alone out of their generation would be permitted to enter the promised land.

not one shall come into the land where I swore that I would make you dwell, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun. – Numbers 14:30

Joshua was a faithful leader of God’s people, and the book of Joshua depicts how God keeps his promises and brings them into the land. It is a book that details the victories of Israel under the leadership of Joshua, and it shows how God begins to give His people blessings previously promised as well as peace and rest. It is a book that reminds us that because God always keeps His promises, we can obey him wholeheartedly with courage and bravery.

In the book of Joshua we see the details of the allotments of land that God has promised each of the tribes of Israel. We also see that God commands Joshua and His people to live out brave spirituality as they walk with God.

No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left,that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:5-9

In this passage we see that God promises to be with Joshua all the days of his life, never leaving or forsaking him. With this promise of faithfulness comes the command to be courageous and strong. This command to be courageous and strong is able to be fulfilled by Joshua and the people so long as they obey God’s decrees. As long as they stay cemented in God’s laws and commands, then they will be successful in everything that they do. As long as they meditate on His Word and carefully do everything written in it, they will have prosperity and success. It is through this dedication to speaking and meditating on the words of God that the courage and bravery needed to take the promised land is found. Judges 1-1-2-5 (1)

The people of God will not achieve victory and rest for themselves.

They are not to expect success if they do not accompany all their work with obedience to God as they meditate on his word and trust in his promises. – Timothy Keller

Victory over their enemies will not come via their own strength. It will come via the supernatural strength of the faithful God they serve and worship. If they faithfully follow God, He will pave the way to victory and rest. The book of Joshua shows how this process begins, as the people enter into the land promised to them by God. But as the book comes to a close, it is clear that much still has to be done before the promised land yields complete and total rest to the people of God.

It is through the lens of the book of Joshua that the book of Judges must be seen and read. This is the continuing story of God’s faithfulness. Unfortunately however, whereas the book of Joshua depicts Israel’s obedience (for the most part), the book of Judges documents just how far the people of God fall. Yet again, despite the grievous failures of His people, we will see God’s faithfulness shine bright.

In the darkness of sin and death, we will see the light of the cross.

In His Name,

Nathan Roach

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