Who is Holding Your Arms Up?

Brad Verreynne
April 28, 2016



Moses’ call to lead is encouraging for the most fledging leader. As his story unfolds, we see that he had an exceptional leadership gift. He was a large capacity man who could handle ‘truck-loads’ of responsibility. Yet, as we will see with Moses, even if you are very gifted, God has His way of reminding us that we need to depend on others.

Exodus 17:8-16 is such a moment in Moses’ life. Israel get viciously attacked by a people called Amalek. Moses acts decisively and delegates Joshua to lead the ground forces while he heads to a hilltop for a birds-eye view of the battle. The battle begins below, with Moses standing on the hill with his hands raised in prayer for his friends. But Moses notices, when his hands begin dropping from tiredness, the tables seem to turn in favour of Amalek. He needs his arms to be held up. But how will he do it? He hasn’t enough strength on his own. Enter Aaron and Hur. By the grace of God, they had headed up the mountain with Moses. God had brought them along to assist not just Moses, but all of the brothers in battle. They helped Moses by keeping his arms raised, which had a profound effect on the battle below- the tide turned in favour of the Israelites!

This is a classic Ephesians 4 moment; “when each part is working properly” (v16), victory can be achieved. From the men on the hilltop to the last man standing on the battle ground, each needed to fulfil their respective roles, working as one in unity. 

God was bringing home a point, not just to Moses but to every Israelite: everyone is to play their part in His army. This is leadership 101 in His kingdom. There is no lone-ranger activity and no dictatorial-styled leadership. Dependence on God is the order of the day, and we all need to depend on others too. God was driving home the point that no leader of His was to do things on their own. We need our brothers; we need to ensure we are leading together in team; we cannot fulfil God’s call on our own.

If you find yourself in a leadership position such as Moses did, ask yourself these questions:

    Are you heading up the leadership mountain on your own?

    Do you have people around you to help you hold up your hands? These need to be people that you trust with your life.

    Are you taking people with you in your leadership by envisioning them, sharing your life with them, and being humble and admitting your own need of them?

    Are the roles of the people around you clearly defined, so that they can fulfill the role they are called to? Perhaps you are called to be an Aaron or Hur-type leader - holding up the hands of your leader. Or like a friend of mine once said; “I thought they were with me to hold up my hands, but instead they pulled down my pants!”

At a glance this is a humorous, but in God’s economy it is tragic and will obviously lack any of His blessing.

If you find yourself in a supporting leadership role, such as Aaron or Hur did, ask yourself the following questions (courtesy of Nick Davis):

    Is my life a fresh testimony to my leader?

    Does my tongue bring breakthrough and encouragement?

    Is freedom a testimony of my life?

    Does my private life have any sloppy aspects?

    Is my marriage strong?

    Is the vision of Christ a self-motivating generator for me?

    Is my life filled with faith stories?

Let us ensure we are not isolated leaders. Let’s take people with us so we can be better together. Let’s support and follow as Jesus would want us to follow. Whether it is leadership in the church or in business, let us lead the way and show the world leadership that reflects the magnificence of God’s character!

 

Batman v Superman v God

Shaun Brauteseth
April 13, 2016




There’s a moment in the recently released Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, where the jittery, ADHD-villain Lex Luthor says, “If God is all powerful, He cannot be all good. And if He is all good, He cannot be all powerful.” It’s just one of many allusions or outright references to God in the movie, usually directed at Superman. “And now God bends to my will,” Luthor claims at one point, while later adding his verdict: “Now God is as good as dead.”

Batman v Superman
is grim, almost completely devoid of humour and contains more explosions than I have ever seen in my life. In fact, I think I would rather be wiped out in the fighting than be asked to help clean up the city afterwards. The movie also contains, as one of its running themes, the idea of fighting against, overthrowing and killing God.

In modern blockbusters, it seems that direct references to God have become much more common. It used to be that some madman would hijack a nuclear warhead and aim it at New York (yawn!), but with the onset of galactic superhero sequels, prequels and prequels to sequels, those days are over. Today’s movies are concerned with weightier matters – subjects with a deeper resonance in the public’s minds. 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron gave its villain, Ultron, some positively Biblical zingers, like his response to the question of what would happen if human beings didn’t improve under his watch: “Ask Noah,” he replied. When he got his hands on the metal alloy that would, yes, destroy earth, he said, “Upon this rock I will build my church.” And then there was Vision, the character created to destroy him, who, when explaining who he was, simply stated, “I am.” Sound familiar?

In the upcoming X-Men: Apocalypse, the immortal, invincible planet-threatening villain is named Apocalypse, and he gladly explains to us that,
“I’ve been called many things over many lifetimes: Ra, Krishna, Yahweh…” In case we don’t get the point, it’s revealed to us that this ancient being has four followers, just like the four horsemen of the apocalypse. “He got that one from the Bible,” says one character to another. “Or the Bible got it from him,” is the reply. And this is just the movie trailer.

The fact that big-budget storytelling should use the idea of gods is not surprising; it makes for good storylines. What’s worth taking note of, though, is how much more blatantly Biblical it’s becoming. Of course, a story can be used to depict something true of God, as movies like the Chronicles of Narnia have done. But the current crop of superhero movies aren’t interested in creating an elevated view of God; they’re dragging the very notion of Him down to earth. Far from being avoided, the idea of God is thrown around casually, as if anyone can be God, and anyone else can kill God.

I don’t imagine that the people making these movies are Christians, and so I wouldn’t expect them to have any kind of reverence for the God of scripture. But think about the influence of the world around them. The ultimate fantasy of rebellious humanity is to bring God down – to neutralize Him and render Him harmless. And so we bring Him into our little fantasy stories; we make Him part of the plot and we speak about Him as if He were just another character. We put human faces on Him; we put alien faces on Him. We make him good, bad, alive, dead, and we give Him other names. We put His eternal words in the mouths of made-up characters, people wearing costumes and prosthetics, and use those words to add solemnity to the scenes.

And that’s where Christians need to be on our guard. These flippant distortions of God are not always good for us to watch, and can even confuse the faith and feed the doubts of some. It might be permissible for us to watch these movies, but it’s not always beneficial (1 Corinthians 6:12). I wouldn’t necessarily instruct a believer to stay away from these movies, but I would encourage them to guard their heart and mind when watching them. My feeling is that it’s going to get more and more blatant as the devil desperately tries to undermine who God is. Indeed, an upcoming Marvel movie, Doctor Strange, centers around a superhero who performs sorcery and mystical arts to protect the earth.

We started with Batman v Superman, so let’s end with it. In one scene, an angry victim of violence climbs a large statue of Superman and defaces it with red spraypaint. The two words he writes on it are large and bold: FALSE GOD.

And that’s exactly right.