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August 15, 2016, 8:40 AM

For Man or For God?



I've spent time these past few weeks with Paul, reading his letters and thinking about his life. It is unique in the sense that we get nearly all of his time in ministry chronicled for us.  We get to read his personal letters and get glimpses into his faults and encouragements.  Even when he is under arrest and chained to a Roman guard, Paul lets us in.  I want to try and sum up his life in one statement: 

He lived every moment to the satisfaction of God.  

Sounds nice doesn't it?  It would make a pretty good book that sets our hearts at ease and puts a smile on our face to think that we too could live that way.  But it isn't a good book, nor does it have a pretty cover.  You wont find Paul's "Living for God" book in the self-help section.  You'll find it amongst the books dedicated to the martyrs.  

Unless we're teaching a series on them, we typically avoid those shelves.  Paul lived every moment for God, and not for man.  Now, that is not to say that he didn't struggle and sin; we get a first-person confession of those moments from Paul.  Every time though, just like with David, there is repentance and forgiveness.  So even in those moments of failure and sin, he is clearly focused on God.  

Here's the point:  Who do you want to please more: Man or God?  

Our voices on Sunday morning sing songs of praise and allegiance to God...  our lives and actions speak of different allegiances.  This is not a call to drop everything and run to a 3rd world country.  This is NOT a call to drop a career and head to seminary.  This IS a call to live and breathe the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  When Paul met Priscilla and Aquilla, they were making tents.  He didn't come into their lives by standing on a street corner with a bullhorn, he worked with them.  His influence through that process brought us powerful members of the missional community.  

Paul lived for God, his audience of One.  That meant there were people who didn't agree with Paul.  He was ok with that.  That meant there were people who wanted Paul out of the picture.  He was ok with that.  Paul had people actively teaching against his teaching.  He was ok with that.  His audience was God, and that was who he was trying to please. 

For God, or for Man?  Who is your audience? 

Philippians 1: 20 - 22   20 For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. 21 For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. 22 But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better




August 8, 2016, 9:47 AM

Why Saul isnt the Main Character in His Own Conversion Story



I, like everyone else who occupies a 21st Century Church, owe a lot of thanks to Paul.  He embraced his calling and vision and literally ran with it to the end.  Because of his work, we are who we are.  Thank You Paul, you deserve the three chapters in The Story... But I'm done talking about you.  

We need to look closely at Ananias.  Closely, expertly, taking in the details and emulating him.  Simply put:  We are called like Ananias and not like Paul.  Yes, there are exceptions, and those people make the best of their calling to missions.  The rest of us have our feet planted where they're planted... And we are not without a powerful calling.  

"GO!  Go to Straight Street and lift up the man sent here to drag you away in chains."  Ananias was called to love someone, plain and simple.  Ever wonder what God is calling you to do in your life?  Look no further than Acts 9.  Dont skip over the parts where Saul is cowering alone in a house.  Look for him sitting there blind, hungry, despondent...  And then look for the person who helps him.  

The trouble is, until God takes the matter into his own hands, no one helps Saul.  No One.  FOR THREE DAYS.  

Saul was praying.  Saul was begging.  Saul was hurting.  And no one helped him.  Ever hear the parable of the Good Samaritan?  Boom, life imitating art right there.  Every one of us walked on the other side of the road.  Now we have good reason/excuse to do so, there was no way to be sure once Saul was set on his feet that we wouldn't lash out again.  No one wanted to be the one to restore a tyrant to strength.  
But the calling of every Christ-follower was ignored for those days: Love.  Seek out those who need compassion, food, water, clothing and attend to them.  The crux of our salvation rests on us reaching our hands out the Saul (Matthew 25).  Everything rests on our ministering to him... and we walk on the other side of the street.  

The calling of Ananias is our calling.  Have you heard it? 

Acts 9: 10 - 16 10 Now there was a believer[b] in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord spoke to him in a vision, calling, “Ananias!”

“Yes, Lord!” he replied. 11 The Lord said, “Go over to Straight Street, to the house of Judas. When you get there, ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying to me right now. 12 I have shown him a vision of a man named Ananias coming in and laying hands on him so he can see again.”

13 “But Lord,” exclaimed Ananias, “I’ve heard many people talk about the terrible things this man has done to the believers[c] in Jerusalem! 14 And he is authorized by the leading priests to arrest everyone who calls upon your name.”

15 But the Lord said, “Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel. 16 And I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s sake.”

 




August 1, 2016, 8:03 AM

The biggest hurdle to reaching the world...



Is us.  

Our ego, our pride is the biggest hurdle for the world receiving the Gospel.  Its a hard lesson, but we've been prepping for this moment from the very beginning of The Story.  The Kingdom of God, the kingdom that Jesus was preparing us for in his time here was placed in the hands of the apostles... and it took serious power to overcome their pride and ego.  They were critical of his decisions to go into Samaria, every Jew was.  Peter, even after witnessing firsthand the power of the Holy Spirit and receiving a vision from God that Gentiles are ok, struggles with reaching out to Cornelius and his family. 

After Peter (PETER!!  The cornerstone of the new movement, THE most visible apostle) did this he was dragged before a council to answer for his actions.  Yes, he had to explain himself for responding to God and the Holy Spirit's promptings.  He had to explain that he saw God move in the dogs of Samaria.  While Peter's ego was taken care of (look into his letters later in the New Testament to see the change of his heart!), the majority struggled with the concept of the Gospel being for everyone.    

Are we fighting the same battle?  Yes, the Gospel is for us.  Yes, the entire story was written and acted out for us.  Yes, we have received the gift of Salvation from the Cross.  And yes, so it was our neighbors and enemies.  Across the street, around the corner, on Saturday evenings and Sunday mornings... All receive the same gift we have.  

Imagine the impact on the world if we put our own pride aside and went into the corners of our own personal Samaria.  




July 25, 2016, 9:12 AM

Surprise!



In The Story - Adult Study book, Randy Frazee uses the example of a Jack-in-the-Box in his introduction to this week's chapter study.  I immediately related to this because I am both fascinated by the fact that they still make those toys, and their popularity throughout history.  You are basically paying to be scared.  If you watch the movie: Elf you know how I feel about them!   What's interesting is that we keep cranking the handle, listening to the music, and jump a little bit when the top pops open... EVEN THOUGH we know exactly what is going to happen!  

I think there is a similar reaction every year/time we talk about the Resurrection.  We know the story, we know what is going to happen, and yet we act surprised when it plays out the exact way we expected.  The Resurrection is more than just a good annual sermon topic, or something we use to make Easter special... it is THE reason we have hope.  Death was defeated, and that changes everything.  

We need to stop cranking the handle and wondering if the same thing happens this time through the Gospels.  I dont want to see the Church handle the Good News like the disciples did in John 20.  They hid behind locked doors AFTER they met Jesus... Fear ruled them.  When he shows up on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, they are surprised (just like a Jack-in-the-Box).  

We serve a living Savior.  Living.  Alive.  Powerful.  

That changes us...  Now let go of the handle and live a resurrected life. 

Acts 1: 6 - 11 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”




July 18, 2016, 8:40 AM

The Path of Least Resistance



Lets not start this blog entry with any confusion: I am lazy.  I do not like pain.  I actively work to avoid pain and work to keep things as streamlined and efficient as possible.   Making that clear is important because what we're talking about this morning is going to sound a lot like an angry soapbox rant.  It isn't.  This is for me as well. 

      The American Dream has replaced/stolen the heart of Christianity.  

We used to be about compassion, generosity, service, accepting the marginalized, and caring for the poor.  Now we're about bigger buildings, being blessed, comfort, and material wealth.  (Yes, those are blanket statements... forgive me for needing to make a big splash here).  
    I say "we" and "used to" in the prior sentence in light of the professed model for our movement today: the First Century Church.  Back then the movement was about inclusion (Gentiles) and meeting the needs of the group over the individual.  Today we cant seem to get Black and White churches together for more than a 5th Sunday Singing.  

The American Dream has become our mantra, goal, and vision.  (I feel the need to repeat: I am guilty of this...).  We push to make our buildings more comfortable for the upper class, which automatically makes it uncomfortable for the lower class.  The nicer we look the more they stick out.  We dont want challenged to push our boundaries of love and generosity, we want to be secure in our blessings and made to be hopeful that rich people CAN enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  

We want America to be great again, but only if it means we get our power back.  We want the political system to work FOR us instead of equally between us and those we label as tax collectors and sinners (there's some First Century Church for ya!).  In other words, we want the path of least resistance.  We want to be accepted, appreciated, welcomed, empowered, and universally loved without having to earn it.    

The path of Christ, the path of his followers walks in another direction.  Exclusion, suspicion,  alienation, and pain.  Now it isn't always this dreary of an outlook.  Joy and Peace are two great promises we've been given... but remember those come no matter the circumstance.  

America is already great.  It never ceased to be great.  But lets not get confused in this politically charged landscape:  We are citizens of a greater place, and mere aliens here.  

1 Peter 2: 11 - 12  11 Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. 12 Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.




July 11, 2016, 8:20 AM

Fade to Gray



A while back (whenst I was in college, which is getting further and further away) my favorite Christian band Jars of Clay released a song entitled Fade to Gray.  The rhythm drives and the tone of the song is on the heavy side, which I immediately liked.  The lyrics, however, took a lot longer to sink in.  

The gist of the song is that the longer you look at Jesus the more the black and white fade to gray.  Growing up in a conservative faith system, there was no such thing.  There was only right/wrong; black/white; C of C/Not C of C.  If you even thought of blending something with the firm belief system, YOU became what was wrong and needed a not-so-subtle correction.  

But then we read the story of Jesus and see his interactions in the dirt and mire of Earth, and we witness firsthand the blending of the black and white of law vs. religion into gray.  

Compassion trumps Law every time.  

And we're not sure how to handle that.  In his letters, Paul does an excellent job of drawing lines as far as church discipline, orderly worship, etc...  Too often though, there is little room for compassion and what we glean from his work is rigid, inflexible, and off target.  

Compassion trumps Law every time.  

Drawing lines pushes us away from Jesus, not closer.  The Pharisees discovered this frustration every time Jesus healed on the Sabbath, a firmly drawn line of law.  When Jesus spoke of what makes a person unclean, he blurred the line of Faith and Law by exposing the heart of both.  And it looked like a gray area.  

As we watch the news today, tomorrow, next week, we are going to see a lot of black and white statements.  AND, we're going to be tempted to take a stand on either side, throwing projectiles at those that chose the other side.  We're not just talking about the hot topic issues of gun control, race, the police, etc... We can use this discussion to fuel change when we get into office politics, bullying, jealousy, broken relationships.  

Compassion pushes us into the gray area in between opinion and fact.  Compassion trumps both.  When we love as Jesus loves, the black and white of our opinions and beliefs begin to blend into something greater:  Grace.  Mercy.  Forgiveness.  You wont find any of those standing on one side of a line with a stone in your hand.  

Matthew 15: 10 - 14  10 Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “Listen,” he said, “and try to understand. 11 It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.” 12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you realize you offended the Pharisees by what you just said?” 13 Jesus replied, “Every plant not planted by my heavenly Father will be uprooted, 14 so ignore them. They are blind guides leading the blind, and if one blind person guides another, they will both fall into a ditch.”




June 27, 2016, 8:21 AM

Wanting to Tell God How it is...



I admit, as a teenager I REALLY did know it all.  I held all the pieces.  If you tried to correct me, I not-so-gently told you how it REALLY was and put you in your place.  In all seriousness, I'm not kidding.  I am ashamed of some of my actions and arguments and behaviors as a younger Chris.  Because the truth is far more painful than any delusion I held on to:  I knew almost nothing

Still don't. 

Which is what brings me to the title of this blog entry:  Our scope of knowledge is limited to what we experience, limited to our own time, to our own understanding.  Which in the grand scheme of the universe equals almost absolute zero.  Zilch.  Nada.  So why do we feel like we have enough depth of knowledge to instruct God about what is good for us?  I'm not throwing any of us under the bus as dissidents or anything of the like.  I'm speaking to the general human arrogance that we know what is best for us.  

Lets put it into a realm a little closer to home:  Golf.  Now I don't golf.  Did it once, lost 4 balls on the first hole, went ahead and called it quits.  However, lets pretend we're together on the golf course.  I've brought along my caddy: Jack Nicklaus.  Yes, the Golden Bear is my caddy.  First tee, I walk over to my bag (held up by the incomparable Jack) and instead of grabbing the driver he holds out to me I grab my putter.  He protests, but I ignore him because I think I can make this 300 ft drive with my putter.  

NO ONE (even if you have no idea about golf's history) would ignore Jack's suggestions on ANY course.  You would fail. 

We have something greater than the best golfer in history on our side: the Creator of the universe.  And he is handing us the tools to survive the day.  His hands reach out to us offering love, compassion, mercy, and forgiveness... and instead of grasping those we reach for judgment, condemnation, and gossip.  

"God, you don't know what they've done to me." "God, I just cant love that person right now."  "God, I cant forgive them..."  

He already knows what They've done.  He knows what we've done.  And he has given us all the tools we need to make it through today, tomorrow, and into eternity.  Love.  Love people unconditionally.  Yes, you might get hurt but it is how Jesus lived.  Forgive.  Yes, it means you don't get to get even, but it is how Jesus lived (and died).  Give selflessly.  Yes, you might end up giving more than you receive, but that's how Jesus gave.  

Its time to stop telling God what is best for us.  He already knows.  And he's made it very clear:  Love God; Love People; and Serve Both. 

 




June 20, 2016, 9:00 AM

The Makings of a Good Bedtime Story (and Why the Bible is not one)...



There is a particular theme that is prevalent in a good bedtime story:  peace.  When a parent reads a bedtime story to their child or grandchild they want the content to settle, comfort, and not raise any questions.  (i.e. "But dont polar bears eat penguins, daddy? Why are these ones cuddling and sleeping with them?  Is it so they can eat them after they fall asleep?").  So yes, a good bedtime story needs to quench the questioning spirit of a child. 

Which is why the Bible does not make for a good, "lets get settled and not ask questions" bedtime book.  Jesus came into the midst of a cultural period run by lawmakers, micro-managers of faith and practice, ruled by a tyrant (Caesar), and away from any spotlight due the birth of a king.  The scene he enters is the barely managed chaos if Israel existing within Roman rule.  So many questions!!  

"Why wait until then, Mommy?" "Wouldn't it have been better to be born powerful instead of poor?" "Why does Herod kill so many babies?"  "What does eaten by worms look like?"  (Ok, that last one comes from me, hopefully not a child).  

The story of Jesus entering the world turns everything we think we know on its head and forces us to relearn the meaning of peace, deliverance, and hope.  Today we still find ourselves hoping that the lawmakers, micro-managers of economy and belief will make decisions that benefit us.  We find ourselves in a world ruled by tyrants, all of which take different looks and roles to fit the bill.  The Church exists in the barely managed chaos of the Kingdom of God existing within a culture that rules with an iron fist.  

And even though the parallels are eerily similar we find ourselves looking to the powerful to lead us on.  We sing Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus but look everywhere but where he is to find him!!  He's in the quiet places, where his soft, compassionate words are barely heard over the cries of the marginalized and weak.  He is in the corner of the break room, in our neighbor's back yard listening to another argument that seems to destroy yet another relationship.  He's in the streets of countries we fear even setting foot into.  He's in the shelters we've erected to hide the homeless.  

Every time we open the Gospels we see Jesus in places that make TERRIBLE bedtime stories!!!  Because his definition of peace is one we've forgotten, and misinterpreted.  Peace doesn't mean security on earth.  Peace is security in Heaven.  When he faced the swords, whips, and curses of an angry mob he was at peace.  Even while praying in the Garden, asking for deliverance out of fear, he was at peace.  Because he has redefined the very core of the word.  

We need to redefine it ourselves, in front of our children and families; In plain sight of the neighbors and coworkers.  Redefine peace. Find yourself comforted by finding Jesus amongst the lepers, hugged by prostitutes, invited to parties by well-defined sinners.  And when the questions come about "Why?" and "When?" we can answer without a quaver in our voice or a question in our hearts.  

Goodnight, sleep well, and be at peace. 

 

Matthew 10: 32 - 34  32 “Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven. 34 “Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword.

 




June 13, 2016, 10:45 AM

Building vs. Deconstructing



There's a big difference between building something and tearing it down.  ("thank you Captain Obvious.")  

But there's a question within that statement that needs asked:  Which are you actively involved in?  

If you're not working on building something, you're adding to the natural decay and degradation of whatever structure you're occupying.  In simpler form:  our mere presence on this earth wears it out... we can either work to replenish/rebuild it or keep eroding it.  The same concept applies with relationships, organizations, and yes... church. 

So are you building or wearing something out?  Nehemiah made his way back to Jerusalem and witnessed 50,000 people simply living amongst the rubble...  There was no active plan to rebuild the wall, to end the disgrace of the city.  Their presence in the city simply added to the mess and did nothing to change/better the situation. 

Nehemiah came in with a vision to rebuild, to end the disgrace, and reestablish the identity of an entire nation.  You either got on board or jumped ship.  Good thing for Israel: the people got on board after their eyes were opened to the needs at their very feet. 

So what is it going to take for us to have our own eyes opened to the glaring needs in front of us?  Are we reaching into the lives around us with the love of Christ?  (not judgment or condemnation!)  Are we rebuilding a ministry that serves the marginalized and poor from within the walls we've set up in our building?  

Or are we content to live among the rubble around us? 

Nehemiah 2: 17 - 18 17But now I said to them, “You know very well what trouble we are in. Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire. Let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and end this disgrace!”18Then I told them about how the gracious hand of God had been on me, and about my conversation with the king. They replied at once, “Yes, let’s rebuild the wall!” So they began the good work.




June 6, 2016, 8:36 AM

They Would have Succeeded



Do you ever wonder why the Tower of Babel project was stopped?  Was it because of the pride of the people wanting to make a name for themselves? No, that isn't it.  Was it because of the arrogance of thinking they could reach the Heavens?  Nope.  

It was because they would have succeeded in making their names great, uniting themselves as a powerful nation, and relied on only one thing as they moved ahead: themselves.  They Would Have Succeeded!  Reread Genesis 11: 6.   The tower of Babel was going to be a success!  The people gathered together, communicating and working together with one language and came up with a plan.  What was there to stop them?  They were a force to be reckoned with!  God Himself put an end to it, all the while giving them a sweeping vote of confidence and a huge compliment before doing so! 

Here's the point of that short, historical foray into the O.T.: we too can be successful at doing something great.  I'm not saying we need to get our bricks and mortar ready for a bigger building.  There's a more important aspect to this story:  The People Were United.  

Working together made them a powerful force.  Were their goals a bit misguided?  Yes.  Ephesians 4: 3 – 6 informs us that we can be united, and tells us that we MUST be united!  That’s the first step, we must work together as one body, with one faith, under one God, just as the people in Genesis 11 worked and united together! 

What are we wanting to build?  If our hearts only cry out for the physical things around us (wealth, safety, comfort, or shelter) then we can absolutely unite and build something beautiful and "great" by the world's standards.  But what happens when our hearts cry out for the things God's heart cries out for?  When submission, generosity, compassion, and heartfelt love unite us, what can we build then?!  

Its called: "The Church."  And it wont make our names great, they'll most likely be forgotten.  What we build will make God's name great among all who see and hear.  

Ephesians 4: 1 - 6   1Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all.




May 29, 2016, 3:25 PM

Wake Up!



 A quick hit from the main reading from this week's sermon/The Story - in Ezra 1:5 it is written that the Levites and Priests needed their hearts stirred by God to return home.  This is the same language used to describe the stirring of heart God did with Cyrus, the pagan king.  It seems that captivity had caused more than a few hearts to fall asleep, or at least lose their passion for returning home.  

70 years away from home could do that to a people group... However, 400 years didn't seem to have an effect on the Israelites' cries for deliverance in Egypt.  Regardless, the hearts of those that should have been leading the prayerful charge to return home were sleepy.  

Is your heart awake?  Are we sleeping on the promises God has made to us concerning our eternal rewards?  What behaviors need revived in us?  Evangelism is one.  Accountability, integrity, and patience are a few others that come to mind.  

Ephesians 5:14b "Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead and Christ will shine on you."




May 23, 2016, 8:38 AM

Out of the Furnace



I once went swimming in some hot springs, in the middle of winter, at roughly 7000 feet above sea level, in the middle of the Rocky Mountains.  It was amazing.  There was literally a pile of snow on the "pool deck" from where the caretakers had cleared a path for us to jump in.  The experience was very cool (no pun intended) as the water kept us perfectly warm (hot even) despite the frost that was building up on our hair, eyebrows, and beards.  

Here's the big problem with that:  we had to get out of the pool.  Which meant submitting our entire bodies to the punishing wind and temperatures of a Colorado winter.  The walk from poolside to lodge was brutal... Quite an experience; we went through all extremes of temperatures from stepping outside, jumping in the water, a few of us dove into the snow bank near the pool, got warmed up again in the water, then ran inside to dry off.  I think I will name the experience:  "A Flat-lander's Guide to Getting Hypothermia."  (on sale today!).  

We were comfortable in the hot springs... but we couldn't stay there forever.  I wonder what it felt like for the three guys thrown into the fiery furnace by Nebuchadnezzar!  Not a hair burned, so we have to guess that the fire was a comfortable experience.  Throw in the fact that JESUS joined them (!!!!!!) and you've got a really neat experience to pass on to the kiddos.  Much like I believe Daniel totally snuggled up to some lions over night in the den, ordered pizza, and watched some Full House reruns.  

Regardless of how we imagine the experience, the three guys had to walk out of the furnace.  On the inside there was Jesus (!!!!!!) and complete immunity as no one could get close to them. On the outside there was captivity, service to Babylon, a pagan king, and members of the royal court who wanted them dead.  Which would you rather have?  I think I'd stay in the furnace too.  Maybe order up a fiery chariot to join the flames and hitch a ride with Jesus (!!!!!) back to Heaven.  

 But alas, it was not meant to work that way.  They had to leave the comfort of the furnace and face the world around them.  So do we.  Our influence might be veiled, or hidden completely, but there are individuals who are needing a taste of God's mercy in their lives and its our job to deliver.  Just like Peter's request to build little houses for Elijah, Moses, and Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration, our hope of keeping ourselves away from the world will be denied.  In that instance, Jesus knew there were hoards of people waiting for them at the foot of the mountain.  

Your fiery furnace might look a lot like your bed, house, or the silence you offer to people around you.  Walking out of those safe zones is torturous.  For others the furnace looks a lot like our churches, the places we occupy on Sunday mornings (and if you're super holy: Sunday nights, too).  That's a dangerous statement to make, I know... but its scarier to admit that its true.  We get comfortable with Jesus in our safe place from the world, tell him how much we love and want to serve him... Then walk away heads down and hearts turned inward.  The world needs us!  Not with protest signs or shouts, but to quietly love, pray, and serve.  

When Daniel faced the music of prayer being kicked out of Babylon, he went to his room and prayed quietly.  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stood quietly at the back of the service when everyone in the kingdom bowed to the statue (they weren't in front waving their arms, drawing attention to the fact that they disagreed with the political regimes of Babylon!).  And when faced with the fiery furnace, they quietly put their confidence in God.  When they walked out they didn't (as I totally would have) do a touchdown dance celebration or trash talk their victory and how awesome their God is.  They went about their business of serving Babylon.  

Its time to leave the furnace and get back to the business of loving God and loving people.  

Isaiah 43: 1 - 2   1But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. 2When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.




May 16, 2016, 9:32 AM

Lost the Plot



Have you ever gotten into a book, a BIG book, and forgotten where things were supposed to be going?  Sometimes its poor character development; Other times though its just the sheer volume of information that confuses us (I'm looking at you Lord of the Rings).  That's all well and good with a book, because you can always flip back a chapter or two and regain your footing.  

Its not that easy with life when we lose the plot. Maybe its a career that hasn't panned out like we'd hoped.  We've lost the plot of our own dreams, and turning back a few pages could cost us seniority or salary.  Relationships can get into the same loop as well, losing the foundation of what brought people together in the first place.  Healthy relationships will be able to weather those moments and survive a quick detour to refresh ties.  

Spiritually speaking, losing the plot can have far more dire consequences (I'm looking at you Israel and Judah).  The most frustrating things about working through the complex chapters of Israel's demise at the hands of the Assyrians and Judah's demise at the hands of Babylon are that they could have fixed the problems quickly and simply.  Every prophet God sent to the people had the same message: "RETURN TO GOD!!"  If they obeyed, God delivered them (see the book of Judges for a practical example of this).  

But they lost the plot.  

Israel and Judah's kings found themselves surrounded by everything the Lower Story has to offer:  excess, pleasure, and comfort. Idolatry spoke to their carnal desires and required very little integrity and accountability.  Creating your own plot is a lot easier than being transformed by the Upper Story.  It is frustrating though that no matter the hardships or struggles placed on kings and people, they refused to be transformed, to conform to God's instructions (which were not new by any stretch of the imagination, having been around for centuries).  Even a toddler will learn, eventually, that negative discipline can be avoided by changing one's behavior patterns.  

Have we lost the plot as well?  Does Church engage culture?  Do we embrace the message of Christ, the example of Jesus, the powerful sacrifice of our Savior?  Our plot has become comfort, sustaining what is known so we can comfortably postulate about the unknown.  When we forget our mission we create a path that suits our own Lower Story ideals instead of God's Upper Story vision for his people.  The vision of the Church has always, ALWAYS been about growing God's kingdom and not our own.  

Which plot are we following? 

Matthew 6: 33  Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.




May 9, 2016, 8:43 AM

To Whom?



Who gets the message God needed sent in Isaiah 9? Who needed to hear about the light in the darkness that was the coming Messiah?  

In the text, the message needed sent to sinners.  And not just any sinners, but the worst kind of sinners:  the ones who knew better than to be sinning in the way they were (idolatry).   Yes, Israel, you needed the hope of the coming Messiah.  They were about to be laid siege by the Assyrian army and were literally on the doorstep of annihilation.  The next few days and weeks were going to be a trial they would not survive; at least survive in the sense that they had a kingdom, land, and identity to call their own. 

As they were taken into captivity (which if you set that side by side with what happened to the Northern Kingdom, captivity is the better option) they needed to hear something that would give them a handhold, a foundational grip to grasp in the coming generations of slavery.  This is what was given: 

Isaiah 9: 6  6For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of fPeace.

Now Israel had its fill of child-kings.  Some were good, most troubled.  This was the promise of an eternal kingdom resting in the arms of a child, a son.  This was enough.  This message sustained them.  

No, there wasn't a timeframe.  No, there wasn't a direct link to when this government would be set in place.  And no, there was no guarantee they would actually see all this come to light.  But the promise was enough.  

This message of hope (Jesus) is not obsolete, nor did it expire.  It rings true today.  So who needs to hear it?  Isaiah took it to a place struggling with idolatry, disobedience, and empty religious practices.  Where do we need to take it?  

Each of us is called to share the hope of Christ.  It may be a tenuous grip we have, but regardless, it is the only real hope we have. To whom are we sharing it?  

Isaiah 6: 8 - 9 8Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?” I said, “Here I am. Send me.” 9And he said, “Yes, go, and say to this people . . .

 




May 2, 2016, 8:36 AM

Elijah's Question



1 Kings 18:21 Then Elijah stood in front of them and said, “How much longer will you waver, hobbling between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him! But if Baal is God, then follow him!” But the people were completely silent.

While there is no question mark at the end of Elijah's cry here, it is in the form of a question that stretches FAR beyond that single moment.  Make Your Choice.  

And the people were silent.  

The same question shows up again and again in various forms:  "...choose this day whom you will serve."  "Let the dead bury their own..."  "Peter, Do you love me?"  "I wish you would be hot or cold..."  (All paraphrased by Chris).  

I'm afraid of my own answer, because I too have been silent; hoping the conversation will turn to other areas like church attendance, church offerings, and church participation (how many tables and chairs need to be put away to assure one's place in heaven?).  And while I would try and march out a truly dazzling display of earthly works to try and prove my allegiance, Jesus looks deeper and his question pushes past the physical.  Just like he did with Peter in John 21, he asks a question meant to cut deep, to our very soul.  "How long will you waver?"  

I'm confident that I would answer the same as Peter did every time.  I too would be hurt when he asks again, and crushed when he asks a third time.  Because I know what he knows:  My heart has been torn in two by the treasures of this world.  

How long will we waver?  

Matthew 6:21  21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.




April 25, 2016, 8:37 AM

A Kingdom Built on Service



Big question:  What is your kingdom built on?  

Now you can interpret the idea of "your kingdom" in many different ways:  Family; Career; Church; Community; etc... Lets look at ALL of them and answer that question.  What is the foundation for everything you've built?  

If its not Service then we need to re-pour the concrete and foundations for what we think we've built.  Two moments come to mind in making this statement:  1 Kings 12: 3 - 7 and John 13: 1 - 17.  

Both contain the foundations for what could have become great kingdoms.  The first was the moment Rehoboam had the opportunity to be a worthy king, earning the devotion of his people forever.  He is advised to "serve the people" and be a leader who shepherds his community.  However, and that is a BIG however, he chooses to be served by the people in harsher measures than they've known before.  He builds his foundation on reputation, pride, arrogance, and power.  How does that work out for him? 

The second illustration is at the doorstep of a more relevant kingdom being established:  the Church.  Jesus is mere hours away from arrest and crucifixion and he has a final message he needs to get across to those he has entrusted his kingdom.  Service. He washes their feet, becoming the lowest servant in the room of which he is far and above the most worthy and important.  

The example he sets before us is to build a kingdom on self sacrifice, putting oneself in a place in which others will become great.  That is leadership 101:  setting others up for the win.  The remaining moments of Jesus' life prove this even further, giving us the lasting image of sacrifice and redemption on The Cross.  But it is the moment in John 13 that drives the point home:  Serve.  

If the apostles had tried to move ahead after the Resurrection through reputation alone, the Church would have failed and not become a global movement.  If they had tried to impress the people in Jerusalem with their names and association with Jesus to draw people in, the Church would've been forgotten as time dulls even the sharpest memories.  

Throughout the Old Testament we can identify moments when leaders turn from serving others to self-serving.  And every time, EVERY time, its bad news.  Moses and the rock; Abraham and his lies about his wife; David and Bathsheba; Solomon and his idolatry; Jonah and the Ninevites; on and on and on.  

What is your kingdom built on?  What is our church built on?  The kingdom of Israel went from powerful to a torn apart mess because of a lack of foundation.  Don't let it happen to yours.  

John 13: 12b - 15  “Do you understand what I was doing? You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am.  And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. (NLT)




April 4, 2016, 8:36 AM

Your Self Worth



In our Sunday School class yesterday (04/03) I recalled a mind-blowing discovery I had this week:  God had prepared for Israel's demands for a King.  This may not blow your minds yet, so let me expand the thought process.  

In the period of the Judges, God had prepared a system of leadership that was effective, but temporary and volatile at best.  These people were not meant for a totalitarian style of leadership, nor were they a suitable form of nation-wide, long term, create a lineage of monarchy style governing.  The period ended with Samuel taking the place as God's chosen mouthpiece to the people.

In his time (Sam's), the people's eyes start wandering to the nations around them, discovering the power and stature that comes with having a physical centerpiece of rule to act as the figure head of a nation.  Jealousy ensues and we get the act of rebellion that finally breaks Samuel's back.  They reject "him" as their leader and want a king.  God corrects Samuel's interpretation of their rebellion and clarifies that Israel has rebelled against God, not anyone earthly.  

We read this chapter and shake our heads at the ignorance, short-sightedness, and sinful desires of Israel.  They become a punch line to sermon points:  "Don't be like Israel, Church..."  And yet...  And yet... God had planned for this all along.  

He loves and cherishes his people so much that within that love he plans to use and work with their rebellion and disobedience.  Within Israel's own law is a caveat for the behavior of a King.  Not just a king of some foreign nation, but the king over Israel.  (Deuteronomy 17:14 - 20).  He declared in his promise to Abraham AND Sarah (so there's no confusion which son he's blessing) that among their descendants will be kings.  

God loves us so much he plans ahead to cover our lack of faith, trust, and obedience!  He loves us so much that he still uses our poor choices to further his kingdom and create beauty!  

And if that doesnt change what you see reflected in the mirror, you need to read your history books again.  Through the law, the wanderings, the Judges, and even the wars, God reflects his compassion on us.  And he proves again and again how much we are worth to him.  Even when we demand a king.  

Romans 8: 35 - 39    

35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.” )  37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. 38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.  39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.




March 28, 2016, 8:51 AM

What's Different After Easter and Resurrection Sunday?


Everything. 




March 21, 2016, 9:29 AM

Call EMS!!!


Lets start with a question.  What are your signs of life?  As human beings, a part of a very active society we have certain signs of life.  At the most basic level, we breathe, eat, have blood flowing through our veins, etc...  On a grander scale there are signs that we are living and active beings.  We walk, run, crawl, speak, laugh, etc..  And beyond that we have a social life (for the most part!).  We have families, friends, coworkers, etc...  

We give off signs of life with everything we do. If I were to drive by your house an any given day of the week, I would most likely see signs of life.  You would be out mowing your lawn, sitting on the porch, talking and interacting with your family, or whatever it is you do when you get off of work.  It would be obvious, even to the simplest of minds, that someone lives in your house.  

So lets turn that on to our spiritual lives.  We also have spiritual signs of life, which include prayer, study, faith, etc…  I ask you this question church, ARE YOU ALIVE?  You see, a complete stranger could figure out if you are physically alive from far away.  But do your closest friends and family members know you are spiritually alive??  Are we hiding all signs that God is active in our lives?  I am not confronting the evangelism issue here, I am confronting the basic actions necessary to sustain a spiritual life.  

If there was a way to check your pulse spiritually, would you have people calling 911 for you?  Our Savior gave everything he had for us, and yet we hide.  We have been offered a free trip through eternity, and yet we ‘fake it’.  We have been offered an ABUNDANT LIFE, and yet we go through the motions…  

Its a simple message for a complex time:  Live Life Out Loud!  Express gratitude; Ask Forgiveness (and offer it freely); Be Polite; Give Generously; and Serve Humbly.  Make sure that everyone knows we're spiritually alive!

Romans 6: 5 - 11 (NLT) 5Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was.6We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin.7For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin.8And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him.9We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him.10When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God.11So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.




March 14, 2016, 8:06 AM

All Other Ground



I used to think quicksand was going to be a major obstacle I would have to overcome at some point in my life.  Much like "Stop, Drop, and Roll" I was certain my quicksand survival technique was going to come in handy (I've never had to "stop, drop and roll" either...).  

Today, the song in my head is this chorus:  "On Christ the solid rock I stand, All other ground is sinking sand; All other ground is sinking sand."   I dont know why its in there, or why it was what I hummed throughout my early day routine.  But its there, so I'm going to talk to you about it now.  

There's a word in there that sticks out to me:  ALL.  All other ground.  Everything but Christ is sinking sand, not a suitable place for a foundation.  Nothing but Christ.  Hear that?  It is a truth, expressed in song, that must be more than just a catchy tune.  

When life comes crashing down, where is our foundation?  Will wealth and reputation reach out to us in grief?  Will the treasures of the world comfort our souls in sickness?  Does anything, but Christ, have the ability to use words like "always" and "never?"  The only person that can use infinitives is God, as he Was, Is, and Will Be.  

Which foundation have we chosen?  




March 7, 2016, 8:37 AM

Out on a Limb.



I dont take risks.  I play it safe.  Because of this sensibility, I have yet to suffer a broken bone, or other risk-induced malady.  Sure, I dream of sky diving, and climbing Mt. Everest; but lets be honest, I've no plans to write those in on my schedule.  

Is that a bad thing?  Nope.  I like not having to deal with a broken arm or leg.  I like being comfortable.   There are other areas we are prone to not take risks in either.  Places that would result in things far more lasting and impactful than a broken bone, or some bruises:  Living faith out loud.  There are a lot of things I really like to talk about.......in church, in small group, and in my home.  But I am hesitant to live those same ideals out loud, outside the zones of comfort and safety I've set up. 

When we follow Jesus we make, looking realistically, some pretty dramatic and outrageous claims.  "Dying to self."  "All to Jesus I Surrender.... I Surrender All..."  "I am mine no more..."  "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."  

All of these roll from our lips quickly, easily, and often in the form of a song we've sung for decades.  Do they roll out in our actions just as easily?  

Honestly:  Its hard to live these concepts to their fullest.  We cant help but sprinkle our own experiences, biases, and interpretations into them.  For example: I cant help but look self-centered when I'm trying to be extra generous or compassionate. 

As we continue through The Story, we paused this week with Ruth and her book that is placed both perfectly and awkwardly between Judges and 1 Samuel.  It is a calm story that shows what loyalty and redemption looks like (without swords, amazing feats of strength, etc...).  I've overlooked it for too long.  Within its pages are the actions, words, and heart of Jesus.  Boaz breaks down the barriers of conflict, hate, prejudice, and war by showing love and acceptance.  He elevates a poor widow from a beggar to cherished wife among the legacy and line of Jesus.  

Boaz lives the message of the Christ (whom he had no concept of outside of the sacrificial system installed in the law at the time) out loud, walking out on a limb to redeem someone through love.  

We know Christ, honoring him every week, remembering the power of the Cross.  Will we live that knowledge out loud?  

James 1: 22 - 25   22But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.23For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror.24You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like.25But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.  NLT




February 29, 2016, 9:38 AM

Occupying Space



I have held on to the very first cell phone I ever purchased.  Today it serves as a toy for the girls, but its also a neat little reminder. Let me describe it to you:  Its blue, which is pretty cool.  Not that this makes it better, but its still pretty cool.  It is a variant on the "flip phone" idea.  There is a portion of it that flips down,  but all it does is cover the buttons when in your pocket.  The technology is outdated, and it was only good for one thing:  phone calls (what a waste, I know).  It is long dead, with no charger in sight that attaches.  It is either good for being a toy phone, or a paper weight, thats all.  

So why am I telling you about my first cell phone?  Simple.  Because it reminds me of James 2: 14 - 16.  I'll wait as you click on that link and read it.  

Is your faith like a cell phone with a dead battery?  
Is your faith like a kleenex box that is out of kleenex?
Is your faith like a stapler with no staples?
Is your faith like a pen without ink? 
Is your faith like a pencil with no lead?

James cuts right to the core of the matter by telling us that our faith must lead us to DO something.  

Are we acting like Christ-Followers?  Are we doing the things that will identify us as those looking forward to eternity in Heaven?  Can the world see anything different about us besides our Sunday morning habits?  If we aren’t showing the world who Jesus is through our actions, we might as well close the doors of the church, board up the windows, and turn the power off because it isn’t doing anybody any good if all we do is occupy space!!!  The beauty of what we need to show the world is this:  IT'S US!  Not us dressed up in superhero costumes that portray Christians as perfect, or overly righteous.  We need to show the world that we've been redeemed and saved, and that we're fighting off the temptations and sins we were chained to not so long ago.  

The point: we need to be showing the world SOMETHING.  We have the Holy Spirit.  That alone marks us as different, not of this world.  We spend time every week remembering the Cross and how far God went for us.  That must fuel the rest of our week to remember how far we will go in faith to share that love.  

My challenge is simple:  DO!!  No more acknowledging Jesus in our worship on Sunday and then going mute shortly thereafter.  No more paying special attention to the clothes we pick out for Sunday and ignoring the neighbors who are LOST.  No more showing generosity during the offering, but remaining compassion-less to the needs of missions and the poor.  

No more impractical, unpracticed faith.  Lets show ourselves more useful than a dead cell phone.  

James 2: 14 - 17  What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.




February 15, 2016, 9:46 AM

Your Own Personal Jericho



If you know a story well enough and have read the book more than once, its hard not to look ahead at what’s coming instead of concentrating on the right now.  I’ve fallen trap to this in books I like to reread, and come to realize I’ve “read” three pages but haven't really digested a single word.  

This blog is dedicated to doing just that, and instead of trying to go back, we’re going to let our imagination run a bit to what's ahead.  For The Story, what’s ahead is Jericho, and the obstacles that look similar in structure, manpower, and stability.  Israel, having now entered the Promised Land, has to wipe it clean… 

Into the scene comes Jericho.  A seemingly insurmountable obstacle to winning the day.  We're not going to spend much time on this moment in here, but look at the grander scale of what Israel was about to face.  Problems that were real, touchable, and right in front of them.  On the trip so far, most of the issues were from perceptions, or emotions, or just plain immaturity.  Canaan gave them a real, in your face problem to solve.  And, to finally give them some credit, they took the challenge and ran through it. (Mostly).  

Here's our point today:  Every one of us has a Jericho to face.  There are challenges put in front of us (sometimes by God, mostly by us) that are directly in our path to Heaven.  We have a choice:  tackle the issue, or change course and either run or avoid it.  It shouldn't NEED to be said, but I will:  Which approach do you think God prefers?  Obviously, the same tact that Israel had to take with their issues:  face it head on, with the strength and power of God on our side.  

Unfortunately, our Jericho looks very different than a city.  Most of the time it looks like forgiveness or reconciliation, or humility. Those sound (or type) as small things... but when we're standing nose to nose with a relationship that has gone sour, there are times we wish we were walking around a fortified and defended city 13 times instead.  

Face your Jericho, head on, with the promise of God behind you.  And just like Jericho, when we address things with God's character and strength, they will be reduced to a pile of forgotten rubble behind us.  

Want a cool epilogue to the story?  Once Canaan was mostly wiped clean, Caleb looked around and his eyes caught a region in the mountains that weren't scrubbed completely of inhabitants.  Instead of kicking his feet up and enjoying the spoils of the Promised Land and letting someone else (younger) take care of the issue, he demands Joshua assign him and his tribe to THAT region.  

Joshua 6: 2 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men.
Joshua 6: 27a So the Lord was with Joshua . . .




February 8, 2016, 9:12 AM

Dont Open That Cellar Door...



I watch movies.  A lot.  So it should come as no surprise that I quote them, think about them, and use them as illustrations often. This is one of those moments.  

There are a few movies that I love so much that I can watch them over and over again, and never get tired of stepping back into the stories they tell.  The best of those stories engage my imagination every time, and leave me wanting to step back into that world when the credits roll.  Unfortunately, not all of those movies that I love are happy, everybody wins in the end type stories.  And when I watch a movie for the hundredth time, knowing bad stuff is going to happen I have caught myself willing, pleading, wishing that the characters on screen would make a better choice.  

Seriously.  I'm hopeful that the story will change and offer suggestions (sometimes out loud).  "Don't try and take out that machine gun nest, Captain Miller."  "Gandalf, speak up about your relationship with the eagles."  

Today I'm saying this:  "Israel, don't forget what God did for you two months and 40 days ago!"  They're about to jump with both feet into 40 years of wilderness wandering.  And I wish the story would change.  Havent enough generations been lost in the captivity?  Do we need to watch another one perish in the desert, so close to Canaan?  

Unfortunately, we cant change their story.  The wilderness is coming.   We can, however, change our own story.  When you make a choice today, tomorrow, etc... you can choose your own adventure!  God gives us the freedom to do so, to choose.  It just so happens he makes it very clear which way he wants us to go (think: pillars of cloud and fire; or Fruit of the Spirit).  

Dont make everyone reading your story after you're gone sit and wish you'd not opened the cellar door.  Choose to follow where God leads.  

Joshua 24:15 But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."‚Äč (NIV)

 

 




February 1, 2016, 12:00 AM

A thought about the desert



This week we're foreshadowing the sermon for February 14th, chapter 6 of The Story.  

We're going to start walking with Israel in the desert this week though.  Bring your walking shoes and a shady hat.  

 Do you know what was in the desert while Israel wandered around for 40 years?  (Don't say: "sand").   Their hearts.   

Yes, I know their hearts were inside their chests when they walked, but we're obviously talking about deeper things than just internal organs.  Their hearts were in the desert, and not in the Promised Land.  Following this logic, or at least the premise of the statement, their treasure was also in the desert.   

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.  Matthew 6:21 

We cant speak for everyone in the wandering band of Israelites, but we can speak for the ones who complained and made their grievances known to Moses and God.  They left their treasures in Egypt:  food, shelter, comfort.  The comforts they thought they had overshadowed the fact that they were slaves.  When they left those comforts in Egypt, finally "free" what became clear is that their hearts never made the trip.   

The complaints were tolerated for a while, and God provided a clearer image of himself and his desires on Mt. Sinai.  They pledged themselves to righteousness, and the Law.  But their hearts weren't in it.  Their treasures were in the wrong place, even on the side of a mountain inhabited by God himself!  

And for 40  years they had to live with the reality that they would never find peace and contentment because they treasured the wrong things.   

Which desert are you walking through right now?  


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