Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Appetizers on vacation.

In Max Lucado’s book 3:16 Numbers of Hope (if you haven’t read this get it TONIGHT); in the chapter on heaven he says this…

God grants glimpse of this future state. He designed an oculus in this pantheon. Through it we see gold-drenched sunsets. Diamond-studded night skies. Rainbows so arched in splendor we have to stop and sigh. Appetizers of heaven.

When we were out in San Diego a couple weeks ago it was one “appetizer” after another.

See for yourself.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Stubborn? Of course, I made him that way.

Last week I got a text from a good friend.

She was reading to her daughter about Moses and the Plagues.

At the end of the story her daughter asked, “Why did God make him (Pharaoh) stubborn”

Really think about it, what a great questions? If the plagues were to get Pharaoh to release the enslaved Israelites, God chosen people, then why did God make him stubborn/harden his heart?

The question was so good it prompted me to reread the entire story myself.

When I was done I found so many things in that story that mean something for us big kid believers today.

I challenge each of you to read Exodus 5-12 when you can; I promise you it is full of stuff you have forgotten as a kid and things that will mean something to you now as an adult.

But for our purpose, here is a world record summation of Moses and the plagues.

(For those of you who will be tempted to scrutinize me for posting a paraphrase of the Word and not using the verse by verse account of the story please don't bother commenting I will not post your comment or waste time replying back to you. There that's done.)

Our story in Exodus which means to exit, as in the story of the mass exit of the entire nation of Israel from Egypt.

The Israelites were enslaved by the Egyptians for 430 years.

Moses came to power, chosen by God to lead them out.

And that’s where the story starts. God tells Moses He is the one true God and everyone will see his power soon! Everyone will know He is the ONE true God! He says “I AM GOD” many times through this story and tells Moses, “I will make Pharoah stubborn” or harden his heart and my power will be realized through some wild stuff your great grand kids will still be talking about.

And Moses here is how you are going to do it. Walk up to the most powerful person in all the land and threaten him.

Basically tell him to let God’s people that they have enslaved for 430 years go. God’s tired of it…OR ELSE!

Like wimpy Ralphy getting tired of the bully Scott Farkus beating up him an all his buddies in the alley.

So Moses tries to tell the people of Israel what God is planning but they are so enslaved they don’t even hear him.

Moses, very discouraged goes back to God and says, hey God, I’m still not sure you picked the right guy for this my own people won’t even listen to me and I stutter. The stuttering thing cracks me up, of all the lame excuses. I mean, Moses was desperate to get out of this deal. I can just see God looking down over his glasses at Moses and going, "Seriously? You stutter? Me being the creater of the UNIVERSE and all didn't realize you stuttered when I made you and chose you!!" Cracks me up!

So God says you’re still not getting out of this calling I have for you, I’ll send your brother Aaron to be your messenger.

And on comes the plagues.

Actually cool trick first, then on come the plagues!

Aaron goes into Pharaoh throws down his rod that turns to a snake to show God’s power. Pharaohs’ magicians pull off same trick but Aarons snake eats theirs. Pharaoh’s not impressed wheels around and walks back into the house.

End result, Pharaohs heart becomes harder and he will not let the people go. Just as God had said.

Then the Nile, the Egyptian water source turns blood. A dead smelling stench filled the land.

Pharaoh is stubborn and won’t let the people go. Just as God had said.

Frogs cover the land even in their beds

Pharoah is stubborn and won’t let the people go. Even after he asks Aaron and Moses to pray for him and make it stop.

Gnats or lice covering everything.

Pharaoh is stubborn and won’t let the people go. Just as God had said.

Flies covering everything.

Pharaoh is stubborn and won’t let the people go. Just as God had said.

Livestock all died.

Pharaoh is stubborn and won’t let the people go. Just as God had said.

Boils covering peoples entire body.

Pharaoh is stubborn and won’t let the people go. Just as God had said.

Hail now falls from sky destroying everything in its path including people if they are outside.

Again he asks for it to stop and asks Aaron and Moses to pray for him. But as soon as the pray was answered and he got some breathing room…Pharaoh becomes stubborn and won’t let the people go. Just as God had said.

Locust covering entire ground until it was black and finishing off everything green around them that wasn’t stripped by the hail.

Pharaoh is stubborn and won’t let the people go. Just as God had said.

Darkness you could feel. Many historians believe as a direct slap in the face to the Egyptian god Ra, the sun god.

Pharaoh is stubborn and won’t let the people go. Just as God had said.

Then before the last plague its funny how scripture mentions that Moses was admired not just by his people, but the Egyptians as well.

Then the final blow, the first born of all Egyptians in every household is to die. You could hear the wailing from people throughout if you stood outside.

And Israel is finally released, actually run out of the land, just as God had said.


So quickly and shortly what do we gain today by all of this??

6:9 Do we allow our earthly situations, like the Israelites being enslaved and they don’t hear Moses, to beat us down so much that we can’t hear God?

Do we allow what we think is a bad break or crummy life to consume us so much that we miss when God is either saying, “Your life isn’t that bad.” or “Here’s an opportunity for you but because your head is down you’ll never be able to see it?”

8:28 Does God answer our prayers and once we get that breathing room we quickly forget about him, we quit praying daily, quit reading our Bibles because we got our answer and we quit our daily walk with Him? I’m very guilty of this.

9:1 What is your god? What has you so enslaved that you can’t worship God? Job, money, lifestyle, hobby, your situation, your kids (yes this happens), relationships? Is there something that is filling up space in your heart that God should be getting?

11:3 When this story started Moses was hated by Egyptians and even probably by the Israelites because his first threat to Pharaoh brought more punishment on them.

But by the end he was respected by all just as you will be when you stay faithful and obedient even when there’s no reason to and the world says, “Give up!”

When you have destroyed the worldly god that binds you!

When you overcome the plague that afflicts you!

And when you realize the love of God for you, the power of God to change you and that you NEED to get close to the one true God who can save you!

Yes, you will be noticed and you will have a chance to glorify God with your story!

To close we need to answer the little girl’s question.

“Why did God make him (Pharaoh) stubborn?”

God is God. If he wanted the Israelites released all he had to do was blink.

Making Pharaoh stubborn and continuing the plagues was all about showing that God will go through extraordinary measures to reach out and rescue those he loves and that means you.

It was all about showing EVERYONE, Israelite and Egyptian, believer and nonbeliever who was the real God.

Same when Jesus said in John 14:6 “I am the way the truth and the life…!”

There's nothing on this earth that can bring us down and there’s nothing on this earth that we can replace the one true God with.

Get close to him today. Pray daily. Read your Bibles daily. Tap into the free power only He can offer you to overcome your plagues!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thank you!

Just wanted to say what an awesome group of Christ followers I get to pastor and minister with at The Serve (that’s our Wednesday night service ministry at Fellowship of Believers)!

Yesterday was our last Hot Dogs from Heaven outreach of the summer, where we serve free hot dogs in a local park, and let me tell you it was smokin’ hot! At or over 100 degrees hot when we started!! But not a single person backed down as they bagged and distributed and ministered to every person who came by!!

I am so blessed to be able to serve side by side with each and every one of these devoted people who over the summer prepared and handed out 1,000 hot dogs. It is awesome to see such a small group reach so many people! And here’s the cool part, not just were hungry people fed, but each person got a glimpse of the love of Christ.

For greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done in this City


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sisters, hockey and dead fish!

Remember February 22nd 1980? Oh I do!

This would have been the day before my little sisters 1st birthday. Oh how I had loved the first three years of my life…then she came along. Everything changed forever!

No really, I love you sis…sometimes! Seriously, I love you….when we don’t have to talk! Just kidding…kinda!

Really, February 22nd 1980 was the day a historical Olympic hockey game was played.

It’s was the game prior to the gold medal round but it was the one everyone remembers.

A group of American amateur and college hockey players took on the Soviet Union professionals who had won every Olympic hockey gold since 1964 and were the heavy favorite to win this one.
Last period and the game was tied 4-4 with time is ticking down.

U.S. gets the puck with 10 seconds to go.

Passed it up ice with 5 seconds as announcer Al Michaels rattles off the famous words, “Five seconds left in the game. Do you believe in miraclessssssss?...YES!”

As the U.S. puck flies into the net with no time left and pandemonium erupts.

Affectionately know to this day as “The Miracle on Ice.”

This is a perfect example of what it takes for a miracle to happen as I recently heard Christian author John Maxwell describe.

He says, “Miracles happen when there is a need sensed by a few, and each individual understands his responsibility and gives his all, regardless of the odds, then Jesus works a miracle.”

Now go back and think about that hockey match again. Perfect example, huh?

Think of the Jesus feeding the 5,000 with a few fish and loaves that is recorded in all four gospels ( Matthew 14, Mark 6, Luke 9 & John 6). The few who sensed the need and understood the responsibility wasn’t Jesus and disciples. Heck, they wanted Jesus to end with a prayer and let everyone go home hungry.

No, the few who sensed the need was Jesus and boy with the fish and bread.

For this miracle to work the boy had to give his all regardless of the odds. And his all was his lunch.

As he looked around at over 5,000 hungry people he was finally convinced that this guy Jesus could really do this; otherwise he would have never given him the lunch.

Maxwell envisioned the conversation between the two sounding something like this, “I can do more with your lunch than you can but I can’t do anything until you let it go out of your hands.”

The minute it is out of his hands the miracle begins.

Just like The Miracle on Ice there was no way to score the winning goal as long as U.S. holds on to the puck. The miracle only happened because they let it go towards the net and gave it chance.

God tells us the same. I can do more with your life than you can but I can’t do anything until you let go of your junk and let me take care of it.

Change your thinking a little when it comes to miracles. They’re not just something that happened a few thousand years ago and about water to wine, walking on water or parting of seas. Miracles in the Bible and miracles today share something in common. They are about bringing the dead to life.

Today we need a miracle in our dead marriages, our dead relationships, our dead friendship, when we’re dead in our addictions, our dead finances or dead in our religion. When you are to the point you've figured out you can’t help you and must have Him to go any further then you have sensed the need for a miracle in your life. Now let go!

Pastor Shannon O’Dell says it best, “Take the pain, take the offenses, dig them up with a spade, and spread them at the feet of the Cross, release them and leaving there with your Lord. Let go! Because he knows what to do. He is in the business of taking things that are dead and giving them new life.”

Let it go!

Pray, “I will not be consumed by this any longer! This will not rule my life any longer! God here is my lunch.”