THE STORY – Series Arc for KNOWN

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From now until Easter the Kirk value we will be exploring is BIBLE.  And the part of the story we’ll be in is Exodus.  “KNOWN” is a play on words for the three weeks of our series: KNOW, KNOWN, and OWN.  Here is our series arc for KNOWN

Week 1 – KNOW God (Exodus 3)

Week 2 – God Will Be KNOWN (Exodus 7-10)

Week 3 – OWN Your Faith (Exodus 12: Passover)

That’s Enough

In the Exodus account, Pharaoh encountered 10 plagues and failed to repent until the final plague (where the firstborn in every household that wasn’t covered by the blood of the lamb died).  What I’ve noticed is that the plagues happen in an order of increasing severity.  But what I also noticed is that God doesn’t just nuke us to get our attention.  It’s a  process.  So my question is:

what will it take for God to get your attention? 

How far will you go, how much will you endure before you say “that’s enough” and repent?

THAT STINKS

Exodus 7.20-21: He raised his staff in the presence of Pharaoh and his officials and struck the water of the Nile, and all the water was changed into blood.  21 The fish in the Nile died, and the river smelled so bad that the Egyptians could not drink its water. Blood was everywhere in Egypt

Exodus 8.13-14: The frogs died in the houses, in the courtyards and in the fields.  14 They were piled into heaps, and the land reeked of them.

THAT’S ANNOYING

Exodus 8.16-17: Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Stretch out your staff and strike the dust of the ground,’ and throughout the land of Egypt the dust will become gnats.”  17 They did this, and when Aaron stretched out his hand with the staff and struck the dust of the ground, gnats came upon men and animals. All the dust throughout the land of Egypt became gnats.

Exodus 8.24:  And the Lord did this. Dense swarms of flies poured into Pharaoh’s palace and into the houses of his officials, and throughout Egypt the land was ruined by the flies.

THAT’S PAINFUL

Exodus 9.3 & 6: the hand of the Lord will bring a terrible plague on your livestock in the field—on your horses and donkeys and camels and on your cattle and sheep and goats…And the next day the Lord did it: All the livestock of the Egyptians died, but not one animal belonging to the Israelites died.

Exodus 9.10: So they took soot from a furnace and stood before Pharaoh. Moses tossed it into the air, and festering boils broke out on men and animals.

THAT’S DEVASTATING

Exodus 9.23-25: When Moses stretched out his staff toward the sky, the Lord sent thunder and hail, and lightning flashed down to the ground. So the Lord rained hail on the land of Egypt;  24 hail fell and lightning flashed back and forth. It was the worst storm in all the land of Egypt since it had become a nation.  25 Throughout Egypt hail struck everything in the fields—both men and animals; it beat down everything growing in the fields and stripped every tree.

Exodus 10.13-15: So Moses stretched out his staff over Egypt, and the Lord made an east wind blow across the land all that day and all that night. By morning the wind had brought the locusts;  14 they invaded all Egypt and settled down in every area of the country in great numbers. Never before had there been such a plague of locusts, nor will there ever be again.  15 They covered all the ground until it was black. They devoured all that was left after the hail—everything growing in the fields and the fruit on the trees. Nothing green remained on tree or plant in all the land of Egypt.

Exodus 10.22-23: So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and total darkness covered all Egypt for three days.  23 No one could see anyone else or leave his place for three days.

THAT’S ENOUGH

Exodus 11.5: Every firstborn son in Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the firstborn son of the slave girl, who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle as well.

 

What will it take for God to get your attention?  I’ve asked myself when I would say “that’s enough!  That’s too much to bear!” and I don’t like the answer.  So I pay closer attention to when my heart is hard because I don’t want to get to the point of “that’s enough.”

I Won’t Repent

An exodus poem

We scoff at Pharaoh for never relenting
As things just went from bad to worse
But verse by verse (my arguments terse)
I realize Pharaoh was wont to relent

and I won’t repent

Officials, magicians, convened: convincing
But weekends and downtime are tense
Pharaoh wouldn’t let the people go
I won’t let go of the plagues

Is it a hard heart
or a cool head
That renders benign my affection?

Is it a new normal
or ignorance of Eden
that makes me OK with the stench?

My sorrow simply longs for respite
While my mind, soul, and strength
want to make it right

My heart is the hard one to break

(Exodus 7-9)

TRIfecta: God the Father

God the FATHER

Fatherhood implies two main things: authority and affection.  With this I think about my daughter.  My wife and I are both in authority over her.  But when Daddy gets upset, it’s a whole new realm of uh-oh.  But my role is to give my daughter affection, too, so when I come home from work and she runs to the door screaming “Daddyyyyyy!” I drop everything in my hands and pick her up and give her affection.

God as father is a thought which can have meaning for everybody.

  • Some of you have great Dads and you can look at your Dad and say “God is like that, only more so.”
  • Some of you have been disappointed by your Dads over and over and over again.  But you can look at where you Dad has disappointed you and be thankful that God will be very different.
  • Others of you don’t know what it is to have a father.  Maybe he left when you very young, maybe he died.  But you are not abandoned.  You have a Father in heaven.

To those who are Christ’s, the holy God is a loving Father; they belong to his family; they may approach him without fear and always be sure of his fatherly care and concern.  God is a GOOD Daddy.  If your Dad is awesome – awful – absent it doesn’t change who God is.  God is a GOOD Daddy.  And a GOOD Daddy provides.

God the PROVIDER

In Exodus 16, we see a story where God (the GOOD Daddy) provides for His children.  They are complaining in the wilderness thinking they are going to starve.  But God provides for their most basic needs with quail in the evening and manna in the morning.  Every day.  Their complaint was that Moses and Aaron were bad leaders.  When in reality, the problem was they didn’t believe God was a GOOD Daddy.

This idea shows up in the New Testament, too, in Matthew 6.31-33, where Jesus says:  [31] “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’  [32] These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.  [33] Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

God is a GOOD Daddy and a good Daddy provides for His family.  This story shows that God provides not just once in a package deal, but all the time.  We are sustained by God moment by moment.  And because He is a GOOD Daddy, he loves to do this.  And because a GOOD Daddy provides, God provided a way for us to have salvation through God the Son, which I’ll post about next week.

Brokenness As Kindness

Many are familiar with the story of Jonah, so as I began to approach this book again I prayed to read it with fresh eyes.  As I read in a lectio divina inspired manner, verse 12 in Jonah chapter 1 is what I focused on.  It reads:

Pick me up and throw me into the sea.

Was Jonah too scared to jump?  If he couldn’t follow God’s command, could he not follow through with his plan either?  Or how sorry for himself did he feel?  Was he expecting death?  If so, how terrifying and frustrating that God provided a fish to swallow him?!

No matter what Jonah did, he couldn’t escape God.  When he ran, God stopped him with a storm.  When he offered to die, God kept him alive in a fish.

It is frustrating when God means it.

When you are called by God you can disobey but you can’t escape.  It is in these moments of fleeing we realize our efforts are fleeting.  Instead of destruction, we are broken.  And I see a lot of grace in that.  Brokenness is a result of the mercy of God.  When we flee (or pursue isolation) God doesn’t give us over to annihilation.  In His mercy He BREAKS us in order that we repent and rightly pursue what God has called us to do!

Brokenness is kindness, and it is God’s kindness that leads us to repentance!

Mid-High Sunday Remix

Following are 5 questions my Mid-High students asked for our Sunday Remix.  I didn’t write out my answers here, but I did include the selections of Scripture used to help formulate answers.   It’s good to explore this stuff, so here are some resources to help you own your faith:

  • How are we supposed to rest on the Sabbath?

  • Is there any way to know who’s right about the age of the earth?

  • Will we go to Heaven immediately after we die?

Other resources I consulted:

The ESV Study Bible

Vintage Church – Mark Driscoll

Living With Questions – Dale Fincher

Knowing God – J.I. Packer

The Case For Faith – Lee Strobel

Don’t Check Your Brains At The Door – Josh McDowell and Bob Hostetler

Spiritual Disciplines Handbook – Adele Calhoun

Houston’s First Baptist Church “Setting The Stage: Part Two” – Gregg Matte

Breakaway Ministries “The Chief End of Man: The Mind” – Ben Stuart

Seriously Ridiculous:: Tired

For me, I’ve never been more tired than when I was getting my master’s degree at John Brown University.  My class was the guinea-pig class, which meant we were an ongoing experiment of the limits of human resiliency.  The partnership between Kanakuk and JBU compressed a 2-year master’s degree program into a 7-month time slot.  On average, I read a book and wrote a paper every 2 days.  For 7 months.

For many of you, being overcommitted and tired is “just the world you live in,” right? This is one student’s schedule from Thursday the 22nd:

6:20am- my 1st alarm went off and then the second one went off at 6:25 then by 6:30 I was up and getting dressed and gathering my stuff for school. From 7:00-7:15 I ate a small breakfast then by 7:20 I was out the door heading to 1st hour athletics. And then from 7:30-8:25 I had track practice after track practice from 8:30-8:45 I got ready and dressed to go to school. 8:45 is when my school bell rang in the morning and I got out at 2:30pm. At 2:45 I had more track practice until 3:45 and at 4:00-6:00 I had basketball practice. Then I got home at 6:15 and had dinner and helped do the dishes. After that I did homework and studied for state testing until 8:10. At 8:15 I got ready for bed and took a shower until it was 9:00 and at 9:00 I got in bed and did my confimation bible study. I fell asleep by 9:45pm!!And that was my day!!

Some of you may hear this and think “I WISH my day was that tame!”  We are in a fast food – fast paced – fast track – go go go – apply for this – achieve in that – accelerate your learning – kind of world.  But don’t you want to know if the Bible has anything to say about being tired?

Matthew 11.28-30

28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (NLT)

The Message says it this way:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Illustration:  There are two ways we can think about this message from Jesus:

We have freedom in life & we have freedom in Law

  • In Life we are promised rest.  This is NOT a promise of the end of all labor.  Jesus isn’t a big fan of laziness.  What this is saying is that a relationship with God will change the meaningless – the mundane – the wearisome toil into something meaningful.  As complicated as life may become, discipleship at its heart is simply walking with Jesus in the real world and having Him teach us moment by moment how to live life His way

Application: Jesus says “come to me and I will give you rest.”  And later “my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Doug Webster says it this way: “His easy yoke is neither cheap nor convenient.  The surprising promise of the easy yoke was meant to free us from self-serving, meritorious, performance-based religion.  It is easy in that it frees us from the burden of self-centeredness; liberates us from the load of self-righteousness; and frees us to live in the way that God intended us to live…The easy yoke sounds like an oxymoron.  Plowing a field or pulling a load is hard work!  And nowhere does Jesus promise soft ground for tilling or level paths for bearing the load.  What he does promise is a relationship with Himself.  The demands are great but the relationship with Jesus makes the burden light.”

Doug Webster, The Easy Yoke (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1995), 8, 14.

When Jesus called his disciples he said “come AFTER me.”  When Jesus preached about rest, he said “come TO me.”  And what’s more, He said it in a way that means “come NOW!”

Don’t come when you are tired –

don’t come after you’ve worn yourself out –

don’t come when you have nothing else to do –

don’t come after the game –

after the concert –

after the vacation –

after state testing is over –

after you start thinking about college –

after you break up –

after the party –

after you cut yourself –

after your Dad leaves your family –

COME NOW!

So I invite you to do nothing.

Because when you don’t have to respond to text messages, or emails, or phone calls, or microwaves, or second hands, or invites, or doorbells, or task lists you can be saturated in the unforced rhythms of grace.