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Four Myths You May Believe About Your Calling

As a Life Purpose Coach I believe that we are all called, have gifts and talents, and are incredibly loved by our Creator.  Everything that we encounter in life prepares us for the next season in our calling.

I also believe that every one of our gifts are as important as the next persons.   We are all working towards the same goals and each and every one of us are highly loved and valued by Jesus!

Four Myths You May Believe About Your Calling

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What I’ve discovered over the years is that many women have an incredibly difficult time discerning what that calling is. The trials of life and the many mixed or misunderstood messages they have heard from various teachers have left them feeling like they never measure up to what God has for them to do.  For these struggling women, certain myths about calling are getting in the way of discovering what God truly has for them.

If you’re feeling lost trying to discern God’s calling for your life, consider these myths that may be tripping you up.

Myth #1: It’s About You  

The process of discovering your calling may necessitate some serious self-reflection, but make no mistake: It’s not really about you. Calling is not about self-fulfillment. It is a discovery of your preciousness, your beauty, and your gifting…a plan set up for you from before you were born to fulfill… and the revealing of it is directly related to what you have experienced in your life through every trial and every experience, both positive and negative, to prepare and train you to be able to see others come to know who He is through your life.

Calling is a revealing and fulfillment of God’s will for your life.

Many people experience a special sense of satisfaction that comes from exercising their God-given gifts, talents, and passions, but that sense of fulfillment is a byproduct of being in God’s will, not the goal.

To discern what God’s will may be, you do need to look inward. You must seek to “know yourself” in order to discover God’s unique creation in you. Sometimes we can’t see outside of ourselves and being in community with other’s who know you can help to get a better picture.  This is why we need each other.

And sometimes we miss the obvious– thinking it couldn’t possibly be important enough to be a calling.  I have had women come to me in their season of child rearing, crying because they just don’t feel important to God because He has not revealed to them a calling.   And there beside them stood their children.

Do you know raising children is one of the highest callings there is?   To raise a child to love and honor God with their own lives is the calling of a Mother.   Yes, one day those babies will be on their own and you will be free to pursue other gifts and callings, as each season of your life reveals more and prepares us for the next season.

Myth #2: If It’s Uncomfortable, It Can’t Be Your Calling

Nope, not even close.   Figuring out your calling isn’t an instant ticket to a smooth life and career.  As a matter of fact sometimes we get so stuck in our comfort zones of dysfunction, we would choose to stay there, because at least it is familiar, right?

Knowing what you are meant to be doing is really just the beginning of what may be a long and arduous journey of hardship and defeat. Some of the most successful, inspired people throughout history have  pursuit of their paths that has included feeling like a failure….but rest assured,

Not one of your failures is wasted…it is all a part of the plan, and what makes the difference is that you

DON’T GIVE UP!!

For most of my life I struggled with what I was doing, even when I was very busy doing “the work of the Lord”, the way I saw it…

God is never finished with us and even while I was so busy, make no mistake, He continued to reveal to me those places I kept hidden that needed to be healed.  I fell flat on my face many times.

I faced plenty of hardships and failures at work and in my personal life. These challenges helped me grow and learn more about God and more about how God created me to serve him, eventually leading me into Life Coaching much to my surprise.   Now that I am a Life Coach and have been for many years, I continue to enter into places of so much pain I sometimes question where He is taking me now.

Your calling is most of the time a stretch assignment. Moses is a great biblical example:

He had no doubt about what God wanted him to do.  God spoke to Moses through the burning bush, giving him clear marching orders about his next steps.

Isn’t this what we all kind of wish for when we’re searching for our calling?

But Moses’ calling didn’t sound all that great to him:

“But who am I that I should go?”

Moses questioned God, voicing the fear,

“I’m not important enough.”

But God answered, “I will be with you.” Then, Moses continued pressing back, asking, “What if they do not believe me?”

“I’m not impressive enough!”

In response, God provided him with miraculous signs. But it still wasn’t enough for Moses, who came back with the worry, “But I am slow of speech and tongue.” 

“I don’t know what to say.”

God assured Moses that he would speak through him.

Moses was called to a task God designed for him, but it clearly didn’t feel good.  He tried every way he could think of to convince God that he was the wrong man for the job, and then finally, when that didn’t work, he came right out and asked God to “please send someone else.”

Your discomfort doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re on the wrong path.

Myth #3: Choosing Wrong Can Thwart God’s Will

I know women (and men too) who seem to agonize endlessly over every major choice in their lives, calling included, because they’re afraid of choosing wrongly. It’s good to want to make the best choice you can, but at some point you just need to make a choice and go from there. If you find yourself worrying excessively about your calling, ask yourself whether this is really about discerning God’s will or whether you may be trying to control God’s will.

Your choices are important, but, when you are seeking Him with your whole heart, no choice you can make is outside of God’s sovereignty. Seriously… it is NOT that easy to miss God.  Do you think He is not able to transcend your humanness, and lead you right into His perfect will…even when you think you are the one making the decisions?

If you had asked me 20 or 30 years ago where I would end up, I never would have foreseen the course my life would take.  I now look back and am just amazed by God’s providence over all of it.

Myth #4: Your Calling Is Settled

Discovering your calling isn’t something you do once, or even twice. It’s not something you get to check off of a list and move on from.

The life of a Christian entails a constant process of discovering your calling. Just because God has called you to a particular purpose at a particular time doesn’t mean his plans for you are the same in every season… each season of our lives has a new calling that builds on the last one… nothing stays the same forever.

Looking back at my own life, I can see God shaping and shifting my calling over the years.

Each chapter of my life God continued to call and lead me through one season to the next.   Some of the things that happened to me to bring me to this place today is astounding, painful, challenging, and sometimes unbelievable.   In every phase my calling has looked and felt different, but God has been a consistent foundation throughout.  And even when I was in total denial about my own issues that needed work, His will was accomplished in other’s lives through my calling.   Astounding to me.

Who knows what the next chapter of life will bring?

Everyone’s calling is going to look different—and each season will bring a new process of discernment. Just remember, God is in control. He loves you and me, and his will for us will always bring us closer to him.

May you begin your discernment journey with courage and humility!

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The New Adam Has Not Yet Arrived

As we saw in last week’s program, the Bible traces the story of God’s promise to rescue the world from the consequences of the Fall. Yet as we follow the lives of characters such as Abraham, Moses, and David, we find not only sinners but also those who sin in spectacular ways that remind us of Adam’s original sin. In other words, it quickly becomes clear in these stories that the new Adam has not yet arrived, and that the new creation is still on hold.

On this program, the hosts continue to unpack this way of reading Scripture as they make their way through the Old Testament prophets and finally point to Jesus Christ as the true “Son of Man.” Join us as we begin this new series on the White Horse Inn.

Host Quote:

“One of the things that plagues much of American Christianity is the tendencies to read Old Testament texts moralistically and a couple of examples are Ezra and Nehemiah. It gets pretty boring reading about the Jews rebuilding the walls on a political entry unless you turn it into principles to help me become a better insurance salesman. Even in Nehemiah and Ezra, even those books are showing the sinfulness of their own potential messiahs and the figures in these books even as they are preparing the way for Israel to be back in the land and for the temple to be rebuilt.”– Rod Rosenbladt

Term to Learn:

“Old Testament Types and Shadows”the new Adam has not yet arrived

Old Testament events, offices, and institutions (hereafter OTEOI) are invested by God with spiritual significance as integral steps in his history-long project to reverse sin and its effects… these OTEOI point beyond themselves, symbolizing the comprehensive, eschatological salvation that is God’s purpose for history and that has been inaugurated by Christ in his first coming and that will be consummated by Christ in his second coming. To understand how any OTEOI preaches Christ and finds its fulfillment in him, we first must grasp its symbolic depth in its own place in redemptive history. Then we need to consider how the OTEOI’s original symbolic depth (the aspect of redemption to which it pointed in shadow-form) finds final and complete fulfillment in Christ. Finally, we must identify and articulate how its message applies to ourselves and our listeners. The apostles’ proclamation of Christ as the fulfillment of all God’s promises provides abundant direction for the grateful outworking of this good news in personal discipline, family life, church life, and public life in the marketplace—and, if necessary, in a prison, like Paul. (Adapted from Dennis Johnson, Him We Proclaim, pp.234–237)

(This podcast is by White Horse Inn. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

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Reflections of Grace Slider2

I used to agonize over how my children and grandchildren would turn out.  When I saw them making poor choices I would try to ‘fix it’ for them so they wouldn’t experience the pain I knew was sure to come.

When they were little it was easier to do this and be in complete control of what their choices were…but as they got older and became their own person I began to realize I was losing that control, and fear would grip me.

As a parent you learn with each new year in the upbringing of your children that each year you have to let go a little more if you want them to learn how to grow up and make good choices.  From the time that baby takes his first step he is always moving away from you.  Oh, at first they toddle into your arms, but soon they start toddling off to explore on their own.

And the years accumulate…and one day you have grandchildren.   As a grandparent you feel a whole new set of worries and even more the lack of control as your offspring grows and develops.

The cycle goes on and one.

All throughout my children’s lives I prayed Psalm 91 over them and it brought me great peace for His constant intervention in their lives.

  • That because they dwell in the secret place of the Most High they shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty Whose power no foe can withstand.” 

And I would pray the whole 91st Psalm through with their names right in there.

I also prayed Isaiah 54:13

  • And all my children shall be disciples, taught by the Lord and obedient to His will, and great shall be the peace and undisturbed composure of my children.”

Now, my adult children have learned the value of praying the words of God’s own protection over their own families.

One day as I was praying for my grand kids and trying to not worry about their lives that I had less control over, Jesus spoke to me.

This is what He said:

  • “Dixie, did you not pray my word over your children all the years they were growing up?”

“Yes, Lord, you know I did.”

  • Do you think my word returns to me void?  That it just fades away, or does it accomplish the very thing you have prayed in the lives of your children?”

“I believed and have witnessed your word at work in them always, and I know they love you and are protected by you… so the answer is YES!”

  • “Do you believe your grandchildren are your children too?  And are THEY a part of you?”

Starting to get it now, I said, “Why, yes they are!”   Then He said,

  • That same word that you prayed for so many years for your babies, now covers your grand babies as well…my word never stops and always accomplishes what I sent it out to do.  Your faithfulness to pray will cover your generation and generations to come will know me because of your prayers.”
  • Light Dawning!!   Wow!

So, here is what He showed me…

Back in the time of Moses, Pharaoh felt threatened by the Israelites and ordered all the midwives to kill any baby boys born to the Israelite people by drowning them in the Nile River.

But Moses’ mother wouldn’t have it.  She hid him as long as she could, and when she could no longer hide him, she put him in a basket and put the basket in the water among the reeds of the Nile.

The very river that could have drowned him was now his refuge.

She had no idea what would happen to her baby, but she trusted the plan of God for her and her baby.baby-moses

As we know, baby Moses was drawn out of the water and would one day grow to become one of the greatest heroes of the Bible – the one who would rescue God’s people from slavery and lead them to the Promised Land.

There comes a time – many times, actually – in the lives of our children where we have to put the basket in the water.

  • Being a Mom, and a Nana I have had to do this many times and not without much pain.

Gosh, it is so hard to let go of them, isn’t it?

We have to let go and trust the plan of the Father.  The world is a scary place – a place where we fear our children could drown.  But we must remember that we have to let go so that God can draw them from the waters for His great purpose.  He has called us to be their parents, but they were His first.

  • My friend, whatever water you may be getting ready to put your basket into – whether your days as a stay-at-home-mom are ending as your child starts preschool soon or if your baby has grown into a high school graduate and is getting ready to leave your home, or if your children are grown and have babies of their own – remember that you have to put them in the water for God to draw them out and place them into His perfect plan.
  • Though you might not be physically present with your child as much during the next phase of life, you can always call for the heart of the Father on their behalf.  And when you do this, that same Spirit that Jesus left with His disciples – that same Helper – intercedes for you, and in that you can find peace. And it doesn’t stop when they are grown.   He will continue to cover them and intercede for them and their children as life goes on.

You are doing great.  Find His peace in the fact that He will sustain you and your offspring for always.   Your prayers are NEVER wasted!!

Job well done, friend.

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Jesus in HD Slider

Jesus was happy. Truly, genuinely happy.

Which, if you think about it, and as you will hear in this PODCAST, is a most remarkable statement.

As you know, and as we have chronicled over the now 3½ years of this Jesus in High Definition study, Jesus was (to quote Isaiah): “despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.”

Never will that become so heartrendingly obvious as in the days immediately preceding His crucifixion. You want to talk about HD, we’ll soon see His rejection, sorrow, and grief in all of its gripping detail.

Jesus was a Man of whom it was written, “Jesus wept.” But the fact is, as we have seen and will see as His crucifixion approaches, Jesus wept often, convulsively, with a sorrow that penetrated down to His very bones.

Had we seen Him, up close and personal, we would have looked upon a Man who looked like He carried the weight of the world upon His shoulders… because He did.

But here, in Luke 10, this is the one and only time that this was recorded in any of the four Gospels:

Jesus was truly happy.

In order to capture this poignant moment, frozen in time, Luke employed a particular word, used of Jesus only here, that literally means to leap for joy, to exult, to show one’s joy by leaping and skipping. A word that denotes ecstatic joy and sheer delight.

We could therefore properly translate Luke 10:21 to read, “At that same time, Jesus jumped for joy.”

Given the rarity of such an emotion in Jesus’ storied life and ministry — punctuated as it was by the highest of highs and the lowest of lows — I want to know why Jesus jumped for joy.

Don’t you?

And in fact, if you read Luke 10:21 carefully, the whole of the Trinity got into the act: “At that same time Jesus was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit, and he said, ‘O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank You…’”

Why? What caused Jesus to experience such a bounding joy? So much joy that the entire Godhead — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — shared in His joy?

Well, let’s look at this verse in a bit of a larger context:

17 When the seventy-two disciples returned, they joyfully reported to him, “Lord, even the demons obey us when we use your name!”

18 “Yes,” he told them, “I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning! 19 Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you. 20 But don’t rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered in heaven.”

21 At that same time Jesus was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit, and he said, “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way.

22 “My Father has entrusted everything to me. No one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

23 Then when they were alone, he turned to the disciples and said, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you have seen. 24 I tell you, many prophets and kings longed to see what you see, but they didn’t see it. And they longed to hear what you hear, but they didn’t hear it.”

This is a remarkable statement!

To fully understand this, though, we need to go back to the Bible’s first person to wear the mantle of “prophet”, Moses.

It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward.

Think about the implications of that statement. It’s entirely possible that if Moses had kept his position as Pharaoh’s adopted son, he himself might have lived to become Pharaoh! But he gave it up.

Talk about a tough decision!

Jesus asks His followers to give up just as much, if not more in Matthew 16:24,

“If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me.  25 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. 26 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? 27 For the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father and will judge all people according to their deeds. 28 And I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom.”

Remember, Jesus said this amongst a culture where the streets were lined with Roman crosses where many, many Jews were tortured and killed. Everyone within earshot knew what Jesus was asking for them to give up in order to follow Him.

They knew that Jesus wasn’t talking metaphorically, but truly about giving up their lives in exchange for eternal glory with God.

Moses knew this same exchange when he gave up his royal position to live amongst God’s people, the Israelites. Moses knew what it meant to give up pleasures in this life in order to receive unending joy in heaven with Jesus! Even though he hadn’t seen a clue of how amazing that is.

This is what Jesus was talking about in Luke 10:23-24,

“Blessed are the eyes that see what you have seen. 24 I tell you, many prophets and kings longed to see what you see, but they didn’t see it. And they longed to hear what you hear, but they didn’t hear it.”

Peter, who was there listening to Jesus at that moment, paraphrased and expounded this concept in 1 Peter 1:10-12

10 This salvation was something even the prophets wanted to know more about when they prophesied about this gracious salvation prepared for you. 11 They wondered what time or situation the Spirit of Christ within them was talking about when he told them in advance about Christ’s suffering and his great glory afterward.

12 They were told that their messages were not for themselves, but for you. And now this Good News has been announced to you by those who preached in the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. It is all so wonderful that even the angels are eagerly watching these things happen.

But, why was Jesus jumping for joy?

Because Jesus knew that now… finally… with these disciples seated before Him, every Old Testament shadows and pictures and promises that the prophets and kings had held to was about to be fulfilled right before their eyes!

Think of all the generations of Old Testament believers came and went, clinging to God’s promises and longing for that day, yet knowing they were not the generation to see it, but that their prophets were writing of future generations. But the generation of the disciples was THE generation, hand-picked by God to see the fulfillment of His promises.

That is what caused Jesus to jump for joy!

Now, that’s a great story. But the reality is that this is only half the story.

When Jesus referred to prophets and kings and Peter made reference to angels eagerly watching these things, they were not just writing about 2,000 years ago.

They were also writing about the day when Jesus will return, sit upon His throne and rule for all eternity at His second coming!

And, if you simply read any newspaper today, it’s easy to assume that we are living in an era which seems to be a turning point in world history, as the globe seems to be rushing toward a climax like the world has never known.

Jesus told them, “Don’t let anyone mislead you, for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come.

“Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers. 10 And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other. 11 And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people. 12 Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:4-14)

Consider this: today is the first era in human history when it is even possible for the whole earth to hear the Good News about God’s Kingdom, via podcasts and internet broadcasts such as this!

Image: RIS

Image: RIS

So, be encouraged that you and I are perched today with a front-row seat for prophesied events. We have our world news in one hand and our Bible in the other and the two are more compatible and overlapping than at any other time in human history. What a priceless privilege!

And what a message we have to share with people.

There are scores of people living amongst us whose greatest hope they hold today resides in who will win the 2016 Presidential Election. Yet, Jesus told us not to panic. Because He knew that a much greater hope is within our reach, waiting for us to grasp it, just like John wrote in the Book of Revelation 22:20,

Even so, come Lord Jesus.

His return can happen just that fast.

There is a new day coming. The stage is set. The principle players are in place. And I have no doubt that as Jesus thinks about this, and as He thinks about each of His beloved followers alive today, He once again is jumping for joy!

He can’t wait to come back!

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Jesus in HD Slider

Defining moments. There aren’t many of these throughout the course of someone’s lifetime. But when they occur, as you will hear in this PODCAST, they are utterly unforgettable.

We are talking about game-changing moments; history-altering moments; LIFE-altering moments. Rare snapshots of seminal events, frozen in time, after which your world will never be the same again.

Welcome to one such defining moment, courtesy of Jesus, after which the disciples — three of them — were never the same again.

And maybe, just maybe, after considering this spectacularly significant sequence of events, with all of its ramifications for our world today…

Maybe, just maybe, we too won’t ever be the same. Let’s find out.

Let’s begin by reading Matthew 17:1-2Transfiguration 2

Six days later Jesus took Peter and the two brothers, James and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed so that his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as light.

Defining moments are rare, though they do occur. Moments that happen to us, and our lives are never the same again. This was a defining moment in the lives of Peter, James and John. So much so, that two of the three wrote about it in the Bible:

And the Word (Christ) became flesh (human, incarnate) and tabernacled (fixed His tent of flesh, lived awhile) among us; and we [actually] saw His glory (His honor, His majesty), such glory as an only begotten son receives from his father, full of grace (favor, loving-kindness) and truth. (John 1:14)

The evening that John witnessed Jesus’ transfiguration left such an indelible impression that he couldn’t help but write about how he actually SAW Christ’s glory, not only learned about it through Jesus’ teachings. Peter also wrote about that night:

For we were not making up clever stories when we told you about the powerful coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We saw his majestic splendor with our own eyes 17 when he received honor and glory from God the Father. The voice from the majestic glory of God said to him, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” 18 We ourselves heard that voice from heaven when we were with him on the holy mountain.

19 Because of that experience, we have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets. (2 Peter 1:16-19)

So, what happened here, on this “holy mountain”, as Peter puts it, that was so pivotal?

dont-forget1

Image: andrewpetrosoniak

The message of it all… and the message that is repeated throughout Scripture is this: “We are each so quick to forget.”

In fact, it is written 183 times throughout the Scriptures, “Do not forget”. One example is in Deuteronomy 4:9,

You must be very careful not to forget the things you have seen God do for you. Keep reminding yourselves, and tell your children and grandchildren as well. 10 Do you remember the day you stood in the Lord’s presence at Mount Sinai? The Lord said, “Moses, bring the people of Israel here. I want to speak to them so they will obey me as long as they live, and so they will teach their children to obey me too.”

 We are, as human beings, without exception, so quick to forget.

In fact, throughout Scripture, we are told 479 times “… to remember…”

Now, think of this: Have you ever wondered, “If only God would reveal Himself to me in the way that He revealed Himself to the people of the Bible! That would make it so impossible for me to stray from His will. It was so easy for them to believe because they saw it all. If we witnessed first hand Jesus’ miracles, or were led by day by a cloud and by night a pillar of fire like the Israelites, if we could have seen Elijah call down fire from heaven, if we could have been there to see the sun stand still for 24 hours, if we could have witnessed the parting of the Red Sea… WE WOULD NEVER DOUBT GOD AGAIN!”

Really? Well, let’s look at how the Israelites responded when they witnessed God’s presence at Mt. Sinai. (Why am I taking us back to the Israelites and Mt. Sinai? Well, who was with Jesus at the Mount of Transfiguration? Moses!)

In Exodus 3:1-2, we read this:

One day, Moses was taking care of the sheep and goats of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian, and Moses decided to lead them across the desert to Sinai, the holy mountain. There an angel of the Lord appeared to him from a burning bush. Moses saw that the bush was on fire, but it was not burning up. 

 Did you know that the event of the burning bush took place at Mt. Sinai – long before Moses received the Ten Commandments? God then spoke to Moses through the burning bush and told him this:

“I will be with you. And you will know that I am the one who sent you, when you worship me on this mountain after you have led my people out of Egypt.” (Exodus 3:12)

Fast-forward now to that dramatic rescue of the Israelites, after 400 years of oppressive bondage, annually celebrated even today at Passover, just two months after escaping the Egyptians as the Red Sea parted… Moses and the Israelites arrived at Mt. Sinai. They set up camp there at the base of the mountain. Then Moses climbed the mountain to appear before God…

“Give these instructions to the family of Jacob; announce it to the descendants of Israel: ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians. You know how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me. And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation.’ This is the message you must give to the people of Israel.”

So Moses returned from the mountain and called together the elders of the people and told them everything the Lord had commanded him. And all the people responded together, “We will do everything the Lord has commanded.” So Moses brought the people’s answer back to the Lord.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will come to you in a thick cloud, Moses, so the people themselves can hear me when I speak with you. Then they will always trust you.” (Exodus 19:3-9)

 So, it was at the foot of Mt. Sinai that the three million individual Israelites, former slaves each of them, were fashioned into one dynamic people – one nation under God. The Hebrews became Israel there at Sinai. Each of those people there saw and heard God Himself. It was absolutely remarkable!

16 On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning. A thick cloud covered the mountain, a loud trumpet blast was heard, and everyone in camp trembled with fear.17 Moses led them out of the camp to meet God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain.

Image: Olive Press

Image: Olive Press

18 Mount Sinai was covered with smoke because the Lord had come down in a flaming fire. Smoke poured out of the mountain just like a furnace, and the whole mountain shook.19 The trumpet blew louder and louder. Moses spoke, and God answered him with thunder. (Exodus 19:16-19)

Yet, one short month later, we read this in Exodus 32:1-8,

When the people saw how long it was taking Moses to come back down the mountain, they gathered around Aaron. “Come on,” they said, “make us some gods who can lead us. We don’t know what happened to this fellow Moses, who brought us here from the land of Egypt.”

So Aaron said, “Take the gold rings from the ears of your wives and sons and daughters, and bring them to me.”

All the people took the gold rings from their ears and brought them to Aaron. Then Aaron took the gold, melted it down, and molded it into the shape of a calf. When the people saw it, they exclaimed, “O Israel, these are the gods who brought you out of the land of Egypt!”

Aaron saw how excited the people were, so he built an altar in front of the calf. Then he announced, “Tomorrow will be a festival to the Lord!”

The people got up early the next morning to sacrifice burnt offerings and peace offerings. After this, they celebrated with feasting and drinking, and they indulged in pagan revelry.

The Lord told Moses, “Quick! Go down the mountain! Your people whom you brought from the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves. How quickly they have turned away from the way I commanded them to live!”

In other words, “How quickly they forget.” And we are no different. We would forget, too. So, may I humbly suggest that if we were to actually see God’s glory and hear God’s voice, it wouldn’t strengthen our faith at all in the long run. No more than it did the Israelites and no more than it did the disciples Peter, James and John who witnessed the exact same thing.

Which brings us back to the Mount of Transfiguration.

Six days later Jesus took Peter and the two brothers, James and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed so that his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as light. (Matthew 17:1-2)

 This occurred just six days after Jesus and His disciples witnessed everything in Caesarea Philippi – all the pagan debauchery there in contrast with the reality of who Jesus Christ was and is, the Son of God and Messiah. Now, in Luke’s Gospel, he says that the transfiguration occurred eight days after their time in Caesarea Philippi.

28 About eight days later Jesus took Peter, John, and James up on a mountain to pray.29 And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was transformed, and his clothes became dazzling white. 30 Suddenly, two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared and began talking with Jesus. 31 They were glorious to see. And they were speaking about his exodus from this world, which was about to be fulfilled in Jerusalem. (Luke 9:28-31)

Now, some people may say that this is a contradiction between the two accounts, and therefore neither can be trusted. However, if you count the travel time between the two locations, it becomes eight days (not to mention the time it takes to climb the mountain). No contradiction.

Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared and began talking with Jesus.

Peter exclaimed, “Lord, it’s wonderful for us to be here! If you want, I’ll make three shelters as memorials—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

But even as he spoke, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him.” The disciples were terrified and fell face down on the ground.

There’s a few things to notice here. First of all, just like the Israelites, when the disciples heard the voice of God they were terrified and fell face down on the ground. I think that too many Christians today approach hearing from God much too cavalierly. Time and time again, when people of the Bible hear God, they are stricken with terror and fall down as a response. Knowing that God is unchanging, I would think that if any of us actually heard His voice, we would react similarly.

Secondly, notice the similarities between when God appeared here and when He appeared to the Israelites at Sinai – the bright cloud, the voice, and the “stop you in your tracks” response that God’s presence elicits.

Thirdly, notice who was so eager to help Jesus, Moses and Elijah by building shelters, the guy who so quickly wanted to get to work and serve them… Peter. The very same Peter who in not too many months from this point will be denying he even knew Jesus on the night that He was arrested.

How quickly we forget.

It happens to us all.

So, if you ever catch yourself feeling “spiritually inferior”, be encouraged. It happens to us all.

Now, back to our story…

The transfiguration took place high atop Mount Hermon, which is Israel’s answer to Egypt’s Mount Sinai. I can only imagine what it must have been like for Moses to appear alongside the Son of God in the Promised Land of Israel – a place he had been told that he wouldn’t be able to enter during his lifetime!

Secondly, Elijah was there, in partial fulfillment to God’s promise to the prophet Malachi. This is how the Old Testament ends:

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. (Malachi 4:5)

This prophecy was fulfilled, figuratively, in John the Baptist, and literally fulfilled here in Matthew 17 at the top of Mount Hermon.

And yet, despite the fulfillment of prophesy, despite the awe and terror inspiring moment of coming into the presence of God, despite the miraculous transformation that they witnessed, the disciples, the Israelites, and even you and I are so quick to forget.

On a similar note, Jesus, knowing and understanding how we are so prone to forget, said this to Thomas after He had been crucified, buried, and rose from the dead:

Jesus said, “Thomas, do you have faith because you have seen me? The people who have faith in me without seeing me are the ones who are really blessed!” (John 20:29)

That’s you and me who Jesus is talking about.

We haven’t seen Him. We didn’t walk with Him. We didn’t see His transfiguration nor His resurrection. And yet we believe.

And there’s a special blessing waiting for us in heaven.

And when we put this into the context of this whole story, it is understandable that our faith might flicker and falter from time to time. Thomas walked with Jesus for over three years and he still had to see Him with his own eyes to believe. The Israelites cowered in terror in the presence of God and went back to drunken idol worship just a month later.

Image: thebeancounter.com

Image: thebeancounter.com

So, for us… we need to simply REMEMBER. DON’T FORGET.

When life rocks you – as it will – don’t forget.

We all have times in our lives that we can look back on, in terms of our relationships with Jesus, that are sweet. Times when you felt so close. Times when you almost felt like you could reach out and touch His presence. Times when you opened up His Word and it meant so much to you. Times when you felt so loved. Times when God felt so close.

But then there are times when you feel like you are in a spiritual wasteland. It’s almost as if God has forgotten you. You can sing the same songs, but they don’t mean the same thing. You can read the same stories, but they don’t grip your heart like they once did. You can sit amongst a group of people who love Jesus, just like you, but yet feel so totally disconnected – from God and from each other.

It’s at those times when we need to REMEMBER. DON’T FORGET.

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Jesus in HD Slider

The Bible is THE one and only Life-Giving Book. But how to approach it? In this podcast, you will be given the answer to that question!

Courtesy of Jesus, we will learn how to read it! With all of its 66 books, printed in minuscule font, with no pictures, strange names, weird customs, unfamiliar geography, violent history, where do we even start? What’s the first step?

More to the point, what is our connection to this great book? My friends, the answer to that question is startlingly simple.

Hear my approach to the Bible, one that has literally revolutionized by understanding of and love for God’s Word.

It may just revolutionize yours as well.

Let’s begin by reading Matthew 17:1-3Transfiguration 2

Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.

Now, when I look at and read and meditate on the Bible, I don’t view it as primarily a historical record of events that happened to a bunch of people.  Instead I view it as the stories of people to whom a series of events happened.  This seems like a very subtle difference in word order, but it actually is very significant.

Consider this story of Jesus’ transfiguration.  It’s almost as if Peter, James and John are but a footnote to the story.  I mean, if you read the sentence carefully, Moses and Elijah appeared to Jesus… not necessarily the four of them.  Yet, as the ensuing verses show, Peter actually wanted to build a shelter for them, out of respect and honor.

Then, all of a sudden, Elijah and Moses disappeared.

Now, we can (as many Sunday School teachers do) make the transfiguration of Christ the center of the story.  But remember, this is not a book full of events, it is a collection of stories about people to whom events happened.  And this is about very real people to whom the transfiguration happened!

So, that being said, why Moses and Elijah?

It’s amazing to me when we compile a list of Biblical heroes, when you dig beneath the surface of each and every one of them, you will find very real people just like you and me.  The reality is that every single person we hold up in high esteem: man or woman, boy or girl are remarkably unremarkable people. From Moses to Mary, from David to Daniel, from Noah to Paul, there is nothing inherently great about any one of them.

And that is by design, as we read in 1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don’t see many of “the brightest and the best” among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these “nobodies” to expose the hollow pretensions of the “somebodies”? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God. Everything that we have—right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start—comes from God by way of Jesus Christ. That’s why we have the saying, “If you’re going to blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God.”

The Book of Acts goes out of its way to show that the first generation of Christian leaders were almost all uneducated men. Most of them grew up drowning worms in a lake. Fishing was all they knew. And all the disciples saw, experienced and knew was located in one tiny region of Israel. There was no world wide web back then. Just fishing nets.

Yet they changed the world.

Because they were so convicted and filled with the Holy Spirit that they were wiling to die for God’s truth of who Jesus is!

But, getting back to the mountaintop experience… even Moses and Elijah were unremarkable men before going into service for God. So, why were they chosen to come back and meet with Jesus, Peter, John and James?

Well, Moses, if you ask any Jew from any era since his time, is at the top of the food chain. With the possible exception of David, there are more Jewish boys named after Moses than anyone else. And rightly so. He is the one God bestowed His Law to atop Mount Sinai. He led the Hebrews to freedom from hundreds of years of Egyptian slavery. He met with God personally and spoke for and with Him directly. So, on that mountaintop, he represented God’s law.

Elijah is considered by some to be among the first of the prophets. He went nose-to-nose with the wicked king Ahab. He trusted God and called fire down from heaven at Mt. Carmel. He sparked a revival amongst the Jewish people to turn back to God.

So, on that mountaintop, he represented God’s prophets.

Now, the phrase “The Law and the Prophets” is mentioned several times throughout the Bible in reference to the whole of the Old Testament. So, there are many who believe that Moses and Elijah were chosen to meet with Jesus that day as representatives of the whole Old Testament, placing its “seal of approval” on Jesus. He was the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets.

Another interesting fact about this moment is that Elijah never died. He, while still alive, was swept up to heaven in a chariot (2 Kings 2:11). He and Enoch are the two people mentioned in the Old Testament who never died (Genesis 5:23-24 & Hebrews 11:5). And it’s interesting that when Moses died, way down in Moab, we don’t know where his body is buried. And there’s an intriguing little verse in the book of Jude that I can’t explain, but does mention something interesting about the fate of Moses’ body:

Jude 1:9 – But even Michael, one of the mightiest of the angels, did not dare accuse the devil of blasphemy, but simply said, “The Lord rebuke you!” (This took place when Michael was arguing with the devil about Moses’ body.) 

We know that Moses died (Deuteronomy 34:5), but we don’t know what came of his body. Maybe the fact that neither Moses nor Elijah have graves that we can visit is why they were chosen to meet with Jesus that day.

Now, consider Moses. Talk about a man who was born with the deck stacked against him. He was born at a time when the Pharaoh was set to kill of the Jewish race. He decreed that every newborn Hebrew boy would be drowned in the Nile River. But Moses’ mother could not bring herself to do that. Instead, she fashioned a floating basket, set her little boy sailing downstream, and due to God’s providence, he was discovered by Pharaoh’s own daughter who rescued and raised Moses under Pharaoh’s own roof. The fact that Moses merely lived to see his first birthday is miraculous.

But this does not mean that you and I cannot relate to him. He, Elijah, and all the other Biblical heroes are not unreachable Spiritual all-stars who are on a level you and I cannot even dream of achieving. They were very much like you and me.

Image: thecoloringpages.xyz

Image: thecoloringpages.xyz

Moses, actually, may have done something much worse than anything any of us have ever done. He actually killed someone with his own hands. Even if you can justify his killing of the Egyptian man in a court of law, the man’s blood was on Moses’ hands, and killing him was not the appropriate way to solve the problem. Even though he was interceding in the favor of a Hebrew slave who was being beat by the Egyptian, he killed the man, buried his body out of sight, and ran and hid like a fugitive. He knew he done wrong.

He hid for forty years.

It took forty years for God to humble and break Moses down so that he could lead God’s people to freedom. And when God finally did call him into service, Moses protested. He and God had an argument. Moses said, “I can’t do this! I have a speech impediment, among other things. I am not somebody to lead the people. I don’t even know your name!”

Moses also had a bad marriage. At the very least, they were separated, at the very worst they were divorced, and we don’t read a single word about his wife during the Israelites’ journey to the Promised Land. So, in Moses, we have a divorced murderer with an uncontrollable temper who even had the gall to yell at God. This is the penultimate hero of the Jewish faith.

Someone just like us.

So, while we may not ever be able to relate to an experience like Christ’s transfiguration, we can relate to the guys who were with him.

In Moses, we can relate to someone who probably needed anger management counseling, somebody who defied the will of God, a man with blood on his hands, someone who did not automatically obey God, but actually argued and fought against God’s will, a man who had to wonder for forty years through God-forsaken wastelands, and forfeited the right to lead God’s people into the Promised Land… and yet God used him greatly!

Image: alfa-img.com

Image: alfa-img.com

Elijah, as I mentioned, stood nose-to-nose with one of the most wicked kings in Israel’s history, King Ahab. The prophet walked in and declared, “Elijah is here,” and the king shook in his sandals, according to Scripture. He challenged Ahab to a public duel, of sorts: Elijah would call down fire from heaven in the name of the God Almighty, and Ahab and his priests would try to summon fire brought down by their idol, Baal. One prophet against over 450 of Baal’s priests. As Elijah’s opposition clamored, nothing happened. Nothing at all. Elijah then saturated his entire altar with water, revealing that outside of a work of God, nothing in front of him could catch fire. He then prayed a simple little prayer, fire poured down from heaven and obliterated the whole area! The people who were there shouted in unison, “The Lord is God!” (which, by the way is what the name Elijah means).

Cool story, but how can any of us relate to it?

But we, perhaps, can relate to what happened to Elijah the very next day. The king’s wife, the very wicked Jezebel, sent a note to Elijah. It said, very plainly and clearly, “I’m going to kill you.” And when Elijah read the note, he shook in his sandals and ran down south to a region so barren, there was only one tree in the whole area. He was so overwhelmed with clinical depression that as he sat in the shade of that lonely tree, he prayed that God would just kill him then and there.

Maybe that is something we can relate to: a man paralyzed by fear and depression.

These men were human just like us: utterly unremarkable. There was no human reason that Moses or Elijah should have been raised to the level of distinction that they enjoy here in Matthew 17. They were just people.

But if God can use these guys… then God can use us!

There is nothing in your life or mine that is so tragically wrong that we have rendered ourselves unusable by God. We are NEVER rendered unusable! So long as we are willing, as these men were, to acknowledge our failings and our faults and approach God in humility and repentance. God is a God of supreme restoration!

Consider King David. David – a man after God’s own heart – had an affair with Bathsheba, got her pregnant and subsequently had her husband killed. He didn’t accidentally stumble into any of these situations, but actively made choices to put himself into these situations. And yet he’s considered one of the greatest heroes of Jewish and Christian history.

Now, I can’t relate to David as a king, nor a poet, nor a musician, nor a slayer of giants. But, I can understand a person who makes poor choices. I can relate to a man who did wrong and had a desire to cover things up. I can see eye to eye with someone who, as we read about in Psalm 51, is confronted with their sin and breaks down before God. He sobbed and poured out his heart in genuine repentance and asked God to cleanse him.

I can relate to that.

David may have been ashamed of many of his actions. Those around him may have been as well. Jesus readily acknowledged David’s actions, but was never ashamed to identify himself as a son of David.

With God, there is redemption. There is life after even our worst sins.

The same can be said about Abraham. He didn’t know God. Yet, when God spoke to him, he faithfully obeyed and followed God’s leading out of his hometown of Ur to wherever God led. You would think that if anyone deserved God’s unrestrained blessing, it would have been Abraham. Yet, along the journey, Abraham’s father died. You would think that he would be spared this heartache along his road of obedience, but he wasn’t.

I can’t relate to hearing a message from God, promising to bless me with more children than the stars in the sky. I can’t relate to living in a pagan city and having God personally call me out in an audible voice. But I can relate to losing a loved one. I can relate to someone who did their absolute best to be obedient to God’s will and then watched the world around him seem to crumble away as he lost his home, he lost his income, he seemed to have lost it all and ended up in Egypt – where his God wasn’t even acknowledged.

It’s not fair. But it happened to Abraham.

So much seemed to go wrong along Abraham’ path toward obedience. And along that road, he lied, he manipulated, he had a child out of wedlock and then abandoned that child and his mother.

But with God, there is redemption. There is life after even our worst sins.

There is a remarkable connection between you and me and every person on every page of the Bible. We are all redeemable. Just like Moses and Elijah. God never gave up on them and He never gives up on us.

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Christian teaching how to influence the culture in the culture war.

Some people who are “Born Again”… and KNOW that they are born again… You see, you’ll know that you know when you are. But, when you’re not sure, then you probably aren’t. But some people who are and know that they are are what I call a “Point In Time” Christian.

A Point in Time Christian is someone who may not remember the exact date, but they remember the circumstance – it may have been at a revival meeting or Harvest Crusade, it may have been kneeling beside your bed with your Grandpa, it may have been at camp, or even in front of your television… either way, you remember the circumstance when you prayed and asked Jesus Christ to enter your life.
This accounts for about two-thirds of people who claim to follow Christ.
But here’s the problem with being a “Point in Time” guy: there are more of them than there are what I call “Process Christians”, so therefore, Point in Time Christians tend to want Process Christians to have a time, date, and place. Why do they want this for them? Because it’s the way that they got saved, so Point in Timers want to make sure that Processors are in fact saved so that they can be sure that they are in… as if the Point in Timers are fruit inspectors at the holy gates or something.
So, Point in Timers make life really tough for Processors.
Now, Process Christians are people who acknowledge that at some point in time they were born again, but they are not exactly certain when that was. All that they know is that right now they know that they know that they know. They’re just not sure when it happened.

Either way, the Bible is very clear that if we want to spend eternity with God and be saved from an eternity without Him, then we must be born again.

In John 3:9-15, we learn that this didn’t make sense to Nicodemus. He asked Jesus,What Do You Mean Born Again?

“How can these things be?”
Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and you do not know these things? Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak that We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that it, the Son of Man who is in heaven.”

In other words, Jesus said, “I’m putting it as plainly as I can. I know what I’m talking about here. I am God!” Jesus continued:

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Jesus comes right out of left field with this line.
Consider your basic, everyday, run of the mill snake.moses snake on a stick

In the Old Testament, Numbers 21 tells the story that Jesus is referring to. You see, every time that the Hebrews messed up, God had to lay a heavy on them to get their attention. At one point, they grumbled about the food He had provided for them, so He laid a real big heavy on them. He sent some little red snakes to bite them.
Every time a little red snake bit somebody, they would die.
The Israelites cried out, “Oh, Moses! This is the heaviest heavy that God has ever laid on us. Go pray like crazy and ask God to lighten up!”
Moses returned with some good news and some bad news: The bad news was that God was not getting rid of the snakes. Every time God got rid of the snakes or their equivalent, the people stopped trusting God. The good news was that if they made a bronze stick with a golden snake on it and if they looked on the snake after getting bit, they would be healed and would not die. God gave them the world’s best snakebite kit, but he didn’t get rid of the snakes.
The Hebrews had four responses.Snake Bite
Some refused to follow God’s instructions, followed their own thinking, and died.
Some thought that there must be other options to being healed from the snake’s venom. There’s no way that God’s instructions are THE ONLY way to be saved. They died.
Some took off and ran far away from where all the snakes were thinking that they could run away from the situation at hand. But the snakes were there, too and they were bit. But by the time they turned to look for the golden snake, they had wandered so far away that there were hills between them and camp. They couldn’t see it. They died.
But, some, after being bit by the snakes, did as God told them and immediately looked upon the golden serpent. They didn’t die.
They did things the way that God said to do them.
And, Jesus, who is God, said, “You must be born again.”

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Christian teaching how to influence the culture in the culture war.

Some people who are “Born Again”… and KNOW that they are born again… You see, you’ll know that you know when you are. But, when you’re not sure, then you probably aren’t. But some people who are and know that they are are what I call a “Point In Time” Christian.

A Point in Time Christian is someone who may not remember the exact date, but they remember the circumstance – it may have been at a revival meeting or Harvest Crusade, it may have been kneeling beside your bed with your Grandpa, it may have been at camp, or even in front of your television… either way, you remember the circumstance when you prayed and asked Jesus Christ to enter your life.
This accounts for about two-thirds of people who claim to follow Christ.
But here’s the problem with being a “Point in Time” guy: there are more of them than there are what I call “Process Christians”, so therefore, Point in Time Christians tend to want Process Christians to have a time, date, and place. Why do they want this for them? Because it’s the way that they got saved, so Point in Timers want to make sure that Processors are in fact saved so that they can be sure that they are in… as if the Point in Timers are fruit inspectors at the holy gates or something.
So, Point in Timers make life really tough for Processors.
Now, Process Christians are people who acknowledge that at some point in time they were born again, but they are not exactly certain when that was. All that they know is that right now they know that they know that they know. They’re just not sure when it happened.
Either way, the Bible is very clear that if we want to spend eternity with God and be saved from an eternity without Him, then we must be born again.
In John 3:9-15, we learn that this didn’t make sense to Nicodemus. He asked Jesus,

“How can these things be?”
Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and you do not know these things? Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak that We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that it, the Son of Man who is in heaven.”

In other words, Jesus said, “I’m putting it as plainly as I can. I know what I’m talking about here. I am God!” Jesus continued:Jesus Nicodemus Snake Cross

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Jesus comes right out of left field with this line.
Consider your basic, everyday, run of the mill snake.

In the Old Testament, Numbers 21 tells the story that Jesus is referring to. You see, every time that the Hebrews messed up, God had to lay a heavy on them to get their attention. At one point, they grumbled about the food He had provided for them, so He laid a real big heavy on them. He sent some little red snakes to bite them.
Every time a little red snake bit somebody, they would die.
The Israelites cried out, “Oh, Moses! This is the heaviest heavy that God has ever laid on us. Go pray like crazy and ask God to lighten up!”
Moses returned with some good news and some bad news: The bad news was that God was not getting rid of the snakes. Every time God got rid of the snakes or their equivalent, the people stopped trusting God. The good news was that if they made a bronze stick with a golden snake on it and if they looked on the snake after getting bit, they would be healed and would not die. God gave them the world’s best snake bite kit, but he didn’t get rid of the snakes.
The Hebrews had four responses.
Some refused to follow God’s instructions, followed their own thinking, and died.
Some thought that there must be other options to being healed from the snake’s venom. There’s no way that God’s instructions are THE ONLY way to be saved. They died.
Some took off and ran far away from where all the snakes were thinking that they could run away from the situation at hand. But the snakes were there, too and they were bit. But by the time they turned to look for the golden snake, they had wandered so far away that there were hills between them and camp. They couldn’t see it. They died.
But, some, after being bit by the snakes, did as God told them and immediately looked upon the golden serpent. They didn’t die.
They did things the way that God said to do them.
And, Jesus, who is God, said, “You must be born again.”

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Real Stuff My Dad Says Slider 2

First off, if you’re offended by this week’s title, then this may not be the right article for you.  Secondly, if you do not consider yourself a Bible believing Christ-follower, this may not be the right article for you.  Thirdly, if you think that Josh Duggar should be rung up and banned from the public circle, then this may not be the right article for you.

All that being said, if you consider the Bible to be infallible, and if you value the words written in the Book of Hebrews, then keep on reading!

Chapter eleven in the Book of Hebrews recounts the stories of what many people today call the members of the Bible’s “Hall of Faith”.  The first paragraph of chapter twelve calls these Biblical heroes a “Great Cloud of Witnesses”, and suggests that:

“since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

Basically, these verses say that we should use the faith of all the individuals whose stories precede this passage as inspiration to remove from our lives the things that get in the way of us becoming all that God has planned for us, endure life’s hard times, and never grow worn out or disillusioned by life’s distractions.  Instead, we should keep our minds set on the hope and joy that Jesus provides – even if that hope and joy lies merely in an eternity spent with Him in heaven after these days on earth. (Again… if you’re going to argue the validity of these points, that’s a different discussion that I would love to have at another time).

So… who are these Biblical heroes that we, and the Biblical author, find so much inspiration from?  It’s a lengthy list:  Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, the Israelites who crossed through the Red Sea, Joshua, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David and Samuel.  Each of them, incredible champions of faith who lived out exactly what Hebrews 12 suggests.

At least they did for most of their lives.

Each of them also had huge moments of failure.  HUGE!  Noah got drunk and danced naked in public; Abraham slept with his wife’s maidservant, then kicked her and their son to the curb (actually out to the barren desert); Isaac lied about his wife in order to succeed in business; Jacob lied about his own name in order to move ahead of his brother and steal his brother’s blessing and birthright; Joseph repeatedly boasted and bragged to his brothers, driving them to the point of them beating him and selling him away; Moses murdered an Egyptian man then ran away; the Israelites – even after being led by God Himself by a pillar of fire and cloud of smoke – worshipped a golden calf while Moses was away for a few days receiving instructions from God; Joshua slaughtered city after city, including women, children, and animals; Rahab was a whore, Gideon wouldn’t believe God’s direct messages even when God was provided one miraculous sign after another; Barak wouldn’t step up and obey God and instead made a pair of women face Israel’s enemy; Samson was so blinded by his sexual lust that he abandoned his solemn oath to God; Jephthah sacrificed his own daughter; David slept with his neighbor’s wife and then had him killed; and Samuel had more wives, drank more booze, and indulged in more self-centered gluttony than anyone.

“Oh, but those are Old Testament people.  They lived before Jesus and so they are exempt from extreme levels of criticism”, many people say.

OK, let’s look at some of Jesus’ apostles: Matthew, the former tax collector who ripped off his own people in order to pay off the Romans and overflow his own pockets; Simon the Zealot who, by association with the Zealots, likely took part in violent protests, plots, riots and uprisings against the Romans; and Peter, one of Jesus’ closest buddies – he disowned Christ in His most dire hour, chopped off a guy’s ear a few hours before, and instead of standing firm in his faith, dropped the preacher gig and went back to fishing as soon as Jesus was buried.  Or what about the author and star of nearly half of the New Testament, Paul?  Paul was a Pharisee who hunted down Christ-followers and threw them in jail merely for no other reason but for being a Christian.  He held the men’s cloaks as they threw Stephen down and pummeled his head with rocks until he died… all with young Paul rooting them on.

Now, I’m certain (at least sincerely hoping) that none of these bio-recaps are news to you.  You’ve heard these stories before.

And you ignore them.

At the very least, you glaze over them and use them as illustrations of God’s redemptive grace and how we are all sinners, unworthy of an eternity with Jesus, if not for His saving mercies. (enough Christianese for you?)

Why do I know that you ignore them?  Because your clamoring for the shakedown and teardown of modern day Davids, Peters and Pauls prove it.

From Phil Robertson to Mark Driscoll to Josh Duggar, I have read too many fellow-Christians’ blogs, tweets, Facebook posts, and columns screaming from the mountaintops to have these men tarred and feathered (or at least stripped of their careers) because of their crimes and misdemeanors.

The most recent tragedy falls on the shoulders of Josh Dugger.  Did he do wrong?  Absolutely.  Very wrong?  No doubt.  Unforgivably wrong?  Well, that’s not up to you nor me.

The only people that question applies to are the (unidentified-but-oh-so-easy-to-figure-out) girls he touched and God Almighty.  And, from every published account after published account, Josh sought and was given forgiveness from his victims.  He sought redemption from God.  He turned his life around in every way conceivable, yet never ran away from his past to the point of unsolicited confessing his sins to his then-fiancé and her father.

Granted, he didn’t confess them to you, me, or any of TLC’s viewership… because it’s none of our business!!

It happened when he was merely 14-years-old.  According to the law of the land, that’s two years too young to be registered as a sex offender.  Why is this the law of the land?  Because even our left-leaning legislators know that kids do stupid stuff to one another and can’t be held forever accountable.  It’s a rare occasion that a 14-year-old would be tried as an adult for premeditated, strategically horrific murder, much less what Josh did.

Nevermind the fact that, as I mentioned, Josh faced his victims.  They faced him.  It may not make sense to you, but they, according to reports, have forgiven him.  And their relationships have been restored.  Oh, and did I mention that the whole thing should have never been made public in the first place?  That the entire situation has been legally expunged, and therefore shouldn’t be tried in a court – not even that of public opinion!

So, when I read other Christ-followers – the same ones who will likely spend eternity with the likes of Josh, his parents, his wife, his siblings, adulterous murderer David, angry Christ-ditcher Peter, and Christian-hunter Paul – cry out for the removal of TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting from their program lineup or at least boycott of the show; removal of the Duggar family from the public eye and renouncing of all the work they do; registration of Josh as a sex offender; or collection of all the profits that the Duggar family has collected over the past several years… I’m disgusted!

Take the log out of your own stinking eye before you even think about taking tweezers to the speck in Josh’s…

Oh, wait… Josh already took care of that speck.

You see, my bottom line is this:  If you’re going to shoot down Josh, you better shoot down, discredit, and disown Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, Simon, Matthew, Peter and Paul while you’re at it.

And before you’re out of ammo, shoot down Jesus Christ, Himself.  It was He who instructed us:

“If another believer sins, rebuke that person; then if there is repentance, forgive. Even if that person wrongs you seven times a day and each time turns again and asks forgiveness, you must forgive.” (Luke 17:3-4)

I’ve heard it said multiple times, “No wonder the population of people claiming to be American Christians is on the decline.  All people see are one group of Christians sniping another.  Who wants to be associated with that?”

As my dad often said when I was a boy, sometimes you’ve got to call a spade a spade.  Sometimes, no matter how inconvenient the truth is, it must be proclaimed.  The truth is tough.  The truth of what Josh did, what the girls have to live with, is undeniably tough.

But so is the truth that it’s none of the public’s business.

And it’s tough for us to fully comprehend that God’s grace and mercy is vast enough to redeem Josh, you, me, and the Great Cloud of Witnesses.

Thank God.

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You will experience hurt, fear, frustration, and feelings of injustice.  I’m sorry. It happens to all of us. And then you die. But it doesn’t have to lead to sin.

You see, if we allow ourselves to enter into a sinful attitude following the hurt, fear, frustration and feelings of injustice… then what?  Anger, rage, destruction?

I submit that if you understand the source of sin and when somebody sins they have a problem with God, and not you, then you don’t have to get mad in retaliation. But you will suffer hurt, fear, frustration, and feelings of injustice.

We see an example of what to do in Numbers 16:

15 Then Moses became very angry and said to the Lord, “Do not accept their grain offerings! I have not taken so much as a donkey from them, and I have never hurt a single one of them.”

Why did Moses get mad in verse 15, when he hadn’t gotten angry earlier at the same things that the Israelites were doing? He got angry because he took it personally.

But he didn’t sin.

Instead, he took his anger straight to God. He allowed God to deal with the situation. He allowed God to deal with his own heart. He obeyed and submitted to God’s will despite his hurt feelings.

For many of us – who are out of practice of doing this – it’ll take 20 times a day of surrendering like Moses did. Maybe by the third day, you’ll be down to 16 times a day, but you’ll learn to be angry and not sin.

Here’s the tough part: you have to choose to forgive; you have to give up your “right” to get even; you have to be willing to give the person over to Christ and to His discipline. Christ may even save their soul in the process. Would that be okay with you … even after the horrible injustice they did to you?

Sounds like an oxymoron?

You see, we can forgive even if we don’t feel like it. Many people believe that if they don’t feel like forgiving someone, then they can’t otherwise they’d be a hypocrite because “You can’t forgive someone unless you trust them, and I don’t trust them”. However, these reasons to not forgive are wrong.

If you are disciplined and obedient, then how you “feel” about something or someone is irrelevant to what you do next. If we wait for our feelings to be as God wants them to be before we do anything, we’d rarely do anything. But, if we obey God’s will despite our feelings, then our feelings will come into alignment over time.

Therefore, the Bible says to choose to forgive – no matter how you feel about it and despite whether or not you trust the person afterward. Trust and feelings don’t have anything to do with forgiveness. You can forgive in an instant, but trust takes time and circumstances to arrive.

There are consequences to sin. One of which is a lack of trust. But forgiveness is not one of them. Sin can be forgiven. It can be put away once and for all. If we submit to God’s will and not insist on our own.

On a similar note, you do not have to reconcile with someone who is not repentant. You’re not obligated to have the same relationship with them after the offense as you did before. But, you can be free of the incident, and they won’t own you, if you choose to forgive.

Also, if you choose to forgive someone, it’s probably not a good idea to go tell them that you do unless you know that they need to hear it. Because often “I forgive you…” is a statement of manipulation. But as Matthew 5 says:

23 “if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, 24 leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.

On the other hand, if you have been wronged, just deal with it and know that the responsibility is God’s when it comes to their discipline and correction.

If immorality was involved, then you don’t want to go meet with the person that you were immoral with because the higher command is to simply flee from temptation.

So there you have it – you don’t have to feel like it, you don’t have to trust, you don’t even have to forget; but you do have to give up all rights to get even and give up your grudge.

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