Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sunday School 04: Fear

Exodus 4 opens with Moses' fear. Interestingly, God answers his hesitation by forcing him to face three very different types of fear. 

Fear of predator
The first is the snake. It's a predator. When you see a predator, you run away, and that's exactly what Moses did. Wasn't it just the last chapter when God promised to be with him? Didn't Moses remember that the God who had created the snake could certainly protect him from the snake? I would have run too. I know about fear of snakes. I lived in Africa and was taught "all snakes are poisonous until dead." The snakes I saw were too. I saw cobras and black mambas and green mambas and vipers. I had enough close calls that to this day, I can't look at a Gabon viper behind glass without feeling a twinge of fear. And then God tells him to pick it up--by the tail of all things! Moses is forced to face his fear. In a moment he'll be asked to face his fear of public speaking. The snake is a good place to start. 

Fear of physical affliction
The second is fear of physical affliction. This is a very different kind of fear. You can't run a way from this like you would run away from a snake. Moses pulls out his hand and it's white with leprosy. You don't hear much about leprosy today. It's a disease of the past. But when I lived in Africa, there was a leprosy colony not far from us. It is a current disease they still battle. A man in our village had leprosy. I would see him in the market place. He had sores on his face. He had no hands. We sometimes gave him money. As a child, I was frightened of him, of the permanency of his condition. When Moses saw the leprosy, it was the realization of his worst fear. It was more than an affliction. It would mean an entire life change, a change of lifestyle, of culture, of social status. And in that moment, the Great Physician shows his incredible power as he removes the disease as easily as he afflicted him. 

Fear of impending doom
The third type of fear is a contamination. It's the same kind of fear that stems from destruction or natural disaster. It's a large scale fear affecting not only your self, but everyone you know, everyone you love. God tells Moses that when he pours out water from the river, it will turn to blood. This would have been significant to people living in the desert. They understood the necessity of water. It was the life source of the city. A lack of water meant agonizing thirst followed by inevitable death for everyone. This is the sort of fear that turns into widespread panic. 

His lesson on fear is only the beginning. Moses has a lot to learn about trusting God.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Sunday School 03: God's Timing

God's timing is perfect.
We say that. We even say it with conviction. But oh my, it's hard to practice that. Because to be honest, my timing seems pretty good too. It's well thought out, and it makes sense to me anyway. But for some reason my timing never seems to line up with God's. He likes to toy with last minutes and completely disregard deadlines. But His timing is perfect, and mine is flawed. My timing can never be perfect because I don't know the future.  

Moses had to learn about God's timing too.
1. God's time is not necessarily our time.
God would have Moses waiting for forty more years. In all that time, Moses didn't know how long it was going to be. Sometimes God's timing doesn't make sense. He told Noah to build an ark though Noah had never seen rain. He promised Sarah a baby in her old age. 
2. God puts us in a place where we don't feel equipped to do what he wants us to do.
Moses complained that the people wouldn't believe him.

To present your body a living sacrifice means:
1. You are giving up your control.
2. You are putting your future and timing in the hands of someone else.
3. You are accepting that you don't have a say in your life.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sunday School 02: Inferior, Self-reliant, or Reliant on God

Ever met someone who thought they were humble because they believed they were inferior? Enter Moses, stammering, stumbling, and so like us in so many ways. Some people rely on their own merit, and we know they are proud. Others think they are worthless, helpless, inept, inferior, and we think maybe they are not proud. They think they are not proud. But really, there's no difference between the two. Neither are relying on God. To be humble is to be completely and utterly reliant on God.

The first thing Moses says when the bush speaks is "Here am I." The second thing he says is "Who am I."
God has just spelled out his plan, and Moses is nervous. Honestly, who wouldn't be? But He gives him verse 12, and that changes everything. "Certainly, I will be with thee."

And then God identifies himself.
"I Am that I Am"

If there were one characteristic of God that showed him most powerful--one thing that could rise above the rest and answer every question that has ever been asked about him, It's found in Exodus 3. 

I Am that I Am
It answers the question: Is there a God?
It shows his existence spanning both directions through eternity.

It answers the question: Where is God?
It shows his presence in every place and every time simultaneously.

It answers the question: Why God?
Why did you allow this. Why do you allow pain and heartache and injustice? Because He is God. He owes no explanation.

It answers the question: Is God able?
It shows God's magnitude. He is a God as omnipotent and omniscient as he is omnipresent. He is a God as great as he is eternal. He cannot be contained by my perceptions or limited in his Godness. 
He is God.
He Is that He Is.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sunday School 01: Reverence

My Sunday School class just began a study on Moses. We've come to the burning bush, the fiery fir, the sizzling shrub, the combustible cactus, the everlasting evergreen.

A couple of things that I found particularly interesting from this lesson...

The first was Moses' reaction to the burning bush. As soon as he realized that the voice coming from the bush was God, he hid his face and was afraid to look upon God. This is an interesting progression. In chapter 3, he's trembling and daring not to behold. But later he gets bold. Later he asks to see God's face, but God knows it would be too much for him and grants only that he witness the backside of his glory. 

Second is this. "We try so hard to fit God to us, and we are entirely misrepresenting him." Moses thought he knew what God expected of him. Here he is a Hebrew marked for death the moment he's born, raised in the home of the Pharaoh with all the prestige that comes with it, brought up by his mother and taught of the one true God. Had God asked him at that moment to deliver his people, I think Moses would have done so without hesitation. But that wasn't God's time. God made him low first. When God calls to him from the burning bush, he instructs Moses to not come hither, to remove his shoes for the ground on which he's standing is holy ground. He is telling Moses who He is. He is teaching him how to show reverence. 

It's easy to misrepresent God, to misunderstand who he is. We have an image in our minds of who we think God is, a God catered to we want him to be, what we think we need him to be. Maybe we've got it all wrong. It's not enough to serve a god. We need to know who He is so we can show reverence to the God.  

Five thoughts we were given from this lesson:
1. When God wants to get someone's attention, he knows how to do it.
2.When you have reverence, you give your best.
3. When you're in the presence of God you show reverence.
4. God does not forget his people.
5. When God is ready to act, he will tell us, and his timing is always right. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Hobbit Christmas Part One

Every year my family and I choose a theme for our Christmas. Sometimes we go all out, decorating and choosing gifts around that theme. Other years we'll just get an ornament to commemorate that year. This year we are having a hobbit Christmas. I think this is about the most fun I've had preparing for Christmas. From what I know of hobbits, they are simple folk, they love to stay close to home, they eat a lot, and the live in holes in the ground.

We decorated with more natural things this year. We have a real tree which we strung with strings of cranberries and cinnamon sticks. We put pine cones everywhere. We hung garlands everywhere and the whole house smells like cedar. On the table, we put a white candle surrounded by a wreath of cranberries and of course more pine cones. We had two special visitors this year. A miniature Gandalf and Bilbo stand in respectful admiration by the nativity. We also put swords and plastic dragon miniatures on all the remaining surfaces.

Gift Wrap
We purchased wrapping paper in rustic neutral colors and interspersed them with packages wrapped in brown paper. I made bows for the gifts out of an old book. Then I made gift tags by tea staining printing paper. I then get the paper into pieces and stained the edges very 70's style. After burning, I rinsed each piece so that we wouldn't get ash on the gifts. Once they dried, I wrote a hobbit quote on each one in my best hobbit handwriting. Each member of the family took a which-lord-of-the-ring-character-are-you personality quiz, and we used those names to address the gifts.

I painted a ceramic ornament with a green hobbit door on one side and the following quote on the other side: In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.

Advent Calendar
For the advent calendar, I didn't want to do gifts or candy. So for each day of December, I planned a riddle. Since there aren't enough riddles in the Hobbit to have one each day, I had to find a few extras from elsewhere. Then I found a 750 piece puzzle with a dragon on it. I divided the puzzle into 25 parts so we would open 30 pieces each day. On the back of the section of the puzzle I wrote the answer to that day's riddle.Each set of puzzle pieces and riddle went in a box wrapped in brown paper, commemorative of the gifts Gandalf brought. Then each package was marked with a date.

i don't want to reveal all the hobbit things I've planned for Christmas yet. So I will write a continue this later.

Saturday, April 30, 2011


Oft' I have thought I was meant to fly,
Meant to have wings to caress the sky.
Then would I soar in the hawk's domain,
And toss in the wind like a weather vane.
Knowing the freedom of endless flight;
Soaring unchanged as the day turns night.
Wind in my wings, all the world's my own.
I've reached to the heights of some place unknown.

Gravity's bondage no longer holds.
Dreams find a way and my wings unfold.
Here in the sea, I have found my sky,
Where sails, not just wings lend the pow'r to fly.
Breathless, I sail through the wind and sea;
Carried by tempest, I'm finally free.
Floating adrift o'er the storm and gale,
For God gave me wings when he gave me sails.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Treasures in the Attic

I parted heavens glory,
And gold puffed away like dust
Where gossamer ribbons floated
Void of cobwebs, grime, or rust.
I was cleaning Heaven’s attic
In a mansion up the street,
And the memories I uncovered
Were sprawled there at my feet.

I found bits of joy and blessings
And a trunk filled up with hope,
And tied with string, a word of thanks
Tucked in an envelope.
I found albums filled with photographs
Of happy days gone by,
Of smiling faces, laughter,
And the bliss of each July.

I pulled back a big white sheet
That was draped over a chair
The very place I’d talked with God
And come to him in prayer.
And there stacked so neatly to one side,
All my ministries in a line— 
The children’s work, the choir,
Visitation all combined.

Then in the farthest corner,
Behind every happy thought,
I found a box tucked in the back
Some things that I’d forgot.
I opened it up slowly,
Recalling now what was inside,
All my hurts and disappointments
And the things I’d tried to hide.

These don’t belong in heaven
In a place that knows no tears.
I thought to throw the box away,
But paused and drew it near.
I sorted through the contents,
Setting each thing down with care,
And my story then unfolded
With each trifle I found there.

I found a heart once broken
By injustice, hurts and wrongs,
Now mended. Though the scar still showed,
The pulse was beating strong.
There were dreams that I had clung to
Thinking this must be God’s will.
I could see now, had they worked out,
I would be unhappy still.

There were lists of prayers unanswered
When it seemed God wouldn’t speak.
Now reading through the tear stains,
It was I who was too weak.
The times God left me hanging
While He blessed my fellow man,
If only I’d been patient,
I’d have seen His glorious plan.

I looked across the remnants
Of the failures, loss, and pain,
And I wondered at God’s foresight
As I saw His grace so plain.
 All the hurts I’d held so tightly,
Now through heaven-altered eyes,
Were the blessings God had giv’n me,
Were the treasures in disguise.