Nov 282009
 

Last time, we talked about how Moses learned more about God’s kind of love as he interceded with God for the lives of his people.  the kind of love that made him offer his own life, his eternal life, for his people.  However, the story doesn’t end there! God had more experiences in store for Moses.

Remember that this was just after the people of Israel had turned away from God and worshiped a golden calf.  Moses and God continue to have a conversation about Israel’s future. God tells Moses to get the people moving toward their destination,

“But I will not go with you, because you are a stiff-necked people and I might destroy you on the way” Exodus 33:3.

Moses shares this message with the people and this seems to get their attention and they are grief-stricken.

Moses presses God for more assurance. He tells God, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.” He says to God, “If You won’t go with us, we don’t want to do either!” Wow, Moses is continuing to push God for more and more. Did you know that our God can handle that? Don’t ever think that all God wants is a distant, somewhat positive, respectful relationship from you.

God reassures Moses by saying,

“I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.” Ex. 33:17

God wants to know you personally. He wants us to interact with him closely and without fear. Hebrews 4 says,

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

But we’re used to the kind and loving God we see in Jesus in the New Testament, you say. No, God is the same as He’s always been and this story about Moses proves it. God pushes and challenges Moses and Moses responds the way God wants him to respond. Pushing, asking for more, wanting a deeper relationship, needing a closer friendship.

Today, right now, God wants that from me, and from you. He is all about mending broken relationships, bridging widening gaps, healing wounded friendships. He wants nothing more in the universe than to have a close and loving relationship with you right here, right now. Where you are in life, what you’ve done, how you’ve hurt, are beside the point. He just wants you.

shared in the workplace 11/23/09

Nov 232009
 

Last Wednesday I had planned a special meeting for our 8th grade  unit within our church’s christian scouting club. We had been working toward each one of them taking personal responsibility for making space in their day for TAG time, Time Alone with God. Teens are so busy these days that it is difficult to help them prioritize and focus. I decided that we would spend most of our meeting time helping them to choose a special place and time as well as choosing partners to voluntarily keep themselves accountable to each other. I planned a special video to help set the tone. While many of the kids were receptive and cooperative, there were several who were repeatedly disruptive and disrespectful. By the end of the night, I was very frustrated. I went home thinking that it was a waste of time and that I would never be able to connect with them in a way that would help them grow.

The next morning, during my long commute to work, I prayed and grumbled to God about the trouble I had the previous night. I asked God if there was something I was doing that was in the way. I was struggling with whether I could effectively continue this ministry. As I continued to drive, I felt God impressing me to review a story I heard at church the week before. One that had been told for a very different purpose then, but one that He wanted to use for me that morning:

Moses was on the top of Mt. Sinai, receiving the Ten Commandments from God’s own hand. God told him that the people of Israel were committing sin in the camp. He said to Moses,

“Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.” Exodus 32

Moses could have proudly accepted this great honor. Instead, he pled for mercy and went down to the camp, already hearing the sounds of the idol worship filling the camp below. When he reached the camp, he saw the people worshipping a golden calf they had made!  After confronting them with their great sin, he went back up the mountain to talk to God about it.

So Moses went back to the LORD and said, “Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made themselves gods of gold.  But now, please forgive their sin—but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.”

This story seems to support the common view of the stern, judgmental God of the Old Testament. However, a few verses later, God says otherwise. No, God didn’t need Moses to plead for the lives of the people. God needed Moses to love his people like God loves them. Unconditionally, without strings, without limit, no matter what. God had even told Moses that He would make his descendants the chosen people! What an honor! Even so, Moses still persisted in interceding for the Israelites.

God’s message for me that morning on the road was this: Bob, Know me! Love like I love!  Those 21 teens are my chosen ones. Can you love them unconditionally, without strings, without limit, no matter what? I need to teach you how to love like Me. I need to teach you to love like My Son lived. Can you love them like that?

How humbling that was. We each have opportunities to love like Jesus every day. Can we let God grow us so that we can love regardless of the outcome? Love no matter what the response?

And yes, teens, I don’t mind a bit if you read this!

shared in the workplace 11/19/09

Nov 032009
 

When my oldest daughter was a toddler, she was petrified of the vacuum cleaner. I would be vacuuming the [yes, I did use the vacuum cleaner occasionally!] house and whenever the vacuum would get close to her, she would start screaming and run from the room! In a moment of dadly creativity, I knelt down on the floor next to her and told her to roar back at the offending vacuum cleaner whenver it scared her. Bless her heart, she actually did it and it worked!

Two conflicting emotions: Humor. The sight of a pewee-sized little girl roaring like a lion at the vacuum cleaner. Satisfaction. The fact that my fatherly advice actually worked!

Do you have storms in your life? Do they seem beyond your ability to handle? What do you do when that happens? Whimper complaints to God? Make demands for meteorological intervention?

One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples. Luke 8:22-25

Of course, the famous miracle when Jesus calms the storm! I’ve heard that story since I was a toddler. The main point of the story is that God has power over nature! Or is it?  When Jesus said “Where is your faith?”, was He suggesting that the disciples should have calmed the storm?

Maybe the larger truth is that we too can rest calmly because we know who our God is and that we can trust Him to work for our good whether He calms our storm or not.

A contemporary Christian song recorded by Scott Krippayne includes the following lyrics-

Sometimes He calms the storm
with a whispered “Peace be still.”
He can settle any sea,
but it doesn’t mean He will.

Sometimes He holds us close
and lets the wind and waves go wild.
Sometimes He calms the storm,
and other times He calms His child.

What was more satifsying to me as a dad? Turning the vacuum cleaner off so that my daughter wouldn’t be frightened? Or was it giving her the power to rise above her fear?  Is God more interested in proving to me His anti-storm power? Or is He more interested in using His power in me by growing me from the inside out so that I will look more like His Son?

“Don’t tell God how big the storm is. Tell the storm how big your God is!”  -unknown

11/5/09 shared at work.

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