Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Loving Your Enemy is Hard

Imagine the moments we miss out on because we refuse to love our enemies. The bible is full of stories of people, just like us, who didn't want to do what God was calling them to do because they had a problem with the people God was calling them to. 

The book of Jonah is all about the lack of love for one's enemies. God calls Jonah to go to Nineveh and Jonah decides that this plan of God's is not for him. Why? Because Jonah knows that the Ninevites will repent and turn from their sins and God will forgive them and not destroy them (Jonah 4:1-3). Jonah knows that God's heart is to see people turn from their sin so he can show grace and compassion and forgiveness. And Jonah doesn't want to see the Ninevites receive grace and salvation. He'd much rather see them destroyed. Jonah did deliver God's message to the Ninevites, but he wasn't happy about it or their repentance. 

Ananias didn't want to go to Saul. He knew Saul's reputation and why Saul had come to Damascus. He probably would've been content to let Saul sit wherever he was and be blind. But then he would've missed out on being a part of what God was doing and what God was going to do. Ananias heals and baptizes Saul and instantly, God had changed Saul. 

"Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. At once he began to preach in the synagoguesthat Jesus is the Son of God. All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?” Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah." (Acts 9:19b-22)

Of course those Jews were skeptical of Saul and tried to kill him. Loving your enemies is hard. Even when you can see they've been changed. 

Peter was a little hesitant about meeting Cornelius but he couldn't deny that God was at work. 

"Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right." (Acts 10:34-35)

"While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues[b] and praising God.
Then Peter said, “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.”  (Acts 10:44-47)

Loving our enemies is almost never easy. If it was easy, they wouldn't be our enemies. That why Jesus added "pray for those who persecute you." Because he knew loving our enemies wasn't going to happen without prayer and help from God. But the result can be the miracle of seeing lives transformed and saved. God wants to see people healed and transformed and saved and living their life to fullest. And if we're harboring bitterness and are unwilling to show love to our enemies, we'll miss out on what God wants to do. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Child Like Faith Reinvented

Child like faith... I had a thought that maybe we've hijacked this term and watered it down. I just wonder if we've taken out part of what it means to be a child.

Sometimes when I want to be annoying (that happens), I will just ask my wife, or mom, or... well pretty much anyone, why. Over and over and over again. Why? Why? Why? No matter what the answer is, my response will be the question why.

Kids ask more than why obviously, but kids ask a lot of questions. And I just can't help but feel like having faith like a child means more than just believing that's it' true because someone older and wiser than us told us and believing even though we can't see it. Shouldn't it mean that we're always asking why? Should it mean that we're always asking questions, continuing to try and learn more and more about God and his character and what his word really means? Shouldn't child like faith mean always believing and forever asking questions to learn more?

I think the disciples had this. Sure, Jesus would get on their case from time to time for not understanding (because eventually your questions should move to knowledge and get you asking new questions) but he was always wiling to answer their questions for an explanation of his parables. And I'm sure Jesus would get annoyed for having to answer every time the disciples "what does that mean".

Questions are ok. Questioning is essential. Because we can't grow and learn if we aren't asking questions.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

For the sake of His Name.

God can use anyone. He's God. And I'm grateful for that. Because I know God has used me when in all honesty, in whatever various season I was in, I'm sure I wasn't the best "choice" for being God's hands and feet. But he choose me anyway. And I've learned a lot about God in those situations. A lot about His sovereignty and grace.

A couple weeks back I posted on Facebook:

"The Israelites weren't God's chosen people because of anything they did. They were God's chosen because of God and the faith of a few. In the same way we aren't children of God because of anything we've done. We are children of God because of the obedience of Jesus Christ."

The people of Israel were God's chosen because of God. They were God's chosen people in spite of who they were. 

Near the end of Ezekiel God is talking about reclaiming His people and restoring His Name and holiness. It's a beautiful description of God using us in spite of ourselves. 

“Therefore say to the Israelites, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: It is not for your sake, people of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone. I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Sovereign Lord, when I am proved holy through you before their eyes." (Ezekiel 36:22, 23 NIV)

I like this reminder on a couple of fronts. First and foremost it's a great reminder that it's not about us. God wasn't bring the people of Israel out of captivity for their sake. It was for the sake of His holy name. When God is moving and doing stuff through us, or in spite of us, it's for His name and His glory. 

Secondly, it's a great reminder that God can still use us and do things in spite of our sinfulness. Again, because it's not about us. It's about Him. And using us to bring Him glory in times when we're at less than our best (which is most the time) should be a reminder to be careful how we judge others and should help serve us on to strive to become more and more who God is calling us to be. 

And lastly, as the theme continues, it's about God. And not people. We accuse people of doing very damning things in the name of Jesus. We don't like so and sos theology. Or their views on x,y, and z. They don't do church the right way, or say the right things publicly, or endorse such and such. We get frustrated with people who make public declarations in the name of God that we disagree with or cringe at. And some of those are worth cringing at. But we need to remember that they're our family. Like them or not, you don't get to choose your family. And if they've accepted Christ and are following Jesus, they're family. And God can use people we think are misguided, just as much as he can use you or I. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Love. Think. Speak.

It was about two months ago that I watched The Voyage of the Dawn Treader for the first time. I loved it! More importantly, it inspired me to read The Chronicles of Narnia again.

There was a line in The Magician's Nephew that grabbed me. As Aslan is finishing bring Narnia to life, and has just "woken" a group of animals to consciousness he says

“Awake. Love. Think. Speak. Be walking trees. Be talking beasts. Be divine waters.”

I wrote the line down. It just stuck with me. It made me think. 

Love. Think. Speak. 


In that order. Love. Think. Speak. 

I think too often we speak. If we're lucky we think first but more often than not, we speak. It's our reactionary speaking where we do the most damage, when we're the most hurtful. 

But I love the order in which Lewis puts these three. Love. Think. Speak. 

Jesus said the world will know he belong to the Father because of our love for one another. The great commandment is Love the Lord Your God with all your heart, soul, strength and to Love your neighbor as you would love yourself. Love. 

In all things we need to act first with love. Don't rush to judgement, but act in love and compassion (Ya know, like Jesus did). And then think, pray. Take our time to make sure we speak in wisdom and with the truth of Christ. And than, speak. Speak in kindness. Even in discipline and rebuke, come with the love and compassion of Christ to help set the course on the right path and not to damage and hurt. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Words Not to Take Lightly

Amidst Amos' prophecy to Israel about their upcoming exile and doom and gloom is this passage in Amos 5 which grabbed my attention. It's something to pay attention to. 

"There are those who turn justice into bitterness and cast righteousness to the ground. He who made the Pleiades and Orion, who turns midnight into dawn and darkens day into night, who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out over the face of the land— the Lord is his name. With a blinding flash he destroys the stronghold and brings the fortified city to ruin. There are those who hate the one who upholds justice in court and detest the one who tells the truth. You levy a straw tax on the poor and impose a tax on their grain. Therefore, though you have built stone mansions, you will not live in them; though you have planted lush vineyards, you will not drink their wine. For I know how many are your offenses and how great your sins. There are those who oppress the innocent and take bribes and deprive the poor of justice in the courts. Therefore the prudent keep quiet in such times, for the times are evil. Seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you, just as you say he is. Hate evil, love good, maintain justice in the courts. Perhaps the Lord God Almighty will have mercy on the remnant of Joseph. Therefore this is what the Lord, the Lord God Almighty, says: “There will be wailing in all the streets and cries of anguish in every public square. The farmers will be summoned to weep and the mourners to wail. There will be wailing in all the vineyards, for I will pass through your midst,” says the Lord. Woe to you who long for the day of the LordWhy do you long for the day of the Lord? That day will be darkness, not light. It will be as though a man fled from a lion only to meet a bear, as though he entered his house and rested his hand on the wall only to have a snake bite him. Will not the day of the Lord be darkness, not light— pitch-dark, without a ray of brightness? “I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!" ~ Amos 5:7-24

God is not impressed with Israel's sacrifices of religiosity. He doesn't want their worship because they have not followed him fully. They have oppressed the poor and innocent. There is no justice in Israel. 

Just something to think on this morning.

Monday, June 10, 2013

We Were Made For You

Amanda and I saw Third Eye Blind on Saturday. It was supposed to be the B-52's but they cancelled and Third Eye Blind stepped in. It was fun to go and see some live music. I'm not a huge fan of Third Eye Blind but I know enough of their material to enjoy myself. Not my favorite live concert experience but glad I got to see some live music.

That's not the point of this blog.

I was struck with a thought while people watching during the show. As a people, we were made for worship. As I watched people sing their hearts out, with arms out raised as they sung along to songs about hurt, pain, depression, getting high, and the best nights of their lives, I was sad. As I watched people around me it was like watching a worship service where there was no hope. People pouring their hearts out in songs of despair.

We were made to worship to the Creator but without knowing the Creator, we worship other things. imagine that passion, energy, and intensity put into the things of God; towards bringing hope, peace, reconciliation, justice, and love. We were made to be in relationship with God and worship him.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Have Mercy

A couple of months back I got this tattoo. It had been an idea of mine for a couple years and I was stoked to finally make this a piece of my arm.

People always talk about being anchored as something to be aware of. Like making sure we're anchored to the right thing. And I get it. "Are you anchored to the word of God?" "Make sure you're anchored to Jesus and not the world."

That's nice but I like the house metaphor better than the sailing metaphor. Christ as your foundation I can get behind. Being anchored to Christ I can also get behind but that's not where my tattoo comes from.

Anchors keep boats in place. But the point of a boat is to go sailing. It's a vehicle for movement and living. Yes there are times when we need to be anchored and not moving but there are times when we need to be moving and taking steps of faith.

The anchor on my arm represents sin, doubt, fear, and anything prevents me from moving forward and becoming who God wants me to be. It's a reminder to not let fear, doubt, and sin cripple my life. It's a reminder that I need God's grace and mercy every single day. Fear, doubt, and sin are going to happen every day. But they can't become anchors that keep me from moving forward and trusting God. His grace and mercy are enough to carry me through the storms and tough times.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

No Condemnation

Romans 8:1 says that "there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." I've been thinking about this scripture in relation to the story of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery. And how maybe we need to rethink our thoughts on this verse. 

At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:2-11)

This is obviously a great story of God's grace, love, and forgiveness, which in and of itself it beautiful. But it's such a multifaceted passage of scripture. I think for the first time ever I realized that this exchange happens in a large group setting and not just between Jesus and a small group of Pharisees. This is everyone in the temple who came to hear Jesus teach that is turned away from stoning this woman. 

But that's not even the first thing that stands out to me. What really stands out is that the Pharisees just brought the woman to Jesus. The guy involved in this case of adultery... He's sitting naked in a bed somewhere, feeling pretty awkward I imagine. But the Pharisees don't bother with him. They bring the woman. 

This is another story of Jesus valuing all life and changing and redeeming the perspective and value of women. From the woman at the well, to the woman with the issue of blood, to this woman caught in the act of adultery, Jesus loved and cared for them all. He didn't view women as the lesser. While they're beautiful stories of God's grace and healing to us now, I feel like we miss the cultural implications these stories had to those who witnessed and heard them back then. It's the shift Paul talks about when he says there is no longer Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28). 

I also wonder what was going through this woman's mind post encounter with Jesus. Jesus says go and leave your life of sin. Did she? An encounter with Jesus will change your life. And one where your life is spared and redeem, that for sure will change your life? But how was she changed? Was she able to find fidelity post her encounter with Jesus? Did she slip back in to old habits eventually? She did ever feel condemned after her encounter where Jesus said he didn't condemn her? Obviously she was convicted in that moment. How can one not be? But did the idea that there was no condemnation for her sin, from the Son of God, change her perspective on life?

While the Pharisees thought they were going to trap Jesus and put this woman to death, actually (potentially) saved and changed her life. She had an encounter with Jesus where her sin was forgiven and she found that there is no condemnation with Christ. But the guy who she was sleeping with... He wasn't given the chance to find forgiveness. This was a very public encounter with Jesus. People knew who this man was. How long did he have to walk around with the shame and guilt and condemnation? Or how long was he blind to his own short-comings?

When he encounter Christ, conviction should lead to repentance, to leaving our life of sin. Not guilt, shame, and condemnation.

I wonder if Paul's claim that there is no condemnation is as much a reminder to himself as it was to the Roman church. Was Paul fighting with feelings of condemnation over his persecution of the church? But Paul says because I have encountered God, there is no condemnation because Christ has sets us free from sin and death (Romans 8:2).

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Faithfully Waiting

The story of Caleb is one of my favorites. Caleb was one of the spies who went and checked out the Promise Land. Caleb said Israel would have no issue taking the land because God was on their side. The other spies just saw giants and lost their cool. Caleb had God in his sights and God in his heart. The rest of the spies saw a problem and feared. Their feared cause doubt in Israel and thus, those who feared were going to have to chill in the desert until they died.

But not Caleb. Caleb and Joshua were the only two from that generation that were going to get to live and make it into the Promised Land. Pretty dope, right?

But Israel was in the desert for 40 years. Caleb had a lot of waiting. And one they crossed the Jordan? Well Caleb was still a part of the Israeli army. But Caleb didn't let go of God's promise.

"Now the people of Judah approached Joshua at Gilgal, and Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, “You know what the Lord said to Moses the man of God at Kadesh Barnea about you and me. I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh Barnea to explore the land. And I brought him back a report according to my convictions, but my fellow Israelites who went up with me made the hearts of the people melt in fear. I, however, followed theLord my God wholeheartedly. So on that day Moses swore to me, ‘The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly.’ “Now then, just as the Lord promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the wilderness. So here I am today, eighty-five years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. Now give me this hill country that the Lord promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, theLord helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.” Then Joshua blessed Caleb son of Jephunneh and gave him Hebron as his inheritance." ~ Joshua 14:6-13

At the age of 85 Caleb just as strongly believed and held to the promises of God. AT 85 Caleb was just as strong and ready to fight with the Lord's help as he was at 40.

This is an extremely encouraging passage of scripture for me. Caleb had to wait 45 years for God's promise to come true in his life. It makes a couple of years not seem so bad. Caleb missed out on the promise land because of the fear of others. Caleb remained faithful but still had to wait. But waiting brought the promise. He remained faithful and trusted that God's word would come true, even 45 years later. It gives me hope and a resolve to keep going and remain faithful.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Reaching The End

I wonder what Moses was thinking when he reached the end of his life. Was he happy? Relived? Disappointed? I'd imagine it was a little bit of all that. And what were Israel's thoughts? Yes, the bible says they mourned for thirty days. But Moses was also the only thing keeping them from entering the promised land at the point of his death. He needed to die for God's promise to finally be fulfilled.

Which is where I think disappointment and possibly bitterness creeps in to Moses' final thoughts.

Moses died at the age of 120. The Bible says his vision was good and he had his strength. By this point, it appears the Moses has moved passed his fear of speaking in public that he has when God first calls him. He just delivered his final sermon to the Israelites (and you thought your pastor was long winded).

After delivering his final instructions to Israel, God informs Moses that after he dies, the Israelites are going to turn away from God and prostitute themselves to other gods.

Moses didn't really want to rescue the Israelites in the first place. He was content to stay in the dessert, watching sheep for his father-in-law. The Israelites were a major pain in Moses' ass. They complained pretty much as soon as they left Egypt. They complained against God for food an for water. They complained about the food God has miraculously provided because they wanted something different. (I imagine a child who wants pizza for dinner again complaining that mom made spaghetti) WHen they get to the promise land they refuse to enter because they have forgotten that God delivered them out of Egypt and don't think they can take the land God has promised. And we can't forget how impatient they get while Moses is receiving the law from God, that they go ahead and make a golden cow to worship. They also heard the voice of God before creating a false God. The Israelites were a frustrating people. And in Moses' final moments, they continue to be frustrating. The Israelites are the reason Moses doesn't get to enter the promised land.

But if Moses hadn't gone to Egypt he would've missed out on God. While the burning bush is an incredible life changing moment, where do you think it ranked on the list of things Moses saw God do? All the signs in Egypt, the manna, the quail, the water from the rock... Not to mention, seeing God and talking to God every day. The book of Deuteronomy closes with:

"Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, who did all those signs and wonders the Lord sent him to do in Egypt—to Pharaoh and to all his officialsand to his whole land. For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel." (Deuteronomy 34:10-12).

For all the strife Israel caused in Moses, for all the interceding he had to do for them, Moses had the closest, most personal relationship with God on earth since Eden closed it's door to humanity. 

Life is tough. People can be difficult. And while I'm sure the disappointment of not being able to enter the promised land weighed heavy on Moses and the knowledge that the people God had saved and had called were going to turn their back on God again was hard to die with, I imagine Moses would've have traded his life experiences for anything. He knew God in an intimate and personal way and had seen God do great things in his lifetime. And I'm sure that was comforting at the end of his life when God called him off the earth. 

And at least he had a view of that which God promised before he died. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Power of Prayer

When we reach Exodus 32, Moses is having this pretty incredible experience with God on Mount Sinai. Joshua is up there with Moses but the rest of Israel, who have just made a covenant with God, are getting antsy waiting on Moses. So they ask Aaron to make them a god they can worship and Aaron, who God has told Moses to set apart as his chosen priest, makes Israel a golden calf, ticking God off completely. 

God's pissed. I don't know if he's putting Moses to the test or anger and holy jealously get the better of God because he abandons the idea of Israel as people when he talks with Moses. 

"Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt,have become corrupt. They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’ “I have seen these people,” the Lord said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people. 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 32:7-10)

Israel is now Moses' people that Moses brought out of Egypt. God's ready to do away with the and start fresh with Moses. 

But I like Moses boldness. It might not be the boldest prayer from a request standpoint. But given that Moses is on the Mountain with God and God is mad as all get out and ready to kill all of Israel, asking God to remember his promise for these people is pretty ballsy. 

"But Moses sought the favor of the Lord his God. “Lord,” he said, “why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.’” Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened." (Exodus 32:11-14)

Moses comes before the Lord and petitions for the people of Israel and God hears Moses and turns away from his anger. The people still had to reap the consequences of what they had done but considering God wanted to wipe Israel off the face of the earth...

Be bold when presenting your requests before God. He's listening. 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

God CAN Use You

Abraham was too old. Jacob was a liar. Joseph was rejected by his family AND had a criminal record. Moses was a murderer with self-esteem issues. And that's only in the first 2 books of the Bible.

Our shortcomings don't keep us from doing the work and will of God. Our failings allow God's power to shine.

Wherever you are, God CAN use you!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Good Advice

Even God's chosen need advice from the older and wiser from time to time. Even Moses, who was in direct communication with God, took advice from his father-in-law.

"The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening. When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, “What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?” Moses answered him, “Because the people come to me to seek God’s will. Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and instructions.”
Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone.Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him. Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave. But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you.If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.” Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said. He chose capable men from all Israel and made them leaders of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. They served as judges for the people at all times. The difficult cases they brought to Moses, but the simple ones they decided themselves." (Exodus 18:13-26)

Good advice is good advice. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

For God's Glory

I think Pharaoh gets the shaft most of the time. Sure, he was a dick to Moses and the Israelites but God, admittedly, hardened his heart to do so.

But I love what God says about Pharaoh.

"For by now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with a plague that would have wiped you off the earth. But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." (Exodus 9:15, 16 NIV)

"Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials so that I may perform these signs of mine among them that you may tell your children and grandchildren how I dealt harshly with the Egyptians and how I performed my signs among them, and that you may know that I am the Lord .” (Exodus 10:1, 2 NIV)

God is using Pharaoh so his glory can be seen and his name glorified. Pharaoh, despite being a major pain in Moses and the Israelites butt, is still being used by God to further His purposes.

It's an extremely encouraging passage of Scripture. Even when life seems like a pain in the neck and nothing seems to be working in your favor, God is at work. And there's no situation that he can't use to bring His name Glory.

Monday, February 4, 2013

God Cares

I love moments in scripture when God's character is revealed.

Yes, I know, the Bible is all about God's character. I get that. But I think we'd all agree that there are moments when we read something that reveals something special. Like what makes "Jesus wept" such a good verse is the verse that follows.

"The people who were standing nearby said, See how much he loved him!" (John 11:36)

You see how deeply and genuinely Jesus loved his friend. Even though he was about to bring him back to life, the death of his friend and his loved for him caused him to grieve outwardly. 

Exodus 2 ends with the verse "So God look on the Israelites and was concerned about them." (Verse 25).

The Israelites are in slavery, being mistreated and have been crying out to God to save them. God hears their prayers and is concerned for his people. It was a great reminder that God cares about us and what happens to us. It was a great reminder that when things aren't going well or life is tough that God hears us and more than that, he's concerned for us.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Bold and The Promised

I'm going to cram a lot of different thoughts into this blog, some I know I've blogged about before so... Get ready!

I started a 1 year Bible reading plan on the first of the year, and I'm excited about it! I've managed to do my reading every day and hopefully that continues. Although doing the reading on my smart phone which I get a daily reminder is helpful. (A smart phone which the beautiful soon-to-be Mrs Patton got me for Christmas. Thanks baby!)

There was a great story on NPR the other day about linguistics in babies and how we learn to speak. It was fascinating. One part of the story they talked about how even as babies learning to speak we have this connection with animals and our animal vocabulary is quite large when we're young. As parents, aunts, uncles, babysitters, we always say things like "look at the birdie" or "look at the squirrel." And, having just started going through Genesis, I couldn't help that this connection goes all the way back to the creation of the world and God charging man over the animals. Super interesting how this "unexplainable" mystery really probably goes back to how God created us and has linked us together. Just completely fascinating.

This, I know I've blogged about before, but it's worth noting again. In addition to doing a one year Bible reading plan, I also have set out to read more this year. Because I think I only read Love Does and The Hunger Games last year. That's just pathetic.

*I did read more than just those two books but I have a flair for the dramatic. 

So I started with The Circle Maker and thanks to being sick and not working, I finished it. Yay!

The idea of praying bold prayers isn't new but I'm not very god at it for long. I tend to be bold and then don't want to put too much pressure on God so I back off. But reading the story of Abraham and his requests before God concerning Sodom and Gomorrah, you can't help but love that boldness.

"Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare[e] the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” The Lord said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.” Then Abraham spoke up again: “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, 28 what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five people?”
“If I find forty-five there,” he said, “I will not destroy it.” Once again he spoke to him, “What if only forty are found there?”
He said, “For the sake of forty, I will not do it.” Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak. What if only thirty can be found there?”
He answered, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.” Abraham said, “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty can be found there?”
He said, “For the sake of twenty, I will not destroy it.” Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?”
He answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.” ~ Genesis 18: 23-32

Abraham was no holds barred. And as he gets going going, his boldness increases. I feel challenged this morning to come boldly before the throne of God and present my requests and stick to my guns. Not back down and shy away and worry that I'm asking to much of God... Because I can't ask to much. Nothing is impossible for God. 

The other thing I've obviously struck by is God's faithfulness to that which he has promised and set apart. When you think about Abraham's story, even taking away the fact that the first dozen plus generations in the bible lived for a long long time, it's ridiculous to think about a man and woman in their 90's having a baby. It's crazy. But God makes a promise with Abraham that he will be the father of a nation and has crazy and ridiculous and absurd as it seems, God delivers. Because, as stated, nothing is impossible for God and he is always faithful!

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." ~ Romans 8:28

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2012: Adventure Is Out There

To be honest 2012 was probably the worst year of my life. Nothing excited happened and there's really nothing to share. I just hope 2013 is 110% percent better than 2012.

Or you know... The exact opposite of that.

2012 was pretty awesome. Best year yet? I think so.

It was a year full of adventures and firsts. Some hardships but mostly 2012 was full of joy and growth.

I think the most obvious and most awesome happening in 2012 was... I GOT ENGAGED!
I knew pretty on in 2012 that I was going to ask Amanda to marry me and in October, I did! Stoked about starting a new life with Amanda in 2013. She's been the most amazingly supportive woman I've ever known. It's been a tremendous blessing getting to do life with her this past year and getting to fall deeper and deeper in love with her!

Second best moment on 2012? This little guy being born!
How flipping cute is he!!!! That's my nephew Brody! He's so cute! I love this little guy!

2012 was full of lots of adventures and firsts as well.

Amanda and I did tons of stuff.

My beautiful wife-tobe surprised me when we went to Alabama in September with tickets to see the Braves at Turner Field!!!
One of my life goals was to see the Braves in Atlanta and my baby made that happen! And it was Chipper's final home game!!! And the Braves won!!! It was an absolutely amazing experience!

We also took a sailing lesson (and was pretty good at it, I think). My obsession with ships and sailing led to Amanda getting this lesson and it was so much fun!

We took a great trip to Boston in August. A weekend crammed full which included touring the Sam Adam's Brewery and Fenway Park!

And tons more. Honestly, if there was something to do in 2012, we probably did it. Or attempted to do it. Lots of wine tastings, 5K's, a trip to the beach, canoeing, Octoberfest and much, much more! We had a fun year together. A solid start to a lifetime together!

I got to do some cool stuff musically in 2012.

A co-wrote a song that was released this year and I played guitar on another track. I got to play drums on the National Mall in front of the Washington Monument and played on the ellipse in front of the White House!
I feel like my musical skills as a drummer, bassist, and guitarist were all greatly improved this year.

Honestly, I think more than anything else this year I just learned to love life and be myself. I relied a lot on God to come through and answer prayers. And he did. Not the way I wanted them answered always, but always on time. God's faithfulness was all around me. There were some tough moments where my faith and strength wavered... But he never did.

2012 was an amazing year and I'm stoked for 2013!!!