God is NOT Your Ex-Boyfriend

I'm reading in Numbers and have hit chapter 13 where God sends the 12 spies into the Promised Land to check it out.  They come back with good news (It's amazing and God has kept His promise.  There is food and land and a ton more!) and bad news (The people living there right now are giants and they will destroy us.)

Except Joshua and Caleb.  They came back with just good news.  The people didn't scare them.

While this story has been taught a million times, and we get the idea that we are supposed to keep our eyes on God and trust Him to fight our battles for us, my question is why didn't all of them?

They had God leading them with a cloud by day and a fire by night.  He spoke to them.  They had seen him work miracles.  He had destroyed Pharaoh's army, and it was the biggest world power there was.  Why didn't they believe God?

I  wonder if it had to do with how they viewed God.  I don't think their God was "too small".  I've often heard that and even taught it.  But how in the world could they have a "small" God after all they had experienced?  I think it was more that they viewed God as their provider, but not much else.  He fed them and took care of some of their needs.  But that was what their relationship was all about.  He was like Pharaoh, a wealthy slave driver.  They were still in slave mentality.  They hadn't grasped the fact that God loved them, they may have just thought He owned them.  They were still trying to survive, and He was calling them to freedom.  They couldn't grasp it.  Their past and their deep seated fears kept them from trusting that God wanted them to love them.  So they didn't really trust Him.

How often do we do that?  How often do we let what people have done to us, or what we have done to others, cloud how we view God?  We doubt He can love us, because no one else has.  We doubt He can protect us, because no one else really wants to.  We doubt He will stay with us, because everyone else leaves.  I mean, it makes sense on one level.  It's our experience.  We live off what we have seen and felt.

But it doesn't make sense on the other level.  He proves Himself every day.  He provides for us, He cares for us, and He works miracles around us everyday.  We have to choose to see them. 

He is good, and He is trustworthy.  Yeah, I know, no one else is.

But they aren't Him.

And He is not them.

Are We Going Up, or is He Coming Down?

In the Old Testament, it's a big deal that people can't see God's face directly.  Over and over again, we are told story after story about how someone was allowed to talk to God, but not to see His face, or they would die.  It all was symbolic of how Holy God is, and our sin.  He is so amazing, we are not His equal, and we don't get to look Him in the eye and talk to Him like someone we are equal to.  It makes sense.

So, I was wondering, when God tells the priests a blessing to pray over the people in Numbers 6, why did He tell them this one? 

24 “ ‘ “The Lord bless you
and keep you;

25 the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;

26 the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.” ’ 

If they aren't supposed to see God's face, how is praying that God will turn His face towards them a blessing?  It sounds like a prayer for the people to die, in a way.  

As I was wondering about this, I think it's all about the subject of the sentence.  I know, I know, I'm pulling grammar and English out on you.  Sorry.  But think about it.  We are told not to look at the face of God, or we will die.  (Again, remember, God is spirit.  He doesn't have a "face" the way we think of it.  It's all a symbol.  Okay, back to our regular scheduled programming.)  But in this prayer, they call out for God to turn His face towards us.  To show grace to us.  To make us pure.  To come to our level.  It's not that we ascend to be like God.  It's a prayer that God will descend to be like us.

That's crazy!  This prayer of blessing, which the priests prayed daily from that point on, was pointing to the need for God to come for us, not us getting to Him.  I LOVE it!!

So, yeah, today here is my prayer for you:

“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” 

May He come for you today.

God was Banksy before Banksy was Banksy

Today, as I read through Numbers 3,4 I had to stop and think.  It's all about how God sets aside certain parts of the Levite tribe to be his servants in the temple.  It's a lot of numbers (hence the name of the book), and assignments for who is supposed to carry the poles to the tent, and who is supposed to cover what piece of furniture, and how much cloth they are supposed to use. 

So, I had to stop and ask, "God, what's in this that I need to see?"

He's so funny.  When you ask Him that kind of stuff, He'll answer it.  He's so funny.


Here's what I saw.  God tells Moses to set aside the tribe of Levi to serve Him.  They would be a kind of sacrifice from the nation to God.  Instead of God asking everyone for their first born son to come and serve Him, He would just have the tribe of Levi stand in for them and be a sacrifice for the whole nation. In fact, the Bible says they count how many Levites there were.  There were 22,000 even.  Then they count how many first born sons there were.  Want to guess?  22,273.  So God lets the nation pay a cash payment for the other 273. 

He asks for the Levites as this unique kind of national offering.  He doesn't want to kill them.  He wants them to be a living sacrifice. 


So God appoints people to be a living stand in for the rest of the group, as this sacrificial group serves Him, the rest of His people are declared okay and equal, and everything is good.

Do you see it too, or is it just me?

The Levites, being set aside as a substitute for every first born son, is a lead up to God giving up His Son to be a substitute for the people.  It's the story of Jesus, thousands of years earlier.  Levites = picture of Jesus.

God is painting the picture way before anyone is even looking for it.

I love that!  I love how He works over thousands of years, even though we think in terms of minutes.  He paints huge murals across history telling His story, and leaves them there for us to look for.  One big treasure hunt.  That's awesome.  That's how creative He is.  That's how awesome our God is.  That's how much our dad loves us.

He's so funny that way....

Faith is Loud. Silence is ....?

The guys in my small group and I are reading through one chapter of Romans a week.  This week we're on chapter 10.  It really is hitting me that Paul ties our faith to our talk.  Over and over he discusses how if we believe in Jesus, we will talk about Jesus.  It's assumed.  It's part of the DNA of faith to talk about what you are basing your life on.

So, obviously, I wonder, what about us?  What does that say about us?  I mean, check out these verses:

"The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”

Or what about these:

" for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?
 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

I mean, seriously, why do we think that I can have a faith that's "private"?  Is that even possible?  I'm not all up on the soapbox trying to beat anyone down.  I am just wondering.  If we believe, can we really be silent?  Or if we are always silent, do we really believe? I'm not sure.

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Hmmmms, Hymns, and Him

Leviticus 26 is terrifying!  In this chapter, God promises the people that if they will do what is right, and will continue to follow Him, He will make them invincible.  He will take them and turn them into an amazing force, bless them with food and resources, and give them peace and joy.  All for being obedient to what they are supposed to do.  That's a good deal.

Then He discusses what happens if they won't do what is right.  At first, when you read it, it seems overboard in how rough it is.  God says He will drive them from their homes, they will starve to death, they will have sores and diseases, and all sorts of bad stuff.  At first read, God comes off like a jerk and a bully.

But wait, think about it.  If they simply do what is right, do what they are supposed to do, God offers to bless them in one big act.  Just for doing what they are supposed to do anyway.

But on the punishment, it comes in three waves.  He gives the first level of punishment.  Then, if they won't stop being disobedient, He gives a second, tougher level of punishment.  If they still won't turn around, a third, even harsher punishment will drop.  Do you see what He is doing?  The rewards come in a flood all at once for simply obedience.  The punishment comes gradually, in waves.  In fact, the people do just what God warned them not to do, and the punishment took hundreds of years to fall on them.  But at first, when they were obedient, they received ALL of the blessings He promised.

If that isn't a sure sign of grace, He adds one more section at the end.  Check this out:

40 “ ‘But if they will confess their sins and the sins of their ancestors—their unfaithfulness and their hostility toward me,41 which made me hostile toward them so that I sent them into the land of their enemies—then when their uncircumcised hearts are humbled and they pay for their sin,42 I will remember my covenant with Jacob and my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham..."

Even after they disobey Him repeatedly, forcing Him to use all three levels of punishment, if they will simply stop, turn around (that's what repent means), and ask for His forgiveness, it will all stop.  That's all it takes.  God's blessings flow over them like a flood, His punishments trickle in over hundreds of years, and one honest act of repentance, and all is good again.

THAT is amazing.  THAT is grace.  

Maybe that's why we sing the song...

God (s) Rules!!

As I keep working through Leviticus and all of it's lists of rules and guidelines, I hit chapter 19.  I love this chapter!  It's still a list of rules, but it is easy to see the heart of God in this chapter, especially the first 18 verses.  Check it out:

The Lord said to Moses,
2 “Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.
3 “ ‘Each of you must respect your mother and father, and you must observe my Sabbaths. I am the Lord your God.
4 “ ‘Do not turn to idols or make metal gods for yourselves. I am the Lord your God. 5 “ ‘When you sacrifice a fellowship offering to the Lord, sacrifice it in such a way that it will be accepted on your behalf.6 It shall be eaten on the day you sacrifice it or on the next day; anything left over until the third day must be burned up.7 If any of it is eaten on the third day, it is impure and will not be accepted.
8 Whoever eats it will be held responsible because they have desecrated what is holy to the Lord; they must be cut off from their people. 9 “ ‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest.
10 Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the Lord your God.
11 “ ‘Do not steal.
“ ‘Do not lie.
“ ‘Do not deceive one another.
12 “ ‘Do not swear falsely by my name and so profane the name of your God. I am the Lord.
13 “ ‘Do not defraud your neighbors or rob them.
“ ‘Do not hold back the wages of a hired worker overnight.
14 “ ‘Do not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block in front of the blind, but fear your God. I am the Lord.
15 “ ‘Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.
16 “ ‘Do not go about spreading slander among your people.
“ ‘Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life. I am the Lord.
17 “ ‘Do not hate a fellow Israelite in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in their guilt.
18 “ ‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord. 

Look at the issues of honesty, respect, kindness, generosity, and justice.  This is such a beautiful set of guidelines.  If I could simply strive to follow Him and live more like this everyday, my life would be full.  And it's just 18 verses.  Which of these speak to you the clearest?  Which ones do you and I need to work on today?

Greetings From Loveland, CO!

Today is a crazy day for me.  Yesterday I flew from Indy to Atlanta to Denver and then by bus to Loveland, CO.  Now, I've never been to Loveland, so that's cool.  I'm typing from the cafe inside Group Publishing, waiting on the rest of the team I am meeting with to show for breakfast. 

I keep asking God, "Why am I here?"  The invitation came in an email last week, and I still don't have a handle on why I'm here.  I know God is behind it, and I'm trying to just enjoy the ride.  I mean, I don't get invitations to see the Rockies on someone else dime everyday! 

Yet, here I sit.  I wonder what God is up to?  I know He's behind it, it has His fingerprints all over it.  But there is this part of me that wants to kick in, and start engineering things.  A small part of me wants to try to shmooze my way in, to "set myself up" in a good position. 

But I know better.

That just isn't how God works in my life.  He brings things to me.  I can set things up, and they are okay.  But all of the really great blessings I've had, He has brought to me (my wife, my kids, my ministry positions, my time at Taylor, great friends, and tons more). 

So, I'm back to asking Him, Why am I here?

"Enjoy it" He says.  "Don't worry, I've got you.  It's all okay."

Do you have as much trouble with this kind of thing as I do?  I want to control it, run it, manipulate it, apply my God given talents to figuring it out.  But He says "no, just be patient and be still".

I love Jesus so much that He cares this much about someone like me, who is so broken.  Jesus is so very, very good.

I don't know what you're facing today, but if God seems to be telling you to "be still and wait", trust Him.  He's good.  He always delivers.

A Little Gold on Your Hat, A Couple of Rocks on Your Chest, and Throw in a Goat for Good Measure.

I'm in the dark part of the deepest valley of the one year reading plan: Leviticus.  If you've never read it, it is a long litany of guidelines and rules for the people's worship. I read chapters 7-9 today.  God describes how to sacrifice a goat, which parts to burn, which to eat, what to do with the intestines, etc.  He describes how much gold should be on the priest's hat, and what types of rocks to attach to the priest's chest.  Honestly, it's super tough to read and feel inspired by it.

So I've been asking God why He put all of this stuff in there?  Why have us read all of this stuff?  I think one of the big reasons is for us to understand what He wanted the Hebrews to understand; worshiping Him isn't something to be taken lightly.  God is altogether different from us.  He is the Creator with a capital C, we are the created with a little c.  When we worship Him, we need to be careful, or it will just be another thing to do on our to do list. 

But it can't.  Because He is not just another person in our lives.  He is God.  Savior, King, Creator, Wonderful, Prince of Peace, Ruler of All, Amazing One, and Lord.  Worship needs to be purposeful and thoughtful.  It needs to cost us something of value.  If we aren't giving Him our best, we really are missing the point of worship. 

That's why He gave all the rules.  To help His people remember.  The rules are there so that in the process of going through them all, each person will have time to think about why they are doing what they are doing.  It will remind them of Who they serve, and why they serve Him.  It will remind us of Who He is, how amazing He is, how much He has proven His love for us, and will prompt us to want to serve Him.  When we walk through a tough road to get to Him, we appreciate Him so much more.

So, what does our worship look like?  If we had to go through the rules in Leviticus to worship God, would we?  Or would we give up and decide it's not worth it? 

A 4000 Year Old Reason Why I Love Youth Ministry

There is this verse in Exodus 33 that really sums up why I love doing youth ministry.  The chapter is talking about how Moses had set up a tent outside of camp and called it the "Tent of Meeting".  Anyone could go there at any time and pray.  It was a little retreat for anyone who needed it.  But when Moses went there, God showed up in a very special way.  Here's the verse I love:

"11 The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent."

Moses knows God and is known by God.  Remember, Moses was a wealthy trust fund baby who killed a man.  He was a coward who hid when there was trouble.  He was a wimp who argued with God when God directly told Him what to do.  He was hot tempered and volatile.  But He loved God, and God loved him.  So God would meet with him like one friend hangs out with another.

But catch that phrase at the end.  His young aide Joshua did not leave the tent.  This dude from his youth group lived out at the tent of meeting.  Why?  Because he wanted to be where God was.  Even though God only showed up from time to time, it was enough.  He didn't want to miss a minute.  So even when Moses left, he stayed.  

I love that about students.  They will do or give whatever it takes when they decide something is worth living for.  They are passionate, sacrificial, and dedicated when they set their mind to something.  I love this bit about Joshua.  It makes me love and respect him so much.  And it gives me hope.  What God was doing in him, He is doing in students today.  I see it.  God continues to work like this in our kids.  And it's just as exciting now as it was then.  

I love youth ministry.

Don't Drink the Cow Dust!

Have you ever convinced yourself that God wasn't going to help you, and so you had to go and do things yourself?  Have you ever been in a spot where you've tried to trust Him, seen Him do some cool things, but then it seemed like He just disappeared?

Yeah, me too.  It's tough in those times for sure.  In Exodus 30-32 the story takes a turn like that.  God calls Moses up on the mountain to receive the rules for how Israel will live.  He's up there a long time.  And the story has this real funny double scene flow to it.

Here's what I mean.  In Exodus 30 you've got Moses and God hanging out.  That alone is crazy enough, but it's there.  God is telling Moses, in great detail, how to set everything up.  What hits me out of this story is that God's plans include A LOT of gold and silver.  These folks are walking through the desert, and have been slaves for 400 years.  Where in the world will they get that much gold and silver?  It's crazy.  Until you remember that when they left Egypt, God worked it out so that the Egyptians gave them a fortune in gold in silver.  Do you catch that?  God had a plan for how the Hebrews could be close to Him and worship Him.  It involved all of this amazing artwork and symbolism.  The Hebrews would go from a slave tribe to an organized nation with a powerful and beautiful religion, proving to other nations that they were legit.  With God laying out such an elaborate system for them full of wealth and beauty, He was providing for them religiously, politically, and in their own national sense of self worth.  He had it all worked out.

BUT, they didn't yet know it.  Chapter 32 tells us while Moses was gone, they got impatient.  This is the other scene in the story.  Scene One: Moses and God meeting, with God laying out this elaborate, beautiful plan that will forever change Israel and make them a powerhouse nation.  Scent Two: All the people getting tired of waiting, and lamely attempting to create their own religion.  How does theirs flow?  Moses brother Aaron makes an idol out of earrings.  It's gonna be small.  And God tells Moses that the people "made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf."  Notice the wording in there?  In the "shape" of a calf.  It's not even a good idol.  It's junk.  So they begin partying and celebrating, which soon turns into a mess.

The whole story ends with over 3000 people dying, and the rest of the people drinking water with the ground up gold in it from the calf as punishment.

What a mess.  All because they decided they didn't want to wait.  They couldn't wait.  So they wouldn't wait.  They ran ahead without God, settled for a shadow of what was promised to them, and ended up sick at their stomachs because of it.

Yep, I've been there too.  

So today, what do you need to wait on?  What is God working on that you've convinced yourself He's forgotten?  He hasn't.  He has plans, beautiful and unreal plans, and He is carrying them out.  He isn't the question in the process.  You and I are.

Will we wait?  Or will we settle for something that lamely looks like a baby cow?

I Love You with All My Guts!

In Exodus 28, there is a cool set of verses.  God is telling Moses to set his brother Aaron up as the first priest for the nation of Israel.  God is describing for Moses what Aaron's priestly uniform is to look like.  In the middle of a bunch of descriptions about gold, and tunics, and other stuff, it says:

29 “Whenever Aaron enters the Holy Place, he will bear the names of the sons of Israel over his heart on the breastpiece of decision as a continuing memorial before the Lord.30 Also put the Urim and the Thummim in the breastpiece, so they may be over Aaron’s heart whenever he enters the presence of the Lord. Thus Aaron will always bear the means of making decisions for the Israelites over his heart before the Lord. 

At first, it's kind of a Hallmark card, "Aw, isn't that sweet" kind of deal.  But wait.  At this time in history, you didn't love someone with all your heart, you loved them with all your guts.  That's where it hurt when you were in love, so they described love as coming from the guts, not the heart.

So why have Aaron put the names of the people of Israel over his heart if it wasn't a symbol of God's love for them?  I'm not sure.  It might be that the heart was a symbol of life.  Aaron represents God.  The tribes names represent all of the people who follow God.  Maybe it's a beautiful symbol of God continually giving life to those who love Him.

Either way, it's amazing that God goes out of His way to be sure we know our names are on God's heart all the time.  

I don't need to understand any more than that, and I'm good.

Pretty as a Pile of Rocks

In Exodus 20, we've got the 10 Commandments.  My youngest daughter and I have been working on memorizing them.  (It's her doing it, she's just that cool.)  After the 10 Commandments, I read something that hit me in a new way.

24 “ ‘Make an altar of earth for me and sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, your sheep and goats and your cattle. Wherever I cause my name to be honored, I will come to you and bless you.25 If you make an altar of stones for me, do not build it with dressed stones, for you will defile it if you use a tool on it.

I love this!  God says that we can build an altar to offer sacrifices on.  BUT, we can't try to engrave it or dress it up.  Why?  Because we'll defile it if we do.  We can make a pile of rocks to offer Him our best on, but don't mess with the rocks.  He made them.  They can't be improved on. 

You see, what we think is beautiful and what God knows is beautiful rarely lines up.  Often our beautiful things are more about us than about beauty.  We want to be seen or heard or known, so we create to accomplish that.  But He says that what He has done is beautiful.  Don't mess with it.  Go ahead and pile the rocks up, but don't try to dress them up.  Just spend time with Him.  The rocks are fine like they are.

How many times do we begin to give God some part of our life, our time, our schedule, our personality, but then we stop because we need to "make it better" before we bring it to Him?  He wants our best, but understand, if He made it, that's enough.  Give Him what we have, and don't mess with His side of it.  God created your intelligence, offer it back instead of telling Him you aren't smart enough.  God created your beauty, don't tell Him you aren't yet pretty enough.  God created your personality, don't tell Him you aren't gifted enough yet.  Don't mess with the rocks, just build an alter and trust that He sees the real beauty that we miss.

I just love that picture.  

It's beautiful.

Jethro Was a Stud

I'm catching up on my one year Bible reading from over the weekend.  In Exodus 18, we hit this story about Moses:

13 The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening.
14 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?” 15 Moses answered him, “Because the people come to me to seek God’s will.
16 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.” 17 Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good.18 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.19 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.20 Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave.21 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.22 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.

As I get older and older, I am realizing what a stud Jethro, Moses father-in-law, was.  I spent the first part of my life trying to do everything on my own.  I wanted to prove I could, I was a type A guy, and I was proud of it.  God had made me to be a take charge, get it done person.  Leadership books agreed with what I believed, adding fuel to the fire.

But I got tired of being alone in leadership.  I got tired of having to cover my tracks for mistakes I made, or having to own my mistakes over and over.  I was worn out from doing a lot, and not really going anywhere in the long run.  The whole type A thing is a rocket, it flies fast, shoots high, makes a big bang, and then lands back almost where it took off from, only to reload and do it all again.

God has worked on me and shown me that I need to apply all of my talents and abilities into building into others.  It seems basic, and over stated.  But how many of us are actually doing it?  There is no glamour or praise in it.  We don't become famous by building an effective team.  We just become effective.

I no longer want to be a rocket zooming into space.  I want to be a roller skater from the 80's.  Big hair, Def Leppard playing on the speakers, pants pegged at the cuffs.  We would go skating when I was a kid and go around and around and around the same little circle.  It wasn't so much about where we were going, as it was about doing it together.  Sometimes we got to laugh, sometimes we got to slow skate with that someone special, and sometimes we got to crack the whip.  This was where a lot of us got in line, held hands, and skated fast around the circle.  We would all work together to go faster than any of us could go alone, and then, at just the right time, we'd all lean forward and pull.  The person at the end of the line would be ready, and we'd put all of our combined energy into them, and they'd snap and take off, passing all of us, going faster than any of us had ever gone.  They'd cruise around the circle, and pass us all up.

That's the leadership I want to have.  I want to be on a team that launches people out into ministry, with each one going farther and faster for the kingdom than the last.  I want them to succeed, not because they are so amazing, but because a lot of amazing people poured into them.  Then, they can start their own line, in their own skating rink, and begin launching people.  And the kingdom will move forward, a perpetual machine of love, motion, and service.

Jethro was a stud.  

I only wish I could have seen it sooner.


Desert Roads, Take Me Home....

I hit a really interesting phrase in Exodus 13 today.  The Hebrews are leaving Egypt, the land of slavery, and heading towards freedom for the first time in 400 years.  As they are marching out, God is leading them where they should go.  And in the middle of this amazing story, it says this:

"17 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.”18 So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea."

They took the longer, drier, less traveled route to freedom.  Not because God was mean, or because He was trying to teach them a lesson, or any other reason like that.  It was simply that He knew them.  They weren't ready to face the challenges on the other road.  If they had to fight it out, they would run.  God, in His love, didn't want them to run, so they took the long, dry route.

How many times has God had to do this for me?  I am following Him somewhere, and I think that because I am obeying in that moment that everything is hunky-dory. (Yeah, I just threw down the phrase "hunky-dory".  Live with it.)  We're thinking we're pretty amazing because God is going somewhere, and we are following Him, so suddenly we are Super Christian.  Then He takes a turn.  The road gets hot.  There's not a lot of shade.  It's taking longer than we want it to in order to get where we are going.  We begin to question God.  Why are we going THIS way?  Are we there yet?  We realize He hasn't made a mistake, He really wants to go this route.  So then, if we are REALLY spiritual, we might try to guess what the "deeper lesson" is that He's trying to teach us.  THAT'S why we're on the desert road.  So we try to throw some lessons we've learned at Him.  But we stay on the desert road.  THEN we get mad.  What's wrong with Him?

Nothing.  He simply knows it's the only road we can handle.  And apparently, we can barely handle it.  He is taking a different route based on our weaknesses.  Nothing more.  We are the reason we are on this road.  And it's okay.  He is still leading us, we will still get there.  It's okay.

What is it that so many people say?  "It's about the journey not the destination".  

Maybe that is, when it's all said and done, actually true.

Missed It By That Much...

In Exodus 7-12, we read the story of the plagues God sends on Egypt to convince Pharaoh to let the people go free.  It's an interesting story, and a couple of points hit me as I was reading it today.

One, Moses tells Aaron what to do.  So, when they throw the staff on the ground and it becomes a snake, it's Aaron throwing the staff and performing the miracle.  For some reason, I always thought it was Moses who did the miracles.  Then I remembered that Moses was relegated to a half-role because of his lack of faith.  Man, what a bummer.  If he had obeyed, it would have been him doing the miracles in front of the most powerful man on earth.  He still got to be there, and he spoke for God, which is amazing.  But, since he didn't believe early on, he missed out.

Secondly, during the first few plagues, the magicians of Pharaoh copy the miracles.  I've seen this before, but I got thinking about it.  How did they do it?  I always have thought "Satan made it happen."  But who gives Satan the ability to perform supernatural acts?  God does.  So God has Aaron perform a supernatural act, then has the "enemy" perform the same act.  That's nuts!  Why in the world would God mess up His own show like that?  Because the whole thing is His show. 

So often we expect God to act on our side, and whatever happens "against us" isn't God.  But in the Bible, that's not always the case.  Moses and Aaron were players in God's act, but they weren't the stars.  Neither was Pharaoh or the magicians.  God was the star.  It's His story.

Are we okay with that when it happens in our own lives?  When we suffer or are humiliated?  When God doesn't do stuff our way?  Are we still willing to trust Him to run the show?  Moses and Aaron could've quit right there.  God was embarrassing them.  But they don't.  They keep going.

I want to be able to keep going even when the plan doesn't make sense.  What about you?
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