Parting of the Red(reed) Sea
It's probably one of the most famous stories of all time. Is there anyone that has not heard it? Many have argued about whether it really happened or not. And if it did....did the seas really part or did they just walk through ankle-deep water? So, answer me this: Why did all the Egyptian soldiers die in 'ankle-deep' water?
Aside from this miraculous event...and that's what I believe it was...why did God go to all this trouble for these people? If you read the account in the Old Testament book of Exodus you will see the record of all their complaints and the threats of insurrection.
On Sunday we will be reading this story in Exodus 13:17-14:31. I'm always amazed at how similar we are to these people who lived over 3000 years ago. It reminds me that God's Word is Truth for all people at all times in all places.
Who's to Blame?
Dear Church Family,
When something doesn't go my way, my first reaction is to figure out who's at fault. We don't like to have someone take advantage of us nor do we enjoy being embarrassed. Today, Tracy and I have to deal with a small iphone repair company that we think ripped us off. Our strategy is going to be 'Columbo style'. In the 1970's TV show he was great at playing ignorant, giving the suspect the benefit of the doubt and never accusing, but slowly bringing the truth to light so that often the guilty party ended up confessing to him.
In our passage, Exodus 5, Moses demands that Pharaoh release the Israelites. Moses has received his marching orders from God, but Pharaoh doesn't know God. His request causes Pharaoh to subject the Hebrews to hard, forced labor, thus making the people miserable. Pharaoh blames Moses, the people blame Moses and Moses blames God.
What can we learn from how God works with His people? Primarily I see that God doesn't work on our timetable but if we will wait, He always comes through. We live in an imperfect world where there are dishonest people but I believe in a sovereign God who can take a simple case of an iphone repair shop and He is watching to see if I will trust Him even then. Please pray that I will represent His character and His glory no matter what the circumstances.
In Christ's Service,
Do you ever wonder if the pastor dreads Christmas because not only does he have to deal with everything that everyone else deals with, but on top of that.....Christmas services, Advent, etc.? For me, as we all struggle to maintain proper focus, I feel especially honored to delve into the Christmas story time and time again. I haven't gotten tired of it and discover new things every year.
And this year, with two opportunities to present the gospel in creative ways, I think you are in for a treat. Markus, Lori and I(me?) have worked hard to give our community something unique and a bit out-of-the-box. Please be praying for the visitors that will join us and that our message would be clear: Jesus has come in the flesh to redeem us from the curse.
1. Christmas Eve service is 5:00 pm. (Readers, let me know if you have any questions about your part)
2. Christmas Day service is 10:00 am in Holman Hall. Casual attire is preferred.
Parting of the Red(reed) Sea
What happens when you put together 76 kids with a mixture of 42 adults and young teenagers and give them the task of spending 3 hours together for 5 days and expect them to pay attention, not get mortally wounded and give them the 2000 year old message of the gospel? Oh, also can you imagine teenage boys doing hand motions to songs and thinking it's cool? And what about little boys who can't stop attacking their older boy counselors? Sounds a bit chaotic and unrealistic. But it all happened this week.
Lori did a great job organizing and each volunteer added their gifts and talents to the mix and provided a phenomenal program where they learned about peace, patience, joy, love and...and...and...I better call one of the kids for a reminder.
Hebron remains a mission outpost where people can come and be assured that they will hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our presence here makes a difference and our influence infiltrates the community in unknown ways. Thank you for supporting programs like VBS.
What is practical about good theology? How does what I believe about God and the Bible affect the hard questions of life? This summer I am asking that you take up the challenge of reading large portions of Scripture each week and then I'll preach on part of what we've read together. We kicked it off at our service last week at Dover Lake. If you missed that service, I'll be inviting everyone to start when they can.
Good theology has helped me this week as Tracy and I have had to comfort our son, Graham, who is on a semester abroad trip in New Zealand. I announced on Sunday that a friend of his died in a skydiving accident. Yesterday, we learned that another friend died in a rafting accident. If your theology doesn't have answers for these situations, then I would suggest a re-examination of where you go for answers.
Graham is devastated and he is having to examine his faith and figure out how he is going to get through this. I am thankful I know that God cares deeply about what he's going through and that His Holy Spirit, who is called "The Comforter" is right now reaching out to him. And I have to quote Tony Evans again, "God may not deliver you from the fire, but He'll be with you in it."
In the midst of their captivity, God speaks through the prophet Jeremiah saying, "The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness." That's good news. Confirmed and sealed through the cross of Jesus Christ.
Dear Church Family,
Whose words do you trust more than any other? And why do you trust those words? Because the person behind them is trustworthy. Trust is earned. I know I said that to my children more than once. Regularly, we watch the news and it's one person's words against another's. We judge the veracity of their words on how they used words in the past and how they have lived their lives.
God's Words have earned our trust because of His love and His character. We believe them to be true. We even believe them when our life experience seems in opposition to them because His Words are more trustworthy than our experience or our feelings. Last night I heard Tony Evans preaching on the radio about Shadrach, Mechak and Abdnedgo when Nebachadnezzar saw them walking around in the furnace with a fourth who looked like a son of God. His conclusion is that Jesus will not always deliver us from our troubles but He'll be with us in the fire.
I know many of you are more experienced in gardening practices than I am. I tried planting a garden this Spring and I'm battling poor soil, squirrels and forgetting to water enough. So far I've got few bean plants, some peas and corn stalks about 6 inches high. So what will be the final evidence that my garden is successful? That's easy! Beans, peas and corn!
In our passage this week, John 15:1-17, Jesus calls Himself the vine, the Father is the gardener and we are the branches. To be healthy we need to remain connected. Makes sense. But all too often, in real life, we try to live our lives without an intimate connection to Jesus. And that's like a branch trying to live without being connected to the vine. It just doesn't work.
Come prepared Sunday to examine whether you are maintaining that connection.
The Miracle of the Manger
Would you put your baby in this? Mary and Joseph did. Well...I suppose they shooed the pigs away first, but the gospel according to Luke tells us that she laid him in a manger....and a manger is a feeding trough for farm animals. What a contrast between Luke 2 and John 1 where we read that Jesus, the Word was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."
So, does this mean something or does it just make a nifty, sentimental scene for Christmas? Are we supposed to take something away from this demonstration of poverty and humility? Could it mean that if Jesus, God Himself, chose to humble Himself, then maybe we ought to view Him as our model and do the same? What would that look like in our driving, our neighborhood, the workplace and even at church? I daresay that some might think we're weird and get suspicious but this kind of behavior has the potential to transform our world.
I say, "Let's go for it!" and see what happens.
A Closed Door?
January 13th, 2017
I have heard people say that they prayed about a certain dilemma or opportunity and then pronounced "The door was closed." Meaning that it's the end of the matter. Why do we assume that if we pray about something that it will be crystal clear when we receive an answer? Why do we expect God's answers to come without trouble or complication? Have we forgotten that we are in the midst of a spiritual battle? Don't we remember that when we pray we set ourselves in opposition to Satan and his dark forces?
Ronnie Nuckols and Donald Marsden left for Niger, Africa on Wednesday. Their day began with a delay in Richmond which caused them to miss their connection in Paris, so they flew to London and stayed overnight. Then they got on plane to Niger which had to turn around because of mechanical problems, so they ended up flying to Casablanca. Their next plane had some kind of difficulty so that they eventually arrived today. And several of us even prayed for them at the airport before they left
What's going on? Can we assume that the door to Niger is closed because it seems "obvious" that God doesn't want them there. Or can we assume that Satan doesn't want them there and God is allowing their faith to be tested and wants to see if they will persevere despite the trouble?
I look forward to hearing how Ronnie and Donald evaluate all this. Jesus said, "In this world you will have trouble, but I have overcome the world."