Chapter-a-Day Exodus 4

[Moses] said, "Oh, Master, please! Send somebody else!" Exodus 4:13 (MSG)

The most crucial tasks in life are rarely easy, and seldom do I feel confident and up to the challenge. The most crucial tasks come down to the realization that no one else is going to do it, and if it's going to be done, it's up to me to do what needs to be done.

I read through the chapters that tell the story of God calling Moses, and I'm struck by how honestly the story is told. Moses was no superhero and he certainly didn't believe in himself. In fact, Moses was reluctant to follow God, nor did he have a willing spirit.

Following God is not always an easy path. Even Jesus said the path to life is narrow, and the gate is small. Sometimes, it comes down to swallowing fear and taking that first step.

Chapter-a-Day Exodus 3

Take another look. Moses answered God, "But why me? What makes you think that I could ever go to Pharaoh and lead the children of Israel out of Egypt?" Exodus 3:11 (MSG)

There is a HUGE difference between what God sees in Moses and what Moses sees in himself.

God sees a man who has been prepared since birth for this task. God sees a man who knows Pharaoh's court, who knows Egypt's ways, who has an insider's understanding of the Egyptian political elite. Beyond that, God sees in Moses a humbled heart (that He can raise up), a heart stirred by justice (through which He can deliver the law), a man who, after years in the wilderness, now knows how to shepherd bunch of silly sheep (and can now lead His "flock" out of Egypt).

Moses, on the other hand, sees a murderer. Moses sees an escaped criminal. Moses sees a failure. Moses sees a worthless shepherd who has nothing to his name but what his father-in-law has provided for him.

How easily we look at ourselves, desire to believe what God says about us, but can't see past the worst of what we know about ourselves. Like Moses, we react to thoughts of what we could do for God with our buts…

But, I'm a failure.
But, I killed my unborn child.
But, I'm an addict.
But, I'm a secret sinner.
But, I'm fat and ugly.
But, I'm an adulterer.
But, I never finished college.
But, I'm a victim of…
But, I'm stupid.
But, I'm divorced.
But, I've got an eating disorder.
But…
But…
But…

I am convinced that there is no mere human on Earth, listed among the "great," who did not have as many hang-ups, issues, and failures as anybody else. The difference is not in being a better, more worthy person. The difference is in choosing to believe that what God sees in me, is more important than what I see in myself.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and behruz

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Chapter-a-Day Exodus 2

Wilderness wandering. Pharaoh heard about it and tried to kill Moses, but Moses got away to the land of Midian. He sat down by a well. Exodus 2:15 (MSG)

It's amazing to think about how much story can be crammed into one verse; how much life experience can be condensed into two short sentences.

Moses, the "chosen one" now stripped of every luxurious blessing that was afforded him as an adopted son of Pharaoh. Moses, the murderer. Moses, the man on Egypt's "Most Wanted" list. Moses, the man on the lam. Moses, the rich and famous member of the King's household now alone, broke, and homeless in the barren wastelands.

How often do we find God's people alone in the wilderness? Adam and Eve kicked out of the Garden, and flung into the wilderness outside. Abraham leaving his comfortable home to become a nomadic wanderer. The nation of Israel wandering in the desert for 40 years in search of the Promised Land. David, anointed king of Israel, flees from Saul into the wilderness of Judah and waits almost 30 years before ascending to the throne. Elijah, the triumphant prophet, flees into the wilderness in fear for his life. John the Baptist, preaching repentance from his desert pulpit. Jesus, led into the wilderness for 40 days of testing and temptation.

Life's road leads us all to barren places. The wilderness is an unavoidable stretch of the journey for any who desire to follow in Jesus' footsteps. You don't learn about perseverance in Pharoah's palace. The lifestyles of the rich and famous do little to build the necessary character qualities God desires from His disciples. Purity is acheived in the refining fire. Maturity is found on the journey through the hinterlands.

And, you never know what divine appointment God has for you when you stop at the well for a drink.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and Hamed

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Chapter-a-Day Exodus 1

Deep roots. But the midwives had far too much respect for God and didn't do what the king of Egypt ordered; they let the boy babies live. Exodus 1:17 (MSG)

Interesting. I just wrote a post on my professional blog about principles, and the start of our journey through the book of Exodus seems to pick up on the same theme. There are moments in each of our lives when we must make a choice. We can do the expedient thing or we can do the right thing. It's easy for me to say I'll do the right thing, but these choices sometimes have to be made in the heat of a stormy moment when we're all alone.

The midwives could have made a great case for doing what they were told, being obedient to authority, and saving their own lives.  But they had too much respect for God

I think everyone has certain principles, if you ask them. The real question that interests me is: "In whom are your principles rooted?" If my principles are rooted in a higher authority, l find it a whole lot easier to stand amidst the storm and make right choices. If my principles are rooted in myself - my own sense of right and wrong, I find that what is "right" seems to expediently shift with the prevailing wind.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and amandochka

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Our Little Visitor

Wendy & Sophia 082409 LR Our neice, Sophia, has been visiting our house since Sunday afternoon. Sophia's mom needed to make a quick, unexpected trip south to help grandma with some health issues, and her Daddy is neck deep in dental school, so we've enjoyed having the little 20 month old bundle o' love staying with us for a few days.

Sophia has kept us on the go and she's kept us laughing with her non-stop antics. Of course, she's also wormed her way even deeper into Aunt Wendy's heart each time she snuggles up in her lap for a pre-night-night cuddle!

Chapter-a-Day Psalm 150

The Divine Hours Hallelujah! Praise God in his holy house of worship, praise him under the open skies; Psalm 150:1 (MSG)

Over the past two weekends I've been able to spend a lot of time "under the open skies." It never ceases to amaze me how our little place at the lake is as much spiritual refuge as it is vacation play place. For several months now I've been enjoying "The Divine Hours." It's a selection of daily prayers divided into four daily offices. It's a return to the ancient idea of taking time each day, at different times of the day, to stop what you're doing and pray.

At the lake, the daily prayer times took on a deeper meaning for me. I felt the depth of the water, the rootedness of the trees, and the expanse of the skies as I quietly prayed through each office in the morning, mid-day and evening. As I read the opening lyric to Psalm 150 this morning, I caught the contrast of the author. Praise God in church, but praise Him under the open skies, too. There is much to be gained from learning to praise God inside church and out.

Chapter-a-Day Psalm 149

Dance like no one is watching. Let them praise his name in dance; strike up the band and make great music! Psalm 149:3 (MSG)

Q: Why do Baptists forbid couples to make love standing up?
A: It might lead to dancing.

Ha! That joke is an oldie, but a goodie. The humor, of course, is rooted in the fact that we often become so rigid in our religious rules that we miss the point entirely. We diminish things of real importance like love, obedience, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness and in their place we raise up religious rules and regulations to manage the behavior of the masses.

I remember attending a church many years ago. One of the staunch, old denominational members of the church was talking to me after church. He was uncomfortable with the fact that, during the worship service, several people had raised their hands while singing.

"I don't get it," he said to me with a shake of his head, "Why do these people raise their hands in the air during the service?"

I shrugged my shoulders, "I don't know, Jim," I answered, "Maybe it's because the Bible tells us to."

Ouch! You know what? I think the church would benefit from us letting our hair down, striking up the band, and, in obedience to Psalm 149, doing a little dancing before the Lord!