Dang, Anything Else?!

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Looking over Exodus this morning, I was reminded of the Israelites journey through the wilderness. Only this morning I was skimming and not studying verse by verse. Sometimes, taking a step back and looking at the overall picture can give us a different perspective on things. As I reviewed this portion of scripture I was reminded of how God saved His people from Pharaoh and led them out of Egypt. Then, I began to see a pattern . . . (and I’m paraphrasing)

Exodus 14:10-22  

Moses & His Peeps – Why did you save us? We are just going to die by this sea anyway – the soldiers are here and going to kill us. We would have been better off just staying put in Egypt and being their slaves. You were wrong about this plan God.

God – Dude, why are you complaining – didn’t I prove myself enough with all the plagues and helping you escape? Just raise your staff Moses, part the waters and run . . . sheesh!

Exodus 16:1-11

Moses & His Peeps – Why didn’t God just let us die back there if He is only going to bring us out here to starve to death? Again, what’s up with this plan?

God – I heard you grumble and complain ~ but I’ll overlook it and send you bread every day so you won’t starve.

Exodus 17:1-7

The Peeps – But we are thirsty too! You don’t expect us to go without something to drink do you? Do we have to ask for everything?

God – I heard you complaining AGAIN – check the rock and enjoy some fresh water. Can you trust me yet?

At this point, I feel like I would have said, “Dang, anything else?!” Thankfully, our God is gracious and slow to anger.  And even after all that He delivered them from the Amalekites what were attacking them Exodus 17:8-13 and  gave Moses the Ten Commandments up on Mount Sinai for them to follow. All while they grew impatient once again and had Aaron whip them up a golden calf to worship because God and Moses were taking way to long (about 6 weeks) up on the mountain! Exodus 32

I want to go ahead and admit to you that as I was reading this, I was thinking, “Gosh, they sure were ungrateful, impatient and had a shocking audacity!” And then, as quickly as I thought it, the Holy Spirit whispered to my heart . . . “And you (Allison) are no different.” Wasn’t the easiest thing to hear or to recognize in myself, but the Holy Spirit is never wrong. We are ungrateful most of the time. Thinking we deserve the blessings we receive when really we deserve nothing but swift kick in the butt (or a plague as it was for the Israelites Exodus 32:30-35). We are impatient when it comes to waiting on the Lord ~whether it’s His direction or answered prayer ~ we often wait a little while and then if He doesn’t answer us right when we want Him to we just proceed on our own. Very scary!!! Been there, done that and try not to do it!!! We also tend to suffer from “audacity syndrome”. We have the audacity to make decisions without His direction, we have the audacity to disobey His Word and direction and we have the audacity to think we are better than others because we know Him personally. Whew! Told you it wasn’t pretty!

Much to my dismay, I have to say ~ We are just like these Israelites! I don’t want to be! I try not to be! I want to bask in His blessings, appreciate EVERY small gift and be patient to hear His whisper and move in the direction He chooses for me ~ even if it means that place is the desert. I thought of this song by Caedmon’s Call called Sifting Sands.

Here is a link to their video on YouTube to listen. Praying our trust continues to grow more and more everyday so God can stop asking, “Dang, anything else?”

The Four D’s

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Give me your lantern and compass, give me a map, So I can find my way to the sacred mountain, to the place of your presence, To enter the place of worship, meet my exuberant God. Sing my thanks with a harp, magnificent God, my God. Psalm 43:3 (MSG)

There is a great store in downtown New Bern, NC called The Four C’s (I think it stands for coastal casual clothing company). I used to work there when I was in high school. When I go home to see mom and dad we usually check in and see what’s new at the store and visit with the store owner (who is also a neighbor of my parents and has been since I was about 4 years olds). BUT, today isn’t about the 4 C’s ~ it’s about the 4 D’s.

Disobedience ~~~~~ Desert ~~~~~~ Discipline~~~~~~~Deliverance

I was thinking about the cycle of sin, addiction, shame and pain we can get caught up in as we try to navigate these CrAzY waters of life. I picture it as a circle, like the picture of the compass above, because for some reason we seem to always be in one of these phases. It is continuous and repeats itself over and over again throughout our lives. It starts with Disobedience ~ maybe directly disobeying one of God’s commandments, spending less time with Him, or falling out of line with His will for your life . . . . . These brings on the Desert phase which makes us feel like we are wandering around alone and very far away from God. We don’t hear His whisper or understand His word . . . . . then we usually receive a little Discipline ~ where the natural consequences of our disobedience take root, but hopefully it draws us back to Christ for our Deliverance. Deliverance from the sin that has taken root in our hearts and drawn us away from God. We are given deliverance through His blood and forgiven to start fresh. Hopefully, the more we go through the cycle the more we try to stay in the deliverance stage and soak in all of God’s glory through our obedience to Him.

The waters of life seem uncharted at times, but there is always one place we can go for direction. One who is and always will be our compass and will never lead us in the wrong direction. The question is will we seek the direction of the only one who can offer us this deliverance or stay the course of this world that only leads to destruction.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matthew 7:13-15

Summertime and Living is Easy

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This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true. Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. John 21:24-25 NIV

The way of this world is so contrary to the way we are called to live. I just rented a movie that was supposed to be funny and it was so full of vulgar langauge and disparaging remarks about marriage and family I had to turn it off. I am convinced that what we put into our minds and hearts comes out of our hearts and mouths. It’s such a shame when we waste the few hours we have in a day by filling it with trash instead and discouragement instead of love, God, wisdom, truth and encouragement.

So, as we approach summer I wanted to share some of my favorite books. They are Christian fiction and perfect for the pool side. Fun, adventurous and incorporate God into them.

A few for adults that will capture your attention and you won’t be able to put down:

Joshua by Girzone (and his entire series), Rooms by Rubart (and any of his other books), The Harbinger’s by Cahn, This Present Darkness by Peretti and The Hidden Son by my very good friend (who lives here in Raleigh) Dianna Benson.

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, Deuteronomy 11:18-20 NIV

There are also some really great Christian fiction series for your children that incorporate fun, mystery and suspense and God within them: The Cooper Kid’s Adventure Series by F. Peretti and Spirit Fighter by Jerel Law (and his two new books).

I guess I’ve been feeling like the world is all over us ~ it’s relentless ~ it never stops ~ is always beeping ~ calling ~ and tugging, but we have to fight it. We have to consciously move against the current of this world and strive to move closer to God. It doesn’t mean we have to give up fun, cool, suspenseful exhilarating things ~ it just means we incorporate God into those things and these authors have done just that.

I hope you will add them to your summer reading and let me know what you think.