Don’t hate

handmedown

Exodus Reading Challenge Day 29

I have been guilty of it in the past and I am sure many of you were as well. I have thrown away clothes for all types of silly reasons; they didn’t fit, I had them “too long”, I didn’t like them anymore. I have been much better over the last several years as my youngest son’s girlfriend has raised my awareness of how wasteful that is. There are many people who could benefit from my “hand me downs” and that is a good thing.

Don’t hate the hand me down!

There should be no stigma to this concept but there often is some attached. Younger siblings are often the ones who feel this stigma the most. They feel as if they have nothing of their own and they just get someone else’s “rags”. In many ways it easy to understand their feeling but perhaps that is because we have lost the true power in a good old “hand me down”.

In today’s reading, we learn about the consecration of the priests. One of the things that stood out to me was that Aaron’s robes would be passed down to his sons and they would be consecrated in them as well. It is a powerful moment in the chapter. It reminded me the real power of our faith story. It is best when we pass it down from generation to generation. We share each other’s struggle and rejoice in past triumphs.

There is no stigma to this “hand me down” because it is when it is passed down and lived out that we see the real power of our faith. We are called to live out our faith  and share our faith with others. It is what we need today more people growing together and engaging the world and its problems together.  The Holy Spirit guiding us in all ways. So keep passing it down.

 

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I protest

protest

Exodus Day 28

The picture above is from a protest where thousands and thousands of people gathered to make their voices heard. Take a look again at the picture and when you look at it how does it make you feel. Some will look at the picture and feel disgust that “those people are at it again, these protests turn into riots and that is not what this country stands is about. They are blocking the streets! ” Others may look at the picture and think “Good, I am with you brothers and sisters, we can’t stand for this anymore, things have got to change.”  Others may look at the picture and simply think, “I’m tired…so tired…when will it end”.

I am going to ask you to look at the picture one more time. Did you catch it yet? Has it sunk in? The realization that you don’t even know when this picture was taken or what is being protested and where it is happening. We are on information overload as a country at this point. So much is being thrown at us all at the same time. We are a people in search of immediate justification for our own bias. You have them and I have them. We all do. So depending on who is protesting and what they are protesting we immediately know whether to be angry or happy. We respond often times because of who does something not because of what is done.

To prove my point, I can imagine that some of you are reading this and thinking I am talking directly to the other guy the one that thinks differently than you. Perhaps you are thinking I am talking directly to you and jumping into your business without understanding everything. I am not doing any of those things, I am thinking of myself and reflecting on today’s reading from Exodus. Aaron and the other priests were told to wear special clothes that would set them apart and mark them as doing God’s work.

To be set apart to do the work of God means to be “holy”. Yet, I often think we forget the deep meaning of that word. We are called to be holy long before we are called to be good. Let me be a good preacher and repeat that, we are called to be holy long before we are called to be good.  To be set apart for God means that we are first concerned with our relationship to God. It is the foundation of that relationship that helps us and inspires us to then live out that holiness in the world.

So protest if you want to protest and be upset with the protest if that is what you want to do. I encourage you to first connect with God through prayer, scripture, service, and worship. When you do that I believe that doors will open for you to live out your holiness in powerful ways. We need to remember that in the midst of chaos, God is still God. Take faith in that. Hold fast to that.

Keep it going

campfire

Exodus Reading Challenge Day 27

We went camping quite a bit as a family when I was younger. Now this camping wasn’t the live off the land, boy or girl scout type camping but it was camping nonetheless. We had a pop-up camper and a tent. We did most of the camping in one location during the summer months. It seemed to be a nice respite for my parents after a long week of working. There wasn’t too much that sticks out about the time we spent camping, well except one thing…campfires.

There was something about those fires that I found entrancing. At campsites all around the campground you would find these campfires. Some of these fires would be large and others would be smaller. They all had their own unique characteristics but there was one constant about each of the fires and that was the people. Around each fire in a circle you wold find people staring into the fire. Some of these people would be laughing and others would be singing. Some people would find themselves involved in loud boisterous conversation and some would be engaged in hushed tones. However, no matter what the people were doing while there the fire had drawn them in.

Fire has that effect on people. It draws our attention and we are captivated by the heat and the unbridled power that exists within it. In this morning’s reading , we read about construction, this time we read about the altar and the courtyard. It is when we read about the courtyard though we are also told about the lamps that are to be kept burning from evening until morning. Fire.

This fire is a reminder of the presence of God for the people. This fire is a reminder to us as well. It is the fire of the Holy Spirit that will burn in us and draw people closer to Christ. People will notice something different about you if you carry that fire in your soul. They will want to be part of whatever you have going on. This fire inspires us and others to live out the call of God in our lives.

I want that fire in my soul, I need that fire in my soul. How about you?

Putting it all together

lego-1

Exodus Reading Challenge Day 26

I was never really any good at using the darn things. Those silly little plastic blocks. Lego’s were my sworn enemies all I could make was a tower of same sized blocks. I could never put together what my mind had visualized. I blame it on my lack of fine motor skills but I think my wife would say it was because of my lack of patience. Whatever the reason, I just couldn’t get it done.

As I read from Exodus this morning, I was reminded of those stupid blocks once again. Reading about how God had planned the construction of the Tabernacle and the detail involved was overwhelming. I had to remember that this was not about God wanting, needing, demanding a house to dwell in but instead creating a place for the Hebrews to gather together as they worshipped and experienced God.

Even in the midst of their wilderness journey they were reminded that they were not in this by themselves. God would be with them and they would also be able to count on each other. the beautiful place would be a visual reminder that they were not alone. What a sense of comfort that must have been.

It is so easy to forget as we run around in our busy lives and try to keep things together that we don’t have to do this by ourselves. God is with us. God’s presence may be hard to experience at times but it is those moments when we need to go back to the basics, the building blocks of our faith.

We need to spend time in prayer allowing this time to be a time of not simply talk to God but also a time for us to connect with and hear from God. We need to also spend time with God’s word, hopefully you have been following along as we read through Exodus every day. I hope that this will be a launching pad for many of you to dog deeper into God’s word. We also need to worship together as we  come together as brothers and sisters to lift up our praise before God. Finally we need to be in service to others. This is how we live out our experience with God.

I believe these are the building blocks that God has given us and it is time to get down on our hands and knees and play with them with the heart of a child.

Bring the Best

catchup

Exodus Reading Challenge Day 25

We were in church after a few weeks away. I had just started re-attending church after many years of being away. We were at that sometimes uncomfortable part of the worship service, you know the one that I mean. The one where they pass the plates! As my wife reached into her purse she mentioned something about “that’s right we weren’t here last week”. I asked what difference that made and she said that we had to “catch up”.

Catch up? What exactly did that mean, I wondered. She told me that our offering this week would be extra to catch us up because we had not been there for a few weeks. It was then that I asked to see the check and I believe my eyes almost burst out of my head. Even if we were “catching up” there was no way that this could be correct. It was then that Ginny reminded me of the importance of working to give our best to God, working towards tithing. etc.  She told me that this wasn’t like the movies that we only paid when we showed up for the show.

Now my view of giving has changed dramatically over the years but at times the whole idea of what my best is and giving my best to God is challenging. As I read today’s reading, we read about the expectation for the Hebrew people. They were expected to give and give willingly to the construction of several things. They were required to give of their best to God and do it willingly.

I don’t know that I always do that, okay can you keep a secret? I DON”T always do that. Sometimes I make a conscious decision that my time or my talent (the treasure piece is taking care of by my wife to this day, smart woman!) can be better used elsewhere. Maybe it is some extra sleep or another bingeing of a few episodes of my favorite television show. Maybe it is not putting my full effort into preparation of a lesson or working on a sermon on a particular day.

I hope you don’t ever experience things like this but my hunch is you go through seasons like this as well. But if you do, take a moment and reset yourself. Remember what God expects is our best not because God needs it but because God deserves it and WE need it,. When we give our best, the world benefits. When we concentrate on those things of god with everything that we have we are blessed by the results. People are healed and they are fed. They are housed and clothed and they receive a great education. We are all blessed when we give the best to God.

Time for an answer

answer

Exodus Reading Challenge Day 24

I remember the days and weeks that I struggled with it. I spent longs hours trying to come up with lots of reasons why the answer had to be “no”. The reasons were varying in legitimacy but there were many of them nonetheless.  I talked to my beautiful wife and I talked to my pastor. I prayed. I waited for signs. I did all those things that people should do and when the answers didn’t line up with what I wanted, I kept asking more.

Perhaps unlike mine, your struggle is not with a call into the ministry. God may be directed you to do something else. It may seem small or it may seem gigantic and you might not be ready quite yet. What do you do? You keep on searching, God isn’t worried and God is not afraid of your choice. God loves you and wants the best for you. In my heart I knew that and I knew that no matter what God wasn’t going to desert me.

In today’s reading, we see the Hebrew people at that particular point in their relationship with God. God had brought them a long way. They were no longer slaves in Egypt and they were on their trek their the wilderness. God had laid out the law through Moses and now was demanding an answer, “will you follow me?”.  The time for hemming and hawing had ended and it was time to answer.

Eventually, it happens. The time arises for us to make a choice and answer the question, “whom shall we serve?”. It is a question that each of us must answer. Saying “yes” to God is often saying “no” to a lot of other things. Those things can often include our ego, pride, and security. There is no sugar-coating that and we must be aware just as the Hebrew people were.

So, the question is out there and perhaps today is the day for us to answer it once again…

“Whom shall I serve?”

 

 

I just don’t know

risky.behavior

Exodus Reading Challenge Day 23

I have stared at this blank page for quite some time this morning. I am struggling to come up with something to say that makes sense to my soul. There is so much turmoil all around me it seems. Families are mourning and people are struggling to stay afloat. I know of some people who are newly diagnosed with things like cancer and are trying to come up with a treatment plan.

Friends are struggling with their jobs and looking for some relief while others are looking to make a new start at a job and seeing it be difficult to find anything. Young adults are going to school and trying to figure out what is “out there” for them and often find it hard to see anything clearly. In a world of instant everything it now is clear that there are no instant answers. I just don’t know.

Today’s reading, makes at its core justice and mercy. I think in so many ways they seem to be two things that we are sorely lacking in our world. Where is the mercy for those who think differently than us? Where is the mercy for those who are isolated and alone? Where is the mercy for those who have lost everything do to sickness, economy, or some other tragedy? Is there any justice left in this world? Sometimes the answer seems like a resounding no.

Yet, as a COG (child of God), I keep pressing on as I read these words from Exodus this morning,

Worship the Lord your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you, 26 and none will miscarry or be barren in your land. I will give you a full life span.”

A full life span. Jesus calls that abundant life. We all need a heaping tablespoon of that today. Oh Lord in your mercy, bring us Life!