Looking for Something?

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Celebrate Good Times (Come On!)

This weekend, my youth group put on a wedding-themed back to school bash. We had dancing (maybe 20 students, but still it totally counts…), music, a wedding cake prepared by a professional decorator and a message on the wedding of Cana. We had asked our students to dress up in their best clothes and come prepared for a party. This week we are preparing for a last man standing dodgeball tournament and we have a pretty great ‘party’ worship set planned.

This weekend, I also led worship for my church. We planned a pretty freedom-based party set.

Now, I love my church.

I’ve attended my church since I was two and have dreamed of working there forever. But as I was leading our congregation…

I looked out to a church that doesn’t quite know how to party.

I looked out to a congregation a tad bit uncomfortable with celebration.

Granted, we live in different times and what works in youth ministry won’t always or even sometimes work in what we refer to as “the big church”, but there’s a sense in the Bible that Jesus knew how to party.

Monday, August 19, 2013

2 Corinthians 4


Paul continues...

...always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus  and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. -2 Corinthians 4:10-18

This entire section of scripture speaks of the glory of God, it’s purpose in the Old Testament and the comparison to the New Covenant in Christ sparks Paul’s use of the adjective when speaking of the “glorious gospel” that he is responsible for preaching. It is this that he calls a treasure that is held up within him, a common jar of clay that has been battered and beaten. Paul impressed onto the Corinthians the power of God being shown through weakness and that in dying there is life eternal. He shared his own motives for pressing on and how God had been glorified through those efforts, however the promise and the truth that Paul closes with is by far the most impactful: With everything Paul had been through, and all of the accusations made against him by the Corinthians, he writes that the troubles are but light and momentary, his eyes are on the unseen, eternal promise of a weight of glory beyond all comparison. He wrote those words knowing their truth because the affliction he faces does not just precede the promise of glory; they help produce it.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Simple Sundays: In Christ Alone

There are just some songs that capture the heart and mind all at once, and for me this song is one of them. No matter what is going on in my life, whether I feel like worshiping or not, if this song is played something inside me erupts.

In Christ Alone is more than just a favorite song, it is my creed.

It is a shout to God Most High that I believe in Him, that I have built my life upon who Jesus is and what He has done. It is a song about Christ's identity and how I find my own identity in who He is.

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm

What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand

In Christ alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless Babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save

Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live, I live.

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again

And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From a life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny

No power of hell, no scheme of man
Could ever pluck me from His hand
Til He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I stand

Today as we remember our time together in church and the scripture we meditated upon I hope the lyrics to this song will also be a part of our meditation and remembrance. Are our lives built upon Christ alone?

Saturday, August 17, 2013


What is Prayer?
Sometimes we can easily begin to feel that God isn't really seeing us.
We are still stuck in the same problem, the same sticky mess.
We want deliverance.
We want the suffering to end.

'God, are you even caring? Are you seeing this misery I'm in?'
And then we begin to feel that our prayers aren't reaching Him.
We must be praying wrong. We must be missing something.

As if God is looking at us waiting for us to do something... then He will intervene.

God certainly saw Adam and Eve.
God saw Cain kill Abel.
God saw Moses’ staff.

Yeah, because God sees everything.

He does.

But if he sees everything and knows already… why does he pose the questions…

To Adam and Eve he asked, “Where are you?” (Gen. 3:8)
To Cain he asked, “Where is your brother Abel?” (Gen. 4:9)
To Moses he asked, “What is that in your hand?” (Ex. 4:2)

God saw where Adam and Eve were hiding.
God saw Cain kill Abel.
God saw that Moses was holding a staff.

Why ask?
Because God hears.

God listens.
Moses responded to God saying ‘A Staff.’

But before that… There is a piece of the conversation we are missing.
Back in chapter 3 of Exodus, Moses is chilling out in the wilderness watching over Jethro’s sheep.

And he sees this burning bush.

He sees it.

He decides to go over and look at it.

Then he hears it.

He hears God’s voice… calling to him.

“Moses, Moses!”
“Here I am.”
‘“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.
The LORD said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”’ –Exodus 3:5-10
God says take off your shoes.

Does Moses ever do it?

Moses hides his face.

Because back in that day… they believed if you saw God… if you had an encounter with God… you died.

Moses does not want to die… he hides his face.

He is unworthy to see such a Holy being.

But does he take his sandals off?
He’s too worried about not looking… to listen.

And what does God say?

I have seen.
I have looked.
“I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering.”

God has heard… God is concerned.


We need to go back another chapter.
Because God’s hand was in this from the beginning.

Exodus chapter 2.
Now a man of the tribe of Levi married a Levite woman, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.
 Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the riverbank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it. She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said.” –Exodus 2:1-6
Pharaoh’s daughter named him Moses because she drew him out of the water.

Fast Forward...
Back to chapter 3.

How does God identify himself?

“I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.”

Moses knows about Abraham.
He knows about Isaac.
He knows about Jacob.

But he doesn’t know his father.

He may know his name, Amram, he may know about him, Hebrew slave, but he was raised by Pharaoh’s daughter for a good portion of his life.

He didn’t have a father.

But this God… this God is the god of his father.

God is re-identifying Moses.
‘You may have an Egyptian mom… you may have an Egyptian name… but your heritage says otherwise… your heritage says… you are one of MY people.
I am your God, Moses.
And I got a mission for you.’

Why did Pharoah’s daughter take him in?
She heard his cry.

She heard.

And she had compassion on him.
She was concerned for him.

God heard Israel’s cry… and was concerned for them.
Moses was marked from the beginning.
God had a plan for him.
God heard.
God hears.
God moves.

God is revealing this to Moses right here in this burning bush… and says. I have seen. I have heard. And I am moved.
I am about to do something new.

And I want you to be the guy to overthrow this system of oppression.

Moses begins to come up with a bunch of excuses.

God quickly answers them.

This is where God asks about his staff… and shows him some of the wonders He will do through Moses… but Moses still comes up with excuses all culminating to this point:

And then Moses, in Exodus 4:13, says, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.”

Aren’t there times when we feel we are being pulled, being told what we need to do.
We feel God putting something in our hearts, in our minds, but we don’t want to do it… we feel the pressure of failing, of looking different, of messing up a relationship, of being weird.

Or we doubt it’s God.

In those moments we say stuff like, if only God would give me a burning bush and a staff that turns into a snake, if only God would do this stuff through me… then I would be able to do whatever he asks.
We read about these awesome things God did in the Old Testament and we just desire to have those things now.

…and then we read about those same guys saying, ‘Send someone else.’


Another Rewind…
Back to Exodus 2.

Why is Moses so far from Egypt to begin with?
Why is he in the middle of the wilderness?
Why is he so far from his family?

‘One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. The next day he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, “Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?”
 The man said, “Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and thought, “What I did must have become known.”
 When Pharaoh heard of this, he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian…’–Exodus 2:11-15

Moses saw the same oppression God saw.
Moses did something about it.

Fast Forward…

God sees the oppression.
God heard the cry.
God had compassion on His people.
God is sending a guy who has also seen the oppression and did something about it.

And God hears him say, ‘Send someone else.’

Moses was ok with stopping one piece of oppression…but not going after the system. Not dealing with the real problem.

We do this all the time.

Israel wanted a savior that would stop the oppression of Egypt.
Israel wanted a warrior that would stop the oppression of neighboring nations.
Israel wanted a messiah that would stop the oppression of Rome.

We want God to stop our suffering.
We want God to fix our problem.

But life is a journey.
It was for Moses… it is for us.

God had a bigger plan.
God was waiting to ‘draw them out’ of Egypt. Not just stop the oppression.

But to draw them out… to show them a whole new way of life… a whole different way of worship… a whole different system… He wanted them to turn their back on Egypt and go into a new land.
God was waiting to ‘draw them together’ from the disunity of the time of Joshua and the Judges.
God was waiting to ‘draw all people to himself’ from the separation our sin had corroded in the relationship we have with our God, our Father.

God is all about this process of ‘drawing people out, together, and to Him’.

Moses, what a perfect guy to use to start this process.
Moses, because Pharaoh’s daughter had compassion on Him, and ‘drew him up out of the water’.
Moses, because he ‘drew out God’s people’ and passed through a lot of water…
Moses, because God saw, God heard, and God was moved.

This life is a journey…
…God has started the process.

And He is patiently waiting to draw all people to Himself.

God sees you.
God is your deliverance.

God is more interested in the journey of suffering… what suffering does to us… how it refines us… how it helps us… how it draws us to himself… than just ending it. He didn’t end it for himself as he hung on a tree outside of Jerusalem… instead he embraced it… for our sakes.

God is caring… he is seeing our misery… and he hears our cries…

His compassion covers us.

God has already intervened on our behalf… maybe he is waiting for you to answer one of his questions…

Maybe just maybe… He has everything under perfect control. And maybe, just maybe He has a plan that will always work for the good of those who love him.
Draw near to God and he will draw near to us.