This week's wordle

Wow! God had the message picked out in my notes even before we got to the gathering. It is so cool that all the notes included in this set of notes didn't get used, but God still had a central theme that He accomplished on Sunday morning. I was only paritally tuned into what God was doing before we all got together. Thank you all for being there and bringing the Holy Spirit with you. When we are together with the Holy Spirit working in us, God is more visilbe to us all.

Here's the wordle.

A Vacation Thought

We had a terrific time on our Colorado trip. I loved taking the kids to places new to them. Sometimes they were interested and sometimes they were not. When we started out, they were pretty excited about the things we had planned, as we got under way, the excitement wined. Once we had reached our family and they had cousins to play with, none of the attractions mattered to them much at all.

On Rhonda's blog you have seen most of the basic places we went on the trip and seen some images. It was Rhonda's first time to the Grand Canyon (we mad a very quick stop there on our trip home - south rim village only). She was so thrilled that she wants to go back and do the smooth water rafting trip, the mule trail, and anything else she can find to do there.

Here is my favorite image of that stop.

On this building designed by this architect who designed most of the buildings at the south rim village is this plaque, right by the door.
It quotes Psalm 104:24 - "O LORD, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches."
I think that the placement of this plaque here some 90 years ago serves as a great testimony. I love that the architect made no pretense about her worshipful response to this amazing place. How things have changed! Such plaques would now-a-days be seen as bordering on illegal. I'm almost surprised that some civil liberties group somewhere hasn't filed suit to have it removed since the building is on federally owned and operated lands.
It was great to talk to the boys (Merritt was tracking) about how God made this special place. To talk to him about how big God must be in order to make this place for us. To watch his gears turn as we also talked about how much God loves us since He is so big and so kind to us with His forgiveness. It was awesome to hear Merritt repeat the idea that God used a river as a tool to create.
It is such a challenge to see God in the daily things. These spectacular places are great reminders of God's power, but also of His personal involvement in the happenings on this planet. It is easy to see Him in his large scale works, but what about his small scale (if God does anything small scale) - perhaps I mean more personal works? I hope that in the scope of life the kids are learning from me how to see God everyday, everywhere and not just on vacation!


More from Sunday on Genesis 46

Wow, I have to say that I was really excited when I realized that God actively at work during my message. And I wish I would have tuned into it much earlier. I feel like I did a set-up for 2 points and God only had one to make. I feel like I left my friends all hangin without a point 2, even though I set them up for one. But, my reason for preaching is ALWAYS to facilitate our encounter with our living God. That is why I felt the freedom to stop when I did. God had met us and to go this other direction would have diminished his activity among us. It was time to stop. Clearly!

But here is what I wanted to say and how I wanted to conclude our series on Joseph. In addition to what God showed us about worship through change (Jacob's example), Joseph offers us an amazing picture of the messiah - Jesus.

Joseph is given more space in Genesis than any other person. More than Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob. Add to this scenario that Joseph was not Jacob's first-born. He was the first-born of the wife that Jacob first chose... But he had older brothers. Reuben would have been the her-apparent and Joseph's is the life that is recorded.

I love the point that Scott made during the week I was in Colorado, that Joseph is one of the only great heroes of the Bible of whom no transgression is recorded. Joseph is obviously a man set apart.

Joseph is a Jesus picture in a few ways.
He redeemed his own. Just like the savior of Jacob's family was a member of the family, the savior of the human family is a member of the family: the God-man, Jesus.
Joseph was rejected by his own. And then redeemed the very ones who rejected him. John one uses those words to describe Jesus.
Joseph made himself unmistakably known to the family he would redeem. I love thew way that the gospel writers describe with great detail the revelation that Jesus made to his community and the certainty he provided. John's 7 signs and 7 messages. Matthew's connection of Jesus to the messianic prophecies from the OT... and on and on.

Are we reading the Bible backwards to look at such similarities? Are we seeing just what we want to see? Certainly the the Jewish method of interpreting scripture would say NO. The book of Hebrews shows us this long-standing Jewish method as it describes Jesus as a "priest like Melchizidek," referring to a incident in the life of Joseph's great grandpa. Paul (a classically trained Rabbi) likens Jesus to Moses. The Bible itself teaches us to look for patterns of the messiah shown to us in the Bible's OT leaders. So it is absolutely CORRECT to look for such patterns. It is wholly Biblical.

Why did God do that... create pictures of Jesus in the life of faithful people long before Jesus would come to earth? I believe that God gave us these examples for several reasons. 1st, the group of people who originally received these stories were largely unable to read and needed to learn things they could memorize. Narratives are more memorable than lists, facts, rules and precepts. 2nd, examples are unarguable where as a philosophic approach is very arguable. 3rd, it brings a unity to the text of God's revelation (the Bible) that brings credence to His revelation there.

Anyhow, this is what I wanted to say on Sunday. Obviously, I felt like God was finished without this, but I still wanted to say it. So now you have it.


More on Blessing

I thought I should get the final word on blessing from Jesus. Here it is. Pretty different than what we think of as blessing. You might want to read 2 posts down before you read this one for better context... or you might want to throw caution to the wind.

When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said:

"You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

"You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

"You're blessed when you're content with just who you are—no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought.

"You're blessed when you've worked up a good appetite for God. He's food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat.

"You're blessed when you care. At the moment of being 'care-full,' you find yourselves cared for.

"You're blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

"You're blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That's when you discover who you really are, and your place in God's family.

"You're blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God's kingdom.

"Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don't like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble. (Matthew 5:1-12, the Message)

It's pretty interesting that Jesus said this about blessing right when he was getting popular. It's as if He was making it clear that just because he could heal and do miracles, he was not a preacher of prosperity. If we put that together with the rich young ruler.... well!

By the way, hi out there to Lyle and Marlene Bruce. They were my 6th grade Sunday school teachers for whom I first memorized these verses. I saw them on Saturday at Jordan and Sarah's awesome wedding. They are cool!

Wordle of the Week... and then some!

Here is this week's wordle.

I loved this message. It seemed to bring application to the inspiration that God gave during last Sunday's worship gathering. Last week I could see people being moved by the Holy Spirit as I spoke. And last week's message was really so simple (go figure!). And this week, I could tell that people were anxious for more from God... and that He was delivering more. He was delivering an intellectual handle on what He had done deep in our spirits the week previous.

This Sunday was fraught with spiritual attack. (Oh, I know some of you are uncomfortable with that term... however when it is obvious that circumstances both spiritual and physical are stacking up against something that God is doing in you or through you, you have to put 2 & 2 together and come up with the legitimate answer. Check it out. The weekend was overbooked. On Friday there were relationship issues rising in the congregation. There were difficult pastoral responsibilities needing immediate attention. Unexpected out-of-town guests (we were really escited to get to see them) called to say they would be coming through town on Sunday and wanted to visit. The shelves in the garage fell off the wall, loading the garage floor with our camping gear, gardening utensils, ice chests, and more. And we were very short-handed for set-up on Sunday morning.

So, I am sure that out there is someone to whom God was ministering powerfully during the gathering. I have heard reports from 2.


Well there sure are a lot more words in that thing this week!


Things I wish I had had time for on Sunday

Well, one thing that I had in my notes and that time just did not allow for on Sunday was in relation to the idea of finances and blessing. The idea that finances can be a curse... I mentioned King David's affluence and the wives he had because of his attempts to gain affluence, AND the subsequent downfall of his own family as a result. The rest of the thought goes along these lines.

In America, money seems to be the key blessing by which all other blessings are measured. But in the New Testament GREED is called a form of idolatry. (It is hard to get any lower in your affronts to God than idolatry!) It seems to my mind pretty ridiculous for us to assume that God would use as a primary form of blessing - something that rewards that kind of despicable sin. Now, I do believe that in some cases, there are financial blessings!!! I also believe there are financial challenges (I was going to say 'curses' but I'm not sure what I think about that yet). I think financial blessings are more rare than financial challenges.

I have, in fact, discovered in my life that many times my blessings and my curses have the very same name....

Another part of my thoughts on 'blessing' goes back to what is taught to us over and over again in the Psalms. Namely that our blessings are our children. We have recently discussed this in our Life Group as we have been studying one small section of the Psalms called the Psalms of Accent. When they are babies we think of them as blessings, and then we seem to get caught up in the job of "training them up in the way they should go" and the idea of blessing becomes more and more removed from our relationship with our children. Ohhhh, we will always say that they are blessings... for sure. And I think that we genuinely believe they are blessings. BUT, we focus on them more as work and our financial focus remains more squarely in the realm of blessing.

And what about poor people. OR, what about lower middle class people who don't choose to better their socio-economic station. Are they not blessed? Are they not blessed because they have learned like Paul to be "content in whatever his circumstance"? OR, can we affirm what Bruce Wilkinson taught me in his big little book, THE PRAYER OF JABEZ; that blessing is simply the state of being right where God wants you to be, right when He wants you there?

It is so convenient to look for a blessing to be something tangible, something we can see, name, touch, own, control. But it is much more Biblical to take an eternal and less tangible view of such things.

Well, I have a couple of other thoughts brewing... I hope to have time tomorrow to share them. I'll get the wordle up quickly tonight. But right now I have a meeting.

Thanks for reading my friends. I miss some of you. I love all of you. (I miss those who are far. That wasn't a slam on some people who I'm glad to be away from...)


Wordle of the Week

Here is this week's wordle. I love this thing.

I was pretty excited to see how this week's message would turn out since the notes were filled with summaries from so many different stories from the Bible. God is the biggest word of all.

My Childhood dreams live.

This guy flew across an entire state in a lawn chair attached to a bunch of balloons. I can't begin to tell you the number days I drempt of doing this as a kid. I have to say, I'm a bit jealous of him.

BEND, Ore. — Using his trusty BB gun to help him return to Earth, a 48-year-old gas station owner flew a lawn chair rigged with helium-filled balloons more than 200 miles across the Oregon desert Saturday, landing in a field in Idaho.

Kent Couch created a sensation in the tiny farming community of Cambridge, Idaho, where he touched down safely in a pasture and was soon greeted by dozens of people who gave him drinks of water, local plumber Mark Hetz said.
"My wife works at the City Market," Hetz said. "She called and said, 'The balloon guy in the lawn chair just flew by the market.'
"We go outside to look, and lo and behold, there he is. He's flying by probably 100 to 200 feet off the ground.
"He takes his BB gun and shoots some balloons to lower himself to the ground. When he hit the ground he released all the little tiny balloons. People were racing down the road with cameras. They were all talking and laughing."
Couch covered about 235 miles in about nine hours after lifting off at dawn from his gas station riding in a green lawn chair rigged with an array of more than 150 giant party balloons.
Couch, clutching a big mug of coffee, kissed his wife and kids goodbye, then patted their shivering Chihuahua, Isabella, on the head.
After spilling off some cherry-flavored Kool-Aid that served as ballast, Couch got a push from the ground crew so he could clear light poles and soared over a coffee cart and across U.S. Highway 20 into a bright blue sky.
"If I had the time and money and people, I'd do this every weekend," Couch said before getting into the chair. "Things just look different from up there. You've moving so slowly. The best thing is the peace, the serenity.
"Originally, I wanted to do it because of boyhood dreams. I don't know about girls, but I think most guys look up in the sky and wish they could ride on a cloud."
Couch's wife, Susan, called him crazy: "It's never been a dull moment since I married him."
This was Couch's third balloon flight. He realized it would be possible after watching a TV show about the 1982 lawn chair flight over Los Angeles of truck driver Larry Walters, who gained folk hero fame but was fined $1,500 for violating air traffic rules.
In 2006, Couch had to parachute out after popping too many balloons. And last year he flew 193 miles to the sagebrush of northeastern Oregon, short of his goal.
"I'm not stopping till I get out of state," he said.
To that end, he ordered more balloons. Dozens of volunteers wearing fluorescent green T-shirts that said "Dream Big" filled latex balloons 5 feet in diameter, attached them to strings and tied clusters of six balloons each to a tiny carabiner clip.
Each balloon gives four pounds of lift. The chair was about 400 pounds and Couch and his parachute 200 pounds more.
"I'd go to 30,000 feet if I didn't shoot a balloon down periodically," Couch said.
For that job, he carried a Red Ryder BB gun and a blow gun equipped with steel darts. He also had a pole with a hook for pulling in balloons, a parachute in case anything went wrong, a handheld Global Positioning System device with altimeter, a satellite phone, and two GPS tracking devices. One was one for him, the other for the chair, which got away in the wind as he landed last year.
For food he carried some boiled eggs, jerky and chocolate.
Couch flew hang gliders and skydived before taking up lawn-chair flights. He estimated the rig cost about $6,000, mostly for helium. Costs were defrayed by corporate sponsors.

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