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I Beg to Differ (Part 2) “Grieve Forward”


 

Reverend Matt Kuiken, of First ARP Church Gastonia, NC officiated my father’s funeral last Friday.  A young, up and coming vibrant man of God, he spoke exactly what I believe God wants his people to understand about losing those we love.  He framed the beginning of the service that we are to literally “grieve forward.”

Capturing the heart of his message reminded me of what God spoke to Joshua.

Joshua and Moses

Joshua and Moses The Bible Miniseries

“After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ minister, my servant is dead. So now arise [take his place], go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land which I am giving to them, the Israelites. Every place upon which the sole of your foot shall tread, that have I given to you, as I promised Moses.” (Joshua 1:1-3)

Joshua was commissioned by God to become the leader of the Israelites before Moses died.

Now I just have to interject a personal observation here.

Joshua had some very large shoes to fill. Can you imagine having to step into that realm of authority and notoriety? Maybe it’s me, but Moses appears to always be the one who gets the most attention.

Anyway, back to the post at hand.

Joshua knew Moses’ time on earth was running out. He had been a rookie, an apprentice, a student of one of the most incredible human beings that ever lived. Years together listening to a bunch of griping, complaining wanderers must have connected the two men with a special bond.  Most likely, they were very close; maybe a “father/son” relationship that was born out of a mission from God.

As Reverend Matt spoke at dad’s life celebration, the words “grieve forward” must have been what the servant of the Lord was really saying to Joshua.

Grieve with joy, peace, hope and love for the one you will miss, but move ahead while you grieve. Don’t become stuck or stagnant. God obviously didn’t want Joshua to do that nor should we.

Joshua The Bible Miniseries

Joshua
The Bible Miniseries

Reverend Matt gave it an all-inclusive stipulation; just as God gave to Joshua.

Remember what they taught us; how they lived their lives and all they represented.

Remember the lessons and the discipline for future use.

Remember the good times, the joy shared and love they unselfishly gave.

Remember the moments of enduring hardships, difficulties and pain; and how they encouraged us to be strong, courageous and lean on God.

Remember; we will see them again; but….

As the servant of the Lord spoke to Joshua he also told him; “The mission that was given to Moses is in your hands.”

In other words, you have a job to do; an assignment; the purpose handed down by God yet to be fulfilled.

Isn’t that what Moses would have wanted?

I know it is what my dad wants us to do. Move forward with the torch that has been passed.

To be continued…..

 

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Law? What Law? (Part 2)


Is God Mad?

Unfortunately in today’s world many are aligning themselves with the Israelites.
Fear of getting to know God on a personal scale is prominent. Why?

Because people in general including Christians believe God is mad at them.

Questions such as “how could God ever forgive me for what I have done?condiments - Copy

Or “If I get too close to God, will he send me to some remote country on the other side of the world to live out my days in a hut?”

I find it interesting the Israelites knew they were sinning and difficult. Yet instead of consulting the God who gave them shoes and clothing that never wore out they played hide and seek like Adam and Eve.
(Deuteronomy 29:5)

Instead of seeking him on an intimate level, they asked Moses to mediate for them.

Relationships with God are not much different today.

Many use their church faith to connect them or lean on a stronger follower’s faith. And then there is the “well, I grew up in this denomination, so that is what I am.”

Growing up there are certain issues we keep we inherited or find common ground with our parents throughout our lifetime.

However, living on their faith doesn’t work nor will it last.

God wants each of us to seek him personally which is what he intended from the beginning of time.

The laws were many and detailed. After God gave them the Ten Commandments he issued laws for personal property and grievances to instructions on how to build the Ark of the Covenant.

In the book of Leviticus you will find out how to regulate mildew, learn the meaning of what is unclean and find a recipe to make unleavened bread.

If you want a new name for your baby, read the book of Numbers.

God didn’t leave anything out.paperback

The basis for the rigidness was for their benefit.

The laws instilled fear to keep his people from sinning.

Deuteronomy 28 summarizes the blessings and curses imposed depending on how one lived.

The Old Testament Covenant laws were undermined or weakened by sin making it imperfect.

The sacrifices made would not fulfill the righteousness of God. (Galatians 3)

The law could not fulfill the grace of God.

The Commandments could not give life.

All the regulations in the world cannot give any prisoner freedom.

So what does this mean?

The law was set in stone until faith could be revealed.

And stones can break…..

camels

 

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Law? What Law? (Part 1)


Moses has always had a special place in my heart.  The conclusion for that is my empathy for him in his job as the “Deliverer.”

It wasn’t like he chose to be the leader of a pac of complainers who were given the most miraculous displays of God’s extravagant creativity.steve jobs

As the Red Sea parted did he question the journey he was about to embark upon?

Did it register in his prolific mind the day to day fires he would have to put out?

Did God give Moses a heads up prior to the release of the slaves of his prophetic voice? Or his need for Management Class 101?

And what about law school? As the author of the first 5 books of the Old Testament was Moses given an Honorary Degree from the Exodus School of Law? And what about all those Numbers?

The law was written to give the Israelites a Covenant between them and God.  This relationship recognized Israel as God’s Holy nation. The laws were given to help them understand how to worship God and live life as he planned. The basics were:

  1. Guidance
  2. Rules to live a Holy life
  3. Recognizing sacrifices
  4. Plans for feasts and the Sabbath
  5. Instructions for offerings
  6. Understanding how to receive God’s blessings 

The Ten Commandments gave an outline for stability in following the law. And the law included the consequences, punishments and written results of curses if broken. In laymen’s terms the law was an Old Testament temporary solution to a permanent one to come.

John 3: 36 “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”

An excellent point to make in the Jews observance of God’s law was that they didn’t; or not very well. The actuality of their confirmation was made when Moses went up to God on Mt. Sinai.

“We will do everything the Lord has said.” (Exodus 19:8) God made it clear to Moses the people of Israel would be his “treasured possession” out of all the nations if they obeyed him and his covenant.

Moses made numerous trips up and down the mountain to communicate between God and the people. After he brought the two tablets with the Ten Commandments to the people, they became so afraid of God who was making a lot of noise they chose not to hear from him directly. Instead they wanted Moses to speak for him.

Fear drove them.

Fear was imputed by God to his people to keep them in line.

Fear implemented the laws.

Exodus 20: 20-21 “Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.” The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.”

Fear kept the Israelites from choosing to have direct communication with God.

Do you think that happens today?

To be continued…..

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Copyright @ 2013 All Rights Reserved


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Burning Bushes: The Game of Hide and Seek


Moses knew what a burning bush looked like but he wasn’t prepared for one that didn’t burn up while on fire.

The story lays claim to a great mystery of Biblical proportion even non-Christians have heard about.

While we know God used the bush to get his attention, there is more to the story.

40 years had passed since Moses was kicked out of Egypt but what had changed?

Pharaoh? Had the slaves been set free? Had his people forgotten him?

Who knew, but the change was Moses.

Far from the elite life of Egyptian royalty, he had been in the school of hard knocks for 4 decades.

He went from privilege to poverty; from Egyptian born to his true roots as a Hebrew and from arrogant pride to obscure humility.

So what does this have to do with modern society?

Everything.

If you read the papers, surf the net, or turn on the news it is easy to get depressed quickly. The world is falling apart before our eyes; innocents are being attacked and killed in the name of Allah and America is floating in a sea of moral decay.

Much is being spread of destruction, financial collapse, wars and rumors of wars so where is God?

“I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

I don’t know about you, but I worship a big God.

He is greater than any catastrophic event.

He has armies of angels he has let loose from the heavens with the armor of giants and last I heard he has more money than Solomon….

He can be anywhere all the time and has eyes in the back of his head.

God sees all and knows all.

People of God, he wants us to do as Moses did; stop and look at this site.  The secular world sees only secular pictures only it is what they don’t see that counts.

Moses maybe took a “double-take?” I would have. If for no other reason except out of curiosity.

He laid his eyes upon the supernatural; his feet on Holy Ground.

Maybe God gave him glimpses of his future; his calling to be the “Deliverer.”

Maybe God revealed his love for the Jewish people and allowed Moses to soak in it himself.

Maybe God’s glory was so profound, Moses experienced what no other man would ever encounter.

The saying, “things often get worse before they get better” rings a bell right now.

The enemy is well aware his time is short and he is making good use of it. What he isn’t aware of are the “burning bushes” God has planted around the world.

If the enemy has beefed up his assaults on mankind what do you think God is doing?

Planting potatoes? No!

God is playing hide and seek.

Isaiah 54: 17 “No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.”

Sending in his forces. Revving up his armies of angels. Transporting military with more back-up power than all of the devil’s demons combined.

God is planting seeds of his warriors Moses, David and Jeremiah to line his people with courage, strength and peace of mind.

He is bringing in his wisdom, knowledge and understanding through the likes of Solomon.

And…..has anyone heard that Joseph has returned to Egypt?

I have. He is already there in a prison in a repeat performance of Joseph, the son of Jacob.

God has said it is too late for the Middle East to win now. He has set his people in place to fulfill his word.

Israel is forever.

God is beating the devil to his latest punch.

Psalm 122:6 “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. May those who love you be secure.”


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Missing Something?


The airport parking lot was almost full so finding an empty space was virtually impossible. Running late into the terminal waving your boarding pass you barely miss crashing into some kids. By-passing the need for relief a fast sprint in and out of visitors finally you see the boarding area. Racing to the attendant to hand her your ticket, she points at the window to show you your plane.

“I am so sorry sir, but there is your plane heading down the runway.”

Out of breath, the plane leaves without you.th

 

Don’t you just hate that?

 

That feeling of missing something. A free trip. Lunch with a friend. The job you wanted but didn’t get.

Is it possible to ever come to a place where you never feel you have missed anything?

The answer is yes. Once you have been stripped of everything material, physical, mental and emotional there is only one thing left. The spirit that lives within us.

God is a spirit. He relates to us through the Holy Spirit he has placed within us.

After we are left with nothing, we begin to get “tunnel vision” where we only hear him, feel him and recognize his voice.

Joseph experienced this. Moses did too. David understood while he ran for his life from Saul.

There are issues within our hearts that must take a hike especially since most of our seeking God is self-centered to begin with.  Often this is accomplished through the idiotic choices we make, or as Joseph did by taunting his older brothers with his dreams. Moses was kicked out of Egypt for killing a man and David outshined the King.

Imprisonment for 13 years, wilderness living for 40 and running from cave to cave to survive will or should knock the self-regard out of anyone.

Once we have lost the quest for earthly desires, missed appointments or the “all about me fun” questioning what is really important takes precedence.  These false choices or actions we had depended on to “make our day” all of a sudden become our adversaries. It is then we first begin to seek God for his presence; to simply sit with him enjoying his company.

We will only find what we are looking for in Jesus. There is no other satisfaction; no other comparable.

“I am my Beloved’s and His desire is toward me.” Song of Solomon 7:10

He yearns for us to go deeper with him so that he may impart to us his secrets, knowledge, wisdom and ways.  

As time passes we begin to place him first realizing what a privilege it is to have this personal intimacy with the Creator of the Universe.  The joy of being sold out for Jesus trumps all pain, persecution, rejection, abandonment, fun, entertainment, and that lost flight to an earthly paradise.

All of a sudden you comprehend Jesus is paradise. 

No need for a plane ticket after all.

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Oh Deer…


Did you know that deer expect hunters to dress in appropriate clothes for hunting them?Mossy%20Oak

Did you know that deer won’t allow hunters to target their areas unless they are wearing Realtree or Mossy Oak?

That’s right. Style is in. Deer know when a hunter is on the top 10 list of Designer Clothes for Antler Hill.

At least that is what the hunter in this house told me.

You must use deer hunting deodorant and soap. The designer clothes must be washed and dried in deer hunting suds and dryer cloths.  A hunter must look and smell according to what deer are drawn to while sitting for hours in the Deer Stands.  The list of to-do’s are endless.

I for one can’t bear the thought of killing Bambi’s of any kind.  However I will clarify that many of my ancestors hunted almost anything just to survive and feed their families.  As an animal lover it is difficult to imagine killing anything unless it is a spider or a snake because I can’t stand either one of them.

Deer season is kicking in here in the south. The marsh behind us often houses many deer along with dozens of birds, frogs, lizards, possums and probably raccoons.  I have opened the back door just in time to hear the geese approaching with their loud honking noise.

Most of what we do that we deem important requires preparation. do_i_look_like_a_sitting_duck_cartoon_like_duck_postcard-rab1395f643294d73bcda8069eadcf4b4_vgbaq_8byvr_512
Hunting is no different, nor is learning the ropes of following the Savior.

Had it been me on the hunt, all I would have thought to do was take a rifle. So much for being prepared.

In other words it would be like sending sheep into the “wolves den” without the aid of re-enforcements. You could become a “sitting duck.”

A life of following Jesus takes preparation, diligence, patience and dedication.  Noted in the Bible are the years God taught Moses, Joseph, David, Paul and John.  Stuck in the wilderness, prison or the Isle of Patmos these men remained in quiet and often very difficult circumstances to learn the ways of God. Experience on top of education became their class for a lifetime.

God makes it clear we must be prepared for the days are evil.  The idea of sitting in church for one hour a week will do the job is like telling the mother-to-be she should acquire all the knowledge in the world about raising a child before having that baby.  If that were the case none of us would be here.

 Colossians 2: 2-3 “My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

As with raising children it is a daily walk; a moment by moment venture.

Live and learn or learn and live.  God’s book of guidance sits on many desktops, bedside tables or lines bookshelves. It is not a decoration, nor is it a mat for your latest latte.

No, the Bible is the greatest book ever written.  God’s inspiration is all over it; his love is written on every page.  His words are stamped with mercy and grace. Direction and guidance come alive as you ponder and store his promises in your heart.

People ask “how do you understand what is in the Bible?”

It’s a secret.

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Faith Unleashed


Faith is a tricky thing. It actually grows when you don’t realize it.
The more time you spend with God, reading his word and praying faith seeps in and makes a home.

Coming from a no-faith place, I remember telling God I didn’t really understand it much less have any.

He quietly led my thinking to the simple everyday tasks or actions we take where faith is automatic or taken for granted like,

Sitting on a chair
Driving a car
Eating or drinking food or liquids believed to be healthy
Lying down on a bed

Faith is taking these natural acts and transferring it to God. In other words trusting God whoever made the chair we are sitting in isn’t going to collapse with us in it.

Certain areas of faith are harder to put to the test than others. It shouldn’t be but it is.

Why is it easier to believe God for that perfect job than healing?
Why do we trust him more for protection than providing our every need financially?

There is no difference. He promises all we need no matter what it is which covers everything from a new car battery to food on the table.
The more a person has tends to lead to self-sufficiency which removes the need for God. One thing for sure is if you find yourself in that league, be prepared. God keeps him promises; even the one that says, “God giveth and God taketh a way.”

Many in the Bible were graced with the label as “faithful.”
Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Esther, Job, David, Solomon, Samson, Daniel, Mary, John the Baptist.

Then there were those who had faith grow as the word was written about them or by them such as Paul, John and the other disciples. Mary Magdalene and the two sisters Mary and Martha who observed the raising of their brother from the dead. Watching a scene like that would make anyone’s faith explode!

The times we are living in are in need of Abraham’s, Moses’, David’s and Esther’s.

So where does God go to find such examples?now-faith-is-the-substance-of-things-hoped-for-the-evidence-of-things-not-seen-hebrews-11-1-kjv
How do we know anyone like them even exists?

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