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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Israelite, Just Like Me

I've been reading Exodus, post-exodus. The Israelites have just been led out of Egypt, out of captivity, and they've come grumbling and complaining. I'd rather be in captivity where I had food to eat than led out here to this wilderness! And God gives them manna, graciously provides daily food from the sky, and gives them guidelines on how to live. Gather what you can eat for the day, but only that. The sixth day, gather twice as much because on the seventh day, there will be none. This Sabbath, this instruction from the Lord, this pattern of gathering and resting, will provide a structure for how Israel is to live.

In the morning, you shall be filled with bread. Then you shall know that I am the LORD your God.

Then in chapter 20, God speaks to Moses and defines the kind of life that He calls for His people to live. The Ten Commandments indicate how Israel, and us too, are to remain faithful to the Lord. Love God, love people. These commandments aren't to be a set of rules to show us how we have strayed. God didn't create these commandments to use as a checklist - did that, haven't done that. We are in desperate need of God, of Jesus, of a Savior because we fail miserably at loving God and loving people. And what I love is that God provided. He didn't stay far away and hope His people figured out how to love Him. He didn't lead them out and let them aimlessly wander. He gave them direction, rhythm, structure, comfort, provision, compassion. Remember Me. I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery! When things look scary and desperate, I am still the same God who led you out of Egypt.

There's something strange about these Israelites. I am one of them. There's a wonderful comfort in this God who rescues and who loves His people. When they don't trust Moses. When they say they'd rather be held captive again. When they don't listen to his guidelines. When they gather more manna when they need. When they don't trust that God will daily provide. God says, I am the LORD your God. LINDSAY, I am the LORD your God.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Armor that is Jesus

I've been reading a lot of different things - Exodus, Ephesians, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. I've taken pages of notes and I know there is a connection. I put off writing until I find the big connection, the big answer. I put off writing because I can't put it into words. God, what are you teaching me?? Because I know this is important! This is life changing, soul surviving, Gospel living important!

It is a difficult, but amazing perspective to see life through the lens of gift. Every moment is wrapped in a gift because every moment is God. And our part is the choice in how to respond to each moment. We can refuse, reject, respond miserably, or get down in gratitude and find the joy.

Every moment, we choose. Every single moment.
To remember we've got our armor, the armor of Ephesians that is Jesus Christ.
To remember we are loved infinitely and passionately by this wonderful, holy, righteous God and that this God wants to fight for us.

I read in Exodus this past week, this endless cycle of the Lord saying to Moses, Moses going to Pharaoh, Pharaoh saying no, hardening his heart, asking for relief but not submitting to God, and then plagues and plagues of devastation. We come to know Moses, this great leader and man of God, as a man who killed and fled, who literally said to God 'Please Lord, send someone else.' I can't speak and I am not eloquent of tongue, Moses says. There must be someone better!

But what strikes me about what happens in the following narrative is how many times the Lord says to him, 'Go in to Pharaoh. Present yourself before him. Go in to him. Stand.'

Enter those courts and declare from your mouth what you have heard from the Lord.
I will be with you.

The armor of God that Paul writes about in Ephesians 6 has striking similarities. Interwoven between descriptions of breastplates and helmets and shoes, it says to stand. Stand firm. Stand your ground. And never stop praying.

Stand, because God is with you.

To read page after page, verse after verse of this astounding God in Exodus is almost breathtaking. He pursues a relationship with the Israelites, the enslaved people, and He desires for His person and His power to be known. He wants to fight for them. As the Israelites are crossing the Red Sea, the Egyptians say "Let us flee from before Israel, for the Lord fights for them against the Egyptians."

And then that Song of Moses gets lifted to the Lord and it is truly praiseworthy.

These words and this fight strike me to the core because I've been on a mission. Since the beginning of January, I have worked to be more disciplined. I've made schedules and lists and goals because I see that as my version of being proactive and fighting. And it felt good because I was choosing all these things and I was making them happen. Go me! I've got my armor!

And then I spoke to friends who said the armor of God really is Jesus. It is truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, the Word of God. And then I read Exodus 14:14.
Brakes, to the ground, screeching halt.

And Moses said to the people, "Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent."

I think of all the ways I want to fight lies and all the ways I want to grab pitchforks and torches and I'm confused by the 'be silent' part. When I'm running ahead at a million miles an hour and I'm gathering supplies and commanding strategies - I don't get the 'be still' ask. There's something about it that really trips me up. I try to get around it and think 'I'll fight with my actions.' But God says 'stop. I've got you. I want you. Let me fight for you. I love you FIERCELY.'

And maybe the silent part of Exodus 14:14 doesn't mean inaction. It means stand firm, child, because you have Jesus.

My lists, they aren't bad. My goals of self-discipline, are good things. They are choice and gratitude and an honoring of gifts. But they are not my armor and they do not fight for me. I don't have to add Jesus + one. Because there is a God who so graciously provides, even when I am Israelite-ish and complain and say I'd rather be in slavery and I'm dying of thirst, He still brings daily manna from the sky.

What a change in perspective.

My favorite commercials are the ones for Florida Orange Juice. Seated around a kitchen table, there's someone pouring a glass of orange juice while everyone else around the table is telling OJ-drinking person what their day is going to look like. Flat tire, hard drive erased, disrespectful children, late for work. And the person with the orange juice responds every time with 'excellent! perfect! bring it on! good thing I have my orange juice!'

And I imagine that's what our responses are when we start our day not with orange juice, but with the Word of God, when we root ourselves in the knowledge that we are armed with Jesus. We say 'bring it on' to the hard stuff because we know Jesus sustains us.

In this season of waiting I find myself in, the Lord says do not fear, be still, stand firm, do not cease to pray, I am with you. Do not be so quick to 'do,' but be quick to listen. The choice to see, honor, worship, choose Jesus in each moment is the best way to fight.

Sunday, January 15, 2012


The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD (Exodus 7:5).
Was God just wanting the Egyptians to know He existed?

The first part of the second book of the Bible is this crazy stubborn, hard hearted Pharaoh refusing to heed God's command. Over and over again, God shows Himself as more powerful than the most powerful nation in the land. Take that, Egyptian gods. Over and over again, God speaks to His messenger Moses and says you shall know.

I've been thinking a lot about the word know. Having knowledge of God, God's big Exodus purpose of revealing Himself, of the Egyptians knowing His power and His person. I've been thinking the past few days, is knowledge just about the learning and gaining of information?

Part of me says no, duh. Knowledge is about how we use that information! Put it into practice - even the demons believe! But maybe, I think, I AM WHO I AM is saying it's more.

Knowledge is less about a cognitive recognition or acknowledgment. It's more about a posture, our posture.

Psalm 46 paints one of my favorite pictures in Scripture. I imagine total and utter chaos, destruction, the fires of Mordor with Sam and Frodo helplessly hanging on. It is a devastating picture. The earth is giving way, mountains are falling into the heart of the sea, kingdoms fall. But the psalmist repeats over and over - The LORD is with us! God is in the midst. A very present help in trouble.

Then he writes, Be still and know.

Know. There's that word again!

I wonder why it's there. Not be still and believe, or be still and trust, but be still and know. Know that God is good, know that He is present, know that He is faithful. To know.

Looking through the lens of posture, knowledge becomes worship. Knowledge is relationship. One step further than just having the knowledge that He is there. We take a posture of belief and trust when we know that God is God. Not just knowing that He exists, but knowing His mightiness, His power, His characteristics.

The world is falling away! There is chaos - I don't know what to do! Know that I am God.
These plagues and death and disease throughout the land - I am fearful. Know that I am the LORD.
I don't feel you close - are you there God? Be still, cease striving, and know that I am God.
What am I supposed to do with my life!? Where are you calling me? Know.

God's been working on my heart through this idea and I can't help but think of the hard truth of what it means. When the earth falls away, the world crumbles, even if we're swallowed up with it, God is still so so good, He is still mighty and holy and faithful.


But maybe that's the part of the know that I am the most stubborn to adopt. When there is hope and healing and A + B = C, that's the kind of God I can believe in! But when there isn't, do I still believe in a God who is good? When He does deliver us and make us whole but not until heaven and people die, what is my posture?

When God feels silent, do I know?

Adopt a posture of knowing God by believing in His love. Fall on knees and know through the life and death of Jesus Christ. He is Emmanuel, God with us. He is mighty and powerful and sovereign and holy and He will deliver you.

His character does not change with our circumstances.