Thursday, February 16, 2017

Detour in the Exodus

In the beginning of Exodus we see a relationship being formed with a God who sees, God calling Moses to follow Him as a leader to influence people, and Moses' journey leading Israelites to a land of milk and honey.

God delivers Israelites from Babylon with a bang- huge plagues- leading up until even the first son of Pharaoh is killed. Miraculous signs are done and the Israelites know that God is with them. In fact God says I will lead you by myself by a cloud in the day and a pillar of fire at night and I will never leave you. It sounds so easy- just following the cloud- and yet this journey is not what the Israelites expected. It is difficult, long, at times food is short, there are many unexpected obstacles.

We arrive at  Exodus 13:17 and find an exhausted Moses and tired, grumpy Israelites. These people have followed God so far, seeking deliverance from captivity, and trying to abide to His laws. And yet we see God leading the people around by the desert road towards the Red Sea. Their journey could have been much shorter but God chose to lead them  on a further route so the Israelites would not face war and return to Egypt.

So this is where I want to stop and think a little bit because through the Exodus story God is showing us that at times we too may have to journey through the desert. In other words, even though we are following Christ, there are times when we are going to feel lost- maybe even abandoned, distraught, alone, unprepared, hungry.

Have you ever felt like you followed God completely just to hit a huge standstill, problem, or conflict you never imagined. And it frustrated you so much because you thought God clearly you called me to this so where are you now? Where are you now when I'm failing at what you've asked me to do? Why did you call me to this if you aren't going to help me succeed?

Multiple times in Exodus we see the Israelites crying out to God "Did you call us here so we could die?" I would have rather been a slave than me starving and wondering around like a lost soul.
And we may find that we ourselves are quick to blame God as soon as things start to go wrong. Why God why didn't you deliver me from this trial when I have prayed about it or asked you to do so?

But the thing about Exodus is if you take just one part of the story- often things don't make sense. Like why would God let the Israelites be hungry? Maybe so that they could trust in Him to provide manna? Why did He lead them around the long way? So that they wouldn't have to fight in an extra war that might discourage them. Why did it take so long? Maybe so God could establish faith and perseverance teaching the people...

Likewise our life often things may not make sense to us because we cannot see the whole picture. We are quick to forget how God has led us in the past. We do not see His plans for us in the future. We do not see our influence on others. We cannot comprehend how choices and events will affect our own character development or how we will learn to have faith in God.

We will never understand why God lets some bad things happen in the world and why He stops others, why bad things happen to good people, or why we have to go through struggles when we're only trying to follow God's will for our life. But just like the Israelites, each of us is on a journey to one place and that is Heaven a land of milk and honey. Ultimately, it shouldn't matter to us what happens on this earth as long as we get to the Promised Land.

I believe that there will be a desert (or deserts) that believers in God must walk through in order to be redefined into someone who represents the loving image of God. But the amazing promise we have from God is that in the desert or in the mountain, He is with us. Even when we don't feel God, even when we don't see His blessings, I believe that He is working for our good and right by our side if we let Him.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Life's greatest adventures

I'm laying on my bed thinking about the ways God has immensely blessed my life because of my SMALL mustard seed faith in Him.

From cutting off ALL my hair in Peru, to learning to ride a street bike. From giving my very first shot and crying before and after from shock and from dancing, yelling, and doing taekwondo gymnastics in the rain.

To basking summers out in the hot sun driving a motor boat while helping kids experience the love of Jesus. Writing and acting a passionate Story about Jesus' life and seeing the Word come to action.

Flying to an academy far away from home where I knew absolutely NO ONE and getting to try out for a varsity baseball team and having the time of my life playing catcher and getting trambled.

To backpacking in Alaska, climbing mountains, canoeing in the ocean while chasing Beluga whales and trying to keep my blessed campers from getting hit by a barge...

To laying on my bed trying to study nursing because I want to pass. Running through my day from tutoring session, to study groups, to work.. trying to survive in the career path I did not choose for myself but God did and literally sobbing after taking a test.

All adventures have just ONE thing in common- they were God's ideas not mine. And God hasn't once let me down.

When my head was full of lice and mold and I was in tears dreading looking like a boy with short hair God gave me friends that showed me life was so much deeper than appearance.

When as a lake director I almost hit a child with a motor boat (OOPs;) and had a parent screaming at me, I prayed and God handled the situation for me.

When I was 5000 miles away from my parents in Colorado, without a friend in sight, God revealed Himself to me as a loyal best friend.

When my children in Alaska were yelling through the night and I couldn't sleep and I felt sick.. God gave me beautiful lights in the sky and protected me from the bears.


And God reminds me daily- Brooke- don't forget to look and see the things I've done in your past. I have done these things that you may have faith in me. Don't forget how much I've blessed you. Don't forget how much I love you. And Brooke if I've blessed you before, of course I will continue to be your guide.

And honestly guys, if you think God's boring.. you might not know the same guy I know!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Covered in mud

For a lot of my life I viewed God and consequences a bit like a vending machine. If you put in a lot you will probably get something good. Do something wrong- your consequence will follow. Praying, reading your Bible, trusting God will result in a Godly happy life. You will have prosperity in your family, friendships, and career. If you sin you will suffer accordingly. What you pray for, God will grant, if you pray diligently enough. Pray for protection over your friends and family they will be protected. Have people pray over you for a good grade and you will get it. Pray about a relationship and it will all work out alright.

And there's sometimes when it does work out. When I pray to God and ask for something and He gives me exactly what I want. And I'm like hallelujah He is Lord.

But then there's other times when I've prayed about something for a long time, and God doesn't seem to be answering my prayer. And I try to be patient, I try to wait, or I act in faith. And then all of a sudden I fall on my face- I fail a test- a relationship ends in brokenness and pain.. and I wonder.. Where are you God?

It's these times when I fall that I have to remember that whether I am in the dust lying on the ground maybe even being trampled by an elephant, God is just as much Lord as when I am dancing in the ballroom or getting my dream job.

You see God's faithfulness does not rest in my personal life success- as painful and humbling as this may be to admit- this is a blessing friends. God does not need you to be prosperous for Him to be glorified.

In fact God may desire me to fail (at times) as much as He desires for me to succeed.

His goal is not my happiness. His goal is a better relationship with me. Maybe He wants to use my weaknesses as an opportunity to trust His strength. Maybe He wants to comfort me when I am crying, to be my stronghold when I am weak.

When I am strong, when I am smart, when I am capable I don't need God. When I have friends and family and money and health, I am content to live on this earth. It's when life gets hard that I begin to look up at the stars and long for heaven and God reminds me "this place is not your home".

It's hard to fail. It's painful when God humbles us. It hurts to feel inadequate, alone, not good enough.
Yet God says your identity does not rest in your career, your grades, your friends, your relationship, your wisdom or lack of it. God sometimes has to remind us that He is the only thing that will truly matter in eternity and He wants us to stop making idols.

Friends we all have our struggles. We all have our masks that we wear at one time or another pretending to be strong when we are breaking, pretending to be loving when all we feel inside is hate, pretending.. we love pretending that we are independent and self-sufficient. But when life hits you in the face, knocks you down to the dirt, realize that even when you are covered in mud.. God loves you. Jesus loves you. He loves you so much. And He will pick you up off the ground, out of the mud, and say I have a plan and I'm growing you as a person and together we are going to overcome this.

Friday, February 3, 2017

the Exodus part 1

It's funny because when I was younger I always thought Exodus was such a boring book. But now I see my life written in the lines of the story. I see God's faithful hand, His power, and most of all His mercy as He guides the Israelites out of Egypt to the Promised Land. I hope that this story shines new light on God's Exodus for His people in the Old Testament as well as His journey for your life.

Part 1 God's Calling: The story starts with Moses.Moses' childhood was nothing short of miraculous as he was saved from death by being thrown to float down the Nile River. What's the first word you think about when you think of the Nile? Crocodiles? Moses' mother was a woman of faith. She did something that wouldn't make sense to most of us and was greatly awarded by God by getting to  raise her little boy into a man of God.

Moses was bold and a bit hot tempered.  When he saw injustice killed the man who was beating one of his own. Moses' life was hard because he was a Hebrew. He worked the fields and performed hard manual labor. It says that Moses was taking care of the sheep when God spoke to him from a bush lit on fire. And when God spoke to Moses, Moses hid his face out of fear. But God said...

I have seen you and the misery of my people. I have heard your crying and am concerned about your suffering. So I have come down to rescue you.... And I want you Moses to go and lead my Israelites out of Egypt.

And Moses who was afraid to look at God responded with fear and doubt. Who am I God that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt? Why me?

And God replied I will be with you.

But Moses said "What if it doesn't work out? What am I supposed to say? What if they ask who you are? What if they do not believe me?

And God said I will be with you and you will tell them that "I am the I AM." And here are three signs I'm going to show you. God showed Moses through snakes, and leprosy, and blood on the ground that Moses could trust in Him. God started developing Moses' faith before He sent them- God spent time with Him personally to help Moses prepare for the huge battles He would be facing.

Let's go back to Exodus 3:7 where God says "I have indeed seen the misery of my people. I have heard them crying." When you feel like you are all alone, God sees you. He sees the worst and hardest days of your life just like He does on your best days. He sees the pain no one else can see and the struggles you feel like you are  battling all alone. God not only sees your hurt and misery but the Bible shows that He is concerned about you

But He is not just concerned about you, He has a plan to rescue you- and not just you, but the people around you. God says this is why I've come- to take you to a better place- out of the land of slavery to a land flowing with milk and honey.

What is your  yoke of slavery- to who or what are you bonded? In today's times it's probably not physical slavery but it may be an addiction, it may be a disorder, it could be something that devours your time like work, pornography, exercising until you feel your body is perfect, watching movies that distract you from the real world? To what thing do you sacrifice more time too than reading your Bible than worship? Is it your career? Do you put studies over Christ because you are afraid of failure?

Whatever that thing that you are a slave too- it is hurting you whether you know it or not. It is stealing your joy, it is robbing you of your peace, it is filling your heart with doubt. It is causing you to question Christ. And God says I see you in your slavery and I have a plan to rescue you.

But God doesn't stop there, God says I'm calling you. I want you to follow me. To overcome the thing you are enslaved too you have to take a new Master. You have to choose me and you have to sacrifice your body and selfish desires to be my servant. I am going to use you to do great things but I need you to trust me.

And we may relate to Moses' response as he is fearful. God what exactly are you asking me to do? Am I qualified? What if I'm not strong enough to help lead others? What if I can't even break out of my own bondage? What will I say when I'm asked Lord?

And to this the Lord says Brooke do not fear. Moses do not fear. I will be with you. And right now I am going to start this relationship by helping you to trust me. I'm going to start doing miracles in your life and it's going to be amazing.