Archive for April 10, 2012
Tags: Amminadab, Egypt, God, Israel, Israelite, Moses, Nahshon, Pharaoh
“Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.” — Exodus 14:21
We all know the scene. After the children of Israel are freed from Egypt, Pharaoh has a sudden change of heart. He and his massive Egyptian army pursue the Israelites until they corner them at the Red Sea. The children of Israel panic. Moses stretches his arms out to the sea and one of the greatest miracles of all time occurs. The waters of the sea part! The Israelites are able to cross through the Red Sea on dry land.
Now rewind that scene, pause it right before the sea splits and zoom in. Jewish tradition teaches us a very powerful story about what occurred in the moments that the sea parted.
The story features a man, Nahshon, son of Amminadab from the tribe of Judah. All around him his nation was in an uproar. Behind them were the Egyptians coming to forcibly take them back to Egypt. In front of them was the sea, the only thing that stood between them and their freedom. Egypt was warm and familiar. The sea was cold and unknown. It was decision time.
Everyone around Nahshon stood paralyzed with fear, not knowing what to do. Should they go back to Egypt or should they follow God into the sea? Nahshon, alone, takes the plunge. Literally. He steps into the sea but nothing happens. Undeterred, he continues up to his ankles and then his knees, but the sea does not split.
Nahshon continues onward. Now the sea is up to his chest and approaching his mouth. The sea remains the same. Finally, when the sea reaches Nahshon’s nostrils, at the last second, it splits! The children of Israel witness the great miracle and follow after Nahshon just in the nick of time.
Nahshon the son of Amminadab teaches us a powerful lesson about faith. There are times in our lives when we have to choose between something new and unknown and something old and familiar. The new opportunity seems like the better choice, yet there are absolutely no guarantees that it will work out. The familiar option is clearly less than ideal, but we know exactly what to expect. Do we take the plunge, or stay dry and safe on land?
Nahshon inspires us to jump in. Sometimes we need to take the first steps with courage and then have faith. In other words: Do your best and let God do the rest!
Tags: ABC, American Broadcasting Company, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Easter, God, Order of the Bath
That was ABC’s own promotional claim as they advertised last night’s double dose of Christian-bashing with two episodes of “GCB.” I’m sure it was no coincidence that ABC chose Easter – the most meaningful, sacred day to Christians – to especially thumb its nose at the transforming power of Christ with back-to-back episodes of a show that ridicules the Christian faith and mocks God’s Word and His followers.
However, corporate America is not so glib about ridiculing potential customers. They are hearing from thousands of you!
As a result, numerous advertisers have pulled their ads and most “A-list” advertisers are staying clear of sponsoring “GCB.” For example, Frito-Lay/Pepsico recently wrote: “…we have no other commercials scheduled to run during the program… We have standards against advertising on shows that may offend our consumers, and we make every effort to adhere to this process. …”
This shows the importance of continuing to let advertisers know that their sponsorship of “GCB” is empowering a show that mocks the faith and offends millions of their potential customers.
Unfortunately, JC Penney is slow in getting the message. After being off last week, JC Penney was back last night as a sponsor of “GCB” – continuing the company’s trend of sponsoring many of the trashiest shows on network television.
Click here to contact the sponsors of the two Easter episodes of “GCB” and please encourage your family and friends to do the same.
On a day when millions of Christians celebrate the new life we have in Christ, ABC takes every stereotypical depiction of Christians and twists it into a mocking caricature.
For example, we all know that Christians are proponents of sexual abstinence outside of marriage. Why? Because it’s spelled out quite clearly in God’s Word that our sexuality in intended for within the bounds of marriage and there are damaging physical, emotional, and spiritual consequences when one instead lives a promiscuous life. Yet on “GCB,” Christian parents promoting chastity are portrayed as extremist whackos. In last night’s episode, a Christian parent starts an abstinence teen group which tries to scare kids into abstinence with a bizarre horror show depicting the harmful consequences of illicit sexual activity. The abstinence club is described by non-Christian Amanda, the only “normal” character on the show, as a “creepy, chastity club” which “demonizes sex.”
So, according to “GCB,” a Christian view on sexuality is portrayed as “demonizing sex.”
Then we see the church pastor as a customer at the Hooter’s-like bar, “Boobylicious” which, he claims, is research for his next sermon entitled “Sex is Divine.” In the sermon he instructs all “committed couples” who, as he states, are either “married or otherwise entwined” to have sex every day for the next week to improve communication. This of course leads to numerous on-screen depictions of sex between the characters – in cars, on the kitchen table, etc, etc.
One of the couples is in a marriage of convenience. The husband is secretly gay and involved in varied sexual relationships with men. His wife is aware and condones his homosexual lifestyle. She, too, has affairs with men. They stay together for the sake of their business. In last night’s episode they, too, decide to have sex in order to have a baby together. That scenario includes numerous references to homosexual sex acts as the wife tries to “turn on” her gay husband.
Other examples of the scornful depiction of faith include: A bridal shower given with the theme “his rod and staff they comfort me” where a sex toy is a prominent gift. One of the women flashes her breasts to a county clerk to get his assistance which is justified because, as another women tells her, she was “using (her) boobies for good and not for evil.”
Throughout the show scripture is quoted in ways that mock the holiness of God’s Word. Bible quotations are twisted and used as punch lines. One woman quotes scripture for a diet plan she created entitled “Losin’ It with Jesus.” Another woman dressed in sexy camouflage pulls out her “Hunter’s Bible” to defend what must be every Christian’s favorite pass time – at least according to ABC/Disney – hunting, or as the Hollywood writers on “GCB” describe as, “killing innocent animals.”
ABC Entertainment President Paul Lee has said about GCB: “We would love to have people go, you know, there’s something here edgy and interesting that we’d like to be part of.”
While the show may be “edgy,” it’s not drawing huge numbers of viewers and ratings have been mediocre. Even more telling is that the pressure we, and a few other groups, are putting upon the sponsors is having an impact!
Several advertisers have pulled their ads and most “A-list” advertisers are staying clear of sponsoring “GCB.” For example, Frito-Lay/Pepsico recently wrote: “…we have no other commercials scheduled to run during the program…” We have standards against advertising on shows that may offend our consumers, and we make every effort to adhere to this process. …”
This shows the importance of continuing to let advertisers know that their sponsorship of “GCB” is empowering a show that mocks the faith and offends millions of their potential customers. Please continue to forward this information to others by way of email, Facebook, etc. and urge family and friends to stand with us.
Click here to contact the sponsors of the two Easter episodes of “GCB.”
Tags: Bird, Charles Spurgeon, Christian, God, Ireland, Jesus, Lord, O Christian
Where showers fall most, there the grass is greenest. I suppose the fogs and mists of Ireland make it “the Emerald Isle”; and whenever you find great fogs of trouble, and mists of sorrow, you always find emerald green hearts; full of the beautiful verdure of the comfort and love of God. O Christian, do not thou be saying, “Where are the swallows gone? They are gone; they are dead.” They are not dead; they have skimmed the purple sea, and gone to a far-off land; but they will be back again by and by. Child of God, say not the flowers are dead; say not the winter has killed them, and they are gone. Ah, no! though winter hath coated them with the ermine of its snow; they will put up their heads again, and will be alive very soon. Say not, child of God, that the sun is quenched, because the cloud hath hidden it. Ah, no; he is behind there, brewing summer for thee; for when he cometh out again, he will have made the clouds fit to drop in April showers, all of them mothers of the sweet May flowers. And oh! above all, when thy God hides His face, say not that He hath forgotten thee. He is but tarrying a little while to make thee love Him better; and when He cometh, thou shalt have joy in the Lord, and shalt rejoice with joy unspeakable. Waiting exercises our grace; waiting tries our faith; therefore, wait on in hope; for though the promise tarry, it can never come too late. –C. H. Spurgeon
“Oh, every year hath its winter,
And every year hath its rain–
But a day is always coming
When the birds go north again.
“When new leaves swell in the forest,
And grass springs green on the plain,
And alders’ veins turn crimson–
And the birds go north again.
“Oh, every heart hath its sorrow,
And every heart hath its pain–
But a day is always coming
When the birds go north again.
“‘Tis the sweetest thing to remember,
If courage be on the wane,
When the cold, dark days are over–
Why, the birds go north again.”
Tags: Christ, Christian, Epistle to Philemon, Jesus, New Testament, Onesimus, Paul, Philemon
“…in Christ, I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, yet I appeal to you on the basis of love…”
I am a sucker for superheroes. Every summer, the theaters fill up with the latest Spiderman, Batman, or Avenger. Most of the movies are completely forgettable, but I always enjoy them in the moment. There is something about a superhero’s courage and confidence. Superheroes are bold. They see a problem, and they fix it. They see a bad guy, and they punch him.
Fist fights and explosions may look good on the big screen, but they aren’t spiritual disciplines. This is Paul’s point when he advocates for Philemon’s slave Onesimus. The slave had either run away or sought Paul’s help to advocate on his behalf with his master. Regardless of the details, Onesimus was not in a powerful position.
Paul didn’t take bold action, though. He didn’t throw his weight around or even demand that Philemon set the slave free. Instead, Paul makes a generic appeal based on the highest form of Christian love, agape. This makes sense because Paul, Philemon, and Onesimus are all Christians.
But Christians are called to love their enemies too. If you are like me, there are people in your daily life and work that you sometimes want to punch. We may not call them an enemy, but we definitely don’t want to be around them. These people might be a problem for others too. Maybe they are lazy, sloppy, inefficient, incompetent, negative, or just plain hateful. In many workplace situations like this, we want to act like superheroes.
Our culture expects courage and action and boldness and strength. We like our leaders tough, so we try to act tough ourselves—in business meetings, in memos, on phone calls with clients and coworkers. Sometimes it is good to be bold. But often, we can reach out to our friends and coworkers with a little more love, patiently appealing to their sense of charity and goodness and justice.
Even if this doesn’t work, others will see how we treat our “enemies.” Then maybe people will extend grace to us when we are not at our best.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: How are you responding to conflict in your life, at home, at church, or at work? Are you leaping to bold decisions and tough action? What would it look like to rely more on agape?
PRAYER: Dear Lord, I admit that I have trouble wanting to do what Paul’s letter suggests. I’ve worked with some pretty rotten people over the years. Some of them were just lazy or selfish, but a few of them were downright evil. The thought of reaching out to people like this in agape love seems a bit foolish. Yet I know that you call us to turn the other cheek, to seek the good of others over ourselves.
In many of your parables, you also tell stories of people who multiply their money through good business, so I know it is okay to be shrewd and wise in my work. You don’t want me to fail because I am always acting like a pushover. This is not what love means.
Sometimes, I need you to remind me what love looks like. Love never fails. It is patient and kind and humble and polite. It rejoices in truth and justice and hope. Help me to bring love to every relationship and challenge that I face today. Thank you, thank you for sending us Jesus to be the perfect example of love in the world. Amen.
P.S. from Mark Roberts: The Daily Reflections for this week have been written by my friend and colleague, Marcus Goodyear. He has penned a wonderful five-day series based on the New Testament book of Philemon. I know you’ll find these to be engaging and encouraging. In his “day job,” Marcus oversees The High Calling website and digital community in his role as Senior Editor at Foundations for Laity Renewal. He is a teacher, poet, writer, speaker, and top-notch editor, not to mention husband, father, and valued friend. I know you’ll appreciate Marcus’ thoughtful reflections this week. I’ll be back with you on Saturday.
Tags: Anger, Automobile, Book of Proverbs, Boston, Boston Red Sox, God, Red Sox, Rush hour
My car broke down in a tunnel during rush hour in downtown Boston. Angry drivers expressed their frustration as they struggled past me. Eventually, the car was towed to a station for repairs. Later it broke down again, stranding me along the Interstate at 2 a.m. Back to the shop it went.
Unfortunately, the repair shop also doubled as a parking lot during Red Sox baseball games. When I arrived after work the next day to pick up my car, it was hemmed in by 30 other vehicles!
Let’s just say I was less than Christlike in my initial reaction. I ranted and raved, and then, realizing it was only making them less willing to help me at the close of their day, I decided to give up. I stormed toward the glass doors and struggled to get them open. My anger increased when the station workers laughed at me.
I had barely made it out when I realized how unlike Christ I’d been. Chastened, I rapped on the locked doors and mouthed “I’m sorry” to the staff inside. They were stunned! They let me back in, and I meekly told them that Christians shouldn’t behave as I had. Minutes later, they were shifting cars to free up mine. I learned the truth that soft rather than harsh words can change circumstances (Prov. 15:1).
Tags: Christ, Christian, Christianity, God, holyspirit, Jesu, Orient, Religion and Spirituality
Making God Feel At Home
Once the heart is freed from its contrary impulses, Christ within becomes a wondrous experiential fact. The surrendered heart has no more controversy with God, so He can live in us congenial and uninhibited. Then He thinks His own thoughts in us: thoughts about ourselves, about Himself, about sinners and saints and babes and harlots; thoughts about the Church, about sin and judgment and hell and heaven. And He thinks about us and Himself and His love for us and our love for Him; and He woos us to Himself as a bridegroom woos his bride. Yet there is nothing formal or automatic about His operations within us. We are personalities and we are engaged with personality. We are intelligent and have wills of our own. We can, so to speak, stand outside of ourselves and discipline ourselves into accord with the will of God. We can commune with our own hearts upon our beds and be still. We can talk to our God in the night watches. We can learn what He wants us to be, and pray and work to prepare Him a habitation. And what kind of habitation pleases God? What must our natures be like before He can feel at home within us? He asks nothing but a pure heart and a single mind. He asks no rich paneling, no rugs from the Orient, no art treasures from afar. He desires but sincerity, transparency, humility, and love. He will see to the rest.