Tag Archives: Moses

Let’s Talk About Moses and Righteousness

Been Busy

Someone whom you may know as Angel made a keen observation: I haven’t been posting much, lately.

Well, there is a reason why that observation is correct… It’s no more complicated than the fact that I’ve been busy, busy, busy.

And when I’m not busy, I’m usually just too dang tired to get my brain into writing gear. But I’m sure it’s just a phase.

Been Preaching and Teaching

But one thing that hasn’t slacked off is the time I have spent in front of an iPhone camera. Literally, the only time I am not recording and uploading preaching or teaching content is on Saturday. But it’s twice on Sunday, so…

Therefore, even though I’ve not been doing a lot of writing, I have been speaking. And that’s OK! I love it! So, when you have the time, I would encourage you to check out the following two videos. They are the latest that I have edited and uploaded to YouTube (and that’s work, too).

Oh, and I’ve been walking every day and doing my best to lose weight, especially for my daughter Katie’s wedding in October.

Love you guys!

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Filed under Bethlehem Baptist Church, Christianity, Church, ministry, Preaching, self-worth

Barriers to Church Growth #4 (Hold to God)

A very revealing study was done, leading to a book detailing how 300 churches went from declining or dying, to growing. In Comeback Churches, written by Ed Stetzer and Mike Dodson, there is a list of 30 different barriers to church growth. Having received permission from the publisher (B&H Publishing Group), I would like to discuss a few of them.

“People are unwilling to take hold of God (Isaiah 64:7).”

“And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities.” – Isaiah 64:7 KJV

Every time we heard a gospel song that had words similar to “hold on to God,” or “hold to His hand,” my parents quickly reminded us that “we don’t hold God’s hand – He holds ours.” Understandably, what my parents were referring to was salvation. In that sense, we are held and He will never let go.

But that is not what this verse is talking about. Isaiah is saying that part of the problem his people were facing was the fact that none had the desire, nor even the desire to have a desire, to grab hold of God. If that is true today, then it may not only be a huge barrier to church growth, but to individual growth as well.

Take Hold of Thee

It is interesting and revealing when we look at this phrase and compare its usage to other places in Scripture. To begin with, the word chazaq (Strong’s H2388) essentially means “to tie fast, to bind bonds strongly” (Gesenius’s Lexicon). It is a verb that is translated into English as words such as strong, retain, urgent, and caught. Here are just a few examples.

“And the LORD said unto Moses, Put forth thine hand, and take it by the tail. And he put forth his hand, and caught[2388] it, and it became a rod in his hand:” – Exodus 4:4

“And the Egyptians were urgent[2388] upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste ; for they said , We be all dead men.” – Exodus 12:33

“Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain[2388] thine integrity? curse God, and die .” – Job 2:9

Moses “caught.” Look at the first verse. Moses had been commanded by God to throw down his rod, after which it became a serpent. Then, against all logic, God told him to pick it up again, but this time by the tail (riiiiigghht!). I would have had to be seriously “stirred up” to pick up a deadly snake by the tail – it BITES! Yet, that’s what Moses did. He “caught it” by the tail.

The Egyptians were “urgent.” Next, after suffering under all the plagues, the Egyptians “were urgent” in there pushing the Israelites out of town. They had come to realize that their own lives were in jeopardy if the Jews stayed one day longer. It was imperative that they are pushed out as quickly as possible.

Job “still retained.” Now, look at poor Job. He had lost everything dear to him, including his health, and then came his wife telling him to curse God and die. She couldn’t believe that he could just sit there and hold on to his belief that God was worth serving. “After all this, are you still holding on to your integrity? What for? What’s the use? Quit putting yourself through this nonsense and just curse God and die!” Yet, he held on.

Making it Apply

When we view Isaiah 64:7 in the light of the verses above, what we have is astounding and convicting. Let’s see if we can work it all together:

1) Taking hold of God is something that we should take seriously, not flippantly. Don’t reach out for Him in a way that implies half-heartedness. Take hold like you mean it! Who do we think God is, a stick to be used by us in our own power to accomplish our own desires? NO! He is alive and dangerous. As Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia, He is NOT tame. He is not here to be played with.

2) Do we not understand that without the power and presence of God we will die?In Him we live, move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28). There should be an urgency in our desire for Him, no less than the kind the Egyptians had to expel the Jews from their land. Do we want to live? We must urgently “take hold.”

3) We must hold on to God even when it seems insane to others. We must consider our relationship with our Heavenly Father so precious that even when Hell seems to be winning, faith tells us otherwise. Like Job of old, we should hold on to God even when we lie broken and wasted amid the ashes of seeming defeat. Our Redeemer LIVES!

The Barrier that Must Fall

If we are to see growth in our churches, not to mention our own lives, we must seek after God with urgency, intensity, and passion. He must be sought after and adhered to like no other treasure on earth. Anything less betrays our divided, adulterous hearts. God will bless and grow a people who “take hold.” No church will grow who only takes hold of God when it is convenient, fun, or fashionable.

Time is filled with swift transition
Not of earth or moon can stand
Build your hope on things eternal
Hold to God’s unchanging hand
Hold to God’s unchanging hand

Trust in Him who will not leave you
Whatsoever years may bring
When my earthly friends forsaken
Still more closely to Him cling

Hold to God’s unchanging hand
Hold to God’s unchanging hand
Build your hope on things eternal
Hold to God’s unchanging hand
Hold to God’s unchanging hand

We must cleave to Him. It IS a matter of life or death.

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Filed under book review, Christian Maturity, God, Uncategorized, worship

Sounding the Trumpet

“And I said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, The work [is] great and large, and we are separated upon the wall, one far from another. In what place [therefore] ye hear the sound of the trumpet, resort ye thither unto us: our God shall fight for us.” – Nehemiah 4:19-20

The children of Israel were trying to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, yet they had to be spread out because of the size of the work. And since there were but few of them, and the threats from the enemy was ever-present, they worked with one hand, kept a sword in the other, and listened for the sound of a trumpet.

Nehemiah saw that their few numbers, if attacked in one spot, could be overrun. However, if when one group working on one section of the wall would sound a trumpet when under attack, the rest of the groups would come to their aid, increasing their fighting power.

For those of you who understand, the parallels between the Jews rebuilding their wall and those of us who fight spiritual battles are striking. If nothing else, we should understand that Satan always looks for the greatest points of weakness, and that’s where he will attack. If we never sound the trumpet for reinforcements, and if we, the reinforcements, never show up when called, is it any wonder so many battles are lost?

Friends, I’m sounding a trumpet. I need you to intercede for me, my family, and my church congregation. I cannot, in my own strength, bear up under the demonic attack being launched. I don’t need to give you details…I don’t need anything from you…all I am asking is for you to hold up my arms (Exodus 17:11-12) through intercessory prayer.

This is the proper use of the internet, wouldn’t you say?

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Filed under Prayer

You’re Never Too Old

For New Tricks?

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Why is that? Does a dog’s brain quit working when he quits chasing squirrels? Our last dog was 18 years old when he died. I bet when he was fifteen he could have still learned something. He just didn’t want to.

And besides that, how many new tricks can a dog learn, anyway? Once he has fetching, rolling over, sitting, and flushing his own toilet mastered, what else is there? Maybe old dogs come to the point where they figure learning more tricks won’t get them any more food, so why bother?

For Amusement Parks?

Yes. Definitely, yes! Face it, feel as young as you like, but if you’re pushing 50, riding the Screaming Dropa-Whirla-Shaker will kill you! Let the teenagers eat their hot dogs and ice cream and go up and down, round and round, and loopty-loop. You still have to drive.

So, if you regularly watch the evening news, drive a mini-van, remember when television stations went off the air at night, or prayed in school, stay away from any ride that comes equipped with barf bags (see picture).

For Love?

Are you kidding? Love happens at all ages. There’s hope for everyone, no matter how old, wrinkly, or toothless. You can even be as ugly as a warthog and still find love. Of course, it helps if you have at least one of the following: a little of self confidence, or a lot of money. No problem.

For Blogging?

Absolutely not! As a matter of fact, let me introduce you to Rev. Ken Welford. He is the latest contributor to my other blog, Proverbial Thought. He just made his first post, and he is in his 80’s!

Ken, currently ministering in the UK, was a Baptist pastor (retired) from 1956-1978. He also did work for The Far Eastern Broadcasting Association in places like Papua New Guinea, India, and Singapore. Now, he’s in the blogosphere reaching everywhere! You go, Ken!

For Faith?

Never! Abraham was 75-years-young when he left his homeland to follow the leading of God (Gen. 12:4). Moses was 80 when he did a face-off with Pharaoh (Ex. 7:7). Even late in life, they believed the Lord and trusted his guiding hand. What’s our excuse?

Don’t leave ministry to the young. Don’t think getting older means retiring from your faith. Take a cue from Caleb: at 85 he still had a mountain to conquer (Josh. 14:10). A few aches and pains wasn’t keeping him from his reward!

Any more Calebs out there? You’re never too old, you know.

What else are you never too old for?

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Filed under Christian Maturity, God, self-worth

American-Made Idol

Ten Commandments

When I first came to pastor Riverside, one of the first series of sermons I preached was on the ten commandments. Believe it or not, I had a really cool pair of fake stone tablets, and each week I would bring them in with a new commandment “engraved” upon them.

I took great care to make those “stone” tablets look as realistic as possible. That makes me think: how heavy were the real ones?  I mean, they must have weighed at least fifty pounds each! And can you imagine carrying those things down a mountain? I guess that’s what tending sheep for forty years in the wilderness can do for ya’.

No Idols

God told Moses, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). He went on to say that he should not make any images to worship or bow down to (20:4). Yet, what did Moses find when he came down and saw the children of Israel partying (Exodus 32)? A golden calf. A graven image. An idol.

So, in order to have a visual for the sermon, I made an idol. No, it wasn’t made of gold, but it’s amazing what a little tin foil, coat hangers, spray paint, and insulation foam can do. I made my own golden calf (except it looked more like a chihuahua).

When I uncovered the “golden calf” that Sunday morning, one could sense a feeling of uneasiness. “It’s fake,” I told the congregation, “so don’t feel too nervous.” In a few moments everything was fine, and the message went well.

But later that night…

The Golden “Chihuahua”

Sunday evening after church we were at home getting ready for bed, when my wife asked a question. “What are you going to do with that idol?” she said with a serious voice. “I don’t know, probably put it on a shelf in the garage.”

“Oh, no you won’t!” she replied. “You are NOT keeping that thing in the house. You either take it back to the church, or destroy it…I don’t care…just get it out of the house.”

What? Didn’t she realize how long I worked on that silly thing? Didn’t she appreciate my artistic ability, my ingenuity, my imagination? What was wrong with keeping my idol? I made it.

Conviction

Isn’t it amazing how at the turn of a moment God can get our attention? We make idols every day out of the cheapest of material. Forget the gold, we worship stuff of even less value. Our idols are nothing like the ones in the Bible, not made of solid gold, but we put them before God, nevertheless.

I was convicted. God used my wife to make a point. If I couldn’t destroy a fake idol, cheap as it was, what made me think I could do away with other idols? Real idols? The gods (little “g”) that demand my time, my attention, my worship?

Only a picture remains.

2 Comments

Filed under Christian Living, Christian Maturity, God, Relationships and Family, Uncategorized, worship

Barriers to Church Growth. #4 (Hold to God)

A very revealing study was done, leading to a book detailing how 300 churches went from declining or dying, to growing. In Comeback Churches, written by Ed Stetzer and Mike Dodson, there is a list of 30 different barriers to church growth. Having received permission from the publisher (B&H Publishing Group), I would like to discuss a different barrier each week.

“People are unwilling to take hold of God (Isaiah 64:7).”

“And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities.” – Isaiah 64:7 KJV

Every time we heard a gospel song that had words similar to “hold on to God,” or “hold to His hand,” my parents quickly reminded us that “we don’t hold God’s hand – He holds ours.” Understandably, what my parents were referring to was salvation. In that sense, we are held and He will never let go.

But that is not what this verse is talking about. Isaiah is saying that part of the problem his people were facing was the fact that none had the desire, nor even the desire to have a desire, to grab hold of God. If that is true today, then it may not only be a huge barrier to church growth, but to individual growth as well.

Take Hold of Thee

It is interesting and revealing when we look at this phrase and compare its usage to other places in Scripture. To begin with, the word chazaq (Strong’s H2388) essentially means “to tie fast, to bind bonds strongly” (Gesenius’s Lexicon). It is a verb that is translated into English as words such as strong, retain, urgent, and caught. Here are just a few examples.

“And the LORD said unto Moses, Put forth thine hand, and take it by the tail. And he put forth his hand, and caught[2388] it, and it became a rod in his hand:” – Exodus 4:4

“And the Egyptians were urgent[2388] upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste ; for they said , We be all dead men.” – Exodus 12:33

“Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain[2388] thine integrity? curse God, and die .” – Job 2:9

Moses “caught.” Look at the first verse. Moses had been commanded by God to throw down his rod, after which it became a serpent. Then, against all logic, God told him to pick it up again, but this time by the tail (riiiiigghht!). I would have had to be seriously “stirred up” to pick up a deadly snake by the tail – it BITES! Yet, that’s what Moses did. He “caught it” by the tail.

The Egyptians were “urgent.” Next, after suffering under all the plagues, the Egyptians “were urgent” in there pushing the Israelites out of town. They had come to realize that their own lives were in jeopardy if the Jews stayed one day longer. It was imperative that they be pushed out as quickly as possible.

Job “still retained.” Now, look at poor Job. He had lost everything dear to him, including his health, and then came his wife telling him to curse God and die. She couldn’t believe that he could just sit there and hold on to his belief that God was worth serving. “After all this, are you still holding on to your integrity? What for? What’s the use? Quit putting yourself through this nonsense and just curse God and die!” Yet, he held on.

Making it Apply

When we view Isaiah 64:7 in the light of the verses above, what we have is astounding and convicting. Let’s see if we can work it all together:

1) Taking hold of God is something that we should take seriously, not flippantly. Don’t reach out for Him in a way that implies half-heartedness. Take hold like you mean it! Who do we think God is, a stick to be used by us in our own power to accomplish our own desires? NO! He is alive and dangerous. As Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia, He is NOT tame. He is not here to be played with.

2) Do we not understand that without the power and presence of God we will die?In Him we live, move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28). There should be an urgency in our desire for Him, no less than the kind the Egyptians had to expel the Jews from their land. Do we want to live? We must urgently “take hold.”

3) We must hold on to God even when it seems insane to others. We must consider our relationship with our Heavenly Father so precious that even when Hell seems to be winning, faith tells us otherwise. Like Job of old, we should hold on to God even when we lie broken and wasted amid the ashes of seeming defeat. Our Redeemer LIVES!

The Barrier that Must Fall

If we are to see growth in our churches, not to mention our own lives, we must seek after God with urgency, intensity, and passion. He must be sought after and adhered to like no other treasure on earth. Anything less betrays our divided, adulterous hearts. God will bless and grow a people who “take hold.” No church will grow who only takes hold of God when it is convenient, fun, or fashionable. We must cleave to Him. It IS a matter of life or death.

Time is filled with swift transition
Not of earth or moon can stand
Build your hope on things eternal
Hold to God’s unchanging hand
Hold to God’s unchanging hand

Trust in Him who will not leave you
Whatsoever years may bring
When my earthly friends forsaken
Still more closely to Him cling

Hold to God’s unchanging hand
Hold to God’s unchanging hand
Build your hope on things eternal
Hold to God’s unchanging hand
Hold to God’s unchanging hand

2 Comments

Filed under book review, Christian Maturity, God, Uncategorized, worship