Showing posts from October, 2013

Moses: When Greatness and Humility Collide (The Story: Chapter 6)

Moses is the greatest and most foundational leader of the Old Testament. Although the promise to become a great nation came through Abraham and the tribes through Jacob, scripture tells us of Moses' unique greatness--no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses--and his humility--Moses was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth. (Deuteronomy 34:10 and Numbers 12:3)

What made Moses so great? Through Moses the Israelites were rescued from Egypt, gathered in their first worship space, received the law, and led through the wilderness to the promised land. 

He was a thorough leader, describing God's plan in detail so that the Israelites could be faithful to God in their worship and relationships. 

He was a resilient leader, able to withstand the pressures and critiques of his followers. He was an advocate for his people, pleading with God to be gracious to them in spite of their stubbornness and grumbling.  
He was a faithful leader, consulting with God before com…

A Kingdom of Priests? (The Story: Chapter 5)

“You will be my treasured possession... You will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” Exodus 19:5-6 NIV
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9-12 NIV
Moses went up to meet with God on Mount Sinai and came down with a message for the Israelites: I treasure you. I have set you apart with these commands so that you will bless the world. 
The Israelites were no longer slaves, but treasured. They were no longer in captivity, but free. They were no longer powerless, they could change the world. 
Peter picks up this passage from Exodus and affirms the identity and calling of the first century believers. As Christians we are a kingdom of priests. Treasured. Free. World Changers. For Peter, kingdom doesn’t refer to a political realm, just as nation doesn’t refer to a country or state. The kingdom is the Kingdom of God--God at …

Broken immigration system brings real, personal problems

(reprinted from Union-Tribune October 17, 2013) A North County pastor becomes an advocate for immigration reform after discovering the human factor. I have become an accidental advocate for immigration reform. As senior pastor at Solana Beach Presbyterian Church, I lead a congregation that has dedicated itself to building relationships with our immigrant neighbors through tutoring, a college-prep program, adult and preschool literacy, as well as worshipping and serving together in the community and around the world. Because of those relationships, the problems that result from our broken immigration system are not hypothetical but very personal. In the church we live in covenant relationships. When a child is baptized we commit to helping parents raise their children. Therefore, children living in fear of their parents’ deportation are not “their” children but “our” children. As Christians with strong family values we inherently understand the importance of keeping families together and w…

Moses as a Leader (The Story: Chapter 4)

God calls Moses to leadership through the burning bush in the wilderness--a bush that burns but doesn't burn up. Moses doesn't run away, but he draws closer to the bush and God calls out his name then gives him a surprising calling. 
Moses responds, "Who am I?" Moses was an unlikely and imperfect leader: a shepherd all alone on the far side of the wilderness, eighty years old, and a foreigner; faltering speech, a murderer who fled Egypt, and how can a hebrew raised in Pharaoh's household lead the people whose God has no name? And yet he was rescued as a child by Pharaoh's daughter and raised as a prince of Egypt. Was he delivered in order to become a deliverer?
And then Moses asks, "Who are you? What is your name?" God reveals his name, "I am" or "I am who I am." This is the first time in scripture God has a name. God moves from the general name El or Elohim (God) to the specific name Yahweh, and the very personal promise, "I …

Frightening But Good (The Story: Chapter 3)

In the movie Parenthood, Steve Martin's character Gil is complaining about his complicated life, when Grandma enters the room.
Grandma: You know, when I was nineteen, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster.

Gil: Oh?

Grandma: Up, down, up, down. Oh, what a ride! 

Gil: What a great story. [sarcastically]

Grandma: I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together! Some didn't like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it. (See clip)

Grandma's roller coaster is an accurate way of describing Joseph's life in Genesis 37-50: his father's favorite son with a fancy coat, eleven brothers who hate him, a dreamer who dreams for God, his brothers sell him as a slave, earns respect in Egypt, falsely accused by the boss' wife, becomes deputy Pharoah...
The roller coaster can be an opport…