Archive for April, 2012

God: Okay, Moses, I’m going to put some rules in stone for you and the kids. Don’t forget them. Pay attention.

#1 No TV after 6:00.

Moses: Huh?

God: Gotacha! But seriously, TVs are going to screw things up royally. Okay, #1 No gods but me.


God: Stop it. Remember? Call me Father. #2 No other gods made of stuff.

Moses: No god things.

God: #3 My name’s not a swear word.


God: #4 Keep one day a week for rest.

Moses: Saturday or Sunday?

God: Saturday for now. #5 Respect your parents.

Moses: Good, the kids need this one.

God: #6 Don’t murder people like you did that guy in Egypt.

Moses: That was sooo an accident.

God: Right. That’s #9, but #7 No messing around unless it’s with your spouse.

Moses: So, that hot Ethiopian woman…

God: Jesus, can you believe this guy? No. One man. One wife. Period. #8 Don’t steal.

Moses: Check.

God: #9 No lying. The Egypt thing was NOT an accident.

Moses: Well, it could have been…

God: No, it wasn’t. #10 Don’t want what you can’t have.

Moses: How does this fit in with the MegaHundreds Lotto?

God: Really Moses? Pathetic. Take these down to the kids and tell them the Law has come to town.

So, Moses hauls the tablets down the hill to the Sinai Suites, next door to Holiday N Excess, where they stayed last night. Total for the day in Sinai miles: 0. The kids are at the pool and dancing around something in the parking lot. Smells like burnt banana manna and cat.


Aaron: The kids are sacrificing tent cats rubbed in banana manna to a golden calf.


Moses blows a gasket and throws the tablets out in the highway in front of an oncoming RV full of Canaanites. The tablets shatter. The Canaanites swerve and continue east, making ancient Mesopotamian gestures at Moses.

Moses goes back up the hill.

God: What’s up, Mo?

Moses: God, I’m going to need a bigger rod. Of course, I get it, but these kids…they’re a stiff necked bunch, you said so yourself. There’s no way they’re going to get into Promise World or Jericho TumbleTown if they have to keep these rules. It’s impossible.

God: That’s the point. For Pete’s sake, why do you think I’m Jesus, too? No one can do these rules. Not even you.

Moses: Well, then what’s the point?

God: Remember the bush I set on fire but it didn’t burn? The rules set people on fire, but Jesus won’t let ours burn.

Moses: Which one’s are yours? How’re you going to do that?

God: If they trust us to take care of ’em we’ll do it. Remember the Red Sea? Trust me.

Tr8: Trust God to take care of it. Whatever “it” is. Don’t hold on to any mistakes. Especially the ones you can’t forgive yourself about. NO ONE gets peace or into Promise World based on the rules.

Moses was trying to take his contentious family through the wilderness to Promise World, featuring Jericho TumbleTown. Every few miles the kids would whine, fight, complain about the radio, throw stuff out the windows, or make golden calves. The trip wasn’t going as anticipated.

Moses: Don’t make me stop the car!

Zipporah: Moses, settle down. Kids, let’s sing a song, ‘we’re bound for Prom-ised Wooorld, we’re bound…’

Moses: I must be crazy! Should have stayed in Egypt.

Zipporah: Moses, focus on the road. Remember, Promise World. Canaan. Mission. Drive!

Aaron: Moses, you gotta do something with these kids!

From the back: How much farther? I need to go! I hate manna! He took my calf! I’m thirsty!

Moses: Water! You want water? I’ll show you water! Aaron, where’s my rod?

Screeeeech! Whack! Don’t even think about messing with me!

God: No Promise World for you!

Later: Midnight @ Holiday N Excess, out by the pool, the kids are asleep, stars are out, but life’s not so bright. Rebellion, starvation, snakes, calves, commandments…God-forsaken desert.

Moses: God! What is this? 39, 40 years? 250 miles? Was this the plan?

Next day he gets up and goes on, but he’s pretty sure he’s not getting anywhere. And he’s used to it. He’s not sure he cares.

Moses thinks: Joshua or Caleb can have it.

He’s depressed, sad, desper8, and defeated.

The story ends sadly. Moses goes for a third wife. Children of Israel lock and load for Promise World. Moses becomes a spectator. He’s buried on a mountain across the way from Promise World.

Took a while, but I understand this a little better now. Maybe 20-years-worth. The Bible calls the Israelites “stiff necked” people. Moses was herding squirrels. Even so, he caught God’s vision for them. But somewhere along the way he lost sight of the goal. He began forgetting about God and his mission trip went off the tracks.

Moses lost his vision.

I’ve been through a desert of sorts. I love my kids to pieces, but we’ve had some rough stretches in the wilderness. Through good and bad, we’ve loved each other  — in our family we say, “Love you infinity.” My son started that. For about 20 years, my kids’ teen years through the fall (previous post: Told you so doesn’t help), I felt a lot like Moses must have felt. Promise World? What is this 19, 20 years?

This is another story, but we were missionaries in South Korea 20 years ago. We took our young family to the other side of the world to imitate Christ. We had a vision of helping Korean believers develop churches. It was great. No regrets about Korea (한국나라 사랑해).

But life grew difficult for my kids and that made life difficult for me, too. I wasn’t too great in adversity. My fire was almost put out. As I became less and less qualified in NT terms (1 Timothy 3) and more and more disillusioned, my light dimmed. My ministry light smoldered to the brink of extinction. I don’t think God set me aside, I disqualified myself. I still believed, but spent a lot of time trying to figure out what the deal was with the wilderness.

I couldn’t have described it then, but I can now. I was doing Moses. Still driving the car as instructed toward Promise World, but defeated and defl8ed, counting the long miles, lost on desert roads. Sin and tiredness messed with my spirit, stole my motivation and left me bewildered about my mission and purpose.

I lost my vision.

In January I surrendered in a long battle with God. To use Passion Conference terms, I raised my White Flag. I surrendered to God again. I gave the rough parts of the desert trip to him and once again put myself at risk to follow his will, but that’s another story, too.

After 20 years, I’m back on track for Promise World. At least that’s how it seems to me. God has graciously renewed my heart. God’s reestablished a vision and his Spirit is working in me to attempt impossible things again.

In the desert? Worn down? God’s still paying attention. Raise the White Flag. Surrender. Reboot. Place your hope in him, for he cares for you.

Tr8: Perseverance. Reboot a relationship with the Father, imitate Christ, follow the Spirit’s leadership.

When I forget my values I make compromises.Then, I have regrets. If I know what is MOST important I’m less likely to get sucked n by something unimportant.

It’s just like when I was a kid – ME always wants to be first. Every decision has multiple underlying values pushing to be at the head of the line. Watch the decisions others make — especially when they think no one is watching — and you’ll see the principles driving them.

Principles, not rules, drive a disciple. Rules are external and are used when intrinsic motivation is lacking. We have speed limits because we like to speed. Principles are internal and are intrinsically affirmed. A few people don’t need speed limits because they adhere to a slow or safe principle. I’m not one of them — I need the signs.

Values drive principles and principles drive actions and I drive a Toyota… Consider this:

I would be truthful even if

  1. it caused my spouse unhappiness.
  2. it cost the life of another.
  3. it cost my job.
  4. it betrayed a confidence.

So, most are like me — truthful — depending on the circumstances. Seriously, generally, I’m truthful — trust me — unless grace enters the equ8ion. Then, I hope, trust me to be gracious.

Since values are always battling within me, it’s good to establish the top ones so the bottom ones don’t take over. AND they are constantly trying to take over! It’s worth noting that grace is the only thing that rightfully gets in truth’s way.

Here are some good and bad principles driving our lives: Love, greed, grace, being right, urgency, respect, preservation of life, pride, service, selfishness, blah, blah, blah, WWJD.

“What would Jesus do?” seems a bit trite and there are fewer wristbands, but it’s a really good place to start. The only hitch is one needs to know Jesus to pull this off with any success. Living lovingly comes very close, but in Jesus we see all values balanced and at the end of the process we see God.

Jesus never had a conflict of values.

tr8: Know Jesus and do what he would do.

One has to be dedic8ed to Christ’s way, truth, and life to get this str8. The way to do this is to read about him, talk about him, watch others who do him well, pray and practice, practice, practice. The flesh puts up a tough battle, but we are more than conquerors in Christ and if Christ is for us, who can be against us?

I like to think about the flesh-and-blood lives of those who knew Jesus. The Witnesses. The people who saw it all. In their lives we see tr8s of Christ.

2day I’m looking at John. Imagine Jesus and John walking down the road with their arms on each other’s shoulders — close.  John is telling a funny story about Jesus’ cousin nearly drowning a Pharisee in the Jordon.

John was a “hugger” and so was Jesus. They were comfortable with proximity.

John and his older brother, James, were the sons of Zebedee and Salome. Jesus called the brothers “The Sons of Thunder”.  Gospel readers know him as the “disciple Jesus loved”. The Catholic Church refers to him as St. John “The Evangelist”.

Originally, he was just a fisherman with an eye on bigger, spiritual things.

John was probably a follower of John the Baptist with two other brothers, Peter and Andrew. As the story goes, the Baptizer points out his cousin – “There goes the guy who’ll take away the sins of the world” – so John decides to follow him a bit. John followed for a few days as disciple-on-loan from Cousin John. Then, he went back to fishing. Later, Jesus officially calls the brothers out at the lake.

In the lists of the Apostles John is always in the top four — usually third, after Peter and his older brother, James. These three were Jesus’ inner circle and were the only witnesses of the raising of Jairus’s daughter, the Transfiguration and Jesus’ night of prayer at Gethsemane.

James, John, and their mother, Salome, were positioned powerfully in Jesus entourage. At one point Salome drags her sons to Jesus and they ask to be his left- and right-hand guys – his capos.  I suspect Jesus smiled.

John and Peter were sent to prepare for the Last Supper. At the supper John sits next to Christ and leans n2 him. John was comfortable in his own skin and was a rel8er — probably an emotional guy. As a “Son of Thunder” I’m guessing people kept their distance.  As a disciple John appears a “hugger” and a team-builder. I imagine he was the kind of guy who would throw his arm over your shoulder and whisper something funny in your ear. He and Barnabas, “the Encourager”, were probably close friends.

John was the “other disciple” (besides Peter) who followed Christ after his arrest n2 the high-priest’s palace. He was bold. He was confident. He knew people in the household, naming two in his gospel. He had none of Peter’s misgivings in the courts. Peter lingers at the gate. John went in. John remembered names.

John was the only disciple to remain with Jesus all the way to the cross. He protected protected and cared for the women who were mourning. Jesus entrusted him with his mother. John cared for Mary from that point forward even though she had other sons and daughters.

After Jesus rose, John ran ahead of Peter to the get to the tomb first get to the tomb. He was the first to believe. He was also one of the first to recognize Jesus back at the lake after a night of fishing with the boys.

After Christ’s ascension Peter and John guided the first church. In Acts, Peter and John are the first to return to the Temple to preach, where they heal a man lame from birth. He and Peter are reprimanded and  flogged. Together and they visit the new converts in Samaria.

John probably stayed in Jerusalem for a dozen years – until Herod Agrippa killed his older brother (Acts 12:2). John goes into Asia Minor and sets up shop in Ephesus, taking Mary, Jesus’ mother, with him.

Can you imagine those conversations?

John returns with the other disciples to Jerusalem for the Jerusalem Council around 51 A.D. John returned to Ephesus a few years later.

Justin Martyr refers to “John, one of the Apostles of Christ” who lived “with us” in Ephesus. Irenæus says John wrote his gospel in Ephesus and lived there until the reign of Trajan. According to Eusebius, during the reign of Domitian John is exiled to Patmos, an island south of Ephesus. Tertullian wrote John was thrown into a cauldron of boiling oil near the Latin Gate in Rome and survived without injury. After Domitian’s death John returned to Ephesus and died around 100 A.D. of old age. Tradition says John refused to stay under the same roof with a guy named Cerithus. Wonder what that was about. He also was worried about a youth who had become a robber. He mentored Polycarp, who was a second generation martyr.

In his declining years he was said to repeat, “Little children, love one another!”

Tr8: Love one another.



Posted: April 26, 2012 in Humor, Serious

I broke down and bought a GPS a few years back. Figured I needed it because I didn’t know where I was going once.

For maybe 45 years I drove around the U.S. with nothing more than an address on a piece of paper. On long trips we’d pick up a road map, which are still free at most state line rest areas. Driving was interesting and challenging, especially if you were the passenger.

I was never lost — I might not go directly to the destin8ion, but I could always get back to where I came from. It was interesting that the “bad” part of town almost always was between where we were and  where we were headed.

In the old days I had a fair idea where I was on the map, but with the GPS I never know where I am rel8ive to where I’m going. One merely watches as the ETA or distance to destin8ion decrease.

The driver used to look out the windows for cues and clues, now we trust robot-lady-voice. I don’t trust her. I think she has an under-the-table-deal with McDonalds and calculates routes past as many franchises as possible. If I had my road map I could prove it.

Like everyone else, I follow the directions on the little screen and when I look up, I’m there. But I don’t know how I did it and I couldn’t do it again without the robot-lady. With the GPS I never really know where I am until I’m there. I don’t drive by landmarks when the GPS is on. Ms. Auto-robot-lady makes true navig8ors obsolete.

Common metaphors: The Bible is a road map for life. God is like a GPS. He’s always recalcul8ing his path from where you are. I like the recalcul8ing part, but the road map metaphor suggests the traveler actually participates in the process. That’s significant.

Getting one’s spiritual travel route without any effort ignores working through the process. The shortest route isn’t always the best idea. Sometimes the back roads are beautiful and teach important lessons. I’m stretching the metaphor a bit, but giving up Bible study and prayer because someone else is doing it is not good.

Tr8: Navig8or. Know where you are and where you are going.