When Losers Are Loved

Before the bush, He calls to us

“Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.”

1 Corinthians 1:27, NLT

God has particular preferences when it comes to peculiar people.  He selectively chooses.  These choices are made up in his mind and heart.  For us to criticize them, is by association, faulting God. It just happens to be that He likes losers. He choses uneven performers over the gifted and learned, (1 Cor. 1:26).

There have been very many men and women tossed out on the trash heap of humanity.  They are often regarded as useless and irrelevant. But God loves the outcast and forgotten.

We who are the disabled know weakness intimately. We must deal with it 24/7; and it never takes a holiday, We are broken believers who are in love with Jesus and still we are broken. Talk about having faith for healing? What about the faith to be sick?

People who have experienced dealings so harsh– most likely— there is little pride or arrogance left. These are usually the marginalized, the losers. People like Moses,

“Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”

Exodus 3:11

Someone once said, “When God intends to use a man or woman He takes them and crushes them.”  The inevitable breaking is followed by a release of the Holy Spirit from their lives.  Moses is proof of God’s renovating presence.  You want the presence? Prepare for years of roughness, and misunderstanding. Prepare for the crushing.

At the burning bush, Moses was given the assignment of returning, confronting Pharaoh, and leading all the captives to the Promised Land of Canaan.  He had just spent 40 years as a refugee/shepherd.  In spite of a good education he had received while in Egypt as a prince, that wasn’t why he had been selected.

Moses has definite feelings of inadequacy and failure.  And his time in the desert did nothing to relieve this.  But a 40 year “prison” term will do that.  In chapter 4 of Exodus we read “the back and forth” conversation between Moses and the Lord God.  All of Moses’ objections were consistently volleyed back with comfort and promise.

As you read this, you may be aware of God’s presence.  He has called you to do something for him.  You have wandered off the path, gotten lost and suffered much.  The “desert” will do that.  But it all can be forgiven.  His alert grace is a velvet battering ram of grace and love.  He will (and does) discipline you–but only because he is passionately in love with your soul, and His glory.

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The Intensity of God’s Glory

When Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it.16 The glory of the Lord came down on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days. On the seventh day the Lord called to Moses from inside the cloud.17 To the Israelites the glory of the Lord looked like a fire burning on top of the mountain.18 Then Moses went into the cloud and went higher up the mountain. He was on the mountain for forty days and forty nights.

Exodus 24:15-18

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When we think real hard about ‘glory’ we end up gravitating to something that is invisible.  We work it out and it becomes something like honor, prestige, fame or respect.  This is a good start for us, and we do benefit from this sort of mental gymnastics.

Moses gets an invite from God to join Him on top of Sinai.  I can see Moses trembling with excitement as he climbs up into the Glory of God.  I’m willing to guess that the concept of just mere ‘invisible’ attributes was about to go through a major overhaul.  Moses entered the glory.  And nothing would ever be the same again.

Glory is a repeated experience that touched the children of Israel. 

  • First of all, during the Exodus they were led by a pillar of cloud and fire.  It protected and provided all that they needed.  All they had to do is look up.
  • Secondly, God’s glory took residence on Mt. Sinai.  There was much to do.  The Israelites commented that this glory altered the mountain top to ‘a consuming fire’.  I have been in a forest fire and it was quite intimidating; frightening is a very good description.
  • Thirdly, we see the glory of God is at the dedication of Solomon’s Temple.  We are told that the presence of God was so powerful that it temporary incapacitated the priests that were present.  It totally undid them and it laid them out on the floor (1 Kings 8:11).
  • The fourth time we see the Glory of God was at the Transfiguration in Luke 9:29-31.  Three disciples were present, and inexplicably Moses and Elijah.  But it was Jesus that took center-stage.  He seems to be the ‘focal point’ of lots and lots of glory.

I’m coming to see that glory is a whole lot more than esteem or honor.  Glory has a bolder and more intense quality about it.  Yes, it is respect and honor.  But it goes beyond this–it seems to be turbocharged with the supernatural.  I have been in revival meetings that were quite glorious. Perhaps we need to seriously look for or anticipate more of these “disturbances of glory.” (I’ve been saving this verse for the end.)

Our faces, then, are not covered. We all show the Lord’s glory, and we are being changed to be like him. This change in us brings ever greater glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

2 Cor. 3:18, NCV

We are simply ‘display cases’ that take in His glory and magnify it through our humanity.  It changes us to become more Christlike, and this verse seems to suggest that this keeps increasing, it doesn’t fizzle out.  And I’m thinking that this is tremendous!

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Snakes in the Camp, [Poison]

6 So the Lord sent them poisonous snakes; they bit the people, and many of the Israelites died.7 The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we grumbled at you and the Lord. Pray that the Lord will take away these snakes.” So Moses prayed for the people.

 8 The Lord said to Moses, “Make a bronze snake, and put it on a pole. When anyone who is bitten looks at it, that person will live.”9 So Moses made a bronze snake and put it on a pole. Then when a snake bit anyone, that person looked at the bronze snake and lived.

Numbers 21:6-9, NCV

Mass poisonings are not new. The children of Israel were under attack by thousands of snakes. I remember hearing of “Jonestown,” where on November 18, 1978 when 918 people drank “kool-aid”mixed with cyanide. The whole thing was based on Jim Jones‘ delusion and rampant paranoia.

Death on a mass scale is never easy to deal with.  It seems brutal and capricious.  Any survivors are forever tortured with “why me, and could I have known?”  When people start dropping like flies the unspeakable nightmare is just getting started.

There are snakes in the camp of Israel, “fiery serpents” the older versions translate.  The people had severely taken issue with God and Moses because the way was hard.  They accused God of leading them out of Egypt, just so He could whole-scale destroy them.

And this became a self-fulfilling prophecy.  God in response to their bitterness and murmuring unleashed these vicious snakes throughout the camp.  They were quite poisonous, aggressively attacking random people.  Their bites were not only painful, but deadly.

I venture to say that the effects of sin have a terrible tendency (and a purpose) to kill people.  Its infection will work through our “blood stream” and be a certain poison that taints us. Now, if we could actually see the snakes we might just take the presence of sin a bit more seriously.  But our particular viperous horde is seen on a spiritual level.  We aren’t suddenly collapsing, and our sin doesn’t bring us immediate death. (A slow death, which is, maybe harder.)

Like it or not, inside of me there is a savage battlefield.  Grace is healing me, and by faith the poison is being rendered inert.  I admit, there are good days, and not-so-good ones. I can be most unsteady at times.

I read this somewhere, and it seems to explain much.  I think it is more than a “cute” story.  If we should take the time and “unzip it,” the truth will spill out.

“A fight is going on inside me,” said an old man to his son. “It is a terrible fight between two wolves. One wolf is evil. He is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other wolf is good. he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you.”

The son thought about it for a minute and then asked, “Which wolf will win?”

The old man replied simply, “The one you feed.”

Snakes and wolves. Oh my.  Read John 3:14 and 2 Corinthians 5:21.

Look  to Jesus, who was lifted up.  Fix your eyes on Him, and He will save.

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One More Night With the Frogs

Here Come the Frogs!
“You set the time!” Moses replied. “Tell me when you want me to pray for you, your officials, and your people. Then you and your houses will be rid of the frogs. They will remain only in the Nile River.”

10 “Do it tomorrow,” Pharaoh said.

Exodus 8:9-10, NLT

Often there comes a point in a person’s life that not to make a decision, becomes the decision.

This was the dynamic working in Pharaoh’s mind. God had warned him earlier that he must release the Jews from slavery. But he oscillates, and vacillates after each warning. His stubborn indecisiveness  is pretty remarkable. Pharaoh resists, and becomes more and more obstinate.

There is a deep danger of delay. God sends 10 plagues– quite dramatic and miraculous. But “the supernatural” really can’t touch certain hearts. There were certain pharisees in Jesus’ time that would not believe, no matter what Jesus did. (We call this, “hardness of heart.”)

In this particular ‘show-down’ a plague of frogs is threatened. It’s kind of funny, but Pharaoh doesn’t dispute the possibility of this “green invasion.” He just absorbs the inevitable. Pharaoh replies, “I will take one more night with the frogs.”

Often there comes a point in a person’s life that not to make a decision, becomes the decision.

Sadly to say, there are so many like that man today. “Lord, I’m going to follow You, but let me have just one more fling, one more trip to Vegas, or the bar, or the Princess cruise, or a new car– just “one more night with the frogs!” And the “one more night” stretches out into terrible, endless night, in “the blackness of darkness for ever”!

The Bible says, “So what makes us think we can escape if we ignore this great salvation that was first announced by the Lord Jesus himself and then delivered to us by those who heard him speak?” (Hebrews 2:3, NLT).

Will you choose to spend another night with the frogs, that is, in your sins? Or will you come to Jesus Christ for salvation today? There are consequences that follow each decision. What will you decide today? Will it be sin or the Savior? Will it be Heaven or Hell? Will it be forgiveness or the frogs? What will you do with the message you have read here today?

Often there comes a point in a person’s life that not to make a decision, becomes the decision.

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Hardly Indispensable: A Leader’s View

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13″ The next day, Moses took his seat to hear the people’s disputes against each other. They waited before him from morning till evening.

14 When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he asked, “What are you really accomplishing here? Why are you trying to do all this alone while everyone stands around you from morning till evening?”

Exodus 18

Often your father-in-law will observe things clearly and honestly. I believe most can perceive situations that our own fathers will overlook. I think this is because our own fathers are often functioning out of their hearts.  They are emotionally attached. But a father-in-law has a different view.

Jethro has come, most likely to escort the grandkids, and his daughter. He is probably quite curious about Moses new direction. Jethro has only known that his son-in-law as a shepherd. But now, things are changing quickly. And Jethro is praising God for what He did over the Egyptians.

Jethro is enthusiastic. But he is also alert and aware. As Moses schedules his day, Jethro sees an inordinate amount of time given to judging, not leading. He watches and than asks some questions. This is the sign of good correction. Moses faces these questions really well. He is a great model for teachability.

Leadership is almost always a shared work.

Many aspects of it should be collaborative and plural. The singular view of leading people– out of my own resources alone, will not end well. Moses was teachable and Jethro needed to share this word of correction. If Moses had not took the wise advice of Jethro, they would’ve died in the desert.

When Moses released these things to others who were qualified, he commences on a new understanding of ministry. He actually becomes a better man because of the advice of Jethro. He must become “expendable.”

24 “Moses listened to his father-in-law’s advice and followed his suggestions. 25 He chose capable men from all over Israel and appointed them as leaders over the people. He put them in charge of groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty, and ten.26 These men were always available to solve the people’s common disputes. They brought the major cases to Moses, but they took care of the smaller matters themselves.”

None are ever indispensable and no one can do everything. We may try, but that usually is ego. We will do better if we will relinquish control. I think that the Father designs it this way.

Dwight L. Moody once said that he would rather put a thousand men to work than do the work of a thousand men.  I believe that is a Kingdom concept that we should activate.

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A Cup of Cold Water in Jesus’ Name— by Jonathan Coe

Not everyone who is wounded is a wounded healer. Put another way, it’s possible to be wounded and suffer significant loss and not use that wound to minister healing to others. Much of this is related to how we go through the grieving process associated with our wound and loss. I learned this when I went through a divorce in 2008–2009. Not everyone agrees with how many stages of grief there are, but everyone agrees that it involves working through different phases of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance and often sorting through accompanying feelings of pain, guilt, loneliness, and hope.

I didn’t go through the grieving process associated with my divorce perfectly. There were missteps, stumbles, and things I wish I could do over. However, by the grace of God, I reached acceptance and hope and noticed that I was able to help other people who were working through broken relationships. Out of my wounds others were receiving healing and comfort.

In changing metaphors, rather than speaking in terms of wounds and healing, I’d like to talk in terms of water and refreshment: out of my experience I was able to, in an imperfect way, give thirsty people a cup of cold water. However, I’ve noticed that in both giving and receiving water over the years, how we go through the grieving process affects both the volume and quality of the water we give to others.

Before we drink it, water travels through rock and soil and can pick up large amounts of calcium and magnesium and becomes what we call “hard water.” If I grieve about a broken relationship and my forgiveness of the person who hurt me is incomplete, then I become hardened and end up giving hard water to those I share with about my experience. It may help a thirsty person, but God is calling me to buy a “water softener” and finish the forgiveness process so I can give better water to people I know and love.

If significant depression linked to my divorce still plagues me years after the dissolution of the marriage, that would definitely affect the volume of  water I can give to others. When I’m depressed, I can barely take care of me so how can I give you a cup of refreshing water for what you’re going through? The volume of water I can give is greatly reduced. I will need to revisit my grieving process and do some “emotional detective work,” perhaps with a therapist, to find out why I’m still depressed.

This is not a condemnation of those who have depression because of a chemical imbalance or some other issue. My heart goes out to you and I rejoice that there are medications that can help you find an emotional equilibrium and enable you to give others a cup of cold, clean water in the name of Jesus. Your fight with depression is a different fight than mine and I’m rooting for you as God upholds you through a difficult trial.

For many, the most dangerous stage in the grieving process is the one involving anger. We may be angry at someone who hurt us and how we feel they let us down. We may be angry at God because we thought life was going to be “X” and it turned out to be “Y.”

Anger, for a season, is a healthy response for someone who has been wounded and suffered loss. The Bible says, “Be angry and sin not” (Ephesians 4:26). But if the anger devolves into bitterness, then we have a major problem. The Bible also warns us against missing the grace of God and allowing a bitter root to grow up, cause trouble, and defile many (Hebrews 12:15). Sometimes water supplies get poisoned by arsenic, radon, or uranium. This is a grave matter because the water we have has been poisoned and will poison others.

In Exodus 15: 22–25, the Israelites had traveled three days without finding water. When they finally did find water at Marah, it was bitter. God told Moses to throw a particular piece of wood in the water. When he did this, the water became sweet. We have hope because in brokenness and in a radical dependence on Christ (the Piece of Wood), our waters too can be made sweet.

If you liked this post by Jonathan Coe, you might also like his new book, Letters from Fawn Creek, that is now available at this link:

https://www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore/book.php?w=9781628542035

Letters from Fawn Creek

Touching Isn’t the Same as Plunging

” A man is only as holy as he wants to be.”A.W. Tozer

Our will is always a significant issue.  Our heavenly Father never diminishes it, but it seems our will is inviolable and considered untouchable.  The Lord brings us, but He will never make us, or drive us.  There is a deep kindness in His mercy.  (And I think I love Him more because of this.)

There is a personal burden on us; it isn’t too popular or widely accepted.  But it deals with free choice choosing a life of remarkable awareness.  He shares His holiness with us.  It is one of those deep and certain principles– You can have as much of God as you want.  It seems there are no limits here.

One of our personal issues is how we see life.  Often we have gone with a “pie chart” mentality.  We cut our life into sections, some are bigger and others are just a sliver.  As Christians we feel noble when we give God a cut.  But this mentality only accentuates the reality that His presence isn’t as significant as it should be.  Really, if we are honest, the whole pie is His.

Moses is a profound example for us.  He decides that he can’t live out an illusion anymore.  He starts separating himself from Egypt.  He escapes and becomes a shepherd.  Many years pass, and the presence of God deeply overshadows him.  He is led into an encounter with God.  He embraces this, and we see God taking up this humble man as a confidante and a close friend.

Every person is as holy as they want to be.  Will you set your heart under the stream that flows continually?  Will you see yourself to be “set apart” for His purposes?  He intends that you will be different.  Set apart (holiness) for Him.  Like Moses, we need to act on this idea, that we are quite different.  We must understand this– we will never, ever mesh with the world around us.  And you need to make this decision yourself.