Tuesday, January 31, 2012

VINN: Exodus 14

This year I've gotten back on a reading plan to work through the Bible in a year. Last year I tried the "Bible-In-A-Year Chronological Bible" but got bogged down in February (when I started my 60-minute-a-day commute to Richmond) and I never got back on track. This year I'm hoping to do better.

I know for a fact I've read the Bible through cover to cover, and I've read every passage multiple times. And yet every time I read, I find verses that I've apparently never read before. I'm sure nobody snuck in and added them, so it's just that they made no impression on me until now. This may be a one-time thing, or it may become a recurring segment: Verses I've Never Noticed.

'moses 1' photo (c) 2009, Ivy Nichols - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

Last week I read Exodus 14, and this popped out at me:

Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on.

How wild is that? God's people are frightened and helpless, and Moses starts talking up what God will do for them. "Be still! Stand Firm! The LORD will fight for you, you need only be still!" There's a certain logic to this. God can do what His people cannot, and when compared to the power of God ours is insignificant. So it makes sense to passively let him handle the problem for us. And yet God's response to Moses is priceless: "Why are you crying out to me? Get moving!"

God indeed accomplishes what His people cannot: he opens up a way for them through the sea. No amount of work on their part would have gotten that done. But neither does God let them off the hook: if they want to break free from their captors, they need to do some of the movement themselves. To steal the relational wisdom of Hitch for a moment, God goes 90% of the way and waits for his people to go the other 10.

There's some obvious salvation implications here (Paul makes a baptism comparison in 1 Corinthians 10), but I'm more interested in the spiritual formation implications. How does this play out in demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit? In pursuing holiness? In breaking free of addictions?

Right now they're only questions, no answers. But it's fascinating what we miss when we only hit the bullet points of the Bible, instead of actually reading the text.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Back in the Habit

So as most of you know, I'm officially back in the saddle. December 22nd was my last day at the old job, and on January 1st I started as an Associate Pastor at Vineyard Community Church in Lexington, KY. That's fun.

I've got two primary areas of focus: spiritual formation and outward focus. My two favorite things! That's fun too.

As of yesterday, a new piece has been added to my job description: staff point of contact for our (excellent) volunteer IT team. Also fun.

I have a new schedule: Mondays off, work Tuesday through Friday, and then half days on Saturday and Sunday. Since I was already taking the kids to church Saturday nights (to give Judi time for homework) and Sunday mornings (all of us as a family) I basically get one free day a week, while not really losing any time. More fun.

I'm getting paid to do the stuff I would naturally do (and have actually done) for free. I'm getting to flex muscles that have gotten weak. There's clearly some significant workouts needed in the future to get back into game shape, but I'm already seeing the improvements. Fun.

In case I'm not being clear, life is currently fun. I know a part of that is that I enjoy novelty, and what's fun now may not be fun in 3 or 5 years. But right now I feel really blessed to be in the role I'm in. It's not always rainbows and butterflies, of course. Our budget's a little tighter than it was two months ago. I felt like God used the time off in extremely formative ways, and I didn't feel like I was necessarily done with that formation. And for all that I wrote this, it's hard to say that I lived that as well as I could have this year.

Still and all, it feels pretty darn good to be back to doing what I love. I leave you with this video of Whoopi doing her thing: