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Elevation 2018 - Spies Like Us

SPIES LIKE US - Elevation Theme 2018

6 And Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes 7 and said to all the congregation of the people of Israel, “The land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land. 8 If the LORD delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. 9 Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the LORD is with us; do not fear
them.” 10 Then all the congregation said to stone them with stones.—Numbers 14:6-10

After hundreds of years, most of them as slaves, the tribe of Abraham emerged ready to become a nation. Well, almost ready. As they stood at the edge of the Promised Land they sent 12 spies to go check it out. They came back with beautiful fruit and marvelous stories of the land that was just laying across the Jordan River. However, they saw the inhabitants of the land and said (my paraphrase), “They are too big… too strong… no way!” So, they lied. They skewed their report of the land. All of them except for two; Joshua and Caleb. These two brave guys stood up to everyone and said (my paraphrase again), “We got this! This place is amazing and the Lord in on our side.” They were met with threats of stoning by the people! 

Somehow in a mere two years during which the Lord delivered them from the hand of Egypt, parted the Red Sea, and fed them with quail and manna, led them by fire, gave them water from a rock, the tabernacle, a glowing Moses, and the 10 commandments only 3 (inducing Moses) could sense the Lord’s leading. For their lack of faith, they earned 38 years more wandering in the wilderness as God crafted and formed them into a people that would trust His guidance.

The two questions I wonder about is: Why wasn’t two enough? How could they miss this opportunity laying at their feet? I quite often ponder these two same questions in our individual lives and in our life together as the Church. So, often we have voices crying out and pointing saying, “Look, over here, the Lord is preparing to move!” or even, “the Lord is already ON the move.” Yet, so often we ignore these pleas because all we can hear are the voices saying, “No, it’s too big, they are too strong, you have so much other stuff to do, or it’s not the way we’ve always done it.”

Who knows, maybe the Israelites after two years had reverted back to a tribe type mentality (always on the move) to the point where most of them couldn’t even fathom themselves as a nation. Maybe we get caught up in the same tendencies stuck in a routine and can’t fathom what it  would look like to follow the Lord into uncharted territories.

Especially, when the voices paint a picture of doom and gloom. Voices that say, “Oh if you miss that ______ (insert whatever) camp you’ll never _______ (insert random punishment),” or “No! It’s not good to be vulnerable in a small group, that’s a sign of weakness. Don’t go! You have too much work to do anyway.” So, instead, we miss the opportunity to commune with the Lord, break His kingdom into this world, and/or miss the opportunity minister to others. 

I don’t know about you, but I want to be spies like Joshua and Caleb. Spies willing to sift through the voices to find the call of the Lord. Spies willing to set aside cultural expectations and routines to jump in where fruit is blossoming and the harvest is ripe, which is always a mark of the Lord’s presence. In the ministries and work of Armstrong Chapel and the
broader church around us, the Lord is on the move. The Lord is setting in front of us glorious opportunities to experience Him and new ways to ring about His kingdom! Don’t let your ears tune Him out because the masses of the culture of the world or the culture of the old ways are drowning Him out.

Pastor Kyle

A Season of Lent in Prayer

A Season of Lent in Prayer

I came cross this recent reflection on the nature of answered prayer by Virginia Ramey Molenkott in Speech, Silence, Action! She shares:

“Most of the discussion of prayer I had ever heard centered on whether God answers prayer and how we can know that God does. But during the past decade I have come to believe that prayer is not a matter of my calling in an attempt to get God’s attention, but of my finally listening to the call of God, which has been constant, patient, and insistent in my inner being. In relationship to God, I am not the seeker, the initiator, the one who loves more greatly. In prayer, as in the whole salvation story unfolded by Scripture, God is reaching out to me, speaking to me, and it is up to me to learn to be polite enough to pay attention. When I do have something to say to God, I am rendering a response to the divine initiative. So the question of whether or not and how God answers prayer now seem to me bogus questions. God speaks, all right. The big question is do I answer, do I respond, to an invitation that is always open.”

 This moves us more from a discipline or spiritual exercise to an answer of the call. Prayer might simply be something we do each day to offer our insights on the world that God created, rather than pausing to listen with intent to the One who is the Initiator. Maybe this Lenten season we will not be discerning how many prayers God answers for us but how we might answer God’s prayer.

The Psalmist writes: “What are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?” (Psalm 8:4)  As we explore what it means to be a member of the body of Christ – the church – may we also discover the call God offers to us to be part of the larger Christian community and the prayer that God is reaching out to us through Jesus Christ – the head of the church!

Posted by David Brown with

Parson to Person

Parson to Person

Dear Friends at Armstrong Chapel,

Sometimes in the wee hours of the night when sleep escapes me, I read a book that I keep near on a bedside table.  It has to have several qualities.  (1) It must not be too involved to read late at night;  (2) It must have print which is easy to read;  (3) It must be light enough to hold above me and catch the glimmer of a small lamp.  The book I’m currently enjoying is The Wind in the Willows by a Scotsman, Kenneth Grahame.  Over the years, I have seen it referenced but never picked it up.  It is classified as “Children’s’ Literature” but it surely is replete with adult themes.  It was composed 110 years ago but is timeless.  It is peopled by animals such as Mr. Toad, Ratty, Badger and Mole. 

 Last night I read a page in chapter 9, entitled “Wayfarers All.”  It reminded me of friends in Ohio and other points north who go to great lengths to enjoy fairer climes.  There is even a text for this spirit of adventure found in Hebrews 11.  In The Message it reads, “…they accepted the fact that they were transients in this world.  People who live this way make it plain that they are looking for their true home.”

Grahame writes, “Nature’s Grand Hotel has its Season, like the others.  As the guests one by one pack, pay, and depart, and the seats at the table d’hote shrink pitifully at each succeeding meal; as suites of rooms are closed, carpets taken up, and waiters sent away; those boarders who are staying on, en pension, until the next year’s full reopening, cannot help being somewhat affected by all these flitting’s and farewells, the eager discussion of plans, routes and fresh quarters, this daily shrinkage in the stream of comradeship.  One gets unsettled, depressed, and inclined to be querulous.  Why not stay on quietly here, like us, and be jolly?  You don’t know this hotel out of the season, and what fun we have among ourselves, we fellows who remain and see the whole interesting year out.  All very true, no doubt, the others always reply; we quite envy you – and some other year perhaps – but just now we have engagements – and there’s the bus at the door – our time is up!  So they depart, with a smile and a nod, and we miss them, and feel resentful.  The Rat was a self-sufficing sort of animal, rooted to the land, and, whoever went, he stayed; still, he could not help noticing what was in the air, and feeling some of its influence in his bones.”    

Love, hope and  prayers,
Stanley Lawrence

Posted by Stan Lawrence with