Why Egypt?

The rabbis say, “The children of Israel came to Egypt as a family but left as a nation.”

Much of the formative development of the people of Israel was experienced in light of the power, prosperity, and influence of Egypt.

Once we see this, the question becomes Why?

Why would God choose to raise His children in this foreign land?

While we can never claim to fully understand the council of God, it seems to me that God used this environment to teach His children a lesson.

Think about it. Egypt represented the absolute apex of human prosperity, power, and order in the ancient world. And they maintained this status, not for centuries, but for millennia. Egypt was the clearest picture of the best that humanity had to offer.

But God wanted something better for His children.

He wanted them to know that no level of human power, prosperity or order could give them what they truly needed.

He wanted them to know His peace or Shalom.

This Shalom doesn’t only speak of peace with the world around us. It speaks of peace with Him.

After the rebellion in the garden, they had never known peace, and they had no way of finding their way back to God. Only God could save His people and give them peace.

And He began to show them this in Egypt.

The ultimate picture came when God gave up His Son, King Jesus, to be killed on our behalf so that we could have peace with Him.

And this peace is better.

Better than everything that we can achieve through our individual effort. And better than all the greatness of humanity which was displayed in Egypt.

He is better and He brings His Shalom to all who will follow Him.

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Study Tour 2014

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Shema Israel, Adonai elohenu, Adonai echad,
Ve’ahavta et Adonai eloeikah,
b’khol levavkah,
uve’khol naphshekah,
uve’khol m’odekah.
Ve’ahavta re acha comocha.

Hear O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone,
love the Lord your God
with all your heart,
with all your soul,
and with all your strength!
Love your neighbor as yourself.

-Deuteronomy 6:4:5 & Leviticus 19:18

I’m thankful to have the opportunity to once again walk some of the ancient paths of our faith, and as much as I can, I would love to share some of this experience with you.

Here is the plan for the days ahead.

  • Day 1 – Traveling to the Middle East
  • Day 2 – Cairo: Where Stone Touches Sky
  • Day 3 – Aswan: Meet the gods!
  • Day 4 – Nile Center: Let My People Go!
  • Day 5 – Aliyah!: Going up to Meet with God – Sinai
  • Day 6 – Into the Wilderness: Walk this Way
  • Day 7 – Timnah: God Shaped Servants – A Wilderness People
  • Day 8 – Jordan South: Preparing to Engage
  • Day 9 – Jordan Center: From Moses to John to Jesus
  • Day 10 – Jordan to Galilee: Entering the Land
  • Day 11 – Galilee – North: Another Kind of People
  • Day 12 – Around the Galilee: Another Kind of Egypt
  • Day 13 – Shephelah: Engage!
  • Day 14 – Jerusalem – Old City: Another Kind of Exodus
  • Day 15 – Traveling Home

If you’re interested in following our progress on this trip, you can follow me on this blog, Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.  I’ll share what I can, when I can, as I study the text in the context of the land in which it was written.

Here is the promo video for this Study Tour.  Enjoy!

Study Tour 2014: Prayer

 

timthumbTomorrow I head to the Middle East to walk ancient paths on a GTI Study Tour.  I’m thankful for this opportunity and excited to once again study the text in the context of the land in which it was written.

I’m writing this post because I would like to ask you to pray for me and my family as the next 16 days will present many challenges for us on both sides of the globe.

For my family…

  • please pray for strength for my amazing wife Ashley as she goes into single mom mode with 4 kids for an extended period of time.  I have no doubt that she will manage the challenge with grace and skill, but I also know that it is a draining task to parent solo.
  • please pray for health for my wife and kids.
  • please pray for my kids to obey the 5th Commandment. 🙂

For me, I ask that you would pray…

  • for my travel safety to, from and within Egypt, Jordan, and Israel.
  • for health and strength for me to make the most of this opportunity.
  • for the leaders of the group, for good choices, good communication, for sensitivity, and patience.
  • for me to grow in my understanding of the Bible and to deepen my faith in Messiah Jesus.
  • for me to be a faithful witness during this trip wherever I go.
  • for God to receive glory in all of this.

Thanks for praying with us!

Coming Home (A Post from my wife Ashley)

I watched a video of soldiers coming home to their loved ones a few nights ago. They came home to spouses, children, parents, family, friends, and the response was always the same. Open arms and tears of absolute, undistracted joy at the sight of someone they have often had to wonder if they would ever see again. I drifted into the dreaminess of my thoughts, pondering what it must be like to long for the mere sight of someone for so long. To yearn for the touch of their hand. To ache for the sound of their voice.

And then I did what I often do.

I began to think about My Jesus. How He, the Most Holy, Gracious, and Loving Savior, has so often waited….for me. He waits while I struggle and fight and grasp for this temporary life. He waits for me, arms wide open, reaching out, waiting to catch me as I leap into His arms, waiting to rescue me from my despair and give me immeasurable, unfathomable joy.

Greater…His joy is greater than what we feel when we welcome someone long missed home. Our joy in those moments is just a glimpse of that which God has when we come through His door with arms outstretched. How He must grieve when we tarry in coming to Him. And Oh, How He must rejoice when we arrive!

Like a child long separated from my daddy who has been off fighting battles and winning wars for my freedom, I run to the open arms of my Jesus Who stands waiting; once wounded, now victorious! With reckless abandon, unashamed tears, and arms wide open I come.

Do you?

For those of you who may be reading this who live in the reality of never embracing your soldiers again, I pray God gives you the strength to carry on and the peace to withstand the loneliness of this temporary life.

The word of God says there is no greater love than to lay down your life for another. The sacrifice of your beloved person and the sacrifice of the life and relationship you had with them is a beautiful and bold reflection of the sacrifice made for us all by Jesus. Just as you have suffered and lost, your own Creator suffered and lost His son on your behalf.

The captivity of Jesus Christ to death for a moment gives us the freedom to live in community with Him from everlasting to everlasting. And that means we will also live in community with those who have gone before us to embrace King Jesus. The reunions we will have with our loved ones will be sweet and joyous indeed!

May God bless you all for the sacrifices you make each day for people you have never met, and sustain you in the weary moments. We are grateful for you and yours.

Mother’s Day (A Post from Ashley)

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Becoming a mother is a daunting thing, no matter how it comes to you.  As a mother currently in the deep waters of raising 4 children, I am with you.  I want you to know, you are seen. You are known. You are heard.

To those who have been up all night with a sick, screaming, fussy little one and haven’t the energy to so much as fix yourself breakfast in the morning, you are doing a splendid job. You are winning mommyhood.

To those of you who spend your days chasing squealing toddlers and tantrum-throwing preschoolers, I am grateful for the laborious life you choose to lead right now. You are doing your best; I acknowledge you in your moment of seeming invisibility.

To those of you who are living in the land of fluctuating hormones and emotional outbursts, I am thankful for you, even in your frazzled state.  You are winning this thing as well.

To those of you whose children are now grown and you are left with a house of memories, the sacrifices you made to raise your children were worth it.  I am proud of you.

To those of you who have crossed the threshold of mommyhood into the promised land of grandmommyhood, we mothers of the naked and squealing and emotionally undone children are looking to you.  We look to you and remember that we will survive all of this.  We need your smiles. We need your grace.

To those of you who have no children of your own womb and love our children as your own, we are thankful for the influence you have with our sons and daughters.  You are valuable.  You are precious to us.

To those of you who placed your children into another mother’s empty arms, your sacrifice is beautiful.  You are a hero to your child and to other waiting childless mothers. I am amazed by your strength.

To those of you who never held your tiny babies and to those of you who held the lifeless body of a baby you longed for, a baby you labored to deliver…you are not forgotten.  I see you.  I grieve with you.  I celebrate you too, because you are a mommy still.

To those of you who have buried your own mother and feel the weight of a day with no one to thank, I commend you for your perseverance in your despair and encourage you in your sadness.

   Know that the Lord has placed children in your life for a purpose. He knows they need something you have to offer, and you need something they have to give.  So rest easy, weary momma of a sleepless newborn.  Deep breaths, overwhelmed mom of needy little ones.  Grieve deeply, mom of little ones in the arms of Jesus and rejoice in the coming reunion at the end of days.  Love passionately, moms who are “mom” to every child in your life and none of your own womb.

And look up, not sideways, all you women.  You do not know the intricacies of the story of the woman next to you. You do not know her sorrow or her joy.  Encourage her.  Smile at her.  Shake her hand.  Hug her neck.  Thank her for just being her.  Thank her for being a mother to someone somewhere in some way, because she is.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you, women of the world.

I Wonder (A post from my wife Ashley)

Friday night, we focused on the sacrifice, the death. Sunday, we celebrate the fulfillment of a promise…of THE promise and the resurrection of Jesus, who still lives. But what about the day between? What about the day between the grief and the glory? Saturday. This day was a day of confusion, of sorrow, of lostness. Did all who hope in Him then dare to hope in Him even in His death?

Did they feel betrayed? Let down? Did sorrow threaten to consume them? Did they sleep through the night after His death? Were they steeped in mourning and without appetite? Did they know? Did they anticipate? Did they hope in the midst of hopelessness?

Here in my home, thousands of years later, my thoughts rest on the thoughts of the people who were there. I wonder. I just wonder. Did they know what they had just witnessed? Did they know with whom they had been? Were they aware?

When they shouted out words of mockery to Him, did they know they fell on redemption’s ears?

When the people stood aside as His flesh was torn, did they know His wounds were for them?

Did they know they stood infinitely more bare before a naked Saviour on that cross?

When He cried out, did they know it was on their behalf?

Did the silent onlookers know they were heard?

When the sun ceased to shine and the physical darkness overtook the world, did the people fumbling in blindness know that love was slain? Did they know the darkness fell as the Light was snuffed out?

How long until they knew? How long until they realized? Did they recall His promises? Did they dwell on the words He had spoken? Did their minds drift to the years before when all of the things they were witnessing in that moment had been prophesied?

And on the third day…on the third day, did they rush to the tomb in anticipation of finding Him gone? Were they surprised? Did they expect to see an empty cave and a discarded cloth? Did the scent of the perfume poured out on him days before still linger? Did they breathe it in and remember His words the day it was poured out on Him?

And when they saw Him, who was hanging breathless on a splintered cross three days before, standing before them, did they understand the significance of the moment they were in? Did they grasp the worth of it all?

I wonder as I’ve wondered for years before, and as people who have lived for hundreds upon hundreds of years before me have wondered…Did they know?

And I wonder about you, dear friends. Do you know? Do you understand? Do you  grasp the weight and the worth of three days? Three days. In three days the broken bond between humanity and his Creator was mended. Love suffered separation from its Lover. The earth shook in despair. The rocks cried out in man’s silence.  Hope was buried. Grief overwhelmed. Sorrow consumed. Death won…for a moment. But the veil was torn by innocent blood spilled; and death? Death was defeated! Hope rose up from the tomb. Tears of sorrow turned to those of joy. Man shouted out into the silence “HE IS RISEN!” and silenced the murmuring rocks. Love was restored. Perfect sacrifice made the way to perfect communion between man and God. Jesus lives, and because of that, so do I!

The Final Week: Sunday

1 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. 2 And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. 5 And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” 8 And they remembered his words, 9 and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, 11 but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened. -Luke 24:1-12

The Final Days of Jesus: Resurrection Sunday from Crossway on Vimeo.