In this week’s Lesson from the Road, Matt takes us on a little tour comparing the book of Exodus with the book of Revelation. He shows us a few brief ways we might find ourselves looking a lot like the Israelites as they were wandering through the desert and how we’re all striving for the Promised Land.
There is no specific scripture referenced this week. How about this…read your Bible. Front to back. Chronologically. Sideways. Upside down. Just read it. Get this Book of books in your heart because this is our heritage. We ought to know it.
One thing that Matt forgot to mention is this (his 3rd time recording…thank you technology!) is a Tenth Avenue North song that captures his thoughts particularly well. The song is called “Strangers Here” and is on their album ‘The Struggle’. You can listen to the song HERE
You can purchase the album HERE
Click HERE for the full transcript
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“Even in laughter the heart may be in pain. And the end of joy may be grief.” – Proverbs 14:13
Life is short, isn’t it?
Some days may slog on for eternity, but really, if you look back over your life, it’s gone pretty quickly. I remember when Prince was proclaiming we’re going to party like it’s 1999. And honestly, it just doesn’t seem that long ago.
But the fact is, our time here is brief. Maybe even briefer than we know.
In the past year, I have become acquainted with three separate families who have all had a child who’s been seriously injured in horrendous car accidents. These are good, Christian families with good, Christian kids. They weren’t drinking and driving. They weren’t doing anything “bad.” They were just at the wrong place, at the wrong time and life suddenly and irrevocably changed.
These young, bright, vivacious, healthy and active young people on the cusp of becoming independent have been brought to a place where they are fighting to relearn what they used to take for granted. And their parents are right there beside them, learning just how insignificant their efforts to protect their children have been.
I have watched these stories unfold as moms and dads are sharing the victories and the pain as they watch their children fight to live and then relearn how to walk. I hear their sorrow as they recall the bittersweet memories of their child on the basketball court, running and jumping with elegance and grace.
These are parents that never expected to be sitting up all night in their child’s hospital room, nurses and doctors speaking in hushed voices as the machines that are pumping life into their child hum and whir. They’re parents who, when their baby was taking their first uncertain steps, clinging to the coffee table, were making plans and sharing dreams about what their little lives would hold. They never imagined this is where they’d be 16 years later. Wondering, will my baby even live?
I spent yesterday in town running errands. Sometimes I really appreciate the time to do these simple chores on my own. I turn on a podcast or music, I pray, I people watch. It’s nice to have the time to just think.
But yesterday, my son, Evan wanted to join me. He’s 18, getting ready to venture out into life on his own before long and I was happy to have him by my side yesterday, not because I asked him for help, but because he just wanted to tag along. I figure I might as well take advantage of those moments while I can because they’re coming to an end.
We spent several hours in town, first in a local big-box store then on to get groceries. It truly wasn’t a remarkable trip except for this: the laughter that we shared.
We laughed so hard in Costco, as we sat stuck in an oversized lounge chair, sure that an employee was going to come and tell us to kindly remove ourselves from the store and never come back. We annoyed other customers who also wanted to take a seat in this, the comfiest of chairs, but we simply refused to move. We were having too much fun.
We laughed about everything. We talked about nothing. We shared a moment. That’s all it was.
My to-do list for the week is a mile long and seems to be growing by the hour. There was a part of me yesterday that really wanted to just blast through the errands and then move on to the work that’s piling up on my desk.
But then I remembered these parents whose lives are forever changed because they almost lost their child to a tragic event. And I remembered those parents I know whose children don’t even have the opportunity to relearn what once came so easily because their kids are gone. They don’t get to hear their voice or hug them close ever again.
And I embraced the moment to spend a few hours with this man-child of mine, who’s taller and stronger than me, but whom I will always and forever see as the little toddler just learning how to step out on his own. I cherished our time together to be silly, to laugh hard, to make memories and create inside jokes.
We don’t know what tomorrow or even the rest of today holds. We don’t know when our time is up when God will say, “It’s time to come home,” so we have to make the moments count.
Every chance, every day…. Be present. Say, “I love you.” Hug them hard.
Grief and pain are guaranteed. They may even be just around the corner. So hang on to the present and give thanks to the God who loves us in and through every storm life brings our way.
We all have troubles, right? Please tell me I’m not alone. Life is hard, sprinkled with aggravation and sometimes thoroughly horrible circumstances. The news is depressing and it seems kind of like the sky is falling.
Take heart! Things weren’t any better 2,000 years ago as a man named Cleopas and his buddy were walking to Emmaus, talking about the recent crucifixion of Jesus.
Seriously…take heart. Things may not look any brighter in the here and now, but in this story, we are pointed back to the prophets who told of the Messiah’s first coming and assure us of His second coming.
At every stoplight, merge, on or off-ramp…everywhere. And I hate them. I get so easily angered by their lack of consideration, their downright ineptitude at doing what is really, so easy. They take up more room than necessary and shouldn’t even be allowed out, in my opinion. You know who I’m talking about. You may even be one of them. (I’m sorry, by the way, if you are).
They are…slow drivers.
Gah!!! I can’t tell you how often I feel like ripping off my very own face because the person in front of me in the passing lane is going 5 miles under the speed limit. Not to mention the yahoo in the right lane who is doing the same.
Or what about the people who are turning off, either into a parking lot, a road or an exit off the highway? They’re no better when they start applying the brakes well before it’s necessary, their blinker disengaged so that I’m not even sure what their intentions are.
Seriously. I have very little patience for most people who are behind the wheel. I’ve been known to say, more than once, “No one should even be allowed to drive when I’m driving because they’re all idiots.”
Listen, I know it isn’t nice. I know I need to work on my attitude. And I’m trying. Honest.
But I imagine, my thoughts and feelings toward ‘bad’ drivers aren’t a whole lot different from Jonah’s thoughts and feelings toward the Ninevites.
Think about it. The Ninevites were described by God in Jonah 1:1 as wicked. Jonah, on the other hand, was a prophet. He had been given a job by God, to take a message of repentance and redemption to the Ninevites, his enemies. And Jonah didn’t want to do it.
It’s easy for me to look at this story and think, ‘Come on, Jonah. Get up and preach this message of salvation to people who obviously need it.’ I mean, really…why can’t he show them a little bit of love and grace?
But then I remember my attitude when I drive. (Zoinks!) If I apply the same principles, I’m no better than Jonah. Sure, I’m not preaching the gospel as I drive, but I am still representing Christ, even if it isn’t blatant.
I think it’s easy to say and do all the right things when we know that people are aware of Who we belong to. But in the safety of my own car, where I have very intentionally not put up any Christian bumper stickers, I can feel pretty confident that no one is going to call me out on my lack of patience hollering, “What would Jesus do?”
Jonah didn’t want his enemies to have what he’d been given – a path to God. Likewise, I don’t want to extend to my ‘enemies’ the grace that I’ve been given. It’s really all the same, isn’t it?
God has called us to love our enemies (Matt. 5:44). He’s called us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves (Matt. 22:37-40). He has called us to do the greatest job of all, to go into ALL the world and make disciples (Matt. 28:19-20).
It’s hard, isn’t it, to want to give what we’ve been given to people we don’t think deserve it? Then again, God gave us grace and a message of repentance, hope, and redemption when we didn’t deserve it. So…who are we to say who’s worthy and who isn’t?
Who are your Ninevites? Who is it that God is calling you to share the good news with, or even just extend a little extra patience and grace? And what can you do today to start running toward the call that God has given you?
Now, excuse me while I go repent and please…don’t drive in the passing lane unless you’re passing.
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Today, Matt takes a look at Jonah’s trip in a fish. More specifically, he talks about how Jonah ran away from God’s will for him and ended up in the fish to begin with.
Jonah has a whole book all his own in the Bible and you can read his story there. In my Bible, it starts on page 1421. That won’t really help you, though. Anyway, even if you’ve heard this story a bunch of times, it’s a quick little read and we highly encourage you to read it again. It will only take a few minutes, I promise!
Some points to consider and scripture to read:
* Like Jonah, we’ve been given a job to do and that’s to bring a message of hope and redemption to a lost and broken world. Even if we think the world isn’t worthy of the message (and we don’t really want them to get in on the best deal ever), we’ve been given a job and we must do it.
*Like the prophet Jeremiah, we must recognize that this life is not our own. We have been given this life for God’s purpose and pleasure. He is the navigator of our lives because he sees the map in its entirety. We just get to steer the car (be obedient).
A little thing to note: Not all of life’s storms are a result of our disobedience. Any number of things simply happen to or around us because we live in a fallen and sinful world. It is, however, always best to stay obedient to God so He doesn’t have to use painful means to get our attention, which He’ll do if necessary. Because He’s a good Dad and He wants the best for us. Email us you show ideas, guest requests, prayer requests or just to say hi! Join us on Facebook!
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Roadside attractions may be one of my favorite things in the whole wide world. There’s nothing better than going off the beaten path to see something that is weird, giant, a little frightening or absolutely breathtaking. You just never know what’s in store until you veer off your designated path and take a look.
We did that many moons ago. Living in the western part of Oregon, we are blessed to be only a few hours from either a snow-covered mountain, forests, rivers, and lakes galore, the high desert or an impressive, albeit cold, coast. We regularly enjoy these varied climates and environments and have a particular fondness for our coast.
Along the coastal highway on the way to a little touristy town called Seaside, there used to be a sign directing travelers to the World’s Largest Sitka Spruce. For years as we’d drive past I suggest that one of these times we ought to stop. But we never did. We’d drive past and I’d imagine the glory of what I was missing.
Finally, I was tired of imagining and made a sudden turn onto the road. It wasn’t too far into the forest, but it was impossible to miss. At roughly 700 years old, it was hands-down the largest tree I’d ever personally seen. To say it was impressive is an understatement. It was jaw-dropping. At least for me. I actually hugged it.
What once stood a proud 200 feet high, was cut down by a fierce windstorm in 2006 taking advantage of an old lightening scar from years ago. It’s 17-foot diameter stump still stands as a reminder of what was once the oldest living thing in Oregon.
And we almost missed it. Just think, all those trips we made back and forth to the coast, passing by the little dirt road that led to this ancient beauty. We were always so focused on our destination that we couldn’t be bothered to slow down and explore along the way.
Sometimes life is like that, too. We get really zeroed in on what we think is the goal and fail to notice the little things that pop up in life. We forget to go down the back roads and see what lurks behind the next turn. Maybe it’s a new friend or a hobby. Maybe it’s the beginning of a new career or ministry. Maybe it’s love. It might also be something scary. Let’s be honest, there are monsters in the forest. But maybe we need to face a few of them in order for our dependence on God to grow.
Not all the paths we go down are going to be good ones. But let’s not stay so safely on the path we’ve set before ourselves that we miss the best part of the journey. You never know what you just might find.
Photo by Milan Sietler on Unsplash
[I was unable to find any photos of the Sitka Spruce in question, either from my own collection or on the interwebs that were royalty free. Hence, you get this pretty little photo instead!]
Welcome to the first mini-episode in our little summer series called “Lessons from the Road.” We’re going to take the next eight weeks and share stories taken from the Bible as well as our own personal lives about lessons learned while on a journey.
Today we start with Brandy sharing the story of Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus.
This story takes place in Acts 9:1-31.
To read the transcript that includes the passage, click here.
While many lessons can be gleaned from this portion of scripture, Brandy focuses on the fact that not only was Paul’s conversion from persecutor of the faith to a servant of God swift, but it was loud and proud. Paul made no apologies for his conversion to the faith. Once he met God, there was no denying Him as Lord and Savior.
Listen in on this quick minisode and see if Paul’s boldness is evident in your own life.
I really struggled with what to write about this week. Nothing was coming to me naturally and every time I tried to force something out on paper, it was just that, forced. And then it occurred to me why: my anxiety is pretty high these days, which makes me want to “go ostrich” and bury my head in the sand. (Though, now that I’ve googled that particular phrase, I am well aware the way we use it is highly inaccurate. I trust you get my point.)
So…here I am. Anxious. My heart is racing. My blood pressure, I’m sure is up, though testing it seems like wasted energy. Depression levels are sinking. I’m overwhelmed, under-rested, and would rather be in bed with my favorite blanket and the remote control.
This isn’t terribly uncommon.
In fact, if you’ve ever suffered from depression or anxiety, chances are you can relate. Likewise, if you’re a Christian suffering from either of these or a whole host of other mental health issues, you’ve also been told all the reasons you shouldn’t ever be depressed or anxious.
You’ve heard it, too, I’m sure…
It seems to me, the most-oft quoted scripture I hear is Matthew 6:27, “And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?” This is, of course within the context of a much larger portion of the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus gave his magnum opus in the preaching world.
To be sure, there is great wisdom in that verse and the ones surrounding it in regards to trusting that the God who created us will also care for our needs. I dig that. A lot.
But here’s the thing: anxiety and depression have little to do with those concerns. When someone says they suffer from anxiety, they’re probably not talking about worrying about how the bills are going to get paid. That can certainly be a part of it, don’t get me wrong.
Anxiety vs. Worrying
Anxiety, though is less about ‘worrying’ about things and more about being paralyzed to do anything about what causes normal worry. At least, for me.
Most people, when they worry about bills getting paid, they find a way to increase their earnings, through a second job or selling some goods. Likewise, most people, when their homes start to get messy and cluttered, they take a day and whip things back in to shape.
Sometimes I can do those things, too. A lot of time, though, I become completely overwhelmed and unable to see what next step to take. That leads to frustration because I know I should know the answer. You know?
Instead, I pace the house, seeing clutter and mess all around and I can’t figure out how to make it go away. I get jittery and snappish with the people around me. Even if they try to help in one way or the other, odds are their help will feel threatening and they’ll still get snapped at, anyway. (It’s a barrel of laughs, yeah?)
Christians Suffer, Too
It’s just not enough to tell Christians that they shouldn’t suffer from these issues. It’s not fair to say that because we’re Christians we shouldn’t need medication or therapy and even then, continue to battle with it on an on-going basis. To suggest, in any way, that followers of Christ are supposed to somehow be happy and content at all times, is dangerous and needs to stop.
The fact is, we live in a fallen and broken world. If you turn on the news or look at social media for five seconds, it’s pretty clear just how broken and fallen we are. It’s easy to find 100 things that cause stress on a daily basis without even trying hard.
When we look through scripture, it is riddled with people of faith who suffered greatly and wrestled with their own falling societies and cultures. Moses, Gideon, Jonah, Ruth, David, Esther, Paul, Jesus himself. They all lived in times of serious upheaval and societal pressure. Only one of those listed (and the list is quite a bit larger, just read your Bible), was perfect. I imagine Jesus, though He grieved at the knowledge of what He was being asked to do in His final hours, didn’t succumb to worry or anxious thinking.
But I do. And so do lots of other people of faith. You might even be one of them. You’re not alone.
Stop the Stigma!
The more we address this very real and growing epidemic that is ravaging the people in our churches, the less stigma there is surrounding mental health care. We are bold to pray for healing for people with cancer, but mental disease is the modern-day plague of Biblical times and we run around crying, “Unclean! Unclean!” as though depression were highly contagious. (Hint: it’s not.)
So, here I sit with this anxiety weighing me down. I’m able to stave off an anxiety attack; I’ve learned pretty well how to fight those back. But the general sense of overwhelm and lack of motivation is a very real battle I fight almost daily.
Look, I know where my Hope is. I know who I am and to whom I belong. I know that God has my present and my future safely locked in His hands and my eternity is secure. But that kind of knowledge still won’t help me get my To-Do List done.
So, if you’re feeling like I am today, let this be our plan: one foot in front of the other. Deep breath in. Deep breath out. Repeat as many times as needed. Take a nap if possible. Do the next thing.
And at the end of the day, find that cozy blanket and remote. You did amazing.
Here it is! We promised you that we’d bring you some hope after last week’s talk about depression and anxiety and we did it!
This episode was actually recorded a few weeks ago, so there’s no Road Trip Fun Facts…er Corner….er Station. It’s just us delving into today’s topic. Take a listen and hopefully, it will strengthen your own resources for the dark days that plague us all.
Also…I, Brandy, got a little bit carried away looking up a verse (which I never found) but sure made a lot of noise trying. So….sorry for that.
1. The evidence of God in Creation.
Here are a couple of good resources to explore, though not necessarily the ones that Matt used: Dr. William Lane Craig – YouTube The Case For A Creator; Lee Strobel. Zondervan Publishing; Grand Rapids, MI
2. The prophecies that declared Christ.
* Isaiah 7:14 “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”
* Isaiah 35:5-6 “Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.”
1. Evidence of God’s faithfulness through recovery classes and Bible Studies. I don’t remember the exact order of these studies, but these Beth Moore studies were particularly healing for me and opened me up for a whole new relationship with God. I’ve done other studies by her as well and have learned so much in all of them. I highly recommend any of her studies.
2. The passage that God gave to me before I even knew it was scripture was Psalm 40:1-3. “I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined His ear to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; many will see and fear and will trust in the Lord.”
Deuteronomy 6:5-9 says: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.