Who Is This?

As a boy, our attic was a place of mystery and wonder.  Its clutter was a treasure trove of self-discovery. Things, my parents and grandparents knew, but forgot.  Things my parents and grandparents experienced but wanted to forget.  But to me it was a place to discover people whose names I knew but whose lives I did not.  It was a place to understand how I came to be who I was. 

Family histories are precious.  Even if notorious or even scandalous.  The names on our family tree are not mere chronological markers.  They represent real lives.  And they had real impact on our lives through their character, their genetics, their successes and their failures.  And what is true of our particular genealogies is also true of biblical genealogies.

At first glance those genealogies, like my childhood attic, seem cluttered and unfamiliar.  But God has placed them in the Scriptures for our instruction.  To understand more who we are, and more importantly, who God is.   Like my attic, those genealogies are treasure troves of self-discovery.  The difficulty with them is not how to find something meaningful, but how to distill all we find to its impact on us.

At the head of the story of the Incarnation, God gave us a genealogy.  This ancestry framed the humiliation and exaltation of our redeemer with the picture of a dysfunctional family.  But Jesus’ family tree is ours as well.  It is a family into which we have been adopted.  A family that shows us God’s faithfulness and grace to those who will not and cannot get it together.

At every point in Matthew’s gospel the question is asked of Jesus, “who is He?”  Who is this? Even the wind and waves of obey Him?  Who is this who even forgives sins?  Who is this of whom the crowds cry “Hosanna?”   At every turn we find someone asking this question.  But it is the question the Holy Spirit anticipates and answers at every turn.   And like every significant milestone in the story redemption, this gospel is introduced by a ‘toledoth,’  a geneaology.

Jesus is the Christ.  The Son of David.  The Son of Abraham.  He is the Son of Man and yet, the Son of God.   The story of Jesus’ beginnings, tells us who he is.  And who he is not.  By giving Jesus’ toledoth, the Holy Spirit unveils what Paul called a “great mystery, Jesus Christ manifest in the flesh.” 

Jesus’ toledoth does not reveal a new way of salvation.  But declares that God has kept his promise.  He has fulfilled the covenant of grace he made with generations of men and women in the Old Testament.  Matthew’s genealogy is not the story of a man’s life, but of God’s saving work to give new and eternal life to men who receive him. 

Who is this Jesus?  The story of Jesus’ beginnings concludes with instructions about his name.  “He will be called Jesus, because He will save His people from their sin.”  Do you know who Jesus is?  More importantly do you know Jesus, himself?   Join us as we examine Matthew 1:1-17 and consider the question so many asked about Jesus – “Who is this?”

We meet on the square in Pottsville, right next to historic Potts’ Inn at 10:30 am for worship.  Get directions here or contact us for more info.  Or join us on Facebook Live @PottsvilleARP or YouTube

The Wrong Tool

Parent’s words are indelibly stamped on their children’s lives.  Whether encouraging or devastating, weighty or inconsequential, they lodge deep in our consciousness and give shape to who we are.   Which is why the prayer of the Psalmist is critical. “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.”  As is Jesus’ warning, “on the day of judgement, people will give account for every careless word.”

What words of ours will lodge in the consciousness of our children and give shape to their lives, their thought, their faith?   It is a weighty question.  I pray it will be words of depth and value, of weight and significance.   But I fear it will be proverbs of complaint.  “That is a bad design.” Or “that is the wrong tool.”

Children are apt to use whatever is at hand, not inquire or inconvenience themselves to find the right tool.   Tablespoon measures are not serving spoons, nor paring knives for spreading mayonnaise.   Mere convenience is no reason to use the wrong tool when the right one is at hand.   Though, perhaps, my view is more elastic when I am in a hurry.   And so, my children often hear, “use the right tool!”

While perhaps not so important when spreading mayonnaise, the right tool is critical when fighting spiritual battles.   And all of the crises we face are, in fact, spiritual battles.   Failing to recognize this leads us to seek purely logistical, relational, or circumstantial solutions.   And neglect the means of grace God gives us. 

God’s presence, purpose, and promises are central to every struggle, every adversity, every decision we face.   Yet he is often the last, not first resort.  We are apt to use the wrong tool.  To reach for worldly weapons to fight spiritual battles. The Bible reminds us repeatedly to be well armed with the right weapons.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

Ephesians 6:10-14

And again,

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5

After the exodus, Israel moves toward Sinai.   Getting to Sinai, not leaving Egypt, is the primary goal of the exodus.   At Sinai God will renew His gracious covenant.  He will declare that he is Israel’s God and they are his people.   Yet the two-month journey from the Red Sea to Sinai is fraught with every spiritual peril.  

The prospect of hunger and thirst led the people to doubt, grumble, and rebel against the Lord.   With the pillar of cloud and fire at hand they ask, “Is the Lord among us nor not?”  Pharaoh is no longer a threat, but Satan still actively opposes the people inside and out, whispering, “did God really say?” 

And as if hunger and thirst were not enough, the Amalekites launch an unprovoked attack.  Moses would later recall. 

Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you came out of Egypt, how he attacked you on the way when you were faint and weary, and cut off your tail, those who were lagging behind you, and he did not fear God. 

Deuteronomy 25:17-18

Satan attacks God’s people inside and out to dishearten and destroy their faith.  Pharaoh tried to prevent Israel from leaving. Now Amalek works to prevent them from entering the Promised Land.  But Satan is behind it all.  Moses tells Joshua to mobilize for war.  But the real weapon in Israel’s arsenal is prayer.  Spiritual warfare demands spiritual weapons.  

How well armed are you for the spiritual conflict behind every crisis?  What weapons do you reach for?   Are the means of grace your weapons of first resort? Or last?  Moses holds up God’s staff while Joshua fights with Amalek.  But this is more than military history.  It reminds us we are well armed for spiritual warfare.  And we have a faithful high priest in Jesus, through whom we “with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Join us as we examine Exodus 17:8-16 and see how God arms us well for spiritual warfare through prayer.

We meet on the square in Pottsville, right next to historic Potts’ Inn at 10:30 am for worship.  Get directions here or contact us for more info.  Or join us on Facebook Live @PottsvilleARP or YouTube

On Being Hangry

Language is never static.  It always has a backstory.  Languages are living things, constantly changing to reflect a culture.   Like rings on a tree, linguistic change charts cultural change.  Words indexed to outdated ideas or behaviors become, ‘archaic.’  And new words are created to reflect cultural realities our forefathers could not have imagined.   This process can occur very quickly, especially as technological change accelerates the use of jargon.   

The English language often grows most prolifically by the addition of new verbs formed out of old or proper nouns.   For example, we ‘google’ and we ‘message.’   But it also grows through the conflation of adjectives to express multiple attributes in a single word for the sake of emphasis.   We see this in new super-adjectives such as “ginormous” and “hangry.”

“Hangry” is a conflation of hungry and angry to make a new word which means to be “bad-tempered or irritable as a result of hunger.”   Being hangry is not usually the result of real or sustained hunger, rather the American version of hunger – I don’t have what I want, when I want it.   Being “hangry” is an expression of simple whiny discontent.   While the word “hangry” has been around for over a century, it has only come into popular usage in the last few years as our culture has become increasingly discontent.

Recent studies have attempted to understand the relationship between being hungry and being ill-tempered.  In an article for Health.com, Deena Adimoolam, assistant professor in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Bone Disease at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, observed.

“When we do not eat, blood sugar goes low. When your blood sugar falls, the hormones cortisol and epinephrine are released in an attempt to raise it back to normal. But those hormones also happen to lead to irritability.”

Scientists posit other possible connections between hunger and anger as well.  Yet the real problem is not one of cortisol and epinephrine, but discontent and lack of self-control.   Or worse, a lack of faith.

As Israel trekked toward Mt. Sinai, they were not really hungry.   But they were “hangry.” God delivered them through the midst of the Red Sea.  He slaked their thirst in the middle of a desert with a log and a bitter pool.   He directed their every step with a pillar of cloud and fire from one grace to another.  

Yet as days, stretched into weeks and weeks into a month the land became more inhospitable.   No forage appeared.   They began to worry and grumble.   They had flocks and herds, plenty of livestock, and perhaps even some remnants of their unleavened dough, but their anxiety got the better of them.

They became hangry.   And they took it out on Moses and Aaron, even though the pillar of God’s own presence stood right in front of them.  The Song of the Sea had faded from their lips and ears.   The miracle at Marah was quickly forgotten.   The Red Sea was out of sight and out of mind.   Though free, they continued to think like slaves.  Grumbling, always grumbling.   Longing for slavery with security rather than freedom with faith.

The Christian life ever suffers from the temptation to walk by sight, not by faith.   And this makes us spiritually hangry – bad-tempered and irritable because things have not happened as we expected.  Malcontentment is warned against throughout the scripture.  While contentment is encouraged.  Not because it is a meritorious virtue, but because it is a measure of our faith.   It is a thermometer, not a thermostat of our faith.   It flows out of a living faith and trust in God’s promises.   Phillip Ryken puts it bluntly.

Our complaints really are never caused by our outward circumstances.  Instead, they reveal the inward condition of our hearts.  [The Israelites] complaining went far beyond griping about their menu.  They were rebelling against God’s plan for their salvation.

Are you a complainer?  Is whining your first response to every crisis of belief?   Are you discontent with what God has brought to pass.  Are you rebelling against His way of saving and sanctifying you?   The people of Israel were not hungry.   They had not exhausted their provisions.   And more than that, God had promised to care for them even though their prospects looked bleak.   They were not hungry, but they were hangry.   And their “hanger” threatened to cause them to turn back from the promises and care of their God and Savior.  

Are you spiritually hangry?  Bad-tempered and irritable because God has not made you what you want to be?  Not given you what you desire?   Or led you into a bleak, monotonous, or unpromising situation?   Join us as we examine Exodus 16 and consider the dangers of complaining and the gracious means God gives to deliver us.

We meet on the square in Pottsville, right next to historic Potts’ Inn at 10:30 am for worship.  Get directions here or contact us for more info.  Or join us on Facebook Live @PottsvilleARP or YouTube

First Steps

A baby’s first step is a big deal.  That one small step for baby-kind is a giant leap for growth, maturity, and independence.  That first step begins with learning to roll over.  Then comes the ‘army crawl.’   Then pulling up and letting go.  Finally, that first tentative step is taken.   Every eye is riveted on baby as she lets go and wobbles forward in a tenuous rapture.   And in that instant of confidence, she takes her first step.

Parents hold their breath, fumbling for phones to capture the moment.  And as they cheer exuberantly from the sidelines the moment quickly passes.   Overwhelmed by attention, baby becomes self-aware of the uncertainties of walking upright.   Like Peter walking on the Sea of Galilee, her faith wavers and she sinks down to the floor. 

Her parents revel in the accomplishment.  They text videos to grandparents and friends.  Put stickers in the baby book.  And tearfully journal that their baby is growing up.   Then in a flash of prescience, the full weight of what just happened dawns on them.   That first step has been taken.  It is the step that leads to climbing, to running ahead, and to learning the power of ‘no.’   Much more has changed than mere mobility.

First steps mark more than the end of infancy.  They mark the beginning of freedom.  Children learn to trust and obey parents, not because they must, but because they should.  First steps lead to experience and peril beyond a child’s maturity to assess or navigate.  Those first steps are physically significant, but even more significant relationally and spiritually.

For the Israelites, the deliverance through the Red Sea is just the beginning.   As God’s people, their infancy is over.  Now it is time to take the first steps of new life in Christ.   Steps that call on them to endure trial.   Steps that require the continual exercise of faith.   And steps that teach them to enjoy the Lord.  God’s saving act in their lives, as in ours, is never the telos, but the ontos.   Deliverance is just the beginning.   By faith we must take our first steps and follow Christ, step by step, wide-eyed, and full of tenuous rapture.

But these first steps are not without peril.  We are told to count the cost.  God’s Word is filled with examples that embolden and warn.   No sooner had God delivered the people from certain death on the shores of the Red Sea, littering the beach with the bodies of their enemies, than the people failed at the very first test of faith.   The people were finally free of Pharaoh’s death grip.  But three days in the desert without water is serious. 

For a single lost traveler, three days without water is dire.  But for over two million refugees and their livestock, it is a humanitarian crisis.   They had followed the pillar of cloud and fire, but it led them only to bitter water.  And their lack of faith makes their hearts, minds, and speech bitter as well.   Their memory is short.   And their faith even shorter.   Yet, despite their faithlessness, God is faithful.  He graciously slakes their thirst.  And gives them something more important – his promise.

There the Lord made for them a statute and a rule, and there he tested them, saying, “If you will diligently listen to the voice of the Lord your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, your healer.”

Exodus 15:25-26

On the far shore of the Red Sea faith and worship come easily.  But at the edge of Marah’s bitter waters, faith is tested.  But faith also grows.  When you are in the bitter place will you “diligently listen to the voice of the Lord your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes?”  Or is that when you grumble and turn away?  Obedience is not the path that leads to grace, it is the road that leads out from it.   Obedience teaches us how to enjoy God, which is why we exist.

Do you enjoy the Lord even when the water is bitter?  When the children and the livestock are crying for thirst will you cry out to him or against him?  When the Lord, himself, leads you to a dead end, will you trust him even then?   The Christian life begins with deliverance.  But that is only the beginning.  Like the disciples in the gospels, we too are called to follow — to endure trials, to exercise faith, and to learn to enjoy God in any and every circumstance.   

Have you taken those first steps of faith to follow Christ?  Join us as we examine Exodus 15:22-27 and consider God’s gracious work of sanctification in the life of the believer as he teaches us to endure trial, exercise faith, and enjoy him, no matter what.

We meet on the square in Pottsville, right next to historic Potts’ Inn at 10:30 am for worship.  Get directions here or contact us for more info.  Or join us on Facebook Live @PottsvilleARP or YouTube

Greatest Hits

Music makes life memorable.   A soundtrack forges an emotional connection with a movie.  Jingles implant ad slogans in our consciousness that persist decades after product obsolescence.  The playlist of youth is one of the strongest influences on our worldview.  The music of our generation teaches us how to live.   The oft posited statement of a young person that “I don’t listen to the lyrics” is self-deception at best.   Music has power to plant truth, perspective, and emotion deep into our being.

Advertisers know this.  Poets know this as well.  And educators are learning this.   Words set to a song are more easily remembered, than those repeated or memorized.  Even a cursory Amazon search reveals that music is used to teach everything from history to catechism.  All those dates and names and attributes of God, so hard to memorize, are more easily remembered when set to music.

This is why music is such an important part of our culture and our Christian faith.   The Bible instructs us to worship, fellowship, and disciple using hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs.   Congregations are often catechized more from the music they hear and sing, than sermons or Bible studies.   Music is important.  It is a great gift from God given for congregational praise, prayer, and proclamation. And it must be carefully curated by the elders of the church. 

Our hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs must be biblically accurate and theologically clear.   They must express truths about God not the feelings of men.   Our music must echo God’s own Word.  And be faithful to express and teach its history, truths, and promises.  Music has always been an important way to communicate the glorious redemptive story unfolded in the Bible.

Even in the narrative of the Bible itself, God’s people are given songs to recite and remember God’s nature, his promises, and his saving works.   Songs given to remind the present generation.  And instruct the next.   One of the oldest of these songs is found in Exodus 15.   Moses narrated the story in prose, but then records one of God’s greatest hits, ‘The Song of the Sea,’ sometimes called the Song of Moses.   A favorite song of God’s people, sung year after year in their homes, at feasts, and in worship services.   A song that communicates who God is, what he has done, what he does, and what he will do.   A song that gives assurance and confidence for the spiritual battles Christians face.

The Song of Moses is so significant to the church that even the Redeemed in eternity will sing it along with the Song of the Lamb.  This is recounted in Revelation 15:1-4.

And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mingled with fire—and also those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands. And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying,

“Great and amazing are your deeds,
    O Lord God the Almighty!
Just and true are your ways,
    O King of the nations!
Who will not fear, O Lord,
    and glorify your name?
For you alone are holy.
    All nations will come
    and worship you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed.”

Revelation 15:1-4

The Bible is full of music. Hymns that equip us to live victoriously. Psalms to express every fear, concern, and emotion to the Lord. And spiritual songs that move us from fear to faith in any crisis. What songs tell your story?

What is the music of your heart and soul?  Is it Songs of Zion? The Song of Moses and of the Lamb?   These are God’s greatest hits.  Songs to be sung around the throne for all eternity.  Are they the soundtrack of your life? Join us as we examine the Song of the Sea in Exodus 15 and consider what it teaches about who God is, what he has done, what he does, and what he will do.

We meet on the square in Pottsville, right next to historic Potts’ Inn at 10:30 am for worshipGet directions here or contact us for more info.  Or join us on Facebook Live @PottsvilleARP or YouTube

Piling On

The cool, crisp air.  The crunching of fallen leaves. And the low amber lighting of late afternoon means Fall is in full swing.  Hands down, Autumn is my favorite season.  So many fond memories cluster around Fall, its traditions, and its holidays.   It takes me to many happy places in my past.  My mother preparing seasonal feasts.  My wedding day.   Raking mountains of hickory and white oak leaves with my Dad.  And drives through Arkansas’ highways and byways in awe of God’s artistry.   But Fall also reminds me of football.

No, not the hours spent with my Dad listening to Larry Munson call Georgia Bulldog games or any organized league play.   But the informal neighborhood league that existed in suburban Stone Mountain where I grew up.   Colony East and Indian Forrest and my own enclave, Inca Court, put together small 3 to 4 man elite squads which battled it out on a field behind the Stripling’s house for regional bragging rights.  Don, Alan, and I and sometimes Norman, were the pride of Inca Court.  

We practiced every day after school until the light faded or our moms called us for supper.   We cut down small trees to fashion our own goal post.  We were the only neighborhood venue that offered the opportunity to kick ‘real’ extra points.  Though, admittedly, retrieving the balls from the surrounding woods was sometimes a challenge.   It was sandlot ball at its finest.  And we took it seriously. 

Of course, there were no referees and few rules. Controversial plays were resolved by “do-over.”  And every running play inevitably resulted in ‘piling on.’   Even if the ball carrier was clearly down.  The play was not over until every man on the field was added to the pile.   Learning to survive being piled-on was a non-negotiable skill.

In organized play, piling on is a serious offense.  It is a personal foul and carries lengthy penalties.  It is considered excessive force, gratuitous violence.  A vindictive adding of insult to injury.   But for us, piling on was the glorious privilege of every man on the field.  We relished its place in our gridiron heroics.

‘Piling on’ in our idiom has negative connotations.   It denotes addition to a load that is already unbearable, especially harsh or excessive criticism.  It is akin to “kicking them when they are down.”   It speaks of what is gratuitous or excessive beyond what is sufficient.   But ‘piling on’ need not always be a bad thing. 

God delights to pile on.   Not excessive demands or requirements, but grace upon grace, blessing upon blessing, provision upon provision.  We see this both implicitly and explicitly in the Scriptures.  Jesus taught, “give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap.” (Luke 6:38) And John, the beloved disciple, said of Jesus, “For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” (John 1:16)

In Exodus 14, we see his grace upon grace, God’s piling on blessing upon blessing through the deliverance of Israel through the Red Sea.   He protects and delivers his people.  He destroys their enemies.  He comforts and assures them with his presence.  He watches over them.  He grants them faith.   The only things piled higher than the waters of the Red Sea are the blessings of God’s grace upon grace to an unworthy but elect people.  But even this is not all.  With the pillar of cloud and fire, there is another tremendous gift.  The Angel of the Presence.  The one who is very God of very God, yet would one day take on flesh to deliver us from a greater enemy than any ancient king.

God is no miser of grace.  When he sets his love upon you, he lavishes you with grace upon grace.   He holds nothing back.  “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”  His love is higher, wider, deeper and more expansive than you can possibly imagine.  Join us as we examine Exodus 14:15-31 and consider this grace upon grace.

We meet on the square in Pottsville, right next to historic Potts’ Inn at 10:30 am for worship.  Get directions here or contact us for more info.  Or join us on Facebook Live @PottsvilleARP or YouTube

10/02/2022 | “Moving Day” | Exodus 13:17-22

Few things are more difficult than Moving Day. In Exodus 13, Israel is on the move. To prepare them to travel God gives three things – a plan, a promise, and his presence.  All to make it easier for them to follow. Things we also need as we follow Christ.  Join us as we examine the departure of Israel from Egypt in Exodus 13:17-22.  And as we consider some critical truths about following God when he brings us to our own Moving Day. 

09/25/2022 | “Keeping the Feast” | Exodus 12:43-13:16

At the climax of the exodus, we see more instruction than action. God instructs Israel to keep Passover with diligence and sincerity. We too are instructed to keep the feast. To celebrate Christ our Passover at the Lord’s Table. Are you keeping the feast? Coming in faith? Carefully prepared?  Join us as we examine Exodus 12:43-13:16 to consider God’s instructions to his ancient people and to us to keep the feast.

A Rock and A Hard Place

Parents never quite comprehend children’s anxiety over a family vacation.   We glibly assume all is excitement and anticipation.   It never enters our minds that some insignificant moment of our adventure is keeping our children awake at night.   For one of my daughters, a long awaited trip to Chincoteague Island was eclipsed by fear of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel.  All reverie over Misty of Chincoteague shrouded by the terror of five minutes driving under the sea.

For me, it was “Fat Man Squeeze.”   Chattanooga was only a couple of hours from our home.   And every barn roof in North Georgia beckoned, “See Rock City.”   My dad thought it would be a great adventure.   And so it was – in retrospect.   But in reading about Rock City, I had learned of a spot in the tour of its rock gardens branded “Fat Man Squeeze.”   Or as I feared, “Fat Boy Squeeze.”

I was ‘husky’ in my childhood – and very self-conscious of it.   And as if the thought of being permanently wedged in a tight rocky passage was not terror-inducing enough, the thought of being publicly branded as the “Fat Boy” who got lodged in “Fat Man Squeeze” was just too much.   So, to my father’s dismay, I offered excuse after excuse as to why a trip to Rock City was not a good idea.  Never daring to reveal my real fear of being literally stuck between a rock and a hard place.  

None of us wants to be in that place.  Stuck between a rock and a hard place.   Either literally or figuratively.  The expression and experience are common ones.  To be ‘stuck between a rock and a hard place’ means, to face two equally unpleasant, dangerous, or risky alternatives, where the avoidance of one ensures encountering the harm of the other.  

We consciously avoid being in situations with no safe exit strategy.  Yet as Christians we recognize in both the Bible and in our own lives, that the Lord often places us between a rock and a hard place.   He does so intentionally, so we will learn that He can make a way when there seems to be no way.

As the people of Israel leave Egypt, they go out with head and hand high.   Their God has delivered them from the iron grip of Pharaoh and centuries of slavery and oppression.   They have plundered the Egyptians and depart victoriously, while a defiant Egypt is in ruins.   Yet as their journey begins, we see two things that seem troubling.  

First God takes the people off the interstate, off the fast track to their new home.   They need to learn about themselves what He already knows.   They must grow in their faith before they face certain enemies and let fear drive them back to slavery.  And second, God leads them directly into what appears to be a dangerous and indefensible encampment.   After making good progress on the desert highway, the Lord tells them to turn around and camp on the shore of the Red Sea.   At the same time, he tells them that Pharaoh will harden his heart one more time and come for them – to either capture or kill them.  

God places the people between a rock and a hard place.   They are not victims of poor planning, poor leadership, or rebellion.  But of the purposeful plan of God.   They are about to learn that the Lord makes paths where no paths appear to exist.  And that the Lord will fight their battles for them.   As Pharaoh’s chariots appear on the horizon, they panic, grumble, and despair.  But Moses instructs them.

And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” 

Exodus 14:13-14

This is good counsel for us.   When we are stuck between a rock and a hard place – at work, in relationships, with decisions, and in our spiritual lives, have we learned to “fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for [us]?”   Will we panic, accuse others, or fall into a pit of black despair as the Israelites did before the Red Sea?  Or will we learn that we must only be silent and let the Lord fight for us?  

What is your response when you are between the rock and the hard place?  Join us as we examine Exodus 14:1-14 and consider how God places us in hard places to show us that he will make a way when there seems to be no way.  And that He, himself, is that way.

We meet on the square in Pottsville, right next to historic Potts’ Inn at 10:30 am for worship.  Get directions here or contact us for more info.  Or join us on Facebook Live @PottsvilleARP or YouTube

Moving Day

Inca Court was a utopian outpost on the frontier of a dystopian suburbia.  The small suburban Atlanta street where I grew up had only ten houses.  Until I left home for college, it was the only home I had ever known. 

None of the families on our street ever moved in or out.  None of the parents in any of those homes ever moved in or out.  We never knew the curiosity of new neighbors and never coped with the stress of leaving Inca Court behind. There were no Moving Days on Inca Court. In a mobile society marked by constant transition, Inca Court was sociological anomaly.

My first significant move was phenomenally stressful – filled with logistical angst and existential self-doubt.  Was I crazy to leave the familiar, the comfortable, the settled, the influential, the known – even with its problems and challenges – for the uncomfortable, the unsettled, the uninfluential, the unknown? 

Life transitions are fertile fields for lush and verdant anxiety, yet as followers of Jesus, we have been chosen to live a pilgrim life and to farm these fields.  Our God is always moving, always at work, even to this very day.  To be a follower means to follow – to follow a God who never changes, but often calls us to change, a God who never leaves or forsakes, but often calls us to leave and forsake.  Followers of Christ in scripture were often on the move, tracing the movement of God.

But when do we go, how do we know where to go?  Or what will happen one the way?  Or when we arrive? What will we leave behind and what will we find ahead?   Following God and leaving the familiar is tough.  But he does not simply push us out of the nest to find our own way.  Nor does he send us unaccompanied.   The Lord promises to go with us and provide us with direction, encouragement, and provision for the journey.

In Exodus 13:17-22, the narrative of Exodus transitions from God visiting his people in Egypt to God leading his people into the Promised Land.  To prepare the people for the move God gives three things we need as we follow Christ: his plan, his promise, and his presence.  God lays out the route, sends them with the bones of Joseph, and appears to them as the pillar of cloud and fire.   All to make it easier for the Israelites to follow.  

Join us as we examine the departure of Israel from Egypt in Exodus 13:17-22.  And as we consider some critical truths about following God when he brings us to our own Moving Day. 

We meet on the square in Pottsville, right next to historic Potts’ Inn at 10:30 am for worship.  Get directions here or contact us for more info.  Or join us on Facebook Live @PottsvilleARP or YouTube