Sunday, May 31, 2009


A Quick Look: Genesis 6: 7 – 8

Really Read It: Genesis 6: 5 – 9: 17

Memorize: Hebrews 11: 6 –7 Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

The nice, cute, little story of Noah in the ark is one of the most popular events from the Bible. Over 90 % of American churches show that smiley giraffe popping his head out of that little Noah’s ark somewhere in the nursery.* Noah with his boat and his animals have appeared on the top ten list for baby room themes for 94 years in a row.** I do NOT want you to repaint your baby brother’s room, but I do have some problems with those cartoon animals smiling at so many babies.

The animals DID fit inside the boat. God told Noah exactly how to build the ark. We know that it was big. We don’t know exactly how much room Mr. and Mrs. Elephant had and if they were if fact right next door to Mr. and Mrs. Giraffe, but it is clear that they got to ride inside the boat. They did not have to stick their necks through holes in the roof. It is not a cute story. Sure animals are neat; some of them are even cute when they are babies as long as you can see them without smelling them. But, at the time, it would have been hard to focus on that cuddly, little panda bear peaking his head out the window.

A lot of other things would get a lot more of your focus. Water falling from the sky causing all the animals and people on the earth to panic. Water bursting forth from inside the earth causing all the animals and people on the earth to panic. Mud slides destroying crops, flowers, trees, walking trails, bakeries, and houses. Rising flood waters destroying (killing) every plant, animal, and person on the face of the earth.

This story could be better at scaring small children than comforting them. It’s not cute, but it is good. It’s great. Not cute. Maybe not even happy. But good.

God sent the flood to save people. He wasn’t just saving Noah’s family; he was saving people. The human race. Without this event, people would be lost. Gone from the earth. The flood stopped the great growth of sin on the earth. It stopped the selfishness, self worship, greed, and pride that were growing like a cancer. It took away the people with no concern for God. Had God not taken them away, the earth would soon become a place where zero people spoke God’s name with honor.

Through the flood, God got a family, he got a people for himself. He found a family to be His and He took away the wickedness that was trying to stomp out God’s honor.

You need that same kind of Savior. God will have a people. He will a group that gives Him honor, that gives Him glory, that give Him their lives. We know for sure that God will have His group; we don’t know if you will be in the group. We don’t know if you are in that group.

The test is not if you go to church. It’s not if you take communion or if you’ve been baptized. You can’t know your in God’s group if you said that special prayer to Him once or twice or two hundred times.

The test is do you care about God. Do you care about God’s honor and God’s glory? Do you want to do God stuff? Would you rather see you get honor of God get honor? Most people want it for themselves, but God has a group, God has a people that love to fight for the honor of God.

*fake statistic

**another fake statistic


Nathan is amazed to see God move in power every week at his church. You can see what is happening:

You can find more of Nathan’s writing on lulu and helium.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


A Quick Look: Genesis 39: 1 – 2

Really Read It: Genesis 37: 12 – 36 and Genesis 39: 1 – 6

Memorize: Philippians 2: 14 – 15 Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.

Joseph’s life was great in the beginning. He was born into a rich family, and he was his dad’s favorite kid. There were some tough years when his mom died, his brothers sold him as a slave, and he spent some time in prison. But Joseph had a great life in the end. He married into a high-class Egyptian family and got a job as the boss of a country. He lived to be a very old man and even met some of his great, great grandchildren before he died.

Joseph had many good years, but the most important years of his life were the tough years. God used Joseph to save at least two countries: Egypt and Israel. God used Joseph because of what he did in the tough years.

I am sure that Joseph had it worse than any of you. How many years of counseling would an American kid get if his mom died and his brothers hated him so much that they sold him? But Joseph didn’t turn into a useless whiner. He worked hard as a slave, and he became great. Just when things were starting to look good for Joseph, he was put in prison for nothing. But he worked hard as a prisoner and he became great. Though it all, he followed God’s ways. Through it all, he followed God’s leading. Though it all, he worshipped the Lord.

Joseph won the prize for whining and complaining. (That prize is awarded for lowest score just like golf.) And Joseph did that on purpose. A lot of kids think that whining just comes out of them when something bad happens. Whining doesn’t just come out. You can choose to whine or you can choose to stop it.

I went to a summer camp where one of the rules was: No Whining or Complaining. All of the other rules were normal things to keep life safe and boring, but that rule was stuck in there as if all of the kids could choose to follow or break that rule. And they could. The kids were great whiners with, “It’s too hot,” “I don’t want to play turtle tag,” and “this camp is for babies” until the camp boss showed up. They could turn off the whining like turning off the lights. And you can too.

Your words are so important. Make a choice to speak good words, encouraging words, faith words, God’s words, Kingdom advancing words. You could carry a little paper and pencil with you today and count. Make a tally mark every time you say something that makes God’s kingdom get bigger. Put a mark any time you say something good about God. Put a mark any time you tell a person something that could bring them closer to God. Any time you stop something that presses down the Kingdom of God count that too. How many Kingdom words can you say in one day? How many words that build up more life of Jesus can you say in one week? We never hear of Joseph counting his Kingdom words, but if he did he would have been a tough guy to beat.


Nathan is amazed to see God move in power every week at his church. You can see what is happening:

You can find more of Nathan’s writing on lulu and helium.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Daniel's Trust

A Quick Look: Daniel 2: 27 – 28

Really Read It: Daniel 2: 1 – 49

Memorize: Romans 15: 13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. NIV

Daniel spent the night with a bunch of hungry lions and God saved him. But that was not the first time that God came down to save Daniel’s life. His sleepover in the lion cage happened when he was a very old man. When he was a very young man, Daniel was taken away from his home in Judah. Soldiers took him to the capital city to work for the king. A lot of young guys would be excited about that and maybe Daniel was, but the bad side of the story is that this king was an enemy king. A king from another country came to fight Daniel’s country. That king won, so he got to be the king of all of the countries that he beat in war. This big king brought all the best young guys from all over his big kingdom to work for him in Babylon. He tested them and gave them jobs. Daniel was so smart (God made him so smart.) that the king made him one of his very own advisors. Daniel’s job was to be smart and help the king with tough choices. Three of Daniel’s friends got the same job. Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Daniel and a lot of other guys from every part of the kingdom worked as wise men for the king.

One day the king had a tough job for his wise men. He said, “I had a dream last night, and I know that this dream is a big deal. But I have no idea what the dream means.”

Daniel and his friends were not there. They weren’t on wise man duty that day, but the ones who were there said, “Sure, King, just tell us what you saw in your dream, and then we will tell you all about it.”

The king replied, “If I tell you, you could make up anything and claim you know what it means. I can only be sure that you are not liars and cheaters if you first tell me what I saw in my dream and then tell me what it means. If you can’t, you are all fired. You’re fired and I will turn your houses into rubble heaps. You’re fired, I’ll turn your houses into rubble heaps, and cut you up into little pieces.”

They couldn’t do it. Who could? So the king sent his soldiers to do all of those bad things to them, but not only to them but to ALL of his wise men. That put Daniel on the list to die.

Daniel prayed and his friends prayed and God came down and spoke to Daniel. When Daniel went to the king, the king asked him, “Are you able to tell me what I saw in my dream?”

Daniel knew the dream, but he said, “No one on earth could tell you your dream.” If Daniel stopped there even for four seconds, he might have been killed, but he said, “But there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries.” Then he told the whole dream and what it meant. The king was blown away. He gave Daniel a lot of gifts and a big boss ruling job.

Daniel had to depend on God to keep his body in one piece. Few of you are in that kind of danger, but you must learn to depend on God as if you are. How did Daniel pray when he knew that if God didn’t answer, he was going to die? Have you ever prayed like that? How loud did he pray? How long did he pray? What did his heart look like? What did his mind look like? What did his strength look like?

It is pretty easy to fill in the answers on a Sunday school paper to say that God is your life. It is not too hard to say that you need God. A whispered prayer in church is no challenge. But you NEED God to even live. He gives you breath. He is your only hope, your only way to life. What would it look like if you trusted God like Daniel? How would you sound if you NEEDED God? What would it look like if you really had to depend on God to live?


Nathan is amazed to see God move in power every week at his church. You can see what is happening:

You can find more of Nathan’s writing on lulu and helium.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Follow Me

A Quick Look: Matthew 19: 21 – 22
Really Read It: Matthew 19: 16 - 30
Memorize: Matthew 10: 38 – 39 Anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

In this story, a young guy with a lot of money came to talk to Jesus. He had a lot more going for him that just money though. This guy was used to being the favorite. In school, he was the teacher’s favorite. At church (synagogue), he was the pastor’s (rabbi’s) favorite. At the market, he was every seller’s favorite. He was the good kid. He followed all of the rules, showed up to parties on time, and kept his room clean. Some of those are guesses, but he told Jesus that he followed all of the rules, and Jesus didn’t argue with him. Also as a rich guy everyone in his town thought that God had blessed him, and that meant he was doing everything right.

The good kid came to Jesus to ask what good thing he should do to get eternal life. If you ask that question in church, you will get this answer: “You can’t do anything to get eternal life. It is a free gift of grace.”

That answer has some truth in it, but it has made millions of people into do nothing Christians and it is nowhere close to the answer that Jesus gave.

Jesus started by taking apart the guy’s question. Jesus picked at every word. But Jesus wasn’t being picky with grammar. He was looking into the man’s heart. Jesus said, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only One who is good.”

The rich guy couldn’t see the capital O in One to know that One means God. Jesus was really asking: Do you really think I am good? Do you believe that I am from God? Do you believe that I am God? This man made no answer to these questions. I don’t think he had an answer, but Jesus moved on before he even tried.

Jesus talked to him about following the commandments, following rules, doing stuff. And the man said he was good at it. He was good at following rules, but he knew it wasn’t enough. In verse 20 he said, “What do I still lack?”

He knew that he didn’t have God. He knew he that God was far away from Him. Good for him that he knew that. Bad for him that he didn’t care. He cared about getting eternal life. He didn’t care about getting God. He was willing to follow the rules to get into heaven as long as it wasn’t too hard. He didn’t want God. He was willing to do stuff to get something from God. He didn’t want God.

Jesus didn’t tell him to stop trying to do stuff. Just believe and hang on. Jesus didn’t tell him to do less. He told him to do more. Jesus didn’t tell him to follow less. He told him to follow more, to follow Jesus. When Jesus told him the price of finding God, the man walked away sad. He would not pay that much.

What price is Jesus giving you? How much will you pay to follow Him? to be close to Him? to really know Him? Jesus won’t ask you to sell your house. He probably won’t even ask you to sell your Wii, but He might tell you to play it less. Would you pay that small price to know God?

The price of following is the same every time. Love the world less. Which part of the world do you hold onto the tightest? Hannah Montana? Sponge Bob? Soccer? Basketball? Gossip? to be the best? to be seen?

You know the price, so what will you do? Will you walk away sad, because you are holding on so tight? Will you follow Jesus, because He is worth letting go of everything else?

Nathan is amazed to see God move in power every week at his church. You can see what is happening:

You can find more of Nathan’s writing on lulu and helium.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

A Burning Bush

A Quick Look: Exodus 3: 11 – 12

Really Read It: Exodus 3 – 4

Memorize: Deuteronomy 31:8 The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. NIV

God had a job for Moses that was more difficult than any job I can imagine today. And, I believe that God trained Moses and prepared his heart from the time Moses was three months old until he saw that burning bush at age 80.

Moses was a Jew, a Hebrew. He knew the language, the culture, the holidays, the food, the ways, the history, the faith of these people as only a Jew could. A super-smart guy who studied for 40 years might do pretty well, but still he wouldn’t have being a Jew down as well as an actual Jew.

Moses was an Egyptian, a royal Egyptian. He knew the language, the culture, the holidays, the food, the ways, the history, the faith of these people as only an Egyptian could. A super-smart guy who studied and went to the best schools like Moses might do pretty well, but still he wouldn’t have being an Egyptian down as well as an actual Egyptian.

God gave Moses as life as both a Jew and an Egyptian. If a movie tried to make up a story about a kid who was all the way in two different cultures at the same time, I wouldn’t believe it. It sounds too impossible to believe, but God wrote that story and Moses lived it.

I think Moses lived knowing who he was from the time he was a baby.
Others have different guesses, and it would be more dramatic for Moses to find out about his “secret” Jewish family as an adult. Sorry that my way makes the story a bit more boring. But I think Moses knew and loved and learned from his Jewish family as he grew up. AND he knew and loved and learned from his Egyptian family as he grew up.

God set Moses up in this perfect, unbelievable training to lead the Jewish people out of Egypt. His time as a shepherd was important training too. But when God talked to Moses through the burning bush and gave Moses his big job, Moses didn’t feel prepared. He didn’t know his life had the perfect steps to lead him to his job. And God didn’t tell him that.

When Moses said, “Who am I that I should go?” I would have told him all that stuff about how he knows how to talk to an Egyptian king, because he learned it growing up and he understood the slaves because he was a Jew like them. But God didn’t bring up anything close to that.

God said, “I will be with you.”

That is a lot better. Maybe Moses was trained for his job, but that didn’t matter. The God that made everything promised to be with him. That mattered.

And that is all that matters in your life. But God doesn’t promise to be with you just because you’re cute or because you remember to say please. God promises His presence and His help when you are doing his work. God is not going to come close to you so you can have more fun watching TV.

God will come close when you are joining with Him to make his kingdom bigger on the earth. God will be all the help you need when you are working to give glory to His name, make His name great, make Him famous. Then God will tell you the same thing that He told Moses. "I will be with you." That matters.