The Story – Week 6

H-Icon_Ch06_GrapesAs we looked at the wandering Israelites on Sunday morning, we found them looking more at the problems in front of them rather than the promise that God would deliver them into the land flowing with milk and honey!  They saw the problem before the promise.
Each of us have been on a car trip at some time in our lives.  And if you have kids, on that journey the inevitable occurs – ‘are we there yet?’ And the questions begin.  And they sort with the questions of how long will it take, to questions of why do cows chew all the time – regardless of whether they seem to be eating something or not?  Every journey holds questions – you come to expect them from the back seat!  However our faith journey is also the same!
Lord, are we there yet?  I’m tired and I don’t know which way i am meant to be going – can i just stop Lord? Why did I even start on this journey anyway?  Sounds just like the Israelite nation doesn’t it?  They take off towards the promised land and they start complaining 3 days into their journey!  The food’s no good.  Our leader is no good.  The land you promised is too scary!
Grumbling does not sit well with God.  In fact, our grumbling can lead to our wandering.  When offered the chance to leave Kadesh and enter the Promised Land, the Israelites listened to the fear-filled report from ten spies instead of the faith-full report of Joshua and Caleb.
Kadesh means “Spring of Decision” and it was time for one.  They were in the right place to make the right decision.  But the majority made the wrong one.  The people wished they had died in the desert.  So God told them they would get their wish.  They would wander until the unbelieving generation died out.
And they did.  They wandered in the Wilderness for forty years.  And their children were impacted by their decisions.
The decisions you make affect those around you, just like the decisions the Israelites made at Kadesh.  You can decide to grumble or be thankful.  You can decide to turn away from God or turn toward God.  You can decide to wander without purpose through life or follow God’s vision for your life.
Just don’t forget that those in the backseat will be affected by your decisions.
Lets be people who look at the Promises God has for us – both as a church and individuals – rather than looking at the problems ahead of us.
Next week – we will see the other side – What happens when we see the promise and march head first towards it!

The Story – Week 3

Chapter 3 / Trading in Your Dreams for Another’s

I had a few dreams as a kid.  My number one dream was to play footy for Collingwood.  As a 15 year old, I was doing ok, playing in the district representative teams and making my way as a rugged full back who didn’t allow goals kicked on him and wasn’t afraid to attack at all costs!  I always was awarded the defensive player of the year trophy and it got me onto the U16 Victorian Schoolboys squad of 120 kids from around Victoria.  It was a bit like a Survivor show really because each week after training and simulated matches, the squad was read out and if your name wasn’t read out, you were not coming back the next week.  This happened week after week until the final squad of 32 was formed.  And week after week, my name was called.  We were down to the final 40 kids, all keen to be in that next squad because it was in this squad that you played against other states and the AFL scouts would be there to look at you.  However, in this final training before cutting the squad to 32, the coaches decided to switch everyone around in their positions. I ended up playing a forward flank – which I had never played.  Needless to say, I didn’t do as well as I did when playing full back. At the end of the training, the team was read out, and my name wasn’t on that list.  I was devastated.  I only played footy another 2 years and hung up the boots – mainly because of injury – but my dream was now gone!

But one dream leaves, another comes up… I wont tell you my new dream of touring the world in a famous band!

But we all have unrealized dreams don’t we?  Some don’t make it very far with their aspirations, having already given them up somewhere along the way.  Some run into conflict that makes them weary and they settle for less. Still others make bold decisions to trade one dream in for another.

That’s what Joseph did.  Talk about dreams!  He had some big ones.  At seventeen he dreamed his ten older brothers would bow down to him.  It’s enough he dreamed that dream.  What makes it worse is that he told his brothers about it.

The older brothers already had issues with the younger son.  Their father favored Joseph.  He had even given him a valuable, multi-colored coat. That’s the modern-day equivalent of a parent of four teenagers giving one an iPhone and the other three a call card to use at the few phone booths that are left!!   The brothers banded together and tossed the dreamer in a ditch, eventually selling him into slavery at the first opportunity.   The next thing Joseph knew he was waking up in Egypt.

From there his life was a rollercoaster thrill ride.  One minute a slave.  The next in charge of an Egyptian official’s house.  The next in prison.  The next in charge of the prison.  Then he found himself in front of Pharaoh, called upon to interpret the leader’s dreams.  With God’s help he was able to warn Pharaoh he would have seven years of abundant crops that he should be put in storehouses in anticipation of seven years of famine.  Recognizing his wisdom, Pharaoh put Joseph second in command of all of Egypt.

And because of God’s personal involvement in his life, he was able to save his family.  The same family that God was building into a nation.  Joseph was in position to bring his family to Egypt and give them the most fertile land to work.  And it was definitely fertile.  In the time they were there they were “fruitful and increased greatly” (Exodus 1:7).

Joseph could have lost his life getting caught up in the details of his life, chasing his dreams and desires.  Instead, he chose a better story.  God’s story.

You can do the same.  If your life’s dream has stalled, look to God. If your dream now realized is not all you thought it would be, look to God. He can give you another dream.  A better one, not according to the world’s standard but God’s criterion.  Just like Joseph’s.  Then you’ll have a story to tell.

I may not become an AFL star (well that ship has long sailed), I may not play in a world famous band, but I can strive to be God’s mouthpiece right here – and who knows what other exciting things God may have in store for me – and for you!

Take Courage in God’s Story!


The Story – Week 2

An unlikely Star

Have you ever watched a movie and thought that the lead character was just cast wrongly? That they just didn’t seem to fit the role that they were given.  If you have ever read a Jack Reacher action book, you will know that the lead character, Jack Reacher is a tall, ex-military man.  You think someone like the Rock – or a Dolf Lundgren type person in his hay day (if you don’t know these people – just think someone big with lots of muscles!)  However as they cast Jack Reacher – they decided on 5ft 7inch Tom Cruise!  Just didn’t quite fit the Reacher that is described in the book.

Imagine now you are casting for a show that needed a leading man and lady to play the part of the spellbinding story of a clan that builds a powerful, world impacting family tree – that becomes a focal point in the worlds history.  You can imagine you might need a powerful man, a beautiful woman – people of influence and fame.  However, as you look around, all you have to choose from are 75 year old men and 65 year old women… not what you assume would be needed for that role!

And yet, this is what God has chosen.  His movie called for a couple to launch a new nation, one that would impact the entire world. As he would say, a nation through whom “all the nations of the earth would be blessed” (Genesis 12:1-3).

Abram and Sarai stand there, adorned perhaps by dusty old robes and crowned with wispy white hair and loosely fitting skin and as confused as anyone else.  God chose them to begin a nation? An unlikely pair, especially after factoring in the fact that Sarai was barren.  How could God expect to start a nation with a woman who could not bear children?

To complicate the story line, it will be 25 more years before they actually have their child of promise.  By that time Abram and Sarai will be 100 years old and 90 years old, respectively (and their names will be changed to Abraham and Sarah).  And the rest, as they say, is history.  His story.

God picks people you and I wouldn’t necessarily select to take part in his story. In fact sometimes we are shocked who plays the starring roles in his stories.  Unlike the way we do business, he taps people, not merely because of their abilities, but for their availability.  God searches for people who are open to be used by Him. Since God uses only those who are willing to be used for His purposes, there is no doubt that it is God who is doing the wonder- working.  Let there be no doubt, throughout history He is the one making things happen.

That’s good news, isn’t it?  In the business world, you may not have a great pedigree.  In academics, you may not be a Scholar.  You may not have a lot of money and you may have average looks. But you may be sitting in a pretty good position to be a top pick for God’s work.

Blessings as you faithfully obey


The Story – Week 1

I don’t really understand how people can just slip out of the cinema during the middle of the movie to get popcorn or a drink.  Sorry if you are one of those people!  But I can not bear the thought of missing something important! Toilet training Kaira has made this tricky – she needed to go 3 times the last movie we watched.. and it was “The Greatest Showman”… I had already seen it but still it pained me to have to walk out 3 times in a movie!  I just don’t want to miss anything important!  For me, getting to a movie even before the trailers start is my ultimate movie watching experience.. I can get there, get myself prepared, and then I am set for the entire time until the movie ends – I don’t want to miss a bit – and if you get there early enough you can even get the middle seat of that one row where the middle of the screen is at eye level!

And that is where we all need to be for God’s story – front and centre. Because from the very beginning of God’s story, its all systems go.  Just Genesis 1:1 gets plenty done, talk about build the need…. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

 Right off the bat we find the main character in the story is not you or me.  It’s God. And the rest of The Story will unfold out of the nature and person of this character.  Just ten words in and there is enough action to leave you breathless.

 It doesn’t take long to find out what God’s great passion is. Birds?  Nope.  Animals? Not quite. Sun, moon or stars? Bright guess.  No, in Genesis 3:8 we find that God is walking in the Garden with Adam and Eve in the “cool of the day.”

 Sounds nice if you are in a hot, humid climate, doesn’t it?  And yet the “cool of the day” is not the focus. God is, and he is near.  He is right with Adam and Eve.  And he is right here with us.  His simple vision for his creation was to spend time with them every day, to take a walk with them.  God’s supreme passion is to be with us.

Perhaps you have lived your life with the idea that God is some angry cosmic kill-joy who sits in the heavens and watches you, waiting for you to make a mistake so he can zap you.  Or, you feel God is distant and doesn’t care or has simply forgotten you.

But from the beginning He has shown us this is not the case.  God wants to be with you.  He has not forgotten you.   In fact, this might be the perfect time for you to go for a walk with Him.

So, get your popcorn and drink (if indeed you can afford them nowdays!), get in early next Sunday morning, and prepare for the next instalment of God’s story – Abraham – God Builds a Nation!

–      Pete