Kick Off The Dust of Egypt

Most of are familiar with the story of the Israelites wandering in the desert for 40 years Picture1before reaching the Promised Land. I often wondered how they felt during that time. Was it difficult to believe the promises of God? Did they struggle to hold onto hope that life would ever change?  All they knew of life was oppression, slavery and bondage. They had been born into that life in Egypt. Stories had been passed down through their ancestors of a life of freedom in a land that was truly their own. But their life was so far removed from those stories that they probably thought they were the ramblings and dreams of old people.

 And this God who was to save them? Where was He? Why was He taking so long to show up? And now that He had spoken to them through Moses, why was it taking so long to enter the Promised Land? Day after day, their life in the desert did not seem much different from their life in Egypt. So they waited.  They were in a holding pattern; out of Egypt but not yet home.

Finally in the book of Joshua, Moses dies and God allows the Israelites to enter the land He first promised to Abraham. The Israelites cross the Jordan River which God parted for them and into the Promised Land. God then instructs them to set up a memorial to remember the day that God parted the waters of the Jordan for them and brought them safely to Gilgal.

There at Gilgal, (a place of grace) God consecrates his people; sets them apart for His purpose. They are to keep themselves holy and be fully devoted followers of the one and only true God. The men are circumcised as a sign of being set apart and Joshua 5:9 says, “And the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.’ “

I love this picture of God “rolling away the reproach of Egypt.” It is as if God is saying to His people; “You are no longer slaves and outcasts. You are now free men and women. I have rescued you. I have gone before you to prepare this land for you. Now kick off the dust of Egypt and live like sons and daughters of the Most High God.”

 Beloved, too many of us have been freed by the blood of Jesus yet we are still living with the dust of Egypt on our feet. We allow our past experiences to shape and color our        present.  We have allowed the dust of Egypt to cake around our feet and clog our journey. We may believe in our head that we are new creations but we don’t live like it.

 God has taken away your reproach now kick off the dust of Egypt! Jesus has washed that dust away with His blood. No matter what your past is Jesus has redeemed it and He will use it for his glory. We are NEW creations; forgiven, redeemed, blameless before God, adopted, chosen, holy, have received an inheritance, sealed by the Spirit, alive in Christ, God’s workmanship, created to do good works,  and a citizen of Heaven. Believe it all and live like it for it is all true. Do not believe what your emotions may tell you, your friends or family may tell you. Believe the One who created you and loved you before the foundations of the world were formed. Believe the One who sacrificed His son for you. Believe the One who bled and died for you.  Believe the Spirit that lives within you and you will live with joy and purpose every day.

 I remember when my burdens rolled away;I had carried them for years, night and day.When I sought the blessed Lord, And I took Him at His word,Then at once all my burdens rolled away.

 

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The Letter

A few months ago I was thanking God and praising Him for how wonderful my life was going.  My son who had been out of work had just gotten a great job that combines two things he loves; computer technology and missions. My two daughters were at school in Spokane, Washington and loving it. My job was going great and I enjoyed the people I work with. My marriage was stronger than ever as my husband and I were enjoying some refreshment at Hume Lake Christian Camp. When friends I had not seen in a while asked how I was doing I replied, “Wonderful. Life is good.” We no sooner got down from the mountain from Hume Lake when our cell phone rang. My father-in-law was in the hospital with heart failure and the diagnosis was not good.

My “life is good” bubble quickly burst as we hurriedly made plans to travel to Washington State to visit him and assess the situation for ourselves. Within the next several days more trials came our way and I knew that I was living the book of James chapter 1. I was being tried and tested in all areas of my life and I did not like it. I did not like it one little bit.

Like most people when the storms of life hit I turn to God with my bag of emotions.  Frustration, anger, denial, sorrows, bargaining, and strong desires to flee from the troubles bombard my mind and heart.  It takes me several days spent in prayer and deep thought to process all that is happening in my life.  At some point, I usually turn to a dear friend and mentor to help me sort through the mess of my emotions and thoughts.  For the first time in 18 years I could not do that as she was in the midst of her own storm.

When I returned to the office after visiting my in-laws in Washington, my office space was in chaos as the office rooms were being rearranged.  The chaos seemed to symbolize my life at that moment and I had to resist the urge to sit down in the middle of my floor and weep.  I was not navigating this storm well. Just when I felt as if my boat was about to capsize, the letter appeared.

My husband found it when we were organizing the office. It had been mailed almost 7 years ago to the day. It was written in longhand from another dear friend and mentor who has been with Jesus now for many years.  I wept as I read it.  It was healing and refreshment  to my soul. I read it again. I was stunned at how accurately it spoke to the very season of life I was now in.  I was reminded of how wise this dear woman was, also a pastor’s wife. How well she understood the life my husband and I had been called to.  She spent her life encouraging others and her ministry is still impacting my life.

I read that letter over and over that day and one part stood out among the rest.

“Where is your faith? Why don’t you shout victory in the very face of the storm, and say to the raging winds and rolling waves, you can do no harm, for Christ the Mighty Savior is on         board!”  

And in her wonderful southern humor she also wrote, “remember Christ said, ‘Let us go to the other side’-not the middle of the lake to be drowned.”

What a great gift that letter was; the first time that she sent it and the second time that God sent it. How good of God to send us the letter again to remind us that when our boat is rocking and rolling there is no need to fear; for Christ the Mighty Savior is on board.  Life is indeed good for I have a Savior who not only directs the storms in my life but gets in the boat with me to see me safely to the other side.

Why are They Like That?

extrovert-introvert-comic-difference-between

I have a confession to make about myself; one that has taken me years to embrace. I am an introvert. Some people are surprised by that. I teach bible studies, have shared a testimony in church, and taught women’s conferences with over 300 women. I love speaking publicly. I love teaching, it is my gift. I also love being with people in small groups and having deep discussion. But after a while, all the people time drains me. I have to cloister myself to recharge.  Recently I had a week at work that was non-stop conversations and crisis interventions. After 4 days and some 32 hours plus, I was done. I felt as if I had literally hit a wall. I went home and crawled into bed at 6pm and barely spoke a word the rest of the night.  I am thankful that I now recognize this need in myself and make it a priority to recharge. I have gotten over feeling guilty at not doing “something” because I know how vital this down time is to my own health and sanity.

There are some other aspects of my introversion that you may not know. I do not like small talk. It is difficult for me. I would rather teach a conference to hundreds of women than go to a dinner party where I know no one and have to make small talk. My husband is a pro at small talk. He immediately makes everyone feel comfortable and chats away while I try to hide my discomfort. We will come away with business cards of many new friends after such a dinner party, while I will be relieved that I survived.  Some people think this means I do not like people.  On the contrary, I love meeting new people, but I prefer deep meaningful conversations over small talk.

Some other ways that my introversion shapes me is that I prefer writing over talking. Writing and journaling is common among introverts. Because I am a deep thinker and I take time to process things, writing is a better tool for my communication.  Most of the very gifted writers that I know in the church are introverts.

I also find it hard to interrupt people when they are talking and I do not like to be interrupted. That may seem like a no-brainer but I have found that it does not bother most extroverts. In fact most of my extroverted friends are adept at interrupting. They don’t realize that is what they are doing though. Their brain works so fast that the thoughts and words just tumble out of their mouths.  I have learned to not take offense and if I have been known to interrupt if I have a pressing need to be heard.

Introversion and extroversion is in our DNA from the time that God formed us in our mother’s womb. Most people are somewhere along the spectrum, but some people are extreme extroverts or extreme introverts.  In a nutshell, extroverts get their energy from being with people and introverts spend energy by being with people; hence the need to recharge. The differences between the two are too numerous to cover in this article. So what’s the point and why is it important to know this about others and ourselves?

Knowing ourselves helps us to recognize our strengths and weakness. It helps us to be aware of our “growth areas” so that we can work on improving them.  God is in the business of change. He invites us to come as we are (for He has perfectly made us) but not stay as we are.  I have heard many people say about themselves, “that is just the way I am and people will have to deal with it.” Boloney! We are the ones who need to deal with it.  I dislike small talk but that does not give me an excuse to opt of out it completely.

God wants us to not only know ourselves but also to be sensitive to the personalities of others.  I know that if I ask an extrovert in my bible study to share what God is doing in her life, most likely she will jump at the chance. If the woman I want to ask to share is an introvert however, I will take a different tactic. I would ask her privately and give her plenty of time to prepare. I would gently encourage her, affirm her, and reassure her that she can do this.

We are all ministers of Jesus Christ and we need to learn to work with others in a way that best for them, not necessarily what it best for us.  That means as an introvert I need to learn how to minister to extroverts. That means that I need to be patient while they talk things out. Extroverts tend to process their thoughts by talking. I need to encourage their enthusiasm and respect their independence.  I need to not be annoyed when they interrupt knowing they are not being rude. Their thoughts often come so fast that the words spill out when they think of them. I need to not expect extroverts to be like me.

Extroverts need to learn how to minister and be more sensitive to introverts.  They need to allow introverts time to process new situations. Be patient while they process their thoughts. Respect their privacy. I am a deeply private person and I am uncomfortable sharing personal information with people unless they are a trusted friend. Also I prefer to be the one sharing that information.  Extroverts can learn how to not interrupt introverts, but allow them to finish sharing.  Introverts tend to be uncomfortable when the spotlight is on them. Extroverts should keep this in mind. Most introverts prefer to receive both praise and correction privately.  Extroverts need to respect the alone time introverts need to recharge, and to remember that introverts are just “wired” differently than them.

These are just some of the distinctions between extroverts and introverts. All of us need to respect that God has given us all different personalities, gifts, talents, and temperaments. We need to keep this in mind when having relationships with one another and judge one another charitably (with love) and not critically.

Our best example of dealing with people is Jesus himself. He was a master at it. His message never changed but his methodology did. He dealt differently with different people. He was firm and sometimes harsh with the Pharisees. He was firm but gentle with the woman at the well.  Yet the message was the same. Repent, turn from your sins, and follow me.

Relationships with others are joyous, wonderful, frustrating, and messy.  Yet the only thing that is eternal on this earth is the souls of men and women. When we seek to live in harmony and understanding with others, we give glory to our Savior and we open doors to genuine relationships that testify of the saving work of Christ.