In March of 2004 I was preaching a series of sermons based on the life of Moses.
In listening to it again I was struck by how cautious I was with my language…the denomination in which I served for over thirty years was beginning to intentionally accommodate what was deemed to be a generation that would not…no could not… be reached by preaching propositional truth.
The new emphasis was on showing the love of God and expecting that God would ‘tweak’ the irksome issues of abortion and gay marriage. We were not to talk about “that stuff” anymore.
In this message, I made a prediction that I am sure raised eyebrows. I am certain that some thought I was being alarmist. I said that the very future of civilization was being threatened, and that the church faced some tough choices. In light of the current chaos…Listen to this message and see if there is something here for us.
The message on what we did is we give them three. I give them three assignments in the second semester of pulpit speech.
It’s called the first one. We kind of talk about theory and how to put a message together and how to handle the scriptures and interpret the Scriptures and.
But the second time out, they actually give three brief messages, which is really a challenge when you take, you know, a controversial topic or a scriptural topic and try and reduce it down to 8 or 10 minutes. That’s a challenge.
And so this one sort of round of messages that we were in the middle of. I asked them to take a current topic in the news and preach a topical sermon.
And so this one young man I was as soon as he announced his topic. It got quiet in the room. He said I want to talk about gay marriage.
And everybody got real quiet and I thought, OK, Anthony, how are you going to do this?
And he nailed it. I mean, he did such a wonderful balanced job, but I remember how he started. I heard about 1/3 of what he was saying and then I left him as soon as he said what I’m going to tell you.
My mind just started over here and I was on another level somewhere thinking about what we were going to say here. This is what he said. He said we are living in what sociologists?
And some church growth experts have called the the post Christian era and he said you hear this term a lot post modernism.
Postmodernism and he said as a result, you know we have a different set of values and such and he said, but you have to recognize that postmodernism is a philosophy.
When he said that I never thought about it in just that context, and then he made the natural leap that a good preacher would.
He said it’s a philosophy and he said I want you to turn to Colossians and he had his turn to Colossians and he said Paul told the Colossians, see to it.
That you not be taken captive by a hollow.
He had a great message after that, but I parked there for a while and my mind was just racing and I thought I had gotten recently.
This is our own denominations magazine. It’s called the Foursquare Foursquare World Advance magazine, and we’ve recently had kind of a. If you ever got the old one, this is an entirely different.
Format and you can tell that it’s geared pretty intentionally for a certain subset of our culture, even in how they put the magazine together.
And so this is the viewpoint the editors page, like the letter from the editor, sort of and he’s entitled. There’s a picture of a laptop computer up in the top right.
And it’s entitled while we were preaching.
And the subtitle is we need to come to grips with what works and what doesn’t in sharing our faith with others.
Now I’m tracking with him.
But I got into the article and I started to just feel a little bit.
Not alarmed, but more. What is it that’s troubling me about what I’m reading? What is it? I couldn’t identify it?
Anthony helped me identify it when he said postmodernism is a philosophy and we have to be careful that we don’t become captive to a philosophy more than something else.
This is what he says. We need to come to grips with what works and what doesn’t in sharing our faith with others.
Being mindful of this is especially essential in our postmodern society in which most people have no biblical literacy or appreciation even for its relevancy. I am convinced he writes.
That people will not be won over by our intellectual arguments. They will be not coerced by our heated theological debates.
They certainly will not be persuaded by our screaming, other than being persuaded to run as fast as they can the other.
Now, much too often, he says, we emphasize these things to the exclusion of Christ. Command to love one another, even our enemies.
See Matthew chapter five. We forget in our efforts to exert our voice in what is arguably a society becoming progressively bankrupt, both morally and spiritually.
That what influenced us the most when we were searching for truth was a love unlike any we had before.
A love emanating from the heavens and expressed through people who extended that same love in kind by how they treated us, communicated with us and served us now.
That sounds good, doesn’t it?
Sounds good to me. I mean love one another.
But I’m still feeling.
A little uncomfortable and I thought what is it that’s something my antenna went up. That’s how I describe it with people.
It’s just you. You get that kind of. What is that? There’s something and I can’t put my finger on it.
He went on to tell about an interaction he had with somebody at a Starbucks.
He said I used to study for all my sermons in Starbucks. It facilitated not only the much needed caffeine jolt, but also an easy way to develop connections with unbelievers who might be spiritually searching. One such seeker was a barista named Robert, steeped in a way that he knew Christians would abhor.
He was very leery of me at first. He was not even remotely interested in what the Bible had to say.
I spent months simply developing a friendship with the young man during my study stints eventually during his breaks he would come and sit down at what was jokingly referred to as my office.
We’d get into some interesting discussions, and sometimes he would. That part of me that sometimes would give me an opportunity to share something about Jesus, and it always gave me the opportunity to show him someone else cared about him.
Eventually he became more open and told me interestingly, that no other Christian had ever shown love to him. It really shook him.
He was used to being preached at it shook me too. I hadn’t been aware treating people in a loving manner had become so rare now.
All of that. I mean there is not a thing that you could fault in anything that was said there and I’m still feeling really funny and I thought.
You know, back up on caffeine yourself? I mean, you’re getting a little bit out of balance here. I mean, what’s wrong with that? Why? Why are you taking issue with that?
Me, who gets to train preachers and teachers about how to handle the word me who gets to Pastor. A group of people so wonderful as you.
Somebody who hopes to write one day what what, what on earth what? Why would that trouble mean?
How many of you saw the? I think they call it the the water cooler KCI does this thing on the news where they interview different contemporary issues and stuff and they.
Had three or four preachers.
To do with Mel Gibson movie The Passion of the Christ they picked by design a couple that were deemed to be more liberal.
They had a Muslim imam.
They had a rabbi.
And then they had a conservative Christian and a liberal Christian by their own labels that they put on this. And they were discussing the passion. And it struck me that the one who is deemed to be the liberal Christian preacher was having trouble with the depiction.
Of the crucifixion of Jesus.
He was kind of siding with the critics that were saying this could lead to anti-Semitism. He was sort of siding with with the argument that said, we did we’re way too graphic here.
We needn’t emphasize so much. The more violent nature of the cross and all that, and the whole time I was sitting there.
I just made note of him, I I just, I thought.
What does ministry look like for you then?
What is it that you share with people? Do you share your philosophy? Do you share warm and fuzzy feelings, or do you share the truth about the gospel?
Well, I wasn’t surprised at all, but two less than two weeks later.
After the first gay couples got married in Portland, Guess who was the first Eugene clergyman to say? If somebody presented a valid marriage license, he’d do the wedding.
Is there a connection between being fuzzy about the cross and what the cross meant and how we should live?
When my friend Anthony got up and gave his powerful message 8 to 10 minutes on the significance of God’s word in a time dealing with this whole gay marriage issue.
I kept thinking what Anthony was doing, had nothing to do with gay marriage at all. What he was doing was for a young man in his generation to courageously articulate the truth that the word of God is the only barometer for the truth.
The only barometer for the truth and I looked at that and I thought about, you know postmodernism and some of the things you know what?
What troubled me about that article I told you I’d come back and tell you what it was. Here’s what it was talked about how we would love people and how we would feel and how we would make them feel. And because they feel accepted.
They they would come to know the Lord.
That’s not true.
Here’s what’s wrong with it.
By the word of God.
What the issue is is not the issue. Somebody told me one time wise mentor I had in Canada. He said to me one time he said, Jim.
The issue is never the issue. Control is always the issue.
Here’s what the issue is. We’re we’re being presented with men putting wedding rings on other men and women kissing each other, and that’s kind of the stark thing that we’re watching. But here’s the real issue.
Where did any societal prohibitions come from? Where was the issue framed in the first place?
And Moses went up on the mountain, and the Lord gave him his law for how we should live. And he spoke his will on the matter.
And what’s being battled about right now is not the particulars at the core of it is the word of God.
And whether or not he claims lordship over his people, or whether he does not.
And for the church we’re on the horns of a dilemma because I want to know how should I be right now.
What should my demeanour be? What should I say? What should I not say? What should you be involved with?
What should you not be involved with? You come here hopefully every week to hear a message from God’s word.
And I want to make sure that I’m rightly dividing it.
And so when I learned about where we were going to be in our series about, I actually had a.
I fell out this was so neat. He said, you know, I’ve been coming to your church haven’t been coming real long, but it’s all been this series on Moses you’re doing, he said.
Would you please get to the part where the Red C parts?
And I said, well, I’m sorry you have to take their chronology up with the Lord. I mean he arranged, you know everything we’ve talked about so far.
But I knew exactly what he meant. I want to get to the part where God does something to solve stuff.
Don’t we want to get there? I want to get there and I want to know how is he going to solve this stuff that we’re in the middle of.
Because we are in the middle of some stuff right now.
We are on the bubble, I believe of one of the most major societal changes in the history of the world.
Does that sound extreme? Does that sound like hyperbole? I don’t think it is. I think that the decisions that are being made right now in the United States see what we know about is happening here. I had the privilege of living and ministering in Canada for 12 years before I came here.
And I want to tell you, Canada is down the road of wastes. They’re down the road apiece from us on this particular issue, and they are now talking the Supreme Court of Canada is now having discussions about legislation that will involve hate speech.
Much that would actually involve preachers being fined or imprisoned for speaking what is deemed to be hate speech.
From a Charter of rights issue.
The Dominion of Canada.
Somebody said one time.
That when you choose a path.
Whether you know it or not, you choose where that path leads.
We’re choosing pathways now.
But we need to be aware we are choosing where those pathways will lead.
And so the issue is, as big as we think it is. And it’s not just that it’s about the word of God.
And I came to this part about Moses. I love this verse 15 we’re going to get to the part now where the Red Sea parts.
Verse 15 of Chapter 14 and the Lord said to Moses, why are you crying out to me?
Tell the Israelites to move on, raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground.
I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, so that they will go in after them.
And I will gain glory through Pharaoh and his army, and through his Chariots and his horsemen. And the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I gained glory through Pharaoh, his Chariots, his horsemen.
That’s the second time, not just in this immediate passage. A number of times prior to this, we kept hearing about Chariots and horsemen Chariots.
And then the Angel of the Lord, who had been traveling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them.
The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel and throughout the night, the cloud brought darkness to the one side and a light to the other side, so that neither went near the other all night.
Along and then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea and all that night the Lord drove the C back with a strong East wind and turned it into dry land, and the waters were divided.
And the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground with a wall of water on their right.
And on their left.
When I I thought about this and in preparation for this morning.
We all have images because of movies and movies are pretty powerful. If you don’t believe that, listen to the debate we’re having right now about the passion of the Christ. I mean that that the argument was most heated before it was even released.
And so all the stuff that’s going on without talking about all that, I’ll point to one that maybe most of us have seen. Cecil B. Demille’s classic The 10 commandments.
Charlton Heston playing Moses I love you know. A lot of that was accurate, a lot of it wasn’t. They had New Testament verses in the mouth of Aaron and.
They kind of took.
They played a little bit fast and loose with some of it for editorial license, but the one part that is kind of dramatic that everybody remembers even for the special effects that was kind of high tech for its day, is when the Red Sea parted.
So Charlton Heston gets there and Yule Brenner chasing him in the Chariots and all the Pharaohs guys are coming and Moses stands up and and he holds up Johnny Carson.
He used to do this night show. He said he used to hate to play tennis with Charlton Heston. He felt like Heston had an advantage.
But he could hold up the staff and his hand, and that is true. They did show him doing that, but here’s what they show in the movie that didn’t happen.
They show this all happening in a relatively brief period of time and that Moses stands up and while during the daylight when all these things is like a big dark storm starts and he stands turns to remember that and then.
Didn’t happen like that.
What happened was the Lord told Moses, why are you crying out to me you?
Let’s before we do anything else. The Lord changes the focus from.
Yes, ask me, but why are you crying out to me? You do this. You extend the staff, that’s in your hand and you extend your hand.
And as you do that, then I’m going to do some things, so hopefully I know how to teach people how to handle the scriptures and to interpret and to preach. And so the first thing I would say is, was there ever a time?
Contextually, studying the scripture let Scripture interpret Scripture was there another time with the Lord, told Moses anything about that staff before.
What’s that in your hand? Don’t send me Lord, I don’t know what to do. I don’t have any power and the Lord said what’s in your hand?
Remember that said, his staff should throw it down.
Threw it down and turned into a serpent. He said pick it up by the tail and it became a staff in his hand.
He goes and with that staff the Lord said, I’m going to miraculously set my people free. You’re going to be wielding it in your hand, but it’s my power. The staff speaks of the miraculous intervention of the Lord Jerry.
Cook said in his book years ago, he entitled The Book Love, Acceptance and Forgiveness. He said people don’t need to be counseled out of their problems. They need to be miracles out of them.
So it speaks of miraculous intervention, but then it says Moses extended his hand too. And then I thought, wait a minute, that sounds familiar.
Was there another passage where it says Moses extended his hands? Yeah, that sounds familiar. During the battle. Later in Israel’s history, when they were fighting against the Canaanites. But the Lord told Moses.
Extend your hands and so Aaron and her literally held up his hands because as his hands were held up over the battlefield, the Israel Israelites prevailed when his hands began to falter. The enemy prevailed and so they literally held his hands up.
And the great victory was brought about. And a young guy named Joshua didn’t fail to learn the lesson because Joshua was going to be the one to lead people into their inheritance.
So Moses extend your hand. Moses extend the staff. I think it speaks about this.
Trust in the fact that the Lord will miraculously help you through troubled times, and there’s going to be some endurance involved in some patience. And maybe we need to hold each other up.
Because it went on all night.
They didn’t show that in the movie.
It went on all night and it says that the pillar of cloud that was in front of them and guiding him got him to that point. Now went behind them.
And covered them from behind.
And it says when they did, you know that when they crossed the Red Sea they crossed at night.
But on their side of that pillar it was light, and on the other side.
It was dark and it says in the Lord made a distinction.
The Lord made a distinction.
I do not like this phrase, us and them.
But I want to tell you that in the last days the Lord will draw a distinction.
And he’s drawing those distinctions now between those who know him and love him and will listen to what he says. And those who don’t.
And that distinction will not be made by men. It will be made by by us. It’s not going to be made by us determining what somebody elses position is. It’s going to be by the choices that people make. Jesus said this. This is the judgment.
When I hear that I go oh.
Judgment what’s the judgment? Jesus said this is the judgment that the light came into the world, but men preferred the darkness.
Because their deeds were evil.
I don’t have to judge anybody. I don’t wanna judge anybody.
I’ve had a shift start to happen in my heart and I’m thankful for it. I don’t like it, it hurts.
It’s starting to really hurt.
When I see these couples on the courthouse steps.
So far from God intended order for them.
It’s not like they’re hurting me, and it’s not like they’re doing anything. It’s going to affect me my whole lot in one way or the other, but we know what’s going to happen is. I know how it’s affecting them, and it’s going to affect the generations after them, and that hurts.
How do we handle that? Well, you extend the staff. You extend your hand now why all this stuff about horses I?
I think the Lord likes horses.
I mean, how could you not like horses?
But I don’t think the Lord likes horsepower.
Well, that may seem like an odd thing. Why would you say that?
On the way out here this morning, I turned the news on when I was pulling my notes together before I came out the door and Tim Russert Meet the Press was talking to Rudy Giuliani.
And Giuliani was one of my favorite characters. I I just have a lot of respect for him. And so Russert was doing what he does best.
He always tries to bait people into controversial questions and answers and everything he said so is Vice President Cheney going to step out of the ticket?
And you’re going to be the VP and Giuliani just smiled. And he said, I’m not making any plans like that. And then he said so.
You gonna run against Hillary Clinton in a couple years and try to be the senator.
We are and, you know, Giuliani started talking about a rod going to the Yankees or something. He kept changing, wouldn’t we wouldn’t bite. But finally?
But Russert put it something like this. I don’t know that he used the phrase I’ve heard him use this phrase.
I don’t know that he did this morning, but I was thinking about it. He basically was asking the question. So do you think you have enough horses to pull it off?
He’s used that expression before to talk about influence.
And political power, and then the inference is, do you have enough horsepower to pull it off?
And that’s that’s become an idiom in our society to describe self sufficiency. Do you have enough horses to get this done?
Judy’s dad ran a pipeline company for years in Canada and he would talk about the big companies that he would compete with bid some of the big oil companies, and he’d say.
Boy, they got all the horses and I knew what he meant by that. They have all the power they have all the influence.
In in the Book of Joshua, we read that when Joshua finally began to battle these Canaanite nations one after another, they came up against the time where they came against Chariots for the first time.
Iron Chariots and the Lord said you’re not going to have to do anything. I’m going to win this battle, but once the battle is won.
I want you to hamstring all the horses.
I remember reading that I thought.
What did they do?
Do what he meant. You know what he wanted him to do. He didn’t want them to capture the horses and the Chariots and then start to think we’re really powerful now because we have the horses.
The Bible says some trust in Chariots and some in horses.
But we will remember the name of the Lord our God. Turn to Psalm 147.
I want you to see what the Lord.
Thinks about horsepower.
We’re going to go back to Exitus, so keep your finger there.
Is not in the strength of the horse, nor is his delight in the legs of a man.
The Lord Delights in those who fear him and put their on their hope in his unfailing love.
A distinct, uh?
Comparison between self sufficiency and strength horsepower. What is he compared to people who delight to fear him and put their hope in his unfailing love?
I I think about this all the time. I kind of fall into a trap. I’m sure it has to do with how I was raised. I was raised in a good Irish Catholic family.
And I can I can picture my mom saying some of these things to us about a ferocious self sufficiency that you don’t rely on anybody else and you don’t.
You don’t let anybody take care of you. You take care of yourself and you work with your own two hands. And that’s how we were raised. And that message got across.
To me, and it carried over to my spiritual life to where for a long time I didn’t have the sense to stop and go to the Lord with things because I kept trying to do it myself.
It’s good to be self sufficient. It’s good not to rely on other people to do what you should do.
I agree with that, but I do not agree that it’s a valid spiritual principle that the Lord waits until we’ve done everything we can do before he moves. He wants us to go to him first.
Some trust in Chariots, but the the Lord isn’t into the strength of the horse or into the legs of man.
You know what do we say when somebody is going to take a political office? Who said they’re going to run?
The Lord’s not interested in that. We’re going to run. He’s not interested in what strength we can assemble, what he’s interested in is, will we really trust that he loves us enough to help us? And that’s what he wanted?
So, but we we tweak our words, don’t we? We want to change the issue and we’ll think of clever ways.
I I do sort of study politics a little bit more as an amusement as anything else. I heard one this week was an award winner.
I have heard spin put on things, but this is a classic. I mean I want to know the speechwriter.
Who came up with this? This was an art form.
Senator Kerry, who’s going to be the primary candidate to run against the president for reelection. They they’re they’re starting. They’re really getting into it in earnest now, with the ads and.
All the rest of it.
Apparently, some reporters have anticipated that Kerry is going to have trouble about switching positions. They’ve caught him four or five Times Now on major positions, saying in one venue in one city, I’m against this, and two weeks later in another city, saying, I’m for this, so they’ve caught him three or four.
Times at that. So here’s how they’re going to handle it. I love how strategists handle it. Here’s how they’re going to handle it.
The New York Times had an article and I I was in a restaurant or a coffee shop. I laughed so hard I distracted the people in the restaurant.
It just struck me funny, but this is what?
The line said.
Senator Kerry Boldprint on the top of the news.
Sitting in the register guard, said Senator Kerry and then a colon flip flop.
Or intellectual fluidity?
And there was just something so funny about that when I read that I thought boy play with words and you know, say what you want to say. But you know what I think?
I think we are in danger of moral fluidity.
We’re in danger of spiritual fluidity and trying to call it something else. When we have 1 foot in the world and 1 foot in the Kingdom.
Trust the Lord, but we trust ourselves. Hedge our bets whatever phrase you want to use.
Now there’s no fluidity about some things. The very things that are the anchor points are being debated right now, and that’s why we need to know how to walk and what to say.
In times like this, so the Lord said I want you to go forward and there’s a term that fighter pilots have.
Where if they’re, if they’re in a formation and they’re going to do battle in the air and dogfight, they have a phrase where one pilot will say to the other on his radio. I’ve got your 6.
And what that means is I got it covered behind you.
I got you covered from behind because you can’t see behind. You can’t, and you know oftentimes in a dogfight, that’s exactly where you want to be to take out the other plane is to get in behind them or underneath them or whatever, and so in battle they say I got your six. I got you covered.
Well, the Lord had their six. He had him covered because the Angel of the Lord and the cloud moved from in front of them to behind them between.
The ones that were chasing them and so they get to the Red Sea. And I love this part.
Now, Cecil B. DeMille did a pretty good job. I mean, special effects for the years in which he did that was that made in the 50s. Pretty amazing.
But you know?
The closest thing I can think of this actually happened yesterday in I was thinking about firefighters a lot. Yesterday I got to speak to the awards banquet for the Southland Fire District, and they’ve merged with Cresswell and so those two departments get together and they have their awards thing.
And they asked me to come, and had two different people approached me, and they gave me two different assignments and I didn’t know exactly what was required. One person said get up and say whatever you want for a few minutes and then pray.
Then the other person said you’re going to give an invocation, and then we’re going to do this, and so we got there and my first clue that this was going to be an interesting evening was there was a unicycle and some swords and some balls on the on the platform and I.
Thought oh OK.
I heard they were going to have entertainment. Well, it was a jug.
So first of all I’m getting there, I think. Well, where does an invocation fit in with this so that the chief comes over and I’m just meeting the new chief and and he’s he’s saying chaplain? I’m glad you’re here, and so I think in invocations right before the meal, right?
Lady comes in and said OK, the food’s ready people got him started lining up for the food. Then he looked at me and I looked at him and he said.
So where could we put the invocation now?
He said, would you like to go before the juggler or before the awards?
So then I watched. This guy was amazing. I mean he was absolutely amazing. He he was really a stand up comedian who happened to do juggling and sword throwing and all this stuff. And he did this thing on a unicycle. Was really funny.
But he went on like for a while and then the chief. He was a good sport. He had a big celery stalk in his mouth and this guy was juggling with balls and swords and he get the sword and cut the celery.
I thought I should have given the invocation before that, but I.
So anyway, I’m I was thinking about firefighters and and I did have something I kind of tapered it down real quick, but I I did have something I wanted to say on our behalf and I’ll say it here too.
You know our society boy. Sometimes it feels like the very fabric is tearing.
But there are certain groups of people.
I think law enforcement’s like that, I think the fire services like that. I think the people who serve in our hospitals and the people who teach our children in the schools and administer our schools.
They’re they’re kind of holding things and we need to pray for them and be thankful for them. And so I was.
I was saying something about that, but I wanted to think of a current thing and driving out there. I thought this just happened yesterday in Maryland.
Do you remember that where the the wind came up and that ferry there was a passenger ferry that capsized in Maryland?
A number of people died, but what I may use the illustration for with these firefighters was I said.
Didn’t surprise me at all. I saw all these nameless guys and gals and their turn out gear and I saw the the pumper trucks and I saw the ambulances and all the rest of it. No one going to know their names. No one going to know what they did.
Do you ever try to identify a firefighter? They all look the same in that turn out gear and they’re all dirty and grubby and all the rest of it.
But they’re doing such a valuable thing, and I applauded them last night, and I’ll applaud them now. And I think that they serve an amazing thing in our culture. But in thinking about that, I thought, what caused that accident?
There were Navy reservists, I know the reserve center at Adelphi, MD. They held my service record for a long time so I communicated with a lot of those people.
And they were having a drill weekend and one of the master chiefs from the Navy came out and saw the whole thing and he was the one that was being interviewed on the news about what happened.
Apparently this storm blew up, but it was so focused that it was something about the terrain of where way the harbor was, or or where the the surrounding structures were that this wind a Gale force.
Blew up and focused real quick in a narrow corridor and it almost went right where that ferry was and it came with such force that it just upended it.
And if you’ve ever been in a violent windstorm like that, you know how powerful the wind is. So the Lord said, I want you to go at night and all night long that says the Lord blew a mighty wind and Eastwind such that the seas stood up like a wall.
And they crossed at night.
On dry ground, let’s read the rest of it.
Now the Angel. Verse 19. The Angel of the Lord had been traveling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them and the pillar of cloud also moved from in front of them and stood behind him. Coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel, and throughout the night.
The cloud brought darkness to one side and light to the other side.
So that neither went near the other all night.
Long and then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night. This didn’t happen in just a moment with Charlton Heston holding the thing out and happened when everybody was during the day. It happened at night.
And all night long in the midst of that fierce storm, the people over a million Hebrews were crossing the Red Sea.
On dry ground.
Can you imagine the force of wind it took to put the water up as a wall and then have it not be muddy?
What did that look like? What did it look like that on one side it was dark and on the other side it was light?
Because where the Hebrews were walking we we hear it was light on their side of the pillar and for the Egyptians it was dark.
Now, if you want to understand why things are the way they are right now, just don’t be confused about the human heart.
Turn to the person next to you and say you know, I know this is kind of personal, but the pastor said to do this you have a deceitfully wicked heart.
Would you just tell the person next to you?
I don’t want to break the news to you, but.
Now the husbands and.
Wives are going. You have an answer.
I didn’t ask you to relish it, I just said say it.
But that’s true.
You think I’m going to say that, but I won’t say that at all, I’m.
Not going near it.
And if you want to know how hard the human heart can be.
Who are these guys that were chasing the Hebrews?
What have they most recently experienced?
Plague after plague after plague. Gnats, boils, flies all this horrific stuff, culminating in the first born in every family in Egypt including Pharaoh, they were mourning the death of their first born. Everybody in the army. Everybody in those Chariots, everyone.
The Pharaohs, officials, pharaoh himself, their first born, were dead.
And God’s doing all this stuff. So now in the middle of the night, who knows what this look like?
The pillar of Cloud moved behind them. It’s light for the Hebrews. It’s dark for the Egyptians. They’re in the dark, and a Gale force. Wind has ripped the Red Sea open, and the Hebrews are going through, and they still think we’re going to go get him.
One more plague the frogs.
That was a little effect I threw in.
Think about that for a minute. The hardness of heart it would take to not get.
It by then.
You’ve seen the faces, I’ve seen them too. The smug self congratulatory people who’ve been on the news and just basically saying we’ll define things to be the way we want them to be.
And that’s that, and the county commissioners in Portland who just totally disregarded the law and doing what they were doing and flaunting that.
Coming out to cheering crowds.
How did how did we ever get there? Well, they’re no different than you and I that same wickedness is in us that same hardness of heart is in us.
The difference, the only difference is if the Lord is graciously away, made a way for us to face a choice we’ve come to know him, and in that he’s showing us another way to be.
And all those folks are are just people who don’t know that yet.
And we need to approach it that way. They’re not wicked and evil or different than you and I. They’re doing wicked evil things absolutely.
The Hebrews were being delivered right through the Red Sea, and.
I I like this.
Paul, when he was defending his ministry before one of the people that he was on trial before he gave him the story about a shipwreck and he talks about this horrific wind.
You remember that story? It’s in acts 27. No need to turn there now, but you might want to read it later. In Acts 27, he said this. This storm was so terrible. He knew they were going to run aground.
And he told his captors he’s on a prison. He’s a prisoner on a ship, and he says, I told you so.
Well said, the Lord told me that we’re going to hit this storm. You wouldn’t listen to me, but so now it is we’re going to run aground. You just do what I tell you now, and no one’s going to die.
And it happened exactly, and this horrific storm breaks up the ship. They end up on the Isle of Malta.
They get some of the broken pieces of the ship. Start a fire on the beach. Paul reaches into the woodpile and a poisonous snake fastens itself on him.
And then the people said this guy must be evil. He survived the shipwreck and now he’s going to die of a snakebite.
Says Paul shook it off in the fire and then he turned around, starts addressing them about the Lord.
The mighty wind and the storm was nothing other than a vehicle to get Paul where he needed to be to speak God’s word where the Lord wanted him to speak it.
There is a storm blowing right now in our country.
Just know that it’s the vehicle to get us positioned individually and corporately to speak the word of the Lord to a generation. Who’s forgotten. What it sounds like.
Jesus put it this way, he said.
You don’t know where the wind comes from. You don’t know where it’s going, but you can discern its effects.
I a lot of you know that I’m a handyman and.
There’s something about how people laugh immediately, and so venomously when I say that I don’t know but.
I thought better than that.
So anyway, I I know all about power tools and I know what to do.
So I remember one time that I saw Tim the tool man do a thing on a power washer one time.
I thought you know if I’m going to paint my house, I could do that. Got power washer.
And when I got that thing, I wasn’t going to fool around with these little settings over here. I mean, I put it on turbo.
I got that power washer.
And I thought if you’re really going to do it, you should get the nozzle right up on the wood.
And I started noticing a groove going right through the siding of my house, and I thought I don’t think that’s supposed to be happening.
What made that so powerful was what do they call it, per pounds per square inch or whatever of pressure?
The thing that makes a pneumatic tool powerful, don’t you just hate it when those demon possessed mechanics, change your tires and then they take that high the the pneumatic thing.
That things on there till the 2nd coming. If you get a road you’re pulled over, you’re going to change your tire. You can’t crack that thing open. I always let Judy do that. I can’t get at it.
But I mean, there’s the reason that that’s so strong is it’s pneumatically powered. Pneuma spirit wind.
And they were gathered together in one place on the day of Pentecost. And there came the sound as if all the mighty rushing wind and the whole place that they were there was shaken, and the Holy Spirit came upon them.
And they began to speak in other tongues, as the spirit gave them utterance. And great boldness came upon.
Then they were asking Jesus about chronology. Before that they said Lord, is it at this time you’re going to restore the Kingdom to Israel?
What do we do now? Form a political action committee? Should we hit the talk show circuit? What should we do to change our society?
Jesus said it’s not for you to know times or seasons. My father fixed by his own authority, but you shall receive.
Power after the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you’ll be my witnesses in Jerusalem and Judea in Eugene and Corvallis in Washington DC, and Los Angeles, in Cottage Grove.
Is that the Holy Spirit would give direction somebody came up to me between the services and said, you know, Pastor, when you said?
He said, didn’t you preach a message a long time ago where you said the word for tribulation means to be forced through a narrow opening?
I said yeah.
Because you were talking about pneumatic tools in the service.
He said, I wonder if the narrow opening that the wind gets forced through is the tribulation experiences that we have.
I thought somebody got it, yes.
That’s exactly what it is.
We’re not called on to fix everything. We’re not called to fix people.
But we are called to operate in spirit LED spirit inspired and spirit empowered ministry. In the midst of a tumultuous time.
Here’s what we don’t want. You don’t want to have it work the other way where the wind begins to blow you.
When John the Baptist was being described by Jesus, how would you like the son of God to say this about you?
Of all the people that’s ever been born to women, there’s no one greater than the Baptist.
How would you like?
For Jesus to say nobody that ever lived was any greater than you, then he says, but he who is least in the Kingdom is greater than him, that’s you.
He said when you went out to hear John the Baptist, what did you go out to see? Did you go out to see a read that was being blown in the wind?
Ephesians 4 says this he gave pastors and teachers to equip the Saints for the work of the ministry to the building up of the body of Christ that we be no longer babes, tossed to and fro by every.
And the cunning, and the craftiness of men.
We don’t have to be blowing in the wind, literally.
What we have to do is to learn how to anchor ourselves. You know, Paul told the Thessalonica in church he said don’t get unsettled by the things you’re hearing about what’s going on in the world, he said, don’t be unsettled. He used a nautical term.
I didn’t know this when I served with the Coast Guard those three years. I guess it was in four years that I was with the Coast Guard group out here at North Bend.
I was the chaplain for that group, and so I went out on all their training things. When they did, a man overboard drill.
They got to fish me out of the drink a couple times, got to do the helicopter things and you know I rediscovered my prayer life in the helicopter a number of times and.
Went out with him that time when the new Carissa ran aground. I was in their 50 foot motor lifeboat and they went out.
It was like 25 foot seas. Scary stuff, but one of the things that I did go out one time. I didn’t know you had to practice this. I thought it.
This is probably why you don’t want to go fishing with me on a boat ’cause I don’t know these things. I always thought anchoring was just.
A matter of OK. I’ll stop here and drop the anchor.
There is an art to dropping an anchor in a storm and the Coast Guard and the Navy for that matter. They have drills all the time where while they’re underway they will practice anchoring in a storm.
And what they have to do? This is fascinating to me, the coxswain or the person driving the boat. They have to figure out how to position the vessel so that it’s in the right relationship to the wind and then they put the anchor down and instead of being blown away by the storm, the anchor will take hold.
Paul told them don’t be unsettled, the Cecil Nickens. This is what he meant. Don’t let somebody cut your anchor rope loose so that you’re just floating around in the storm. Be anchored in the storm.
How get positioned right in the wind?
So what’s that mean?
Don’t go to the right. Don’t go to the left, there’s some other things that we have to do.
But in interest of the time, I just want to say this. Let’s read the rest of our passage.
The Egyptians pursued them.
And all of Pharaoh’s horsemen and Chariots followed them into the sea.
B and during the last watch of the night.
The Lord looked down from the pillar of fire and the cloud at the Egyptian army, and he threw it into confusion.
He made the wheels of the Chariots come off so that they had difficulty driving and the Egyptians said, let’s get away from the Israelites. The Lord is fighting for them against Egypt.
I love that not only talk about finally realizing.
What’s going on?
The pillar of cloud has separated them there in the dark. The Israelites are in the light, the mighty wind all night long puts the C into heaps on either side.
The Israelites are crossing on dry ground. The hardness of heart says we’re still going to chase them and so they start to chase him. It says the Lord Lord looked at him through the pillar and said I’m going to knock.
The wheels off the Chariots. They still tried to chase the Israelites on the axles.
And then finally they stopped and say.
Wait a minute.
We’re fighting against God.
So then the Lord said to Moses.
Stretch out your hand over the seas so that the waters may flow back over the Egyptians and their Chariots and their horsemen, and Moses stretched out his hand over the sea and a Daybreak the C went back to its place and the Egyptians were fleeing toward it.
And the Lord swept them into the sea.
See, the water flowed back and covered the Chariots and the horsemen. The entire army of pharaoh that followed the Israelites into the sea and not one of them.
Survived, but the Israelites.
Or the Lord displayed against the Egyptians. The people feared the Lord, put their trust in him, and in Moses his servant.
I asked myself this question. I try when I think about the preaching task. I try to look at a a story and look at it from different angles. Here’s what I I tried to picture.
Maybe you’re a Hebrew woman.
And you have six kids.
And maybe the youngest one is nursing and you brought.
Gold and silver chalices and you’re laden down with the treasures of Egypt, but in the middle of the night, the Israelite army, by its divisions came and said, you go, now you go now and with your children trying to keep track of that big family and holding onto a nursing baby you walk through.
The Red Sea at night and a wall of water was here and a wall of water was there and what you felt between your toes was dry ground. You got to the other side. Do you know when the Lord judged Pharaoh wasn’t at the night?
It’s when the daylight started.
Did Moses stretched out his hand one more time, and the sea came in and it says that they began to wash ashore.
One of the sad duties the Coast Guard has and sheriff’s departments and special rescue teams. That’s happened in Maryland.
They changed from a rescue to a recovery operation and they go out and they call it a debris field.
I’ve had chaplain colleagues who have responded to air crashes and what they do is they go out in the motor. Lifeboats and aircraft seats with body parts begin to float.
And they retrieve them. A child teddy bear.
I ask you what what washed up on the shore for the Israelites to see that morning?
Did Pharaoh’s crown with the snake on it?
Wash up under the sand.
Floating in the surf where there’s some of those whips that the Egyptian taskmasters actually imported the wood from someplace else, so they could effectively beat the Hebrews with it.
Or some of those floating in the surf.
Horse carcasses chariot parts bodies I don’t know.
All I know is at the end of the day, the people of God stopped and said.
The Lord did this.
We better fear him.
We better listen to him.
We better follow him.
I’m not mad at anybody today.
I don’t have any wrath or anger toward anybody. I have nothing.
But concern in my heart for our country.
And for you and for your children. And you know what the best part is.
The Lord will make a way for his people.
Even if he has to use a big storm to do it.
So the storm’s on. Just ask yourself this when I finally get to land in this storm, who am I supposed to talk to him? What am I supposed to say?
Cecil, would you come?