Praying right now for the Baranicks. That God would protect and deliver the baby with no harm to the baby or Hollie.

I’m mad at Rob Bell

Not necessarily because of his alleged heresy. Not because I hate his “Nooma” videos. But because he wrote a book. Not the one about Elvis or Sex. The one about love. That’s right. Rob Bell’s book “Love Wins” has made me mad.

Not because of the content. Not because of the really lame cover design. Simply because now, I have to read it. So many people are talking about it and asking if what stated in the book is right, wrong, evil, up for interpretation, or whatever. And my current answer is, I don’t know.

Like a majority of the people who are ready to burn him at the stake or even prematurely jump to his defense, I haven’t read the book. I don’t know what it actually says. I am unable to speak on something I have yet to see for myself. But now I guess I’ll have to.

The jury may still be out on whether or not he’s a heretic but it is decidedly obvious that Rob Bell is a marketing genius.

You beat me this time Rob Bell, but next time you won’t be so lucky.

Me: Why are you so mysterious?

God: I only seem that way because I’m beyond your understanding.

Me:

“Faith is the active conviction that God is, God is able, and that God is good!”

James Laws

Many have claimed to follow Jesus while refusing to ever actually meet Him face to face.

The Approachable King

In Exodus 19 & 20 God does something that must have been seemingly contradictory to the people of Israel. After reading these chapters yourself you may be left feeling a little confused as to God’s intentions. I know I was at first.

One the one hand, God tells Moses to prepare the people because He is going to speak to them face to face. It seems God wanted to establish that He is their God and that He desires to communicate to them directly.

On the other hand, God tells Moses to place a barrier around the base of the mountain so that the people don’t “go up into the mountain or touch the edge of it.” The penalty for doing either of these…death. And when He does show up He does so with a fanfare of thunder, lightning, and a thick cloud. The kind that they saw as He brought destruction upon Egypt. It’s almost like God is trying to keep them at a distance.

Kind of puzzling isn’t it? That is until you read Exodus 20:18-20.

Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off and said to Moses, You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die. Moses said to the people, Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.

That clears it up, right? Moses tells the people that they don’t need to be filled with terror over the fanfare in which God came but that God was using it so that they would fear Him.

What God was doing was establishing something that I believe our current Christian culture has lost. And to our detriment. We have embraced Him as friend but denied His kingship. We have declared the love of God while forsaking the fear of God.

Yes, our God is approachable. He wants to talk to you face to face, heart to heart. He wants you to come boldly before the throne of grace. But He is not your bff… He is KING. And we would be wise to rediscover the fear of God.

What we see in Exodus is God setting a simple precedent. He is the approachable King…

The other day I shared about the negative space in the Bible. The idea came from my reading of Genesis 22 when I came across some of this negative space.

This is a beautiful passage with so much great content. There’s the faithfulness of Abraham, the prophetic statements and symbolism, the Messianic tie to Mount Moriah, and many many more great things to be taken from this passage. But the other day while I was reading it again I couldn’t help but ask, “What about Isaac?”

Let’s quickly go over the basic points of the story.

  1. God tells Abraham to sacrifice Isaac
  2. Isaac, carrying the very items with which his body is to be burned, notices that something is fishy since they have no sacrifice
  3. Abraham binds Isaac to the altar they built together
  4. Abraham raises his knife to kill Isaac
  5. The angel of the Lord tells Abraham to stop
  6. Abraham and Isaac then proceed to sacrifice a ram they found in the brush

A nice little story tied neatly with a bow except for one problem…What about Isaac? Nothing more is said about him again until he meets his wife Rebekah. Genesis 24:67 has this to say.

Then Isaac brought her into the tent of Sarah his mother and took Rebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.

Comforted after his mother’s death?! What about after his father tied him to an altar and tried to carve him like a thanksgiving turkey? I don’t know about you but I think I would need some comforting and maybe a restraining order after an event like that. There are so many questions as I ponder, “What about Isaac?”

  1. Do you think that Isaac dealt with father rejection issues after that? I mean most dads just neglect there kids but Isaacs almost killed him. One attempted murder trumps a lifetime of neglect.
  2. Do you think they talked about it afterwards or was that the quietest walk back down the mountain ever?
  3. Do you think Isaac heard the angel of the Lord or was it like we hear God now, more in our own hearts? Some might suggest that if he did that might ease the shock of the situation. I’m not sure. Isaac: Oh wait! you weren’t just going to kill me because you wanted to? God told you to do it? Whew! I thought it was just… WAIT! GOD TOLD YOU TO KILL ME!!! AND YOU LISTENED!!!
  4. I wonder if Isaac ever told that story to his sons? Esau & Jacob fussing about doing their chores and Isaac is all like, “You think your life is hard? When I was your age your grandfather tied me to an altar and almost sacrificed me to Yahweh. And I had to carry the wood for the altar, up a mountain, both ways.”

In all seriousness, I just can’t imagine what Isaac must have felt during or after that event. Rejection, fear, loneliness, helplessness. These are just some of the emotions I imagine when I try and put myself in his place. Then I think of another journey up this same mountain many many years later.

Jesus, also carrying the wood that He would be laid upon, walks to the place of his sacrifice. His Father’s hand was not stayed. The only voice from God was not the Father putting an end to this horrific scene, it was the voice of the Son.

The darkness lasted three hours. At three o’clock, Jesus groaned out of the depths, crying loudly, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”

Mark 15:34 (MSG)

There aren’t many of us who can relate to Isaac’s story or could even comprehend what he might have felt. It’s comforting to know however that there is someone who understands all the feelings we do and don’t understand. He’s felt them more strongly than we could ever imagine and He’s ready to experience them again with us.

rubin_vase

rubin_vase

In design we deal with a concept called negative space. It’s the empty space around a design or image. Where negative space becomes compelling is when it’s used as a part of the design or image itself to bring a richer concept.

Sometimes when I’m reading Scripture it’s negative space or the story that isn’t told that grabs my attention. I’m intrigued by the untold elements as if they were withheld on purpose. Not because they weren’t important but because God encourages discovery.

What you find might not be life changing. It may not even be interesting. But, every once in awhile, it may just make what is there richer than before. The negative space can never replace what is actually said but once you have come to a stand still with a passage perhaps explore what isn’t there.

Ask questions. Step back from the scene and see what seems to be missing. How does it relate to what is there? Place yourself in the negative space. How does that make you feel? What you learn may challenge you, encourage you, or it might just make you think. Either way, the negative space of scripture might be a journey worth taking.

A church moving into a new location can be a very exciting thing. It creates anticipation and buzz. All kinds of questions begin to arise. At the Exchange my desire is that we would be a place to get answers to all those questions. No necessarily by any one individual or sermon but the exchange that takes place in the community.

What’s interesting in our move to this new location is  the buzz it’s created outside of our small church. People who are not even connected to our little circle are talking about our move. As people walk by they are intrigued by the renovations that we are doing. Some even stop in to ask questions even though we haven’t officially opened up to the public.

So today I thought I would ask the #1 question that we have been asked since we started working on the new location.

Question: Where has the ARK moved to?

Great question although some might be wondering why this question is pertinent to our new church location. The reason is the ARK used to be in the same basic building that we are now meeting in.

Answer: 240 Oak St NW, Cleveland, TN 37311

As more questions are asked you can be sure that I will answer to the best of my ability.