Monday, January 07, 2008

holy mo

The Fearless series launched with a hefty bang. I didn’t feel like I was particularly engaging/funny (believe it or not, there’s a degree of playfulness that feels critical to me as a communicator) and perhaps a little heavy, but I believe God showed up to make sense of it all. It’s a subject for another time, but it’s really easy for pastors to slip into cranky preaching; it’s hard to describe how weirdly natural it is to preach to the choir. For you church-neophytes, that means telling Rambo-xtians what they think others should hear…and it’s usually about performing better. But I digress.

I would love to do a whole series on Moses. It’s absolutely discombobulating for me how the writer of Hebrews (chapter 11) and Stephen (the Church’s first martyr in Acts 7) describe Moses compared with the Exodus account.

The writer of Hebrews characterizes Moses this way: “By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.” (Hebrews 11:27). But Exodus reports: “The man said, ‘Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?’ Then Moses was afraid and thought, ‘What I did must have become known.’” (Exodus 2:14). It reads as though the fear factor was higher than the faith factor.

Then Stephen says, “Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action.” (Acts 7:22). But Moses' response in Exodus at the burning bush was: “O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” (Exodus 4:10). Perhaps Stephen wanted us to know Moses was really ducking in Exodus.

I’m no theologian. I gave up on that years ago; nothing as smarmy as a pastor who tries to be smarter than he/she is (“…but the Greek actually says…”). Still, it seems to me that the New Testament writers may have a little different view of faith (not simply a belief system) and more about motivations expressed in actions. The question is: did Moses do that by running from Egypt? It makes me wonder how we define faith in our current church culture. It could be that comparatives are critical: was the desire to go after the “invisible” larger than the fear of being discovered as a defender of the Hebrews? Maybe. Jesus used a hyperbolic-comparative when he described how we are to love him: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26).

Anyway, the two accounts have a unique distinctiveness…and one that should be explored. But you can do that on your own. Next week I’m tackling Joshua. Stepping into someone else’s bigger shoes: I’m familiar with that story.


  1. dave

    you made a comment about church groups and 12 steps. Maybe the answer is to make groups 12 step based. I have been in 3 12 step groups and many other groups at vineyard, my best memories are from the 12 steps.

    Also, every time you do that hebrew/greek interpertation it just makes me roll my eyes, stop it!


  2. Hi Dave:

    The message last weekend moved me powerfully. It felt like it spoke directly to me. In my opinion it's clear that fear in some form stands in the way of us of each of us reaching our potential in God and therefore as a church body, and I think this series will be huge. I really appreciate your top 10 lists of 2007 and I was so happy when I saw '08 would be more teaching the Vineyard on how to feed itself and what a way to start -- with this series on courage.

    The reason this struck me so deeply is because I wrestle with a phobia in my life (many of the things you talk about are the same things phobics wrestle with on an intense level) and it is very difficult to feel confident and have faith I can conquer is MUCH easier to SAY confront your fear than DO it, and I feel confronted with the paradox that I often feel too weak to do it on my own and need God -- but it's hard to have faith He'll be there at those crucial moments when panic sets in and I need to try and be calm -- I feel terrible saying that -- it seems like when you most need your faith is the time you are most weak and most likely to abandon it -- Dave, how can we defeat this paradox seemingly innate in our broken nature? I don't want to disobey God by running from my fear, but when faced with something terrifying, rational or not, it's hard to feel equipped to deal with it. I am working on it and I suppose it is part of that walk with Jesus -- you get more courage the more you walk with Him -- and speaking for myself it feels like there's a long way to go, but when I hear the word "insubordination" in regards to the times I do fail to confront my fear, it's hard not to feel like God is disappointed in me (the guilt thing! can't escape it !). Anyway, progress certainly doesn't happen overnight, and it hurts when I give in to the fear. Hopefully we get more tools to deal with this stuff in the coming weeks, but thanks again for choosing this topic.

    and a question -- what exactly is that passage in Jeremiah you referred to?

    Luke 4 Disciple

  3. Great job on Moe, Dave! I am looking forward to digging in even deeper with our small group this week. I am a bit bummed that we won't be able to hit Josh next week since we are a twice a month group, but I will figure out something. Don't apologize for the lack of "theology." Keep making the "saints of old" real and relevant. I do have one little sticking point: Why are we using Clint Eastwood theme music for Chuck Norris?

    Your buddy,


  4. Oooops, I almost forgot. A writer friend of mine named Chris Crutcher deals with that crippling "fear factor" in many of his novels. His stuff is a bit edgy, but profound. Especially his latest novel called DEADLINE. Anyway, You should check out this exchange in one of his short stories called, A Day In The Life Of Angus Bethune:

    Angus: Look, I'm not Superman.

    Grandpa: Superman isn't brave.

    Angus: Did you take your pills this morning?

    Grandpa: Hah! You don't understand. He's smart, handsome, even decent. But he's not brave. No, listen to me. Superman is indestructible, and you can't be brave if you're indestructible. It's people like you and your mother--people who are different and can be crushed and know it--yet they keep on going out there every time. That is brave.

  5. I, personally, love when you do the Hebrew/Greek interpretation! There is even more great truth and beauty to be found in Scripture when we dig a little deeper. So I say, keep it up!

  6. Ditto to the above comment. :)

    Keep edumakatin us on that Hebrew and Greek. It reveals a lot of depth to Scripture!

  7. Don't listen to Helen. She comments on everyone's blog. She a total blog Mary.

    Listen to me. I've got things figured out. You really should listen to my ideas. I haven't been drinking any wine at all. I promise. Is that different than allowing my "yes" to be yes and my "no" to be no?

    I dunno....

  8. Above comment---where did that come from? wth

  9. Dave
    Last Sunday's message spoke directly to my heart, as life has tossed my heart & dreams upside down. I have been broken. As I have navigated through this storm I believe it is God's refining method to mold me. He's not done with me yet,however I am finding peace, with a divine reason for why things happen the way they do. I become hopeful as I learn more about surrender. Your insight about church vs 12 step groups hit home. As a person recently hurt by the lack of church support (from a another group)and a 12 step memeber, I have struggled with my deep resentments and anger with the real lack of Christian love towards my family at a time when we needed Christian love.Sometimes it 's just showing up, nothing fancy done or said, just be there. However, my lesson is to forgive them, find peace and move on. It may very well be that the pain and anguish I have felt will be the very tool God has given me to feel deeper compassion towards other hurting unloveable type people as I may have been seen through their eyes. The same people Jesus hung out with.
    I cried at the end of your message, you were on! I believe the Holy Spirit was present. I walked away wanting to know more about Moses, and interestingly pleased that he was so human, that David screw up and Peter made his share of mistakes. I feel I could belong to this group :)
    It was a powerful message!

  10. I know and sometimes forget that the only way I will get through this is with Jesus, and I also know and sometimes forget that He carries me most of the way too.
    Thanks Dave for being a follower of Him.

  11. Myself and another beside me were crying at the end of your message on Sunday, Dave. Yes, it was heavier than your typical ones, but we needed it.

    Much love & respect to you, Dave. :)

    Keep on doing the hebrew & greek translations, please!! :) Thanks.

  12. Dave,

    Is this the same Dave Workman who sang and played drums for that awesome 80's Christian band "Prodigal?" I am still a die-hard fan! Loved the creativity, the music, the concepts, and most definitely the message. Still relevant today. In fact, the message is one the Church needs to hear again. I sure wish I could get those legally on CD. I cannot find them anywhere! Prodigal was and still is my favorite Christian band. No kidding. Thanks! (Hope this is the same Dave!)

    Peace, Rev. William Beaver (see the influence you had?)

  13. Hebrew/Greek thing, so how come we need a teacher to go through this speal,when their are like 50 translations of the bible in the language of today? why do we need a root meaning exercise? I do not get it? How come the teacher could not find a translation in english to do the same thing?

  14. Because the Hebrew and Greek languages are much more in depth and complex than the English language is. The English translations sometimes don't fully illustrate an idea or concept, or even a single word. For instance, there are two different Greek words in the New Testament that describe two different kinds of love: philos and agape. The English translations use the same word, "love" for both of these. Agape is the type of love that God has for man, while philos is the type of love one friend has for another. When you look at the meaning of the Greek word, agape, it paints an even more beautiful picture of the depth of God's love for us.

  15. Three comments up: yep, that was me. Glad to see you went into!

    Two above: re the Hebrew/Greek translation stuff: yeah, that's one of the reasons I use so many different translations. But translation isn't simple as I understand it. Check out Gordon Fee's little classic: "How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth". His chapter on translation difficulties is worth the price of the paperback. So sometimes it's good to even mention the difficulty in translating.

  16. Personally, I feel that the root meaning of a Greek word or Hebrew word is significant, for the mere fact that languages change. Ever play the "gossip game?" That is where you have about 20 or so people in a circle, and you begin by whispering a sentence softly in the person's ear, who is sitting beside you. They hear it once and whisper what they heard to the next person, and so on. Rarely, when the message is finally received back to the person who started it, is the message exactly the same. In fact, sometimes the entire message has changed. This is the way it is with translating Scriptures through the ages. If we are not careful, entire meanings of Scripture passages can change in the process of continual translation. And why is this important? Because wars have been fought and people have died, not to mention church denominations have been structured on key Biblical passages. We need to make sure that these passages are closest to what the original authors were trying to say. The process is time consuming and tedious, I know. (I stink at Greek and Hebrew.) But this is so important, since we are people who believe the Bible and live by its truths. Our worship of God is worth the effort of scholarly research. In fact, God deserves nothing less, since God gave us the very best.

    Rev. William Beaver

  17. Amen to that, Rev. William Beaver!

  18. That's not true! I only comment on the cool people's blogs! And sometime's Ryan's blog.