Vision Month at Lakeside

For those that were unable to attend last Sunday’s service, we announced that we will have a special church meeting this Sunday, November 9th at 4:30pm. I’d like to take a few moments to clarify what it is we are doing this for and what you can expect this month.

We have been operating for some time now without a clearly articulated vision of what our future is going to look like. We’d like to change that, but I feel that we need to spend some time as a family engaging in the issues. Ultimately, we would like our vision or mission to be informed by our values, which are hopefully informed by God’s Word.

With that in mind, we are setting aside the entire month of November to this task. During this time, we will do the following…

  1. We will challenge every believer to pray as we never have before
  2. We will meet each week in a special meeting devoted to shaping our future and to prayer
  3. We will begin a teaching on November 16th that will help to clarify how God sees the church

I would ask each one of you to do only one thing at the present: please do whatever you can to attend Sunday evening’s meeting. We have a 1-hour event planned broken into three 20-minute activities. These activities will help us to engage with the issues practically and my hope is that our leaders will be able to pick up on some of the values that are evident within the family.

We will be meeting at Dave and Pamela Daroff’s house at 4:30pm and we will conclude by 5:30pm-5:40pm. Parking is available in the RC Willey parking lot, and Dave and Pam’s house is the red-brick house located on the west side of the parking lot.

I hope to see you all there this Sunday. We can’t do this without each other.

Pastor Matt Jones

Genesis 50 (50 Days – Day 50)

 

romans828

If I can share personally here at the end of our journey through Genesis, I have been amazed at the roller-coaster of emotion I have been through during this time. It was only 50 days, and yet God dealt with me personally in many ways. He challenged my faith and helped me see that I need step out more and meet him where he is. He challenged my convictions and made me realize that I’ve compromised in areas of my life that have affected my character. More than anything though, I have been pointed to his Jesus, and my faith in the fact that God’s plan was to offer his son as a sacrifice for me has grown immeasurably.

In this last chapter, I see Joseph being a sort of type of Christ, however subtly, in his final response to his brother’s treatment of him years before. Jacob, his father, has just died and his brother’s are naturally worried that Joseph’s wrath would finally be made known now that his father is not alive to temper his actions. They make up a lie about Jacob’s last wish being that Joseph would forgive his brothers. Joseph sees right through it, but speaks kindly to them, letting them know that he came to terms with it long ago…

But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. – Genesis 50:19-20

Wow, what a response. There are certainly times when we are called to have that kind of perspective about things that happen to us. When tough times come, we inevitably receive a word of encouragement from a Christian brother or sister that reminds us what the apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Rome…

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. – Romans 8:28

I believe that the words above are true, and I’ve seen it play out in my own life. I will go through a trial questioning God as to why it’s happening only to come out on the other side and understand that he had a plan for my good all along. However, in Joseph’s case this verse takes on a very different meaning for me. You see, typically we think of the meaning of this verse to be that God sometimes takes us through valleys in order to bring us to another mountaintop. He allows us to suffer so that we can eventually prosper. What this suggests though is that we expect God to use our suffering in our own lives. Sometimes, though, he might allow for someone to suffer so that someone else can receive the blessing. This is a little harder to swallow as it hardly seems fair, but some of God’s best servants have experienced this first-hand.

While Joseph was eventually elevated to power as a result of his suffering, he acknowledges that God allowed him to go through it for his family’s benefit. God used the event to allow the leaders of the 12 tribes of Jacob to prosper after the famine. In fact the whole nation would be saved, prompting Joseph to view his suffering as necessary to save the lives of many. This makes Joseph like Christ in a way because Christ himself was known as the “suffering servant.” His blood was poured out for all people and his life was offered as a ransom for many. The famous passage written by the prophet Isaiah explains it this way…

And because of his experience,
my righteous servant will make it possible
for many to be counted righteous,
for he will bear all their sins.
-Isaiah 53:11

How does this challenge me? If I am ever called to suffer for the sake of other people and not just myself, I pray that God will find me faithful and that I will be willing to use my life for him in this way. I worry that I might not feel the same way when I’m actually in it, but I know it would be a tremendous honor, and one that is undeserved, to have the opportunity to imitate my Savior in this way.

Genesis 49 (50 Days – Day Forty Nine)

Lion-Of-Judah-HD-Wallpaper-1024x640

If you were laying on your death-bed, what would be your final words to your family? Would you use the time to simply tell them how much you love each of them? Would you apologize for any hurt you might have caused in the past? I suppose in the end, your message might be different for each of them. For Jacob, while his life was cut short, he had a lengthy time of 17 years or more to say goodbye. Perhaps whatever emotion he may have had was replaced by a sense of urgency because all Jacob can think about is the future. During Jacob’s last few moments on earth, he gives a sort of prophecy for each of his sons. We don’t know if he knew the information beforehand and was waiting for the right moment, but we do know that he accurately predicted the future for all 12 men. Some futures were brilliant and glorious and others not so much. However, one stands out for me above all the rest…Judah.

“Judah, your brothers will praise you;
your hand will be on the neck of your enemies;
your father’s sons will bow down to you.
You are a lion’s cub, Judah;
you return from the prey, my son.
Like a lion he crouches and lies down,
like a lioness—who dares to rouse him?
The scepter will not depart from Judah,
nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
until he to whom it belongs shall come
and the obedience of the nations shall be his.

Genesis 49:8-10

Out of Judah would spring a mighty nation. King David would come from his seed. This is what is meant by “your brothers will praise you” and “your father’s sons will bow down to you”. In fact, it would mean that their tribes would be united under his banner when David became King. King David would be mighty in battle as well, and his victories would be celebrated and sung for generations. Of course this kingdom, as mighty as it is, would pale in comparison with the king “to whom it belongs shall come”.

Because of this prophecy, the symbol for the tribe of Judah became a lion. Not as a lion who is enraged, but as one who is aware of his power and authority and therefore lies down without fear. The great theologian Matthew Henry wrote this about these verses…

The lion is the king of beasts, the terror of the forest when he roars; when he seizes his prey, none can resist him; when he goes up from the prey, none dare pursue him to revenge it. By this it is foretold that the tribe of Judah should become very formidable, and should not only obtain great victories, but should peaceably and quietly enjoy what was obtained by those victories—that they should make war, not for the sake of war, but for the sake of peace. Judah is compared, not to a lion rampant, always tearing, always raging, always ranging; but to a lion couchant, enjoying the satisfaction of his power and success, without creating vexation to others: this is to be truly great.

-Matthew Henry

Of course, this passage is also very prophetic. It’s not about Judah, but about his seed. Even though his time would not come for over a thousand years, this passage is referring to the Messiah. This is why Micah writes about his origins…

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”
 – Micah 5:2

Not only did the Messiah come from the tribe of Judah, but Jesus was given the title that had become symbolic of the tribe. As John beheld the throne of God, he saw a scroll in his right hand, and an angel asked who was worthy to open it. No one was found worthy, and John wept, until one the elders pointed him to Jesus…

Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.” – Revelation 5:5

What I love most about this title given to Jesus is which two books it is referenced in. The entire Bible is a collection of 66 books, but it is meant to be one volume and that has never been more apparent than here. The entire volume points to one person – Jesus, the Lion of Judah –  and his title, which found it’s origins in the first book of the Bible (Genesis), was fulfilled and given in the last book (Revelation). Like bookends to a great story, Jesus is presented as this mighty lion, who is destined to bring peace into the world.

Genesis 48 (50 Days – Day Forty Eight)

blog-images.001

I used to attend a church that played a lot of what I’d call “gospel” music. These songs were backed by a great band. Good drums, a bass guitar thumping out a beat, a piano, an electric guitar and of course, an organ, which was played amazingly by the pastor’s wife. One of my favorite songs to sing there was “The Enemy’s Camp”. The main lyrics of the song were “I went to the enemy’s camp and I took back what he stole from me.”

The song is a reference to a story found in 1 Samuel 30, where the city of Ziklag is attacked and plundered by the Amalekites. David was marching a small army of his men to the city, but was too late to stop the attack. The Amalekites carried off all the women and children as well as many valuables from the city. David asks God whether or not he should pursue the Amalekites, given the fact that he is incredibly outnumbered and they are surely some distance away by now and his men haven’t eaten. God affirms to David that he should pursue them, which he then does. He defeats everyone of them and brings back the spoils. Not one Amalekite got away and every single soul was brought back to the city.

The story is an epic one no doubt, but the impact of the song has been far greater for me. Others might wax eloquent on the means by which David received his instruction or the generosity he shows in the end in the sharing of the spoils. For me however, it’s all about the idea behind the song: when the enemy takes something from us, we redeem it. We don’t just move on. We reclaim it for the kingdom.

This thought has different applications for many people. I’ve certainly used it in music. I grew up in really traditional, fundamental circles. These were the kind of churches and institutions that would chastise the kind of music that I would listen to. I remember one message in particular in Bible school talking about the “noise of war” that was in the camp when Moses descended from Mount Sinai, and how this noise was akin to today’s contemporary Christian music.

This same thought existed when we first planted Lakeside Church and the point was brought up that our music shouldn’t sound like the world’s music. My rebuttal to that was that it’s the other way around. I believe all music belongs to God. No poet is more inspired than the one who sings about the ultimate lover and the ultimate creator. I believe in this regard, that we are to take back God’s music from the world. We are to reclaim it for his glory. I would suggest that almost anything bad can be redeemed by man to be used for the glory of God.

If you’re wondering what this has to do with the story of Joseph, it was been inspired by Jacob’s last words to Joseph…

I have given to you rather than to your brothers one mountain slope that I took from the hand of the Amorites. – Genesis 48:22

In other versions you might read that Joseph was given a “ridge” or a “portion” of land, but it was not so unspecified. In fact, the actual word that is used is “shekem” or “shechem”. This was the very land where Levi and Simeon tricked the men of the city into circumcising themselves and then attacked and killed them all in retribution for the rape of their sister, Dinah. Jacob was furious at them for this. It was wrong, and now he owned a piece of land that was attained in a sinful manner. This plagued Jacob for the rest of his life. However, he makes it right in the end by giving it to Joseph. He sees in Joseph a Godly man – one who will bring honor to what has been dishonorable for so long. He gives the land to Joseph, and in doing so, challenges him to reclaim for God what has been tainted by sin.

It would be difficult for me to give a general statement of practical advice on this. It’s much easier to speak of it anecdotally, but in the interest of trying, I would say that when we so readily avoid the things that have a bad history, we miss out on the opportunity to see God redeem it. Furthermore, if we are more than conquerors, why are so afraid to engage the enemy? Why would we not in boldness stand in the face of what the enemy has taken and declare “it is no longer yours!”?

Remember Braveheart? I love when William Wallace attacks a specific English outpost and allows for a few to survive to bring a message back to the enemy…

“Go back to England, and tell them there that Scotland’s daughters and her sons are yours no more.”
-William Wallace

Perhaps the hardest part is identifying what the enemy has taken, so let’s start with the easy (as in the easy to identify) stuff. Whatever the enemy has taken from you personally…your joy, your self-worth, your courage, your power, your identity, etc…reclaim it today. Tell the enemy that your life is his no more. Reclaim it for the glory of God and experience the power of redemption.