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“Getting to The Good Stuff!” Exodus 6: 1-12 Key verse(s): 12: “But Moses said to the Lord, ‘If the Israelites will not listen to me, why would Pharaoh listen to me, since I speak with faltering lips’.”
When I was a boy I had the rather thankless job of feeding a herd of our neighbor’s hereford cattle. The job was in payment of some kindness the man had done our family; so there was no remuneration for the services rendered. The job was not one of my favorite things to do for a variety of reasons. First, it had to be done first thing upon returning home from school. When all the other kids were gearing up for at least an hour or so of bike riding and just hanging around, my brothers and I had to trudge across the meadow, down the hill and over to the cattle barn. The barn was not well kept so you always needed to be careful as to where you stepped. If you happened to step in the wrong place you could end up sinking up to your shins in something that looked like mud but didn’t smell like mud. And, of course, there was the poor lighting in the barn. As evening fell the barn got very dark and the few scattering light bulbs did little to relieve the fear that the sound you heard three stories up in the loft was something more than a cat or a barn owl. And there was the hay. How I hated the hay! It came in bales and those cattle ate a bunch of it. First you had to lug it, then snap the twine without cutting yourself, and then force it down the manger chute. All the while the air was filled with tiny bits of chaff that targeted my sinuses like ballistic missiles.
When all was said and done, this was often an unpleasant job. Sure, there was the occasional hay or feed fight to distract us from time to time. And, after a time we got to know each steer and cow pretty well. But, overall, I found the job to be tedious and difficult. I remember bumping into the farmer one evening as the three of us dragged into the barn for our evening chore. He could see that we looked none too excited to be there and decided to give us a hand with the lugging and the dumping for once. After a while he broke the silence with one of those declarative statements that just seem to come out of nowhere. Sensing the rigors and unpleasantness of our daily trudge he simply blurted, “Did you ever notice how the good timber always seems to be surrounded by a swamp?” We stared in respect but our lack of response evidenced our utter confusion. “You know.” He continued. “That one tree you really would like to cut down always seems to be more of a chore to get there than to cut down. Swamps! They’re everywhere!” He smiled and didn’t say another word.
For years I really thought that the man was daft. But, over time I began to understand what he was trying to get at. If you ever are going to find the good in this life, you have to be ready to deal with the bad. Feeding those cattle was not often fun. Yet, it was one more chore in life that built character and gave us skills. It was a sort of swamp that each of us boys had to pass through if we were going to get to that grown-up side of life waiting temptingly just around the bend.
"As you get older, you find that often the wheat, disentangling itself from the chaff, comes out to meet you."
"Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort, of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and with the breath of kindness blow the rest away."
In the film The Matrix, we are taken to the year 2199. The world has been taken over and is being run by AI: artificial intelligence. Harvested humans live in a computer generated dreamworld of artificial reality, never understanding that they are captives of an evil empire. But there are a few people still connected enough to reality who discover the Matrix. What they see is that there are two worlds now. One is evil, and it depends on control and deception. It is an unreal world. The other is the real world, even though it would not be seen as such by those caught up in the Matrix. There is a great deal of religious symbolism in the film, and it picks up on the biblical theme of the kingdom of God and its opposition to the kingdom of evil. In the movie, Morpheus tries to explain the Matrix and says to Neo: “Have you ever had a dream, Neo, that you were so sure was real? What if you were unable to wake from that dream? How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world?”
In the same way, we live in the real world while so many around us are living in a world of deception. Unable to wake from the dream, they only know what they see. They have never known anything different. Our responsibility is to never forget which is the real world and which is fantasy. We are also respon...
"Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts, nor measure words, but pouring them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and with a breath of kindness blow the rest away."
"Wheat does not come without chaff. If you want your friend, accept his entourage."
"Editor: a person employed by a newspaper, whose business it is to separate the wheat from the chaff, and to see that the chaff is printed."
A farmer one planted two fruit trees on opposite sides of his property. The one he planted to provide a hedge hide the unsightly view of an old landfill; the other to provide shade to rest under near a cool mountain stream which ran down beside his fields. As the two trees grew, both produced began to flower and bear fruit. One day the farmer decided to gather the fruit from the tree nearest his house – the one used to provide a hedge from the landfill. As he brought the fruit inside the house, he noticed that it was a little deformed – the symmetry of the fruit was not very good, but still the fruit looked edible. Later that evening, while sitting on his porch the farmer took one of the pieces of fruit for a snack. Biting into the fruit, he found it to be extremely bitter, and completely inedible. Casting the fruit aside he looked across the field to the other tree over by the mountain stream. After walking across the field, the farmer took a piece of the fruit from the other tree and bit into it. Find the fruit to be sweet and delicious he gathered several more pieces of fruit and took them to the house.
The fruit was greatly affected by the nutrition of the root. Just as the tree grew by the landfill to be bitter, and the tree by the stream produced sweet fruit, so the Christian has a choice. He can either put down his roots into the soil of the landfill of fleshly pursuits, or into the cool refreshing stream of the person of Jesus Christ. We must understand that the root bears the fruit. The fruit of the Christian is the outward evidence of the inward motivation.
Psa 1:1-6, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, n...
Boyce Mouton wrote this story when he ministered in California many years ago:
“In 1954, a young missionary recruit to Alaska was stricken with a paralytic disease which left her bedfast for the last 10 years of her life. Her name was Marie Napier.
The first time I met Marie was in her home in Sunnyvale, CA. As I stepped into the front room, I immediately discerned the sickening pulsation of her breathing machine. It was a rocking bed, the first one I had ever seen. The bed, patient and all, was rocking back and forth in large gyrations.
Marie was emaciated and pale. She had not moved in over five years. I awkwardly tried not to stare at her shriveled body.
I clumsily looked at my feet to conceal the expression of shock on my face. I raised my eyes to concentrate on her face, and there I saw a broad and understanding smile.
Gradually, I grew more comfortable in her presence and we began to talk. It was evident that even a simple conversation was a difficult task for Marie. She timed her words to coincide with the proper movement of the bed and spoke in short sentences. When I left there that day I walked with an invigorated step. I had been exposed to a contagious mixture of warmth and courage.
I visited Marie on other occasions and each time I found the same emotion when I left. I had come to give, but I had left receiving.
The last time I saw Marie before her death was in the Santa Clara County Hospital in San Jose, CA. A power failure had stopped the rhythm of her bed, and by the time she arrived at the hospital the flame of her life was burning very low. I came the next day for scripture and prayer. The pulsing collar of the iron lung had left her neck chaffed and raw. The doctor had given her a brief respite from the painful lung to a less efficient device that did not hurt her neck. It was a ‘breathing s...