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Move and Dig

Move and Dig

Change is not the enemy but an opportunity

“Change is not the enemy but an opportunity.” My parents often shared these words when our family handled seasons of change. To be honest, those words often annoyed me. I don’t love change. I like stability. I like predictability. But if we are honest with ourselves, we know that much of life involves change whether we want it or not. We age, we move, we change jobs, we change schools. There are all sorts of changes we must undergo. 

Despite my lack of love for change, it has still been a theme of the last 15 years of my life. In the last decade and a half, I have lived in 6 different cities, 4 different states, and I am pretty sure I have had to change which room I live in about 15 times. I have had to get used to adapting because this has been a season of constant transition. Though I hope the next decade brings more stability, I do believe that change is one of God’s favorite classrooms. 

 

Change in the life of Isaac

In Scripture, we are shown several characters who had to adapt to changes, foreseen and unforeseen. I will never forget a Dallas Seminary chapel message from Genesis 26 on the patriarch Isaac’s encounter with undesired change. Isaac was the son given to Abraham and Sarah in their old age as the beginning of God’s promised fulfillment to give Abraham descendants as numerous as the stars. God promised to bless these descendants with a great land and to use them to bless the nations. But in this passage we see obstacles that seemingly threaten the fulfillment of such promises. 

At this stage in Isaac’s life, he had been living in the town of Gerar because of a famine. Because of God’s blessing upon Isaac, he was becoming too powerful for the comfort of those around him, therefore, Abimelech, king of the Philistines, asked Isaac to leave Gerar and find safety somewhere else. So Isaac agrees to this unexpected transition. See what transpires next: 

Then Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and found a well of spring water there. But the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac’s herdsmen and said, “The water is ours!” So he named the well Esek because they argued with him. Then they dug another well and quarreled over that one also, so he named it Sitnah. He moved from there and dug another, and they did not quarrel over it. He named it Rehoboth and said, “For now the Lord has made space for us, and we will be fruitful in the land” (Genesis 26:19-22).

At first glance this is not exactly what I would call a gripping narrative, but our chapel speaker opened my eyes to the beauty of this passage. In the passage prior, God confirmed with Isaac the oath he made with his father Abraham and said “Live in the land that I tell you about; stay in this land as an alien, and I will be with you and bless you. For I will give all these lands to you and your offspring…I will give your offspring all these lands, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed by your offspring” (26:2-4). If I was Isaac and had just received this promise from God and now these herdsmen are telling me I cannot use the wells my family dug, I would probably give some pushback, both to the herdsmen and to God. But what do we see Isaac do? “He moves and digs, he moves and digs, he moves and digs.” This was the refrain our chapel speaker repeated again and again during that chapel message. “He moves and digs.” Isaac did not wallow in self-pity. He didn’t attack these herdsmen, he kept moving and he kept digging. 

 

Stewarding change

Amid all of my own transitions I have done a lot of moving, but I have not always done a lot of digging. I have seen change more as an enemy than an opportunity for further obedience. I have thought, “Lord, until you bring me to a place where I can settle, I am not going to make an effort to establish relationships or seek the flourishing of this temporary pit stop.” I have often seen change as something to resent, not steward. 

Did you note that the passage referred to the well Isaac dug as a “spring of water”? Springs of water were often a rare find in the valleys. In the time before running water, wells did not just mean refreshment, they meant life. Even though Isaac did not partake for long of the life which that well produced, I imagine those wells led to the flourishing of many who came after. 

Eventually God allows Isaac to settle at the well of Rehoboth, which is the Hebrew word for “open spaces.” I love that! And isn’t that what we all want? A place to live, rest, and thrive. If only that was our common reality in this fallen world. Instead, life more often reflects the name of the other two wells: “argument” and “hostility.” 

Change in my life has often included arguing with God. I think I know what I need better than he does, so I dig my heels in and refuse to move, fighting for control. In other seasons, I have faced hostility from those around me and could not move fast enough, but the Lord has called me to keep digging and serving those who made life difficult. I wouldn’t mind changing so much if I could have the exact timing, outcomes, and environments I want. But change does not often work that way. I cannot control every aspect of life, but I can steward the change he allows. 

 

Move and dig

I don’t know where God has you right now. I don’t know what seasons of change you are presently experiencing. Maybe it’s a new job, maybe a new marriage, or a new child. Perhaps your change involves loss; the loss of a job, a dream, a loved one. Now you are adjusting to a life that comes with a great void. There may be “hostility” at work or in your neighborhood that is forcing a change like it did for Isaac. 

Whatever the source of your change, I admonish you to keep moving and keep digging.  I challenge you to think about what your digging might mean for those around you. Maybe you are about to leave your job, but you have some final responsibilities to conclude. Instead of coasting to the finish line, consider how your good work might lead to the flourishing of the one who will take your place. 

Maybe you are a college student and you only plan to live where you are for a few years until you graduate. What are ways you can bless your neighborhood or apartment complex in ways that will shape it years after you are gone? Who knows what life-giving qualities could stem from your faithfulness in that season of stewardship! I have learned that if my contentment in life is dependent upon seeing the fruit of all of my hard work, I will end up living a life of discontentment. But I pray that on that day when God brings us to the land of “open spaces” God will allow us to look back and see the springs of water that came from all our hard digging. 

Brother and sister, keep moving and keep digging. 

What if Jesus really isn’t dead? Now what?

What if Jesus really isn’t dead? Now what?

Life Changing Moments

 

We all have moments that change not only how we show up in life but what we are even able to comprehend in life.  

Some are truly marvelous. I applied and actually got in! She said, “Yes!” We’re pregnant! I got the promotion! They found the cure!

Others are unimaginably brutal. He left me! I lost everything! I hit rock bottom! I’m getting evicted! She didn’t make it….

Whether good or bad moments, after you go through them you are never the same. 

Now imagine those first followers of Jesus. They probably were used to being surprised after three years of following him from town to town, but when they saw him beaten within an inch of his life and then crucified, everything they held dear was taken from them in a moment. After the trauma of Jesus’ death, they were running from the authorities, running from themselves, and questioning God. Why? How can this even be happening? When he said he was going, that he was going to die, I never thought….

Then in the midst of unbearable sadness, grief, and sorrow, Jesus came back to life. Jesus actually came back to them alive after dying. They couldn’t have fathomed a crucified Messiah, but even that pales in comparison to the thought that Jesus would come back to life. And yet, there he was; flesh and blood, warmth and breath, standing with scars. 

There was no mistaking it was Jesus, but what could this mean? Why death and then, maybe even more puzzling, why resurrection? How could he come back to life? And then in the midst of those thoughts there is the question of what this means for each of us. 

 

Now What? 


Together we want to explore not merely the plausibility of Jesus’ resurrection—although that is a worthwhile journey—but more, the consequences of death not having the final word. We want to explore the “Now what?” of Jesus’ resurrection for a world riddled with death and decay. Jesus’ resurrection is not merely an idea to ponder but a change in reality to embrace.

And if you are hungry for change anywhere in your life, this is a question of supreme importance. Imagine what this could mean for you! Think of those areas that feel defined by death; a relationship, financial status, an addiction, self-mortifying guilt or self-eroding anger. Jesus’ resurrection has a massive impact on history, and Jesus’ resurrection life has life-altering, imagination-expanding, hope-cultivating power for you personally.

What could Jesus’ resurrection mean for you? For me? For us?

 

Join us!


We hope you join us as our study of the Gospel of John continues to reveal the extraordinary importance of Jesus actually being alive, and what that has to do with how
you live today. This isn’t something just for your neighbor, spouse, friend, or child. This is for you, but invite them, too. Why? Because life longs to bring more life. If you’ve tasted this life, you’ll want others to experience Jesus’ life too! 

You know what’s amazing? If Jesus couldn’t stay dead after being crucified in the first century, that means the life-giving work recorded in the first century for you and me is only the beginning of what he is continuing to do today. 

What if Jesus really didn’t stay dead? Now what? 

 

Invite


If you already believe in Jesus’ resurrection, below is a video we created to promote the beginning of this new journey of study starting on Easter Sunday. Go ahead and share it. Share it on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or wherever God has you. What might our resurrected Lord Jesus do through your invitations this Easter? Let’s find out!

You’ve Read the Bible…So What?

You’ve Read the Bible…So What?

Whether it is a book for class, a conversation with a friend, or instructions on how to survive a water landing in an airplane, we all know the phenomenon of reading or hearing something and not being able to recall the content. Or perhaps we can call it to mind but we don’t really know what to do with it.

Now, I am going to go out on a limb here and say that my guess is that many of us experience this same thing with the Bible. Right? We read it, study it, and even memorize it. Yet after all of our Bible intake, we often find ourselves saying, “so what?”

As a way to move our Bible reading from a perfunctory practice to a discipline of discipleship, let me suggest a series of questions that we can ask ourselves as we hear from God through His word. And as you will see, they all center around those two cynical words: SO WHAT

Whom is God calling me to Serve?

What is God calling me to Omit?

How is He calling me to Worship?

What is He calling me to Hold on to?

 What is He calling me to Adore?

 How is He calling me to be Thankful?

In case you didn’t catch it, these questions are built around the acrostic SO WHAT. I know, it’s cheesy. But just like things that are cheesy, this might stick. Ok, that was cheesy too. Moving right along…

Whom is God calling me to Serve?

I think it is helpful to not simply have “what” but also “who” application questions in our times of Bible reading. Sometimes it is better to start with the question of whom we should serve before we ask the question of how to serve. Think of the people in your life whom God is uniquely calling you to care for, love, and serve through your gifts, time, words, or resources.

What is God calling me to Omit?

Are there things or practices or even people in your life that you need to let go of because they are unmaking you? Are there certain habits or activities that you need to refrain from because they tempt you towards sin? Are there things that you flat out need to repent of and completely cut out of your life in response to what you have read?

How is He calling me to Worship?

Is God inviting you to widen the scope and increase the number of places in your life where you can worship Him, delight in Him, and praise Him? Perhaps there is something from Scripture that has stoked your imagination to see that God is calling you to worship Him through a specific practice or task at work. Maybe it is about praising God through your exercise at the gym. Is He inviting you to be more mindful of His presence in the mundane things of your daily life?

What is He calling me to Hold on to?

On the flip side of omission, is there a discipline, activity, habit, or relationship that you should give more time to? It may be something entirely brand new that God is calling you to embrace as you hear Him speak to you from His word.

What is He calling me to Adore?

Perhaps the thing God wants from you in response to hearing His word is to delight in an attribute, quality, or doctrine of God Himself. Do you marvel at God’s mercy, holiness, justice, and sovereignty? This is an important question because God has not simply revealed Himself through His word to increase our information about Him but rather our adoration for Him.

How is He calling me to be Thankful?

God is the giver of every good gift that we experience in this world. From the captivating colors of a sunset to the salivating smells of smoked brisket, God’s gifts are to be enjoyed, appreciated, and experienced with gratitude. Perhaps God is speaking to you in His word in hopes that you might respond with thanksgiving to Him or to someone He has used in your life.

While these questions are by no means the silver bullet for how to thoughtfully engage the Bible, I do think that we can benefit from the practice of dialoguing with the Bible in more meaningful and intentional ways. So when you and I read the Bible, may we be more willing to ask ourselves this simple question. So what?

DOWNLOAD A PRINTABLE PDF “SO WHAT” CARD

How Do We Grow as Christians?

One of the greatest obstacles to faith, at least in my experience, is when people feel like Christianity doesn’t change anyone. “Christians are just like everyone else,” one might say. “What’s the point?”

This doubt isn’t limited to the skeptics. If you have been a Christian for any amount of time, you probably feel like you should be farther along than you are. That you aren’t living up to what you know is right. That even where you want to be better, you just aren’t. It can happen early in your faith; or it can happen well into maturity in your faith.

Growth in faith is absolutely possible, it absolutely changes people—and it is really hard work. You’re never too mature for this. What does the Bible teach us about Christian growth?

2 Peter is a great place to focus. This whole letter is about growth. But how? Peter gives us three principles of Christianity that we cannot forget as we think about growing.

Our motivation for growth…

First, he tells us that Christians should have a new motivation for growth. Here is how Peter puts it in 1:3-4:

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

This is a radically new vision of motivation for growth: our motivation begins with God’s divine power, God’s calling, God’s promises, God’s initiative. Supernatural growth in character, in wisdom, in freedom from sin and addiction, is possible first because of what God has done. The gospel, the good news of what God has done, is our new motivation.[1]

Peter says we have been equipped with all things that pertain to life and godliness. When we give our lives to Christ, and His sacrifice on the cross purchases our lives, God says come grow in Me and with Me. He knows we are a mess, but He’s committed. And our response to His commitment, our motivation, starts with a joyful obedience, not a fearful one.

Our strategy for growth…

We also have a new strategy for growth. Peter continues in verse 5:

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.

Peter is very specific here about the nature of Christian growth. He says, “make every effort to supplement your faith.” We see that our initial faith in the gospel, our trust in what Jesus has done, must lead to growth. The Christian life, though motivated by a joyful obedience, must result in growth. Otherwise our faith is not genuine. That is why Peter says “supplement your faith.” This Greek word for “supplement” has the idea of rounding out your faith, completing it, making it whole or full-bodied.

Faith in this sense is where we start, and by the resources God gives – His Holy Spirit, the Bible, the church – we begin to furnish it with growth in character and wisdom, which Peter lists specifically here: virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, affection, and finally love. Faith is something we always need, but it is meant to lead to real growth in our lives.

God certainly finds us and saves us no matter where we are in life, morally, emotionally, relationally. He is not afraid of our mess. But He does not want to leave us where He finds us. Growth toward Christ-likeness is the whole point of the Christian faith in many ways. It is not secondary. And it is not magical or mystical or God’s job alone. Peter says, not to God, but to us:you, all of you, make every effort to add virtue to your faith. There is work not simply for God to do, but for us to do. The growth we need is supernatural, to be sure, but it’s not magical.

It takes practice.

The Bible is so clear that the person we become, our character, is largely the product of the little habits we practice in our lives. The small decisions. The daily routines. And it even gives us disciplines, practices, to help us focus on the small things. There are many of them, but I’ll mention the “big three”: daily Bible reading, daily prayer, and consistent community with other Christians. If we just did these consistently, I think we would see dramatic results.

The idea is, if we are re-orienting ourselves to God’s Word, asking God for help and direction, and allowing other people to hold us accountable and push us on, these disciplines serve us well; they help us grow and practice being the kind of people who have the character traits Peter lists here.

Our purpose for growth…

But even with the proper motivation and strategy in place, there is something else Peter teaches here, a third thing we need to keep growing. The Christian faith also gives us a brand new purpose for growth. Read verse 10: “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Peter hints that there is a divine purpose for all this stuff, all these ways in which God wants us to grow. Peter says that somehow these qualities (godliness, steadfastness, love, self-control, knowledge, etc.) are preparing us for Christ’s kingdom. Our growth, our holiness, is not the entrance fee to Christ’s kingdom, or the price you pay for the pleasures of heaven in the next life. They are the pleasures of heaven in this life, right now.

God knows the most pleasurable and free life possible is found in service, in generosity, and in faithfulness as a follower and apprentice of Jesus. Christian growth is not about making you worthy of Christ’s kingdom. It’s preparing you for it, so that you can fully experience the joy that awaits us there.

Even our growth, that part of the Christian life we often feel we owe to God, is a tremendous and good gift from Him. He doesn’t want something from us. He wants something for us. That is why Peter can say so boldly: make every effort to ADD to your faith. The more we do so, the more of heaven we can experience now—today—in our lives. Keep growing!


[1] The gospel is the good news of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, which, if you trust Him above all others, saves you from sin and gives you new life.