How To Be Free
Here’s the video we put together to celebrate what God did at Round Rock a while back. Let’s lay ‘em down, folks!!
God. Is. So. Good.
Please, please trust me. Test him. Taste him. See.
For me, deeper discipleship (that is, God-following that’s one step deeper than my current reality) is scary.
Mostly, it’s scary because I haven’t been there. It’s scary because I don’t know exactly what would happen if I _____________ (gave/committed/sold/confessed/sacrificed/reached out/etc.). I don’t know because I’ve never been there.
That’s why I couldn’t help underlining this statement today from Moses to Israel in Deuteronomy 1: “The LORD your God who goes before you will himself fight for you.” I love that—”God who goes before you.”
What a powerful truth: God is wherever I’m afraid to go.
The next level of discipleship is not a frightening abyss; it’s a light-filled, God-inhabited, pre-scouted trail. And it’s certainly not dangerous. If anything’s dangerous, it’s not going to where God is.
So here’s to next steps, and to taking those steps with the calm assurance that though I’m not sure what lies ahead, I know Who’s waiting for me there.
P.S. For a fantastic post that will no doubt tempt you (as it did me) into picking up Deuteronomy and feasting on its goodness, click here.
How’s Your Heart?
For the next few weeks at Round Rock, we’re exploring how to guard our hearts from envy, lust, greed, pride, and anger. (It’s not as much of a downer as it sounds like, I promise!)
On Sunday, I shared some questions we can ask in order to get a handle on monitoring what’s going into and coming out of our hearts. Several people have asked for those questions, so here they are. Take 15 minutes or so and answer each of these with a sentence or two.
After all, the wisest man in the world said, “Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life.”
WHAT’S GOING IN?
- What are the TV shows I watch pouring into my heart?
- How might the music I listen to subtly be shaping the way I think and feel?
- What are the voices am I giving access to my heart on a regular basis? (Friends, talk show hosts, authors, columnists, business gurus, mentors, preachers, etc.)
- How often am I reading the Bible?
- How much Scripture am I internalizing by committing it to memory?
WHAT’S COMING OUT?
- What do I say when my filter gets thin, and what tone of voice do I use?
- What thoughts enter my mind when I encounter someone who’s… Beautiful? …Annoying? …Poor? …Rich? …Dressed immodestly? …A different color than I am?
- If someone tried to decipher my priorities, based solely on my credit/debit card statements, what would they decide?
- When someone succeeds where I’ve failed, what do I say under my breath?
- When someone fails where I’ve succeeded, what’s my first thought?
- What makes me laugh?
- What makes me cry?
There’s something intimate and powerful about sharing a meal with someone in your home at your table.
Hospitality is not quite as easy as it was when the Gerhardt house wasn’t teeming with offspring. …Okay, not “not quite”—more like “not hardly.”
But it’s such a powerful relationship-builder/friendship-enricher/community-developer. So glad God encourages us to do it.
So today I had one of the most moving experiences I’ve ever had in worship.
HERE’S WHY WE DID IT
We’re in the middle of a series called “How To Be Free” at Round Rock, with each lesson coming from Israel’s first few moments of freedom in Exodus 14. Wow that’s a great text.
Today, we talked about how we can’t do freedom on our own—how that, like Israel, we have to learn to trust God to fight the battles we can’t. We talked about how, with the Egyptian army bearing down on them, Moses assured the terrified Israelites, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” And then, in a stunning moment, after God brought his people through the water, he buried the pursuing Egyptian army in the sea.
Everyone has Egyptians.
They’re the things that enslave us. The things that incite fear, worry, and anxiety in our hearts. The things we can’t beat on our own.
So with that in mind, we decided to turn those things over to a God who promises to fight for us. And we decided to mark the moment.
HERE’S WHAT WE DID
Spaced around the edge of the platform were three big clear vases filled with water, about 10 piles of stones, and a bunch of Sharpie markers. With some evocative music playing behind powerful Scriptures on the screen, people rose from their seats, walked down front, grabbed a stone, and wrote on it the name of the thing that’s been enslaving them—the thing they need God to beat.
Then, they buried their stone in the water.
It was beautiful. Lines forming down the aisles all the way to the back of the auditorium. 16-year-olds huddled beside 75-year-olds, scrawling on stones the things they pledged to turn over to God. The clanking sound of rock after rock finding its way to the bottom of the water. The tears of so many so determined to be free. Then, finally, the sight of our Egyptians lying in piles, buried beneath the waters of God’s power.
And through it all, the words of Exodus 14 ringing in our ears and hearts:
"The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still."
I’ll never forget it.
P.S. Round Rock folks, I’d love to hear your thoughts/observations in the comments.
Why I Like Jesus’ “Water of Life” Comparison:
“If anyone thirsts,” Jesus says, “let him come to me and drink.”
And with that, he brings all of the truth of water—raindrops and waterfalls, fountains and springs, rivers and brooks, lakes and oceans, sometimes dripping, sometimes drenching, always cleansing, the power of steam, the beauty of snow, the mystery of ice—and applies that truth to Himself.
Covering three quarters of the earth, water is everywhere—and the places it isn’t are barren and wasted. Powerful, delicate, lullabying, destructive, healing—it carves canyons then fills them, laps up on the shores of Ephesus and San Francisco, Barcelona and Calais; collects as dew in backyards and city parks; gives life and carries nutrients, washes the filthy and wakes the sleepy, carries ocean liners and covers trenches.
Water both conceals and reveals: The same explorer who plumbs its depths for the secrets it cloaks reaches down and scoops a handful to wash a muddy artifact and reveal its details.
We do not use it, we only borrow it; for whether through the ground or the sea or the air, in time it will reenter its never-ending cycle, the same drop perhaps visiting us 10 times before we die.
Water is in everything and through everything—it is the stuff of clouds and rainbows and icicles, forever present, forever valuable. Those who view our blue planet from space know—water makes our world what it is.
And because of this, Jesus calls on one of his favorite elements to bear witness to the truth of Himself.
Well done, Jesus.