I loved the story of Noah’s Ark when I was a kid. It was a story about being in a boat with animals. What is not to be liked about that when you are a kid. After all, I loved to even see animals at the zoo so the thought of living with them and petting them was pretty cool. As a six year old I wouldn’t be considering the logistics of feeding or cleaning or any other responsibility that would come with being sure the earth was once again repopulated.
Noah’s Ark is also a popular children’s story because it grips our imagination. To be honest this still happens to me today when I consider all the animals living together. My soul craves something of the peace that God must have created for the Ark to keep from devolving into chaos. But as neat as it is for me to think of petting a lion that is right next to a goat while my kids are taking a nap with a bear this story is ultimately about God’s character.
It is easy to see that our world is far from perfect but if we are tempted to think it is so much worse than it has ever been in the past just read Genesis 6. The story of Noah in many ways is about as far from a children’s story as you can get – wickedness and evil are rampant! There is a righteous judgment by God that is both terrifying and filled with grace at the same time. Humanity has clearly communicated to the Creator God how deeply the rebellious spirit has permeated our souls. We want to rule in place of the true Ruler!
God will not have it. He knows that His love for us is perfect and that all of His ways for us are the right ones. He wants nothing but the best for us so He must act. He will not allow us to walk unobstructed down a path of destruction. God invades the story with holiness, power and grace. There will be a clear declaration of God’s righteousness, judgment and love. God shouts, “Don’t claim what isn’t yours!” as well as, “I love you with an everlasting love!” Do we hear Him today?
In Genesis 9 we see God establish His covenant with Noah and with us. “I will not destroy all of life.” There is an underlying truth in God’s covenant; it is that God is a longsuffering and gracious God. Even though He is perfectly holy He is willing to bridge the chasm that our sin creates with our God. Every time we see a rainbow we are reminded of God’s invitation to join Noah and be saved through faith in God’s grace.
In the end, Noah’s Ark delivers to me the fact that God provides all that I need in the midst of a messy world and the storms of life. There is an “Eternal Ark” for us and His name is Jesus! Our Creator is calling us to see Him properly and then worship Him. So, it really is a great children’s story – it has the greatest of happy endings for all of us who are Children of God.
From one child of God to another,
If you are a regular reader of my View articles (or blog) you know that a few weeks back I went backpacking with my son Jack. Our final day it poured during a 3 hour thunderstorm as we hiked the last five miles to our car. When we arrived home things were still quite wet as you can imagine. In the drying out process Barb left our hiking boots out to dry in the sun in our front yard. This trip was the very first time Jack had used his new boots. A little while later Barb called me to ask if I moved the boots. Long story short – someone stole our hiking boots right out of our front yard!
What in the world? How could this happen?
The answer is found in the third chapter of Genesis. That can sound far too removed from actually having anything to do with the swiping of our boots in 2015. How can anything thousands of years old have any relevance on my today? Well, the thread of motivation has remained the same from the first sin all the way to September 2015.
God had created the most spectacular setting anyone could ever experience. He spent a week making a place for Adam and Eve to enjoy all there is to enjoy in life. There was not one thing that could have improved what God had made for them! Not only was it beautiful but it included perfect and meaningful relationships as well as enjoyable work. Adam and Eve were recipients of all these good gifts of God.
But the story takes a drastic turn when Adam and Eve go after the one thing that God said they could not have. They went after what wasn’t theirs to possess. They were rejecting the idea that any limitations should be placed on them. They wanted to be God! No one, including the one and only true God, was going to tell them what to do. Adam and Eve wanted it all; somebody else wanted our hiking boots. So Adam, Eve and the thief took what wasn't theirs.
Now taking our boots is not nearly as tragically impactful as Adam and Eve's disobedience but it is intimately tied directly to that first grab for power. Ever since that first sin humanity has been bent away from God. We continue to lean in our own directions and claim what God says is not ours to claim. We do this when we disobey God's perfect "directions for life" in any way at all. In Genesis 3 the sinners wanted to be like God - no limitations. This continues to be the motivation for sins today; the person who stole our boots and my sins as well.
Even in the midst of such pervasive bad news - God is victorious! He comes to Adam and Eve with what they need to come back into relationship with them. The Creator asks the rebellious creation "Where are you?" (Gen. 3.9) They are hiding in shame, nakedness and fear. God knows this and so much more for them and for us today. He acknowledges that the mess is profound and deep, but He can and will fix it. There will be one to come that will "crush the enemy" of our fears, our sins and our death. (Gen. 3.15) His name is Jesus.
Well, even though my hiking boots are gone, I can be thankful my sins are gone too,
Waypoints are defined as stopping places on a journey.
There are times we need to stop or consider or just slow down to gain clarity. It can help us to understand the past, sift through the present or prepare for the future. We are going to look at the Bible and we are going to look at our lives in the coming months to find that our God’s got it in hand. He is not surprised, alarmed, ill-prepared or blind to our situations.
You are invited beginning this Sunday to travel “toward God.” We are traveling on the road of life. What have you noticed so far? Your Heavenly Father wants you to notice HIM. He is in it and all through it. He is both the provider of the map and He is the destination.
Over the next eight months we are going to be stopping at various Waypoints throughout the Old Testament. We will find that God is revealing himself in each of these passages and He is inviting us to know Him more. He is also calling us to take a moment and learn how to respond to life and our God in all that life has in store for us.
You are invited to visit these Waypoints each Sunday morning in our Sunday School classes as well as our worship services!
We [Nick and Jack] just returned from a few days of backpacking on the Superior Hiking Trail [SHT]. It was great to be together, get exercise, get away from all the modern day distractions and enjoy God's creation. This was Jack's first time backpacking and he definitely reminded his dad who is the one in shape. I don't think I saw him breathing hard once while I was doubled over trying to catch my breath and not pass out.
Our time on the trail was filled with processing life, talking about concerns and joys as well as being continually amazed with God's creation. There was plenty of time for silence and meditation as well.
Here is a quick recap of the trip.
Sunday: Set up campsite next to Split Rock Lighthouse on the North Shore. Drive north to our destination location near Illgen City and leave our car in the SHT parking lot. Hop on two beater bikes that we wouldn’t worry if they were stolen and venture south on Highway 61 for an hour and a half back to our campsite - by the way "beater bikes" means they don't work well at all. We visit a bit at the campfire and hit the hay.
Monday: Up at Sunrise and greet the thick fog coming off Lake Superior as we eat our oatmeal. Hit the trail for about 10 miles of up and down and all around. Lunch is peanut butter and jelly on really thin bread. Keep rolling and set up camp just off the Beaver River - it was a beautiful site. Dinner tasted far better than freeze dried food should but that is part of the mystery of backpacking. We are in our tents before the sun sets.
Tuesday: More oatmeal and coffee for breakfast with the sunrise. Take down camp and hit the trail. Tough HOT day for the old guy as I lag behind with all the inclines on this section of the trail. Jack takes on the whole thing like it is a walk in the park. The day is filled with fantastic views, lots of sweat and a discussion about proper calculation of trail miles - Jack was right and I was wrong. We set up camp at Palisade Creek with Jack making the water journey twice to bring our water for drinking and preparing dinner. Great evening of talking about ministry, family and theology. We hit the hay at 8PM - late night!
Wednesday: Up with the sun, getting things in order when Jack says, "Did you hear that thunder?" I did hear it which makes no sense because the weather forecasters made it very clear to me that there would be no rain during our little backpacking adventure. The sprinkles had turned into a downpour by 7:30 AM as we were leaving camp. For the next 3 1/2 hours we hiked in lightning, thunder and a pouring rain. The trail looked more like a stream than a trail as we traversed six slippery miles to reach our car at 11:00 AM. We were both drenched and due to my ill advised confidence in the weather forecasters our backpacks were completely soaked as well. You see, I want to trim as much weight from my pack as I can so with only sun in the foreseeable future I left our backpack rain covers at home. Let's just say that when sleeping bags get wet they become heavier. Our car was a happy sight at this point as we were able to begin the drying process.
We had a great time on the trail sharing life. We decided backpacking is a lot like life really.
* Climbing the ascents is exhausting as it stretches us and forms our muscles but the views at the summits are spectacular.
* The level trail sections provide a nice time for thinking, talking and basically just moving along together toward the destination.
* Descents are really hard on your thighs and feet but in the valleys is where we are able to find our sources of water.
The point is that God wants us to find Him, His provision and the joy of His family all through our lives. He is able to bless us no matter what the terrain of our lives. He is more than able and He never fails!
He leads us in paths... [Psalm 23]
Pastor Nick and Jack
Pastor Nick Mundis