The Manna Project

Israel, Egypt, and the Exodus

Where we see ourselves…

The old testament is filled with story.  When we typically read any story, we find ourselves choosing a perspective.  This perspective is typically the one of the protagonist/hero or the victim/oppressed in need of saving.  Very rarely if at all do we read ourselves into the role of the antagonist/villain.

A call to repentance…

God poured out grace to Pharaoh.  He was allowed the opportunity to repent and free the Israelites.  His heart, however, grew harder and his stubbornness became impenetrable.  Egypt was an empire and Pharaoh was the center of its leadership, authority, and power.  Its economy demanded more so that it could consume more.  It was oppressive in nature because of the demands for excess.

The desert…

God calls us into the desert in order to simplify and purge out the strongholds that have become mini-gods in our lives.  It is a trying time that sometimes leads us to believe that God is absent more than He is present.  It’s a time where we feel displaced and unsure of our survivability.  We feel like we’re living backwards because we hold on to the belief that adding things to our lives creates our identity.  It is in the desert, however, where we learn to wholly depend on God and truly discover that He is all we need and the source of our true identity.

Manna…

God is our provider in every way.  When the Israelites were walking through the desert, they began to hunger and so God provided manna.  The caveat of manna was that you were only to collect what was needed for the day.  If they collected more (hoarding), it would mold.  Why would God do this?  Maybe the better question is “Why would we do this?” Hoard that is.  Maybe it’s because deep down they didn’t trust that God would provide for them day after day.  Deep down they weren’t sure about God.  Are we any different?

Present Day Significance…

We are facing one of the greatest economic crises in history.  We are a credit-based community and it has now reached a point where we are over leveraged and our debt must to be paid.

Who are we in the story?  Are we the Israelites in need of saving? Yes.  Are we the Egyptians who are held captive to a self-power driven, empire model of life? Yes.

In either role, we are a people being called to repent and a people called to the desert where we can once again learn that God is our sustenance.  We are to relearn discipleship – a genuine following of and trust in Jesus.

What will we do? Where do we begin?

I believe that we are to examine our lives and make some changes.  There needs to be an evaluation of our life that includes: what we buy, who we buy from, how much we consume, how much we give, etc…

We can begin by taking an inventory of our assets (money and goods).  And, as we pray, we can consider what we need and what is genuine excess in our lives.  This is not a “get rid of our junk” session. It’s a time to be honest with God and with ourselves about who and what we live for.

Next Step?

My conviction is that we are to take our excess and find some way to match it up with those who are in need.  There are still questions (i.e. how do we determine who is in need? Or how do we find those who are in need?) that are unanswered, but this is version 1.0 of this conviction that God has given me.  I share it with you for your feedback, your counsel, and potentially your support.

It’s Not about Size…

we always think that size determines our success or ability to influence. but it’s not necessarily true. i’m in the midst of reading and studying the book of James and he reminds us that destructive power is beheld in this tiny entity called the tongue. remember when we were kids and chanted the mantra, “sticks and stones will break our bones, but names will never hurt me!” i’m not so sure about that. i think that physical pain heals, but emotional scars can last a lifetime. i still remember when someone took a shot at my preaching by saying that “a dog could preach better.” i brushed it off, but it hasn’t left my memory. it’s a remark that somehow enhances an existing insecurity and makes it all the more difficult to move forward and grow. i also remember when a teacher long ago told me that she saw incredible success in my future. these words embedded hope and inspiration whenever i feel like a failure. words are absolutely powerful. they can inspire us to accomplish more than we ever imagined possible or they can kill our spirit to a point where we are physically immobilized. what words do you speak? do you give life? or do you destroy life? james calls us to tame our tongue. he questions how we bless God and yet curse people who are made in His likeness. And he tells us that this should not be so. know that your tongue has great power – power to kill or power to heal. and, know that what you speak changes our world!!!

Weeds…

Sami and Jaci helping give perspective to my weed problem...

Sami and Jaci helping give perspective to my weed problem...

i’ve got weeds growing everywhere!!!  i put a couple shots of one patch that’s in front of my house.  One with my kids and car to give you some perspective on how tall they are and one that’s a bit closer up.  now, i’ve actually got to do some major work to get rid of these bad boys.  i can’t believe how fast they’ve grown.  this patch was dirt when we first moved in 9 months ago and now i can’t even see the dirt!  being a pastor and theologian, i can’t help but look at my weed garden and see the correlation to our lives.  i’ve put off taking care of my garden for almost a year and now i have

Yes, They're ALL Weeds!!!

Yes, They're ALL Weeds!!!

a serious problem that seems totally out of control and overwhelming.  i almost don’t know where to start.  i thought of weeds in my life that are now deeply rooted within me and think of how overwhelming they become when i choose to look away and ignore them.  when they started, they were just small little patches so i thought, “no biggie…  i’ll take care of it later.” after a while though, the crap in my life gets overwhelming and i feel like it’s a lost cause.  did you know that some weeds actually produce these little flowers that almost make them look pretty?  but no, they’re still weeds that grow out of control and start screwing up the rest of the garden.  weeds can be subversive that way.

i sat there thinking about all of the different strategies to kill them.  i’ve heard of different organic solutions (water and vinegar, boiling water, soap and water, etc.) but i’ve chosen to go the old school route of pulling them by hand.  one by one, i’m going to go after them.  since there are so many, i’ve asked my friend to help me out.  interesting isn’t it?  even in this, i can see how community makes such a difference in helping us figure out our junk as well as help us deal with it. wow, when i decide to deal with weeds, it actually brings me closer with people.  interesting.

weeds…  a curse, a blessing…

i’m pretty obsessed with my weeds right now…  enough talking about them.  time to get dirty and deal with them…

the church’s response in oakland…

as everyone knows by now (or should know by now), this past weekend was wrought with tragedy in our city as four oakland police officers were killed.  it’s been tense to say the least.  as a city, we’ve had to deal with the bart shooting (where bart officer shot and killed an unarmed passenger) and now are mourning over the death of four police officers – all within the past 3 months.  it’s a lot for a city to bear.  combine all of this with a national economic crisis and you can only imagine the anxiety and tension that is stirring in our communities.  i was reading this article this morning from the sf chronicle on the church’s response to this crisis (read it here) and i would love to open up the conversation and hear more response from the christian community. let’s talk about this…