The Plagues in Exodus = God’s Power and Mercy

For the past few weeks, I have been brought back several times to the Old Testament book of Exodus. Our Sunday Morning Junior High class is doing a series on the Old Testament and is currently in Exodus. Our High School class is a little over half way through a series on Exodus. Somewhere in the midst of that my Bible reading plan took me into Exodus.

If you are familiar with the book of Exodus, you know about the ten plagues that God sent to convince Pharaoh to let the Israelite people go free. At the time the Hebrews (God’s chosen people) were in slavery to the Egyptians. Pharaoh was stubborn and needed some convincing before he would part with his slave work force.

My reading plan took me to Exodus chapter 9 where God threatens to send the plague of hail if Pharaoh doesn’t agree to let them go free.

“Then the LORD said to Moses, “Get up early in the morning, confront Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me, or this time I will send the full force of my plagues against you and against your officials and your people, so you may know that there is no one like me in all the earth. For by now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with a plague that would have wiped you off the earth.”  [Exodus 9:13-15]

The plagues definitely show God’s power.  He sends hail that will destroy both livestock and the crops.  At the raising of Moses’ hands, God unleashes a plague that brings a lot of destruction.  God clearly shows His power.

As I read this chapter again, I see how the plagues also show God’s mercy.  While God was definitely going to bring destruction, He didn’t do it without warning.  He gave Pharaoh and the Egyptian people opportunities to avoid what He was going to do.

Notice was it says in Exodus 9:18-19:  “Therefore, at this time tomorrow I will send the worst hailstorm that has ever fallen on Egypt, from the day it was founded till now. Give an order now to bring your livestock and everything you have in the field to a place of shelter, because the hail will fall on every person and animal that has not been brought in and is still out in the field, and they will die.’ ” [Exodus 9:18-19]

Anyone who would listen to God’s warning would avoid the damage done by the hail.  God was flexing His muscle, but He also revealed His heart – He gave the Egyptians a chance to protect their animals and possessions from the hail.  Those who feared God listened and brought in their slaves and livestock.

God demonstrated His power and His mercy.

Later in the chapter God shows His mercy again:

“The flax and barley were destroyed, since the barley had headed and the flax was in bloom. The wheat and spelt, however, were not destroyed, because they ripen later.”  [Exodus 9:31-32]

Not all the crops were destroyed.  God spared some of the Egyptians future food supply.

As I was brought back to the book of Exodus, I was brought back to both the power of God and the mercy of God.  Yes, God brought judgement.  Yes, God brought His power down on the people of Egypt.  But He didn’t do it without warning.  He didn’t do it without giving Pharaoh and the Egyptians a chance to respond.

The good news is that God does the same thing for us.  He continues to offer His mercy and gives us a chance to respond.  That’s good news for those of us who can be stubborn like Pharaoh.

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Kelly is a Kingdom Worker

Most summers we attend the Christ In Youth MOVE Conference with our high school students. It’s a great environment for our students to be challenged to live as Kingdom Workers. A few months ago I shared about a project our students took on because of the challenge.

Last year one of our former students, Kelly, was able to be a part of the Kingdom Worker Crash and share her story. While in high school, she accepted her Kingdom Worker Challenge and took part in a ministry in our church for ladies with special needs. It was encouraging to see how she was able to serve and then able to share about that experience through the Kingdom Worker Crash. MOVE chooses ten students from across the country to video their stories and then show those at the various MOVE Conferences they host each summer.

We showed Kelly’s video a few weeks ago in our church services and plan to show it in our small groups this Sunday as springboard to our discussion. Kelly does a great job sharing not only her experience, but how God shaped her through it.

A Little DYK About Dayton // @daytonmomsblog

Cheryl’s latest post on the Dayton Moms Blog is all about Dayton. While we don’t live in Dayton, that is the direction we head when we need things our smaller town doesn’t offer. When telling people where we live, we usually give Dayton as a point of reference.

We participate in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Dayton. We enjoy going to Dayton Dragons games, occasionally hitting up the Dayton Mall and enjoy eating at The Spaghetti Warehouse.

If you live in or around Dayton, you may know some of the facts on the blog.

Do you know why Dayton is called “The Gem City?” (I did not).

Did you know that it took a vote by the US House to secure a title Dayton is known for? (Me neither).

Familiar with the Rolling Stones? They have a connection to Dayton.

Go find out what you didn’t know about Dayton on the blog today.

Collateral Damage // Dr. Chirban

A forty-five year old woman who was twelve years old when her parents divorced shared this experience: “My mom put all my dad’s clothes and lunchbox in the car, drove to the woman he was having an affair with, and had me throw all of his clothes on the woman’s lawn, knocked on the door with his lunchbox and told her to make my dad’s lunch for work the next day.”

That is just one of the many raw and revealing quotes from the book Collateral Damage by Dr. John T. Chirban. The book is written to parents as a guide to help navigate the murky waters of divorce. It focuses on steps parents can take to help their children while also caring for themselves through the process.

The book is based on the author’s story of going through a divorce, his education and experience as a psychologist and a five-year survey that was geared toward the parents and the children of divorce.

Dr. Chirban, through his involvement with the Dr. Phil show, was in a unique position to reach many people with the Divorce Study. Over 10,000 people responded to the survey and numerous quotes, like the one above, are shared throughout the book.  Some of the quotes are from the children of divorce and others are from the perspective of the parents. Many of them are heart-breaking as you read the pain and loss caused by the dissolution of families.

Dr. Chirban speaks to the challenges that children face as their parents go through the divorce process.  While he highlights some positive steps parents can take, he also reveals some of the missteps that have occurred in the lives of many.

Here’s just one example from the Divorce Study:” The study showed that 51 percent of divorced parents said they spoke with their children and believed they had met their needs, yet 87 percent of children reported they had no one to talk to about their feelings during the divorce.” (pg. 22)

One of the many challenges that parents going through a divorce must face is how they care for their children, allow them to express freely their emotions and process their feelings while also trying to work through their own hurts and hangups with the end of the marriage.  Dr. Chirban provides a good resource for parents to use to address both sides of that equation.

While I think this book is helpful for anyone who works with children and families and for people who have already gone through a divorce, where I think it would be most helpful is for those who are considering or in the process of divorce.  Dr. Chirban shares good information that can help parents care for themselves and their children.  The quotes shared and steps given provide parents some clarity during a confusing and emotionally charged season.

Flesh & Hammocks // @syd_the_kyd31

I’ve shared before that my daughter has a blog. As a parent it’s fun to read her posts and see how she expresses herself, what inspires her to write and the conclusions she comes to.

Yesterday she shared a new post. It comes out of a book she is reading again. I’m familiar with the author, but haven’t read the book. In this post, I appreciated the imagery she used as she talked about what stood out to her from the book.

I especially liked this phrase:

But relying on Jesus, the One who hangs the best hammock ever in between the two trees that are the world and the riches of Heaven, that will get us somewhere. I want to be in that hammock.

Go check out the post on her blog: Flesh & hammocks

My Wife Writes About Her Mom @daytonmomsblog

My wife has had several of her posts published on Dayton Moms Blog. While I think all of her posts are good, I really appreciate this one because I know this subject is especially close to her heart; she writes about her mom.

My mother-in-law has been struggling with the effects of Alzheimer’s for the past several years. Much of what I have learned about her is not from experience, but from stories about her from my wife. This post reflects that.

I have seen the influence of my mother-in-law on my wife, especially in how she interacts with her children. Here’s a portion of what she wrote:

My mom taught me to go above and beyond. My mom is a smart woman and as valedictorian of her High School class she expected us to be just as academic as her and do well in school. My brothers followed in her footsteps, but I struggled in school. She pushed me and pushed me to do my best and then she would say, “Do extra”. I’ve instilled that in my own children and have encouraged them to do extra and go above and beyond what is expected of them.

I’ve seen my wife put that into practice in her life and encourage that in her sons.

Take a few moments to read 5 Things My Mom Taught Me. It’s worth the time. We all have things we can learn.

The Beach // Beauty and Simplicity

Last week our family enjoyed a much anticipated and relaxing week at the beach. This summer for a number reasons was more hectic than most. While we always look forward to vacations and holidays, this particular time away was one my wife and I (and the rest of our family) were especially excited about.

One thing my wife and I have discovered is that we both love the beach. Dragging chairs, umbrellas, snacks and towels to the ocean to sit and soak is something we both relish. The beach is our “happy place.” There are some families that love to go camping or make the trek to Disney or Harry Potter World or visit state parks or national monuments. We have done those things and may plan trips like that in the future, but, for us, the ideal place is the beach. Give us sand, sun and ocean and we are good.

As I stood on the beach one day, I was reminded of why we enjoy going there. Two words came to mind as I looked out at the ocean that morning.

The first word was beauty.

You see it quite often on social media feeds: pictures of sunrises, sunsets, rainbows, mountain views, lakefronts and much more. We are captivated by the beauty of creation. To sit on the beach or stand at the edge of the ocean and look out at the waves rolling in, you are struck by the beauty of what God spoke into existence. I was reminded of the beauty of what our Creator made.

The second word was simplicity.

The ocean is like an escape. You are not too concerned about your phone or social media feed (unless you are capturing pics of the kids playing in the surf or the sand). Other than the beach necessities (towels, chairs, some snacks, sunscreen, sand tools and a good book), there’s not much else needed for the day. There’s swimming, sitting or even sleeping in the sun, searching for sea shells, sand castle building, reading your book or just taking a walk along the shore line. Simple really. The beach is less about doing and more about just being.

Beauty.

Simplicity.

Just a couple of reasons why we enjoy going to the beach.