So I’m sending this out right in the middle of our annual Vacation Bible School, and it’s exciting! The whole church building is decorated like a series of giant caves (complete with a mining car and track that runs throughout the building), and it’s always a pick-me-up for our VBS workers whenever the children walk through the hallways ooh-ing and ahh-ing. It’s also a simple joy that this week, Sarah Warren is back from Sweden and my own daughter, Megan, will be back from Chicago in time to take part on Friday. Please do be praying for our exhausted VBS staff -- and especially tomorrow, as we share a clear Gospel message with the children. Ultimately, it’s not our decorations or silly antics or songs or crafts or any of that stuff that will change the lives of the children and their families -- it’s the work of God’s Holy Spirit working inside of them that will make a difference. Please be part of our VBS team by praying for us through the end of Friday night’s Ice Cream Social (and feel free to join us for that, if you’re available for some free ice cream).
Oh, and the VBS kids will be coming back on Sunday morning to help lead our worship music, so please be in prayer for that as well. It’s not only a fun time, but it’s also a good way to connect our larger FCC family with the VBS families. Please pray for everyone to be here who’s supposed to be here for that, and that we’re here with the right hearts.
In the sermon this week, we talked about one of the sons of Gideon -- a guy named Abimelech. Actually, this section of Judges reads a lot like an old movie western, when you think about it.
Abimelech says that he can lead better than Gideon’s other sons, so he gets his own kinfolk (on his mother’s side) to help him kill the rest of them. But strangely, setting up a “new normal” based on usurping power and hating anyone who doesn’t look like “us” just taught everyone involved that it’s okay to usurp power and hate anyone who doesn’t look like “us” -- and the townsfolk turned on Abimelech... turning instead to Gaal, the newest blowhard in town, who shot off his mouth in the saloon with his cronies while everyone got drunk.
Long story short, there was a big shoot-out just outside of town, and Gaal and his men were beaten by Abimelech and his men... who then also slaughtered all of the farmers in their fields... and then all of the people who’d run into the fort to get protection from their “new” god, Baal Berith... and then rode on to another town to do the very same thing.
What we realized as we read through this story is that God punished the evildoers in this western by letting them be precisely, exactly who they wanted to be, and letting them get precisely, exactly what it was that they’d wanted to get. He let them self-destruct -- and then they complained about it.
Nobody wants to admit it, but a sadly large amount of the stuff that hurts us in our lives is stuff that we’ve brought upon ourselves by the really poor decisions that we’ve made. To get through it, we kinda have to own it -- to admit that we’ve made this bed, and that we deserve to lie in it, but that we repent of what we’ve done, and that we want to learn not to do that any more.
There’s no guarantee that God will always swoop in to save us from the natural repercussions of our own foolish mistakes (in fact, like in Judges, there are some times when He uses those repercussions to teach us things), but God will always be willing to use our life situations -- even the ones of our own choosing -- to help us grow closer to Him and less foolish in general.
So maybe that’s a key prayer request to be laying at His feet -- “God, please show me my own weaknesses, please forgive me for them, and please teach me through them...”