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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Exodus 3:1-14 Moses and the Burning Bush

Series – Encounters with God
Today we start our summer series.  We will be looking at different characters from the Bible and their Encounters with God.  We will see the effect it had on their lives and the lessons for us.
Moses & the Burning Bush
Establish Background / Life Story
Birth    (Clip from Prince of Egypt 4:14-5:01)
Do these by Q&A:
Murder (cared for Hebrews)
Midian –Zipporah, daughter of Jethro, a Midianite priest, two sons, Gershom and Eliezer (Exodus 2:11-22; 18:3-4)  working as a Shepherd
Burning Bush
Back to Egypt
Escape from Egypt
40 years in the desert
Failed to enter promised Land - disobedient to God (Numbers 20:7-12)
The Burning Bush
Where was Moses immediately before the burning bush incident?
Moses was in the desert tending a flock of sheep for his father-in-law.  He had taken the flock to Mount Horeb – the mountain of God, which today we call Sinai.
His past failures were behind him.  Remember he had murdered to try to protect his people. Now he was content with life.  He had a wife and two sons, and probably some daughters, but daughters were rarely recorded.  He had a steady job and had settled down.  He was an old man – 80 years old.
My Training
After meditating on the passage for a while I realised that in some ways Moses story parallels my own.  Some of you will know that I dropped out of my first attempt at Reader training.  I'd always said I'd try again sometime, when the children were grown up.  I had settled into youth work and was helping with Carrie's outreach activities.
God's Call from the Bush
How God managed his little trick to get Moses attention is not important.  The important thing is that Moses was intrigued and decided to take a closer look.  When he did God spoke to him. “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.”  Moses knew who that was, and knew that to see God face-to-face was certain death.  He hid his face.  Then God reminded him to remove his shoes, and tells him the plan.  You will go back to Egypt and rescue your people.
My 2nd call
God's message to me was not as dramatic as Moses, but looking back it was just as clear.  Paul Hinckley caught me at the end of a service and said something like “It's about time you started your training again isn't it?”.  That took me by surprise.
How do we respond to a clear word from God?
If you had a clear word from God like Moses, or even a wakeup call from your vicar,  you'd just get on with it – right?
Well Moses didn't.  He asked loads of questions, and pointed to his lack of abilities.
Moses – Right Qualifications / Doubts
Moses, though had all the right qualifications, he was brought up in the Egyptian royal family and knew how it worked and how to make things happen. He still had doubts.  Mainly he had lost his self confidence.  He was scared of going back to his own people.  “Who shall I say sent me?”  God reveals a new title “I am” and changes the way the Israelites think of Him forever.  God also reveals more of the plan – step by step.  Then he provides a still doubtful Moses with a number of signs, or 'convincers' –
(2:10-3:20) the staff turning into a snake and the hand becoming leprous and being healed. 
Me – Delay
My response was no better, I tried to delay the start for a year.  Even in my case there were 'convincers' during meditation on a bible passage. So after much discussion, I decided that it was right to go into training that year.
Moses – a great leader
Moses eventually followed God's and became a great leader, and that's where the parallels in the stories end.  I'm not expecting to be leader of the Christian world.
What gets your attention?
What is it that gets your attention?  It shouldn't have to be as dramatic as a burning bush.  As Christians we are connected to God in a way that Moses never was.  As Christians were have the Bible and can hear the word of God any time we open it.  We can read and re-read the story of the death and resurrection of Jesus and know that He died for us and His resurrection means life for us.  We can read the story of the giving of the Holy Spirit and be inspired by the apostles and all they did in spreading the good news of the resurrection. Perhaps as you read and meditate on these scripture the Holy Spirit (or the Angel of God) will make you stop and think.
It may be the word of another Christian that intrigues you and makes you listen carefully to God.
You may witness a miracle, or have a vivid dream.
What ever it is be sure to investigate, if it's God there will be an important message for you.
Once God has your attention all you have to do is listen and make sure you understand his plan. 
Moses did, and it changed his life.  I did and it changed my life.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Holiday in Winsham

Sat 2 Jul 11
We drove to Squirrel Cottage, Laymore, Winsham, Somerset (5 miles from Chard).
From 2011_0702-09 Winsham Holiday
After long delays on M25 around M4.  we stopped at Fleet – a horribly small services for lunch – and a dog walk(ish).
Went to Chard for shopping in Sainsbury's and left Brody tied up outside – he was OK.
After tea we drove to Bridport – West Harbour and walked along the stony beach – small uncomfortable stones but the cliffs are eroding so could also walk next to cliffs and avoid the stones.  Brody went for a swim – Jo was not pleased, but it must have been cold – it woke him up and made him crazy.
He stole another dog's ball, and the ate something.  Jo was shouting at me to put him on the lead.  I was reluctant, but as we came closer to the beech parties there really wasn't a choice.

Sun 3 Jul 11
After a very disturbed night in which Brody was very unsettled, we eventually got going in time to miss the morning service at St Stephens.  Walked into Winsham and diverted toward Ford Abbey, then across country and back to the B3162 and into Winsham, there is not much there, by the time we arrived even the Post Office, the only shop, had closed.
Walked around the church and kept the doors carefully shut, as requested, to keep the swallows out.  We got back to the Squirrels Inn for lunch about 14:00.  The carvery was just £5, even with drinks and sweet the total was about £26 for both of us.  The meat was lovely, mainly pork, but one small piece of beef.  The vegetables were over cooked and almost cold – the penalty for being almost last at the table.
After lunch we watched the Wimbledon mens final: Novak Djokovic beat Rafael Nadal in 4 sets.  I was relieved that Nadal didn't  win again.
Around tea time we drove to Lyme Regis for a walk along Monmouth beach.  There really isn't much of it, not enough for a proper dog walk.  Brody had another swim.  Even now his coat doesn't smell too bad.  Then we queued for chips and had a wander around the harbour wall. Brody is an excellent conversation starter.  Tried to find the Jane Austen garden, there were many sign posts but we could not find the garden. 
Back in the cottage, the upstairs floor level window curtain rail fell down when I went to close the curtain  Now it's time for bed, but the fretting dog needs his cage put up before he will sleep. 

Mon 4 Jul 11
The day starts around 3am, Brody needs the facilities of the grass outside.  Then it is almost dawn and its hard to get back to sleep again.  Jo is very tired. Once again we were up late, not so bad today 9:00 ish.  Went in to Chard and to the Tourist Information where the lady was very helpful, but they don’t take cheques any more and have no card machine so it has to be cash.  The banks are easily winning the fight to remove cheques.
A little shopping in Sainsbury's, to cover the cost of the car park ticket, where we bought a meal for two for £10 (it's one of their deals) and back to Squirrel Cottage to make lunch.  Then off to Chard reservoir for a dog walk.
From Holiday 2011 (July 2 - 9) in Winsham, Dorset
The area around the reservoir is split into different types of meadows and is great for dog walking.  Brody almost immediately lost the ball in the long grass.  He was fascinated by the meadow grass and went running through it and bounding about in it.
We had our picnic and then wandered on to the cycle trail for a mile or so, tuned back and walked down the road.  As the reservoir is a bird sanctuary no dogs are allowed in.  After a while we drove to Taunton to look for a dongle.  None are to be had . We found PC World easily enough (amazing!).  O2 and Vodafone have poor coverage of our postcode.  Thanks to the excellent staff in PC world who checked their facts diligently and didn't try to sell an inappropriate product.   We left to try for Orange in the town.  The Orange shop haven't got any dongles and won't be getting any.  Phones 4U said that Orange only do monthly contracts, but I was after pay as you go-  I only need it for a week. Finally, I tried the '3' shop.  They checked the postcode and said no indoor reception – outdoor only – so I am off the net for a week.  Difficult when so many of the leaflets refer to web sites these days.
The £10 meal was very nice – Sea Bass, leaf salad, a bottle of Pino Grigiot blush and a sticky toffee pudding.  I'm quite ready for a blog, but no internet.   Josh (from work) texted me about a billing failure, but the signal is so poor texts take a while to get delivered (and I expect received as well) so I wasn’t much help.  He said they had sorted it out though.

Tue 5 Jul 11
Another early start, taking Brody outside at just 12:30 (00:30) after only 2 hours of sleep.   The rest of the night was also disturbed by the dog.  The weather was supposed to be poor and the rain had already started when we left the cottage.  We went to Heale (near Corfe), which the Sat-Nav didn't know, but the OS map did, for a walk in the Black Wood Hills. As we parked in the road the rain finally stopped.  We made our way back along the road to the bridleway and across the meadow.  Full of corn flowers and daisies it was a beautiful sight.  We made our way around Orchard  Wood and then south to Staple Park Farm.  From there we followed the road and joined the B3178 for a while, finally leaving it for a footpath that cut off the corner and put us on the road where we left the car.  By now it had started raining again. 
All the paths were well maintained and reasonably well signposted, the only exception being the first field we had to cross on the last footpath which was blocked by an electric fence.  The way around was barely passable due to thistles and nettles.  On the way home the rain got worse and it seemed as though we were driving through fog.
We arrive home and had sandwiches, then some rest.  Later we drove the shop in Winsham and posted some postcards and brought some vegetables for tea.
After tea we drove towards Bridport to try to find Eype beach.  Lower Eype was not on the Sat-Nav but we chose a place close by and followed the road signs.  The beach is below a high cliff and is made up of larger stones deposited in tiers by the sea.  The car park which costs £2 after 4pm and has an honesty box.  Ours was the only car, we arrived after 6pm and were there for less that an hour.  We paid a reasonable rate.  From the car park, down the steps on to the beach we turned right  (west) and walked to the end of the beach.  Brody paddled in the sea, but was not sure of the waves which were breaking on the beach with quite a force.

Wed 6 Jul 11
We had up a number of leaflets with walks in the Blackdown Hills from the TI.  This one was '6 circular walks in and around Stockland'  Walk 3 starts at the Stockland village hall.  We found it easily enough and confirmed with a woman about to play tennis that it was OK to park.  The instructions are clear enough, so is the map.  We passed the church, there is no footpath sign.  There is a gap between two hedges that could easily be a footpath.  We tried to walk down between the hedges.  The hedges are high on both sides, the path overgrown with nettles and other vegetation almost up to my shoulder.  It was muddy and stoney underfoot, eventually we turned back.  As we were turning round Brody pushed past me and took my one stable leg from under me.  I landed in the nettles after stepping on his paw.  We returned to the car and drove off to try to find Walk 1  “Happy Valley and the Umborne Brook”.  We found it after a few diversions and joined half way round.  Before we started, the rain began, so we ate lunch and by the time we had finished the shower had passed.  We were soon walking through the woods and following the stream.  Brody spotted a pool that had been dug and was off down hill.  We called and called but the only response was a loud splash.  We continued calling and there were a couple of other splashes then it went quiet.  I made my way down the hill and saw him swimming around.  The pool was deep and the banks steep and high.  All his splashing had not made the pool muddy.  He looked a little bemused and was swimming in a circle – looking for a way out I expect.  I found a corner where the bank was not so steep and attracted him with a dog biscuit.  He came out, but it was a bit of a struggle.  From then on I had a damp dog pushing past me every few hundred yards.  On the way back we passed through a field of cows, who took a dislike to our dog.  He had his best run in this field – and he needed to run – the cows were quite aggressive.  On the final path back we were stopped by a local farmer and asked if the path was clear.  He maintains the path – we were very pleased to hear that some of the paths are maintained..  As we got back to the car a lady on a horse asked us to keep the gate open.  Brody barked at the horse and would not stop.   Once in the car the rain came again.
We drove back towards Chard and stopped at the Yarcombe Inn.  Despite the sign outside, it was closed, but further along the A30 the was the Howley Inn we took a diversion and enjoyed a coffee. They even allowed us to take the dog in.  We also bought some of their eggs.  Then it was back to Chard for some shopping and back to the cottage for tea.

Thu 7 Jul 11
We decided earlier in the week that we would join the walk advertised in the Post Office.  We arrived early only one person was there but he had arrived early as well.  Soon there were about 15 of us.  They are just a group of local friends who go for walks once a month.  They were happy for us to join in.  We had a circular walk around Winsham.  We came around to almost the Squirrel Inn and then back to The Bell the pub where we had met.  The walk lasted just over 2.5 hours.   We stayed for a drink and lunch.  The walkers had pre-ordered lunch and there were some cyclists in, so lunch took a while.  The pub gave Brody a treat and would have provided water if we had needed it. 
After lunch we headed for the Wellington monument, an obelisk visible from quite a distance.  We had hoped to get some good views of the area but there was too much undergrowth.  Here we played with Brody for a while.  The views were available from further down the road.
We came back to the cottage and cleaned up.  Then headed to the Squirrel Inn (next door to the cottage) for an evening meal.  Simple pub food, but well prepared and enjoyable.

Fri 8 Jul 11
After Brody trying out the shower (by now he did need a wash), we headed for Axminster where we visited the TI and followed the town trail.  We passed possibly the grumpiest old man who had just left the cobblers and told Brody not to lick it (the glue he was carrying) and asked why he had to walk in the road to pass us.  The answer I didn't give was “because you're too impatient to wait while the dog moves”.  We then went to Seaton to ride on the tram line to Colyton.  At Colyton, we wandered into town and brought ice cream and wandered back to the tram line.  After a walk around Seaton we drove to Lyme Regis and parked at the top of the cliff.  We walked into town and out toward the Jurassic coast.  We only went a short way, the tide was coming in,  Back on the sea front we had fish and chips, then more ice cream at Rinky Tinks.  Finally we returned home to feed Brody at around 7:30pm.