Rancho Bernardo Community Presbyterian (OLD)

Carpe Momentum

Deuteronomy 1:19-33

Defining Moments

We have innumerable moments in our lives, but there may only be several that are truly defining moments.  Moments that inform, shape, and change every choice in life thereafter.  Those moments may be positive or negative, they may be success, failure, joy, pain, sunshine or rain.  But there is something in these defining moments that change our course, that impact our heart and mind so deeply that we gain a new lesson in life.

Story of the Dance...

We are in Deuteronomy and we are looking back with Moses on the lessons from the wilderness.  For forty years now the Israelites have been nomads. Wandering the wilderness just outside where they were designed to live, the Promised Land. 

  1.   That’s not a typo.  That’s the Hebrew word for wilderness.  It’s a place defined as “uninhabitable, not a place to settle”. Midbar is a place in between where you started and where you want to be.  It’s not the place where Israel was destined to be, and yet this is where the people of God were for an entire generation.

1 Corinthians 10 points out that we, today, can learn from this time in the Israelite history.  These lessons in the wilderness are for us, for our lives now, and when we realize that their history is our history of humanity, then their defining moments become ours if we hold them deeply enough.

As we open to Deuteronomy 1, we come to Moses’ farewell speech to the Israelites.  He is reminding them that they are once again right back where they were forty years ago, right on the edge of the promised land. Moses is reminding them of a defining moment, and he is doing this so that they are aware that they can now have a RE-defining moment if they take courage and move ahead.  We can learn from the mistakes of our past, but we are not bound to them.  Moses is reminding them here of a weak choice that set their lives in neutral, just wandering for forty years.

Deuteronomy 1:19-32

They were frightened, negative, grumbling (complaining), and this all kept them from going forward.  Moses is reminding them that God has already given them the land ahead. “Just go! I’m ahead of you and with you! Enter the life I made for you!”

But, they just wouldn’t believe.

Hebrews 3 tells us that is what unbelief that kept them from seizing this opportunity.  The unbelief, negativity, whining and grumbling of a few resulted in melting the hearts of many.  Perhaps we’ve seen what complaining can do as well to drag down others and stop all movement forward.

Perhaps though, under our unbelief, deep down inside, may just be a core of pride.

The Israelites and the spy committee that was sent out refused to trust God’s promise, and if they refused to trust God, then they were trusting themselves.  If they were trusting themselves, then they deeply believed they knew better than God.  When I believe I know better than God, that’s pride.  It can block you from the life God made you to live.

Bad Latin and Physics

Carpe Momentum is bad latin, but I love it, and I’ll tell you why.

I love the phrase “carpe diem”, seize the day, and I can even hear Robin Williams in Dead Poet’s Society whispering, “carpe diem... seize the day lads... make your lives extraordinary”.  I love that movie.  But, a day is not tangible.  You can’t wake up and seize it.  Just like you can’t make a choice on January 1st to seize the year either.  Why? Years and days are mental constructs of moments.  All we have is moments that we can seize. Moments in time that we can make a choice to go this or way that, and that choice then ripples into our next moment.

I was schooled by a Latin linguist that, “‘carpe momentum’ does mean ‘seize the moment’, but it’s not the right kind of moment. Momentum is the word for the physics term dealing with weight and motion.”

This should spark your mind of physics 101.

Mass x Velocity = Momentum.     Mmm... church and physics.

A weight, perhaps you, plus moving, results in momentum.  An object in motion then stays in motion, and an object at rest will stay at rest, unless acted upon by an external force.

Here in Deuteronomy 1, right on the edge of the life God created them to live, He has brought them to place where they can choose motion or rest.  A life of divine momentum into their destiny, or rest in the midbar, just wandering someplace in between where they began and whom they were made to become.

I learned from pastor and author, Erwin McManus, that we humans often read God wrong in these choices in life.  We mistakenly think God is wanting to limit our options when  He is truly and actually wanting increase our opportunity and expand our horizon.  We can often think God is saying, “no”, when He is truly cheering, “go”!

We can see this beautifully in the calling of the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 6:5-9.  Isaiah has a vision of God that shakes him to his core in fear and awe.  An angel with a pair of tongs flies over and touches Isaiah’s lips with a hot coal in a gesture to remove guilt and forgive the sins of Isaiah.  And now, in this rightness with God state, Isaiah hear’s the Lord ask, “Whom should I send? Who will go for us?”

Isaiah says, “Here I am, God. Send me”

God says, “Yes, go!”

Here in Deuteronomy this weekend, and all throughout life today, there are moments where we can set our lives in God’s motion or remain at rest in our own construction.  But isn’t it funny how sometimes this life of following Jesus into the life God created for us can be communicated as safe, comfortable, and lacking in any risk?

Take the Step

Stepping into God’s momentum is neither safe nor sedentary, but it is good. It’s not the path of least resistance, but it’s the best path.  And, it often starts with a step where we feel like we’re risking our very lives.

Look at Genesis 12 and the calling of Abram.  God tells him to just pack up his stuff and go... “I’ll tell you where you’re going later”.  Really God?  Yes, and Abram steps forward.

David steps up to face Goliath when everyone was stuck in rest.  Jonathan steps up with his armor bearer to face the Philistine army when everyone was at rest.

In Joshua 3 when the Israelites are now actually choosing to seize the moment and go into the promised land, they come to the edge of the Jordan River.  The river is in flood stage, bulging and flowing over.  It is awesome what God says here.  “Go step into the river, then I will part it.”  Wouldn’t it be so much better God if you were to part it first, and we can stand back here in safety and comfort until you make it all easy going for us?

In these defining moments, choices that will lasting ripple effects in our lives, God is saying, “Step, and I will engage the life you were made to live. Trust me. Take a step. I am with you and I am already before you.”

That is the life I want.  I want to be caught up in God’s momentum.  In Psalm 139 we can read that each of us were uniquely and beautifully created and known intimately by God as pieces of artwork for great purposes. We can hear this and all these stories of stepping forward and we may be saying then, “How? How can I live in this God space, this Kingdom of God, in the life I was made to live?”

In Luke 17, we see someone longing to live in the Kingdom of God, and they go to Jesus for the answer.  A deeply religious man, a Pharisee, asks Jesus when will the kingdom of God come. He’s asking, “when will it come near so we can experience it?”

Jesus replies, “The kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is’, or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is already in your midst.”

Jesus is saying that it’s here, it’s with Him.  He tells his followers that they will receive the Spirit of God and that they will do even greater things.  Scripture builds on this saying that God has a hope, a plan, a future for you, that He works through you to bring about God’s good purpose on earth, and that He has good works planned in advance for you to live into.  That Jesus wants to draw you into, with Him, life to the full.  And this Spirit that He give you?  It’s not a spirt if fear or timidity, but one of love and power!

(John 14, Jeremiah 29, Phil 2, Ephesians 2, 2 Timothy 2)

Back to that dance story...

That was not simply a preteen rhythm and courage challenge.  That was a defining moment.  There was a God-like whisper with a wisdom that I didn’t have myself that said, “I need you to go do this”.  With no real ability, I only went forward in availability trusting it was the right thing to do and it would somehow work out well! It was awkward and awesome all together.  And only afterwards did it all make sense and the greater story came into focus.  That moment sent other moments into motion.

It’s not about our size, it’s God’s size.  God calls us into bigger stories than we can conceive, and your moment of seizing what God nudges you into will change other’s lives. A moment leads to more moments, creating momentum and a life set in motion...

unless you stop.

I was asked once to picture my posture in following Jesus.

I was asked if I was leaning forward in expectation, or leaning back on my heels in hesitation.  Picture it yourself.  Are you leaning forward and listening for Jesus to lead you into your moments, or perhaps leaning back and maintaining your own way, your own control?  Perhaps, you’re even sitting, and your stuck at rest feeling lifeless.  Sitting feels like dead religion rather than a dynamic relationship.

So, maybe, you need to move your mass.

The kingdom of God is neither here, nor there, it’s with Jesus who is with you, and it’s in your moments.

Let me give you some A-words.

There are some things we must resolve to do as the primer for our moments:


It’s a word the means ‘dwell in’ or ‘remain in’.  Jesus is John 15 says to abide in him like a branch connected to the life giving source of the vine.  We abide in Jesus by connecting with him in our moments through prayer, through reading his words in the bible, and surrendering to the Holy Spirit in the midst of our crazy schedules.  Before any moments, seize your waking moment in prayer to ask that all your following moments would be connected to Him.  “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” (Galations 5).  Yes, that sounds like good dancing.

Awake and Available

Keep your eyes open in your moments, look, and listen too.  It’s not your ability, but your availability.  Have that readiness of heart like Isaiah, “Here I am, send me”.  Be awake to hear that whisper from the Holy Spirit that says, “go”.

Advance and enter the Awkward

Step into the moment knowing God is not only with you but also before you.  He often leads you connect with, care for, love on, help out, others.  I guarantee that this will lead you into the awkward at times... embrace it... this is where life is.

We kicked-off this service with a bit of country rocking.  The song may have flown by you, but it’s poetry by Lee Ann Womack that lined up so incredibly well with Deuteronomy, defining moments, being on the edge of the life we were created to live in, and seizing those moments to trust in God’s guidance and step into the life He designed for us.

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance,

Never settle for the path of least resistance,

Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance,

and give heaven more than just a passing glance.

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance,

I hope you dance... I hope you dance.

Carpe Momentum

Seize the moments that will set your life into motion, follow Jesus into the life you were designed to live moment, by moment, by moment.  Divine momentum.  A dance of life to the full.

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