Charles (Chuck) Swindoll – Moses’ Battle at the Burning Bush and Three Mistakes Broken People Make – Dallas Theological Seminary

Dr. Chuck Swindoll is presently Chancellor of Dallas Theological Seminary and Senior Pastor at Stonebriary Community Church.

Three Mistakes Broken People Make
and Moses’ Battle at the Burning Bush

  1. People who are broken often run before they are sent. It’s the tendency of the intense type person  to jump ahead, to get engaged, to be involved.
  2. The second mistake we make is that we retreat after we have failed. We run before we’re sent and then often in the running and the doing of it in the flesh, frequently, we fail. And we’re embarassed, we’re humiliated. Maybe some of you know exactly what I’m talking about. You have failed and as a result, your tendency is to retreat.
  3. The third mistake, we resist when we are called. I fear that most, for most of you. In God’s plan, which has been in motion since eternity past, He has you in mind, He has a future for you, and a hope, a plan that will unfold, and right now, you don’t have a clue. Some of you think you do, but you really don’t know ultimately, how and where He will use you. I plead with you to stay open, because I can assure you it will include some surprises.

Moses was in for the surprise of his life, when he came upon a bush that wouldn’t stop burning. Burning bushes in that median desert were not that unusual, or in any desert, for that matter. But a bush that wouldn’t be consumed by the flame, that was unheard of; which caused him to look at the fire and say, „This is amazing.” Exodus 3″3 „Why isn’t the bush burning up? I must go see it.”

Now, you understand, he’s never read Exodus 3, so he does not know that God is in the bush. He doesn’t know that’s where the voice of God will be heard, and I’m  sure one of his first thoughts was, when he heard his name, „Moses, Moses…” first thought was: He found me. I’m not sure they were on speaking terms. We know nothing of his spiritual walk for 40 years. We have this image of Moses that he’s just phenomenal. Born in this privileged family. Stephen does tell us he is mighty in words and deeds. He was supremely significant to Pharaoh, who probably had his eye on him as a replacement, until he blew it. And now, Moses, 80 years old, nothing but memories and they’re failing. And he hears, „Moshe, Moshe.” In the Hebrew, there is a simple little response, ‘Behold, it’s me.” „I’m Moses, who are you?”

„Don’t come any closer,” the Lord warned, „take off your sandals, you’re standing on holy ground, I’m the God of your father, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” I can hardly read it. I can’t imagine the thrill that must have coursed through him, ‘He hasn’t forgotten me! He still knows me!” When Moses heard this, he covered his face because he was afraid to look at God. When you read your Bible, may I Urge you not to rush through moments like this? When there’s an emotional moment, give it some emotion. Let it be relived in your minds. Put yourself in his place. He covered his face because he was afraid to look at God, and the Lord asks of him something great. Does he ever. I’ll cut to the chase- verse 10 „Now, go. I’m sending you to Pharaoh. You must lead my people, Israel, out of Egypt.”

Remember? We resist when we’re called, when we’re broken. „Pharaoh? My picture’s still in the post office (as most wanted for a crime). I’m a wanted man down there. It’s the last place I wanna go. They hate me there.” You see, all these years he’s had time to relive it and over the passing of time, your imagination runs wild, where you had failed and you smear that like a slab of peanut butter across toast. You smear that across your life. That’s you- you’re the personification of failure. You blew it.

The first words out of the bush, for the call, was, „Go!” Whenever the Lord uses you in any measure, for whatever purpose, you go from here to there, unless your call is that you remain right here (in seminary) for further study. And you’re going, „Man, that’s the last thing…” Well, hang on, you may pe the PhD student of the future, and you are the most surprised because some of you are thinking, ‘PhD? Just let me get out with whatever. I am not coming back.” Don’t say you’re not doing that, half of these guys would say the same thing. Who knows what His plan is for you to be in front of a class? And to shape the lives of those who will be going where you will never go? What a calling! But, that’s their calling, it may not be yours. But, it will be, „Going somewhere!” Going where? Away from the familiar, which is what makes something great so difficult. I will tell you, every calling I’ve had has been surprising. Every one, I said NO to, to begin with. Every single one. Sometimes, several times. I was graduating from seminary, I had offers to go to several different places, and of all people, Dr. Pentecost asked me to be his assistant. First response was, „Me?And then, it was NO.” He said, „Think about it.” So, I did that for a while. And in the middle of that, the Lord had another plan for us. It was to go to New England. Who in his right mind is going to leave Texas to go to New England? So, I go and I’m the most surprised guy in New England. So I wasn’t there pretty long. I would call it, pretty much a failure. But it wasn’t a mistake. I had learned what it meant to fail. And I did. I don’t think all of those that were in that church would say I failed, but anyways, to my surprise, the Lord tapped me on the shoulder and said, „I want you back in Texas.” „No, I’m not going back there. I’ve been there all my life.” „Oh, you need to go back there.” So we wound up in Irving. We came to Irving, to a little  church and while I’m there, it’s amazing how God blessed it. I had the time of my life and we had a number of seminary students and some of the faculty that were coming to church. It was just great.

The day my mother died, I got a letter from California, February 1971, and they wanted me to think about coming to a church in California. „No!” First of all, I am grieving and I’ve got to prepare the funeral message for my mother. It was the most ill timed letter ever written. They wrote again: Please think about it. „NO. We’re where we ought to be, we’ve been here just 4 years and I really wanna ….” Then, they wrote again. „What’s wrong with these people?” Cynthia said, „You know, we really don’t have any business leaving.” „I know, honey. I know. I’m not asking for it. They just won’t quit writing. I’ll tell you what I’ll do,, I’ll go out there, I’ll go to the seminar I want to go to, here, then on Sunday, I’ll go preach there and then I’ll come back here.” Done. And, I went, and oh, it was fantastic. I hate to tell you how much fun we had. So, I came back and she met me at the airport, „I don’t wanna hear.” Anyway, of all places, this Texan goes to California. I’m telling you all this so you’ll know that surprise things will happen. Not one of them did I pursue, did I seek, not one of them was I looking for, and it’s like I can’t believe it. I didn’t know the geography, I didn’t know the lifestyle, we had four kids, one wasn’t even a year old, they were all little. Every texan told us that we’re gonna lose our family if we move to California. You don’t lose your family, unless YOU lose your family. It’s not the environment, it’s the home. And it’s challenging, but what else is life, but a challenge? It is a challenge everywhere.

I started with no staff, and then I hired every one of them, little by little, along the way. It was a time when Orange County was exploding and our church grew. We wound up, that we couldn’t handle all the services, 5 services every Sunday. People sat on the floor, in the aisle, under the piano. The only one we tried to keep out was the fire marshall. We brought n extra chairs, we broke all the rules. We finally had to build. I had gone through a building program at Irving, I didn’t wanna go through one again. And we built a building, and it filled up, having the time of my life almost 25 years.

So, I’m telling you, where the Lord sends you, it is remarkable what can happen to you. And you finally are at peace with it, you say yes to it, and you do it. And having done it, you realize how magnificent the plan is. He wants to do great things, and I want to do familiar things. He wants to break molds and I want to be poured into the mold, where I am comfortable, where I know all the streets… And would you believe it? Before long, God opens up doors for a publishing ministry. I never dreamed of writing a book, ever, at my years at this school. I sat in awe of those professors that taught me and were using their texts, and I’m thinking, „What would that be like? Can’t imagine.” Now I got a publishing thing going.  And then, out of the blue, a man named Al Sanders, who says, „I think you ought to think about being on radio.” I said, „I don’t listen to radio, especially Christian radio.” He said, „I know. we need to give them something to listen to.” I thought, „No, I’m still not gonna do it. I’m  not. I don’t know that medium. I know preaching, I know a little about the church, and that’s my thing.” And God broke a mold and opened up a ministry for  the media. I never dreamed of that. People ask me all the time, „Is this a big fulfillment?” „No, as a matter of fact, it’s a big surprise.” I live my life surprised.

And I was settled in, everything was great, we were going along year after year, and I get a call from Dallas Seminary. I thought it sounds a lot like Don Campbell’s voice, and I thought, maybe I’m in trouble again. And he said, „We’d like you to think about being president.” 32:30  VIDEO by dallasseminary

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