Keep looking ahead

if you have a Bible with you I ask that

you turn with me to Genesis chapter 19

if you don't have a Bible with you worry

not we will be displaying the biblical

verses on the big screen above very

shortly my version might read slightly

different but very close to what you

will see up there on that screen but

we're going to be reading various verses

from chapter 19 of the book of Genesis

it's going to be verses 12 through 17

and then we're gonna skip to verses 24

through 26 so that's

Genesis 19 verses 12 through 17 and then

24 through 26 and the scriptural reading

reads the following way then the man

said to lot have you anyone else here

sons and law sons daughters or anyone

you have in this city bring them out of

this place for we are about to destroy

this place because the out cried against

its people has become great before the

Lord and the Lord has sent us to destroy

it so lot went out and said to his

sons-in-law who were to marry his

daughters up get out of this place for

the Lord is about to destroy this city

but he seemed to his sons-in-law to be

jesting when morning dawned the Angels

urged lot again saying get up take your

wife and your two daughters who are here

or else you will be consumed in the

punishment of

city but he lingered so the man sees

them and his wife and his two daughters

by the hand the Lord been merciful to

him and they brought him out and left

them outside the city when they had

brought them outside

they said flee for your life do not look

back or stop anywhere in the plain flee

to the hills or else you will be

consumed then verses 24 to 26 then the

Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur

and fire from the Lord out of heaven and

he overthrew those cities and all the

plain and all the inhabitants of the

cities and what grew underground the key

phrase here but Lot's wife behind him

look back and she became a pillar of

salt now before I begin there is

something I want you to tell the person

seated next to you when I give the

indication for it it is going to be this

God is not finished with you yet so keep

looking ahead I'm gonna repeat it and

then it's gonna be your turn okay it's

going to be God is not finished with you

yet so keep looking ahead now turn to

that person and tell them that

alright alright okay now Amen if you

remember nothing else from today's

sermon and I know you will remember

other stuff but if you remember nothing

else at least remember those words that

is the central message of today's sermon

and I have titled it keep looking ahead

keep looking ahead and I'm gonna begin

this way I don't know if you have

noticed that the last two times I have

preached here I have preached on stories

of the Bible the last time I preached I

spoke about the woman with the issue of

blood and we learned that the great

faith displayed by Veronica

that's what early Christians actually

called her Veronica was even more

remarkable than dat admirable than we

have imagined the time before that I

preached about naming the army general

who had contracted leprosy and was

healed by the prophet Elijah and that

Sunday we learned that there is much

about the perseverance named and

displayed in pursuing his healing that

we should admire and emulate today I am

going to speak about the story of Lot's

wife now I don't know if you see a

pattern here you can see where I'm going

probably already but basically in all

three cases I have preached on a

biblical story and this speaks to

something that has occurred in me more

recently in the last two or three years

I have become thoroughly fascinated with

the stories of the Bible and I have

spent some good time studying them

hoping to arrive at a better

understanding of their meaning in and

for our time now I must confess that a

motivation for my doing this has been

the realization that we today find

difficulty coming to a fuller and deeper

understanding of the meanings of these

biblical stories some of their nuances

are lost on us and oftentimes we may

sauron some important details as a

result I think sometimes we fail to

understand them properly and to

comprehend what they could mean for us

today and it is quite understandable

that this happens to us I think the

truth is that these are stories that

were told and written down a very long

time ago many thousands of years ago in

fact and they were told and written down

in a cultural context very different

from our own and in a different language

from our own and in a different area

even of the world so it is no wonder

then that we encounter difficulty

understanding their fuller and deeper

meaning when you stop to think about it

sometimes we have a hard enough time

understanding and relating to things

that occurred more recently closer to

our time little details of life from

just a generation ago can be lost on us

I'll give you an example recently in one

of my classes at the University where I

teach I try to make an analogy for my

students using the example of some

television shows I remember seeing and

that were popular in the 1990s so and I

heard an amen hopefully we hear a few

others of those so I made a reference to

television shows like Seinfeld friends

and Frasier for example and I thought it

was a pretty brilliant idea and

illustration I said then you outdid

yourself today but then the look on the

faces of my students told me something

else

all I saw looking back at me were blank

stares in the faces of those students

almost as of saying to me professor

Valentin I don't get that example does

not register with me well of course it

didn't you see I had

failed to take into account when

preparing that lesson plan that these

graduate students mostly between the

ages of 22 and 27 had not grown up

watching Seinfeld friends or Frasier

this is a generation that relates more

to shows maybe like Game of Thrones

madman orange is the new black The

Walking Dead and master of none for

example so my attempt at a teaching

moment using example from the 90s was

lost on them even though we were only

talking about a difference of 15-20

years here but a lot can change in 15 to

20 years apparently another example

would be talking to our teenagers about

experience with things like rotary

telephones connected to house walls

you remember those or cassette tapes

god forbid 8-track tapes I'm not talking

about that or typewriters the reaction

you might get when talking to one of

them about that is what what are you

talking about and we can continue to

give other examples about those sorts of

things and my point is that it is

sometimes hard enough to relate to the

details of life that were experienced

just 15 20 years ago right here in our

own cultural context in our own language

in our own part of the world so imagine

what it is like trying to understand the

stories of the Bible this is not easy we

think it is but it's not easy trust me

I've been trying to for many years it is

why we need to get into the habit I

think not only of reading the Bible but

reading it slowly attentively and I like

to say with the eyes ears and heart of a

curious student well here today I want

to tell

deep into the central message of the

biblical story of Lot's wife but before

I do so I want to offer three

interpretive keys that will prove

helpful in understanding this story and

I think many other stories of the Bible

so in the first place it is important to

note that biblical stories almost always

contain a moral what I mean is that they

usually contain a lesson that they are

trying to communicate they are usually

trying to make a point and we need to

try and focus on finding the moral of

the story in order to understand the

teaching it is trying to impart I say

this because sometimes we spend a lot of

time debating details and questions

about the biblical stories that miss

their point to give you an example

I googled again that now that's a verb I

understand

googled I googled the biblical story of

Lot's wife to see what people were

saying about it and I noticed that many

people were going back and forth

debating the way in which God could have

turned Lot's wife into a pillar of salt

they were asking questions like could

this really have happened is this true

or false how is it possible that a woman

could be turned into a pillar of salt

and what proof exists of this well

whether you find them interesting or not

I want to emphasize that these questions

missed the point entirely

and they distract us from focusing on

the central message and teaching of the

story the biblical stories are

oftentimes parabolic narratives

expressing truths that are much more

than ordinary facts now that's a big

concept a lot to chew on so I'm going to

repeat that again the biblical stories

are oftentimes parabolic narratives

expressing truths that are much more

than ordinary

a fax so the questions I think that we

should be asking of them are what

inspired the telling of these stories

what is the moral of the story what is

it trying to say what is it teaching me

and how can I put that teaching into

practice in my life and this brings me

to the second interpretive key biblical

stories often leave a little room for

different interpretations and different

applications across time one way they do

this is by not providing all the details

we may want they also leave some things

inconclusive and the reason they do this

is because they want us to become

participants in their interpretation and

they want us to find different ways in

which we might apply their lesson and

finally a third interpretive key to hold

in mind is that some of the biblical

stories in the Old Testament especially

were national stories that were told and

retold across many generations among the

people of Israel they were originally

told and then eventually written down by

the leaders of the Israelite people and

often they were told during crucial

moments in the life of the community and

they were told and eventually written

down in the hope that their message and

teaching would spread widely and reach

widely among the masses of the people

across many different generations it was

through the telling of stories that the

leaders of the people would get their

message across we must remember that in

these times there was no Facebook no

Twitter no what app no emails no text

messaging no smartphones no radio no TV

no Boston Globe or New York Times etc

etc etc

so the way you made sure to reach the

masses with an important message and

memorable teaching was through the

telling of stories a good example of

this in our times could be found in the

stories told by grandfather's in our

families if you think about it many of

our grandfathers were or are good

storytellers in fact often when they

want to give you an advice or if they

want to teach you something or if they

want to give you what we can call in

Spanish only de gallo

they give it to you through a story

I still remember well my grandfather

from my father's side and we're in

father's day so I think this is very

appropriate he was very good at this my

parents would take me and my brother and

my sister to Puerto Rico every other

summer for a month they did this not

only to have his visit with family but

also to make sure that we remain

familiar with our culture with our

Spanish language and with our heritage I

still thank them for this till this very

day but my grandfather was very famous

for his stories and I recall that every

time my grandfather wanted to give me

some advice or reg ano or some sort of

teaching he would do so through a story

so usually would go something like this

he would say Ile de naka you've heard

that before right

hijo usually is trouble and you just

knew what was coming next and I must

admit that I used to hate it back then

yeah I hated it because I knew that this

was going to take like 30 or 40 minutes

at least probably longer than this

sermon will be so I would roll my eyes

and I would think inside of me Oh Lord

here goes an hour of my life but I

wouldn't say anything out loud oh no no

no no

No the thing was that up well or didn't

only have a gift for storytelling you

see he also had a gift for using like

aurilla

to apply a little bit of discipline if

necessary you know what that is right so

I won't need to translate you will

probably later so I would just shut up

sit next to him and listen to his advice

all wrapped up in a long story but I

will say this I remembered most of the

advice and teachings upworld offered me

because they came with a story and this

was the medium the leaders of Israel

often used to get their advice their

teachings they are Agana their admission

and admonitions across to the people and

today I want to disclose the moral of

one of their stories because I think it

has very important teachings to deliver

to us today on this June 17th of 2018

I'm referring to the story of lot and

Lot's wife which is actually part of a

larger story about the destruction of

Sodom and Gomorrah the story goes that

one day God sent three angels to deliver

a message to Abraham the message wasn't

a pleasant one it was that the structure

was going to befall the cities of sodom

and gomorrah due to the great evil and

wickedness that was prevailing in them

in our churches we have made a big deal

of the sexual transgressions that appear

in the narrative these have gotten a lot

of attention through the years but it

should be clear that this wasn't the

only kind of offense taking place in

Sodom and Gomorrah in fact if we read

Genesis 18 and 19 slowly and carefully

we will notice it the biggest violation

God held against the people in these

cities was for their in hospitality

strangers visitors migrants and

residents were being treated badly and

without respect or courtesy hello as

much as times changed

remain the same how are we treating our

migrants in biblical times and in

ancient near in the ancient Near East

the practice of hospitality was

considered one of the highest virtues

one could demonstrate we should keep in

mind at taking care of the traveler the

poor in the needy in the midst of a

hostile desert environment could mean

the difference between life and death

so hospitality was serious business and

it was something God valued highly and

expected of his people but the people of

sodom and gomorrah were famous for their

in hospitality for their cruelty for

their coldness for their crudeness and

for their lack of care and grace the

picture what should have in mind here is

of a place that was unfriendly

vulgar crime-infested lawless out of

control and dangerous because of this

there was much suffering going on in

sodom and gomorrah and this suffering

worried God it worried him to the point

that God felt it would be best if these

cities didn't exist so he sends three

angels down to Abraham to tell him that

Sodom and Gomorrah are going to be

destroyed now I imagine that this news

was unpleasant on his own but what made

it worse and even more worrisome for

Abraham was that he had beloved and

cherished family members living in one

of those cities in particular his nephew

lot who lived in Sodom with his family

now the Scriptures don't say this but I

imagine the Abraham not only interceded

for the sparing of these cities like he

did but also for the salvation of his

nephew lot and of lots family once he

realized that God was determined to

bring an end to Sodom and Gomorrah and I

believe the prayer was answered because

in chapter 19 of Genesis

we are told that two angels appear to

lot in the city of Sodom this time and

they proceeded to tell that that the

destruction that destruction was coming

to Sodom and Gomorrah and that he should

gather up his family and leave as soon

as possible

lot according to the stories spoke with

his sons and law first but out of

consideration I think for his daughters

but they refused to believe him a little

more time pass and as the time of

destruction drew near lot was still

hesitating so the two angels appeared to

lot again and urge them saying and this

is Ben's Revised Standard Version get up

dude get up dude take your wife and your

two daughters who are here and flee this

city and I find it interesting that the

scriptures say and they do say this that

because a lot continued to hesitate the

Angels took matters into their own hands

so they grabbed lot Lot's wife and their

two daughters by hand and they brought

them outside the city then they urged

lot to flee to this to the mountains but

lot requested instead to permit him and

his family to go to a nearby nearby town

called Zohar which was actually not too

far from Sodom and Gomorrah conceding

the map and here is where things get

really interesting so you can see up

there here's Sodom and gomorrah's or

would be just slightly to the south of

the two cities and this brings me to the

part of the story I want to highlight

because the key figure in my sermon and

what remains of it is Lot's wife our

biblical story goes on to say that

before they let lot and lots family go

the Angels instructed the family not to

stop anywhere and not to look back at

the destruction that was going to come

down upon Sodom and Gomorrah and the

reason God instructed the angels to tell

this to the family was because God

wanted to spare them the agony of seeing

the destruction and devastation of these

two cities

and the people inside of them God wanted

to spare them the agony have seen the

destruction and devastation of the place

they had called home for a while and

also of the neighbors and people that

they probably had known their God was

being merciful but Lot's wife disobeyed

the mandate and as they were walking

through the hills from the city she

looked back and became a pillar of salt

as a story now through the years there

has been much speculation as to why

Lot's wife decided to disobey the

ordinance of the angels and to look back

towards Sodom the truth is that the

Scriptures don't say why remember what I

said earlier that sometimes the biblical

stories don't give us all the details we

may want and they leave some things

inconclusive in order to leave some room

for interpretation the most common

interpretation that has been has been

that Lot's wife looked back at Sodom

because she had been tainted by its

sinfulness and had become so accustomed

to it that she desired it and didn't

want to leave it behind she not only

loved Sodom but also what occurred in it

and what it represented and this is

certainly possible but we cannot

discount some other possibilities I will

note that a number of rabbinic texts

from the 8th 9th and 13th centuries

focus on the story of Lot's wife the

story also appears prominently in the

writings of some of the early church

fathers like Clement of Rome in the

first century and Iranian in the second

century and these writings

open up other avenues of interpretation

that are part of our Christian tradition

for instance they point out that she may

have felt anguish for the two

sons-in-law who stayed back and were

going to be consumed in the destruction

of the city and she no doubt would have

felt bad for the suffering this would

bring to her two daughters she also

likely had friends and neighbors she

knew and hung out with who were going to

die in the destruction she also had

established a home in a routine in that

place and no matter how bad a place may

be we always develop attachment to the

places in which we live some of the

writings also mentioned that she

cherished mementos from her childhood

and adolescence mementos that she was

forced to leave behind and abruptly so

there may have been different reasons

why she looked back towards Sodom is the

point this must not have been easy for

her and I don't know if we taking time

to think about that so a lot of times we

slammed the characters in the Bible but

take a little time to have a little

compassion here but that is also most

likely the reason why the angels from

God instructed her not to look back now

whatever the reason may have been that

led her to look back I think we can

conclude that Lot's wife committed a

fatal mistake the mistake my dear

brothers and sisters was basically this

she allowed her past to define her and

because of this she closed the doors on

a new future that God desired for her

her attachment to the past did not allow

her to move forward into a new future

that God was preparing for her the force

of her past experience paralyzed her in

the present

it did not permit her to live into a new

future filled with new possibilities she

probably thought that her life was over

or that it was going to be worse than

before

she may have been worried by the

uncertainty that awaited her and her new

and her family in a new land she may

have been frightened by the thought of

having to start over again in a new

place she may have been concerned about

how God was going to provide for her and

her family in this new and unknown place

you see the past was something she knew

the future was unknown so she decided to

look back instead of continuing to look

forward in faith oh but what a fatal and

preventable mistake this was you see

what Lot's wife needed to remind herself

was that God had not finished with her

God wasn't done with her so she needed

to look ahead in faith God was not

abandoning her on those hills so she

needed to look ahead in faith God had

grabbed her in her immediate family by

the hand and spared them their lives so

she needed to do what look I had God had

provided for her and her family and

protected the wild they were living in

Sodom so she needed to look ahead in

faith God had not shown any signs of

failing her or a family so she needed to

look ahead in faith just keep looking

ahead keep looking ahead that's what she

needed to do

what Lot's wife needed to believe was

that the same God who was opening up a

safe way for her and her family to

escape destruction the same God who sent

angels to alert them of coming doom the

same God who took them by the hand and

escorted them to safety outside the city

that same God was more than capable not

only of providing for them but also for

blessing them with greater prosperity

into the future what Lot's wife needed

to do was to make room in her heart and

mind for the possibility that the life

in front of her could be better and more

important than the life behind her I'm

gonna repeat that again make sure that

you remember it what Lot's wife needed

to do was to make room in her heart and

mind for the possibility that the life

in front of her could be better and more

important than the life behind her and

that's the moral to the story my good

people the moral of the story is that we

shouldn't let the pass the fineness nor

should we let it paralyze us in the

present we should remain fluid mobile

agile and open to a future that God may

be designed for us even if or when it

looks uncertain sometimes we need to

leave that little bit of room for the

possibility that that life in front of

us

could be more important than the one

behind us the story of Lot's wife you

see is a warning to us of the dangers of

becoming stagnant inert and complacent

it is also a warning of the dangers of

letting the past and letting our

attachments carry too much weight in our

lives

in the case of Lot's wife it was an over

attachment to a place that kept her

stuck in place in her case it was an

over attachment to a place that kept her

from experience experiencing more life

into the future and this sort of thing

could be happening in our lives too over

attachment to things places and people

could sometimes be problematic

it could be limiting sometimes but in

our cases in our lives it could be other

things keeping us from experiencing

growth from experiencing development

from experiencing new life in some cases

it could be the past traumas of life

that hold us captive in place and keep

us from experiencing healing and freedom

no doubt the traumas of life leave a

lasting mark and they could be very

difficult to get over but we must try

try try to minimize their power and

their damage we must try and find ways

to look ahead and hope perhaps you can

tell yourself God is not finished with

me yet

keep looking ahead in other cases it

could be a physical condition or an

emotional condition like a depression or

an anxiety condition that afflicts us

that makes us miserable and that holds

us captive in place not allowing us to

contemplate the possibility of better

brighter days ahead when it comes to

depression I know how the billeting in

agonizing those can be usually I try not

to be personal I'm gonna do so here I

struggled with one of these myself nine

years ago and it was bad that was a very

dark moment in my life and I didn't know

if I could come out of it but after a

struggle of about a year and a half I

broke free from its chains and so can

you

whether it's an illness and injury or an

emotional condition you're struggling

with you can tell yourself this illness

this injury this condition doesn't

define me I am more than this illness I

am more than this injury I am more than

this condition and you too can remind

yourself God hasn't finished with me yet

so keep looking forward keep looking

ahead now in some cases it could be a

struggle with an addiction or a history

of substance abuse and you may try try

and try to break free only to fall back

into the addiction time and time again

and you may have experienced freedom

from the bondage of substance abuse for

a while not only to relapse more

recently and you may be feeling helpless

and you may be feeling like you are

turning into a pillar of salt being

consumed in place to you I say nothing

is impossible while you are alive there

is always a possibility of moving ahead

of moving from one place to another of

moving from a place of captivity

confinement and constrained to a place

of freedom and liberation and you too

can remind yourself that God hasn't

finished with you yet so keep looking

ahead now this may sound odd to many of

you but sometimes our own notions of

spirituality can hold us captive and not

allow us to enjoy the fullness of life

that God desires for us sometimes we

hold ourselves to such high and

ultimately impossible standards of

morality that all we do is set ourselves

up to live lives captive to feelings of

guilt and worthlessness we think that

defying God's favor and to be saved we

have to be perfect we think that we have

to be perfectly holy 24 hours a day

seven days a week

good luck with that we think that to

find God's face

to be safe we have to be holier than the

angels in heaven but here on earth and

sometimes we see everything through the

lenses of sin and everything is bad and

everything is going to hell or about to

go to hell

everything is doom and sin and tainted

by darkness and we imagine God in the

heavens with a magnifying glass ready to

pounce on us at any moment if or when we

slip and all we do with this mentality

and attitude my dear friends is that we

set ourselves up for moral and spiritual

paralysis and we deny ourselves the

opportunity to see and experience the

beauty of God's world to enjoy the

beauty of God's creation to experience

God's grace and compassion and we deny

ourselves the opportunity of rejoicing

in Jesus's declaration that he has come

so that we may have life and have it in

abundance I have come Jesus says in John

chapter 10 so that you may live life to

the fullest and let me tell you this

while we are on this subject if lot the

husband and father in our biblical story

he had needed to be morally and

spiritually perfect irreproachable and

faultless - to be saved he would not

have passed the test he would have been

doomed if you look at chapters 13 and 19

of Genesis you will discover many

questionable traits connected with lot

from his materialistic mindset so his

greed for land to his disputes with

Abraham to his hesitation moving from

sorrow to his drunken foolishness and

disgrace narrated towards the end of

chapter 19 I can go on and on and on if

you want me to lot was far from a

perfect specimen of holiness the

morality that

the point what saved lot was his trust

in God his faith in God his willingness

to make room in his life for God his

willingness to follow God and to move

where God led him to what help lot 2 was

that he had an uncle interceding for him

Abraham let's not forget that but

perfection wasn't his and neither can it

be ours so free yourself from a life of

guilt thinking you must be perfect and

holier than thou in God's eyes God

hasn't called you into a life ridden

with guilt he has called you into a life

of Grace and devotion but that is

different from a perfect life so if you

are struggling under this disappointment

of being morally and spiritually

imperfect just remind yourself that God

doesn't expect perfection from you and

neither should you and tell yourself

this God hasn't finished with me yet I'm

getting better I'm looking forward I'm

looking ahead as Billy Graham used to

always say at the end of his messages

come as you are come to God as you are

and all of your imperfections and allow

yourself the chance to experience God's

grace and salvation as it is provided to

us in and through Jesus Christ coming

towards the end now it is Father's Day

so you know I had to end with something

special for our dads well here it goes

I hope it's special

sometimes we men cede to the weird and

faulty expectations of certain cultural

customs and we prevent ourselves from

progressing in our relationships with

our spouses our children and our

families for example this notion that

man shouldn't cry this notion that men

should always be strong and not show any

sign of weakness in difficult times

what a bunch of baloney now that's not a

curse words well we can use any Church

and unfortunately this baloney can lead

to damaging effects all this leads to is

to a lack of tenderness to harshness to

repress feelings to emotional immaturity

or very emotional stunts and to

unrealistic expectations and this could

get in the way of our being able to

develop healthy sympathetic and

supportive relationships with our sons

and daughters fathers you can you can do

better than this you can be better than

this let me tell you there is nothing

more beautiful and more attractive than

a man was in touch with his tender side

I said it and my point here is that

sometimes faulty cultural norms and

expectations can stop us from developing

from evolving from growing from moving

forward with healthier relational lives

in a similar way there are cultural

stereotypes that try to suggest that

taking care of the children that

changing diapers that giving a baby its

bottle that helping around the house

that doing the laundry that helping in

the kitchen that doing these sort of

things are a woman's job well good luck

with that

you might need some of that marital

counseling

do you think you're gonna get away with

that this way of thinking about gender

roles is not only problematic it's

unjust men have historically been seen

as being providers and not nourishes but

this mentality is very limiting white

can it be both just as women can be

nourishes and providers men can be

providers and nourishes so let's get

with it fathers let's get with it these

sorts of stereotypes can stop us from

moving forward in our lives from from

progressing in our relationships and

homes so as you can see there are many

things that can turn us into a pillar of

salt there are many things that can hold

us in place and not allow us to witness

an important and possibly better

tomorrow there are many things that can

cease as and rob us of the opportunity

to live into a different future don't

let what happened to Lot's wife happened

to you don't look back don't get stuck

in place look forward look forward to

where God may be wanting to lead you so

I want to take this moment to ask you to

reflect on your life examine it examine

yourself in your situation what is

threatening to turn you into a pillar of

salt

what is threatening to hold you in place

and to not allow you to experience a

different better and possibly more

important future whatever it is you can

choose not to look back and move forward

and courage and hope and in faith you

can remind yourself that God isn't

finished with you yet and choose to look

and move forward just look ahead just

look ahead just look at just look

you can also place whatever is

threatening to turn you into a pillar of

salt in God's hands and ask him to grab

you by your hand and lead you to safety

like he did lot and his family I don't

always make an altar call and I know

that before we had something like that

but I'm going to extend one today I'm

going to ask the whole congregation to

rise at this moment but I am going to

ask those who are struggling with

something in their lives those who are

struggling with an illness or some past

trauma or an emotional condition or an

addiction or some internal turmoil anger

or hurt whatever is holding you in place

I'm going to ask those of you who wish

to push put these things in God's hands

and you want to ask God to grab you by

the hand and help you I'm gonna ask

those people to have the courage to come

forward to come to the front of this

altar and as you do so as you make your

way here from the first floor second

floor third floor wherever you may be I

want your movement here to be a symbol

of something every step you take coming

up here to this front is going to

represent a move away from the

possibility of becoming a pillar of salt

and a move towards a new future and a

new you so every step you take coming

here will be symbolic of your refusal to

look back it will be symbolic of your

refusal to be stuck in place it will be

some Baalak of your willingness to keep

moving forward and to keep looking ahead

I'm going to ask Greg

to come up and he's gonna lead us in a

prayer of deliverance but I'm also going

to ask this I'm gonna ask the associate

pastors of our church or here to also

come up at this moment

those who are here they may also be

leaders of the church I invite them to

come up and I want some of you to stand

to my left and I want some of you to

stand to my right

[Music]

and what you're going to do while Greg

leads us in prayer the rest of our

church leaders are going to simply

extend their hand out towards the people

you can extend your head out towards the

people and your extended hands will be a

symbol of the helping hands of the

angels who has scored it lot and less

family outside of the city to safety and

I ask you to put whatever is holding you

in place in God's hands and look forward

in faith

[Music]

thank you that you haven't finished with

us yet Lord God thank you Lord God what

is in Christ is a new creation the old

has gone the new has come god I thank

you that you are the God who makes all

things new Lord God you the God who

lifts us out of the miry clay and puts

our feet on a rock puts a new song in

our mouths ice on the praise to our God

I thank you that you're the God who has

a new name for us who gives us a new

spirit who gives us a new heart who

gives us a new vision for our future

Lord Jesus God you have come that we

might have life and have it abundantly

lord I thank you that what has happened

to us whether it be good bad whatever a

bringing need not define us lord god we

need not look back lord god i thank you

that we can look forward in faith Lord

God knowing God that you hold our future

Lord Jesus and God it's not just a blind

Courage's because you are there you are

ahead you are leading us by the hand

into that new place and father I pray in

Jesus name Lord God for people who have

suffered things God that feel like they

can never get free that they say I'm

just gonna be this way it's just gonna

be this way forever I just I'm just

gonna have to live with it

in Jesus name we rebuke that thought

that temptation to look back and we say

God no we are new in you Lord God we

have a new future a new hope Lord God a

new plan God that you're designing for

our lives Lord God father I thank you

God that certain people men and women

among us Lord God they feel trapped and

stuck Lord God can today say God I thank

you Father that you have a new vision a

new plan I am gonna give glory to you

and my life will be a living example of

what you can do Lord Jesus living and

breathing God I pray God that you would

come against any lie in our thought that

we're stuck where we are Lord

no father we are going forward in Jesus

name Lord God Holy Spirit breathe on us

breathe on us today Lord God Oh father I

pray Lord Jesus you'd birth in us a new

hope Lord not oh my god I'm gonna father

I thank you Lord Jesus your spirit is

freshly moving here among us Lord God I

pray in Jesus name Lord God that you

would break addictions in this moment in

Jesus name

Lord Wuan where the Spirit of the Lord

is there is freedom there is freedom in

Jesus name I speak to that addiction

addiction to substances addiction to

drugs addiction to pornography and it is

broken in the name of Jesus father I

pray for households that feels stuck

Lord God for marriages that feel like

it's never gonna get better

relationships with kids that feel like

these relationships are broken forever

in Jesus name we rebuke that thought in

Jesus name Lord God father just like a

person can be born again a relationship

can be born again a household can be

born again a marriage can be born again

a family can be born again Oh Lord God

for people feel like they've just hit

one dead end after another God that

there's no new doors are gonna open I

thank you God that that's alive from the

bed your the there is a door in heaven

and the doors you open no one can shut

you have the keys Lord God in Jesus name

new opportunities god I pray for new

courage and hope in your people father

people who are afraid of trying

something new a new job a new ministry

new something that you think oh that

couldn't be for me in Jesus name it

might be look ahead

look ahead the only failure is not

trying in Jesus name Lord God but your

people would be courageous God about the

new futures ahead of them Lord in Jesus

name father I pray for people who

struggle has been shared with emotional

struggles that are you feel like you

just can't cure it there's not a there's

there's not a medicine can cure an

emotional problem a neurosis of anxiety

or depression or whatever it is and in

Jesus name Lord God there is a medicine

your Holy Spirit can infuse our minds

and our hearts with living water Lord

God and the joy of the Lord can be our

strength and the peace of God can pass

all understanding I pray we will look

forward and not back in Jesus name

god I pray God for people who are living

under the accusations of the evil one

Lord who reminds them of things they've

done that haunt them and in Jesus name

we declare that you have cast our sins

as far as the East is from the West Lord

God you have thrown them in the sea of

forgetfulness Lord God and your grace

Lord God all things are made new your

that father on Father's Day that runs

out to meet us Lord God who puts us with

a new robe and puts a ring on our

fingers Lord God and kills the fatted

calf and celebrates and says this son of

mine was dead and is alive again was

lost and is found because we're looking

forward to coming home to you

and not back to the to the the mud where

we were before no back to Egypt no back

to Egypt Lord God there is a promised

land before us and even if we have to

fight even if we have to fight

once we get there Lord God there is no

going back to Egypt in Jesus name we are

slaves no longer the one whom the Sun

sets free is free