Thursday, March 31, 2011

Convo with Pastor - Joshua 23:5

this land will be yours
Joshua 23:5
At the end of my recent journey to Israel, our leader asked us to summarize our trip in one sentence. The first person to stand up, a quiet Episcopal priest, said simply, "I stand with Israel."
Having been to the Holy Land, I'm beginning to comprehend the landstanding claims to this region by both the Jews and Palestinians. From each side's perspective, both sides arguments sound very legitimate. But the two sides aren't just Israel vs. Palestine. It's a bigger conflict than that. It's Judeo-Christian vs. Muslim.
In the next few weeks, I invite you to watch the news with a much more critical eye. As 1) turmoil mounts in the Middle East ... as 2) a (probably) more radical brand of Islamic leadership rises in many of Arab nations ... as 3) European nations (currently France and Turkey) begin insisting on an immediate Palestinian state ... and as 4) Iran's influence in the region grows (with their leader's oft-repeated goal of destroying Israel ... I want to invite you to pray for Israel.
For years in teaching Bible History, I've taught that God has chosen the Promised Land for strategic purposes in the fulfilling of his kingdom. Israel is essentially at the intersection point of three continents -- Europe, Asia, and Africa. Therefore, it was a very strategic spot for God to choose to fashion a people, begin his witness, and introduce the Savior.
Always before, my teaching was historical. But we may be watching a new piece of history unfold before our eyes. So again ... I invite you to pray for Israel ... for the military and political stability of the world ... for God's kingdom to come ... and for his will to be done.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who stands with
that Episcopal priest
My best friend from high school - and still one of my closest friends - is Jewish. When we were in college, she spent a summer in Israel. One interesting fact from her trip - if you are Jewish, you automatically become a citizen of Israel when you step on Israeli soil. She now holds dual citizenship.

Because of our deep friendship, I have always watched what has happened in Israel pretty closely. I hope to travel there one day. Even so ... until then ... I stand with Israel.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Convo with Pastor - Joshua 21:45

Not a single one of all of the good promises
that the LORD had given to the family of Israel
was left unfulfilled; everything he had spoken came true.
Joshua 21:45
My thought today was to give you a list of several promises in the Bible. So I googled the phrase and my first hit was from one of my favorite authors, Kenneth Boa.
Kenneth Boa's passion is teaching people to pray the scriptures. And he's compiled a list of ALL the promises in the Bible, book-by-book. Attached is his PARTIAL list, downloaded from His abbreviated list is 20-pages long!!!
Here's the point:
1) God wants to bless us ... in fact, he promises repeatedly to do so.
2) Therefore, claim these blessings, including one the verse before today's verse: "44 Just as the Lord had solemnly promised their ancestors ... the Lord gave them rest on all sides."
If you're lacking peace, the Lord promises you rest. Promises. Absolutely! It may take a while. In fact, it took Israel forty-plus years (and all because of their rebellion). But you can, will, and are guaranteed to rest, as another promises -- this one from Jesus -- says,
"Come to me, all you that are weary
and are carrying heavy burdens,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me;
for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.
For my yoke is easy,
and my burden is light."
Matthew 11:28-30
In Christ's Love,
a guy who wants peace and rest and lighter burdens
and needs to pay attention to the conditions for blessing
so I don't have to wait 40 years for it!
(What was it? Oh, yeah ... simply come to Jesus
and he will give us rest)
I often crave peace and rest.  But what I like about this verse is the last part  - 'Everything he had spoken came true.'  God is completely unable to lie!  He can't do it. However, when we place our humanness on him we can create false scenarios in our own minds that make it seem like he has lied to us ... but we need to remember that EVERYTHING he had spoken came true.  He told the Israelites what the consequences of their actions would be if they didn't obey, and it happened. He also tells them the great things they will achieve if they do obey ... occasionally they reaped those as well.   

It still holds true for us. Everything we have learned in the bible is true. We need to let go of our pride, stubbornness, rebellion and anything else holding us back and let his truth take care of us.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Convo with Pastor - Joshua 18:1

Now that the land was under Israelite control,
the entire Israelite assembly gathered
at Shiloh and set up the Tabernacle.
Joshua 18:1
Shiloh was the first semi-permanent home for the tabernacle. Therefore, for about 300 years, it was the spiritual capital of Israel. Centrally located, it was accessible by all in the promised land.
And yet, just because you have a "church building" and a holy place to return to every once in a while, doesn't mean you're holy.
Listen to God's judgment on Shiloh -- and eventually Jerusalem -- in Jeremiah 7:
1 The LORD gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, 2 "Go to the entrance of the LORD's Temple ... 4 but do not be fooled by those who repeatedly promise your safety because the Temple of the LORD is here. 5 I will be merciful only if you stop your wicked thoughts and deeds ... 8 "'Do you think that because the Temple is here you will never suffer? Don't fool yourselves! 12 "'Go to the place at Shiloh where I once put the Tabernacle to honor my name. See what I did there because of all the wickedness of my people, the Israelites. 13 While you were doing these wicked things, says the LORD, I spoke to you about it repeatedly, but you would not listen. I called out to you, but you refused to answer. 14 So just as I destroyed Shiloh, I will now destroy this Temple that was built to honor my name, this Temple that you trust for help ...
It's not the building that protects us. It's not the rituals that save us. It's our faith. And -- as it suggests here and in the New Testament book of James -- sometimes our deeds reflect our faith.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who wants his deeds
to reflect an ever-growing faith
How often do we trick ourselves into thinking that we are safe and secure just because we go to church, attend a bible study, read the bible in a year yet do nothing to honor God? Forget his holiness and jealousy?  Ignore his call?  

We need to remember that it isn't people or places that we look to for strength, but it is God alone.

Labels: ,

Monday, March 28, 2011

Convo with Pastor - Joshua 13:1, 6

When Joshua was an old man,
the LORD said to him,
"You are growing old, and
much land remains to be conquered. ...
I will drive these people out of
the land for the Israelites."
Joshua 13:1,6
I think it was important that Joshua was growing old. Why? So Israel would notice the frailties of the elderly man and would attribute their victories to God rather than any human.
When things go right, human beings always like to assume credit.
The ever-present temptation is to put ourselves on the throne. And if you doubt that, read the verses that lead into today's lesson: "These are the kings Israel defeated:
The king of Jericho
The king of Ai, near Bethel 
The king of Jerusalem
The king of Hebron 
The king of Jarmuth
The king of Lachish 
The king of Eglon
The king of Gezer 
The king of Debir
The king of Geder 
The king of Hormah
The king of Arad 
The king of Libnah
The king of Adullam 
The king of Makkedah
The king of Bethel 
The king of Tappuah
The king of Hepher 
The king of Aphek
The king of Lasharon 
The king of Madon
The king of Hazor 
The king of Shimron-meron
The king of Acshaph 
The king of Taanach
The king of Megiddo 
The king of Kedesh
The king of Jokneam in Carmel 
The king of Dor in the city of Naphoth-dor
The king of Goyim in Gilgal 
The king of Tirzah.
In all, thirty-one kings and
their cities were destroyed."
Joshua 12:8-14
When we think of kings, we think of monarchs ruling over huge empires. These guys were mayors of mostly middling cities. But it just goes to show you that we like to think of ourselves on the throne.
In fact, read the first line of that quote and compare it to the truth from our verse for today: "These are the kings that who defeated"? We like to sit on the throne. We like to claim responsibility for successes. It was and is God who is victorious. And our strength comes from partnering with him.
In Christ's Love,
a weak man who knows how to be strong
(and the only thing I need to exercise is my faith)
From that verse, I get the sense of God taking care of Joshua.  You are growing old so I will drive the people out.  Joshua is getting older and weaker, yet God is taking care of him. God will make sure the Israelites are safe and secure so Joshua can be at peace.  

Likewise, God takes care of us. He knows just how weak we are and just what we need. If we rely on him, he will take care of us ... in every imaginable way.

Labels: ,

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Convo with Pastor - Joshua 10:13

the sun and moon stood still until
the Israelites had defeated their enemies
Joshua 10:13
For the first time in a long time, all the spot lights are working on the corners of our house. Pulling into our driveway last night, Robbie kept saying, "Dad, it looks like the middle of the afternoon out here."
I didn't stop to explain the "how" of electricity and the incandescent bulb to Rob. (He understands that stuff better than I do, anyway.) We were just thankful to Grandpa for helping us change them.
So many people get hung up on the "how" in many of our Bible stories and forget to thank God for his generosity.
Did God slow or stop the rotation of the earth? Did he make the moon shine like the middle of the afternoon? Did a million angels of light brighten the armies path? Did God create the atmospheric conditions to bend refract the sun's light around the edges of the spinning globe? 
It doesn't really matter.
What matters is 1) that Israel asked for extra daylight (v 12), and the creator of the universe -- who clearly has the power to do it -- graciously obliged. What matters is 2) that we need to give thanks for all the wonderful ways he blesses our life.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who finds his faith bigger
when he gives thanks
After all, "Is anything too hard for the LORD?" (Gen 18:4)
God stopped the sun AND the moon. He basically stopped the earth spinning ... stopped time ... so the good guys could win. But like Pastor said, the 'how' is the least of our worries.  I am often guilty of wanting to know how or why that I forget to see the blessing that is sitting right in front of me. How often do you do that? 

Labels: ,

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Convo with Pastor - Joshua 7:21

I wanted them so much
that I took them.
Joshua 7:21
"I wanted ____ so much." Have you ever said that?!
Jericho's fall -- yesterday's story -- contains two stories of two people.
The first is Rahab. As a prostitute, she lived on the fringes of society -- figuratively and literally. In fact, with a household window on the outside walls of town, she was able to help the Hebrew spies escape. Risking her life for God's people earned a place in the Hebrews 11 "Hall of Faith." In fact, she was a distant grandmother of both King David and Jesus himself. God can redeem any checkered past if we will but lay down our lives for him.
But here's the point: Rahab "wanted what so much"? While the rest of Jericho steeled themselves for battle to preserve their way of life, Rahab "wanted a new way of life so much" that she was willing to turn everything over to a God who held that power and potential.
Achan was different. He was already viewed as a child of God. But he "wanted silver and gold and brightly colored robes so much" that he traded in his positive destiny for destruction.
Both of these tell us the story of a trade that we must all make. Will we trade ...
  • our old way of life for a new way of life?
  • and the world's material way of gold and silver for God's spiritual way of true power.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who wants chocolate so much
(no ... no ... God rather chocolate)
Two months ago I was saying, "I want the pain to go away so much" that I would do ANYTHING to make it happen.  Thankfully ... God has eased the pain and is healing me from past hurts.  
Now I am trying to say, "I want to trust and obey God so much" that I don't worry about the future or dwell on the past.  I have to almost constantly remind myself of this, but it is working.

Labels: ,

Friday, March 25, 2011

Convo with Pastor - Joshua 3:15-16

when those who bore the ark had come to the Jordan,
and the feet of the priests bearing the ark
were dipped in the edge of the water,
the waters flowing from above stood still,
rising up in a single heap ...
Joshua 3:15-16
Last night (Tuesday), I was with our church's friend, Pastor Reggie Hansome, from Living Waters Church. We'd just finished having dinner with some young ministers. And as we left the gathering, Reggie tried to turn his car around on a narrow road with steep ditches on either side. He said, "I hope I don't get stuck."
I said, "Don't worry. Didn't you hear those young ministers? They were talking about doing P90X -- the newest work-out craze. If we fall in, we can just get the young priests to lift your little car out of the ditch!"
When I was saying that, I didn't realize that these young ministers were like the priests in the days of Joshua. Here's the quick story ...
The time had finally come!
It was time for Israel to cross the Jordan River!
But ... there were three big problems:
  1. It was flood time and the Jordan River, says scripture, was overflowing it's banks.
  2. God would not stop the flow of the river until the Israelites, led by their priests, stepped into the flood.
  3. The priests were carrying a ton of metal called the Ark of the Covenant
Think about it ... The water was deep. The bottom of the Jordan was probably very slippery -- and I say that from recent experience. And the priests were carrying an Ark as big as Pastor Reggie's car!!!
But ... you know ... sometimes, that's the way God works! Before he can bless you, you have to step out in faith.
What are you holding back on? Do you think it's time to step out?
In Christ's Love,
a guy who's only carried a Volkswagon
when it's the size of a Matchbox
(it's time to dream bigger!)  
 Yesterday I mentioned that crossing the Jordan takes faith, trust and obedience.  
Today, they are showing all three. And God honored them by stopping a flooding river in it's tracks and holding back the water.  
I used to live in southeast Missouri and the Mississippi River is still a very real lifeline for many there.  However, when this might river floods, it is very dangerous. Imagine crossing this river during floodstage when the currents are stronger, the water muddier, the obstacles greater and harder to see.  I wouldn't want to do it. Especially with the Ark on my shoulders. What if I was the one who dropped my corner.  
But all they had to do was trust that God knew what he was doing. Exhibit faith in him and obey. The moment they 'dipped their feet' in the water, God held it back.  Not ankle deep. Not knee deep. God didn't wait to see if they meant it. He didn't wait to see if they were totally committed.  It was immediate! 
Faith the size of a mustard seed. Or the size of a pinky toe nail.  And God honors the obedience. 
Are you ready to step in the water? Just taking the first step will reveal amazing things!

Labels: ,

Lilly's Wedding Quilt by Kelly Long

When I received Lilly's Wedding Quilt by Kelly Long, I stalled reading it. "Another Amish Christian romance?"  :::sigh::: But when I started reading it I realized just how different this book was.

The characters are real. Yes - there is the Amish theme, but they are presented in very human ways.  Some interesting topics are handled in this book ... the awkwardness of being alone with someone of the opposite sex, jealousy, sibling issues, parent/child issues ... but the most interesting was the way the writer handled the topic of grief and depression.

The story flows very well and there are moments I laughed outloud and moments tears welled up in my eyes.  The relationship between Lilly and Jacob is wonderful to watch unfold as they discover who they are as they learn how to be a married couple.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good romance - even if you are tired of the same old stories. Lilly's Wedding Quilt has a fresh view!

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Convo with Pastor - Joshua 1:11

"Pass through the camp, and command the people:
'Prepare your provisions; for in three days you are
to cross over the Jordan, to go in to take possession
of the land that the Lord your God gives you to possess.'"
Joshua 1:11
Most people's favorite verse in Joshua is 1:9 -- "Be strong and courageous ... for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." Amen!
But I have another favorite ...
At the end of glorious, moving, spiritual retreats, someone will inevitably say, "It's time to go back to the real world." They mean that after a weekend of praise, thanksgiving, healing, and grace, that it's time to go back to the world that's full of real brokenness, real pain, and real imperfections.
But I tell them, that's not the real world! That's the world broken by sin. God's intent was just what you saw on this retreat: praise, thanksgiving, healing, grace, new friendships, renewed faith. That's the real world!!!
And then I point to Joshua 1:11 with a sense of purpose and conviction, saying, "You've seen what God intended. Now, 'go [and] take possession of the land that God has given you to possess.' Conquer the sin and imperfections. Let light shine on the darkness. Let truth deflate the world's lies. 'Go [and] take possession of the land that God has given you to possess!"
In Christ's Love,
one who is more than a conquerer
through him who loves us
Rom 8:37
This is about the 4th time in 26 hours I have heard the phrase, "cross over the Jordan."  I am beginning to wonder just exactly what is God telling me. (ok ... I don't really have to wonder ... I have a pretty good idea!)  

to cross over the Jordan - 
- it takes faith ... it wasn't a calm babbling brook. It was a strongly flowing river.
- it takes trust ... they weren't told HOW they were to cross. Just to do it. 
- it takes obedience. ... what God commands of us does not make sense all the time, but if we exercise immediate obedience we will reap amazing rewards. 

What is your Jordan that you need to cross?  What is stopping you from taking that first step into the water?

Labels: ,

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Convo with Pastor - Deuteronomy 34:1-5

Then Moses went up to Mount Nebo ...
And the Lord showed him the whole land ...
saying ... "This is the land I promised on oath
to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob ...
I have now allowed you to see it with your own eyes,
but you will not enter the land."
So Moses, the servant of the Lord, died there.
Deuteronomy 34:1-5
Do you have a nickname? Look at the last line of today's lesson. Moses' nickname was, "Servant of the Lord."
Many people think: How unfair for Moses to risk his life, lead a constantly whiny and stiff-necked people, dwell perpetually in parched wilderness ... and still not be allowed to go into the Promised Land. Yes, God allowed him to look at. But his entrance was flatly denied. How unfair, right?
Here's the thing ... We constantly overestimate the value of our efforts in the eyes of God. If we're honest, don't we kind of, somewhat, regularly think: "I did this, this, and this for the church and for the kingdom; therefore, God owes me." 
The truth is: God owes you NOTHING. Rather we owe him EVERYTHING! God can accomplish ANYTHING with you or without you. He doesn't need you. He doesn't owe you. BUT he WANTS you.
He loves you and wants a relationship with you. He chose you and chooses to work through you. Your obedience brings great joy to him. And your obedience allows you to see his power at work. And seeing his power at work through you brings deeper relationship.
The man nicknamed "The Servant of the Lord" obeyed more frequently, saw more power, and developed a deeper relationship with God than any human in history -- except perhaps Jesus Christ, God's own son.
Like all humans, though, Moses also from time-to-time sinned and fell short -- see Numbers 20:1-12 for the sin that kept him out of the Promised Land. Therefore Moses didn't receive his reward on earth. He didn't make it into the Promised Land on earth. BUT he did make it into the Promised Land called Heaven! (See the Transfiguration when the curtain between heaven and earth was dropped and Jesus stood beside a heavenly Moses and a heavenly Elijah -- see Mark 9).
Therefore, don't think your reward is guaranteed on earth. Rather, trust that God will bless and reward you throughout all eternity and in the Promised Land of heaven.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who wants to get better at listening
so he can get better at obeying
so he can see more power
and thereby grow deeper in relationship
At least God allowed Moses to see the promised land ... and he died pretty soon afterward so he didn't have time to mourn the fact that he wasn't going in.  

Moses' life shows that there are still consequences for our actions. They may not be immediate, but they are there none the less.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Convo with Pastor - Deuteronomy 31:14

Then the Lord said to Moses,
"The time has come for you to die."
Deuteronomy 31:14
If even a hero of the faith like Moses eventually came to end of his time on earth, guess what ... Your time will come too.
So imagine that your time has come. What will be the final thing you'd like to say? What's the final piece of advice you'd like to pass along? Maybe to your spouse ... Maybe to your children ... Maybe to God ... But what would your like your last words to be?
Well, when it came Moses' time, God didn't let Moses choose. He said essentially, "Moses, this is what you are to say ..." Actually, he said, "This is what you are to sing!"
The Lord said, "16 [Moses,] after you are gone, these people will begin to worship foreign gods ... 17 Then my anger will blaze forth ... 19 So write down the words of this song, teach it to th[em], help them learn it ... 21 and when great disasters come down on them [because of their actions, implied], this song will stand as evidence against them, for it will never be forgotten by their descendants."
How'd you like your final words to be a song with the lyrics, "32:28 Israel is a senseless nation"?
Now, while many of us might genuinely want to leave our children with a memorable warning -- as this song was -- we'd also like to leave them with a blessing. And chapter 33 really does contain his final words, and Moses' words, spoken out of love, are a blessing for his people ... but that's a story for tomorrow.
Today, remember that your time is coming. What would you like your final words to be. (And why not email them to me. I'd love to hear.)
In Christ's Love,
a guy who wants to leave you with a song:
Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord
My final words? 

There was a time when they would have been "Please forgive me. I'm sorry. I love you."

Now they may be simply, "I love you, but remember that God loves you so much more. I'll be waiting for you. Take your time."  But this could change tomorrow.

Labels: ,

Monday, March 21, 2011

convo with Pastor - Deuteronomy 28:2

You will experience all these blessings
if you obey the Lord your God.
Deuteronomy 28:2
On just about everybody's list of favorite passages is the Beatitudes. From the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5, Jesus says, "Blessed are the poor in spirit ... blessed are the merciful ... blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness ... and blessed are the peacemakers."
In today's reading, Moses was giving a totally different sermon on a totally different mount -- Mt. Ebal. Moses, in Deuteronomy 27, started not with beatitudes, but with Cursed-Attitudes. In Deuteronomy 27, Moses give us the twelve commandments -- similar, but not identical to the ten commandments -- and says twelve times in a row, "cursed is anyone who ..."
Indeed, in Deuteronomy 28, Moses adds a thirteenth curse, saying, "15 if you refuse to listen to the Lord your God ... 20 the Lord himself will send on you curses, confusion, and frustration in everything you do, until at last you are completely destroyed for doing evil and abandoning me."
Get me back to the Blessed-Attitudes, right?!
But here's the dilemma. All of us definitely want to be blessed ... BUT all of us definitely want to do what we want to do.
And the point of these two chapters is simple. God is saying, "I want to bless you." Read that again. "God wants to bless you, bless you, bless!!!" But God says, "I cannot bless what is not holy and right."
Therefore, since God wants to bless your life, a good question to ask is: Where in my life am I finding more challenge than blessing? One of two things could be happening: 1) You may be living in a thoroughly honorable way, and God is simply testing his faithful servant so that you can grow even deeper!!! Or 2) something in the way you are living may not be honoring God, and God cannot bless what is not holy and right."
In Christ's Love,
a guy who needs a microscrope
(I need to look at my challenges
more and more closely)
The word that stands out to me in the verse is IF 
If you obey - you will receive the blessings.  That is the only condition ... obedience.

But that one word can quickly change a task from being easy to extremely difficult. There is now a condition set on it. There is reward / consequence for actions.

We just need to uphold our end of it ... then we WILL be blessed!

Labels: ,

Sunday, March 20, 2011


For the past 7+ years I have worn a peapod charm on a necklace.  I have taken it off only to sleep, snuba and snorkel. Otherwise it was around my neck. Every day.

Why a peapod? When I was pregnant we called the baby Peapod ... he wasn't an 'it' and needed some sort of name.  For Christmas before Peapod was born, hubby gave me the charm. When Peapod died, we searched for a place to put his initials and birth/death date on the charm. Then for the next 7 years I wore it constantly ... told people it helped keep Peapod near my heart since he wasn't with me anymore.

After a very rough year which involved hitting rock bottom in an effort to erase the immense pain caused by overwhelming pain, it was recommended that I not wear this necklace anymore.  A few people noted that since the peapod was not around my neck, my eyes were lighter. I smiled and laughed more readily. But I wanted it back.

There were times I searched for it and didn't find it. One day I asked where it was and last week I got my necklace and peapod back. I have been wearing it for the past 5 days.

Those same folks that recommended I not wear it think it has a hold over me. A negative power ... a foothold/entrance for evil.  But my question is - can an object have that much power? An object is inanimate. And if the person holding it denies it has power and truly believes it doesn't have any power, can it still? Or is Satan still able to use it to get at your weak points?

I tried researching this and this is some of what I have found:
Totem: an object serving as the emblem of a family or clan and often as a reminder of its ancestry; a usually carved or painted representation of such an object, one that serves as an emblem or revered symbol, a natural object or an animate being, as an animal or bird,assumed as the emblem of a clan, family, or group, an object or natural phenomenon with which a family considers itself closely related, a representation of such an object serving as the distinctive mark of the clan or group, anything serving as a distinctive, often venerated, emblem or symbol.

1.  "Satan does not even control inanimate objects as far as being able to use objects to violate the Law of God ... In his debased heart he devised a plan to deceive the children of men and pervert everything God had made, in order to fulfill his ambitious goals of becoming ‘like God’, he copied and perverted all that God had created ... The Bible does give us a strict code of cleanliness and warns us of certain objects of power we should steer clear of (these are called cursed things in the Old Testament!) many are inanimate objects, bracelets, symbols, idols of wood and stone, and even furnishings. ... Many Christians unknowingly have these familiar or dedicated items in their possession, the bible tells us: 1 Corinthians 10:21, You cannot drink the Lord’s cup and the demon’s cup. You cannot partake of the Lord’s Table and the demon’s table.
In Acts 19:11-12, God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them. God himself seems to endow inanimate objects with power. Could Satan do the same? Could he attach evil spirits or evil intent to a [peapod charm?], object or symbol and cause an open door to his sick twisted spiritual realm? I [the author] not only think it likely it is most probable. Remember the Ark of the Covenant was just a piece of wooden furniture, but it held the very power and glory of God!
2. This:  Satan wants to be like God, he wants to exalt himself above God, so he has to counterfeit and imitate his precepts and behaviors and his methods of accepted worship. he is a copycat.
3. This:  In Eden the tree was this object. We must understand there is always an object that Satan uses to make his attack. In the Garden of Eden, it was a tree. Today, it might be our pride. It could be some object that he has fastened upon our minds, so we will justify doing evil. Satan's principle is that the end justifies the means. This is a common trick of Satan today. ... Satan's second manner of approach is a negative one. He uses reverse psychology. He is tremendously cunning. Watch what Satan did. He said, "Yea, hath God said." Satan called God's Word into question. He quoted the Word of God. This is what we have to beware of. He engaged his victim in a dialogue wherein a suspicion could be cast against God's Word, goodness, character and integrity. Satan wants to get us to murmur and pity ourselves. He wants to get us off guard. How does he do this? He gets us into a dialogue. He gets our heart to use human reasoning. Immediately upon gaining control of the human reasoning through dialogue with his victim, Satan zeros in on his target. When Eve answered that they could eat of all the trees of the garden except one, then the devil suddenly zeroed in on just that one tree. Why? She was the one who raised the issue about the single tree. Satan started in a very general way. This is what we have to see. ..."
Basically - I am still not certain.  The ones who don't want me wearing the peapod anymore also suggested having some sort of memorial service or burial. My reaction whenever I consider that is, "I can't."  More accurately - it's, "I don't want to."  
It's been 8 weeks since I was in the hospital. since I have felt the heaviness that I am feeling tonight. No - the despair is not there ... don't worry!  But there is a heaviness of spirit weighing down on me. I don't know where it is coming from. I really don't want to believe it is from the necklace so innocently hanging around my neck.  
Even in church this morning, I had to make myself sing the worship songs, pray the prayers, participate in the liturgy.  There was a quiet voice saying I didn't need to go through these motions. It was not a calming, peaceful thought. The harder I fought against it, the louder and more insistent it became. I have rarely heard this convincing voice in the past 8 weeks ... and rarer still in church even before ... 
Is there a connection? Or am I just allowing myself to believe there is one? 
However, I do know that I can do anything through Christ who gives me strength! Even fight back against lies in the midst of a worship service. 
[sorry this is so long ... I've only been working on it for the past 4 hours.]


Convo with Pastor - Deuteronomy 24:6

It is wrong to take a set of millstones,
or even just the upper millstone,
as security for a loan,
for the owner uses it to make a living.
Deuteronomy 24:6
After several long books of laws and regulations, it's a good time to remind you that there were two sets of laws.
  • One has to do with our relationship with God. The other has to do with self and others.
  • The ones pointing to God are a holiness code. The ones pointing to self and others have to do with health and cleanliness, wisdom and good order in society.
In general, the ones concerning holiness and our relationship with God are timeless. The ones pointing to self and others are often viewed as specific to time and era of the ancient Jews.
Unfortunately, the cultural logic of some of these commands leads to some to reject the set of laws altogether (including some of the holiness ones). Our natural tendency is to cut and paste and demand less and less of ourselves.
Let me give you a cultural example ... and what I believe to be a faithful response: What if you wanted to borrow from me -- whether I'm an individual or big city banker.
  • A very legalistic interpretation of the law says that I can hold as collateral anything from you except your millstones.
  • A very permissive interpretation says, "You see, all of these are hopelessly out of date. And if we're not enforcing millstones, then why shouldn't we just forget all of the commands?"
  • A more reasoned and faithful response -- in my opinion -- says, "Why did God give this law?" "To protect people. Therefore, right living in the kingdom demands that we don't prevent people from working hard and that we allow them to dig themselves out of their debts rather than take advantage of them. Therefore, if you're the lender, make this a win-win. It's okay for you to collect interest, as the lender needs to make a living too! But don't crush the debtor."
Does that make sense?
Here's my recommendation:
  1. Keep all the laws regarding holiness and a right relationship with God. (We printed one in our devotions two days ago: "18:9 When you enter the land .. be very careful not to immitate the detestable customs of the people living there." Holiness!)
  2. Look deeper into all the other commands -- person to person, health and cleanliness, wisdom and good order -- keeping absolutely as many as you possibly can.
  3. If you're tempted to bend a law, still make it cost you something.
  4. But don't legalistically add burdens to others -- i.e. be more demanding of yourself than your neighbor.
  5. And strive always to love God and love neighbor.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who really wants to know
how to be holy and life-giving
rather than legalistic and burden-bearing
Does that happen too often in our culture? A person's means of repaying a loan are taken from them before they can fulfill their end of the deal? It almost seems like a trap. Maybe this is God's way of saying, don't set a trap. Don't set someone up to fail.

I don't understand how a person can follow all the commands without being legalistic about it. The more laws and details to follow, the more legalistic a situation becomes. It is a vicious cycle that can lead a person down the wrong path. Quickly. And is very hard to escape.

It is safest - for me at least - to work on loving God and my neighbor.  the rest will come.

Labels: ,

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Convo with Pastor - Deuteronomy 18:9, 13

When you enter the land the Lord God is giving you,
be very careful not to imitate the detestable
customs of the nations living there. ...
You must be blameless before the Lord your God.
Deuteronomy 18:9,13
The phrase "be perfect / be blameless" occurs ten times in scripture.
The most famous, perhaps, is the impossible standard that Jesus seems to set in the Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 5:48 -- in the context of telling us to love our enemies -- Jesus says, "Be perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect."
Isn't that an impossible standard?!
As God established his covenant with Abra[ha]m in Genesis 17:1, God sets out the same impossible standard again: "Walk before me and be blameless." 
Humanly impossible, right?
That's why much of the rest of the calls to "be blameless and perfect" are calls to our blameless Father to help us look more like him:
For example, in Psalm 19:13 the Psalmist cries: Keep your servant from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression. Right living requires God's help.
In 1 Corinthians 1:8, Paul presents God's help in this endeavor as a promise from heaven to all who yield their hearts to him: "[The Lord] will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Humanly, perfection is impossible. But with God, all things are possible. As you strive for holiness, therefore, let me end with Paul's prayer in 1 Thessalonians 3:13
May [the Lord] strengthen your hearts
so that you will be blameless and holy
in the presence of our God and Father ...
In Christ's Love,
a perfect fool
(but what did Paul say about
being a fool for Christ?!!!)
I see perfection and blameless as two different things.  Perfection is impossible. We are humans.  Perfection can also be a trap ... if you are a perfectionist - like me - striving for perfection can be very confining.  It can cause you to not do what you know you need to do for Christ.  

Being blameless is more attainable and less restricting than perfection, yet still difficult  Follow the commandments Jesus laid out for us.  Being blameless is not as overwhelming as trying to be perfect. At least for me.

Labels: ,