RSS

Tag Archives: Joshua

“Bad Advice” by Fred Smith

Dear God, sometimes we all give and get bad advice. I’ve received bad advice before. I’ve certainly given my share as well. I’m saying this because I read a really good blog post by Fred Smith a couple of days ago called “Bad Advice.” In it, Smith uses the story to Moses’s last words of instruction to Joshua as an example of someone who let his own perceptions and experience paint an incorrect picture. His predictions for Joshua and what Joshua could expect from the Israelites didn’t end up panning out. His final instructions didn’t end up doing Joshua much good–at least not that we can tell.

There are several examples of people in the Bible making the wrong decision. Sometimes we are told it’s the wrong decision and sometimes we aren’t. Paul and Barnabas splitting up over John Mark. Was one of them right and one wrong? How Abraham handled Sarah and Hagar (and Ishmael). Peter and going to the gentiles. My favorite that I’ve mentioned to you before is what I perceive as the mistake of appointing Mathias as the apostle to replace Judas instead of waiting for you to groom Paul. Just people working with limited information and going in the wrong direction.

The good news is that, most of the time, these mistakes don’t get in the way of your plan. You used Abraham’s mistreatment of Hagar to free her from slavery. You accomplished greater spreading of your message by splitting up Paul and Barnabas, and maybe even helped to convict John Mark and encouraged him to grow up in the process. And Joshua still led the Israelites into the Promised Land, experiencing mostly victories and your blessing.

I came up with the phrase a long time ago that you keep me on a need-to-know basis and I very rarely need to know. There are certainly things happening in my life right now that I don’t like and I would change in a heartbeat if I could, but I don’t know what you are doing through this path that I cannot see. And perhaps I will never see it on this side of heaven. I put a local pastor in an awkward position this week by requesting some pastoral counseling about some of my current trials. I chose him carefully as someone whom I deeply trust and respect, and also someone who doesn’t come in with any preconceived biases towards the players in the story. To his credit, he did not try to pontificate and give me an great wisdom. He took notes. He pointed out one connection he wanted to make sure I made, and then we agreed to meet again. He said he would commit the situation to prayer. It was a good lesson for me on listening and waiting. People come to me for advice and I am often too quick to feel like I need to be smart and wise. I need to espouse my “wisdom” so that they will be grateful they sought me out. Instead, I need to be much more willing to just listen, hear them, and wait, if that is what you are calling me to do.

Father, I have friends who are having marital problems. I see suffering through my work on a daily basis. And I certainly have my own personal life situations that vex me and bring me tremendous sorrow. Please help me. Help me to be at peace. Help me to trust you. Help me to not get out ahead of you. Help me to not short-circuit your plan. Make your plans beyond my own corruption. I give you praise. I give you glory. I thank you for everything you’ve done and continue to do.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
 

Tags: , , ,

Exodus 24:12-18

The LORD said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain, and wait there; and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.” So Moses set out with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up into the mountain of God. To the elders he had said, “Wait here for us, until we come to you again; for Aaron and Hur are with you; whoever has a dispute may go to them.” Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. The glory of the LORD settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the cloud. Now the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel. Moses entered the cloud, and went up on the mountain. Moses was on the mountain for forty days and forty nights.
Exodus 24:12-18.

 

Dear God, this is one of those scenes that reminds me of the proverb of the blind men touching different parts of an elephant and then describing an elephant to someone. There are a lot of people involved in this story, and each one has a different perspective:

  • Moses: He is the one that went into the fire and saw you up close. He got to be in the loop and have first-hand knowledge of you. But he didn’t know what it was like to just see a mountain with cloud and fire, not knowing what was going on. He was just trying to figure out what you wanted him to do and getting to know you better. And he was getting several chapters worth of instructions from you down to some pretty specific details.
  • Joshua: He went only so far, but not all of the way with Moses. He saw some special stuff. He probably heard more than the Israelites did. But he didn’t see everything Moses saw. He had a unique experience.
  • Aaron and Hur: Moses left them in charge. They were caught between watching Moses and Joshua disappear onto the mountain, seeing the cloud and fire, and then having to manage the people–mainly being their judge–while Moses was away.
  • The elders: They were in a unique form of leadership. They were watching Moses and Joshua disappear, witnessing the cloud and fire, and then submitting to the two men Moses left in charge. We don’t know how they felt about Aaron, but we know that they will feel leaderless after several days and demand that Aaron build them a god (Exodus 32). But from their perspective, they were coming from a world where they probably didn’t have much faith and gods were tangible inanimate objects, the person that seemed to be leading them and talking to you was missing into a cloud of fire for over a month, and they apparently felt lost. It’s hard for me to imagine how seeing a golden calf would make me feel better about my situation, but there was obviously something about it that helped them. Almost like a child’s security blanket or a prized stuffed animal. You and I know that the security blanket and stuffed animal don’t offer any real protections, but there is something about its presence that is reassuring to a child. The same is apparently true for the Israelites in this story. Come to think of it, what is it about cows (sacred cows?) that people find worthy of worship? I think that Hindus have a special place for cows as well. Hmm. Interesting tangent for another day.
  • You (God): Yes, you are a witness to this whole thing as well. You saw your interaction with Moses. You saw Joshua, Aaron, Hur, the elders, and the people all respond to this situation. You know what was in each one’s heart. And like the parent who can see things that their small child cannot see, you could and still can see things that we cannot see. You know more than we know. You understand more than we understand. You also are capable of loving us more than we are capable of loving you.

Father, once again the theme of what I seem to be learning through these times with you is that my knowledge of the past, present, and future is so limited. Faith is something that is not only recommended for a relationship with you and a life spent worshipping you–it is a requirement. So please give me the faith I need to have to let go of my own wisdom and simply trust in you. Whether it be in how I manage my own life or try to have input into others, please guide me beyond my own wisdom (a.k.a. foolishness) and into your peace.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 

 
1 Comment

Posted by on February 15, 2020 in Exodus, Uncategorized

 

Tags: , ,

Joshua 9:3-14

But when the people of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, they resorted to deception to save themselves. They sent ambassadors to Joshua, loading their donkeys with weathered saddlebags and old, patched wineskins. They put on worn-out, patched sandals and ragged clothes. And the bread they took with them was dry and moldy. When they arrived at the camp of Israel at Gilgal, they told Joshua and the men of Israel, “We have come from a distant land to ask you to make a peace treaty with us.” The Israelites replied to these Hivites, “How do we know you don’t live nearby? For if you do, we cannot make a treaty with you.” They replied, “We are your servants.” “But who are you?” Joshua demanded. “Where do you come from?” They answered, “Your servants have come from a very distant country. We have heard of the might of the Lord your God and of all he did in Egypt. We have also heard what he did to the two Amorite kings east of the Jordan River—King Sihon of Heshbon and King Og of Bashan (who lived in Ashtaroth). So our elders and all our people instructed us, ‘Take supplies for a long journey. Go meet with the people of Israel and tell them, “We are your servants; please make a treaty with us.”’ “This bread was hot from the ovens when we left our homes. But now, as you can see, it is dry and moldy. These wineskins were new when we filled them, but now they are old and split open. And our clothing and sandals are worn out from our very long journey.” So the Israelites examined their food, but they did not consult the Lord.
Joshua 9:3-14

Dear God, I doubt Robert McNamara coined the phrase The Fog of War, but I pretty much link it to him. My wife and I grasped onto the phrase several years ago when we were going through some family struggles. It can be so easy to evaluate a situation and think about what you would do from the outside looking in, but it is so much harder when you are in the middle of it.

I was skimming through the Book of Joshua this morning looking for a biblical parent when I ran across this story. Verse 14 is the kicker. The Israelites, including Joshua, used their own wisdom, “but they did not consult [you].” I felt immediate conviction. I know I am guilty of this all of the time. And I will say that, in the midst of some of my wars I have consulted you and still found myself confused and unsure, but that is maybe, maybe 5% of the time. The rest of the time I try to use my own mind, “wisdom,” and intuition to solve the problem myself.

I was talking with my wife yesterday about a friend of hers that seems to be making some irrational decisions when it comes to some children from her husband’s first marriage. There is a lot of conflict with a teenaged daughter. Sitting from our perspective, not being in the middle of the fight every day it is easy to pass judgment on my wife’s friend’s actions. “Oh, she shouldn’t do this.” “Oh, she should let that go and just love her.” Yeah, easier said that done. The fog of war is murky at best and blinding at worst. Just within the last couple of months I allowed myself to be hurt by someone else’s actions and I almost, almost struck back. Thankfully, I waited. I waited on you. I prayed. And in my prayer you gave me a revelation of something that might have caused the person that hurt me to do the thing they did. I ended up doing nothing and ultimately just gave that person love. Thank you for that victory.

Father, there are so many decisions ahead of me. I have a lot at work. I have a lot with friends and family. I have a lot of decisions that need to be made just today. I’m sorry for when I’ve failed you. I’m sorry for not consulting you and waiting on your reply. Sometimes, much like Saul when he went ahead and did the sacrifice to you without waiting for Samuel, I get out ahead of you and do things my own way. Thank you for this reminder to wait on you.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

P.S. Joshua was such an amazing man of faith, I feel bad pointing out what is one of the very few times he made a mistake, but I suppose we learn more from others’ and our own mistakes than we do from our successes.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 2, 2020 in Joshua

 

Tags: , , ,

Solomon — 1 Kings 11:41-12:4

The rest of the events in Solomon’s reign, including all his deeds and his wisdom, are recorded in The Book of the Acts of Solomon. Solomon ruled in Jerusalem over all Israel for forty years. When he died, he was buried in the City of David, named for his father. Then his son Rehoboam became the next king. Rehoboam went to Shechem, where all Israel had gathered to make him king. When Jeroboam son of Nebat heard of this, he returned from Egypt, for he had fled to Egypt to escape from King Solomon. The leaders of Israel summoned him, and Jeroboam and the whole assembly of Israel went to speak with Rehoboam. “Your father was a hard master,” they said. “Lighten the harsh labor demands and heavy taxes that your father imposed on us. Then we will be your loyal subjects.”
1 Kings 11:41-12:4

Dear God, I’m going to wrap up the 1 Kings telling of Solomon’s story by looking again at this initial exchange between Israel’s leaders and Rehoboam. Apparently, by the end of Solomon’s reign we know there were two pretty distinctly negative things about him:

  1. He worshiped other gods because of his many, many wives.
    He was a harsh king that gave people harsh labor and high taxes.

It takes me back to 1 Samuel 8 when Samuel warned the people who were then the leaders of Israel:

“This is how a king will reign over you,” Samuel said. “The king will draft your sons and assign them to his chariots and his charioteers, making them run before his chariots. Some will be generals and captains in his army, some will be forced to plow in his fields and harvest his crops, and some will make his weapons and chariot equipment. The king will take your daughters from you and force them to cook and bake and make perfumes for him. He will take away the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his own officials. He will take a tenth of your grain and your grape harvest and distribute it among his officers and attendants. He will take your male and female slaves and demand the finest of your cattle and donkeys for his own use. He will demand a tenth of your flocks, and you will be his slaves. When that day comes, you will beg for relief from this king you are demanding, but then the Lord will not help you.”
1 Samuel 8:11-18

I’ve mused in these journals what Israel (and David) would have looked like if David had been a judge and not a king. I think David’s life would have played out completely differently. Even if he had been more of a warrior judge like Joshua instead of a spiritual leader judge, he still would have lived a much different life. But I suppose that any of us that make ourselves king, whether it be in reality or figuratively in our own minds or families, will end up needing people to rule over. That can include a spouse or children. But if we can keep thinking of ourselves as your servants and the servants of those whom you called us to love, them we have a chance at being more useful to you and getting more done in the long run.

Father, help me to be exactly who you need me to be for those around me. Use my life to draw others’ hearts to you. Increase through me and help me to decrease. Do it all for your glory and so that you are worshipped.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 22, 2019 in 1 Kings, 1 Samuel, Solomon

 

Tags: , , , , ,

“Asleep in the Light” by Keith Green

Asleep in the Light” by Keith Green

Do you see?
Do you see?
All the people sinking down?
Don’t you care?
Don’t you care?
Are you gonna let them drown?
How can you be so numb?!
Not to care if they come
You close your eyes,
And pretend the job is done

“oh, bless me, lord!
Bless me, lord!”
You know, it’s all I ever hear!
No one aches,
No one hurts,
No one even sheds one tear
But, he cries,
He weeps,
He bleeds,
And he cares for your needs
And you just lay back,
And keep soaking it in

Oh, can’t you see such sin?!
’cause he brings people to your door,
And you turn them away
As you smile and say,
“god bless you!
Be at peace!”
And all heaven just weep,
’cause Jesus came to your door,
You left him out on the streets

Open up! open up!
And give yourself away
You see the need,
You hear the cries,
So how can you delay?!
God is calling,
And you are the one
But like Jonah, you run
He told you to speak,
But you keep holding it in

Oh, can’t you see such sin?!
The world is sleeping in the dark,
That the church just can’t fight,
’cause it’s asleep in the light!
How can you be so dead?!
When you’ve been so well famed
Jesus rose from the grave,
And you!
You can’t even get out of bed!

Oh, Jesus rose from the dead!
Come on, get out of your bed!
How can you be so numb?!
Not to care if they come
You close your eyes,
And pretend the job is done!
You close your eyes,
And pretend the job is done!
Don’t close your eyes,
Don’t pretend the job is done

Come away! come away!
Come away with me, my love!
Come away from this mess,
Come away with me, my love!
Come away from this mess!
Come away with me, my love!
Come away,
Come away with me my love!

Dear God, I have the honor and privilege of getting to preach tomorrow to a group of people who are very precious. So what is it that you need them to hear?

As I was working through the Presbyterian church’s prescribed liturgy for this Sunday, the Old Testament reading was out of Joshua 5, which I journaled about last Sunday to kick this week off. That’s kind of set the tone for the week. The Promised Land. They had arrived. The men got circumcised and they were expected to start supplying their own food from the land–you turned off the supply of manna. Now it was time to go and take the land.

When they first left Egypt, I would imagine that they didn’t necessarily think through what going back to the Promised Land about which Moses told them would cost them. They might have seen it as their reward for years of slavery. But that wasn’t it. This was just the next chapter for them as a people. It would be hard. They would have to devote themselves to you first. They would have to fight. They would have to struggle. That is how their people would survive and how you would eventually bless the world–through Israel as a nation. As much as their lives were not about “them” while they lived generation after generation in slavery in Egypt, their lives were still not about them. They were about you. They were about your plan.

As I sat down to pray to you this morning, I wanted to clear my head and get focused so I turned to the Christian music on my iPod. I wondered what I should listen to, and I heard a nudging for Keith Green. Eventually, I landed on this song. I think it’s perfect for what I’m talking about in the spirit of taking the Promised Land. “Asleep in the light.” Isn’t that what a lot of us are? Asleep in the light? Isn’t that what I am a lot of the time?

So what will I preach tomorrow? The message is going to be that it’s time to take the land. This particular church has been in limbo through various setbacks for too long. They are now muddled in fear and frustration. They are mired in lethargy. This might sound harsh, but it feels like it’s true. They are too concerned about what is happening within their doors and not concerned enough with what is happening in the neighborhood around them. The message will be, “God has supplied you with manna and he has given you talents, but now it is time to wean yourselves from the manna and start working for your community. It is time to start taking the land. And it starts with personal commitment (see the mass circumcision in Joshua 5:2-8). What will you do to bring commit yourselves to God and bring your talents to the table? What will you do to see that this church advances into the Promised Land and doesn’t flounder in the wilderness? When will you look around and see the world around you dying?

Father, help me to do this well.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 

Tags: , , , ,

Joshua 5:9-12

Joshua 5:9-12
9 Then the LORD said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the shame of your slavery in Egypt.” So that place has been called Gilgal to this day.
10 While the Israelites were camped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho, they celebrated Passover on the evening of the fourteenth day of the first month. 11 The very next day they began to eat unleavened bread and roasted grain harvested from the land. 12 No manna appeared on the day they first ate from the crops of the land, and it was never seen again. So from that time on the Israelites ate from the crops of Canaan.
Dear God, to put this story into context, chapter 4 is about them passing through the Jordan and into the Promised Land. Then verse 1-8 (really 2-8) of this chapter tell about having all of the males who were born in route from Egypt over the previous 40 years circumcised and letting them heal from that (gotta say, that sounds barbaric and horrible). Now, you have a message for them: You’re here. Your baby food is over. It’s time to start treating this place like your home, and that means providing for yourselves here.

I’m going to be preaching at a church next Sunday, and this is the Old Testament reading. As I think about that church, I am thinking about some of the trials they have been through over the last several years. Perhaps the message you have for me to give them is that the time of sitting around and eating manna is over. They have their settlement of a legal action where a trusted staff member embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars behind them. They were fortunate enough to receive a gift from someone that helped to make them whole from that unfortunate situation. They have crossed through the Jordan. It is time to start planting crops and setting up shop. It is time to advance on the enemy around them. It’s time to reach out into the neighborhood around them and start bringing your light into the families and individuals within their reach. No more complaining. No more feeling sorry for themselves. No more fear. It’s time to go.

Father, prepare my heart this week for the words you have for me to share with them. Love them through me. Speak to them through me. Give them peace. Give them vision. Give them victory. Give them healing. And do all of this because they are worshipping you, bringing you glory, and then taking that glory into the world. And help me to live up to all of this in my personal life as well.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
1 Comment

Posted by on March 24, 2019 in Joshua

 

Tags: ,