Marching orders.

vintage-3168021_1280I love, LOVE to hear my dad’s stories about then he was in Navy!  Back when Bill Haley and his Comets were getting ready to Rock Around the Clock, Dad was off overseas on some semi-covert operation, serving his country, doing the things that Uncle Sam thinks invincible 19-year-olds can do. 

I’m thinking that, at the time of Dad’s tour, we weren’t technically at war with anyone, but we all know what that means.  Realistically, we’re always at war with someone, even if it’s under the radar, especially to those of us back home.  There are always enemies, and it behooves us to keep some operations covert, I suppose.

A prime example of this is Joshua and the conquest of Jericho.  With help of the Expositor’s Commentary, I find some interesting parallels—

no-symbol-39767_1280The Israelites had not yet encountered a walled city like Jericho; this had to be intimidating to the roaming former Egyptian slaves. What new situations do I come up against that threaten my comfort zone? 

 

world-war-2827031_1280Concerning the land, God told them, “I have given to you…” meaning it was already a done deal, but here’s the thing—they still had to fight for it. Yes, they had their priests (worship), but they also had their warriors (spiritual warfare).  As an example, my children are “a heritage of the Lord”, they are part of my “land”.  As such, I must fight for them as God gives me wisdom, but fight for them from the place of secured victory, not fear or anxiety.

passion-3111303_1920.pngJoshua’s situation was a “religious event”: “…the presence of priests, and the prominence of the ark all indicate that the conquest of Jericho was more than a military campaign; it was a religious event. Israel must always remember that the land was God’s gift to them.”  My circumstances aren’t merely about me either; it’s ultimately about God, His plan for eternity, His kingdom.

choir-303302_1280Praise and declaration come before the victory. The priests were very conspicuous in this procession, and they were also the ones sounding the trumpets.  These can represent both praise to God and the sound of war.  As God’s “royal priesthood”, we are to be involved in both; in fact, they are inextricably linked.  Walking around that wall for six days was an act of obedient faith—so is praise and worship.

checklist-1316848_1280God gave the people specific instructions that were not part of the normal battle plan of the day. Can you imagine Joshua’s mighty commanders when they received their orders?  (“You want us to do what??”) Not unlike the family of Noah who had never heard of rain, or even the disciples of Jesus who couldn’t fathom their King nailed to a cross, God has ways of doing things that can be off the wall.  To borrow from the secular: “Just do it.”

question-1243504_1280The commentary also brings out the tedium of continued marching for six days. This was not a stroll in the park.  They were in enemy territory, so there may have been arrows (and who knows what else—ewww!) flying from the walls.  Sometimes my obediently praying and obstinately living God’s plan for my life becomes tiring.  But God says I am not to grow weary in doing good.  Again, from the commentary, “This senseless marching may have completely demoralized the defenders, who would have been totally confused about what was going on.” I can bank on it: persistent prayer and praise demoralizes my Enemy.  (I rather like that one.)

“Suddenly, the walls of Jericho collapsed, and the Israelites charged straight into the town and captured it.”

Joshua 6:20 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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The Mighty Wonder Buck rides again! And again! And…

picmonkey dogThe Mighty Wonder Buck (A.K.A. The MWB, or Buckley) loves it when I have the car keys in my hand and head out the door; hopes springs eternal in that big black hairy chest of my dog-pound mutt.  A car ride could mean a number of things: to our small town community compost (with all kinds of smells to explore!), to the local farm and home store, or even splashing and swimming at the nearby lake (him, not me, but invariably yours truly gets wet.)

No matter what I’m doing, he’s just good company, and depending on the activity, sometimes he comes home exhausted but tongue-hanging-out-the-mouth happy.  If you’re a dog-lover like Bob and I both are, you know the look.

 

And you would also know that there is nothing unusual about talking to your canine buddy.  Even singing to him.  I mean, he doesn’t know or care if you can sing or not.  So when I came out of Walmart one day to pack my groceries into the car, there was the MWB, cute as ever with his big black head looking at me.

I had parked in isolation in the back lot with all the windows down so Buck had plenty of air and shade, which also meant the car was right up next to the outdoor garden center, enclosed only by a big fence. 

A fact which had slipped my mind.

And as I merrily talked and sang to my furry friend (an original composition, mind you, just for the dog,), I happened to turn and catch a glimpse of a man looking at me as he perused the various and sundry greenery. 

There are times it is unfortunate that so many people know me in this town…

“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light…”

Okay, I know that’s not the kind of “peculiar” God is talking about here.  Unfortunately, I have plenty of unholy peculiarities for Him to work on, (that have nothing to do with singing to my dog in public.)

I am convinced, however, that part of this “so great a salvation” that we are given is powerfully intended to make us nonetheless strange in the eyes of our contemporaries, for the very reason of getting their attention and putting that focus on God.  There are so many practical examples of this, in the way we interact, entertain, spend money and time, even (most of all)—how we think.

boneHere’s one bone to chew one:

WordPress has all these great tips and courses on improving your blog site and increasing your readership—that is terrific and and who doesn’t want to do that, right?! I know I do.  Logically, it makes sense that the more people read your stuff, the more people can be helped by what you write. 

But here’s the real meat.  As a Christian, my goal isn’t just to reach a whole bunch of people, but to reach the people God wants me to reach.  That doesn’t preclude my due diligence, but it also doesn’t mean I mark my success by my stats either.  (I mean, Hitler also reached lots of people, just sayin’.)

Which is a “peculiar” way to regard success in our culture, even in our church culture.  Big flashy sound stages with matching budgets; not that those are bad at all, but they aren’t the goal, nor are they a sign of success…at all.  In God’s culture, where the peculiar people “live and move and have their being”, success is measured by obedience, not outcomes.

gentleman-148407_1280And that will definitely turn heads, more than singing to your dog!

I Peter 2:9 King James Version (KJV)  Public Domain