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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Just do it!

I can only imagine how many trips to the bank the folks who came up with that Nike slogan have made.  That, and their very recognizable “swoosh” mark, created by Carolyn Davidson, then a graphic design student at Portland State U.  Phil Knight, the company’s co-founder, wanted a design to convey speed and motion.  With this in mind, Mr. Knight chose this representation of Nike’s wing. And, of course, with Nike being the Greek goddess of victory, that must have seemed appropriate to the branding department. 

I also think their phrase “Just Do It” is brilliant.  I see plenty of young competitors in my school nurse’s office with minor bump and bruises due to their budding athletic experience.  I have to remind myself that at this stage, these kids are on the steep end of the learning curve when it comes to sore muscles and growling coaches.  For most of them, it’s a matter of ice, NSAIDs, maybe a little taping, no whining allowed, back to class. Continue reading “Just do it!”

Just a thought

wood 2

We become like the entities we worship.

[King Ahab’s] worst outrage was worshiping idols* just as the Amorites had done—the people whom the Lord had driven out from the land ahead of the Israelites.”

*NLT note: “The Hebrew term (literally round things) probably alludes to dung.”

Too bad he didn’t know this part of the Book—

“And those who make idols are just like them, as are all who trust in them.”

‘Nuf said.

1 Kings 21:26; Psalm 135:18  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.

Rear-view mirror grace

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280One of the (many) things I love about the Bible is the unadulterated openness of the ungodliness of some of God’s most godly people.  I really love it.  It gives me hope.  It also makes me appreciate the honesty of God as well as His patient love and affection.  Some choose to see only His anger and frustration.  Well, heck, if I had been the parent of these kids for several millennia…well, best not to go there.

Here’s another good example.  Many of us Continue reading “Rear-view mirror grace”

Cramped quarters

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280The story of the Old Testament prophet, Jonah, is an intriguing one, and is not without a mild undercurrent of a Providential sense of humor.  Not to poke fun at Jonah’s dire straits, but he did, after all, open himself wide to at least some form of discipline.  Interestingly, as the story unfolds, Jonah never denies that he worships the God of the Hebrew people; he just persistently argues with Him, at least concerning God’s intended task for His wayward prophet.  I have to wonder what brought the man to this extreme—maybe someone from Nineveh had harmed his family somehow, causing a hatred so intense that it created a prejudice toward the whole town (along the lines of the comment about Jesus: “can anything good come out of Nazareth”.)  Maybe Jonah considered God to be unjust in His patient treatment of anyone “not Jewish”. 

Or maybe he was just having a bad day…?

Regardless, a massive storm blows up to buffet the ship carrying Continue reading “Cramped quarters”

God’s “love language*”

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280In the part of the Christian pool that I tend to swim in, corporate and private worship takes on many different forms.  Personally, I not one to dance, but I don’t begrudge those who find that particular expression of worship fulfilling.  I do like singing, as well as “dinging, shaking, and otherwise banging” on various instruments.  And generally, those swimming around with me don’t begrudge me that, either.

I was very, very blessed to grow up in a deeply authentic denominational church with a L-O-N-G history of evangelical mission-oriented Continue reading “God’s “love language*””

How shall I worship You today?

wood 2

How shall I worship You today?

            To bandage another skinned knee—

            Or listen to the story of the dead bird on the driveway…again?

How shall I worship You today?

            By having the emotional courage to change another diaper,

            Cook another meal, or fold another load of laundry?

How shall I worship You today?

             In holding the wrinkled hand with so little time left,

             Or by changing the tire on my neighbor’s car?

How shall I worship You today?

            By living and loving in the moment, instead of in the past—

            Or by patiently trusting You for the future?

Show me how You want me to worship You today.

 

 

Check the connection.

wood 2The other morning at church we were doing a “fewer-piece” worship set; I say “we” because it was just me and the piano player, which is a bit unusual for our congregation.  During practice I called back to the sound booth that I couldn’t hear Dan in the stage monitor.  Then I thought to check his mic, and (typical for me) it wasn’t turned on.  It was plugged in, but still not connected to the power source.  Duh.  (We have patient sound people.)

Kind of like attending church, if you think about it.

I’m all about being a part of a local church, whatever that may look like to different assemblies.  Some sit in pews, some under trees.  Some worship with guitars and djembes, some with organs and pianos.  The point has to do with spiritual Continue reading “Check the connection.”

What Your Feet Mean to Me

quillYea!  I met a new blogger!  If you haven’t already met him, let me have the pleasure of introducing you to Mr. Rusty Foerger, proprietor of the blogs Curriculum of the Spiritual Life and More Enigma Than Dogma AND the author of this beautiful poem.  Personally, how can anyone deny the existence of God with such a thing as poetry (Or art in general, for that matter, thank you Mr. Chesterton.)  Enjoy this contemplative “selah” moment.

WHAT YOUR FEET MEAN TO ME

You say I am doing a beautiful thing for you.
It’s just like you to say that.
All I am doing is washing your feet with my tears;
They come from a fractured place –
A place of stain and shame;
Now they flow out to clean your feet.

Thank you for not stepping on me with your feet
Or trampling over me;
Or hurrying past me to the next big thing,
Or merely to a better thing.

Thank you for letting your feet be nailed in place – in my place.

Thank you for not kicking me with your legs
Or jumping past me: the undesirable, the unlovable.

Thank you for not holding me down with your arms
Or holding me back with your grip.

Thank you for not raping me with your body,
Or stripping me with your eyes
Or looking past me with your gaze.

Thank you for not abusing me with your lips
Or spitting on me with your mouth.

Thank you for not thinking the worst of me,
Or worse:
not thinking of me at all.

Thank you for walking up to me with these feet, these beautiful feet:
For holding me – for holding me up with your arms.

Thank you for listening to me
When I babble on
When I pray
When I lament
When I sing,

Thank you for seeing me – for seeing into me.
Thank you for being able to overlook my sin
And for being willing to do that.

Thank you for talking to me,
For speaking such fantastic words:
Words like honey
Words like light
Words like rock
Words like flight
Words that sing
Words that ring.

Thank you for forming them into living sound:
Songs of joy
Hymns of truth
Feelings of comfort
Trumps of exaltation!
Pronouncements of peace
Words of wisdom
Psalms of beauty
Proclamations of release!

Thank you for shaping words into keys
To unlock yet another chain, to take off yet another yoke.

Thank you for thinking of me – the best of me.
For such beautiful thoughts, such loving thoughts –
With such a capacity, as if each star you flung into space
Was another bright idea you put into place.

Thank you for Your imagination – the truth of who I am to You.
No one else could find it in themselves to create this truth –
To the contradiction of overwhelming evidence.

While tears had long emptied into a careless street of users
Now each one poured out like a 1000 years, a 1000 pounds, a 1000 moments of darkness.
Now each tear is precious to me, to remind me or what it means to touch your feet.

You say I am doing a beautiful thing for you.
And it’s just like you to say that.
All I am doing is washing your feet with my tears
that come from a fractured place –
Split open by the spring of Your own relentlessness
And made to worship the One I love!

This is what your feet mean to me.

Copyright: Easter 2004; R.H. Foerger

Out of the mouths of babes…

why-meditating-on-christ-helps-us-fight-sinOne of my bloggin’ buddies, Slim Jim, has started a new series which I call “Post-It Note Theology”, based on the above picture which I have also stolen from his most worthy and informative site.   He certainly has longer, more in-depth treatments of Christian apologetics and other scholarly things, but I likewise appreciate these spiritual sound bytes for my brain!  To my exceptionally non-techno mind, a sound byte is like a food bite. It’s not enough to fill me up and sustain me indefinitely, but it gives me something to chew on and draw me back for more.
Here’s his most recent tidbit:

As we adore Him, we abhor sin.

As several of us were sitting around his blogging meal and began sampling this morsel, the digital table conversation began.  Here is a part, (and their websites are pretty cool also):

Nice. Fill our minds with the things of God, and no room left for the things of Satan. This is a time when limited brain power is quite useful. Space is limited, so no room for the garbage if I put the right stuff in. Good reminder, Brother Jim, thanks.

Good point Wally…I for one have so much useless garbage stored in my brain that I must delete something in order to make room for more…Should I tell another joke before hitting the delete button? :)

LOL, Patrick, what you said makes perfect sense to me. My storage is limited, so if I use it for God, not as much is left over for the devil. And yes, keep on with the jokes. Your cheesy jokes are a high point of my day usually.

I am reminded of Romans 2:4. It was the quality of God’s character that made me want to give up certain thoughts and actions. They simply didn’t compare well, and they got in the way of what I really wanted. Thank you for the memory prompt.

Interestingly, I was just considering myself how we tend to “fill up on junk food” that may taste good at first (and who doesn’t like a double-scoop cone this time of the summer??) but which is actually pretty bad for you, especially compared to real food.

Real food.  Sustaining.  Which is what adoration is, actually.  A disciplined steady diet of thinking about the love of my life, (well, yes, Bob, that’s you, but I mean….), the One Who gave His life to give me mine back.

And like the future food critic says in this vid, “Umm, ummm! Delicious!”