After decades of Biblical study, I continue to discover there is much deeper meaning than I had ever imagined.
Christ calls me to
-people I'd not expect;
-be politically active for justice;
-love without restriction;
-accept those from whom I would normally recoil;
-be a student of the Bible and also the society in which I live;
-see the economic, social, and spiritual struggles of others;
-be a prophetic voice for justice, mercy, compassion, grace, and love;
What about you?
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After Pentecost Devotional - Day 55
“'We're sure Yahweh has given us the whole country,' they said. 'The people there shake with fear every time they think of us.''” Joshua 2:24
Fear is a powerful motivator. Politicians have known this for long ages. They have used it to control and manipulate populations. They have used fear of the unknown, of strangers, of imagined dangers of some kind or another. On the other hand of the equation, we find Caleb offering a perspective of faith: confidence in Yahweh's provision in the face of uncertainty.
It would have been much easier for the people to remain trapped in their fears over the unknown. After all, that is what had occasioned the generation of wandering in what we call the wilderness. It was the known quantity. They had experienced Yahweh's provision in that period of wandering, but Joshua wanted to take them into a new experience, one which would require Yahweh's provision to work in a different manner.
In the meantime, the peoples of Palestine had heard the stories of Yahweh's provision. They knew about the flight from Egypt. They knew about Yahweh's victories over Sihon and Og. The people of Jericho were afraid. The Hebrews had been acting according to fear. Caleb's words presented an alternative for the people. Instead of allowing fear to guide their lives, they could trust Yahweh sufficiently for a new path forward.
Fear, after all, is all too normative a determinant for our actions. We give in to fear all too quickly and easily. The rewards of life God has for us, however, are not the product of fear. Instead, they are the products of faith. They come about through trusting God for the path forward. While faith promises a future secure in Yahweh, fear calls us to thwart that future by failing to trust. More often than not, our fears are unfounded, while the promise and hope of faith are much more trustworthy.
In this passage, the people were able to shed their fears mainly because they accepted that the people of the land were afraid of Yahweh. Interestingly enough, the fear of others ultimately engendered faith among the Hebrews. Trust in Yahweh should have superseded the influence of fear, but often as not we are more driven by fear than faith, even when that fear is not our own.
Sure, there was a practical military application to the question of fear. Most deaths on the battlefield were the result of an army running away and being struck down from behind. Fear meant defeat in very practical terms. The same is true in regard to the victories of faith. We are called to live in confidence rather than fear. It is in confidence that we can offer love to our enemies, forgiveness to those who offend us, and grace to those who make us uncomfortable.
When we succumb to following our fears, we miss out on what God has in store for us. We refuse to march into a future based on trust in God's sufficiency. Often as not, we defeat ourselves by our unwillingness to trust God for the victory that lies ahead. We allow voices contrary to God's to steer our lives.
Determine to trust God amid your doubts and fears for the road ahead.
"Lord, grant me the strength to trust you amid adversity and voices hawking fear over trust in your sufficiency."
The Bible on Homosexuality
The Bible is not arranged topically to address the issues that arise in our lives or in the consciousness of any culture or society. It is not a book we can easily run to in order to find neat answers to the concerns raised by people living far removed from the circumstances of the Ancient Near East of First Century Palestine. That is just not how it was designed.
Life's issues are generally much more complex than what we might dig from the Bible by quickly looking up a few words in a concordance or web search. Some themes are treated throughout the texts that compose the Bible. Others are hardly present at all. What one text may seem to say another might spin differently, challenging us to take a closer look at the first passage and the second, as well.
When it comes to a topic like homosexuality, we are dealing with a short list of passages that may or may not have anything to do with what we understand as homosexuality. To further complicate matters, …
Almighty Gun, we worship you. It is in you we place our trust and hope for our security. Where fifty-eight or more lie dead, We pass legislation for more of your presence. We hope you will protect us from our fears, Our fear of the "Other," the immigrant, the stranger, the colored ones. We fear our lives might be taken by those marketing terror. All the while, we are the ones in terror. We are the ones who instill, promote, and extend our own terror. We live in fear. We pack heat to make us feel stronger, more virulent, more protected. We return to the world of make-believe, in which we are the heroes standing up to the enemies all around us. We pray you will provide the energy and the aim we need. We pray you will protect us from our fears of unknown enemies. Then one of us takes a last stand, firing rounds from automatic weapons. "No, the guns are not to blame!" If only there were more gun worshippers present to stop the hail of lead! If only there were one more gun to halt the a…
We often have difficulties in dealing with psychological disorders. We are so used to thinking that we can be in control of ourselves, our actions, our speech, and our decisions that it is very hard to grasp that a psychological disorder is just as much an infirmity as appendicitis, cancer, pneumonia, or gout. It makes it harder for us to deal with something like clinical depression along the same lines as we deal with the flu, diabetes, or acid reflux. It is hard enough for us to understand dementia or Alzheimer's in a way that does not attribute shame or guilt on the victims of these conditions. With mental illnesses like depression, we tend to treat them as moral failures instead of health conditions which can be treated by a physician. Why is it so hard for us to treat people with love and acceptance instead of casting shame and condemnation for things beyond their control? Of all psychological disorders, perhaps depression is one we are most ready to deal with as a moral failu…