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?
Subscribe to this blog
Follow by Email
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."
seminary days, I was considering that God was calling me into church
planting. Karen and I took the plunge in working on a church plant in
Michigan, then accepted a call to serve as church planter apprentices
in Mexico for two years. We then returned to the US and started a
Spanish-language church in Aiken, SC. That church is still going
strong after two decades of ministry. I studied church planting in a
compact seminary course and read a lot of the church growth
literature on the subject. I went to training sessions on church
planting offered by South Carolina Baptists. We then spent several
years on the mission field in Brazil watching the implementation of
those methods and hearing others talk about church planting and
church growth methodology. Along the way, I taught several aspects of
church planting in my seminary courses. I've also learned a few
things from my own experience, as well as reflecting on the successes
and failures of efforts to begin new churches.
like many of the praise and worship songs. I also like hymns. I like
some of the more classical pieces like Mozart and other formal works
like the John Rutter I sang in college choirs. Then again, that is
all beside the point. With
all the talk about praise and worship songs as a style of music, then
as the centerpiece of what it means to gather as the church, that is
where I start to feel a rub. What is wrong with praise and worship?
It is not they style of music, not that it focuses on praise or
worship. It is that is so often deflects and distracts us from what
it means to be believers and followers of Christ Jesus. There
is nothing wrong with raising your hand in the air as you sing along
with the band. There is nothing wrong with the theology presented in
many of the songs. It's actually more a question of what is not there
than what actually is. More
than anything, it is a question of depth. It is a question of
breadth. It is a question of content and of purpose. We
It's not about an empty tomb. It's not about a cross. It's not about an empty room. Nor yet reversing loss. His resurrection tore apart The grief and pain they felt. The jolt of joy within each heart Was not the purpose dealt. The reason that we celebrate Is not emotion's pow'r Nor history shall ever sate The meaning of the hour. The question we must ask again Is where does Christ abide? For Christ arose from death in vain Unless he lives inside. Without expression in our deeds, Our words do silent fall. Unless the hungry 'round us feed, Why celebrate at all? For Jesus rose to live again Not to be sung to sleep. Rehearsing history is vain Unless His will we keep. He's still within the darkened cave Unless our lives are spilled Of grace, compassion, neighbor love 'Til every tear be stilled So celebrate with hearty voice The resurrection tale And add to singing deeds of choice That Christ through us prevail…