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 59
“'Neither,' he answered. 'I am here because I am the commander of the LORD’s army.'
Joshua fell to his knees and bowed down to the ground. 'I am your servant,' he said. 'Tell me what to do.'” Joshua 5:14
We like to think of God being on our side when we should be thinking of our being on God's side, instead. It's more than semantics, it's about purpose, direction, and priorities. We want God to back up our plans, our purposes, our dreams, and our ambitions. We consider that we want what is best and are able to envision what God must want. Whether we recognize it or not, we want God to serve us like a jinn in a lamp. We want God to get us out of each tight spot and resolve our all of difficulties. We want God to obey our wishes and designs.
In the process, we lose sight of our claims regarding the identity and character of God. It is the Almighty of Hosts, Yahweh, whom we want to bow to our understanding and purposes. We would instruct this same Yahweh on what needs to be done, how we want it done, and when we want it accomplished. We don't really pause to consider the wisdom of instructing God. We don't really think through how ludicrous it must sound when we take it upon ourselves to have a wisdom that exceeds that of God. We don't stop long enough to reflect on there being an alternate perspective from our own.
Joshua encountered Yahweh's messenger with sword in hand. His question was whether the messenger were on the side of the Hebrews or the side of their enemies. The response, however, should have taken Joshua aback. “Neither. I am the commander of Yahweh's army.”
Should that not have meant that the messenger was on the side of the Hebrews? It is what we would normally expect. That perspective, however, misses the larger point. It was not God's place to take up the cause of the Hebrew people. It was the place of the Hebrews to take up Yahweh's cause.
Joshua's response is telling and should be matched by our own. He did not attempt to contradict the messenger, the commander of Yahweh's army. He did not attempt to offer guidance, direction, or otherwise influence this messenger. Instead, he simply bowed, placing his life and the future of the Hebrews in service to Yahweh's instructions, will, and purposes.
It is true that Yahweh wanted to hand the land over to the Hebrews. It is true that such was the plan and purpose of Yahweh. It is true that the land and its bounty had been promised to them as the descendants of Abraham. At the same time, there was more in Yahweh's purposes than simply handing the land over to a new people. This larger plan was not to be placed in subservience to the desires of the Hebrews.
While Yahweh may desire to bless us and provide for us, that is not the complete picture of God's purposes. After all, we are called to be the servants of Yahweh, not the other way around. It is by submitting our will, designs, and plans to Yahweh that we may actually enter the redemption of God's plan, rather than our own.
Take the time to consider that God's plan for your life may not be your own.
"Lord, help me remember my place as your servant, fulfilling your purposes."
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…