Saturday, October 27, 2007

The War is On

I ran into a friend who reads this blog yesterday. She laughed and asked, "What was that sheep thing about? It was so random!"

So first, a bit of business. The sheep story came out of an experience I had last week. I'm part of a writer's group. Or, I should say, I WAS part of a writer's group. And last weekend, a group of "leaders" in my group behaved exactly as did the sheep in my story. The point was simply this: We who believe are so susceptable to deception. Those leaders did evil, and they called it good. I can't be a part of their evil, and found I must withdraw from the group. It was a sad day! Even Jesus cried.

And second, many of you are wondering about my friend Kerrie. The diagnosis is Large B-cell Lymphoma. The doctors will stage the disease and begin chemo this coming week. Please continue to pray, if you would? I'll keep you informed.

And as for Joshua. I've been so overwhelmed with life, that I'm behind -- as you can tell. So, I'll just give you one more observation from Joshua, and then we'll move on to Romans. I've found that I can't work backwards. So here we go!

The book of Joshua is generally about the Israelites taking the Promised Land. God has instructed them to completely remove the people living in the land, and to occupy it. This is the bloody part of the Old Testament, and many critics use it to say that the Jews are no different from contemporary Muslims, etc.

However please note the differences. One: They weren't conquering the entire world. They had a specific and limited geographic objective. Two: The mandate to conquer via war was limited in time. It was ONE event in their entire history, and did not repeat itself in the same way EVER again. Three: The people being conquered were involved in idolatry that involved prostitution, and child sacrifice. Even those with NO moral framework might consider these behaviors questionable. God considered them abominable. He planned the Joshua wars to eliminate these terrible behaviors from the land. Four: No one could claim that this war was won by capable stratigic planning. In fact, no explosives were used. For instance, the Jews once conquered a town by circling the town seven times and then shouting. It was nothing more than miraculous. Not a battle won by cunning and bomb vests.

These are just some of the ways the Jewish conquest of the Promised Land differs from other "Holy Wars"

Now for the observations:

In one of the battles, Joshua and the Israelites defeat the northern kings. God gives them this instruction. "Do not be afraid of them. By this time tomorrow they will all be dead. Cripple their horses and burn their chariots."

Why did God say that?

I would have to look at chapter 23 to see the point. Note these words, "The Lord your God has fought for you against your enemies.' (vs 3) and "For the Lord your God will drive out all the people living there now." (verse 5) and "For the Lord has driven out great and powerful nations for you, and no one has yet been able to defeat you. Each one of you will put to flight a thousand of the enemy, for the LORD your God fights for you, just as he has promised." (verse 9 and 10)

"I gave you victory over them. I sent hornets ahead of you to drive out the two kings of the Amorites. It was not your swords or bows that brought you victory. I gave you land you had not worked for, and I gave you cities you did not build..." (24:11-13)

I think the ultimate point of Joshua is to remind us that in all battles, we are to let the LORD be our commander.

He wins the battle for us.

Today, as we fight for marriages, our children, our churches, our communities, our relationships, our pastors, and for the nations of the world, WE MUST LEARN TO DEPEND on the commander of hosts. Spiritual battles cannot be won, except on our knees. Then, as did the Israelites, when we have our instructions from the Commander, we are to go out and OBEY, as did Joshua. So why did the LORD instruct his people to cripple the horses?

As a reminder. We are NEVER to take the strength of the enemy as our own. If we did, we would begin to trust in armies, in weapons, in strategies. God does not want us EVER to depend on these things. We are to depend ONLY on the LORD of hosts. We are no longer seeking to conquer a land. But we are in battle never the less. We battle for souls, for destiny, for ministry, for unity. And our weapons are not of flesh and blood...

Neither were Joshua's.

Enough said? Let's move on to Romans!


Monday, October 22, 2007


Once upon a time, there was a flock of sheep. This motley group had many individuals who wanted to be the shepherd. Each had their own idea of how to spend a fine spring day. "Follow me!" they bleated arguing with one another. "I know the way to the good grass, the deep water. Follow me!"

One day, the shepherd hovering over the flock decided to teach his sheep a lesson. "I know what they want to do," he said to himself. "I will allow them to do it. Then they will see that I am the Good Shepherd. That my ways are right. That my way is the only safe way!." And so the Good Shepherd sat down behind a rock, where his sheep could not see him. He turned his back on the sheep and left them to their own devices.

"Let's go," Sherry Sheep said. "Let's get out of this boring place."

"No, Sherry," said Dull Dale. "We should stay with the shepherd. He wouldn't want us to leave him."

But the sheep would not listen to Dull Dale. Instead, they followed blindly as Sherry led them out of the pasture, and through the woods to a dark pond. The sky darkened as black clouds covered the sun. The wind began to blow, and the sheep grew cold in spite of their thick white coats.

"Drink here," Sherry said, pointing with her face to the dark pond at her hooves.

"But the water is not clear and clean, like the stream in our pasture," said one rather unimaginative sheep. "Maybe we should go back!"

"Silly sheep," Sherry replied. "We don't need clean, clear water. This water is just as good. You'll see. Drink."

And so, one by one, the sheep lowered their mouths to the pond.

Moments later, one of the sheep lifted her face, looked at Sherry and said, "My goodness. Sherry, your coat is no longer white and fluffy. In fact, your coat is black and the hair is not curly."

"And your snout is growing longer," said another.

"And your teeth are turning into fangs!" said Tommy Tearful.

"In fact," said Samantha, "You look a lot like a wolf!"

And she was right. All the sheep who drank from the pond no longer looked like sheep. Instead, they now looked like a pack of wolves.

"Forget that," growled Tommy. "Let's get some food."

"I have an appetite for Mutton," said Sherry. "Let's go look for some dinner." She led the other wolves back toward the Good Shepherd's pasture. "Finally, we can have real meat for dinner!"

As they approached the pasture, Sherry said, "Let's get Dull Dale! We can seperate him from the rest of the sheep and then attack! He will make a great dinner!"

"But what about the Shepherd?" asked Samantha.

"He isn't watching," Sherry growled.

And so together the stubborn group of "sheep/wolves" snuck back into the pasture. With stealth and silence, they surrounded poor Dull Dale. Then with cunning, they moved him away from the Shepherd and killed him. Together, they made a tasty meal of old Dale.

"What have you done?" shouted the Good Shepherd, running toward the sheep. "Why have you killed my beloved Dale, and eaten him for your dinner?"

"What do mean?" Sherry said. "We were only acting as a flock. You are always wanting to act in unity!"

"Flocks don't eat their members."

"Eat? We didn't eat anyone!"

"Why do you have blood on your snouts? Why is Dale's body lying lifeless here?"

"We didn't do anything!" They objected in unison.

And the angry but Very Good Shepherd chased all of them out of the pasture. As the last sheep went out, the Good Shepherd placed a tall fence between the sheep and the pasture. "You evil sheep have turned into wolves. And now you will not be allowed in my pasture ever again. Healthy sheep follow their shepherd. If you will not follow me, you will not live in this place of blessing. You have chosen."

"Now, be gone!" He turned his back on them and returned to the pasture of blessing.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Acting on Knowledge.

Last summer, I was visiting with a friend. "What's your background?" I asked. "Since you were raised in a Christian home, how do you feel about God?"

"I belive," he said. "I just don't feel like I want to be part of a church."

Not an extraordinary response, I don't think. But here in the book of Joshua, is a very different reaction. In chapter two, spies are sent to check out the city of Jericho. "Spy out the land," Joshua tells the two men.

When they arrive in the city, they are taken in by a prostitute who lives in a home built into the city wall. Soon after, the king of Jericho comes looking for the spies; and Rahab sends the king's agents in the other direction. Later, she says to the spies, "I know the Lord has given you this land... We are all afraid of you... For the Lord your God is the supreme God of the heavens above and the earth below. Now swear to me by the LORD that you will be kind to me since I have helped you." She makes arrangements to keep herself and her family safe during the coming destruction of Jericho.

I want to camp on a couple of details here. This woman isn't one of the Jewish people. She's an outsider. She hasn't been taught anything at all about God. She only knows what she has heard. But what she hears is enough to convince her that God is indeed the only God, the true God. The most powerful God.

And she knows something else. This powerful, true God is going to destroy anything that raises itself up against him. She responds to her certain knowlege of the upcoming destruction. Yep. She's feeling fear. And she's experienced truth. She KNOWS that the God of these spies is the one true God.

But she is doing more than that. She has gone beyond UNDERSTANDING, and moved directly to action. Rahab ACTS on what she understands. She takes a stand with the God of the Jews. She makes arrangements to keep herself safe in his care.

So, my friend. What about you? If you know ABOUT God, and you BELIEVE in GOD, have you taken the step that will keep you SAFE IN God? LIke Rahab, God asks us to step into his protection. He's provided it -- and we've talked about how that happens in other blogs on these pages. He's given his only son so that we can hide in the protection of the Cross.

Some day, the world as we know it, will come to an end. All of us will have to face the God of Joshua, and Rahab. The God of Matthew and Luke. When that happens, will you be found in the wall of his protection?

I live there. The wall of his protection is the only place to hang out! It's good in the coming destruction. It's great, even in the difficulties of today.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Okay, I lied!

Okay, you're right. I lied.

By our standards, Joshua was NOT a young man. He was perhaps as old as his friend Caleb, who was eighty-five years old when he took the hill country of Gilead. Perhaps slightly younger.

We know he was one of the spies sent into the land forty years previously. We know he had been Moses' assitant during the time Moses received the ten-commandments -- perhaps all through the Israelites' travels in the wilderness. So, Joshua was no spring chicken!

But a military general?

No way. Not compared to Schwartzkoff, or Tommy Franks, or Wolfowitz, or even Patton.

This guy is a civilian. And he's charged with the task of helping his people take out the entire indeginous population of Palestine so that the Israelites can take over the land. Not a simple task.

The Israelites were professional servants. Brick makers. Builders. Slaves. But soldiers? Not a chance. So how can this poor schmuck accomplish this amazing feat? The same way -- the only way -- ANYONE in this world can accomplish anything...

"Be strong and courageous, for you will lead my people to possess all the land I swore to give thier ancestors. Be strong and very courageous. Obey all the laws Moses gave you. Do not turn away from them and you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of the Law continually. Meditate on it day and night so that you may be sure to obey all that is written in it. Only then will you succeed. I command you, be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:6-9

Important words, found on the pages of the Old Testament. How will this poor guy lead this rag-tag group of slaves to victory? By OBEYING. God is going to show him how to do it. I know, because I've read the book, that ol' Josh is going to try some of the most unique and surprising techniques ever used in warfare. And he's going to learn the techniques directly from God. With God showing us how to accomplsh a task, we can expect surprising and creative answers.

The other secret to Joshua's success is one we all have access to...

God promises to be with him. Jesus promised his followers the same thing at the end of every gospel. "I will be with you, even unto the end of the age."

You know, you can do almost anything if you know you won't be doing it alone!

Have you considered, going it with God? It makes any responsibility that much lighter!

I've finished the whole book, so I'm on to reading Romans. But I'm still going to catch up on my posts. You may want to check daily for a while. I don't want to miss out on this adventure, so it will take me a while to get it all done. Stay with me?

And if you have time, please pray for my friend Keith who is facing some difficult days. And also for my dearest friend Kerrie, who is facing the possibility of Cancer. Both these two have chosen to go through this with God. It won't be easy, I know. But it will be easier for them with God.


Tuesday, October 9, 2007


So, are you enjoying the book of Joshua?

I know I’ve been delinquent in writing this blog. Forgive me? I’ve experienced a long list of events, struggles, and life happenings lately. I escorted my mom to my brother’s funeral in Tucson (TSA chose to hand-search my 92 year old, 95-pound mom!), helped to decorate for my niece’s wedding the very next day, woke with a virus after that and spent days crashed on the couch. This past week, I have also discovered that one of my closest friends may be facing life-threatening cancer. Last night, my husband found out that one of his closest boating friends has chosen to enter the hospice system with incurable cancer. Kim is very sad.

In the middle of it all, I continue to teach a Bible study on Jeremiah, and go through all those normal everyday motions. Life goes on, doesn’t it?

At times like this the Words of scripture take on an almost surreal glow. My heart finds assurance there, an encouragement as refreshing as cold water in the midst of a long hike through the desert.

After all, if the words of scripture are not true, we believers have little hope; and if they are (true), our hope can never be shaken. As the apostle Paul says, even death has lost its sting. Though Keith Charboneau may die, we will see him and celebrate with him again!

So, what about Joshua?

Remember the Bible begins with the story of God, and moves on to his choosing of a man – Abraham. Their unique relationship is sealed in a covenant of blood. God says, “If you will, then I will.” The condition? Obedience. God’s choice extends to Abraham’s family. Three generations later, this family lands in Egypt as guests of Pharoah. Four hundred years pass as they move from the position of guests to slaves.

After Moses leads the Israelites from Egypt (the book of Exodus), they wandered in the desert for forty years. During this season, Moses prepared the people for their new home in the Promised Land.

As the book opens Joshua, our hero, has taken over Moses’ leadership role. His job is to take this wild group of unruly people across the Jordan and into the land. There, he must supervise as they forcefully and violently take the land from its former occupants.

His is an impossible job. How does one young, inexperienced leader get more than a million untrained men to take over a country? The answer: With God.

Read on my friends!