Archive for » July, 2014 «

July 11, 2014 – Matthew 21

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sodacansHabits are hard to break. For example, at one point, a certain individual (who shall remain unnamed to protect the innocent and chubby) was polishing off a six-pack of Mt Dew every day of the week that ended in Y. That’s not the kind of thing you just walk away from. The soothing caress of a caffeine withdrawal migraine is not even the worst part; the longing for that sweet sugar rush, the cool metallic feel of the can in your hand, the satisfying crushing of the can after the last drop of nectar is gone. It’s like saying goodbye to a little piece of heaven. I mean, that’s what I’ve heard.

But, even with that level of soda-love, you can still walk away. You can stop buying that deliciousness; you can choose to go to the sink for water instead of the fridge. You can start your day with the calcium fortified goodness of bovine udder discharge. Except in rare circumstances, no one is holding a firearm to your head, demanding that you consume 72 fluid ounces of awesomeness every day. You can make a change. You just have to want to, and do it.


Changing behavior may be hard, but as it turns out, the Bible actually says that on occasion it can be a good thing. There are many people who start out life a little behind ye ole 8-ball. Maybe your parents never gave you the support and care you needed. Maybe your first real dating relationship was abusive. Maybe you lost loved ones at an early-age (or late-age) despite all your prayers. And now you find yourself miles away from God.

The good news is that distance means almost nothing to God. You can change your mind right now, and start serving God, and be closer to Him immediately. In our passage today, we have two sons. One says he will obey his pop, and then changes his mind. One says he won’t obey, then changes his mind. Which one is pleasing the dad? Even if you have purposely walked away from God in the past (or just drifted), you can change this very moment. And you will be pleasing you father.

Here’s the rub; it works the other way too. Maybe you started as the captain of your bible quiz team. Maybe you were the kid at Bible camp giving testimonies that brought every one to tears. Maybe you had the whole New Testament memorized by the age of 9. If you are not serving God today, that all means very little. And you are certainly not pleasing to our Father.


You may feel like you are farther from God than at any point in your life. You can make the decision right now to start serving God again. It will take effort, for sure. Spiritual inertia is a difficult thing to overcome, but you can do it; just start now. The next step will be easier, the one after that easier still, and so on. Telling that guy you can’t date him anymore, telling that friend you can’t go out partying tonite, confessing those “little” thefts to your boss and making amend; it can be very difficult. But once you start getting closer to God, you can keep getting closer and closer.

You can make that choice right now.

July 9, 2014 – Joshua 11

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stormPeace. We talk about it all the time in church; sometimes we even sing about it attending our souls. We love the idea of it; sitting around in our jammie pants drinking chai tea (or coffee, should you be one of “those” people) and watching the sunset over the ranch.

Is that really what the Bible means by peace? A quiet evening with nothing going on?  When nobody is punching us in the face, and no dogs barking in our ear?  When everything is just going smooth as the top of the pudding? Or perhaps peace has nothing to do with lack of struggle, and everything to do with how we live with it.


In Joshua 11, we read about some of the, to be blunt, slaughter of various tribes that lived in Canaan before the Israelites got there. The Bible says that Joshua destroyed just about anyone he came into contact with, and destroyed a few cities to boot. And then the chapter ends with this little postscript: “then the land had rest from war.”

Rest. Not an end. If you continue reading the Old Testament, you’ll see that it wasn’t long before war came again (and again, and again) to the Israelites. We may need to face facts: there will be no peace in our lifetime; or anyone’s lifetime.  Not “peace in the Middle East,” or pretty much anywhere else for that matter. Sometimes you’ll hear people say “when the Prince of Peace comes, then there will be peace on earth.” Apparently some of those people haven’t read the back of the Bible yet; when Jesus comes, one of the first things that happens is war. And not just any war; the biggest war the world has ever seen. That’s not too peacey if you ask me.

What about the Fruits of the Spirit, you say? Isn’t one of those peace? Without a doubt, but this is our attitude of peace with others, not a ceasing of struggle in the world. There are many Christians who are serving the Lord and serving in the Armed Forces.  Some may see that as a contradiction, but it seems the Bible draws a distinction between “peace” that Jesus brings, and “no war” in the sense that we view peace today.

Should we pray for peace? Absolutely.  We should pray for peace in our lives, and in the lives of all those fighting actual wars at the moment. We are even told specifically  to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.  There is much suffering and sometimes very little good that comes from war.    The point in Joshua is not that war is good or bad; it just is.


Here’s the point: if you are fighting a battle – spiritual, physical, emotional – right now and you are praying for peace, keep it up. You should keep praying, you should keep seeking God more. But if and when the battle ends and the peace comes, understand that it is simply a rest. There will be another battle coming.

Until the day when we were are actually in God’s presence forever, the fight is not going to end. Jesus is clear: you will have trouble in this world. The point is not to avoid trouble; the point is to cling tightly to Jesus when the trouble comes. Enjoy your rest when it comes, catch your breath, and buckle up. The peace that Jesus promises isn’t an exemption from the fight, but a calm assurance that He has a plan and purpose for each and every battle.

You may even get time to catch a chai now and then.

July 8, 2014 – Joshua 10

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globeSometimes it strikes me as odd that we (as christians) will believe, or at least say we believe, the whole Bible. Do you really? Do you really believe that a grown man was swallowed by a gigantic guppy? Do you believe that a living guy actually walked into a chariot, made of fire no less, and floated off into the sky? Do you really believe that one guy, with a few family members, put every species of animal into a big boat and lived there for a year? When you think about it, it really does sound nuts.

But we say we believe. We say the Bible is infallible. We say that every word that comes from God’s mouth through Moses’ pen is true. If that’s the case, if we one hundred percent believe God and believe the Bible is his Word and believe that it is true, we really should never worry. If God can do all that, any problems we have should look tiny in comparison, right?  Look at today’s reading in Joshua 10.


Joshua is fighting another one of the something-ites (admit it, you can’t keep them straight either), and he finds himself running out of time to complete the battle. This is actually not all that uncommon in the ancient world. Without electric lights or those cool green glasses that let you see in the dark, there really was no way to fight once the sun went down. Most communication was by flag on the battlefield, so once it got dark, that was pretty much it. In this case, Joshua had them on the run, and wanted to finish the job.

So he asks God to stop the sun and moon. Think about that. Stop the sun and moon. Just to put it in perspective, using our modern concept of astronomy, that means that God had to stop the world from spinning. The whole planet. All 13,170,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 pounds, spinning at 1100 miles an hour, of planet Earth’s hugeness; and God stops it because Joshua forgot his flashlight.


Do you believe it? That God can actually just stop the Earth whenever he wants? If you do, then why in the world would you worry about God providing for you and your family? If God can do that, finding a few bucks to buy hamburger should be laughingly simple for him. Finding a new job should be a snap of the fingers. Even healing the sick, or raising the dead, would be no problem for a God of that power. The world spins or stops on His whim; just because Joshua asked.

And what does God ask in return? Our trust. That’s it. Accepting that He loves us, that He wants what’s best for us. That when He doesn’t give us what we ask, that He knows a better way. Believing that a God that can stop the earth for one man’s benefit, might just know a thing or two about the consequences of our actions. And having the humility to follow his directions about our lives, instead of just trying to do it our own way.

Can you trust him to run your world today?