"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Impasse on the Road Home

It is painful to hear. The partners in the couple before me seem so motivated to change the relationship for the better. However, for whatever reason, they find themselves at an impasse. They feel unable to move forward on the road home to loving relationship.

Individuals find themselves stuck in their progress, too. If you have ever failed at a resolution, you know the drill. Buy the book or video, or enroll at the health club, start with intensity, and watch as the intensity wanes as your energies drift elsewhere. Sometimes, the intensity itself becomes the revolving door on the burning building of emotional distress. No matter how fast we run, here we stay.

Frequently, the impasse seems to come in the form of deferred responsibility. If the partners in a relationship feel the solution lies exclusively in the other person’s camp, not much is likely to change for the better. If the individual believes that others (or the world) must change, or that God must take control of their emotions, in my experience, things usually stay much the same.

One might conclude, then, that I am advocating for a “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” philosophy similar to the former-drill-instructor-become-therapist commercial on the airwaves these days. As funny as it is, that is not what I am talking about. People need to be willing to look at their part in the problem, to evaluate what changes they themselves can make, and proceed with optimism. This is a secret passage through an invisible wall.

Jesus taught that we should remove the plank from our own eye before helping our brother remove the speck from his. Note, he does NOT say not to remove the speck from our brother’s eye, as some erroneously conclude (probably to avoid confrontation by others). What he does advocate, is removing the beam from our own eye, so that we can see more clearly to remove the speck from our brother’s eye.

But, what is all this talk of planks and specks, and how do we apply this parable to our personal growth? I truly believe Jesus is teaching us to own our responsibility in troublesome matters, because in so doing, we own our power to bring about positive change. The hypercritical husband who engenders active or passive rebellion from his wife and children needs to take a long hard look at his heart, his goals, and his actions. If what he wants is an immaculate life devoid of messes and conflict, he may eventually find himself alone and lonely. The wife who has slid into passive rebellion, chronically “forgetting” to do what her husband asks of her, needs to evaluate whether her long term goal is to undermine his trust in her. Open honest dialogue with both partners owning responsibility for their contributions to the ongoing conflict is the first step. For this to happen, hearts have to be open to evaluation and change.

David’s classic prayer, “Search me and know me, and see if there is any wicked way in me,” is an excellent example of a pliable, teachable heart. The Holy Spirit is ready, willing, and able to shine His light into the dark recesses of our souls, not for condemnation, but for healing.

Once we have allowed thorough soul-searching on our own part, have asked forgiveness for our contributions to the problem, and have lovingly evaluated the other person (acknowledging our human perspective is limited), we are in a position to be truly helpful. This is a good question to have looming in our minds as we approach others: “How can I be truly helpful.”

Eventually, forgiveness sets us free more than the person we forgive. If we have a realistic view of our own fallen state and imperfections, it is not as difficult to forgive the specks of others. Then we can all see our way more clearly, as we seek intimacy, on the road home.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Glimpses of God in Joshua

Four central themes can be readily identified in relation to the theology of the book of Joshua: the land, rest, the Covenant, and purity of worship. Of these, the first three can be covered under the heading of “God the Promise Keeper.” Joshua 21:45 states that “not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled,” and 23:14 adds, “You know that…not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you failed. Every one has been fulfilled. Not one has failed.” God had promised for centuries that Israel would have a land, and would rest in that land, in accordance with the covenants He made with the patriarchs. He also promised that Israel’s continued existence in that land would be conditional upon their obedience to the requirements of the Covenant He made with them under Moses at Sinai.

The major theme of the Book of Joshua is the possession of the Promised Land that was promised to Abraham (Gen. 12:7), Isaac (26:3-4), and to succeeding generations (50:24). The Land is a central goal toward which the actions and intentions of the Pentateuch move. Moses was called to bring the people to “a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey” (Ex. 3:8, 17). The Book of Exodus shows the beginning of the move toward that land, and Numbers shows the continuation of that journey. Repeatedly, the Land is seen as God’s gift to Israel, especially in Deuteronomy. In Joshua, the Land as Gift occurs more than 50 times. A greater portion of the Book of Joshua is given to the detailing of the portioning of the Land to the various tribes, indicative of the Land being given at God’s disposal. The importance of these chapters is in showing that God’s promises were indeed being fulfilled, in tangible ways.
An important concept carried over from Deuteronomy to Joshua is the covenant principle that remaining in the land is contingent upon obedience to the law. In Joshua, the possession of the land and the extermination of its inhabitants are seen as a direct result of Joshua’s obedience to God (10:40; 11:20, 23). Israel’s continuation in the Land is also tied to obedience (23: 9-13, 15-16).

An important consideration in the book of Joshua is the concept of the possession of the Promised Land as the accomplishment of entering into God’s rest. This rest is a gift, a part of the two-part inheritance: (1) the land, and (2) rest from conflict with enemies. Joshua declared to the Transjordan Tribes, “Remember the command that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you, ‘The Lord your God is giving you rest and has granted you this land’” (Josh. 1:13).

Typologically, the New Testament equates the Old Testament concept of rest with entering into Christ’s rest. Hebrews 3 and 4 develops this most clearly. Hebrews 4:8 mentions Joshua, under whom the rebellious generation was not allowed to enter the land; it was instead to a new generation the offer was made to enter into God’s rest. This offer was to be appropriated in each new generation.

Another prominent theme in Joshua is keeping the Covenant. Deuteronomistic stress is placed upon obedience to the law (covenant) and the cause and effect relationship between obedience and blessing, and disobedience and punishment. Obedience to the Mosaic Covenant is urged upon Joshua in 1:7-8, upon the Transjordan tribes in 22:5, and upon the people in 23:6, 16; 24:15. Two covenant renewal ceremonies are recorded in the book, the first on Mount Ebal (8:30-35), and the second at Shechem in chapter 24. The Ark of the Covenant occupies an important place in chapter 3.

Purity of worship, Israel’s separate identity in Canaan--especially religiously, pervades the Book of Joshua. That is the essence of holiness in the Old Testament. The Hebrew word qados (holy) has at its base the idea of separateness from the mundane, the everyday, from evil, and set apart for the sacred. Chapter 5 records several ceremonies emphasizing the importance of ritual purity. Chapter 22 records a debate about whether a second alter built by the Transjordan tribes would compromise the purity of the already existing alter of the Lord. In Joshua, dedication to the Lord had the effect of separating the individual out from the ordinary and the profane.

As His children, it should be clear that He loves us with holy jealousy. He wants our devotion. Relationship with Him should result in holiness, that is, we should stand out from the culture in ways that honor Him. Our values and goals should reflect our devotion to Him. In Joshua, it becomes clear that God is a Father who rewards loyal devotion and disciplines disobedience. Our peace is complete because of the righteousness of Christ. In our relationship with Him, we grow in obedience and trust. In this process, we enter more fully into his rest. The national covenant with Isreal may trace the history of nations once devoted to Him, who then choose other gods above Him.

God is the Promise Keeper. It is impossible for Him to leave or forsake his own. He is incredibly patient in perfecting us, and just as consistent in his discipline as part of that process. Our part is to love Him with everything we have, and to grow in love with one another. Please consider this encouragement to add these glimpes of the divine nature to your road map for the road home.

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Different Kind of GPS for the Road Home


We don’t have a GPS (Global Positioning System)in either of our cars, but when we were in Nashville, the Cab driver asked me to punch in our destination on his. The voice in it sounded really confident. I asked the cab driver what happens when you miss your turn. Apparently, sometimes it says… “Recalculating” before it gives you the next instructions. These little devices are constantly assessing where you are and if you are headed in the right direction.

While I am not a big believer in resolutions, per se, the New Year seems to be a good time for so many to make changes in their lives. A time to reassess and recalculate. A fresh start. So let’s look at some GPS’s as practical tools to get on track and stay there.


Remember the old saying, “If you aim at nothing you will hit it every time”? Very true. Goals should be personal. They should be realistic and specific. Most importantly, set goals that matter and reflect God’s heart.

1 Kings 8:61 “Let your heart therefore be wholly devoted to the LORD our God…” (NASV)

• What are some goals that are in line with Scripture?

Examples: personal godliness, loving God, loving others, growing in integrity, defending the truth, sharing my faith, good stewardship. . .

• How will I know if I am on track? What evidence will I see? What will be different? If someone were watching it on a DVD, what would they see?

Even the best of goals need a plan.


This is where the rubber meets the road. A goal is the destination. Plans are the map to get you there. Great hitters in baseball don’t just happen. You will find them at the cage taking 3…4…even 5 hundred swings a day. Be specific in your plans, and then stick to them.

“The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage…” Proverbs 21:5 (NASV)

• What are some plans to help you toward these goals? How do you get there from here?

Examples: Time in the Word, Prayer, Fellowship, Accountability, One-anothering, Relationships. . .

Even the greatest plans will fail however, without a strategy.


Strategy is defined as a detailed and systematic plan of action. It’s what I do to execute my plans,to reach my goals. Most successful strategies are written down and placed where you can see them every day.

There are over 80 commands in the Bible for prophets and apostles to write things down. Some of these are for our benefit, but many are to make things official and permanent. For example, after the Lord spoke to Habakkuk, He then confirmed His word by directing Habakkuk to “Record the vision and inscribe it on tablets.” Habakkuk 2:2 (NASV) Seven times in Revelation John is instructed to write down specific instructions to the 7 churches. Deuteronomy 6:9 Moses admonishes the people to “Write (these commands) on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”

Writing things down gives them power. Strategies in written form will help to keep you on track.

Strategies would answer such questions as:
• What needs to be done? (break it down)
• Who will do it?
• When will I put the plan into action? Consider: Why not now? What if I wait for the perfect time?
• What could sabotage the plan? Examples:Laziness, legalism, personal effort, other commitments, lack of true motivation.
• How can I prevent being sabotaged, or sabotaging myself?

We need to approach our goals,plans and strategies with humility.

Proverbs 19:21 “Many are the plans of a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

Proverbs 21:30 “There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against against the Lord.”

James 4:13-17 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on a business and make money.” Wy you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we wil live and do this or that. As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.

In this last sentence, James seems to be making sure that our “Deo Volente” (Lord Willing) does not become an excuse for doing nothing! What is called for is action with humility. We are mist, but even a mist, empowered by the Spirit, is a mighty thing. It is precisely when we know our own inability to do anything in our own strength that the power of the Spirit can be shown. Amen?

So consider this simple tool, GPS…Goals, Plans and Strategies…commit it all to the Lord, and hold on for an exciting ride!

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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Dear Reader, Ways You Can Help

Your readership means the world to me. As previously posted, without readers a blog is just a journal open to the (uninterested) public.

There are a few easy ways to help out. One is to "follow" by clicking on the "follow" button at the top or side of the blog. It will walk you through an easy process in a couple of minutes. This may help in the publishing process one day.

Another way is to "share" this on facebook, twitter, or any social media.Just click one of these options under the "share" button, top or side of the blog, or beneath the post you want to share. This is a great way to get the word out, as you have friends and contacts that I do not. Your personal recommendation makes it much more likely that people will check it out. This can be done for individual post (beneath each post) or the blog as a whole (side or top of the blog). You can do this as often as you choose.

Another easy way is to click on the VOTE button in the right column. This is a blog writer award system that gets the blog additional attention. You can do this as often as you choose.

These are small things that take a minute of your time, but can really help grow the readership of this blog.

Thanks for taking a moment to read this.