The Enemy of our Faith

CovenantPresbyterianChurchPCAWe were so happy to be back in our home church for a month this past January. Our Pastor, Tom, is an extraordinary teacher of God’s Word. You know you’ve heard a good sermon when you continue to talk about it for weeks; and, we are still keeping it at the forefront of our thoughts!

Tom started the new year with a series from the book of Joshua. This is one of my favorite Old Testament books. Call me crazy but I just love the life lessons I’ve learned from it (mainly how Moses was Joshua’s mentor and how obedient Joshua was to God. Some people think it proves our God is not all loving. Click here to read how the slaughter of the Canaanites was righteous by God). Our Pastor took this book to a new level for me in the four sermons we heard. All spoke to us in just the areas we needed, but one really has stuck with us: the fourth one in his series titled, “The Enemy of Faith: Joshua 4-5.” (Click here and look for it by this title if you would like to hear the original sermon in it’s entirety.)

Briefly, I am going to cheat a little and rather than repeat the context of these chapters and to not quote the some of the harder scriptures, I found this resource where I am going to take a few excerpts (italicized in blue). Joshua starts out where Deuteronomy ends: After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, ‘Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. (Joshua 1:1-2 ESV). Joshua was one of only two men from the older generation of Israelites still alive forty years after Israel’s departure from Egypt (Num 14:29-30; Deut 1:34-38). During those forty years he had gained much valuable experience as Moses’ assistant. I won’t belabor and go over all of Joshua’s accomplishments up to this time. But suffice it to say, hard as it was, he was obedient to God’s commands.

Let’s take the portion of scripture in which the focus of the sermon. This is what impacted us and then the three statements to etch the sermon further into our minds:

The people came up out of the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and they encamped at Gilgal on the east border of Jericho. And those twelve stones, which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal. And he said to the people of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.” Joshua 4:19-24 ESV

The one thing that sticks out to me as I re-read the Bible yearly (made that commitment in 2004) is how forgetful the Israelites are! And every time I read how they grumbled and complained and accused God of hating them, I say to myself, how could they forget what’s He’s done for them? How don’t they know how much He loves them? And then I remember, “Oh, I do the same thing…..” So maybe that is why this sermon is so important for me.

1. The Remembrance of God’s Goodness (read Joshua 4:1-24):  The Bible always takes us back to where we need to go to see the continuity of the message from the Lord.  Deuteronomy 8:2  –  “And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not.”  AND Deuteronomy 8:11 “Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today….”

Do you remember the day, week or even month when you finally realized the Lord our God was real? And that He loved you?  And that He sent His son as a living sacrifice for your sins?  And that you are forgiven?  And that you will spend ETERNITY with Him?

I’m so blessed as I have several such encounters with Him. First was when I was nine in church, during a sermon. I realized then I was a sinner, that Jesus died for me and I wanted HIM as my Lord and Savior. I told my parents and they took me to meet with the Pastor. When I look back at that visit in his office, I see myself like this:

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Seriously! I felt like I had to convince him I knew who Jesus was and what He did for me. And the pastor? He tried to dissuade me from making this commitment at this young of an age. We were in a Military chapel outside of Tokyo, Japan when this happened. He accepted my decision and I was “sprinkled” in baptism. Then my dad was transferred to Langley Air Force Base when I was 12. And one of the first things my parents did was join a church and get me fully immersed. But I missed a message during both of these events to hear I should begin reading my Bible daily in order to get to know God and form a relationship with my Lord and Savior! Or to regularly attend Sunday School so I could learn more about Him and His ways. But God had His hand on me and I went forward when I was 21 and was really “born again” this time! And then I met my husband in the ministry where I went forward (Christ is the Answer) and I thought I finally got it. But no, eventually, my husband and I fell away from church, the Word and a close personal relationship with the Lord. Our marriage ended in divorce. BUT we have a happy ending! God is every so faithful and HE restored our marriage. We blogged about it here. So I guess I can fully identify with the Israelites. Each time the Lord spoke clearly to me, I accepted it and then went on with life as if it didn’t happen until we remarried. And I’m still growing but now you may see why I have committed to reading the Bible DAILY and being in church every Sunday (with a few exceptions). I can’t hear enough of God’s Word to keep me closer to Him.

2. The Assurance of God’s Promise (read Joshua 5:1-9): God urged Joshua to lead Israel forward to occupy the Promised Land. This land was a free gift from God. All the Israelites had to do was go forward in faith to claim the promise.
In verses 5-9, God gave Joshua further instructions in how to carry out his assigned mission. These instructions are arranged in a chiastic structure that emphasizes some main points and shows how those points are related:
(a) At the beginning and end of the passage, (Chapter 5) in verses 5 and 9, is the promise that God will always be with Joshua and the Israelites. It is God’s continued presence that provides the necessary setting for Joshua’s mission. Without God’s presence, Joshua would not be able to succeed.
(b) In the protective environment of God’s presence, Joshua could be “strong and courageous”, as is mentioned in the second and next-to-last parts of the chiasm (verses 6 and 9).
(c) Strength and courage would be needed for Joshua and the people to implement the Torah, the commandments God had given through Moses. By obeying the Torah, the Israelites could enjoy the full measure of blessing that God intended for them. This is brought out in the third and third-to-last parts of the chiasm, in verse 7 and the end of verse 8.
(d) The beginning of verse 8 is the admonition that occupies the central position in the passage: “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night ….” To carry out God’s commandments, the Israelites would need to study them, commit them to memory, and internalize them.

And then to take us to the New Testament where the Apostle Paul gives us this reminder:

1 Corinthians 10:1-5 “For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

3. The Continuance of God’s Provision, (read Joshua 5:10-12): This tells us the Israelites celebrated the Passover and the next day “they ate some of the produce of the land: unleavened bread and roasted grain. The manna stopped the day after they ate this food from the land; there was no longer any manna for the Israelites, but that year they ate the produce of Canaan.”  I loved how our Pastor said that our God is not a “razzle dazzle” God – or others have said, He is not a genie in a bottle. But that He does provide us with our regular provisions such as a paycheck for the work we do or even better, for the family we are given. And we are to delight in the ordinary where our needs are provided. But more importantly, we are to always remember His mighty acts (such as our own testimony) and the greatest of all, was His sacrifice on the cross. That is the promise we have for eternal life!

So how did this impact us? We had one of our best hikes, in my opinion, in part because of the great conversation we had for the nearly four hours in the woods. And that was to not only relive this sermon, but to remember all the great things the Lord has done in our lives. We see how easy it is to forget. We fall back into our grumbling and complaining lives….but hopefully, after this, we pray we don’t forget and that we keep our faith as fresh as it was when we first believed!

A happy medium….

Brookgreen GardensFollowers may have noticed, I have mainly been “re-blogging” on this site. I’ve really wanted to stop trying to maintain two blogs, but each really stands on it’s own. Or does it?

I’ve tried to shut this one down in the past and was encouraged to keep it going. It doesn’t take much to encourage me!

So what has been happening to keep me from blogging? I’m sort of keeping my family and friends updated on our Travel Blog and somewhat giving a glimpse of our lives in our FaceBook Travel Adventure Page. But this blog is where I want to be free to share what is happening through my eyes and in my voice. Although if you ask my husband, he will tell you I write the other blog (but I do it from how WE see life) and update our FaceBook page….but I do try to do it in a way that would be “our” voice.

So what is going on today?  I’m struggling. And today, I asked myself, “How do I find a happy ‘medium’ in life?” Is that the right word? I had to look it up and there are SO many ways that word can be used in the English language. So here is the definition I am setting on:

Something, such as an intermediate course of action, that occupies a position or represents a condition midway between extremes.

And that is where I am! My extremes? Being a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend. How do I balance these roles I have in life?

First, I have to look at God’s Word, as with anything. And with that, I look at why I placed my role as wife first:

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined (cleave) to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).

And then what about being a daughter, which roles over into being a mother:

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (Ephesians 6:1).

“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12).

So as I looked around for further help, I found this wonderful site that perhaps has my answer! So while this is not my definitive answer, it is suiting me for now:

With these three aspects of Genesis 2:24 in mind, there are also the scriptural admonitions to honor one’s parents. This includes treating them with a respectful attitude (Proverbs 30:11,17), obeying them when their commands are in keeping with God’s laws (“in the Lord” Ephesians 6:1), and taking care of them as they get older (Mark 7:10-12; 1 Timothy 5:4-8).

The line between these two commands is drawn where one is being asked to comply with one principle in such a way that it will violate the other principle or command. When the meddling of a parent violates the “leaving” because it is treating the parent-child relationship as primary (demanding obedience, dependence, or emotional oneness over the desires of, dependence upon, or oneness with the spouse), it should be respectfully rejected and the spouse’s desires honored. However, when there are genuine needs of an aging parent (either physical or emotional, assuming the emotional “need” does not supersede the “leaving” principle), that need is to be met, even if one’s spouse does not “like” the parent-in-law. Biblical love toward the aging parent is given based on choosing to do the loving thing, even when one does not feel like doing it.

My next post will look at balancing life. I’ll never forget asking my wise nephew at his graduation from a Christian College, “What is the greatest thing you have learned these past years from this college?” His reply, “Balance.”

How do you balance your life?

My new year…..

Eat This Book

This year marks the 12th year since I began reading the Bible on a daily basis, going from Genesis to Revelation. I completely wore out one Bible and was working on my second one when I discovered reading the Bible on-line. I now love the flexibility of the reading plans and Bible versions, so I am hooked. But I still like to carry my regular Bible (book) with me to church on Sundays.

And why read the Bible, let alone daily? For me, it is all about a personal relationship with Jesus, a way to commune with God, to know my Creator, Lord of Lords, King of Kings, my Savior! How can we fellowship with the Lord if we don’t get to know Him? And that I why I read the Bible daily. And my ultimate aim, my hope is to become more like Jesus: forgiving, compassionate, kind, considerate, gentle, hopeful, full of grace – love – JOY – and mercy! As I age, I am seeing it is getting a little easier, but I have such a long way to go!

This past year, when I started reading the New Testament, I felt like I was finally eating dessert! I do love the Old Testament, especially the Psalms and Proverbs, but mainly for the stories of Creation, Noah, Abraham, Joshua, the history of Israel, Deborah, King David, King Solomon, and the book of Ecclesiastes.  Ok, maybe a few more stories (Jonah, Job, Lott, Daniel, Elijah, Elisha, Ruth, oops, guess I could go on and on)! But staying with it daily started to feel like I was eating at a buffet that is a bit warmed over and the food needs to be refreshed. Well, that has been how  started to feel this last year, so I decided it was time to change reading plans. Or maybe I felt this way because of some of life’s circumstances….That’ll be another post!

I have really enjoyed reading the Bible in Chronological order, but I have now done it three years in a row. I wondered if I would ever get tired of it. And I guess in a way, I finally have. So I looked over the different plans in my YouVersion Bible App. And one just jumped out at me, called, Eat This Book. Well, the title was not so inviting (if you know me, you know I am not a foodie), but I liked the description:

Following aspects of the traditional Jewish order in the Old Testament, this Eat This Book reading plan offers a sustainable reading pace, allowing you to experience first the Old Testament and then the New Testament in one year. Each day, you’ll explore an average of four chapters, and you’ll close your time in prayer by reading a Psalm.

I am now on day 4 and am loving it! And guess what, Genesis feels like an appetizer, preparing me for a fabulous feast! And now I understand how they named this reading plan, Eat This Book!

Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.’ John  6:35

Please let me know about your Bible reading habits!

Hiking to success!

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Hiking near Lenoir, NC

Goals are important and that’s how I’ve succeeded in real life. But I never had a goal in my blogging. Enter Day 1, Blogging 201 assignment, which is building on Day 1, Blogging 101.

Hiking gives me clarity. It draws me closer to my creator! It satisfies my need to breathe. I tend to be an extrovert (according to a Professor who administered The MBTI, Myers & Briggs Personality Test, I’m an expressive introvert) but I need quiet time to recharge. Hiking recharges me. And it’s so good for my health!

Adversity creates success. I’ve had my share and it was always my springboard to achieve. I was losing my ability to walk. And look at me now! My one blog is floundering, so a goal is to see it soar!

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Hiking near Lenoir, NC

I’m easily inspired and I want to be an inspiration. Some of my best ideas come from others. But I always believe the Lord is in on it. Enter my friend from July’s Blogging 101. His creative posts always get me going!

I read my Bible first thing every morning. I’ve done this for over 10 years. It used to inspire my writing, but now I’m in a desert. Just like I need a cup of Jo every day to get me going, I need my “dose” of the Lord. I can’t live without it….but has it gone stale?

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I need to focus. I blog for clarity in my life. I’m getting older and more forgetful. I don’t want to forget the precious moments occurring daily in my life. Blogging helps.

I need social interaction. My husband is an extreme introvert (not with family.) But I don’t like small talk and that’s what I find in so many of our social interactions. For example, since we travel full time, we drive our home to new places relatively frequently. When we are setting up, I’m usually inside and Bill is outside. You’d never know he’s an introvert because he chats it up with our new neighbors. Not me, I have to find a way to connect. The blogosphere makes it painless to socialize!

I want feedback! I can’t grow without challenges. How great our August Blogging 101 decided to go on in its own “Alumni Commons” to continue to grow! It’s helping keep us all on target!

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Now that I’ve rattled on, so here are my simplified Blogging 201 goals:

1) Increase the comments to my blog, seek more feedback. At least obtain three comments on each blog from here on out.

2) At least post three times a week. And that includes a post or two on our full-time travel blog, TheTumbleLees.me.

3) Link every post to the Bible or a spiritual truth.

From my Bible reading yesterday:

“I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. “For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.” Daniel 6:26-27 NIV

I, too have been rescued. Maybe not in such a dramatic fashion, but I know I am as grateful as Daniel was for his life to be spared!

Who am I and why am I blogging in response to Blogging 101

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Full of HOPE!

I can’t really explain how I ended up where I am today, but it is nothing short of a miracle. I was once very lost, I grew up in a tumultuous household, I had to pay my way through college, and somehow I did it.

But then, I made some really bad choices in life….but yet, I am now retired after an amazing career, I’m a grandmother, have been married 40 years and am so blessed to have a great relationship with my only child, a daughter and her husband. And now she has blessed us with two adorable grandsons who are the light of my life!

The reason I want to blog publicly is to hopefully help someone else who is struggling in life. I pray I can show someone else there is hope. Life can sometimes seem so hopeless, so messed up, but there is always hope.  And there is always a way to regain what was once lost. My life is proof of it!

There have been some very influential people placed in my life that helped me get through the tough times. I can only hope I could help someone else….

My new tagline is now LIFE, for Love Inspiration Freedom Encouragement. I never had a chance to do this at the time of the “assignment” but it finally came to me after jotted down characteristics I want to be known for….

My hope:

Praise to God for a Living Hope

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade–kept in heaven for you,
who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  1 Peter 1:3-6