Crossing the Jordan – Reflections on Joshua

After our investigation of Rahab’s faith in the one she called “the Lord of all the earth,” we see that God at work in Joshua chapters 3-4.

For years prior to this moment, the Israelites had been carrying in their midst the “Ark of the Covenant.” This “Ark” was essentially a box, which represented God’s presence and carried some special items from their spiritual history. God and the Ark was present with them in the desert as they wandered for those 40 years.

Now as Joshua and the nation of Israel are poised to go into the Promised Land, they will follow God into it. (Incidentally, whether in the Old Testament or New Testament, we are always instructed that our lives are about following God.)

See, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth will go into the Jordan ahead of you. (Joshua 3:11 NIV)

The ark is on the shoulders of a delegation of spiritual leaders and when they step into the river the amazing happens: 20 miles up river, the water stands up, and the riverbed empties as the water rushes by to the Dead Sea. Then the people of Israel walk over this wide swath of dry ground where moments ago a river ran 10 feet deep!

God was first in, and He went into the place of the most danger. As pictured by the Ark, He’s first, He’s in the middle, and He’s the last out. He leads and has us covered…always!

As the Ark remained in the middle after all the people had crossed, Joshua was instructed to have a representative from each tribe grab a stone from the riverbed to make a memorial. These 12 stones were piled together to make sure that the people remembered what God had done. As people, we need to have reminders and often we really need to remember a “place” where God broke into our lives.

What are the stories in your life where God invaded your life?
How have you set up a memorial so you can remember His work? Tell the stories of God’s work — again and again and again!

“When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, ‘What are these stones?’ then you shall inform your children, saying, ‘Israel crossed this Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord YOUR God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed, just as the Lord your God had done to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed; that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, so that you may fear the Lord your God forever.” (Joshua 4:21-24 emphasis mine)

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These thoughts were spawned through the message on Joshua 3-4 that Phil Helfer gave at Los Altos Grace Brethren Church on Sunday Jan. 27, 2013.

 

Rahab and Real Faith

Joshua was perched on the edge of entering the promised land and he sent 2 spies ahead into Jericho. They actually end up in a brothel, at Rahab the prostitute’s house.

Somebody ratted out the spies and the King of Jericho sends his sends some troops to capture these spies. Rahab helped misdirect the troops and the spies escape back to Israel.

Rahab knows about the reputation of Israel and the NAME of YAHWEH. She trusts in the powerful God of Israel–the God of Heaven and Earth–and in His name asks the spies to spare her life. She trusted in the God of these men and therefore trusted them (See it for yourself in Joshua 2:8+).

When the spies return and give the news that the people of Jericho are shaking in their boot, the Israelites are filled with courageous and confidence. Not how they were 40 years earlier!!

We know the story of the conquering of Jericho, but we focused on the reality that Rahab and her family are the first Gentiles brought into the nation of Israel!  The Scriptures remember her faith fondly.

By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.

Also in the book of James, amongst a discussion about real faith, it states:

In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction?
James 2:25

Real faith is evidenced by real actions!! Rahab, an outsider, believed in our God…and she put feet to her faith!.

Beyond that, our great and welcoming God moved this woman from the fringe into a quite prestigious place in the nation of Israel. She became the great, great, great grandmother of King David and part of the line of the Messiah!

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These thoughts were spawned through the message on Joshua 2 that Phil Helfer gave at Los Altos Grace Brethren Church on Sunday Jan 20, 2013

Tears…from one who has spilt his share

Tears

Just over a year ago my Aunt Sylvia Hill Jentes went home to be with Jesus.  I remember it being right around MLK Jr. Day, and so I wrote my Uncle Don a short email to let him know I was thinking and praying for him.

My Uncle has served as a Pastor, but for the last three decades has served as a Christian Hospital Chaplain. He daily walks through the brevity of life and the difficulty of our physical ailments and limitations. He brings the Biblical truth and the presence of Jesus as he listens and prays with hurting patients and their families.

Tonight I received this email from him in response to mine:

Thanks Mike for reminder.   Yes there are a lot of reminders of a year ago. God has given me the strength to keep going and keep ministering at hospital.
 
This is a poem which I got at Norman Wright workshop.  

“Tears”
Tears are often a gift of God.
Tears help to relieve the tension that has built up inside you.
Tears say how deeply you feel and how much you care.
Tears speak for you when you cannot find words.
You never have to be ashamed of honest tears.
God sees through your tears to the pain and sorrow of your heart.
Your tears are precious to Him.
And some day, when earthly is past, God will wipe away all tears from your eyes.
All suffering and pain and sorrow will forever be done away.

Don

Early Let Us Do Thy Will

A friend of mine, Pastor Steve Williams, was installed as Senior Pastor at Grace Community Church in Seal Beach, CA on January 13, 2013. Throughout the service, we heard readings from the Scripture, affirmations from the church leaders and more.  We even sang a few songs. It was a very meaningful time!

Congrats to Pastor Steve Williams and @GraceCommunityChurch #SealBeach

A photo posted by Mike Jentes (@mikejentes) on

While we were singing a good old hymn, “Savior Like a Shepherd Lead Us,” I had an intense realization.  Below are the lyrics, so I invite you to read them and reflect [and hum along in your brain 😉 ].
Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us

Text: Attr. to Dorothy A. Thrupp, 1779-1847
Music: William B. Bradbury, 1816-1868

1. Savior, like a shepherd lead us,
much we need thy tender care;
in thy pleasant pastures feed us,
for our use thy folds prepare.
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus!
Thou hast bought us, thine we are.
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus!
Thou hast bought us, thine we are.

2. We are thine, thou dost befriend us,
be the guardian of our way;
keep thy flock, from sin defend us,
seek us when we go astray.
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus!
Hear, O hear us when we pray.
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus!
Hear, O hear us when we pray.

3. Thou hast promised to receive us,
poor and sinful though we be;
thou hast mercy to relieve us,
grace to cleanse and power to free.
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus!
We will early turn to thee.
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus!
We will early turn to thee.

4. Early let us seek thy favor,
early let us do thy will;
blessed Lord and only Savior,
with thy love our bosoms fill.
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus!
Thou hast loved us, love us still.
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus!
Thou hast loved us, love us still.

That last verse just crashed into me:  Early let us seek thy favor,
early let us do thy will…

Early…

This is so abnormal for me. I’m a last second kinda guy. Unfortunately I wait until the last minute to seek God. I try my way first, then I’ll try God’s way.

Maybe because the song writer knew Jesus intimately and had great confidence in how the Good Shepherd had cared for her, she could write EARLY.

Dear Jesus, 

May I not be late, but early to seek Your favor, and early to do Your will. Blessed Jesus, You have loved us, love us still.

 

A Leadership Lesson from Charlotte’s Web by Kurt Miller

Charlottes Web

Great post from one of my favorite people on the planet.

In his book Xealots, Dave Gibbons reflects on the nature of true success as a leader:

Charlotte’s Web is a wonderful little children’s story by author E. B. White about a spider named Charlotte who lives in a barn just above the stall of a pig named Wilbur. Wilbur is worried that once he grows fat enough, the farmer is going to turn him into bacon. It’s a valid concern.

Charlotte and Wilbur develop a close friendship, and as Wilbur grows larger, Charlotte uses all of her resources to try to rescue Wilbur. She writes messages in her web to convince the farm’s owners that Wilbur is a pig worth saving. The story builds to the final chapter titled “The Moment of Triumph.”

So what was Charlotte’s moment of triumph?

As the story….  >> Read the rest here 

http://kurtamiller.wordpress.com/2012/09/22/a-lesson-from-charlottes-web/

 

Build Your Kingdom Here

BuildYourKingdomHere

My friend and co-laborer for Jesus shared this little ditty in his recent newsletter that was worth sharing:

 

Build Your Kingdom Here

Join me in this prayer for our nation from the lyrics of Rend Collective Experiment:

 

“Build Your Kingdom here

Let the darkness fear

Show Your mighty hand

Heal our streets and land

Set Your Church on fire

Win this nation back

Change the atmosphere

Build Your Kingdom here

We pray”

~Rend Collective Experiment~

 

Don’t give up on America. She is beautiful. The Church in her borders loves her. Let us rise up and proclaim blessings over our land regardless of economy, politics, and the sin that pervades our culture. We are culture changers because Jesus Christ dwells in us!

 

Joy,

Joseph Cartwright

Awakening Church Ministries

Original Email Posted Online Here

I wasn’t familar with Rend Collective Experiment, but I actually found their video for the song quoted above…

Helpful 20 Points of Scripture Twisting – A Synopsis of James Sire’s Book

Scripture Twisting

Came across this helpful synopsis of the 20 common ways that the Bible passages are misunderstood, misinterpreted, and misapplied. Thanks to ApologeticsIndex.org

 

Scripture Twisting In debating and discussions with non-Christians such as Mormons or atheist, I have found many areas of twisting of the Scriptures. In the book “Scripture Twisting,” James Sire has a chapter devoted to each of the methods, and I have seen them ALL used from time to time.

1. INACCURATE QUOTATION: A biblical text is referred to but is either not quoted in the way the text appears in any standard translation or is wrongly attributed. Example: The Maharishi Mahesh Yogi says, “Christ said, ‘Be still and know that I am God.'” Whereas this text is found ONLY in Psalms.

2. TWISTED TRANSLATION: The biblical text is retranslated, not in accordance with sound Greek scholarship, to fit a preconceived teaching of a cult. Example: the Jehovah’s Witnesses translate John 1:1 as “In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the word was a god.”

3. BIBLICAL HOOK: A text of Scripture is quoted primarily as a device to grasp the attention of readers or listeners and then followed by a teaching which is so nonbiblical that it would appear far more dubious to most people had it not been preceded by a reference to Scripture. Example: Mormon missionaries quote James 1:5 which promises God’s wisdom to those who ask him and, then, follow this by explaining that when Joseph Smith did this he was given a revelation from which he concluded that God the Father has a body.

4. IGNORING THE IMMEDIATE CONTEXT: A text of Scripture is quoted but removed from the surrounding verses which form the immediate framework for its meaning. Example: Alan Watts quotes the first half of John 5:39 (“You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life”), claiming that Jesus was challenging His listeners’ over emphasis of the Old Testament, but the remainder of the immediate context reads, “and it is they that bear witness to me; yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life” (verses 39-40), which shows that Jesus was upholding the value of the Old Testament as a testimony to Himself.

5. COLLAPSING CONTEXTS: Two or more verses which have little or nothing to do with each other are put together as if one were a commentary of the other(s). Example: The Mormons associate Jeremiah 1:5 with John 1:2,14 and thus imply that both verses talk about the premortal existence of all human beings; Jeremiah 1:5, however, speaks of God’s foreknowledge of Jeremiah (Not his premortal existence) and JOhn 1:2 refers to the pre-existence of God the Son and not to human beings in general.

6. OVERSPECIFICATION: A more detailed or specific conclusion than is legitimate is drawn from a biblical text. Example: The Mormon missionary manual quotes the parable of the virgins from Matthew 25:1-13 to document the concept that “mortality is a probationary period during which we prepare to meet God.” But the parable of the virgins could, and most probably does, mean something far less specific, for example, that human beings should be prepared at any time to meet God or to witness the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

7. WORD PLAY: A word or phrase from a biblical translation is examined and interpreted as if the revelation had been given in that language. Example: mary Bake Eddy says the name Adam consist of two syllables, A DAM, which means an obstruction, in which case, Adam signifies “the obstacle which the serpent, sin, would impose between man and his Creator.”

8. THE FIGURATIVE FALLACY: Either (1) mistaking literal language for figurative language or (2)mistaking figurative language for literal language. Example of (1): Mary Baker Eddy interprets EVENING as “mistiness of mortal thought; weariness of mortal mind; obscured views; peace and rest.” Example of (2): The Mormon theologian james Talmage interprets the prophesy that “thou shalt be brought down and speak out of the ground” to mean that God’s Word would come to people from the Book of Mormon which was taken out of the ground at the hill of Cumorah.

9. SPECULATIVE READINGS OF PREDICTIVE PROPHESY: A predictive prophesy is too readily explained by the occurance of specific events, despite the fact that equally committed biblical scholars consider the interpretation highly dubious. Example: The stick of Judah and the Stick of Joseph in Ezekiel 37:15- 23 are interpreted by the Mormons to mean the Bible and the Book of Mormon.

10. SAYING BUT NOT CITING: A writer says that the Bible says such and such but does not cite the specific text (which often indicates that there may be no such text at all). Example: A common phrase “God helps those who help themselves” is not found in the Bible.

11. SELECTIVE CITING: To substantiate a given argument, only a limited number of text is quoted: the total teaching of Scripture on that subject would lead to a conclusion different from that of the writer. Example: The Jehovah’s Witnesses critique the traditional Christian notion of the Trinity without considering the full text which scholars use to substantiate the concept.

12. INADEQUATE EVIDENCE: A hasty generalization is drawn from too little evidence. Example: The Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that blood transfusion is nonbiblical, but the biblical data that they cite fails either to speak directly to the issue or to adequately substantiate their teaching.

13. CONFUSED DEFINITION: A biblical term is misunderstood in such a way that an essential biblical doctrine is distorted or rejected. Example: one of Edgar Cayce’s followers confuses the eastern doctrine of reincarnation with the biblical doctrine of being born again.

14. IGNORING ALTERNATIVE EXPLANATIONS: A specific interpretation given to a biblical text or set of text which could well be, and often have been, interpreted in quite a different fashion, but these alternatives are not considered. Example: Erich von Daniken asks why in Genesis 1:26 God speaks in the plural (“us”), suggesting that this is an oblique reference to God’s being one of many astronauts and failing to consider alternative explanations that either God was speaking as “Heaven’s king accompanied by His heavenly host” or that the plural prefigures the doctrine of the Trinity expressed more explicitly in the New Testament.

15. THE OBVIOUS FALLACY: Words like OBVIOUSLY, UNDOUBTEDLY, CERTAINLY, ALL REASONABLE PEOPLE HOLD THAT and so forth are substituted for logical reasons. Example: Erich von daniken says, “Undoubtedly the Ark [of the Covenent] was electrically charged!”

16. VIRTUE BY ASSOCIATION: Either (1) a cult writer a ssociates his or her teaching with those of figures accepted as authoritative by traditional Christians; (2) cult writings are likened to the Bible; or (3) cult literature imitates the form of the Bible writing such that it sounds like the Bible. Example of (1): Rick Chapman list 21 gurus, including Jesus Christ, St. Francis and St. Theresa, that “you can’t go wrong with.” Example of (2): Juan Mascaro in his introduction to the Upanishads cites the New Testament, the Gospels, Ecclesiastes and the Psalms, from which he quotes passages supposedly paralleling the Upanishads. Example of (3): The Mormon DOCTRINE AND COVENANTS interweaves phrases from the Gospel of John and maintains a superficial similarity to the Gospel such that it seems to be like the Bible.

17. ESOTERIC INTERPRETATION: Under the assumption that the Bible contains hidden, esoteric, meaning which is open only to those who are initiated into its secrets, the interpreter declares the significance of biblical passages without giving much, if any, explanation for his or her interpretation. Example: Mary Baker Eddy gives the meaning of the first phrase in the Lord’s Prayer, “Our Father which art in heaven,” as “Our Father-Mother God, all harmonious.”

18. SUPPLEMENTING BIBLICAL AUTHORITY: New revelation from post biblical prophets either replaces or is added to the Bible as authority. Example: The Mormons supplement the Bible with the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price.

19. REJECTING BIBLICAL AUTHORITY: Either the Bible as a whole or texts from the Bible are examined and rejected because they do not square with other authorities – such as reason or revelation = do not appear to agree with them. Example:Archie Matson holds that the Bible contains contradictions and that Jesus himself rejected the authority of the Old Testament when he contrasted His own views with it on the Sermon on the Mount.

20. WORLD-VIEW CONFUSION: Scriptural statements, stories, commands or symbols which have a particular meaning or set of meanings when taken within the intellectual and broadly cultural framework of the Bible itself are lifted out of that context, placed within the frame of reference of another system and thus given a meaning that markedly differs from their intended meaning. Example: The Maharishi Mahesh Yogi interprets “Be still, and know that I am God” as meaning that each person should meditate and come to the realization that he is essentially Godhood itself.

NOTE:

This material comes from the appendix of James Sire’s Scripture Twisting Methods of the Cults, and summarizes his in-depth treatment of each of these points. This book should be part of every Christian’s library

 

Thanks so much ApologeticsIndex.org for this synopsis! Originally Posted here >> Apologetics research resources on religious cults and sects – Scripture Twisting Methods of the Cults.

A New Year’s Prayer from Tom Julien

TomJulien-smileI enjoyed a delightful New Year’s eve with two of my very favorite people, my grandchildren! Between a delicious cheese raclette dinner, a quick game of Monopoly, and watching the ball drop, we had some interesting conversations.

One thing we talked about was beginning each day of the New Year with the prayer of Psalm 143:8-10:

“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord, for I hide myself in you. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.”

Tom Julien  (Posted on his Facebook page on 1/1/2013)

 

What a great idea! Thanks Tom for always exhorting us to pray!

 

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