Sunday, October 15, 2017

the book of joshua - remain



This is Day 15 of a series of posts for the month of October. I’m joining Kate Motaung over at Five Minute Friday for the annual Write 31 Days challenge.  I will write about themes found in the book of Joshua each day, with a different word prompt. 

Today's prompt word is: REMAIN



It’s far too easy to read quickly past a phrase in Joshua 7:12, “I will not be with you anymore.”

Achan had sinned. He broke the covenant God made with his people by taking some of the devoting things for himself. This break int he covenant affected all of Israel, not just Achan. And that’s why they lost at the first battle of Ai. The Lord didn’t remain.

I can’t help but wonder if God being the one who fought for Israel during this time wasn’t intended for a developing of trust and dependance. This is not something that comes naturally for us. We depend on ourselves first. Then maybe those in our circle. But God is rarely our first go-to. So maybe their victories, that could only happen because God was doing the fighting, were intended to bring about a true dependance on the only One who was be depended on.

Because nothing should strike more fear int he hearts of God’s people than knowing he has left them.

I can’t help but wonder what it must feel like to God when we leave him.

God doesn’t leave us now. Under the new covenant, Jesus ushered in a new age where the Holy Spirit is left with us as a comforter, the veil was torn in the temple, and we have full access to God. All the time. I never worry he’s gone. I know he remains.

But I rarely remain.

While fear may have struck the heart of the men when they realized God wasn’t with them, I also am sure grief was, too. Joshua tore his clothes in grief when he discovered several of his friends had died in the defeat at Ai. 

God’s holy anger burned. And his blessing left them.

Grief must fill God’s heart when we don’t abide in him. Choosing instead to leave, we chase after the idols of our heart, just life Achan chased after his. We always have the option of remaining in God’s love thanks to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. God remains., no matter what idols I chase. He is the steadfast one, faithfully remaining to show me his love.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

the book of joshua - try


This is Day 13 of a series of posts for the month of October. I’m joining Kate Motaung over at Five Minute Friday for the annual Write 31 Days challenge.  I will write about themes found in the book of Joshua each day, with a different word prompt.

Today's prompt word is: TRY





I know sometimes I read the stories of the Old Testament and feel like God’s people didn’t even try.

Maybe it’s because we hear so many stories of how they screwed up and God kept chasing after they holiness. It never seemed to end... he kept on chasing them because they stopped... trying? I don't know. They stopped something.

We’re never like that, right? Post Exodus, Israel had 4 generations worth of bad habits to undo. I’m not talking about remember to floss. This was about what god to worship. They were still God’s people during their time in Babylon. Yet they didn’t act like, choosing instead to worship a multitude of pagan gods part of Egypt’s culture.

So I guess I should try and give them a little slack. They must have been trying. But wandering the desert for 40 years couldn’t have been easy. Only knowing (and maybe not even fully trusting) the end game must have been hard. I like to know what’s going to happen between point A and point B. God’s people didn’t know what it was going to look like to get to point B, the Promised Land. Day by day, they took orders and did what God commanded 9most of the time). I would complain, too. I would be worried, too. I might even take some stuff I wasn’t supposed to in order to feel more secure about that stuff in between.


Sometimes the trying may be half-hearted. It almost always feels like that for me.

Friday, October 13, 2017

the book of joshua - invite


This is Day 12 of a series of posts for the month of October. I’m joining Kate Motaung over at Five Minute Friday for the annual Write 31 Days challenge.  I will write about themes found in the book of Joshua each day, with a different word prompt.



Today’s word prompt is INVITE.

So when I decided to write on the book of Joshua for the Write 31 Days challenge with Five Minute Friday, there were four unknown prompt words. Each Thursday night, for years, Five Minute Friday has revealed a word to inspire our writing. But for the Write 31 Days challenge, we were given all the words. Expect the (4) Five Minute Friday prompts words.

I say this because today is a prompt word I didn’t know about, and I couldn’t think of anything about the word “Invite” that has to do with the book of Joshua. Because there is nothing about this book that involving inviting. There’s a lot of plundering, a lot of commanding, a lot of conquering, a lot of war. God doesn’t “invite” his children to take over the Promised Land. He commands them. Joshua doesn’t invite his people to roll the large stones against the mouth of the cave where the kings were hiding. He commanded them to. The cities did not invite God’s people in, the fought against them.

So here I write... trying to figure out, with a prompt word that is the opposite of everything this book is about ...what to say.

But maybe that’s the point.

While I think there are many inviting things about the gospel, obedience doesn’t always look like one, especially to someone who hasn’t experienced the heart transforming work of Christ in their lives. These commands God gives can feel rigid and unsettling. Controlling and demanding. Unfair and… well, a buzzkill.

But God was not just commanding the people in Joshua. Nor is he just commanding us. He is also inviting us into a better story. A story he’s written, yes, but one that will ultimately lead to blessing and not defeat. This invitation is not about us and the story that we want. It’s about the best story. The right story.

The true gospel is an invitation to freedom and not a prison full of demands. Our God does ask for obedience, but ultimately that obedience leads to a promised land.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

the book of joshua - write



This is Day 11 of a series of posts for the month of October. I’m joining Kate Motaung over at Five Minute Friday for the annual Write 31 Days challenge.  I will write about themes found in the book of Joshua each day, with a different word prompt.

Today’s word prompt is WRITE.



It took me years to understand the history of Israel, our history. I still am missing a lot, but the more I read and study, the more the string of history, holding together the lives of God's people, makes sense to me.

The time and place of God's people in the book of Joshua is what I would label as "penultimate." For generations, they heard about how God would give them a Promised Land, a lang flowing with milk and honey,  He promised to make them a great nation, and that a great King would come from their lineage. 

Here's the thing that would have driven me CRAZY if I were one of God's people back then: that I didn't know what the fulfillment of all those promises would look like. Especially once generations and generations were born and no land was given over, a nation was enslaved, and no great King was coming. (They had to wait a reeeeeeally long time for that one.)

At the same time, as I grow older, I've learned to appreciate that someone else is writing my story.

I knew, once I decided to enter the ministry, that I would have a limited amount of control over where God would send me. The choices were still mine, but ultimately God would clear the path I was intended to take. I can remember agonizing over the future as 20-year old college girl, desperate for God to give me a neon sign telling me which major to chose and then which job offer to take once I graduated.

And I still wrestle with this sometimes. But I also know that as long as I am not living a sinful and rebellious life - that the choices i make are honoring to Him - that I am ultimately not out of God's will. For He is planning all this stuff in the background to prepare the way He would have me go.

I want no one else writing my story. Not even me.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

the book of Joshua - remember


This is Day 10 of a series of posts for the month of October. I’m joining Kate Motaung over at Five Minute Friday for the annual Write 31 Days challenge.  I will write about themes found in the book of Joshua each day, with a different word prompt.

Today’s word prompt is REMEMBER.




The parting of the Red Sea in Exodus gets all the glory as far as seas parting in the Old Testament go, so it’s not as well known that another one happened at the Jordan River in the book of Joshua.

God dried of the land in both cases, not just merely parting the waters and making his people sludge through the mud. As if parting the waters so his people could cross wasn’t impressive enough. The ark needed to make it with them and God was, in his covenant faithfulness, providing yet another way for his people to flourish by getting them into the Promised Land. The priests’ feet were lifted up on dry ground and once they crossed the waters returned as if nothing had happened.

After they all finished crossing, God commanded Joshua to have one man from each tribe take a stone from the river, right where the priests stood firmly, and take them where they set up camp for the night.

God wanted the children of these people to have a sign, revealing the great work God had done from them in this place. He wanted them to remember. “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 5:24

One of the biggest hurdles to overcome each time I am feeling full of doubt and uncertainty is to remember. 

REMEMBER who God is and what he has done for me.
REMEMBER who he created me to be, and his call upon my life.
REMEMBER that my identity lies solely in his work and not my own or another’s.
REMEMBER that He is always faithful and He is Sovereign.
REMEMBER that he loves me. No matter what.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

the book of Joshua - listen



This is Day 9 of a series of posts for the month of October. I’m joining Kate Motaung over at Five Minute Friday for the annual Write 31 Days challenge.  I will write about themes found in the book of Joshua each day, with a different word prompt.

Today’s word prompt is  LISTEN.



A lot of commands fly about in the book of Joshua. Things that seems normal “go and spy and find out what we’re up against”. Things that seem crazy, “March for seven days and you’ll win. I promise.”

There was much to be done. They were taking over the Promised Land. Kings had to be defeated. Cities overtaken. God’s people were obeying (most of the time), listening to what he said and following through to be successful the physically take over the land.

But what about spiritually?

In chapter 5, they set aside time to circumcise the new generation. This can be a “huh?” moment in a book mostly about war. Was it wise to delay a whole section of men fighting for a period? This wasn’t something they could do in a day and be ready to fight the next.

In Old Testament time, circumcision for the Jewish people was a sign of their covenant relationship with God. Circumcision rarely occurred for people outside the Jewish faith. (The only recorded exceptions were the slaves of Jewish people.) This act of obedience was the sign of a new start – leaving the old ways from their time in slavery behind them.

And the commander of the Lord's army said to Joshua, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so. – Joshua 5:15

Nothing is recorded about God’s people training for war in a physical sense. There is no talk of sword fighting drills, running laps and push-ups (the jr. high girl inside me just started hyperventilating at the thought of doing wall sits for volleyball). Nothing at all to suggest Joshua put his people through rigorous training to prepare them for the fight ahead. But they did prepare God’s way.


We often forget that preparing for anything that God has called us to do is just as much about listening and it is about doing. In this moment, when the command of the Lord’s army appeared before him, Joshua knew. He knew that preparing for battle wouldn’t be about the proper way to plunder a city. It would be about listening o God’s direction and knowing he was with them.

Monday, October 09, 2017

the book of Joshua - plan


This is Day 8 of a series of posts for the month of October. I’m joining Kate Motaung over at Five Minute Friday for the annual Write 31 Days challenge.  I will write about themes found in the book of Joshua each day, with a different word prompt.

Today’s word prompt is PLAN.




They had a plan.

They went up to Ai to spy on the city, to see what their plan of attack should be. When they came back, they said to only send 2 or 3 thousand men, because there just weren’t that many of them to defeat. They expected a short battle with just a few men.

This was their plan. They planned for success.

But they didn’t know that God’s blessing had left them.

The sin of Achan, directly disobeying God by taking some of the things devoted for God’s treasury (6:18-19), had a collective consequence for the people of God. It wasn’t just Achan, the one who first disobeyed, that was punished.

Of the 3,000 went up to attack the city of Ai, 36 were killed. Considering the wars and battles and mass shootings we hear about today, that seems like a small number. But for God’s people, who had lost no one… who had the promise of God fighting for them… who obeyed God doing crazy things like blowing trumpets to bring down a six-foot-thick wall… 36 men dying was a big deal. Their defeat was a big deal.

It wasn’t part of their plan.

It’s no wonder Joshua tore his clothes off in mourning before the Lord. (Joshua 7:6) after this defeat. He knew it had nothing to do with the strength of the men in Ai that they lost. Because Joshua knew God was the one fighting for them. So he knew God was the one who brought about their defeat.

Planning is a never-ending tension in the life of a Christ follower. God is sovereign, and we must also do stuff. We must make choices, plan our days and weeks. Plan for emergencies by keeping a savings, make and keep doctor’s appointments to keep ourselves healthy. Our whole lives as Americans is about planning, really.

Yet we must hold these plans so loosely. In our hands and our hearts.

The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps. (Proverbs 16:9)

Holding our plans loosely is often what keep people away from God. They fear being out of control, being forced to do things, not knowing what is ahead.

But the promise we have is that the one who plans and directs our steps is the one who created us, loves us, and knows us intimately.

Following his plan is easier when we understand the depth of his love for us. He is always for us, which means no matter what his plan looks like, it is GOOD.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

the book of Joshua - truth


This is Day 7 of a series of posts for the month of October. I’m joining Kate Motaung over at Five Minute Friday for the annual Write 31 Days challenge.  I will write about themes found in the book of Joshua each day, with a different word prompt.

Today’s word prompt is TRUTH.


“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it.” – Joshua 1:8

This was one of the rare Old Testament verses I had to memorize as a kid (I grew up in an almost entirely New Testament -focused church.) It’s inadvertently lead me to believe, for most of my childhood and a good portion of my adult life, that the Bible’s purpose was the Law. To tell us what to do. While that is part of what the Bible is for, it’s primary purpose is to

 impart the truth of God’s character. For it’s out of this knowledge the Law is built.
The Law tells us a great dealt about who God is. It’s reminds us of his justice, his compassion, his power, his mercy, his holiness.

It also reminds us of our sinfulness.

The truth of the Gospel involves both good and bad news. At this point in the book of Joshua, God’s people have just been read the Law. After their years in slavery, they need rules and regulations to be disciplined back into what they were created for: to worship the one true God.

In an ever-changing world, I am thankful to have a solid foundational truth to hold on to. Scripture grounds me in a world that does everything to keep me aimlessly floating, unsure of who I am and what I am called to do. This is why God calls us to keep the Book of Law from departing from us. Because it’s truth is constantly a reminder of who God is and who he created us to be.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

the book of joshua - hold



This is Day 6 of a series of posts for the month of October. I’m joining Kate Motaung over at Five Minute Friday for the annual Write 31 Days challenge.  I will write about themes found in the book of Joshua each day, with a different word prompt.

Today’s word prompt is HOLD.



We’ve been spending a lot of time in Joshua, but today I want to take you back to set up the context for the book. After all, context is king when it comes to Scripture interpretation.

I want to talk about those 40 years before the book of Joshua. After being released from their bondage in Egypt. (Remember the plagues and the Rea Sea parting? That was God getting them out.) But here’s the thing: from where they were to where they were going (Canaan, the Promised Land) it was only about 400 miles.

And it took them 40 years.


“Why did Moses wander the desert for 40 years? Because even back then men wouldn’t ask for directions.” 

I mean obviously this was not a day’s drive or anything. They had to walk or ride their camels. There were mountains to get around, it was the desert. It wasn’t going to be an easy journey. But 40 years? This wasn’t because they couldn’t find Canaan. It’s because God held them back.

“And the Lord's anger was kindled against Israel, and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation that had done evil in the sight of the Lord was gone.” (Numbers 32:13)

God’s people were scared that going into Canaan involved fight people a lot bigger than them. “We are like grasshoppers next to them!” they cried. When learning it wasn’t be a cake walk to take over Canaan, they complained. They were sick of manna, and missed Babylon. What a testament this is to how we would rather be enslaved in sin than free in Christ, just because he tells us to do what’s best for us. We are a stupid people.

God knew his people weren’t ready. They had been so tainted by 400 years of living in a pagan land, they’d forgotten Who they belonged to, Who they were to worship, Who they were to follow. They want to follow their own sinful hearts.

So God held them back, and pursued them to holiness , to bring them back to where they belonged. With Him.

God holds us back for all kinds of reasons, but I can’t think of no better reason than to do so for our growth and sanctification. He knows when we are ready and when we aren’t. That’s why He holds us.

Friday, October 06, 2017

the book of joshua - story


This is Day 5 of a series of posts for the month of October. I’m joining Kate Motaung over at Five Minute Friday for the annual Write 31 Days challenge.  I will write about themes found in the book of Joshua each day, with a different word prompt.

Today’s word prompt is STORY.



There are a lot of stories in the book of Joshua that are fascinating to study and consider. But there is one more famous than all the rest.

I remember being in Sunday School as a kid, pretending to play a trumpet and marching around the room seven times. I remember the teacher telling me how cool it was that the walls of Jericho came down. I remember singing that child’s song , “Joshua fought the battle of Jericho, Jericho, Jericho // Joshua fought the battle of Jericho and the walls came a-tumbling down” I’m pretty sure our teacher had us collapse while singing the “a-tumbling down” part, too.

As a college student, I remember falling in love with Veggie Tales as I watched a bunch of french peas shoot purple slushies at God’s people while they marched around the wall. Pretty sure that’s not how it went down.)

As an adult, I’ve realized just how significant it is to read the Bible as one story. If you single out one of the stories in Scripture, like the Battle at Jericho, you can get a lot of wrong ideas of who God is. I’m pretty sure all I took away from that story as a child is that God likes to do cool things like make stone walls six feet thick comes down just by the marching and yelling. That is sooooooo not the point of the story.

The I find the point of the story in 6:27, “So the Lord was with Joshua…”

I can’t take what I learned as a child about Jericho into adulthood and have it matter much. Having a God that does cool things, even powerful things, is good to know. But it means so much more to also know that the Lord was with them. 

Why? As a covenant theologian, I believe God’s people include me. So this story tells me that He is with me, too.

This is my story. It’s the story of God’s people. He is with us always, never leaving or forsaking them.