Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Deuteronomy’

futurepicThere are many roads we take in life and it’s best to understand from the beginning, those roads cannot be traversed again in reverse. They are one-way streets. Thus saith the Lord.

” . . . because the Lord told you: “You will never go back by that road again.” [Deuteronomy 17:16b]

I hadn’t really thought about this before but it’s meaning jumped from the page. We may think, like the old adage that were are going “two steps back and one step forward” or we might assume, that one could “backslide” and fall into old bad habits or old friends or old situations. But the truth is that time marches only forward in our human world. And no experience can be repeated in the same way because we are already older because of it.

My adopted Russian daughter often bemoans her inability to return to her native land to see the city of her grandmother and the places where she played as a child. But those places are long gone already, trees that embraced climbing children have been cut down and woods replaced with roads and bridges. That world is gone. Nor will her St. Petersburg ghetto look the same, even if the buildings are still there, she would not be able to see them with the same eyes of childhood.

I, too, experienced this throwback when I traveled to Indianapolis last week for a conference. I walked the old streets, once known for danger and poverty, now filled with brightly colored “painted ladies” and signs announcing the charms of living on the “Near Northside.”

lines_hold_the_memories_by_agnes_cecile-d38y67i

Lines Hold the Memories by Agnes Cecile.

All we have is memories and they are capricious at best, unreliable and re-framed by the world that came afterwards. We color our memories because we have to or because we don’t really remember. We forget on purpose then or we pick through the images most vividly repeatedly in the time capsule we assign to reruns.

Like Robert Frost, we pick our roads as best we can, based on what we know in the moment, on that day. We pick and we walk and sometimes we look back, maybe even run back to try another, but the intersection is no longer the same, the circumstances that added up to that choice have changed.

There is no point either, crying over what has been lost, for we’ll never know exactly what that “would” have been or “could” have been. We only have today, or now, and tomorrow.

Evil sometimes tries to re-write the past to serve its purposes for the moment; that being done by both evil regimes, governments or dictatorships as well as personal evil presence and people. Those false memories have only as much power as we choose to give them.

And so it is, for this reason, that I am grateful for a faith rooted in the God of “new creation” [2 Corinthians 5:17], of redemption and forgiveness. The Christ, who brings hope and renewal. Yesterday cannot be relived but the influence and even catastrophic scars can be absorbed and although the past is not rewritten, it’s power can be mitigated and softened. We don’t need the details of back then. We need trust in what will be and can be.

We are given the gift of possibility through the redeeming work of Christ Jesus. This I believe.

Read Full Post »

 servingThe devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.”  [Luke 4:5-8]

This is a disturbing passage; not because Jesus resists the enemy but the devil’s claim that the earth belongs to him. In essence, until the great coming of the Christ, there was little opposition to the presence of evil. The prophets would warn and encourage the following of God’s laws as a bulwark against the arrows of Satan and his demonic forces. But, this was a losing proposition. The longer evil ruled, the more difficult the light was to find and follow.

And so, God sends the Son to become the ultimate sacrifice for everyone. Grace instead of the law is offered to the people. The presence and indwelling of the Holy Spirit is the new way to fight the good fight against evil.

But still evil is not defeated. The Hitlers (Germany), Mugabes (Zimbabwe), Gadhafis (Libya), Husseins (Iraq), Castros (Cuba), Jong-ils (North Korea), and Stalins (Russia) poured out much bloodshed; the terrorists continue to frighten and murder; people die of hunger [25,000 a day] and disease such as AIDS [1 every 20 seconds] all over the world. Where is hope for victory? Where is the new Ruler of this Earth? How much longer will the earth groan [Romans 8:22]?

I can choose to keep my head in the sand and pretend that my extravagant living makes no difference in the world (one of the techniques expounded in C. S. Lewis’s wonderful book, The Screwtape Letters, or I can stop. I can open the door of my heart to the pain around me and touch it with the truth of the Spirit in me. Do I believe that God within, Christ died and risen, changes every day life or not?

Joshua asked, “choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve . . . ” [Joshua 24:15] but really, this is the question I am asked every day.

Perhaps I can’t transform the whole world, but I can metamorphose my use of time and impact my circle of friends, colleagues, and family by being a vessel for Spirit. I can pray with intent and not just lists of names. I can show up. I can be present. I can be open. I can choose life.

This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.”
[Deuteronomy 30:19-20]

Read Full Post »

poor with usSo the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror and with signs and wonders.He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey;and now I bring the first fruits of the soil that you, Lord, have given me.” [Deuteronomy 26:8-10a]

I am no different from my kids when it comes to appreciating what God has done for me.

It makes me so furious when I feel I have given and given and given so much to my children and they barely seem to appreciate it. Instead, they seem to have developed an attitude of expectation as though they deserve more and more. I’ve created a monster that rears its ugly head almost daily asking, “What have you done for me lately?” (like in the last hour).

But am I any different? Just like the Israelites really, who were miraculously whooshed out of Egypt after a series of plagues and deaths that bypassed them and only affected the Egyptians; after escaping through the parting waters of the Red Sea; after manna from heaven and water from a dead rock . . . still it was not enough to sustain their belief. They could not even wait for Moses to come down from the mountain before they created their own golden God who would give them license to do whatever they wanted to do.

When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. [Deuteronomy 8:10-14]

I have become equally complacent with the blessings of God. I have lost sight that I live in a land where anything is possible, where water comes out of faucets (both hot and cold), where food is purchased with the swipe of a plastic card, where heat comes out of slats in the floor, where travel is in a car, where clothing is bought and given away in the same year, where illness is an inconvenience and going to work every day is often tedious and renders a justified “mental health day.”

Spoiled believer. I am. Spoiled by the blessings. Giving thanks at a meal is a ritual with little authentic appreciation of the cost to others.

Forgive me Father for my callous and blind day to day living without earnest thanksgiving. All you ask is that I give back some of it for the sake of others, an offering of “first fruits” from the harvest, a tithe from my income, an acknowledgment of your provision. I give but I am cavalier. I donate but not the best part.

Forgive me Father. Keep me mindful this day. And the next day. And the next. Order my day, show me the way.

 

Read Full Post »

From Holy Card Heaven online Collection

The Israelites were set to enter the promised land when Moses gave one last sermon (since he was not going with them) in which he warned them of the slow falling away that would probably happen. And yet, he also promised a God way to stop the downward spiral.

Deuteronomy 4:29
But if from there [Canaan] you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.

So many times, I have not recognized my own descent into old habits and ways.

How often have I successfully achieved my weight loss goal and then, slowly crept right back up again to the old weight or worse, a higher weight. I lose my tenaciousness after the goal is met. I stop paying attention. I listen to the wrong inner voice that gives me permission, “just this once” or “a little won’t hurt.”

But this same thing happens spiritually. When I experience those divine highs, it is often easy to lose sight of the way that got me there.

God is not the one who is far away. I am the one who turned aside. I lose my focus and become engaged in something along the side of the road. And soon, I am heading down a side path, picking up crumbs along the way, curious where it will lead even, but ultimately I end up in some brambles and the trail that looked so clear at first, is indiscernible.

At that point, what to do? I look up and see I am in uncharted woods. How do I seek God at that point “with all my heart?” What does that look like? When I am in chaos or depressed or caught up in a situation or relationship that is overwhelming, what is next?

That is the moment in which I must choose how to give up. But which kind? Will I give up to the moment and keep doing what I’ve been doing? Will I say, “what’s the point of trying anymore?” Will I eat the next ten pounds in resignation? Will I stay in an abusive situation? Or is there a different way to give up?

Seeking God with the whole heart and soul is a type of submission, a giving in, a giving up to a higher authority. It’s confessing my inability to fix, solve, or extricate myself from the moment.

This is the most dangerous juncture. This is the prayer point that can change everything — or not.

Each time I reach this point, the fear is almost overwhelming. If I really give this up to God, what will my life be like? Will I be the same person? What if I have to become a missionary and go to Africa or Uzbekistan or something like that? Will I have to sell everything and live with the poor in India? If I give God my heart and soul, will I turn into some right-wing Bible-thumping narrow-minded extremist?

Goofy, right? I’m just saying, that’s how my mind careens when I’m faced with true change. But, of course, it’s not like that at all. When I do pray in this letting go way, when I confess my weaknesses and my self-destructive choices, when I hand my “out-of-control” to God, slowly and methodically, the downward slide stops. Breath. And a new way is illuminated, sometimes dimly, sometimes in bright neon. But God’s promise is a faithful one.

Seeking God with my whole heart and soul is a prayer of confession and discovery. Like the prodigal son [Luke 15:11-31], my eyes are opened, and I am able to start the walk home, one foot after another. I become the small child who is learning how to walk, each step I take toward the arms of grace is a victory. And the angels rejoice.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: