Saturday, February 21, 2015

On being AWOL

Unpacking is taking me longer than expected (see here) but I hope to get back to blogging in the not too distant future.

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Saturday, February 14, 2015

Devotional Thought : Joshua 12:1, 7

These are the kings of the land whom the Israelites had defeated and whose territory they took over east of the Jordan... Here is a list of the kings of the land that Joshua and the Israelites conquered on the west side of the Jordan. Joshua 12:1,7

These two verses tell us that Joshua removed all the major military threats to Israel's occupation of the land. Joshua achieved the task God called him to do securing the nation's future. However there was more to do.

Each tribe was now responsible for their own area and it was up to them to fully possess the land allotted to them. Unfortunately they were not as successful in this task as Joshua had been in his. The tribes became apathetic in their calling and often allowed the Canaanite and other nations to remain. These other nations believed in many different gods and did not feel the need to worship one god exclusivity. This attitude rubbed off onto the Israelites who also began worshipping other gods while still worshipping Yahweh. Syncretism crept in.

Likewise, Jesus through his death and resurrection, conquered our major threat, Satan. Now it is up to us to enforce God's victory in our lives. However we are often like the Israelites and allow wrong attitudes to remain in our lives. Wrong attitudes grow if we're not convinced the Bible is true, if we're not sure God really loves us, if we don't believe God has ultimate sway in the world. When this is the case it is easy to accept other beliefs and incorporate them into our Christian world view.

The solution is to choose God as our highest priority. We won't fall into syncretism when we believe he is an all good, Sovereign God, who loves us deeply.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Blog Tour : The Land Uncharted

I'm running a little late with this month's blog tour which is for the fiction book: The Land Uncharted by Keely Brooke Keith. This book is part of a blog tour organized by Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance


2 - 6 February 2015


is introducing


Edenbrooke Press

October 2014

by

Keely Brooke Keith


About the Book:
Lydia Colburn is a young physician dedicated to serving her village in the Land, a landmass in the South Atlantic Ocean undetectable to the outside world. When injured fighter pilot Connor Bradshaw’s parachute carries him from the war engulfing the 2025 world to her hidden land, his presence threatens her plans, her family, and the survival of her preindustrial society.

As Connor searches for a way to return to his squadron, his fascination with life in the Land makes him protective of Lydia and her peaceful homeland, and Lydia’s attraction to Connor stirs desires she never anticipated. Written like a historical, set like a scifi, and filled with romance, The Land Uncharted weaves adventure and love in this suspenseful story of a hidden land.


About the Author:
Keely Brooke Keith, author of the Uncharted series, is a bass guitarist and frequently performs and tours with her husband, singer/songwriter John Martin Keith. When she isn’t writing stories or playing bass, Keely enjoys dancing, having coffee with friends, and sifting through vintage books at antique stores. Keely resides on a hilltop south of Nashville with her husband and their daughter, Rachel.

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Saturday, February 07, 2015

Devotional Thought : Joshua 11:19-20

Except for the Hivites living in Gibeon, not one city made a treaty of peace with the Israelites, who took them all in battle. For it was the Lord himself who hardened their hearts to wage war against Israel, so that he might destroy them totally, exterminating them without mercy, as the Lord had commanded Moses. Joshua 11:19-20

Some read these verses and wonder why God would harden their hearts and exterminate them without mercy. However this verse needs to be understood in context.

God did make provision for the Israelites to offer these cities a treaty of peace (Deuteronomy 20:10-11) but only the Gibeonites did. No other city attempted to save their citizens' lives.

Furthermore these people had seen clear evidence of God working on behalf of the Israelites. In the previous chapter, God sent hail (v.11) and stopped the sun (v.12). Baal was considered the weather god so God was telling them that he was more powerful than their gods. Yet they did not repent. Rahab had less evidence when she made the decision to trust the God of the Israelites (2:9-11).

God has set in motion a process whereby if people continually refuse to repent over a period of time their hearts became hard and unable to repent. So because these people did not take the opportunity God gave them, their hearts became hard.

In relating the story from a Jewish perspective the writer has no qualms about blaming God for their hardness of heart because after all, God created this process. Nevertheless from my Western perspective I would say that God allowed their hearts to become hard because of the choices they made.

Today a person's heart can still becomes hard if they do not repent. We need to be wise in the choices we make.

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Tuesday, February 03, 2015

What would Jesus do if he came to your church?

In Luke 4:16 we read, “He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom.” It seems Jesus went along with the procedures and practices of the synagogue. There is no indication that he tried to change the pattern of what they did. He did not suggest they change the format of their service. He did not suggest they change the seating configuration which was to sit around three sides of the building. Unlike Western buildings where the chairs are in the middle facing the front. He stood to read (v.16) and sat to teach (v.20) as was the custom. However he did confront them over their inclusive attitude. In fact, his sermon about God helping Gentiles made them furious (v.28). Jesus wasn't trying to change these people’s outward procedures but rather their hearts. Once their attitude was right everything else would fall into place.

There are times when we become disillusioned with our church structures and procedures yet it is concerning at these times that our reaction is to simply to desire a reorganization of the structures. While this may be necessary, it is more important at these times to focus on God, his purposes, and his plans. There are times when God allows us to become disillusioned with people and organizations in order that we recommit to him. Changing the structure of a church service, changing the leadership, even doing away with the organization altogether, and starting afresh may only change the problems, not solve them, since it does not change hearts. Until Christ changes us from the inside out, until we are less self-centered and more other-centered, any changes we make will only be self-serving.

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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Devotional Thought : Joshua 9:14-15

The Israelites sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the Lord. Joshua made a treaty of peace with them to let them live. Joshua 9:14-15

The Israelites entered into a covenant with the Gibeonites without seeking the Lord. The Gibeonites deceived Joshua and the Israelite leaders into believing they had come from a distant country to seek peace with them when in reality they lived nearby. Surprisingly the Gibeonites expressed some faith in Israel's God. They feared for their lives and felt servitude with the Israelites was better than death (v.24-25).

This created quite a problem for Joshua because he had given his oath before the Lord. Yet God had also commanded the Israelites to wipe out all the inhabitants of the land he was giving them. Nevertheless, though it was obtained by deception, Joshua and his leaders honoured their oath and didn't attack the Gibeonites. They let them live amongst them as woodcutters and water carriers.

Constable in his commentary on Joshua compares this story with a Christian who falls in love with a non-Christian. Without seeking the Lord they get married. As time passes the differences in priorities becomes obvious. The Christian may want to justify leaving the marriage by rationalizing they should not have married in the first place. What are they to do?

In this instant Constable suggests making the best of the situation, since breaking the marriage covenant would be contrary to God's will. God doesn't normally rescue us from the consequences of the bad choices we make. However he will enable us to live with those consequences.

This story illustrates the importance of seeking the Lord when making significant life choices. God knows the hearts and minds of the people involved in our decisions. While we may be mislead, he never is.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Cut back not cut off

I was listening to a speaker compare the Noahic covenant with the Abrahamic covenant. In Noah's case the sign of the covenant that God gave was a rainbow (Genesis 19:3) whereas with Abraham the sign of the covenant was circumcision (Genesis 17:11). Circumcision means to cut away the flesh.

We always want God to give us rainbows but sometimes he cuts away our sinful nature (Colossians 2:11) and it hurts. Even Jesus said, "My Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful" (John 15:1-2).

It may feel like God has cut us off but the truth is he has cut us back to be more fruitful in his kingdom.

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