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October 2009

40 Years vs. 11 Days...You Choose

3517268826_1abbfcfbc7_b As I was reading the Bible this morning my mind and heart were arrested by a line in Deuteronomy 1:2-3.  In this passage Moses was getting ready to address the Israelites as they were about to enter into the Promised Land.  Here are the introductory comments in the first chapter of Deuteronomy. 

"Normally it takes only eleven days to travel from Mount Sinai to Kadesh-barnea, going by way of Mount Seir.  But forty years after the Israelites left Egypt, on the first day of the eleventh month, Moses addressed the people of Israel..." (NLT)

Wow.  The Israelites spent 40 years on a journey that should have lasted 11 days. That is a tragedy.  It wasn't the distance of the journey that delayed their arrival, but rather it was the path that they chose to take. 

Along with my reading of Deuteronomy 1 this morning I read Psalm 78.  It is a review of the history of the Jewish nation.  Psalm 78 reflects upon and remembers the story of the Israelites from the time of their deliverance from slavery in Egypt to their hopeful days in the midst of King David's reign.  In Psalm 78 I read that God brought them out of Egypt, led them through the Red Sea, guided them by cloud and by fire, and gave them water to drink and food to eat (which is essentially saying that God gave them life), and yet...they kept on sinning. They complained; they did not trust God. They rebelled against God and they did not remember Him, His ways, nor His presence in their lives.

They spent 40 years on a journey that should have lasted 11 days because of grumbling, selfishness, a lack of trust in God, rebellion, a failure to remember and reflect upon the ways of God in their lives, . . . and sin.

Wow, they spent 40 years on a journey that should have lasted 11 days.

Sin, grumbling, a self-centered attitude, worry (which is a lack of trust in God), rebellion and ingratitude, will lead you down a road that you don't want to travel.  It is a way that will strip you of hope and leave you with regret.  It is a path that will rob you of precious yearseven entire seasonsof your life.

I don't want to wander for 40 years and waste the precious days of my life.  I suspect that Moses and the Israelites didn't want to be on the 40-year plan either.  But it has been said that,

"Sin will take you further than you want to go.  It will keep you longer than you want to stay, and it will cost you more than you want to pay."

They spent 40 years on a journey that should have lasted 11 days!

Most of the folks that started out on the 11-day journey were dead and gone 40 years later.  They never made it.

Please note that not everyone missed out on the Promised Land.  Joshua made it.  May we all heed his words:

"...Choose today whom you will serve, for me and my family we will serve the LORD." Joshua 24:15 (NLT)

Taxi Thoughts...

DSCF9617 I had just spent a fantastic three day vacation, with my family and some friends, on a beach on the Southern tip of the South Korean peninsula.

I was in a taxi with my daughter Becca and her friends, on the way from the hotel in Busan to the train station.  We were beginning the journey home.  In the back seat the kids were all bemoaning the fact that they had to go back to school and do lots of schoolwork, projects etc.  This made me think about my own responsibilities that I had to face upon returning from vacation.  As I listened to the kids and to my own thoughts of anxiety and dread regarding the "real life" responsibilities that I had to return to, I realized that the good time that I had just had was beginning to recede in my mind.

I don't think this is right.  Real life and worries should not be allowed to consume our minds so that we forget the blessings of God in our lives.

There is always a real life to return to after a time of goodness, joy and blessing in our lives.  God does not want us to allow these pressures to overshadow his presence in our lives.  I want to remember the blessings, continue to smile at the memories of Busan and savor the time that I had together with my family and my friends in that place.  I can't allow the pressures of real life to cloud my thinking and blind me from the goodness that God has bestowed into my life.

As I think about it--most people in the world will never have a time like I just spent in Busan with my family and friends.  Along with that, most people in the world will never have the opportunity to feel the pressure and responsibility of the challenges that I am facing in life.  I have a challenging yet fulfilling job; I am working on a graduate degree and have some deadlines looming; I have many relationships and friendships to maintain and invest in...all of this is weighty...but oh such a privilege. 

I pray that God will help me to see things this way.  I now understand a bit better Jesus' comment that "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven."

God help me to live a life of gratitude and to keep my mind and heart fixed on you.

God Knows...

DSCF9535 I am currently sitting in a Starbucks in Busan, South Korea overlooking the East Sea (or the Sea of Japan as the Japanese like to refer to it).  It is a beautiful site, an amazing view...nearly breath taking.  But this is not what holds my attention right now.

My mind is captured by something I just read in Psalm 77:19.

"Your road led through the sea, your pathway through the mighty waters--a pathway no one knew was there!"

As I sit here and look out at the East Sea and read this scripture my mind goes to the context of this psalm.  The children of Israel were following God's direction away from the Egyptian army and suddenly they were stopped by a seemingly IMPOSSIBLE obstacle--the Red Sea.

They were in what most would consider to be a hopeless situation.  There was no conceivable means of escape or salvation for the fleeing Israelites.  From their perspective they ran into a dead-end along the pathway of God.

The rest of the story is nothing less than amazing.  God parted the Red Sea, delivered the Israelites and destroyed the enemy. 

God made a way where there seemed to be no way.

What kind of impossible situation are you up against?  We need look no further than the daily newspaper to be filled with hopelessness.  God is not bound by our perceived realities.  God led the children of Israel down a pathway that no one knew was there--no one except God. 

Are you up against a seemingly impossible situation?

Be encouraged.  God knows...and he knows the way out.

Sharing the Wealth

I am one of those people that likes to share a good find with others.  It must be the teacher in me.  I feel like I send way too many emails to friends with just a link and a subject line that says, "look at this."  At the same time I feel like I don't share enough of the good things that I come across in my educational experiences and in my feed reader roamings of the internet.

So here is my answer: I am going to share the wealth of my wanderings via my blog.  Every once in awhile I will be "Sharing the Wealth" by posting links and comments about things that I have learned from, have found interesting and/or have enjoyed on the internet.  Please click on the links and enjoy.

Here goes:

This post made me homesick for Montana and it inspired me.

Intention vs. Decision:  After watching this brief interview, Andy Stanley has my attention.

Change some names, apply it to your context and this post by the Tall Monastic Guy touches a nerve.  It almost sounds like something Jesus would say.

I like to listen to audio books while I walk/run and workout.  Here is a link for a free book (every month)... 'nuff said.

I wish I disliked criticizing others as much as I dislike criticism.  Mark Batterson offers some solid counsel here.

Psalm 121:2-5 (NIV)

My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip--

he who watches over you will not slumber;

indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you...