The great sequence

At the command of the Lord the people of Israel set out, and at the command of the Lord they camped. As long as the cloud rested over the tabernacle, they remained in camp. Even when the cloud continued over the tabernacle many days, the people of Israel kept the charge of the Lord and did not set out. Sometimes the cloud was a few days over the tabernacle, and according to the command of the Lord they remained in camp; then according to the command of the Lord they set out. And sometimes the cloud remained from evening until morning. And when the cloud lifted in the morning, they set out, or if it continued for a day and a night, when the cloud lifted they set out. Whether it was two days, or a month, or a longer time, that the cloud continued over the tabernacle, abiding there, the people of Israel remained in camp and did not set out, but when it lifted they set out. At the command of the Lord they camped, and at the command of the Lord they set out. They kept the charge of the Lord, at the command of the Lord by Moses. Numbers 9:18-23

In our culture today, the epitome of success is the driven person who is the “go-getter” who dreams big dreams and sets out to climb every mountain to make them real. We are taught from a young age that we can do anything we put our minds to.

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

“We need a plan for work and we need to work the plan.”

“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve.”

Whole industries of motivation and coaching are built around telling us that we are the powerful, self-motivated centers of the universe. It is aspirational, captivating and sells lots of books and self-help programs, but there is (at least) one problem with this teaching:

It. Isn’t. True. Continue reading “The great sequence”

Living in Meribah

“For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness, when your fathers put me to the test and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.” Psalm 95:7-9

So often, the Psalms are a real source of comfort and peace to weary travelers. We love to read them when we are discouraged or confused. Often, when we can’t find the words to express our frustration or anger, the Psalms stand as testaments to the durability of prayer and our easy access to a caring and engaged Heavenly Father. But sometimes, as in the 95th above, the Psalms can stand as a warning: a barricade to steer us away from the sharp and dangerous edge of a steep mountain.

What happened at Meribah?

Continue reading “Living in Meribah”

Lessons in the silent meadow

“And if you say, ‘What shall we eat in the seventh year, if we may not sow or gather in our crop?’ I will command my blessing on you in the sixth year, so that it will produce a crop sufficient for three years. When you sow in the eighth year, you will be eating some of the old crop; you shall eat the old until the ninth year, when its crop arrives.” Leviticus 25:20-22

Early in the days of Israel’s birth as a nation, God set out a system of government for them that was ordered around one, central theme: “Follow me, and I will provide for you.”

Though the text above is ancient, it is not unusual for God to call us today to tasks of obedience that test our rational minds and ask for more faith than sight. How do we react to this?
Continue reading “Lessons in the silent meadow”

Thanksgiving recipe

“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.” Habakkuk 3:17-19

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in my house, as it is in most others across the land. I love this holiday as we celebrate our nation’s earliest days. I love to think about the brave and grateful pilgrims. I love the Thanksgiving memories of my youth, where my brothers and family would sometimes play football in the snow after eating like kings at noon. I love the family and friends with whom we can share the hours. I love this frosty time of year, with the brightening sun on the spectacularly colored leaves.

In all these things, I am so grateful.

And I love the food. Oh! The food! (See where this is going?) Continue reading “Thanksgiving recipe”

36,000 feet and climbing

 “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.” John 5:30

This statement is powerful because of what it says, but amazing to me because of who said it. It was spoken by Jesus, the Son of God. He can do nothing on His own? Really? Him? Nothing at all?

If this is true, and He is perfect in His omnipotence, what does that mean for me, an imperfect man, mortally vulnerable and finite? What is the teaching here? This lesson started for me several years ago on a trip to the East Coast. Continue reading “36,000 feet and climbing”

Double blind in Shiloh

“At that time Abijah the son of Jeroboam fell sick. And Jeroboam said to his wife, ‘Arise, and disguise yourself, that it not be known that you are the wife of Jeroboam, and go to Shiloh. Behold, Ahijah the prophet is there . . . He will tell you what shall happen to the child.’ Jeroboam’s wife did so. She arose and went to Shiloh and came to the house of Ahijah. Now Ahijah could not see, for his eyes were dim because of his age.” 1 Kings 14:1-4

We live in a culture where truth is becoming vague.  More and more people are finding it less and less problematic to be false when it is inconvenient to be honest. Can we trust anyone? How do people of integrity navigate in the thickening mist of intentional deception? Continue reading “Double blind in Shiloh”

Heavy choices

“But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:30-33

When you think about how God provides for you, is it your experience that He is generous and delighted to give to you or do you see Him as stingy and reluctant with His care?  How does that perspective affect your idea of how He loves you? Continue reading “Heavy choices”

Matters of life and death (Part one)

 “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” John 1:4

Every moment of every day, we are propelled by a silent urging.

Persistent in our minds is the unspoken, prime directive around which we orient our awareness. It is the a priori of our existence, the point of our central orientation, our singular focus.  Continue reading “Matters of life and death (Part one)”

We are seen

“And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” Luke 7:13-14

This is such a cool story. I love the way it is told. But there is something missing….

Jesus is approaching the village of Nain, and a funeral procession is coming out of the city. He sees the dead man’s mom weeping, and he has compassion on her….asks her not to cry. Everybody stops. Jesus touches the bier, and brings her son back to life.

What’s missing?  Continue reading “We are seen”