Deuteronomy 28:1-14

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

Deuteronomy 28:1-14
“And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God. Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.

“The Lord will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before you. They shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways. The Lord will command the blessing on you in your barns and in all that you undertake. And he will bless you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. The Lord will establish you as a people holy to himself, as he has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the Lord your God and walk in his ways. 10 And all the peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they shall be afraid of you. 11 And the Lord will make you abound in prosperity, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your livestock and in the fruit of your ground, within the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give you. 12 The Lord will open to you his good treasury, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hands. And you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. 13 And the Lord will make you the head and not the tail, and you shall only go up and not down, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, being careful to do them, 14 and if you do not turn aside from any of the words that I command you today, to the right hand or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Sounds great, doesn’t it? Lots better than the curses!
You noticed the big “IF,” right?
How did these people do with the “if”?
How do you do with the “if”?

Here’s How I’m Going to Vote and Why

wrong
Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Evan McMullin

I, like you, have been thinking and praying a lot about this year’s election. Also, like you, I’m weary of the whole thing. But my weariness doesn’t relieve me of my sense of duty to vote in the wisest way I know how. By now, I’m sure there are very few “undecideds,” so this post is probably pointless, but I’m writing it in the unlikely event that you’re interested in what I’m thinking. I freely admit that I’m not the wisest person in the world. Heck, I’m not even the wisest person I know!

But, if you’re interested, here is where I’ve landed and why…

1. I simply cannot vote for Donald Trump. The thought of a Trump presidency truly frightens me.

a) When a “successful business man” can’t find it in himself to honor the contracts he signs, what makes us think he will honor our nation’s international relationships? Or, with us, for that matter?

b) Clinton is often accused of using her public service as a springboard to personal profit. Does anyone really think Trump won’t do the same thing? Actually, this is something he may actually do quite well! It’s his stock and trade.

c) People often say, “It’s about the Supreme Court.” I don’t buy it. I see absolutely no reason to think he will appoint anyone other than those who will help profit him in some way. Again, that’s his standard operating procedure.

d) He has used his entire campaign to divide, and enrage the people of the U.S. This practice will continue whether he wins or loses. His idea of bringing change is to throw a hand grenade into the issue. This is the exact opposite of what we need.

There is so much more.

There are people I know and love who have made their intention to vote for Trump very clear. These people will continue to be my friends well after November 8. They have been open about their reasons, but I seriously do not understand how anyone can think anything good for America will come from a Trump presidency. He is well suited for a despotic dictatorship, but not for a presidency. In fact, should he win the election, I fear that this is the exact direction he will try to move. Already, his words and actions indicate that he has no respect for the freedom of the press, or freedom of religion…if we open our ears to hear it.

However, if Trump does win the presidency, he will be my president. (That doesn’t mean I won’t criticize him if I feel it’s deserved.) However, if he does not win the presidency, I’m not convinced that he, or many of his supporters, will offer the same respect to their new president. Further, I fully expect Trump to do all he can to keep this divisive and unpatriotic flame burning. This, too, frightens me.

2. I truly don’t want to vote for Hillary Clinton.

a) She is an outspoken advocate for the right to kill our unborn children. She is not simply pro-choice, she seems to me to be radically pro-abortion at any time, for anyone, for any reason. This is abhorrent to me. There are too many other options available for parents who find themselves in crisis situations.

b) I honestly don’t know what to make of the whole email scandal. At the very least it seems to indicate a real lack of concern for national security and a sense that the “rules” don’t apply to her. At worst, it may be criminal, even though the FBI has decided that there is nothing to prosecute.

In a Trump presidency, I envision a term of office consumed with avenging perceived slights and insults, along with a litany of continuing scandalous revelations, to the point that any actual effectiveness, if there was ever going to be any, is impossible.

In a Clinton presidency, I envision a similar term burdened with continual investigations and allegations, absolute resistance, and even attacks, from anyone on the right, to the point that she will be so occupied with defending herself that any actual effectiveness is impossible.

I’m thankful that there is another choice.

I believe this is a crucial election, but not for the same reasons you generally hear. I believe it’s crucial because this next term is a lost cause. Neither major party candidate is worthy of the office, nor will either one accomplish anything positive. It’s crucial, because now is the time to lay the foundation for a new conservative movement.

That’s why I’m voting for Evan McMullin.

He’s on the ballot in a great number of states and is registered as a write-in candidate in several others. He’ll be a write-in vote here in Ohio. This will be the first time I’ve ever voted for a non-major-party candidate. I encourage you to consider casting your vote for him as well. Here is a link to his campaign web site where you can learn more about him and follow his campaign updates. Here’s a good article explaining why a vote for him is a good choice. I like what I’ve read about him. He loves this country and, unlike others, he has proven it with his sacrificial service.

I have no illusions that he will actually win the presidency this year. I’ve already explained my dismal expectations for either major candidate. I believe that support for Evan is simply a beginning of a new conservative movement. It’s the start of a foundation for a better future. It’s time to move beyond the shattered GOP. It’s gone and is never coming back.

Lloyd

lifeboat

Thursday Picks ~ 11-3-2016

Picks Thursday

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

A friendly reminder…

I Am an Alien Resident of the United States of America
Bruce Ashford
I Am an Alien Resident of the United States of AmericaWhen I meet the Lord one day, I will meet him first and foremost as a Christian. But I will also meet him as an American. Being an American is not the most important aspect of my identity, but it is an inescapable aspect and one for which I will give account. For that reason, I owe it to my nation to live an upright life in an off-kilter nation, that I may seek the peace of the city where God has caused me to be born, that I may pray to the Lord for it, for in its peace we will have peace.


Take a few minutes to study these four graphs, then ask yourself: “Why do I think the world is becoming a more dangerous place to live?” Is it possible we only listen to sources that have an interest in generating fear?

What if the curves were going the other way?Seth Godin
Infant mortality

Four ways to look at the state of our world.

What sort of story are we telling each other?

 


God doesn’t need our permission…

Lux in Tenebris: How God Is Moving on Secular Campuses
Owen Strachan
salt-company-1It can feel to the church today like the darkness is closing in. If you close your eyes, all can seem lost. But if you open your eyes, you see points of light. You see gospel advancement. You see strategic initiative. You see local churches leading ministries to students while also calling them to meaningful membership in the local church. This is the model I believe we need moving ahead. Parachurch ministries can do great good, but I believe they will do most good when partnering closely with local churches. This is especially true as campus access grows dicey in places.

Friends, God is moving on secular campuses. In some cases, the odds seem impossible. But God loves facing seemingly impossible odds. He loves to use small things, foolish things, to shame the world. We do not know where we are headed. But we know this: we are not alone. God has gone ahead of us.

Now is not a time for retreat; now is a time to go big, trust God, and reach out to sinners like us in truth and in love.


I don’t really like the “click-bait” title, but Ed, who knows something about interpreting survey data, asks some legitimate questions about a recent survey…

Evangelicals: This Is What It Looks Like When You Sell Your Soul For A Bowl Of TrumpEd Stetzer
Evangelicals: This Is What It Looks Like When You Sell Your Soul For A Bowl Of Trump
the NY Magazine article highlights something very important—the people of God, who are called to hold to the highest standard of morals and ethics, now rank as the highest group percentage-wise of those who say that these things don’t necessarily matter. This is a problem of huge proportions…

Remember the question: “an elected official can behave ethically even if they have committed transgressions in their personal life.” When that was Bill Clinton, Evangelicals were “nope” but now that it’s Trump, they’re “yep.”

That’s the definition of selling out.


Remember…
Challies.com

One of my favorite songs of the past few years being sung in Times Square. Reminder: We still have more religious freedom in the U.S. than most of the world can possibly imagine.
This gave me legitimate goose bumps…


Micro-aggression…
Zits – Click image for a larger view.

Deuteronomy 27:9-26

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

Deuteronomy 27:9-26
Then Moses and the Levitical priests said to all Israel, “Keep silence and hear, O Israel: this day you have become the people of the Lord your God. 10 You shall therefore obey the voice of the Lord your God, keeping his commandments and his statutes, which I command you today.”

11 That day Moses charged the people, saying, 12 “When you have crossed over the Jordan, these shall stand on Mount Gerizim to bless the people: Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph, and Benjamin. 13 And these shall stand on Mount Ebal for the curse: Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali. 14 And the Levites shall declare to all the men of Israel in a loud voice:

15 “‘Cursed be the man who makes a carved or cast metal image, an abomination to the Lord, a thing made by the hands of a craftsman, and sets it up in secret.’ And all the people shall answer and say, ‘Amen.’

16 “‘Cursed be anyone who dishonors his father or his mother.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’

17 “‘Cursed be anyone who moves his neighbor’s landmark.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’

18 “‘Cursed be anyone who misleads a blind man on the road.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’

19 “‘Cursed be anyone who perverts the justice due to the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’

20 “‘Cursed be anyone who lies with his father’s wife, because he has uncovered his father’s nakedness.’[b] And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’

21 “‘Cursed be anyone who lies with any kind of animal.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’

22 “‘Cursed be anyone who lies with his sister, whether the daughter of his father or the daughter of his mother.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’

23 “‘Cursed be anyone who lies with his mother-in-law.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’

24 “‘Cursed be anyone who strikes down his neighbor in secret.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’

25 “‘Cursed be anyone who takes a bribe to shed innocent blood.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’

26 “‘Cursed be anyone who does not confirm the words of this law by doing them.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’

From this passage I hear God asking me:
What was your initial, gut reaction when you read this?
Can you imagine a worship service like this?
Why is that, do you think?
If your church were to lead a worship service that listed things that would result in a person being cursed, what are some the things that would be included?
Anything?
What do you think would be included if I led that service?
Would you say, “Amen”?

Deuteronomy 27:1-8

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

Deuteronomy 27:1-8
Now Moses and the elders of Israel commanded the people, saying, “Keep the whole commandment that I command you today. And on the day you cross over the Jordan to the land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall set up large stones and plaster them with plaster. And you shall write on them all the words of this law, when you cross over to enter the land that the Lord your God is giving you, a land flowing with milk and honey, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you. And when you have crossed over the Jordan, you shall set up these stones, concerning which I command you today, on Mount Ebal, and you shall plaster them with plaster. And there you shall build an altar to the Lord your God, an altar of stones. You shall wield no iron tool on them; you shall build an altar to the Lord your God of uncut[a] stones. And you shall offer burnt offerings on it to the Lord your God, and you shall sacrifice peace offerings and shall eat there, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God. And you shall write on the stones all the words of this law very plainly.”

From this passage I hear God asking me:
What do you think was the point of the stones?
Have you set up any “stones”?
Should you?

We Love This Promise!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,
“plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

travel-mug-35-35
Travel Mug $35.35

We love this promise! We remind ourselves and others of it every time we feel like things aren’t going the way we would like. We print it out in calligraphy on needlepoint. We slap it on objects of all sorts to decorate our homes. We display it every way imaginable.

sail-boat-32-99
Sail Boat $32.99

But there are some troubling aspects to this promise.

“I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you.”

I know a man who worked faithfully for the same company for decades. He got to the point where the owner of the company basically trusted him to run the business for him. Then one day, during an economic downturn, the owner decided he couldn’t afford to keep the man on, so he was laid off. Permanently. He was about 50 years old. What now? Is this how God intends to “prosper you”?

“I know the plans I have for you…plans not to harm you.”

plaque-35-10
Plaque $35.10

Before I entered full-time ministry my wife and I served as volunteer youth sponsors at our church. A brilliant teenage girl who didn’t really believe in God began attending our youth group meetings. In time, as a result of getting to know people of faith, after many deep discussions, she eventually made the decision to follow Christ. Her life changed radically. My career took me to another ministry and I sort of lost touch with her, but had heard through others that she had met a young man who shared her faith and commitment. They married and started a family. One day, I received a phone call from her. She called to ask me to do the funeral for their first child who was still-born. Is this how God keeps us from harm?

“I know the plans I have for you…to give you hope and a future.”

wall-decal-17-96
Wall Decal $17.96

Kathie and I had been married only a couple of years when a friend needed a place to stay for a while because he just couldn’t bring himself to stay in his own place. His wife called him from work to tell him she had a bad headache and was going home early. That evening, after a nap, she couldn’t move one side of her body. She was taken to the hospital and in a matter of days her life was over. She was twenty-one years old. He and I worked for the same Christian organization. We had dedicated our lives to serving Jesus. I sometimes look back on those days and realize that I was young and immature, and I’m sure I wasn’t the supportive friend that I should’ve been. But really, is this how God gives us hope and a future?

flip-flops-16-99
Flip Flops $16.99

So, what about this promise? Is it possible that we’ve over-estimated God’s meaning? Maybe he is promising less than we thought.

I’ve actually come to believe the exact opposite. I don’t think we over-estimate this wonderful promise of God. I think we under-estimate it. It’s not that this promise is smaller than we thought, it’s bigger, much bigger.

Here are a couple things we usually miss about this verse:
key-ring-6-99
Key Ring $6.99

1. We miss that this promise is not addressed to an individual but to a collective. Not to a person but to a people. Notice the first verse of this chapter:

This is the text of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets and all the other people Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon.Jeremiah 29:1

paper-weight-26-95
Paper Weight $26.95

This is a promise that God intends for the future of his people. This is much bigger than one individual life! I have become so self-absorbed that I tend to think everything revolves around me. We evangelicals put so much emphasis on having a “personal relationship” with Jesus that we can easily forget that being a follower of Jesus necessitates becoming a part of his kingdom, his people, his collective. It’s not just Jesus and me, it’s Jesus and us!

Paul the apostle tells us in Titus 2:14 that Jesus “…gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own…”

A people, not a person.

tattoo-unknown-price
Tattoo – Unknown cost

2. We miss what he says in the previous verse.

This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place.” –Jeremiah 29:10

Wait a minute. What did that say? Seventy years??

Remember that Jeremiah is speaking to God’s people who are in captivity in Babylon. This is not their homeland. They are exiles. They live in a foreign and completely pagan culture. They long to return to their land and worship in their temple. But they are stuck here for seventy more years! Most of them, and many of their children will die in this pagan land. It seems this promise is a little more long-range than a human lifetime. So, if we have the idea that this promise is assuring us that our dreams of a nice house and car, along with a loving spouse, great kids, and lots of health and happiness will all come to pass, then we’re thinking too small.

Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”John 16:33

wallet-31-99
Wallet $31.99

The truth is, this life is full of hardship, sorrow and questions. We all know this. But it shouldn’t cause us to doubt God’s promises. God’s promises are not invalidated by our trials and difficulties. In fact, that’s when they take on their greatest significance. A promise that only makes sense when life is easy is far too small a thing. Our God is not a God of sentimental wishes and simplistic answers. He will take even our tragedies and use them in such a way that they become part of a beautiful design, so large in scale that we may never be able to see it from this earthly perspective.

In fact, we probably won’t.

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Boxer Shorts $14.99

Because this promise is far too big to be just about me and my little life in this time-bound existence.

Ok, two more small points:

  1. God says, “I know the plans I have for you…”
    He doesn’t say, “You know the plans I have…”
  2. He does have plans for you.

We may think we want to know the details, but we really don’t. His plans are so vast and complex, we’d never understand anyway.

silver-double-mobius-pendant-59-99
Pendant $59.99

In fact, Isaiah uses the same word when he says:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Isaiah 55:8-9

So, here it is one more time:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,
“plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

Don’t make the mistake of limiting this amazing promise.

It’s way bigger than you can imagine.

Lloyd

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Throw Pillow $21.99

Tuesday Picks 11-1-2016

Picks Tuesday

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

Three different paths of response…

So What If American Is No Longer a ‘Christian Nation’?
Drew Griffin
Many respond with righteous indignation…

They do not see a moral majority slowly eroded by years of faithless witness; they see a theft.

Their public majority has been stolen right out from under them and they live their lives in bitterness and insecurity, chasing after the safety that comes from holding the majoritarian position. This condition creates an environment of fear, and when we fear man, we become more divisive. We no longer extend our hands to our neighbors, culturally, globally or otherwise, and we soon forget God.


This short piece will challenge your prayer life…

You’re Doing it WrongMike Leake
Image result for you're doing it wrong
“The number one reason why prayer malfunctions in the hands of a believers is that they try to turn a wartime walkie-talkie into a domestic intercom… They tried to rig it up as an intercom in their cushy houses and cabins and boats and cars – not to call in fire power for conflict with a mortal enemy, but to ask the maid to bring another pillow to the den.”


Fascinating profile of Russell Moore in The New Yorker…

The New Evangelical Moral MinorityKelefa Sanneh
Image result for The New Evangelical Moral Minority Kelefa SannehMoore thinks that the idea of a moral majority is wrong, and was probably wrong when it was created: he suspects that earnest, orthodox Christians have always been outnumbered. Like any believer, he wants his church to grow, but he doesn’t seem particularly threatened by the thought that it might not. He says that Christians in America must learn to think of themselves as a marginal community, struggling to survive in an increasingly hostile secular culture. In such a context, Muslims might seem less like enemies and more like allies in the fight for religious freedom.


Air Harp…
27af435076b60134dbdf005056a9545d
Non Sequitur – Click image for a larger view.

Deuteronomy 26:1-19

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

Deuteronomy 26:1-19
“When you come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance and have taken possession of it and live in it, you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from your land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket, and you shall go to the place that the Lord your God will choose, to make his name to dwell there. And you shall go to the priest who is in office at that time and say to him, ‘I declare today to the Lord your God that I have come into the land that the Lord swore to our fathers to give us.’ Then the priest shall take the basket from your hand and set it down before the altar of the Lord your God.

“And you shall make response before the Lord your God, ‘A wandering Aramean was my father. And he went down into Egypt and sojourned there, few in number, and there he became a nation, great, mighty, and populous. And the Egyptians treated us harshly and humiliated us and laid on us hard labor. Then we cried to the Lord, the God of our fathers, and the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. And the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great deeds of terror,[a] with signs and wonders. And he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. 10 And behold, now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground, which you, O Lord, have given me.’ And you shall set it down before the Lord your God and worship before the Lord your God. 11 And you shall rejoice in all the good that the Lord your God has given to you and to your house, you, and the Levite, and the sojourner who is among you.

12 “When you have finished paying all the tithe of your produce in the third year, which is the year of tithing, giving it to the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, so that they may eat within your towns and be filled, 13 then you shall say before the Lord your God, ‘I have removed the sacred portion out of my house, and moreover, I have given it to the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, according to all your commandment that you have commanded me. I have not transgressed any of your commandments, nor have I forgotten them. 14 I have not eaten of the tithe while I was mourning, or removed any of it while I was unclean, or offered any of it to the dead. I have obeyed the voice of the Lord my God. I have done according to all that you have commanded me. 15 Look down from your holy habitation, from heaven, and bless your people Israel and the ground that you have given us, as you swore to our fathers, a land flowing with milk and honey.’

16 “This day the Lord your God commands you to do these statutes and rules. You shall therefore be careful to do them with all your heart and with all your soul. 17 You have declared today that the Lord is your God, and that you will walk in his ways, and keep his statutes and his commandments and his rules, and will obey his voice. 18 And the Lord has declared today that you are a people for his treasured possession, as he has promised you, and that you are to keep all his commandments, 19 and that he will set you in praise and in fame and in honor high above all nations that he has made, and that you shall be a people holy to the Lord your God, as he promised.”

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Did you notice the 4 places where the “sacred portion,” the tithe, is supposed to go? (v. 13)
Do you think this distribution of your tithe is what I still expect?
Why, or why not?
Is this how yours is used?