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Posts Tagged ‘fight’

thieves

“The thief comes only to steal and kill, and destroy.  I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” ~John 10:10

Gypsies, tramps, and thieves: those are the people in this town.  Satan has schooled us on how to steal, sedate, sicken, and slaughter.  He, the very first thief, sought to steal something so serious that he was severed and separated from God himself somewhere in the stratosphere; somewhere in the spiritual; somewhere separated for all time and in every way.

That something that he sought to steal was the worship and worth of his first-place fore-bearer.  Satan wanted the worship and worth of his would-be friend; his should-be father.

But Satan was not a friend.  He cared not for Our Father.  Satan had his own slew of children to forcefully foster.  He and his fiends fondle and figit with the minds and imaginations of every man, woman, and child who fails to fully fear their for-real Father.  There is no fight.  His plans come easy and his drugs come cheap.  All we have to do is believe that there is nothing better worth believing in.

Gypsies, tramps, and thieves: those are the people in this town.  We take what is of worth, and we worship ourselves.  We kill what is of worth, and we sacrifice to ourselves.  We destroy what is of worth, and we adore ourselves.  Worship.  Sacrifice.  Adoration.  All that which was meant only for one, true, begotten Son of God, WE want.  We want that for which we have no warrant.  We want God’s worship.  We want his infinite, immeasurable worth, and we want it ascribed to US.  We don’t want to worship God.  We want God’s worship.  We want God’s worship and we will do damn-near anything to get it.

Toby Keith said it best: “This world’s jungle. There ain’t no justice. Laws of nature rule this land. Better hide your horses. Bury your whiskey. Hold your woman any way you can. Cause there ain’t no right or wrong. Nothin’s carved in stone. It ain’t cheating’ if you don’t get caught. Jokers laugh and losers grieve. Cause out here, there’s no honor among thieves.”

We will kill.  We are they who will kill high hopes and happiness over jealousy.  We are they who will kill pristine dreams by being jaded.  We will kill joy, jubilation, and even, Jesus Christ if it means we can get control, power, or position.  We kill.  We kill relationships, righteousness, right-thinking, and realness whenever we want.  We want, we want, we want, so, we kill, we kill, we kill.  Or do you not know why we quarrel?

“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” ~James 4:1-3

We will steal.  We are they who will steal life, love, and even mere leftovers out of our resolute refusal to trust the good Giver.  Eve stole the fruit.  We steal the roots.  We steal the stories and the seasons and the sweetness and the sorrow only to gather goodness and greatness for our sick and suffering selves.  We steal the innocence of the innocents.  We want, we want, we want, so, we steal, we steal, we steal.  Or do you not know why we quarrel?

“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” ~James 4:1-3

We will destroy.  We are they who will destroy and deconstruct literally anything standing in the path of our own precious plans.  We are desperately determined and therefore, we destroy.  Or are we simply desperately determined TO destroy?  Both.  We seek to destroy all that God has built and we arrogantly believe we can do so with no more than a shallow, un-sturdy scaffolding and a sin-sick heart.  We want, we want, we want, so, we destroy, we destroy, we destroy.  Or do you not know why we quarrel?

“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” ~James 4:1-3

We are the gypsies.  We are the tramps.  We are the thieves.  When we come around this town, we steal, kill, and destroy all things. Everything.  Everything we touch gets fucked up.  Everything.  We do whatever our foster father commands.  His plans come easy and his drugs come cheap.  There is no fight.

How is it that we have full-out forgotten Our Father? Our Father!  We need not fostered!  We have been adopted, and Our Father fights FOR us.  No figiting or fondling by the fingers of this fiendish phantom can un-find us!  Our Father frees us from ALL unrighteousness.  Our Father finds us.  He figures out our futures.  Our Father fixes every fiend-filled fear and fills us with his fuel and a firm foundation.

How?  How did Our Father so save us?

I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 

Our God came.  Our God came down.  He came all the way down.  Our God left eternal glory to suffer and save us.  He was poor that through his poverty, we would be made rich.  He served us in ultimate humility that we might know our worth as well as our call.  He gave us worth.  We needn’t steal his worship!  We have his worth branded to both our front and backsides and every limb in between.  We bear on us the marks of Christ. We have his worth already because he gave it freely to us as his children; his friends; his favored ones.  He died that we, through his death, would live.

God wants us to LIVE!  We don’t need to kill.  We don’t need to steal.  We don’t need to destroy.  God wants us to live abundantly.  The only way we can be truly rich, worthy, favored, and full in this life is by the coming of HIS life.  Advent.  Christ is coming.  Christ came.  Christ will come again.  He comes for me.  He came for you.  Christ came so that we would legitimately possess all the things we spend our souls sinning to steal.

The lie offers and tempts us toward those things that Our Father has already freely given to us.  Our best life is waiting in the outstretched arms of He who came to give far more than that which we furiously kill, steal, and destroy for.  Full life.  Abundant, ample, generous, plentiful, free, full life.

Everyone’s favorite false teacher, Mr. Osteen, is right about one thing: it is our best life now.  He just didn’t define the terms correctly.  Our best life now is not found in fancy Ferrari’s and futuristic floor plans.  Our best life now is found in falling down at the feet of a Savior who will fill us and free us in the midst of every full-on, fierce, and furious fight found in a fallen, fearful, unfair, physically finite world.

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” ~James 4:7-10

He will give.  He will draw.  He will cleanse.  He will purify.  He will humble.  He will exalt.  ASK HIM.  We needn’t steal, kill, or destroy in order to receive the glorious gifts of Our Father, for he is our friend.

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watch

Jude is a one-chapter book that deals with a church full of apostasy.  Jude, the half-brother of Jesus who did not even believe until after the resurrection, focuses on what exactly the enemies to a healthy body of Christ look and act like, who true believers are, and what true believers ought to do when faced with false teachers and enemies of the faith.  John MacArthur informs us that, “Jude lived at a time when Christianity was under severe political attack from Rome and aggressive spiritual infiltration from Gnostic-like false teachers who sowed abundant seed for a gigantic harvest of doctrinal error…Christianity was thought to be extremely vulnerable.  Thus, Judge called the church to fight, in the midst of intense spiritual warfare, for the truth.”

Fight, indeed, brothers and sisters.  That is our biblical charge from Jude in our modern day which so mirrors theirs.  Read and reread MacArthur’s words.  We are they.  They were us.  Make no mistake, we live in an era where the church is chock-full and overflowing with false teaching, false teachers, error, and vulnerability.  Apostasy is the “abandonment of true, biblical faith.”  If ever there was a time where this were ubiquitous, it is now.

Whose job is it to combat such things?  If teachers are false, who will be true?  Like Jude, we – you and me, not somebody in charge somewhere – must commit ourselves to fighting the good fight through the condemnation of apostates and urging our brothers and sisters to contend for the faith, faithfully.

Jude spends a great deal of time in his very concise book describing what apostates look like.  He does this for a very specific reason.  He’s not just talking about the bad guys of his day and hoping someone feels bad for him.  Jude is giving us intricate details about who and what to look for in our churches and communities so that we might rise up and fight whenever we see these kinds of people and things taking hold and harming or potentially harming our brothers and sisters.

Jude writes his book to, “those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Christ Jesus.”  Jude is clearly writing this charge along with his detailed descriptions and instructions to believers.  His first order of business is a charge to “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.”  Once for all – no one else can come along and deliver new details in addition to the gospel.  No one can change the details of how to obtain salvation, who it’s for, or another gospel of any kind.  The Word of God is fixed and unchanging.  It does not “progress” or evolve nor does it need to.

Contend.  Jude commands believers to contend.  Contend against what?  Against who?  Here’s what they look like:

These people creep in, he says.  They sneak into our fellowship under the radar.  He describes them as, “designated for condemnation.”  They have actually been marked out for ultimate destruction, Jude remarks.

He describes them as ungodly perverters of grace who deny Christ.  In other words, they neither live in a way that honors God in their personal lives, nor do they apply and extend grace appropriately.  They either deny grace to those God has given it or they cheapen grace by changing it into a sensual lust and licence for themselves and those around them to act immorally on a false presumption that God will have mercy apart from repentance.

Jude takes some time to remind us, before he goes on about these ones, that though Christ (Christ!) saved his people out of Egypt, he did not spare the majority of even those whom he had just delivered when they disobeyed and displayed their unbelief in the desert that followed their deliverance.   He goes on to talk about the angels who lived in heaven long ago and rebelled against God.  Even they were not spared, rather, punished severely for all eternity due to their disobedience.  He talks about Sodom and Gomorrah and how their sexual deviance and gross immorality brought God’s swift judgement and sent them to eternal fire.  Why does Jude go to all of these examples?

Jude is warning those who are sneaking around the church living in these ways that these are the kinds of judgments God will bring if they do not repent.  If his own people and his own angels were not spared, how much less then, will we be spared if we presume upon his grace, live in sin, and lead others astray?!

In verse 8 Jude says, “Yet in like manner these people also…”  In like manner; likewise; in the same way —– you who are doing these things in today’s world.  Jude is calling them out, identifying the people in his day with these who were judged and punished in the history of God’s world.  He describes them further as relying on their dreams, defiling the flesh, rejecting authority, and blaspheming the glorious ones.  He shows them up by giving an example of how Michael – the very highest angel – did not even dare to speak arrogantly to Satan, but left all judgement to the Lord.

So these are people who are often sexually immoral and/or homosexual, rejecting the authority of Christ and the Scriptures, and presumptuous about having their own authority in the spiritual realm.  They use a false narrative about their own dreams to manipulate and persuade others to believe and follow their heresies and accept their misconduct.

Jude calls them blasphemers twice.  They blaspheme, or speak sacrilegiously and disrespectfully about the true things of God and God himself.  These people speak foolishly of all they do not understand.  He says they are destroyed by what they do understand.  The reason is because they have no excuse to disobey what their own instincts tell them is right and wrong.  When they do, they destroy themselves and any chance of salvation.  They rebel against the very knowledge inside themselves that is meant to draw them to Christ.

Jude breaks for a moment to cry out, “Woe to them!”  Woe, indeed.  He brings up Cain, Balaam, and Korah.  These are more Old Testament personalities that both the Jews and the Christians would have known well.

Cain, the jealous, insecure murderer.  People like Cain will step on and stamp out anyone who acts more faithfully or does God’s work in a more holy way than they do.  We all know church leaders like this, don’t we?

Balaam, the greedy seeker of ill-gotten gain who leads others into sin and has to be rebuked by a donkey.  These are those who use the gospel for money and teach others to do the same.  A deceiver who cares only for personal gain.  We all know church leaders like this, don’t we?

Korah, the leader of rebellion who rebelled against the God-appointed men of his time, Moses and Aaron.  False teachers rebel against the authority of the truth and anyone who would hold them accountable to it.  We all know church leaders like this, don’t we?

Jude goes on to call these men hidden reefs, shepherds feeding themselves, water-less clouds, fruitless trees, twice dead, uprooted, wild waves, and wandering stars for whom darkness awaits.  Here we have another warning.  If you act in these ways within God’s church and among God’s people, let’s be clear, darkness awaits you.  What do all these allusions mean?

Hidden reefs is meant to convey the sneaky, hiding men who lie in wait to cause destruction.  Hidden reefs are underwater rocks dangerous to ships traveling through.  When hit unawares by the boat, they harm and destroy from a covert place.  They feed themselves through self-interest and greed.  They produce no water or fruit where they promise and pose to do so.  They are not only dead in sin, they are dead to the promise  salvation by their own corruption of it.  They are wild, rogue, and wandering.  They have no solid foundation from which to lead anyone including themselves.  In short, these false teachers are complete hypocrites.  They spring up and burn out in their useless ambitions.

Jude brings up Enoch and again warns of the judgement to come on evildoers such as these.  He mentions their being “ungodly” four times in a row.  He puts great emphasis on the severity of these men’s sin.

Jude is still not done!  He indicts the apostates as grumblers, malcontents, sinful, loud boasters who are guilty of partiality, favoritism, and gross self-interest.  They are ungodly scoffers who cause division and are void of the Spirit.  These guys complain, brag, exclude, and self-love on the daily.  They mock, laugh, and taunt true believers, incite disagreements, and they have no communion with the Spirit of God.

Jude does not mince words.  He tells us exactly what to look for.  Can you even imagine a church leader today going down this list and calling out apostates?  They’d be locked up for hate speech!  Sadly, it is more needed today than it even was then I imagine.  Nevertheless, this is who they are.  This is what to look for.  These are the kind of men you warn, and warn again.  These are those we must not submit to or ignore in any way.  Remember, they are leaders and false teachers within the church.  These are not some guys somewhere teaching a cult-group in a cave.  These are men and women in the church who must be fought against and rebuked publicly!!!  That’s Jude’s charge to all believers in the face of apostasy.

Finally, that is who they are.  But Jude has something else for us.  He tells us who we are.  Three times in the text he calls us, “beloved.”  True believers are loved immensely by Christ.  We are God’s beloved people and, though we must fight evil, we able to trust in Him.

Jude commands believers to build themselves up in faith, pray in the Holy Spirit, stay in God’s love, wait for the mercy of Christ, and trust Him.  He tells us one other thing we must do in the midst of apostasy.  We must have mercy for those who doubt.  We must work tirelessly to save others and snatch them out of the fires of sin and judgement.  In addition to contending against false teachers, we must pick up the pieces of those who would follow them and truly be our brother’s keeper.

Jude’s entire thrust is that we would be the vigilant sailors on the ship continually proclaiming, “Not on my watch.”  Not on my watch will apostates and false teachers succeed and thrive within God’s church.  Not on my watch will sinners be damned by following them.  Not on my watch will the apostates go un-warned or un-rebuked.  Not on my watch!  I have been commanded to contend for the gospel and fight with all my being.  Go and do likewise.

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jfk

Esther chapter 8 can be summed up in a word some never see this side of heaven: vindication.  Here, we have both Esther and Mordecai receiving back reward, honor, and retribution in return for their courage and selfless adherence to doing what was right.

In chapter 7, Haman was hanged on the gallows he had made for Mordecai.  Swift justice for his pride-induced deceit and plotting took his life away.  Now, the one he most hated was given his greatest possession and his ever-coveted position close to the king.

The king gave Esther and Mordecai charge over Haman’s house and his signet ring – the same ring used to sign the edict to kill the Jews was given to Mordecai the Jew.  With this ring, Mordecai and Esther were also given all authority to make any new laws they thought necessary to save their people.

Interestingly, Esther had already been given the signet ring when she came to the king begging for him to spare the lives of her people in Esther 8:3-6.  Notice how, despite the fact that she was the queen and already had been given the king’s signet ring with which to make irrevocable laws, she did not presume upon him or act upon her authority without first showing great deference and respect to her king.  In other words, Esther said a very humble and heartfelt, “please” before assuming any authority even when she had been given it.

Because Haman’s edict to destroy the Jews was also irrevocable, the edict Mordecai and Esther made was a call to fight.  Basically, it said that the Jews now had permission to fight back, plunder and take revenge by all means necessary if they were attacked by any person or army.

When the people heard this, they feared the Jews.  They recognized it as God’s mighty hand being with them and many even converted to Judaism out of fear.  Mordecai wore the royal robes and there was joy for all of God’s people because of he and Esther’s courageous work.  With fighting the good fight, courage, and personal sacrifice comes conversion and reward.

At first glance, vengeance doesn’t seem like the most godly plan…until we put this account in context.  When we recognize that fighting was not what anyone wanted, rather, that there was no other option to protect themselves, and that both God and the king had ordained this order to warn anyone who would attack them, we can appreciate the words found in Ecclesiastes: “…a time for war…” It just reminds me of that old Kenny Rogers song, “The Coward of the County.” “…I walk away from trouble when I can…but sometimes you gotta fight when you’re a man…”  

Courage.  Respect.  A call to fight.  These are things we would do well to practice today in the modern church and our culture alike.  We have an entire church full of people refusing to fight for their beliefs in the face of complete annihilation and extinction!  Make no mistake, true Christianity is under attack.  Christians ought to remember that there is a time for war just as sure as there is a time for peace.  Sometimes you gotta fight when you’re a Christian.

And, in return for selfless courage, deference, and respect to Him, the Lord will assuredly bring vindication – if not here then in heaven.

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yoda

Do you ever go somewhere and think, “This sure feels like a waste of time…” On the way you may be thinking, “Maybe I shouldn’t even go…I don’t think I’ll enjoy this…but everyone else is going…I don’t want to miss out….but usually when I go to this place I am miserably bored, wishing I was home, and wondering what on earth could possibly be wrong with everyone around me because they are over the top excited to be here…”

Ok.  Do you have your place?  Mine is the movies.  Once in a great while I will actually enjoy a movie, but nine out of ten cause me to kick myself for not staying home and reading a more entertaining and exciting story.

Last night was one of those nights.  We went to see the new Star Wars movie and all I could think the entire time was how the Bible – the living, active, real in your life today story – is infinitely more exciting to experience than this movie – or any other entertainment the world has to offer for that matter.

But the theater was completely full.  I mean filled to the brim.  I had my normal I-wish-I-would-have-stayed-home-guess-I’ll-take-a-nap-in-this-uncomfortable-overused-chair experience while everyone else held lightsabers and wore fangirl t-shirts with edge of their seat excitement.  There was only one problem for me.  Every few minutes the sound of clapping, cheering, sobering sighs, and otherwise giddy excitement coming from row beside us would wake me after I’d dozed off.

These people must have been the only kind of Star Wars fans there are – fanatics.

A funny thing happened to me during my transient nap at the movie theater, though.  I felt, as I often do in this context, a certain sadness come over me – not because I felt like I was wasting time and money simply by being present – but, this time, because I realized that they were.

I had to ask myself when the last time I’d seen any young people – no – any people of any age at all – get that excited about the Word of God.  When was the last time I’d seen any passion in anyone – other than my husband when he preaches  – about what God was showing them in his Word – anyone cheering, clapping, sighing, and sobering over what they were seeing, hearing, and learning from the Scriptures?  I have been in church my entirelife.  That kind of genuine passion for the Lord is rare, and, for the most part, here in America, altogether obsolete.

At that moment my heart felt so sad for my generation and those younger because I know the absolute amazement the Word of God offers; the unmitigated adventure knowing and serving the Lord Jesus Christ in earnest really gives.  And I know that it is the very thing that many of these empty entertainment junkies of today are so desperately desiring.  Humans want adventure and excitement.  But in our day, they think it comes from watching fantasy movies like the Avengers and the Jedi rather than living a real life that follows the Living God.

Friends, real adventure and excitement come from following Christ!  Every single page of the Bible is like a new journey.  It is not always rainbows and butterflies, but it is good and it is real.  My generation is missing out on the real life living experience of knowing the God of the Universe because they have never taken the time to read, study, and know His Word.

Not long ago I was considering past events and asking the Lord why I had to go through some hard things.  At that very moment my husband said, “You raised your hand.”  It was in response to something else in a different context.  He had no idea that I had just asked the Lord these things.  God used him to remind me how when I was young I had written about wanting to be used of God and using the analogy that I was raising my hand hoping with all my heart to simply be called on.

To that end I say, if you go to church or begin reading your Bible and think, ““This sure feels like a waste of time…” Or if on the way you are thinking, “Maybe I shouldn’t even go…I don’t think I’ll enjoy this…but everyone else is going…I don’t want to miss out….but usually when I go to this place I am miserably bored, wishing I was home, and wondering what on earth could possibly be wrong with everyone around me because they are over the top excited to be here…,” you are not investing and engaging in true Christianity.  Get to know God.  Get to know His Word – front to back, inside and out.  Become a light-bearing, card-carrying, scripture t-shirt wearing fanatic about Jesus Christ and then you will be the only kind of Christian there is – a true one – and you’ll have no need to be endlessly entertained by false wars in the stars.  In fact, those things will become incredibly boring compared to the real cosmic star wars you are fighting in the Name of the Lord.  Amen!

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hill

“Have you done this before?”

“Yes.”

“Then you know the second half is much more forgiving.”

Spoken by a stranger long into mile five of eleven on the bike course, wisdom seized its opportunity to whisper to my stubborn heart in the middle of a hellbent hill mid-race.

I have been showing up for this triathlon on and off between pregnancies for the past eleven years.  I have probably run it six or seven times.  The bike portion is full of steep hills the entire first half and the second half has just a few more killer hills but they are sporadic and more rolling.

This is what my fellow competitor was speaking of.  God was saying something else, though.  In the quiet pain of a rainy morning ride up and down the steep countryside, His Spirit awakened mine to His perfect peace.  The reason is because these words are true of life itself.

The things we have done before – the pain of hardships we have already experienced and gone through make way for grace.  If I have already been down the same road I now find myself on once again, I already know that the middle part is the height of its difficulty.  The middle part – where almost all the dig-deep, heart-ready-to-fail hills are behind and only a few free falls are up ahead – that  is where I am most exhausted.  That is where I am most tempted to give up and give in to every fleshly urge to count it all a cruel, vain loss.  Since I already know I am though the thick of it, I also already know that I am most definitely going to make it.  I already know that this test is half over.  I already know the second part is much more about finding freedom and forgiveness than it is about full out force and feverish duress.  And, because I know all those things, I also know exactly where I am in this race.  I know exactly where I am going.  I know exactly how strong I really am, and I know that being a repeat contender, by very nature, makes me exactly who I am.

The truth is that I would not be here – I would not be back here – if I was not sure-up surrendered and sincerely sold-out to the seriousness and sobriety of my training and the dire importance of my work.

It is often only after repeated high hills and low valleys that we find forgiveness waiting for we who are wounded from the winning.  We find that forgiveness not solely for ourselves, but for the foes who fought us fierce all the way to our finish.  Why?  Because they served a purpose.  That purpose was our proving ground.

If you find yourself climbing heart-failing hills only to finish and find them in front of you again, do not be discouraged.  Instead, remember the kind strangers’ words of encouragement and secret wisdom.  If you have done this before, you know the second half is much more forgiving.

Drive on.

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trumoet

The people of Israel had been through hell and high water – literally.  They had been slaves in Egypt specially delivered right through the sea.  Finally, after forty years of stubborn, rebellious, complaining wandering in the desert, Joshua led them into the land God had promised.

In Joshua chapter 5, we find Joshua circumcising the sons of the Israelite slaves.  Mom and Dad didn’t make it out of the desert, but their children did.  The kids had been born on the way and had never been circumcised in accordance with God’s law.  Just afterward they eat their last provision of manna and remember the Passover and God’s deliverance and mercy.  Their new leader, Joshua, understands the order of importance when it comes to victory.  First, his men must be physically and spiritually obedient and prepared, then they must listen to the Word of the Lord.  Only after all of that is done do they begin to take what God has promised in victory.  It is not until they are physically healed and spiritually prepared that someone important shows up.  Joshua 5:14 tells us that the commander of the Lord’s Army comes and speaks to him about how to conquer the people living in the land God was giving to them.

Up until the point they arrive at the town of Jericho, all the people in the land have been in fear knowing what God had done for the Israelites in marching them through the sea.  Rahab the prostitute had even said as much to the spies Joshua had sent (Joshua 2:9).

They were afraid, but it did not cause them to obey God or befriend God’s people.  Instead, it caused them to shut themselves up inside the walls of their city.  The people of Jericho had resolved that Israel would not be their master.  No one could come in to their community and no one could go out to make peace or otherwise.  “Thus were they infatuated and their hearts hardened to their own destruction – the miserable case and character of all those that strengthen themselves against the Almighty.” ~ Matthew Henry

Those silly walls, as strong and mighty as they were, were no match for the Commander of God’s Army.  Those walls were destined to fall flat despite how fortified and exclusive they were built to be.

The angel gives some rather bizarre instructions for this first military conquest in the promised land.  He tells God’s people to take the ark of the covenant (symbolizing His presence), march around the city, and blow trumpets continually every day for seven days.  The seventh day they were to march around seven times blowing the trumpets and then shout.  That is what would make the walls of Jericho fall down.

There were several reasons why this was going to work and several reasons why God chose to do it this way.  It was going to work, firstly, because it was God’s sovereign will, but, from a practical standpoint, the blowing of the trumpets from outside the walls of this closed city served to intimidate those therein.  By doing so, God’s people were declaring war.

 “They proclaimed war with the Cannanites and so struck a terror upon them; for by terrors upon their spirits, they were to be conquered and subdued.  Thus God’s ministers, by the solemn declarations of his wrath against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, must blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in the holy mountain, that the sinners in Zion may be afraid.  They are God’s heralds to denounce war against all those that go on still in their trespasses, but say, ‘We shall have peace, though we go on.’ “ ~Matthew Henry

The trumpets themselves were least impressive.  God loves to use the foolish things to shame the strong.  Good news for me!

Another reason this worked, from an earthly standpoint, is that, while they may have feared firstly, after seven days of this ridiculous, noisy parade and no attack, the insiders doubtless began to think it was all a laughable show.

“Thus they cried peace and safety, that the destruction might be the more terrible when it came.  Wicked men think God in jest when he is preparing for their judgement; but they will be convinced of their mistake when it is too late…The wall fell down flat, and probably killed abundance of people…That which they trusted to for defense proved their destruction…they became an easy prey to the sword of Israel, and saw to how little purpose it was to shut their gates against a people that had the Lord on the head of them.” ~Matthew Henry

We all know how the story ends.  The walls fall down flat at the shout of God’s people and Jericho is the city chosen to serve as an example to their enemies and an encouragement for the further conquests in taking over the promised land.

There were some practical and spiritual reasons why God chose to have his people conquer the city of Jericho in this way.

It made God’s glory known because only he can be credited with victory when a walled-in city falls at a shout.  This parading around also served to honor his ark as well as his priests who were carrying it and sounding the trumpets.

There is not too far any of us can get in spiritual victory apart from the presence of God going with us.  That’s why Jesus said, “…Apart from me, you can do nothing.”

Furthermore, this was meant to test the faith, patience, and obedience of God’s people.  Wonder what they were thinking.  Wonder how they felt when they had to march around thirteen times.  Thirteen trips around this city with nothing but a promise and their dull and meager instruments.  Yet, the purpose of this slow going-round served to test as well as encourage them heartily when victory came.  This was only the first battle.  Many were to follow.  This was for them to look back on and remember how strong and wise their God really was.  He keeps his promises.

God is in the business of tearing down walls.  So many times we find ourselves building them up, though.  The weapons he gives have divine power to destroy strongholds.  Jesus himself came to tear down the dividing wall of hostility and make one man out of two.  He came to bring unity between God and man as well as man and man.  He came to demolish strongholds.

Pray. Fast. Repeat.  God will take care of the walls.  They will fall when he is obeyed and honored by his people.

“The God of heaven easily can, and certainly will, break down all the opposing power of his and his church’s enemies…Thus, shall Satan’s kingdom fall, nor shall any prosper that harden themselves against God.” ~Matthew Henry

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gloves

Preteen + preteen + peacemaker AKA tattletale + one year old = it’s spring but if we dare open our windows someone may call the law.  And I might need them to.

After much begging, pleading, and coercing from tomboy mom, I think my girls have finally chosen a sport they want to practice.  My girls – especially the older two – seem to have adopted a new way of life.  It is hard to describe, but if it had a name it might be called, “Four Girl Fight Club.”

Apparently they have come to believe that the only solution to their ridiculously difficult life is to fight with one another over everything.  Sometimes, the decibels are so high in this compound that it takes a conversation with a hard of hearing mom, a machine washing clothes, a screaming baby, a running lawn mower, a phone alarm ringing to remind me that today’s the last day to pay that bill before I have a 32 thousand dollar late fee, and the noise of a 25 year-old refrigerator to successfully ignore the bouts of unmitigated rage.

Oops.  Did I say ignore?  I mean avoid.  Er.  Um.  No.  I mean, I would never ignore or avoid my own children.  That’s ridiculous.  Clearly I’m busy with all the above mentioned, conveniently noisy tasks.  I would really prefer to be ringside.  Who doesn’t love a good fight, right?  That’s why, even being the free range parent that I am, I always make sure I rush in to see the good parts.  Anytime I am in the middle of 17 other things and I hear someone getting pummelled with pretend accusations, I run right in!

Yesterday was one of those days.

By the time I came to see what was the matter, one fighter was already crying and drawing an emo self-portrait complete with tears and monster sister hovering over her in the sketch, and the other was smugly smarting off about her rightness in the matter.

Now.  I always like to get the facts straight from both sides before I go trying to sub out for the referee, but, with all the commotion I didn’t hear that phone alarm and it just so happened that the ref’s paycheck was the bill I forgot to pay.  So, unfortunately, I had to jump right in quick before someone lost a tooth, or, in my case, their own flippin’ mind.

“What on the earth is going on in here, girls?!”

“Addie made an app and she made rules for the game she created but she isn’t following HER OWN RULES that SHE made!”

“That’s not true!  I made it so I am allowed to make the rules!!”

When I got down to the bottom of it all, it seems that my very technically inclined daughter made up a game and made a rule for her fellow gamers that she was not following herself.  This reality ignited the call to use every justice bone in my other daughter’s body.

“You can’t do that!!!  You can’t just change the rules for yourself!  You can’t just make other people follow them and not follow them yourself!”

“I made it!!!  I am the owner!  I can do whatever I want!”

“AAAAAAAAHHHHHH!” said the referee.

“Ok.  Let’s see here.  You are both right – in a way.  Addie is right that if she created it, as the administrator she is ABLE to do things in whatever fashion she chooses.  If she sets it up with an exception for herself, she can because she owns and created the game.  However, as a matter of good business and fairness, Mia is right.  No one likes leaders who expect others to follow the rules that they made but do not follow the rules themselves.  That’s why everyone gets mad at the government.  They have the authority to make the rules and laws because we have entrusted it to them – given it to them – but they are so unjust that they apply them to everyone but themselves.  They also change the rules whenever it is personally advantageous.  That is called injustice.  We do not want to be unjust to others.

So, I understand why everyone is upset but, while both of you are right, you are also both wrong. Think about your other two sisters, girls.  Maylee is upset.  Sonny is screaming.  You are scaring them.  I understand why you both feel justified, but the truth is that neither of you are.  Look how you’re treating each other.  This is not acceptable.

Next time, listen to each other.  Stop yelling over top of one another to get your ideas heard by the person you clearly disagree with.  Talk about it.  Don’t get upset when someone challenges your decisions.  Instead, answer them.  Know why you’re doing something and be able to explain it clearly when asked.  If you are the one asking, don’t be condescending.  When you have a different perspective, respect for the authority goes a long way – especially if you are older than they are.  Lastly, never forget to consider others who hear your disagreements.  Namely – your sisters.  But the windows are open for goodness sake! Everything we do affects other people.  Remember that.

And in that four girl fight club, I believe the Lord truly showed up with wisdom like unto Solomon’s for me.  My own heart was revealed as fighter number five and my own foolishness was found out.  Like the mechanic always says, they only know what you teach ’em.  God did none other than prove Himself faithful once again.

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