Monday, July 26, 2010

Sermon for 7-25: What to do when you don't know what to do

12Then they returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day's walk[b] from the city. 13When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. 14They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
15In those days Peter stood up among the believers[c] (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) 16and said, "Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through the mouth of David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus— 17he was one of our number and shared in this ministry."
18(With the reward he got for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. 19Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)
20"For," said Peter, "it is written in the book of Psalms, " 'May his place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in it,'[d] and, " 'May another take his place of leadership.'[e] 21Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22beginning from John's baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection."
23So they proposed two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. 24Then they prayed, "Lord, you know everyone's heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen 25to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs." 26Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.

By the time we get to the second part of the first chapter of Acts, we see the disciples in a holding pattern. Jesus has just ascended to heaven and has told the disciples to wait for the Holy Spirit to come upon them. Then he says they will go out into places near and far and be witnesses of who Jesus is and what Jesus has done with the whole world.

They were told, I repeat, the Holy Spirit WILL come upon you.

Until that happened, until the Holy Spirit came upon them what should they do? What are they supposed to do?

Ever been in a situation like that? When you are kind of in between things? Have you ever been in that kind of situation where one opportunity has passed, and another door has not quite been open to you yet?

Or maybe you are not eagerly hoping for something specific in the future. Perhaps you are just living, and you have retired, and you don’t know what is coming next. You feel like your life is behind you, and you are not sure how to get out of the stuck place that you are at in your life.
I know I have felt like this at times. I wanted to be married. I at least wanted some sort of relationship heading in that direction. I would date a little bit. I would talk to some gals. Then there would be times where I would not find someone I wanted to date at all. Even when the odds were on my side as far as single women went, a phrase that women use about the higher proportion of men to women in Alaska came to mind. The odds were good, but the goods were odd.

Also, I felt led to be a leader of a church while I was serving as an Associate Pastor in Colorado Springs for a couple of years before God opened the door to come here to Fowler. It took time for God to open the right door to where he was calling me to go.

The disciples are in this place between where Jesus has ascended to heaven, and where the Holy Spirit comes to indwell believers on the day of Pentecost and thereafter. As they wait they teach us how live in those waiting, hoping, trying to figure out what is next times. They teach us what to do when we don’t quite know what to do.

There are a few helpful hints to notice as we go. You should see them on your outline as we go along. You can fill that out, or just listen as we go.
Those points are these.
Point 1: They gathered together
Point 2: They prayed together
Point 3: They let the word of God speak to them
Point 4: They obeyed what God said

Let us look at each of these points individually.

Point 1: They gathered together

Perhaps no spiritual practice is so overlooked and disparaged as the importance of believers gathering together. Of course, I know I am preaching to the choir right now, because each of you is here this morning. You have gathered together. But even when we are together, we may take this blessing for granted.
We need each other. We need each other for our own well being, but we also need each other to live out our faith in Jesus Christ in a meaningful and powerful manner.
There are several reasons why gathering together is important, especially in those times when we are seeking and searching for the answer to that “what to do question”
· We find wise council from and with others (Proverbs 15:22)
· We find people with different gifts and perspectives to offer (Rom 12)
· We find accountability (Matt. 18: 15-17)
· We find greater power in prayer (Matt. 18: 19-20)

So often our world drives us so hard toward independence. Scripture leads us toward interdependence on one another. We are made to need one another. We are made to lean on one another.

If you feel stuck in wondering what to do, come here. Share your heart with the people here. Allow their listening words and kind actions to lift you up, to offer you hope. Let us pray with you. Cry with you. Sing with you. Hope with you.

Point 2: They prayed together

If you notice nothing else in the book of Acts, I want you to notice how the early church prayed. How the apostles prayed. How when they were joyful, they thanked God in prayer together. How when they were scared, they gathered together in prayer to pray through their fear. You need to notice that when they early church faced a big decision, they bathed it in prayer. And, when they were suffering, they brought their confusion and heartache to the Lord in prayer. We tend to think we need to go to prayer when everything is out of our hands, and we have no control. Instead, we need to be in the habit of taking everything to God in prayer. Nothing is to trivial. Nothing that is important to you is unimportant to your heavenly father.

I want you to notice that the Scripture said they prayed TOGETHER. This is hard for some of us. We go to the Sermon on the Mount and we read that we need to go to our closet to pray. And we understand that means to pray in private.

When we are told to go to our closet to pray, we are told not to make prayer a show. Not to do prayer as a performance art so that other folks are impressed.

Scripture calls us both to pray in our closet, and to gather together for prayer.

We need to pray for each other. We also need to pray with one another.

Scripture says that there is power when we gather together in prayer. Scripture promises the presence of Christ in our midst when we gather together to pray.

Prayer is especially important when we are seeking to figure out what to do when we do not know what to do. We need to gather friends around us to pray for us. We need to enlist our church to pray with us and for us in times of stress, in times of grave concern, but also in those times when we need to have God lead us in what we should do with our next day, our next week, and the rest of our lives.

It would be so exciting even if after this service you found two other people to gather together with you and pray for you once a week. Pray for each other. Support each other. We are not only called to gather together, we are called to pray together.

Point 3: They let the word of God speak to them

The Bible is an amazing book. It is God’s word. It is without flaw. You would do well to know it. You would do well to study it. It would even be better if you understood what you studied. The Bible is written, though, so that you will let it speak to your life and situations you live in.
The story goes that there was a nobleman that was taken prisoner. He asked for a Bible as his only possession. He read it and he read it. This impressed people who checked in on him and watched him. Then he died, and then went into his dungeon cell. And they looked around and there were notes on the wall. Tallies on how many names were in the Bible. All sorts of other trivia. Really meaningless trivia about the Bible. It became apparent to his jailers that he learned the facts about the Bible, but he had little interest in what it meant or how it could make its way into his heart.

My friends, I want you to read the Bible. I want you to be faithful in doing it. But I don’t just want you to know facts and figures about the history of Scripture. I want you to allow the truths of Scripture, the stories in the word of God, the proverbs and the prayers, I want you to let all of that speak into your life. I want you to not just know the Bible, I want you to let the Bible guide and direct your life. I pray that the Bible will guide and direct your decisions.

I pray that as you read Scripture you will be challenged about how you raise your kids, treat your spouse, how you speak to your neighbor, and how you talk about people around your friends. I pray that the Word of God will speak into how you live and relate in relationship with others.

I pray you will allow the Word of God to speak to how you make your decisions, how you spend your time, and how you spend your money. I pray you would allow the Word of God to influence what you listen to, what you watch, how you drive your car, what you speak about, and what you think about.

The early church allowed the Word of God to speak to their specific situation. They found Scriptures after they prayed that spoke to a specific situation. In their case, it was what to do with their small little community after one person had betrayed their cause and killed himself. They found Scriptures about the Messiah which seemed to say that they needed to appoint another apostle, so that is what they went about doing. They sought God through his Word, and they allowed Scripture to speak to their lives where they were at.

Point 4: They obeyed what God said

We can pray and pray and pray and pray for God’s guidance.

We can study God’s Word for hours on end asking him to speak to us.

We can gather with other believers every time the church is open.

We can do all these things. However, if we are not willing and ready to obey God and his leading, we will end up feeling stuck, lost, alone, and awash in a sense of depression and hopelessness.
God speaks to us so that we can obey what he asks us to do.

The disciples felt like God was leading them to put someone in Judas’ position after his death. They found suitable candidates. They cast lots. They installed the person as apostle that they felt led toward.

God may lead us to do things that are uncomfortable. He may simply ask us to be still and know that he is God. God may not want to change our actions as much as our attitude. We need to obey.

If God says we need to forgive someone, we better do it.

If we feel led to have a more positive attitude and a more thankful heart after we pray, we better obey that leading.

If God speaks to you, you better obey. You better not harden your heart.

The disciples gathered together. They prayed together. They sought God in his Word. They obeyed what they had been led by God to do. They did this, and they conquered an empire with the power of their faith without ever lifting a sword.

What will you let God do in your heart, in your church, in your life. There is no limit in what God can do through us if we have the heart that they had back then. May the Lord find us faithful.

Parenting Posts #2

Some further reflections on parenting in the second month of Karis' life

  • I have the opportunity of spending most mornings at home with Karis working on stuff that I can do at home. I start at 7 and drop her off at 12:30. It allows me to get the same amount done as I get done from 9-Noon generally on any other day before she was born.

  • Slowly I am being able to discern between her cries. The feed me cry is most recongnizable. Followed by the "you dont quite have it, you need to move me a little bit" cry.

  • She is becoming more social. A month ago when she started to make noise, we started to make a plan to soothe her. Now, she likes to thrust her arm toward you and get verbal like she is talking with you. Of course, she does not have any words yet. A month ago kicking and flailing was always a cause for concern. This month, at times, it is simply exercise.

  • I am becoming more attached to her as time goes by. I am ok with dropping her off at day care for 4 hours of so. When I have had to drop her off for a full-day I have to leave quickly because I get close to tears.

  • Another time I was close to tears: I went to daycare to bring by someone who wanted to meet the baby. She tried to hold and capture the baby's attention. But, Karis heard my voice. She started looking over in my direction and reaching out her hand. She loves her daddy and misses him! This makes me happy.

  • I have learned that my child's anxiety is directly related to mine, especially when I hold her. If I get upset because she is a little fussy, she gets more upset. If I take a deep breathe and model poise and peace to her, it helps her to do the same. Having said that, I have not perfected this at all.

  • When I preach, my daughter hears my voice amplified, but cannot find out where I am. She looks around, she gets confused, then she cries out. This is hard to deal with, but it also makes me feel good.

  • Unlike every other kid I have seen, unless Karis ends up moving with her cart or the or in the car she HATES her car seat. She is ok when she is in and out of it when we take a break from travelling. But it really does not work to put her in the car seat otherwise.

  • I find that part of what frustrates or encourages me as a parent is when I feel competent or incompetent as a parent. If I am able to soothe Karis or make her smile, or get a difficult burp out of her, I feel good as a father and a parent. If I fail in care of her somehow I feel like I shoulld have never been a father. In this case, parenting can be an emotional rollercoaster.

Thats about it...

Friday, July 23, 2010

Whatever this means,,,,

I write like
H. P. Lovecraft

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

The mixed blessing of television

I was born in 1973. I am a member of the "Baby Buster" generation or "Generation X". This means I have never lived in a world where there was not color television.

I like my television. I especially like watching television from August to February. This is because I love watching college and professional football. I am an avid Seahawks fan, and an even more passionate Oregon Ducks fan. Sometimes it makes me sad I live in an area where I don't get to see my teams often enough on television.

My wife likes reality tv. We watch shows like HGTV's House Hunters together. She watches the Bachelorette while I find something else to do.

Lately I have been pondering how the invention of the television has influenced my life and my world. Specifically, I am wondering how our television-centered culture effects our ability to be hospitable to one another, pay attention to one another, and love one another.

For instance, I have been thinking about how our home is organized. Currently, all our seating faces the television in both our den and our living room in the parsonage. I wonder if that was the case when the house was built over a hundred of years ago. I imagine that the seating faced others so that people in the home could look at each other, visit each other, and welcome others into their home. If this is the case, we have changed in the last 100 years from having homes being centered around relationships, to being centered around entertaining ourselves.

In many homes, the television has taken over meal time. Fewer and fewer families eat with one another and visit at the table. Instead, we often eat in the living room where we can see what is on the television at the same time.

When our small children are needing something to occupy their time and we want to do other things, it is not uncommon to place our children in front of a television with a video or children's programming. This is not always bad. Sesame Street taught me to read at a young age. However, I wonder if we use the television a little too often to soothe our kids when they would be better off with more time and attention from people that love them.

Recently, honest, civil discussions about matters of national importance, including political matters, has become more jaded. I think this is because the news shows on tv often manipulates us with sound bites and video clips designed to insight fear and distrust. I wonder if the world looked different when people had the patience to talk through difficult issues, and the commitment to read more instead of flipping on the television and quoting their favorite newsman or newswoman.

So what does all of this have to do with the Christian faith? I don't think this power of television in our lives means this pastor is ever going to recommend that all tvs should be thrown out of the home. It does that we might be wise to wake up and take control of the influences we let into the house instead of letting them control us. It might mean we choose to be aware of the television's influence in our home, and put some limits on when we watch it and for how long. If we are concerned about the overwhelming influence of television in our lives, we may want to choose certain times of the week where we intentionally turn our televisions off so that we can visit with our families, make that phone call we need to make, write that note we have been putting off, read a book or take some time for Bible study and prayer even.

Anyway...something to ponder as you go through your day!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Poem

It is when

I feel

the loss

of your presence

that I


what you mean

to me

It is when

I feel

your absence

that your presence


and surrounds me

like a pleasant aroma

It is when

I am hungry

for your touch

that I know

how much

your love


and fulfills

It is when

I cannot

see you

that I see you

and when I cannot

hear your voice

that your words

ring in my ear

Your love

is near me

when you are present

and surrounds me

when I am not near

so that I will know

the strength of our love


Monday, July 12, 2010

Book Review of THE JOURNEY HOME by Michael Baron

By Michael Baron
ISBN-13 978-0-9819568-6-2
The Story Plant
Reviewer Clint Walker

As THE JOURNEY HOME begins, Warren’s life sounds like a bad country song. His wife has left him. He lost his job. On top of all this, Warren’s mother Antoinette is in an assisted living facility and dying of Alzheimer’s disease.

At the same time, a man named Joseph awakens in a strange place. He does not know where he is or where he is from. Joseph runs into a young man named Billy who offers him the opportunity to get out on the open road and rediscover his memory and his old life.

The book alternates between the stories of Antoinette, Warren, and Joseph. Throughout the novel, each character looks to the past to help them find their way in the present. It is an extremely well-written book that tugs at one’s heart strings.

One of the unique things about the story was the interrelationship between food, memory, and home. Walter spends most of the novel recreating his mother’s old recipes in her apartment as a way of reaching her and connecting to her memory. Each significant movement in the novel is accompanied by a meal. And the whole novel centers around both Joseph and Antoinette’s struggles with remembering.

This book has been marketed as a Christian novel in some circles Even though this book is an excellent read, I believe it will be a disappointment to readers who are expecting a Christian novel. The name of Christ is never mentioned. The theology of the afterlife communicated in this novel contradicts the plain teaching of Scripture. The only way this book seems Christian is that the whole novel communicates traditional values and a high regard for family life. For many readers seeking a Christian inspirational novel, this will not be enough.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

NBA Drama

I have had several thoughts to share about the NBA free-agent period. It has intrigued me a lot. And, what intrigues me most is not where the top 8 free agents go, but rather where the next top 42 fall. I have also been interested in the big Lebron drama too, and have thoughts about all of it.

1. The Big 3 in Miami (if it happens) will not be all it is cracked up to be

A team is not made up of three players. A basketball team needs at least 8 servicable players. Maybe more. Dwayne Wade has been so beat up, I think he really only has 3 really good years in him. What if one of the "big three" get hurt? Who will fill in? Will Charles Barkley come out of retirement? He better, because that is going to be the quality of the supporting cast.

I think the Big 3 in Miami will still struggle with Orlando, Los Angeles, Boston and others.

2. My thoughts on the not so big rest of the players

Randy Foye
Nate Robinson
David Lee
Tyrus Thomas
Luis Scola
Raymond Felton
Joel Childress
Shaquille O'Neal
Udonis Haslem
Richard Jefferson
Corey Brewer
JJ Redick
Al Harrington
Z. Ilgauskas
Brad Miller--
Matt Barnes
Luke Ridnour--
Jordan Farmar--
Kyle Korver
Sergio Rodriguez
Wes Matthews
Matt Miller--
Earl Boykins--
Josh Howard

I think after Lebron decision several things will happen.
  1. Each of the teams that cleared space will go looking quickly for servicable point guards. This means that Ridnour, Farmar, Robinson, and even Rodriguez and Boykins will be signed by the end of the weekend. Also, look for some point guard trades
  2. Next, teams will seek to fill their outside shooting needs. Matt Miller and Kyle Korver and JJ Redick will have offers before the end of the weekend too
  3. Miami, with or without Lebron, will work at filling out their roster. If Lebron comes, look for veterans hungry to win. If Lebron does not go to Miami, look for young, lanky athletic types and a tough center to join the team.
  4. After that the big moves by teams with cap space. For instance, New Jersey, New York, Chicago, perhaps Cleveland will make signings
  5. Teams that are already decent will look to sign players with mid-level exceptions
  6. Teams get filled out with veterans minimums

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Book Review for Sixteen Brides by Stephanie Grace Whitson

In 1871, the lives of sixteen women are changed by one desperate decision to leave the security of their homes and board a train for a new future. The Ladies Emigration Society offers the women a free homestead and a way to support themselves and take control of their lives during a time when independence was often limited or impossible. Each of them abandon the lives and lifestyles they know to become homesteaders, only to learn soon before arriving in Plum Grove, NE that they are being sent to the frontier as mail order wives instead of land owners.

The story of this time and place in history becomes even more interesting as each of the womens' situations that brought them to this point develop. Each woman in the story takes charge of their individual future in suprising ways. This leads to different outcomes for each person, and in turn also tells a unique story about how the community of Plum Grove is transformed by these courageous ladies.

The author weaves some history of the early life of settlers and how they relied on their faith in God to guide their decisions. It also highlights an interesting historical situation that women found themselves in as they settled the West. Too often the stories of women like these ladies are forgotten. Although the story is predictable, there are some exciting plot twists. If you enjoy stories like Little House on the Prairie, you will enjoy this book.
*A complimentary copy of this book was provided by Bethany House Publishers as a review copy in exchange for writing this review. I was free to write the article honestly.
**This review was writen in conjunction with my mother, Patricia Walker

Sunday, July 04, 2010

As for Me and My House--Scripture and Part 1

As for Me And My House
Joshua 24: 1-5; 14-28
1 Then Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem and called for the elders of Israel, for their heads, for their judges, and for their officers; and they presented themselves before God. 2 And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘Your fathers, including Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, dwelt on the other side of the River[a] in old times; and they served other gods. 3 Then I took your father Abraham from the other side of the River, led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his descendants and gave him Isaac. 4 To Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. To Esau I gave the mountains of Seir to possess, but Jacob and his children went down to Egypt. 5 Also I sent Moses and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt, according to what I did among them. Afterward I brought you out.********
14 “Now therefore, fear the LORD, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the LORD! 15 And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” 16 So the people answered and said: “Far be it from us that we should forsake the LORD to serve other gods; 17 for the LORD our God is He who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, who did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way that we went and among all the people through whom we passed. 18 And the LORD drove out from before us all the people, including the Amorites who dwelt in the land. We also will serve the LORD, for He is our God.” 19 But Joshua said to the people, “You cannot serve the LORD, for He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins. 20 If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume you, after He has done you good.” 21 And the people said to Joshua, “No, but we will serve the LORD!” 22 So Joshua said to the people, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the LORD for yourselves, to serve Him.” And they said, “We are witnesses!” 23 “Now therefore,” he said, “put away the foreign gods which are among you, and incline your heart to the LORD God of Israel.”

24 And the people said to Joshua, “The LORD our God we will serve, and His voice we will obey!” 25 So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and made for them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem. 26 Then Joshua wrote these words in the Book of the Law of God. And he took a large stone, and set it up there under the oak that was by the sanctuary of the LORD. 27 And Joshua said to all the people, “Behold, this stone shall be a witness to us, for it has heard all the words of the LORD which He spoke to us. It shall therefore be a witness to you, lest you deny your God.” 28 So Joshua let the people depart, each to his own inheritance.

It was not an easy day for Joshua. There were very few after Moses passed away and passed on the leadership of Israel to him. God had blessed them with a miraculous victory in battle in Jericho. Then they marched into Ai. In Ai many of their men died in battle. They were trounced. They were defeated in battle because one man, named Achan, and his family betrayed the instructions of God by holding back some of the spoils of battle for themselves.

That day Joshua gathered the people, and he had them go to the town of Shechem. Shechem was a town that was at the entryway to a mountain pass. It had two mountains on either side of it. On one side was Mount Ebal. On the other side was Mount Gerazim. Half of the people climbed one mountain. Half of the people climbed the other mountain overlooking the city. With hundreds of thousands of people on each side of the mountain pass of Shechem the read the covenant in Deuteronomy….all of it…as a responsive reading. The people in the valley below must have been impressed. All of the people of Israel did this. Men…women…children. They renewed their covenant with God and one another. And they went about entering the promised land. All of this happened around Joshua 8.

Fast forward. Israel has finished their battles. They are about to take possession of the land that was promised. There were still people occupying some of the land that they had been promised. But they were disbanding as an army and moving from being a nomadic people to being a people owning and tending a land. The word came out to the people that they were gathering in Shechem again. Once again to renew the covenant. Then to go and take possession of the promised Land.

The mountains around Shechem were the place where Abraham was buried. It is probably the place where Jacob meets Esau, fearing for his life after wrestling with the angel on the other side of the River. It was also along a major trade route. It was the area where Jacob settled for several years. Where Joseph was sold to merchants who took him to Egypt. Now, as escaped slaves from Egypt, they stand above it. They look at this land of history. They look at the land of Promise. The land that had been promised to the children of Abraham, that land was being claimed by his decendants half a millineum later. With Joshua as their leader. Joshua meets with the elders. Then with the people.

Bible scholars and Hebrew tradition agree that they once again renew the covenant over those two mountains. Some traditions say that they read the cursings from one mountain, and the blessings from the other. This is very interesting, because one of these mountains is a fertile easy mountain climb with creeks flowing through it, while the other mountain is full of prickly pear and jagged rocks. If the people are faithful, they have one kind of ascent discovering the presence of God. Beautiful and fruitful. If they take another direction, jagged rocks and prickly pear with a steep slope. Painful and rough.

They stand to make their commitment. All of them, in this massive crowd, climb the mountains again. All the idol worshippers watch in the valley below. Joshua recounts their history. The decision that is before them. That decision was that as a nation they could choose to follow God, submit to him, and obey his word. Or, as a nation, the people could choose to follow the gods of Egypt and of the people of the land. Joshua tells them that if they commit to a covenant with God, then they need to remember that there is a blessing for doing it, but that it will be awful for them if they choose not to follow the Word of the Lord as stated in His Law.

He tells them that they have an option to do as they please. Then Joshua utters these famous, brilliant words that we have heard many times, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”.

As for Me and My House--Part 2

“As for me and my house we will serve the Lord”

If you are like me you have heard this passage quoted before. You have seen it written across people’s doorposts. You have heard it quoted on Christian radio. You may know it is in Joshua. You may not know the many layers of meaning that this passage held when Joshua said it.

For instance, you may not think of this passage in the context of a people who had been wandering through the desert. The people of God had been living in tents for over a generation. For 400 years they had been in slavery. All the while they had been clinging to a promise that God would bring them into the promised land of what is modern day Israel. For twice as long as America has been a nation, the Hebrew people had been clinging to a promise that someday God would give them a land to live in. Now that moment was happening. That promise was fulfilled. Joshua says that he will honor God with the promise he has been given. He will honor God in the place he lives. He will recognize God as the one who fulfills promises and answers prayers. And he will get the chance to live in a home, and not just a tent. His house will be a place where God is honored in.

He said, “Me and My House, We will serve the Lord”

But a house, in Hebrew thought, is more than just a building. It is a group of people. Specifically, it refers to a family grouping. This is how we often interpret it. We look at this verse and say when Joshua says “Me and my house” he is talking about his family. He is saying, as the leader of his family, that his family will follow the Lord. When he does this he does what all good leaders should do. Specifically, he says in effect “I don’t know about you, but this is what me and my family we are going to do. We are going to serve Lord. Are you going to do the same as I?” By being the first to commit his family to follow God, he invites other to follow suit.

He said, “Me and My House, We will serve the Lord”

Along the same lines, maybe he is saying that he is not going to be swayed by what anyone else does. He is committed to the Lord, along with his family. This would certainly fit his character. Those of you who know Bible history know that he and one other person had the only “yes” votes in entering the promised land of Israel when everyone else was too scared to enter. Can you imagine? What is the vote? 200,000 no. 2 yes. Yet Joshua was right then. He is correct in this moment as well.

He said, “Me and My House, We will serve the Lord”

I think all of these things are layers of meaning in the passage. I think it is interesting if you study the passage, though, that the most common use of house is not a building, and not a nuclear family unit. The most common use of the word of house is used of a tribe, or even a nation of people. Over and over again, as a nation the Hebrew people are referred to as the “House of Israel”.

Joshua said, “Me and My House, We will Serve the Lord”

So along with these other layers of meaning, when Joshua stands up and says, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” What he is saying is that as long as he is leader of the people of Israel, they will serve the Lord. He will not lead them in any other direction. So the people have a choice. They can follow Joshua and this covenant as God’s people, or they can meld in with the rest of the world, and follow a different leader and join with one of the other nations around them. Or they can find a new leader. But when he is leader, he is going to lead the people to serve the Lord. He will not let it go in any other direction.

As for Me and My House Part 3

All of these ways of looking at the meaning of this one sentence are true. They are as true today as they were then. Whether you have a big house, or whether you have a small house. Whether you have a full house, or you live alone. Whether you rent your home, or you own it. You can make your home God’s home. You can let the Word of God reign in your home.

You can say, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”

You can be a leader in your family. Parents, you can set standards for your children. You can say, these are things that we will stand for in this home. These are things that we will not permit. Your commitment to be here today speaks of just such a commitment. When you commit to be here, worshipping and praising here….

You say, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”

We can all be in situations like Joshua had been decades before. Where everyone around us are going the wrong way. And we have to make a stand for what is right. And we know we are going to be in the minority. And we know people are going to be angry with us. And we might even be scared. Never the less, when everyone else is doing whatever is right or good in their own eyes, we can look at our lives a little bit differently.

We can say, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Generations ago, people came to this country from all over. Many of them came because they loved the Lord, and wanted to worship him as they saw fit. They formed colonies. They began created charters. They may have done well in some ways, and fell short in others. But many of them came to America saying…

“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”

Today we desperately need people in our nation like Joshua. Leaders who stand for what is right, even when it is not popular. Leaders who would ask what Jesus would do before they decide what direction to lead us in. Even if it costs them their office for a season, or their popularity. People who are going to stand for the truth, and stand for what is right. People who are not going to have their choices shifted by polls, or who gives them what financial support.

Leaders who say, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”

When I think of modern day Joshua’s I think of people like Manute Bol, who died at the end of last month in Olathe, KS. Manute was eulogized in the National Cathedral after his death. Honored with a hero’s memorial in our country. Friends with Senators like Joe Lieberman, he was lauded as one who embodied our country’s values. Yet, he never fought in the military. He was born halfway across the world.

Manute was a son of a tribal royalty in the Danka tribe in Southern Sudan. He was tall. His grandfather was taller, he said, standing at 7’ 10’. Manute was 7’7” tall.

In his teens he was discovered by someone affiliated with basketball back in the United States. He showed a little adeptness for it. They tried to get him in to a Division I program in the states. Rules did not permit. He ended up at a very small college for two years on scholarship, and then went on to play in the NBA. Yet he kept his Lord and his people in his mind, “God guided me to America and gave me a good job. But he also gave me a heart so I would look back.” He said in an interview

He made millions of dollars in the NBA, but held on to very little of it. Instead of hoarding his millions he spent his money reaching out to his people back in Sudan. Building hospitals. Standing for justice for the people in Darfur, even though the people in Darfur used to be mortal enemies of his tribe.

As one person said of Manute, “Most NBA cats go broke on cars, jewelry & groupies. Manute Bol went broke building hospitals”

In the 90s they told him he could have a cabinet post in the government in Sudan if he would simply become a Muslim. He said no. “I WILL NOT. I AM A CHRISTIAN!” He said.

So they tried to deny him the opportunity to return to his home in America. He ended up in exile in Egypt for a year, until several congressman found a way to get him back into the country.

He ran out of NBA money, so he made himself a laughingstock to support his ministry with the Christians in the Sudan being persecuted by Muslims. He took his 77 and 225 frame to a hockey game for thousands of dollars. His thin frame boxed with William the Refrigerator Perry to help more people as they laughed at him. He became the tallest horse jockey ever to support his outreach.

He kept standing for Jesus, working for Christ, returning to Sudan. On the last time he went to Sudan he got a skin disease that burned his mouth, lips, and part of his throat. He couldn’t eat. He had a kidney disease. He died, in part at least, as a martyr and missionary to his own country and to ours, in a hospital bed in Suburban Kansas City.

He said “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”

We will spend our lives loving and serving others. We will refuse to betray Christ, even when offered great amounts of political power. Manute said, “I will be laughed at so that I can love others.” I will use my wealth to help my people. I will use my voice and my stage to stand up for the freedom of my people, and people that were once my enemies, but are now my brothers in Christ.

Manute LIVED, “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord”

Today, we have the opportunity to renew our covenant. We come to the table of God. We take the bread and the cup. We remember the body and the blood. And we are asked, once again, to make a choice to form or renew our covenant with the Lord. We come to this table to answer the question,
“Who will you serve?”

I hope you will say, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”


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