Am I too comfortable with God?

29 02 2012

The subject of this post has been troubling me since 08 February when I read about Joshua’s encounter in Joshua 5:13-15.   It’s not clear to me who this person was that he met, but there was something “other” about Joshua’s experience, just as there had been for Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3:1-6). 

Cool word for this – theophany

So what’s the problem?

I don’t have an issue with Joshua, Moses, the apostle Paul and others having these “other” experiences.  My issue is that I don’t!  I have very ordinary experiences, not ones where I fall on my knees, kick of my shoes or tremble in fear.


Sunday 19 February took me to Psalm 8:

“When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—
the moon and the stars you set in place—
what are mere mortals that you should think about them,
human beings that you should care for them?
Yet you made them only a little lower than God
and crowned themwith glory and honor.
You gave them charge of everything you made,
putting all things under their authority— 
the flocks and the herds
and all the wild animals,
the birds in the sky, the fish in the sea,
and everything that swims the ocean currents.

O LORD, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!”

What a magnificent expression of worship!  And an astonishing positioning of human beings in the grand scheme of things.


22 February – I read a quotation of that Psalm in Hebrews 2 and the extraordinary assertion that Jesus “entered every detail of human life” and identifies with us as “brothers and sisters”.  No longer is God “other”; God is one of us. 

If that’s true,  I’d better kick my slippers off, stop sitting comfortably waiting for God to appear to me is some “other” manifestation, and take Paul’s advice –

Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” (Romans 12:1-2)


Lest we forget

8 02 2012

11 November is a day of remembrance  for those who gave their lives in two world wars, and in subsequent conflicts. People stand still in supermarkets, on street corners, at war memorials, to remember. It’s a national memorial day.

There is something moving about a nation remembering together – remembering both what did happen in their history and what might have happened.

So when God tells Joshua to have the people build a memorial, it serves two purposes – it reminds them of their coming together as a nation and of God’s deliverance, but it also reminds them of the nation’s rebellious years of wandering in the desert. It provides a focus for what to tell future generations so that they don’t forget what God has done – “Each of you must pick up one stone and carry it out on your shoulder—twelve stones in all, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. We will use these stones to build a memorial. In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ Then you can tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the LORD’s Covenant went across.’ These stones will stand as a memorial among the people of Israel forever.”

That’s the public memorial. But there is a quiet insignificant line in the story which tells us Joshua’s personal response.  He goes back to the scene of God’s intervention and builds a memorial of his own. I wonder what motivated him to do that. We’re not told, but I think it may have had something to do with personal gratitude that God has kept the earlier promise to be with him and to equip him as Moses successor. His memorial is not on public view, but it is a significant personal deal between him and his God.

I have personal memorials – pictures, artefacts, “bits” – that remind me of times when God has done something significant in my life. (Maybe its sad that I need the reminders but I’d rather have them than risk forgetting.) They are nothing spectacular or showy, but then remembering is not always a public deal.

Personal details

3 02 2012

Like I said before, the book of Joshua makes difficult reading.  I’ve been puzzling over it and found this thought in The Message. It’s as good as it gets, so rather than have my thoughts, here are Peterson’s –

“For most modern readers of Joshua, the toughest barrier to embracing the story is…kiliing everyone in the conquered cities and totally destroying all the plunder, both animals and goods.  Massacre and destruction. “No survivors” is the recurrent refrain. We look back from our time in history and think, ‘How horrible.’ But if we were able to put ourselves back in the thirteenth century BC, we might see it differently, for that Canaanite culture was a snake pit of child sacrifice and sacred prostitution, practices ruthlessly devoted to using the most innocent and vulnerable members of the community (babies and virgins) to manipulate God or gods for gain.

… the book of Joshua continues to keep us grounded in places and connected to persons: place names, personal names…What we often consider to be the subjects of religion – ideas, truths, prayers, promises, beliefs – are never permitted to have a life of their own apart from particular persons and actual places.”

Red light, red rope

2 02 2012

Wordlive has directed me to the book of Joshua in the Old Testament. It poses lots of problems, not least that it sounds a lot like ethnic cleansing…but that’s for another time.

I’ve been intrigued by Rahab. She is an unlikely believer – she is a foreigner and a prostitute; she tells lies and deceives, and yet God extends his grace to her. The sign for her protection is a red rope at her window. (You really have to read the story to get the picture.)  It seems that she has heard of the God of the Israelites, who rescued his people from slavery, and is convinced that he is the true God -” for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.” She is prepared to risk everything for her faith. The spies, whom she protects, in turn promise her protection on condition that she displays, not a red light, but a red rope from her window.

The scarlet lady comes good, so good that she becomes a member of the Hall of Faith (Hebrews 11:31) and is named by Matthew as one of Jesus’ ancestors.

I say that I am intrigued by her, and that’s true, but I’m also intrigued by a God who chooses unlikely people to be his followers. Presumably as God he could have managed fine without Rahab’s help, but for some mysterious reason he uses the little guys in his plans. That gives me hope. While I may not have anything special to commend me, may not be a model believer, there is hope that God will extend his grace to me.


“Biblical religion has a low tolerance for ‘great ideas’ or ‘sublime truths’ or ‘inspirational thoughts’ apart from the people and places in which they occur. God’s great love and purposes for us are worked out in the messes, storms and sins, blue skies, daily work, and dreams of our common lives, working with us as we are and not as we should be.”  Eugene Peterson

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