My blogging journey from the beginning for those who are interested. Each week I will include one of those original blogs from Martin Scott’s Perspective site. February 4th 2010 and the blogging began. Never did this before, but what therapy, what a joy, what a chronicling of a journey that never ends. In many ways things have developed, but it is good to see where we come from to appreciate where we are. All in the healing. Enjoy or endure…
I have always loved the story of Joshua. A disciple who fulfilled his destiny. A pioneer and not a settler. One who was prepared to fight for promise and not lay down. A friend of harlots long before the time of Jesus. Never crowned but recognised. Never given a title but loved dwelling in God’s presence. One who stood in big shoes but did things very differently. Gutsy but never arrogant. A visionary but spontaneous. Joshua was part of the nomadic people, a desert dweller that became a stronghold taker. Saw walls come crashing down, walls that had stood firm for centuries. Imagine walking in a bit of that today as we long for the walls of strongholds within the church and society to come crashing down. In many ways our days are very similar to Joshua’s.
We have never passed this way before.
“…you have not passed this way before.”
Literally crossed over, gone beyond…
I was inspired to come back to this story after a facebook chat with Jeff Abercrombie this week. (a new friend on this journey). In our chat I just wrote a throwaway comment that after I thought about it I realised it was some inspiration. There was some light shining on that. More of that in a bit.
After 40 years of desert and only seeing sand the people of Israel now stood on the verge of destiny. There may have been opportunity to enter here before but there was always something in the way. The Moses generation only ever talked about it and dreamed about it and saw it from a distance, but never put there foot there. They never crossed over. Many died in the wilderness years. How many of the generations before have seen destiny from a distance? How many have dreamed about Nations changing, being transformed? The Wesleys, Evan Roberts, the early Pentecostals, just a few that saw it. The following generations just boxed it all back in and carried on the desert life. There is something of security in always doing stuff how and where you have done it before. Add a little spice but keep the packaging relatively the same. A few individuals have dabbled their toes in the waters but many have carried the ark back again to their own institutions and buildings. Not realising that what the ark contained had escaped and was longing for people to escape with Him. The Joshua generation was about to step out of the comfort zone. They had never been this way before but they were going. Imagine what the Moses generation would say? Is that why they had to wait for most of that generation to die in the wilderness? Who does Joshua think he is, Moses always did it like this? In church life in Tonyrefail one of my predecessors was an A1 grade pastor. He was a great preacher, loved visiting, would get up in the middle of the night for anybody, fed, watered, cleaned, led the flock of God in an amazingly loving way. Then I came along… You can imagine, he used to do it this way. He did it that way. No crossing over when the people are longing for the place where they have already been, as Moses discovered to his loss. But the Joshua generation were there, ready, facing the unknown and ready to walk in the dark.
The Memorial Stones
These were taken out of the Jordan as they crossed over. Why? They were to be a memorial, a reminder so the people could always remember to tell their children. This is a key where we are going today. A few who I have spoken to have said that this journey is great personally but what about the children? How will they survive without the grounding of church or Sunday school? They will if we keep telling them about it. We need to restore our responsibility as parents and stop passing the buck. Sunday school is only a recent ‘addition’ to church life. Children have survived without it before and they will again, if we keep telling them. The people of Israel knew how to pass stuff down. Family meals were times of sharing and talking about life and God and the eternal. For the people in the early church family meals and friendly meals were times for everyone to eat and drink and share. It is here that they would break bread and remember. Never in a religious church ceremony with a nip and and a sip, but in a feast. There were markers in the calender to remember the death, resurrection, Pentecost, changed lives. And as people together they shared. The children were part of the sharing. How did something so life affirmed become so staid? Reeking of religion. Telling children they can’t eat bread and share in the wine to remember. Adult stuff this. In-fact all of church life is for adults alone to enjoy, whereas God loves including the children. See life of Jesus and the adults reaction, sadly this still echoes today. After having four boys I could not count the number of Sshs they received over the years.
It is not the church’s responsibility to tell them. It is not schools or leaders or childrens workers. We need to sheare with them. Not in boring, religious, let us get the Bible out now kids it is that part of the week you hate, type ways, but through life, love, sharing, naturally. In these days when kids are busy and everyone has things to do we still try to eat at the table together with TV off. Amazing what we talk about. God is always part of that conversation. Why? Because He is part of our lives.
The Manna Ceased.
Here is where I am getting to. My moment of inspiration. Once they had entered the land they started to eat from the produce of the land. At that moment the manna immediately ceased being provided to them. They ate the food of Canaan. They had to learn to feed themselves.For years, for all their lives for many of them, the manna was given to them daily. They did not know it any other way. Walk out, fetch it, bring it in, eat it. Walk out, fetch it, bring it in, eat it. Day after day after day for 40 years. They moaned because they were hungry, God fed them. They moaned at the boring diet, God threw in a bit of quail too. Spoon fed for 40 years.
Interesting that both bread (manna) and meat (quail) are symbolic of the Word of God. Where we have been the Word has been provided and given to us in so many ways. As long as we walk out, and fetch it, and bring it in and eat it. Sunday after Sunday after Sunday, feed me, feed me, feed me. Give me a sermon that is good for my palette. Pastor feed me, baa, baa, baa, feed me. That message had a bit too much gristle in it, that was too watery, feed me. We must sit under the Word. For the really mature there is the bonus of the Bible study. Deeper, more meat messages. And for the fast food needs there are now books, CD’s and even the God channel. Feed me, feed me, feed me. With all the teaching and resources that we have why are we not impacting the world like they were in the book of Acts before Bible colleges, books, tapes, God TV? Because of Spiritual obesity. We keep eating and never exercising. If we miss one meal we are told we may spiritually die. We have to have the Word to grow. Got to sit under it to mature.
The Food of the Land
But the day they tasted of the land the manna ceased. Now they had to feed themselves. They had to take personal responsibility to eat. And to provide for their families. It was no longer given, it had to be drawn from the land in which they were dwelling. And boy the tastes!!! Overflowing with milk and honey and fruit. An amazing diet that not only gives spiritual nourishment but is different everyday. Some grown above the land, others in the land, but the land providing the taste. As we journey forward to where we have never been before we will discover the tastes of the earth, the soil, the land. Different flavours, good flavours, many we have never tasted before, but wow, the best. We will be nourished and fit enough to take on strongholds. We will find food in the most amazing places and we will eat. And once again the spiritual health will return to God’s people.
Just this week I went for a walk through the beautiful Welsh valleys where I live. The sun was shining and I walked alongside a stream. I fed upon the mountains. I fed upon the sound of the water flowing. I fed upon the butterflies and birds. I fed upon the site of seeing people walk their dogs. Nourishment was in the land. It caused me to sing in tongues to the trees and mountains. It caused me to ponder Joshua and the crossing over. All I could feed on was God. What surrounded me was one of the best sermons I have ever fed upon, the sermon of life. Or was this the real sermon of the mount, or even the valley? I really have been sermoned to death by man, now all I want is His milk and honey. It is time to feed myself and take responsibility for my own. After all this tastes so much better.