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you, tough soldiers all, must cross the river

Launching into the FutureTHURSDAY
Reflection 9 of 10

REFLECT

Then Joshua addressed the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh.

He said,

“Remember what Moses the servant of God commanded you: God, your God, gives you rest and he gives you this land. Your wives, your children, and your livestock can stay here east of the Jordan, the country Moses gave you; but you, tough soldiers all, must cross the River in battle formation, leading your brothers, helping them until God, your God, gives your brothers a place of rest just as he has done for you. They also will take possession of the land that God, your God, is giving them. Then you will be free to return to your possession, given to you by Moses the servant of God, across the Jordan to the east.”

Joshua 1.12-15 | MSG

 

RECEIVE

Okay, today it’s your turn.

Time for you to sit quietly, listen, and write what you see and hear. At this moment you have your own river to cross.

Maybe it’s just a small one.
Maybe it’s huge.

What is the river you are being challenged to cross over right now in your life? What is the promised land on the other side? How long have you been preparing for this moment? What are your first steps in crossing this river? Who are you taking along with you?

Listen.
Write.

Get going…

RELATE

What is the river you are being challenged to cross over right now in your life?
What are your first steps?

 

RESPOND

Living God, give me wisdom to move beyond merely gathering at the river which you have called me to cross to actually getting my feet wet as I cross it. Give me the grace to launch, and to launch well. Through your mercies.

future

the future isn’t for wimps | Joshua 1.5-9

Launching into the FutureTUESDAY
Reflection 7 of 10

REFLECT

I won’t give up on you; I won’t leave you. Strength! Courage! You are going to lead this people to inherit the land that I promised to give their ancestors. Give it everything you have, heart and soul.

Make sure you carry out The Revelation that Moses commanded you, every bit of it. Don’t get off track, either left or right, so as to make sure you get to where you’re going. And don’t for a minute let this Book of The Revelation be out of mind. Ponder and meditate on it day and night, making sure you practice everything written in it. Then you’ll get where you’re going; then you’ll succeed.

Haven’t I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged.
God, your God, is with you every step you take.

Joshua 1.5-9 | MSG

 

RECEIVE

They had stood on the brink of this future before – and they flinched. An entire generation flinched and then walked away. “The walls are too thick and the people are too small.” They weren’t the first ones to balk at the future opening up before them rather than walking into it. Nor were they the first ones to choose the security of the known quantities of the past (even if those known quantities involved oppression and forced labor) rather than risk the unknown quantities of future promises. No, the future isn’t for wimps.

The flinching of the prior generation poignantly echoed Boromir’s caution in Fellowship of the Ring:

One does not simply walk into Mordor. Its black gates are guarded by more than just orcs. There is evil there that does not sleep, and the Great Eye is ever watchful. It is a barren wasteland, riddled with fire and ash and dust, the very air you breathe is a poisonous fume. Not with ten thousand men could you do this. It is folly.

Yes, it is folly – and much safer to go back, or at the very least to settle for this side of the river. Which is why we often say “faith” is spelled R-I-S-K. It’s also why Joshua hears the repeated encouragement to be “strong and courageous.”
“Don’t be discouraged.”
“Don’t be timid.”

And it’s also why he was urged, not to make a careful study of The Art of War, but to maintain a solid, listening posture towards God’s written counsel. You have not been this way before, and you’re going to need more than your wits about you; you need Holy Writ inside you.

No. The future is not for wimps.

 

RELATE
What are your deepest fears as you face the future? What is the key to surmounting these fears?

RESPOND
Living God, the future may not be for wimps, but you say ‘the meek shall inherit the earth.’ Remind me of this truth when fears of the unfolding future threaten to shut me down. Breathe fresh courge into the sails of my life. Through Jesus.

future

take the best and go | Joshua 1.1-5

Launching into the FutureMONDAY
Reflection 6 of 10


REFLECT

After the death of Moses the servant of God, God spoke to Joshua, Moses’ assistant:

“Moses my servant is dead. Get going. Cross this Jordan River, you and all the people. Cross to the country I’m giving to the People of Israel. I’m giving you every square inch of the land you set your foot on—just as I promised Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon east to the Great River, the Euphrates River—all the Hittite country—and then west to the Great Sea. It’s all yours.

All your life, no one will be able to hold out against you.
In the same way I was with Moses, I’ll be with you.”

Joshua 1.1-5 | MSG

RECEIVE

More than Moses was left behind as they crossed the Jordan.
Manna was left behind.
And their mobile rock drinking fountain.
And the pillar of cloud by day, the pillar of fire by night.
And the quail.
And a whole lot of bodies from a generation missing the courage to cross.

We all have a heritage – not many of us dig into to it. Perhaps we’re afraid of what faces we’ll find lurking back there. The reality is, whether it’s a heritage from which to recover or on which to build – or whatever mixture of the two – our past propels us into our future.

John Wimber was fond of saying, “Take the best and go.”
This is why we lean into the past.

We need its signposts and lessons, its failures and successes, its wins and losses, its strengths and weaknesses. And whether we like it or not, it’s with us regardless. To lean into it is to intentionally be nourished by its health, instructed by its wisdom, and to become healers through its wounds. To lean into it is to choose the higher trajectory as it slingshots us forward.

And that’s where we focus this week. Having intentionally leaned back into the massive slingshot of the past, we now launch out into our future. This week we stand with Joshua, leaning into the slingshot not merely of the past forty years, but the past 430 years since God first made his promise to Abram “I will multiply you; I will make of you a great nation; I will give you the land in which you now sojourn.”

The key word in describing the land that lay before this generation emerging from the desert: promise.
There’s a lesson there for us.

And a challenge:

Aim higher.

RELATE

As you contemplate the future, what is the primary emotion you experience? Fear? Anticipation? Indifference? or __________________? Why?

 

RESPOND

Living God, take the best and worst of my past, and breathe them into flaming embers that will fill the world with light and life and love in all the unique ways you have intended before the world began. Fill me with great expectations as I cross the river into the new day breaking before me. Through Jesus.

future

marching orders

Launching into the FutureWEDNESDAY
Reflection 8 of 10

REFLECT

Then Joshua gave orders to the people’s leaders:

“Go through the camp and give this order to the people: ‘Pack your bags. In three days you will cross this Jordan River to enter and take the land God, your God, is giving you to possess.’”
Joshua 1.10-11 |  MSG

Jesus called the Twelve to him, and sent them out in pairs. He gave them authority and power to deal with the evil opposition. He sent them off with these instructions:

“Don’t think you need a lot of extra equipment for this.
You are the equipment.
No special appeals for funds.
Keep it simple.
And no luxury inns.
Get a modest place and be content there until you leave.
If you’re not welcomed, not listened to, quietly withdraw.
Don’t make a scene.
Shrug your shoulders and be on your way.”

Then they were on the road. They preached with joyful urgency that life can be radically different; right and left they sent the demons packing; they brought wellness to the sick, anointing their bodies, healing their spirits.  Mark 6.7-13 | MSG

RECEIVE

Union general George McClellan is credited by most historians with organizing what became known as the Army of the Potomac – the army that ultimately carried the war for the Union in the American Civil War. A massive, monumental achievement.

But much to President Lincoln’s deepening chagrin, he seemed reluctant to do anything with it. At one point he sent a note to Lincoln's noteMcClellan asking if he could borrow his army if McClellan wasn’t doing anything with it – or, as pictured here, one month after the momentous battle of Antietam, after being informed that McClellan had still not begun pursuing Lee’s beaten army because of “tongued and fatigued horses” he sent this wonderfully pointed note:

“I have just read your dispacth about some tongued and fatigued horses. Will you pardon me for asking what the horses of your army have done since the battle of Antietam that fatigues anything? A. Lincoln.”

There is a time to gather stones, and there is a time to cast them away.
Prepare, equip, train, ready, organize, systematize, theorize, plan, strategize.

But finally comes the time when we must launch.

McClellan was a great administrator about whom Lincoln observed, “He helps others to fight, but he does not himself fight.” It was Ulysses S. Grant that ultimately got the job done. When others petitioned for Grant’s dismissal over rumors of his drinking, Lincoln simply responded,

“I can’t spare this man. He fights.”

As we face off with the future, as Joshua did with his generation, or as Jesus did with the twelve disciples, perhaps we can hear the nudge to lean more into Grant than McClellan.

You don’t need a lot of extra equipment.
You are the equipment.
You are ready.

And it’s time to launch.

 

RELATE
Are you a careful planner or a more spontaneous improviser? What would you say is the key to preparing enough to move ahead without becoming paralyzed when it’s time to launch?

 

RESPOND
Living God, lead me into healthier, functioning rhythms of gathering stones and casting them away. Give me the wisdom to plan well, and the courage to launch when it’s time. By your grace.

future

remember THAT | Deuteronomy 4.14-20

Leaning into the PastWEDNESDAY
Reflection 3 of 10

 

REFLECT

And God commanded me at that time to teach you the rules and regulations that you are to live by in the land which you are crossing over the Jordan to possess.

You saw no form on the day God spoke to you at Horeb from out of the fire. Remember that. Carefully guard yourselves so that you don’t turn corrupt and make a form, carving a figure that looks male or female, or looks like a prowling animal or a flying bird or a slithering snake or a fish in a stream. And also carefully guard yourselves so that you don’t look up into the skies and see the sun and moon and stars, all the constellations of the skies, and be seduced into worshiping and serving them. God set them out for everybody’s benefit, everywhere. But you—God took you right out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt, to become the people of his inheritance—and that’s what you are this very day.

Deuteronomy 4.14-20 |  MSG

RECEIVE

Dry, blighted, blasted, barren, wasted, desert.

Welcome to Horeb.

The word “Horeb” actually embodies all those descriptors. No one names their retreat center “Horeb.” And yet that is precisely where God continues to show up.

Desert God.
We are much more keen for dessert. Yes, Dessert God – sign us up for that one! Most of what passes for religion does. Sweet desserts. Lots of whipped, airy, cream.

Sometimes people ridicule the God of Scripture as the “Sky God.” But he’s not. He’s the Desert God. And here’s the beautiful thing. He turns that desert into a fertile field. Our earliest memories are often our earliest, most traumatic moments. We all have Horebs in our past. Our task is not to sugarcoat them, nor to level them.

The key is allowing those dry, blighted, barren, wasted desert spaces to be transformed into beauty in the present, and to launch us into ever unfolding future wonders.

Oh yes. Remember that.

RELATE

What has been your dry barren Horeb, your fiery Egyptian furnace? How can you see beauty and possibilities unfolding from it today? Or are you still looking? (Or are you still at Horeb?)

RESPOND

Living God, meet me in my Horeb. Meet me in all my Horebs. Give me eyes to see “the fourth One” walking through the furnace with me; let me see him carrying me out and with gentle push, launching me into wonders. Through Christ.

Doctor-Who-Listen2

you stood in the shadow of the mountain

Leaning into the PastTUESDAY
Reflection 2 of 10

REFLECT

Just make sure you stay alert. Keep close watch over yourselves. Don’t forget anything of what you’ve seen. Don’t let your heart wander off. Stay vigilant as long as you live. Teach what you’ve seen and heard to your children and grandchildren.

That day when you stood before God, your God, at Horeb, God said to me, “Assemble the people in my presence to listen to my words so that they will learn to fear me in holy fear for as long as they live on the land, and then they will teach these same words to their children.” You gathered. You stood in the shadow of the mountain. The mountain was ablaze with fire, blazing high into the very heart of Heaven. You stood in deep darkness and thick clouds. God spoke to you out of the fire. You heard the sound of words but you saw nothing—no form, only a voice. He announced his covenant, the Ten Words, by which he commanded you to live. Then he wrote them down on two slabs of stone.

Deuteronomy 4.9-13 | MSG

RECEIVE

Blazing fire, deep darkness, thick clouds.

No wonder we avoid the past.
Yet this was the context of their ultimate divine encounter with a formless, invisible God who speaks out of the whirlwind. How marvelous that we know the One who not only stills storms, but also speaks right out of the heart of them to our hearts.

Very good, that.
And worthy of inscribing on a slab of stone or two. But paper will do for us right now.

God gave them Ten Words. As you contemplate your journey, just pause and listen for one.

It might be a single word, it might be a sentence or even a paragraph.
Or it might just be the voice of a thin silence.
Or even a picture.

Remember. Listen.
And then inscribe it on your own slab of stone.

 

RELATE

The past. What do you see? Blazing fire, deep darkness, thick clouds – or high peaks, grace vistas, unfolding wonders? Remember. Listen. Inscribe.

 

RESPOND
God of all my yesterdays, God of today, God of all tomorrows, release my spirit to dance along the traces of your steps in my life, or to pause and fill those footprints with my tears. And give me ears to hear your voice in the whirlwind of my life today. Through Christ.

Doctor-Who-Listen2

stay with the plan | Hebrews 10.32-39

Leaning into the PastFRIDAY
Reflection 5 of 10

REFLECT

Remember those early days after you first saw the light? Those were the hard times!
Kicked around in public, targets of every kind of abuse—some days it was you, other days
your friends. If some friends went to prison, you stuck by them. If some enemies broke in and seized your goods, you let them go with a smile, knowing they couldn’t touch your real treasure. Nothing they did bothered you, nothing set you back. So don’t throw it all away now. You were sure of yourselves then. It’s still a sure thing! But you need to stick it out,
staying with God’s plan so you’ll be there for the promised completion.

It won’t be long now, he’s on the way;
      he’ll show up most any minute.

But anyone who is right with me thrives on loyal trust;
if he cuts and runs, I won’t be very happy.

But we’re not quitters who lose out. Oh, no! We’ll stay with it and survive, trusting all the way.

Hebrews 10.32-39 |  MSG

RECEIVE

So we travel from Deuteronomy to Hebrews.

Hebrews with its better shores – better promises, better covenant, a better high priest, a better and more perfect sanctuary as wide as the world.

But these people couldn’t see any of that at the moment – hence this long pulpit-ish letter. They had had a hard past, and were suffering in an even harder present (they thought).

But they forgot the glories.

They had seen the Glory in all that they had experienced, excruciating as it had been at times, and they so needed to remember so they could be vigorously propelled into the future awaiting them.

And that need is ours too.

Remember.
Celebrate and mourn.
Listen.
See.

And launch out…

RELATE

How would you quantify your greatest takeaway from your past? What most excites you about the future?

RESPOND

Living God, who was, and is, and is to come, remind me today that you dwell richly in all three of those tenses; let me not fear anywhere you walk, have walked or will walk. Teach me to lean into the past in all of it’s variegated glories, and be launched into a future that will make them seem but flickering light. Through Christ.

Doctor-Who-Listen2