Gazing In the Mirror

The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many warriors with you. If I let all of you fight the Midianites, the Israelites will boast to me that they saved themselves by their own strength. (Judges 7:2 NLT; emphasis mine)

He did all this so you would never say to yourself, ‘I have achieved this wealth with my own strength and energy.’ Remember the Lord your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful, in order to fulfill the covenant he confirmed to your ancestors with an oath. (Deuteronomy 8:17, 18 NLT)

I can so identify with what the Lord told Gideon and what Moses told the Israleites. This is me; this is all of us. I constantly think about how great I am doing at things. I always build myself up in my head. I always have a desire to look at the things I am doing and say to God, “look at them, see how awesome I am? How can you not be impressed??”

But when I read verses like this, I am reminded about how little God cares about my boasting about myself. I remember to do an honest assessment of myself and know how truly broken and messed up I am. I am all this and more, but God still loves me and cares for me. Through this, I am reminded to brag only about God and how great He is. I am reminded that it needs to be less about me and more about Him.

I pray that our gaze looks less in the mirror and more to the the Savior.

Showing Wisdom

Obey them completely, and you will display your wisdom and intelligence among the surrounding nations. When they hear all these decrees, they will exclaim, ‘How wise and prudent are the people of this great nation!’” Deuteronomy 4:6

How nice would it be to have other countries talk about the United States and say “how wise and prudent are the Americans. They completely obey all of God’s laws and display their intelligence to all of us.” Sadly, I do not think this is the first thought that comes to other nations’ minds.

I saved this verse as a draft for my blog a little bit ago and was planning on writing about it, but Saturday Julia shared this quote in her comment. I think his quote discusses Deuteronomy 4:6 better than I can. Thanks, Julia, for sharing it.

Suppos a nation in some distant Region, should take the Bible for their only law Book, and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited. Every member would be obliged in Concience to temperance and frugality and industry, to justice and kindness and Charity towards his fellow men, and to Piety and Love, and reverence towards almighty God. In this Commonwealth, no man would impair his health by Gluttony, drunkenness, or Lust—no man would sacrifice his most precious time to cards, or any other trifling and mean amusement—no man would steal or lie or any way defraud his neighbour, but would live in peace and good will with all men—no man would blaspheme his maker or prophane his Worship, but a rational and manly, a sincere and unaffected Piety and devotion, would reign in all hearts. What a Eutopa, what a Paradise would this region be.” John Adams Autobiography, February 2, 1756

Happy birthday, America.
Happy Independence Day, everyone.

Bringing Nothing

Some nations boast of their chariots and horses, but we boast in the name of the Lord our God,” Psalm 20:7

This verse in Psalms is a good reminder that I do not need to take pride (or boast) in anything except God. Simply being a part of God’s family and having Him on my side is more powerful than having a thousand armies team up with me.

There is a huge comfort in realizing this fact. God is more powerful than every human (including me), and He is far greater than anything we can create, think, build, and make. And God does not need anything from us. Therefore, God is not expecting us to bring anything to the table aside from our faith in Him, worship of Him, and trust in Him as we live our days. It reminds me of Deuteronomy 7:7-8.

The Lord did not set his heart on you and choose you because you were more numerous than the other nations, for you were the smallest of all nations! Rather it was simply that the Lord loves you, and he was keeping the oath he had sworn to your ancestors. That is why the Lord rescued you with such a strong hand from your slavery and from the oppressive hand of Pharaoh, king of Egypt”

Here Moses sets the Israelites straight. He tells them that they were not chosen because of their size (and might), but simply because God loved them and that the Lord was keeping a promise. I need to remember the same thing.

God did not choose me because of my power, leadership ability, money, dashing good looks, height, etc. He simply wanted me because He loves me and was keeping a promise He made a long time ago. When I was saved, I brought absolutely nothing to the table that God needed, only a willingness to trust in Him.

And so today, as in the beginning of my Christian walk, I am to continue living my days in the same way: in my constant weakness, I bring only faith and worship of my almighty God and I am all the better for it.

Not Just Once In A While

I have been reading Deuteronomy a lot lately. Deuteronomy is referenced in the New Testament quite a bit and it is Moses’ final sermon(s) before dying. If you want a quick overview of events and instructions that occurred from Exodus on through to entering the promised land then Deuteronomy is the book for you.

These are some of my favorite verses. Jesus quotes the first part (vs. 5) in response to the question, “what is the greatest commandment?”

As a side note, after reading this to Asher, his response was that we do not have any gates. I told him our doors would work, but I guess we might need to buy some gates soon.

“Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Guidelines for a King

Now, I would never consider myself to be a king. I will never be that close to royalty… even to the Hollywood kind. Despite that, I think it is a good idea for me to read the Lord’s guidelines for a king.

If these are the guidelines given to a king, how much more important are they for a regular guy like me? A king is not supposed to accumulate wealth? Interesting, then why should I expect to? A king is not supposed become proud and feel that he is better than everyone else. What??? If he cannot, then I probably should rethink my new reality show: The Leo Is Awesome Hour.

To be honest, these guides point to a more accurate portrait Jesus as king than what the people expected at the time of his arrival.

The king must not take many wives for himself, because they will turn his heart away from the Lord. And he must not accumulate large amounts of wealth in silver and gold for himself.

“When he sits on the throne as king, he must copy for himself this body of instruction on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests. He must always keep that copy with him and read it daily as long as he lives. That way he will learn to fear the Lord his God by obeying all the terms of these instructions and decrees. This regular reading will prevent him from becoming proud and acting as if he is above his fellow citizens. It will also prevent him from turning away from these commands in the smallest way. And it will ensure that he and his descendants will reign for many generations in Israel.” Deuteronomy 17:17-20

No Fear

Chele and I are really having to focus on trust, faith, and suppressing fear. This is a good verse that is helping me maintain that focus, reminding me that God is always ahead of us fighting for us.

They tell us, “The people of the land are taller and more powerful than we are, and their towns are large, with walls rising high into the sky! We even saw giants there-the descendants of Anak!”

“But I said to you, ‘Don’t be shocked or afraid of them! The Lord your God is going ahead of you. He will fight for you, just as you saw him do in Egypt. And you saw how the Lord your God cared for you all along the way as you traveled through the wilderness, just as a father cares for his child. Now he has brought you to this place.’ – Deuteronomy 1:28-31

The Feel of Forbidden Fabric

When reading the Old Testament you come across quite a few rules that God provides to help guide and protect the Israelites.

Most of the time, I understand the reason behind the rules. Then there are a few rules like this that I would love to know why the Lord commanded it:

You must not wear clothing made of wool and linen woven together,” Deuteronomy 22:11

If anyone has an answer, I would love to hear it. If not, I will wait and ask God one day soon.

Passing It Along: Experiences

But watch out! Be careful never to forget what you yourself have seen. Do not let the memories escape from your mind as long as you live! And be sure to pass them on to your children and grandchildren. – Deuteronomy 4:9, emphasis mine

Since Asher and Bechan have been born, Michele and I have tried to teach pass on God’s word to them. One thing Chele and I have not done much of, though, is sharing a lot of stories about God directly interacting in our lives. After recently reading the verse above, I think this is something we will need to improve.

Here is one story of God touching our lives over the past couple of months that we will be sure to share with Ashe and Becs.

Michele and I started doing part-time freelance web design and development about eight years ago. In 2006 we created our company, Triune Designs, to bring a little more structure to our work and drop the freelance title. Despite the fact that we had incorporated Triune, Chele and I still did the web work part-time while still working full-time in our other jobs.

When all of these changes were occurring we felt God had bigger plans for the company, but it was not the right time to take the step to full-time web design work. This year, God spoke to us and we knew it was time for Michele to quit her other job and work solely with TDI.

We knew this was what God wanted. We knew God was going go take care of us. We knew all of this and more, but the final step off the diving board was not easy.

Once we made the step leap, it was just God and us. There was nothing to bail us out and cover certain bills. That was (and is) a great place to be. In the face of fear, doubt, and second-guessing, the only thing getting us through these past few months is knowing God was going to take care of us… we knew he had our back and we did not need a bailout plan.

Since Michele has gone full-time with Triune, God has taken care of us each and every time. Whenever a bill has been due, the money arrived at the exact time we needed it in the amount we needed to pay.

This month, things were getting down to the wire. During a conversation, I told Chele that I was not sure God was going to send the money to pay a bill we needed to mail two days from then. Doubt was creeping in. The next day, I got a call from Chele and the money we needed had arrived in time for us to deposit it and mail it off. Wow!! I knew at that moment that if God was in the business of saying “take that” then I would be hearing it for months.

Since that doubt and subsequent Godly faithfulness, my decision is to not lose hope like I just mentioned. I desire to improve my faith in such a way that I will stay assured of things I cannot see (that are happening behind the scenes).

I tell this (rather long) story in hopes that it might provide you with some reassurance during times when you prepare to jump off the diving board while trusting God’s guidance.

Passing It Along

And you must love the lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. – Deuteronomy 6:5-7

For the past month, Michele and I have been helping out at The Art Studio at Forest Hill Church. The Art Studio is the church’s large group setting for children from three years old through kindergarten. We had a great time watching the kids learn God’s word and His truth.

Last night, The Art Studio talked about worshipping God. Each child got an instrument to play during the praise and worship. It was noisy, but was awesome to watch.