Tonight was a great night. I attended a State Fire Chiefs Association awards ceremony where one of our crews was recognized for their efforts on the Oak Knoll, Ashland, Oregon Fire. The only problem is that I’m not available to write this week’s post. But God, in His grace, provided someone else to write the post for me. One of the people I admire most on the entire planet.
The following is a guest post by Don Bennett.
Now after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD it came to pass, that the LORD spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, saying, Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast. There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them. Only be thou strong and very courageous…
Joshua was truly honored to be chosen to lead the people of Israel into the promised land. What an incredibly strong endorsement. By this time, inspite of wandering in the desert for 40 years, Israel had grown to be 3 million strong. No sooner had they begun their trip to the promised land than they encountered the incredibly powerful fortified city of Jericho. Joshua sent 3 men to Jericho to find out what the situation was there. With the help of a woman who believed that the God of Israel was the true God they found that rather than come out and fight, the people of Jericho were going to hide behind the incredibly strong walls of the city. Most Christians know the story of God’s angel appearing as a warrior to Joshua and giving him instruction to lead the people around the walls 7 days in a row. On the 7th day they were instructed to have the priests blow the ram’s horn and have all of the people shout at the same time. As the song says, “…the walls came tumbling down.”
The next obstacle confronting Joshua and his people was the city of Ai. Without praying or consulting the LORD, Joshua sent several men in to assess the situation. They returned and reported that “This should be easy. They don’t look very strong.” They didn’t know that three Kings, who feared the Israelis, were allied with Ai. Because of this alliance the fighting forces of Ai were much more powerful than they appeared. Perhaps even more powerful than Jericho’s. Again, without consulting or praying, Joshua sent only 3,000 men to engage Ai and they were routed. The survivors came running back and told Joshua that they had been met with a powerful force. Joshua, being a man of the LORD, lay prone on the ground, covered himself with dust, and prayed for GOD’s forgiveness for his, Joshua’s, being so arrogant. God forgave Joshua with a strong warning to remember who the authority was and to check in with the LORD before going off on his own. Obviously, Joshua learned very quickly to respect the LORD and to be grateful for his blessings.
In my life, from an early age, I did not always respect authority, and I always found that there was a price to pay. Growing up in Kansas, sports were always very important to me. In the 8th grade I was the quarterback on our football team. We had a coach named Mr. Burnett. He was young and easy to relate to. In fact at that time, he still often wore his letterman’s sweater from Coffeeville College. One day he asked me to stay after practice to talk.
He first asked me how I was doing.
I answered “I think I’m doing pretty well.”
He asked, “Why do you think you’re doing well?”
I said, “I really don’t know.”
He said, “I know why you are doing well. God gave you the ability to run fast and throw a ball fast, but you have a problem. You will never become a better player and teammate unless you work at improving yourself rather than just relying on your God-given ability.”
I was crestfallen! But I really didn’t learn much of anything from our talk. Because Coach Burnett continued to allow me to play quarterback, I was still getting what I wanted and didn’t learn the lesson that it’s a good idea to pay attention to those in authority.
In Proverbs 24:21 God tells us, “My son, fear thou the LORD and the king…” Coach Burnett was my “king” but I didn’t fear or respect him.
After 8th grade, my father was transferred to Chicago, Illinois. I went out for football. The first day of Freshman practice, Coach Ritchoff blew the whistle and came up to me. “You can’t play quarterback because you’re left-handed.” I informed Coach Ritchoff that that did not make any sense at all. All that earned me was running 10 extra laps and I got switched to running back anyway. Obviously, I had not learned my lesson.
I was very fortunate to be born into a family of good Christians and at the age of 3 I was singing “Jesus loves me this I know because the Bible tells me so” with my Sunday School class. I still think that’s a good song. I have always considered myself a Christian but it was a long time before I got the idea of what it was to be a Christian.
When things were easy, and I did well, I was very quick to feel prideful and superior as opposed to thanking God for my successes. When things didn’t go well, rather than assessing my own performance, I usually blamed my failure on someone else or general circumstances. Obviously, unlike Joshua, I was not quick to understand that my successes were all the result of God’s gifts and my failures came about when I strayed from the word of God.
I have found that when I attend church regularly and continue to read my Bible things go very well for me.
Jesus came and not only died to wash away our sins but was the perfect example of humility and selflessness. It isn’t easy in today’s crazy world to follow the example which Jesus set. When we focus on His example and love God, and love our neighbors as we love ourselves, we find ourselves so busy helping others that we won’t have time to be arrogant.
…I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life… -Deuteronomy 30:19-20
[Image via: Andre Bohrer - Creative Commons]