Saturday, June 28, 2008

The vision sharpens

Have you ever had a season in your life where you lived in a certain book of the Bible? The last year and a half was one of those seasons for me. I have been living in the book of Joshua. It started with a men’s inductive study in Joshua and then moved on to another 6 months in Joshua as I led teacher devotions at Fayetteville Christian School. Finally in the last month before we left for Alabama I read thru Joshua as part of my thru the Bible morning devotions. I can’t tell you how many times in this last year that God has spoken thru the words He wrote in Joshua to me in my daily situations and once again I am hearing Him speak to me from this powerful text.

If you asked me a few months ago what my vision was for the church God is going to raise up in Enterprise I would have said the standard Calvary Chapel party line

“To teach thru the Word, equip the saints and give them an opportunity to serve.”

That still is my vision by the way, but in my prayers this last few weeks I have asked the Lord:

“Why did you bring us here?

There is no shortage of churches here. According to the City of Enterprise website there are about 20,000 people here and a little over 20 churches listed on the various web sites, which I am sure is not exhaustive.

“Is there not a remnant here? Is there not one faithful church here?”

God didn’t answer that question, but he did remind me of two stories from Joshua.

In Chapter 14 we read about Caleb. He was one of the original 12 scouts that spied out the land and one of 2 (Joshua was the other) that gave a good report. Moses promised him in Numbers 14 that “the land his foot had trodden will be his inheritance” and so Caleb asked for the mountain where he knew the giants lived. Caleb was 85 yrs old when he made this request. I love this story because Caleb is an inspiration to me. He is fearless and strong, even in his old age because of his faith and he is not afraid of a challenge. He doesn’t ask for the beach front property on the Mediterranean Sea or the fertile river valley; he wanted the mountain where the giants were living in fortified cities. That mountain would one day be called Hebron which means “fellowship” or “communion”.

After we arrived here I met a man who is part of a “group” that we would consider to be a cult. He is a wonderful person and I like him a lot. I felt like God told me he would be delivered from that cult and would walk in the light. I am not an expert on cults, I am not really even sure what this group believes but I do know one thing about cults; they train their people to argue effectively with Christians. In a way they are like those giants on Caleb’s mountain. They are strong in what they believe and they are well fortified in their little groups. They are not easily drawn out or dealt with. I think most people are content to leave them alone but Jesus died to free them from their chains and darkness. I don’t know how to approach them or argue with them but that is not what God is calling us to do. Part of what we are here to do is to tear down those strongholds thru prayer and shine the light in so they can see the way out. I am also concerned for those who call themselves Christians but are bound up in legalism. They are in a similar place and God brings them to mind when I am praying.

In Chapter 17:14-18 there is a story about the sons of Joseph. They wanted more land because they were a numerous people but they couldn’t expand because The hills near them were covered with forests that would take a lot of work to clear and the valleys they were near were still filled with Canaanites who had iron chariots. They wanted a place to expand that was easier to settle in. Joshua told them in vs. 18 (if I may paraphrase a bit) if you want more land then go clear out the forests and drive out the Canaanites. I think God is telling me something similar. God didn’t bring us here to come in and set up a church in an area that other people have cleared and secured. There are areas here that no one is ministering in because it’s difficult. There are people here that no one is reaching because they are a challenge. I don’t know all the details yet, but I do know that we are not here to build on anyone else’s foundations or squabble over anyone else’s sheep.

Don’t think for one second that I know how to do this but God does and He will show us how.

As our eyes look out over challenging terrain our prayer is… Lord, give us the determination to clear out a place where we can sow Your Word. Give us strength by Your Spirit to face the Canaanites and their iron chariots. Establish us upon the mountain that was a fortress of darkness guarded by giants so we can fellowship with You.

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