Chapter-a-Day: Deuteronomy 30

name-s-2319472_1920I remember the first time I read this chapter being so awestruck by God’s fulfillment of this prophecy. The Israelites did turn away from God. God did send utter destruction upon them. They were scattered to the ends of the earth. And three thousand years later, they were drawn back to their homeland to become a nation once again. For them to even maintain a sense of national identity for this period of time, resisting the pressures of acculturation for generations, even despite constant persecution, is miraculous. For forces outside their control, an international body like the U.N., to declare them a nation is also miraculous.

It is also a great reminder that the plans of God cannot be thwarted. What God has declared will occur. We may not see them as prophecies fulfilled in the moment, but in hindsight it is easy to see how these events align with scripture.

Some are currently declaring prophecy is being fulfilled even now that relates to Jesus’ return to establish His kingdom. A quick search of the internet reveals many so-called prophets describing various prophecies and how they converge this coming Saturday, September 23, 2017. This isn’t the first time someone has believed and declared that the signs all indicate Jesus’ return on a particular date. So far, their track record is 0%. In fact, at Jesus’ first coming, those who were most piously watching for their Messiah, were the very ones who rejected and crucified Him.

However, the world is coming to an end. Not to be too morose, but each of us is dying. Whether it is today, next week, or eighty years from now, we all will face God either upon our death or upon Jesus’ coming. He called us to live in eager expectation, to be diligent about proclaiming the good news, and to be wise in observing the signs that point to His return.

With all that is happening in our world, we must remember that we are not guaranteed tomorrow. Not even guaranteed our next breath. Seek the Lord while He may be found. Repent and trust in Jesus’ free gift of salvation. Follow Him and share the truth with those around you.

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Chapter-a-Day: Deuteronomy 29

Deut 29 29Since virtually the entire generation that had come out of Egypt perished in the wilderness, God reaffirms His covenant with those who are about to enter the Promised Land. This new generation either witnessed the plagues and the parting of the Red Sea as children and youths under age 20, or were born in the wilderness. They didn’t participate as adults in the covenant on Mount Horeb so this was their opportunity to hear for themselves what God expected.

One verse in this chapter stood out and reminded me of many people’s position today: “When such a person hears the words of this oath and they invoke a blessing on themselves, thinking, “I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way,”they will bring disaster on the watered land as well as the dry.” (Verse 19)

Many believe that they can persist in going their own way, rejecting God, or following false gods and they will be safe. But just as someone who continues any destructive lifestyle may experience a season where there seem to be no negative consequences for their sin, but James 1:14-16 tells us, “14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. 16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters.”

Sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

Whatever sin we harbor in our lives, thinking that God doesn’t see, that it isn’t so bad (or not as bad as the next person), will eventually lead to death. But this death is not merely the end of our earthly body, but the death of our spirit.

Just as surely as the Israelites turning to false gods led to their destruction and exile into Babylon, just as Moses prophesied, our rejection of God will result in our separation from Him.

Chapter-a-Day: Deuteronomy 28

blessingsorcurses

I’d love to stop with verse 14 and consider only the blessings God promises to Israel if they remain faithful to God and to the Law that He has given them. But the chapter continues to describe, to prophesy in detail, what will happen should they turn away. A study of the history of Israel will reveal that every portion of this prophecy has been realized, some repeatedly.

The chapter ends on a very low note indeed, but we can be sure that there is another chapter coming.

God’s purposes for Israel are not complete in its devastation. After the destruction comes the restoration.

Metaphorically, this same pattern takes place in our lives. God gives us a choice to follow Him or to turn away. In one form or another, we all turn away for a period of time. Our rebellion leads to destruction. Perhaps, in God’s mercy, not as complete as prophesied for Israel, but sufficient to bring us to our knees. Or flat on our back. Which places us in the correct posture to look up, to fix our eyes on our Father. In our desperation, we cry out and God rescues and restores.

The gospel is that Jesus has done everything needed for our salvation, and that there is nothing I could do to make God love me any more and nothing I have done that would make Him love me any less. Recently, God has applied that to my heart in regard to sanctification. For many years, I believed (and lived) based on the idea that Christ saved me, but now I must do the work of sanctification. I must practice Christian disciplines of prayer, reading the Word, loving my neighbor has myself, giving generously, be self-controlled, etc. But what God has shown me recently is the fulfillment of Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

God’s handiwork – not just in our creation in the womb, not just in the unique and perfectly designed DNA God has given us. But in our daily lives. Jesus said, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth.” (John 14:16-17) This Spirit of Truth prompts me to pray. He reminds me to read His Word, and gives me the desire to do so. Holy Spirit spurs my heart to kindness for a stranger or to generosity.

And because it is God who prepares the works in advance for me to do, there is no pride in success, there is only praise for the One who has succeeded in me.

Chapter-a-Day: Deuteronomy 27

Mount Ebal and Mount GerizimAs the Israelites prepare to enter the Promised Land, the Lord commands them to set up stones, covered in plaster, upon which they must write the words of the Law as a remembrance and testimony to future generations.

Like the boundary stones they were commanded not to move, these visible monuments to God’s Word established it in a permanent way and prevented the next generation from easily distorting it. I was reminded recently of how valuable it is to establish memorial stones for future generations. The experiences we treasure because we experienced the deliverance of the Lord should be shared with our children in tangible ways.

These stones were to form an altar upon which they would sacrifice to God peace offerings. They were also to celebrate and rejoice in the Lord over His blessings in this place.

God also called the Levites to call out some specific sins as ones that would bring a curse upon the people, and the people were to affirm their understanding of the curse of sin by responding, “Amen!” Let it be so.

This scene described, with half the tribes atop Mount Gerizim shouting the blessings of God and half atop Mount Ebal shouting for a curse upon those who violated God’s standard is a dramatic illustration of Joshua’s call for the people to choose between God and idolatry, between blessings and curses, and between life and death.

The altar described at the beginning of the chapter was to be set upon Mount Ebal, the mountain from which the curses for violating God’s commands were shouted. This is the point where the sacrifice must be applied, the point at which we were cursed because of our failure to perfectly keep God’s law.

But in Jesus, we have the perfect and final peace offering. The curse our sin deserved was laid on Him, and we now have peace with God through Him. Although our sin may still lead to negative consequences, it is not because we are cursed by God. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)

Chapter-a-Day: Deuteronomy 26

church-tithes-and-offerings-powerpoint-jmeiU1-clipart-1Have you ever thought about the purpose of tithing? I don’t mean the spiritual purpose of acknowledging that every good gift comes from God or the discipleship purpose of learning to trust God to provide enough. I mean the purpose that is beyond yourself and your needs.

I often tend to view scripture in a very me-centered perspective. What is God teaching me? What does this promise mean for me? What does God want me to do? But the truth is, it isn’t about me. I need to write that on my mirror so I see it every morning as a reminder that God’s purposes are so much bigger than my narrow perspective.

This morning’s chapter hit me between the eyes with that as it describes bringing in the tithe of produce and giving it to “the Levite, the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow.” God’s purpose in requiring the tithe is to provide for those in need.

According to Health Research Funding, “For Christian families making less than $20k per year, 8% of them gave at least 10% in tithing. For families making a minimum of $75k or more, the figure drops to just 1%.” Even more sad, “37% of people who attend church every week and identify themselves as Evangelical don’t give any money to their church.”  Imagine if all those who say they are followers of God honored this command. Government welfare would be out of business for lack of demand. The church would be known for meeting needs and showing generosity to those in need.

Tithing can seem like an overwhelming amount if you haven’t been giving anything or have just been giving $20 when you feel especially moved. But, as I’ve heard others say often, and we’ve seen proven over and over, you cannot out-give God.

Some will say we are no longer required to give a tithe, just as we are not bound by other aspects of the Mosaic law, because we are now under the grace of Christ. Tithing should not be about checking off a box and patting ourselves on the back for our righteousness. However, the purpose of meeting the needs of our neighbors continues. In fact, many of us should not stop at 10%. The same study quoted above also found that “77% of those who tithe give 11%–20% or more of their income, far more than the baseline of 10%.” The Gospel Coalition published an article “7 Reasons Christians are not Required to Tithe,” but it seems like many never read beyond the title to discover we are called to a much higher standard, to “give generously.”

Chapter-a-Day: Deuteronomy 25

I wonder if this chapter is where the last name “Barefoot” originated?

Some portions of this chapter read like cultural norms of the time, while others make me scratch my head. Have you ever read a warning label that made you question why on earth someone has to be told not to do that? But you know that the warning wouldn’t be there unless someone, at some time, tried to do something so crazy.

The primary take-away from this chapter for our lives is God’s priority on honesty and integrity in our business. Whether you own a business, or work for someone else, God’s Word instructs that we are to use the same measures and prices. As followers of God, our lives should be characterized by being above reproach. Just as the Israelites were to be a testimony of God’s blessings to the nations around them, believers in Christ are called to draw others to the gospel by their witness.

I’m reminded of a line from the movie, “The Book of Eli.” If you haven’t seen it, I’ll offer the warning that it is a post-apocalyptic, rated R, depiction of a world that has almost lost the Word of God completely. Near the end of the movie, Eli (played by Denzel Washington), is forced to give up the precious Bible he has been protecting for nearly thirty years to the villain in order to save the life of Solara. When they’ve escaped the enemy, she says, “I didn’t think you’d ever give up the book, I thought it was too important to you.”

Eli replies, “It was. I was carrying and reading it everyday, got so caught up in protecting it, I forgot to live by what I’d learnt from it.”

“And what’s that?” Solara asks.

“To do more for others than you do for yourself.”[1]

What a wonderful reminder of how important it is to see beyond individual events recorded in the Bible, or even every specific rule, to apply the heart of God to how we live our lives. In our frail and fallen humanity, we are not able to keep every jot and tittle of the law. And because Christ paid the debt for our sin, we are free of that burden. But as I’ve quoted just a few days ago, Jesus summed up the law and the prophets in a simple theme, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And love your neighbor as yourself.”

  1. Whitta, Gary and Denzel Washington, The Book of Eli. Directed by Albert Hughes, Allen Hughes. (2010, USA: Alcon Entertainment, Silver Pictures, 2010), DVD.

Chapter-a-Day: Deuteronomy 24

My favorite verse in this chapter is verse 5: “If a man has recently married, he must not be sent to war or have any other duty laid on him. For one year he is to be free to stay at home and bring happiness to the wife he has married.” I’m not sure, but I think the amplified version would add, “and after a whole year of having him at home bringing her happiness, she might send him off to war herself.”

Just kidding, but this chapter does provide wonderful guidance on how to live in peace and generosity with our neighbors. From treating the poor with kindness and concern for their well-being to treating your employees well, this chapter is filled with wisdom.

As we consider issues facing our culture today, this chapter provides a mindset that is timeless. As Jesus summarized the law and the prophets, we are to love God with all that we are and to love our neighbors as ourselves. This chapter gives some examples of what that looks like: being mindful of someone’s ability to pay back a loan and not taking away their source of livelihood, or leaving something behind for those in need when harvesting, or paying workers sufficiently to provide for them and their families.

Imagine if all the businesses operated by individuals who claim the name of Christ operated by these principles. Imagine if those of us who fill churches each Sunday embraced this mindset of generosity and caring for our neighbors the other six days of the week.

Serving Where It Isn’t Safe

My guest for this interview serves in an area where it would endanger her family if her name were provided or if any specific information about their location is revealed. I am especially grateful for her sharing her story.

Where have you served on mission and at what age?

Well, I began taking short term trips in High School. My first trip was to Mexico. I was 16 years old. The most impacting thing about that particular trip was just having real conversations with a couple that was serving there and seeing their day to day lives. I also took trips to Honduras in high school and college. I went to China when I was 22 years old and now live in Central Asia.

What made you decide to serve there?

Honestly, my first trip happened because my best friend was going. After that trip, my heart was drawn to missions. I felt that God was telling me to go and serve. Now, I live overseas and at times have to remember that deep call to share the good news in another country.

What is your greatest challenge while serving?

I am not sure that there is one great challenge. Everything becomes a challenge when living in a different culture and learning a new language. But, the hardest parts for me include: being away from family, having no traditional church to attend, trying to learn a foreign language, and learning new cultural norms.

How have you seen God at work where you serve?

I see God at work both in me and in those around me. He is working in my heart to break down pride and the need to be understood and accepted. When you can only communicate on a kindergarten level it is difficult to be understood and accepted. But I am learning that my identity is only found in Christ. Also, I see God doing a great work in refugees who are flooding our country. These people left their home because of war, but God is using others to help meet both physical and spiritual needs. God is able to use all circumstances for his glory.

One specific example is that of my language tutor. Before we arrived, many others had shared the good news with her. She was often harsh and combative in response to the Truth. Over the course of 3 years, she saw a difference in the lives of the Christians around her. She saw them serve by teaching her children English. She heard over and over again. I was very intimidated by her when I first met her, but she then became my tutor and closest friend. When we shared with her, she no longer argued. She listened. She no longer took a strong stand. She helped us learn bible stories in our new language. Her heart has slowly softened. She has not believed. But she is not the same. Please pray for *Rose to believe.

What opposition did you face before you went or while serving?

I actually had people in my own church tell me that they did not think we should go overseas. I was very offended because these were Christians who were asking me to disobey God in order to “stay safely in America.”

What would you like people to know about the people/place that you serve?

I want people to know that Muslims are people who need the love of Christ. My friends here are Muslims…they are good hearted, sweet, and helpful. But, they do not believe and therefore need to hear the truth. Please do not give in to the current trend of labeling Muslims as terrorists. Pray for them daily to hear the good news!

Give Your Child the World – Raising Globally Minded Kids One Book at a Time

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GIve Your Child the World Cover

When I first heard the title of this book, I immediately felt a connection to the author, Jamie C. Martin. Like me, Jamie’s calling is to reach the next generation with the wonder that is God’s most amazing creation, the people around the world. Gaining an understanding for those who are not like us is an essential characteristic in our 21st Century world where we are closer in many ways, yet more divided than ever. Jamie’s book is a primer on how to teach your children systematically and from a young age to value and respect all people.

Jamie starts off by sharing a glimpse at her journey in becoming the mother of a multicultural family that represents four different ethnic backgrounds. But this book is not just for those who have adopted internationally and want their children to know something about their heritage. Give Your Child the World provides lists of age-appropriate books for age 4-12, categorized by the region or country represented and including a brief description to help you select books of the most interest to your family. She also has great suggestions for how to incorporate reading these books, or any books, into your family activities in a way that is sure to broaden your children’s (and maybe your own!) perspective on the world.

As a mother of four, my only regret is that my youngest is now well beyond the age for these books, but I was encouraged to see many familiar titles among them. Whether your interaction with children is as a parent, a teacher, a Sunday school teacher, or a babysitter, this book provides excellent guidance that allows you to give the children you love an experience they will never forget and create in them a love and appreciation for all people.

I highly recommend Give Your Child the World to anyone who has children in their life!

Summertime Madness

Love this…and not just because you plugged my book. 🙂 Love YOU and looking forward to helping you and Scott get settled in your new home.

Turner Adventures

For those of you following along, yes we have missed 3 whole months! This blog post is about all the madness and amazingness that has occurred in those 3 months.

Hello dear friends and family! If you are reading this, odds are that we have seen you and hugged you at some point in the past 2.5 months. We have travelled through 4 states, and been at home a grand total of 3 weekends during the months of April, May and June. And as you can imagine–WE ARE TIRED. Coming into this summer, we knew it would be busy. But there was no way to prepare for the emotional rollercoaster of having packed literally as much into the first 3 months of summer as humanly possible.

To work chronologically, the first large-scale event this summer occurred on April 27th. After two weekends of Hybrid classes in Raleigh, I was offered a position at…

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