The Daily Israeli

Breaking News from 3,000 Years Ago

Dillon Nathaniel Ballard: January 10, 1994 – November 5, 2014

Last Wednesday, my nephew Dillon Ballard took his own life. Dillon was 20 years old.

Dillon was a miracle baby when he was born: his mom (my sister, Heidi) was battling leukemia, in the middle of her chemo-therapy when she discovered she was pregnant – something she didn’t think was possible. Her doctors recommended that she terminate the pregnancy, but Heidi refused to even consider that possibility. She postponed her treatment and did everything she could to keep her baby safe and well. Still, Dillon was born two months early, weighed less than five pounds, and had to stay in the NICU for several days before coming home.

His small beginning didn’t slow him down much. The boy was fearless. When I was in college he used to jump on my long board and race down the steepest hills he could find. He was all boy. And his little grin was absolutely contagious. As he got older, he used to come help me flip pancakes at a free breakfast I put on every Fourth of July. He loved being out on the parade route the whole night before, and I knew I could count on him to still have enough energy to help me flip and serve hundreds of pancakes the next morning. It was part of our tradition for Dillon to be there every year.

Dillon faced some very steep challenges in his life. His mom was very ill in his infant years and then, just five days after his fifth birthday, she died. He also had difficulty learning in traditional settings which held him back in many ways. But Dillon was a remarkable kid: he maintained a genuine cheerfulness and willingness to work hard.

Three months ago, Dillon became the father of a baby boy, Bradyn. He was so proud of that little boy, and told me how wanted to be there for his son (in contrast to his own father who hadn’t had any involvement with Dillon) – which makes what happened all the harder to understand. What was Dillon going through that made him do what he did? Perhaps only God knows.

 

I want to tell you about something that happened 15 years ago. It was just after Dillon’s mom died and his grandma and I had just told the Dillon and his older brother and sisters how the spirit and body are like a hand and a glove.

The spirit is like a hand that goes into a glove, and while the hand is in the glove, the glove appears to be alive. But it’s actually the hand that is alive and which continues to live even after it has been pulled out of the glove. Likewise, our bodies live and have life because of our spirits. Because it is actually our spirits that are alive and which continue to live even after they have left our bodies.

After our talk, the older three kids began writing letters to their mom. They were beautiful, sweet letters and we placed them in the casket before we buried her. But Dillon was just days past his fifth birthday and didn’t know how to write. So he took a piece of paper to his grandma and said: “Grandma, write this.” His grandma took the paper and Dillon said two words: “Mom died.” Grandma wrote it, and then Dillon took his paper with his two words, went to the front door, opened it, and taped his message to the front of it.

As sad as it was, I laughed when he did it because it was so cute: This five-year-old posting a declaration to the world of that which was the cause of his great sadness. But then Dillon did something truly remarkable which I will always remember. Four or five minutes after posting his first statement on the door, Dillon came back with a new piece of paper, and said again: “Grandma, write this.” He repeated the same two words he’d said before: “Mom died.” And then he added these words: “Jesus died too. But Jesus body comed alive.” He then took his second note to the front door, took down his earlier statement and replaced it with what really was a more complete message about what had happened and would happen.

I kept that note and put it in my scriptures. I still have it today.

I marveled at this little boy. He knew how sad he felt because of his mother’s passing, but he also knew that Jesus had died and been resurrected. And he knew, as a five-year-old, what that meant: It meant that his mom would also be resurrected. He knew that he would see her and be with her again! And he wanted the rest of the world to know it too.

Today I want to say that I know it and want the whole world to know it too.

 

Two summers ago I took my kids and two of their cousins to the Smithsonian Aerospace Museum in Washington, D.C. It was awesome! We walked into the cockpit of a 747. We saw the very first airplane that ever flew, the Wright Brothers’ Kittyhawk (they have the actual, original plane in its very own section of the museum). And we saw just about every plane, rocket, and space shuttle in between. I don’t think we even went into every room there—it’s a big place. But one of the things I remember most was seeing a display on the flight instruments.

Pilots have to rely on instruments when they fly because, even though our brains give us pretty good balance when our feet touch the ground, our brains just weren’t designed to stay balanced in flight, especially in conditions where the pilot can’t see the ground. Up in the clouds every pilot experiences what’s called spatial disorientation or vertigo (which is a fancy way of saying, he can’t tell which way is up).

To illustrate this, would-be pilots are seated in what’s called a spatial disorientation chair. The chair rotates and spins like a barber’s chair, varying between going faster and slower, and changing directions. Participants wear a helmet with a visor pulled down over their faces so that they can’t see a thing, and then try to indicate using a lever which direction they’re spinning. And guess what – everyone gets it wrong. They might guess right for a moment or two, but eventually everyone who tries loses their sense of which direction they’re spinning – or even whether they’re spinning at all.

Pilots experience the same sensation. So engineers came up with flight instruments like the artificial horizon (that tells a pilot his pitch and yaw), the gyroscopic compass (that points north even when the plane is banking hard on its side), and the altimeter (that tells him how high up he is). When first developed after WWI, they put these instruments into the planes of test pilots. The instruments worked fine, reported the pilots, until they flew into the clouds. Then the instruments all went completely haywire. They suspected that electrical or atmospheric interference was the cause. But after further study it was determined that the instruments worked fine – it was the pilots’ own sense of balance that had gone haywire. In other words, when they could no longer see the ground, the pilots had quit trusting their instruments, and instead placed their confidence in their own abilities to determine which was up. And they all got it wrong. All of them. And these were the finest, most experienced pilots of their day.

This was of great concern then and remains so today. Spatial disorientation is still a leading cause of aviation accidents, many of which end tragically. Pilots all too often find themselves flying in a slow downward spiral (called the death spiral), and too often crash into the ground without even knowing what hit them. A study done in 2004, concluded that pilots who don’t know how to fly using only their instruments, who find themselves flying in sightless conditions (like clouds or at night or anywhere that they can’t see the ground) suddenly have a radically shortened life expectancy. On average, according to that study, pilots finding themselves in those conditions had only 178 seconds left to live. That’s less than three minutes.

The take-away message of course was: Learn to use your instruments. Then use your instruments. Trust your instruments. They’re what keep you alive.

Life is kind of like flying a plane. Sometimes we get turned upside-down. Sometimes we lose our sense of which way really is up. Sometimes we crash and we don’t even know what hit us. Fortunately, we’ve been given instruments (the gift of the Holy Ghost, scriptures, living prophets), which if learned, trusted and used, can keep us flying on a straight and steady course.

Even so, God knew when he sent us here to prove us that there would be accidents. Even with instruments in place we would make mistakes, and so he provided a Savior for us who could rescue us, help us survive the crashes, and then make us better, and teach us to fly.

I’ve never flown as a pilot so as I thought about this analogy, I imagined the nervous excitement I know I would feel if I were about to fly on my own for the very first time. And then I pictured the nervous excitement we all must have felt before we were born, in the pre-mortal world, as we looked forward to our time here on earth. Can you imagine the anxious anticipation you must have felt as you envisioned your life here?

We’re told that there was a great council in Heaven, and I picture a bright, young Lieutenant, Lucifer, approaching the Commander there.

“Sir,” he said in a concerned voice. “You’re sending these pilots into dangerous flight conditions. They don’t all know how to use their instruments. Look, I’ve developed an auto-pilot flight system for them. We can bring all of them home again.”

And the Commander responded, “No…. You’re missing the point, son. They have to learn to fly.”

“But they’ll crash!” cried the Lieutenant.

“I know,” said our Commander. “But we’ll provide a Savior for them. If men will look to Him, He will rescue them, rebuild them, and turn them into strong, seasoned pilots.”

Sadly, that bright, young Lieutenant, a Son of the Morning, darkened at this answer. Lucifer lacked the faith to trust in the saving power of Jesus Christ. “How,” he must have argued, “could we possibly place the fate of all of Father’s children in life of one man, even Jesus?” “What if He makes a mistake? What if He crashes himself?” “Do you really want to take that chance?” And so began a war in Heaven over this one question: Will you place your faith in Jesus’ power to rescue you?

And that is the same spiritual war that is still being fought in the world today: Will we have faith in Jesus to save us?

We all chose before we were born to place our faith in Jesus’ power to save and rescue us. We know that because we’re here. And during our time here, He’s provided the instruments (the Holy Ghost, scriptures, living prophets) to keep us safe and steady. The challenge is when we’ve flown into the clouds or even after a crash: Will we remember that? When we can barely pull ourselves up, not knowing what hit us, will we still believe that Jesus can rescue us? I testify that He can and that He does.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

There isn’t a crash that exceeds the Saviors ability to rescue us. And other than blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, there isn’t a sin or any collection of sins that we can’t be healed of and saved from.

 

I don’t know what kind of a fog Dillon was flying through on Wednesday morning. I don’t know how he could have crashed the way he did. But I know what he knew when he was five years old. Jesus died too. But Jesus body comed alive.

Just like Dillon knew that death was not the end, I too testify that it is not. There will be a glorious resurrection. We’ll be together with Dillon and his mom again. And when we are, I’m sure Dillon will be helping me flip pancakes for breakfast.

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Hannah’s prayer

The opening verse in First Samuel introduces us to a Levite named Elkanah and his two wives, Hannah and Penninah. And as is usually the case with more than one wife, this is a story with lots of drama. You see, both were legal wives with equal status, but Elkanah had a favorite of the two. It was Hannah. And he showed it.

The problem was that Hannah had no children; “the Lord had shut up her womb.” And in Old Testament times this was a point of intensely painful humiliation for a woman. Giving birth was the very thing she was born to do; a barren woman was viewed as less than a whole person having little to no value as a human female. Further, for a believing Israelite as Hannah was, her inability to have children would have been seen as disobedience to God’s command to “be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the earth.” So she was essentially worthless and even sinful. And apparently the norm was for other women to poke fun and make derisive remarks toward her.

For Elkanah, having a barren wife would have meant no heir; his legacy and family line would have been cut off. And this was blamed entirely on the woman. So we can only imagine the grief that Hannah endured. Luckily for Elkanah, however, he had the means to acquire a second wife who bore him many sons and daughters. Yet his true love was still Hannah.

The story goes that Elkanah and his entire family (consisting of Hannah, Penninah and all of Penninah’s children) went up for a yearly feast and sacrifice at Shiloh. And there Elkanah gave a portion of the meat to Penninah and her children. But to Hannah he gave a “worthy” (or a double) portion, “for he loved Hannah” (which is to say he loved Penninah less). So picture this with me: the “family” trip to Shiloh where every year Elkanah showed obvious favoritism, thus making adversaries of the two women. The less loved wife then reacted with hurt and jealousy by painfully provoking Hannah, reminding her with stinging words of her barren condition which God had placed upon her. And this happened year after year. Hurt, jealousy, insults. Until one year Hannah broke. The pain of humiliation and ridicule was so great that she could not even eat.

Elkanah attempting to comfort Hannah asked why she was grieved (as if it weren’t completely obvious and at least partially his fault!), and assured her that she meant as much to him as if she had borne him ten sons (which I’m sure did nothing to soften the feelings of Penninah who had actually given him an heir). Hannah still felt the bitterness of a crushed soul, but this time she knew what she was going to do. After the meal she rose up and went to the temple to confront the One who had shut her womb and see if there wasn’t something that could be done about it. With tears she begged God to give her a son, and the story tells us that she made a bargain with the Lord, saying:

O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head.

What’s interesting is that Hannah’s prayer is pretty much centered on only herself and her affliction. Her prayer wasn’t for “the family.” Elkanah already had an heir (thanks to Penninah’s fruitful womb). So there wasn’t a family inheritance problem that a child by Hannah would have solved. Nor was her prayer even about the child for which she was asking. She made clear that she was willing to forego raising the child herself, and would place him into temple service as soon as he was weaned.  No, her prayer was simply to be rid of her humiliation and the never ending feelings of worthlessness and guilt (that years of double portions hadn’t made up for). And this by fulfilling her womanly purpose; to be the means of bringing new life into the world. If God would do this for her, then she vowed she would give the child back to the Lord—all the days of his life, right from the start, forever.

God heard Hannah’s prayer and answered it. Just as I’m convinced that he delights to hear and answer us—if we’ll ask. Even when we feel that it is God himself who afflicts us. Even in the confusion of guilt for not being able to live up to His divine standards. Even when all we can ask is to be relieved of our own suffering. Hannah’s prayer proves that He hears and He answers.

If we’ll ask.

This aint no fairytale

As you’ve probably gathered from my last two posts, Naomi and Ruth were pretty much penniless when they returned to Bethlehem. Luckily for them, though, it was the beginning of the barley harvest when they got there, and Israel had a basic welfare system in place… It was called gleaning, which is another word for scrounging. (Gleaning seems like such a nice word, while scrounging sounds so… scroungy. But they really are the same thing.) Don’t mistake the word scrounging with begging, however. That wasn’t the idea at all. Scrounging or gleaning was the act of collecting the leftovers from farmers’ fields after they’d been harvested, and was part of the law given through Moses. The corners and edges of the fields in Israel were not to be harvested, and farmers were not allowed to go over their fields a second time when reaping. And if a bundle of grain were dropped or forgotten, it had to be left. “Thou shalt leave them for the poor.” “It shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow.” (See Lev. 19:9-10 and Deut. 24:19)

Ruth was a poor, widowed, stranger so if anybody was “entitled” to go scrounging through the fields, she was. It was long, laborious work and Ruth scrounged from sunup to sundown. It happened that she found herself in the field of Boaz who took notice of Ruth, and according to the scriptures, Boaz asked, “Whose damsel is this?” But I think it probably went something more like: “Who is this lovely young lady? And why have I never seen her before?” (Remember, the book of Ruth is a love story!) Boaz then instructed Ruth to stay in his fields working alongside his own servant girls. He promised his protection, offered water as she worked, and invited her to lunch with his workers. Ruth continued in Boaz’s field and worked almost without ceasing. And Boaz went way out of his way to give Ruth special treatment, even directing his harvesters to drop handfuls of grain when they saw Ruth following them.

That night when Ruth brought home the bounty she had “scrounged,” Naomi caught on quickly: “Where did you get all of this?” she asked, “Who was it that took notice of you?” Ruth had no doubt worked hard, but this was much too much for her lone efforts. Someone had to have helped her. When Ruth revealed Boaz’s generosity, Naomi exclaimed that he was one of their “next kinsman,” which would have been better translated “redeemer kinsmen.” Ruth had been in the field of a “redeemer!” (meaning a close relative who had a legal obligation to help the poor in his family—a redeemer was to buy back family land which had been sold (Lev. 25:25), pay the price to free those sold as slaves (Lev. 25:47-49), and even marry widows who had no sons (Deut. 25:5)). And you can guess how the story ends… they got married and lived happily ever after. But this Cinderella story wasn’t a fairytale. Ten years of gut-wrenching hunger and famine wasn’t a fairytale. The pain of sorrow from losing a husband and sons wasn’t a fairytale. Being a stranger, forced to scrounge for a living, the sun beating on her back as she scraped leftovers off the ground to take home… it was real—not a fairytale. Just as finding her redeemer was real. And the salvation he provided was real. Just as it’s real for us.

Ours may be an uphill path with no end in sight. We may experience poverty, bondage, and loss no less real than Ruth’s. And though we are reduced to scrounging, if we will continue in the Redeemer’s field, ours will be a glorious (if not a fairytale) ending.

“Never let the fear of striking out get in your way.” (Babe Ruth)

Ruth (whose name literally means “friend”) was the best friend Naomi ever had. Naomi had lost everything: she was a widow, childless, had endured years of famine, and was left destitute. And Ruth, through devoted friendship, was able to restore unto Naomi everything that had been taken from her: a position of honor and popularity, prosperity and wealth, and a divine posterity (Naomi became the great-great grandmother of King David and part of the lineage of Jesus, the Son of God). Yet Ruth (at first) was no better off than Naomi, and possibly she had it worse. Like Naomi, she was a widow, childless, had endured years of famine, and was left destitute. On top of that she was a foreigner—and not just any foreigner—a Moabite. (And in case you’ve forgotten, let me remind you: It was the king of Moab who hired the prophet Balaam to curse Israel in their march out of the wilderness. It was the daughters of Moab at Peor whose immorality brought a plague on Israel’s camp at Shittim, killing 24,000. This was a nation which had been at war continually with Israel, and a people to be “vexed and smitten.” And Ruth was a Moabite.) What did she have to offer? How easy would it have been for her to feel alone, left out, excluded? And still she lifted not only herself, but Naomi with her.

Ruth was an outsider, a widow, a nobody in an out-of-the-way village. She had no reason to feel a part of the grand story of salvation. Yet she quietly made her way and came to find that she played an essential role in God’s story. And so do we.

When hard times came, Naomi (whose name means “pleasant”) chose instead to be called Mara (“bitter”), while Ruth (“friend”) more fully lived up to her name. How? Let me answer with another question. Look again at Ruth’s profession of loyalty to Naomi:

Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee:

for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge:

thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:

Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried:

the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.

At the very center, Ruth pledges her faithfulness to the true and living God. And I wonder: Could Ruth have filled her role, could she have been as true a friend to Naomi if at her center she hadn’t loved the Lord?

Can we?

P.S. In my last post, I promised a story of how disappointment turned to joy in my own life. Click here to read that story.

Bitter isn’t better

The intensity of Ruth’s devotion to Naomi is breathtaking:

“Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried, so help me God—not even death is going to come between us!”

Every time I read that I think: Wow! Even in my closest relationships, I have a hard time rising to that level of attachment. I don’t know about you, but if my wife suggested that she felt that way about me on any given morning, I think I would just sail through the rest of the day. Yet Naomi doesn’t seem pleased. At first she doesn’t say anything. And when we next hear her speak, she says: “Call me Mara [which means “bitter”]: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.”

Naomi (which means “pleasant”) became Mara (“bitter”). But once upon a time she truly was pleasant Naomi. The story says her family were Ephrathites (which means “fruitful”), in the town of Bethlehem (which means “house of bread”) in the land of Judah (which means “celebration”). She married Elimelek (whose name in Hebrew means “God is my King”). A righteous husband, a fruitful family, in a prosperous town, in a land of celebration.

Then the famine came. And it appears to have hit Naomi’s family especially hard—so hard that it left its mark on her children: she named her first son Mahlon (which means “sickly”), and her next son she named Chilion (which means “puny”). While the famine endured, Naomi followed her husband with her sons to “sojourn” in Moab (which is to say they were only “passing through”). Yet they remained ten years there. Her sons married Moabite girls. Then her husband and sons died. And there she was: a stranger in a foreign land, a widow, and childless—the lowest of the low. And to add to it, she now had a widowed, childless (and therefore worthless), gentile daughter-in-law to care for: Ruth (whose name means “friend”).

Ruth turned out to be the best, most devoted friend Naomi would ever have. But Naomi chose to be called Mara, and in her bitterness could not (at first) rejoice in the friendship of her daughter-in-law. Why do we sometimes let the bitter crowd out the pleasant, even pushing away our truest friends? Tomorrow I’ll share an experience I had with bitter disappointment. Fortunately my story has a great ending. So does Naomi’s, but that comes later…

to be continued …

I’m part of this story and so are you!

I can only imagine that the history recorded in the book of Judges was shocking even in Old Testament times, and the proof is in the last verse: “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (which is to say, every man did what he wanted). It almost sounds like an apology, like the historian tasked with recording these stories had to explain himself. After all, we go to the Bible to find stories of virtue and honor, right? In Judges, however, we’re confronted with sex and violence, rape and massacre, brutality and deceit. The book is PG-13 at best and maybe NC-17. (Either way my wife isn’t going to let my kids read it until they’re old enough to leave the house.) And yet, this is part of the story of salvation. The judges (leaders) presented to us in this book are imperfect, unprincipled, and sometimes just plain bad. And still God uses them to tell a story that is on its way to a glorious ending. In other words, God doesn’t need perfect men in order to do his perfect work. And if God saw fit to include these flawed and flailing judges in his book, I have to believe (and in fact, I have a sure confidence) that there’s a place in this story of salvation for me and you as well.

Faith and failure

In the days before Israel had a king, a Levite journeying with his wife came to Gibeah, in Benjaminite country, where the man and his wife sought shelter for the night in a city of fellow Israelites. Not long into the evening, however, a mob attacked the house where the couple was lodging. By morning, the mob had ravaged the man’s wife literally to death.

The next day the Levite sent a proclamation throughout Israel demanding justice for this utterly vile offence. All of Israel responded, 400,000 strong, armed with swords, demanding that the tribe of Benjamin hand over the offenders. But Benjamin refused. So in assembly before the house of the Lord, where Phinehas (the grandson of Aaron) served as priest, these armed men and their leaders inquired if it be right to fight their brother Benjamin. And the word came back: “Yes.”

So with Judah in the lead, the Israelites attacked Gibeah, but somehow the Benjaminites prevailed and Israel lost 22,000 men that day. Startled by this outcome, they inquired again if it be right to fight. And the word came back again: “Go up against them.” But on the second day, the Israelites were beat again, losing 18,000 men. Again they went to the Lord, this time fasting and with burnt offerings and sacrifices. And the word came back: “Go up, for tomorrow I will deliver them in thine hand.” Then on the third day Israel prevailed; Benjamin was defeated. (see Judges 19-20)

But why did it take three days and more than forty thousand casualties? Where was God on the first day or the second? If God told them to go, why weren’t they immediately successful?

I’m reminded of the Canaanite woman who came to Jesus to have her daughter healed. On the first attempt, she cried out to Jesus, but Jesus ignored her and finally acknowledged her existence only to say he was sent to the lost sheep of Israel (which didn’t include her). She then knelt before him before him, begging for help. Jesus in turn replied that it wasn’t right to take the children’s bread and throw it to dogs. (Does that seem like a slap in the face to anyone besides me?) But in great faith this woman made a third attempt at favor from Jesus saying: “Yes, but even dogs get scraps from the master’s table.” Then Jesus answered and said unto her, “O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt.” And her daughter was made whole from that very hour. (Matthew 15)

The first time I read that story, it startled me. How could Jesus be so uncaring? And if what he said was true, if he was only sent to the lost sheep of Israel, why did he ultimately heal the woman’s daughter? The answer is beautiful: We become the children of Abraham by exercising the same kind of faith as Abraham. What I had seen as obstacles were in fact opportunities that the Canaanite woman seized upon to demonstrate her faith. By faith, she became a daughter of Abraham, qualifying herself for the desired blessing.

So why does the Lord allow us to fail at what he instructs us to do? Perhaps the trial of our faith is as (or more) important as accomplishing the task at hand.

Terror laced with glory

We all know the story of Sampson, with his super-human strength and wonderful hair. (Did you know he tied his hair into seven braids? And did you know that he was a judge in Israel for 20 years?) As a kid I loved the part about him ripping lions and tearing down city gates with his bare hands, but that wasn’t what caught my attention as I read it again recently. What hit me instead was his birth announcement. An angel came to his parents telling them all about Sampson before he was even born. But at first they didn’t know it was an angel, although there was definitely something extraordinary about this messenger. Sampson’s mom, who saw the angel first, “came and told her husband, saying, A man of God came unto me, and his countenance was like the countenance of an angel of God, very terrible.” Remember, at first they had no idea that this man was actually an angel of God, so I have to wonder what she saw and described as “very terrible.”

What does an angel of God look like? Clearly he looked enough like a man that Sampson’s parents mistook him for one, but at the same time “very terrible.” A different translation uses the words: “very awesome.” And another (my favorite) describes the man’s/angel’s countenance as “terror laced with glory.”

Maybe that’s what the people saw in Enoch when they said “a wild man hath come among us.” I’m also reminded of how C.S. Lewis described Aslan in his stories of Narnia: “Safe? … Who said anything about safe? Course he isn’t safe.” “He’s wild, you know.” “But he’s good.”

So what does an angel look like? What does it mean then to be a man of God and receive his image in our countenances? Is it very terriblegloriouswild? I don’t know, but I think it’s safe to say it’s awesome!

I’m not settling for Chemosh

Jephthah, an old testament general in Israel, was in prewar negotiations with the king of the Ammonites who claimed that Israel had taken his land when they came up out of Egypt. Jephthah responded by correcting the king’s understanding of history, reminding him that Israel had only asked to pass through the land and that the Amorite king had not only refused, but actually attacked Israel. God then gave the Amorite king and all his army to Israel; Israel defeated them and took all the land. It was God, concludes Jephthah, the God of Israel, who pushed out the Amorites in favor of Israel; so who do you think you are to try to take it over? Why don’t you just be satisfied with what your god Chemosh gives you and we’ll settle for what God, our God, gives us? (Judges 11.23-24 msg)

I really loved that. Let others chase after whatever rewards their “gods” offer. We’ll be happy to settle for whatever the Lord our God gives us…