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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Standing Strong

I am in a country that is hostile to Christianity.  That is, it is illegal to speak to others about the claims of Christ on their life.  I am working with a pastor here and members of the house churches he leads.  We are looking together at making disciples and leadership in the Body of Christ.
Standing Strong
Much of what we are doing involves the people who are here spending extended time in the Word looking at these topics.  We then spend time processing what they have found and discussing how to apply what they have found in the Word to their current situation.

Last week as I was preparing for the time here, I was reading in Joshua 1.  As you know, that is where Joshua is taking over leadership of the nation of Israel from Moses.  I was struck by the fourfold repetition of a phrase.

Many of us have Joshua 1:8 memorized.  But notice the repetition in verses 6, 7, 9, and 18.  Some form of the phrase, “be strong and courageous,” shows up in each of those passages.  Note that there are two instances of the phrase before Joshua 1:8 and two after.

The command in Joshua 1:8 is for the new leader of the nation to hold the Word of God closely and to be careful to obey that Word.  That charge is first in Joshua 1:7 and is repeated in Joshua 1:16, by the people in response to Joshua.  It is instructive that in the context that he is exhorted four times to be strong and courageous.  The implication seems to be that to hold close to the Word and to obey it will require strength and courage.

That is the case in my experience.  To follow the Word puts one in conflict with the world, one’s culture, and in some cases others in the Body of Christ.  If we are to believe Mark 4: 1 – 20 and the synoptic parallels (Matthew 13:1 – 2; Luke 8:4 – 15), the enemy will do all that he can to both obscure and pull us away from the Word of God.

It takes strength, courage, and perseverance for us to hold fast to the Word and obey.  A cursory reading of Joshua, bears out the need for this reminder and challenge.  If we are honest with ourselves we will admit that it takes strength and courage to be careful to obey the Lord in our daily lives…

In the Body today, this seems to be a timely reminder.


  1. WE had better pay attention to this, if not for ourselves, for those we are training in the Word and discipleship. Not to mention our children and even more so our grandchildren.

    It seems like the disintegration of culture tends to be a "frog in how water" phenomena. As I look back over my 75 years and compare the roughly middle class area I lived in, the near suburb of a major city, the contrast is astonishing. Even in the early 80's when my family moved to a lower middle class neighborhood (starting to integrate very peacefully) in Memphis, TN, we seldom locked our door and our children (even pre-school) played in our yard totally unsupervised.

    By the time we moved away 26 years later the area was degenerating, crime-ridden and sliding toward being dangerous.

    In a society in which the biblically literate believer, if alert, can read the signs, our freedom to express our faith is being eroded at a staggering pace. And not just the freedom; it is becoming illegal. The signs and process of Romans 1, with the terrible results, are apparent.

    Bring what you are learning home, Mike. We need to hear it - and take it seriously.

    1. Good observations. Prayer and elections matter. In that order with the major emphasis on the former.