“Normally it takes only eleven days to travel from Mount Sinai to Kadesh-barnea, going by way of Mount Seir.” — Deuteronomy 1:2
I was reading Deuteronomy the other day, and I had trouble getting past verse 2 of the book before my mind started to wander off in a different direction. (Maybe it is just me, but sometimes my mind has a mind of its own.) Verse 2 says, “Normally it takes only eleven days to travel from Mount Sinai to Kadesh-barnea” (NLT).
In other words, a simple journey that should have taken about two weeks took thirty-eight years (they had already stayed two years at Mt. Sinai – Numbers 1:1). It made me wonder how many times I’ve over-stayed my welcome in one place because I murmured, complained and doubted God’s word. I’d hate to count.
Kadesh-barnea should have been a place of blessing. It was the place God directed Moses to lead the people so that they would have direct access into the Promised Land, but due to a rebellious spirit, it became a place of cursing. Although Kadesh means “Holy” or “consecrated,” a brief study of this place shows it was anything but a holy place to the rebellious children of Israel.
As a concession to the people who doubted that God knew what He was doing (Deut. 1:19-22), Moses allowed twelve men to go into the Promised Land as scouts. A majority of these men reported seeing large, walled cities and a people who descended from giants. What they saw with their eyes then suffocated their faith, and the people claimed that the LORD hated them and brought them here to be slaughtered (Deut. 1:25). (Perhaps this is where too much information can hinder our faith in God?)
It was at Kadesh that Korah’s rebellion took place (Num. 16) and over 250 people died. Miriam died and was buried at Kadesh (Num. 20:1), and it was here that Moses disobeyed the Lord by striking the rock he was directed to speak to (Numb. 20:8-11). Finally, it was not too long after God told the Israelites to move from Kadesh toward Canaan that Aaron died (Num. 20:23-29).
I believe there are many times when God withholds information because He knows we need to walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7). I know that my faith would have faltered had I known about every giant I was going to face in the places God sent me to live. This is why I am learning to be satisfied with knowing less and believing more. Continue Reading
“But if I go to the east, he is not there; if I go to the west, I dot not find him. When he is at work in the north, I do not see him; when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him.” – Job 23:8-9
This passage in Job shows us there are times when, no matter which direction we go, we cannot find God or understand what He is doing. For some reason, there are times when He chooses to be elusive, evasive and evanescent. He answers to no one and refuses to ask permission to be Himself. Search for Him all you want, but if He chooses to hide Himself, there is no way to find Him.
At other times, no matter which way we go to get away from God, He is there (Ps. 139:7-10). Even in my darkest moments, I find God is with me, for darkness is as light to Him (Ps. 139: 12). Or, as Plato is quoted saying, “Light is the shadow of God.” God is everywhere, and there is no way to escape Him.
What challenges me is the fact that I cannot pin God down. If I try to flee from God, He pursues me. If I try to find Him, He remains hidden. Continue Reading
For four years I was an Assemblies of God minister and a monk with the Brothers and Sisters of Charity at the Little Portion Hermitage. This is an excerpt from my book,Taking Off My Comfortable Clothes: Removing Religion to Find Relationship.
As an Assemblies of God minister who was also a monk in a Catholic-based monastic community, I had to do quite a bit of soul searching during my time at the Little Portion, reconciling what I have always believed and practiced with those things I was seeing practiced at the community. Our Christian principles were the same, but the practices of those principles were different. My conclusion, therefore, (and you may disagree – just be agreeable when you do so) was this: The Spirit of truth guides us into those truths that pertain to the principles of salvation. Everything else is icing on the religious cake.
At one time, I saw “truth” as if it were the period at the end of this sentence; complete, precise, and unalterably the same across the board. And naturally, my truth and the Spirit of truth were one and the same! However, after living at the Little Portion, I began to see truth more like a rainbow and less like a period. There were different colors and gradations to truth, especially when that “truth” did not have anything to do with our salvation.
Ecumenism is defined as a movement promoting union between religions, especially between Christian churches. Our unity as Christians is centered completely and solely upon Jesus and His place in our life. The purpose of the Spirit of truth is stated in John 16:14: “He will bring glory to me [Jesus] by taking from what is mine and making it known to you.” The mission of the Spirit of truth is stated in John 16:8: “When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment.” By putting these verses together, we see that the Spirit of truth comes to convict us of our sin and point us to righteousness through the judgment of our sin (i.e., Calvary), and to glorify Jesus. Anything we do in the Church that does not fall into these areas is that which does not fall under the ministry of the Spirit of truth. Continue Reading