Monday, February 28, 2011

Joshua 13; Levite Land

"But to the tribe of Levi, Moses had given no inheritance; the LORD, the God of Israel, is their inheritance, as he promised them." Something in that statement is so very spiritual and something in that statement stirs the depths of my carnal nature.

What a blessing that the tribe of Levi had. They were allowed to serve God more directly and intimately than anyone else. They were given the privilege of being one curtain away from his presence. They were his ambassadors to the people and the people's representatives before Him. Yet they had no land, no permanent source of income apart from the offerings of the people. Would it be enough? What if the affection of the people waned?

As a veterinarian turned missionary, I've lived both sides of this. It is indeed a privilege and a pleasure to spend more time than most in the pursuit of God. It can also produce anxiety when "offerings" struggle. But perhaps that is the greatest blessing in disguise. Somehow God always comes through to take care of our needs. Whether great or small, it always works out. Maybe that is one of the reasons behind not giving land to the Levites, i.e., he wanted them to walk by faith daily. Just as they arose daily in the desert to pick up manna, they would attend to his needs at the temple and he would take care of them daily via what they could not control. Surely anything that pushes us to walk by faith on a daily basis is a blessing in disguise, even if it possessing less security than others.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Joshua 11-12; Holy War

So God fulfilled his promises. Israel was given the land that he had promised to Abraham centuries before. Yet some might argue that nothing was given. Some would argue that Joshua took it; there was no giving involved.

The big picture is that of a small nation (Deuteronomy 7:7) with no country or fighting tradition that had survived a nomadic life in the desert for a generation. They crossed a river at flood stage that normally protected eastern Palestine from invasion. They then sacked fortified and unfortified cities, conquered alliances and were victorious in the mountains or plains against infantry, cavalry and chariots. Some might attribute that to great human effort but through the eyes of faith it appears that more was involved. Crossing a flooded river without getting wet and marching around a city till the walls fall down point to supernatural involvement.

In my house church we have been discussing holiness. A major question has arisen regarding whether holiness is given by God's grace or attained by human effort? I think Joshua could add a lot to the discussion. The land was given and attained. Yet all the efforts of the army would have been futile against so many obstacles and enemies. Israel did not stand a chance alone. God, however, is credited with giving the land, handing over enemies and guiding the Jews throughout the entire invasion. In 11:20 it says that the Lord destroyed the enemies even though 11:21 says that Joshua did. 11:15 (and many others) tie the two together saying that Joshua did just what the Lord commanded.

So bottom line time. No matter how hard I try, I will never attain holiness. If I follow God's directions and walk in his ways, then he facilitates it. He saw Israel as possessing the land years before they did. He sees his followers as holy years before we can see it. He talked as if the Jews were already owners of the land before they fought for it. He talks as if we are already holy even before we struggle to become it. That God gave Israel the promised land did not mean they did nothing. That he calls us holy does not mean we are free from spiritual or moral effort. The land was given and attained; likewise holiness is given and attained.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Joshua 10:16-43; Strong and Courageous

Joshua must have started off his leadership as somewhat shy and nervous. If "be strong and courageous" was the prescription, then the problem must have been that he was lacking courage. That does not seem to be the description of Joshua in chapter ten. In fact he calls his leaders to put their feet on the necks of the kings they are about to kill and declares to them what God spoke to him in chapter one, i.e., "do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous." He not only believed and lived the message, he now passed it on to those around him. He overflowed with courage and strength.

Every now and then in life, a true "life-changing" decision must be made. For me, leaving my career to become a missionary, adopting Venezuelan twins and returning Sfrom the mission field were some of those gut-wrenching decisions. I now get to face a new one. Every time fear tries to take over the decision making process. All the questions of "what if" cloud the issue. Once a decision has been reached, however, I pray I move ahead with ruthless confidence like Joshua. He was totally sold out to the conquest of the land and called others to catch up. I pray that I will follow the same pattern.

I also have to ask myself why don't we walk with the same confidence and focus 24/7? Why do we let ourselves become so caught up in the trivialities of life that we fail to accomplish the greater good? Life with a clear purpose looks so different from life without purpose. If feels different. It has meaning and conviction. In the words of the Switchfoot, "We were meant to live for so much more. Have we lost ourselves?" So here is to hoping that we live not only with strength and confidence but with strength and confidence in our God-given purpose.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Joshua 10:1-15; What is Amazing

Not only did Joshua keep his promise of peace with the Gibeonites but he marched to their aid as an ally. If that is not somewhat surprising, then the fact that God sent a hailstorm to assist the Israelites should be impressive. Yet, the most amazing fact of this story is the sun and moon standing still in the sky. With all my science background I would love to explain that but I can't. God did something inexplicable that day. However, as mind-boggling as that is, the comment on it is more fascinating still. "There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the LORD listened to a human being."

What the Jews found amazing was not that God could make the sun and moon stand still but that God would listen to the petition of a human! Of course he can make the sun do what he wants, he is God. If he created the world, then surely he can control it. The action of stopping the sun seemed to fall within the realm of what divinity does. It is the listening to a human that does not sound very divine. God did something proposterous because a human asked it. How un-god like.

Think of all the things we send up to God in prayer. I want a happy life, a better job, to win the game. I want to pass the test, be safe and get a pony for Christmas. When you think about it, much of what we ask for is ludicrous and quite selfish. Even when we are on our best behavior we still offer up selfish prayers, e.g., bless me, take care of my friend, etc. Are they prayers that further his influence? Are they prayers about what is best for his reputation or that facilitate his will to be done? Yet, there are moments when a prayer is blatantly answered, selfish or not. And we must stop and recognize that God just responded. That is still an amazing thought. That the creator of the world would listen to me does not seem like something a creator would do. That the one who is so much more advanced than me would care about me enough to respond to a selfish petition is inexplicable. That is what the comment in this chapter says as well. Loosely translated it could read, "Who cares if the sun stood still; the amazing thing is that the creator listened to a human!"

It is still an amazing thought. When the absurdity of it is contemplated, then it makes me ashamed of my petty petitions I often call prayer.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Joshua 9: Keep It

They blew it once but they would not blow it twice. The leaders failed to check with God but pledged to not fail in representing him later.

The fact that verse fourteen says they failed to inquire of the Lord indicates that God was wanting to communicate. God saw the deception and would have kept them out of trouble; but they failed to ask. How many times does that scenario play out today? How often is God leaning forward on the edge of his chair to give direction about relationships, major decisions and life but we never give him the chance to talk? Then later we wonder "where is God" and "how could he let this happen to me?" God probably responds, "where were you" and "how could you not ask me?"

Perhaps more impressive to me is that they refused to nullify the contract. How many of us would say that the conditions of the contract were violated and therefore we do not need to respect it? Again, how many times do we let that play out in life today? My spouse stopped treating me the same, my business partner lied and my roommate changed, so I'm out of all obligations I agreed to. Or maybe in the mundane daily things it shows up even more, i.e., refusing to meet an agreed upon deadline or not doing a favor for a friend once the conditions of work or relationships change.

There are a lot of things in the world that I can't change. In the US, Christians divorce and cheat on their taxes as often as the next guy. Anytime I don't keep a simple promise I contribute to that ugly perception. But despite the bad decisions of anyone around me, I don't have to fail that way. Yes is yes; no is no. Anything else represents Evil and not God.

Psalm 15. "Who may live on your holy mountain? . . He who keeps his oath even when it hurts."

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Joshua 8; Blessed Obedience

Joshua attended to the words of God, both oral and written. There were general instructions, i.e., be bold and set an ambush. Joshua did. Then there were specific instructions, i.e., raise your javelin now. Joshua did. At the end of the chapter, Joshua is again portrayed as the obedient leader. He built the altar as Moses commanded. He organized the people as Moses commanded. Then he read the law that Moses had commanded.

The portion of the law that the people were commanded to recite between the two mountains after entering were the blessings of obedience and the curses of disobedience (Deuteronomy 27-28). It was not a theory but rather an explanation of the difference between the two attacks on Ai. They had seen firsthand the blessings of obedience and the curses of disobedience. They had watched their leader model it for them.

Their former leader Moses was am amazing man who heard the voice of God and received decrees that changed the world. Joshua was equally impressive but a little more like us. He did not have the ongoing dialogue that Moses seemed to have with God. His guidance was more like ours, i.e., some mix of personal guidance and the written word. He did not have every action explained to him and often filled in the gaps in order to accomplish God's will. For example, all God said was ambush the city; Joshua had to fill in the details of where and how.

Life today seems to follow that model, i.e., God gives us goals, moral direction and occasionally some more specific instructions. Often we are left to fill in the gaps via our own wisdom. Love your neighbor is pretty general; what that looks like will be up to my wisdom and circumstances today. Seek first the kingdom is general; how to do that today will look different for me versus the next guy.

God's promise to Abraham was that the people around him would be blessed. I think that is a standing promise. At the end of the day, everyone in Israel knew that their blessings were due to the obedience of Joshua, in generalities and specifics. We tend to pursue the American dream through insane hours of work and worry hoping to bless our families through it. Yet all it does is leave us exhausted and discouraged. Joshua pursued obedience to God and the result was a blessing for all. Though all the Israelites were God's children, Joshua stood out by his close attention to God's words. Do I? Does my family receive blessings from my efforts to pay attention to the words of God? Do others want to be around me because I am blessed and those blessings overflow to them? Do I work and worry for the American dream or for filling in the gaps of God's instructions? Am I attentive like Joshua or just another face in the superficial crowd of the nominally obedient?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Joshua 7; Successful Failure

Israel experienced total failure. All of us have at some time as well; we know what it feels like to fail. It feels like your "heart melts and turns to water". But the perspectives here are enlightening.

While Israel was mourning its loss, Joshua and the leaders spent time before God. Eventually Joshua was able to ask a different question than before. He was able to ask questions from the perspective of God's honor. Basically, "if we die, what will that do for your reputation?" It was not until Joshua was able to look through God's eyes considering God's purpose that an answer was given. The answer was that the problem was not a military defeat but rather lying, stealing and covetousness. The problem was at the heart level, not the action level.

When Achan was singled out, Joshua made an amazing statement. “My son, give glory to the LORD, the God of Israel, and honor him. Tell me what you have done; do not hide it from me.” The confession served to reveal that God was not weak; it was not God's fault that they lost.

In life we will experience failure, either personally (relationships, work) and / or socially (poverty, crime). But through whose eyes will we sit it? Am I so wrapped up in me that all I can think about is why did I fail? Or am I dedicated enough to God that I consider how does this affect him? Do I see social issues like poverty and war as a series of principles gone awry or a heart problem? Do I learn anything spiritually from failure or simply lose courage? Am I so egocentric that even in failure I fail to think about God? God used failure to refine Israel's heart; when they asked questions that put him first, their failure became a blessing.

Since God can use failure to teach and grow his people, then if I don't look at failure asking the right questions, I fail again. Without the right perspective, I fail at failure.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Joshua 5:13-Joshua 6; Reverent Ridiculousness

What a ridiculous story. Yet I believe that was God's point.

On the road to Jericho Joshua encountered the angel of the Lord. In his zeal, he challenged the angel, who gave a rather cool response -- which was fortunate for Joshua. Then the leader of God's people fell facedown in humble reverence. Thus the tone was set for the taking of Jericho; it would be God's army that did the work. Yet in the same way that the Israelites were now the owners of a land that they still had to conquer, they were to attack a city that God said was already given to them. And so they acted ridiculously, marching for days in battle gear behind the priests and then returning to camp. To any observer it made no sense at all. Yet the results were powerful.

So what do we do when we think God asks ridiculous things of us today? There is the metaphorical approach where we look for the deep truths, aspire to add them to our belief system and carry on with life as normal. There is the historical approach where we write off volumes of his revealed will as applicable only to a former time and place. There is the modernist approach where we doubt that the message really came from God at all and therefore discuss at at length the way we would Shakespeare but without any necessity of living it out. Then there is the Joshua approach -- reverent submission to a holy God and obedience even when it makes no sense.

Considering how unsuccessful most of our society is at obtaining a satisfying life and how successful Joshua was at living a purpose filled life, I have to ask, why not step out in reverent ridiculousness today?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Joshua 5:1-12; Halfway

It strikes me how the manna stopped the day after they had their first food in the Promised Land. For decades they awakened every morning to step out of a tent and find their food on the ground waiting for them. Now a new day had dawned and they could eat the variety of food offered by this new land. Of course, that probably didn't go over well with the local people that grew it!

And so Israel entered into an odd "halfway" lifestyle. Yes they were in the Promised Land and the desert nomad life was behind them. They could build homes and enjoy its food. God had delivered them and made good on his promise. Yet they still had work to do. They had to conquer entire nations, build or rebuild homes to live in and then learn to become farmers. They were in the Promised Land but not yet free from responsibility.

It seems like a great prototype for God's church today. God has made good on his promise of redemption by already sending Jesus. He has pulled his people together into community, given his Spirit to us and guarantees continued life with him. Yet we are not free from responsibilities like conquering our attitudes and/or behaviors, dealing with pain and putting in our part to build relationships.

Probably leaving the desert behind to move into a rich hill country was a stark change that affected every facet of their life. Still I wonder if after a few months or years, did they forget that they were in the Promised Land like we forget that we are different from most around us? Did they speak out against the Land the way many of us speak out against the Lord? Did they long to go back to the desert for direct food from God the way some of us long to have lived in the days of Jesus so that we would not have to work to understand the will of God?

It is easy for us to look down on the Israelites for how they grew stale in their faith once they lived in the "halfway world of the Promised Land"; I wonder what they would say about us?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Joshua 4; Details

In chapter one when God told Joshua he would lead, Joshua then told the people to be ready to go in three days. There is no record that God told Joshua to order that command; he extrapolated it from the general instructions God gave him. In this chapter, it is different. God gave Joshua very exact details regarding how to enter the Jordan, who goes first, what to do with the stones, when to call the priests out and more. So which is the modem operendum of God, i.e., general or detailed instructions?

It seems to me that God treats his people in the same way that we treat each other. When there is great need for specificity, he is more than capable of giving it. He was very detailed when the event was history shaping in nature. Yet it is not his norm; rather he entrusts us to know his moral will and live with in those parameters without details most of the time.

Most of the time we live in a Joshua 1 general instruction mode with no details. God will probably not speak to tell me which parking lot to use or where to eat lunch or even what to wear to work today (though I don't understand fashion). So to anticipate direct revelation for guidance in lesser matters is probably more an indication of my lack of understanding of the nature of God than it is an act of faith. It brings into question the present tendency to "wait upon Lord" for direction from internal leadings. Since God is so capable of guiding his people when needed, the present tendency is perhaps more a reflection of our high view of self than a high view of God.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Joshua 3; Near God

God had a goal of demonstrating his presence with Joshua. He came down to accompany Joshua in order that everyone would see his favor on the man. Joshua responded by speaking in total faith that God would open the way for his people. Then he also added the line "But keep a safe distance of about 2000 cubits between you and the ark; do not go near it."

It sounds odd at first to celebrate the presence of God by staying 1000 yards away at all times. It is almost a contradiction that when God would be present, they were to create distance. We think that at all times our goal is to draw close to God. Perhaps our total lack of understanding of hierarchy betrays us here; Joshua was calling for respect. After all, this was the Creator of the world. His goal was to exalt the Lord and recognize his majesty. One does not throw his arms around the Queen of England or King of Thailand and ask "What's up?" Instead respect and adoration is shown by maintaining distance.

So God's action was to come near while the human reaction was to move back. God pursued intimacy; humans responded with reverence. God became imminent; humanity recognized transcendence.

Do I believe that just because God came near in Jesus that he somehow gave up the quality of being Godly? Do I believe that God should receive no different treatment than my buddy? Do I recognize in any way, the power and majesty of God by my actions?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Joshua 2; God here?

God seems to show up in the strangest places sometimes. Just when we think we have him all secure in nice church buildings, good Christian universities or well conducted small groups, he surprises us. In this chapter he worked through a prostitute to speak to spies. Their message then encouraged his chosen leader to boldly move forward.

Prostitutes and spies. Those are not the typical people we think of God working in. The story pushes our box open forcing us to remember that God is the God of heaven and earth (to use the words of Rahab). Reflecting on other stories of the Old Testament, God worked in Egyptian midwives, a sorcerer, foreign kings and even a donkey.

Today, then, where might I find God? Perhaps in a casual conversation in the hallway, the homeless man at the traffic light, the rebellious student or any one of a million other options. It seems that the primary issue is not if God is active around us but can we see him. An wise doctor once told me we can only diagnose what we look for; you can't diagnose a disease you are not familiar with. Likewise, we will never see God at work if we are not looking for him . . . whether in a church building or in the most unlikely places and people imaginable to us.

Lord, today, open the eyes of my soul and give me spiritual vision.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Joshua 1:10-18; Courageous

God told Joshua to be strong and courageous. He could have told him to be humble or be patient or be caring. All are Godly traits. Yet he commanded strength and courage. Perhaps Joshua was timid or passive. Perhaps it was simply the position Joshua was in, i.e., the needs of the people at the moment. Or perhaps it was more about God.

If God was going to be able to help his people in the same way that he had helped them before, he needed the opportunity to show up. If Joshua was passive or indecisive, then there would not be a chance for God to perform any great works through him. How can God reward faith and step boldly into our lives if we do not take any risks? If we are always in control of life and never place ourselves in a vulnerable situation, then how will God have the chance to manifest himself?

So God called Joshua to strength and courage; surely he wants the same in his people today. Surely he wants the chance to manifest himself in us, i.e., to be seen as the one true God who is still actively at work in his people. Yet what chances does he get? We cherish security and work to eliminate risks, even developing "risk management" offices and seminars. But why would God ever show up in a life where we have taken total control and never step out in bold faith? Surely God smiled when Joshua walked away from his meeting with God and proclaimed "in three days we cross the river to take possession of the land." Soon God would split the Jordan river, tumble Jericho without a fight and become the focus of every resident for miles around. All the results of Joshua's courageous faith.

Surely there are rivers to cross and strongholds to tumble in my world that are God-sized jobs. The question is will I be courageous enough to give God the opportunity to show up?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Joshua 1:1-9; Spirit or Word?

Lately I have spent a lot of time reading and debating with myself over decision-making and the will of God. Does God speak to everyone? Anyone? Does he guide by opening and closing doors? Does he guide by his Word or by his Spirit? Since that is in my mind, it jumps off the page to me that God spoke of both his word and his presence in leading Joshua. Here it is obviously not one or the other but both. Joshua was strictly told to study and keep the word of God; his confidence and boldness, however, was to come from the presence of God. It seems to be more of a "both / and" rather than "either / or" situation.

Culture seems to influence us more than we like to admit. The present norm on our college campuses seems to be a fear of anything that looks institutional and an embrace of anything that looks mystic. Hence, it is much more en vogue to talk about relying on the spirit of God rather than spend time reading and meditating on the written word. It is also a lot less work to wait on a sign from God rather than seek wisdom. Yet, Joshua received a direct revelation from God that told him to pursue one and trust the other. He was not told "just trust me" nor was he told "just follow this." Both aspects were critical to his success in life.

I think all of us are not only influenced by our society but by our personal tendencies to lean towards one side or the other. The key seems to be to diagnose which way I am leaning and force myself to return to a balance of the two.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Mark 16; Unbelief

The bulk of the chapter is devoted to unbelief. The women at the tomb did not believe, the apostles did not believe Mary and the disciples did not believe the two. Jesus had to appear and rebuke them to spark belief. Once they believed, they went out and shared a message that changed the world.

So what would this look like today? How much of our lives are filled with unbelief? God works to speak to us through others but we ignore them. He probably uses mass media (a song, a movie, an article, a blog) but we miss the point. He gives us experiences but we don't slow down to process them. We move through life at such a pace that we don't hear or see God; the result is that most of our lives look like chapter sixteen, i.e., long accounts of unbelief.

The apostles changed when Jesus met face to face with them; then they changed the world. I wonder what it will take for us today? In each of our lives there are probably countless God-encounters today where he rebukes us and commissions us. May we be alert enough to recognize them and faithful enough to respond to them.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Mark 15:33-47; Not End

What a terrible ending, i.e., Jesus dies, his followers are crying or dispersed and his body is placed in the tomb. I wanted to keep reading, to flow directly into the next chapter. Yet I think it is unfair to do so. The early followers of Jesus had to live through the end of chapter 15 without knowing that there would be more to the story. I cannot comprehend the degree of emptiness and abandonment they must have felt at that moment. All that they had lived for and hoped for ceased to exist in one night.

In truth, it seems that many Christians live as though the story ended in chapter 15 rather than 16. Our actions betray our beliefs. Do we live daily with the mindset that the things of this world are only temporary? Do we live daily as if the best is yet to come? Do we live with the joy that the issues of this physical world are of no lasting consequence? Do we act as if we are just passing through this life as we journey to where we really belong? Is our mindset summed up by the words of C. S. Lewis, "You don't have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body."

Most of the world believes that this life will end like chapter 15, that is, no hope, cold, in a grave. The secret that frees us to truly live is to always remember that there is a chapter 16.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Mark 15:16-32; Powerlessness

Priests, soldiers, thieves, commoners and a country traveler all encounter Jesus in this section. Those who come to Jesus in power inevitably get nothing out of the encounter; it is wasted. The crowd had the option of choosing its attitude; those recorded to have spoken up, did so from what seems to be a disdaining point of view. Even the thieves, not especially powerful at the moment, looked down upon Jesus. Then there are the two powerless people in the story.

Simon is grabbed by the soldiers and forced to walk beside the other powerless person. He happened to be coming home, maybe with his sons, and either happened to come to an intersection at the wrong time or was drawn in by the commotion to see what was happening. Surely he was forced to drop all personal items (tools, bags, food) to handle the cross; he may have been forced to abandon his sons Rufus and Alexander in the mob. Suddenly he went from an uninvolved spectator to center-stage in the drama. And of everyone mentioned in this section, only Simon was changed. Only he benefited. His family is mentioned in Romans 16; Catholic history records him as a Saint and his sons as missionaries.

I keep coming back to the question of why was he changed while so many others who were at the scene were not? All others encountered Jesus but were able to keep distance at the same time. The soldiers did not quit being soldiers to encounter Jesus. The thieves did not give up their identity nor the the crowd theirs. Yet Simon was jerked from the role of spectator and forced to walk with the Nazarene.

So how do I approach Jesus? Do I encounter him while retaining my separate identity? Is he someone that I bump into occasionally but hold at a distance? Or do I walk with him, even bearing the spillage of his burdens on my shoulders? It seems that we are not changed by a Jesus encounter unless we first surrender power.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Mark 15:1-15; Truly Right

The drama plays out with three groups, i.e., Jesus, the leaders and the crowd. Jesus was the same throughout the events; he was resolute from the moment he entered Jerusalem. His message, demeanor and confidence never changed. The leadership never changed either. The priests had worked for quite a while to stop Jesus; now they pulled in Pilate out of necessity to achieve their goal. The crowd changed by the minute. On Thursday they shouted "hosanna" but on Friday they shouted "crucify".

Jesus lived for a higher goal and was controlled by a heart that put the Shema into practice. The leaders lived for their personal goals and were controlled by the Shema when it was convenient. The crowd had no goals and were controlled by others.

So which one am I? As a good North American middle-class boomer, of course I have goals. Boomers hate to be part of the crowd; we were weaned on the book "The Pursuit of Excellence". So most days find me pursuing something. But for whom and how? Honestly reading Jesus' encounters with the leaders always makes me nervous because they acted in the name of their beliefs. Many of them were just misguided; some were manipulative but others surely were honest. That is what terrifies me, i.e., I have been honest and earnest and dead wrong before. How do I avoid falling into that category again? It seems to me that both the priests and Jesus claimed to act in the name of God. The difference was who lived out the Shema. Who acted like God acts towards others? At any given moment, who looked like they were embodying the first and second commandments?

For that reason, being right is not nearly as important to me as it used to be. For I have been right doctrinally and violated the second commandment at the same time. Ultimately, there is no way that combination can truly be "right". Only if my neighbor (friend, enemy, student, etc) feels my love for him at the same time that I hold to "truth" can I be truly "right".

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Mark 14:66-72; Mosquito Moments

I think all of us like to think that we are generally good people. We like to believe that it would take something catastrophic to shake our faith. We even imagine that in those "big" moments we will rise up with an equally "big" response. Maybe that is why it seems so fitting that it was a servant girl that caused Peter so much trouble. She was not the high priest or a teacher of the law. She was more like a nagging mosquito that would not go away; the kind that just buzz around your ear when you are sitting by a fire trying to enjoy the evening. You swat at them but never hit them. You dodge, duck and change places but they keep pestering you. Peter denied her accusation and changed places as well; the nagging little girl found him again and started over. Eventually, Peter lost it.

Rarely am I confronted with major conflict that demands a "big" response in faith. I have never stood before a mob that wanted to kill me for my faith. I have rarely had to defend my understanding to a gathered crowd. But life seems to be filled with mosquito moments. A bad day when I can't seem to get anything done, a morning filled with computer glitches, an evening of high demands and low energy all are mosquito moments when my faith can wear thin. They seem to irritate their way under my faith skin and eventually cause a meltdown reaction.

Honestly, life is filled with many more mosquito moments than big challenges. My prayer is to have the wisdom to recognize them early and respond in appropriate ways rather than have a faith meltdown like Peter.