I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help [hold] thee.
One day after Hurricane Edna struck western Massachusetts in 1954, my father took me to the Ludlow Bridge which spanned the Chicopee river between Ludlow and Indian Orchard at what was once known as Wallamanumps Falls. We walked onto the bridge and watched the raging water only a few feet below the bridge, splashing against the upstream side. Residents knew that with the dam opened that tumultuous white water was over 50 feet deep. If anyone fell in, they would never survive. I couldn’t see the water because I was only 4 years old and not big enough to look over the concrete siding. So my dad picked me up and sat me on that railing with my feet dangling over the edge. Others around him panicked. At first I was terrified, but my dad held me with a firm grip and told me that I would be OK because he was holding me and would never let me go.
At my advanced age, I still have that mental picture of the raging waters of the Chicopee river directly beneath my feet, and of my father’s strong hands. I can’t help but think that the act of my foster father helping me to see the power of a storm-stirred river developed a deep trust, in my young heart, that my “Dad” was able to hold me and keep me safe. How much stronger and greater the hold of our eternal Father’s hands? He has held me for 42 years now, and has not let go once!
Don’t try to hold God’s hand; let Him hold yours. Let Him do the holding, and you do the trusting.
See Also: Isa. 41:10
I’m writing this to my friends, family, and present and future readers. I believe that my books serve an important role in both spiritual formation for believers in Christ as well as foundational primers for pastors. Now, they have a great chance of being made available to those students of Scripture and ministry leaders who use Logos Bible Software.
Both Sabbatical Primers and We’re the “sons of God” . . . So What? have been made available to Logos Bible Software’s “Pre-pub” Department. If you have any inclination to help place my pastoral and spiritual formation books into the hands of readers at a reasonable price, I’d like to show you how you can help.
Simply click on the link or the photo of my collection of books here in the post or at the right in the navigation bar and that will take you to the product page. Of course, once there you can buy the books for yourself for $19.99, but that’s not necessary to help. Whether you buy them or not, simply share them using the social media icons directly under the photo of my books on the product page.
You can also simply copy and paste the URL below into your Facebook or Twitter and say something about the books. When you publish your comment, the link will place a photo of the books and the product page on your FB or Twitter so that readers can click and go to the product page to look at and purchase the collection.
When the books gather enough interest, then Logos will publish and ship them. I hope you’ll decide to help make this roll-out of the new collection available.
The Lord our God said to us at Horeb, ‘You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Break Camp and advance into the hill country . . . go to all the neighboring peoples . . . ‘
–from Deut. 1:6-7 (NIV)
God’s people had camped with Him at the mountain where the law was given. This is also where Elijah came in a time of particular discouragement and depression. Desert mountain symbolized to early Christians a place of bondage to law and slavery (Gal. 4:24ff). At last, God would take them into the rich, green land He had promised them, the “hill country” of freedom and abundance. They would be a people, holy unto Him, a light to the peoples around them. Israel was a testimony to the One true God. They were waiting for a word from Him. They wanted guidance. They anticipated that God would answer them, but they needed to hear His command—GO—advance.
Like them, a second time in Israel’s history, God’s people waited to hear from Him. Four hundred years of silence finally broke as Messiah Jesus came into the world. At the right time, He appeared publicly to Israel and said to those who would follow Him, “Go into all the world.”(Matt. 28:18-20). This was God coming to His people to heal, deliver, forgive, restore for a reason . . . so that they could break camp and “GO.” These new followers of Messiah would be a holy people, washed clean, created to be a light on a hill, a pure people for fellowship with God and for reconciling the nations and multitudes to God.
God has been preparing a people here at New Life for the past seven years. Noteworthy that the number seven is the number of completion, the biblical number of perfection. Not that we are perfect in and of ourselves, but we have a God who is at work in our midst and He is perfecting us to be a holy people to be used of Him to minister to “all the neighboring peoples” (Titus 2:11-14).
God’s heart for us is to forget the past and move confidently ahead with Him. Some of us have been hurt or wounded in the process of becoming a people and tracking with the Lord into house-church, but now it is time to be healed and set our hearts on advancing with our Savior. For He has called us to “Follow” that He might make us fishers of men and women, boys and girls who need a Savior.
God is calling us to a deeper love, to bear with one another in love, to move on from here and to “break camp.” Now, in His Spirit and grace, He commands us to GO. Go to all the peoples in this region who need Him. Go to those who need freedom and salvation. “Forget the former things.” He is doing a NEW WORK. Do you perceive it?
We are breaking camp. We have pulled up stakes and are following our God. Don’t be left behind. He has important life-saving work for you to join Him in. But it’s in hill country of relationship, not the desert of religion.
“You will never know how hard it was to keep you boys busy,” my dad acknowledged in a moment of morphine-induced honesty following surgery for colon cancer.
“Did it ever occur to you to give us a day off?” my youngest
Dad hesitated, but only for a moment — “The thought never crossed my mind.”
“Keep busy” buzzes in my head. My daily “to do” list gives an often distorted shape to my day.
In A Sabbatical Primer for Pastors, David Alves raises his voice over the buzz. “God is taking you out of the brick making business,” he writes. With frequent references to his own story, David argues that Sabbath and Sabbaticals offer a God-designed way for me to be free from the drivenness that has served as a constant companion since my youth.
The Primer troubles me with a question that lingers like the scent of a powerful perfume: which father’s voice will shape the remaining years of my life?
–Clayton Blackstone, author of Meet Me for Breakfast and Pastor of the Advent Christian Church in Bangor, Maine