Category Archives: Using Scripture

The Power of Three

Three FingersWant to persuade someone? Give them three reasons for your beliefs. Want to entertain someone? Tell a rousing story with threes (three characters, three conflicts, etc). Want the audience to remember the point? List three points of information.

Why? Studies have shown people remember things that come in threes. Slip in a fourth and we lose them altogether. Many stories present information in threes:  The Three Little Pigs, The Three Musketeers, The Three Stooges, and even three ghosts of Ebenezer Scrooge. Photography follows the Rule of Thirds. There are three medals awarded during Olympic competitions.

The power of three’s is so prevalent we often don’t even notice it, but God knew the power of three long before advertising companies or story-tellers could identify and define it. After all, He presented us with the Trinity, Three Wise Men, three rooster crows, three days in a whale’s belly, and three days in a tomb.

While these are all easily identifiable, I discovered another three tucked into the book of Joshua. Chapter 1 repeats “be strong and courageous” three times within the span of a few verses.  God  knew the power of his words in three’s would be enough to get Joshua through the next 20 years of battle.

The first time God tells Joshua to be strong and courageous, He gives him his job: “You are the one who will lead my people to possess the land I promised to give them. The second time he repeats the phrase, he informs Joshua how to complete the task: “follow the instructions Moses gave you . . . study the Word. . . obey the Word.” The final time God repeats the phrase, He tells Joshua why he can be strong and courageous: “for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

By the time God was finished with his “talk” with Joshua, I’m sure Joshua felt the power of those three encouragements. He stood ready to do all that God had commanded.

Aside from the power of three God uses strategically with Joshua, I find it interesting that he uses two words that seem much like synonyms: strong and courageous.  Looking a little closer,however,  I realize those words are synonyms at all.  Courage speaks to taking up the task while strength focuses on staying with the task. When God gives us a directive — that can be a million different things for each of us –, we must find the courage to take the first step toward that directive. And after that first step, we need strength to continue on the path to which He has called us. Sometimes it’s easier to take the first step on an exciting new journey with God, but the perseverance to stay the course is DIFFICULT. Other times, it’s daunting and seemingly impossible to take that step of obedience into something new because we cannot see how it will turn out or it’s too hard to let go of the old and move into the new.

Either way, we can take heart in the same words that God spoke to Joshua. Be strong and courageous! Take that step that God has been calling you to. Continue to walk in the path God has placed your feet upon. Always knowing that He will be with you wherever you go. He designed the past, guides today, and knows the future. That’s a “power of three” that can give each of us courage and strength to do whatever He commands.

What journey has God called you to take that needs Joshua’s reminder to be strong and courageous?

 

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Unmasking the Need

In the spring of 2013, I was running my usual route on a cool jungle morning. Unspoiled mountain views surrounded me — their beauty a constant source of awe.  That day however, my thoughts couldn’t appreciate the scenery because of the chaos in my mind. Thoughts of worry, doubt, and fear fought for dominance in my heart. Each emotion finding its root in the new path God had recently asked me to walk.

After two and half years of missionary life in the jungle, God was calling me to leave.  I had no clue why. Life in the jungle had been a struggle at first, but now I loved it and couldn’t imagine leaving it behind. I wanted to stay. I didn’t want a new calling.

But it was here, and I ran that day hoping that God would somehow change his mind and let me stay. My headphones pumped worship music in my ears. I needed some peace; I needed confirmation. The music shifted from Chris Tomlin’s lilt to Lecrae’s dominant voice. He rapped a portion of scripture I hadn’t thought of in a while:

Then He said to me,
Prophesy to these bones and say to them,
Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!
This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones,
I will make breath enter you,
And you will come alive.
So I prophesied as I was commanded.
As I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound,
And the bones came together, bone to bone.
And I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them,
And skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.
Then He said to me,
Prophesy to the breath,
Prophesy, son of man, and say to it,
Come from the four winds of breath and breathe.

As Lecrae spoke these words, I heard God clearly say, “I’m calling you to be an Ezekiel. I’m asking you to breath life into those who are dead. The mountains of central Appalachia are your Valley of Dry Bones.”

Tears flooded my cheeks as I finished my run. I went straight home and looked up God’s moment with Ezekiel (Chapter 37: 1-14). I was overwhelmed by the obvious connection to God’s new direction for us and these verses.

God first points out the absurdity of bones living again – a thought that crossed my mind, too. The people of central Appalachia are steeped in generations of “death” like drug addiction, poverty, dysfunction, and extreme hopelessness. How can I change any of that? It seems nearly as impossible as dry bones coming together again.

Then God asks Ezekiel to prophecy – to speak words of life, to encourage, to offer hope. He does and the bones begin to move and reconnect. God again asks Ezekiel to speak, and he does. Muscles and flesh start forming over the bones.

At this point, there are bodies who’ve gone from dry bones to bodily forms. Yet, there is still no life in them. God tells Ezekiel to call the four winds to come a fill the bodies with breath – with life. Those four winds come from the North, East, South and West. Again, I reminded God of my limited abilities. He pointed out that the four winds represented the people He would send from all over the nation to help Keith and I in this ministry. I don’t know who they are or where they live, but I know that will come alongside us to watch an army of teens sold out to Christ rise up from a pile of dry bones.

And just like Ezekiel, I stood in awe of what God had promised. I relinquished my need to stay in the comfort of my current life. I opened my hands and let go of the expectations I had, and I said, “Here I am God. Send me.”

I rarely speak about the nitty gritty of my family’s missions journey. Most writings about this part of life is masked. But today I can’t mask where I am; I cannot pretend my heart doesn’t ache to do the work God has asked me to do. Almost two years have passed since that morning run, and we are still working to get there. Still working for the chance to meet the teens that need hope. We can’t even begin to minister until our budget is fully funded. My heart hurts today for the kids that need us there today – not six months from now. My heart longs to speak life to the middle school girl who’s trapped in sexual abuse or drug addiction. If only there was someone there now to tell her of the hope of Christ, so her dry bones can live again.

Friends, I want to be that voice! I want to be there today! The word of God says that you have not because you ask not, so today I’m asking. We need people from the “four winds” to partner with us financially, prayerfully, and even physically. Today, I’m only asking that you do one thing. Take a minute and pray about what God might have you do to help us reach the valley of dry bones.

This song by Lauren Daigle has become my heart’s cry. Everyday I stand on the promise that God will make that valley an army for Him, and He will use us to do it. If you have a second, take a moment to listen to the words and prayerfully consider if you can partner with us to reach the teens of Central Appalachia. We would love for you to join us!

‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: O my people, I will open your graves of exile and cause you to rise again. Then I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 When this happens, O my people, you will know that I am the Lord. 14 I will put my Spirit in you, and you will live again and return home to your own land. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken, and I have done what I said. Yes, the Lord has spoken!’”

–Ezekiel 37:12-14