Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land that the LORD promised on oath to your forefathers. Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.
Deuteronomy 8:1-2 (NIV)

A sentiment appears on a memorial plaque in Bastogne, Belgium, where the famous Battle of the Bulge raged, one of World War II's bloodiest conflicts. The inscription, in honor of the US 101st Airborne Division, reads, "Seldom has so much American blood been shed in the course of a single action. Oh, Lord, help us to remember!"

As I write this message, I'm waiting to board an airplane to travel home to Pennsylvania after having attended a class reunion in Missouri. On March 22, 1970, I stood with 31 eighth grade classmates as we each made a formal declaration of our faith in Jesus Christ. We were surrounded that day by our families, friends, and fellow believers in Christ who witnessed our Rite of Confirmation. Now 40 years later, we took time out of our busy lives to get together and remember.

The word remember in Greek means to deliberate--to keep it on your mind. And it is often used in the sense of remembering something for our good.

In the opening verse of the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy, Moses addresses the people of Israel. After 40 years of desert wandering, the people were camped in the plains of Moab poised to enter the land of Canaan, the promised land. God had proved His faithfulness again and again, but as soon as they crossed the Jordan River, they would have numerous battles to fight--physical clashes with the Canaanites and spiritual frays in order for them to remain God's holy people.

As the Israelites gathered on Canaan's border, eager to hear what their elderly, faithful leader had to say, most of them had been born or had reached adulthood in the desert. Moses would not enter Canaan with them. In his final act of transferring leadership to Joshua, Moses reviewed the journey and reminded the people of their covenant with God. "Remember that once you were slaves"; Remember God's love," Moses urged the Israelites. It is to God that they owe their freedom and all the good things promised to them. This called for a response, "Remember to do"...keep faith, obey. This is the key to God's blessings. To forget God in the new life was to court disaster.

It was an absolute treat to gather with my former classmates! We laughed, jarred each other's memory of school day events (some, of which, may have become just a bit embellished with time), and talked about our families and lives today. And as we considered the Lord's faithfulness during the last 40 years, we also witnessed a new group of young people begin their journey as they made their vows of loyalty and steadfastness in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

There's an old song that goes something like this: "The cross before me, the world behind me...No turning back, no turning back."* Oh, Lord, help us always to remember!

Blessings, dear friend.
Faithfully Following

*I have decided to follow Jesus

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