Monthly Archives: February 2014

Numbers 21-23; Mark 7:14-8:10

Balaam is a man with a reputation for being more spiritually attuned than the rest of the crowd. He’s some sort of international, polytheistic diviner sought out by kings,  but does he really know God? It takes a protesting, talking donkey to stop him in his tracks long enough to have his eyes opened by God to see the danger ahead. I need to remember this story next time I get stuck in traffic or behind the slow shopper (with the full basket) who holds up the check out line.

My study Bible indicates that Balaam knew enough about God to report back to Balak what God said, BUT (warning: spoiler alert) not enough to prevent him from offering up sacrifices to false gods or practicing repulsive forms of divination (see Joshua 13:22).  This eventually becomes his undoing. The Pharisees were no less guilty of keeping God at arms length. They were happy to have God make them look acceptable on the outside, but drew the line when it came to allowing God to change them from the inside out. Truth be told, I can be just like Balaam, just like the Pharisees.

So how do I not just know about God, but KNOW Him?  What does it mean to have a “personal relationship” with the almighty  and holy God?  I don’t have a bullet point answer. This I know so far: it means telling God about the wrong within and accepting his grace and forgiveness.  It’s been about falling down and getting back up again. It’s meant extending grace received when it seems impossible.  It’s been about reading the Scriptures and letting them settle down in my soul. It’s meant praying and talking to God, telling Him thank you and praising Him for who He is. It’s meant being still and quiet.

I started on this road over 40 years ago and I feel like I am just beginning to learn what it means to have a “personal relationship” with God.  What has it meant for you?



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Numbers 18-20; Mark 7:1-13

Clean and unclean in Old Testament and New Testament.

OT tells how you need to clean yourself up, third and seventh day washings, a week’s worth of uncleanliness or a night’s worth. NT makes mention of washing up before eating. Mentions of rituals and procedure. Jesus cuts to the core by quoting scripture from Isaiah:

So the Pharisees and teachers of religious law asked him, “Why don’t your disciples follow our age-old tradition? They eat without first performing the hand-washing ceremony.”

Jesus replied, “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote,

‘These people honor me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship is a farce,
    for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’

For you ignore God’s law and substitute your own tradition.” Mark 7:5-8 NLT

He’s looking beneath the skin. He goes straight to the heart.

In Numbers, I draw a big circle. It is labeled Tabernacle. God tells Aaron what’s required of caring for the Tabernacle, and who will help him–people God picked himself.

“You yourselves must perform the sacred duties inside the sanctuary and at the altar. If you follow these instructions, the Lord’s anger will never again blaze against the people of Israel. I myself have chosen your fellow Levites from among the Israelites to be your special assistants. They are a gift to you, dedicated to the Lord for service in the Tabernacle. But you and your sons, the priests, must personally handle all the priestly rituals associated with the altar and with everything behind the inner curtain. I am giving you the priesthood as your special privilege of service. Any unauthorized person who comes too near the sanctuary will be put to death.” Numbers 18:5-7 NLT, emphasis mine.

Inside the big circle, I add a smaller one at the core. The very heart. A priesthood.

And maybe it’s a stretch, but I see a parallel. A big circle of community, of people God puts in a lifetime’s context–but at the core is one heart. One heart that works out the faith. That place in all of us Jesus is most concerned with.

Lord, bind this wandering heart to you.

Courtney (66books365)

29 Be sure to give to the Lord the best portions of the gifts given to you. Numbers 18:29 NLT.


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Leviticus 16, 17 / Mark 6:33-56

45 Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side to Bethsaida, while He Himself was sending the crowd away. 46 After bidding them farewell, He left for the mountain to pray.

47 When it was evening, the boat was in the middle of the sea, and He was alone on the land. 48 Seeing them[g]straining at the oars, for the wind was against them, at about the [h]fourth watch of the night He *came to them, walking on the sea; and He intended to pass by them. 49 But when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed that it was a ghost, and cried out; 50 for they all saw Him and were [i]terrified. But immediately He spoke with them and *said to them, “Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid.” 51 Then He got into the boat with them, and the wind stopped; and they were utterly astonished, 52 for they [j]had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but [k]their heart was hardened.


Weird things about this passage I’ve skipped over before :

1)      Jesus sends his disciples ahead of him to get some quiet time. 

2)      It’s NIGHT when Jesus sees the boat… in the middle of the sea, during a storm. How did he do that?

3)      He decides to casually walk out on the water—perhaps just to check on them? And he intends on passing by.



I puzzle over these things and I think Jesus wanted to give his disciples a chance. He saw that they were having a tough time rowing and decided to pay them a visit. I don’t think he was planning on getting in the boat at this point. I think he just wanted to say hi. It was when we saw that they were terrified and thought he was a ghost that he spoke to them.


If Jesus didn’t think they could row the boat, he would have sat down and rowed with them. He wanted them to know him, so he stopped the wind.


Their key hang up wasn’t their physical struggle at handling the oars, it was their spiritual blindness at discerning his identity.


I think Jesus is more concerned with our ability to see and know him than our ability to physically and emotionally handle life’s situations. He does see and care that I am struggling. He knows my pain. But he is adamantly more interested in my ability to notice him in the storm and see his power, his ability to get me through it than giving me a hand out.


The point of their day; the loaves, the wind the waves, was to test and prove their belief in Jesus and see him as wholly sufficient and able.

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Numbers 14,15; Mark 6:1-32

If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or if only we had died in the wilderness! Why has the Lord brought us to this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and children should become victims? Would it not be better to return to Egypt?…It is an exceedingly good land. The Lord is with us, do not fear them..The Lord said to Moses, how long will these people reject me?…All these men who have seen my glory and the signs I did in Egypt.” Numbers 14:2-23 NKJV

I don’t want to admit when my heart is very much like the people of Israel. I complain and grumble, instead of remembering God’s faithfulness. I am so short sighted and forgetful. I was reminded of this the other day when I went for an eye exam. I took off my contact lenses and everything was blurry. I could only see right in front of me. Isn’t that what God intends though? For me to live in the present and to ask Him to meet me right where I am in the moment? Trusting that He will? Walking by faith, not by my sight? (2 Cor. 5:7).

Jesus was teaching in the synagogue and even after He had healed the sick, the people were still offended by Him. “He marveled because of their unbelief.” Mark 6:3-6  NKJV

I remember anxiously awaiting the news as to whether our first born son was forming like he should in my belly. After having two miscarriages before, everything was still uncertain. I had nothing to lean on but Jesus. Out of an act of faith, I would sing the song, “More than Enough” by Jeremy Camp.  I wanted to believe that Jesus was more than enough for me no matter what happened. Today I am thankful to have a happy, healthy ten year old son. But, I know my tendency to forget God’s faithfulness when things don’t happen like I think they should.

Dear Jesus, You know I have moments and days when my faith wavers. I am thankful that You are the same yesterday, today and forever. You hear my cry and understand my doubts. You are sovereign, yet You care about the details of my life. I love you for who You are. Thank you for loving me. “I believe, help my unbelief!” Amen.


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Numbers 11-13; Mark 5:21-43

When I was a newer believer (I say newer because I still am yet a new believer, and hope to always see myself that way) I was much more self-righteous than I am now. I still am, but I’m hoping I’m at least slightly less than I was at first.

I still have spells of that vile feeling of ‘better-than’, but I have worked at least a bit of that out in the past few years.

Being self-righteous caused me to read the scriptures in a certain way.

I was never the Jews complaining in the wilderness or straying from God,

I was the leader, who was burdened by the people.

I was never the people calling for the release or Barabbas and the crucifixion of my Lord;

I was Pontius Pilate, washing my hands of the business.

I was never Peter or Judas, denying and betraying Jesus,

I was the perfect disciple (at least in my own eyes) and never the hypocritical Pharisee.

I have at least in part changed some of that, due to the work of the Holy Spirit in opening my eyes, seeing the scriptures this way probably feels similar to something David would have known, as Nathan proclaimed, “You are that man!”

(Again, in that story I thought I was Nathan for years)

This rang especially true for me as I read the account in Numbers 11 of the Israelites complaining about their circumstances.


 Now the mixed multitude who were among them craved more desirable foods, and so the Israelites wept again and said, “If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we used to eat freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now we are dried up, and there is nothing at all before us except this manna!”

Numbers 11v4-6


I realized how close this hit to home. You see my wife and I just moved to a place we used to make fun of and despise, saying, “I hope we never have to live there!”

As is so often the case, that place is exactly where God was moving us. I was unemployed, and he provided us a job there.

We still complained for the first few months, because we still held on to the hope that it might only be temporary.

But now he has given us yet another undeserved blessing, a promotion to what I think is my dream job (I can’t know for sure until I start next week).  And it’s starting to look like he might have us here for a while.

The ungratefulness in my spirit hit me like a ton of bricks.

This whole thing, the moving around, the jobs, the ministry, I’ve made it about me! I’ve made it into, “yeah god I’ll do your will but only if it’s like this or that” which means I really just want to do my own thing and expect God to be a part of it.

I wanted meat instead of manna – even though the manna was from the Lord

I wanted city instead of desert – even though the city meant slavery

God has been bringing us through the desert, and I’ve been whining the whole way, forgetting that we’re on our way to the promised land.

Not only that, I’ve realized that I’d rather be in the wilderness with God, than in Egypt or Babylon alone.

Father we ask forgiveness for our ungrateful hearts, we ask that we’d seek your presence and be fulfilled in you alone, and not seek wholeness anywhere else. Lord have mercy on me, a sinner.


Sam Anglin

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