Volume X, Issue II – Word of the Quarter

It occurred to me that I have never shared any of the articles written by the editing team. We (there are three of us) meet once a quarter and talk about what our section should say. I then take our collective thoughts and write the “Word of the Quarter,” section. It’s a section that has taken me a little practice to get “right.” The problem is that I was trying to keep the voices of the other writers true. There in was the problem. The article had three voices, and it sounded disjointed. I’ve learned to just write the article in my voice, but incorporate their thoughts with my language. This issue’s section is called “High Places.”

The term high place is used frequently in the Bible. A high place was a raised altar or hilltop shrine. The ancient patriarchs and early prophets of Israel built high places such as Bethel, Shechem, and Gilgal to honor and worship God. It is believed that prophets and priests used these high places until around the ministry of Elijah and Elisha. As the Temple of Jerusalem became a central sanctuary, there was a movement against the use of high places, mainly because of their misuse.

When Israel entered into the Promised Land, God had commanded them to destroy the high places of the inhabitants (Read Numbers 33:50-53). God did not want Israel to have anything to do with the high places there. God knew they would corrupt Israel by their presence. However, Israel did not heed this word. Over time, the Israelites began combining the worship of God with pagan worship. High places became banned, and later prophets would associate them with idolatry, human sacrifice (including the sacrifice of children), and sexual immorality.

The Old Testament is littered with references to Israel’s high places and God’s anger regarding Israel’s refusal to tear them down. Psalm 78:58 reads, “For they provoked him to anger with their high places, and moved him to jealousy with their graven images.” 1 Kings 14:22-23 reads, “And Judah did evil in the sight of the LORD, and they provoked him to jealousy with their sins which they had committed, above all that their fathers had done. For they also built them high places, and images, and groves, on every high hill, and under every green tree.” Leviticus 26:30 reads, “And I will destroy your high places, and cut down your images, and cast your carcasses upon the carcasses of your idols, and my soul shall abhor you.” For more references, read Ezekiel 16 and 2 Kings 17. You can also reference the word in your concordance.

As we see from the Old Testament, the Israelites attempted to incorporate heathen worship with the worship of God. It is easy to be tempted to mix what is worldly into our Christianity out of compromise, but the Bible tells us not to conform to the world but to be transformed. Israel’s idolatry led to disobedience and sin. Because of disobedience and sin, Israel spent much of her time walking in circles, which is very similar to many of our walks today.

We associate the term high place with something that needs to be overcome or something to be fought against. High places are things we place before God. This quarter our question is simple: “What are the high places in your life?” Consider a high place to be anything you put before your commitment to God. A high place could be a job, school, relationship, or pleasure-seeking behavior. Our options are similar to the Israelites. We can move into the Promise Land and destroy our old way of living, or we can compromise and live in disobedience and sin.

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Volume X, Issue II – Editor’s Corner

This is the article I wrote for my church’s quarterly newsletter. It will be published April 3. My standing section is called “Editor’s Corner.” I called this submission “Judgment and Mercy.” This newsletter makes Issue II of our tenth year!

Back in February 2010, I wrote about two things in my blog. One concerned the song “The High Place,” because it would not leave my mind. The part that kept running and running through my head was the line that says, “And the high places I’ll bring down.” When I prayed, I prayed against any high places that had been set up in my life and any strongholds I had allowed to take root in my spirit. I prayed against the sin in my life.

Around the same time, I began using the phrase Kyrie Eleison, which is Greek for “Lord have mercy,” in my prayers. The Bible talks about sowing with the wind and reaping with the whirlwind. I was very aware of things I had sown that I would have to reap one day. I prayed that the Lord would have mercy on me. It was around this time that the concepts of high places falling and God’s mercy fused together in my mind.

Here we are over a year later and things have a way of coming full circle. But, first let us go back to the end of 2009. Pastor asked us to fast once a week in 2010. On a side note, I am happy to say that I did it. I wasn’t sure I was going to make it. It’s amazing how donuts, sandwiches, candy, and other treats miraculously appeared most of my fast days.

For 2011, the fast day has continued as a day of consecration. With the fast day comes intentional prayer and a devotional. During the prayer time, there have been moments I couldn’t even get out what I was trying to say. I believe that God knew what I was trying to say even if I couldn’t get it out right. One of the many things I appreciate about God is that He knows my heart even when I can’t get the words out.

I can’t think of the word to describe how my life has been since I began my day of devotion. Things have been sort of weird. On one hand, it seems like a constant battle has been raging. There is a part of me that is tired of the fight and wishes things would come easier and go smoother. It makes me wish the current season would pass. On the other hand, I am pretty laid back about the chaos and take it in stride. I desire to be in a new place where I can be a person who walks in God’s love with nothing separating me from Him, especially any spiritual high places.

Today my thoughts are pretty simple. I pray that God will have mercy on all of us. I pray for mercy in the face of God’s judgment and that we will allow Him to take the high places down.