Heart of Obedience

Have you ever heard someone say, “delayed obedience is disobedience”?  I think I found the story it is taken from…

I was reading the book of Deuteronomy today and came across a part of Israel’s story that I haven’t paid much attention to in the past.

Let me briefly set it up…

God powerfully freed the people of Israel from their slavery and oppression in Egypt. He provided for them, protected them, and personally guided them to the land He promised them. Before they entered the promised land, the people sent spies to check it out and see what they were up against (this turned out to be a bad move). The spies returned filled with fear (except for two faith-filled spies) and the people lost heart and started to complain and consider going back into their slavery in Egypt.

God had clearly given the people a command to obey and the encouragement to act.

We see this in Deuteronomy 1:21

“See, the Lord your God has given you the land. Go up and take possession of it as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, told you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” 

But, instead of choosing obedience and trusting God, they chose disobedience and trusting the reports of some of the spies. They listened to the wrong voices.

So God explained that their consequence would be to live out their days in the wilderness and never enter the land He promised them. The next generation of Israel would enter the land and not the generation that disobeyed. Then God told them to get moving back into the wilderness.

This is where I typically end the story when I think about it and tell it.  But, there is an interesting bit in this story that can be missed.

The people of Israel were heartbroken and recognized their rebellion. But instead of following God’s new command to go back into the wilderness, they decide that they would now enter the land. God warned them to not go into the land to fight because He would not be with them. But, again they did not listen to God and they gathered people and weapons and marched forward. They met opposition and were soundly defeated and retreated.

In the past, I somehow missed the part in the story where the people try to take the land on their own and are defeated.

This story made me think about obedience and the heart behind it.

God told them to enter the land. They delayed the obedience and sent out spies to check it out and decided to not go in.

God explained their consequence. They recognized their sin.

God told them to enter the wilderness. They disobeyed and decided to now enter the land.

But, it was too late. They had revealed their heart, their lack of trust in God, and their pride. I find it fascinating that the people chose to disobey God’s clear guidance a second time immediately after recognizing their failure.

Did they think they could avoid the consequences of their disobedience by entering the land?

Did they think they could do it without God?

I’m reflecting today on how I respond to the the commands and guidance of God.

  • Am I quick to obey because God can be trusted and He is good? Or do I delay obedience out of fear, pride, or looking for alternatives?
  • Am I obeying to avoid consequences and prove something? Or do I joyfully obey to embrace God’s way of life and respond to His love?
  • Am I learning from my mistakes and failures?  Or do I continue to march headlong into disobedience time after time?

(The story is found in Numbers 14 & a retelling in Deuteronomy 1)

When I don’t have words.

Recently there have been a number of very difficult and tragic events that have taken place in the lives of people I know. One person is dealing with relational chaos, another friend is struggling with work, a few people have serious health challenges, and another friend from back in the day lost her son.  Ugh. Heartbreaking.

My heart absolutely aches over the issues swirling around our faith family and friends.

Scripture encourages us to not pull away from people when tragedy or difficulty strikes. Romans 12:15 tells us to, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” In other words, walk in step with others on whatever journey they are walking.  I find it easy to have words for people when it is time to rejoice with those who rejoice.

However, when someone is in the pit of depression, or a health crisis, or facing a tragic loss… I often don’t have the words. I desire to mourn with those who mourn, but the usual words seem hollow in those moments. I do believe that the most important thing to offer people, in the midst of difficulty and pain, is your loving presence and not clever words. I think the most helpful thing is walking alongside someone on THEIR journey.

One well that I draw from in times of mourning, tragedy, and confusion are the Psalms in the Bible. Often when I don’t have the words for a prayer or words to articulate what I’m feeling, the Psalms provide me the honest words I need.  The Psalms get real about real disappointment and pain. The Psalms reveal that God is big enough to handle our anger and confusion.

For example, in Psalm 22:1-2, David writes:

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? 

Why are you so far from saving me,

so far from my cries of anguish?

My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,

by night, but I find no rest.”

He goes on to proclaim his trust in God and desire for God’s name to be known, but in this Psalm you get that complicated real life experience of having faith in God and at the same time questioning if He is even listening.  When I don’t have the words, I look to God’s Word to give me words. I find that they are more honest than some nice, “Chicken Soup for the Christian Soul” quote.

So, do you find yourself around people who are mourning or struggling? What would it look like to be present and  walk with them in their journey? Take the pressure off of having to say something profound and healing. Perhaps your presence is the best gift to give.

Do you find yourself in need of words to pray or share in the triumphs and tragedies of life?  Perhaps the Psalms will be a well you can draw from.

There are many Psalms that are helpful. Here are a few Psalms of Lament to check out, to pray, and give you words: Psalm 6, Psalm 38, Psalm 142.

May God bless you with His presence on your journey.

David P. Deur Daddy

Well it is Father’s Day.

Time to read on Facebook and other social media platforms that someone’s dad is the greatest dad in the world.

I better get a card that says that. Even if it is definitely not true.

But, I would be a better father if I could be more like the dad God gifted me.

So, here is a list of things that make my dad a father worth celebrating and emulating.

1) He loves God and seeks to grow in His relationship with Jesus.

This may seem like the correct “Christian answer”, but this is foundational to many of the other qualities that make my dad the man he is. I have seen my dad grow more and more into the image of Jesus as he has gotten older. I have witnessed more love, patience, wisdom, gentleness, and compassion from my dad as he has aged. Jesus changes people and I’m thankful for the way my dad has leaned into Him.

2) He asks questions and listens. 

My dad is genuinely interested in what is going on in the lives of others. He is a gifted listener and he seeks to understand. This has been an area of growth for him over the years and it has developed into a remarkable strength. This is what makes him an outstanding coach and an even better dad. As a dad, I recognize that I make statements more than I ask questions. I try to fix and tell more than understand. I get impatient and assume I know the answer instead of listening. I thank God for the way my dad has modeled these important skills for me.

3) He apologizes.

One of my vivid memories of my dad is when I was in elementary school My dad got angry and harsh with me and I was sent to my room. My dad came in the room and sat next to me on my bed and apologized for how he acted and wept. I respected him and felt safe with him because he was strong enough to admit when he was wrong. He still seeks to make things right when he fears he has messed up. I appreciate his ability to apologize because ha understands his need for grace and therefore, humbly offers it to others.

4) He supports and encourages. 

My dad is a gift to me. He asked me if he could come and volunteer his time to come alongside me on our Watermark team. He explained that he wasn’t wanting money, or position or anything – except to support and encourage me and our faith family. He has been a tremendous help in critical areas that he may not naturally enjoy, but it has made a significant impact. I hope that I will be able to follow in his footsteps someday and support and encourage my kids and younger leads when my hairline is a lot lower.

5) He shows and makes a point to say, “I love you.”

One of the decisions my dad made when we were young kids was to always verbalize his feelings. My dad hugs me. My dad kisses me. My dad tells me he loves me. My dad has blessed me and told me he is proud of me. I am especially thankful that he has written a letter of memories and blessings to each of my kids every Christmas. These letters make it clear that they are loved and beloved gifts. I am thankful for his commitment to show and verbalize his love.

There are more than these five reasons why I could celebrate my dad today. I could describe his sense of humor, I could speak of his ability to affirm and encourage others and I could remark on my appreciation for teaching me to love the Detroit Tigers and hate the Yankees.

So, on this Father’s Day, I am thankful and I celebrate David P. Deur.

A dad worth following.

Because he follows Christ.

Happy Father’s Day!

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Return of the Blog

So I’m thinking about being more regular in writing online again. Back in 2003 I started blogging in the midst of a lot of exciting and challenging transitions. That year we had a son (Harrison), left a church position (All Shores / formerly Spring Lake Wesleyan), moved into Grand Haven, and launched a new church community (Watermark).

Blogging was relatively new to me and I was blown away at the idea that I could write stuff and chronicle my experiences and interact with others about what I was thinking and learning. I blogged regularly for about 3-4 years and then it became a trickle and then stopped. I moved on to Facebook and Twitter for howling at the moon. My old blog (of a younger version of me) is found at DEURTY.

Later I set this website up so I could share different things, but I haven’t made it a priority to take time to write about stuff.  But, recently I reread chunks of my past blog and I recognized the power of blogging/online journaling/writing.  I think that I need to pick up the blog idea again as a discipline to process ideas, share what I’m learning, and  encourage conversation. I’ve been waiting to figure out some really cool format or focus, but I think it is better to just see where this takes me…. or I’ll be sitting here a year from now in the same spot.  Sometimes you have to just start.

Anyways, I’m going to write stuff here. So, let’s try this again.  If no one reads this regularly… at least I know it will be helpful for me.

I apologize in advance for the grammar.

sd

 

Vision of the past

When we started Watermark Church in 2003 we started it with a picture of what we believed could and should be. We started with a snapshot vision.  I wanted to share the original first attempt at picturing the preferred future of our faith family and wider community. This gives a bit of insight into the original DNA, prayers and dreams of our faith family.

Here is our original vision snapshot:

“Because Jesus is the center of our lives and we are devoted to Him, there is a contagious sense of awe, joy and generosity. As a result…

> people are constantly living life together in unity
> the wider community is being served and transformed
> the community’s understanding of what it is to follow Jesus is being redeemed
> the lost are becoming followers of Jesus
> the next generation is a catalyst for the movement and an example to all believers
> God’s Spirit of creation inspires innovation throughout the body
> new churches are being planted from Watermark throughout the world

The entire time the church is giving praise, credit and recognition to God.

And the Lord is rapidly expanding His Kingdom…”

 

I’m still inspired and praying for God’s breakthrough. Also, the seeds of these dreams have grown and still are found among us. 🙂