Friday, August 20, 2010


TODAY'S SPECIAL: Joshua 22:21-34

TO CHEW ON: "When Phinehas the priest and the leaders of the community—the heads of the clans of the Israelites—heard what Reuben, Gad and Manasseh had to say, they were pleased." Joshua 22:30 (NIV)

Someone heard, and told someone else. Soon the scandalous news was all over the land west of the Jordan River: their Israelite brothers had erected an altar on the east bank.

Because Moses' law forbade worship anywhere but in the tabernacle at Shiloh, the outrage was palpable. This disobedience, this cult, must be stopped! Soon men from across the country had gathered at Shiloh. They would go to war and halt the sacrilege!

Fortunately saner heads won the day. "Maybe we should send someone over there to see what they are thinking..." someone suggested. So before they marched en masse against their kin, they sent Priest Phinehas and ten of their leaders.

Good thing they did! Because when the west-siders met with the folks on the other side, they discovered the motives were not at all what they had thought. The people of Reuben, Gad and Manasseh had built the structure not to offer sacrifices on it, but to act as a reminder. They called the altar "Witness." It was meant to signify to them and their descendants that they were Yahweh worshipers, like their brothers on Jordan's other side.

How easy it is for us too, to attribute motives, to jump to conclusions, to act on half of the information. This little incident teaches us the importance of communication. Before we spread stories, besmirch someone's reputation, launch an all-out war, we do well to seek out and listen to the other side of the matter.

PRAYER: Dear God, please give me wisdom and discretion when I encounter things I don't understand or agree with. Help me, when at all possible, to be a peacemaker. Amen.

MORE: Quotes about communication

"Good communication is as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after." - Anne Morrow Lindbergh

"No one would talk much in society, if he knew how often he misunderstands others." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"Electric communication will never be a substitute for the face of someone who with their soul encourages another person to be brave and true." - Charles Dickens

"To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others." -  Anthony Robbins

"If you start a conversation with the assumption that you are right or that you must win, obviously it is difficult to talk." - Wendell Berry

"You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist." -Indira Gandhi.

Do your 8-12-year-olds have daily devotions? Point them to Bible Drive-Thru.

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