Levi Lusko - You Have A New Memory
If you have a Bible, we're going to be in the book of Joshua today. Joshua is an amazing book of the Bible. And God is going to speak something to us in our River Wild series. If you're joining us now, welcome. We have been looking at what the Bible has to say about rivers. Both what rivers mean and also rivers as a setting for some of the most incredible stories in the Bible. And one of the rivers that is probably the most famous, especially in the New Testament. We're introduced to in the Old Testament, and that is the Jordan River. The Jordan River. And we're going to see a really incredible story take place here. This says in Joshua 1:1, "After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun", free dad joke, Joshua is the only person the Bible besides Adam and Eve to have no parents because he was the son of, you're welcome.
Verse 2, "Moses my servant is dead". God said to Moses's servant. Moses's servant is told Moses my servant, because everybody ultimately is God's servant. No matter who you are in life. Moses was the master Joshua was a servant, but God says but Moses was my servant. And if you want to do great things in the world, how you access them is through serving. If you're too big to serve you're too small to lead in God's hand. The world says powerful people assert their authority. And Jesus said, I'm the most powerful person who ever lived, and I'm going to wash your feet. And he said, I teach you a new and a better way. Greatness, leadership it comes through having a servant heart. That is as true in the Fortune 500 as it is true in the halls of the church. That's not my Sermon, just got distracted because I love the play on words there.
"Now then," verse 2, "You and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them, to the Israelite's. I will give you", look at this, "every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses". I just want to encourage you that where you go God's blessing comes with you. And so you don't have to go look over here to find a place that has God's blessing here. Look over there to find God's blessing over there. I remember when we were praying all these years ago, 14 and 1/2 years ago, where should we plan a church. Because we knew that we had been released from the situation we were in, and the time had come finally for Jennie and I to step out and plan a church somewhere. That was really what we knew. What we didn't know was where. And we were at a moment of our lives, kind of wishing for a Dora the Explorer map to jump out of our magic backpack and tell us where. We were really like getting weird with words.
I remember, this is a true story, I remember being like should it be over here. And geographically there was a river there, and that day in my quiet time I had read Paul went down to the Riverside. So I was like it's a sign, baby. You know it's like, we were getting so weird about it. And so I went to seek advice and wisdom from a pastor. I believe that God blesses through people and being under authority. So I went and submitted myself to someone. He's speaking to the situation. Here's this choice, and here's this. Like should we go here, should we go there? And he was amazing. He sat back in his chair, and he goes it doesn't really matter. What do you mean, because I was so keyed up. Where is it? It's got to be the perfect spot. Got to be God's will, it's got to be right. And he goes Levi, there's people that need to know about Jesus everywhere. So go somewhere.
What was he saying? Everywhere you step your foot God's going to bless you. God's going to use you. God's going to touch people through you. Quit worrying so much, and step out in faith and see what God does. And it was so freeing. I believe God's will is whatever. That doesn't help me pick my school. Yes, it does. Because God's will is whatever you do, in word or deed, honor him. So if you're honoring God it's his will. So honor him at school. Honor him at work. Honor him at home. Honor him online. Honor him as you email. Honor him as you drive. If you do that, God's will is whatever you do, wherever you are. Seek to bring attention and honor to Jesus, and you just watch as he blesses you as you go. Also, not my sermon. Jumping ahead Joshua 3, verse 5, "Joshua told the people, consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you". It's incredible to think that often times it's not the game really that counts, it's what happens in the game before the game. Great men and women know the power of preparation.
So Joshua said, I believe tomorrow can look great. So what significant thing can we do? Consecrate today for the work you want to see him do tomorrow. Y'all you got to train for the trial you're not yet in. "Joshua said to the priest's, take up the Ark of the Covenant and pass on ahead of the people. So they took it up and went ahead of them. And the Lord said to Joshua, today I will begin to exalt you in the eyes", remember that Micro Machines commercial, "of all the Israelite's, so they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses". All the kids said, no we don't remember that. Verse 8, "Tell the priests who carry the Ark of the Covenant: When you reach the edge of the Jordan's waters, go stand in the river". "And as soon as the priests," verse 13, "Who carry the Ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the Earth, set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap. So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant went ahead of them. Now just so you know, the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the Ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water's edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing".
"It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of Arahab, the Salt Sea, was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. The priests who carried the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord we're standing now firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan," or what used to be the Jordan, "while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground". Then if you jump to Chapter 4, verse 1, "When the whole nation finished crossing", because it was two million people, we get some details for the sake of our time today and attention. We can leave for you to read on your own. They finish crossing the Jordan.
"The Lord said to Joshua, choose 12 men from among the people, one from each tribe, tell them to take up 12 stones from the middle of the Jordan from right where the priests stood and to carry them over with you and to put them down at the place where you stay tonight". So Joshua called together the 12 men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from every tribe. "And he said to them, 'Go over before the Ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, What do these stones mean? Tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever'".
I want to give to you from this text a message that I'm calling, you have a new memory. You have a new memory. That's something our phones are telling us these days, at the most bizarre times. Got a text. No I didn't. My phone's just letting me know, hey, remember this. Remember two months ago, you were around water. You were also around water over the last couple of years multiple times. And I've taken the liberty of grouping them together into a Franken memory, built up of all the algorithm decided moments in your life that you now are going to watch set to cheesy, emotionally heavy handed music. And sometimes they get us. Right. It's like best of 2014. This is a Tuesday, I'm ready to go. Let's do it. Right. And you're watching this and it's like, oh my gosh remember that. Calling people into the room, what's this, you're sending it to people you love right.
But then you get to the end of it like there was a box of raisins. It's just, what you really had it going until that. Why did you put, that was not the best of 2014 at all. I don't even know why I took that photograph. Maybe just in the moment I was hungry, and they seemed like the best raisins ever so I took it so I'd remember to always buy that brand. Right, you know those weird the things we do. The photos we take that we don't ever intend to see again. Like you take a picture of shampoo, because you were out of it not because you love Vidal Sassoon. But somehow someone at Cupertino said they really have been smitten with this shampoo, let's put that into the highlight reel for the decade that you just went through. You have a new memory. It's funny because when it comes our reaction almost always is, I had forgotten. Which tells you it's not actually a memory. We never remembered that. So much of our life we forget. They're telling us, here's something you actually don't remember most of this.
Oh I kind of remember that. You have a new memory. We don't to be told about things we actually remember. And it can backfire. Someone goes through a messy divorce. You have a new memory. Here's you two together over the years. Thanks, right. Thanks for that. Here's you at this job you just lost. Let's show you every picture you ever took there. You have a new memory, thank you. Number one thing you will find if you Google, you have a new memory, is how to turn off those notifications. The number two thing you'll find is a compendium of stories of times where this has really gone wrong. My personal favorite was the girl who was taking a sexually charged video to send her boyfriend, don't do it kids, swipe right. And she was doing this in her kitchen. And she set the phone up on the counter and was going to take this video and send it to her boyfriend, probably to work out her daddy issues. And as she does this what she did not know was that she had pre-selected a certain album on her phone to automatically send any new photo in it to her mother. You see where this is going.
Now of course, she had not said to her phone, OK Google whenever I take naked photos please send them to my mom. She had however, told this algorithm any time there's photos of my son in them, and you detect his face with facial recognition, send that to that shared album. And mom gets that. Now of course her son was not present on this day. But there was a photo of him on the refrigerator, which was the backdrop for this lurid video that she was sending out. So Google said, you told me if I see your son send it to your mom. So her mom just sitting there, crocheting or whatever she was doing, you have a new photo added to the Billy memory club. And what I do love is the thought of the conversation it occasioned, right. Anybody with me on that? So here's the point. Here's the point. What we remember, what we forget, is significant. And that is the emphasis of this story where Joshua is told make sure that before the priests leave the river, you send some men out.
One for every tribe, pick 12 people, and as representatives of the whole they're to each get a river rock. And with these river rocks in their hands, then, and only then, is this crossing complete. Because I don't want to just bring you through this, I want you to remember why it happened, how it happened, what took place as it happened. So that as you go on and start this new life, as you cross the threshold. And this boundary marker separating you from what was into what is, as you go into this kingdom, as generations continue, I want you to remember what you've been through. And I want your kids bumping into these rocks saying, mom dad why are these rocks here? Why did anybody pile up, I was in Gilgal the other day, and it's the weirdest thing.
There's the market, there's the fire station, there's the playground, but there's this weird section circled off. And you approach it, and there's these rocks. And it doesn't make any sense. Why would anybody put a display with a bunch of rocks on it? And I want that to be an occasion, I want that to be an excuse, a prompt you could say, for you then to sit them down. Say there's something I never told you. You know how we live here in this land flowing with milk and honey. It's pretty good isn't it? Yeah, it's pretty good. Yeah, well we didn't always live here. And then they would have the opportunity to tell a story to their children that hopefully their children would be telling to their own kids as well one day. One of the greatest enemies to the life of faith is forgetfulness. Spiritual amnesia, which is why the Bible is always telling us to remember. To remember. To remember. To go back. To look again.
2 Peter 3:1, "This is my second letter to you, dear friends, and in both of them I have tried to stimulate your wholesome thinking, I've sought to refresh your memory". Paul said the same thing, 1 Corinthians 4, that's why I sent Timothy to you to Corinth. He's my dear son, this guy is the best. And he's true to the master, he will refresh your memory on the instructions I regularly give to all the churches on the way of Christ, what it means to follow Christ. To follow God you have to foster memory. You have to fight against forgetfulness. So two ingredients to this, two ingredients. And my sermon in a sentence, to follow God and keep moving forward you have to forget everything you think you know. And you have to intentionally remember stuff that you would rather forget. You have to be willing to forget what you think you know. And you also have to be willing to fight to remember things that you would rather forget.
Let's just spend a moment or two on the first part, because the bulk of the message in my assignment today is to focus on the latter half of that. But we have to at least acknowledge how weird it is to do what God says to do much of the time. As evidenced in our text by a river crossing. A river that is overflowing its banks, as the text says, at flood stage. Which we know means it was roughly a mile wide, and raging and ripping. And this is when rivers are dangerous. And this is when rivers are violent. And this is when more people lose their lives in rivers. And how do you get, here's a question for you, how do you get two million people across the rapids of a rapidly moving river at flood stage? I guarantee you not one of you thought to yourself we should get some guys to hold a box to walk into it. And then everybody else could just follow them. But that's what God picked. Why? God's ways are not our ways.
The wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. And what man thinks is the best thing in the world, God often rejects. God often rejects what man selects. And what man rejects, God often selects. So he chooses to foolish things of the world to confound the wise. If he wants to save us, he doesn't say, hey you know what you could tell him to do, be religious, be awesome, be Holy. That's been tried. It didn't really work so well. The Ten Commandments were violated before they were even given over. This is not how we save ourselves. So we don't pick a purple flower at the top of the highest mountain and come back down and say to ourselves, this is fire. Look what I have created. I have made myself right with God. I will now beat my breast and shine my medal and polish my halo, and tell everybody else that they can do as I have done. That's called religion.
But what instead God does that's foolish to the world, that's offensive to our sensibilities, is he says, I sent my son as a peasant. He got butchered and slaughtered on the cross, while he was hanging there he paid your bill. You trust in him, you believe in me, you can be forgiven. That is, can we just say it? Weird! It's weird, and it's offensive. Because it rubs us the wrong way because we don't get to be the hero of that story. But if we're doing the gospel, we always perpetually forever are the damsel in distress that Jesus swoops in and sets off the train tracks. And he gets the glory, and he gets the Salvation. And the actual mechanism of it is intentionally bizarre so that we will use faith. For we walk by faith, and not by sight. And it's always been faith that God uses to tap us into the grace that he longs to give to us. So they're going to cross the river, and they're going to get to the promised land. They're going to fight a bunch of battles.
Guess what, the first one's going to be called Jericho. Jericho is going to be a secure military fortress, the most difficult fight by far they have in the entire campaign to take the promised land. And how do you take up a city that has gates, that has walls, that has archers, that has armies? How do you get into the city that impregnable because it's built on a hillside. And you have to climb the first wall, then there's a terrace, then there's a berm, then there's a second wall. And to continue to do the scaling to the last wall, there were four walls that guarded Jericho. They were secure, they were barred. You were not getting in because the moment you got over the first wall, you're stuck now. So they can shoot you like fish in a barrel below. How are we going to take Jericho? Joshua says, don't worry about it. I was having my quiet time, God told me what we're going to do. So all of his generals said amazing. They've got their plans, they've got their clipboards, they've got their pens.
So they're ready as he says, here's what God says we're going to do, all right. We're going to get everybody out, we're going to walk around the city, and that's it. They shut their pens off, they put them away. Joshua says no, you didn't hear the best part. Oh. He says at the end we're going to yell really loud. Oh. We're screwed, he's lost it. Great assistant, bad leader. They're just thinking to themselves, this is nuts. That's what God did. So you have to, as you follow Jesus, forget everything you think you know. Walking with Jesus, what is it going to take to grow. It's going to take some prayer and it's going to take fasting. And it's going to take worship, and it's going to take being vulnerable with one another. All right, great. Got it, but when do I get to really do something? That's pretty much it. We're going to continue to do these simple things, these foolish things, these things that don't seem like they're going to work. But as we obey, as we follow, as we are willing to go in circles in Jesus's name.
Come on just keep worshipping, keep going, keep giving, keep trusting. Share your faith, step out, do something stupid when God nudges you. Give him glory no matter what you're doing. As we're obeying, as we're doing it. Why did the priests go first? It's this picture of seeking first the kingdom of God. And all these things will be added unto you. the point is if he had sent the warriors first, we would go, Yeah. Sent the soldiers, no he said send the priests first. They don't even have weapons. They're just armed with the Ark of the Covenant, which is a symbol of the presence of God paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ that covers. So when we are sending our ark first into the week, we're pausing on a day when we could be on a lake. We could be working, we could be getting ahead, we could be doing any other thing. But we sit here in the inefficiency of this moment. Why? We're sending the priests out first. We're believing that Wednesday, Thursday, Friday when we get to the water it's going to part for us. Why? Because we saw God first and his righteousness. And we can believe that all these other things are going to be added unto us.
So following God, what is it going to take? It takes oftentimes forgetting everything you think you know because God's plans they often don't make sense to us by design so that we would have faith in Him. But the second half is where we must quickly hone in because it also involves remembering what you'd rather forget. And now let's get some emotion in these stones. And what they signal commemorating or a perpetual memorial of. A saga so painful, so frustrating, so annoying, and so humiliating that nobody would want to have a reminder of. As we cross into the Jordan, let's not just get so excited in our new home that we feel like we've always lived here. Milk and honey, we've always had milk and honey. No, you're going to remember, what? Well, Joshua chapter 3, verse 1, those who laugh at this next joke tell us who was at church last week. "Early in the morning Joshua and all the Israelites set out from Shittim".
When I picked to preach Joshua and the river crossing, I did not realize that they had been camped previously at Shittim. And the connection of it. I said, you got to be Shittim me. This is great because it's where we ended last week with the river flowing from the altar going towards the Dead Sea. But as it did, passing through a Valley called Shittim. A place that during the dry season is wilderness awadi, barren. So much so that in Jesus's day, the lower Keedron Valley, another name for the Valley of Shittim, was where they threw their garbage. When city planners master plan a community, they don't put the landfill in the most desirable digs, y'all. You see this is meant to be understood as where this perfectly encapsulates the last 40 years. Shittim. 40 years of failure. 40 years of delay. 40 years of grief. Why?
Well Deuteronomy 1:2 says, "It's actually only an 11 day journey to get from Horeb by the way of Mount Seir to Kadesh-barnea on Canaan's border; yet Israel took 40 years". That would be infuriating. That it actually was only supposed to be 11 days to get from Sinai into crossing of the Jordan River into the promised land. And they did such a wonderful job, which tells me they were not listening to their wives at all. It took 40 years to do what should have taken 11 days. And it's unbelievable when you actually dig into it. 10 different times they complained, 10 different times they denied God's power, 10 different times they obeyed. But the absolute worst of it was when they got to that river for the first time. God gave them the chance to go in, but they first elected to send some spies in to check things out. Because they wanted to do things that made sense to them. So they send these spies in to check it out. And two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, same Joshua, came back and said it's amazing. Best grapes I've ever seen.
Turns out there is a river flowing with milk and then honey. I mean they just reported this is the place, this is the stuff, this is not Shittim. Let's live here. This is it, man. This is where Abraham, this is the Holy Land. Our God's before us, let's not even wait, let's just go let's go. Let's go! But 10 of them said, not so fast. Do you know how hard it's going to be? We saw giants in there. We saw fortifications in there. It's going to be one fight after another fight. Let's not do it, we can't do it. Joshua and Caleb saw the same giants, but their eyes were on God, the giant slayer. And the others were only focused on the problems. So the 10 spies, they're overwhelming negativity, because you have to understand. In our minds and in our memory, scientifically sociologists say that bad things you hear are like Velcro. And positive things you hear are like Teflon.
So good things they slide right off of you, and bad things stick with you. Have a good experience, an OK one, unless is mind blowing if it's good you'll forget about it at a restaurant. You'll forget about it on a flight. But one horrible one, you will tell that story for days. And you can't believe what they said, and what they did. It was unbelievable. Absolutely. Because it's like Teflon when it's a good thing, slides right off. And it's like Velcro when it's a difficult thing. Which is why in marriage, by the way you, have to overwhelm the negative things you speak, the hard things you speak, with an abundance of the positive things. So that there's more that can stick to the limited Teflon surfaces that actually do receive anything that hang on there. And in life as well. In leadership as well.
But these 40 years, that all took place because they listened to the 10 and not the two. God said as he listened to the children of Israel complain, why did God bring us out here. He must not love our kids, that's where it got real personal. He took us out of slavery, he must not love our kids. He parted the Red Sea, he must hate our kids. He delivered us with his mighty right arm, and we're no longer slaves, FYI that's an upgrade, but he must not love our kids. And so eventually enough of this took place where God said, you asked for it, you got it. As CS Lewis well put it, there are only two people in the end. Those who say thy will be done. And those who God eventually says thy will be done. They got what they wanted. They would not go into the promised land.
And so God said, this is Joshua chapter 5, verse 6, "They moved about in the desert 40 years until all the men who were of military age when they left Egypt had died, since they had not obeyed the Lord. For the Lord had sworn to them they would not see the land that he had solemnly promised their fathers to give us, a land flowing with milk and honey". So their children would be the only of the generation that came out that would actually get to go in, with two exceptions, Joshua and Caleb. God said they have a different spirit in them. And so I'm going to take them over. You know you can't cross over into what God has for you if you have the same spirit in you that's in the world. There's got to be a different spirit in you. There's got to be a Holy Spirit in you. There's got to be something different about your perspective and your motivation and your goals and what moves you. There's got to be a different spirit in you, otherwise you will not be able to cross over. And I'll have you note that 10 spies were bad, and two spies were good.
So there will oftentimes be a minority aspect to any situation you're in. And oftentimes, at work and school in life we feel like I'm the only one who sees it this way. That's oftentimes how it's going to be, but you've got to not let that stop you. But rise up with the spirit like Caleb, rise up with a spirit like Joshua. That's why we're so passionate about this movement conference for our students. So passionate about a leadership college. So passionate about summer internships. We're raising up some students with a different spirit in them. We're believing students in Whitefish, in Bozeman, Salt Lake and Portland. We're believing for students in Bigfork and Evergreen to rise up with a different spirit in them that's in the world. So they can cross over the Jordan into everything that God has for them. To see them tap into their full potential, and use their gifts and change the world. We will always be a youth led movement believing for some Joshua's to rise up, some Caleb's to rise up. And to be sent out, seeking God's will.
So now they're in Shittim, and they're going to be there for a while. They're going to be there for a hot minute, till they go to a crap ton of funerals. Because everybody's got to die. I mean at this point they're like, hey, how are you feeling grandpa. It's like, feeling good. Right? That's for real. And meanwhile, their enemies are going to try and stop them from ever being able to take out the promised land. And ever be able to get there. And some will come at them militarily. And some will try and be their allies, but use a sneak attack of a friendship so they can get a temptation across. In fact, one of the most effective ones took place in Shittim. In Numbers 25, verse 1, which says, "While Israel was staying in Shittim, the men the men began to indulge in sexual immorality with Moabite women".
The Moabite King realized he couldn't defeat him on the battlefield. So instead he sent in temptation through the backdoor, through Tinder. He sent temptation in through one sexual text message at a time. And these things began to take root. So they were dealing with so much in this 38 years. Now you start to get a sense of Oh wow I would not love to have a memorial commemorating this period in my life. Let's for now an eternity be telling the story of the time dad was unfaithful with a Moabite prostitute. That's a really rousing dinner conversation. What are those stones there? It's funny you should ask, I never did tell you why you have green eyes and dad has blue eyes. Right. I mean this is like, Oh Lord Jesus. Why do we need to have this memorial? Why does it need to be right there at the headquarters, which would remain the headquarters throughout the whole campaign. Gilgal, right there, prime spot right across this lush palm tree paradise that is Jericho. Because, and this is really important that you write this down, just because something is hard to remember doesn't mean it's bad. Just because something's a hard memory, here me.
We're living in an era, an unprecedented era, where hard and bad have become synonyms. And that's true on a number of levels. Hard things, we shrink back from, it's hard, the jobs difficult, we hit a barrier. I don't want to do it, it's hard. The school is hard, it not be good. This is hard. When I find my sweet spot it's not going to be hard. Hard things can be extremely good. In fact, some of the best things in your life that you will ever do are going to be among the most difficult. I dare you to be skeptical of things that are too easy. I dare you to be skeptical of something that's just a free lunch, a free meal oh this is easy, no strings attached. I'm going to have a timeshare, all I have to do is go to this lunch. I just I encourage you to take hard and take bad and to erase the connection that would tell you in your mind that they're synonyms. And this should be applied as well to bad memories and difficult memories.
And in our culture right now we're walking around more and more you're seeing trigger warnings. Trigger warnings. Just before you read this article, it might be really hard emotionally for you. And that's more and more of what we're seeing in our day. Because this is going to be hard you should understand that. And I mean I can if I want to live a life where I'm really making it all but impossible for things to dredge up stuff that needs to be dredged up. This needs to be, like what Carl Jung said is so true. Until the subconscious becomes conscious in your life, it will direct your life unconsciously, without you even realizing it's happening. And if I don't go there if I don't I don't dredge that up so it can be properly dealt with, it's going to stick, my dad issues, my mom issues, my difficult period in 10th grade when my virginity was taken from me against my will, this situation when my dad ran out on my family. And no one talks about it, but it's toxic.
And it's difficult and yeah, this is a real thing over here. And all this stuff that we would just no I don't want to think about it. So I'm going to just, anything that would trigger that difficult post-traumatic thing, I'm going to avoid. And I can stop at a dispensary every 13 miles now and make sure I am so blissed out. And so numb that I'm not even aware of the difficult things. And if it's hard man, there's something you can take. There's something you can smoke. There's something you can swallow. And you could just eventually come to a place where it's hard, but I don't even care anymore. Because I have numbed away even the capacity to go there. Because I do not want these stones sitting in the center of town for me to smack my shins into, and be confronted with the most difficult, most painful, most horrible chapter of my life. Thank you very much. And God says before you go any further, I need you to nail down this chapter you're closing. You will never be able to move into this new land without these demons coming in with you. Until you look into the closet. Until you drag out those skeletons. Until you force these things out into the light and confront them one by one.
And then I want these things put up on a pedestal so that they will point to something different than just your failure. But you can't get to that something different if you don't make the connection in your mind that something can be hard and something can be bad at the exact same time. Or hard and good at the exact same time. I just ruined my whole sermon in one sentence. I'll be tortured by that for three days. All right. So in 1945 General Dwight D Eisenhower, General Omar Bradley, and General George Patton walked into the gates of Buchenwald concentration camp on their way to liberating Nazi occupied Europe. No one in command in the Allied army had ever stepped foot in a concentration camp. They'd heard about these prison camps. They had heard whispers and rumors, but many people back home thought it was just propaganda. Oh how horrible the Germans are, how horrible the Japanese are. That it had been blown out of proportion and surely there wasn't really atrocities being committed. Surely there were not people actually being put to death.
So when Eisenhower and Bradley and Patton walked into the gates of Buchenwald, they were the first Westerners to step foot in, or first from the Allied army to set foot into, a concentration camp. They were horrified and appalled to see that it was not what they had actually heard. It was significantly worse. As they were standing in the midst of one of the earliest and one of the largest of the so-called concentration camps, but by no means the only one. There were 44,000 such sites scattered across Hitler's Europe as a part of his master plan to cleanse humanity. And they were greeted by 20,000 or so emaciated skeletons covered in skin trying to flee on the way out, who still somehow had managed to hang on to life. Subsisting on the 700 calorie a day diet they had been famished to be receiving for God knows how long. It's said that Patton had to hide behind a building to vomit. That Eisenhower grew pale. And Omar Bradley was speechless. For the crematoriums were still smoldering.
And this was one of the locations where, in all, six million Jews and many, many, many other people were humiliated and debased and eventually had their lives taken from them. Eisenhower immediately summoned his aide, and ordered that the press from everywhere that they were be brought to the spot. He then had a letter written to the Congress back home and invited every member of Congress that was willing to get on a ship, to get on a plane, to arrange transportation to come here. That they needed to stand there before it was bulldozed, and even to stand there and smell and see what made old blood and guts, General George Patton, retch. He then said, and I love this quotation, he said I want them to document everything we found here because maybe someday in the future, people will deny that the Holocaust happened. And our boys may not know what they're fighting for. But with this evidence they'll sure know what they're fighting against.
You see seeing something like that is hard. Seeing something like that can trigger a lot. Standing in Arlington Cemetery, going to Gettysburg, these things that are hard are also at the same time so very vital. Seeing these stones, remembering these things. Hard, yes. But incredibly important all the same. And what's true nationally, what's true internationally, is also true individually. Hard things, we have to sort these out from our dogmatic label we put on them as bad things that we reject, and as bad things that we're going to ignore. Bob Benson wrote a book called See You at the House, never read it, but Max Lucado, a friend of mine, quoted from it. And I just love this quotation. He had just had a heart attack, his friend. That nearly took his life. Guy almost died. And afterwards they went to coffee, and clearly there was a jocularity and a friendship that allowed the depth of intimacy. That allowed him to ask his friend the incredibly insensitive question, well how did you like your heart attack. His friend replied, I did not like it very much, thank you. Nor did I love the quadruple bypass. Nor did I love the heart bypass machine.
This is awful. The worst thing I've ever been through. What do you mean how'd I like my heart attack? He then probed him. Well what happened? It scared me to death. He goes, well how are you different as a result of having been scared to death? He said, would you do it again? The guys goes, absolutely not. He said, would you recommend it to a friend? He said, not my worst enemy. He said, but does your life mean more to you now than it did before? He was quiet for a second, and he admitted, well absolutely it does. Well how about holding your granddaughter now? He goes, it's more precious than I could possibly even articulate. How about your relationship with God? He said, it's richer than at any point in my journey following Jesus. There's a real sense of nearness and friendship with him that I honestly have not really ever felt before. He said, what about your marriage, your marriage has always been good. He said, we're closer than ever. My wife was right there with me through it all. How about other people? He said, there's a new compassion for people who are going through hard things. I've been cavalier before about people in crisis.
Now I realize it sucks to be in a hospital. It's hard to go through this stuff. He was quiet for a moment then Bob said to his friend one more time, so how'd you like your heart attack? Silence was the only answer he got. Because he realized in the moment that hard thing that he chalked up to a horrible thing that in time with perspective he realized was a recalibrating thing. Was a wake up call kind of a thing. Was in some strange way, a mercy in itself. Sparing him from a life focused only on the here and now. And that he was given another chance to re-approach his life after this horrible thing. Gave him brand new eyes to see his same old life with. Which is why it is so important, church. First of five quick takeaways, six if you act well, we got to roll stones. We have to be intentional about rolling stones. As they rolled these stones up into a memorial, they were making it very difficult almost even impossible to forget.
So what are you doing to commemorate, to journal, to document. To make sure there are prompts in your life where you don't have to tell stories because people are saying to you, what does that mean. What's the story with that? Why is that there? And specifically with your children that you're giving an occasion, giving a moment in time, where you can talk about the difficult things. And the hard things, and the fact that your grandmother. You've never met your grandmother. Your grandfather, you never knew him. But here's what our family has been through. Here's where there's weakness in our gene pool. Here's for some difficult things in our family tree. Here's where this has happened. But here's the most important turn, but here's where God has been good. And here's what Jesus has done in my life. And here's what happened. And here's how it can be different. And here's how God can take the family tree and weave it through a different tree, a tree called Calvary. And that he can cancel generational sins. That he can help us tap into gifts, and tap into power, and to write a new story. And there can be legacy, and there can be righteousness. And you know what, there's not been a man who's been faithful. But so help me son, God is going to use you to do it. Your marriage, your life, your faithfulness, those demons they have no power over you. It's been broken through the blood of Jesus, and the word of our testimony. We have to be willing to go there.
You see if we close up those storage containers with all the hard things, traumatic things, and our own personal failures, we'll never get to teach them to our kids. And so they'll walk right into the same traps that we did. We have to roll stones. Secondly, we have to make a clean break. They fully crossed this river. They left Shittim behind. They broke camp, it says. And they set up a new home here in Gilgal, on the way to occupying the promised land. And to commemorate that clean break, before they did anything on the battlefield, God had them all have a service ceremony and all the men were circumcised. And you're like, I'm waiting. How are you going to work this into my life? I need application, but I don't want that. Here's how. Roman says circumcision was never about the physical ceremony, it always pointed to what things God wants to cut away from inside of our hearts. The things that we drag with us into our future that are keeping us from moving into the future because we're dragging with us things that don't belong in the promised land.
For 38 years they had abandoned the sign of the Covenant. All new kids being born hadn't been circumcised. There hadn't been this moment in time where it says we're called to be different, were called to follow Abraham. heaven is our home, God's kingdom is our identity. We're not just looking at our neighbors going what do they do, what do they have, what do they have, how do I stack up? Am I enough, am I worthy, is my boat big enough, is my house big enough? Are you impressed, are you entertained, do you love me? We look to God to give us those things. We look to God to meet those needs. We are his people and this is a symbol of the Covenant. It's an outward sign of an inward reality.
And so we believe that as we're baptized we come through waters. We believe as we're a different people, a covenant people, God through his spirit is going to circumcise our hearts. Cut away old things if we're willing to. It's bloody, it's messy, it's hard. He'll cut through some stuff. He'll cut out some stuff, but there's got to be a clean break. There's enough of this. I follow God on Friday, I follow God on Saturday. But then on this day it's my day. And you, God, you can have Sunday. And like we're doing some custody battle with God as though he's somehow in heaven supposed to be pleased that we give him limited arrangement. And we give Him two hours on Easter, and believe it's going to be enough for blessing.
I'm telling you hokey-pokey Christianity don't work. You can't put your right foot in and put your left foot out. There's got to be a clean break. There's got to be a I'm going to deny myself, take up my cross, and follow you. Take the scalpel, cut it away. You're God. I'll follow you. I want to be your, and so when you tell me to do something, I'm going to do it. When you tell me to jump I'm going to say how high. I don't want just a little bit of God. I want to follow Him, I want to see Him move. I want to be a part of a miraculous story. I want heaven to be made manifest on Earth through our lives as we as people follow Him. Make a clean break. Prioritized recovery is the third aspect I see in this passage because after they were circumcised there was a lot of battles they needed to fight. But you know what, God didn't have them do that. He had them stop and heal up. Took some time to heal up. There's no honor in playing hurt. To be a warrior people ready to take the promised land, God just parted a river. By the way, this is the time to push it to the enemies because they are freaking out up there. They saw a river cross with millions of people on dry land.
Now let's go, razzle dazzle. Come on, let's get it. No, we need to heal first, God says. Go lie in your tent. Take some Advil. Chill. Sleep it off. Fluids. Rest. Lie down. You see it takes admitting you're not God to rest. It takes admitting you're not God to recover. And some of you will not be able to move forward until the things that are dredged up, and the river rocks are pulled out, are actually healed fully and healed properly. It's going to be different for every one of us. We don't treat gunshots with band-aids. And for some of you the things that you're going to dredge up are not going to be one quick prayer, one quick moment. It's not even going to be one quick counseling appointment. It's going to be grooves and walking with God. You responded to sin and temptation one way for a very long time. You've got some muscle memory issues. You've got some temptation. When this bell rings, this is what you do. The dog salivates. It's going to take time. You've got to walk with God for a while, but there's got to be a healing that's prioritized.
It might take counseling, it might take prayer, it might take you getting in five fresh life groups for a while. You might not be able to be on your own for a while. There might be people having to call on you and check on. You might need a roommate for a while. It might be the clean break and the new slate might be you don't date for a year. There is so much going on that you keep on chasing your childhood and trying to fill some empty place in you. There might not need to be that separation where you can actually heal up before you are ever able to go into a new relationship. Because you come out of Egypt, but there's still some Egypt up in you. And until you heal well, you can get a new job, you can go to a new church, you can move across state lines, you're not having to start over moment though because all that stuff is still there with you. It's going to be toxic in the new marriage. It's going to be toxic in the new situation until you prioritize recovery. But doing so sucks because we have this just like need to always be doing. Always be doing. But following Jesus means resting and healing and sending out the priest first.
Resting and healing and sending out the God box, the presence of God with us. That's our portion. That's our strength. And every week, we get a chance to do this when the Sabbath rolls around. Every week when we've had six days of productivity we get to test are our gods money, are our gods what we can accomplish. Or can we rest a day? And notice, that's weird the world's still turning. It's the darndest thing. Without me doing work, without me, No, you God are my portion. I'm going to rest and I'm going to sweat pants. I'm going watch my kids play and I'm going to have a good meal. I'm going to walk and I'm going to I'm going to just rejoice in you. And I'm not going to work. And I'm going to trust you. I'm going to prioritize recovery every week. I'm going to prioritize recovery every day. Sleeping well, rhythms, these are so important.
Fourthly, work hard. We have an excuse to tell stories. We have an excuse to break stuff off that's holding us back. We have an excuse to say no. Every week say no. Every time you get paid say no to what you would want to do. Honor God first, send the priests out first. But now we have an excuse to get to work. Excuse to get to work. Why? Because look at verse 12 on the screen of Joshua, chapter 5. It says, I'm going to read three words. "The manna stopped". That's weird. It feels pretty good when you're hungry to just go like this, ready? When the manna stopped, now they're in the land that represents maturity, growth in Christ. One of the greatest compliments God could ever pay you is to take something away from you that you depend on. And to see what you're going to do. The manna stopped, now they got to work. Now they got to grow stuff. Now they got to plant some seeds. Now they got to do some watering. Now they got to do some waiting. Now they've got to do some cooking. They didn't even cook for those four years, no wonder they were getting into trouble. They had nothing occupying their time. We need to be doing. We need to be doing.
Rest first, but then doing, doing, doing. Working, working, working. God wants you to work. God does not want you, if you're able, to just sit back there and take a check. A trust fund to live off, that is destroying to the soul. God wants you to work. If you're able to, he doesn't want you to live off the government. He wants you to work. He wants you to work hard. There is joy in work. Just because something's hard doesn't make it bad. God made us to work and the aimlessness that creeps in, and the deadening impact of, now the manna stops because they're ready to work. It's time to work. It's time to work. It's time to do. It's time to build. It's time to grow. God has never made a chair, Bishop Jakes likes to say. He's never made a chair. But you know what he did, he gave us a world full of trees. And we have the ability and wherewithal to take what he gave to us and to turn it into something that's better. That was always our job, to take his creation and harnesses it, subdue it. Work it, tend it, keep it, make it better, name it, package it. God has put so much in you and there are so much in the world, that you and those things coming together are meant to meet up and to see something great come out of it. He will never do for you what you can do for you.
Don't come praying because you got headaches when you just drink Diet Coke all day. I could tell you why you have headaches. It's not a demon, it's your bad choices. So God's not going to do for you what you won't do for you. Pray for my marriage. Are you taking her on a day every week? Pray for my marriage, pastor. Are you being kind? Pray for my kids, pastor. Can you put your dang frickin' cell phone down for 10 minutes and look your kids in the eye? You see what I'm saying. God's not going to do for you what you can do for you. But the beautiful thing about doing what you can do for you is then you can actually use your prayers for what only He can do for you. And y'all there is a lot that only he can do for you. So work hard. Prioritize recovery. Make a clean break. Roll stones. I love this one, this is number five. Throw parties. Throw parties. All right, we're healed up from the circumcision. Now are we going to fight to take Jericho now? God's like, nope, it's party time. It's party time? God, this doesn't make sense.
See point number one. Forget everything you think you know because right there with Jericho watching it's time to celebrate. Because for 38 years they had also neglected something called the Feast of Passover. And God says, no, we need to remember how we got out of Egypt too. Because that was another stone they had rolled up that had grown in disuse. And so they have this party, and I realize there's a religious aspect to it of worship and all that. And yes, there is. But it was also just a really good party. It was the high day on the Jewish calendar. This is a feast stretched out so long it involved five different cups of wine. That's a lot of party, right. This is Him calling His people to rejoice and celebrate His goodness in the things that He had brought them through. We had better become good at throwing parties. Why? Because every hard thing, every difficult thing that we dredge up, and you know it's, we got this in the muck, and this right here it was terrible. And that right there, you know what yes, it was bad. And you know what, son this is a hard time, but you're a young man now.
I need to tell you I was unfaithful to your mother, and I regret it every day of my life. But God has forgiven me, and here's what he's done in me. And here's what I want for you. And I'm not going to abandon my obligation to speak to you simply because I feel a lack of moral authority because you're not the perfect man you're pointing your son to. Jesus is the perfect man. So as you say I have fallen short and I am weak, but he is strong and he is good. And I wish I hadn't done it, and I wish I hadn't been there. But in the difficulty as you drag these things up, now there's a chance to celebrate. Because that year comes around on the calendar, and that's the year I found out I had cancer. And it's the year that he said he wanted a divorce. And it's the year I lost my dream job. But you know what I'm going to do? I'm going to celebrate a party. And it might be that I'm almost passing out celebrating. It might be as that I'm weak because I come to the first anniversary of my daughter's death. And we're going to have a celebration instead of just not talk about it and not think about it.
But right here on this ground, ground zero, will be the occasion that I lift my hands and I declare that I have lived, I have not died. I thought he was going to take me out. I thought the anxiety would take me out. I thought the panic would take me out. But I am telling you I will not forget things that God has brought me through. It's too precious to forget. It's too important to forget. And let's celebrate. Come on, pass the bread. Pass the wine. We are ordering dessert. We are going to enjoy a life to Jesus died for us to have. Throw some parties. We have an occasion to celebrate. And as you stand on ground that represented the worst thing in your life ever happening. And as time comes and you're healed up, now it's time to throw a party. You will find that you are, this most important point. And you've done so well you're going to get the last one. I would have given it to you either way. You will discover one day, and you won't know exactly when it happened, but somewhere you overturned associations.
Somewhere someway along the way, as you roll these stones, you prioritize healing, you were working hard, you were doing all these things. You're going to wake up one day and the same stone that you always held your hand, that always spoke of one thing, is now going to have an entirely different meaning to you. I don't see this in the text, Levi. It's actually in the book of Numbers, chapter 14, verse 10. The day that they were told you will not get in to the promised land, you're going to die here. Only your kids will. Something had happened that had made God angry. After they accused Him of not caring about their kids, Joshua and Caleb one last time spoke up and said, stop everybody. Do you remember how good our God is? Do you remember how powerful he is? Let's do it. Let's just take the land. Let's follow Him. Don't do this, don't do this. The people said shut up, Joshua. Shut up, Caleb. And then they took up, look at the text on the screen, they took up stones to kill Joshua and Caleb. Stones.
And then God's glory appeared, and that's when God said you're not getting in. So when God told Joshua to tell 12 men to take up stones they were holding in their hands the ultimate symbol of failure. And as they stacked them together, even the sound of stuff can trigger memories. River rocks, stones, they were standing by a river taking up stones to kill God's messengers. Now these are going to commemorate God's goodness. Over time when they saw these stones, yes, they would remember all the failure. But through them God was saying, you have a new memory. You have a new memory. You're not just going to remember where you were weak, you're going to remember where I'm strong. And I believe it for you if I believe anything. That the memory that is the most painful, the most traumatic, the most difficult, the most fraught with triggering connections. And debilitating paralysis, so much so that even walking up the stairs thinking about going to bed can give you anxiety because of the post-traumatic shock waves of, is it going to happen again tonight? Am I going to be terrified tonight? Is it that eventually with time it can, the same thing, can have a new association.
The same thing can represent a new memory because memories can be deleted, but they can be layered. They can be updated. They can be overwhelmed. They can be overloaded. I've seen it happen in my life. I've seen it happen watching you worship because in the difficulty of the situation with trembling hands you raise them. There comes a day when you limp in and you barely can raise them. But then a day comes and you won't even know when it happened that you became a man of God. That you weren't expecting, you became a woman of God. And you raised your hands triumphantly with an ease about you, with a lightness in your spirit. No way someone who's been through that could worship God like that. But it has become your power because you have a new memory. And you're not just looking at what you lost, you're looking at what you found. That's how, you sit down, I'm not done.
That's how the woman in Luke 7 was able, the rest of her life, to smell her perfume and not think about the men that she used to attract as a prostitute. That perfume was her man attractant. Most precious thing she owned. She broke it, and poured it on Jesus feet. Smelling the same smell that she had smelled 1,000 times, looking into the face of a John who was there to take from her only. She now looked up from her knees into the eyes of her Savior. The only man she had ever known who wanted to give love to her, give identity to her, and not steal from her and take from her. Your olfactory nerve runs right by your amygdala so that scent and memory are inextricably connected. But for the rest of her life she had a new memory, and you can too. One day at a time. And through the rolling of the stones that we were rolling, all this time God was doing something different. Because the text says that God told them to call the place where their camp was on the other side of the river, Gilgal.
And Gilgal means rolling away. Rolling, rolling, I'm rolling. It's a circle. I'm rolling stones, though I'm weeping. I'm rolling stones, though it's hard. I'm rolling stones, though I'm shaking. Look, there was a day where I could not watch CPR in a movie. Or see instructions for CPR at a hospital or a hot tub without absolutely having a moment of losing my breath. Because it triggered back things I wanted to forget. Things I would have been happy to blast myself with some drug and not think about and not feel anymore. But in just choosing to fight through it, and know God was with me in it. And having the right people to talk through in the midst of it, and working one stone at a time. I'm rolling stones. He's rolling, away my disgrace and there came a day when my disgrace had been rolled away. The shame had been rolled away. It's happening right now. Come on. From glory to glory, from grace to grace. Though we're trembling, though we feel like we might fall, He's rolling away our disgrace.
Stones are heavy and that's why crocodile's swallowed them. It's true. They intentionally swallow the stones like this, river rocks. Because they eat their food whole, and they could never swallow stuff like that. Their system couldn't even process it, but the stones grinding against the food helps them to digest it. And the stones help them to sink for they act as ballast when they stay on the bottom of the river for a while. And as I close, I just want to tell you that there are heights that God wants to get you, and depths that God wants you to go to. You can't go alone, you need some stones. You need some stones. There are things that you faced and I faced we can't process. And there's no way we can compute that. I can't even begin to deal with that, Levi. But I'm telling you, you've got to have the stones. Do you have the stones? There's a weight to stones, and there's a weight to God's glory. There's a weight to stones, and there's a weight to God's presence.
In fact, the word glory translated actually means heaviness. That's why we need the heaviness of seeking Him. The heaviness of scripture. We need the heaviness of our friendship. We need some ballast. Come on, we need some ballast. We got to go down deep. We got to stay down there for a while. We got to ascend to what God wants us to. We got to go through mountain tops and valleys low. We need the stones, we need the memories. We need God to deal with these things in our heart so they're no longer holding us back. And in the midst of it all He's rolling away our disgrace. He's rolling away our sin. He's rolling away our shame. We are not who we used to be. We have a new memory. We don't see things how we used to see them. We have a new memory. We see the world differently, in Jesus' name. Come on give Him a shout of praise if you believe it.