03 May 2012

Reunions (Part 3)

118/366 Group Photo by bobmendo
118/366 Group Photo, a photo by bobmendo on Flickr.

Yesterday we wrote about reunions, memories and memory. And about the national day in Australia entitled "Anzac Day." It's a day of honoring the military heroes of the past. And the phrase “lest we forget” is central to the commemorations. The phrase is actually biblical and is the main focus of our Bible study in this blog.

“Give heed to yourself and keep your soul diligently, so that you do not forget the things which your eyes have seen and they do not depart from your heart all the days of your life; but make them known to your sons and your grandsons.” (Deuteronomy 4.9)

We are told to individually guard our soul, and to remember things we saw and keep them in our heart forever, and to teach them to our kids and grandchildren. Does that sound like what we are doing this weekend? This ought to be every reunion’s theme.

But for many it’s only going down memory lane; it’s old tapes. It’s old school and retro, but it’s not the ‘new thing.’ Who cares, honestly what God did for us back then? Isn’t God always doing a ‘new thing?’ Shouldn’t we ‘sing a new song to the Lord?” (Psalm 96)

Most of us are familiar with the quote from George Santayana, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” So maybe that plays into our consideration of things in the past.
Nick Willems, whose memory is indeed blessed and ought not to be forgotten on this auspicious weekend, loved Psalm 103, and I thought of him in the reading of verse 2, “Bless the Lord, oh my soul, and forget none of his benefits.”

We remember things about God, and hopefully much about Him!

The story is told of the pig farmer who lost his voice. It is a classic for Pentecostals and charismatics. The farmer used to go out each day at the same time and slop (feed) the hogs. One day he lost his voice and in order to ‘call’ them found a stick, and began to pound on a nearby fence post. The pigs discovered it was their Farmer Jones, and came rushing towards him, and found their daily food. So it went on the next day. But on the 3rd day, just before Farmer Jones got to the pigpen, a woodpecker began pecking on a hickory tree. The pigs thought it was Jones and ran towards their lunch. But he wasn’t there. In fact, the running pigs scared the woodpecker, who then flew to a nearby oak tree. And he began pecking; the pigs came chasing; the bird flew away; the pigs came chasing… you get it. And all the while, Farmer Jones continued to bang the fence post with the pigs’ lunch. They chased and chased, and never ate.

We charismatics often chase after the newest and the latest and the greatest and most up-to-date and often forget the old and standard, the tried and true, the way it might work because it has worked for centuries. Today you probably won’t learn anything brand new, although that’s possible, but it’s more than likely that you will be re-newed in remembering something you learned in the past and have forgotten.

Listen to these Bible texts:
Dt. 4.9 tells individuals that we have to keep our own soul. You have to keep your soul. Take time with God. Keep your finger in the Book of Life. Pray. Verbalize, talk to Him. He loves that. That’s keeping it fresh. That’s keeping it in your heart. And then pierce your family with that. Teach them diligently. Your kids. Your grandkids. Yup, it’s your job to teach grandchildren. I’m just learning that since my grandson is only 10 months old.

We believe Proverbs 3.1 and 4.5, which tells us to remind our children to remember God.

“Watch yourselves (plural) that you do not forget the covenant of the LORD your God which He made with you, and make for yourselves a graven image in the form of anything against which the LORD your God has commanded you.” (Deut 4.23)

Danger: You will make idols. So what does God tell you in order to prevent that?
Remember and don’t forget! And by helping one another to remember. It’s one of the ‘one another’s’ in the Bible. Help each other remember. That’s done by tribal stories, reminding one another of what God has done. Maybe that’s why we fellowship at reunions or in weekly gatherings or anytime.

“Watch yourself, that you do not forget the LORD who brought you from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” (Deut 6.12 ) He’s the God of history who did stuff in the past. And will again. Share what God did in human history, in Jewish history, in delivering the Jewish people in the Exodus. That story is told each year at Passover. Share what God did even in your history.

“Beware that you do not forget the LORD your God by not keeping His commandments and His ordinances and His statutes, which I am commanding you today.” (Deut 8.11) God’s word maintained keeps us in the future.

And what is the cause of our forgetting? Deut 8.14 tells us it is our pride which is lifted up and knocks us back.

Deut 8.19 warns us that God will doubly cause us to perish if we forget him. The Hebrew verbs are duplicated, that is, the word for forget is repeated and the word for perish is repeated.
“If we forgettingly forget…. We will perishingly perish.” Don’t miss it; God wants you to remember… or else, you will perish!

Does God remember?
But honestly, don’t you think you have done pretty well at following Jesus and that it’s often He who has forgotten His promises and His plans? Maybe He recognized that we would think this and there are many comments in the Bible about this.

“For the Lord your God is a compassionate God; He will not fail you nor destroy you nor forget the covenant with your fathers which He swore to them.” (Deut. 4.31)

And my favorite text in this regard is in Isaiah. Back in the 70s, Lamb, the Jewish Gospel singing group sang it. “Can a woman forget her nursing child? And have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.” (Isaiah 49.15) God’s promise is that He will not forget. Relax. God remembers you.

Tomorrow we will look in Part 4 at What we should remember and How we should remember. God bless!

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