I am an example.

My wife and I have been going through a 12 step program. We aren’t alcoholics or whatever. We’ve just been going to church.

Our pastor just finished a 12 week series titled “Taking New Territory” that went through the book of Joshua. He encouraged us to identify an area of our life that needed to be conquered and apply the steps that were laid out in the text to have victory over that thing. For some people, that thing might be alcohol or food, problems with their marriage, or time spent on hobbies that reflect selfish desires. For my wife and I, it was a combination of fitness and finances.

We haven’t been doing too bad in either category by the world’s standards. Neither of us need scooters to get around or anything, and we were giving to the church on a regular basis, but we weren’t called to compare ourselves to other people. The standard is higher than that. And the thing is, our behavior in these areas doesn’t just affect my wife and I. Little eyes are watching.

jnsbillboardsjpg-466ba2fa296b1d45There is a billboard in our area that says something like, “They learn from watching you. Eat more fruits and vegetables and they will too!” Maybe we just noticed them around the same time, but they seemed to show up just as we committed to improving our diets. And that billboards message goes for all behaviors.

My kids are watching me to learn how to act, how to handle anger, how to handle money, what to say, what not to say, how to eat, even how to handle leisure.

In the final part of the 12 week series, my pastor explained Joshua 24:15, “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

The last part of that verse is pretty famous, but it is the first part that is even more interesting. Joshua recognized that whether they admit it or not, everyone will serve some god, whether is the one they grew up with, the one they discovered later that seemed like the most fun, or the one that they really should be serving. In light of this, Joshua is appealing to the people, saying that if the god who brought them out of Egypt, the one who performed miracle after miracle for them, seems like one that is “undesirable”, they should pick another god to follow.

But our pastor then linked that decision back to the Ten Commandments that started it all, pointing out that our decision of whom to follow will have consequences far beyond our own lifespans. In Exodus 20:5-6, it says, “You shall not bow down to them or worship them for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Little eyes are watching, learning how to live. Joshua’s choice in his famous speech is not just pious life advice. It is a decision to be blessed, to live a healthy life with the right priorities in the hope that those little eyes are watch will learn to live healthy lives as well.

Now, I realize that this post is far more religious than I usually get, but the series at church was a good one and I felt like sharing it. If you have comments or reactions, positive or negative, I’d love to hear them. I welcome conversations like those.

If you want to hear the series for yourself, the sermons are all available free for download on my church’s website, http://wyomingcc.org.

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