And it was in the fortieth year,
in the eleventh New-Moon, on (day) one after the New-Moon,
Moshe spoke to the Children of Israel
according to all that YHWH had commanded him concerning them … –Deuteronomy 1:3 (Everett Fox translation)

*   *   *

It helps to have guidelines. Just follow the rules without reinventing the wheel. Still, it also helps to have some idea of why we’re doing something this way.

My best friend’s Plain style of attire, as I observed at the time, “often opened opportunities to witness that don’t arise for me, even when I’m with him. And then I’m open to opportunities he isn’t, like walking into a liquor store or flipping through a Playboy. Which may be why I ought to be sliding into broadfalls shortly. So, make sure thee lands a husband who can keep up his end of the contract – or else! We men need to remember that as believers, we, too, are brides of Christ . . . and thus loved and obedient. Or else. Let me tell thee sometime of one of my best friends, who married a non-believer the week before yearly meeting – and has been regretting it ever since. And she thought she had a clear leading from the Lord, that she would be the instrument to bring him to Christ.”

Or as the letter continued: “Hey, am I arguing about that covering? Thee notes with dismay the frequency with which such hair-splitting has split the church. Amen. We run a constant danger of thinking like Greeks rather than like Hebrews. The Greeks, as philosophers, always want to define and refine – that is, split hairs. (‘Was Christ human or divine? Or both? And if so, how and why.’ Et cetera ad infinitum. Thee can cite a thousand other examples, no doubt.) But the Hebrews would want to know what he did – which keeps our eyes focused on what we’re supposed to do. A vast difference.”

*   *   *

So though they may outwardly beset us, yet we have a Rock to shelter us, where the Enemy shall despair for ever at coming at us. (Elizabeth Bathurst, 1655?-1685)

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