Today in Blogworld 11.26.15

Exegesis Has Consequences

And sometimes those consequences are deadly…

Rejecting Picture-Perfect in a Facebook World

We need real transparency.

Why You Need a Budget

What does budgeting have to do with missions?

What Your Preacher May Not Tell You

Yep. But would it really matter if we did? I’m not saying that out of frustration, I’m just saying that most guys don’t give such details about their jobs.

Lord help us, this is sadly close to reality:

Pray For Your church: 31 Day Challenge—Day Eighteen

Day 18: That we would be abounding in thanksgiving

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. (Colossians 2:6-7 ESV)

If you ever see a turtle on a fence post you know he didn’t get there by himself. In the same way if you see a believer in Jesus living a life for the glory of God, you know he didn’t get there by himself. As such we should live lives marked by thanksgiving. We should be continually thankful to God. And we should also express thanksgiving to the people God has placed in our lives—we should express this to God and to them. A church marked by thanksgiving is likely a church which is thriving in missions. Grateful people tend to be outward focused. We have an eternal amount of reasons to be thankful, let us notice them.

Father, you have given us many reasons to sing. You are so good to us and we do not deserve a drop of your mercy. Yet you lavish upon us eternal good. We will have eternity to sing of your goodness to us. Give us eyes of gratitude. Help us to see your hand in all things, and help us to be thankful for the clouds and the rainbows. You always aim to do us good. Help us believe this. Thank you. Amen.

ISIS and Habakkuk

Here is how you can understand Habakkuk better.

You might not be familiar with Habakkuk. He most likely lived during the time of Jeremiah when the wicked Babylonians invaded Judah. It’s an interesting book because it’s a dialogue between Habakkuk and God. He’s got a beef with the Lord that he needs settled. By the end of the book Habakkuk gets it.

So what is Habakkuk’s beef?

Let me contemporize it. And as I do feel free to start writing your hate letters to me. And when you start penning them—full of fire, and pain, and emotion—you’ll have come to understand Habakkuk.

What if I told you God is using ISIS as an instrument of judgment against the wickedness and apostasy of the Western world?

You’d probably respond by saying that God could never do such a thing because he is “of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong”. You’d begin to question his goodness and wonder, “why do you idly look at traitors and remain silent when the wicked swallows up the man more righteous than he?”

ISIS is the enemy. They are wicked and terrible people. You’ve seen the pictures of them lining up bodies and “mercilessly killing nations”. As their destruction grows and terror strikes in more and more places you find yourself questioning God’s goodness.

“O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you ‘Violence’ and you will not save? Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted.” –Habakkuk 1:2-4

Now I’m not even certain we’ve got the theological chutzpah these days to ask questions like Habakkuk did. We’ve already dismissed this thought and put ISIS and ourselves into neat little categories. But even so we continue to wonder where God is when ISIS strikes terror in the hearts of men. How can a sovereign and good God allow such a thing to happen.

And it is in this question that we might finally come to feel and understand the strength of Habakkuk’s complaint before the Lord. How can a good God use wicked people as his instrument to bring righteousness?

By the way, Habakkuk never gets a neat and tidy answer to his question. All he really tells Habakkuk is that the Babylonians will get theirs. There is not one sin that they commit in doing violence to Judah that will go unpunished. “Because you have plundered many nations, all the remnant of the peoples shall plunder you, for the blood of man and violence to the earth, to cities and all who dwell in them”.

God also tells Habakkuk to trust Him. “The soul who is puffed up” is going to get his comeuppance, “but the righteous shall live by his faith.” (Habakkuk 2:4) This is a trusting in God and in His goodness even when darkness is all around us. It is modeled for us in the closing words of Habakkuk:

Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the LORD, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.

You want to really feel that? Try this:

Though our borders are not secure, nor our schools safe, and though our economy collapses and our people go hungry, and though our brothers and sisters are dying by the sword, and terror spreads throughout our land, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the LORD, is my strength; he gives me sure footed confidence and even an unspeakable joy in the midst of these extreme circumstances.

That’s what Habakkuk is about.

Disclaimer: Pat Robertson I’m not. I am not claiming to be some sort of prophet and say that God told me he is using ISIS as an instrument of judgment. It is quite possible that this does not apply at all. My point here is to use a contemporary example to help us understand the Scriptures better. Either way I’m convinced we’ve got much to learn from Habakkuk.

Photo source: here

Today in Blogworld 11.25.15

The Definition of Insanity


5 Ways to Encourage Your Pastoring Without Exalting Him

I really appreciate this list. Don’t underestimate the power of the second tip.

22 Mistakes Pastors Make in Practicing Church Discipline

In other words it’s filled with landmines. Proceed with caution.

7 Ways to Help Children Deal with Fear

I long for the day when there is nothing which causes my children fear. Until then…

This is mesmerizing: