Trusting the Lord in time of trouble

Though the fig tree may not blossom,   
Nor fruit be on the vines;   
Though the labor of the olive may fail,   
And the fields yield no food;   
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,   
And there be no herd in the stalls--   
Yet I will rejoice in the LORD,   
I will joy in the God of my salvation.   
(Habakkuk 3:17,18, NKJV).

First, Habakkuk is a real book in the Bible. For those of you who have been neglecting to read your Bible regularly it is in the Old Testament. Habakkuk is not one of the better known prophets but these verses show how serious he was about the LORD. In his day Babylon was about to capture Judah because of their sin. Habakkuk could see how hardhearted the nation of Judah was.

Have you ever experienced intense hunger or wondered how much longer before you get to eat? This is the context that Habakkuk is setting up for verse 18. We know toward Judah’s end they suffered several severe famines.  Verse 17 contains seven qualifiers to verse 18.  Basically, verse 17 is stressing a situation where there is absolutely no food. It is a description of a famine. During famine, there is nothing to eat. Where there is nothing to eat  people starve. If people starve long enough they will die.

Now with the qualifying done Habakkuk says in verse 18 that he will rejoice in the LORD. He will be happy in God even if God lets him starve to death. This is devotion to God. This is exactly the type of devotion that Christians should have. You may be thinking well that is kind of extreme and you are right. Jesus said “So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple (Luke 14:33, NKJV).” You are commanded by God to love Him more than anything else in this world. That includes your own life. This kind of dedication can help keep you out of trouble because you would sooner die than sin.

Habakkuk goes on to say that he will delight in the God of his salvation. If you have ever done without food for more than twenty-four hours you know that hunger pains are not pleasant. Yet Habakkuk is going to delight in God while starving to death. Not only that but he says that God is the author of his salvation in spite of pending death. This is how Habakkuk can delight in God, he knows that God is the one who saves. Habakkuk is not looking for salvation from death but from the wrath of God.

Truly God is the author of salvation but God does not promise salvation from a difficult life. God promises salvation from His eternal wrath to all those that are the disciples of Jesus. Job knew this as well and said that even if God slays him he will trust God (Job 13:15).

To practice devotion like Habakkuk, Job and many others you need to have the correct view of life. Life does not consist of the present flesh and bone that we live. This is just God’s proving ground for His saints. When you really get a hold of the understanding of how much you deserve hell and how gracious God is to have granted you salvation then you will be like Habakkuk. You can sing praise to God even if you are slowly dying.

China Rocket

Funny how the world turns. Today, China launched two astronauts on a 30 day mission to the Chinese space station. The United States has to buy seats on a Russian rockets to get astronauts to the International Space Station. It has been this way since NASA had to retire the Space Shuttles. The USA use to be the leader in technology. Now the world is a pretty even playing field.

That is the thing about technology. It spreads easily and rapidly. Rockets are incredibly complicated machines. Getting people into space requires a lot of people from many different trades and all of it is reproducible by any nation that desires.

Not just a nation, recently Elon Musk, an American entrepreneur, revealed his plans for a 2025 city on Mars. It is a very ambitious plan but if he succeeds he may find China already has a colon on Mars.

In 2025 I will be 58 years old. I would consider a mission to Mars even at that age. I think a technology astute pastor would be a useful thing in a Mars colony.

(Correction: The launch happened on Monday October 17, not Sunday 16th. Changed text from Yesterday to Today.)

Don’t Undervalue Bible Reading

Reading the Bible is one of the greatest privileges that a person has. In our nation it is taken for granted. We have dozens of different English translation and yet they sit on shelves unread in Christian homes. Sadly many Christians that do take time to read often read Christian literature and not the Bible. I am lumping all Christian literature together in this article, from devotions to fiction to historical to self help. It is not that Christian literature is bad. The problem arises when you spend more time reading it than the Bible. You are getting more of what someone thinks than what God thinks.

Peter tells us “as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, (1 Peter 2:2)” We should have a desire for the Bible. Read your Christian literature and read the Bible. Let you beliefs be challenged by Christian literature but anchor your faith in the Bible. Christian literature may show you something new but go to the Bible for its proof of truth.

It is through the study of the Bible that we grow. Christian literature may highlight an area that we need to work on, knowledge that we need to embrace, or a place to humble ourselves before the Lord. But it is the Scripture that Christian literature quotes that puts the correction in our souls and it is the Bible that straighten us out before the Lord so that we might stand before Him giving Him all the glory.

So please don’t undervalue the reading of the Bible. Within it’s pages you will find what pleases God, how much He loves you and how the genuine gospel message gives people hope and changes lives. I am a better man today because of what the Lord has showed me in the scripture. But don’t take my word for you need to study the Bible and see the change it will make in your life. Look into the Bible and see things like “but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.(2Peter 3:18)” Or when Jesus’s says “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. (John 6:47)”

Sin Doesn’t Care About Race, Neither Should We

The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit do not care about race as they invite people to share in their grace, mercy and love. The Devil, sin and death do not care about race as they chase people to the grave. So if both ends of the spiritual spectrum don’t care about race then we as believers should not care either.

It is call racism but it is just a sub set of sinful prejudices, which is just another way to say hate. Mistreating people because of their skin color, heritage, nationality, or gender is still a sin. Some believers allow themselves to cary a tinge of racism that they picked up while they were growing up. My fellow Christians we have no excuse to let such sin linger in us. We can retrain ourselves. We are suppose to strive to see all humans the same way Jesus does. The image of God is in everyone. Yes it is broken by sin but all can be redeemed through Christ Jesus.

Jesus offers salvation to all without regard to race, skin color, heritage, nationality, or gender. So I ask you to think. Are you making Jesus proud of the way you treat people that are different from you. He gave His life for them. People that you are suppose to be offering the gospel message to. If you are not willing to strive against this sin in your life maybe you need to ask Jesus to take your eyes so you can't see the difference.

This post is to genuine Christian, all others please refer to the Knowing God link.

Bible References

  • Matthew 18:9 (NKJV) And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire.
  • Matthew 28:19-20 (NKJV) Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
  • Matthew 5:44 (NKJV) But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,
  • John 13:34 (NKJV) A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

Don’t Put Words in God’s Mouth

Well said when Paul wrote Timothy, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).” Scripture is powerful and it can change lives. Scripture is inerrant but our minds are not. It is easy for us to blend more than one verse together to make the Bible, which is the Scripture, say something that God does not say. When you do that you are putting words in God’s mouth. That is lying.

This is most evident when you are question where the Bible says what you are asserting and you have know idea. I am not talking about a momentary lapse where you quote a Bible verse but you can’t remember the exact reference. That can usually be resolved with a quick search using just about any Bible phone app. I am talking about when you say something and when questioned, you have know idea where it is the Bible or even what the general wording is so that you can search for it. “I know it is in there,” is not a valid response. “Let me get back to you,” is a better response. You need to remain humble in your assertions because when you search the Bible you may find the Bible does not say what you believe at all. Then you have to go back with, “I was wrong.”

Columbo

I guess about a month ago Ronny and I began watching Columbo on Netflix. I am throughly enjoying it. We have one more episode and will complete season three. Netflix has seven seasons of the show which ran from 1968 to 1978. There are three more seasons from 1989 to 2003.

I have been a long time fan of the murder mystery genre. One my favorites is the BBC Midsomer Murders. Columbo is a different kind of murder mystery. It is not a "who done it" but a "how to catch them." Most murder mysteries start with a dead body and then the detective must find the clues to the killer. In Columbo you see who is the murder and how he did it within the first five minutes. Even Columbo guesses who the murder is at the beginning. The rest of the show is watching Columbo figure out how to catch the person.

But Columbo is even more intriguing in that he often aggravates the killer with question after question and bumbling antics until he gets the killer to make a move in frustration that reveals he is guilty. It is funny how the murder get so frustrated in dealing with Columbo. You may think that is good acting until you read the history of the show. Peter Falk who play Columbo often broke from the script and ad libbed in ways to actually frustrate the guest stars playing the murderers. He did it so their frustration would be more real. That cracks me up.

Another interesting thing about Columbo is that the show started in 1968 so I get peek in the world of when I was just a baby. Of course like any TV show America life is not portrayed accurately but still it is interesting to see the styles of clothes, hair, cars, computers and everything of that time period. What is ironic is some things the older generation today disapproves of was actually the style when they were in their twenties and thirties.

So if you want a show that that feels you with suspense of how he is going to catch them and gives you a giggle at life in America forty years ago I recommended Columbo.

Don’t Yell Over the Bible

It is tragic when well meaning believers loose their temper and start yelling over what the Bible has to say about a subject. These three Proverbs speak to the situation:

  • Proverbs 12:16, A fool’s wrath is known at once, but a prudent man covers shame.
  • Proverbs 13:16, Every prudent man acts with knowledge, but a fool lays open his folly.
  • Proverbs 20:3, It is honorable for a man to stop striving, since any fool can start a quarrel.

You see once the voices go up they cause the ears to shut down. You are not going to win people to Christ by yelling at them. Jesus never commanded us to go make converts. He said make disciples. Disciple willingly and lovingly follow Jesus. Converts are beat into submission and are still just as lost.

Back to yelling. Yelling your point does not work in any argument situation. Yelling your point about what the Bible teaches is a complete waist of good oxygen. You are not more right because you are louder. Strive to have calm discussions and if the other person is not understanding you try explaining it in a new way. If they want to yell just walk away and let it go.

Also remember that even though you may have believe in some minor item for 40 years you may actually be the one that is wrong. So approach discussions with humility. I have been a pastor for 15 years and God is still fine tuning my beliefs so they line up more with Him.

Stop the War on Drugs

We as a nation have been fighting the war on drugs since Nixon was president (45 years). It is time to stop. We are not winning. Worse the war mentality has reshaped the way we train our police so that they think more like soldiers in combat and less like civilian peace keepers.

Before continuing my article I want you to understand that I believe most police officers are good people and don’t want to ever take the life of another human. That is based on the ones that I have met and know. They have a difficult job. [It is difficult mainly because of the War on drugs.]

Back to article.

Citizens killed by police annually is a small number compared to citizens killed by other citizens but that does not make it easy to accept. Last week an officer shot a man who was complying with the officer instructions. It will be months before all the details are put before the public but mark my words he will be found to have followed standard police practice. Just like the officer who shot a teen in 2014 when he answered the door holding a WII remote. Between these two there have been to many questionable deaths of citizens at the hands of the police.

These types of deaths are raising public unrest and causing the police to be mistrusted. Neither of these things is good for this nation. I put before you that the biggest influence in this has been our war on drugs. Even the name suggest violence and many of those citizens murdering citizens incidents have their roots in the war on drugs.

We have dug hole that is so deep that I think it would take 5 to 10 years for use climb out but we still need to end this war on drugs.

The war however will not end until the people demand it. For government bodies do not want to end the war for they have become addicted to the money they get from confiscating property and cash. Drug dealers and pharmaceutical companies don’t want the war to end because you end it by legalizing it. If granny can legally grow some weed in her back yard she won’t have a need for pharmaceutical companies or drug dealers.

My critics would say, “You have over simplified this.” Yes, I have but I tell you when you’ve been doing something for 45 years and the problem is only getting worse, then you are doing it the wrong way. Portugal decriminalized drug possession in 2001 and it is working for them. It is time for us to look for a new way. I am not saying it will be easy or that we need to mirror Portugal’s way but if we don’t change then be prepared for more deaths.

God have mercy on us.

Juno Spacecraft

On July 4th, in just a few days, the Juno spacecraft is schedule to make its insertion into a highly elliptical orbit around Jupiter. Juno has been on its way to Jupiter for 5 years. Though scientist will be watching it closely because of the time lag Juno will have to park itself in orbit on its own.

Juno missions differs from previous in that the elliptical orbit will bring it closer to Jupiter than any previous mission to make measurements. This is dangerous because Jupiter has a very high background radiation, powerful magnetic field and other dangers. If the mission is successful and I pray it will be, we will learn many new things about our gas giant neighbor.

You can find more at http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/juno/overview/index.html or follow this mission on twitter at https://twitter.com/NASAJuno like I did.

http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap160628.html has a nice video to get you excited about the mission and make you aware of the dangers Juno faces.

Don’t Vent to Others

Jesus knew that because of the hardness of our own hearts that from time to time brothers in Christ would have a problem with each other. We shouldn’t but Jesus knew we would and left us a simple command. “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.” (Matthew 18:15)

That is a simple command. Yet, very often Christians ignore this command. Here is how it plays. Party A does something that party B does not like. Party B then vents to party C all of what A has done. B has done the opposite of what Jesus said do therefore B is now guilty of sin. B should have went and talked to A alone.

I could make a list of excuses that B uses to justify venting to C and then show you why each is just a lie. But we don’t have enough space for all the excuses. Rather let me reword Jesus’ command, if you can’t talk to the person that has sinned against you then you can’t talk about the sin to anyone else except God. You do not get to vent to others. All that does is just make the problem worse.

Note: Seeking your pastor’s or other counselor’s advice on how to approach someone who has sinned against you is not circumventing this command. However your pastor or counselor does not need to know all the details.