In the face of such totality, it’s little wonder that conservatives and traditionalists grow pessimistic about the future. Despair is seductive, and misery loves company.
As Christians, however, despair is profoundly sinful. When we give into despair—into hopelessness—we are denying God’s Sovereignty, His Power and His Plan to guide us through the present storm.
During my pastor’s sermon this past Sunday, he mentioned in passing the passages from 1 Kings 19 in which Elijah curls up under a broom tree and prays for death. Despite defeating the prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel in the previous chapter, Elijah despairs, for he knows that Jezebel has put a price on his head—and he feels utterly alone.
There are many Biblical commentators out there, each adding their interpretations to Scripture. I’m very much an amateur in this field, armed with my Pentecostal upbringing and lots of men’s Bible studies.
But that hasn’t stopped me from trying, and I’ve written a few posts attempting to interpret Scripture over the years. So, with summer rapidly fading—and my prayers going up for a good school year—here are some of those feeble attempts:
“Nehemiah and National Renewal” (and “TBT: Nehemiah and National Renewal“) – This post was my attempt to shoehorn the story of Nehemiah rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem to the need for America to construct a border wall. There are some useful parallels though—the construction of Jerusalem’s wall ushered in a period of national renewal in the land, and Trump’s border wall could have prevented further invasion of ours.
“Nehemiah Follow-Up” – This post went into deeper detail on the spiritual aspects of the story of Nehemiah, which I shamefully overlooked in my haste to equate Nehemiah with Trump.
“Psalm 13 and Patience” – Patience is something with which I personally struggle, and it’s very easy to get impatient with God’s Timing. This post deals with that idea, using one of my pastor’s sermons to explore the idea in more depth.
“Let’s Get Biblical: The Wisdom of Exodus 22” – My most recent Bible-based post, this one looks at the rules for social responsibility laid out in Exodus 22, particularly the admonitions to take care of widows and orphans—and the harsh penalty enacted for those who abuse and mistreat the same.
That’s it for this holier-than-thou Lazy Sunday. Sloth is a sin, but perhaps the Lord will forgive this Sunday’s laziness.
This past Sunday we had a guest speaker at church, a pastor with a children’s home ministry. The ministry began with a home in southwestern Virginia, and has expanded to an orphanage in Tuxtepec, Oaxaca, Mexico. Both children’s homes are in poor, mountainous communities—the former the region where my late great-grandmother lived. Both orphanages do amazing work with the kids, combining work (like gardening, feeding donkeys, and the like) with play—even a band!
In giving his talk about the ministry, the guest pastor referenced a few passages of Scripture. Aside from the famous passage from Matthew 19:14 in which Jesus told the disciples to “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven,” the pastor also referenced Exodus 22:22-24, which deals with how widows and orphans are to be treated:
22You must not mistreat any widow or orphan. 23If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to Me in distress, I will surely hear their cry. 24My anger will be kindled, and I will kill you with the sword; then your wives will become widows and your children will be fatherless.
It’s a pretty powerful passage, and a reminder that God doesn’t mess around with sin, especially against the weakest and most defenseless. We like to think that God has “mellowed out” since sending Jesus to die for our sins, but that’s dangerously wishful thinking. God doesn’t change, and His Wrath is still mighty.
In the spirit of yesterday’s post, which also dealt with a passage from Ecclesiastes, I thought I’d dust off an old post from my The Desperate Search for Meaning Series, which I completed back in 2019. A double-shot of Ecclesiastes, and the long-winded (but condensed here) wisdom of Pastor Monday is always a nice treat.
My pastor delivered an interesting sermon this past Sunday (23 May 2021) entitled “Recognizing the Passing Seasons of Life.” The sermon pulled from the famous passage from Ecclesiastes 3, explaining that “To everything there is a season” and there is “a time for every purpose under heaven.”
I’ve always loved Ecclesiastes and its central insight that without God, everything is meaningless. The perpetual turning of the seasons—the cycle of birth, preparation, harvest, and death—is similarly meaningless—an endless cycle—without God.
Pastor Monday took a slightly different approach, one that is still very important: we so often abuse, misuse, or waste the time we have. The season of preparation—planning ahead, planting our seeds, tending to them, etc.—is frequently squandered; as a result, the harvest is lacking. We all want the harvest without the preparation, but a harvest that lacks preparation is no harvest at all—or a harvest of dust.
I have, however, signed up for Smith’s e-mail list—the least any potential supporter can do—and have enjoyed his e-mail blasts. One recent message caught my eye: a blog post entitled “Time to Fix a Problem.”
Last Wednesday I wrote a piece, “The King of One’s Castle,” in which I wrote about the joys of home ownership, and the sense of import that goes with that responsibility. Putting time in working on and around the house gives me a sense of accomplishment, and deepens the pleasure of ownership.
As a corollary to that post, I’d love to offer up this slight counter: to whom much is given, much is required. I’ve been hearing that bit of Biblical wisdom from Luke 12:48 my entire life, often when I resisted doing something with my musical or oral talents (I possess a deep, rich, chocolate-y radio voice, and am often called upon to announce).
I am blessed to have been given much by way of talents, though I quickly temper that proud statement with sincere humility—there are many others far more gifted and talented than I am. Nevertheless, I do think I possess some attributes that increase my responsibilities to those around me.
That burden is not always easily borne, but it must be, whether easily or not.
Here we are—another Christmas Eve. It’s a night full of magic, mysticism, and wonder—the Light and holy version of Halloween, when the tenuous division between our corporeal existence and the supernatural world is thin.
Last year I wrote of my family’s Christmas Eve traditions, which are changing up a bit again this year. In lieu of the usual evening candlelight service, we’re going to an afternoon service at a church in my younger brother’s neck of the woods. Afterwards, we’ll be enjoying Chinese food—a newer tradition for us—and some fondue, a tradition from my sister-in-law’s side of the family. We’re beginning to sound like 1970s Jews on Christmas.
Here’s wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas tomorrow—and some Christmas Eve merriment tonight! With that, here is 24 December 2019’s “Christmas Eve“:
Last night I attended a men’s monthly Bible study at a church in Lamar. My neighbors had been inviting me for a couple of months, but when that mythical third Monday would roll around, I’d always have some outstanding obligation (mainly rehearsal for the Spooktacular). Since I’m running for Town Council again in January, I figured it would be good to feed my soul and my political ambitions simultaneously (they also brought sub sandwiches, so I was pretty well-fed holistically by the time I left).
The evening was spiritually, culturally, and politically encouraging. These men were fired up for Jesus, our country, and Trump, in that order. After everybody caught up a bit and after some introductions (I was the new guy at the meeting), the conversation gradually turned to politics, starting (I believe) with the necessity for a border wall, and Biden’s hare-brained pledge to tear it down.
From there, it was a free-ranging discussion, including vigorous airings of grievances; laments for the state of our nation; pledges to resist excessive government mandates; and repeated admonitions to trust in God. Our Scripture reading was Psalm 138. The Psalm is a reminder that God is in control, and will support us in our hour of need. Here’s verse 7, from the New King James Version:
7Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch out Your hand Against the wrath of my enemies, And Your right hand will save me.