Warnings can be a Blessing in Disguise

Given a choice, what would you avoid.

Silly mistakes or major destruction.

Personally, I would prefer to stay alert and enjoy success and not loss.

I remember my first job ever.

I was supposed to learn a bit of accounting, but I did not take it too seriously. To facilitate my on-boarding the company arranged an experienced Chartered Accountant, a friend of the business owner from another city and sent him to train me to manage the accounts.

Youthful, with no prior experience I did not realise this individual’s expertise nor willingness to coach an inexperienced new employee and treated the incident with a matter-of-fact approach.

After the first lesson, I did not get what he explained because I obviously did not immerse myself into what was shared.

So, the expert tore the page from the accounting book on which he had done the explanation. He then went ahead to repeat the explanation, a little more slowly and deliberately this time.

I didn’t’ get it the second time either.

So, he tore out the page again, crumpled it and threw it aside.

The third time, before he began, he looked straight into my eyes and said sternly ‘If you don’t get it right this time I am not interested in wasting another page or my time. I am out of here.’

The warning woke me up.

It made me realise that there was a definite lack of intent from my side, a slothful spirit, a carelessness to realise the importance of what was being imparted and by who it was being done and this negligence was going to cost me big time.

As I pondered in those few moments, I deliberated the consequences of the outcome.


What if the trainer left in anger?


I would be left feeling humiliated. I would be termed unintelligent and dumb. I would be reprimanded that I could not get what an expert had taken the trouble and time to teach. And worse still, the incident threatened to destroy my confidence, my reputation and could make me lose a good job as well.

The warning needed attention if I did not wish anything negative to happen.


I decided to set myself up for the challenge. I had to tell my mind to get alert. I had to get everything inside to cooperate with me to win and not lose the opportunity that was presented.


No prizes for guessing what happened next. Yes, I got it right the third time around.


I had just avoided a potentially huge impending loss simply by asking my mind to get some sense and stay alert.

I believe we all have that special intuitive sense to respond to a warning and get alert, no matter how difficult the threat.


I learned a valuable lesson that day. Sometimes it is not other people or circumstances but we ourselves who open the door for trouble, often with dumb, ignorant, silly, and careless mistakes we make.


Dumbness, ignorance and carelessness can cost us much.


In the book of Exodus, the Bible mentions about God spending time with Moses to personally write down the ten commandments. These were oracles for His people to live a more successful life. Here was God who had decided to come down on Mount Horeb, lowering down to man’s level, scripting a great destiny with His own Jehovah-Jireh-hands. However, the people were acting dumb. They never seemed to get the point. They were busy grumbling and murmuring against Moses. They were busy creating idols for themselves. Deceiving themselves that a man-made idol that cannot speak that cannot write their destiny that cannot move was going to be their God.


And why was God going out of His way? Not for Himself but for their good, to get them out of a slave mindset.


But what was stopping these folks from receiving a great blessing?


The fact that they cannot get themselves to stop grumbling about their present circumstances. The fact that they are refusing to shift their minds from the I-want-it-right-now mentality. That is what is stopping them from a great testimony that lies ahead.


Their attitude upset God so much that He wanted to finish them off.

Bible Reference:
Exodus 32:1-10

After the people saw that Moses had been on the mountain for a long time, they went to Aaron and said, “Make us an image of a god who will lead and protect us. Moses brought us out of Egypt, but nobody knows what has happened to him.”


Aaron told them, “Bring me the gold earrings that your wives and sons and daughters are wearing.” 3 Everybody took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron, 4 then he melted them and made an idol in the shape of a young bull.


All the people said to one another, “This is the God who brought us out of Egypt!”


The Lord said to Moses: Hurry back down! Those people you led out of Egypt are acting like fools. 8 They have already stopped obeying me and have made themselves an idol in the shape of a young bull. They have bowed down to it, offered sacrifices, and said that it is the god who brought them out of Egypt. 9 Moses, I have seen how stubborn these people are, 10 and I’m angry enough to destroy them, so don’t try to stop me. But I will make your descendants into a great nation.

But being a God of Justice, He decides to warn them first.


God gives them time to gather some sense and make corrections so He could still write a great destiny for them and see them blessed.

How do we apply the lesson from Exodus into our practical life today?

Some people have created idols for themselves. Idols that are placed above God, some literal and some not.

The reason they have gone after things apart from the Living God is to attempt to seek a shortcut to success, on their own.

In the bargain, many have forgotten or have been ignoring the fact that it is God who is more concerned about ensuring man enjoys success in everything pertaining to life and Godliness.

Just imagine!

Is there anything that can be greater than a destiny that is scripted by the very Hand of The Great I Am, the Savior of the World?

https://sophialorenabenjamin.wordpress.com/2021/03/01/warnings-can-be-a-blessing-in-disguise/

What is God teaching you in your storms?

October 21, 2020 by Dr. Jack Graham

I vividly remember in 2009 when I found myself in a storm like I’d never experienced before. I had received a cancer diagnosis and was unsure of what the future would hold.   

But what I also remember is what a close friend of mine said to me in the midst of my battle… 

“Jack, I’m praying for you… that you will learn everything you need to learn in the midst of this trial in your life.”  

And God was faithful to do just that. As I prayed, “Lord, teach me what you want to teach me,” He stepped into my storm to do something I never expected. You see, while trials are a painful part of life, they serve to strengthen our faith and build our character.  

That’s what the first chapter of the book of James is all about. James writes in verse 2, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.” 

The picture James is painting is that we’re walking along, everything is going well, and out of nowhere life hits us like a two-by-four with a trial, test, or storm. 

Now I realize that this is exactly where many of us find ourselves today. Toward the beginning of 2020, we lived blissfully ignorant of the trials that were about to hit us. 

And then over the past several months, we’ve been hit hard.   

We’ve seen sickness and death from a global pandemic. We’ve experienced the isolation that comes with sheltering at home. And we’ve lived through one of the most politically and racially charged climates we’ve seen in decades. 

There’s no escaping it – our world is full of pain and suffering. In Romans 8 we’re told that all creation groans in preparation for the birth of the new earth that is coming when Christ returns. 

But on this side of eternity, we will experience suffering, pain, and heartache. 

And still, James writes, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.”  Seriously? Why would James say this – a difficult, almost impossible command to follow? 

Scripture answers that question for us in Psalm 16:11. The psalmist writes, “In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”  

All who are in Christ share in His eternal joy, even in the midst of seemingly impossible circumstances. It is a unique promise and privilege for believers and followers of Jesus.   

I’d love to share more with you about how you can authentically live out your faith in tumultuous times like these by sending you my book, Visible Faith. It’s my way to say thanks for your gift to help take the Gospel to the world. 

And it gets better, thanks to a $200,000 Matching Grant, your gift today will be DOUBLED to help share the hope of Jesus with more people! 

Thank you for your generosity. I pray Visible Faith encourages and equips you to be a light for Christ – so our darkening world can see the faith that truly saves!

https://resources.jackgraham.org/resource-library/articles/what-is-god-teaching-you-in-your-storms/

Christian leaders call for repentance, overhaul following Ravi Zacharias sexual abuse report

By Brandon Showalter, Christian Post Reporter

Christian leaders and a former associate of Ravi Zacharias’ ministry are calling for repentance and an overhaul of organizational practices after a report released Thursday detailed the late apologist’s pattern of sexual abuse.

In an email to The Christian Post on Friday, Carson Weitnauer, who previously led RZIM’s U.S. speaking team, said he now believes that Zacharias was not only a fraud, as he articulated in an earlier op-ed published by CP, but that the organization bearing his name is as well. He further asserted that the ministry’s apology is unacceptable in light of the revelations released in the report. 

“The organization’s apologetic-sounding statement was released by an anonymous board, is incomplete in its scope, avoids calling on the Zacharias Estate to release the Thompson’s from the NDA, and announces no resignations or removals of those most responsible for this tragedy. 1 John 3:18 instructs us, ‘Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth,'” said Weitnauer to CP. 

“I pray that many churches and nonprofits will decide to learn from this catastrophe and take immediate action to mitigate the risk of personally repeating it,” he added. 

RZIM issued an apology Thursday with the announcement of the results of an extensive independent investigation in which victims claimed that Zacharias had engaged in “sexting, unwanted touching, spiritual abuse, and rape” over the course of many years. 

The ministry hired the Atlanta law firm Miller & Martin to conduct the independent investigation. In the apology statement published as the report was released, RZIM said it was “shocked and grieved” by the actions of the late apologist and that “corporate repentance” was needed. 

Weitnauer said it’s crucial that churches and ministry organizations appoint senior leaders who bear responsibility and that they establish or strengthen policies against abuse of every kind — provide training on toxic cultural dynamics, and ensure board members and community leaders are informed and watchful advocates for survivors and other vulnerable members of their communities. 

“The continued prevalence of sexual abuse within the church, and the weak response to it by church leaders, is a great discredit to our witness,” Weitnauer said. “For the sake of the Gospel and the honor of God, and our commitment to the wellbeing of victims, may we instead courageously resolve to build communities that are full of truth and goodness.” 

Other Christian voices and thought leaders have expressed a variety of emotions. Many said they are disgusted and shaken, but noted that news of respected evangelical leaders falling has become common. 

“I’ve thought about this a lot since it all came out and I guess it sucks to say that I’m not surprised when this happens anymore. Because it just keeps happening. God, have mercy,” said author Jackie Hill Perry, tweeted Thursday.  

She added in a subsequent tweet-thread Friday that she had attended the funeral for the late apologist last year and that the news of his misconduct left her feeling “thrown.” 

“Not because I’m surprised per se’ but because it’s disorienting. I’m reminded that giftedness will never translate to godliness. Neither is orthodox teaching the proof of righteous living…Ravi’s ministry was a gift to most of us but his fall is a warning to all of us. Take heed lest we fall too.”

Teacher and popular speaker Beth Moore said in response to the report that, at base, “in every situation where a Christian leader has lived in gross hypocrisy, carrying on a double life, for years on end: They are out of fellowship with Jesus. Period. YOU CANNOT SUSTAIN THAT IN FELLOWSHIP.”

“The Holy Spirit convicts of sin. Every believer has and will fall into strongholds of various kinds of sin but, in fellowship with Christ, we cannot bear to remain in it. We will repent. We can implement all the accountability systems & MUST. But what we’ve got on our hands are people using piety and outward appearances of righteousness to hide the fact that they have little to no intimacy with the Father and Son through the Holy Spirit,” she added. 

The board of the Zacharias Trust, the U.K. branch of the ministry, also put out a statement announcing that they had made the unanimous decision to separate from RZIM. Although the organization has always been a separate entity in terms of governance with its own trustees, the Trust said that current circumstances have led them to conclude they must operate without any link to the organization. 

“The UK entity will also choose a new name. This process will take time to complete but the UK Board is convinced that this is the best and only way to ensure that the ministry can continue to serve the UK church with integrity. This will also give us the opportunity to review the lessons to be learned from these awful events,” the Trust added. 

COMMENT:

Part of our mission is to “… help the abused, the abuser and those affected by abuse to heal…just not all in the same setting.” Please contact us if you need assistance. If it is an emergency dial 911.

https://www.christianpost.com/news/christian-leaders-call-for-overhaul-after-ravi-zacharias-report.html

How to Read the Bible Better

 

by David Mathis Executive Editor, desiringGod.org

 

Do you want to read the Bible better? Christians will only experience so much of God and his grace without making a regular practice of reading and rehearsing what he has said to us in the Bible. During my years as a Christian and pastor, I am yet to meet a mature, happy Christian who hasn’t been a serious Bible reader.

Maybe you have dipped in here and there since you were converted, or perhaps you’ve started a new reading plan every January, only to fade fast before March. Maybe you’ve never really given serious Bible reading a try.

“Bible reading, of all reading, rewards careful, relentless observation of details in the text.”

Whatever our backgrounds and proclivities, God means for his children to take reading seriously, grow in our facility with it, and employ it as a means of his grace in our lives, and for the good of others. This is why Christians the world over, and throughout history, have been word people. God gave us a Book. Whether we naturally love reading or not, and whether we’ve been reading the Bible for decades or not, we all can benefit on occasion from rehearsing some of the basics of reading — not simply the natural reading of any book, but especially the supernatural reading of God’s Book.

Whatever your stage, experience, and proficiency, consider six fundamental principles for how to read God’s Book better.

1. Lean on God for help.

First and foremost, we dare not resign to reading God’s Book in our own human capacities. The Bible is special (Psalm 19:7–10). God speaks in the Scriptures with a kind of purity and directness we encounter in no other text (Psalm 12:6). These are the very words of God spoken to the world though his chosen apostles and prophets (2 Timothy 3:16). If these are the words of God, and they are, then we need the help of God to read them — to understand his words rightly, and feel his words appropriately, and apply his words faithfully.

Previous generations acknowledged the uniqueness of this Book with the title “Holy Bible.” Even if we don’t typically print that across our leather covers today, we will want to keep in mind the Bible’s holiness, its uniqueness — that God has set it apart from every other book. We approach it with conscious humility and with acknowledged dependence on him, that gives rise to prayer.

For this reason, many begin Bible reading with a short but vital moment of prayer, asking God to meet us in this encounter with him in his word and soak our reading with his gift of illumination. At times I will pause to ask for more help when realizing proneness to distraction or feeling confused about something I’m reading.

2. Learn some basics of language.

God’s word being supernatural, and requiring supernatural help, doesn’t mean the natural aspects of reading are unimportant. In fact, they are all the more important, since so much is at stake. Those most convinced of the supernatural power of God’s word will want to master what natural basics of reading they can.

Many basics of reading are intuitive and come to us “inductively” as we learn to read and make a practice of reading, but we also can be helped by some “deductive” principles about the basics, to hone our craft. Mortimer Adler’s and Charles Van Doren’s How to Read a Book is a good guide, among others, for learning and refreshing the basics.

DO UNTO AUTHORS

One key principle for reading, for instance, that we love to highlight at Desiring God says, “Do unto authors, as you would have them do unto you.” In other words, read to discern the author’s intention in his text, not your own preferences.

“We dare not resign to reading God’s Book in our own human capacities.”

Good reading requires effort to get into the author’s head, not through speculation, but through his own words. We seek to discover his meaning in (not around) the actual text of what he has written. This happens through patient and thoughtful attention to the words and sentences the author himself has written, and in particular by seeing the relationships between his words and phrases and sentences and paragraphs.

COME TO TERMS

Adler and Van Doren commend what they call “coming to terms” with the author. Individual words and phrases do not comprise a complete thought until they form a sentence — a proposition or claim (or coherent question or command) made by the author. Individual sentences, then, in the context of adjoining sentences form a train of thought, with each additional claim further advancing or clarifying the others in the context.

Texts, then, we may say, are like jigsaw puzzles. What we know, or think we know — whether about specific claims, or by what an author has in mind by his key words — helps us “put the pieces together” and better understand the whole. “Coming to terms,” then, means getting your bearings enough from the normal language of the passage to discern what the author has in mind by his key words and phrases. But how do we know what words and phrases are key terms to the author? Alder and Van Doren give this hint, which is also a call to hard work: “the most important words are those that give you trouble” (102). In other words, move toward, rather than ignore, what you at first don’t understand as you read.

To sum it up for Bible reading, biblical texts argue. They make cases. They give rationale. Reading the Bible well begins with following the human author’s train of thought from one sentence to the next, not isolating nuggets or pearls on a string that simply seem exciting out of context, but pressing to understand the whole.

3. Look carefully at particular details.

In some sense, this point only makes explicit what was implicit in the previous, but presses it further. Clearly the kind of care with language we’re advocating for requires a kind of active (rather than passive) reading that demands emotional energy and effort.

Adler and Van Doren lament (more than a generation ago!), “Most of us are addicted to non-active reading. The outstanding fault of the non-active or undemanding reader is his inattention to words, and his consequent failure to come to terms with the author” (106). “Most people read half asleep,” writes John Piper in Reading the Bible Supernaturally (327). “We read the Bible pretty much like we watch television — passively.”

AGGRESSIVE ATTENTIVENESS

Christians, however, because we have found our life is in this Book, will pray, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law” (Psalm 119:18). Then we will read with the expectation of seeing wonders, and with the energy, like Ezra, to study them (Ezra 7:10Nehemiah 8:10; also Psalm 111:2).

Bible reading, of all reading, rewards careful, relentless observation of details in the text — the kind of observation that keeps looking even after it has become uncomfortable, especially in our modern pace of life, which does not encourage the pace of fruitful Bible reading and study. Slowing down is a skill we desperately need to acquire. One practical way to slow down is to take a pencil in hand, or put fingers on a keyboard, in order to process and share what we are seeing.

“You will never read a better book, but you can learn to read the Book better.”

Piper characterizes active Bible reading as “aggressive attentiveness” to words, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs. The kind of attentiveness that asks questions and seeks to answer them from the immediate and wider concentric circles of context. Active minds ask questions. And such reading (study) makes for hard mental labor. “The barrier to seeing the riches of the Scriptures is not owing to the fact that more people don’t know Greek and Hebrew,” writes Piper, “but that more people don’t have the patience to look, look, look” (332).

DIVINE AUTHOR

Such attention to detail, in Bible study, will take us beyond the individual human authors to the divine Author. Reading his Book will mean looking for connections across the canon, and how God, the ultimate author, reveals himself over time. Not only does history rhyme, as it has been said, but God has his reasons in the rhyming. When we see familiar patterns and various types across the sweep of biblical history, we can ask what God means to communicate to us through them. It means “believing that everything belongs and everything is meaningful,” according to Peter Leithart:

The Spirit doesn’t waste his breath. There are no incidental details. We’re told that Abraham had 318 fighting men for a reason, and the Spirit wanted us to know the man at the pool of Bethsaida had been lame for 38 years. Is 153 fish mere local color? No; it’s part of the Word of the Lord. . . . When a narrator uses an odd turn of phrase, don’t jump to the pseudo-scholarly conclusion that it’s an “ancient Hebrew idiom.” Expect it to communicate. . . . Give the human author some credit; he writes as he does for a reason. Most of all, give the Author credit, for if he’s able to harmonize the billions of motifs of human history, he can write a coherent book.

Paul wasn’t urging his disciple to be comfortable when he exhorted him, “Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything” (2 Timothy 2:7). Such diligent trusting the biblical text requires coming to it at an unhurried pace — we might even call it a “leisurely” pace. Not leisurely in terms of attentiveness but in terms of space to linger, go deep, consult parallel passages, ask good questions, study for answers, and see the connections to Christ (Luke 24:25–2744–45). And “leisurely” doesn’t mean comfortable. Such attentive study is often unpleasant, even painful, but endlessly rewarding.

4. Linger over the truth.

We not only read and study, but meditate. God does not mean for our engaging of his word to end at the more cerebral, intellectual level of discerning meaning in the text through informed, patient, attentive reading and study. Rather, he means for his words to go down deep into the soil of our souls — not just freshly inform our minds but profoundly change our hearts.

“God means for his words to go down deep into the soil of our souls.”

Opening up ourselves to the laser of God’s word means seeing the Scriptures as his words to us, not simply to ancient audiences in other times and places. He means for us to read his words as captured and preserved for Christians (Romans 4:23–2415:41 Corinthians 9:9–1010:6112 Timothy 3:16–17), for us to get beyond the study of what God said in the past to others and “bring it home” to ourselves as God’s living and active word (Hebrews 4:12). Not only has he spoken, but he is speaking (Hebrews 12:25) — to us.

Reading God’s Book well leads to meditation, filling our minds with his truths, rolling them around on our tongue, savoring what he says, and not ceasing before coming to personal reflection.

5. Listen alone and together.

So far, we’ve assumed individual Bible reading, study, and meditation, but it should not go without saying that God means for us to receive and welcome his words together in his body called the church.

Healthy Christians will avoid the extremes of lone-rangering and of not engaging God’s words for ourselves. We will receive his words both as individuals made in his image and as his people called the church, the bride of his Son, redeemed together by his blood. Which will mean both listening to, and learning from, the insights of others and humbly, and boldly, sharing our insights with others (teaching).

We rarely begin to master something until we have tried to teach it to others. God’s word goes deeper in us when we try to pass along the blessing to others.

6. Learn to read by reading — for a lifetime.

In the end, there is no better way to learn to read the Bible than to read the Bible. Many ambitious souls, with a burst of inspiration or new-year resolve, start on aggressive Bible-reading regiments. Far fewer truly form the daily habit and genuinely endure for decades. What you do every day, for years on end, will drastically change your life. God means for us to engage his word like this, day after day, for a lifetime of enjoyment and discovery.

“There is no better way to learn to read the Bible than to read the Bible.”

If you’re looking for where to start, there’s no singular right place and no one way. Personally, I’ve found it most helpful over the years to be reading in multiple places at any given time. I typically am working through the whole Bible each year, with four short readings each day, in four different parts of the Bible, through the Discipleship Journal Reading Plan. But from time to time, I’ll change it up and give all my focus for a season to a particular place. My encouragement would be to try several approaches over time and see what habits suit you best in specific seasons of life.

Over time, Bible reading will feel easier and easier, in a sense, and more manifestly fruitful. A focused, unhurried season, day after day, goes a mighty long way. So, keep reading: daily, and for a lifetime. There is no better way to learn to read the Bible than to keep reading the Bible. You will never read a better book, but you can learn to read the Book better.