Some of you may remember Michael Drosnin’s book “The Bible Code.” What is the book about? Well, it seems that there is this secret code imbedded in the Bible that allows us to predict the future. To maintain his credibility with the nonreligious Mr. Drosnin is careful to let us know that he remains a confirmed Atheist. And, lest anyone associate him with those wackos who actually believe the Bible he is quick to assure us that there is another explanation for the existence of the code: super intelligent beings from outer space encoded their messages in the Bible (which they presumably wrote as well).
Drosnin’s explanation of the code is just one example of an all too familiar phenomenon we have seen for centuries: intelligent people clutching at absurd ideas in order to deny the obvious: the existence of God. When American astronomer Edwin Hubble proved that every galaxy within 100 million light years is speeding away from every other, many astronomers were up in arms because it was one more proof that forced them to recognize a created universe with a definite beginning. Robert Jastrow of NASA remarked, “For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason alone, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance (meaning religion); he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”
It is not difficult to understand modern man’s resistance to God. People who have grown up on the “do your own thing” philosophy of life are very uncomfortable with the thought that God may be watching over their shoulder. The obvious implication is that if God created humans He probably had other pursuits in mind for them. The solution? Deny God.
I read the statement of a young man who was taking a freshman course at Yale University on the classics of Western Literature. The entire presentation on the Bible dealt with theories of multiple authorship of all sections of the Bible (in other words, who you always thought wrote the Bible, didn’t. Other people wrote it at a later period). The young man challenged the professor to explain why he didn’t treat other writings the same way, such as Homer’s Iliad. The answer was simple. Homer makes no demands upon its modern readers. The Bible, by contrast, insists that there is a divine standard by which we will all be judged. That was an idea which was far too dangerous for Yale university. —Adapted
A turkey and an eagle react differently to the threat of a storm. A turkey reacts by running under the barn, hoping the storm won’t come near. On the other hand, an eagle leaves the security of its nest and spreads its wings to ride the air currents of the approaching storm, knowing they will carry it higher in the sky than it could soar on its own. Based on your reaction to the storms of life, which are you? A turkey or an eagle.?My emotions push me to be a turkey. But my spirit wants me to be an eagle and spread my wings of faith and embrace the wind, placing my trust in Jesus alone. And when we do that we often experience everyday miracles:
His joy balances my pain. His power lifts my burden. His peace calms my worries. His grace is more than adequate to cover me, and his strength is sufficient to carry me through. Soaring becomes an adventure of discovering just how faithful He can be when I am way out of my comfort zone in the storm. Soaring is an adventure of discovering by experience His answer to my pain. And I imagine a smile of infinite tenderness on His face as the angels in heaven applaud, “Bud, you’re finally getting it. Now you’re beginning to understand one of the reasons why God has allowed these ‘bad’ things to happen to you.”
And through it all I do understand. Soaring is so exhilarating. I find that I am no longer content to live in the barnyard of familiar comfort just for the relative security that seems to be there. I want to live by faith.
A Faith that triumphantly soars is possible only when the winds of life are contrary to personal comfort. That kind of faith is His ultimate purpose in allowing us to encounter storms of suffering.
Jesus taught us this lesson of triumphant faith in the little town of Bethany when his good friend Lazarus passed away and Jesus wasn’t there to stop it. In that remarkable scene He revealed God’s answer to their question, “Why did You let this bad thing happen?” The ultimate experience of Mary, Martha and Lazarus underscores the truth that God’s purpose for our lives is so much bigger than our own. And it reminds us of the challenge to trust His greater, ultimate purpose when bad things inevitably happen to us.
(Adapted from “Why?:Trusting God When You Don’t Understand,” by Anne Graham Lotz.)
Perhaps one of the least read books of the Bible is the book of Habakkuk. But it is one we ignore at our peril. The Prophet Habakkuk had some complaints that he took to the Lord—complaints that sound quite familiar in our own times. Here is his first one: “How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen?” (Chapter 1, v. 2). God responded with these words: “I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.” He then details the destruction He will bring upon Habakkuk’s people because of their unbelief.
His second complaint is then built upon the Lord’s answer to the first one. He asks, “Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?” (chapter 2, v. 13). God then informs him (in chapter 2) why He is bringing this judgment upon Habakkuk’s people. And then something unusual happens in chapter 3. Habakkuk says, “Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord.” He then ends his book with the words “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”
The single most important observation from Habakkuk is this: As the book ends, nothing has changed on the outside. The people of Judah have still forgotten God. Violence still reigns in Jerusalem. The wicked still oppress the righteous. And the Babylonians are still God’s appointed instrument for judgment. Hard times are coming and there is nothing anyone can do about it.
Nothing has changed except this: Habakkuk has changed on the inside.
We all come from different situations. Some are happy, some are sad. Some are healthy, some are sick. Some are excited about the future, some face dark clouds of uncertainty. But if we know the Lord, if God is our Savior, we can still have feet to tread on the heights in the worst moments of life. We can stand when others fall around us.
Everyone reading my words is in one of three places: You’re coming out of confusing times. You’re in confusing times. Or you’re about to go into confusing times and you just don’t know it yet. So take this true saying and put it in your back pocket. If you don’t need it today, you’ll need it tomorrow or the day after tomorrow: You’ll never know that Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have. And when Jesus is all you have, then and only then will you discover that Jesus is all you need. That’s the real message of the little book of Habakkuk.
Many of us can remember the old ad: Charles Barkley’s face appears and he says, “I’m not a role model. I am paid to wreak havoc on a basketball court…” I think we all understand the feeling. We want the rewards without the responsibilities. We want to be able to do our own thing without being held accountable. We simply don’t want the pressure of people looking to us to uphold certain values. But like it or not, whether rich and famous or a nobody, we are role models. We have been called to be role models. It’s time we stopped hiding behind our insecurities and accept what God is placing upon all of us. Every parent is a role model to his children. Every child is a role model to his peers. Every employee is a role model to the others. God won’t have it any other way. We are put here to influence others.
A Christian friend once told me that the reason he never puts Christian symbols on his car identifying his faith is that he is afraid he might do something stupid and the Lord would get blamed. I understand that fear completely. It doesn’t just apply to bumper stickers. That is the same thinking that causes many children of God to remain lifelong “undercover Christians.” But my friend evidently never thought of the corresponding opportunity that he might also do something right and God would get the credit. It is that opportunity God places before all of us who have said “yes” to Jesus Christ. He envisions a mighty force of believers scattered here, there and everywhere consistently living out their faith before the world. The thought of His children hiding their relationship to Him is abhorrent. People do not light a lamp only to “put it under a bushel basket. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house” (Matthew 5:15).
This is the way our faith works. It is not just taught. It is also “caught.” It is caught by our children, our marriage partners, our fellow employees. You and I are walking role models all for the goodness, kindness and love of God. Certainly that puts pressure upon us—the best kind of pressure. Nothing can beat the joy of hearing someone say, “It was because of the way you lived that I came to understand how real God is.” That is a very possible opportunity for everyone of us. That is why Jesus commanded us, ’Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Happy modeling!
Senior Pastor of Cactus Christian Fellowship