Light to Live By

"The unfolding of your words gives light ..." (Psalm 119:130a)

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Which is it?

Of late I have been memorizing and praying back to God the great prayer of Habakkuk 3:17-19. But during much of that time I’ve also had in my Bible a 3×5 card upon which I wrote, some time ago, the text of Genesis 32:26b. Recently, as I was praying back the former to God, I happened upon the card in my Bible. In an instant, seeing them side by side, I realized the contrast between the faith of Jacob and that of Habakkuk.

“I will not let you go unless you bless me.” (Genesis 32:26b). These are, of course, Jacob’s words while wrestling with “the angel” through the night. He says, “I’m not letting go of you, Lord, until you bless me.”

“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. To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments” (Habakkuk 3:17-19). This is the prophet’s prayer of faith as he surrendered to God’s sovereignty over the nations and over his own life. This is Habakkuk saying, “I will not let you go even if you don’t bless me.”

See them side by side:

  • I will not let you go unless you bless me.
  • I will not let you go even if you don’t bless me.

So which one is it?

Or, is it both?

Yes, both.

For the blessing for which Jacob holds out is God’s own presence with him. And that of which Habakkuk will not let go, no matter his earthly state of blessedness, is the presence of God with him.

Bless me or bless me not, you, O Lord, are the one essential. You are the one thing I cannot live without. Amen.

The Reminder Wrapped in Our Assignments

“… Jesus calls disciples to tasks beyond their abilities, and the fact that the tasks surpass their abilities is evidence that the ministry is Christ’s, not theirs.” (James R. Edwards, The Gospel According to Mark, p.281)

New Studies in 2 Peter

Peter’s short second letter is perhaps as profound as any portion of Scriptures for the days in which we live. Sadly, it seems we’ve lost sight of the end of all things and thus have lost any orientation by which we might rightly embrace the present. That was the problem Peter wrote to confront. False teachers had arisen saying that there would be no final judgment (2 Peter 3:3-4). Deny accountability and you lose all ability to live faithfully. I titled this series Last Days Life Preservers. We have to keep our eyes on the last day if we will be faithful in these last days. To help us, Peter throws us a lifeline comprised of …

Radio Interview: Life as Worship

Recently I enjoyed a talk with Adam Miller of Songtime USA regarding my book Life as Worship.

They’ve been running excerpts of the interview all week long during their radio broadcasts. If you’d like to listen in here is a link to the entire interview you can do so here:

Jesus and Family Responsibilities

The Bible has harsh things to say about those who put family before Jesus …

  • Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (Matt. 10:37)
  • “To another he said, ‘Follow me.’ But he said, ‘Lord, let me first go and bury my father.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’ Yet another said, ‘I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.’ Jesus said to him, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’” (Luke 9:59-62)
  • “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26)

The Bible has harsh things to say about those who put Jesus before family …

  • “And he said to them, ‘You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! For Moses said, “Honor your father and your mother”; and, “Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.” But you say, “If a man tells his father or his mother, ‘Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban’” (that is, given to God)– then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.’” (Mark 7:9-13)
  • “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (1 Timothy 5:8)

So how are we to understand what Jesus wants with regard to our commitments to both Him and to the families He has given us? Here is what I’ve concluded …

  • If my commitment to my family keeps me from fulfilling a Scripturally-defined commitment to Jesus, my commitment to my family is inappropriate and must yield to my commitment to obey Jesus.
  • If my commitment to Jesus keeps me from fulfilling a Scripturally-defined commitment to my family, my commitment to Jesus is fundamentally wrong-headed and must yield to the commandments of God to care for my family.

So I need to ask myself some questions, prayerfully before God and honestly assessing my family’s needs …

  1. Am I using love for or loyalty to my family to avoid obeying clear commands of God?
  2. Am I using commands of God to dismiss what may be costly service in the care of my family?
  3. How can my love for and fidelity to Jesus fuel an increasingly righteous, faithful, genuine, and sacrificial love for the family members He has surrounded me with?
  4. If I am growing in my love for Jesus, how ought that find expression in my relationship to my family?
  5. If I love my family as they desire me to, how will that affect my relationship to Jesus?
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