When we were in Canada I can still remember talking to two successful businessmen at different times. They both had a positive outlook on life in general. Pete Kingma said, “When in history have people been able to sit on their front porch in the evenings and have no fear of marauders? We live in a great time in history.” Larry Dekoff said, “I believe in consequences. Everyone stays on their side of the road when they drive or there will be consequences.” Both of these thoughts and others came to mind as I watched this spectacular video. Have you ever thought about how many people are doing a lot of things right every day?
Then I remembered how God had to remind Job that there were so many things that God has created that Job does not understand. Look at these cities. Did God really have this in mind when He created the first the earth and it’s resources? I’m sure He did.
If you are tempted by the News to think that almost everything is broken, step back for a minute and look at how well it is all working, and then think, “For as great as all this is, and as well as it is working, better things are coming.” What will heaven be like?
Ivanildo is starting up the soccer school again. Bella went out yesterday (Saturday) and took these photos.
Our soccer school is one of the ways we are trying to be “good news” in our neighborhood. It takes a lot of time. It is a lot of work. It is exhausting. Art is going to help Ivanildo as he is able. We keep working to evaluate what we are doing, trying to love people and live among them knowing that only God can change their hearts, but He chooses to do that with our help.
One of our biggest prayer requests for the next four months is to know how to strengthen the church here. May the Lord give us:
1. A strong sense of His presence
2. Good ideas
4. People who He wants to join together to form a church leadership team
One of the things I like best about church planting is that God scatters the gifts that we need throughout the people in the group, gifts of serving, teaching, giving, spiritual gifts, etc. May we recognize and release people to serve with their gifts.
I am curious if you like going to church? Why do so many people come late? You get the feeling like maybe they want to make the “church” part of their day as short as possible? One of the big challenges of our missionary journey has been planting a church we like going to…one that we and many other people like going to.
I often remember a story that John Wimber shared about their church plant, when he was frustrated with some of the members and complaining to God. He said he sensed God’s voice cutting into His thoughts while he was standing in the hallway. And I paraphrase here:
God: “Would you go to this church if you weren’t the pastor?”
God: “Well, maybe if you are done with your program, maybe you will let Me show you My way?”
So this then is our main prayer, “That we could be part of God’s program.”
What To Do if You Are In a Tough Place and God Seems Distant
I have read the book of Job many times. I have heard sermons about it, but some did not ring true with me. “Job doubted his children, and his doubts caused the crack in the protection.” I don’t think so. And why was God talking to Satan? Do you understand that? Speculation about the behemoth and leviathan can get us sidetracked from the book’s message. The council from Job’s friends actually sounds pretty good, like something I might say or hear at church. Now, after reading it this book once again, I am seeing it in a new light. This is a book about faith that God completely forgives us.
1. Job’s friends: “God is fair. God’s treatment of Job is fair.”
2. Job: “I am forgiven by God. This is not fair.”
3. God: “Look at nature. There are tons of things you do not understand.”
4. God:”The friends are wrong. Job is right.”
5. The message: “When things seem all wrong, look at nature. Meditate on the greatness of God and how much we do not understand. Hang on to promise of Redemption and don’t let go. Help is on the way.”
1. Job’s friends are convinced God is fair. They are convinced Job must have sinned, and God is punishing him.
a. Consider Zophar, in Job 11:13-19 “Yet if you devote your heart to Him and stretch out your hands to Him, if you put away the sin…you will surely forget your trouble…you will be secure because there is hope…many will court your favor.
b. Consider Elihu, in Job 35:10-12 “But no one says, ‘Where is God my Maker, who gives songs in the night,…He does not answer when men cry out because of the arrogance of the wicked.”
2. Job spends a lot of time in the book questioning God’s “fairness”. He realized that though he had sinned in his youth, 13:26, God had forgiven him. This was not deserved punishment.
a. Job 23:3,4 “If only I knew where to find him; if only I could go to His dwelling! I would state my case before Him and fill my mouth with arguments.”
b. Job 27:2-6 “As surely as God lives, who has denied me justice…I will maintain my righteousness and never let go of it…”
c. Job 19:25 “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand upon the earth.”
3. God concludes:
a. There are a lot of things no human understands. 38:4 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?”
b. If you start to doubt Me (God), look at nature. (Nature documentaries are good. Walks in the woods and camping trips are good. Being quiet in the wilderness is good). 39:1 “Do you know when the mountain goats give birth?” What about wild donkeys, and oxen, and ostriches and huge animals? What about the stars, and thunder and lightening? Who hung the earth in the sky? Who feeds the lions?
c. Job’s friends are wrong, to think that what happened to Job was fair. 42:7 “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.”
d. Job is right to trust in complete and total forgiveness.
A: There are many things we do not understand. They are just not right.
B: When God seems distant, spend time looking at nature and thinking about how God created it.
C: Ask God if there is anything you need to repent of, and if there is anything you need to make right. Once you have done this to the best of your understanding…hang on to your Redemption like a shipwrecked sailor hangs onto his lifejacket. Scan the horizon for help if you have the strength.
D. God is still moving as powerfully today as when He created everything.
E. There are a lot of things we do not understand, but we know this: The Kingdom of God is here now, AND the Kingdom of God is coming.
How does God measure sincerity? Do we have to look sincere? What if we don’t look or act sincere? How does God measure this? I know that if you act grateful, soon you will be grateful. Maybe it works like that. One thing I know is true. We sincerely need God’s presence and assistance in this church plant. He is the motor, and the fuel that runs the motor. Without Him we are just a machine that doesn’t work. He is the air we breathe, and the wind in our sails. I sincerely believe this. I can relate to Moses’ prayer, and I paraphrase here, “If you don’t come with us, then let’s not do this anymore.” Exodus 33:15-23. Amazingly, God’s presence still shows up when His people sincerely desire it. But it shows up in varying degrees. I feel like a kid in the kitchen, looking for the dial. How do we crank it up?