From an interaction between GOD and his prophet, Jeremiah, as GOD was preparing him for his prophetic ministry to the nation of Israel:
But I (Jeremiah) said, “Hold it, Master God! Look at me.
I don’t know anything. I’m only a boy!”
God told me, “Don’t say, ‘I’m only a boy.’
I’ll tell you where to go and you’ll go there.
I’ll tell you what to say and you’ll say it.
Don’t be afraid of a soul.
I’ll be right there, looking after you.”
“Stand at attention while I prepare you for your work.
I’m making you as impregnable as a castle,
Immovable as a steel post,
solid as a concrete block wall.
You’re a one-man defense system
against this culture,
Against Judah’s kings and princes,
against the priests and local leaders.
[Peterson, E. H. (2005). The Message: the Bible in contemporary language (Je 1:6-8, 18). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.]
And, from an interaction between the wizard, Gandalf, to Frodo, as he prepared for his ministry of ring-bearer to Middle Earth:
"I am not made for perilous quests," cried Frodo. "I wish I had never seen the Ring! Why did it come to me? Why was I chosen?"
"Such questions cannot be answered," said Gandalf. "You may be sure that it was not not for any merit that others do not possess; not for power or wisdom, at any rate. But you have been chosen and you must therefore use such strength and heart and wits as you have."
Eugene Peterson comments:
If we look at ourselves and are absolutely honest, we are always inadequate. Of course, we are not always honest. We budge and cheat on the tests. We cover up a bit here; we bluff a bit there. We present to be more sure than we are.
Life, in fact, is too much for us.
This business of living in awareness and response to God, in attentive love to the people with us, and in reverent appreciation of the world round about exceeds our capacities. We aren't smart enough; we don't have enough energy; we can't concentrate adequately. We are apathetic, slouching and slovenly. Not all the time, to be sure. We have spurts of love, passionate risks of faith, impressive episodes of courageous caring. But then we slip back into indolence or greed...
It is not our feelings that determine our level of participation in life, nor our experience that qualifies us for what we will do and be; it is what God decides about us.
God does not send us into the dangerous and exacting life of faith because we are qualified; he chooses us in order to qualify us for what he wants us to be and do...
(From Run with the Horses: The Quest for Life at its Best)
If you are going follow in the way of Jesus, living life at its best, you must get the order down rightly, and you must do so now. It is not that you are qualified. You are not. You are supremely inadequate. So be of good cheer! For you have been chosen, and the Father, by the work accomplished through the Son, and by the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit, will qualify and make you adequate to the good works that he has created for you before the foundations of the world, that you might walk in them.
Samuel Johnson was born on September 18, 1709, and was an English writer who made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer.
How Can We Pursue A Long Repentance In The Same Direction?
This last Sunday, in Calvary’s morning gathering, we studied the book of Haggai together as part of God’s Whole Story. Together we heard God speak through his prophet to his people after the exile, challenging them to remain faithful and to rebuild the temple.
The book of Haggai is the second shortest book in the Old Testament. It has 4 oracles (think: sermons), 2 chapters, and about 1,100 words.
In the book of Jeremiah we read of God’s intention for Daniel and all of those with him who have been exiled from the land of promise.
We are in a sermon series called The Whole Story, so named because we started off with the assumption, and belief really, that the whole Bible is a unified story that leads to Jesus. Each and every book is a bit like a chapter that contributes to the overall story that God is telling.
We Are Calvary
To say that we live in times of rapid change may be the very height of understatement. Our culture, and its norms, is changing at an unprecedented rate, making it increasingly challenging for the church to remain relevant—and faithful—in proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God, in a way that will bring about the expansion of that kingdom.
This past Sunday we (finally) made it out of the weighty, dark, somber, and serious writings of the Prophets of the Exile, and stepped into the Return from Exile of the people of God. Our first look into this aspect of the redemptive drama comes via three courageous servants of Yahweh—Zerrubabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah. There story is found in the book of Ezra-Nehemiah (although our English Bibles separate them, through the centuries the Jewish people have always treated them as one book; so we will too.)
Especially When You Don't Feel Like It
Sunday is just about my favorite day of the week (“just about”…because my day off each week, our family’s Sabbath Saturday, is a tie or really close second). I love getting up that morning, making my smoothie, sitting in my favorite chair in our fireplace room, and pulling my Bible onto my lap. I relish the time spent listening to my Father speak, and I delight in those moments spent talking with him about the morning’s ministry, the people in our gathering that I hope he will transform, as well as the eleven other pastors (and their congregations) on whom I pray his blessing every Sunday.