Sunday, June 5, 2011

Teaching on Haggai - God Is The Source of Our Lives (June 1, 2011)

All Photos Credit: SBS Classmate

To Be An Influencer - Causing People to Wrestle With Tough Questions

My Final Application for 1 and 2 King and 1 and 2 Chronicles (March 25, 2011)

My Timeless Truth for the books of 1 and 2 Kings and 1 and 2 Chronicles is from my Leadership Application for King Jotham of Judah, that Christians are to be influencers, live lifestyles of example, and teach others. My Application for Leadership (Significance to the Contemporary Reader) says, “Be an influencer. Live a lifestyle as an example. Teach people, but also try to go deep so that others, those you disciple and your students, ask the tough questions and wrestle with their struggles and the ‘I know it’ or ‘I’ve known that all my life’ answers – so that they can take ownership of their faith and grow firm foundations.” This comes from 2 Chronicles 28:2, “And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD according to all that his father Uzziah had done, except he did not enter the temple of the LORD. But the people still followed corrupt practices.”

I think that this is a highlight in my life, that is the importance of a Biblical worldview. During a prayer time when people were praying for me, someone said that I lived and upheld a Biblical worldview. The importance of this has been especially emphasized to me during this School of Biblical Studies, along with the importance of understanding and believing the right and true character of God, as I struggle with those painful splinters God has been identifying and pulling out of my foundations during this season of my life. It is a difficult process, but I feel I have recovered from the infectious stage, and healing is taking place. Looking back is easier than living in it, but I am grateful that the changes that happen in me while I come to understand the Truth of God.

I think this is part of the reason why I did The School of Biblical with YWAM Muizenberg, South Africa, to build a better foundation and be more equipped for the future and the opportunities God gives me. In the past I have been given opportunities to share, speak, teach, and preach, in churches, Sunday Schools, youth groups, and schools in the U.S. and on outreaches around the world. I am humbled each time I am asked to teach people older and more knowledgeable than myself. When pastors have taken notes during my sermon, I think, “Really, how did this happen?” But I do consider it a blessing and a responsibility, and that is why I want to be equipped with more Biblical teaching. But each time I learn of someone who isn’t following the Lord anymore, I wonder what happened? What did I do wrong, and what could I have done better? It rips my heart. I know it is that person’s choice. But I ask, “What can I do better to have them wrestle, ask the tough questions, come to understand and come to believe for themselves?” And I think this all stems from teaching them the character of God and a Biblical Worldview (from the Old and New Testaments, whole Bible) in such a way that they have to really THINK and take ownership, not of what I believe, what their parents taught, or what society shows, but each individually.

I don’t know how to do this yet. But it has to do with building relationship and continuing discipleship. For people to pursue learning and asking questions. It has to do with honesty, vulnerability, and accountability, of listening, evaluating, and doing. It really has to do with hearts willing to choose God to transform their hearts. And it allows for mistakes, failure, and motivates them to try again.

The Character of Habakkuk - Habakkuk Final Theme Summary (May 7, 2011)

In the book of Habakkuk, Habakkuk, the prophet, cries to God to be heard, for justice for the righteous, and for wickedness to stop. God answers him that the Chaldeans will come to bring destruction. Habakkuk cries again to God, recognizing God’s authority and holiness, but questions why he would use such a wicked nations to judge Judah. Habakkuk is willing to wait and listen for God’s answer. God responds again that the Chaldeans will be judged for their wickedness and the righteous are to live by faith. Habakkuk ends with a prayer pf praise to God, recognizing God as the just judge of wickedness and as merciful bringing salvation. He is to hope and rejoice in God his strength and salvation regardless of his circumstances.

I think that Habakkuk’s intimate relationship with God along with his recognition of God as faithful and unchanging gives Habakkuk the ability to cry to God, to be vulnerable, to complain even, and ask real and honest questions. Through this process and because he was willing to risk difficult questions to God, Habakkuk grew in his relationship with God and his understanding of the character of God. He recognized even more that God is faithful and unchanging, that God is always a just judge to all people regardless of nationality. And sin is still sin whether Judah or Babylon is the culprit. God’s holiness rises to the forefront as God cannot stand sin, but Habakkuk also knows God’s mercy and salvation – Habakkuk has hope because he is God’s anointed. He leans on God’s strength in difficult places. Habakkuk’s character and conversation of prophecy with God is a model to the people of Judah of how to live by faith in difficult circumstances – as the nation of Judah as a whole does not turn away from sin and are judged with the Babylonian siege and destruction of Judah and Jerusalem. There may be a remnant few that are righteous and take heed and encouragement from Habakkuk – These are enabled with feet like the deer’s to tread the difficult places.

Jaclyn, Rabo, and James climbing the lower rock hill.
The model of Habakkuk should not be ignored in life today – especially for those who SEE. These are the righteous who life by faith. I am reminded on the first day of our school’s retreat at Volmoed. On our walk back from the waterfalls five of us decided to climb up the hill and rock cliffs to the prayer hut above. Take into account, there was no path. It would be trail blazing and rock climbing. Fun adventure, right? Sure (with a waver in Shannon’s voice). As we angled our way on the lower, easy part, we saw that there was no “safe” way over rocks to the hut, so we decided to head up higher. This “path” would bring us to the top of the rock hill or rather cliff now. As we neared the top we got to only solid rock directly in front of our faces, not where you step one foot in front of the other, but where you climb one hand and foot hold and then another, rock climbing without the ropes, or for a more proper term “bouldering” (for the adventure sports enthusiasts out there). Now at this part, my fellow student Godlisten from Tanzania bounded up just like a baboon (who are the real native sports enthusiasts around) and Jaclyn was agile and quickly angled up in front of me. And there I was…standing…still. “I can’t do this,” I thought. “I don’t know if I can’t do this,” I said. I’m afraid of heights or moreso of falling. It really wasn’t that long or high of a rock climb, but because of the good amount of “hill” we had covered behind us, my fall wouldn’t be 10 feet, but 20 or 30 or more (my mind for accuracy tends to waver in intense, emotional circumstances). So I psyched myself up in my head (you might know what that’s like. It’s when the happy, confident voice takes over). “You can do this, Shannon. If this rock were on the flat ground, it’s only 10 feet or so, and you can do that. That’s a piece of cake.” And I bouldered last summer several times on my friend’s garage wall. So I took a deep breath and placed one hand hold and one foot hold in front of the other. And I made it. It wasn’t so bad. But if any baboons were watching, they knew – I was no baboon or mountain goat – similar to that time my family and I were riding horses in the mountains and one horse balked near the top while navigating rocks and steep ridges with terrifying drops below, and the horse thought, “Wait up here, human, cuz I ain’t no mountain goat.” But that’s another story. Let’s just say normal horses are like normal humans – acting like baboons or mountain goats is a fail.

"We made it!" - James, Jaclyn, Rabo, me, and Godlisten.
Some Photos Credit: SBS Classmates
BUT that is where God comes in. Habakkuk 3:19 says, “God the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.” So as we are gazing as the looming mountain or the dangling precipice, we need to trust God for strength and direction. Whatever our difficult circumstances, whether our nation is going down the toilet and wickedness is prevailing like in Judah, or our jobs, our family, our finances, or our relationships, God is there for us when it’s crap and it seems like we cannot find a way or survive.

There can also be a problem if we get to the looming mountain and then realize, “uh oh.” We need to realize that we cannot run to God when we have problems only, but that we need to foster a life of faith. God’s command to Habakkuk as he is surrounded by wickedness is not go out and kill the wicked, but it is “the righteous shall live by his faith” in Habakkuk 2:4.  God is telling Habakkuk that YOU need to live by faith. You need to seek me; you need to follow me; you need to trust me as faithful, unchanging, just, merciful, and loving. This living by faith is an action verb; it is a lifestyle and not just an occurrence during A difficult time. A “fill up” on Sunday or on Easter or Christmas won’t make you good to go for the rest of the week or rest of the year. God is known through his Word, through prayer, through his Spirit. But God does not turn off, and he is not limited to holy and sanctified times, as only as church or only with your Bible. So pursue to get to know the faithful God in your everyday life, with your coffee, in the car, in the shower, and as you lay down to sleep.

God has rock climbing abilities even when I don’t. Maybe it’s just a matter of faith.
Success - Mountain Climb Accomplished!