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Saturday, August 11, 2018

Worship of the Giver

Have you ever admired someone’s skill?  Looked at something that they have created and was amazed at their work?  There are a number of artists for which I have great regard.  Some of them work in the medium of drawing or painting.  Many in music.  Some in the written word both in fiction and non-fiction.  Some as actors.  Some as carpenters.  Some as designers of buildings, bridges, or other structures.
Worship of the Giver

There are others though who many would not consider artists, plumbers, electricians, welders, etc.  Artists, however, they are.

Exodus 31:6 (here @ Bible Gateway), the last part especially, tells us that any skill that we have was put there by God.  So when you admire someone’s work, you are in reality giving thanks to the One who gifted their skill.

Perhaps a new source of worship.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

No is an Answer

Typically I mine my journals to spark what I write here.  For the past several months I have been reviewing the last journal which covers from November of 2016 through February of this year.
No is an Answer
This evening I hit entries that surrounded a significant event for our family.  In the journal I recorded my prayer concerning what was going on.

Garth Brooks has a song, “Unanswered Prayers.”  I like Garth, but he got that one wrong.  There are no unanswered prayers.  We just may not get the answer we hope for.  “No,” is as much of an answer as, “Yes”.  Further, sometimes the answer is, “Wait”.

In the case of the prayer I recorded during the first part of last year, the answer was, “No”.

Reading the prayer, I had a visceral reaction.  My gut tightened up, I bent over, and began to weep.  The pain and confusion is still very real.  From where I sit, “No,” made no sense, no sense at all.  It does not matter how I parse the situation, from whatever angle it is contemplated, the continuing confusion, pain, and constant reminders of the answer, do not compute.

There are two things that sustain faith for me when these forceful reminders hit.  First, I know without any shadow of doubt that God loves us, loves me, loves all who were and are continually impacted by the “No”.

Second, my experience with other, “Nos,” helps me to know that I can trust Him.  Some of those have resolved into understanding over the years.  Some have not.  But I know based on both experience and the testimony of His Word than I can trust Him.

For this one, in this life, I may never understand.

But I know that He loves me, and I trust Him.  But, it still hurts.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Incremental Victories

There have been issues in my life and ministry that the Lord immediately changed.  One was my focus on what was ultimately important, not airplanes but people.  Another was an immediate and sustained hunger for His Word.
Incremental Victories
But other issues took time.  Swearing was one.

Some I was able to overcome, later attempted, with some success, to reassert themselves.

Some, like journaling, I was off and on with for years and now has become consistent.

In ministry engaging people in the Word is a strength, but prayer is a challenge.

The point is not everything in this journey is easy.  Further, things that we may have nailed down today, may break loose tomorrow.

Why?

There are probably more reasons than we can possibly cover in a short post.  Someone has probably written a book about this.  But I find help on this in some places in the Word.  First, in Exodus 23:29 – 30 (here @ Bible Gateway).  When the Lord was sending Israel into the land, it was not done overnight.  It was a process.  He wanted them to take the land incrementally.  The stated purpose was so that the land would not become desolate.

I resist allegorizing the text.  Detest is probably a better representation of my reaction to that type of reading of the text.  With that firmly in mind Romans 15:4 – 5 (here @ Bible Gateway) tells me that this passage is given for my instruction.

Now it is not the case that I am currently engaged in a war of conquest of a large land mass.  It is the case that I have been enlisted in a project to help change the culture of a number of communities in which I am involved.

In both the war and the project there is resistance.  In my case if there was not resistance I would find myself in a situation where people would want help and because there were not enough leaders equipped to give that help, the communities would become frustrated and much future opportunity would be lost.

Romans 15:4 – 5 (here @ Bible Gateway) reminds us that this is a journey, a mission that requires perseverance.  Facilitating change, is part of that journey both personally and in a community of believers.

From time to time I forget that.  When I do, discouragement surfaces.  I have to be reminded that this is a journey of perseverance.  That requires me to abide in Him, in His Word, and in fellowship with others that are pulling with me in the traces.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Overstating

Take a look at Job 42:1 – 3 (here @ Bible Gateway).  Job is responding to the Lord’s rebuke.  Note the elements of Job’s confession.
Overstating
He starts with God.  He acknowledges God’s sovereignty and power.  Then he turns to his own reality.  He had made confident assertions about things for which he had no understanding.  Things that were frankly far beyond his ability to comprehend.

From time to time I encounter folks who are certain.  At a significant level they suffer from what Prof called, “hardening of the categories”.  One cannot have a conversation with them.  They see Scripture through what they have decided is true.  In some cases they have taken positions that directly contradict what the text says.  But they are certain that they have not.

Both Paul and Jesus echoed this reality, the reality that there are many of us who are like Job.  In Matthew 15:8 – 9 (here @ Bible Gateway), Jesus decries those who teach their ideas rather than the truth.  In 1 Timothy 1:7 (here @ Bible Gateway), Paul reminds Timothy that there are still those who make confident assertions as Job did, but have absolutely no idea about that which they are expounding.  Unfortunately, their tribe is legion.

For the past 40 years I have been studying the Bible.  I have worked hard at increasing my ability to interact with the text and make better observations which lead to better understanding.  I know some things.  But, the truth is, I am relatively certain that much of what I think I know could be in error.  Why?  Because when we are studying God, we are studying the infinite with finite minds.  He alludes to this in Isaiah 55:8 – 9 (here @ Bible Gateway).  We do not, cannot, think like Him.

There are a lot of great books about the Bible.  There are great men who have written extraordinary works that have greatly helped me.  But, their works are not inspired.  They are not God.  They, as I am, are susceptible to error.  In fact, in some area of their study, I am certain they will discover they are wrong, as will I.

The point is, I have to hold what I “know” with an open hand.  I have to be open to being corrected by what the Text says, not what I want it to say.  I cannot, or better, I have to continually resist the urge to read into the text what I already “know”.

Job’s confession is a great model.  I have to acknowledge who is actually God, and admit that I need His help.  Then I need to follow David’s example in Psalm 119:18 (here @ Bible Gateway) and ask the Lord to open my eyes and help me to see.  Further, I have to be willing to change what I believe I understand.

It seems to me that is what Paul is talking about in Romans 12:1 – 2 (here @ Bible Gateway).

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Hiding

If you look at Genesis 3:8 (here @ Bible Gateway), you will note that Adam and Eve had a personal relationship with God.  They walked with Him in the garden.  They knew His sounds.  The cadence of His stride.  The sound of His voice.  They probably knew His scent.  It was a close personal, somewhat casual, relationship.
When they disobeyed; when they violated His trust; when they heard their close friend, their creator, their Lord, coming; they hid.

In Exodus 20:19 (here @ Bible Gateway), when that same Lord continued His self-revelation through giving His Law, again the people, His chosen people, hid.  They wanted Moses to deal with God for them.

In what ways are we doing the same thing today?  During the time that the Bible was being written, those who wanted to follow the Lord were dependent on others, prophets, apostles, and others to whom God spoke directly.  They were dependent on circular letters that apostles wrote.  By the end of the first century the gospels and epistles were treated as a whole.  By the end of the second century all but 3 John had been quoted as Scripture.  By the end of the fourth century the books we have now are widely mentioned and recognized.

The point?

For the last 2015 years we have had the Word of God.  Now in our time, we have unbelievable access to that Word.  I have 27 different physical New Testaments.  I have over 3000 books about the Bible on my computer.  I have a program that will tell me all of the Greek or Hebrew words that are in any passage.  I can export that list to Excel and sort it anyway that I wish.  I can point at any word in the text with my mouse and find out the part of speech, the pronunciation, and with another click, get a hyperlinked list of all of the resources in my library that will give me insight into the development and use of that word.

That does not begin to address the resources we have on the internet.  There are free programs available that will do much of what I just described.  Further there is an uncountable number of messages ranging from extraordinary to heretical available in our browsers.  In church many are no longer carrying a Bible because they use the app on their phones.

So with all these incredible resources we should have incredibly Biblically literate believers, right?

I work primarily with leaders.  Both here and overseas.  That is not the case.  Many if not most of the pastors that I have worked with overseas spend more time reading books about the Bible to craft their messages than spending time in the Word of God.  Many download messages that others have given and share those.  Why?  They do not know how to study the Scripture, or do not have confidence that they are able to do so with any degree of accuracy.

If they do not know how, will the people in their communities?

The answer to that should be obvious.

I have had members of good, no great, churches tell me that they do not want to study the Bible for themselves, it’s too much work.  They want someone to tell them what it says, what to believe.  They are committed to allowing others talk to God.  Like the Israelites at Sinai hid behind Moses, to a great extent aren’t we, those of us who are not personally engaged in the Word, hiding behind pastors and teachers?

If this isn’t true of you, awesome!  If it is and it’s because no one has shown you how, let me know, I will.

That is what gets me out of bed in the morning.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Waiting

I am not patient.  As a pilot I was trained to think quickly, precisely, and then to act immediately.  That does not translate well into life outside of the cockpit.  Further, it does not translate well into following the Lord.
Waiting
Psalm 27:4 (here @ Bible Gateway) was the first passage I ever memorized.  Later I memorized all of Psalm 27 (here @ Bible Gateway).  Psalm 27:13 (here @ Bible Gateway) is one of my wife’s favorite verses.  Psalm 27:14 (here @ Bible Gateway) is one of those verses that I love but are a consistent challenge to walk out in my life.

Waiting and impatience are not compatible bedfellows.

Yet, throughout the Word we are called to wait.  Consider this list (click here).

Look at the advantages of waiting:

  • Salvation
  • Strength and Courage
  • Rest
  • Inheritance
  • Honor
  • Hope
  • Favor
  • New Strength
  • No Shame
  • The Goodness of the Lord
  • Being Heard by the Lord
  • His Return

So even for one like me who is not patient and has been trained to act quickly, the lesson is clear.  I am to wait on Him.

Friday, August 3, 2018

People not Parchment

In the past several weeks issues have surfaced at churches, with individuals, and with groups concerning what is right or correct in either our understanding of what our Lord requires, or our understanding of what the Bible says.  One could describe these as doctrinal or theological issues.
People not Parchment
I have seen a myriad of ways in which people have attempted to address these types of issues.  In some cases organizations craft detailed doctrinal/theological position papers by which they attempt to define and control the understanding of those involved in said organization.  Others will have seminars or classes to teach what they believe.  Some will share a message or series of messages intended to “correct” misunderstanding of one or many facets of the group’s theological understanding.

From a Biblical point of view I am not sure that any of those are effective means of transmitting either correct doctrine or understanding of the Scripture.

In the past year or so, in four different Bible studies, the books of 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus have been the focus.  In each study the three books were studied as a unit.  The idea was to look for common themes, directions, or suggestions which Paul shared with his protégés.

At the beginning of each book it is clear that one of the major issues Paul addresses is the engagement of his key men with false teaching and false teachers.  Throughout the three books there is a consistent call to engage and refute false teaching.

In several of Paul’s epistles, he explicitly calls his readers to imitate him (click here for a list of references), implicitly in 2 Timothy, he exhorts his closest coworker to do so (2 Timothy 2:2, 3:10 – 13 (here @ Bible Gateway)).

So what is Paul’s charge to Titus and Timothy?  How does he exhort them to combat false teaching and false teachers?  There is much in these three books that is worthy of our attention concerning this crucial aspect of leadership, much more than can be addressed here.  There is one aspect of Paul’s instruction to which he invests proportionately more of his exhortation, which is to invest in the equipping of others in the truth.

In all three books Paul gives explicit instructions on the types of men Timothy and Titus are to select, and the importance of building into them the truth that was to be preserved.

In 2 Timothy 3:10 – 13 (here @ Bible Gateway), Paul exhorts Timothy to follow Paul’s example.  If you scan through Acts 16 – 20 (here @ Bible Gateway) you quickly pick up what it was that Timothy experienced as he accompanied his mentor for six and a half to seven years in their journeys around the Mediterranean.

Paul’s answer to how to deal with false teaching, seems to be to invest in people not parchment.  That is, rather than writing down what is the true doctrine, impart it, entrust it into the lives of those whom you are called to serve.

For those of us who are fathers, that certainly includes our wives and children and if we have them, grandchildren and the spouses of our children.  But it also include anyone in our sphere of influence.  We are called to put His Kingdom, His Truth, first in our lives.  That suggests that we are to make the proclamation and transmission of those our first priority.

I need to do better at this.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Running out of Time, Part 3

I’ve been sharing some thoughts on the shortage of time we all have, this is the third post so far…  The last one suggested that there are some other considerations other than how much time we may have left that inform our actions…
Running out of Time, Part 3
In one of my weekly studies we are studying the Thessalonian epistles as a unit.  One of the observations, or better, things that challenged me in that study in the last weeks was the emphasis that Paul placed on the second coming of Christ.  In 1 Thessalonians 5:1 – 2 (here @ Bible Gateway), Paul states that he knows that the Thessalonian believers already know the truth about the second coming of Christ.  There are several important implications of that statement, but for my purpose here I want to focus on one in particular. 

Paul, as one of the first things that he shared with new believers was the reality of Christ’s return.  We know that because of the record in Acts 17:1 – 10 (here @ Bible Gateway).  Paul was only in Thessalonica for about three weeks, possibly only two.  Yet in 1 Thessalonians 5:1 – 2 (here @ Bible Gateway) he states that he knows they already are aware of Christ’s return.  Thus, he must have covered that topic with them.

This is important, probably for several reasons, primarily because of what Peter tells us in 2 Peter 3:11 – 16 (here @ Bible Gateway), we are to be diligent to live in light of Christ’s return.  Here, in the western church, we do not normally live with that in mind.  The ease of our lifestyle, the benefits our economy, insulates us from the difficulties that many, if not most, of our brothers and sisters face on a daily basis.  As a result we do not hunger for His return.  We are comfortable in this world as it is.  Peter, though, tells us we are to be diligent to be found by Him prepared for His return. 

If you knew He was coming today, how would that change what you do, your attitudes, your choices?  In Matthew 25:1 – 13 (here @ Bible Gateway), Jesus uses the parable of the 10 virgins to emphasize that we are to be always alert, always ready for His return.  In this culture, we are concerned about many things.  We are terminally busy.  We are caught up in living a comfortable life and all that entails.  We are concerned about politics, national, local, school, and church politics.  We are working to get the best life we can for our families.

I have heard, read, and know people who have focused on really getting down to the business of the Lord in the second half of their life.  Two thoughts, first, that seems to be counter to Christ’s explicit instructions in Matthew 6:25 – 34 (here @ Bible Gateway), we are to seek His Kingdom – first.  Second, we do not know when He is returning, the Scripture tells us that we will never know.  Should He return before we have decided we are ready to seek His Kingdom first, how then will He respond?

There may be one more of these before I summarize… We’ll see…

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Running out of Time, Part 2

Yesterday I shared some of my thoughts since our last trip to MD Anderson.  In the next however many posts, I want to explore some of the implications of the realities that we all face.
Running out of Time, Part 2

Psalm 90:12 (here @ Bible Gateway) tells us that we are to number our days so that we can present to Him a heart of wisdom.  For most of us, it is difficult to consider or think through how much time we have left.

Earlier in the same Psalm we are told that we will live for 70 years or if we are strong, 80 (verse 10 (here @ Bible Gateway)).  In about a week and a half, I will be 68.  Now if I were to go by the Waldenstrom’s Macroglobulinemia Foundation (the type of cancer I have) I have about 11 years after diagnosis which was 2015, so based on that metric I have 8 years left, 76.  There may be more time, they are making strides every day.  Further that is an average, could be more or less and it is the type of cancer that some never know they have.

When I consider those numbers several things come to mind.  The first is how can I maximize the utilization of my gifts in the tasks that the Lord has given me in the time that it seems I have left?  Isn’t that the implication of Psalm 90 (here @ Bible Gateway)?  That we are to intentionally follow Him with all of our heart and soul and mind and strength to the end of our days?

However, there are other considerations should color our responses to these exhortations in Psalm 90 (here @ Bible Gateway).  On that, next post.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Running out of Time

This week I had a checkup at MD Anderson.  The typical stuff was the 24-hour urine collection, always a hit, and blood work.  The new thing was a PET Scan.  The purpose of all this was to see how or if the cancer had progressed to the point that treatment was appropriate.
Running out of Time
Wednesday my wife and I met with the doctor to hear and review the results.  We discovered that yes, the cancer had grown, but not enough to warrant treatment.  The new thing that was a surprise, there was a spot on my left lung that had lit up.  It is too small to biopsy and it did not light up much but it seems to be there.

Yesterday I was chatting with a friend in another country.  He asked how things were going and I shared all of this with him.  His response caught me off guard, “Oooh my, your courage is one of the things I admire about you.”

What shocked me about that response was his attributing courage to this situation.  I don’t see it that way.  I think that I shared earlier that when I first heard about having cancer my initial response was, “Hmm, that changes things.”  Followed closely by, “No, Psalm 139:3 (here @ Bible Gateway) was true yesterday, it still is today, this is just another part of the path.  This just changes the logistics.”  As it has turned out thus far, the logistics have changed but are not too difficult.

Further Psalm 139:16 (here @ Bible Gateway), informs me that all my days were set before I started this journey.  Matthew 6:27 (here @ Bible Gateway) and Luke 12:25 (here @ Bible Gateway) inform me that there is nothing that I can do to extend that time by even an hour.  Psalm 49:8 – 13 (here @ Bible Gateway) tells me that it is foolish to try.

So it is not so much courage as trust.  It is my conviction that the Word of God is accurate, reflecting the thoughts, nature, and character of the Lord.  It was committed to us in its current form by the Holy Spirit inspiring men to write the words that we read.  Yes, I know that applies to the original autographs which we no longer have.  However, I have studied enough Hebrew and Greek as well as text criticism to know that what we do have is very close to those autographs. 

So, I trust it.  I trust Him.  So, what do we do with all of that?  ...More on that tomorrow...

Friday, June 15, 2018

Creating Cripples, Part 3

In the last two posts, we have considered how people are trained, equipped to successfully carry out the responsibilities of their work.  Whether it be a professional, such as a doctor, lawyer, or accountant; or whether it be one who works as a mechanic, mowing lawns or digging ditches; all are equipped following a similar process.  They are told what to do, instruction.  Someone checks their work either as they are doing it or else after it is complete observation.  They are given feedback on how that work was done and possibly given pointers on how it can be done more effectively critique.
Creating Cripples, Part 3
The contention here is that the one place that does not happen consistently is in the Body of Christ. 

So what do we do instead?  We lecture.

Whether it be Sunday morning, Wednesday fellowship or Bible study, a small group, etc.  A pervasive pattern is that one teaches and the others listen.

So what happens if there is no one to teach? 

What happens if the pastors and teachers are all arrested and either jailed or executed?  That does happen.

What happens if you are not able to go down to the local Christian bookstore and purchase a commentary on a book of the Bible?  In much of the world that is not possible.

If all we do is proclaim the Word, teach from a lectern, a chair, a book that leads someone through a study that we have already done, or have them watch a video on a device, then we are not equipping them to stand on their own in the Scripture.  Those whose only input is what has been described, are not able to open their Bible and with a blank sheet of paper and a pen begin to successfully study God’s Word.

Teaching a person this way makes that person dependent on more of the same teaching.  In a real sense that dependency has crippled their ability to independently walk with God.

If I am reading the Great Commission correctly, Matthew 28:18 – 20 (here @ Bible Gateway); Luke 24:46 – 49 (here @ Bible Gateway); John 17:18, 20:21 (here @ Bible Gateway), and 2 Timothy 2:2 (here @ Bible Gateway) – and at a significant level the passage we started this with, Ephesians 4:11 – 16 (here @ Bible Gateway).  Then it is the responsibility of leaders not to share what they know, necessarily, rather, it is to equip those to whom the Lord has called them to serve to be able to learn what they know through personal engagement in the Word of God.

To do otherwise, it seems to me, is to perpetuate the creation of dependent cripples in the Body of Christ.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Creating Cripples, Part 2

Two days ago I suggested that we are not doing well as a Body in equipping the saints for the work of service, Ephesians 4:11 – 16 (here @ Bible Gateway).
Creating Cripples, Part 2
I used the example of pilots, doctors, engineers, and accountants as examples of how people are equipped for their professions.  I closed the last post by suggesting that professionals are not the only career paths that are equipped in the way I described, essentially instruction, observation, critique.

Consider any job, any task that is performed for a wage.  Regardless of its complexity, the one who performs it will be told what to do, their work will be checked, and they will be given feedback on how they did.  Whether they are a mechanic or a garbage man, that process will be followed in some form.

Now ask yourself, when was the last time that happened with you in your community of faith.  Let’s consider a simple basic of the Christian life.  Say, having a consistent devotional.  Were you shown how to do that, instructed?  Did someone do it with you to show you how, instruction?  Did someone ask or sit with you to see how you were doing your devotional, observation?  Did they give you encouragement or suggest ways to make your devotional more effective, critique?

Yes?  You are in a significant minority.

No?  Your experience is normal.

If we are not equipping in this manner, what then are we doing and how is it working out?

We will consider that in the next post.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Creating Cripples

One of, if not the core, passages in Ephesians (here @ Bible Gateway) is Ephesians 4:11 – 16 (here @ Bible Gateway).  In no uncertain terms, Paul declares the purpose of leadership in the Body of Christ.  It is not to do the work of service, ministry, rather it is to equip those in the Body, the saints, for that ministry.
Creating Cripples
How are we doing on that?

Much of what I have experienced in the western church has been lecture based.  Whether it be a Sunday morning message, a Sunday school, a Wednesday night meeting, or a small group, there is often one who shares and the others either listen and take notes or else respond to what he says.

That seems to be what serves as equipping in the minds of many leaders.

However, I am willing to wager my next year’s wage (truthfully, not a big wager) that is not the way they were equipped to earn their livelihood.

For example.  I was, for a time, an instructor pilot in the Air Force.  To train pilots we gave them a book to read (true), and then sent them out on the flight line to fly the planes (true or false?).

Should we have followed that process, we would have created multiple smoking holes at the end of the runway.  That is not the way pilots were equipped, trained to fly.  Sure they were given a book that explained how the plane worked.  They also had multiple classes that included tests on the material.  Then, an instructor gets in the plane with them, demonstrating, and walking them through each task they needed to complete to successfully fly the plane.  Then, when they were performing those tasks, the instructor would correct their mistakes as well as offer other techniques for completing the task successfully and safely.

In all of the disciplines of which I am aware be it medical, engineering, accounting, the equipping, training is similar.  Men and women are taught, they practice, and they are given feedback about what they did correctly, what they need to do to correct, and thoughts on what they could do differently to make their practice more effective.  By the way, all of their careers are called practices.

But it is not just “professional” careers that follow this model…

This is getting longer than I anticipated.  We will finish this tomorrow…

Thursday, June 7, 2018

God’s Intention

If you do not journal, you should.  Why?  To remember what our Father has done in our lives as well as the context of what He did and how you initially responded.
God’s Intention
I was just reviewing some of last year’s entries in my journal.  Last year contained a violent swirl of emotion.  Three births, two deaths.

I was reading through the entries in March.  Two months after my dad passed away and seven days prior to the birth of our fourth granddaughter.  Her mother had just been readmitted into MD Anderson, she was getting aggressive chemo, and we were in prayer for her and for the baby, not knowing how any of this was going to play out.

It was a hard, emotionally difficult and draining time.

I wrote, “He only takes us through that which makes us more like His Son and equips us for what He has us to do.”

As I read and write that, three passages come to mind.  Psalm 139:3 (here @ Bible Gateway), Ephesians 2:10 (here @ Bible Gateway), and Hebrews 12:10 – 11 (here @ Bible Gateway) – just glanced back at the journal and two of those passages are written out after what I wrote with a third, Ephesians 1:4 (here @ Bible Gateway).

What comforted us, what settled us, was the certain knowledge that the things that the Lord brought into our lives were intentional.  They were intended to shape us, to mold us, to equip us for the tasks He had prepared for us.

That was and is informed by studies we have done on God’s sovereignty and God’s love.  For us, those two attributes of God were an anchor through some very difficult times.  Reflecting on this, it occurs to me that we need to equip our children both physical and spiritual with the certain knowledge of both God’s sovereignty and love.

It seems to me that is what will equip them to navigate the painfully difficult paths of this life.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

For Your Sake

Have you ever done something really good in order to get noticed?  Or have you ever wanted to know how you performed as you shared something you found in the Word?  Wondered if you made an impact?  Wondered if anyone noticed?  Probably not, but you may know people who have.
For Your Sake
1 Thessalonians 1:5 (here @ Bible Gateway) is the last three clauses in one of Paul’s famously long sentences.  This one runs from 1 Thessalonians 1:2 – 5 (here @ Bible Gateway).  Three words riveted my attention this time through.  The last three in the NASB translation:

“…for your sake.”

That prepositional phrase modifies – well, I have been mentally diagraming the sentence for the past several minutes…  It either modifies “proved” or further modifies the phrase “to be among you”.  Not sure without spending a lot of time working on the structure.

The point is, Paul was not there for accolades.  He wasn’t interested in recognition for his service.  He wasn’t looking to gain brownie points from the Lord.  He was in Thessalonica for the sake of the Thessalonian people.

They figured that out.

They figured out that they should have the same attitude as the one who brought them the good news of the gospel.  So, following Paul’s example, they became an example to the surrounding areas, Macedonia and Achaia.

It wasn’t about Paul when he was engaged in equipping the Thessalonian believers.  It wasn’t about them as they shared with their neighbors.

The truth of the gospel, the incredible offer of the absolution, forgiveness of our intentional, consistent rebellion against a holy and loving God; is too valuable to tarnish with a misplaced hunger for recognition for sharing that lifeline to one who is condemned.

Yet it seems there are some who are engaged for their own credit.

Truth be known.  I have fought that internal struggle myself.  Still do.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Misled

Job 12:16 (here @ Bible Gateway) is an intriguing passage.  On the one hand, the rebuke of Job at the end of the book could call into question the truthfulness of Job’s assertion here.  On the other hand, there is other evidence in the body of Scripture that what Job says is true.
Misled
For our purposes here, we will stipulate that what he says here is the case, that both those who are misled and those who mislead them belong to Him.

That being the case, what are some implications?  One implication would be that He is in control of the misled and the misleaders.

We see this in the “trial” and crucifixion of Jesus.  The false witnesses, the high priest, Pilate, were are either misled or misleaders and yet were instrumental in bringing about the sacrifice of Christ which was necessary for the forgiveness of our sins and the restoration of our relationship with our creator.

We are to be diligent in studying, practicing, and proclaiming the truth both to our families and to those in our spheres of influence.  In that process, it will be the case that we will encounter those who are misleading or have been misled. 

Personally, I need to remember these are His.  It does not serve any purpose for me to be angry with them, James 1:20 (here @ Bible Gateway).  What I am to do, what I am directed by the Word to do is to gently correct them, 2 Timothy 2:24 – 25 (here @ Bible Gateway).  Truthfully, that is not my normal first response.  The less effective anger is what seems to be my default.

Working on that.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Ripples

Do you or did you have grand plans for your life?  How is that working out for you?
Ripples
When I was a kid, I wanted to be an astronaut.  I made it to instructor pilot in the Air Force.  Didn’t last long at that, the end of the Viet Nam war meant that overnight there was a surplus of pilots.  So I was released from my six-year commitment three and a half years in.

I came to Christ shortly after I started pilot training.  It soon dawned on me that the planes would burn, but the men in them would live eternally either in hell or in the presence of the Lord.  My focus changed.  I gave up the idea of flying reconnaissance and instead chose to be an IP so I could be around the men who were helping me in the Christian life.

When I left the Air Force I moved into the basement of a Navigator rep’s house and begin to work as a cost engineer and to help him start the ministry at UAB.  I had no idea how to do that.  A year and a half into that project I married my female counterpoint in that ministry.  Shortly after we were married we moved to East Lansing, Michigan to be trained at the Navigator training center there to be collegiate staff.

Two years later we moved with the director of the training center to Knoxville to help him start the training center at the University of Tennessee.  Our first child was born there.  I had the first few of seven sinus surgeries there.  The Air Force called and asked if I wanted to come back and fly tankers; I said no.

I could go on, we were at another campus, had two more kids there.  I took at ThM at Dallas Seminary, where we had our fourth child.  I have been to Korea, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Trinidad and Tobago (multiple times), Morocco (multiple times), Nepal, Cameroon, and Togo.  We are pursuing opportunities in other African countries, and I have been asked to consider a return trip to Nepal…

My kids are all married.  They all, but the youngest, have at least one child, the youngest has a dog.  One of my son’s wife passed away several months after she had her child.  My parents and my wife’s parents have all gone home to be with the Lord; we buried her father last Sunday.

When I reflect on this, nothing has really turned out as planned.  In the process of this journey thus far, my wife and I have encountered and been in various depths of relationships with hundreds if not thousands of people.

It is impossible, or perhaps better, impractical to measure the impact we have had.  We had hopes, plans, vision, but those all changed.

At some level, some significant level, it feels as if we are pebbles that have been cast into a pond.  The impact creates ripples.  We do not see how far those ripples spread.  We do not see the impact or result of the ripples.  In a real sense we didn’t cause the ripples.  The one who cast us into the pond did.

Our responsibility is to trust and abide in the one who cast us into the pond.  There are days that that is easier than others.

I’m not an astronaut, I’m a pebble…

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Death Unnatural

My father in law is dying.  His will be the fifth death in our family in the last couple of years.  He is 93, His wife was 91 when she passed.  My dad was 94.  One of the deaths was a miscarriage; one was a new mother of 32 years. 
Death Unnatural
People will say about my wife’s parents and my dad that they led a full life and that their deaths in their 90’s were normal.  They do not say the same thing about my daughter in law or the miscarried child.

The facts are though that death is not normal.  It was never meant to be our experience.

In Genesis 2:16 – 17 (here @ Bible Gateway) the Lord commanded that Adam not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  The Lord promised that in the event that Adam did this, he would surely die.  In Genesis 3:19 (here @ Bible Gateway), after Adam had disobeyed the direct command of the Lord, He fulfilled His promised result, “…you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

Death is the result of the fall of the race; sin.  It may not be a particular sin in the case of a person.  But, the fact that we are human, descendants of Adam, whose nature changed when he disobeyed, we will experience death.

That is one of the reasons that we grieve so deeply.  At a core level, we know that it is wrong.  I watched life leave my father.  It was obvious that he was no longer there.  We talk of dying with dignity.  There is no dignity in death.  It is a result of our condition as sinners before a holy God.

The great news is that we have been offered a remedy.  Christ died for us to pay for our sin.  That allows us the opportunity to be restored to the life we were meant to live.  To have eternal life with Him.  We will still, should He delay His return, go through this physical death to be sure.  However, if we trust Him, if we choose to follow Him, we will receive the gift of eternal life in His presence.

What we experience here was not the intention.  What we can experience through Him is the gift.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Continually Stunned

The workshops that the Lord has allowed me to conduct over the past 10 years focus on 2 Peter (here @ Bible Gateway).  Depending on the amount of time that is scheduled we cover from one to seven methods of investigating the text.  In the process of interacting with those who are participating in the various workshops, one of the points I share is that even though I have the book memorized, have read it more times than I can count, and have studied it over a hundred times, still, every time I read it, come to its pages, I see something I missed previously.
Continually Stunned
This morning 2 Peter 1 (here @ Bible Gateway) came up in the reading plan I have been following for the past three years.  True to form, the Lord showed me something I had never seen before.  This time, however, I did not make it much past the first 4 verses (here @ Bible Gateway); which depending on how the version you read deals with the Greek, is the first couple of sentences Peter pens to the recipients.

What I saw is not the point.  The fact that I saw it, that it was new to me after so much engagement and exposure to this letter is.  As I turned to the book I wondered if, in fact, my experience of seeing something new would again hold true.  As I shared, I didn’t make it past the first two sentences.

In Psalm 119:18 (here @ Bible Gateway), David prays that the Lord would open his eyes so that he could behold wonderful things from the Law, His Word.  That’s the point.  This Book, the Bible, is unique.  Inspired by the Holy Spirit, revealing the nature and character of God, with unfathomable layers of knowledge of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

I am continually stunned at its depth.

Dive in.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Giving Up

Giving Up

Mark 15:1 – 15 (here @ Bible Gateway) is painful to read.  The last verse particularly.

Pilate was pressured by the crowd to give up Jesus.  To satisfy them, to get them off of his back, he surrendered Jesus.

We are pressured daily to follow Pilate’s example.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Purpose of Pain

I have shared of late about some of the painful things our family has experienced over the past almost two years.  Just now, I am reviewing a journal entry from February 2017.  It was a response to Genesis 45:5 – 9 about which I wrote a couple of posts back.
The Purpose of Pain
If it is the case that God is sovereign.  If it is the case that He has scrutinized my path and knows all that I am thinking before I think it, Psalm 139:1 – 5 (here @ Bible Gateway).  If it is the case that He disciplines me in order to make me more like Him and His Son, Hebrews 12:10 (here @ Bible Gateway).  If it is the case that He has work that He for which He has designed me, which He established prior to the foundation of the world, Ephesians 2:10 (here @ Bible Gateway).  Then, it follows that all that He has brought into my life was intentional, purposeful, to equip me for that work.

In that journal entry, I listed 14 events that changed the course of my life and significantly impacted both my walk with Him and my understanding of the Word, myself, people and mission or ministry.

While there are many more that could be listed, and there are lessons ongoing, as I consider what the Lord has on my plate now, I can see how each of these events has conspired to prepare me for the current tasks.  At least seven of the events were deeply painful, they involved separations, betrayals, and relocations.  Some, including the painful events, were deeply confusing and disorienting.  Some removed “settled” life directions, and rattled deeply held convictions.

Now, as I ponder the list on the pages of my journal, as I consider how in the past few years I have drawn deeply on and from lessons that I can identify from each of these events on an almost daily basis, I can begin to see the sovereign hand of our sovereign, loving, faithful Lord shaping, pruning, and guiding through all of those to bring me here.

It reinforces for me that I can trust Him with all that will come next to continue to move and shape me into what He wants.  The reason that is important for me to remember, is that based on the past, some of those coming events will not be something for which I would gladly and quickly volunteer.

I am beginning to understand Hebrews 11:6 (here @ Bible Gateway).

Monday, May 14, 2018

Abiding Pain

Yesterday was mother’s day.  Jenny lost her mother last year to a stroke, mine passed away about 10 years ago, the result of a fall.  Yesterday was painful.  But it wasn’t because of our mothers.
Abiding Pain
Yesterday our one-year-old granddaughter was dedicated at my son’s church.

Her mother died last November after a 14 month battle with cancer.  Her daughter was born five months into that battle.

Both of the extended families live here.  All but 5 were at the dedication, so 29 adults and children.  The pastor charged the parents of the children and then the assembled congregation.  He then invited those who wanted to pray for a family to come forward.

The first person at my son’s side was the senior pastor of the church.  All 27 of the rest of us were next as well as a number of those who have been walking with my son through this past year and a half.  I was in tears.  Frankly, I had been most of the morning.  So was most if not all of the 29.

After we went back to our seats.  The pastor departed from what he was going to say to speak to my son’s situation.  The church and many around the world prayed for the baby as her mother was getting chemotherapy.  We prayed that the Lord would protect her from the effects of the chemo.  So far, it looks as if that prayer was answered in the affirmative.

The pastor said she was a miracle.  She is.  But, in fact, all children are…

The pastor commented on the support my son is getting from both sides of the family.  He is… He is also being supported by those in the med school and the practice where he is completing his fellowship.

All of us, the 34 in the family and those in the church body, know the truth.  We know that my son’s wife is in the presence of the Lord.  We know also that our current lives are a vapor.  We know that soon, very soon, we will be with her.  But more importantly, we know that we will be with the Lord.

We grieve, we deal with the abiding pain, but as Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 4:13 (here @ Bible Gateway), we grieve, we walk through the abiding pain, in hope.  For, as Paul reminds us in 1 Thessalonians 4:14 (here @ Bible Gateway), this life is not the end.

It still hurts.  We still weep.  At times the ache is deep.  But, the hope is real, the hope sustains.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Dealing with the Curve Balls of Life

Do you ever reflect on difficult times in your life?  Situations where you were betrayed by one you considered a close friend?  Times when you may have experienced a strained relationship to the point it has been permanently broken?  Or perhaps the loss of a job unexpectedly?
Dealing with the Curve Balls of Life
How do we handle those types of things in a manner that glorifies our Lord?

Joseph may give us a clue.  Read through Genesis 45:5 – 9 (here @ Bible Gateway).  Note especially how Joseph describes his being in Egypt.  He attributes the fact that he is in Egypt not to his brothers selling him into slavery, but to God moving him to Egypt for the purpose of the preservation of his family.

He looked for and saw the hand of God in the suffering he endured for a purpose which at first he did not understand.  However, it was the integrity of his trust in God that led him to understand the purpose of what was happening to him.

I do not suggest here that we will always understand what God has or is taking us through.  I am still processing the last two years.  So far I have no clue.  However, events that happened 30 years ago are becoming clearer and clearer.  Devastating, life-altering events then, are proving to be the foundation of much in which the Lord is assigning us now.

The key lesson for me in considering Joseph’s story and attitude is that in whatever I am experiencing, I must continue to trust my loving, gracious, sovereign Lord.  I must trust that He is acting in line with His purposes and character.  I may eventually understand; I may not.  Regardless, I am to trust.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Credit

You remember the story of Joseph.  He was sold by his brothers into slavery.  Yet became the manager of the house of his master.  Thrown into jail when the master’s wife lied about him; because of his character, the chief jailer put him in charge of the other prisoners.
You remember the story of Joseph.  He was sold by his brothers into slavery.  Yet became the manager of the house of his master.  Thrown into jail when the master’s wife lied about him; because of his character the chief jailer put him in charge...More at DTTB.
Two of the king’s servants, the cupbearer and the baker were jailed because they did not please Pharaoh.  They had dreams which Joseph accurately interpreted, much to the pleasure of the cupbearer and dismay of the baker.

Two years later Pharaoh has a dream and the cupbearer tells him about Joseph interpreting his and the baker’s dream.  Pharaoh calls for Joseph and asks him if he can interpret his dream.

Joseph has been in jail for at least two years; more likely three or more.  He had been unjustly incarcerated.  He had helped the cupbearer but it took the cupbearer two years to speak up for him.  He is called before Pharaoh who has the power to release him or else make his life more difficult still.

Yet when Pharaoh asks if Joseph can interpret his dream – well, read Joseph’s answer for yourself, Genesis 41:16 (here @ Bible Gateway).

Joseph gives the credit to God.

Now consider Paul.  He has been smeared by the Judaizers, by the “super-apostles”, his teaching has been trivialized.  So he is having to write back to a place at which he sustained significant ministry to reprove that group of believers and at some level to defend himself.  Read 1 Corinthians 15:10 (here @ Bible Gateway).  Paul, says he labored more than others, but it wasn’t him, it was the grace of God working through him.  Paul, like Joseph, is giving credit for his work, his effort, to God.

I tend to want to take credit for what I do.

But, the reality is that whether you like him or not when Rush Limbaugh declares that he has “talent on loan from God,” he’s is in good company with Paul and Joseph.

Jesus reinforces this, does He not?  John 15:5 (here @ Bible Gateway), “apart from me you can do…” a little?  Great things?  Some things?  The stuff that doesn’t matter?  No, “nothing”!  Zip.  Zero.  Zilch.  Nada.

But, there are times I take credit…  Pathetic.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Don’t Speak, Listen

In Mark 9:5 – 7 (here @ Bible Gateway) we encounter Peter once again.  He had just seen the glorified Christ and was speechless, did not know what to say…So he spoke…  Peter’s default position was to say…  Whether he knew what he was talking about or not, he spoke.  He felt the need to fill all of the breaks in a conversation.
Don’t Speak, Listen
God’s instruction to Peter, was to listen to Jesus.  Don’t speak listen.

There are many times that I felt overwhelmed by a situation.  Overwhelmed but pressured to speak to whatever issue was being discussed.  I have been in conversations where it became obvious that one or more parties did not understand or comprehend whatever issue was being discussed but still tried to dominate the conversation either by seeming to talk without breathing or else increase the volume of their sharing to drown out any challenge to their position.

I am learning that silence when I do not understand is a much better choice.  The certain reality we face is that there is much about God that we do not and frankly cannot know.  There are things that He does that we cannot explain.  Some, though, still try.

It is much better to keep our mouths shut, pray, and listen to God’s answer rather than stating our position more forcefully.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Forgetting about Food

In Mark 8:1 (here @ Bible Gateway) we read about the beginning of the feeding of the 4000.  While I am aware that in John 6 (here @ Bible Gateway), Jesus rebukes the crowd for following Him for the wrong reasons, there are, I believe, some things we can learn from the people, the 4000+ who had gathered to hear the Lord.
Forgetting about Food
These people were intent on hearing, being in the presence of, Jesus.  They wanted to hear Him.  They were so intent, so captivated, that they did not bring any food, they did not plan, they just came.  The Lord was so compelling that they stayed for three days.

Not all of them were redeemed.  While they were enthralled here and when He came into the city, they soon turned on Him demanding His crucifixion.

But their hunger to hear, to be in His presence challenges me.  It forces me to ask when is the last time that I lost interest in food just because I was in His presence, much less for three days.  Hasn’t happened.

There is probably more that we can learn from this, but being convicted already I will stop there.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Maintaining Integrity

Job 4:3 – 8 (here @ Bible Gateway), is an accurate description of many people.  In this case, it was not.  Eliphaz was declared incorrect by a fairly reliable source, God.
Maintaining Integrity
The passage, however, got me thinking about some of our responsibilities as believers.  The thinking took me to 1 Thessalonians 5:14 (here @ Bible Gateway) and Psalm 139:23 – 24 (here @ Bible Gateway).

Two things filtered out of this exercise.  The fact that someone has invested in ministry or has had an impact on people’s lives does not guarantee that people will, carte blanche, consider that the person has integrity.  Nor, does it mean that the one who has had this impact actually has integrity.

We have to continually come before the Lord to be searched and prodded by Him.  Our hearts are to be concerned with what He thinks about us.  We are not to consider other peoples’ opinion over His.  Thus if He validates our integrity while others question it, we rest in His evaluation.

However, if we are considered one of integrity by the masses, and He points out that we fall short in that area, we have work to do, things to change.

It is His evaluation that matters.  We have to continually come before Him, the word abide comes to mind, so that we can walk in integrity through His strength.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Invalidating the Word of God – Again

I have written about this before.  There is an ever-increasing list of passages that I find personally challenging and troubling.  The list is long and they are passages that seem to penetrate my attitudes and actions showing them to be lacking in some major way.
Invalidating the Word of God – Again
Mark 7:8 – 9, 13 (here @ Bible Gateway), is hovering around that list.  The indictment Christ serves to His listeners is stark in its clarity and implications.  They have placed and consider their tradition as more important than the Word of God.

I have seen this with groups of people going through our workshops.  They share practices that are common, traditional, in their congregations for which, as we begin to observe the text of the Bible, they can find no support.

Seeing that in those people, alerts and warns me to the reality that I may be doing the same thing.  I am becoming more and more aware of things believers say; practices we hold dear, teach, and recommend that frankly cannot be supported by scripture. 

It scares me.  I do not want to hear from the Lord that I have invalidated His Word.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Rootless

One of the passages of Scripture that I love, to which I continually return, is Mark 4:1 – 20 (here @ Bible Gateway).  You know it as the parable of the sower or the parable of the soils.  The parable shows up in Matthew 13:1 – 23 (here @ Bible Gateway) and Luke 8:4 – 15 (here @ Bible Gateway) as well.
Rootless
I am particularly drawn to Mark 4:16 – 17 (here @ Bible Gateway).  Jesus is explaining the parable to the disciples.  He tells them that those who fade away in the midst of affliction or persecution “have no root in themselves.”

Why do they fade?

So I begin to consider how a root functions.  Not being a botanist, this is by observation and experience in cultivating a garden and landscaping around our different houses.  It seems to me that there are at least two functions the root of a plant serves, anchoring the plant and feeding the plant.

Living in Oklahoma I have seen the result of severe storms on vegetation, particularly trees.  Those with shallow root systems do not withstand the strong winds of thunderstorms or tornados.  Plants that do not have deep roots wither and die in the midst of the heat of the summer.

It is the second function, the feeding of the plant though that really has captured my attention.  The Lord has given me the privilege to work to equip pastors and leaders in Bible study over the past several years.  One would think that would not be necessary.  However, my experience has been that many, if not most, of those who speak or lead, are not in the Word regularly for themselves.  Rather, they depend on the work of others to sustain them.

Many of those who have been through a workshop or who I have helped individually have shared that they have not been personally engaged in the Word on a regular basis.

This last weekend during one of the pastors at our church shared a similar experience that he has with some other local pastors, they were struggling to get into the Word.  He also shared that studies show that most evangelical Christians do not spend more than 5 minutes a day in the Word or prayer.

It occurs to me that those who are only receiving the Word from others have no root.  There is no depth, no ability to process life Biblically.  One has to have the ability to do so.  Otherwise, as Christ said, they will immediately fall away when things get hard.

If you need help with this.  Let someone you know, a pastor, or a teacher you respect, know.  In lieu of that let me know.  I will help.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Simple Faith

My third granddaughter was born blind.  After some months and an operation, she is now able to see.  In the past few months though she has begun to have trouble again.  One eye is not tracking as well as it has been.  So twice a day she wears a patch over one of her eyes to help correct that condition.  She will likely have another surgery.
Simple Faith
Jenny and I are keeping her, her sister, and one of her brothers this weekend.  This evening before they went to bed I read them two stories out of the Read Aloud Bible Stories vol. 1, The Man Who Was Too Little and The Man Who Couldn’t See.  The granddaughter who was born blind – she’s three – asked for the second.

After we read the story Jenny asked her if she thought that Jesus could heal her eyes.  She responded He does every day.”

We prayed that He would continue to do so.

I was reminded of the faith of a child.  It was matter of fact.  He takes care of me.  Not an issue. 

Makes me wonder when and why we start making things so complicated.

By the way, there are now 5 volumes of the Read Aloud Bible Stories.  We have just about worn ours out.  We used them with all of our kids.  We have given them all sets to use with their children.  We read them to the grandkids when they are here.  Highly recommend them.  You can get them here.  I just bought Volume 5.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Renewed not Retired

Things hurt today.  Neck, back, etc.  It is probable that I am paying for things, like rugby, that I did when I was younger.  As we mature, things change, work differently or not at all…
Renewed not Retired
However, there is another perspective.

Consider 2 Corinthians 4:16 – 18 (here @ Bible Gateway).  The great news there is, though our bodies may deteriorate, the outer man, we still have growth to pursue in the inner man.  There is no end to what we can learn, what we can experience of our Lord, what we can share with others, what we can observe and apply in the Word of God.

There are no sidelines in the Christian experience.  There is no retirement.  There is no finish line other than being in the presence of the one that enables us to run this race.

That is a journey, an adventure, to which it is worth our complete commitment.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Don’t Believe – So What?

You may have read or heard in the past few days that the philosophical and scholarly paragon, GQ, has deemed that you would be better served not to bother reading the Bible.
Don’t Believe – So What?
Set aside for a minute that they have, based on Psalm 14:1 (here @ Bible Gateway), which, no doubt they have not read, proven themselves fools.  Instead, take a minute and review 1 Timothy 4:1 – 3 (here @ Bible Gateway) and 2 Timothy 3:1 – 9 (here @ Bible Gateway).  Think through how the GQ editors fit into Paul’s description of the attitude of those of “later times”.

As believers, we tend to get exercised when people reject our beliefs.  Why?  Somehow their rejections seem at some level to call into question the validity of our faith.  But this is not a new phenomenon.  Spend some time reading and pondering Romans 1 – 3 (here @ Bible Gateway).  Specifically consider Romans 3:3 – 4 (here @ Bible Gateway).

Some don’t believe?  Some don’t consider the Bible important?  So what?  That doesn’t disprove, invalidate, trivialize, or otherwise diminish God.  He doesn’t change.  Frankly, their unbelief doesn’t catch God by surprise.  He already knew.

Through the years I have had many tell me that the Bible is irrelevant.  Ok.  I share it with them anyway.  Why?  They don’t have to believe that the Bible is relevant for it to work on them any more than someone has to acknowledge the existence of a sword before it can run them through.  The sword, by the way, is that to which the writer of Hebrews compares the Word of God, Hebrews 4:12 (here @ Bible Gateway); Paul also, in Ephesians 6:17 (here @ Bible Gateway).

So people do not believe and trivialize the Word of God.  Not new.  Not unexpected.  Has zero effect on God or the value of the Bible.  Just reveals their need and condition.