The Pursuit of God

Serious Topics for Serious Christians

Category Archives: Pastors & Priests (SHEP)

Ezekiel 14: Yahweh Stands Alone

105

AUDIO VERSION: YouTube  Podbean

In our lesson Ezekiel 13-14: Yahweh Condemns False Prophets, we made our way through all of Ezekiel 13 and the first half of Ezekiel 14.  In that passage, Yahweh was focused on the issue of Jewish false prophets and the folks who were keeping them in business.  As we learned in our previous lesson, it’s a very dangerous thing to turn the concept of Divine prophecy into a game.  When we misuse Yahweh’s Name and Authority, we end up on the wrong side of His wrath. Read more of this post

2 Chronicles 6-7: Why We Shouldn’t Ask God to Heal Our Land

93

AUDIO VERSION: YouTube  Podbean

“…if My people, who are called by My Name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chron. 7:14)

Sound familiar?  This little gem could win an award for how often it is quoted in Christian circles.  Whenever the American economy takes a dip, or when our news media starts cranking out pictures of crops withering from a lack of rain, out comes good old 2 Chronicles 7:14, and a bunch of Christians start preaching that chanting these words is a surefire way to get God to give us what we want.  But is it?  Is God really talking to Americans in this passage?  Of course He’s not.  And as long as we’re pretending to care oh so much about seeking God, it would be nice if we actually listened to everything He says in this speech instead of just ripping out the one line that we find personally appealing.  Read more of this post

Delivering Tough Sermons: Help for Stressing Preachers

140

AUDIO VERSION: YouTube  Podbean

If you say certain things from the pulpit, it’s pretty much guaranteed that people are going to get huffy. When people get huffy, they get hostile, and sometimes that hostility is expressed in rather aggressive forms which you then become the unhappy target of. It is a fear of getting sniped at that causes good preachers to pretend to forget where their loyalties ought to lie in the critical moment. Instead of saying what God is commanding them to say, they do a major revision to His message and end up putting out a lot of useless, ego pleasing guff. When it’s over, no one knows the hack job they did on God’s message. No one’s angry, either, and the preachers think they’ve made a smart move by dodging a bullet. Well, the humans might be smiling, but the Creator of all things is more than a little irked. Can we really call it a victory when a man has just moved himself onto the wrong side of God’s patience? Read more of this post

Why God Performs Miracles Through Spiritual Rebels (Help for Disillusioned Christians)

139

AUDIO VERSION: YouTube  Podbean

Father Marcus is a seriously devoted priest who cares deeply about the Lord and about the souls in his flock. One of his parishioners, Maria, is newly diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. She’s suffering terribly, treatments aren’t working, and after she spends an hour weeping in Marcus’ office, he is very grieved for her and feels strongly led to give her hope that God will heal her. So he does. He tells her not to give up on the idea of receiving a miracle. Then he prays for her right then and there, lays his hands on her, and really believes that God is going to grant the healing right then. Why else would He be impressing on Marcus so strongly that Maria is going to be healed?

But when Marcus prays, nothing happens. Maria goes home. A week passes. She’s much worse and Marcus is feeling bad that perhaps he led her astray by urging her to hope for a miracle. While he’s wrestling with doubt, a well-known healer named Hank comes to town. Marcus knows that Hank is a pompous glory hog who doesn’t care in the least about honoring God. He’s even heard Hank laughing about how easy people are to dupe. Hank has gotten rich after years of conning people into giving him large sums of money in exchange for Divine healing. While Hank is in town, a desperate Maria goes over to him for healing. She drops hundreds of dollars into the offering plate, Hank picks her out of the crowd, lays his hands on her, says his usual dramatic prayer, and Maria is instantly healed. She’s ecstatic and she tells everyone how the great healer did what Father Marcus couldn’t. When Marcus finds out, he feels confused and hurt. Why would God choose to exalt a jerk like Hank and leave Marcus looking passed over? Read more of this post

Being Called by God: The Responsibility & The Risk

138

AUDIO VERSION: YouTube  Podbean

One day John’s boss calls him into his office and announces that a new position has opened up in the company. It’s a prestigious position—one which will give John a lot more clout than he currently has. John is shocked and thrilled when his boss promotes John to the new position right then and there. Now John has a new title, a bunch of new responsibilities, a new staff, a new office, and a ton to learn. Does merely receiving the promotion mean that John will be a success at the new job? Not hardly. The promotion is merely an opportunity—it’s now up to John to decide how he is going to use the opportunity. He might do great, he might turn out to be mediocre, or he might miserably tank. If his boss isn’t happy with John’s work, John could get fired. The promotion isn’t a guarantee of success or of job security. Promotions can be taken away the same way they are given, and when they are taken away, it’s bitter. It would be less humiliating for John to get fired from his low ranking job than it would to be fired from a high ranking position. His new promotion has not guaranteed his success, but it does come with extra responsibility and the threat of extra humiliation if things don’t work out.

Among Christians there is endless fuss surrounding the subject of Divine callings. Yet while we’re busy envying titles and prestige, we’re forgetting about the great responsibility and risk that come with Divine appointments. If you get iced out of a church congregation as an untitled layperson, it’s certainly a painful experience, but you can find another church where the people are less twerpy. Meanwhile, the whole community isn’t gossiping about what happened to you. But if you’re the pastor who the church board just decided to fire, there’s now a bunch of flack and embarrassment following you around and making it difficult for you to find a new position. Once you gain a reputation for being a “somebody” in the Church, you end up being the target of intense scrutiny and criticism. There’s enormous pressure to compromise, and there’s a growing mob of folks who are eagerly waiting to celebrate your demise. But beyond the human realm, there’s God. He’s the One you’re serving, He’s the One who gave you the promotion, and He is holding you accountable for how you use it. Read more of this post

Christian Prayer Groups: Why God Isn’t a Fan

122

AUDIO VERSION: YouTube  Podbean

Social bonding is an important element of any human relationship. To form positive relationships with each other, we need to spend time talking together and sharing our different perspectives. The experience of feeling listened to and empathized with is so intensely positive and uplifting to the soul that we are willing to pay counselors to provide this service for us. But it’s much better when we can find people who are willing to listen to us and care about us free of charge, and this is what makes Christian prayer groups so very popular. Read more of this post

Inside the Confessional: Are you honoring or angering God? (Guidance for Priests)

120

AUDIO VERSION: YouTube  Podbean

Spiritual rebellion is an issue that has to be worked out between each soul and God. It is God who we are rebelling against when we blow off His convictions, and until we own up to that fact and sincerely repent in the privacy of our own souls, we aren’t going to get anywhere. Read more of this post

Jesus vs. the NT Jews: What it Means to Please God

117

AUDIO VERSION: YouTube  Podbean

When Jesus showed up on earth in the form of a human being, He showed up in Israel. He came in the form of an ethnic Jew. In His 33 year long charade as a human, He lived in a Jewish society which claimed to uphold the Laws of the Torah. Judaism was the national religion of the Jews, and true Judaism is supposed to be an adherence to Yahweh’s Old Covenant. Of course Jews who promoted Judaism in the New Testament were like Christians who promote Christianity today: the religion being promoted was a far cry from what that religion is really supposed to be about. Read more of this post

Choosing the Right Priorities: How does God want us to treat our brothers?

111

AUDIO VERSION: YouTube  Podbean

“How should I treat my brother?” The common Christian answer to this classic question is “Treat others the way you’d want to be treated.” Or we might say, “God commands us to love one another.” And while these are useful guidelines to have in mind, in real life, we often need more specific instruction. What exactly does loving your brother look like? What if you currently hate him because of something he did to you? While Christians often talk as if love and forgiveness are qualities that we can just pluck off a shelf whenever we feel like it, in real life, we often find ourselves at a total loss when it comes to the resources we need to treat others as we’d want to be treated. So then what? Read more of this post

Understanding Jesus’ Sameness (Hebrews 13:8)

109

AUDIO VERSION: YouTube  Podbean

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Heb. 13:8)

What exactly does this mean? Does it mean that Jesus is some predictable Guy who never makes an unexpected move? Does it mean He never changes His mind or His mood or His current activities? Well, first we have to realize that the author of Hebrews grossly slanders who Christ is and doesn’t begin to give Him the respect He deserves as God Almighty (see Who is Jesus?). So if you’re looking for a deeper understanding of who Jesus is, the author of Hebrews really isn’t who you want to be going to. Happily, you’re not strung out on old historical documents to guide you closer to God. You have been granted direct access to God Himself, so if you want to know Jesus better, tell Him, and ask Him to guide you. Read more of this post