Framing Faith by Matt Knisely

Framing Faith by Matt Knisely

Framing Faith by Matt Knisely

 

Framing Faith by Matt Knisely includes its purpose in the subtitle (From Camera to Pen, an Award-Winning Photojournalist Captures God In a Hurried World). The book uses the vocabulary of photography as a metaphor to describe Knisely’s Christian faith journey. He starts with a great observation about technology (54).

“Somehow all of the available technology has turned into a perceived necessity that we, for whatever reason, desperately cling to. And our dependence on it causes us to lose sight of what’s really important in life.” 

He quotes from an article written by Stephen Marche entitled “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?” Knisely uses this information to support his observation that we live in a “culture of distraction” which keeps us stimulated with things that don’t matter. (54) Knisely continues this thought as he encourages the reader to find God in “the gaps and moments of our days” (64). This is the antidote to our “busyness.” Knisely states that we build relationships by turning the devices off and sharing stories (74).

This is when the book starts to really shine. He talks about the Christian faith as our personal story in God’s story. Knisely states that stories use flawed people. God uses imperfect people. (93). Stories require authenticity. Stories require that we learn to listen (103). Distractions rob us from listen to the Storyteller. (105)

Personally, I found his story about the interview with George W. Bush interesting. Just as Presidents Bush was able to remember his name years later,(147) God also knows us by name. Knisely ends by talking about the contrast between darkness and light. He claims that darkness creates conflict (230), God’s promise is light because it reveals His truest nature (245).

The book was a nice casual read, yet it was insightful at the same time. Knisely takes a great snapshot in this book about faith. I recommend this book to people who enjoy photography and faith.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Agents of the Apocalypse by Dr. David Jeremiah

Agents of the Apocalypse by Dr. David Jeremiah

Agents of the Apocalypse by Dr. David Jeremiah

 

Agents of the Apocalypse by Dr. David Jeremiah is a book written in a unique style. Dr. Jeremiah uses a fictional future historical account of the Tribulation period. Using this literary device, he reveals how the prophecies in the Bible could happen. After each chapter which describes a scene in the future, Dr. Jeremiah shows the Biblical passages which relate to that scene. In this section, he describes how the Bible prophesies events which will take place.

The book’s fictional narrative centers around a great leader named Judas Christopher. This British prime minister eventually takes control of the entire world after a world crisis. Through this crisis, Christopher seizes the opportunity for world domination. After signing a peace treaty with Israel to solve the Middle East crisis, he develops an economic and spiritual plan to unite the world under one government. The book follows a group of persecuted Christians during this time of tribulation until the return of Jesus Christ. At the end of the book, the fictional account shows how Jesus re-establishes His reign on Earth. This fictional account does a great job of showing the intrigue and motivations which would drive a man to do what Christopher does. At the same time, the account depicts the shift in world power and opinion very clearly. The chapters that show the struggle of Christians during the tribulation are also very realistic. It ends with a very plausible explanation about how Jesus Christ will return and set up His eternal kingdom.

Although I disagree with some of the scenarios that Dr. Jeremiah describes in his fictional portrayal of the end-times (especially his one-sentence comment that the United States Congress would so easily allow the Antichrist to annex the country), I applaud his insight and effort to make the Biblical passages come alive.
This fictional account is partnered with an equally researched section concerning Biblical prophecy. After each scene in the story, Dr. Jeremiah takes us to the Scriptures to show the basis of each scene. This part of the book is solid. One is not surprised as Dr. Jeremiah has written various books on Biblical prophecy and the end-times.

For someone who wants to know more about what the Bible says about the end-times, this is a great book. The person will benefit from the fictional account that is paired with the Biblical analysis.

This review as posted for the Tyndale Blog Network. Tyndale House Publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book for review.

Nahum 1:1-7 Giving Comfort

Nahum 1:1-7 Giving Comfort

The oracle concerning Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite.” (Nahum 1:1, HCSB)

The chapter opens by describing an oracle to a city and nation. Nahum – whose name means God’s comfort, is given a vision. He is given a picture of God’s comfort. Although we may look at these verses and think they are not comforting, I assure you God is a comforting God. When we look our situation, we think about how big the problems are, and how difficult it will be to deal with them. We need to be reminded that God’s comfort is larger than our circumstances. God is in the business of giving comfort to His people.

When we compare the two prophets that spoke to the nation of Assyria in the capital of Nineveh, we see some interesting things.1 

God is the same throughout these two events. He uses two different prophets with two different messages and reaches the nation. The nation has changed over time. They have gone from an obedient to a disobedient nation. However, God never changed. His characteristics are the same.

If we look into the character of God, we will see a God who really cares for us. How does He do this? Let me share with you EIGHT characteristics of a comforting God. 

EIGHT CHARACTERISTICS  OF A COMFORTING GOD

God is a comforting God. He expresses that comfort in a variety of ways. These eight characteristics describe the way God comforts His people during a difficult time. You will remember Jonah was sent to Ninevah and he was given a message to tell the people to repent. Even though Jonah didn’t like the job, nor the audience, He obeyed God. The people repented for a time.

However, years have passed and the nation has fallen back into sin. So God sends another prophet to the same town and same nation to tell them that there will be a judgment. You may be thinking: What does this have to do with God comforting me? The first five characteristics illustrate how God comforts us by the way He acts toward our enemies and our circumstances. The last two characteristics illustrate how God comforts me in the time of my difficulties. In other words, the first five deal with the circumstances. The last two deal with how He comforts me personally.

Let’s look at these characteristics and see how God comforts us.

1. God is zealous.

The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord takes vengeance and is fierce in wrath. The Lord takes vengeance against His foes; He is furious with His enemies.” (Nahum 1:2, HCSB)

Modern translations use the word jealous. However, that is not what the word really means. God is really zealous in His comfort, not jealous. Unlike jealousy on the human plane, which unfortunately involves all the wrong attitudes (suspicion, distrust, rivalry), God’s jealousy shows itself as an eager zealousness to maintain the integrity of His own character and truth.2 Therefore, because God is a comforting God, He is jealous.

Here is a way of looking at the jealousy of God:

You see, when I get jealous it is because I am worried someone is going to take something or someone from me. Not so with God. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are completely content in and of themselves. God isn’t saying, “If I lose Jon, My whole world will collapse and I’ll be miserable.” No, God is all-sufficient. He has need of nothing. This means His love for me is not based upon my satisfying Him or my fulfilling a void in His life. Therefore, because He needs nothing, God’s jealousy is vastly different from man’s.

God is jealous not because He’s worried about His loss—but because He’s concerned about our hurt. Think of it this way: If we were at the zoo and a cobra slithered out of its cage and was face to face with my kids, I’d be very jealous for them. It’s not that I would worry that the cobra would steal them away from me or that they’d like the snake better than me. No, I would simply be concerned that the cobra would hurt them.

That’s the kind of jealousy God has. “Kids,” He says, “I’m not concerned that you’ll hurt Me but that you’ll be hurt in leaving Me. The cobra is sure to strike, so I will deal with those things that will hurt or harm you. I will take vengeance on My enemies in order to protect My children.”3

2. God is avenging.

The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord takes vengeance and is fierce in wrath. The Lord takes vengeance against His foes; He is furious with His enemies.” (Nahum 1:2, HCSB)

God is zealous for His people and He exacts vengeance against His enemies. He works for His people and He works against His enemies.

God avenges His people in the sense that He champions their cause against their enemies. He does so because He is jealous or protective of His people. While God is avenging for or on behalf of His people, He is avenging against His adversaries.4

I realize that this may sound like God does not care. However, the caring of God is to and through His people. Yes, God loves the world. However, He loves the world only when they have come to Christ.

The movie The Avengers are about superheroes who correct a wrong that has happened. A man is killed in the line of duty by the villain Loki. Iron Man says: We may not be able to protect the Earth, but we sure will be able to avenge it.

To avenge means to inflict harm in return. It is usually associated with the other person who has done harm on the defenseless or weak. God is the One who works for the weak.

3. God is “wrathful.” (Ba’al)

The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord takes vengeance and is fierce in wrath. The Lord takes vengeance against His foes; He is furious with His enemies.” (Nahum 1:2, HCSB)

The word for “fierce in wrath” is the Ba’al. This word means Lord. He is the master of everyone. So when we talk about God is fierce in wrath, we mean that He is the God we should submit to. The reason is because He has the power to avenge. He expresses His power of “angry” or fierce mastery.

Master of the house gets angry when one of the tenants does something wrong and the master is willing to punish the tenant. God has that capability. He uses it on people who don’t listen to Him.

If you are a parent, you don’t like it when the children don’t listen to you.

If you are manager, you don’t like it when the workers don’t listen to you.

If you are the owner, you don’t like it when the renters don’t listen to you.

If you are God, you don’t like it when the people who You created don’t listen to you.

That is wrathful. It does not mean however, that God blows His top. Thank God that God doesn’t blow His top. He is slow to anger.

4. God is slow to anger.

The Lord is slow to anger but great in power; the Lord will never leave the guilty unpunished. His path is in the whirlwind and storm, and clouds are the dust beneath His feet.” (Nahum 1:3, HCSB)

Haven’t you found that when your temper boils over, you always end up in hot water? I have! God is not like that. Over and over again, our Father identifies Himself as One who is slow to anger5

5. God is very powerful.

The Lord is slow to anger but great in power; the Lord will never leave the guilty unpunished. His path is in the whirlwind and storm, and clouds are the dust beneath His feet.” (Nahum 1:3, HCSB)

God is slow to anger and yet He is powerful. Isn’t that a great thing to know? Many people have great power and are slow to anger. They don’t keep their anger under control. However, God is able to keep His anger under control until it is appropriate. When He does get angry, He is very powerful and He is quick.

6. God is quick

The idea here is that God is quick with His judgment. God doesn’t wait too long to punish those who have wrong Him and His people.

When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the people slaughtered because of God’s word and the testimony they had. They cried out with a loud voice: “Lord, the One who is holy and true, how long until You judge and avenge our blood from those who live on the earth?” So a white robe was given to each of them, and they were told to rest a little while longer until the number would be completed of their fellow slaves and their brothers, who were going to be killed just as they had been.” (Revelation 6:9–11, HCSB)

The Lord is slow to anger but great in power; the Lord will never leave the guilty unpunished. His path is in the whirlwind and storm, and clouds are the dust beneath His feet.” (Nahum 1:3, HCSB)

It took Him one hundred years to get around to executing judgment against this city, and He is just and righteous in doing it. He is not going to let the wicked off. Never will He let the wicked off unless they turn to Him. Unless they accept Christ as their Savior because He paid the penalty for their sins, they will have to be judged for their sins. God is not going to let them off—He is just and righteous.6

Notice the speed of the whirlwind and the storm. See the picture of clouds rolling under the feet of God. God is a God of justice. He will punish the guilty. It will be swifter than they think.

God’s righteousness demands that the guilt resulting from sin cannot just be overlooked (Prov. 11:21; Hab. 1:13). The “wages” for sin is death (Rom. 6:23), and God cannot leave the guilty unpunished and still be righteous (Exod. 34:7; Num. 14:18; Deut. 7:10; Nah. 1:3). The only way God can forgive sin in us is to impute that sin to Christ and punish it in Him:7

God presented Him to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be righteous and declare righteous the one who has faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:26, HCSB)

God therefore has to avenge for the righteous. He has to punish the unrighteous. He is quick in His judgment of the guilty. However, in order to forgive the sin that prevents us from connecting with God, God made a way to “impute” that sin. He punished His Son instead of us.

Now the choice is on us to accept that forgiveness or to receive the punishment that we are due. Because God is powerful, He could choose to punish us. However, because He is also caring, He wants us to come to Him. Don’t look at this as a God who doesn’t care. He cares. The problem is that we don’t care to come to Him when it comes to our sin problem. It is because He is slow to anger and great in power that we have the opportunity to come to Him now.

In this chapter, we see three different ways in which God expresses His power. These three areas also reveal how God cares.

HOW GOD EXPRESSES HIS POWER

God expresses His power over nature

He rebukes the sea so that it dries up, and He makes all the rivers run dry. Bashan and Carmel wither; even the flower of Lebanon withers.” (Nahum 1:4, HCSB)

The mountains quake before Him, and the hills melt; the earth trembles at His presence— the world and all who live in it.” (Nahum 1:5, HCSB)

God  expresses His power over His enemies

Who can withstand His indignation? Who can endure His burning anger? His wrath is poured out like fire, even rocks are shattered before Him.” (Nahum 1:6, HCSB)

God expresses His power through His goodness to His people

God doesn’t just express His anger over nature or His enemies. God also expresses His power through His goodness. Notice that in Nahum 1:7, God expresses His power through His goodness. 

7. God is good.

The Lord is good, a stronghold in a day of distress; He cares for those who take refuge in Him.” (Nahum 1:7, HCSB)

When we encounter trouble, He becomes the stronghold on which we can anchor our soul. We can lean on Him.
When we are responsible with our relationship, He recognizes us. This means that He makes the distinction between who is wicked and who is just. He will not judge harshly those who are responsible with their relationship with God. Notice the relationship is a two-way relationship. God has made the way possible through Jesus Christ. But our relationship can grow through trust and obedience. When we encounter difficulties in our life, we can know for certain that God will provide.
8

By His very nature, God is good.

God is indeed good to Israel, to the pure in heart.” (Psalm 73:1, HCSB)

This verse reminds me of a verse in Psalm 107 when the Psalmist is reflecting on the goodness of God. God is good because of how He has helped and protected His people from the enemies. 

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His faithful love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord proclaim that He has redeemed them from the hand of the foe” (Psalm 107:1–2, HCSB)

8. God is caring

The Lord is good, a stronghold in a day of distress; He cares for those who take refuge in Him.” (Nahum 1:7, HCSB)

God is good and He cares for us. The word for “cares” means that He knows us. The point is that because He knows us. He is able to care for our deepest needs. He can comfort us because He knows us.

casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you.” (1 Peter 5:7, HCSB)

We can come to Him in prayer because we know that He cares for us. We can take shelter in Him because we know that He cares for us. We know He is good and He will help us.

Don’t think you have troubles simply because you’re a Christian. The unbeliever has just as many difficulties as you do. The difference is, you have access to the Problem Solver. You can turn to the Lord, the “stronghold in the day of trouble”—but he doesn’t know he can.9

God is good and comforts you. However, He also expects you to give comfort to other people. Remember that the first characteristics deal with how God takes care of our circumstances? That is why God never calls us to be “wrathful” or jealous or avenging. Only God can be this way. However, He does expect us to share how God has used His comforting characteristics and to share them with people in their time of need. It should be part of our testimony. When we share how God has been comforting to us, we are revealing God’s goodness and His caring nature through us.

1 Paul G. Apple, When God Is Your Enemy – Commentary on the Book of Nahum. November, 2006. Commentary series hosted at http://www.bibleoutlines.com. PDF found at: https://sites.google.com/a/solidrockmd.org/www/home/free-bible-commentaries. Accessed on 15 October 2014.

2 Walter C. Kaiser and Lloyd J. Ogilvie, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, vol. 23, The Preacher’s Commentary Series (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1992), 107.

3 Jon Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary: Volume Two: Psalms-Malachi (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2006), 848.

4 Elliott E. Johnson, “Nahum,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 1497.

5 Jon Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary: Volume Two: Psalms-Malachi (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2006), 848.

6 J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible Commentary: The Prophets (Nahum/Habakkuk), electronic ed., vol. 30 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1991), 23.

7 E. Ray Clendenen, “Guilt,” ed. Chad Brand et al., Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 693.

8 Jim Erwin, “Nahum 1:1-7 Our Responsibility to God.” Sermon. http://jimerwin.com/2013/08/10/nahum-11-7-our-responsibility-to-god/. Accessed on 18 October 2014.

9 Jon Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary: Volume Two: Psalms-Malachi (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2006), 849.

#theheartofgod, #theminorprophets, #givingcomfort,

m4s0n501

Hosea 1:1-2:1 How God Reveals His Purpose Through Prayer

Hosea 1:1-2:1 How God Reveals His Purpose Through Prayer

God is a working God. God reveals His work through prayer. If you want to know what God is going to do, then you have to learn to listen.
God first reveals His purpose for our personal lives.

When the LORD first spoke to Hosea, He said this to him: Go and marry a promiscuous wife and have children of promiscuity, for the whole land has been promiscuous by abandoning the LORD.
(Hosea 1:2 HCSB)

God’s first word to Hosea was about something in Hosea’s own life. Before God would speak about His grand purpose in the world, He was first going to speak about what He wanted to do in the life of the person to whom He was speaking. This means that generally when God wants to use you, He is going to test it in your personal life first. God doesn’t speak to you about how the government will change, how the world is going to end, or how great another person will be – first. Instead, God shares with you His own personal purpose in your life at that time. God will never share with you the bigger things that impact the world, until He shares with you first about what He wants to do with YOU.

God continues to test our obedience as He reveals His purpose.

So he went and married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.
(Hosea 1:3 HCSB)

Before God will reveal more in your life about Himself and His purposes, God wants to test your obedience to Him. God gave Hosea a very tough test: God and marry your unfaithful wife. Hosea passed this test. He did what God asked Him to do. Now I do not think that Hosea chased his wife down to get a word of prophecy from God. Hosea truly loved his wife. But before Hosea could be trusted to help other people in turning from their spiritual unfaithfulness, Hosea had to experience it for himself.

As will be made clear, when Hosea married Gomer, she did not give up her career as a prostitute.  It wasn’t that Hosea found a fallen woman and through love and kindness restored her to virtue.  He married a prostitute – no doubt hoping she would give up her sin and be devoted only to him – and she stayed a prostitute.

No doubt, this happened after the pattern of human nature.  When Hosea and Gomer first married, she probably promised eternal love and devotion.  She probably showed every sign of being committed to Hosea.  But after a while, and in difficult circumstances, she fell back into prostitution.  Perhaps it was out of boredom.  Perhaps it was out of a feeling of neglect.  Perhaps it was out of a sense of need.  Sadly, we share the same inexcusable reasons for our idolatry, when we prefer another god to the Lord God.

Some commentators believe this never really happened, and that Hosea is only telling a vivid story.  They think it could never have happened because God would never have a prophet marry a prostitute.  But James Boice rightly observes, “If Hosea’s story cannot be real (because ‘God could not ask a man to marry an unfaithful woman’), then neither is the story of salvation real, because that is precisely what Christ has done for us.”

But notice that God tested Hosea in not only retrieving his wife. God tested Hosea in the naming of his own children. Most fathers take the privilege of naming their children seriously. However, God spoke directly to Hosea and told him the names that he should use. In the naming of the children, God reveals to Hosea what God is going to do for the fate of His own country.

Look at the names:

Jezreel (Hosea 1:4)

What does God reveal about the people of Hosea’s country in the name of his first-born son? God says that He will end the independence streak of the nation. You need to realize that at the time of this prophecy, Israel (the northern kingdom) was very rich and prosperous. They have had some stability and the people are very well-off. In their freedom, they have decided to forget God. A very prosperous, rich, and free nation is now told that God will break their military power. Why is this important? Because the strength of a nation is revealed in the strength of their military. Look at all the great nations of history. They all had very powerful military forces. God is saying that He is going to break that. Why? Because relying on military power has diminished the need in the eyes of the people to rely on God’s power.

Freedom and independence and military strength can cause a nation, and the people in the nation, to stop relying on God’s power. Let me say it another way:

An independent, free people with a strong defense system, have little need to pray.

This problem was not just a national problem. It was a family problem. The families stopped listening to God. So in order for Hosea to have enough passion to speak to the nation about what God was going to do, Hosea would need to experience personally the independent streak in his own family. This is the reason that God told Hosea to name his first child Jezreel AFTER Hosea chased down and retrieved his wife. Gomer was being promiscuous with other men. So Hosea had to learn personally that God meant business.

Lo-ruhamah (Hosea 1:6)

God reveals to Hosea in the naming of his second child – a girl, that He will not love His people. What a name for a girl – “Unloved”.

Lo-ammi (Hosea 1:9)

God reveals to Hosea in the naming of his third child – a boy, that the people of Israel will not be His people. So the name means – “Not my people”, or more precisely – “Not my family.”

How horrible is that to name your children. Unloved and not my family. While that may sound strange, God does have a reason for these names.

Reminds me of a man I knew. He was from South Africa. He was half-German, half-South African. The first time I met him, he introduced himself as “Frieden.” A very strange name to have, even in Germany. Frieden means “peace.” And I thought to myself, why would someone name a man “Peace?” Is the father some kind of hippie? I later discovered after talking with Frieden, that his name really is this:

“Frieden mit Gott in Jesus Christus” Rousseau. Originally, the name in English is this: “Peace with God in Jesus Christ” Rousseau. Yes folks, that is his name. The father wanted other people to know about Jesus through the naming of his son. Frieden is now married with two children and had been involved in a church plant in England. He will probably end up somewhere else doing God’s work. But my point is this:

God has a point in revealing Himself through a name. In the case of Frieden, people will hear about Jesus. In the came of Unloved and Not my people, God will warn His people about their independent ways.

But notice how God reveals Himself to His people. Even though He tells His people how much God is hurt with the way they are acting, He will come and work in their lives.

God reveals three ways in which He will work in the life of the nation of Israel:

1. He will free His people without the need of weapons or armies.
2. He will later increase the prosperity of the people (very similar prophecy that God gave Abraham in his name.)
3. God will return His people from an exile.

God reveals that although there will be tough times ahead, He will still be with us.

Then the people of Judah and Israel will unite under one leader, and they will return from exile together. What a day that will be–the day of Jezreel –when God will again plant his people in his land.
(Hosea 1:11 NLT)

So God shares with Hosea parts of a prophecy. However, Hosea does not get this information in one burst. The prophecy comes in various stages. In various stages of his family life – the birth of a new child – God reveals the birth of a new part of His plan. Why is this important? Because God wants us to come to Him so that He can reveal the next stage of our lives that He wants to lead.

God doesn’t just want to give you a prophetic word about something in the far future. God wants to reveal to you how He is going to work in your own lives. At important stages of your life: birth, graduation, marriage, job change, new home, family reunion, holidays, or some other times, God wants to reveal to you something. It will be different for each of us. However, it will be personal, prophetic, and pleasing. But the purposes will only come when you get down on your knees and pray to listen to Him.

Church officials struggle to assist those with mental illness

As pastors, we need more training and resources concerning this issue. May God help us help others.
David Mandani heard voices telling him to kill himself. He was paranoid. He saw things others didn’t. He was spiraling out of control. Mandani was hospitalized but ran away. Family members found him in a park and asked police for help. He was put in an ambulance, tied down and taken to a psychiatric lockdown facility… Continue reading