If you are reading this book a chapter at a time, this is where it might be important to remember that chapters and verses are editorial editions added much later to Scripture. This is important to note, because normally when we see chapters in our contemporary reading, that means we are on a whole new topic. Often within Scripture that is not the case. In this week’s chapter, we see a continuation of the vision that started in the previous chapter. Without that information, you may be prone to ask a lot of wrong questions about what is happening in chapter 9.Continue reading “The Book of Ezekiel: Ezekiel 9”
Six years into his ministry, Ezekiel is shown another vision of the Lord. This vision is of the same awe inspiring glory that Ezekiel has now already seen twice (in chapters 1 and 6). God picks him up and carries him to various places in Jerusalem, so he can see the terrible things being done by God’s people. God asks the prophet, “Young man, do you see what they’re doing, great offensive things that Yisra’el’s household are doing here, so that I shall go far from my sanctuary?” (Ezekiel 8:6, Goldingay). These things are mostly forms of idol worship: images and professing other gods. Yet after showing him the “inflammatory image, at the entrance” (Ezekiel 8:5, Goldingay), God invites Ezekiel to come in, even deeper, to see more of the evil being done.
“As the world is weary of me so am I of it”John Knox
Six times in this chapter, God asks Ezekiel if he has seen or invites him to see the evils that are in the Temple. Unfortunately, we cannot truly know or understand the problems that exist in our world without seeing them. This is not because we are unaware of the issues, but without seeing them, we have no real way of feeling them. In this chapter, Ezekiel has been on his mission for six years. I imagine that he was beginning to get weary, so God chooses to show him the evils that he and God are fighting against. God invites Ezekiel to actually look at these people. Does he see what they are doing? After he sees, what is it that he does?
In Steven Garber’s book Visions of Vocation: Common Grace for the Common Good, he asks a question over and over again “Knowing what I now know about the way the world is, what am I going to do?” This is the same question that God is asking of Ezekiel in this chapter. It is far to easy for us (the Church) to only be looking into our Bibles and thinking about God theologically. We often miss what is happening just down the street. I often find people within my own church that do not know of ways that we can interact with the world to show God’s love to it, when there is a strip club just a block away from the building. My church is even situated in an area that as one of the highest proportions of drug use in the state! Is it spiritual blindness that causes people to not see the evils of the world, or is it apatheia? When God shows you the evil things happening around you, how are you going to act? Jesus got into the mud, and walked into the most sinful places in order to love people. If we are seeking to be true disciples of Jesus, ought we do the same thing?
Man, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything on here (outside of that book review last week). Mostly this is because of school. I got very busy over the last couple of weeks trying to get all the work done I needed to, that I just didn’t have the brain space to write for this blog, for that, I apologize. Now that the school year is over, and I have a small break before my summer class begins, I think I have the opportunity to reflect on some of the ideas I have been wrestling with this past semester. Continue reading “What I’ve Been Up To”
Most people (especially Americans) live incredibly busy lives. With so many demands on our time, is it really any surprise that our spiritual lives tend to suffer? This month’s book seeks to combat that. It is The Common Rule: Habits of Purpose for an Age of Distration by Justin Whithel Earley from InterVarsity Press. This book was published in February of 2019, and I chose to take a look at it and practice during this past season of Lent. Earley is a lawyer by training, but has experience as a missionary in China. He leans heavily on his experience of living a busy lifestyle, and overcoming that with a concious decision of living his life so he did not miss the things that were most important to him. He writes this book very similiarly to how you may find a rule for a monastic lifestyle, such as The Rule of St Benedict. He takes this style and presents it with a contemporary setting so it can make sense to the average reader of how this applies to your life today. You do not have to move to a monastery or a convent to practice the rule that Earley suggests.
“Since we’re too tired to make any good decisions, we’re extremely susceptible to letting other people — from manipulative bosses to invisible smartphone programmers — make our decisions for us.”
The Common Rule is broken up into eight different habits: four daily and four weekly. All of these habits are designed to help you realize you are not God and cannot possible accomplish everything, while also focusing you on the things that matter in life. The habits are: kneeling prayer three times a day (daily), one meal with others (daily), on hour with phone off (daily), Scripture before phone (daily), conversaition with a friend (weekly), curate media (weekly), fast from something for 24 hours (weekly), and Sabbath (weekly). Earley writes chapters that explain each habit, why they are important, and how he practices it in his own busy life. However, the warning with adopting rules and habits, is that we not become legalistic. Humanity is to quick to make ideas into laws that we must live by. Earley suggests that we keep our focus on Christ and love for others, then the habits will naturally fit. He also includes and epilogue where he talks about what happens when you fail your practice. Here he shows how easy it is to slip into a mentality of giving up, but it is important to keep that focus of Christ.
“Those are the kind of habits with cultivating — little habits of love, not carried out for success, not carried out to prove who you are, but cultivated because of a longing to love God and neighbor.”
I essentially have 2.5 full time jobs, while also trying to blog, raise three childen and love my wife. I know many people probably just exlaimed and the crazy person that is writing this review, but honestly I found this book so helpful. Like other rules, you find having a set liturgy and pace to your life makes everything feel much more managable. I enjoyed the way that Earley writes about these spiritual disciplines he has been cultivating within the lives of his family and his community. The thing that I found most helpful was the Resources section at the end of the book. This is designed to be a reference guide to remind yourself of the habits, while also helping you implement them into your life. I found myself often turning to it for help in trying to figure out how to put these habits into my day. I think that this is a good book for any busy person to spend a week with. I found the content easy to get through in a week, but it can lead to a lifetime of closeness with God. Pick it by clicking on this link, and learn how to break through your busyness and lean on God.
The last couple of chapters have been discussing the oncoming punishment that the people of Israel are to recieve. This week is no different. It is rough to read about this because it seems that we may have no hope. Chapter 4-24 of Ezekiel are all about the terrible sin of the people and the punishment that is coming because of it. However, in chapter 25 hope does come. Just like our own lives, we do not know what to do when it is bad, then we find hope. This week further’s the conversation about the punishment of sin, but I think there may be a deeper lesson in this section. Continue reading “The Book of Ezekiel: Ezekiel 7”
Continuing on the same theme as the last chapter, God is declaring punishment to Israel in the week’s chapter. It’s hard to imagine why God is spending so much time on the idea of punishment for sin, but how often do we consider what sin is? Many people may feel that because of Jesus, there is no need to dwell on sin any longer. Maybe, sin is far more damaging than we really think it is. Continue reading “The Book of Ezekiel: Ezekiel 6”
This month’s book was one that I was truly happy to have read. This book came across my desk at a time when I was really down and had trouble keeping up with my faith. God seemed so far away that I felt that He truly did not care about me. Then I read this month’s book, Faith in the Shadows by Austin Fischer from InterVarsity Press. This book came out in 2018 and is designed with discussion questions in the back so you can have a small group discuss the content of this book. But what is the content?
This month’s book was one that I was truly happy to have read. This book came across my desk at a time when I was really down and had trouble keeping up with my faith. God seemed so far away that I felt that He truly did not care about me. Then I read this month’s book, Faith in the Shadows by Austin Fischer from InterVarsity Press. This book came out in 2018 and is designed with discussion questions in the back so you can have a small group discuss the content of this book. But what is the content? Continue reading “Faith in the Shadows: Finding Christ in the Midst of Doubt”
In the last chapter of Ezekiel, we saw how God had him begin his ministry. Ezekiel stood before the people of Jerusalem and behaved rather oddly, to show how God was going to punish them for their rebellious behavior. In this chapter Ezekiel gets to continue his odd behavior, but it comes with continued warning of wrath against the people of Israel. Continue reading “The Book of Ezekiel: Ezekiel 5”
I had a conversation with a professor of mine, where he asked what I thought the program was all about since I am almost done. My response was, “It helps me know how to practice my faith.” After reading a post from Richard Foster this morning, I began thinking that this may have been slightly wrong. It is so much more than merely practicing my faith, it is a total orientation of my life.
This morning I read a blog post about the future of the Spiritual Formation movement from Renovaré. Currently, one of my majors is in Christian Spiritual Formation, so naturally my ears perked up. I had a conversation with a professor of mine, where he asked what I thought the program was all about since I am almost done (graduation December 2019!). My response was, “It helps me know how to practice my faith.” After reading this post this morning, I began thinking that this may have been slightly wrong. It is so much more than merely practicing my faith, it is a total orientation of my life. Continue reading “So What is Spiritual Formation?”
In the last post in this series, we saw how Ezekiel was called by God, and what the call actually meant for him. In this week’s chapter, God continues his commands for Ezekiel’s ministry, but it does not go the way many people might expect. Rather than yelling into the void, Ezekiel is called to adopt some extreme behavior in order to show case the behaviors of God and His people. Continue reading “The Book of Ezekiel: Ezekiel 4”