The Vending Machine Approach

Vending Machine

Have you ever thought of God as a vending machine? Oh, this may not have been your conscious thought at the time, it wasn’t with me, but you believed if you behaved in a certain way the Lord would bless you with a trouble-free life or reward your service in some way. The money goes into the machine and out comes the blessing you desire or perhaps think you deserve.

That was me as a young pastor. Although I truly loved the Lord at the time, I possessed a faulty view of what it meant to walk with Him.

I expected God to bless me because of my behavior and when that did not happen I spiraled deep into despair in the midst of extreme adversity. Yes, the events in my life would have caused much distress without my faulty view of God, but my “good behavior in and blessings out” approach to walking with the Lord led to so much additional pain at the time as well as a loss of hope in my future.

As I studied the lives of several Bad guys of the Bible, I found that King Saul of ancient Israel approached God in precisely the same way. To my dismay, I discovered I was like him in many ways.

This is why I wrote Shipwrecked! There is so much insight we can gain from looking at where King Saul and other bad guys of the Bible went astray.

I also saw the danger of relying on religious behavior versus trusting God and His character. It did not end well for Saul who thought his sacrifice would deliver Israel from the Philistines rather than the God he was disobeying at the time.

This is why I wrote Shipwrecked! There is so much insight we can gain from looking at where King Saul and other bad guys of the Bible went astray. They dealt with the same emotions we feel and through their negative examples teach us the importance of not letting those feelings dictate our thoughts and actions and thereby shipwreck our lives.

For us as New Testament saints, they remind us of applying the Gospel to our everyday lives ever mindful of all the Lord has done for us in completely and forever obliterating all our many sins.

Shipwrecked! is available on Amazon.com and on the Bold Vision Books website. You can also order the book through your local Barnes and Noble book store.

A sample from my book Shipwrecked! can be found on the “Shipwrecked!” page of my blog, now titled Our Journey Home.

Please stay tuned as several exciting upgrades are on the way for my website during the next month.

What Brings Us Joy?

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Do you ever have times when a line from Scripture jumps out at you and cannot get past it in your thoughts? One morning this past week was such a time. As I was reading in Proverbs 10, the first line of verse 26 struck me in such a way. It says, “The hope of the righteous brings joy.”

Our hope brings us joy; the anticipation of Jesus’ appearing and all that He has promised us for all eternity.

It’s the specifics of our hope that inspire me when I get out of bed in the morning. They are the reason I am able to joyously look beyond the impact of aging on my body. They are the reason I still feel young at heart and enjoy silliness, laughter, and having fun. Christ has redeemed the inner me and given it eternal life. Time is irrelevant to my spirit; my inner being does not have to age along with my body.

This is why something deep inside me groans when preachers gloss over biblical references to Jesus’ appearing to take us home or when popular authors ignore the matter altogether. Are they not doing a disservice to the body of Christ by keeping the hopes and joys of their audience pinned to the things of this life? I believe so!

A glorious day of redemption is coming (see Rom.  8:23-25). It’s the time we receive our glorified bodies and experience total wholeness not only physically but also emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. It’s when we will be forever free from the very presence of sin.

I cannot wait until I have the opportunity to preach again and excitedly proclaim the joy that comes from focusing on our hope of Jesus’ return to take us home, to the place He is specially preparing for us (see John 14:1-3). What wonder awaits us when we return with Him to earth and experience the incredible joys of the kingdom?

Can we even imagine the excitement of reigning alongside Christ with physical bodies like His?

Yes, our hope should bring us incredible joy. We should be jumping up and down with excitement.

Please Note: I am going to be updating my blog soon with a new title: Our Journey Home. The emphasis will still be on a two-world perspective and include our walk with God in anticipation of unending joy and glory.

 

What’s Your Destination?

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It seemed so simple. We would send our letter and earnest check for our new home in Illinois via certified mail. Our purchase contract for our new house allowed several days for the check to arrive.

After double-checking the address my realtor had provided, I took the letter to the post office in North Liberty, Iowa on March 30. The kind young man at the counter gave me the tracking information and said our check would be at its destination in Rockford, Illinois on Monday, April 2. I felt confident the check would arrive on time.

On April 2, I entered the tracking information only to discover that our certified mail was in the small town of Wellman, Iowa. After the tracking remained unchanged for a couple days, I went back to the North Liberty post office to find out what happened.

A helpful lady at the post office discovered that our mail had gotten stuck to another piece of mail that was headed for Wellman and had ended up there as well. She assured me that my letter had been sent back to Cedar Rapids, Iowa (the main hub in our area) and would soon arrive at its destination in Rockford.

The tracking, however, remained unchanged for four and a half days. Who knows what sights and sounds of America our letter and check enjoyed during this time?

Eventually, I wrote another check this time sending it via UPS, not the post office. Because we needed to make sure it got there by April 9, our realtor said to do this so we could be certain of its arrival.

Shortly after walking out of the UPS facility, our initial mailing mysteriously showed up again on the United States Mail tracking site. It was in Palatine, IL. This brought some relief knowing it was not hopelessly lost or the check in the wrong hands. At this point it seemed likely that the title company would now end up with two checks.

Clearly, this piece of mail had a love for Iowa and just refused to remain anywhere else.

After experiencing the wonders of a couple post offices in the Chicago suburbs, our mailing inexplicably found its way back to Cedar Rapids for a third time on its adventurous journey. After that, it went back to Wellman; no one can explain why it ended up back there. Clearly, this piece of mail had a love for Iowa and just refused to remain anywhere else.

Is not this experience like so many of our hopes and expectations for this life? Despite all our anticipation, they never quite fulfill their promise or take us to the place we hoped they would.

I am not saying that all earthly hopes disappoint us, not at all. However, even when the dearest of our dreams come true for us we eventually realize they are only temporary just like the rest of our life here on this earth.

This is why our hopes for eternity can bring us so much joy and relief. A joyous and eternal destination awaits for all who know Jesus as their Savior. We will not be disappointed.

When Jesus appears, He will give us wondrous glorified bodies that will no longer be subject to the pains and aging of this life. Revelation 21:4 promises that we are headed for an eternity where Jesus “will wipe away every tear from their [our] eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore . . . .”

Unlike the check the check I sent that seemingly would have endlessly toured the Midwest never arriving at its destination, Jesus will not fail to bring His followers to their intended destination, the joyous and wondrous place He is now preparing for us. He is surely coming to take us home, perhaps very soon!

We can absolutely count on Him to fulfill our hopes beyond what we could ever imagine. He will not fail to get us to our appointed place and despite the seeming delay in His appearing, He will be on time.

What is your ultimate destination? Who or what are you counting on to get you there?

 

 

9 Stunning Prophetic Developments

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It’s only Wednesday as I write this, but I am wondering if this week will turn out to be one of the more prophetic weeks of the past decade, which has already seen many dramatic developments in regard to future things.

The Developments:

  1. This week started with Assad’s ghastly sarin gas attack against his own people that killed as many 80 innocent civilians, including many children, and left as many as 500 suffering from exposure to the gas.
  2. Israel quickly responded by attacking the Syrian air base from which Syria launched the sarin gas attack.
  3. Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, stated that the US will respond to this hideous attack by Assad.
  4. On Tuesday, a European air traffic control agency warned commercial airlines flying in the eastern Mediterranean area to be careful because a missile attack against Syria was likely in the next 72 hours.
  5. Putin warned the United States, on Tuesday as well, that they attack the United States’ interests in the area if we launched an attack on Syria.
  6. In response, the United States sent fighter jets to the Middle East. In addition, many US warships and an aircraft carrier are streaming to the area.
  7. Today, President Trump warned Russia against such retaliation against our actions questioning why Putin would align himself with that “gas killing animal” Assad. The President told Russia to prepare for a missile attack against Syria.
  8. Today, Israel warned that if Iran takes any action against her, “Israel will topple Assad.”
  9. The Jerusalem Post just reported that pro-Assad forces are emptying air bases and airports.

What Does These Things Mean?

What do these things signify? The imminent conflict has the potential to light the fuse that leads to the fulfilling of the Gog and Magog prophecy of Ezekiel 38-39. We know that Russia, Iran, and Turkey are already closely aligned just as Ezekiel prophesied 2,500 years ago; all three countries have significant forces in Syria. It would not take much for them to combine forces and invade Israel precisely as the prophet said they will do.

A counterattack by Russia against the US could possibly neutralize the military capacity of the United States in the Middle East. This would leave the US incapable of defending Israel against this invasion, which also fulfills what Ezekiel predicted. He prophesied that no one except the Lord will come to the defense of Israel when the alliance led by Gog and Magog attacks.

If anything, the imminent conflict (whether it’s limited or explodes into something much more) signifies the further setting up of the Middle East for the events leading up to the seven year tribulation. No matter what happens in the coming days, we should recognize that the tribulation looms in the near future.

What About Us?

All these things also tell us that Jesus’ appearing to take His true followers home to heaven is exceedingly close.

Many prophetic preachers of our day believe the rapture occurs before the invasion of Ezekiel 38-39. If the events of the coming days escalate into the spark that leads to this war, then how close must Jesus’ return for us be?

My wife and I are planning to move into a new home on June 1, which will be closer to family. We are understandably excited about this prospect. But as I look at the developments of the past few days, I wonder if we might be home with the Lord before then. That would be okay with us because we believe the joy of Jesus’ return will far exceed that of moving into our new home.

I am not at all making any prediction or setting a deadline as to when the rapture will occur. Jesus said we would not know the day or the hour. Many Muslims in the Middle East, including Syria, are putting their faith in Jesus as their Savior. Could Jesus be waiting for more to take that step?

Regardless, our Savior gave us many signs to indicate the season of His return and . . . we are clearly in that season. We are living in the last days, perhaps hours, of human history as we know it.

Maranatha!

 

3 Compelling Reasons for Hope

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Jesus’ tomb is empty; it’s an established historical fact. All the attacks on Jesus’ resurrection come in the form of trying to explain the vacant grave. They do this because they cannot deny the reality that His body was missing from His tomb.

However, no one has ever been able to come up with a credible explanation for Christ’s empty grave. Jesus is indeed alive!

The resurrection matters so much to our faith because if Jesus did not walk bodily out of His grave, if His body was buried somewhere else in ancient Israel, then humanity has absolutely no hope.

The reality of Jesus’ resurrection matters to our hope in so many ways!

Paul said this in 1 Corinthians 15:17-19, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. . . .  If in Christ we have hope in this life only we are of all people most to be pitied.” Do you understand what the apostle is saying here? If Christ did not rise from the dead, then our faith in Him is totally worthless and we are more to be pitied than anyone else in the world. Wow!

The reality of Jesus’ resurrection matters to our hope in so many ways!

1. The Resurrection Verifies Jesus’ Claims

I hear so many people say Jesus was a good moral teacher, but they deny most, if not all, the claims Christ made about Himself.

What would happen if I were to go through the area where I live making these claims?

  • That I was equal with God the Father
  • That I was the only way to God the Father and eternal life
  • That those who reject me will perish; they will end up in hell
  • That as God I had the ability to forgive sins
  • That after three days I would rise from the dead
  • That someday I would return to the earth in great glory with all the world watching

Would I be hailed as a great teacher after making such claims? Something inside me says, “No!” I would more than likely end up in the psych ward at the local university hospital under lock and key.

You cannot make the assertions Christ did without backing them up in a convincing and overwhelming way. Jesus’ resurrection did exactly that!

No one can make the claims listed above (all of which Jesus made during His ministry) and later be regarded as a fantastic teacher. It’s impossible.

You cannot make the assertions Christ did without backing them up in a convincing and overwhelming way. Jesus’ resurrection did exactly that!

2. The Resurrection Establishes Jesus’ Credibility

So many people say they worship and trust Jesus, but then state they do not believe so many of the things He said.

Suppose you are selecting a guide to take you on a three-day hike deep into a dense and dangerous wilderness territory. You have read Surviving in the Backwoods written by candidate A and although he said many things in his book that you like, you believe he got almost everything wrong about what it takes to survive in the wild. And on top of that, he has never ever hiked in the area you want to explore.

Would you hire him? Unless you feel a tad suicidal at the moment, probably not.

Is this not what so many do with Jesus? They believe He was wrong about the Genesis story of Adam and Eve, the Genesis flood, and the credibility of the Old Testament but claim to worship Him. I do not understand such logic. Why would anyone revere someone who in their mind was flat out wrong about so many basic aspects of their faith?

The resurrection verifies that Jesus is trustworthy not only in His claims about Himself, but in everything else He said. It also proves He is able to do the impossible.

3. Jesus Alone Is Able to Take Us Home

Jesus’ resurrection gives us hope because it demonstrates He is able to give us eternal life.

If I am alive when Jesus returns, He will change my earthly body into an immortal and imperishable one and take me to His Father’s house, to a place He has specially prepared for me. The same is true if I die before His appearing. It should be beyond obvious I cannot do any of this for myself once I am dead.

So, how can I trust Jesus to do the impossible in raising me from the dead and at the same time say his beliefs about the purpose of marriage, God’s creation of each of us as either male or female, and His views on morality and the sanctity of life are not only totally wrong but highly offensive? I absolutely cannot do that. Either Jesus is right about marriage and life or He is a fraud incapable of giving me eternal life or providing any hope in this life or in eternity. There is no middle ground.

If Jesus got these basic things totally wrong then He is still in a grave somewhere, is either a lunatic or a liar (if not both), and my faith is utterly in vain (at best). The tens of millions of people throughout history who died refusing to denounce Christ gave their lives totally in vain failing to denounce some liar who lived long ago.

Are you beginning to see why I cannot say Jesus was wrong about these controversial issues and still have an ounce of faith in Him?

Listen to the words of the apostle Paul again, “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of all those who have fall asleep” (1 Cor. 15:20). This is where our hope rests!

Jesus is alive; He rose from the dead; His words are true regardless of what anyone says about them.

Because Jesus rose from the dead, we know that all His words are true regardless of how unpopular they are at the moment. Popularity does not establish credibility or truth; Hitler was incredibly popular in Germany during the 1930’s and early 1940’s. Now his name is an anathema everywhere on earth.

Jesus was the most unpopular person of His day. But today, two thousand years later, hundreds of millions of people trust Him to give them everlasting life because His tomb is empty. Jesus’ resurrection forever establishes his words as true and gives us an unfailing foundation for our hope. He is alive; He is coming again!!!

The resurrection is why we treasure the words of Jesus and trust Him. It’s why we possess an unfailing hope of spending eternity with Him.

It’s why we can have supreme confidence in His claims, words, and supernatural power.

He’s alive! He’s alive indeed!

What If Jesus Said “Relax Guys . . . ?

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Perhaps one of the more perplexing matters in the New Testament is the sense of imminent expectation regarding the Lord’s return.  We see this all through its pages.

Jesus said, “Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matt. 24:44). Jesus instructed His disciples to expect His appearing at any moment.

All through the epistles, we read of the New Testament saints eagerly watching for the Savior’s appearance (see Rom. 8:23; Phil. 3:20; 1 Thess. 1:9-10; and Titus 2:11-13). It’s clear that those who read the apostles’ letters anticipated Jesus’ return at any moment, too.

Yet, 2,000 years have passed since then. How do we understand Jesus’ command the expectancy of the New Testament saints?

What if we look at it from another perspective? What if . . . ?

What if Jesus had said this to His disciples? “Relax guys; it’s going to be a very long time until I return. It may be one or two thousand years before the world sees me again.”

What would have been the consequences if Christ had told His disciples of the long delay in His return with no need to watch for His imminent appearing?

1. No Urgency to Share the Gospel

With such a mindset, do you think the apostles would have been so determined to spread the Good News of salvation throughout the world? Would they have turned it upside down?

I don’t think so.

C. S. Lewis said this about the eternal perspective that motivated the apostles:

“If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since because Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.”[i]

The minds of the apostles and others who followed them were fixed on eternity because of their awareness that Jesus could return at any moment.

When Jesus’ return ceases to be an imminent possibility, His followers stop thinking about “the other world,” or eternity, and their urgency to share the Gospel diminishes. I am not saying that all evangelism ceases; just that for many it becomes less of a priority.

2. Less Motivation for Purity

The apostle John said this about the impact of Jesus’ imminent return upon our lives, “And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he as pure” (1 John 3:3).

I realize that many other motivations exist that lead to a holy life, but the thought that Jesus could back at any moment heightens our resolve to walk closely with Him. I have found this to be true in my own life.

Of course, we do not earn our salvation. Scripture is clear on that matter.

However, when we live as though at any moment we might find ourselves in Jesus’ presence, it has an impact on our walk with Him and our service to Him. How can it be otherwise?

In Matthew 24:45-51, Jesus addressed what would happen with those who saw His return as a far distant reality. The behavior of most might not be as extreme as with the person in Jesus’ parable, but the point is clear. When people start believing Jesus is not coming back for a very long time, if ever, it ceases to be the motivation for faithful service Jesus intended it to be.

3. We Would Never Start Looking for Jesus’ Appearing

If the church has started out with the knowledge Jesus was going to delay his return by one or two thousand years, how would anyone know when to start watching for his appearing? What would be the key to change from passivity to actively anticipating his arrival? How would we know to start looking for the rapture?

For the prospect of Jesus’ appearing to motivate and comfort believers of all ages, it has to be an ever present possibility. Once we put it off to the distant future, it ceases to be our hope and fails to encourage us in the midst of suffering. It causes the things of this life to grow in importance as we look to the temporal things of earth for comfort rather than eternal realities.

Jesus commanded us to watch and be ready for His return because He knew without it, the results among His followers would be disastrous. We see this all through church history.

Did Jesus deceive us? Absolutely Not! All the saints who have gone before us are now enjoying the glorious joys of eternal life in the presence of their loving Savior and someday will be reunited with their earthly bodies.

For us, it means that the Lord’s patience has resulted in our salvation and the anticipation of a joyous eternity beyond our wildest imaginations.

No one in the past who died waiting for Jesus’ appearing was ever disappointed when Jesus welcomed them into glory.

No follower of Jesus today will feel an ounce of disappointment when the day comes for the trumpet to sound and we see Jesus welcoming us home! It will be oh so worth the wait.

Maranatha!

Note:  This was inspired by JD Farag’s prophecy update on March 18, 2018.

[i] C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (London: Collins, Fontana Books, 1955), p. 116. Quoted in Hot Tub Religion, p. 90

Write a Review and Win

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It’s contest time and the prize is the beautiful new thin line NIV Bible in the picture above.

You may have expected that a vacation in the Caribbean, or perhaps a trip to Hawaii, or even a week-long stay in beautiful North Liberty, Iowa would go to the winner. However, this prize is more in keeping with an author’s income.

How do I enter the contest? You enter by simply writing a review of my first book, Shipwrecked! Learning From The Bible Bad Guys, on Amazon.com. If you have already placed such a review on Amazon don’t worry, you are already entered to win the grand prize.

How do I win? After 25 reviews of my book appear on Amazon, I will determine the winner by drawing one number between one and twenty-five. The lucky reviewer whose review matches the number will win.

Rules:

1) All family members, friends, fellow bloggers, bad guys, and pirates are eligible to participate. If you can write, you are eligible for the big prize.

2) A positive review of my book is not necessary, but helpful of course. The judges are considering a consolation prize for the most favorable review, but have not yet reached a decision out of concern that it might put undue pressure on reviewers of Shipwrecked!

3) You will need to put your name on your review if you want to win (or tell me in some other way, such as by e-mail, which review belongs to you).

4) The decision of the judges in regard to the drawing will be final.

You already have a nice Bible, you say? Well, then enter for the joy of winning and give away the Bible to someone else.

So, go to Amazon.com and write your review. It’s as simple as that! 🙂

 

3 POWERFUL REASONS TO LOVE THE BAD GUYS OF THE BIBLE

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Picture and article by Ruth Brentner

Everyone loves good guys. Who isn’t inspired by the life of Daniel, Joseph, Jonathan or the beloved apostle John? While their good examples show us better, higher paths, sometimes a bad example is just as revealing as a good one.

Enter the Bible bad guys.

Here’s why I love them:

1. Bad guys serve as warning signs.

Life is complex and difficult to navigate, that’s for sure. It demands warning signs simply because there are pitfalls everywhere. No one plans to shipwreck their faith, fracture their family, or wound their own soul, but sometimes these things overtake us without the advantage of an honest-to-goodness negative example. I say bring on the bad guys. They’ve left behind treasures for us in their flotsam and jetsam.

2. Bad guys expose and unmask the bad guy I deal with every day, my flesh.

That bully is an imposter and a master of deception. He relentlessly tries to get me to think that he’s my true identity instead of who I am in Christ. He knows how to make himself look good and sound good (he’s religious). He’s a justifier, a compromiser, and a manipulator. I like knowing exactly what I’m dealing with so I can, well…deal with it.

3. Bad guys help me understand that a shipwrecked life is never the result of a single bad decision but a process.

The dramas played out in these characters reveal telltale patterns like:

    • Results oriented thinking
    • Running ahead of the Lord
    • Counterfeit piety
    • Wrong priorities and focus
    • Trusting our own devotion
    • Obsessive thinking
    • Pretenses of devotion
    • Taking matters into our own hands
    • The mishandling of our wounds
    • Living for the moment
    • Religious behavior

I need strong bad examples as well as the good ones to finish well.

Like many I suppose, I learned an awful lot the hard way, but thank God, it isn’t always meant to be that way. There are times I learn well from a really bad example. As I examine the lives of Bible bad guys through the lens of the Gospel, the finished work of Christ, I become better equipped to avoid pitfalls and to safely navigate the storms of life.

To all you Bible bad guys, thank you. You give me hope.

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Get your copy of Shipwrecked! Learning From The Bible Bad Guys at: Amazon.com

 

Shipwrecked! – Book Review by Terry James

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Shipwrecked! Learning from the Bible Bad Guys: A Book Review written by Terry James

Have you ever thought, If I could just do that over again? Or thought, Wish I had made a different decision way back then…

I have done so many times over my many decades of life. It’s a common human trait to lament some of the mistakes we’ve made. But, of course, wishing makes no difference. It changes nothing. If is for children, as the lyrics to Roger Whittaker’s song goes.

To avoid having to constantly look back at our lives and say, “If only…” the avoidance must be accomplished through preventative action. We must prepare in some fashion so that we make wise decisions as they come in order to avoid looking back and having to say “If only…”.

Jonathan Brentner has given us a book that offers such wisdom—how to avoid the pitfalls of life that cause us to look back and have to say “If only…”.

The author has pulled the points of wisdom from the greatest of all works authored by the Greatest of all Authors. I’m referring, of course, to the Holy Bible, dictated to human writers by the Lord, Himself. One simply cannot go wrong under such direction.

Thus, Jonathan’s is a book that I can wholeheartedly recommend.

But I also think it is one of the truly unique concepts I’ve come across for helping us avoid the pitfalls of life as described above.

Shipwrecked!: Learning from the Bible Bad Guys is a title perfectly describing that unique concept. The author uses the mistakes made by some of biblical history’s most notorious rebels against God’s prescription for living.

He expertly weaves the narrative to present us with a colorful tapestry of how we shouldn’t conduct our lives. The reverse way of life to that conducted by the Bible’s “bad guys”—the correct way—as we proceed through our given years, thus is almost supernaturally, I think, etched into the reader’s realization.

As I say, Jonathan Brentner, a former pastor, has composed a unique and effective volume for how to avoid many pitfalls into which we are prone to plunge and, of course, later regret.

The emphasis is different in each case the author presents. A key theme of the book, however, always involves encouraging the reader to learn from the mistakes of the characters. Exhortation is geared toward encouraging us to apply Bible precepts rather than give into negative emotions and sinful desires.

A few examples of Brentner’s Bible “bad guys” and their choosing the wrong way are demonstrated in the following.   

  • With Saul, we learn the importance of trusting God rather than religious behavior. In the second chapter, the author contrasts Saul’s behavior with that of Saul’s son Jonathan to show differing results that come from seeking to glorify God rather than self.
  • Absalom was truly a ticking time bomb. His anger and bitterness toward his dad after Amnon raped Absalon’s sister, Tamar, festered inside him for many years. With Absalom, Brentner stresses the importance of dealing with anger quickly before it turns into a root of bitterness and affects those around us.
  • With King Asa, Brentner explores the danger of forgetfulness in the matter of the importance of remembering all that God has done for us. As Christians who have been believers from an early age, it’s so easy to forget the wonder of the cross and all the answered prayers over the years.
  • Cain shows us how one can be close to the Lord and not really know Him. In this chapter, Jonathan Brentner emphasizes the Gospel. Cain was not an atheist; he could never deny God’s existence. He even had arguments with him. But still, he never came to truly know the Lord or trust Him.
  • John Mark shows us that failure does not have to be the final chapter in our lives. The author says he loved writing this chapter because of how it illustrates that God gives us chances after our failures. Despite the young man’s initial failure that led Paul to reject him, John Mark later became someone useful to the apostle and was used mightily by the Lord later in life.

These and many, many more illustrations make this a book that will enhance anyone’s life who applies these Bible truths to his or her spiritual heart.

The author says his desire in the book is to draw people away from merely relying upon worldly principles and religious behavior. He wishes to, instead, point them toward a true and vital walk with the Lord.

Jonathan writes, “Although I was truly a believer at the time, as a young pastor I treated God as though He was a vending machine. If I behaved a certain way, the Lord, I thought, would respond accordingly. Such was a recipe for disaster when my life went far off the tracks.”

He writes further, “My hope is that my book will help believers deal with emotions and desires when their lives turn out differently than how they imagined. Rather than give in to the negative emotions and desires, I prayerfully hope to draw them to the Gospel, God’s love for them, and their hope for eternity.”

In summary, he writes,” I also pray that many will come to know the Lord as their Savior as a result of reading Shipwrecked!”

Shipwrecked! Learning from the Bible Bad Guys

Author: Jonathan C. Brentner

Publisher: Bold Vision Books

ISBN: 0978946708-20-5

To order: Go to Amazon.com


 

4 Strategies for Waiting

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The idea for my book, Shipwrecked! Learning From The Bible Bad Guys, started with my study of the life of King Saul. I could see several of my faults in his life, particularly as I read about his unwillingness to wait for Samuel at a critical time during his reign.

From this wayward king, I discovered a strategy for waiting amidst the faulty reasons he gave to Samuel for his disobedience. If we can avoid the places where his thinking went awry,  it helps us wait for whatever we hope will happen soon, but doesn’t. We have all been there.

I believe if there is one shared experience among followers of Christ, it is that of waiting. He often makes us wait for:

  • The right person to come along to marry
  • The job we desire
  • The money to pay all our bills
  • Healing to get over the flu or a sinus infection
  • His intervention in a crisis we face
  • A slow driver to finally get out of the passing lane (perhaps of lesser importance)

I am sure you can add several other things to the above list. In an era where answers come so quickly via our computers and smartphones, it’s especially difficult when God does not immediately remedy our dilemmas.

So, what do we do when the Lord makes us wait, particularly in painful situations?

In my book, I provide 4 strategies for waiting that helped me immensely during my lengthy time of waiting years ago. I could develop each tactic here, but that would make this post far too long.

So, the best way to communicate them to you is through my book, through an invitation to speak, or both.