More Graves of Craving

 From Numbers 11 and Psalm 78

More!
We cry
With smugness in our eyes.

More!
How could God not hear us?
Doesn’t He care?

More! More! More!

And after complaining
To God
And neighbors
And friends
And family;

After preaching that
God’s goodness means
He does as we desire.

After looking around
And deciding 
Our daily bread (and more),
God’s daily mercies (and more),
God’s spiritual food,
God’s presence
Was not enough.

After saying,
For the millionth time…

More!

God did it.
He relented.
He gave in
To our cravings.
He heard the cries 
Of uncrucified flesh,
He heard us yell out with Adam
He heard our
More!

He was so “kind,”
So “good”
(so we thought),
To give us 
What we craved.

So for a moment
We stopped saying,
More!

Just long enough
To taste
And see
What God gave us

And as we ate,
And laughed,
And smiled,
And looked at each other…

We never thought
To look to God.

It only makes sense that
God must be smiling
Since we finally got
What our flesh wanted.

So, for a moment,
We were happy
Eating the quail
We thought we needed.

And in between bites
I think I heard
Someone dare to ask
Whether God’s desires
Actually matched
Our cravings.
And whether
God answering our prayer
Was really a sign
That He lives
To make us happy.

But to tell the truth
Our bellies were too filled
To give this strange notion
Much thought.

So we feasted,
Blissfully ignorant
That God 
Never served
Our last supper
With a smile.

By Brian Holda
10/7/19

So he called the name of that place Kibroth Hattaavah [literally Graves of Craving], because there they buried the people who had yielded to craving.

(Numbers 11:34)

If God is in Control, Why Pray?

This is a paraphrased transcript from my Aug 25, 2017 teaching, “God’s Will & Our Prayers”

Is God sovereign? If so, what place do our prayers play?

1 John 5:14-15 says:

  • God has a will
  • He wants it to be accomplished
  • Our prayers have something to do with that will
  • Our prayers are only as good as God’s will

Matt. 6 Jesus teaches “The Lord’s Prayer”:

  • God knows what we need before we pray
  • We pray for God’s will to be done on earth (as it is in heaven)

Thus, in some ways, our prayers help in bringing about God’s will.

However, later in Matthew 10:29-31 we read:

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

So which is it? Do we pray for God’s will to be done, or does He have everything in His hands doing as He pleases?

Or maybe both are true…

We see 2 things simultaneously true:

  1. God is sovereign and oversees everything that happens (even to the small sparrows)
  2. Our prayers directly impact God’s will being done on earth

Jesus is 2 things simultaneously true:

  1. Fully God
  2. Fully Man

God’s Word = 2 things simultaneously true:

  1. The words of God
  2. The words of man

A Mystery

At some level, we can’t comprehend how exactly all these dualities go together. But this shouldn’t trouble us. We are even commanded to, “lean NOT in our own understanding” (Prov. 3:5), so we should expect that there are things we can’t fully wrap our minds around.

Further on the point of this two-part mystery, Joel 2:32 says:

  1. we do the calling
  2. God does the calling

Similarly, Genesis 50 says:

  1. Some intended evil from Joseph’s betrayal
  2. God intended good from Joseph’s betrayal

Or at the cross we read that Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus to death. Satan influenced him. But also it says the Lord ordained Jesus to be crucified. Thus:

  1. God crucified Jesus
  2. Judas/Satan crucified Jesus

A neat picture of this comes in Revelation 4-5. We see a scroll unfolding what would happen to the future of the church. But as it is unfolded we have prayers (pictured as incense). Thus our prayers directly impact the future of the church. We have a part to play in our prayers.

Watchman Nee said it this way: God’s will is like a powerful locomotive, and our prayers are like the tracks. Nothing can stand in the way of God’s will, but he does look for our prayers to lay the course out.

Also think of wind and a sailboat. The wind clearly moves the boat (like God’s will), but the sails are there to catch the wind (like our prayers).

Like a father or a king, God has a clear will and reign over the world, causing things to happen as he wishes. BUT…as a father’s will is impacted by the cries of his children, or a king’s will impacted by the cries of his subjects, so God’s will is impacted by our prayers.

Zechariah 10:1 says:

Ask for rain in the time of latter rain and God will bring it (paraphrase)

Likewise, Daniel 9 shows Daniel studying from Scripture how it was time for God to restore his people. His response? He prayed and fasted that God’s will would come to pass.

Or look at Nehemiah 1. Here he reminds God of his will and expects this to help impact the future. His prayers according to God’s will was heard by God and caused change in the situation.

Yes, God is in control. And our prayers are part of His sovereignty.

Here is the full recording if you’re interested:

Jesus Addresses Racism

Taken from Don McCurry’s, Tales That Teach (2009) ~

The greatest problem Jesus had with His disciples was racism [Blogger comment: I wouldn’t say it was “the greatest” problem, but agree it was bad]. The most dramatic illustration of this is seen by His disciples’ reactions to contrasting events in Nazareth and a village in Samaria.

Let’s look at them. The first occurs at the synagogue in Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth. Jesus had just read the great prophecy in Isaiah 61:1, 2, and explained that those words were fulfilled on that day in Him. The audience was impressed with the gracious words that came from His lips.

A few seconds later, to the same audience, Jesus referred to two miracles done by the prophets Elijah and Elisha, respectively, to show that no prophet is ever honored in his hometown. The first miracle was about how the prophet multiplied a Canaanite widow’s food supply at a time when Jewish widows were starving. The second had to do with curing the Syrian general Naaman of his leprosy at a time when no Jewish lepers were cured.

Suddenly, the mood of the Jewish audience turned ugly. The people took Jesus to the brow of a hill to hurl Him to His death (Luke 4:24-30).

What did Jesus’ disciples do in His defense? The answer is “nothing.” Jesus escaped the people’s wrath by His own devices with no help from His disciples. He simply turned and walked untouched through the hostile mob.

But on another occasion in Samaria, under far less provocative circumstances, the disciples’ reaction was totally irrational. Or shall we say, “typically racist”?

Luke 9:54 says that in passing through a Samaritan village, Jesus had asked for lodging for the night. The Samaritans did not welcome Him. John and James, two of the inner core of Jesus’ disciples, asked Jesus for permission to call fire down from heaven and burn up the village. Interesting.

They did no such thing in Nazareth when their Master’s life was in real danger. But in a village of hated Samaritans, they wanted to destroy their “enemies” for their lack of hospitality.

The explanation for these two starkly contrasting attitudes is not hard to find. Why total passivity in Nazareth on the one hand and murderous intent toward the Samaritans on the other? The only answer is racism.

Jesus rebuked His disciples on that occasion in Samaria. Later, He healed ten lepers: one was a Samaritan–the only one to come back and thank Him. He called attention to that. On another occasion, He led His disciples to Jacob’s Well, where He had that memorable experience with the woman who led her whole Samaritan village to believe in Jesus as the Savior of the world.

Perhaps the story that has become the most famous of all Jesus’ parables is that of the “good Samaritan,” the man who showed mercy when no one else would (Luke 10:25-37).

What about us? Are the Muslims of our day like the Samaritans of old? Are we like the Jews? I think so.

pp. 337-338

Just as Jesus came to save all cultures and races, so His followers owe it to Him to enter all cultures and races with His message.

Success

Audio of “Success”

When rich and strong rule,
With scholars at their sides,
Convincing mankind
That your strength,
Your riches,
Your intelligence,
Are the marks of your success,
And the only things
That change the world;

And when words
Are the new currency–
The more you use them,
The more you are vindicated,
And the more influence you have–

At that time,
In the fullness of time,
God sent one Word,
Not many.

Born to poor parents,
Wearing poor clothes,
Without a home to lay his head.

Called, “unusual and un-scholarly,”
By the scholars of His day,
Who screamed inside,
“You’re not one of us!”

And when some became hopeful,
That maybe He was strong enough,
To free them from oppression,
And be the rebellion leader,
He said,
“No.
Not that way.
Not now.”

And as He stood near His death,
And was asked to speak,
To vindicate Himself,
To not be misunderstood,
He remained quiet.
And his silence,
To them,
Was a sure indicator
Of his guilt.

And He was robbed
His only possession
(A robe)
At His death.

And at His weakest moment,
When those surrounding said,
“Show us your so-called strength.
Free yourself!”
He didn’t answer,
But bowed His head,
And breathed His last.

This single Word
Died-
In the prime of life.
Without riches,
Strength,
Proper scholarship,
And speaking
Less words
Than they wanted Him to.

So…
Tell me,
How did Jesus
Change the world?

-Brian Holda (Dec 10, 2014)

Richard Wurmbrand – Tortured for Christ

Richard Wurmbrand relays his time under Communist oppression for Christ.

Transcript:

My whole night I passed walking through and through this cell. I didn’t have shoes. Every night I begin by meditating on the word of God, the verses which I remembered by heart. I meditated so much that through meditation I began to see the scenes which the Bible speaks. I saw Abraham, and I saw Jesus surrounded by multitudes and preaching to them. I saw St. Paul traveling. I saw the angels about whom the Bible speaks. Everything in the Bible became a reality to me. Then I would pass hours praying. Praying for the whole world. I traveled in my spirit from one country to another. Every night I would pray for America, Britain, for Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France. I would pray for your churches. I would pray for your children. As I’m very sure that you pass a good time of your night praying for the prisoners in communist countries. 


Every night I would end with a sermon. There was no visible audience, but I preached to God, I preached to the angels. They’re also interested to know what I think and what I have to say. I would prepare a regular sermon and I would deliver it.

Sometimes we would be handcuffed with the handcuffs like this [he shows on the video] to the back…the hands tied to the back. We could not move them. For bowls of water we had to lap it exactly like the dogs [shows lapping with his tongue]. We could not move our hands. 

The human body has many necessities. The hands were tied to the back day and night. But who can tie a soul? The soul can fly to the Lord. It has not even to fly because the Lord is everywhere. We forgot that we are with our hands tied, and we beat the communists. They have killed many Christians…millions. They have tried to kill us. How stupid. They can kill only bodies. We are not bodies. We are spirits and the spirit can’t be killed to die. For Christ, loving Christ, means to go to glory…means to go to Christ.

You wonder probably why I smile. It is because I wish to convey to you the joy of those who suffer for Christ in communist prisons. We think about their sufferings. And their sufferings are really huge. In Red China Christians are burned with iron pokers. They’re pelted with stones while tied on crosses. Others are burned alive. In Russia, prisoners are compelled to stand the whole day barefoot on the ice (in Northern Siberia, where the ice never melts). All kinds of physical tortures are used…the sophisticated methods of brainwashing. But this is only one side of the story. 

Prison is not hell. In hell there is no water. We have water. We have rivers of living water. I was in a cell like this [shows cell]. During 3 years, I and many other prisoners, Christians, we are kept in such solitary cells, 30 feet below the earth. During 3 years, out of my 14 years of prison, I never saw sun, moon, snow, stars, flowers, trees. I had forgotten that these exist. You never heard a noise in that prison. People would believe that it has been only deep suffering. But when I remember that time, I remember it as a glorious time. The bride was in the embraces of the heavenly bridegroom. We received his holy kiss. We knew his caresses. It has been one of the most beautiful times of my life.

…I am free now. Hundreds of thousands are in prison today [names many he knows]…they sit in cells exactly like this, alone. Alone isn’t really alone. God is there, Christ is with them, and the holy angels feel this cell. And for the first time, being in solitary confinement, we realized the truth of what is written in Hebrews, that a cloud of witnesses (those who have suffered for Christ’s sake in times before) encompass around us. They’re not somewhere far away. They were with us in our cells, giving us strength, encouraging us by their beautiful examples. Feel with those in chains as if you yourself would be bound together with them [Hebrews 13:3]. Share their suffering, but share also their joy…

…But these sufferings are not hell, because it is suffering with Jesus. He is with the sufferers. He blesses them. He gives them the grace of His presence. Hell means to be without Jesus in eternity. And it’s a conclusion of everything which you have seen. I would tell you flee from hell. Seek paradise. And whatever you have done in your life, the gates of paradise are open for you. Only repent of your sins. The blood of Jesus Christ has washed your sins away. Believe in Him and you will be saved. And being saved, remember your brethren and sisters in faith who suffer because they love the Lord. And remember the hundreds of millions who are under communist oppression and have no possibility to hear the saving word of the gospel. And remember the poor souls of the communist torturers, they also have to be saved. They must hear the gospel. Pray for them that the gospel might be known for them, too.