Monthly Archives: April 2016

Why? If you know these things You don’t act

Habakkuk is a book of prophecy, one of the 12 minor prophets. Habakkuk writes from a different perspective.  Rather than being a voice of God to the people, He addresses God about the people. The overwhelming word in the 1st chapter is Why? This in itself isn’t surprising, especially in our day and age. I find myself asking the WHY question over and over again. This calls into question the omnipotence, omnipresence and omniscience of God. We feel so many times that if God is God why do the things happen as they do.

Habakkuk is asking God the very question in this short book. Now Habakkuk wrote about 605-586 BC, this is prior to the fall of Jerusalem and the deportation of the captives. It is an odd time because there was just a period of “good” because of Josiah. But Josiah has died around 609 BC, so things are relatively stable. Yet Habakkuk asks the LORD “how long will I cry for help and you not answer?” Many of us have been such a situation – we call on God, and it seems that He is turning a deaf ear to us. I know today I ask so many times “Lord what is going on?” I get the same response as Habakkuk got – 1:5 – look at the nations, observe! Be astonished and wonder! Because I am doing something in your days – you would not believe it if you were told. The world we live in is in great turmoil and upheaval. Where does it all end? How do we make sense out of all this? As a believer in Christ I must put my lack of understanding aside and know that the Father in Heaven has this! Even if He was to answer our questions and tell us what He is doing, we just wouldn’t get it.

With the many atrocities that happen routinely today, we ask, Why God have you not done something to stop or prevent this? I have had to understand that God isn’t necessarily ‘doing” as much as He is “allowing” us to be the brunt of our own poor choices. Now we all have read the end of the Bible, we know what is ultimately going to happen. But the questions comes too many times, Is this the End? Or is this just a bad time in our life?

God is going to raise up Babylon to be His instrument for punishment and discipline towards Judah. Judah didn’t heed the warning of the fall of Israel [Northern Kingdom] nor did they heed the warning of Nineveh falling [Assyrian capital] in 612 BC.

While it appears there is still hope of revival and renewal of the Kingdom of Judah, the plan is already in motion for Judah’s captivity. Habakkuk is in dialog with God about what is going to happen. There is no record that Habakkuk survived the 586 BC siege of Babylon. Yet God does give the hope of a future after the punishment events.

Habakkuk 2:4 is a wonderful verse that has made the carry into the New Testament. [Romans 1:17 and Galatians 3:11-12] The Just shall live by faith.

Questions – Will Judah be punished – yes. Will Babylon be punished yes. Is there a future – Yes. Even though Habakkuk doesn’t understand all the details or working of God, he has to live within that hope in God’s providential redemptive plan.

I find myself asking many of the same questions today about America. Is America going to be punished – yes. Will we survive – yes. One thing about Judah and America, neither nation will ever be the same after the disciplining of God. Many prophets/preachers have drawn a line in the sand to say that this is the End Times, and ultimately the end as Bible prophecy in Revelation speaks. But that is Man’s opinion, not God’s. Nations have risen and fallen, but God was still at work trying to redeem creation from the Fall. Now if this is the end as in Last days – then if we know that and have understood God is at work, why do we thwart God’s working? If this is the End Times or if it is just a time of pruning and purifying, so be it – We [I] must still live by Faith.

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Give Me Your Tired, Hungry and Weary

I know that our reading was from Isaiah 56-60 this week, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to talk about Isaiah 55. I read and re-read this chapter, it is so filled with hope and encouragement; and I felt that today we need to hear and embrace what we have in our Lord and Savior.

At the very beginning when Isaiah is talking about thirsty, weary and hungry people to come to the LORD and eat and drink without costs. I couldn’t help but think of what we spend our money and time on. We buy “things” to satisfy our temporary desires, rather than our long-term needs.  The result is what Jesus saw in Matthew 9:36-38, people who are tired of being tired, harassed and left to themselves. Where is the advocate for the hurting, the lost and the crying? Is there no one that cares anymore about the down-trodden and rejected? I look at our present country and world culture and wonder, how many people do we see? I mean really see, not just acknowledge that they exist. The Lost are the focus of Matthew’s view. The Lost are waiting for the Gospel to be spoken to them, the Gospel is the power of God to those that Jesus sees.  In Isaiah 55, we find that people have spent all their resources on stuff that will not satisfy. We live in a day right now where people are looking for HOPE – people need hope that things will be different, hope that things will change, hope that can only be found in Salvation through Jesus Christ. All other attempts to fill the void in mankind will fail. Oh, they may bring a temporary satisfaction, but not the longing for Peace and Joy – those are found only in the fruit of the Holy Spirit indwelling the believer. So come to Me you without money and BUY – hold it how can they buy if they are broke? The buying isn’t with money but with our soul. God doesn’t want people to live an existence, He wants them to live the Joy filled life [John 10:10b]

So many people are seeking something that will satisfy – be it from drugs, sex, porn, illicit relationship, material goods or money – all fail leaving everyone groping in darkness for the answer to life. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life, this is the record that God has given us eternal Life, Life is in His Son – He that has Jesus as life, He that doesn’t have Jesus does not have life. Pretty simple, yet Isaiah says Seek the LORD while He may be found. I am not sure why, but mankind has to be totally bankrupt before he will entertain the possibility that God is the answer. Seek, Call on Him who is near. God isn’t hiding, we are the ones that have to come to Him. God has never moved, we have.  In our pleasure-seeking world we have tried to replace God – sounds so very familiar like Romans 1:18-26!

The verses found in 8-12 are monumental – they describe for us the limitless God we serve, and the problem of mankind. We do not think in God ways. The foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom. Too often believers and non-believers ask so many questions of WHY GOD? Yet it is clear that God is not in a hurry as we are, and that His thoughts are higher than ours. God acts according to His divine plan for all people for all eternity. We, however are living in the immediate pretty much all the time. The verses also indicate the power of the Word of God – all we have to do is unleash its power by proclaiming and reading it. People reading the scriptures will unleash the power of His word to accomplish the desires of God. 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All scripture is God-breathed, it is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” Also Hebrews 4:12 -” the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

I have read scripture to my children and grandchildren, it puts the Word of God in an active position to come back at the leading of the Spirit to bring conviction of the things of God. The Bible is powerful, it is effectual for the working of salvation to ALL people. The foolishness of preaching is God’s plan for stirring the hearts of the Lost. No man’s words can do that, only the inspired Word of God. Man’s words will fade, but God’s Word is established. Nothing changes or will be removed – God sustains it and preserves it for the generations of man. May the Word accomplish it effectual work in our lives today!

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Fight the Good Fight

During the month of May there is many activities that will command our attention and participation. There are graduations, weddings, Mother’s Day, National Day of Prayer and Memorial Day. How e choose to celebrate these special events is just as important. There are two specifically that I want to highlight in this article. My choices are Mother’s Day and Memorial Day.

Mother’s Day is always a high point for families and church sermons. The moms are recognized and applauded for their great effort in raising children, keeping the household running smoothly and their own professional accomplishments in or outside the home. All well-deserved accolades; my focus really is on Memorial Day. It used to be called Decoration Day, a day that was initially set aside to remember the Civil War soldiers and their high cost of battle. It became officially Memorial Day in 1971. Major General John Logan, and representatives of the Grand Army of the Republic, observed Decoration Day at Arlington National Cemetery, by decorating the graves of the Union soldiers. Other places have claimed to be the originator of the day; one such place was in Columbus Mississippi, while placing wreaths on the Confederate graves, in plain sight were graves of the Union soldiers left barren; so the women also placed wreaths on the Union graves as well. In the passing of time Decoration Day came to be seen as a day of reconciliation for the nation, as well as honoring the dead.

No many of you know that I just returned from a trip from Washington D.C.; where I was able to take in many of the memorials that our nation has erected to recognize the many military personnel who have fought and died for our country. I was left with many emotions as I viewed each of the major war tributes to the fallen. I believe that it is absolutely essential to continue to recognize the Fallen Soldiers who fought for the “rights” of all people to be treated equally and fairly within our borders as well as foreign soils.

As a retired military man, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and the vast innumerable graves that dotted the land side overwhelmed me. I stood watching and listening to the dedicated Marines pace back and forth in front of the Tomb. I was equally impressed with the hush that enveloped the crowd of spectators. It reminded me of how important that every person’s life is in the scheme of things. Often the Unnamed go unnoticed. Rather than being identified, they can quickly become just statistics on a piece of paper. I am proud that out nation continues to revere the men and women of our armed forces.

Today the world we find ourselves living in is a very confusing one. It seems that so many are fighting for their OWN individual rights. But this bothers me for the pursuit of personal rights and freedoms and deteriorated the rights and freedoms of the masses. We live in a day when the rights of the minority override the betterment for all of mankind.

When I apply the various institutional and systemic battlegrounds I cannot but help think about “what are we really fighting for anymore?” I say we, because while I am retired from our countries military, I am still a Soldier. I am a soldier of the Cross. Again, when I read the scriptures, I read about love for God, fellow man and the betterment of the world. The Gospel is that power, not kings, queens and presidents. It is the Lordship of Jesus in our lives, being visible to others which make the difference.

In light of the presidential election that looms over our nation; so many are fighting for things that are surface issues, not core issues. I grant you that our election will determine much of the future for United States, but also for the world. I have always viewed the USA as the model for the world to see, that may be a bit naïve. America use to be a place where all people could feel a self-respect and honor. Now I know we haven’t always gotten it right, the Civil War is a clear example of that. But I am perplexed at the state of our Union. Instead of being a “light of the Gospel” it seems that there is a dark ominous cloud hanging over America. We all know there are many issues – mostly cultural issues that have really divided the people. Depending on your perspective, you will view these issues as absurd or worthy of the fight. As I looked across the grave filled cemetery of Arlington, there was a sense of pride and joy for a nation that got some things right. I walked away as a multi-faceted soldier and wondered to myself, are we just fighting battles, having already lost the war?

Some of you may think this is just a political-laced article, I hope not. Something I was reminded of recently – “If we desire to change our communities and country’s moral and ethically culture, we have to first change the culture of our churches.” It starts with us, soldiers of the Cross must wage war against the adversary – I think we have lost who the real adversary is; let us fight the “Good Fight” – and know what we are fighting for!

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By His Stripes We are Healed

Isaiah 51-55 reading this past week describes emphatically how Jesus was tortured before and while on the Cross at Calvary. Specifically chapters 52-53 are grotesquely descriptive. But before we get to that section of scripture, a passage found in Isa. 52:7 speaks of the “Beautiful feet of those who preach/proclaim the Good News of the Gospel. This verse is found also in Romans 10:15; where it detail a number of questions about how will people hear, unless they are called, sent, went and obedient to the calling of proclaiming the Gospel. I found this especially noteworthy, in that I just returned from a IMB parents of Missionaries conference. These verses were preached about for those who have answered the call so that the nations will hear the good news. Beautiful feet, odd compliment for someone who proclaims the Gospel, unless you are on the receiving end of this good news. The points of the speakers were that someone had to send, someone had to go, and someone had to be obedient to the task. The task isn’t just for missionaries or pastors; but for all people of God to proclaim the Good News that Jesus loves them and Jesus saves!

Now looking specifically at Isaiah 52:13-15; a description of the Messiah. He will have public acclaim; the people will lift him up in popularity and notoriety. Yet quickly this is followed by how he looks, “his visage [body] was marred more than any man.” The beatings Jesus took along the way to the Cross would have killed any mere man; he was beaten by the Jews, Mocked and ridiculed. Then by a garrison of roman soldiers [100] men; beat him with rods and their fists, pulling his beard from his face. As if that wasn’t enough, Pilate had Jesus scourged to try to pacify the Jews into releasing Jesus. It didn’t work as a bloody mangled, mutilated piece of flesh, then Jesus was required to carry His cross to Calvary. I do not know how he endured such traumatic loss of blood and the severe shock to his body. It is said that the flesh was literally ripped off his bones, the nerves and tissue flayed from His bones.

In Isaiah 53, a more accurate account of Isaiah 52:14; we initially get the lineage of Jesus, a “shoot from the root of Jesse” depicting His tribal ancestry to Judah and King David. We find that it wasn’t Jesus’ looks that made Him attractive to people, but His works and works. I guess if I were living back then, I may have missed Jesus because he was just a common ordinary looking man, another face in the crowd so to speak.

John 1:11; says He came unto His own but His own received Him not – they rejected Him – but it was the religious rulers, not the common hurting people of the day. I wonder how much Jesus would endure from us if He was here today? He was despised and forsaken, this speaks of how they wanted to kill Him, also about the stone of stumbling and rock of offense He was. Yet He is the chief corner-stone, which God used to bring salvation to the nations. It is odd that Jesus was rejected by His own people, and in the grace of God, we [non-Jews] are given access to the free gift of salvation. Jesus is acquainted with grief, and sorrow, he took on our sorrows, sins. Jesus took our penalty for our disobedience and sin against the Father. We deserved every  strip of the whip, we deserved every blow to His body; yet He took it all for ME!! Listen to these words – pierced, crushed, scourging, chastening and iniquity. All descriptive of what Jesus took that was ours. Surely we must see the reality of – “BY HIS STRIPES WE ARE HEALED”! Yet Jesus said not a single word, like a sheep before His slaughters is silent. But then it says in verse 10 – “It pleased the Father to crush Him” – Why how can that be pleasing? It is pleasing to the Father for now there can be reconciliation and restoration with His creation. Jesus is the advocate and restitution for man’s sins that we may come boldly to the Father based on His sacrifice. Yet Jesus is still at work – having paid the penalty, defeated death and Satan; He now makes intercession for us before the Father. WHen Satan accuses us [and we are guilty] Jesus pleads our case, not because we are innocent, but because He has redeemed us from ALL sin – there is no debt, there is no charge – It is Finished! And the Father looks at His Son and says – Justified upon the basis of the Lamb of God’s sacrifice. And that’s how Jesus purchased my salvation – praise God, praise God Amen.

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Three Kinds of Takers

There is an old saying that people can be one of three types of “Takers:” A Caretaker, a Risk-taker or an Undertaker. Obviously each of those types of people has pros and cons. The point being made is if a person is a risk taker, there will surely be conflicts and struggles along the way. But it is better to attempt change than do nothing. The Caretaker is the “maintainer” in a situation. The risks are seen as too volatile to try because of the “fear” of repercussions and conflicts. So rather than engage in actions that should be done, there is a compromise with “Status Quo.” But as we have learned and experienced in a ministry setting, this can mean certain death, where you must call an “Undertaker.”

When it comes to Church revitalization and Renewal, a “status quo” frame of mind is unacceptable. The reason churches are in need of revitalization and renewal in the first place is because when they could have done something in the Church, they elected to take the easy road, or least hazardous. This action is clearly a compromise. James 4:17 tells us “to him that knows to do good and does not do it, it is sin.”

In the case of being a Risk-taker, the leadership necessary must be confident and bold about the direction to be pursued. If there is a “crack” in the plan from God, then it will show up as weakness. People in the church are unwilling to follow weakness. Now this doesn’t mean that the revitalizer needs to be a tyrant either.

SO where does this boldness and confidence come? It comes from the Lord. The revitalizer must put himself on the “potter’s Wheel” and allow the Lord to begin the revitalization and renewal work in him first. I have learned that excitement and passion are two very contagious characteristics. When a new believer speaks of the wonderful things of God, we that are observing this have two reactions: first we can pass it off and say the person will come back to earth soon, and discount the testimony; or secondly, we can remember the joy of our own salvation and be renewed in our faith having seen the Lord at work still changing lives.

In the renewal of a pastor or revitalizer there are necessary steps to be taken: Prayer and the Word. I hear so many pastors and laymen tell me they don’t know what God wants them to do! If a person is not in conversation with the Lord Jesus through prayer and the Word, then it stands to reason that there would be doubts about what to do, and even when to do changes. As a revitalizer, a person must determine who He is; which of the three types of people. Now before I get too far, there are plenty of ministry venues where, things are in place and a “maintainer” mentality will be at the forefront. Even so, the ministry must be evaluated and tweaked if necessary. Some 80% of pastors are maintainers/caretakers or as Gary McIntosh calls them “Operators.[1] Two calling in ministry are Risk-takers: Church Planters and Church Revitalizers; within Church revitalizers there are variations called super revitalizer and the reorganizer to mention a few. McIntosh indicates further that Revitalizers and Re-organizers make up only 7% of all pastors. When the Church is dying at alarming rates, there is a great need for pastors to know who they are, but then Be who they are supposed to Be. This is the confidence builder for a Revitalizer. When we know what we are to be doing and knowing where our orders came from, boldness and confidence from the Lord will be forthcoming.

I know from my own experiences, I didn’t want to be a Revitalizer – it was too hard and too much conflict! “No God I don’t want to be a Church Revitalizer!” I HAD TO COME TO GRIPS WITH WHAT THE LORD JESUS WANTED for HIS church not the ease of ministry I wanted. What I eventually learned was that I had always been a revitalizer. Every church the Lord moved me to, I had a mission of renewal and revitalization to do. Sort of like the song, “I was Country when Country wasn’t Cool.” I was a revitalizer before there was a movement.

As a revitalizer there must be purpose and intentionality in the direction a pastor moves the church. This will not come from a book or the latest growth model. The direction for a particular church has to be borne out in the prayer room, not in the board room. This is a mistake too often Pastors and churches make, especially in our CEO world of management. Churches don’t need management; they need leadership – bold leadership! Pastors are called to leader People, not manage resources.

Once a revitalization thrust has begun; regardless of the naysayers and the loss of people who don’t want change – the resilience to stay the course is imperative. Oh praise God for the testimony of Apostle Paul – “I have fought the good fight, finished the course, I have kept the faith. . . . [2 Timothy 4:7] The unwillingness to stay the course is tragic, both to the church and the man. The church will be very reluctant to attempt anything like it again; and the man will know he didn’t finish. A revitalizer must not just finish – but finish well. Success is what God does, obedience is what we do. If you know that the Father in Heaven is leading you; your confidence will rest in Him, not your own strength.


Dr. Jim Grant

Heartland Baptist Church, Alton, IL

Pastor, conference leader and revitalizer

DMin from Midwestern in Church Revitalization



  1. McIntosh, Gary L.; Taking Your Church to The Next Level: What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. Grand Rapids: Baker Books; 2009, 87-96.

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Out of pocket

sorry folks I will be late with this weeks Post – I am out of town for a IMB missionary Parents conference. I’ll post as soon as I can

Blessings in Christ

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