Moving Blog Location

The “Alan Gilman – Bible Teacher” blog was created to supplement my online presence by providing a place to post articles, announcements, and other items of interest. It began when my wife, Robin, and I went to Italy and Slovenia in the fall of 2013. If you have received this by email, it is because at some point you subscribed to it.

I have now moved this blog to an new web address. So if you would like to continue to receive these posts, please click here and re-subscribe via the “Subscribe” link down the right-hand side of the page.

And if you don’t receive my newsletter and/or my weekly TorahBytes message via email, you can sign up now by clicking here.

Thank you!

Alan

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Pixar’s Inside Out – a Biblical Perspective

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For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. (Romans 8:5)

Pixar’s latest offering, Inside Out, is true to what we have come to expect from this highly successful film studio. It’s delightful, it’s creative, it’s funny, unusually insightful, and there’s nothing unnecessarily crude or risqué.

Inside Out is the story of a pre-teen girl named Riley, as told from the perspective of her emotions, who are personified as an interesting assortment of characters. Through the story we learn how important this whole assortment of emotions really is, even those which we tend to avoid – so relevant in a society that tends to overvalue happiness and fun.

One criticism of the film I have encountered is that it is overly simplistic. That is true, but that needn’t distract the viewer from the screenwriters’ main point. Of course human beings have more emotions than the five in Riley’s head. But is it necessary in any story to achieve technical accuracy in order to make a legitimate point? As a fable, which I think is the best way to describe Inside Out, it is not attempting to address every area of life or provide an extensive psychology. It has a simple, but important, lesson to share, and it would be a shame to miss out on that lesson due to a concern over technicalities.

Don’t get me wrong. I take story telling very seriously. I believe God has revealed himself through a big story of epic proportions as recorded in the Bible. Every life, all of creation in fact, is part of that story. The stories we produce, be it grand classic literature, TV sitcoms, blockbuster films, or even the jokes we tell either reflect God’s story or not. It doesn’t matter if our stories are fact or fiction. They are either in keeping with life’s realities from God’s perspective or not. In actuality, our stories are generally a mix of God’s truth combined with all sorts of other things. Some are designed to purposely lead the audience away from truth and goodness, others unintentionally so.

Since the Bible is our only absolutely dependable source of truth, we need to stop and think about the stories we encounter in order to determine to what extent they fall in line with Scripture. Otherwise we may find ourselves embracing and being influenced by false and possibly destructive views of life. And as followers of Yeshua, our call to disciple the nations must include critiquing popular culture in order to help our neighbors discover and embrace God’s ways.

Regarding Inside Out, the central lesson of learning to value our array of emotions is important enough and is communicated well enough for me to recommend it to you and your whole family.

That said, there is at least one key assumption that is foundational to the film that needs to be addressed. Many people may take this for granted, but from a biblical perspective it is not true. In the story, the emotions control Riley’s responses and reactions. That there is no explicate reference to God and other spiritual forces might be expected, but there is no connection made between Riley’s emotions and her will. Her responses to life’s circumstances are produced by nothing but her emotions alone.

I don’t know if it was the writers’ intention to give us this impression, since the message is not that we should give ourselves completely over to our feelings. If anything, it’s that we should strive for emotional balance in life, which is a good thing. But how to achieve that balance is not addressed in the movie.

According to the Bible, human beings are not preprogrammed machines. Good and evil are real forces at work both within and upon all of us. Temptation and demonic evil, while at play upon the stages of our minds, are outside forces that should never be confused with our personalities. Godliness also originates from the outside as its roots are in God, not our brain cells. The believer especially, lays claim upon God’s own Spirit residing in us doing a work apart from our physical mechanisms. What it is that allows a person to give in to evil or to follow goodness may be impossible to fully understand, but it certainly requires a greater treatment than what we find in Inside Out.

However emotions really work, God did not give them to us to control us. They are just a few of the aspects of humanness he designed as part of his wonderfully intricate image indelibly stamped upon all of us. Don’t confuse the multitude of feelings you experience every day with who you are. Whether or not you regularly experience a battle of emotions within you or you are one of the few who are emotionally balanced, your feelings are not you. You are called to be a child of God, whose identity can only be found in your Creator. You don’t have to be a slave to your emotions. If the Spirit of God lives in you, your emotions will serve you as you serve God.

Evangelical Liberalism Is Doomed

doomed01_480Many years ago when theological liberals gave up on biblical morality, they did so while also rejecting Scripture as the divinely inspired Word of God. Much of what became modern evangelicalism (the loose banner under which the great majority of Bible-believing churches, denominations, and associations fall) defined itself in contrast to theological liberalism’s rejection of the Bible. Evangelicals hold to a high view of Scripture, affirming its inspiration and authority to define both what we believe and how we are to live. While there is a spectrum of opinion on issues such as inerrancy (the accuracy of the biblical text to the smallest detail) and textual criticism (how do we determine exactly what the original manuscripts recorded, even as we work with copies), evangelicals are agreed that the Bible alone, whether in the original languages or when expressed in an accurate translation provides God’s written revelation.

Yet in spite of an enduring commitment to the authority of Scripture, today we are seeing an ever increasing adoption on the part of people who call themselves evangelical of practices that until recently have been thought of as theologically liberal. These practices are mainly in the realm of gender, sexuality, and marriage, including role definitions for men and women, divorce, and sexual practices other than traditional heterosexuality.

Unlike theological liberals, who do not necessarily base morality upon Scripture, the new evangelical liberals continue to claim to hold to its inspiration and authority. In fact, some claim that their openness to such things as same-sex marriage are because of, not in spite of, Scripture. They will accuse other evangelicals as holding not to Scripture, but humanly based traditions, similar to how at one time some Christians used the Bible to justify slavery.

It is always good and right to be open to change based on Scripture. Our doctrines are not authoritative, only the Bible is. Therefore, our doctrines only carry the Bible’s authority when they accurately reflect biblical truth, and must be tweaked as necessary. Evangelical liberals claim to be doing this, but their conclusions, in my opinion, are taking them far away from God’s Truth.

I would like to propose two reasons for how it could be that some people could be rejecting the authority of Scripture, while claiming to uphold it at the same time.

The first reason is a failure to adhere to the entire Bible. The attempt to prioritize Scripture is legitimate and necessary. As Yeshua said to the religious leaders of his day, “For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others” (Matthew 23:23). Scripture does contain issues that are weightier than others. So, we need to learn how to view some elements of Scripture through those that are more important. But note that Jesus was clear that just because some matters are weightier than others doesn’t mean the others should be neglected. Paul wrote Timothy that “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). While determining how “all Scripture” applies to life today may be a challenge, it is necessary to equip God’s people for godliness.

Legitimate grappling with the meaning and application of Scripture should not be confused with the way evangelical liberals tend to overemphasize certain passages, while denying the truth and relevancy of others. For example, developing a theology around the quoted words of Yeshua in the Gospels as if they somehow have more authority than other parts of the Bible, creates a skewed version of God and his Truth. The Bible is an integrated whole. All that Yeshua taught is firmly rooted in God’s prior revelation in the Hebrew Scriptures and is the basis upon which the rest of the New Testament is written. The liberal Jesus who is only about mercy and love, eclipses the fuller truth of God, who is indeed loving and merciful, but not devoid of justice and holiness. Only a full reading of Scripture provides a legitimate balance.

The second reason for this inconsistent adherence to Scripture is the misguided concept that the forms of Scripture are incidental to its contents. Let me explain. God’s truth is revealed through the Bible, but how so? Biblical concepts are communicated through a wide variety of literary genres, including story, legal statements, songs, proverbs, prophetic utterances, and letters. For the most part the people and events referenced are historical and the subject matter is expressed within these real-life contexts. This information, originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, like all languages, use particular word choices to express ideas. Is the inspiration and authority of Scripture only found in the ideas themselves or in the actual word choices used to express them? For example, did God inspire Isaiah to say, “They shall mount up with wings like eagles” (Isaiah 40:31), or could Isaiah have said anything he liked as long as he got the point across? If the words themselves don’t really matter, they are incidental, not essential, to their meaning. Is God’s choosing of the people of Israel incidental or essential to God’s plans and purposes? Do they exist simply as a convenient metaphor for a generic people of God or do his promises to a real nation of real people make a difference in how we understand God and life? Does it matter that Yeshua is the Jewish Messiah as Scripture reveals, or is that just a colorful way to tell the world that heaven’s champion has come? Is the revealing of God as Father incidental or essential in understanding who he really is? Does it matter if we relate to him as Father or can we just as easily think of him as “Mother,” if that’s more appealing?

It makes little sense to claim that only the concepts of Scripture are inspired, while the forms through which these concepts are communicated don’t really matter. Paul didn’t write “the truth contained in Scripture is inspired, but rather “all Scripture is inspired.” It must be that way, because if the inspiration was only in ideas, then there are no safeguards to control how we interpret it. But if instead we always have to go back to what Scripture actually says, then we are less inclined to come to conclusions outside of the boundaries it itself establishes. If the words themselves don’t really matter, it doesn’t take long before we replace God’s inspired words with our own, all the while fooling ourselves that we have derived them from Scripture, when we have actually made them up.

I don’t think that Liberal Evangelicalism is sustainable. It is only a matter of time before the inconstancies that drive this position will force them to show their true colors and cause them to distance themselves from both the authority and inspiration of Scripture. In the meantime, let those who are convinced that the entire Bible is indeed the written Word of God stand firm, and not be intimidated by those who are allowing the spirit of the age rather than the Spirit of God determine biblical truth.

Shavuot: Festival of Grace

Tomorrow evening (May 23, 2015) begins the Jewish feast of Shavuot, which means “weeks”, commonly known in Christian circles as Pentecost. It is the only one of the three major Torah festivals that is not explicitly connected to a historical event. Pesach (English: Passover) commemorates the exodus from Egypt, and Sukkot (English: Booths) commemorates Israel’s wanderings in the wilderness. While there is no event explicitly connected with Shavuot, the timing of the festival does mark the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai, the Ten Commandments in particular. And so Shavuot became the time the people of Israel would especially remember the gift of his revelation to them.

Readers of the New Testament know Pentecost as the time of another of God’s gifts. For it was during its festivities that the earliest of Yeshua followers in Jerusalem experienced the outpouring of God’s Spirit in fulfillment of the promise given through the Hebrew prophet Joel hundreds of years before (see Joel 2 and Acts 2). The purpose of the Spirit’s coming had been explained to the apostles about a week earlier just prior to Yeshua’s return to heaven, when he said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). A key function of the Holy Spirit therefore was to give Yeshua’s followers the ability to effectively testify on his behalf.

We don’t have time or space here to get into an extensive study of the Holy Spirit, but his role in empowering believers is central to his relationship to us. He empowers us to not only effectively explain to others what Yeshua did on our behalf, but he also imparts God’s holiness to us, resulting in godly living, and guides us in very practical ways. In other words, it is by the Spirit we are able to be the people God wants us to be.

This could be why the Holy Spirit was poured out at Shavuot. On the day commemorating the giving of God’s word, God saw fit to impart the ability to live by it. Prior to that extraordinary day, God’s ways were beyond human capacity to fulfill, the result being condemnation. But Yeshua’s sacrifice and his resurrection laid a foundation where we can be fully accepted by God through the forgiveness of sins. This then cleared the way for the Holy Spirit to be imparted to us and equip us to truly live as children of God.

This God-initiated, God-imparted empowerment is what the New Testament calls “grace.” I know this may not be how you are used to using this word, since most often grace is defined as “unmerited favor.” It certainly is unmerited, but by limiting it to favor alone gives the impression that it only has to do with God’s acceptance. This understanding of grace divorces the work of God in our lives from his work throughout our lives. Grace is not simply about God’s acceptance, it is the New Testament’s way of expressing God’s covenantal faithfulness to his people. Whether it is God’s saving us, providing for us, leading us, or using us – all this is based on God’s power – his grace – not on ourselves or our ability.

Long-Term Memory Loss

yellowstar01_480Today is Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, when we remember the Nazi-inspired genocidal atrocity that took the lives of six million Jewish men, women, and children during World War II. Many Jewish people and others will take the time today to mark the loss of one third of European Jewry seventy years ago.

There are two reasons for Holocaust memorials like Yom Hashoah. First, they are designed to honor the memory of those who died. This keeps connection with our past and helps those still grieving after all these years. This is relatively easy to accomplish. We remember our loved ones by reciting their names, looking at their photographs if we have any, and telling their stories.

The second reason for Holocaust memorials is to prevent the kind of conditions that would lead to similar tragedies occurring again. This is not so easy, not simply because we lack the kind of control necessary to prevent such horrors, but because we have forgotten what we need to remember. We cannot learn lessons from the past, if we have forgotten the past. It’s not the historical details we have forgotten. Anyone can reacquaint themselves with the social conditions in Europe, Germany in particular, following the First World War or the underlying anti-Semitism prevalent in European society that Hitler leveraged for his hideous purposes. This is also easy to do, since we have ready access to the great amount of documentation from the period. We may not choose to do the research, but that’s a choice we make. The real problem is that there is a mental blindness that has created a chronic long-term memory loss preventing us from adequately remembering what we need to know in order not to repeat our difficult past.

It seems to me this blindness is because deep seated in the heart of most people today is a conviction that life is the product of meaningless randomization. Things happen because they happen and for no other reason. The universe came to be on its own and everything that exists emerged as a result of chance. Right and wrong are arbitrary. Value is perceived, not innate.

If we believe we live in a meaningless universe, all we have at our disposal for understanding human existence is desire and power. Look at the political issues of today. Most legislation is concerned about how to allow for the maximum expression of human desire while preventing as much short-term damage as possible. Society has lost any sense of long-term goals, higher purpose, and concern for the common good.

If this way of looking at life is correct, then how can we learn anything from the past? If we are victims of randomization, how do we protect ourselves from harm? We can’t call it tragedy, because that presumes a level of meaning that chance doesn’t provide for. Six million people from an identifiable group may have died amidst a set of circumstances, but giving these deaths a collective identity by calling it “The Holocaust” makes it like a special chapter in a story. However, if there is no story – only at best individuals’ own self-interest – there are no special chapters, just random results.

We cannot properly remember the Holocaust if life is not a story. This is why the Jewish people is a problem to contemporary thought. Whether it’s the Holocaust of seventy years ago or the State of Israel today, intentionally or unintentionally, the Jewish people challenge the notion of a meaningless universe. The plight and successes of Jewish people throughout history cannot be understood apart from a meta-narrative, the overarching plotline, established by God and revealed in the Bible. It is only as we remember this story that lessons can be learned from chapters such as the Holocaust.

Where Are You, God!

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I was recently asked to give a sermon on these words of Yeshua, spoken shortly before his death on the cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” In the original Greek New Testament, both Matthew and Mark, the only two Gospel writers to report this, provide not only the translation of what Yeshua said, but also a transliteration. A transliteration is when the sounds of one language are written with the letters of another. That’s what is happening every time we write, “hallelujah,” which is an attempt to write the actual Hebrew using English letters. Translated into English, hallelujah would be “Praise the Lord.” Very few times in the New Testament the writers provide transliterations as they do in the case of “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew’s rendering (slightly different from Mark’s) is “Eli eli lama sabachtani (the “ch” is pronounced as in “Bach”).

To the Greek or English reader, it is clear that Yeshua is quoting the opening words of Psalm 22. This should not be surprising as this is only one of several examples of references to that Psalm. But what is not immediately clear to the Greek or English reader is that “Eli eli lama sabachtani” is not a direct quote of the original Hebrew text. Instead it is a mixture of Hebrew and Aramaic, which was most likely the common Jewish way of speaking in those days (scholars debate the exact nature of the Jewish language of that time, but that doesn’t affect our discussion). Not directly quoting the Hebrew may be one of the reasons why those nearby didn’t realize what Yeshua was saying (see Matthew 27:47), and one of the reasons why Matthew and Mark went out of their way to report exactly what was said.

By not quoting the scriptural text, but using the common language of his day, we see how very personal these words were to Yeshua at the time. Nothing wrong with quoting Scripture, but Yeshua owned these words in a very intimate way. But what did they mean to him?

Some have taken “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” to mean that at that moment, God the Father abandoned God the Son due to his taking upon himself the sin of the world. That might very well be, but such a theological conclusion may miss the point, especially when we recognize the connection between the crucifixion and Psalm 22. For certainly in David’s case the Psalm is not about the actual abandonment of God, but rather the apparent abandonment of God. But actual or apparent, makes little difference to the one expressing such anguish. There is no cry more desperate than “Where are you, God?”

Only the one who truly knows God personally can utter such a cry. Atheists can’t, since they are settled in their minds about God’s existence: “I feel alone, because I am alone.” The agnostics, as they aren’t sure whether or not God exists, live with uncertainty: “I feel alone, because I might just be alone.” They may be confused about God and life perhaps, but not desperate. Even a so-called believer may not ever experience such desperation, because they can claim to believe in God, but not be convinced that he is personally interested in them or able to help: “I feel alone; it would be nice if God could or would help me, but, oh well, I’ll get by somehow.” But when you know that God is able and normally willing to help, but for reasons you don’t understand, has left you to fend for yourself, when you have tasted intimacy with God, knowing him as your loving father and best friend, but the forces of darkness have borne down on you and there’s no letting up in sight, then to cry “Where are you God?” is the most bitter cry of all.

What David went through in Psalm 22 and what you might be going through right now, is something with which Yeshua can completely identify. Yeshua experienced complete abandonment as he faced the full brunt of the effects of human rebellion against God: betrayed by a close associate, misunderstood by family, and abandoned by his close friends, even denied by one of them. In court, he was falsely accused, the victim of false testimony as he faced a corrupt and misguided justice system. He endured excruciating, unending pain as, all the while, his body was shamefully exposed. He was mocked and derided as a fraud as his faith was shoved in his face and his identity was completely undermined. And through it all, there was no one to protect him or help him with no relief in sight. But what made it way worse was that, all the while, he knew, better than anyone who has ever lived, that his help was right there – watching – able to do something, but doing nothing.

When we see this in the context of Psalm 22, we see that that Yeshua is identifying with the godly of the ages. For it is those who truly follow God who tend to experience this profound sense of abandonment – that the God whom we love and serve has abandoned us, when he hasn’t really. For whether or not Yeshua was truly abandoned in the particular moments in which he uttered these words, we know that in the end, God vindicated him by raising him again to life: the same expectation for all who entrust themselves to God in Yeshua’ name.

The experiences of Yeshua on the cross and of David in Psalm 22 remind us that those who truly love God will feel abandoned at times. In fact, it’s when we do God’s will that the likelihood of feeling abandoned increases. Both Psalm 22 and the crucifixion remind us that however difficult life may get, God will never truly abandons his people.

I wonder how many people who love God, but feel abandoned by him hesitate to cry out “Where are you, God?” out of a fear of being disloyal to him. You might be surprised at how God might answer you should you allow yourself to be honest with him and yourself.

I also wonder how many of us are afraid to stand up for God as did David and Yeshua out of an intense fear that we might have to stand alone. Because, and this might surprise you: it is when we allow ourselves to stand alone for God that we discover that we are not alone in God.

Why Go to Israel?

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As you may already be aware, this October, my wife, Robin, and I are leading a tour to Israel. But why? Visiting Israel at least once is a desire of many Bible believers. Who would not want to go and see the places where so many events of the Bible transpired? After hearing and reading about Jerusalem, the Mount of Olives, the Jordan River, the Sea of Galilee, the Dead Sea, and so on, and then to stand in these places, touch them, listen to the sounds, and smell the smells, how couldn’t the ancient past come alive, impacting the Bible with fresh meaning? Sounds like enough reason to go to me. But there’s even more to it than that, especially in how we have designed this particular tour experience.

 

Seeing the sites does indeed make the Bible come alive, but it seems to me that something more needs to happen. Maybe I am wrong, but even though most of us accept that the Bible is true – that its stories really happened – in our minds Israel and the Bible tend to live in the realm of myth. Touring Israel can easily become an overly romanticized, sentimental journey to a spiritual Disneyland, instead of an immersion into God’s practical and enduring reality.

 

The reestablishment of Israel after 2000 years of exile testifies to God’s ongoing faithfulness to his word and to his people. That is why a key component of this tour is connecting with some of what God is doing in the Land of Israel today as we get to know believers and various ministries there. Our hope is that we will come home not only knowing God and the Bible better, but also with a sense of connection to God’s work in Israel that will be with us for the rest of our lives.

 

Biblical truth is not a collection of abstract concepts, but a living, practical, on-the-ground reality. This tour, “God’s Faithfulness Then & Now,” will thrust us into the fullness of the Big Picture of God’s Epic Story.

We have just completed a promotional video, which you can see here. Please share it with friends by email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Special thanks to Dan Woods of Blue Mansion Media for producing this.

 

For more information about the tour, including a printable brochure and reservation forms, click here.

To make a reservation, contact Glenda by phone (toll-Free): 1-800-667-5559 (outside North America: 1-604-853-0751), ext: 365; or by email: glenda@mennotvl.com.

4 Reasons Not To Miss Ballet Magnificat’s Hiding Place

Ballet Magnificat is coming to Ontario, Canada, next week (March 16: Welland, March 19: Ottawa, March 20: Pembroke). You want to be there for several reasons:

  1. The Story. Hiding Place is one of the most powerful stories of the past hundred years. It recounts the Ten Boom family’s hiding of Jewish people during the Holocaust in Holland and the price they paid for doing so.
  1. The production. The medium of dance communicates the message of this extraordinary story in a way you will never forget. Ballet Magnificat is a professional Christian ballet company that combines excellence and passion in a most unusual way. You have to see it to believe it!
  1. Hannah Gilman (Disclaimer! very personal and biased reason). This is the first time our daughter will be performing with Ballet Magnificat in Canada, not to mention her hometown of Ottawa! She recently has been promoted to full company member. It would mean so much to her to see as many friends (old and new) and family members there.

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  1. It’s a fund raiser. Proceeds of the Welland performance go to “Elisha House,” a local pregnancy and family support center. The Ottawa and Pembroke performances are fund raisers for “Ottawa Inner City Ministries,” an organization that works among the homeless in Ottawa.

Get your tickets now!

Welland: http://www.arts.brocku.ca/performances/viewperformance.php?scode=2014&ecode=14R16

Ottawa or Pembroke: http://www.ottawainnercityministries.ca/events/5412-2/

Purim starts tonight! – Are You an Esther?

Happy Purim!

The Festival of Purim begins this evening, Wednesday, March 4, 2015. The story of Purim is found in the biblical book of Esther, where we read how Haman, the highest level official of the King of Persia, plotted the destruction of all Jewish people out of his resentment towards one prominent Jewish man, named Mordecai.

As dark as was Haman’s insane hatred, so bright was the virtue of Esther, Mordecai’s cousin. Through divine providence the King of Persia married this young Jewish girl. At first she hid her Jewish identity, until Haman’s plot became known. At the urging of Mordecai, Esther revealed her true identity to the King, who then allowed the Jews to defend themselves against Haman’s threat.

At first Esther hesitated to approach the King. For it was the King’s custom that if anyone appeared before him without first being summoned, they could be executed. The only exception to this rule, which could not be known beforehand, was if he extended his scepter to that person.

Esther could have reasoned that while the rest of her people were in danger, due to her special relationship to the King, she herself might be preserved. Not so according to Mordecai, who sent the following message to her:

“Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. 14 For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13-14)

Mordecai understood how dangerous Haman’s plot was. He knew that just because Esther was married to the King her protection was not guaranteed. While he was confident that God would deliver his people, it would most likely be at the cost of many lives including that of Esther and her own family (which would have included Mordecai as well). Yet Mordecai thought that God may have placed Esther in the royal household for the purpose of saving her people.

So Esther was willing to approach the King in the face of the possibility of execution. As it turned out the King was favorable toward Esther and granted her request, resulting in yet another time in history when the Jewish people escaped annihilation.

What about you? Are you an Esther? I wonder how many of us are in situations right now in which we are called to make a significant difference. We are living in a very critical time in history. Perhaps you think your life is just fine. But do you realize that the world is spinning out of control? Economic instability and the threat of terrorism engulf the globe. The moral consciousness of many, if not most, societies, have become corrupt beyond reason. Family life is broken, and almost everyone is obsessed with self and materialism.

How many of us may be in positions where we can make a positive difference by standing against the assault of wickedness before us? And if we do nothing? Will that ensure that we will escape the coming destruction?

Like Esther we may be intimidated by what it might mean to speak up. We know that to go against the flow of evil is risky. Yet, as Mordecai said, to do nothing is actually the greater risk.

We comfort ourselves with the thought that God will accomplish his purposes in spite of us. But is that really what we want? If we don’t take a stand, we will be swept away. And who knows but that we have come to our position, whatever that may be, for such a time as this?

God’s Epic Story in Maple Ridge Starts Tomorrow!

The more we grasp the Big Picture of the Bi-ble’s story, the better we will understand its details and find our unique place in God’s plan.

Too often people read the Bible as if it is a collection of heart-warming sayings. It’s not until we grasp that it is actually a grand epic story of God’s plans and purposes that it’s details begin to fall into place – and that includes the part that you are called to play.

Starting tomorrow evening, Friday, January 23, through Saturday afternoon, I will be presenting my Bible overview seminar, entitled “God’s Epic Story,” in Maple Ridge, British Columbia. If you are in the Vancouver or the Fraser Valley areas, it would be great to see you! Please let others know about this special event.

Location: Maple Ridge Community Church, 301-20450 Dewdney Trunk Road, Maple Ridge (between 203rd and 207th Streets, behind Save On Foods and beside Westgate Shopping Centre).

Dates and times: Begins Friday, January 23, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. Continues Saturday, January 24, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Cost: Individual: $10, Couple: $15, Family: $25

Contact: Pastor Duane Goerzen (duane@mrcchurch.com)