Joel 3-Amos 1 B

I rewatched The Bible Project overview and the description of Northern Israel’s king as apathetic really resonated with me.

Apathy is just this quiet, effortless evil that grows. It’s a privilege to be apathetic. If you have that luxury, it’s a sign that you are able to side-step corruption and brokenness that others can’t escape.

What do you find yourself indifferent towards?

You don’t have to have a fiery passion behind every cause. What has God put in front of you? You are called to care about that.

It is equally unproductive to get finger-pointy and bitter towards people who don’t feel as enthusiastic about something as you. Americans, we need to wake up. We need to actively work against apathy. But shaming and should-ing people isn’t going to help!

Enthusiasm and drive are contagious. Encourage people to jump in on what you care about and what you’re doing. I’m always way more interested in partnering with someone who’s like “this is what I’m doing, you want in?” than I am about someone who shames me.

Let’s not let apathy blind us from a huge need in front of us. If you’re not sure what to take on, pray about it. Sometimes I realize I’m looking over people’s heads trying to find The Big Thing God Has For Me. When really, it’s humble, meaningful work right in my lap. And it’s just as important.

-Carly

Joel 1-2 B

Check out Carly’s post from last time.

Something came over me today as I looked back on completing Hosea and drove into this small, powerful book.

Living far away from the community I first came to know the LORD in is difficult. There’s really nothing like it that I’ve found on this side of the Atlantic. However, I know the Messiah has come, and the glory of the LORD fills the whole earth. He’s always been everywhere as the omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent Creator of all things. Therefore, I know that He’s here, and of course with me, as He promises.

Living in a secular, agnostic-at-best, best country tugs at my heart. What is the LORD doing with these people?

Here’s a concerning scene from NBC’s The Good Place:

Chidi Anagonye: I just want to have a little chat about your progress. In the last homework assignment, I asked you to examine the ethics of “Les Misérables”, in which a man steals a loaf of bread to feed his starving family. Would you please read your first paragraph?

Michael: “Everyone in this story sucks and belongs in the Bad Place. The thief is bad, the officer chasing him is bad, all the whiny prostitutes are bad, plus they’re all French, so they’re going to the Bad Place automatically.”

Chidi Anagonye: Do you see how you’re already off-topic?

Michael: I know for a fact that if you steal a loaf of bread, it’s -17 points, – 20 if it’s a baguette, because that makes you more French.

This lands as a good joke for American audiences because of how people in the US generally judge the French. But it’s also a good joke because it’s not true… right?

The first two chapters of Joel dive into the destruction of the land and Jerusalem’s impending doom.

“The day of the LORD is indeed great and very awesome, and who can endure it? ‘Yet even now,’ declares the LORD, ‘return to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, weeping and morning; and rend your heart and not your garments.’ Now return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in loving kindness and relenting of evil.” (2:11b-13)

The LORD halts the invasion to invite the repentance of His people. His plan is restoration, and the salvation of Israel has always been tied to blessing for the whole world.

On this future Day of the LORD “whoever calls on the name of the LORD will be delivered.” (2:32)

I don’t fully knows what all this means, but I find comfort in the heart of the LORD who extends deliverance in the midst of destruction. I have to believe that HE knows what He’s doing and knows best how to draw the hearts of His creation via deep, heart-rending transformation.

In any case He is worthy of all our adoration and praise. Worship and devotion belongs no where else. What a Mighty God we serve!

-Bethany

Hosea 13-14 B

“I took care of you in the wilderness, in that dry and thirsty land. But when you had eaten and were satisfied, you became proud and forgot me.” 13:5-6

Pride. It’s our biggest obstacle in our relationship with God. It’s the obstacle.

When I read this verse above, I reflected on times in the past when God had rescued me, fed and nourished me, and then I forgot him.

If I’ve gleaned anything from Israel’s relationship with God, it’s that humility is something we have to actively work towards.

Our egos are constantly fighting against us! We need to remember what God has done for us.

Remembrance will prompt gratefulness, and gratefulness will prompt humility. And humility combats pride.

Reflect on your rescue story with God. This is the best way to stay grateful. Remember what he’s done!

-Carly

Hosea 11-12 B

These chapters are beautiful. So often, the LORD reminisces about the early days of His people.

“When Israel was a youth I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son. The more they called them, the more they went from them; they kept sacrificing to the Baals and burning incense to idols. Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, I took them in my arms; but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with chords of a man, with the bonds of love, and I became to them as one who lifts the yoke from their jaws; and I bent down and fed them.” (11-1-4)

Although they always seemed to be choosing the wrong path, the compassion of the LORD erupts when He considers His children.

“How can I give you up, O Ephraim, How can I surrender you, O Israel? (11:8)

Even 12:3-4 delves into the story of Jacob, followed by a “come back!”

While there is much theology to unpack here, and worship inspired by the incredible heart of the LORD, I felt compelled to write about how His compassion reflects in us.

Is there anyone in your life who is causing you grief lately? Is there a friend or family member you feel ready to give up on? What keeps you tethered to that person? Is it not the connection you felt at first, back when the relationship was young?

I find this an easily relatable emotion. Maybe that’s why it strikes us with such power when we see the LORD demonstrating love in this way.

How can we continue to love as He loves? How can we move closer to His kind of love? It takes a larger capacity for hurt and disappointment, I imagine.

Maybe there’s someone in your life you need to go back with. Back before the beef and hurt feelings. Back before the betrayals, failed expectations, or whatever.

Who can we extend fresh starts to for the sake of love?

Isn’t it amazing how often the LORD offers His people a fresh start? We’re all broken and in desperate need of this kind of grace and mercy. How can you extend that to someone today? How can you receive it?

-Bethany

Hosea 9-10 B

“The Lord says, ‘O Israel, when I first found you, it was like finding fresh grapes in the desert. When I saw your ancestors, it was like seeing the first ripe figs of the season. But then they deserted me for Baal-peor, giving themselves to that shameful idol. Soon they became vile, as vile as the god they worshiped.’ ” (9:10)

Recently, my husband and I went wine tasting at a vineyard. We wandered around the property a little bit, and couldn’t help but get a closer look at the vines. They were heavy with grapes, it was harvest time and they couldn’t have been more plump. We plucked a couple right off the vine and popped them in our mouths. Have you ever had a grape like that? It was tender, breaking open as soon as it touched my teeth. And so juicy and delicious.

God compares Israel to enjoying refreshing, ripe grapes in the hot sun. They were a treat! Something life-giving and enjoyable. How did they get accused of being vile within the same sentence?

(I looked up some of the worship rituals of Baal and wow, vile is an understatement. My stomach is still in a knot and I don’t think I’ve read the word “defecate” so many times in a paragraph.)

Where do you fall on this spectrum right now? Does God consider your relationship with him enjoyable?

Or have you given yourself over to pagan “rituals and worship” of culture? Sometimes you have to step back and gain perspective on behavior that seems normal and okay. Maybe even things you participate in church.

Reflect on the way you worship today.

-Carly

Hosea 7-8 B

Chapter seven is full of heat.

“They are all adulterers, like an oven heated by the baker who ceases to stir up the fire. On the day of our king, the princes become sick with the heat of wine; He stretched out his hand with scoffers, for their hearts are like an oven as they approach their plotting; their anger smolders all night, in the morning it burns like a flaming fire. All of them are hot like an oven, and they consume their rulers; all their kinds have fallen. None of them calls on Me. Ephraim mixes himself with the nations; Ephraim has become a cake not turned.” (7:4-8)

I have to change gears in my head a little here, because I’m still in Jeremiah, imagining Jerusalem burning down as they’re dragged off into exile. However, this book was written decades before the exile of Judah. In fact, it takes place up in the Northern Kingdom of Israel during the reign of Jeroboam II (786-746 BC). It’s a totally different, yet painfully familiar situation.

The Northern Kings never followed the LORD. They worshiped the calf of Samaria (8:6) which Jeroboam I set up when the kingdoms split, in order to deter his people from traveling to Jerusalem for worship (1 Kings 12:26-30). “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem; behold your gods, O Israel, that brought you up from the land of Egypt.” (1 Kings 12:28). Things really just got worse from there. They never recovered.

So what is being communicated with all these heated words? This chapter is surrounded by assertions that the LORD is less interested in their sacrificial work, and more interested in their obedience (6:6; 8:13). Instead of following after Him in truth, they are needlessly setting themselves on fire. They may kick and scream and protest, but they are truly their own worst enemies. They’re a cake that’s burnt because no one bothered to turn.

What are our calves of Samaria? What idols of religiosity have we erected in order to cut down on travel time, ie. doing the work to get to know the One True God? How have the consequences of those choices started to burn us?

So often we cry out that trails are judgement of the LORD, but He’s saying, I haven’t even touched you yet. These are just your own natural consequences singeing your toes. He still remains in the posture of a husband, paying to take you back after you’ve whored yourself out to some abusive relationship.

Ask the LORD, today: what are the fires you lit that are starting to burn? Are you ready to exchange them for obedience and true worship?

-Bethany

Hosea 5-6 B

“I will return again to my place, until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face, and in their distress earnestly seek me.” 5:15

Bethany wrote a great reflection on verses from chapter 6 last night, so I decide to hone in on this verse from 5.

God’s response to our stubbornness is so loving. I feel especially grateful for this quality of His as I raise young kids. My fuse is pretty short and I get pretty self-righteous pretty quickly when it’s not.

I love that no matter how wrong we are, he is still waiting to rescue us in our distress.

It makes me think about when my two year old gets scared halfway up our steep staircase. We have baby gates at the top and bottom, but inevitably they get left open. She takes any opportunity she can to scurry past the forbidden barrier and work her way upstairs towards her brother’s room. Eventually, she panics and calls for me when she’s towards the top. My irritation that she’s disobeying, again, never overrides my desire to take care of her. I don’t just want to be right. I want her to be safe.

It’s not really a comparable analogy, but in this season of young kids and power struggles, I’m reminded often of how patient and steadfast God is with us.

-Carly