Tag Archives: Joel

Joel 3

Not Choosing is also a Choice

Have you ever been caught betwixt two courses of action, both of which had profound implications morally, monetarily, socially, or physically, only to find yourself paralyzed? I’ve been there.

Recently I had the opportunity to purchase a barely used front-loading washing machine. This machine sold at retail for over $600. It was offered to me for $350.

I found myself paralyzed. I didn’t know what to do. I already had a perfectly functioning washing machine at home. True it is ancient, but it still works. I didn’t have $350 extra dollars laying around. However, I’m sure I could have come up with it if I had tried. I didn’t want to be seen as taking advantage of the seller. But then again, our washing machine isn’t going to last forever, parts will wear out, it will eventually leak or simply stop functioning…

I vacillated, and the machine was sold to someone else during the several-day period that I was trying to make up my mind. By not choosing, I had chosen. The message implied to the seller was that I was not interested enough to act. There is an old axiom that says;

“Better a bird in hand than two in the bush.”

The seller found a bird in his hand rather than chase the ones in the bushes – me.

You could describe my situation as a valley of decision. I say valley, because I needed to climb up and out in order to move on, before progress could be evidenced. Instead I sat there. The seller never saw my head clear the valley rim.

What other things am I in a valley of decision about?

Am I still vacillating about obeying traffic laws? Am I guarding my eyes like a savage warrior, or do I allow the occasional visual dalliance to cross my optic nerves? Do I invest regular time getting to know God, or is he a casual acquaintance who hopefully understands my busy schedule? Do I keep putting off work assignments hoping that they’ll eventually become irrelevant or forgotten?

Thousands upon thousands are waiting in the valley of decision. It is there that the day of the LORD will soon arrive. – Joel 3:14

Just like the washing machine deal, there is a day coming when it will be too late. And we don’t know when it is. But it is much closer than we think, it will soon arrive. Thousands upon thousands will feign surprise. But in reality they have already chosen. For you see, in the verse above, the Hebrew word translated as ‘decision’ is a past participle. It indicates that the decision has happened already. By going into the valley of decision, and staying there – waiting – the decision has been made. Not choosing is a choice.

Heavenly Father, may I have the courage to reject Adam’s blood-line curse of passivity. Please give me wisdom when needed, and a holy boldness to seize whatever opportunities are presented. Please grant to me the strength to choose that which brings you pleasure, not my enemy. Help me to love you better and to choose you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

We are to go through the valley, don’t stop. Jan

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Joel 2

A Warning

Recently a friend and I visited a spiritual father, a true sage, in the hospital. I love to hear this man recount his exploits of how he shared the good news of Jesus around the world. He is a true missionary, a disciple. He’s been in prison, been in danger while behind the iron curtain of communism, experienced the intolerance of islam, seen the beauty of Jerusalem, and lived the life of one completely sold out to Jesus Christ. If there is any doubt, let me put it plainly, I respect and trust this man more than most I’ve ever known. So when he motioned for us to lean in a bit closer while he was talking, believe me we did. We did not want to miss any pearls of wisdom.

However, what he had to say were not words of encouragement, they were a prophetic warning. He warned that within the next 12 to 24 months we would start to see the persecution of Christianity. He predicted the loss of tax-exempt status for religious organizations. In short, he said that the time of the end is near.

Did he say this to frighten us. No, absolutely not. He told us so that we would be prepared, so that the times would not take us by surprise. And I believe that he told us so that we can try to do something about it.

That is why the LORD says, “Turn to me now, while there is time! Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief; instead, tear your hearts.” Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful. He is not easily angered. He is filled with kindness and is eager not to punish you. Who knows? Perhaps even yet he will give you a reprieve, sending you a blessing instead of this terrible curse. – Joel 2:12-14a

There are numerous incidents in scripture where the Lord announced destruction and a curse on his people, if they did not change. I believe that we still have a chance for a reprieve. Eventually the end will come, just as it has been foretold in the book of Revelation, the book of Daniel and others. However, that day does not have the be just yet.

Heavenly Father spare your people. They belong to you, so don’t let us become an object of mockery. Don’t let the name “Christian” become a proverb of unbelievers who say, ‘Where is their God? He must be helpless!'” Father please have mercy on us and our children. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Standing between the altar and the people. Jan

Joel 1

Ingrained Memory

I recall with some amusement how my aunt Lydie and uncle Jara would rinse, and hang to dry, used zip-lock bags and used paper towels. Their pantry was lined with neatly stacked and labeled coffee jars, re-purposed for holding anything from flour to peanuts. They kept their air-conditioner set at an uncomfortable 80 degrees or more Fahrenheit. And despite living solely off of Social Security in their retirement years they managed to pay all of their bills, send money to numerous charities, buy gifts for their relatives special occasions, and amass a sizable nest-egg in the bank. They were very frugal.

My wife’s mother, while not to the extremes of my aunt and uncle, would wash and reuse plastic ‘solo’ cups. She was careful about every penny that she spent.

Why did that generation live that way?

Because they remembered.

Hear this, you leaders of the people! Everyone listen! In all your history, has anything like this ever happened before? Tell your children about it in the years to come. Pass the awful story down from generation to generation. – Joel 1:2-3

They remembered what it was like to be in severe want. They lived through the world-wide great depression. Nothing like it had ever happened in their or their relatives memories. My aunt and uncle and my mother-in-law were just children when hunger and joblessness washed over the nations of the world like a flood. They knew what it was like to go to bed hungry. And they determined that with whatever power they had within them they would save and conserve for those days and times when they might be in need again. Interestingly, despite their thrifty ways, one thing that all of them shared was that anyone who came to their homes never left hungry.

Why do we know about their struggles? Because they did pass the awful story down from their generation to the next. They warned us. They showed us how they lived.

Sadly we did not listen well. It appears as though the world is slowly being swallowed up in another flood of hunger and joblessness. And we have not prepared for our rainy day as we should have, debt is at astonishing levels. Savings are abysmal. How bad does it have to get before we heed Joel’s warning?

Announce a time of fasting; call the people together for a solemn meeting. Bring the leaders and all the people into the Temple of the LORD  your God, and cry out to him there. – Joel 1:14

He warned the people not to taunt them, but to show them the way out. God is not capricious, he truly desires the best for us. Even in the opening statement of Joel’s prophetic condemnation to the people there was hope. Or did you not notice that the people were told to “tell your children” and pass it down “from generation to generation”? If they were going to be wiped out by hunger, enemies and disease there would be no children or generations to which knowledge could be passed down.

Father, forgive us for our flagrant consumerism, our disregard for principles of saving and sharing which you clearly spell out in your word. Please heal our land, restore your hand of blessing once again. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

What was I writing about? Jan