Obstacles To Temple Building

Both letters to the Corinthian church remind them, “You are the temple of God.” Each member of Christ’s church is a temple, and we’re being built up into a spiritual house of God. This applies to the body as a whole, as well as to individuals.

We’ve been spending time in the book of Haggai the past couple weeks, talking about God’s challenge to the people who were neglecting His temple and what we can do about building up the temple we have today. Like those of us in the modern churches of God, the people of Haggai’s time faced a number obstacles to temple building. They let these obstacles discourage them for many years, but it turns out they weren’t really anything to worry about. Once the people turned back to God and started working on what He commanded, the obstacles didn’t seem so significant.

Obstacles To Temple Building | marissabaker.wordpress.com

Droughts

This isn’t so much an obstacle as it is a result of neglecting the temple in the first place. God tells the people their lives lacked good things “because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house” (Hag. 1:9).

Therefore the heavens above you withhold the dew, and the earth withholds its fruit. For I called for a drought on the land and the mountains, on the grain and the new wine and the oil, on whatever the ground brings forth, on men and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands.” (Hag. 1:10-11)

Confronted with these struggles, the people might have said, “We can’t build God’s house while so many bad things are happening.” It would have been an understandable reaction from a human perspective. Nothing we do is bearing fruit, so why bother with the temple? God wouldn’t be happy if that falls apart like everything else. But in reality, all the problems they were seeing came as a result of neglecting the temple.

In our own lives, we often find ourselves discouraged from contributing in our local churches, or distracted by other worries from building-up the people around us. We might think we have very little time or ability to contribute to  God’s temple because there’s so much other stuff going on, and often going wrong. In reality, if we prioritize God’s temple, the other things in our lives will start to fall into place (or at least get easier to deal with because we have God on our side).

Then Haggai, the Lord’s messenger, spoke the Lord’s message to the people, saying, “I am with you, says the Lord.” So the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and worked on the house of the Lord of hosts, their God (Hag. 1:13-14)

We need to let God “stir up” our spirits. Focusing only on things that are going wrong in our lives, and then trying to fix them without working on God’s temple, is just going to make things worse.

Comparisons

The previous temple had been the one built by Solomon. Physically speaking, it was the most glorious temple ever built for God. The people working on this new temple knew they couldn’t approach that magnificence, and it was discouraging.

Who is left among you who saw this temple in its former glory? And how do you see it now? In comparison with it, is this not in your eyes as nothing? Yet now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ says the Lord; ‘and be strong, Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest; and be strong, all you people of the land,’ says the Lord, ‘and work; for I am with you,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘According to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remains among you; do not fear!’ (Hag. 2:3-5)

You’ll hear something similar today in the church – people looking back to a time when the church was larger, or had more money, or seemed more influential, or had more respect in U.S. Culture. But God doesn’t want His people looking backwards except for productive reasons.

We can learn from past mistakes or take encouragement from past examples of God’s goodness, but being paralyzed in the present because you’re living in the past is unacceptable. God is moving us toward a great and glorious future, and that’s where we must look if we want His blessing now as we build the temples of our lives and churches.

Unstable Foundations

Whatever you’re building, it has to start with a firm foundation. The temple of God is no exception.

“For thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘And in this place I will give peace,’ says the Lord of hosts.” (Hag. 2:6-9)

These passages are prophetic, reaching beyond the completion of that physical temple to a new house constructed by God Himself. Part of it is being fulfilled today, as we are “being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood” (1 Pet. 2:5), and part will be fulfilled in the future.

but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.” Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire. (Heb. 12:26-29)

The author of Hebrews looked back to these verses in Haggai when talking about our future kingdom. To get there, we’re going to have to go through “shakings.” In my Messianic congregation, the Rabbi has given several messages where he reminds us that “everything which can be shaken will be shaken.” In other words, things that are not firmly grounded on Jesus Christ will topple over.

Unclean Hearts

Sometimes, we ourselves can be the obstacles standing in the way of building up a people that glorifies God. Other people can also act as obstacles, of course, but we have to be very careful to make sure we’ve gotten any beams out of our own eyes before trying to pick slivers out of someone else. We must examine our own hearts for uncleanness before we can hope to help others who are engaged in temple building.

And Haggai said, “If one who is unclean because of a dead body touches any of these, will it be unclean?”
So the priests answered and said, “It shall be unclean.”
Then Haggai answered and said, “‘So is this people, and so is this nation before Me,’ says the Lord, ‘and so is every work of their hands; and what they offer there is unclean. And now, carefully consider from this day forward: from before stone was laid upon stone in the temple of the Lord – since those days, when one came to a heap of twenty ephahs, there were but ten; when one came to the wine vat to draw out fifty baths from the press, there were but twenty. I struck you with blight and mildew and hail in all the labors of your hands; yet you did not turn to Me,’ says the Lord. (Hag. 2:13-17)

This takes us right back to where we started this chapter. If bad things are happening in our lives, it should prompt us to engage in self-examination and turn back to God – not stop building up God’s house.

What sort of things do you see holding the church back from growth? what steps could we take to overcome them?

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credits for photos used in blog images:

  • Roadblock” by Greg Westfall, CC BY via Flickr
  • Roadblock” by Olle Svensson, CC BY via Flickr

Stop Killing God’s Children

photo by Sander van der Wel, CC BY-SA via Flickr

photo by Sander van der Wel, CC BY-SA via Flickr

I can’t watch the Planned Parenthood videos. I’ve been reading articles by people who have seen them, though, and that’s enough to break my heart. How could we as a society and a nation have reached the point where chopping up living infants is not a crime?

It boggles my mind that any sort of decent person can condone this, but what’s even more disturbing is that some professing Christians still support abortion. We sometimes look at the Old Testament and wonder how a loving, merciful God could be so harsh and cruel, yet we overlook passages where God talks about looking at His own people with horror. As a God of both mercy and justice, there are some things He simply cannot stand for.

And they built the high places of Baal which are in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech, which I did not command them, nor did it come into My mind that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.’ (Jer. 32:35)

God found the idea of a nation murdering its children completely repulsive. It never even crossed His mind that Israel should do such a thing, and He certainly didn’t command it. But just in case it ever popped into their heads, He made sure to expressly forbid human sacrifice.

You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way; for every abomination to the Lord which He hates they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods. (Deut. 12:31)

photo by Harald Groven, CC BY-SA via Flickr

photo by Harald Groven, CC BY-SA via Flickr

Child sacrifice was the epitome of the sins these nations committed. It’s one of the chief reasons God decided they deserved the sort of punishment — often complete annihilation — that makes us so squeamish today. And yet here we are in the United States, doing pretty much the same thing. We’re not killing babies as part of a worship practice, but it has the same result. We’re voluntarily slaughtering infants because we’ve put other concerns before God’s laws.

In Proverbs 6, God talks about seven things that He hates. “Hands that shed innocent blood” is the one that most clearly applies to abortion. What blood could be more innocent than that of an unborn child? But other abominable things play a role as well. “A lying tongue” tells women who feel trapped that abortion is their best or only option. “A heart that devises wicked plans” came up with the modern abortion movement in the first place, killing babies for convenience, profit, and to eliminate populations seen as “undesirable”.

When a nation starts killing its own children, you know God’s judgement is just around the corner. When Israel was taken into captivity in 2 Kings 17, for example, God said one reason was that they’d instituted child sacrifice (2 Kings 17:17). He lays this sin to His people’s charge again in the prophets.

Moreover you took your sons and your daughters, whom you bore to Me, and these you sacrificed to them to be devoured. Were your acts of harlotry a small matter, that you have slain My children and offered them up to them by causing them to pass through the fire? (Ezk. 16:20-12)

photo by Bridget Coila, CC BY-SA via Flickr

photo by Bridget Coila, CC BY-SA via Flickr

God sees child murder as a personal affront against Him. Children belong to God, and He is invested in their well-being as a faithful and compassionate Creator. That’s why He’s so harsh on people who kill babies.

King Ahaz of Judah was another evil man who was sacrificing his own children around the time Israel was carried into captivity for the same sin (2 Kings 16:2). Yet Judah was not punished for one very important reason. The next king — a son who’d been allowed to live — “did what was right in the sight of the Lord” (2 Kings 18:3). Hezekiah removed idolatry, including child sacrifice, from Judah, and the country prospered (2 Kings 18:4-8).

These examples give us reason for both hope and fear — hope that we can change our culture and fear of what will happen if we don’t. Through these Planned Parenthood videos, our country has been given a wake-up call. We can either choose to remove evil from our land, as Hezekiah removed the institutionalized evils of previous generations in Judah, or we can face judgement as the unrepentant land of ancient Israel did.

Learning from Our Stress Function – Inferior Intuition

When we’re talking about someone’s personality type in the Myers-Briggs system, we usually talk about their primary and secondary functions (also called mental processes). An ISFJ, for example, leads with a process called Introverted Sensing (a perceiving/learning function), which is supported with Extroverted Feeling (a judging/decision making function). An ESTP, on the other hand, leads with Extroverted Sensing, supported by Introverted Thinking. Using Personality Hacker’s car model, we can compare our primary function to an adult driving a car, and the secondary function to a second adult navigating in the passenger seat.

Each type also has a tertiary function (the opposite of their secondary function), and an inferior function (the opposite of their primary function). These are less well developed. In the car model, our tertiary function is like a 10-year-old sitting behind the co-pilot, and the inferior function is like a 3-year-old sitting behind the driver. The processes you use most readily are the ones typically visible, and they define your personality as others usually see it. Our less developed functions play a significant role as well, though. Today, we’ll be looking at types which use Intuition as an inferior function.

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Characteristics of Inferior Intuition

ESTPs and ESFPs use dominant Extroverted Sensing, which makes Introverted Intuition their inferior function (this is also sometimes mistakenly called the “shadow”). Types like mine (INFJ) use Introverted Intuition comfortably, but for ESTPs and ESFPs it’s their least developed function. Naomi Quenk says inferior Introverted Intuition displays the following traits (I’ve put the traits of dominant Ni in parenthesis):

  • Internal confusion (instead of intellectual clarity)
  • Inappropriate attribution of meaning (accurate interpretation of perceptions)
  • Grandiose Vision (visionary insight)

ISFJs and ISTJs also lead with a sensing function. They primarily use Introverted Sensing, so that makes Extroverted Intuition their stress function. Here are the traits Quenk associates with inferior Extroverted Intuition (and their counterparts in Ne-dominant types like ENTPs and ENFPs).

  • Loss of control over facts and details (instead of comfortable inattention to sense data)
  • Impulsiveness (flexibility, adaptability, and risk taking)
  • Catastrophizing (optimism about future possibilities)

There are similarities in how a dominant Intuitive type and an inferior Intuitive type use their intuitive functions, but intuition in ESFPs, ESTPs, ISFJs, and ISTJs is poorly developed.

Everyday Life

For most types, the inferior function isn’t always visible. In ISFJs and ISTJs, though, it “seems to color the everyday personality” and they are typically seen as worriers (Quenk, Was That Really Me?, 215). It’s not all bad, though. When an Introverted Sensing type enjoys creative pursuits like writing poetry or music and creating a work of art (especially arts in an abstract form), they are tapping into their intuitive side. They might also daydream or enjoy escaping reality via fantasy and sci-fi. An interest in spirituality — especially aspects of God that cannot be understood with the five senses — might also be tied to the intuitive side.

Worries related to inferior Intuition frequently show up in ESFPs and ESTPs, who are often challenged by society for their apparent lack of seriousness. They rarely stay worried for long, though. Like the introverts, Extroverted Sensing types might also be avid readers, enjoy the arts, and can be attracted the spiritual or metaphysical as a way of explaining their intuition.

Stress Reactions

Learning from Our Stress Function - Inferior Intuition | marissabaker.wordpress.comMost of us don’t use our inferior processes on a regular basis. We’re so used to using the better-developed processes that we don’t spend much time worrying about the ones we don’t use. But under certain stressful conditions, we lose touch with our primary and secondary mental processes and fall-back on the undeveloped inferior function. Think back to the car model we mentioned, and imagine that something unexpected happened (like you swerve to avoid hitting a construction cone or small animal). It shakes up the passengers, the 3-year-old starts crying and suddenly the only thing anyone in the car can focus on is calming the baby.

Unknowns and future plans can trigger stress in all types that use dominant Sensing. ESTPs and ESFPs are most sensitive to situations and people that want them to make a commitment or think about what the future holds. They don’t like feeling trapped by planning, or being judged by people who are more serious and goal-oriented (Quenk 174). ISFJs and ISTJs experience anxiety about “the prospect of unknown, previously unexperienced activities” (Quenk, 218) They also hate it when someone contradicts evidence they can see with their eyes (e.g. they’re having a particularly bad day and someone tells them everything will be fine).

When Sensing types are “in the grip” of inferior Intuition (to borrow a term from Naomi Quenk), they display the characteristics associated with inferior Introverted Intuition or Extroverted Intuition. They are more likely to feel panicked, confused, and as if they’ve lost control over their lives. Intuition is great at coming up with future possibilities, but for dominant Sensing types the possibilities coming out of inferior Intuition often look terrifying. They’ll be distracted by worst-case-scenarios, and may seem paranoid. Instead of processing sensory information with their typical speed and accuracy before acting, they’ll second-guess everything and without careful thought.

Getting Out of Stress

Once we know what our inferior function is an how it affects us, we can start to learn from this hidden side of our personalities. Just knowing it’s there is reassuring, since now we have an idea of why we react to stress the way we do. It also opens up tools for understanding how our minds work, getting back to “normal” after we’ve gone through a stressful situation, and learning to use our inferior function effectively.

ESFPs and ESTPs frequently experience “inferior function episodes,” but they rarely last long. Their brains work quickly, and they don’t tend to dwell on things. If you are an ESFP or ESTP trying to get out of a stress-reaction, it often helps to have a contingency plan that you can fall-back on but still feel free to change. Talking it over with someone works for many ESFPs and ESTPs (both men and women), especially if they encourage you to reconnect with reality and find logical explanations for what’s troubling you. Others Extroverted Sensing types find that working through the experience and doing some hands-on activities also grounds them in their Sensing function (Quenk, 184-185).

As introverts, ISFJs and ISTJs need more alone-time to process the eruption of their inferior function. They might use this alone time to analyze and re-frame the situation to solve the original problem or plan how they can react better next time. Most people with these two types say physical exercise is one of the best ways for them to return to normal. The exception is female ISFJs, who rarely list exercise as useful. Female ISFJs are also more likely to want to talk about their stress reaction with someone else after they’ve had a chance to think (Quenk, 231-232).

Learning From the Inferior

Most type theorists will say people really start to incorporate their inferior function until mid-life, but you can start learning to use your Intuition any time. Isabel Meyer suggested that every type exercise all four of their functions when making a decision. Your dominant Sensing helps with analyzing facts, facing reality, and understanding exactly what sort of situation you’re facing. Tapping into Intuition (instead of being scared of it) allows for discovering possibilities you might not have otherwise considered, like how you might change the approach and attitudes that you and others bring to this particular situation (Meyers, Gifts Differing, 197).

As they learn to incorporate Intuition more fully, ISFJs and ISTJs seem to “mellow” and become more relaxed toward shortcomings in themselves and other people. They’re also less stressed by unexpected events (Quenk, 233-234). ESTPs and ESFPs who use their intuition more fully start to seem (a little) more mature. They also feel more comfortable and secure in themselves (Quenk, 186-187).

Learning from Our Stress Function - Inferior Intuition | marissabaker.wordpress.comcredits for pictures used in blog images:

  • The Shadow” by WhatiMom, CC BY-SA via Flickr
  • Shadow” by Nicola, CC BY via Flickr

Building Up Temples

Inspired by Haggai’s message to those rebuilding the temple in 520 B.C., we started a conversation about the state of the church in last week’s post. Via Haggai’s prophecy, God challenged His people about their choice to neglect rebuilding His temple. Sadly, today, there is a similar neglect in building up the individuals in God’s church, who are described as His temple. We talked about that last week, though. This week, we’re going to talk about what to do about it.

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Edification

Having challenged the people with their lack of productivity, God again asks them to consider their ways.

Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Consider your ways! Go up to the mountains and bring wood and build the temple, that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified,” says the Lord. “You looked for much, but indeed it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why?” says the Lord of hosts. “Because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house. (Hag. 1:7-9)

For us in the spiritual temple, we need to be careful to maintain a balance between individual growth and serving the body. Though our lives depend on developing a close, personal relationship with God, He never intended for us to act in isolation. Rather, the more we become like Christ, the more we should want to serve our brethren. Focusing only on building your own house is selfish, and is not pleasing to God.

In the Greek New Testament, every time we’re told to edify one another, it’s related to the idea of building a house. The Greek word for house is oikos (G3624), and it’s the root word for oikodomeo (G3618). This word literally means “to be a house builder,” and is translated “build,” “edify,” and “embolden.” This connection even exists in English – the word “edify” is related to “edifice.”

having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. (Eph. 2:20-22)

We know Jesus is ultimately the Builder who is creating His church (Matt. 16:18). He builds the house, has more glory than the house, and rules us “as a son over His own house” (Heb. 3:1-6). He does, however, have people within the house working with Him as He builds us up.

For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. (1 Cor. 3:9-11)

This principle works on an individual as well as a group level. You are a temple of God, and you are part of the House of God. Everything that you build must be founded on Jesus Christ, or it’s not going to last. In contrast, if we commit to building up God’s temple properly, He will be pleased and glorified. As we talked about last week, it’s not just the responsibility of people in leadership positions, either. We’re all to be teaching and building up one another.

Where to Build?

Any good building has to start with a good foundation. With God’s spirit in us and the Son of God as our foundation, we have all the tools we need to build well in the eyes of God. He’s given us the opportunity to build something glorious, if we’ll take it.

For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. (1 Cor. 3:11-13)

We get out of our walk with God what we put into it. If we give Him the perishable, useless stuff of our lives – the stubble left over after we do what we want – then our house will burn back down to the foundation and we’ll have to start over. But if we give Him our best, we will endure and be rewarded.

If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? (1 Cor. 3:14-16)

God’s glory once filled the tabernacle and the physical temples, and He wants to fill His temple today as well. But He won’t dwell in a defiled, falling-apart temple. It is our responsibility as His temples and as His church to put our best effort into making this building something fit for God’s use.

What Next?

I don’t want to end this post without actually giving some practical steps we can take to help rebuild God’s temple. Principles are good, but what does it really look like to edify other people and to build on the foundation of Jesus Christ?

  • Don’t shy away from talking about spiritual things. There’s often a tendency when we get together for church to chat, gossip, and just share what’s been going on since we saw each other last. But if we’re there with people who love God to honor God, we should be talking about Him at least a little, right?
  • Avoid negativity whenever possible. If you’ve had a terrible week and you need to vent, go ahead and give people the opportunity to comfort and encourage you. But if everything coming out of your mouth is critical, complaining, or pessimistic you’re not helping anyone (including yourself). It takes about 5 positive comments to balance out 1 negative remark. What ratio are you offering God’s temple?
  • Stop thinking small in terms of what the church is. The church isn’t United Church of God, or Living Church of God or whatever your local church calls itself. The church is every individual within the Body of Christ, and that’s where we need to be serving and edifying.
  • Study the Bible, especially Jesus Christ’s example. Corporate growth starts with individual growth, and individual growth starts with developing a relationship with Jesus Christ. He’s the foundation we have to build on, and the One who builds us up.

What would you add to this list? please share in the comments below!

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Myers-Briggs Temperaments and Depression

Depression isn’t confined to a certain personality type, but we can use tools from the Myers-Briggs type system when trying to combat negative thought patterns. If you know what your four-letter type is, then you can easily find out what are some common stress triggers and negative thought patterns for your type that can increase risk of depression.

Myers-Briggs Temperaments and Depression| marissabaker.wordpress.com

Temperament Affects Behavior

Depression is a very complicated issue with lots of underlying causes. The Harvard Medical School points out that while people often assume depression is due to a chemical imbalance in the brain, it also has to do with our genetics, temperament, stressful experiences, past traumas, other medical conditions, and certain medications. For now, we’re going to focus on temperament.

Your view of the world and, in particular, your unacknowledged assumptions about how the world works also influence how you feel. You develop your viewpoint early on and learn to automatically fall back on it when loss, disappointment, or rejection occurs.” — Understanding Depression, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School

Our temperaments affect how we process the sorts of situations that often lead to depression, such as grief or a prolonged struggle. In Myers-Briggs theory, we use the four-letter types to describe the personality temperament which is built from someone’s genetic predispositions and early childhood experiences.

*** People frequently experience depressed moods that last for a short time, which is different than clinical depression. Studying ways to change patterns of negative thinking can help pull you out of depression, but for ongoing or serious depression it is no substitute for professional counseling. If depression is interfering with your daily life, and especially if you’re having suicidal thoughts, please seek professional help.***

Your “Inferior Function”

Your Myers-Briggs type describes your temperament weaknesses as well as your strengths. Every type has what we call an inferior function, which is also sometimes called the “shadow.” It is our least-developed function that we still have some conscious access to, and it’s the one that emerges when we’re stressed. Since it’s largely unused, it’s an immature and distorted way of looking at the world and can lead to unhealthy outlooks and negative thoughts, which can in turn contribute to depression.

Naomi Quenk’s book Was That Really Me? talks about stress bringing out our “hidden personality” in what she describes as an eruption of the inferior function. When we’re caught “in the grip” of our inferior functions, we are trying to deal with stress using a mental process that is unfamiliar, and it can have a profound effect on our mood.

Not every instance of stress will trigger our inferior function, and not all grip experiences are negative. Staying in your inferior function, though, increases stress levels because you’re not really using the functions that come most naturally to you. Learning about your inferior function gives you insight into typical sensitivities that might trigger a grip experience, describes signs that you are “in the grip”, and gives you tools for returning to a more balanced state of mind.

The Grip and Depression

Depression isn’t necessarily a symptom of being in the grip, but grip experiences do increase the tendency to fall into negative thought patterns. Our thought patterns directly impact our health, and “in many cases, depression can be caused by negative thinking, itself” (LiveScience.com). The tools each type can use to climb out of the grip can also help you get a handle on negative thinking.

As an example, INFJs and INFPs are two types that frequently report dealing with depression. An INFJ’s inferior function is Extroverted Sensing, and it typically shows up as “obsessive focus on external data,” “overindulgence in sensual pleasure,” and “adversarial attitude toward the outer world” (Quenk, p.198)  For INFPs, their inferior Extroverted Thinking causes “judgements of incompetence,” “aggressive criticism,” and “precipitous action” (Quenk, p.105). It’s easy to see how these will negatively influence your thoughts. If you feel like the outer world is attacking you, it changes how you think about everything around you and your own responses to external events and people. If you fall into a pattern of thinking you’re incompetent, it’s going to pull your thoughts in a negative direction.

Naomi Quenk writes that INFJs “need space and a low-pressure environment to regain their dominant” function (p.207). A change of scenery can help, and INFJs often appreciate having someone else around after a while to offer support and affirmation. Sometimes, taking time away from other people to journal about your thoughts and look at them more objectively helps redirect patterns of negativity. Talking things over with a friend or therapist also helps, though I find it works best after taking some alone time first. INFPs use similar methods for returning to equilibrium, but alone time is even more important for them and when they do talk to people, they need someone to listen more than offer guidance (Quenk, p.115).

A certain amount of alone time is critical for many introvert types, but not always so much for extroverted types. ENFJs, for example, fall into a pattern of “excessive criticism,” “convoluted logic,” and “compulsive search for truth” when in the grip. This type often benefits from exercise and a change of scenery, as well as having someone involve them in a project that captures their interest. Having a chance to talk things over with someone who takes them seriously is critical (Quenk, p. 163).

I highly recommend checking out Naomi Quenk’s book, or at least running a Google search to learn your type’s inferior function. It’s helped me quite a bit with my anxiety and in finding strategies for turning negative thoughts around, as well as with relating to other people who are struggling with different stressors in their lives.

Myers-Briggs Temperaments and Depression| marissabaker.wordpress.com

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Consider Our Temples

The book of Haggai largely concerns rebuilding on the site of Solomon’s temple, which was destroyed in the Babylonian invasion chronicled in 2 Kings 25 (around 586 B.C.). A group of Jewish exiles under the leadership of Zerubbabel returned to the land in 536, but by the time Haggai wrote in 520 they’d not yet rebuilt the temple.

Considering that the church today is called God’s temple, I wondered what spiritual parallels there might be between Haggai’s call for obedience in rebuilding the the temple, and us today. This book begins by quoting people who said it wasn’t yet time to build God’s house (Hag. 1:2). God challenged them whether it was right for them to have spent the past 16 years on their own projects instead of His temple (Hag. 1:3-4)

Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: “Consider your ways! You have sown much, and bring in little; you eat, but do not have enough; you drink, but you are not filled with drink; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and he who earns wages, earns wages to put into a bag with holes.” (Hag. 1:5-6)

Let’s suppose for a moment that this isn’t just talking to the people tasked with rebuilding God’s temple 2,500 years ago – that this is speaking to the church today as a spiritual temple. What is it telling us?

Consider Our Temples | marissabaker.wordpress.com

Sowing

you have sown much, and bring in little

In one of Christ’s parables, sowing seeds in a field is compared to spreading God’s world (Mark 4:14-20). Many churches are good at the sowing part – we scatter the gospel out over the internet, radio, television and into people’s homes as magazines. Truly, we “have sown much.”

The first part of this phrase applies to us, so what about the second? We’ve sown, but is it bearing fruit as God intended, “some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred”? I think the state of the church and the world today answers this question for us. Churches are divided, scattered and squabbling. Growth is down, and the world has lost respect for Christianity.

“Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.” (1 Cor. 3:16-17)

If our efforts aren’t bringing forth the fruits they should, perhaps we should follow the instructions in Haggai to consider our ways in regards to God’s temple. The defilement Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians doesn’t come from an attack on God’s temple from the outside. It comes from within individuals — those of us who aren’t keeping our hearts and minds pure as we follow after Christ — and it hurts the temple as a whole.

Eating

you eat, but do not have enough

One of the ways the Bible talks about the World of life is as nourishment, comparing it to food. Jesus Himself, the living Word, is called the Bread of Life (John 6:35). If we’re studying our Bibles and going to church then we are eating from the words of God, but are we eating enough?

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Heb. 5:12-14)

If we’re not studying more deeply on our own, and if the teachers in the temple aren’t providing strong meat, then God’s church won’t grow. It won’t have enough food.

Drinking

you drink, but you are not filled with drink

Though it does require some action on our part, the blood of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice is the only way to cleanse a defiled, polluted temple. The law requires blood purification of holy things, and the only sacrifice precious enough to cleanse a spiritual temple was that of Jesus Himself (Heb. 9:22-24).

Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. (John 6:53-56)

1 Corinthians 11 helps clarify this by quoting Jesus at the Passover, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me” (1 Cor. 11:25). To drink of Jesus Christ, we have to enter into covenant with the One who gave His life for His temple. It can’t just be lip-service either or sipping at the cup but not letting Him in. We have to be “filled with drink.”

Clothing

you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm

We often say the “poor, blind and naked” church of Laodicea represents the end-time church (Rev. 3:17-18). It follows, then, that if we are living in the end times we should expect to see Laodicean attitudes in our lives and churches. Jesus wouldn’t have sent this letter if it wasn’t a very real issue that we need to recognize and take steps to correct.

We don’t like to think about this, though, so we say the Philadelphian and Laodicean eras overlap and that we’re Philadelphians living in a Laodicean world. But the letters weren’t written to the world – they were written to us. A self-assured comment that, “Well, at least I’m not a Laodicean,” sounds an awful lot like, “I am rich and have need of nothing.” We say we’re clothed, but many in the church are not warmed.

If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? (James 2:5-1)

This example works on a spiritual as well as a physical level. If someone is hungering after the word of God and yearning for the warmth of companionship with brethren, we’re not helping them by simply handing them a pamphlet or ignoring them while we hang out with our friends. We have to be the type of temple that can truly fill those needs for nourishment and warmth.

I dare say the Laodiceans weren’t literally walking around in the nude, but they were missing a key component of spiritual clothing. In Rev. 19:8, it says the bride’s white garment “is the righteous acts of the saints.” Perhaps these righteous actions are what is missing in the lives of those in churches where “no one is warm.”

Working

he who earns wages, earns wages to put into a bag with holes

The person described in this part of Haggai is working, but to no effect. Everything he struggles to earn is immediately lost because it’s not stored properly.

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matt. 6:19-20)

Even if we’re working on things that could be good and useful, it’s not beneficial unless we’re doing it for God. We should be His workmen, serving the High Priest in His temple. Paul tells us to present ourselves to God as able and willing workers (2 Tim. 2:15). It’s impossible to work for God without earning wages which will endure into the next world, but it’s equally impossible to lay up treasure for ourselves if we are not working for the things of God.

Consider Our Temples | marissabaker.wordpress.com

Ever since reading Haggai, I can’t get the subject of rebuilding temples off my mind. I think it’s clear to most of us today that the church isn’t everything that it could, or should, be as the body of Jesus Christ. We lay blame in all sorts of places — church leadership, other organizations, the state of the world today — but those excuses only go so far. If we believe that nothing can stand against us while God is on our side, then these obstacles lose their power. If we believe that the church is defined as the individuals who make of the body of Jesus Christ, then the state of the church is the responsibility of each individual.

I plan to spend quite a bit of my study time over the next few weeks on this topic, and I expect it will fill at least two more blog posts. I invite you to join me in diving into God’s word, studying what He has to say about His temple, and praying for the state of His church.

What’s one change you think is key to strengthening God’s church? Comment below!

 

Picnic Anniversary

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looking out from behind the shelter house

I spent yesterday at the event highlight of the summer — Wilson’s Picnic by the Pond for the local church groups. This being the 20th anniversary year, I really don’t remember a time when I haven’t been going to Wilson’s picnic every summer (I’d just turned 6 when they started hosting it and I’ve never missed a year). I suppose that actually makes it the most stable, long-lasting thing in my life other than my family.

My pictures here are a bit dated, since I rarely take time from swimming for photography, but it hasn’t really changed much in the past 4 years. Just some of the young people are taller now.

Come to think of it, it really hasn’t changed all that much in the past 20 years. It’s just that now, I’m one of the teens and young adults hauling little kids up onto the dock instead of one of the girls bobbing around in a life jacket waiting for a “big boy” to fish me out so I can jump back in.

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Three of the picnic’s main attractions: paddle boat, the dock, and Saturn

Wilson’s Picnic might be one reason I love the water so much. I think I’ve swam every year, even if it was only for 1/2 an hour between rain showers or when it was so cold we literally started turning blue. Most years, though, it’s warm and sunny enough to spend all day in the water and come out with a lovely lobster-red sun burn. When we were younger and less worried about sunscreen, my sister and I would spend the next couple weeks after the picnic pealing flakes of dead skin off our sunburns. A bit wiser now, only my shoulders burned this year.

In addition to swimming, the picnic is always stuffed full of good friends and good food like my peach cheesecake squares. At any given time throughout the day, you usually have the option to eat, swim, play corn hole, chat with friends, or get into a deep Bible discussion. I checked off all except corn hole this year, and I’m already looking forward to next year. Thanks to the Wilsons for 20 years of amazing memories!

Replacing Worry

We live in the midst of a dangerous, confusing world, and it’s getting worse as we move ever closer to the time of Christ’s return.

And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. (Matt. 24:6-8)

Our first instinct when things get bad is to worry and panic. This is precisely what we’re told not to do. Easier said than done, though, isn’t it? Worry’s not something you can just turn off — you have to replace it with something else.

No Reason for Fear

Zephaniah prophesied during the reign of King Josiah, so things were going pretty well at the time for the nation of Judah. Even so, he warned about a time much like our own when things would start looking pretty bleak for God’s people. In the midst of these dark prophecies, though, Zephaniah’s book gives great reason for not giving in to fear.

In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: “Do not fear; Zion, let not your hands be weak. The Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”(Zeph. 3:16-17)

Replacing Worry | marissabaker.wordpress.comGod doesn’t just tell us not to have fear. He gives us assurances designed to make fear impossible. “Fear not” because God Himself is with you to save you. “Fear not” because of His steadfast love, which Paul says nothing can separate us from (Rom. 8:35-39). “Fear not” because the Lord delights in you (Deut. 10:15; Is. 62:4).

He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Heb. 13:5-6)

I still struggle with removing fear on a practical level, but abstractly I know fear simply doesn’t make sense for a Christian. The God who created the universe personally guarantees that He won’t abandon you. I always find things I’m scared of less frightening if there’s a good friend beside me, and what better friend could we have to cling to for assurance and stability in times of fear than God Himself?

Live By Faith

We replace worry with faith by consistently turning to God.

Seek the Lord, all you meek of the earth, who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility. It may be that you will be hidden in the day of the Lord’s anger. (Zeph. 2:3)

Seeking after God and consistently following His commands is the best way to get close to Him, which is the best place to be in times of trouble. No matter what happens, our focus must stay on God as we live by faith.

Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. (Matt. 24:44)

Living without fear doesn’t involve burying our heads in the sand and ignoring things that might make us afraid. Rather, it involves a watchful readiness while living in the faith and confidence of our Messiah.

Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. (Matt. 24:45-46)

Replacing Worry | marissabaker.wordpress.comWhen we stand before Christ at the end of this earth or the end of our lives — whichever comes first — we want to be found “so doing.” Consistent growth and faithfulness will be rewarded.

But what if you’re lacking in faith, and still suffering from worry? Ask God for help. He won’t turn down a sincere plea for help, even if it’s help with our unbelief.

 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (James 1:6-8)

Brethren, let us pray for stability in our walk with God — to be grounded so firmly on the Rock of Jesus Christ that we won’t be tossed about with fear. Wavering and worry go hand-in-hand, and we need God’s help to overcome that and “continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast” (Col. 1:23).

Yoga, Meditation, and Christianity

I do yoga. I am a Christian.

This doesn’t bother me or seem like a contradition — I avoid yoga teachers that give me “the creeps,” I’m so much healthier than I was before I started yoga (physically and in terms of dealing with anxiety), and far as I can tell it hasn’t had any sort of negative effect on my walk with God. But it bothers other Christians, so I don’t post about yoga on Facebook and rarely talk about it except with friends who I know also practice yoga.

Yoga, Meditation, and Christianity: Thoughts from a Christian who was questioned about her yoga practice | marissabaker.wordpress.com

photo credit: “Beach Inversions” by Lauren Nelson, CC BY via Flickr

Last week, a friend posted a link to this article: New Age, Occultism, and Our Children in Public Schools, which is an excerpt about yoga and meditation from the book How to Protect Your Child From the New Age and Spiritual Deception by Berit Kjos. In general, I tend to think writers like this are over-reacting in how they talk about yoga — proponents of natural healing don’t refuse to use a medicinal herb because it was once linked with a religious healing ritual, so why should I worry that the asanas (physical movements of yoga) have roots in Eastern religions?

And yet, my research on the background of yoga has been cursory until very recently. I knew there were aspects of yoga that I was comfortable with (e.g. the movements and focused breathing) and aspects I was not (e.g. transcendental mediation), but I hadn’t done much study of the history and all the practices involved if you fully embrace all levels of yoga. Before I really responded to my fellow, genuinely concerned, Christians, I had to know more.

Yoga

The history of yoga is long, pre-dating written records, and my own research so far is limited to what I’ve found online, rather than seeking out history of yoga books (which would be more reliable, but I’m not sure I want to deepen my understanding quite that much). This “History of Yoga” article by Timothy Burgin seems to provide a concise overview that agrees with other sources I’ve come across.

Yoga went through several phases, but what we think of as modern yoga really started with Patanjali’s Yoga-Sûtras, outlining the 8 limbs of yoga. After that, yoga started to get farther away from a single religion and became more of a lifestyle focused on connecting mind, body, and spirit. The movements that most Westerns think of as yoga also emerged around this time, and is now called Hatha Yoga.

The Sûtras, or limbs, of Classical Yoga are still highly influential to modern yoga practices, and studying them is where I started to clarify what aspects of yoga I’m okay with and which ones are not in line with my Christian faith. Click here to read an article with a detailed description of each, or stay here for a quick overview:

  1. Yama — focuses on how we conduct ourselves and holds the practitioner to an ethical standard of nonviolence, truthfulness, not stealing, self-control and noncovetousness.
  2. Niyama — has to do with self-discipline and spirituality. It involves cleanliness, contentment, the study of sacred scriptures, knowing oneself, and surrender to the divine.
  3. Asana — the postures and movements that come to mind when most people talk about “yoga.”
  4. Pranayama — uses breath control to rejuvenate and connect breath, mind, and emotions. Literally translates as “life force extension.”
  5. Pratyahara — withdrawal or “sensory transcendence” designed to detach from the outward senses and draw awareness inward. Used to recognize things in the self that are unhealthy or holding one back.
  6. Dharana — concentration on a “single mental object” to slow down the thinking process. It moves beyond being aware of the self to removing distractions inside the mind.
  7. Dhyana — meditation as an “uninterrupted flow of concentration.” It involves awareness without focus.
  8. Samadhi — described by Patanjali as “a state of ecstasy” where “the meditator merges with his or her point of focus and transcends the Self altogether.”

I’m on-board with the first 4 limbs, but not with the final 4. It’s pretty hard to argue against 1 and 2 as general rules for conduct, there’s nothing wrong with exercise, and the tools of breath control are useful for things like reducing anxiety, singing, and focus. 5 through 8, though, are focused on a spiritual experience that is not compatible with Christianity.

Meditation

Eastern meditation practices focus on emptying the mind and disconnecting from the body to transcend Self and get in touch with the spiritual. Christianity, on the other hand, has never advocated a practice of disconnecting spirit from the physical body. Though we teach that what makes you “you” is the spirit inside rather than the fleshly temple you reside in, there is no Biblical evidence that Christians should try to separate the two or transcend the body while here on earth.

As Christians, we must learn to live “in the spirit” so our fleshly desires are ruled by our spirits as guided by God’s Spirit, but what we do with our bodies is still important (Gal.5:16-17). The key is “as guided by God’s Spirit” — our spirits communicate with His, and we’re ultimately accountable for exercising self-control and obedience to Him in all aspects of our lives. We must “cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7:1).

Another way Eastern mediation practices clash with Christianity is in looking somewhere other than God for answers. Whether it’s getting in touch with the Self or becoming one with the universe, the goal of meditation is something outside God. Jesus Himself said, “I can of mine own self do nothing” (John 5:30), so what makes us think that we could find answers within our own selves?

Biblical meditation

There is something called “meditation” in the Bible that Christians should practice. I think that if Satan can’t draw Christians toward something evil, he’ll try to find a way to push them away from something good. We need to be careful that fear of Eastern meditation and New Age spirituality doesn’t keep us from practicing the right kind of meditation.

Christian meditation opens the mind to the purposes of God by reflection upon Scripture, simply resting in his presence, and dwelling with him in the goodness of his creation. We grow as loving, holy, faithful beings by dwelling in the presence of God. Christian meditation, thus, attempts to fill the mind with the Person, attributes, and purposes of God. Eastern meditation, on the other hand, attempts to empty the mind. – Gailyn Van Rheenen, “Christian Prayer and Eastern Meditation

We have plenty of examples of meditation in the Bible. Isaac first met Rebekah on his way to meditate alone in the field at evening (Gen. 24:63), David meditated in his heart about the works and precepts of God (Ps. 49:3; 77:12; 119:15, 23, 97), and Paul counsels Timothy to meditate on things having to do with God’s word, love, the Spirit, faith,  exhortation, and doctrine (1 Tim. 4:12-16). Christian meditation doesn’t involve emptying your mind — it involves filling it with God’s word in search of deeper understanding and a closer relationship with Him.

Yoga, Meditation, and Christianity: Thoughts from a Christian who was questioned about her yoga practice | marissabaker.wordpress.com

photo credit: “Yoga Pose” by Tim Cigelske, CC BY-SA via Flickr

Some Answers

I do not believe Eastern meditation is compatible with Christianity. It’s goals are not in line with drawing nearer to God, and it is connected with a different religious model of spirituality. This brings it under the heading of idolatry, and we all know how God feels about that. Should Christians meditate? yes, but in the Biblical sense, not in ways connected with Eastern spiritualism.

Yoga (in terms of the movements, breathing, and basic tenets) is more of a gray area because it’s not something forbidden, yet some Christians still believe it is wrong. In this case, I think Romans 14:22-23 applies. If you feel convicted that yoga is wrong, then don’t do it. If you can practice yoga exercises while strong in the faith, it’s okay. Should Christians practice yoga? that’s a personal choice.

Habakkuk’s Question

As I study the minor prophets, I’m struck by how relevant their messages are today. Habakkuk wrestled with much the same questions that trouble believers in our own culture.

O Lord, how long shall I cry, and You will not hear? Even cry out to You, “Violence!” and You will not save. Why do You show me iniquity, and cause me to see trouble? For plundering and violence are before me; there is strife, and contention arises. Therefore the law is powerless, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; therefore perverse judgment proceeds. (Hab. 1:2-4)

Why would God let a country founded on His law get so bad? How can He stomach the violence and corruption and rampant sin? Why isn’t He listening to us?

Struggling With God

The entire short book of Habakkuk is a back-and-forth between God and His prophet. After Habakkuk opened with his familiar questions, God responded. It wasn’t what Habakkuk was hoping for, though.

Look among the nations and watch — be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days which you would not believe, though it were told you. For indeed I am raising up the Chaldeans, a bitter and hasty nation which marches through the breadth of the earth, to possess dwelling places that are not theirs. (Hab. 1:5-6)

Habakkuk's Question | marissabaker.wordpress.comHabakkuk was understandably confused. He wanted action from God, but not this. The Chaldeans were a cruel people and God confirmed that their invasion would be “terrible and dreadful” as they “all come for violence” (Hab. 1:7, 9). Did the punishment really have to be so bad?

Are You not from everlasting, O Lord my God, my Holy One? We shall not die. O Lord, You have appointed them for judgment; O Rock, You have marked them for correction. You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on wickedness. Why do You look on those who deal treacherously, and hold Your tongue when the wicked devours a person more righteous than he? (Hab. 1:12-13)

I find it encouraging to read this and other stories where men of God struggled to understand His will. God is not obligated to explain Himself to man, and yet sometimes He does. He isn’t threatened or irritated by sincere, searching questions.

God’s Answer

What follows in chapter 2 answers Habakkuk’s question about why God would use a heathen nation to punish His own people. It is also a general statement about how God responds to wickedness.

Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. (Hab. 2:2-3)

God basically starts out by telling Habakkuk to follow His instructions and be patient. Even when we don’t understand, God expects obedience. He doesn’t just leave Habakkuk with the answer, “Because I said so,” though.

Behold the proud, his soul is not upright in him; but the just shall live by his faith. (Hab. 2:4)

The Lord gives Habakkuk a guide we’re still using today, and which Paul quotes twice (Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11). “The just shall live by faith,” but that is not how Israel was living. Earlier, Habakkuk asked why God would punish Israel’s sin using a nation that was even more sinful than they. God points out here that no matter what Habakkuk thought about the Chaldeans, Israel’s sin still deserved judgement.

Chapter 2 proclaims “Woe” to people who are drunken, proud and never satisfied (2:5), to the violent (2:8, 17), to the covetous and those who plan to escape God’s wrath by their own strength (2:9-12), to those who scheme and take advantage of others (2:15-16), and to the idolaters (2:18-19). These problems were not limited to Israel or to a specific time, but God could not let His chosen people continue in such sin.

All For Us

Chapter 3 records a prayer that my study Bible notes was intended for singing as a Psalm and isn’t part of the exchange between Habakkuk and God. Given the subject matter, though, I suspect Habakkuk did write it after mulling over his talk with God and the answers he was given.

O Lord, I have heard Your speech and was afraid; O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years! In the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy. (Hab. 3:2)

Though he accepted God’s answer and knew his nation deserved punishment, there was nothing wrong with Habakkuk asking for mercy. We can do that today as well. His mercy is abundant (1 Pet. 1:3), and He has a long history of pardoning iniquity and holding back His wrath if we come to repentance, and of protecting His people in the midst of trouble.

If you have some extra time, click here to read all of Chapter 3. It’s an interesting picture Habakkuk paints of God — one full of power to execute vengeance, as well as one of a God full of glory and worthy of praise, who always acts for the good of His people even if it’s not how they expected.

You marched through the land in indignation; You trampled the nations in anger. You went forth for the salvation of Your people, for salvation with Your Anointed. You struck the head from the house of the wicked, by laying bare from foundation to neck. (Hab. 3:12-13)

Habakkuk's Question | marissabaker.wordpress.comNo matter how bad it gets, Habakkuk says, “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation” (Hab. 3:18). We can do the same thing, secure in the knowledge that God is committed to saving us who stay committed to following Him.

The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, and He will make me walk on my high hills. (Hab. 3:19)