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Ishtar_gate
Author: Matthew
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This past month, I have enjoyed digging into the major prophets to learn and teach on the Biblical theology of Babylon. It is amazing to look at the precision, the details, and the accuracy of God’s Word as He has revealed Himself to us through Scripture. The objective of this study is to examine our holy God, His promises to His remnant (covenant) people, and learn from how He uses kings and kingdoms to accomplish His plan. For me, it has been rich to dig into Isaiah and Jeremiah with a renewed fervor for their prophetic message of repentance, and the clarity with which the O.T. points to the completed work of Christ Jesus on the cross. Christ has delivered His people, thrown on the yokes of slavery, and restored, calling a people who were once not His people, to Himself.

I’d love to share some of this learning with you if you’re up to dig into God’s Word. The lessons have been recorded and are online on our church web site @ pacifichope.com.

Here is a break down of each lesson, all of which are on the Pacific Hope site, under the “Listen to a sermon” link:

  • Lesson 1: The context and History of Babylon; text: Genesis 10-11
  • Lesson 2: God delivers Jerusalem; text- Isaiah 36-37
  • Lesson 3: Envoys from Babylon; text- Isaiah 38
  • Lesson 4: Why has the Lord our God done all these things to us?; text: Jeremiah 5 & 7
  • Lesson 5: The Yoke of Bablyon; text- Jeremiah 27-28

 

22 Apr / Bring back the blog

Author: Matthew
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In recent weeks, I’ve decided to renew our divine adventure website. My pal Henry Happ has helped me piece together the digital skeleton of a site, and slowly we will be breathing new life into it. This site has served to allow our family to share about ministry joys and challenges during stages of life we have enjoyed in Costa Rica, Illinois, Honduras, and California. Our life has been full of changes, and full of people that God has sovereignly placed in our path to build us up in one way or another. I personally have enjoyed using this website as a way to share news with you.
Frankly, I am not sure who among our friends kept up with us on the previous site, but I feel an obligation of sorts to bear witness to the sanctifying hand of God leading us through this divine adventure of life.
I love how David declares His compulsion to sing God’s praises. As He asks the Lord for healing he tells God that he wants to use his life to praise God. Turn, O Lord, deliver my life; save me for the sake of your steadfast love. For in death there is no remembrance of you; in Sheol who will give you praise? – Psalm 6:4-5. While I have life, I must sign his praises whether that be in my actions, my conversations with others, or on this little corner of cyberspace.
Likewise, Jesus said in Luke 19:40, that if His disciples did not proclaim His praises that the very stones would cry out. So, this little blog will be a vehicle for me to sing God’s praises! I pray that my words here would honor God, encourage you, and paint a picture of what He wants our lives to look like.  Stay tuned…

28 Oct / Lynch mob

lynching2
Author: Matthew
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I enjoyed a fabulous Saturday with my family yesterday. Joshua invited a new friend along to go to what is officially his favorite place on the planet. It’s a “balneario” in a little town called San Matias where for a modest fee you can swim in a raging river that cuts through a gorgeous canyon. The water is clean and very, very cold, which was perfect on a hot Honduran afternoon. After a fun day of swimming and picnic-ing, I told my precious family good-bye as I had planned to mountain bike back to our home.

The bike ride home is about 2.5 hours, with lots of climbing, spectacular views of the vast farmlands, and quaint little towns. I had to bike through two shallow river crossings, pass by waterfalls, and greet local farmers. Lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, and onion were being picked and set in boxes along the roadside awaiting purchase by the middle-men who sell to the markets in the city. Some of the boxes even said Dole on them, so who knows, your next salad up there in the US of A might just be coming from Honduras.

As I pedaled into the little town of El Empedrado, I came upon a slow moving procession of men walking, pick-up trucks, and horses. Usually, this is the sign of a solemn funeral procession. So, I decided to pass the procession without greeting anyone just to be respectful of their loss and grief. But as I passed one, two, and then three pick-up trucks full on men, I came to the front of the procession. At the front of this procession were three men who looked filthy, unshaved, and disheveled. The most curious detail through was that they were bound with ropes and being marched along at the front on this procession.

As a proceeded on into the town ahead of the procession, I saw children and women all coming out of their houses and heading into the streets. Neighbors were calling to one another, and at this point I realized what I thought was a funeral procession was really a lynch mob. Think this stuff doesn’t really happen? It does. This town was about an hour’s walk from the nearest police station, and as I learned from some of the neighbors, the town has been searching for several thieves. These thieves had been coming down out of the mountains and killing cattle, oxen, and even horses to cut them up and illegally sell their meat in Tegucigalpa markets. One woman lamented to me that her father had been unable to work for over a week as his pair of oxen had been killed by the thieves. On this quiet Saturday in the mountain town, the thieves had the misfortune of being caught red-handed stealing horses. Ooops.

As I recall seeing the poor, dirty men, it occurred to me that they had stolen the food and livelihood from numerous families in the town. The clamor of the pueblo demanded justice. As I think of the men, I know that they were stealing because of their inability to pay for the things they needed or wanted. No amount of beating or other unfortunate action of the lynch mob would result in these guys being able to pay for the cows, oxen, or horses they had taken. The debt was unpayable, and the demand for justice was insatiable.

For just a moment, I thought about how much a cow might cost. And I contemplated whether it would be prudent to pay for the animals these men had killed, so as to spare them being lynched. My generosity fell far short of making any such offer, and my common sense and innate self-preservation led me to pedal out of town as quickly as possible.

But the experience made quite an impression on me. What an amazing analogy to remind me of my own unfortunate state. My grievances are too many. The damages too high. The offense too great. Having been caught red-handed in sin, the God I serve demands justice [Job 37:23]. And the just penalty for my sin is death [Romans 6:23]. I am unable to pay back the God I have offended. The only way to satisfy the divine justice is for a life to be taken in place of mine [Hebrews 9:22]. And in place of yours. That penalty was paid by Jesus Christ [I Peter 1:17-19]. In full. And me (and you), are the dirty, pathetic criminals being untied, set free, and given a second chance. Praise God for His mercy.