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Honey in the Rock

If you haven’t heard the song “Honey in the Rock”, I’m here to change that. Since I first heard this song debuted at the Passion Conference in January, it has been stuck in my mind and on my playlists. It’s catchy, singable, fun, and speaks biblical truths that encourage the soul.

Singer-songwriter Brooke Ligertwood (also joined by Brandon Lake) tells of God’s sweet provision. Borrowing from a beautiful word picture, first used by King David, this song describes the ways in which our Heavenly Father faithfully and creatively provides for His children day and night:

But I would feed you with the finest wheat. I would satisfy you with wild honey from the rock.” – Psalm 81:16

There’s honey in the rock
Water in the stone
Manna on the ground
No matter where I go
I don’t need to worry now that I know
Everything I need You’ve got
There’s honey in the rock

The chorus claims the truth that even in life’s hardest moments, we can still experience goodness because of our hope found in God. He has proven time and time again that He will meet each and every need. His provision is sure and He delights in lovingkindness. (Jer. 9:24)

Take a moment to think about a time when you were in need. Seriously, stop right now and think.

Got it?

Good.

Did God meet that need?

If the answer is no, keep waiting and trusting in the Lord. And then think about a time when He did meet your need. Remind yourself of His faithfulness then and praise Him for it now! Because “Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8), we can count on Him to give us everything we need. If you’re like me, you need reminding. We’re a forgetful people. So here are a few more reminders of this truth from His Word:

“The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.” – Psalm 34:10

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

“And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” – 2 Corinthians 9:8

“For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.” – Psalm 84:11

“The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.” – Psalm 145:15-16

“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.” – Matthew 6:31-32

What verses of encouragement would you add to this list?

 

A Simple Tool for Silence and Solitude

A few Sundays ago, Pastor Neal challenged the church in the spiritual discipline of Silence and Solitude. If this is a new spiritual discipline for you, it is fairly straightforward. In this practice, first, you find a place of solitude – a place where you can be alone for at least 10 minutes. Then, you remain silent for those 10 minutes. It is just you, God, and your thoughts. For some, this sounds amazing. For others, it feels very intimidating. One might think, “what am I going to find if I sit alone with my thoughts and the Holy Spirit?”

I have consistently practiced different forms of this spiritual discipline for a few years. I wake up, make a cup of tea, leave my phone on the nightstand, set a 15 minute timer on my watch, and sip my tea in silence. Just the Holy Spirit and my thoughts. You would be amazed at the personal growth born from those moments of silence before God. God has revealed sin in my life. God has strengthened my faith through Biblical promises. God has provided clarity for future steps. All this happened because I took the time to sit in silence before the Lord.

A christian monk once illustrated the practice of silence and solitude using dirty water. He poured the dirty water into a bowl and asked his contemporaries to look into the water. All they saw were dirt particles swirling around in the water. After a few minutes, the monk again asked his contemporaries to look into the water. The water was now still. The dirt had settled to the bottom of the bowl and they could clearly see their reflection in the water. Similarly, the practice of being alone in silence requires us to slow down. It forces us to see our thoughts and reflect upon our emotions. It gives us time to reminisce upon our day and see how the Lord has been at work. In the middle of our busy schedules, we all need time to pause and reset.

With this in mind, I would like to offer a short silence and solitude practice that you can do tomorrow on your drive home from work. This practice is called the examen. The examen was developed by the founder of the Jesuit order, Ignatius of Loyola. It is a discipline that leads one to reflect upon their day with God in prayer. Below I have mapped out a simple form of Ignatius’ examen.

3×5 Examen

  1. Begin your time with God by asking the Holy Spirit to give you eyes to see where He is at work in your day.
  2. Reflect upon 5 moments in your day that you are thankful. Thank God for those moments.
  3. Reflect upon 5 moments in your day that you have not been faithful to the Lord. You can use the 10 commandments, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, or the beatitudes for this section. Take these 5 moments to the Lord in confession and repentance.
  4. Reflect upon 5 areas in the remainder of your day that you would like God’s assistance. Ask God to give you the grace to glorify Him in these areas of life. Trust that God will answer your prayer.
  5. After you have completed each step, close your time with a short prayer of thanksgiving.

This is a short version of Ignatius’ original Examen, yet when practiced regularly it produces great growth.

Whether you have been practicing silence and solitude for years or this is your first time hearing about it as a spiritual discipline, I pray that this simple tool will deepen your relationship with the Lord.

“I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love,”

Ephesians 3:17-18 CSB

The Church in the Post-Roe World

Rooted in second-wave feminism, the 1973 Supreme Court decision known as Roe v. Wade held that women have a right to an abortion without government restriction. In short, if women were to be equal with men, they also had to be given the opportunity to be as equally non-pregnant as men. Therefore, abortion was the remedy.

That was 49 years ago.

At approximately 10:11 a.m. on Friday morning, June 24, 2022 news broke that the Supreme Court of the United States had reversed the 1973 decision along with Planned Parenthood v. Casey of 1992. The current court had planned to hand down a number of opinions before its summer recess. Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization was a case they were deliberating, which dealt with a 15-week abortion ban in the state of Mississippi. In a 6-3 decision in favor of Dobbs, the court consequently struck down Roe with a 5-4 vote with Chief Justice John Roberts offering the fourth dissent. For over nearly a half-century, these two cases, Roe and Casey, legalized abortion across our land. They have now both been overturned—a historic, landmark moment of this generation. Such a decision is a judicial tourniquet placed upon a moral hemorrhage of our country. Thanks be to God.

Writing the majority opinion in reversing Roe, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito states, “We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled. The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision.” It is that simple. There is no constitutional right to an abortion. Roe was unconstitutional from its inception. The claim that the SCOTUS has taken away a constitutional human right can only be made by either a misreading or a misconstruing of the original authorial intent of the Constitution. As a resource, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the SBC has compiled a list of notable quotations of Friday’s ruling, available here at Baptist Press.

What does this not mean?

In simple terms, what this does not mean is that abortion is illegal nationwide. Roe v. Wade legalized abortion as a constitutional right in all 50 states, but it was not codified into law—something many state lawmakers were aiming for very soon. The SCOTUS found abortion rights to be outside the scope of the United States Constitution and therefore not a constitutional right. Reversing Roe was less a victory for conservatives, and more so a victory for the Constitution.

What does this mean?

With the reversal of Roe, abortion rights legislation returns to the state governments, into the hands of the American people. Instead of unconstitutionally using the SCOTUS as a mini-legislature, abortion rights at the state level are a decision for the people and by the people. In a post-Roe world, states even have the constitutional authority to ban abortion, and many are doing just that. In fact, thirteen states across our union expected the soon death of Roe and duly prepared by passing “trigger laws” that would immediately, or soon thereafter, ban abortion upon Roe’s reversal. North Carolina is not one of those states, however. Be that as it may, with Roe gone the door is opened for further pro-life legislation across our nation advancing the fight for unborn lives in this most unprecedented opportunity. Though Friday’s ruling was not a sufficient victory for the pro-life movement, it was a necessary one.

Given the reversal of Roe, I’d like to challenge the church to embrace the new world with fresh, yet challenging, ministry opportunities. Here are three statements I believe churches must believe and act upon, now.

1. Churches must double down on biblical convictions.

Christians do well to remember their convictions framed by a biblical worldview—life begins at the moment of conception and that which is in a pregnant mother’s womb is a human being made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27-28; Psalm 139). Our convictions will be pressured on many fronts. Church leaders will be forced to capitulate on front line issues. Every Christian in every pew must decide now what they believe and why they believe it. Few times in recent memory has our society needed to hear more clearly the gospel of Christ set forth in the broader framework of Christian truth — free from moral adulteration or cultural nominalization.

Christians must keep the main thing in focus: the protection of the unborn. The issue is not about human rights of women, but much more. The focus is on all human rights which extend to unborn human beings. The bedrock conviction undergirding the last 50 years of debate is that the inhabitant of the womb is a human being, which Christian’s are quick to say, “That’s God’s baby.” But let me be equally quick to say – that the blood of Jesus covers every sin and sinner who comes to him in saving, trusting faith. If you, dear women, have had an abortion, please run to Jesus with your sin, your life, your pain. He will take things from there.

The pro-life argument posits a simple syllogism: It’s wrong to intentionally kill innocent human beings. Abortion does that very thing. Therefore, abortion is wrong. Full stop.

Fighting for the unborn in the legislative lanes of our government is not only humane, but innately Christian. Laws change behavior and government is a gift of God (Rom. 13:1-7). Although one cannot legislate morality, laws do change behavior and restrain evil.

To call our own Declaration of Independence as a witness to what Americans say they believe: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

2. Churches must flex their muscles of care and compassion.

Will the reversal of Roe have negative qualitative consequences for women? Yes, sadly and surely. But the absence of Roe is not to blame, but rather because the fallenness of our world is no respecter of persons. In every society of every age women face indescribable vulnerabilities known only to them—and not by men. And the reality of pregnancy is only one of many lifelong exposures women navigate as only a woman can. The world is real and it is fallen. From rape and incest to unplanned and promiscuous extramarital sex, women will face the reality of unwanted pregnancies. Further, some women will be subject to forced, botched and coerced abortions that will surely leave deep emotional scars. Christians must be crystal clear: Roe is not the savior of any woman, but rather the One, our Savior the Lord Jesus, born to us in the fullness of time (Galatians 4:4-5).

With the reversal of Roe, we will face a new humanitarian crisis in this country. Not a crisis inside the womb, but outside the womb. Women will be having babies that they otherwise would have aborted, and not every woman is prepared for such a reality. Therefore, adoption must be our lead foot. We cannot advocate for the unborn and not care for them after their birth. It is simply a moral contradiction inconsistent with a Christian worldview (James 1:27). Now more than ever must the church flex its muscle by intentionally caring for women, their new born babies, and welcoming them into safe spaces, not to mention— the local church.

Here at Coats Baptist we talk about being in the “people business.” Now is your opportunity. Here is step one of component one of the Missionary Task. From crisis pregnancy centers to the neighbor down the street, build relationships and help the hurting. You’ll never be without a ministry. We must meet women in the trials of their life with the hope of life. There must be more care, a better way, and hope for the helpless. Abortion simply cannot be the solution to the hurting women of this world looking for answers.

With the utmost sensitivity, we must say that any trauma women will face in a post-Roe world will pale in comparison to the 62 million dead unborn babies over the last 49 years. However, we live in a real world, with no quick fix for the myriad of challenges women face. For the marginalized, victimized and traumitized mothers of today, abortion can never be the solution to the trials of life. There is a better prescription to a pregnancy in crisis, benefiting both mother and child.

Pray for the women who are right now pregnant and as of last week were planning to abort their babies. Given that much depends upon the state in which they live and the means they have to travel, pregnant women are all facing a single, personal question with renewed clarity, “What will I do now?” 

3. Churches must intentionally pursue like-minded partnerships at various levels.

I am an old millennial, born in 1983, ten years after the Roe v. Wade decision. I have never known a world with abortion rights legislated at the state level. The majority of American citizens share in my reality. This is a new world, and it’s still not pretty. A post-Roe world presents a checkered challenge throughout our country that this present generation has never seen. How we behave in pro-life states will have ramifications on those in states who still allow abortion.

Our nation is a divided union, and they are raging (Psalm 2). Provoking the monster with the overturning of Roe is frankly a risk the pro-life community is willing to take to save innocent lives. With abortion rights returned to the states, it is highly likely that alcoves of pseudo-refuge for women seeking an abortion in cooperating states will develop. Our nation will soon show its true colors through the moral temperature of its people at the state level.

Churches across state lines now face a new set of challenges. A church in one state may have ministry opportunities or hurdles that another church does not. Everything we do, down to our words and our actions, must be for the good of our brothers and sisters as they minister to the broken in a broken world. Just this past week I spoke to fellow pastors in California and Massachusetts who are about to step into a ministry context they have never known. The cooperation of Southern Baptists, no, all theologically like-minded churches, has seldom been more important than now.

“The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord.” – Proverbs 21:31

“For This is the Will of God”

I just have a quick and challenging thought for you this week from 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV) 

This passage gives 3 quick, short challenges that should change our whole aspect and perception on life. It says to rejoice evermore, pray without ceasing, and to give thanks in all circumstances. Let’s break these down.

“Rejoice evermore” To have joy is not to be happy about your circumstance but to have joy through the circumstance Christ has placed you in. As Christians we should be able to rejoice always because our joy is not based in our circumstances but in God. The best way to be a light in this world is to find comfort and peace in the joy God has given you even in the worst possible circumstance. 

“Pray without ceasing” —  Prayer should be the first response to a circumstance or trial in a believer’s life. To pray without ceasing doesn’t mean that you are in a constant head bowed, eyes closed and hands folded position at all times. At the end of the day those are just actions or customs of prayer, not prayer itself. Not saying that you should neglect that reverent time alone with Christ. Time alone with Christ is essential to the command to pray without ceasing. Prayer is communication with Christ your Heavenly Father, so to pray without ceasing is to have a constant flowing conversation with God. 

 “Give thanks in all circumstances” —Christ isn’t telling you to give thanks for everything, but in everything. As Christians we have put our faith and trust in Christ for our salvation so we must also put that same trust in His sovereign hand in our lives. Recognize that He is in control and you aren’t relying on chance or blind fate. Look back on the circumstances and trials of life and be encouraged that Christ was faithful through it. 

Charles Spurgeon said “When joy and prayer are married their first born child is gratitude.” If we are saturating our lives with rejoicing (joy) and prayer we will be thankful in our circumstances. It isn’t easy to rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and in everything give thanks, but we can do it because it is God’s will. I’ve heard it put this way, the thought isn’t “it’s God’s will, so you must do it,” but instead “it’s God’s will, so you can do it.” 

When we come up on certain circumstances in life, I believe that these 3 things are the easiest to neglect. As Christians, we must make a conscious decision to praise God in the storm (rejoice evermore), have a constant attitude of God’s presence (pray without ceasing), and to thank God for His sovereignty over all things (give thanks in all circumstances.)

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