Who’s to Blame

whos-to-blame

“I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.” –Jeremiah 10:23

I’ve been listening to a podcast lately—“The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill Church” from Christianity Today. It particularly intrigues me. First, because Mark Driscoll was one of the first preachers I started following on podcast in my early twenties, when God started stirring my heart to a wholehearted pursuit. Driscoll encouraged me to this end, challenging my assumed doctrines and admonished me to “man-up” as a husband and future father.

But also, because I can somewhat identify with the story. I was blessed to be on the frontlines of a similar ministry that broke the bonds of tradition in the effort to refocus on the lost, thoroughly involved in the excitement of its newness and growth. In my ignorance, I overlooked irreverent ideas, and took part in theologically problematic decisions. And I was “blessed” to walk through the ministry’s collapse, all the while grieving all parties involved—including my own flawed force of foolishness and reform.

What I found most fascinating about the first episode “Who killed Mars Hill?” was that its conclusion was, well, everybody. From the lead pastor, to the leaders caught up in the excitement of growth, to angry detractors who flourished on controversy, to those mesmerized by a personality, to those who left without saying a word… we should hesitate before pointing a finger.

Except to one.

God.

And yet this angle was strangely absent from the program’s conclusion. Is not God the cause of the rise and fall of nations (Dan 2:21)? And can we not draw the conclusion that He is also responsible for the trajectory of every ministry, business, and personal empire? He is the one who kills and makes alive (Deu 32:39), determining the days of every human being (Job 14:5). He is the one who makes one poor and another rich (1Sa 2:6-7). Even as people plan their way, the LORD establishes our every step (Psa 16:9)—so far beyond our understanding (Psa 20:24).

Let us humbly ponder this profound truth, being careful to assign credit when things come together, or blame when things fall apart. Rather, let us look to the Maker to understand His purposes in all things.

“So then, do not judge anything before the time. Wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the motives of hearts. Then each will receive recognition from God.” –1 Corinthians 4:5

Billy Neal

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Responsibility

Responsibility

Now it came to pass at the end of seven days that the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me.
— Ezekiel 3:16-17

Men, following the vision where Ezekiel met with the Lord in His glory, Ezekiel sat by the river Chebar for 7 days. These 7 days marked a time of consecration, and also a time of mourning over Israel’s condition.

At the end of 7 days, the Word of the Lord came to Ezekiel. The Lord calls him a “watchman” and tells him to hear the Word given to him and to warn Israel accordingly. This time, Ezekiel receives instruction from the Lord by Word, instead of by vision. Ezekiel has graciously been given time by the Lord to process all He has experienced, and given time to accept within himself all he would be called into. The Lord knew when he’d be ready and came to him with a title.

The Lord has a formal role for him to take part in and has impressed upon him the significance of this role. Like a guard or Shepherd, Ezekiel will listen for the Lord and convey any message given to the people. A guard or sentry was a common position in this time, and they were charged with sounding an alarm at the moment trouble was revealed. Ezekiel will be asked to sound the alarm and communicate various troubles for many chapters coming.

Announcing trouble is meant to grant opportunity to respond to that trouble appropriately. Ezekiel will “hear a Word from My mouth” v17, and convey that Word. We all, regardless of the age, have a responsibility to listen for the Word of the Lord. We each have influence given to us by the Lord. We may not hear the audible voice of God, nor speak before a national address, but we each have access to the Word of God, His Holy Spirit, who illuminates His Word, and an audience we can reach. Our audience may be small, but no less important to God.

Move forward men, taking the opportunity to acknowledge and accept our responsibility to take His Word into our hearts with understanding. Speak truths and warnings found in His Word to those you have influence over. May the Lord direct your steps and give us each a voice befitting His Word.

Vance Durrance

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