Archive for the month “April, 2020”

Pop Pop Epistle #103 – Reflecting on Habakkuk

Pop Pop Epistles (Main)

Dear Grandkids,

We are still deeply buried in the midst of this coronavirus thing. And we have no idea at this point how long it will go on. Here are some reflections from Habakkuk 3 who was dealing with his own pandemic and wondering when would life ever be normal again…

“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength;” (Habakkuk 3:17-19a)

In this short book tucked away toward the back of the Older Testament, Habakkuk asks the kinds of questions that we all ask from time to time:

Why, God,  do I cry for help and it seems like you don’t listen? (1:2)

Why do you tolerate wrongdoing and injustice in the world? (1:3)

Why do you do nothing when wicked people triumph over the righteous? (1:13)

Where are you when I’m jobless and and have no hope for a financial upturn? (3:17)

The one thing that you notice when you read this book is that though Habakkuk is complaining, he is complaining to God. This is a healthy kind of complaining. It is the complaining of a man who passionately loves God and is trying to make sense of who He is and what He is doing in the world around him. It is the kind of complaining that takes the time to listen to God after he puts all his gripes out on the table. It is the kind of complaining that isn’t trying to twist God’s arm into getting what he wants. Habakkuk loves God but there is much that he does not understand and much that he does not like. So he tells God. He is not ditching his faith; he is not turning his back on God; he is not complaining to whoever is willing to listen. He is talking with God. I say “with” rather than “to” because he takes the time to listen to what God has to say.

Pastor/author John Ortberg says in his book God Is Closer Than You Think, “When we are passionately honest with God, when we are not indulging in self-pity or martyrdom but are genuinely opening ourselves up to God, when we complain in hope that God can still be trusted – then we are asking God to create the kind of condition in our hearts that will make resting in His presence possible again. And God will come. But He may come in unexpected ways.”

After he has said his piece to God, Habakkuk finds peace with God. He is reminded that God is indeed in control. He is reminded that dire circumstances do not mean you cannot experience joy. He is reminded that each day he needs God’s strength to deal with life. He is reminded that even though life often seems unfair, that God is a fair and just Sovereign.

You will have plenty of opportunities to complain over the next 70 years of your life. Take your complaints to God even as you trust that He is indeed in control.

And may you find your joy and your strength in Him each and every day – no matter what you may have to complain about!

Never forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

Pop Pop Epistle # 102 – 100th Day of 2020

Pop Pop Epistles (Main)

Dear Grandkids,

Today is the 100th day of the year 2020. It has been a different kind of year to say the least. But besides all the coronavirus stuff that is going on there are lots of other reasons to think about this day. Here are a few for your pondering minds:

It is Passover – Passover began last evening and will continue until April 16. For the Jews it commemorates their liberation from slavery and bondage in Egypt. Specifically, it remembers how the angel of death passed over all the families who had sprinkled blood over the doorposts of their homes and spared the killing of their firstborn.

It is also Maundy Thursday – “Maundy” is a shortened form of mandatum (Latin), which means “command.”  On the Thursday of Christ’s final week before being crucified and resurrected, after washing His disciple’s feet in an extraordinary display of humility, Jesus gave this commandment to His disciples: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 13:34).

Interestingly, it was on this date, April 9, back in 1945, that pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer was hanged at Flossenburg, only days before the American liberation of the POW camp. The last words of the brilliant and courageous 39-year-old opponent of Nazism were “This is the end—for me, the beginning of life.” His book The Cost of Discipleship is considered a Christian classic.

On a more mundane level…

Today would have been the start of the 84th Masters Tournament. As you most likely know it is the one sporting event more than any other that I look forward to every year. It has been postponed because of Covid-19 so I am sad – but I rejoice with great joy that it will be resurrected in November.

At the beginning of the year I set a goal to do 100 pushups for 300 of the 366 days of the year. I am happy to report that so far I have done 100 pushups EVERY day this year for a total to date of 10,000.

And I continue to walk. So far in 2020 I am averaging 12,300 steps per day. My goal is only 10,000 so I am well above average.

I will leave you with a Psalm to ponder. Appropriately Psalm 100

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!

2     Serve the Lord with gladness!

Come into his presence with singing!
3 Know that the Lord, he is God!

It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!

5 For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

Never forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

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