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Get Real with God Blog
So Habakkuk had a complaint. Big deal. We all have complaints. Mine is why I can’t grow enough hair at the top of my head even after I treated it with some expensive “remedy” for over a year now! Just kidding… But isn’t it true that our complaints are often trivial compared to the things that really matter in this world?

So here is a short list, to help you avoid “wasting” your complaints:

1. There are at least 180 little Christian girls in the hands of some really bad guys who follow this ultra- militant Muslim group in Nigeria called Boko Haram. Recently, the entire world was mobilized to find a plane that disappeared on a flight to China. Millions and millions of dollars, expensive aircrafts, specialized boats, sophisticated radars, unparalleled cooperation by big time rivals. Why can’t we come together and mobilize to find these little girls and maybe in the process wipe out from the face of the earth all those hateful monsters who think the way to obey their God is to kidnap pre-adolescent girls and after abusing them sell them as slaves?

2. Recently, the Chinese government demolished a Christian church, a landmark in the Zhejiang province, accusing the Christians of not complying with some building regulation. This is just the latest example of the official Chinese government’s attempts to quash the spread of Christianity. Such “unregulated” church growth threatens the stability of the Chinese government, so they say. So, suppose a mosque was destroyed somewhere in China, would journalists write more about it? Would government officials protest more vociferously?

3. The U.N. came out last week warning the world that 3.7 million people are in danger of starvation in South Sudan, the vast majority of which being children. How has the world reacted? Where is the Reverend Al Sharpton when we need him?

I could go on and on. You get the idea. There are enough grown-up type complaints to last multiple lifetimes. Our world is in a world of trouble and with each passing day those who intend to harm and do evil seem to be multiplying like the rabbits in my backyard. How do we even begin to make sense of all of this?

Habakkuk started with a loud and well articulated concern. When he got the initial response, he was even more shocked – God was going to use a nation more evil than Israel to punish God’s own people! “That can’t be!” he said. Then he sat down and waited in silence for a response.

In the next scene, God is the one who grabs the mike with a vengeance. He reminds Habakkuk of the ultimate end of those who chose the path of unrighteousness. The text is so pointed, you could say that a mocking God makes an appearance. And He is even mimicking His enemies’ taunts and turning their sword against them. The scorn of God, who would have thunk? So in chapter two of this little book, God warns everyone about four pathways to life that will not succeed. The text is organized in four neat sections, which I will develop more on Sunday in a sermon I’m calling “God takes us to school!”:

Lesson 1: Ruthless get-rich schemes will not prosper (Habakkuk 2:6-11).

Lesson 2: Random power-grabbing will not prosper (Habakkuk 2:12-14).

Lesson 3: Reckless indulging will not prosper (Habakkuk 2: 15-17).

Lesson 4: Renegade religion will not prosper (Habakkuk 2:18-20).

And the amazing thing is that everyone of these lessons materialized in history as the Babylonians, having experienced a spectacular rise to power, quickly met a crushingly humiliating defeat, under the leadership of Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar, which we clearly see by reading the book of Daniel.

In the end, then, Habakkuk’s complaint was not wasted. In time, God answered him, but He did it His own way. And there is the challenge for us – letting God do it His own way, whether in our lives or in the world.

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade

So on Sunday we launch a new series on the Book of Haggai. But before we get there, I am just wondering: what did you think of the service last Sunday? Did any of you decide to go watch the movie because of our service?

I am taking my staff through an exercise that is helping us think long and hard about what it is that makes our church UNIQUE. One of the questions we are asking ourselves is: what can we do that 10,000 other churches cannot do? Well, last Sunday was an example of that, but there is so much more, I believe, by way of hidden talents, untapped potential, and doors that could literally burst open for significant ministry in our community. Please keep praying for clarity for us and bring your contribution to the table of uniqueness.

By the way, if you missed the service, you may still catch it here.

Back to Haggai. He is the first of the post-exilic prophets. That means that he wrote after the people of Judah had returned from 70 years as exiles in the land of Babylon. He is also one of the 12 minor prophets (the first 9 preached before the people went into captivity and the last three, Haggai, Zechariah, who were contemporaries, and Malachi, who lived 100 years later, preached after the people returned to Jerusalem).

Though historically far removed from us, the word from these prophets, and especially Haggai, is especially relevant to the masses yearning to breathe free from what I call the “tyranny of stuff.” By the time Haggai started preaching the people had been back for about 18 years. They had laid the foundation of God’s house about 16 years earlier, then they stopped, claiming that “it was not time yet” to build the house of the Lord. Meanwhile, they were busy building their own little palaces. God tried to get their attention to no avail.

I once heard a story of a north American pastor who went to China on an underground trip to visit Christians who were involved with the “illegal” house church movement. This trip was the biggest eye-opener of his life and ministry. As he was getting ready to return, he asked one of the Chinese pastors who had spent many years in forced labor camps for refusing to stop preaching the Gospel, “How can the people in the U.S. pray for the persecuted church in China?” The answer hit him like a tsunami, “Isn’t it more like how we can pray for you?” The Chinese pastor asked. Then he added, “It seems that we have handled persecution better than you have handled prosperity.”

Now you may say that the Chinese pastor was being a bit arrogant. You may say that he was suggesting they didn’t need prayers. You may say that he was bunching everyone together in the same material-loving pot. As for me, I take that injunction humbly and try to learn what it means to me living in one of the wealthiest nations in the world. And I make mine the words of the prophet — consider your ways!

This Sunday we will understand more clearly what are the potentially catastrophic consequences of choosing not to put God first in all our affairs. I can’t wait to see what God is going to do in our midst as we study this little book together.

See you on Sunday!

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade.