Friday, March 22, 2013

Lessons from Fiction: And the Shofar Blew

As I've shared with you, reading has not always been a favorite pastime of mine. But, as I have grown in Christ, I believe He has increased my desire and love for gaining knowledge - through reading!

This Spring Break, I hoped to do some "fun" reading (a novel or book for pure enjoyment, as opposed to something I have to read for work). And I did! My mom had loaned me a novel by Francine Rivers over a year ago and I hadn't had the chance to pick it up, until now. Well, ok, I probably did have time to read it before now, but I also see God's perfect timing in having me read it now. So, I began Francine Rivers' And the Shofar Blew Saturday and was engrossed in it until midday Wednesday. Before I began the book, I never would have guessed God would have lessons hidden in this fun read, just for me. But, He did! And how grateful I am, that He speaks to my heart. I would like to share with you some of the wisdom I was reminded of and the unexpected lessons I gained.

  • When convicted of pride, listen and heed the Holy Spirit's warning!
  • Don't confuse the building of God's kingdom (spreading the gospel message of life in Jesus Christ) with growing a church or ministry. (Don't get caught up in the numbers.)
  • Just because something is growing (for instance, attendance in a church or ministry) does not mean it is good.
  • You can't start something and expect the Lord to show up and finish it for you. Start with seeking and obeying God's will.
  • Open doors do not always reveal God's plan.
  • What is done in ministry should never be based on how much money comes in (by donations, tithes, gifts, etc.) The gospel and people are worth so much more than any dollar amount.
  • [Two of the main characters discuss the meaning of love] - Character one: "Love means loyalty." Character two: "Love also means telling you when you're wrong."
  • Do not give advice unless someone asks for it! Best you can do is pray and wait on the Lord.
  • "Satan does his best work in a church. If Satan can get to the shepherd, he can prey on the flock."
  • "When would men learn they couldn't go against the Lord without facing consequences? They thought they could go about their lives and go whatever they thought right in their own eyes, and then have the unmitigated audacity to call it "serving the Lord.""
  • "But love doesn't ignore what's wrong. Love doesn't sweep sin under the carpet and pretend it isn't there."
  • "Pastors need good men around them, men who can see trouble brewing and confront it before it gets a foothold." And I believe this to be true of those serving in full-time ministry, in any capacity, not just pastors. And for this to be effective, the pastor/worker must be willing to listen!
  • No one but God can turn one's life around.
  • Only God can truly heal our wounds. 
  • Forgiveness is a decision. Trust takes time.
  • No man can take credit for any man's salvation! It is God ALONE who saves by HIS grace!
  • All too often, people (even Christian workers, pastors, missionaries, etc.) use the Lord's name to get their way.
  • There's a great difference between shepherding a flock and a cattleman driving a herd into market. There are those (pastors, Christian workers, etc.) who try to mold you and make you into what they are, when they should be focused on teaching who Christ is and leading others to become more like Him!
  • Be wary of those who claim to speak for God, but whose words are hollow and lives are in the shadow of judgement and death.
  • Learn from the mistakes of others.
  • Have a good mentor in your life - a few even! And proceed with caution when under the authority of a man who does not have a mentor.
  • All in all, seek the Lord above all else.

Good stuff, huh? I didn't want the book to end! I hope I have left you feeling encouraged, and not feeling like it would be a waste for you to read And the Shofar Blew. I would highly recommend it, to anyone, but especially those serving in full-time ministry.

Now, onto The Atonement Child. =)

"Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain." - Psalm 127:1

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