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I love the women on our blog. I love the way you search the Scriptures and ask probing questions, causing the sparks to fly, like iron sharpening iron. Two weeks ago I asked:

2. What comfort does it give you personally that God is a just God and will repay?

Several of you struggled with that question and said so articulately, compassionately, and winsomely. It caused me to reflect. Some of the excellent points that were made were that Scripture warns not to rejoice when our enemy falls. Another was that Jesus tells us to pray for our enemies. Another is that we must judge our own hearts and not the hearts of others.

Tim Keller, in his devotional on the psalms, writes:

In Psalm 69:22-28 the psalmist prays his betrayers be damned. How are we to read this? This startles us into feeling some of the desperation that produced it…but we stand …on the other side of the cross. Stephen looked to Jesus for vindication, not retribution, and prayed for his enemies as they killed him.

Several of you voiced similar thoughts. I noted that our “mercies” were particularly upset and I found myself reflecting on how our spiritual gifts may impact how we regard judgment. The following are my reflections, and I’m not sure I can support them scripturally, but I think it may lead to some good discussion!

My spiritual rating on the gift of mercy is low.  My rating on prophecy (not foretelling but forthtelling God’s Word) is high. Every gift has a strength but also a weakness. I think the weakness of the prophetic gift is that we may be judgmental and harsh. I think the weakness of mercies is that they may err on the side of enabling, shrinking from holding boundaries. That may be, in part, why God told us we need the body.

I found myself wondering if mercies have an easier time forgiving than do prophets. I know I am personally helped in forgiving someone who has hurt a loved one or me when I know that God will deal with the transgressor. Though I know that holding a grudge against my transgressor hurts me far more than him, it still helps me to release it when I know God will deal with him fairly. I grieve over the holocaust happening right now in the Middle East. Children are being tortured in front of their parents in an attempt to get the parents to deny Christ. If I were one of those parents, I would only be able to deal with that because I know God will be just. If those who have committed those brutalities repent, then Christ has drunk the cup of God’s wrath for them, just as He has for me. But if they refuse, then they will drink the cup of God’s wrath. This helps me — but is it because of the weakness of my prophetic gift? I’d love your thoughts!

What is the main point of Habakkuk? I think it is to prepare us as troubles in our world increase. Will we question God? I think the political scene in America looks very bleak and that we are going to see increasing immorality, injustice, and war. So here we all must trust God. After all the coming woes have been prophesied, Habakkuk pronounces:

The Lord is in his holy temple;

let all the earth keep silent before him.

(Hab. 2:20)


This is so like the end of the book of Job.  After God spoke to Job out of the whirlwind, Job realized his foolishness in questioning the ways of God.

Job 40-4This very good discussion has also caused me to reflect on the difficulty of the doctrine of hell, and how, as believers, we are to respond. Five years ago I experienced the presence of God in a corporate setting like I have seldom experienced in my life, and I wrote about it on this blog. It was at the annual Gospel Coalition Conference in Chicago and it happened in a seminar including Piper, Carson, and Keller — all responding to Rob Bell’s book Love Wins that rejected the doctrine of hell.  I am going to excerpt part of that this week and also consider, with the help of Justin Taylor, where Rob Bell is five years later. I personally know of several believers who have been profoundly influenced by Bell and it frightens me to see the path they have taken, daring to disagree with God. And so, this week, with the help of Habakkuk and the body of Christ, this is where we are going. As the blog writer, I obviously have the floor, but I’m counting on you for your prayerful, thoughtful, and helpful balance — you, my sisters in the body of Christ.


1. What stands out to you from the above and why?

2. Do you think our spiritual giftings impact this discussion or not?

Monday-Wednesday Study

Continuing our in-depth look at Habakkuk 2, beginning with verse 15.

3. Read Habakkuk 2:15-17

A. For what purpose have the Chaldeans gotten their neighbors drunk?

B. What are they demonstrating according to verse 16a?

C. Compare “the cup” of verse 16b to Isaiah 51:17. What does it mean?

D. What will happen to them and even to their beasts according to verse 17? Thoughts?

E. Who took the cup of God’s wrath for you? Some believe God should forgive us without having  Jesus go to the cross. What would you say to that?



He drained the cup of God’s wrath bone dry,

leaving not a drop for us to drink.

Richard Allen Bodey

4. Read Habakkuk 2:18-19

A. What is the root sin of the Chaldeans?

B. How have you grown in identifying and replacing a heart idol with Jesus?

5. Read Habakkuk 2:20 and explain what it teaches concerning the ways of God.

6. There is a parallel in Revelation, when like Habakkuk, there is a cry, but this time from “the souls who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” (Rev. 6:10) The wrath of God falls, and as in Habakkuk, there is silence. See Revelation 8:1. Share your thoughts.


Rob Bell recoiled at the doctrine of hell and re-interpreted the Scripture to embrace universalism. The following is excerpted from a blog of five years ago. You may listen to Carson and Keller if you choose. I would also like you to read the short article from Justin Taylor on where Rob Bell is today. I so value your comments and also want to protect any of you who might be tempted to follow this false shepherd or those like him. Here is the excerpt from our blog 5 years ago.

At the Gospel Coalition Conference in Chicago in June of 2011, an emergency panel discussion was scheduled in response to Rob Bell’s book: Love Wins. Rob had been a charter member of the Coalition, so this was the concern. He was a popular young pastor of a Grand Rapids megachurch of 7,000.  (I had liked Rob Bell in the past, and had used clips from his well done Nooma series at my conferences – particularly liking the one on grief called Rain. Zondervan published those videos and many other of Rob’s books – but refused to publish Love Wins.) But his departure shows he was never with us.

Honestly, I want to confess that I have struggled with the doctrine of hell, even though I do believe it because I believe Jesus. But there’s a part of me, in thinking of those I love who may not embrace Christ, that has pleaded with God: “But torment forever? O Lord – really? What if that person comes to his senses in hell? Lord, is there really no hope ever for him?”

The special session not only helped me with those questions, but stirred a revival in my heart. It put me in awe again of a holy God, a just God, and yet a merciful God. I wept, as did many, feeling ashamed for questioning God, and my mouth was stopped. Martin Lloyd Jones defines a Christian as one whose mouth is stopped, quoting Job. Remember when Job was questioning God about His justice? When God answered him, Job said, “I put my hand over my mouth.” There may be things yet to be revealed, but for now, “Let all the earth keep silent” before what a holy God has revealed, and He has revealed hell.

You can hear D. A. Carson’s opening remarks to this session in which he explains the two main kinds of universalism and why they are not true:

Carson – Love Wins

Carson makes many strong points, but he closed with the truth that hell is not filled with people wanting to repent, but rather people who still want to be their own gods. (Consider the story Jesus told in Luke 16 of the rich man and Lazarus – though he wants to warn his family, he also is not repenting.)

After Carson spoke, four men, including Keller, responded. Each had so much to offer. I want you to listen, because it is so good, but I will share a few of the points that convicted me.

Love Wins Panel

Tim Keller:

There must be a penalty for sin. If you lessen the penalty, you lessen the sin. People seem to know this in their hearts — that’s why the uproar this last week about the Stanford swimmer getting off so lightly for raping a girl. Even the world was disgusted when the father said, “That’s a severe penalty for 20 minutes of action.”

Christ’s death shows us how bad our sin is — and hell as well, for those who reject what He did. D. A. Carson says Habakkuk 2:11 (the stone will cry out) implies that the sin of the Chaldeans was less than the sin of the people who rejected praising Christ, the Lamb of God.

Keller made some fascinating remarks about C. S. Lewis’ view of hell, for some misunderstood him, thinking he didn’t believe in it, and also Bell’s book. He said he felt Bell ridiculed those who had a different view, and that he has learned that it is far better to treat people with respect – to phrase what they believe in the clearest and most honoring way, so that when you dismantle their argument, they know they have been heard. (I have seen Keller do this with the atheists on his video The Reason for God. He treats them with respect, he understands we have honest reasons for doubt, and they listen.) This is not the way of our culture today, or of our political front-runners, but it is the way for those who are in Christ.

Stephen Um (Pastor from Korea)

He said that love without justice is something western people embrace. People from his area of the world who have seen atrocities done to those they love, have trouble with a God who is all love and does not punish wickedness. Bell’s treatise is not what makes sense, but what makes sense to western people.  Bell’s message subverts the Gospel in which we see both love and justice together.

Um said that universalism not only rejects a holy God, but hurts sinners who need to be justified.

Crawford Loritz

“Let us not a la carte the attributes of God.” He is the one who quoted Martin Lloyd Jones: “At the very heart of human behavior is our desire to be in control of God.” Those in hell still want to be in control.

He urged us to take our questions to the Word of God. Jesus spoke more about hell than did anyone else in Scripture.

8. Comments and thoughts on any of the above?

Rob Bell and Oprah
Rob Bell and Oprah


9. Read the short article above and comment. 


10. What is your take-a-way and why?

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  1. 1.  What stands out to you from the above and why?
    I am SO grateful once more that you have been led by God to tackle such a thorny subject this week!  For God’s Word truly takes us there …….I only had time for the briefest of reads this a.m. before church….but a HUGE standout for me is your introduction, Dee, to the idea of how our spiritual gifts might impact our “bend” in these matters of mercy, justice, hell.  And how that automatically underscores significantly the body of Christ and our need for one another!  I think you are spot on in this.  But another crucial thought to me is that EVEN THOUGH our giftings are different – by God’s sovereign design – we are all called to seek Christ.  His attributes ALL dwell perfectly together.  His Justice does NOT in any way demean or belittle His Mercy!  Just as what we call “Love” (ie/Rob Bell!) is often far from the Scriptural picture….so what we call “Mercy” seems to often be askew as well……just my off the cuff response!  Which might better have waited for further reflection……

  2. 1.  and the most important standout to me is your quote from the book of Job – the most personal portion of the Scriptures to me in my crisis three years ago!  I’ve shared many times now…..but it was the death of a dearly loved one and his unbelief at the time of his death……(so far as I know) that brought me to a shattering that has changed my life and inexplicably drawn me into a more intimate and trusting relationship with Christ…….after months of agony over the thought of God’s Justice and Mercy and Hell….the very things we will be pondering this week.  🙂  
    I also think everyone should make a point to go back to last week’s blog and note Lizzy’s take away from the very end of the blog…..it was EXCEPTIONAL on the topic of God’s Justice!  🙂  

    1. YES!  The reference to Job and Habakkuk ending similarly.  I meant to mention that too and forgot.   That was a great stand-out.  The books’ conclusions are great commentaries on each other and it increases my understanding and faith to see that!  

  3. Oh wow. We are headed to the mountains for the week and I will likely not be able to participate this week. I can see the point about giftings–and yet, whenever I have done the spiritual gifting tests mercy is always one of my top strengths. I do feel mercy for the afflicted–but it is overpowered by my faith in that God is good and He knows best. I can trust Him. My thoughts are really simple this morning, but I look forward to reading what is shared when back in town or as I can this week.
    I remember Dee, when you mentioned Rob Bell here years ago….I was still a little newer then, and I just remember sitting down & reading the title, something with his name, and saying ‘Lord, please–not Dee too-?’! Worried for a minute you were a fan, but thankfully I continued reading!
    Jackie–you are too kind, but I am sure you have the gift of exhortation! 🙂 

  4. I’m going to try to answer 1&2 in the same answer:  A couple things stand out to me.  First, you (Dee) may rank low in mercy as a spiritual gift, but you clearly live it out!  You have adopted children from oversees (no easy thing) and you visit those in prison, most who rightly deserve to be there, but share with them the love and MERCY and GRACE of Christ who’s desire it is to save them from eternal punishment.  I have often thought about the fact that many (not all, but I think most) of the spiritual gifts are also commands for all Believers (giving is a gift, but also a command, mercy, etc…)  So, to some extend, gift or not, we are all commanded in many of these areas and utterly helpless to live out any of it apart from Christ in us.  Secondly, my gift is mercy (that comes out the highest every time) but I long for things to be made right (as I mentioned a couple weeks ago) and by that I really mean, not so much that those who are cruel be punished, but that the doing of wrong cease forever, that life can be lived as God had always intended it to be, from the beginning.  I don’t want the unrighteous to be allowed to continue to prevail and I long for the day when it will not and Christ will reign supreme!!! So, to answer #2, yes, I definitely think our spiritual gifts affect our entire world view and can cause us to even be off balance at times when were are not counter balanced by others in the Body of Christ who have gifts that we do not.  That’s why are are to not go it alone.  Also, back to what stands out…it scares me to think of Believers falling for the “no hell” doctrine.  That line of thinking is NOT merciful as it will lead many to destruction.  Mercy is not to see a tornado coming and tell everyone things will be fine in the end, weather they seek shelter or not!  Mercy warns them it’s coming and tells them where they can find shelter!  If they chose not to, that is their choice…and mercy’s heart is broken.  Gotta go w/out proofing this, sorry!!! 

    1. Oh Mary.  What an excellent post this is.   I love your thoughts about Dee living out mercy in many ways.  And also the distinctions of gifts and commands.  All SO good!  And I LOVE the example of the tornado…..

    2. Mary, so many good things in your post….yes, we need the Body to “counter balance” as we can be “off balance” if we are heavy on mercy, say, or justice. And that mercy is to warn others but to tell them where they can find shelter, and if they choose not to, “mercy’s heart is broken”. This is so good, because often I find myself getting irritated if someone just doesn’t get it.

    3. Mary – I like your tornado example, very apt, but the best part is “mercy’s heart is broken” this articulates how I feel about God’s judgement…I DO trust that He is good and that He does what is right and just… But my heart is broken at those who do not/will not seek shelter….I do not think this is a sign of small faith but perhaps I am mistaken. My broken heart does not plead for Him to do different just mourns at the brokenness.  MY comfort is that when I get to heaven there will be no tears: if there are no tears then this must mean no mourning for the lost, if we are not to be mourning for the lost then He will have to have given us complete understanding so that we can rest fully with what transpired. Is this amiss?

      1. Jill, I think you are exactly right.  I have often thought of that.  That our finite minds just cannot understand how we can be happy in heaven, knowing that others are not there, are in eternal separation from God and all I can conclude is that “when we see Him we shall be made like Him” and “now we see as in a mirror, dimly”  It must be that when we have His understanding of it all, we will no longer grieve over it.

    4. Tornado is a great analogy! As a Midwestern girl, I’ve lived through some pretty rough storms. The first one being a fierce three tailed tornado that struck Omaha in 1975, my two sisters and I were home alone when our mom called from work about 10 miles away to warn and instruct us what to do. We heeded her instructions to a T and were kept safe even though our home was greatly damaged. Now, when warnings come of tornados sighted I am constantly amazed about people who choose to stand on the deck and watch instead of seeking shelter. It’s as if they have no belief that the tornado can hurt them. Or perhaps they don’t even believe it exists?

    1. Oh I so agree with Lizzy. Why would we need His mercy if there is no wrath?  To diminish his wrath against sin in any way diminishes the Cross-yes. Also that His Love is NEVER absent even in exercising His wrath..He knows hearts and He knows their long term bend-either for Him or against Him, and He knows what He is doing. SO glad. 🙂

      1. Great question! Why would we need His mercy if there is no wrath?

    2. Oh Dee…..in that case – the Spirit showing you the unity – I’m glad you missed Lizzy’s late in the week post last week!  But I’m Soooooo glad you re-posted it here for us all.  Thank you.  🙂  

    3. Dee, I am so glad you re-posted Lizzy’s post, because, believe it or not, I just read it thoroughly and was going to come on to this week’s lesson and post that if anyone missed Lizzy’s post at the tail end of last week, they should go back and read it!
      Lizzy, this is so well articulated. It helps me to understand God’s love and His dealing with the unrighteous, the ungodly, and the punishment of sin. I had not thought of how it would feel to be under “passive leadership” and how it would leave you feeling insecure and would make life unjust and chaotic. It’s hard to admit, but I remember that both my husband and I struggled to be consistent in our discipline of our older son when he used to really be mean and pick on his younger brother. OH, how it must have made Ryan feel that his brother got away with injustice. (I am thankful that as young adults, they are truly best friends and enjoy doing things together when they can….thank you Lord!)

    4. All of this is very well-stated!  I’m glad you posted it here.

    5. I so completely love what you wrote, Lizzy.  Not only does it clarify, it truly brings me comfort.  

  5. 1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
    Wow..missed the end last week but will look at Lizzy’s post!
    What stood out: Jesus taking our cup of wrath and Rob Bell saying there is no hell. If we believe there is no hell then Jesus didn’t have to drink our cup of wrath and therefore his death on the cross was meaningless and him coming to redeem us is pointless since we don’t need to be redeemed from anything. Bell is really saying God is not Holy and that God is not the same as He was from the beginning-therefore He is changing, not unchanging. This totally upends the Gospel and sadly those who buy into it will eventually see repentance as not needed..the trickle down from this is horrible. 

  6. I apologize if this whole post is in bold.  I tried to adjust it, and am not sure if that worked this time.  Also, I wanted to make a short comment.  I couldn’t.  Sorry. 🙁 
    1. What stands out to you from the above and why?   The reference you made to the experience of the presence of God in the corporate setting of the GC conference.   Especially as it came when you talked about Bell and Love Wins.   Wow.  That had to be such an intense time.   I remember the week that the book was coming out.  I had never heard of Rob Bell or the forthcoming book.  (remember, I had felt such a disappointment for years, over so many of the popular writers, speakers and curriculums that my church at the time, was using in our fellowship groups and sermons, that I had hibernated from any popular writing and teaching.  I had been only reading Keller, Yancey and Lewis and a couple other classic writers.)  So, when the book was released, there was such a buzz in church.  Our senior pastor preached a whole sermon on why it was so dangerous and heretical but when I talked to him afterward, he had not even read it.  He had read long articles about it by reputable scholars, but that sort of set me back; that he preached against it without reading it.  Then we watched the trailer online, in our fellowship group and discussed it a bit.  Again, no one had read it, but some had heard a lot about it.  All of this caused me to want to get it and read it for myself.  Which I did.  And I just never did finish it.  I think, because I just didn’t want to put the energy into thinking it through.  So, I’m very interested in the conversations and clips you have posted into the weekly study.  Under so much duress over my loved ones, I spent a long time trying to understand the doctrine of hell, myself.  I found an old book, I think written by someone of the Reformed Theological stance, from the ’50’s that I found at a book give away at church.  This person compiled views from the ages and the early church fathers etc.   I came away with an even more ambiguous idea of hell, because there were so many disagreeing thoughts from leading theologians of the time.  Though, in some ways that book was a comfort.  Skimming through the upcoming week’s lesson, I see that you very specifically address Bell and his personal bio and where he was and is now.  That will be helpful to the discussion.  (I’ll be gone part of this week.  I hope I can keep up here.)
    2. Do you think our spiritual giftings impact this discussion or not?       Yes, absolutely.   I am also high on mercy.  And some may not see that in me, because I sometimes, express what seems like a ‘dissenting’ opinion on things, so I may look like someone who is more harsh.   When I look at my dissensions though, it is usually because I am advocating for someone or a group of people who have been left out of the discussion.  I often feel like the voice of those who have been left out.  Who may not have been considered worthy.  Example:   humor over the fate of people is abhorrent to me.  I was in a church staff meeting once, and someone talked about a funeral they had been to or read about, where the man who died, wanted to be buried with a 6 pack of beer and a package of cigarettes.  But the spouse or ex-spouse did not allow them to be be buried with him. Someone asked why?  One of the associate pastors I worked with stated something jokingly like, ‘I guess they didn’t want him to have any fun in hell.   I know it was glib and he didn’t mean it sincerely.  But it turned my stomach to hear it.  I said, ‘wait a minute.  we don’t know that he is in hell.’    The pastor agreed.  We don’t know.  The assumption was that since he had those addictions and that priority to have those items in the casket, that we knew his destination.       On the other hand, I know someone who is very high in prophecy…..(yet who does display a lot of sensitivity and mercy too)  who had the hardest time accepting that Jeffrey Dahmer could go to heaven.  I think this struggle was another step that led this person away from the truth of the gospel.  A lot of people with a strong sense of justice, cannot see either heaven or hell as ‘fitting’ for many people.  

    1. that joke was in very poor taste, Wanda, and it made light of  both the deceased and hell.  The value of a soul is no joke, nor is eternal separation from God…whatever that looks like.  And no one knows what happens to a person on their death bed, as they gasp their last breaths…God may speak directly to their spirits at that time and some my be saved w/out any human being realizing it.

  7. I have a few more thoughts..I agree that we all have spiritual gifts with strengths and weaknesses and we so need one another. As we grow He matures us in this as I have SO seen in Dee-she has never been vindictive just desiring his justice which brings her comfort-to just lay it at His feet and let Him judge or intervene in that person’s heart. 🙂 I watched the Sophie Scholl movie yesterday via You Tube..Oh. During the trial she and her brother were great examples of finding comfort in God’s justice without being vindictive. They both said to the judge that as they are hanged shortly he will be too, and that there is a higher judge. 
    Reverence for God lies in every aspect of Him-not just for one aspect such as His merciful Love that we can twist to help us run to our comfort idols-as Rob Bell has done. 
    For the past 20 plus years I have seen a slow fade of the body in knowing His word well enough to combat these lies. So many of us are going astray! It seems to be increasing too. I agree-the birth pangs seem to be coming closer together and we need to be wise as serpents yet innocent as doves. 

    1. Rebecca, I think you are right about the knowledge of His Word diminishing! I know so many who are Christian and highly active in church activities who do not display any knowledge of scripture. ☹️ I do not say this in judgement but sadness. I often hear “doesn’t the Bible say something like that?” It is dangerous to operate off of assumptions and hearsays of verses…!

  8. In response to Rebecca’s good comment above:  

    For the past 20 plus years I have seen a slow fade of the body in knowing His word well enough to combat these lies.

    Oh Rebecca, this is so true and so frightening.  I see it too.  And I see it in my own children…..even the ones who love the Lord.  Their youth group experiences in a large evangelical church were SO different than my experience in a very small, conservative liturgical body.  The Word was drilled into us.  And I don’t mean that in a negative way.  I mean, we were taught it at every turn.  Bible Camp was spending hours learning the Word….it wasn’t bells and whistles and every fast action recreation thing or goofy competitive game in the ‘chapel’ time.  I was uncomfortable with this for years and felt trapped in the church we were in because there didn’t seem to be anything in our school district with a better option.  When you say the past 20 years, I see that as the time of the rise of the ‘seeker friendly’ mega church models of church building.  Marketing ‘light’ gospel and lots of performance.   Attendance grew and grew, but not the depth of teaching and learning to love the Word.  I feel so sad about this.  When I look at where my youngest is in her understanding (even though she has always stayed true to Him) and where I was at her age, it shakes me to the core.  I think it is the younger generation that will lead us back to the truth.  They are not interested in gimmicks or performance oriented worship times.  They want depth and truth.   I was JUST talking to my youngest about this last night.   She is SO tired of the ‘show’ at the ‘mega church model’- church she attends in her college town.  She goes there, because of the college group fellowship, and I am glad to see she is discerning.  I so long for her to go deeper.   My son and family, who are in ministry with at risk children, in the southern U.S. have also switched to a smaller church, from the mega church they attended.  It seems we need to get back to smaller congregations with accountability and opportunity for people to really be involved and not places where people can hide in the big crowds and never be missed when they are not there. 

    1. Rebecca – “we need to be wise as serpents yet innocent as doves.”  My hearty AMEN to this and ALL of your post!!  Wanda – your followup to Rebecca was superb.  Sad, but true.  My own 18+ year journey with a mega-church SO parallels your experience!  And my 4+ years at a small, Word driven church have been rich beyond measure.  For here we are constantly encouraged to love the Word, learn the Word and live the Word!!  I am SO grateful!!  

      1. and you know what?   none of the three churches I mentioned are truly ‘mega churches’.  They are more like 600-700  attendance….and all in smaller cities; with small starts. They have just ‘bought into’ that seeker friendly marketing model that mega churches have presented.  All have some very good people and ministries, but it seems like, even when people got frustrated with some of it,  no one could ‘stop the train’ and we just finally decided we couldn’t keep going in that direction.  

        1. Wanda – you are very insightful to note the seeker friendly marketing model is the driver behind the mile wide and inch deep kind of teaching.  Grievously, it reminds me of the parable of the soils….particularly the rocky soil.  Life appears to spring up quickly…..but there is no root and they fall away.  

        2. Scary story: our friends were asked to leave a church because they led a Word based, verse by verse Bible study. The pastor and associate pastor articulated to them that “If we preached what the Bible really said 80% of the congregation would leave.” This is the scary but eventual outcome of severe seeker mentality – to strive to keep people in the seats rather than keep Christ on His throne.
          we face the difficulty of finding a new church every 2-3 years… It is difficult to find the balance that Mary spoke of. Authenticity and vulnerability in the congregation are the hardest…this is why I love this blog.

        3. Jill – your story is weep worthy.  truly.  🙁  A good time to remember Jesus’ words….”I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”.  TRUTH!  But this sure reminds us that though the battle may be won…..we will suffer in the war along the way.  

    2. YES!  I agree with what Rebecca posted about this as well.  I know the New Testament talks about a falling away taking place in the end times and I think that has been happening for quite a while.  I find it hard to get a balance in finding a church (whenever I have been in the position of moving and needing to find a new one)  On the one hand, I also do not want the “mega church” atmosphere, on the other hand, I don’t want the atmosphere of predominately religion.  Like you mentioned about the younger generation coming up, I, also want AUTHENTICITY.  I don’t care about hymns or praise music (like them BOTH) I want it to be about the LORD and in a spirit of authentic worship of HIM and I don’t want the Word of God to be compromised or watered down in the message.

      1. Mary – you are a woman of rich discernment.  Your words sing with LIFE!  Thank you.  🙂  

    3. I will piggy back on your comments here, Wanda. I have sensed a ‘dumbing down’ of bible study lately in my own mind. No one has asked me to do this though. But, in an effort to not sound like a ‘know-it-all’ I think i sometimes tone down my remarks around seekers and new believers with phrases like, “I think the Bible says…” Or, “I heard a sermon once…” Im afraid to just boldly proclaim a scripture so that I don’t make the other person feel bad that they didn’t already know it. This just happened to me in a study, we were having our first meeting and we all introduced ourselves and told why we came. Every gal there, including the leader, admitted they don’t often (some ever) read the Bible. When it got to me, I was hesitant to say that I do read the scriptures. 

      1. oh wow, Jean.  You have given me a picture of a situation that I’ve not been in (I have been in several seeker studies, but always with several mature believers mixed in as well….).  It’s very sensitive of you to not want to look like a “know-it-all”!  I have a feeling that your love for the Scriptures is going to shine through at this study though – and I’m praying it will be contagious!  What a beautiful opportunity for you!  

        1. I agree with Jackie,  Jean.  You will be a bright light in that study!  And I get what you’re saying about those who are just beginning in the Word.  I do sympathize with those who have never or rarely opened a Bible.  Our Pastor (we are not at the church I mentioned above, anymore) started the first Sunday of the New Year with a message about getting into the Word.  He had several resources on the pulpit, which he highlighted.  He even said that ‘if you’ve never cracked open a Bible’  (he had told my husband and I in confidence that someone had recently told him exactly that) … start with reading ‘The Jesus Storybook Bible for Children’. (Sally Lloyd-Jones) He didn’t say it in a demeaning way at all.  He explained how you can get the big picture by reading it and of course, then follow up with some studies.  The amazing thing has been how God has brought in many young couples/families and several who have not been to church in ages….or hardly ever.  And we don’t have a performance based, mega church model of a service.  We use a blend of hymns and new songs, sometimes, even use an organ alone with a hymn, especially not to leave out those who grew up with that and who relate well to it. And also a worship band.   We have some pieces of liturgy and tradition as well.  But, I believe it is because the preaching is so honest and real, that especially several younger men are coming.   And staying.  We’re now, making a concerted effort, to get to know those who have recently started coming.  We’ve only been at this church for 15 months ourselves, but have a wealth of good teaching, study and growing times in our background….it’s pretty refreshing to see that we can have a role in helping others connect!  I think that the women in your study will be learning more from you than you will realize.  🙂

        2. All of you are bright lights..just look at the passion God has given you for Jesus-His Word. That is a huge encouragement to me. 
          I remember facilitating Idol Lies and we went into the Song of Songs and two people spoke up..one said, “Hmm…it’s a mystery to me” and questioned as if trying to understand. The other one said, “Sorry, this is just too weird.” Then later said, “I don’t even want to go there-to see this as Jesus and us. No way. ” So a complete refusal as opposed to someone trying to understand-then making a decision before God as to accept or refuse. I think of Laura Dancer and how she struggles with poetry and was honest about it, asked great questions and in time God helped her to see. I would like to be more like Laura Dancer!! I think asking questions is crucial in studying scripture!  Our pastor sees SOS as a marriage book only but that is okay I still love him. :)) I think SOS is important in leading the church out of milk to meat-by falling in love with JESUS-and becoming secure in His Love. THEN obeying Him is out of love not duty..that affects service and outreach in the church in a HUGE and BEAUTIFUL WAY. Chances are, our idols won’t be moving us in ministry-He will be. :)))

        3. I hope my saying I don’t want to look like a know it all, doesn’t imply I think I know it all. ? I know I don’t. Especially after reading Habakkuk. It seems the more you learn of scripture, the more you find you don’t know. 

  9. 1. What stood out to me is how risky it is to listen to things that go against scripture.  How careful we must be to compare ideas to scripture, and not hold the opinion up and see how scripture fits the opinion.  Scripture must always be the standard.
    2. How hard it is for any of us to have a completely accurate and balanced view of God, and therefore how much we need each other.  
    3E.  Jesus took the wrath of God for me.  I accept that because it is what He did, and the Bible says it.  It isn’t up to me to tell God He is wrong.  
    4B.  I am struggling a lot with my own heart idol.  I am spending more time than ever in His word, but still turning to food.  Sigh.
    8. Again, go back to scripture.  I think the biggest problem for us is when we have someone’s face in our mind.  Someone we know and probably love.  And we don’t want them to be condemned.  We see their good points.  We know what we’ve been forgiven of, and we aren’t better than them, so why should they be condemned?  The answer, as I see it, is not to argue the point with God or anyone else, but to turn our eyes to the Lord God Almighty.  To His attributes.  To fill our entire being with Him, until you know that whatever He does is because it is right.  Because He is right and cannot do wrong.

  10. 1. What stands out to you from the above and why? I’m curious as to what kind of path those people who believe what Bell says could have taken that would frighten you.  I don’t know how believing about Hell one way or the other would be that life changing.
    2. Do you think our spiritual giftings impact this discussion or not? They shouldn’t, but I think they do.

    1. Dawn – like Dee, I would love to better understand your question.  ??  

    2. What i’m asking is this. If these people were saved believers and followers of Jesus, what was the frightening path that they took after reading (and believing) what Bell wrote. What about them changed? What did they do differently that was disturbing?

      1. Dawn, now that you have rephrased your question and I understand it better, the FIRST thought that came to my mind in answer to your question was the example, from Scripture, of how the apostle Paul was so greatly distressed with the believers in Galatia. Turning to the opening chapter of the book of Galatians, Paul is writing to the believers but, beginning in verse 6, he says, “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you, and want to distort the gospel of Christ.” Paul goes on with some really strong language, saying that if anyone comes to them preaching a gospel that is contrary to that which they received, let that man be accursed.
        What Paul was concerned about was the fact that the gospel, to a Jew, was a whole new way of life – no longer living under the law, but under grace. However, this was a difficult transition for many to handle, and so a group called “the Judaizers” were saying that yes, you could embrace this new Christianity, but that you must also still observe some of the old rites (from the old covenant), such as circumcision….in other words, to some degree or another, these new believers must still keep the law.
        In chapter 3, Paul says, “You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?” He then goes on to ask them if they received the Spirit by keeping the law, or by hearing with faith?  He says, “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”
        And, in chapter 4:9, Paul says to these believers, “But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again?” Paul exhorts them in 5:1 to “keep standiong firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery!” Paul must have been really passionate as he wrote this letter to them, as he says in 6:11, “See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand.”
        So, applying this example to your question, I believe that Paul was so distressed that the new believers in Galatia were taking a frightening path after listening to, and believing, what the Judaizers were teaching them. What about them changed? They were reverting to believing that they also had to practice many of the old laws/rituals for their salvation. They were giving up their new freedom (5:1 “It was for freedom that Christ set us free….”) as they embraced a distorted gospel and it was affecting how they lived. (Must mention that Paul also was balanced in his teaching because he said that while they were free in Christ, that freedom was not to be seen as opportunity to sin).
        Now I am not sure to what specifically Dee is referring to in the frightening path some are taking after reading and believing what Bell wrote, but even as believers embrace a distorted gospel and begin to live differently, they are rejecting some aspect of the truth of God’s Word, and I wonder what Paul would say if he were here!

        1. Dawn, what Susan wrote here was great.  Susan, you did a great job of making the point that any doctrine that strays from the the Word of God (and the gospel) is frightening, indeed!  Dawn, I can’t speak for Dee either, but I think she is frightened to see those who profess Christ quickly caving into a false doctrine of there being no hell.  Hell is mentioned many, many more times in the Bible than heaven!  it is a reality and if it were not, then Jesus died totally in vain.  Why would my precious Savior have had to go to the cross if we all end up going to heaven weather we accept Him or not?  Telling people there is no hell (when, in fact, there surely is) is like I mentioned above, seeing a tornado coming and and telling people all will be fine, no need to seek shelter.  Isn’t that frightening? 

    3. Dawn – I keep thinking about your thoughts about whether or not following what Bell believes could be life changing….and I think that the article that Wanda posted here on the blog just recently could be helpful.  For in seeing where Rob Bell’s life is going you begin to see where he is leading others……and it is to a place where the Scriptures are no longer God’s Word for our lives.  His new framework for life seems to fit perfectly into Oprah’s self actualization above all path.  The Scriptures teach us that such a path is a dead end….but then, Rob Bell no longer believes the Scriptures are relevant to our lives.  (He now says this routinely in his interviews).  

      1. Thanks for all of your responses. I guess I was thinking that if one were a true Christian who was mistaken about one point, it wouldn’t make much difference in the whole scheme of things. Just as there are pre-trib and post-trib believers some things are not game changers (for lack of a better term). I was just clueless as to what would change in a Christian’s life if they stopped believing in a literal hell.

        1. Dawnms, I can think of one thing that might change in a person who doesn’t believe in a literal hell. Their urgency to warn others so that they might be saved from an eternity separated from God and in torment. So, while they may be saved, they won’t be taking anyone with them. 

  11. After I had read this before church this morning, the message on mercy (blessed are the merciful) really made me take notice.  Pastor said that he had read a quote in a book that read; ‘Mercy experienced produces mercy demonstrated’   But that he did not agree that this was necessarily true.  The parable of the Unmerciful Servant in Matthew 18 speaks contrary.   A better way to say this would be “Mercy experienced should produce mercy demonstrated’.   We need to realize we are guilty, hurting and needy.  “There but for the grace of God, go I.”    This all made sense to me…..and then I found out mid afternoon about the terror in Florida.  And in many ways, so much became murky and unsettled again.   It does seem so true that our faith is being tested with such intensity right now.  Not a week goes by without another horrific instance of human suffering at the hands of fellow humans. 

  12. 1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
    My head is whirling with your discussion topic this week, Dee! I can’t even understand what “gifts” I have, much less try to decide if I can use them in situations here on earth to understand better.
    This statement especially confuses me:
    “…I found myself reflecting on how our spiritual gifts may impact how we regard judgement.” What does it mean that your spiritual rating on the gift of mercies is low? The example helps a bit, but I am still struggling with this idea. For example, I have a gift of dance, but I don’t understand how it relates to my judgement of others. Also, what is the weakness that opposes my dance gift? I do think I also have the gift of forgiveness. I forgive people who have wronged me, either on purpose or not, although it may take some time, depending on the severity of the wrong. What is the opposing weakness to forgiving?
    I think my ignorance comes from not understanding or considering the scripture throughly. I have never really thought much about what God will do to my enemies. I have thought of how God wants me to pray for my enemies; a hard task indeed. However I don’t really think I think of God as being one who will harshly come down on those who deserve it. That seems very Old Testament to me. I guess I just don’t consider it in my day to day life as being something I want to spend time on because there is so much else to deal with in life! Maybe I have thought that He will just leave the people behind and not take them with Him? That in its own right is Hell, correct? But then I do know that earth is to become the new heaven, right? So then, what happens to those who don’t fit? Are they swept away to hell? The lake of fire?
    Oh no! I thought I have been learning so much these last few years to now realize I don’t know SO MUCH ?. Ugh, so much to study and remember…my pea brain hurts.

    1. Laura, spiritual gifts are somewhat different than the talents God has given you. Somewhat confusing…. There is a spiritual inventory test type thing That you can take that helps you see where God has gifted you. Different denominations have different tests so I am hoping someone else (Lizzy? Wanda? Renee?) will know of a good one to share with you that you can take and learn more. Some examples include: mercy, service, prophecy (as Dee mentioned), administration, teaching, sheparading, etc. your dance may fit into one of those or may just be a talent and a passion that is facilitated by your gifts. 

    2. Laura – not to overload you….Dee and Jill have given you good words!  You may also find these little articles interesting and a nice balance to the topic:

  13. 1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
    This is going to be a good week….these are surely tough issues to wrestle with. Dee, I agree with Mary that while you may say you score low on mercy, you surely demonstrate mercy by visiting the women in prison. And, I do think that our spiritual gifts, maybe even our personalities (?) affect how we view the idea of God’s judgment. When you write, Dee, that it makes it easier for you to forgive because you know that God will deal with the person….likewise, when I go to God with a “complaint” against someone who has done something to hurt me and I think I have a pretty good case against them, as I argue my case, a conviction of my own sin and pride usually surfaces and I realize that the problem isn’t just that big sinner over there, but that I have my own unique set of sins, too; while perhaps different, it’s still sin. Then, I am so grateful for His mercy to me and how can I wish for Him to condemn the other person when I know that I deserve His condemnation, too, yet because of Christ, I am not given what I deserve. I also chose this morning to focus on the attribute of God that He is just, and to find a verse about it. I think I’ll try to do that all this week. I was in Deuteronomy 32:4 which extols God for being upright, just and fair; for never doing wrong and for all His works being good. It’s so clearly stated in that verse.

    1. “…I realize that the problem isn’t just that big sinner over there, but that I have my own unique set of sins, too; while perhaps different, it’s still sin.”
      I LOVE it!!

  14. 1. What stands out to you from the above and why? The picture of the cup of wrath. Yes! He drank the cup of wrath for me and any who would come to Him, but if someone does not come to Him, the cup of wrath still needs to be drunk. Hadn’t seen that last part before that way and it is so easy to focus on the grace of the cross that I can sometimes “forget” the other part: the wrath that would have been there had He not drunk it.
    Also something about your thoughts, Dee, (especially concerning the political scene and our country’s bend toward more immorality) put something into focus for me. I do not know if I will ever gain comfort from knowing someone will drink of cup of wrath, but this morning I am dismayed (perhaps even angry?!) at the people who are facilitating the fast moral decay in the land that I so love, with the people I love, and the threat it has to my children’s future and all the children, really. The selfishness and greed.. in reading this morning, I wondered if I could pray for salvation first but if not soft hearts then for God to deal with them not because I want to see retribution but because I long for the beauty of how things are supposed to be, I want my children to not be challenged by so dense an evil that is developing in this country (and for the protection of other children in this world). So, I am beginning to see another side of judgement, but I think it is still a bit different…the focus is on protecting God’s creations than on retribution or punishment for the offender…? Still pondering this and am grateful for a place to process “out loud” safely. 
    2. Do you think our spiritual giftings impact this discussion or not? Absolutely. However as I write this, I wonder if perhaps it shouldn’t? Is this an issue of interpretation or Biblical truth? My giftings should not impact how I see the gospel, though I may resonate with it slightly differently than other people with different giftings, the truth is the truth and I must strive to seek that. I do think that our past is also a key factor in how we view these things and can influence how we feel towards hard issues.

    1. SUCH good questions, Jill.   As to your first ?s, I dare not tread there.   I am very conflicted in that regard.   We do pray, I know that.  But how to pray eludes me.  And being persistent in praying for leaders has always been hard for me, when on any given day, there are dozens of people I know personally, who need prayer.  I’ve never been able to balance it all and never feel right about praying enough.  
      Your second question intrigues me too.  Should we see scriptures differently due to our giftings?  I also like how you emphasized that our different backgrounds also influence this. Well, one thing that stood out to me, is how different cultures, different customs and understanding of languages, definitely see things differently.  I see this as a similar thing.  How we are gifted affects everything we see and do just as the culture (thinking globally here) we know is a lens from which we view the Word and the World.   It’s why linguistics and cultural training is so important in translating the scriptures.  If the translator didn’t know the culture and what a word meant to that culture, they couldn’t translate the message accurately.  I think there’s something like that in our spiritual gifting.  And since the gifts are from the Spirit, I think that the heart tuned to Him will see things the way God wants them to see them and the Spirit will use that person via the gifts that He has given.  That’s a first thought anyway. 

  15. what stands out to me the most is the discussion about how spiritual gifts change our perspective on things. Mine are exortation (encouraging others to be their very best) and hospitality. pretty low on mercy and profit 🙂 I have married friends that lead a small group. He is super profit and she is super mercy….it cracks me up how they tag team people in their small group so well….he crushes them with truth and she come up behind him telling them how much GOD loves them. it works.
    I was reading Isaiah 30 this morning and I was so quickened by vs. 15….in repentance and rest is your salvation. In quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it (3 vs. on how we trust in ourselves)…..yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. blessed are all those who WAIT on HIM.
     in QUITENESS and TRUST is our STRENGTH!
    HE will rise up and show us COMPASSION!
    I have also been thinking about the parable of the wheat and the weeds. how God has to let them both grow together on order to let the wheat mature. Sometimes it sucks to have to share the field with so many weeds….
    My best friend Michelle and her family are moving here tomorrow from Colorado. They are working for the ministry that fired me with little explination which is a tad bit stressful. We have not lived less then 7 hours apart in the last 20 year. I am getting their new home cleaned out and set for them to move in this week so I prob. will not be on here much. PLEASE PRAY! I know we usually use the fb page for prayer requests but they have been involved with collage and Muslim ministry for 18 years and Satan tends to attack them ruthlessly! their son almost died of allergies as a young child, their oldest has mental heath issues, he has wierd food alleregies, the boys have both had broken bones in the last 3 months. they are bringing a young lady who is a MBB with them to live here because her family has rejected her…. and much more. please pray for this precious family. 

  16. Just getting started as Sunday was spent with my husband. It was a good day, practicing what life will soon look like when our nest is completely empty. 
    So, here I go:What stood out?
    First, I loved your discussion about our attitude toward our enemies. (actually, it’s really hard for me to even identify my enemies) Just like many of the ladies here, I have been thinking a lot about this especially because so many of the people who have ‘done me wrong’ in my life have also been people I have loved and respected. So, it’s really hard to see them as my enemies. Many of them have yet to trust the Lord for salvation so while I may be hurt or angered by what they have said or done to me, the Holy Spirit has always brought me to a place of concern for their salvation so that I can pray for them. 
    The second thing that really stood out to me was the discussion about the main point of Habakkuk. Dee writes that it is to prepare us as our troubles in this world increase we must trust that God will set all things right. (I believe I paraphrased that) I really loved the link to Job here. Hab.2:20 saying the earth is to keep silent and Job telling God in Job 40:4 that he’s basically gonna stop asking questions and keep his mouth shut. 

  17. 2) Do you think spiritual gifts impact this discussion or not?
    Yes! I agree with Dee here that how God uniquely gifts us definitely colors our views and opinions. And, because of that, we need to be open to hearing each other to more fully understand anything. Basically, we really do need each other!
    Also, I just want to mention here, I never really understood the spiritual gift of prophecy until reading your explanation of forth telling above. It sent me on a little rabbit trail and I think I get it now. Thanks Dee!

  18. 1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
    I was impressed with the fact that the Gospel Coalition felt strongly enough about Rob Bell’s book Love Wins that they called a conference to confront what they felt was false teaching that might lead others astray.      I was not aware of any of this going on at the time it happened – I am just learning about it now!    Perhaps that is because I belong to a more liberal denomination.  Almost no one in our denomination (Disciples of Christ) would go so far as to say “there is no hell,” however hell is seldom mentioned in our churches either!     I sometimes ponder that and shake my head.   I really wouldn’t want to hear “fire and brimstone” from the pulpit every Sunday, but I think we are failing to face accountability and judgment as we should.    
    2. Do you think our spiritual giftings impact this discussion or not?
    There was a time in my life  (late high school – early college)   when I was pretty judgmental and narrow in my religious views. I would like to think that I have “grown” considerably from that point, and today I would probably rank myself fairly high in mercy.    I have spent my energies in work with homeless in the past, and with a food pantry presently.  I do things that I think are becoming labeled “old fashioned” such as taking food to the sick or grieving, and making visits and calls to the lonely and shut-ins.     I believe my views about God’s judgment and hell are impacted by my strong leanings toward mercy.    I truthfully do not spend much time thinking about how “God is going to get so-and-so for what they do.”    However, I believe God is just, and  I do not think it is my place to get vengeance for anyone’s wrongdoing – that is for God to do.  I sometimes make a comment that “there must be a warm place you-know-where” for those who exploit others.   I want to make clear that   I do not question the existence of hell for a minute, because Jesus taught about it.    I think of the parable about the rich man and the beggar named Lazarus (Luke 16:20-30).  Also the parable of the weeds (Matt.13:24-30).  Finally I mention Jesus’ teaching about the separation of the sheep and the goats at the final judgment (Matt. 25: 31-46), which ends with the words “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”    So I think a very strong Scriptural case can be made for the existence of hell.   Personally I don’t want to go there –    I stand in awe and in great relief because of the grace I have received from Jesus!

    1. Deanna, thank you for the Scriptures you reference in your answers to #2. Yes, Jesus talked a lot about the existence of hell. I also think your answer is very well-said, as in this: “I believe my views about God’s judgment and hell are impacted by my strong leanings toward mercy.” Impacted, yes, but you also hold to the truth of Jesus’ teachings.

    2. Deanna – I am staggered by all of the truth you packed into your 2nd paragraph!  And all with your trademark and much appreciated sense of humor!  🙂  Thank you so much for leading us back into the Scriptures for a sobering look at Jesus’ own words on the topic of judgement and hell.  

  19. What stands out to you?
    “I love the women on this blog. I love how you search out the Scriptures and give probing answers…”
    Oh, yes, Dee, I too love this. Though I have been silent and filled with distractions, this study of Habakkuk draws me in.
    There are wonderful questions and answers to help me think about all the issues then and how they apply to our times.
    I agree that each one has special gifts that contribute. I love your gift of prophecy, Dee, as well as your gift of evangelism.
    I desire to reach out to those in our hurting world. For without the study of God’s word, they miss the joy and the promises that await us. I know we serve a holy God. The scripture says an amazing thought, “Let all the world keep silence before Him.”
    Too much talking and too many answers come from the world, and this week is horrendous. I am ready to consider the doctrine of hell. The world easily throws it out but so needs the saving grace and mercy of our Lord and Savior.
    Thanks, sisters, for your probing answers. I, too, love each of you and respect each position as we are in different places physically and in maturity.

    1. Shirley – what a beautiful response from top to bottom.  🙂  I’m always so grateful to see you here!

    2. I agree with Jackie,  Shirley.    Your words bear such sweetness and truth.    And just what I needed right now.  We do so need to respect and encourage each other.  

  20. 2. Do you think our spiritual giftings impact this discussion or not?
    I think it’s evident that it does. Everyone brings something to the table. I also wonder not only about spiritual giftings, but also significant things that have happened to us in our lifetimes that have shaped us (these could include how we were raised by our parents, if any have suffered any form of abuse, deep hurts experienced, etc…) We absolutely need each other to remain balanced. As Dee points out, a person high in mercy may easily sway towards being an enabler, or co-dependency. I think that Keller touched on something similar in one of his messages about how we need both TRUTH and TEARS, and Jesus was, of course, perfectly balanced, a master of both of those. I know that personally, I can be “blinded”. My husband often says that (in regards to one of my sons) this son could run over me with his car and I would still defend him. It is hard for me to be an objective observer or judge of character as my emotions usually take over.
    However, I greatly respect everyone here and I have seen that we can discuss things and even be of different opinions without anyone getting “blasted” or shut down. I really, really was helped by Lizzy’s post about why she is so comforted by God’s justice because I had never thought of it that way.

    1. Susan-I meant to email you, but thank you thank you for your wonderful card of encouragement!!! :)))) You are so thoughtful and kind and such a sweet friend. I miss you!! 

      1. Oh you’re welcome, Rebecca! I love “snail mail”. I know this isn’t FB, but how are you feeling? Has the numbness in your leg resolved?

        1. Nope..It hasn’t. 🙁 My boys can be messy-so when they leave something on the floor and I trip, my ankle will turn on me and I can’t control it. It is weird! 🙂 I limp-and my foot, and ankle seem to get more numb and stiff the longer I walk-strange. It might be permanent and it might not..we will see in time. 🙂  I am getting better though-not as sore in my incision from surgery anymore and I don’t take pain pills for it anymore. The pain is live-able. and I can drive now! 🙂

  21. 2. Do you think our spiritual giftings impact this discussion or not?
    Yes they can and so we/I need to be sensitive to one another. 🙂 My primary spiritual gift is Discernment and secondly is Administration.  🙂  

    1. Rebecca – I know I’m not a spiritual gifts “assessor”(?)….but I see Discernment in a huge way in your life!  🙂  I agree wholeheartedly that this is a spiritual gift in your life!!  

      1. Jackie- 😉  My husband doesn’t like spiritual gift tests. 🙂  

        1. I thought I was the only one!!  🙂  I just lean heavily toward the Spirit making this known to us through the local body and other believers who we worship and serve with – ?   

        2. I’m not a big fan of the tests either.  But I think they can help someone get thinking about it, if they have not before.  I don’t think it’s something to do over and over.  But a good thought provoking description of various gifts is helpful.  I suppose it’s like any other inventory (personality, political stance, career, etc….)  Some things overlap with others.  I think it’s in the serving and doing, that our gifts become more clear to us.   I did one inventory long ago, that had you asking 2 or 3 close friends to rank you on some questions.  That was good in a way…..but had the potential for misunderstandings.  

  22. 3. Read Habakkuk 2:15-17
    A. For what purpose have the Chaldeans gotten their neighbors drunk?
    Today I’m using the NASB. It says, “Woe to you who make your neighbors drink, who mix in your venom even to make them drunk so as to look on their nakedness!” This phrase, “who mix in your venom even” shows that it is with malicious intent that they get their neighbors drunk so that they may exploit them. Now while I know that drunkenness is wrong, this isn’t two friends or a group of friends who have an evening together where they all get tipsy and laugh together and maybe act foolishly. This is an act of deliberate exploitation of another person, premeditated.
    B. What are they demonstrating according to verse 16a?
    It says they will be filled with disgrace, not honor. It says that now they will drink and expose their own nakedness. Is it that while they appear to pride themselves on being “the Chaldeans” – the proud conquerers of other nations, the rich and famous, in reality they are base, lewd, immoral. Their sin is shameful.
    C. Compare “the cup” of verse 16b to Isaiah 51:17. What does it mean?
    The cup of verse 16b is described as the cup in the Lord’s right hand that is coming around to the Chaldeans. The cup in Isaiah 51:17 is described as the cup of the Lord’s anger, “the chalice of reeling you have drained to the dregs”. It says that Jerusalem has already drunk from this cup, meaning, I think, that they have received God’s judgment or chastening for their rebellion. Down in verse 22-23 it says that God says that He has taken the cup out of their hands, the cup of His anger, and He will put it into the hand of their tormentors, which is also similar to Habakkuk in that God will use the Chaldeans to punish His people but then will punish the Chaldeans. All this “cup talk” is referring to God’s anger against sin and His justice that He will bring about.
    D. What will happen to them and even to their beasts according to verse 17? Thoughts?
    I’m going back to Habakkuk 1:8 which says that the horses of the Chaldeans are swifter than leopards and (more eager to attack) than wolves. I can picture the Chaldeans galloping in on these horses and no one can outrun them. These horses contribute to the victory of the Chaldeans. Now I’m going back to the NIV, which says, “The violence you have done to Lebanon will overwhelm you…” so what will happen to them is that they themselves will be overwhelmed by violence (someone bigger and stronger will do to them what they have been doing to other groups of people). Then it says “and your destruction of animals will terrify you.”  So I’m not understanding the question of what will happen to their beasts. When it says “your destruction of animals”, does this mean that the way they used their horses to make war on others was a misuse of the horse as it was intended to be used? Or, does this mean that when they invaded, they would just kill the animals that belonged to the people they were overtaking, and that one day their animals will be destroyed in the same way?

  23. Susan – I had those same questions about the animals when I was reading this passage earlier this morning!  I kept asking myself “wait a minute….whose animals are being spoken of here??”.  I need to do a more careful read through – or get help!  

  24. E. Who took the cup of God’s wrath for you? Some believe God should forgive us without having Jesus go to the Cross. What would you say to that?
    Oh, Jesus took the cup of God’s wrath for me! When I read these verses about “the cup”, it is really scary, especially the one about this cup being in God’s right hand and “it’s coming around to you”. I know this message isn’t very popular these days. It is good to emphasize His grace and the fact that He does provide forgiveness, but to get back to basics, why is it necessary in the first place? Because we, because I, have done things that are frightfully offensive to a holy God. The Bible makes it clear that before I was saved, I was counted as His ENEMY, just like these Chaldeans! Jesus “stepped in between” me and God as that cup of wrath was coming at ME and there was no way that I could refuse to drink it. Jesus took the cup and drained it. In John 18:10-11, when Peter tried to defend Jesus from being arrested, Jesus said, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” That is a horrible picture, though, of the cup of wrath in God’s right hand coming around to Jesus, the one who did not deserve it.
    If some believe that it wasn’t necessary for Jesus to go to the Cross and that God can or should just forgive us, they are just not understanding the seriousness of sin and how holy God is. And, God is the one who set up “the system” of how sin can be paid for. It used to be animal sacrifices, but that still wasn’t the final solution. God requires the death of the sinner – it’s that serious. We are fooled into thinking we’re really not that bad. I would ask the person to think of the most awful person who committed the most atrocious acts (they would probably think of someone like Hitler). Ok, should God just forgive him? Most people would say no way. The problem is that we compare ourselves to someone like him and can proudly say we’re not that bad. But, as Max Lucado said, that’s like one pig comparing itself to another pig. We’re all in the same sinking boat. When you picture Jesus dying and suffering on that Cross for the sins of all of humanity, that is the wrath of God poured out on sin. Sin, like what Hitler did, makes Him angry….but so does my sin; the lies I’ve told, the shoplifting I did when I was a teen (yes, I did), the bitterness and unforgiveness in my heart, my selfishness and self-centeredness, my failing to speak up and do what is right. I think my explanation is getting a big long-winded! We can explain and say all we want, but only God can open a person’s eyes to see the truth about themselves.

      1. Can we overemphasize our depravity? Hmmm…..perhaps we can if that is our only focus and we fail to see how the gospel can break the power of sin. I don’t believe that we should continue to see ourselves as slaves to sin, hopelessly doomed to keep repeating the same sins. We do need to believe that we are new creations in Christ. Yet, the opposite is we can’t become too smug. We do need to remember from where we came. I think looking at these passages about the cup of God’s wrath was, for me, a stern reminder that God really does hate sin and it is serious, and an enemy of God is an enemy; whether the Chaldeans or me before I was reconciled to Him.

  25. 3. Read Habakkuk 2:15-17
    A. For what purpose have the Chaldeans gotten their neighbors drunk? Because they are mad and want to look upon their nakedness. The next verse talks about shame, so perhaps nakedness here is meant to be shame.
    B. What are they demonstrating according to verse 16a? They are demonstrating disgrace instead of honor.
    C. Compare “the cup” of verse 16b to Isaiah 51:17. What does it mean? The cup in both verses is in the Lord’s hand. Habakkuk verse says shame, Isaiah verse says staggering, which may imply shame. It means judgement, and the assumption  that it is judgement for wrong doing not for a job well done.
    D. What will happen to them and even to their beasts according to verse 17? Thoughts? Violence will be done to them (as to Lebanon) and it will overwhelm them. It will be punishment for the blood of man and for violence done to the earth. Something I never fully understood was how the Israelites could kill and not be punished but here the Chaldeans are being punished for killing and being violent to the earth. Probably intentions, one is protecting God’s chosen, holy, set apart people and the other selfish conquest to the glory of man.
    E. Who took the cup of God’s wrath for you? Some believe God should forgive without having Jesus go to the cross. What would you say to that? Jesus! this seems to be a misunderstanding of forgiveness. In our culture we throw around the word tolerance and love and forgiveness but really what everyone means is, “let me do what I want to do with no punishment and I will let you do what you want to do with no punishment.” There is NO CENTER. No foundation, no fundamental truth to stand on or compare things to in order to know if it is good and right. The areas get blurred, greeted out until we get someone who can talk themselves into killing for a god who rejoices in the destruction of people and think they will be rewarded for it! When people say God should forgive without the punishment being paid they are basically saying, there shouldnt be a punishment cuz God should just let us do what we want! They define love as permissibility and ‘freedom.’ It shouldn’t matter what I do cuz doing what I want is what will make me happy! They want to deny the consequences…. Not being very articulate here and there is s o much more to say! 

  26. 3. Read Habakkuk 2:15-17
    A. For what purpose have the Chaldeans gotten their neighbors drunk?
    So they can gaze on their neighbors’ naked bodies (which Keller said was a euphenism for having sex with them).    Whether that is the case or not,  it is definitely something that is done to exploit their neighbors.   It may even be as simple as humiliating them, but it could be as serious as using them in sexual ways.   
    B. What are they demonstrating according to verse 16a?
    I think they are trying to demonstrate their power and superiority over others.   However, they are told that they will experience shame and not glory for what they do.  
    C. Compare “the cup” of verse 16b to Isaiah 51:17. What does it mean?
    I think both passages refer to the cup of God’s wrath — His judgment for their sins.
    D. What will happen to them and even to their beasts according to verse 17? Thoughts?
    I am more uncertain about the meaning here as to the destruction of animals.   I know that their wealth was pretty much counted by heads in their herds, so if the plundering Chaldeans killed the animals of their enemies, then that would ruin the economy and devastate the humans who were left after the onslaught.   

    E. Who took the cup of God’s wrath for you? Some believe God should forgive us without having  Jesus go to the cross. What would you say to that?
    Of course, it was Jesus who took the cup of wrath for me.    I have quite honestly wished a good many times that it would not have been necessary for Jesus to have gone to the cross for us.   I absolutely cringe at portrayals of the crucifixion, and it brings me to tears.   However, I have come to accept that God felt it was necessary that blood (which is the symbol of life) had to be used to wash away the death in us, caused by our sins.    For us to be discussing this now is sort of a moot point, because it is over and done, and thanks be to God for it!!     

  27. Honestly, I hope that this week’s study will give me some insight to what I want to believe about hell. I’m not sure that I want to open a can of worms by saying what it is, but I also don’t want to spend my life believing a lie.

    1. That is such an honest statement,  Dawn.   I have been wrestling with questions too.   

  28. 3. Read Habakkuk 2:15-17 
    A. For what purpose have the Chaldeans gotten their neighbors drunk? 
    They want to gaze upon their nakedness!
    B. What are they demonstrating according to verse 16a?
    they were trying to get “glory” for themselves.

  29. C. Compare “the cup” of verse 16b to Isaiah 51:17. What does it mean?
    They both talk about drinking from the cup of God. In the case of Habakkuk, it says it is a cup of shame. In Isaiah, it is the wrath of God. I think it means you will suffer for your bad choices in life, be it drinking and carousing with your neighbors or those who have forgotten the Lord in Jerusalem.
    D. What will happen to them and even to their beasts according to verse 17? Thoughts?
    The violence will overwhelm them; the destruction of them will be devastating. It is a scary picture indeed. 
    E. Who took the cup of God’s wrath for you? Some believe God should forgive us without having  Jesus go to the cross. What would you say to that?
    Jesus took the cup ?. Reminds me of this song:
    He sent Jesus here so we would see who He was from our human perspective. We needed to put our hands on Him because we are so tactile as humans. If someone just told the story without the “proof,” would we truly believe? Or, would it just be just “magical” or “mystical” and hard to believe?

  30. limited access and can’t remeber my fab log in from here– just wanted to say happy birthday to Renee! ☺️

  31. ‘Fab’ = face book!

  32. Listened to Carson’s opening remarks.     I feel like if I don’t comment right away, I will lose my thoughts.  So I am posting now, instead of waiting until I hear the panel.
    I don’t have written notes, but here are things that struck me.
    * I respect Carson’s vast knowledge and the depth of his theological study.  Beyond question, he knows the terms and the background and the doctrines very thoroughly.  But, I would have to be much more convinced of the doctrine of election is 100 percent the only way to believe and that the doctrine of free will is absolutely untrue, to really embrace everything he is saying.  I simply am not there, so I do struggle with some of his certainty surrounding the fluctuation of God’s love and how he describes it in different senses.  His remarks about the statement ‘God will never love me more than He does right now’.… took me aback.   In one sense, I see how the scriptures he used to back his hesitancy to use this phrase, are helpful and right.  In another sense, it bothered me that he challenged this statement.   🙁   Ugh.  I knew if I opened myself up to this topic, I would struggle.  I don’t know how anyone can be settled on these doctrines.  🙁    This definitely made me feel like he was in opposition to Brendan Manninng’s teaching (as I understand it anyway.  I haven’t read it).   
    *  I liked his discussion of tolerance and how it has been manipulated into teaching universalism,  and how he used other examples of bad exegesis in regard to various scriptures.  I think his discussion fell short though, when he only described the ways that ‘the world’ does not tolerate Christian truth and didn’t also uncover the ways in which Christians can close their hearts and minds and not listen to others.  Not sure why this hit me or what words were used, but something grabbed my heart in that section.
    *  His discussion about the church fathers and clarifying that saying universalism was taught from the beginning is not true, was helpful to me.  
    *  His description of the verse’s meaning, about the gates of heaven being opened day and night was helpful.  
    (I had just read both of these in Bell’s book last night and wondered, so his teaching helped clarify.
    *  I found his closing remarks about the people in hell and their behaviors disconcerting.  I understand what is said in the parable about Lazarus, but I think he painted with a pretty broad brush in his description.  Maybe I’m too cautious in my interpretations, but his left me questioning the generalizations he made.
    * Most importantly on my mind right now:   Have some of you read Rob Bell’s book?   I picked it up again last night, because I really feel it’s not fair to discuss it, if I haven’t read it.  I read part of it a few years ago.  Am trying to finish and get a sense of the actual text.   I would love to know who has read it and how it affected you.   

      1. …….I rest they are both true and God will one day show us….

        I am so glad to see this, Dee.  This is also what I believe.  A pastor that helped me through so much in the struggles I had at our former church, held them to both be true; yet a mystery.  That is where I have landed also.   I usually defer to the ‘mystery’ because it is far too difficult to try figure out.  

  33. Oh….and I forgot one very important thing.  I did very much like his discussion about the atonement and how we must not manipulate it to mean what we want it to mean.  That was the best point Carson made.  And the clearest in my mind.

    1. Dee:   No, it wasn’t Greg.  I don’t know what his position was; I was so young when we were in his church…in my 20’s and with 3 littles.  🙂    I remember discussions about elecition in our small group, but he wasn’t in them.  The pastor I referred to was an associate- semi retired man who was at the church we attended in Lindstrom, MN.  

  34. Thoughts about the panel discussion:     I learned quite a bit.  I liked that Keller responded with his feeling about reading the book.  I like that he read it!  (though, I think the facilitator said he had read ‘long pieces’ of it.)  You do need to read it to the end to kind of come up with a summary of what he is saying.  It’s very indirect (intentionally).  
    I like that the panel participants spoke right to some of the things Bell says.  Having just read some of them, this helped me.  
    I liked that Keller clarified some things about Lewis and his view of hell.
    I especially liked that the Korean pastor, Stephen Um,  spoke to the western view of punishment vs. the eastern view. This exactly affirmed what I wrote earlier in a comment to Jill, when she asked about if our spiritual gifts should influence our views and also stated that our past will influence our views.   My thought had been that our culture influences our views of much of scripture….and that is why linguists are so careful to include cultural norms and innuendos  and use discretion when they translate.  It is always helpful to see how other cultures see things differently, when interpreting hard issues.
    It was interesting to hear Keller’s thoughts about Bell, as I’d just seen that Bell’s list of recommended reading included ‘The Prodigal God’ by Keller and it was pretty evident in some of Bell’s writing, that he had been influenced by Keller. 

    And I really liked the discussion about not separating the attributes of God, which we have touched on here already. That is most compelling, in my mind..
    I still have questions.  Much good clarity…..but my gut still wonders.   One thing I wonder is if Bell’s book could be a ‘stepping stone’ for someone who believes a whole different religion.  (like some that I love)  If they are indoctrinated with Buddhist and Hindu type teachings, wouldn’t it be better to read this….and begin to at least get their mind back in the realm of Christian thinking?   I have no hope right now, that the book would be read by any of them, but I would welcome hearing it, if it were to happen.  I truly don’t know how in the world, God will woo them back out of what they believe now.  But I truly want to believe that He will. 

  35. 9. Read the short article above and comment.      Well, it stated what the writer thought about Bell’s stance and where he thought Bell was headed, but I wasn’t clear as to what Bell actually is doing today.  I know he left the church and I guess I will do some searching to find out more.  
    John Piper’s tweet was terribly disturbing to me when he sent it.   And close to that time, Piper  tweeted other very pointed and disconcerting thing, so I was even more perplexed and upset by it.   Why would he glibly say ‘farewell’ instead of have compassion and love and sorrow over Bell’s leaving orthodoxy?   Why would he tweet something at all?  That seems so trite.   Another tweet severely judged the largest Lutheran body, (which is likely the largest denomination in the state too)  who was having a national conference in Minneapolis.  I won’t get into the content, but it was divisive and did not need to be glibly said and released into the world.  I’m extra sensitive to what Piper says, because I live 40 minutes from his church, and I see the fall out.  His tweets have made the evening news.  I cringe when the podium of social media is used lightly and harshly by Christian leaders.   The gospel message gets very distorted.  
    The transcript of the video at the end, was what my church fellowship group used to discuss when the book was coming out.  I was broadsided that morning, as I did not know anything about the book or Bell.  The discussion wasn’t very helpful, because no one had read the book.  We were just through the firestorm.  I didn’t find that a good experience.     This reminds me of another thing in the panel that I really liked that Carson said.  He spoke of ministries that exist only to preach what is wrong about others and how detrimental they are.  I could state many examples of that kind of teaching that I have been exposed to over the years.  I believe that we should be so clear about the truth and teach it with such love…..that we will equip people to see the truth and what is false.  We can use gentle and direct reminders and help steer people away from teaching that is wrong, but a constant diet of that really does eat you up inside, as Carson suggested.  
    I don’t want to leave anyone with the impression that I am defending Love Wins.  Because I am not.  But I pose lots of questions and thoughts because I find this to be a very difficult topic to settle concisely.  I have gained a lot going through this study though.  So, thank you for presenting it, Dee.  Someone very dear to me, could have written his book.  The writing style, the questions……they all resonate with me.  I’ve heard them all before.  That’s why I feel so strongly that to discuss it, it should be read.    I chuckled when I read in the article that part of the firestorm was that Bell supporters were saying ‘you haven’t read it’.    That was exactly my thought, when I first heard people speak against it five years ago.   No one had read it….yet they all had much to say.   I wasn’t defending the book at all.   I just wanted to understand.  I still don’t defend it.  But it does make me sad on many levels.  

  36. Oops.  I see now, that there’s a link that you need to click within the article, to get the article that was probably the one intended for us to read.  I did read it.  I have commented enough for one day though!   I’ll wait to hear others. 

    1. Here’s another article about what Rob Bell is doing today.  This one is more clear about where he stands and what he teaches.  And it’s very sad to read.  

      1. Wanda – you have been a busy girl!  Thank you for this article…..SAD indeed.  You mentioned more than once that it bothered you that people were commenting on Rob Bell’s book without reading it…..I read a LOT of articles responding to his book Love Wins at the time it was published.  The quotes that were presented were numerous and turned my stomach, to be sure.  But I took your words to heart and popped by my local library right before it closed last night and checked out Love Wins.  Last night I made it about halfway through the book, but I have to tell you, I don’t think I’ll finish it.  Half of that book was MORE than enough.  The word apostasy kept flashing in my mind in neon lights.  Aged old apostle John, the apostle of love, wrote these words:  “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us.  But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.”  (1 John 2:19).  Or these words from the Apostle Paul:  “For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.”  That’s Philippians 3:18 and the verses following are more fully instructive……such as “minds set on earthly things”…..
        I find that I can read and/or watch Christopher Hitchens, Bill Maher and other atheistic unbelievers at times with genuine interest.  Rob Bell is in a different camp altogether – and nothing is more dangerous than a wolf in sheep’s clothing.  Hell is FAR from Bell’s only “target”……the very nature of God, the person of Jesus Christ, the cross…..it’s all up for grabs in Bell’s world.  And the church?  I think of persecuted believers all over this world…..risking their very lives to gather secretly to worship God together as the Body of Christ.  And then there’s Rob Bell…..surfing, touring with Oprah and abandoning the local body concept altogether.  Sad doesn’t do it justice.   🙁

        1. Jackie…..I believe it is the mercy gift in me that needs to give someone the benefit of the doubt until I really see it myself.  And I do see it clearly after reading all that I did yesterday.  (I also read Kevin deYoung’s long review….which is probably what my pastor used for the basis of his sermon years ago.)     But even when I wrote my first two comments about the audio links,  I was still finishing the book and looking up articles.   I apologize for repeating myself.  I was typing as fast as I could to keep up with my thoughts.
          I said that one of my loved ones could have written the book.  In many ways and forums, he has and is doing that.  He is writing his treatises to explain his departure from Christianity.  I desperately look for the ‘loopholes’  the ‘chinks in the armor’ as it were, that may indicate there is still some truth in his evolving conclusions. I think about Rob Bell’s parents and identify with them and what must be, their sorrow.   His father, a federal judge, like Rob, went to Wheaton College.  He would have gone at a time, when the student body was filled with many who became robust Christian leaders…..at a time when Wheaton was truly a beacon of truth.   At a time when the gray issues of life (for better or worse) were not wrestled with,  when the church was not seeking to fill the chairs at the expense of sound teaching.  So, I can only guess that Rob’s departure has been as painful to them as my experiences have been.  Albeit theirs has been an greatly publicized one…..with mountains of dissent toward their son.   OH.  Writing that makes my heart hurt for them.  

        2. Wanda – I too re-read Kevin DeYoung’s LONG review of the book.  It was a sobering response wasn’t it?  But my heart truly goes out to you as I know how very, very tough it is to separate out our own reality, our own loved ones, from every biblical topic at hand.  ;(   As for having a child who once seemed fully immersed in the faith, the gospel and. in my case, recently told me they have been “innoculated against it”….OH.  My Mama Bear within rises up and screams “Noooooooo, may it never be!!!”.  And sometimes – as right now – I sing “In Christ Alone” ……and I preach it to my soul….my sometimes grieved and  frightened soul.  

  37. 4. Read Habakkuk 2:18-19
    A. What is the root sin of the Chaldeans?
    Idolatry. They worshipped false gods/idols that they made with their own hands out of wood and stone.
    B. How have you grown in identifying and replacing a heart idol with Jesus?
    The biggest area of growth is simply the fact that I’ve woken-up! I had a basic understanding of idolatry before beginning to study it here, having it touched on in a couple different Bible studies. I knew it was wrong to put other things or people in front of Jesus. I didn’t understand though the deeper “motivating idols” that produce the bad fruit, like power/control, approval/affirmation, and comfort/security. I thought an idol had to be a specific thing, like money. It is easier now for me to see when a heart idol is operating, to question myself as to what am I really trusting, what have I made into an ultimate desire, where do I really find my identity. I hesitate to say “I’m all grown up” because these idols are so sneaky and I can still be so deceived by my own heart and, sadly, at times I can even want to hold onto my idols!
    I had pondered a question last week about how can I tell if I am REPLACING my idol with Jesus or, if I am just RESIGNING myself to the fact that I can’t have my idol, that it won’t satisfy? I ask that because I know I can be deceived. In the example of how I had made my children my identity, my purpose for living, my sources of comfort and approval….all a case of “disordered loves”….okay, so the two oldest are away from home and have I just resigned myself to the fact that they have and are growing up and I see them less and less and they obviously can’t meet those needs?

    1. oh Susan! You did get me with your wise, and always so gently said, truth. As I read your words–yes, I thought of an “old” idol that I really have just resigned to accept I cannot have it–instead of letting Him truly break my heart free of it, and be broken and remade by His tender mercy. Wow. 

    2. I wonder the same thing Susan! I wonder if I’m just replacing the idol with something else because my old idol CANT fill me anymore.sometimes I really struggle with HOW do I let Jesus fill that hole…What do I need to do in order to FEEL like Im OK. I can put Jesus first, Love HIM, Worship HIM, etc. but some days I just do not FEEL like HE makes me feel any better.

      1. Cyndi, you articulated this so well. I have the same struggles, too. I also struggle with the “how” and “what do I need to do in order to FEEL like I’m OK.”

  38. 4. Read Habakkuk 2:18-19 
    A. What is the root sin of the Chaldeans? 
    They are worshiping idols.
    B. How have you grown in identifying and replacing a heart idol with Jesus?
     Several years ago I didn’t even know what idols were. Now I know what they are and I can  stand on my watch post and look out for my love of them. 
    5. Read Habakkuk 2:20 and explain what it teaches concerning the ways of God.
    God is in control we are not.  You don’t obey and there will be consequences;  there is no doubt. 
    6. There is a parallel in Revelation, when like Habakkuk, there is a cry, but this time from “the souls who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” (Rev. 6:10) The wrath of God falls, and as in Habakkuk, there is silence. See Revelation 8:1. Share your thoughts.
    The ones who cried out were given white robes in the end.  I actually went back and read 6, 7, and 8 in revelation. It made it clear to me than just reading the one scripture passage. In Habbakuk, the people cry out and God assures them He will handle the situation at the time He feels is right. He tells the people to wait patiently.

  39. 4.   Read Habakkuk 2:18&19.
    A.  What is the root sin of the Chaldeans?
    They shape idols and trust in their own creation – PRIDE.
    B.  How have you grown in identifying and replacing a heart idol with Jesus?
    Through much sorrow, plain and simple.  Three years ago the Lord bombed my life – literally.  He showed me that my children were idols in my life, for certain.  He allowed death and disease and addiction and so much more.  He shattered me, but I walked out of that season loving Him more than ever before in my life.  But nothing about our idols dies easily!  Next came the idol of my marriage…..that too had to be reckoned with.  Here is a little portion of the Word that has brought me to weeping:  2 Timothy 2:11-13……”The saying is trustworthy, for:  ‘If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful – for he cannot deny himself.”  There is a song we sometimes sing at church – “Oh no, You never let go….”…..in the fire I learned it was so.  Even so, I know that I have only the slightest CLUE to my PRIDE…..and He has dealt with me in ways that I often refer to as His “severe mercy”, for “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Heb 10:31).  And yet…..even though I might be crawling in agony….I want to be near Him.  For He is just that GOOD.  He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end….and in Him we live, and move, and have our being…..HE is everything.  

    1. this whole post is so moving Jackie–we witness the beauty He has brought out in you from the refining fire. 

    2. Jackie,
      Thank you for brutal honesty which helps me to know that I do not travel alone.

    3. Jackie, You are truly a blessing. Honesty and  a beautiful way to express your thoughts are appreciated.

  40. 3.  Read Habakkuk 2:15-17
    A.  For what purpose have the Chaldeans gotten their neighbors drunk?
    To gaze at their nakedness, to shame and humiliate them.
    B.  What are they demonstrating according to verse 16a?
    I guess one could see the biblical principle of “you reap what you sow” in this verse.  The shame and humiliation they have desired for others is coming back for them!  
    C.  Compare “the cup” of verse 16b to Isaiah 51:17.  What does it mean?
    The cup is the cup of the Lord’s wrath.  Judgement – in full – will come to them……”your fill of shame” and “utter shame” are emphasized in this verse.
    D.  What will happen to them and even to their beasts according to verse 17?  Thoughts?
    Destruction.  Upon a second reading it does appear to me that the “beasts” in question are the Chaldeans – the very beasts that they used to wreak havoc and misery upon others.  Clearly, in the OT times, horses=power.  Obviously, I’m a bleeding heart with the animals….and when I read of God telling Joshua to hamstring the enemies horses I CRINGE…..David also did the same (and maybe others).  The point being that without their horses, they were more helpless.  I have spent my adult life partnering with animals and helping them THRIVE…..but here I must default to “His ways are higher than ours…..” 
    E.  Who took the cup of God’s wrath for you?  Some believe God should forgive us without having Jesus go to the cross.  What would you say to that?
    Jesus took our cup of wrath in full at the cross.  Sometimes I think the cross is hard for us to fathom simply because of our own pride.  SURELY I am not THAT bad.  SURELY my sin is not deserving of such wrath from God the Father.  Oh, but it is.  In desiring God’s forgiveness without the cost of the cup Jesus drank to the dregs at the cross I am showing how little I know of SIN.  How lightly I take my own sin.  Or even the fact that, apart from the cross, I remain DEAD in my sin.  

  41. 5.  Read Habakkuk 2:20 and explain what it teaches concerning the ways of God.
    So many times in life, my need is to BE STILL and KEEP SILENCE before the Lord.  Psalm 46:10 says “Be still and know that I am God…” and Isaiah 55:9 says “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  His ways are VERY DIFFERENT than my ways….and even my thoughts must be silenced if I am to see Him in His glory.  Romans 12:2 helps me here, for I see my need to “step back” from the world and all of it’s noise so that I am not conformed to this world but rather be in a place to be transformed by the renewing of my mind (in the Word).  

    1. Jackie–this truth of keeping my words few, has been heavy on my heart lately–I am so often WAY TOO QUICK TO SPEAK and far too slow to listen. I love your words here: “even my thoughts must be silenced if I am to see Him in His glory”

  42. 4. Read Habakkuk 2:18-19
    A. What is the root sin of the Chaldeans? They are making and worshipping idols, but this is still a symptom…possibly not the root. They are actively seeking divine help but in their hearts have determined that God should look a  certain way and be able to manipulated a certain way. They are trusting their own hearts to be just and right in regards to what they think should happen with life. 
    One quote in all the Rob Bell links that Wanda shared was something about “justice.” He was arguing that he cannot deny justice to a person by not giving them ________. So then the question becomes, “Is justice a fundamental right to certain human desires?” What is justice? What is a just God? Merriam-Webster defines it as: the process or result of using laws to fairly judge and punish crimes and criminals. Interesting that the definition deals only with wrong doing? I have always thought of justice as what is right is right and what is wrong is wrong, dealing with both sides. And herein lies the issue! Who’s law do we follow to know what is justice? You cannot have a universal opinion of justice without first agreeing to a universal law. This is God’s design. His law is the basis and the center, but when we seek after trusting in other things, like making idols to look for pleasure and happiness of our own definition, then justic dissolves and greys and is, frankly, impossible!

  43. B. How have you grown in identifying and replacing a heart idol with Jesus? The biggest thing is to see the root of my idols, I can name them as approval or control but really there is a layer even deeper than that – trust. The more I understand Jesus and who He is, God and His attributes the more this should deepen my trust and response of love. When I seek approval or control in situations I am leaning on other things, trusting other things, this should not be and it is grievous! But it is trust as a root. If it’s possible, I think the Lord is “leveling” my heart. He is tearing down the high places that I have put certain things on for comfort, approval, control and He is also filling the deep places. Things that were a mystery and frightening to me are coming into the open to allow God to shine light on….give a name to it and pray with knowledge rather than fear of what lurks in the deep of my heart. I know the heart is deceitful and there is probably MUCH more to level than I realize (and in 10 years I will probably look back and realize how amiss I still was!) but this is what I see His hand doing in drawing me from my idols and to Jesus.
    One other thing: I am calmer, I think I am beginning to realize the full meaning of “press into Him.” And this feels like a literal pressing my heart into His hands to “make” it stay there, as it were. I used to think I need to pray, seek scripture, until my idol was fulfilled (comfort, approval, control,etc) but this is a consumer attitude. I am seeing to press into Him is to trust His promises, His timing, His hand in what it gives and what it takes away, and for the strength to endure either. To press into Him is to follow Him step by step, content in being in His step….having troubles articulating this….

    1. Jill – whether you felt “articulate” or not….I was AMENING all throughout that second paragraph of yours about pressing in to Him.  😉  “I am seeing to press into Him is to trust His promises, His timing, His hand in what it gives and what it takes away, and for the strength to endure either.”  Yes.  

    2. Jill,
      Deeply moved by your second paragraph:   I think I am beginning to realize the full meaning of “press into Him.” And this feels like a literal pressing my heart into His hands to “make” it stay there, as it were.   Made me think of this verse in Job 1:21   
      “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
      This song early this morning with my guitar, for I am in a deep wrestling  ~   Maybe this is for one of you too here today.

  44. 8. and 9. 
    I must have joined the blog just after you discussed this because ignorance is bliss! I have never heard of Rob Bell (never have liked Oprah though) or his book, or this controversy! You have tainted my virgin mind Dee!! here are my bullet point thoughts:
    – I have always believed in hell for those who are not repentant sinners. It’s what I learned as a child and never questioned. It keeps us in line; it’s our inner conscious.
    – Along those lines, I have worked with children for a very long time now, especially teenagers, and have noticed that when they get bored they cause trouble. I think (without knowing much about this guy) he got bored and wanted to “shake it up.” (Come on….Oprah??! really??!)
    – This hurts my heart.
    – It’s just like our ridiculous “pc” world where all children get an award (no one is special), and college kids need a “safe place” when they feel overwhelmed! Whatever…..grow up. What would be the point of being a Christian if everyone gets in??? Why would it be special then? It wouldn’t, and the scripture wouldn’t matter anymore. Believing in Jesus wouldn’t make a difference:
    “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
    ‭‭John‬ ‭14:6‬ ‭ESV‬‬
    – What a joke! But, a good conversation/debate as we have heard listening to the two recordings Dee gave us. I love Crawford Loritz and love that he said to go to the scripture. This guy is mocking our faith. I guess you have to have people like this every so often to defend what you believe in?
    – I know how you feel Dee; you said you cried. I’m guessing because it scared you? That’s how I feel about our country right now. I get it.

    1. oh wise Laura! I both laughed and got a (sad) lump in my throat reading your rich post. You wrote my thoughts with this: ” This hurts my heart.”

      1. ?

      1. Yes, Laura, love your answer and how you stated it!

  45. I have listened to both messages twice and am about halfway through reading everyone’s comments. I want to start out by saying that I do believe in hell and that that without it God wouldn’t be a just God, which seemed (to me at least) to be the main focus of the discussions.
    I guess what I struggle with is what exactly is the second death, the lake of fire, eternal punishment. I’ve read about it, studied all of the scriptures pertaining to it and will continue to.
    I know that God is holy and just. Even if I cannot in this life grasp the concept that one decision we make (or fail to make) during this brief as a vapor, dim, sin-natured life that we were given is going to subject us to eternal torment, just as I don’t understand why children are born and die in a short abuse filled life or many of the other things that happen. I know that it will all make sense when we see clearly. In the meantime I will continue to believe God, accept Christ’s gift of forgiveness and keep silent.
    I am not God and cannot explain what only He knows.

    1. I guess I forgot to hit enter after I edited my comment. Please forgive the typos.

    2. Dawn–I so appreciate your honesty and your diligence to study the Word. And though you voice the things that are hard to make sense of, your steadfast faith stands out to me most in this post: “I know that God is holy and just… I know that it will all make sense when we see clearly.”

    3. Dawn, I commend you for doing such in-depth study this week, listenening carefully to the messages, looking at what the Scriptures have to say. You really say it all with this: “I don’t understand….In the meantime I will continue to believe God, accept Christ’s gift of forgiveness and keep silent.” You show a lot of wisdom and maturity.

  46. Few of you may see this, being Sat. night, but I read this earlier and thought it was helpful for this discussion. “The Importance of Hell” by Tim Keller

  47. I know most of you may have moved on to this week’s lesson. i was just working on another study that took me to Exodus and I noticed a verse I underlined many years ago. 
    Exodus 14:14
    “The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.”
    thats all. Just wanted to add that. ?

    1. Thanks for that verse, Jean!!!!!