Burning Plows

fireOn Monday, we talked a little bit about burning bridges. We have to eliminate all options besides recovery if we are to recover from an eating disorder, or any other addiction. It’s the same in our walk with Jesus; we have to forsake all other options, burn all bridges to the past, in order to follow Him.

The example we looked at first was Elisha in 1 Kings 19. Elisha had been plowing in his father’s field, behind 12 yoke of oxen, when Elijah threw his cloak over him. In essence, Elijah was commissioning Elisha to become his disciple, to follow in his footsteps and to become like him. The interesting part is that Elisha didn’t simply say, “Okay,” pack his bags and leave. First, he slaughtered the oxen and burned the plows. He had no alternative now, all that was left was to obey Elijah, all of his past life was destroyed.

When we accept God’s free offer of grace, to follow Jesus and to submit our lives – including our addictions and disorders – to Him, it is essential that we burn all bridges to the past. There is no plan B.

Now, I want to take a quick, hypothetical peek beyond Elisha’s story and meld it a little bit to my own. I wonder, if Elisha ever wanted to go back? Certainly, there were tough times ahead. After Elijah was gone, Elisha bore a heavy burden as a major prophet to rebellious Israel. I wonder if he ever walked past his old home, visited his parents and wished that he could return to simpler, familiar days? Did he feel loss?

Recently, I have felt the bare knuckle punch of rejection. It’s worst when no one intends to hurt you, but invariably everyone does. And, it’s because I can’t go back.

When we moved back to Columbus, GA, I was excited because this time I already knew people in the area. Unlike so many previous moves to places unknown, there were familiar streets and places and people in this southern town. Most of my friends were from the running club. I used to meet them four mornings a week for runs up to 21 miles. We also celebrated a few birthdays together, organized local races and got pedicures for our swollen, post-run feet. But since I have begun walking full-heartedly in recovery, I had to forsake distance running and in a sense, burn my running shoes, a bridge to the past.

Right after we arrived in Georgia, I met one old running buddy for coffee. I chatted with a couple on Facebook, bumped into two downtown. I have been politely dismissed. And it hurts. You see, each of them invited me to join them for a run, asked if I was still doing races told me of upcoming running club plans. I cannot go. You see, I burned plan B.

My only viable option is anything but returning to old habits that fueled my eating disorder. For me, one of those was compulsive, extensive exercise – especially running.

If you give up your eating disorder, or other addiction, what bridges, shoes, plows will you have to burn? Will it cost you something? Will you ever have the opportunity to look back and then realize there’s no way to go back?

If you have decided to follow Jesus in all that is His best for you, including your health, physical body, habits and heart, burn everything else.

Book Review, The 11:45 Call

The 11:45 Call, is an expository Bible study of the book of Jude.  Appropriately titled, it 71ltULww0YL._SL1500_highlights the urgency of the times. Co-authors, Joel F. Blakely and Brenda Klutz Blakely, methodically excavate each verse, urging readers to apply Jude’s call to “contend for the faith”, to their own lives. With probing application questions at the end of each chapter, the Blakelys help readers to intimately sense the significance of their own lives and the importance of their personal knowledge of the Word of God.

The tiny book of Jude is often overlooked by even the most devoted students of the Bible. Positioned right before the least understood, most controversial book of the Bible, Revelation, and immediately after a trio of potent, little letters by the well-known author, John, the pages of Jude conceal a weighty treasure. Joel and Brenda Blakely’s expository method makes these difficult passages clear and applicable.

Expository study is the method of using Scripture to explain Scripture. The Bible is the complete and inherent word of God. Therefore, it can be trusted to contain all the answers, all that we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). While expository study sounds intimidating, particularly to new Christians, The 11:45 Call, is an excellent resource for beginning students of The Word.

The format is simple. Each chapter is dedicated to one verse in the short book of Jude. Opening each chapter, the verse in focus is provided in full text. Then the Blakely’s break it down phrase by phrase.

The 11:45 Call, is thorough, so there is no need for numerous additional resources. Full definitions of Greek words are provided where needed and concise explanations are given for individual phrases. Each segment is supported by numerous cross references in full text.

There is little room for critique or complaint when authors stick so closely to divine truth. The Blakelys are faithful not to dilute the impact of God’s Word with opinion or speculation. Instead, this is explanation in its simplest form.

While this book is sufficient for personal study, I think that it is much more suitable for group study. Alone, it is too easy to read the text and be scarcely affected because the explanations seem so obvious. However, used in a dynamic group setting, the simplicity of this book will spark rigorous, Christ-centered, life changing conversation.