Tuesday, October 15, 2019


Kari Farnell

In the last post, I shared with you one of my favorite Bible passages. I will do the same on this post. Both of these passages come from the “minor” prophets. If you’ve never read through them, I encourage you to do so.

Today’s verse is Habakkuk 3:17-18. I use Bible Gateway often to look at these verses in different translations. This excerpt was no different and I’d like to share it from a couple different translations.

The Contemporary English Version describes it this way, "Fig trees may no longer bloom,or vineyards produce grapes; olive trees may be fruitless,and harvest time a failure;sheep pens may be empty, and cattle stalls vacant—but I will still celebrate because the Lord God saves me."

The Voice (which is typically my favorite) says, "Even if the fig tree does not blossom and there are no grapes on the vines, If the olive trees fail to give fruit and the fields produce no food, If the flocks die far from the fold and there are no cattle in the stalls;Then I will still rejoice in the Eternal! I will rejoice in the God who saves me!"

Kari Farnell

The New King James Version states, "Though the fig tree may not blossom,nor fruit be on the vines;Though the labor of the olive may fail,and the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,and there be no herd in the stalls—Yet I will rejoice in the LordI will joy in the God of my salvation.

And lastly, the Amplified Bible declares, "Though the fig tree does not blossom and there is no fruit on the vines,though the yield of the olive fails and the fields produce no food,Though the flock is cut off from the fold and there are no cattle in the stalls,Yet I will [choose to] rejoice in the Lord;I will [choose to] shout in exultation in the [victorious] God of my salvation!"

Verse 18 is the focus here, but it really needs verse 17 with it to get its full value. Verse 17 reminds me of Job. You may recall that Job suffered physically, emotionally, and mentally as a test to prove His allegiance to God. Despite all of his losses, he continued to serve God. That is what verse 18 is all about. Verse 17 speaks of all types of loss and sorrow, and then verse 18 responds that even with all of this, Habakkuk will still praise God. The translations I enjoy most are the ones that use the term “Yet”. 
Flaming Text

Isn’t it amazing how such a small word can just change the whole focal point of the sentence or phrase? That is the function of some conjunctions. The word “but” is one example. The day was warm, but the wind was cold. He was ill, but he went to work. The stick was thin, but it was strong.

The word “yet” is a similar conjunction; used to change the heart of the passage in Habakkuk. In today’s passage, Habakkuk is lamenting a message he has had from God in a vision. In verse 16, he begins to describe his feelings from the vision. He goes on, in 17 and 18, to basically say that no matter what happens, and even if these bad things DO happen, he will YET rejoice in the God of his salvation because He knows that God’s way and plan are perfect. Habakkuk must go on in faith that God will be in charge, no matter the outcome.

Just as Job did and Habakkuk did, we should remember that through our bleak times, God is watching out for us. When the way seems long and dark and frightening, we should still praise God for He is the God of our Salvation. We can rest assured that He is in control and He will take care of us and our situation.
Kari Farnell

Sunday, October 6, 2019

God Loves to Sing

Kari Farnell

The local Christian radio station touts “the right song at the right time”. Often that is true; they just happen to be playing “just the right song” to meet whatever need I have at the time.  Music, as the saying goes, hath charms to soothe the savage beast.  Even David used music to soothe King Saul in his bouts of depression. 

Have you ever been sad or in a bad mood and turned on the radio just in time to hear music that touches your soul? That touches your very being? Sometimes it’s the actual music; sometimes it’s the lyrics that appeal to us. Have you ever noticed how much easier it is to learn something if you put it to music and how quickly you can learn the words?  If I mention the following brands, you will likely start singing the song in your head.  Empire flooring, Liberty Mutual, Mattress Warehouse, Farmer’s Insurance; there are many others.

via Unsplash

Deuteronomy 31:19 (The Voice)--”So I want you to write down this song and teach it to the children of Israel. Teach them to sing it, so it can be a witness for Me against them.”

Music and singing are an important to God and a big part of the Bible.  As is seen in the verse above, God instructs the Israelites to teach songs to the children and these songs are ones that will be a witness for God.  It was a convenient way to remember some of the laws and teachings of God. The entire book of Psalms is songs written mostly by David. Some ask for help, some give praise to God and still others are reflections. 

Throughout time, songs have been used to memorize things, and to rouse soldiers and villagers to arms and bravery, among other things. God has often been the architect of the music and musical occasions.  Remember Joshua and the Battle of Jericho?  God instructed the Israelites to march around the city for seven days with the first six days being led by the trumpeters sounding their horns.
via Dreamstime.com

An article I read recently entitled, “The Godly Purpose for Music” by David F. Maas, concludes with these thoughts:
God's Word has shown us the following things about music:
1. Music is a gift and blessing from God.
2. Music is a powerful, mood-altering agent.
3. Music is used to praise God and to create an atmosphere to receive God's Spirit.
4. Music involves sacrifice.
I’ve gone down this long, winding path and now get to the point of this “episode” of the blog.  One of my very favorite verses in the Bible is Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV)--”The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with SINGING

Knowing how God has used music throughout the Bible and how He feels about music adds so much more excitement to this verse.  God takes delight in us and He rejoices over us with singing.  He sings to proclaim His love for His own creations. 


Let’s examine how the four points mentioned by David Mass, above, fit into this verse. 

Point 1—“Music is a gift and blessing from God”.  When God is singing over us, He is blessing us; giving us a gift.  We may not always be aware of the gift at first, but it is there!

Point 2—“Music is a powerful, mood-altering agent”.  God is singing over us to help us find peace; to calm our spirits and if needed, alter our moods.

Point 3—“Music is used to praise God and to create an atmosphere to receive God’s Spirit”. By singing over us, God is proclaiming His love for His creation and is creating in us an atmosphere to receive God’s Spirit, if we but ask for it.

Point 4—“Music involves sacrifice”. God made the ultimate sacrifice when He sent Jesus, His son, to bear the burden of our sins. God is singing over us to prepare us to receive this sacrificial gift of His Son’s death. It wasn’t our physical death (because we each will go through that), but it was our spiritual death that He took on and all of the darkness, sadness, and grief for which we are destined without acceptance of His sacrifice.

So I leave you with a mental image. When your days are rough and the road is weary, think of Zephaniah 3:17 and imagine God, sitting on His golden throne, singing YOUR name in His song!

Monday, September 23, 2019

God Speaks Through Nature

Creation Care has been the topic of sermons at our church this month. This topic brought to mind several verses about creation. Probably one of the most quoted is 

Luke 19:40--Jesus says "Listen—if they were silent, the very rocks would start to shout!". 

This is a popular verse but is often misquoted or misunderstood. Prior to this verse, the Pharisees are demanding that Jesus quiet His disciples and refuse to allow them to speak. It is then that Jesus lets them know that even if He told the disciples to be quiet, the rocks would speak. This has always been one of my favorite verses. It reminds me of so many other verses that talk about the creation and how it speaks about and even praises God.  

Psalm 148:1--"Praise the Eternal!
All you in the heavens, praise the Eternal;
    praise Him from the highest places!"

Some time ago my son, Christopher, and I were talking about the verse from Luke and this idea and he discovered some great YouTube videos that take this concept, of the rocks crying out or speaking, to another level. One person has taken slices of tree rings and plays them on a record player. (Voice of the Trees)  In another the energy emitted by planets and moons has been turned into sound. (Planet Sounds) I encourage you to watch these videos. Clearly the verse in Luke is more a reality than a metaphor. If you also consider the sounds made by the birds, the seas, the whales and dolphins, they all have their own way of singing and giving praise to God. In this video, Louie Giglio shows how the sounds of the stars and the cries of the whales fit perfectly into a song. The video is lengthy but interesting. If you're impatient to get to the song it is at 6.00. If you choose to skip to the marker, I'll explain that the sounds he is using to "create" the song are the sounds emitted by the stars' energy and the whale cries and he has them on a loop. (Louis Giglio)

Psalm 19:1--"The celestial realms announce God’s glory;
    the skies testify of His hands’ great work."

                                   (photo:  Kari Farnell)

Psalm 66:4--"The entire earth will bow down to worship You
    and will sing glory-songs to You;
    they will sing praises to Your name!"

I believe that as Christians we have a two-fold purpose in this world. One is to share the love of Jesus with others to help usher them into the kingdom. The second purpose we have I believe is that of praising God. If you think about it, we cannot usher someone into the kingdom without praising God. God clearly formed ALL of His creation with the ability to praise Him. It seems nature does not have to be prodded to sing His praises and proclaim His goodness. Often humans are the ones that shrink away from this mandate to praise God. 

The "Happy" Mountain-Peru
Photo: Kari Farnell
Let us not become complacent in doing the jobs for which we were created. Let us keep pace with nature and sing our praises long and loud to the One who created us. As the prophet Isaiah reminds us--" For you will go out in joy, be led home in peace.
        And as you go the land itself will break out in cheers;
    The mountains and the hills will erupt in song,
        and the trees of the field will clap their hands."  (55:12)