According to Horatio

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”[1]

Several weeks ago someone sent me a message concerning my Facebook account. Alarmed, I checked the site and found it was true.

I had been hacked.

Sick at heart, I scrolled past changes I had not authorized, requests I had not sent. Unlikely things, to be sure; things that—for those who know me—were simply beyond belief. And though I quickly moved to delete false updates and lock down the account, I felt my very name had been insulted—compromised by those who spoke flagrantly in my name.Hamlet

Today as I thought about it (again), I was indignant (again). And I realized that, on a much larger scale, the same thing happens in a spiritual sense every day. People, speaking for God in unbelievable ways, falsely represent His Name and intentions. Of course, as believers and students of the Word, we shake our heads and do our best to correct the errors. We battle for truth and feel the collective victory when lies are defeated. All of that is true. But what happens when the faithful do it? Misrepresent Him, I mean. Don’t imagine it doesn’t happen.

It does.

I’ve done it, as have countless other Christians through the ages. Some, like Augustine,[2] expressed with good intentions what they would later retract. Others, like Cranmer, [3] spoke shamefully from fear. And some, like Job, spoke from deep places of doubt and sickness and wretched dismay. The fact that he was a righteous man and an unlikely candidate for error does not negate the fact that in the end, his assumptions about God were wrong.

It was error God graciously exposed to him when, distressed and wracked by every imaginable grief, Job flung his words across the heavens. He brought his catalog of questions to God and sat in the ashes to await an answer. But God neatly set aside Job’s questions and went about the work of uncovering the solemn Answer to every question—Himself.

“Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: ‘Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to Me.’” (Job 38:1–3)[4]

Then, through the devastating art of divine examination, God systematically tore through the film of Job’s assumptions. At the end of it all, Job could only cling to the dust he would later rejoin:

“I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’ I had heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:2–6 (ESV)

The psalmist expressed something of the same sentiment when he sang, “I will proclaim and tell of [Your wondrous deeds and thoughts], yet they are more than can be told.” (Psalm 40:5)

The fact is that we are to proclaim, we are to tell; it is one of the reasons the church remains today (Ephesians 3:10; I Peter 1:12). But our proclamations must be mingled with profound reverence for the things we cannot yet grasp.

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways!” (Romans 11:33; see also Isaiah 40:13; 1 Corinthians 2:16).

There is a measure of knowledge that will not be encountered in the dark now before eternity, but on the other side of our day we will (1 Corinthians 13:12; I John 3:12).

One day. A coming day. But not now.

For now, the lesson is to tread carefully upon the path of light (Psalm 119:105). Act boldly where the Word is plain; move gently where it is not. And above all, walk in humility (Romans 12:16) knowing that His ways are not your ways nor His thoughts your thoughts.

“O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me.” (Psalm 131:1)

[1] William Shakespeare, “The Tragedy of Hamlet Prince of Denmark” In , in The Harvard Classics 46–47: Complete Elizabethan Drama, ed. Charles W. Eliot (New York: P. F. Collier & Son, 1910), 112.

[2] See Henry Bullinger, The Decades of Henry Bullinger: The Third Decade, ed. Thomas Harding (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1850), 246-47.

[3] See Thomas Cranmer, The Remains of Thomas Cranmer, Vol. 4, ed. Henry Jenkyns (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1833), 139.

[4] All Scripture references taken from the English Standard Version.

Hurricane Isaac: An Update

As many of you know, I spent two of the past three weeks in the New Orleans area, helping with clean-up after Hurricane Isaac swept the area. God’s faithfulness to us was great and the stories of His work profound. I am working to record some of the stories but I am afraid I am still processing much of it. I can say that this last week especially, was one of the most intense I have ever experienced in the field.

For now, an update.

In times of crisis, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief has long been relied upon by state and local agencies. The respect we receive from them is a direct testimony of praise to our God. However, last week, for the first time, the government asked us to work alongside anthropologists and forensics experts in disaster. It was truly ground-breaking work and I was blessed to have been there.

The first of our group to go in was a team of men from Texas. Their task was to assist with the initial phases of recovery. Mine was the second team. We worked with world renowned teams from FACES and D-MORT to process the remains. My job was to act as scribe for the FACES team, recording every possible detail and measurement, as well as any general observation made by the anthropologists. It was sobering work to say the least. Still, the situation afforded some very unique opportunities for Gospel ministry, and to once again proclaim the Name of Christ on TV.

I mention these things because I treasure the prayers of those who stood in the gap for us. Ask anyone involved in Disaster Relief and you will find that, by far, the most difficult part of our work is the lack of prayer support we receive. We leave home to carry the Gospel into the most devastating epochs of people’s lives. We enter their pain and rejoice in their triumph; we carry their stories all the days of our lives. We long to share those stories, to encourage the faith of others; but people in safe places aren’t concerned with devastation…

until it is their own.

But really, it is the story of us all. The work of disaster relief is the work of redemption. It is the fleshing out of the Gospel. It is tracing the steps of the Savior who ran to meet us in our devastation. It is our reasonable service, our acts of worship to the One who works all things (even disaster) for His glory and the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). Can there possibly be a more holistic endeavor of Gospel outreach? I know of none.

Ultimately the world won’t care how well we sing or about the way in which we construct our services; but when we follow Christ into devastation, they take note of what we are doing… and the Gospel we go to proclaim. Why else would the Homeland Security Secretary take time from her schedule? Why else would a federal agency feature our ministry on their website? There are hundreds of other aide organizations; why give us a platform?

It is the Gospel that makes the difference. Only the Gospel. And when you stand beside us in prayer or in physical support, you become a part of what God is doing.

For those who prayed alongside me, the following is a video of the location and the people with whom I worked. Again, I treasure your prayers–more than I can possibly begin to say. Know that eternity will speak for me, revealing all the ways in which our God has answered you.

Crews in Plaquemines Parish work to put dozens of tombs and coffins back in their original spots after they were unearthed during Hurricane Isaac. Meg Gatto has the story.

via Crews try to identify remains, tombs displaced by Isaac.

Fox News reported the story here, and the Baptist Press covered it here.