18 October 2022
Years Spent with John, Months Spent with Elijah
Nevertheless, we’re sustained by the Most High!1
Spending the last three full years of my life in the intimate company of John the Baptist while researching and writing The Exceptional Messenger has meant that I’ve also spent months in reflective fellowship with Elijah the Tishbite. (Some of you have commented on how much the book’s Squaring John with Elijah chapter has helped you.) One of the many things I’ve come to appreciate about Elijah is what James 5:17 says about him:
Elijah was a homoiopathēs man…
Homoio-who now? The King James probably comes the closest to the Greek here when it renders the word as a man subject to like passions. The homoi- prefix means like, similar, resembling. But once you know that the pathēs part of the adjective comes from the verb-cluster páthō / páschō / pénthō family which means suffer, feel, or vex, you pick up on James’ idea: Famous, powerful Elijah, the “super prophet,” knew dismal discouragement, along with miraculous success, first hand. He had his lows and highs.
Remember back in June when I shared the warfare-themed message about “Give Me This Mountain”? Well, I was sincere in what I wrote. The problem about real warfare, though, is this: the enemy is “sincere,” too — and he shoots back! We’ve been through some lows and highs, a burnout and many blessings over the last two months.
Let me get the “lows” out of the way quickly, because our “highs” have been encouraging blessings! And I can share Elijah’s path from his “low” to a new “high.”
- A recent death has had an impact on me. A good friend, Roy Olsen, missionary to Romania, where I have ministered several times, “died with his boots on,” as they used to say in the old TV westerns. He is buried where his heart was in his adopted land, Romania, and he will be missed, though we rejoice with him because he is with the Lord he loved and served.
- We spent half of August and most of September in final proofreading and editing of The Exceptional Messenger, fiddling, too, with a few typesetting anomalies. (We’ll talk about that book under “Highs” in a minute, below!) After so many months of hard work on that opus, well, I can only describe the closing weeks as soul-grinding detail work. Even with first-run, printed “author copies” in our hands, we still found an occasional gaffe, as well as a few places where a bit more polish was added. The good news is that, in the end, we have an offering of the best work we can do to present to the Lord. To Jesus be the glory!
- That “soul-grinding” final stretch left me burned out creatively. Oh, I’ve been able to pray, to stick to my daily Bible-reading discipline, to research, and seek to encourage various folks through notes and texts and calls; but I needed a break and have not been able to write (even newsletters!). Elijah’s example reminded me how to be restored. (More on this below.)
- In seeking the Lord about next month’s planned Honduras trip, I was surprised that all I could get was “no” for an answer. Twice! (That turned out to be a good thing, even though it was disappointing on one level. More on Honduras below.)
- THE BOOK IS FINISHED! Yes, I mean The Exceptional Messenger, the first book in our The John the Baptist Experience series, is ready for sale in e-book (Kindle) and paperback formats (as well as free on our website, of course). Despite all of my hair-tearing, beard-plucking, dear-Lord-not-another-typo moans, we have finally given birth to a healthy paperback progeny. Immediate feedback has been encouraging, and I know this because…
- …fifteen folks have kindly volunteered (so far) to read The Exceptional Messenger and review it for its Amazon.com page. I’m looking to fill out that number to a full twenty, so if you’re interested in giving TEM1 a serious read and review, please let me know and I can provide a copy (if the slots haven’t already filled up).
- Why the reviews? Well, the Lord knows I cringe inside when I think of marketing. But I feel challenged by the Lord — “Do you really believe this is a word I’ve given you for the Body of Christ?” Yes, of course! “Then act on your declared faith and don’t hide the book under a bushel.” Hmm. Okay, at a minimum we start with the fact that it’s rare for people to buy an unknown title from an unknown author on Amazon if it doesn’t have reviews. Twenty should be a fair start. We’ll see where the Lord takes it from there! If you read it, online or in print, and it resonates with you, please pass on the link or your copy to someone in leadership.
- As for The Extraordinary Message and The Fellowship of the Forerunner (volumes two and three of The John the Baptist Experience), I’ve been able to expand, refine, and solidify the outline for The Extraordinary Message, and I have reviewed and tweaked several existing chapter drafts for both remaining books of the series. New chapters may start appearing on the website as early as January.
- Even if I can’t go to Honduras next month, we can still translate Bible-teaching material — and we have! For instance, working with Inés María González Valdés (our friend and my weekly Spanish tutor) on her original translation, we have finished and posted Logos y Rhema, our Spanish rendition of Pastor Percy Gutteridge’s powerful and helpful message Logos & Rhema. Whether your native language is English or Spanish, this is a must-read for staying true to Scripture in a world of confused and confusing teaching. (Lord willing, we’ll have this available as a Kindle e-booklet by the time next month’s newsletter hits your inbox.)
Holiness history buffs can guess!
- Another translation project is back “online,” with the bulk of the translation work already completed years ago by my dear friends, Pastores Fermin and Lilian Chávez in Coatepeque, Guatemala. Why the long delay getting it out? Essentially, I’ve been stymied and intimidated by how to handle technical endnotes and bibliography for historical source material that is only available in English. But I’ve decided on a “do the best job I can” course of action and am shooting to have the Spanish version of this book available on our website by year’s end, the Kindle e-book available near the end of January 2023, and perhaps even a paperback by the end of February. Nope, I’m not telling what the title is this month, other than to say the English version has been our most popular book for many years!
Prayer to the Highest from the Lowly (and the Low!)
James mentions the power of Elijah’s prayer life, but often English translations miss James’ powerful contrast:
- 16cThe effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. 17Elijah was a man subject to like passions as [there’s the phrase rendering homoiopathēs] we are, and [καί / kaí] he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.
- James 5:16c-17 kjv
Ah, that deceptively simple “and”! Most often, “and” is how the common Greek word kaí should be translated. But kaí is a highly adaptable Greek word, and sometimes its function is to emphasize “a fact as surprising or unexpected or noteworthy.” At such times, it means “and yet, and in spite of that, nevertheless.”3
I believe James uses the word to emphasize a special point of contrast, and it seems to be this (if you’ll accept my humble “translation”) —
“Elijah was subject to emotional highs and lows (like the rest of us); and yet, nevertheless, in spite of that he prayed earnestly” and God could and did work miracles through him.
No, I didn’t include that comforting, encouraging thought in the “Elijah chapter” of The Exceptional Messenger. I share it here for the first time. That special “kaí” might help you like it has helped me. Are you “low,” discouraged, burned-out? Perhaps you are more Elijah-like than you know! Now couple your “low” with James’ special kaí — yet in spite of that he prayed — and God may answer in surprising ways.
I have one final encouraging example from Elijah’s life to share in a moment; but having spoken of prayer, here are a few things I’d like to share in order for you to pray with us:
A house doesn't have to be “swallowed” to be destroyed. Click on the photo above to see a family’s home flattened.5
- Honduras relief: What about the “no” on next month’s Honduras trip? The Lord knew the reason! Superintendent Antonio Rodriguez reported in last week, confirming the Lord’s “no’s.” Antonio has made extra visits to Honduras, where in a community outlying the capital city of Tegucigalpa, he has been helping Pastor Arturo Hernández and his church in El Reparto do relief work. (I preached in Arturo’s church earlier this year.)
- The church is only a few blocks away from a neighborhood called Colonia Guillén, where the earth has developed a voracious neighborhood-swallowing hole! (Watch the houses crumble and disappear in the associated TikTok-video links to the right.) Arturo’s church building is now serving as a shelter for displaced congregants and neighbors. That’s the good news.
- But the challenge is that the church had no plumbing, not even a simple commode — not the most conducive of homeless shelters! Antonio just returned from a trip during which he and Pastor Arturo worked hard to install basic plumbing (including showers) in order to accommodate the displaced. Much prayer is needed for this small church in their outreach opportunity and ministry.
- Any monies that come in earmarked for “Honduras” now through the end of November will be sent along to help the displaced being aided by Arturo’s church, much as we did with the gifts you sent for COVID relief several years ago in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Perú. (Any unmarked gifts will go towards our ministry’s regular needs and expenses, as normal. We are always grateful for such support.)
- Writing: The Exceptional Messenger paperback-in-hand and its early reviews prove that you know how to pray and how much the writing/teaching has been blessed by your intercession. Thank you! Now comes the biggest challenge of the three-book series — writing a unique and pivotal chapter on sin for book 2, The Extraordinary Message.
- Auto: As I shared last time, we need a car. That’s not earth-shaking; but I’m no car expert. (I do know that I want a car that’s not engine-shaking!) New? Nah! Reliable, safe, economical, capable of multi-state travel for ministry trips? Yes, Lord, please! We need the Lord’s wisdom, provision, and leading. He helped us on our last car purchase 19 years ago and we believe Him to do it again.
Elijah: Fleeing From or Fleeing To?
In closing, here’s my final thought about Elijah. Up until very recently, I have always “tut-tutted” Elijah’s “running away” in 1 Kings 19. (Never mind that I would probably have done the same, only faster, faced with Jezebel’s murderous threat!) I’ve always thought of Elijah as fleeing away; and he certainly was doing that. It wasn’t until recently that the Lord pointed out to me that Elijah was also fleeing towards something.
of the event in 1 Kings 19.
You and I know that angels don’t have wings.
But (unlike you) Doré didn’t know that
because he never had the opportunity to read
either Wingless Angels and Their Poetry
or Who Was the Angel of the Lord?
Elijah fled south, from the city of Samaria, the capital of Israel. He would have been safe once he crossed over Judah’s northern border. But he kept going, because safety wasn’t his primary objective. He traveled to southern Judah (Beer-sheba, v. 3) and left his servant there. Then Elijah continued southward — alone (v. 4); but he didn’t have the strength to reach his goal. He prayed and the Angel of the Lord intervened, not once, but twice (vv. 5-7).
The Angel mentioned Elijah’s “journey” (v. 7), but He never told him where to go, because Elijah’s goal all along had been to seek God’s presence and counsel on Mount Horeb. Yes, he was fleeing from Jezebel’s death threats, but he was fleeing to God’s presence as well. God’s sustenance gave him the ability to achieve his heart’s desire.
Having been in God’s presence, receiving His word, His correction, and fresh guidance and direction, Elijah returned with his new sense of purpose. That’s where I found my “turn around” space — just waiting quietly on the Lord for days, praying little except, “I’m here, Lord. Please restore me.” And the Lord was gracious.
Scripture says that Elijah was like we sometimes are — homoiopathēs, vexed, suffering discouragement, feeling down. But in spite of those “low” periods, (“kaí” — and yet, nevertheless, in spite of) Elijah prayed and God answered in amazing ways. Be like “the man of like passions”: Continue praying faithfully in spite of your situation. And if you find yourself running from an overwhelming situation, “flee” to God and His presence! May you experience
…when the times of refreshing
shall come from the presence of the Lord…
Much love in Jesus,
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- Title graphic created image by Vicki Hamilton from Pixabay. ↩
- This photo was shared with me by Melania Olsen, Roy’s widow. ↩
- Here are some verses where kai is used this way: Matthew 3:14; 6:26; 10:29; Mark 12:12; John 1:5, 10; 3:11, 32; 5:40; 6:70; 7:28; 1 Corinthians 5:2; 2 Corinthians 6:9; Revelation 3:1. The translation suggestion comes as one of many found under the entry for καί (kaí) in Arndt, W., Gingrich, F. W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. (1996, c1979): A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature: A translation and adaption of the fourth revised and augmented edition of Walter Bauer’s Griechisch-deutsches Worterbuch zu den Schrift en des Neuen Testaments und der ubrigen urchristlichen Literatur (392). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ↩
- TikTok video link provided by Antonio Rodriguez ↩
- Another TikTok video provided by Antonio Rodriguez ↩