With each step I took, I begged the Lord to work on my behalf. I had waited long enough; it was time for things to change. Surely God would listen to my desperate cries for help. I had recently interviewed for a promotion at work and was sure it represented the answer to my financial woes. As I awaited the decision of the hiring manager, I used my late afternoon runs to plead with the Lord to give me the position I so earnestly desired.
Can we really learn anything from bad people? For example, what in the world could we possibly gain from looking at exploits of Bonnie and Clyde?
When it comes to the bad guys of the Bible, however, we can gain valuable insights. Romans 15:4 says, “For whatever was written in the former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” In other words, we can learn valuable lessons from these depraved dudes!
Several years ago, I discovered I could learn a lot from some of the shadier characters of the Bible. It was not that their examples were so stellar, most failed miserably in their walk with God. However, I have gleaned much from their bad examples over the years.
You may be wondering what in the world we can learn from such misfits and failures. How can they possibly help us in our walk with the Lord? Here are some examples from my book.
Please consider purchasing my book to learn more about what some lesser known guys of the Bible can teach you about your walk with God.
Have you ever thought of God as a vending machine? Oh, this may not have been your conscious thought at the time, it wasn’t with me, but you believed if you behaved in a certain way the Lord would bless you with a trouble-free life or reward your service in some way. The money goes into the machine and out comes the blessing you desire or perhaps think you deserve.
That was me as a young pastor. Although I truly loved the Lord at the time, I possessed a faulty view of what it meant to walk with Him.
It’s contest time and the prize is the beautiful new thin line NIV Bible in the picture above.
You may have expected that a vacation in the Caribbean, or perhaps a trip to Hawaii, or even a week-long stay in beautiful North Liberty, Iowa would go to the winner. However, this prize is more in keeping with an author’s income.
How do I enter the contest? You enter by simply writing a review of my first book, Shipwrecked! Learning From The Bible Bad Guys, on Amazon.com. If you have already placed such a review on Amazon don't worry, you are already entered to win the grand prize.
How do I win? After 25 reviews of my book appear on Amazon, I will determine the winner by drawing one number between one and twenty-five. The lucky reviewer whose review matches the number will win.
Here’s why I love the Bad Guys of the Bible:
1. Bad guys serve as warning signs.
Life is complex and difficult to navigate, that’s for sure. It demands warning signs simply because there are pitfalls everywhere. No one plans to shipwreck their faith, fracture their family, or wound their own soul, but sometimes these things overtake us without the advantage of an honest-to-goodness negative example. I say bring on the bad guys.
2. Bad guys expose and unmask the bad guy I deal with every day, my flesh.
That bully is an imposter and a master of deception. He relentlessly tries to get me to think that he’s my true identity instead of who I am in Christ. He knows how to make himself look good and sound good (he’s religious).
3. Bad guys help me understand that a shipwrecked life is never the result of a single bad decision but a process.
Shipwrecked! Learning from the Bible Bad Guys: A Book Review written by Terry James
Have you ever thought, If I could just do that over again? Or thought, Wish I had made a different decision way back then…
I have done so many times over my many decades of life. It’s a common human trait to lament some of the mistakes we’ve made. But, of course, wishing makes no difference. It changes nothing. If is for children, as the lyrics to Roger Whittaker’s song goes.
To avoid having to constantly look back at our lives and say, “If only…” the avoidance must be accomplished through preventative action. We must prepare in some fashion so that we make wise decisions as they come in order to avoid looking back and having to say “If only…”.
Jonathan Brentner has given us a book that offers such wisdom—how to avoid the pitfalls of life that cause us to look back and have to say “If only…”.
The idea for my book, Shipwrecked! Learning From The Bible Bad Guys, started with my study of the life of King Saul. I could see several of my faults in his life, particularly as I read about his unwillingness to wait for Samuel at a critical time during his reign.
From this wayward king, I discovered a strategy for waiting amidst the faulty reasons he gave to Samuel for his disobedience. If we can avoid the places where his thinking went awry, it helps us wait for whatever we hope will happen soon, but doesn't. We have all been there.
I believe if there is one shared experience among followers of Christ, it is that of waiting. He often makes us wait for:
What comes to your mind when you think of Esau? You likely picture a rugged red-haired hunter selling his birthright to his brother Jacob for some stew.
The story began rather innocently. Esau, tired from a long day of hunting, came home experiencing what he later described as life-threatening hunger (Gen. 25:32). Once he smelled Jacob’s lentil stew, Esau demanded that his brother give him some.
Jacob, sensing his brother’s desperation, took advantage of him by requesting that Esau sell his birthright to him in return for the stew. Esau, focused solely on the need of the moment, willingly gave up his most prized possession for a cup of the soup.
Several years ago, I discovered I could learn a lot from some of the shadier characters of the Bible. It was not that their examples were so stellar, most failed miserably. However, I have gleaned much from their bad examples over the years.
You may be wondering what in the world we can learn from such misfits and failures. How can they possibly help us in our walk with the Lord?
I'm glad you asked. To help you answer this question, I have picked a few of the characters as examples of what we might possibly learn.
Shipwrecked! is about learning from the mistakes of several bad guys of the Bible.
Life rarely goes as we expect. That's why it's so important that we learn to walk with the Lord and trust our loving heavenly Father before things go awry. Life caught several of our Bible bad guys "off guard" and instead of looking to God in faith, they turned away from Him and made terrible decisions. As we examine their lives, we learn how we can avoid their errant choices.
The last character in the book is John Mark. From him we learn that failure does not have to be the last chapter in our lives. John Mark overcame an early failure in ministry to be greatly used of God.