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Obadiah

There are only a handful of one chapter books in the Bible. Obadiah is one of them.

When the book is so short, it’s tough to find much to write about. So, I’ll provide a summary and thoughts on one specific idea.

In a nutshell, Obadiah’s prophecy is about curses and blessings.

  • Curses on Edom via God’s judgment.
  • Curses on the nations at large via God’s judgment.
  • Blessings on Israel via God’s restoration.

Why is Edom judged? Two reasons: 1) For not helping their brother out, aka standing aloof. 2) For pride.

Its easy to point the finger at the nation of Edom and say, “Man, you guys suck.”

But it is much harder to ask the person in the mirror, “How many times have you seen someone in need and not taken action to help? How often have you been in too much of a hurry, or justified not stopping to help someone in need?”

And what if you ask yourself the pride question, “How many times have I looked down on someone else for any number of reasons? How many times have I thought I was a bigger deal than I actually am? How many times have I thought of myself first, at the expense of others?”

It’s painful. Trust me, I get it. Self-reflection is tough.

But don’t let it end there. Don’t stop at beating up yourself (or Edom).

The book ends with a vision of the end, saying “The Kingdom shall be the Lord’s.” Now that’s good stuff. I look forward to that day. He’ll set things right.

Interesting random side-note: The first nine verses of Obadiah can be found in Jeremiah 49:7-22.

**Originally published in April 2013. Updated in November 2021.**

2021 Recap

***LONG POST ALERT BUT WORTH THE READ***
Laughing as I look at this memory (picture above) because it was borderline prophetic.

Eight years ago, I found myself on Donald Miller‘s website as an advertisement. He was running Storyline Conferences (before StoryBrand was a thing for businesses), and I was a wandering, aimless, millennial. I had a college degree, even some master-level work, but I was struggling to find my way. Over-qualified for some work and under-qualified for others. My wife and I had 2 kids, our 3rd was on the way, and I was making less than $40K per year working at a factory, questioning every day of my existence. I went to his conference and learned a ton about living a life on purpose. Before I knew it, I had a plot, an ambition, and was embracing conflict to become a better character. I was also following Michael Hyatt, reading his blog, listening to his podcast, and learning how to live my Best Year Ever.

Some of you know the story. I won’t rehash all of it here. But I’m very thankful to have met Chandler Bolt soon after that journey started. He gave me a chance in his start-up, and here we are almost 7 years later.

I’ve planned my life. I’ve found clarity. I’ve defeated confusion.

–Donald Miller and Storyline helped me take the first steps.
–Michael Hyatt helped me set up personal goals and the best year ever, year after year.
–Chandler and Self-Publishing School have helped me continue the journey of professional growth and self-development.

I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on 2021. The word of the year was ADVENTURE. Man, was it ever! And before I dive into it, here’s the disclaimer: I don’t share all of this to brag, but rather to show you what’s possible when you live on purpose, when you create a story for yourself and your family that’s worth living into.

Here are a few of the big wins / highlights / accomplishments:

FAMILY WINS:
–My wife Hannah Redden published her first book, “Me and Jesus Covered in Pee.”
–We added 15 animals to our mini-ranch (Now we have 1 horse, 2 ponies, 2 pet rats, 2 mini-goats, 3 dogs, 8 chickens). Maybe the partridge in the pear tree comes next year?!
–We personally put in 10 acres of fence and built stalls in our barn.
–Our kids participated in activities they love: figure skating, hockey, basketball, and horse riding.
–Sevaeh was invited for a virtual school visit to show off her book to old classmates in Ohio.
–We enrolled in counseling as individuals to keep working on our whole selves.
–We remodeled a bathroom and basement, bought a truck and trailer, bought a 4-wheeler, and have had a grand ol’ time!

PERSONAL WINS:
–Hiked 100 times.
–Wrote 72 blog posts on what I’ve been learning in the Bible.
–Invested a good amount in the market and saw solid returns.
–Spoke at Author Advantage Live.
–In business, at SPS, we launched 2 new products that have been huge drivers of growth and success for our clients.
–Met one of my life-long mentors, Rob Bell, in a Writing Session and got to collaborate on book #5.
–Published my book #5, “On The John: A Devotional for Dads.
–Completed 4 Masterclasses and read roughly 50 books.

My friends, you can accomplish a lot in a year. And 2022 can be even better than that.

Plan your life. Find clarity. Defeat confusion.

I’m living proof that you can do it too.

New Book Alert! On The John – A Devotional for Dads

My newest book, “On The John: A Devotional for Dads” is live on Amazon! WOOHOO!!! I’m also doing a promo around it. Here are the details:

The Kindle version is live and free today.

Just go to Amazon and search “Omer Redden On The John Devotional,” and it should come up. I’d give you the direct link, but I want Amazon to pick up those searches especially in this first month.

The paperback will be released later this week. I will let you know when it’s ready.

If you purchase and review the book any time over the next 12 days, please let me know. I’m doing a 12 Days of Christmas giveaway, picking two winners each day, but you have to post a review to be entered to win!

Lamentations (2)

It’s tough to talk about grief and sorrow. It doesn’t come naturally for most of us. But I wanted to take a minute to share a few of the lines here in chapter 2 of Lamentations. In my mind, it perfectly describes the physical state of suffering:

The elders of Daughter Zion sit silent on the ground.
   They throw dust on their heads, dress in rough penitential burlap--
   the young virgins of Jerusalem, their faces creased with dirt.

My eyes are blind with tears, my stomach in a knot.
   My insides have turned to jelly over my people's fate.
   Babies and children are fainting all over the place

Honestly, I can’t say I’ve ever felt quite that bad. I had COVID about a month ago, and for two days, I couldn’t get out of bed, felt the 103 fever and the aches all over. I had the follow-up rash for a week and itched like the dickens. Taste and smell are still hit and miss. But it was just me, my suffering, my sickness, my angst. And I know I didn’t have it as bad as some. Some have died from it, others have been in the hospital for weeks, and still others have barely shown symptoms. It’s kind of crazy.

But that’s a physical sickness, which then affects you emotionally and relationally.

What Jeremiah is describing in Lamentations is an emotional and relational situation, which then affects you physically.

Both suck.

I won’t go into all the details here, but I’ve had a handful of those moments in my life, and I’m sure you’ve had some too. That line, “my insides have turned to jelly,” gets me. Sitting “silent on the ground.” Dressed “in rough penitential burlap.”

I haven’t dressed in burlap, but I have stayed in the same clothes for two or three days, with my brain and heart feeling like they’re in a fog. I’ve felt like my insides are in shambles because of the emotional distress. And you know what? I survived. I felt the pain, embraced it, and then, eventually, was able to move on.

So here’s how we’ll wrap this up and put a bow on it:

If you’ve ever felt like Jeremiah or the people of Jerusalem during this time, it’s ok. Grieving and expressing sorrow is part of life. A sucky part, for sure. But you don’t have to hide it, you don’t have to feel isolated and alone.

To steal a final line from Lamentations 2, “Get up and cry out in prayer. Pour your heart out face-to-face with the Master.”

Lamentations (1)

This is one of those books often overlooked in the Old Testament. I think part of it has to do with the genre, and I think part of it has to do with how short it is. It’s just easy to skip over.

When I mention the genre, what I’m referencing is the title of the book. Honestly, outside of the Psalms, there’s really not another book like it. It’s full of Laments, which by definition are songs and poems of mourning, of sadness, of sorrow. And let’s be honest, who wants to experience any more of that?

But you can be sure if there’s an obscure and overlooked book of the Bible, I’m going to find it, study it, and see if I can find some gold to share. Why not?!

Now, if you read chapter one, I can assure you you’ll want to cry as well. The imagery, the proclamations, the analogies, and the descriptions are poignant. The writer, Jeremiah, is holding nothing back.

This is what a destroyed city looks like. This is what exile looks like.

Exile is the opposite of exodus in every way.

Exodus means exiting slavery and bondage, entering into freedom and life.

Exile means exiting freedom and life, entering into slavery and bondage, judgment and punishment.

A miserable place to be, indeed.

But if it’s where you’re at, and it’s what you’re experiencing right now, Lamentations can be a great guide to mourning well and openly laying out your true feelings before your Maker. Much like Psalms, it can give language and validation to what you’re experiencing. And that is why it’s so important.

So read chapter 1 and I’ll meet you in chapter 2.

Zephaniah (part 3)

Chapter 3 begins with a proclamation of doom to the rebellious city. There’s a line in this section that really sticks out to me, and it is this:

“Her priests desecrate the Sanctuary. They use God’s law as a weapon to maim and kill souls.”

Have you ever met someone who uses the Bible, or God’s law, to harm people? Whether it’s intentional or unintentional, it doesn’t matter. It’s still a major problem. And if that misuse of Scripture leads to maiming and killing souls, then you’re really in trouble. If you’re the one misusing Scripture, you’re in trouble. If you’re on the receiving end of someone misusing Scripture against you, you’re in trouble.

It’s a terrible, terrible thing. And it happens more often than you think.

Now, the good news is Zephaniah doesn’t end here. In fact, as it nears the end, it actually contains a lot of proclamations of hope and restoration.

There’s this:

“They won’t lie, won’t use words to flatter or seduce. Content with who they are and where they are, unanxious, they’ll live at peace.”

There’s this:

Your God is present among you, a strong Warrior there to save you. Happy to have you back, he’ll calm you with his love and delight you with his songs.”

And finally, this:

“At the same time, I’ll get rid of all those who’ve made your life miserable. I’ll heal the maimed; I’ll bring home the homeless.”

Contentment, living at peace, calm and delighted, no more haters. Feeling at home.

Sounds like heaven, doesn’t it? Whether Zephaniah is referring to these promises coming true in this life or the next, I’m not sure, but I pray you get a taste of it.

Zephaniah (part 2)

Two main things in chapter two. Zephaniah brings a lot more judgment in chapter two. Or maybe I should say God brings a lot more judgment.

First, against the Philistine cities. Then, against Moab and Ammon. Then, against Ethiopia. Finally, against Nineveh and Assyria.

Geographically speaking, this covers judgment to the west, east, south, and north of Judah. So, essentially, God is going to take care of Judah on every side. They won’t have to worry about any of their enemies.

The other thing Zephaniah says in chapter two is actually a bit of encouragement or exhortation. He says, “Seek God’s right ways. Seek a quiet and disciplined life.”

Now, that’s a good word.

Seek is such a strong action verb. And check out these synonyms from thesaurus.com:

synonyms for seek

  • explore.
  • follow.
  • investigate.
  • pursue.
  • chase.
  • comb.
  • delve.

Chase God’s right ways. Investigate them, pursue them, comb through them.

Explore a quiet and disciplined life. Follow it. Delve into it.

Good stuff!

Zephaniah (part 1)

I wrote a super quick summary of Zephaniah a few years back. This time, however, I’m going in more depth.

Zephaniah is one of the Minor Prophets. Not minor because he’s less important or because he’s not a “professional,” but because his writing is so short. In only three chapters, Zephaniah covers a lot of ground, however. The book can primarily be thought of in terms of judgment decrees and restoration decrees.

First, let’s look at who Zephaniah was. We don’t know a ton about him, except that he came through a line of royalty. His great-great grandfather was King Hezekiah. God gave Zephaniah a direct message. And that message came at the time King Josiah was ruling in Judah. That’s about all we know. Oh, and he was obedient to speak and write the message that he was given. That’s important.

Now, let’s look at what God’s message was. It’s honestly not an easy one to digest. That is, it’s not a health and wealth prosperity message. It’s not even a “You all need Jesus” message because Jesus hadn’t come on the scene yet. The message was actually quite heavy. It was alarming, a difficult pill to swallow. Here’s how it started:

“I’m going to make a clean sweep of the earth, a thorough housecleaning.”

Wowsers!

God will start His judgment in Judah, and then go outward. He says,

I’ll find and punish those who are sitting it out, fat and lazy,
   amusing themselves and taking it easy,
Who think, ‘God doesn’t do anything, good or bad.
   He isn’t involved, so neither are we.’
But just wait. They’ll lose everything they have,
   money and house and land.
They’ll build a house and never move in.
   They’ll plant vineyards and never taste the wine. 

See what I mean when I say it’s a heavy, alarming message.

Here’s the ending to the chapter:

I’ll make things so bad they won’t know what hit them.
    They’ll walk around groping like the blind.
    They’ve sinned against God!
Their blood will be poured out like old dishwater,
    their guts shoveled into slop buckets.
Don’t plan on buying your way out.
    Your money is worthless for this.
This is the Day of God’s Judgment-my wrath!

Obviously, this is poetry and hyperbole. Obviously, this is a proclamation against Judah at a particular point in history. But I do believe there’s a big takeaway for us, today in the 21st century. Here’s how I would summarize it:

Don’t make God mad.

Ready for chapter 2 tomorrow?