The Doctrine of Disappointment

If you were to look through the Old Testament, you’d be hard pressed to find a prophet whose life didn’t end in overwhelming disappointment. There’s Isaiah for one, who, in the midst of his calling (Isaiah 6) asks of the Lord, “How long?” In other words, how long was he supposed to cry out as a prophet to his people? The Lord answered, “Until cities lie waste without inhabitant…and the Lord removes people far away.” Destruction and exile. (Not to mention Jewish tradition, which holds that Isaiah was eventually murdered, sawn in half by Judah’s King, Manasseh).

The list goes on from there: Jeremiah, whose ministry consisted of hardship and ridicule, and finally the destruction of his home and exile. Habakkuk, who was told to wait patiently as the Lord brought the Babylonians down on his people. Ezekiel, whose ministry was supposed to be that of a priest in the temple of Jerusalem, but instead it consisted of a life marked by exile in Babylon and the death of his wife. Disappointment.

But this type of story is no stranger even to the New Testament. Recently, I had the opportunity to teach 2nd Timothy in our School of Biblical Studies. This book is the last letter we have from the apostle Paul, a man whose life has marked the church in ways innumerable. If you read 2nd Timothy, you’ll quickly realize that Paul’s life doesn’t end happily, surrounded by friends and family in a comfortable bed. He’s alone, in a prison cell, deserted by those he loved (2 Tim. 1:15; 4:6, 10-16), and would be eventually beheaded by Nero.

If at this point you’re thinking to yourself, “Yes, well their lives were quite different than mine!” (as I often like to do), I would direct you to another passage that Paul wrote in 2nd Timothy 3:12, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted…” How am I doing so far in convincing you to follow Christ?

Here’s the twist, in the last recorded words we have from Paul to his “beloved child” Timothy, he includes this fun little message, “share in the suffering.” Consider for a moment that you are wasting away in a prison cell, far from home, deserted by friends and family after you have devoted the last 30 years to faithful service to the Lord. What would your final words be to your loved ones? “Don’t do what I did!” comes to my mind. “Stay safe and keep a low profile,” or perhaps even, “It wasn’t worth it.” And yet, Paul has found reason to believe that the very best option for the person he potentially loves most in the world at that point is to share in the very same sufferings and hardships that he had (Of which there were many! For a more complete list of Paul’s hardships, see 2nd Corinthians 11:23-29). Share in it Timothy. What kind of faith would you need to have in something to wish Paul’s end on your own child? What kind of hope must he have had?

Paul knew that following Jesus, and the general nature of this world would often lead to earthly disappointment, pain, suffering. It’s unavoidable. As the great, Dread-Pirate-Roberts Wesley once said, “Life is pain, and anyone who says otherwise is selling something.”

At this point, some might say, it’s simply a lack of eternal perspective that causes us to feel pain at life’s hurts. But I would argue otherwise. In John 11 we see Jesus come to the tomb of his friend Lazarus, where he also encounters Lazarus’ sisters, Mary and Martha. Upon seeing them in their distress, we get the verse that’s famous for its length, “Jesus wept.” Why? Surely if anyone had a correct amount of eternal perspective, it was him? Surely he knew that all he had to do was raise Lazarus from the dead (which he did) and all would be well again? And yet, I think, Jesus himself was grieved by the loss that is felt in this world. There’s something about what is temporary in this life that makes our hearts cry out for the eternal.

As one of my good friends once philosophized, “It’s interesting for a world that has never known something eternal to long for something that is.” The author of Ecclesiastes will say “..he (God) has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” If something about this life doesn’t sit right with you, you’re on the right track. There’s a solid Scriptural foundation for the doctrine of disappointment, one need only look to the Psalms to see it written on nearly every page. The world can’t offer our hearts comfort that will not eventually pass, or cisterns that will never run dry. It was never meant to.

Grief is one of life’s greatest obstacles and it will drive most of us to tears and hard questions. The Bible has no problems with that. In fact, I would go so far as to say, it encourages it. There is much that can be said of the joys available in this life, the love that can be felt, and it should be said! But disappointment is a Biblical emotion that finds its roots in the very act of God creating humanity in His image. He feels disappointment too, and He’s even now making things right. In times like this, where the world is in chaos amidst COVID-19 and deaths of loved ones, the Spirit of God is at work, bringing glimpses of the eternal into our temporary world. It’s our job to walk in step with the Spirit when the world around us is broken, bearing its gifts as we go: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Like the early Prophets and Paul, we are not without an anchor for our hope, and our desires for that which does not disappoint will not go unanswered if we put our faith in the one who was, and is, and is to come. Our Savior, Jesus!

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new

Rev. 21:3-5

Come, Lord Jesus!

– Jacob McRae



McRae Family Update (COVID-19 Edition)

Hello everyone, we hope all is well with you amidst all that has happened surrounding COVID-19! It goes without saying that these past couple of weeks have been quite abnormal in many ways. I had planned to write our next update in a few weeks, once I had finished teaching 1 and 2 Timothy for our School, but the circumstances made us feel as though we should send out a quick update for our supporters.

Firstly, we’re ok! In light of the information that’s recently been given by the CDC, advising groups no larger than ten to meet, we decided to extend our students’ Spring Break for the time being. This means that Samantha, Benaiah, and I have adopted the “social distancing” lifestyle for now and are spending most of our time at home, with occasional family outings to play with Benaiah outside.

What I’ve found interesting, as maybe some of you have as well, is that in some ways this practice of social distancing has been a blessing. I, for one, have been greatly enjoying the chance to spend more time with Samantha and Benaiah! It has also served to bring myself and my friends closer in a way, now that we have to put that extra step of effort into meeting our social needs as human beings during a time of social deprivation.

Conversely, as many of you have again probably felt, COVID-19 has reached areas of our lives we never thought we’d have to worry about. It had never occurred to me that when people feel like the world is ending, the first things to go would include toilet paper and diapers. This is especially interesting, since I feel like if we all continued buying the amount of toilet paper and diapers that we usually buy and need, we would all still have toilet paper and diapers…but alas…

One way that I’ve found strength in this time is to increase my life of prayer. I think there’s much to take from Jesus’ example in “seeking lonely places to pray” (Luke 5:16). Sometimes a lonely place is what we need.

Here are some things we’d like to ask you to pray for in this unique time:
1. Toilet paper and diapers
2. As some of you probably know, Samantha and I have been unable to reach our monthly support goal that would allow us to work for Emmaus full time. Because of this, we’ve had to pick up some extra work to help supplement our income. Both of us have side jobs with churches, which have mainly disappeared because how COVID-19 has developed, (as maybe some of you have also experienced!). For the immediate month we are ok, but should the situation take too long to change, we could be in a bit of a financial bind.
3. Community is deeply important to our School here. For some of our out-of-state students, Emmaus is the only real community they have. We’ve been working on ways to stay socially active from a distance and how to continue with the school year as planned, but obviously things would work out best if we could once again operate face-to-face. Please keep our students and ministry in your prayers!
4. The end of our lease is coming! Ahh! As things stand, we can’t afford to move, and our efforts to look around have been greatly hindered by quarantine. It’s not always been very awesome living with Benaiah in a one-bedroom apartment and we’d love to be able to upgrade to 2 rooms!

If you’d like to set up a one-time or recurring donation, click here!
https://emmausbibleministries.org/donate#staffsupport

If all else fails in lifting your spirits, here’s a laughing Benaiah with sock hands.

The McRae Family Update

Hello again friends, family, and followers! As it may have become apparent to those following our blogs, we seem to have moved from a monthly blog to more of a quarterly update. Life has been moving at a rapid pace lately and the extra time required for writing has become harder and harder to come by! Thank you for your patience and support. Here are some updates on what’s been going on.

Teaching
My most recent teaching assignment for the Emmaus School of Biblical Studies was a 6 hour lecture on the book of Acts. Teaching this book was a first for me and I’ll admit that it was an intimidating prospect! As a book that dives heavily into topics such as: the Holy Spirit, gifts of the Spirit, evangelism, financial giving, church dynamics, etc., it’s an extremely relevant book that engages all believers on a very personal level. Perhaps one of the most basic, yet powerful, themes that has impacted me through studying this book is the relation between prayer, obedience, and the movement of the Spirit. The amount of time that the Apostles and the early church community devoted to intentional prayer has really humbled me in light of my own prayer life, which is often lacking! And Acts presents a consistent theme of God moving powerfully in response to simple (though often bold!) acts of obedience and prayer.

Jacob teaching through the book of Acts

In other exciting news, our Biblical Narrative Series (a more accessible and condensed version of our School offered to the general public) has exploded! Our available seats for the program filled up fast and we even have a waiting list now for the next series. Our hearts feel full, being able to see our dreams realized through the Church coming together to know their Bibles!

Life in General and Prayer Requests
A lot has transpired since the last update! In November, I had recently started a temporary job at Panera in order to help supplement what has been lacking in our support. Unfortunately, in the time since then, our level of support has not increased as hoped. Samantha and I are trying to discern what God’s will is for our family as we continue to pray for increased support while searching for a job more compatible with our work at Emmaus.

Along with this, our lease is ending soon. Unfortunately, though Samantha and I are really feeling the need to update our living space to 2 bedrooms, the possibility still seems outside of our current financial abilities.

And for those who haven’t heard us talk about it before, it was recently SCN8A awareness day, and we would really appreciate your continued prayers for our Warrior-niece Ellie, who is still in the hospital’s ICU. But her parents and the rest of us are still looking to a day when she can ween off of her meds and live at home.

Support
As we stated before, Samantha and I are trying to double our current support income. Our current support covers our rent and nothing else, so at this point a part time job is necessary. We would love to embrace what we believe God has called us to and work for Emmaus full-time. If you (or perhaps someone you know) would be interested in financially joining our mission to see the local Church engage their Bible deeply, click the link below to donate and help us reach our monthly income goal of $3000 a month. And if you’d like to talk with us more about who we are and what we do, we’d love to tell you more.

https://emmausbibleministries.org/donate#staffsupport

Benaiah
Enjoy the cuteness

The McRae Family

Fall Festivities and Faithfulness

Verse to ConsiderDaniel 2:20-22,

“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him.”

Updates and Giving Tuesday!

Hello everyone, and happy post-Thanksgiving! It’s been a busy couple of months for us between all of the school and Fall activities that have been going on. And I’ve finally overcome the food-coma induced by Thanksgiving to be able to write you this update 🙂

Before I jump in, with all of the craziness going on this weekend (Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, whew!), we wanted to remind our friends and family not to forget about Giving Tuesday! This is a day where people followup thankfulness and spending with a little giving towards non-profits. If you’ve been following our journey with Emmaus Bible Ministries for a while and want to help add to our support, here is great way! This Dec. 3rd you can celebrate giving Tuesday with us by giving towards our mission of helping others knows God through His Word. If you’d like to donate, Click Here for directions on how to give. And Thank you!

Teaching

This past month I had the opportunity to teach my favorite book, Daniel. There is so much to this book that I could literally spend hours talking about it. In fact, I spent six hours to talk about it in our class and felt like I could have easily gone six more!

Now if you’ve ever read anything from this book or heard a sermon preached about it, it’s very likely that it involved the first half half of this book. Even more likely, this reading or sermon probably revolved around three young men in a fiery furnace or Daniel in the lion’s den, am I right? That’s because the first six chapter of this book focus on 3rd-person, narrative stories about Daniel and his friends living faithfully during their exile in Babylon, while the last six chapter focus on a lot of really weird visions and dreams that Daniel has. These last six chapters can often leave the reader saying “What on earth did I just read!?” But these strange chapters hold the most incredible message! But I don’t want to belittle the first six chapters of this book in any way either! It’s chapters 1-6 that we not only see incredible examples on how to live faithfully towards God in the midst of persecution and hardship, but we also see an even bigger picture of how God is sovereignly in control of even the most desperate situations, and is above all present nations and rulers of the earth. You’ll constantly see ways in which the power of the earthly kings are pitted against the sovereignty of God, and God always wins!

Chapters 7-12 of this book involve a lot more first-person accounts from Daniel himself as he’s getting these really strange dreams and visions and he’s trying to figure out what they mean. If you ever read from this half of the book and find yourself confused, you’re not alone! In fact, if you pay close attention, you’ll see that Daniel himself is often left puzzled and confused by the meanings of these visions that have to do with events that come after his lifetime. These strange chapters are categorized as apocalyptic literature, which was a common form of Hebrew writing that employed the use of symbols, numbers, and vivid imagery as a way to communicate a specific message. This can get confusing, but it’s important to not let the details overshadow the main message of these chapters! In my opinion, no where else in the Old Testament do we get a clearer picture of a Messianic hope and an eternal resurrection, and that’s huge!

And if you ever want me to continue talking your ear off, just ask me questions about Daniel, I’d love to keep going! 🙂

Other Festivities/Updates




Along with teaching, we were able to have a lot of fun with our Emmaus community with an October pumpkin carving challenge!





And while Samantha and I weren’t able to make it to any family this year for Thanksgiving, we had a blast getting to celebrate with many of our fellow staff and students, and other friends of the community. Having Thanksgiving with 24 people is always a good time!

In other news, I (Jacob) also started working part time at a local Panera in order to help our financial situation. While Samantha and I would love to be able to focus all of our attention on Emmaus, we simply haven’t been able to raise enough support to do so. Meeting our financial support goal of $3000 a month is still our hope, but for now, we’re thankful to have been able to find a position to help us continue our work here with the School of Biblical Studies, so thank you for all who have been praying about this for us!

Prayer Requests

  • With Benaiah growing more every day, it’s becoming more challenging to remain in our one-bedroom apartment. We’d love to come to a place where we can afford a different living situation.
  • Along with this, Samantha and I have been doing fine with our single car, but we’d both feel much more comfortable if I didn’t have to leave Samantha at home with Benaiah without any vehicle to use if they need it, so we’d also love to be able to get a second vehicle soon.
  • Again, we’d love to increase our support to $3000 a month in order for me to not have to work outside of Emmaus. So far it hasn’t been easy or enjoyable to try scaling back on my responsibilities in the ministry, and between the two jobs it’s also left less time for me to be with Samantha and Benaiah.

Cute Pictures of Benaiah

Thank you all for your continuing love and support. We are truly blessed by you.

– The McRae Family

We’re Back! A New School Year

Introduction and Greeting

Hello faithful family, friends, and followers! It has been far too long since our last update. Initially, Samantha and I had decided to put a hold on our blog over the summer while we traveled to see family and meet speaking engagements, but due to unseen circumstances, it has taken much longer. Much of our last 2 months has involved the flu, allergic reactions, ear infections, strep… all of this on top of prepping for school lectures and Benaiah’s 1st birthday! I have many excuses, but I’ll spare you and just dive right in to what’s going on!

What’s New

First piece of exciting news: our new School of Biblical Studies year is in full swing! Meet the students 🙂

This group has been incredibly encouraging to us staff and it has been evident that they truly have a hunger to know God deeper through His Word. These individuals did the seemingly crazy thing of dedicating 10 months of their lives to intentionally studying their Bibles together. These are 6 individuals that will go out into the world with a foundation in Biblical literacy! What an encouraging thought!

As some of you might be aware, the School is only one of the ways that we seek to minister and encourage Biblical literacy within our community, another way we do this is through our Biblical Narrative Series. This series is designed more like a church study series, where we meet one night a week for two hours and walk through the entire story of the Bible over the course of about 14 weeks. As we began our planning process for this series, our goal was to have at least 25 people sign up. Unbeknownst to us, God had a different plan in mind and we ended up having 76 people from 10 different churches and denominations commit to this program of walking through the story of the Bible book-by-book. Hallelujah!

We could not be more excited, as God has used this moment to renew our vigor and commitment to reaching this community that is clearly hungry to know their Bibles! Please pray that God would use this year to bless the students and their studies in each of our programs.

What’s on our heart today?

This past month I had the privilege of teaching the book of Deuteronomy in our School.

This is an incredibly important book. That’s an easy thing to say for any book of the Bible, but Deuteronomy really sets a theological foundation for the rest of the Old Testament and is quoted often by Jesus as well. In this book, Moses gives a series of speeches, exhorting the Israelites to: Remember God’s covenant faithfulness and the consequences of their sin, to Reflect on their current condition of their hearts and the choice lain before them, and finally to Renew their commitment to Yahweh through covenant obedience.

And with the end of the Pentateuch, we’re given a vivid image of the salvation story. In Genesis we’re introduced to a God who is good, creates, and pursues with love. But also we see a relationship that is broken and in need of fixing. In Exodus we see God freeing his people from slavery, not because of their worth or what they could offer, but simply because they cried out. Through the rest of Exodus and Leviticus, we see a God who dwells among his people, teaching them how to live in right relationship with Him. The book of Numbers shows the consequences of sin and disobedience and a God who relentlessly pursues his people despite their rebellious ways. Deuteronomy ends with an exhortation unto life as the people of God and a hopeful expectation for the fulfillment of a promise that belongs to the people of God. Almost every book after Deuteronomy in the Old Testament points back to Deuteronomy and the message it gives. (And as I’m writing this I’m really starting to nerd out on all the other ways we could go in depth with these books and the way they reflect the story of salvation, but I’ll save that for anyone who wants to send me a personal message and then maybe we can dialogue more and nerd out on the Bible together). And I’ll leave it at that, but suffice it to say that I really love these first five books of the Bible and how they bring life to our understanding of the New Testament! If you’d like a summary of the message in Deuteronomy, I’d recommend reading Ch. 4!

Final thoughts and prayer requests.

As some of you may know, Samantha and I have remained short of our financial goal for being able to work full time for Emmaus Ministries. We were hoping that would change over the course of the summer, but unfortunately that didn’t end up being the case. Because of this, Samantha and I are scaling back our responsibilities in the ministry and are currently looking for part time work. I must admit that this has disheartened us, but God has continued to show us that his hand is at work in the ministry and in our lives and we have hope for the future! Obviously, we would love to come to a place where we can commit full-time to the ministry once again, but we’re trusting that God is using this time to prepare us in some way. Please pray for us as we seek wisdom in how we should move forward in this season and that God would bring us to a place of financial provision and stability.

We would also ask for your prayers over Samantha’s family, as they just lost a beloved family member (Samantha’s grandfather). A man who blessed us personally in many tremendous ways.

Ken Arndt 1925-2019

While we’re still figuring out the details, it looks like Samantha might be flying to Alaska to attend the memorial service with Benaiah, and at the same time I’ll be flying to Virginia to take part in a wedding. Being first time parents, this is a new and terrifying prospect for us, so please pray for safe travels, sanity, and blessing over Samantha’s family as they celebrate the life of Ken Arndt.

Thank you so much for all of your love and support, we feel it. And words cannot express our thankfulness,

The McRae Family

Enjoy some cute pictures of Benaiah and family!