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Showing posts from April, 2008

Abandoned but Committed

“As surely as God lives, who has denied me justice, the Almighty, who has made me taste bitterness of soul, lips will not speak wickedness, and my tongue will utter no deceit.” Job 27:2, 4 Job recognizes that all the bad that has come to him is God’s “fault.” God has denied him justice and given him great bitterness of soul but, even so, he will continue to honour God and not speak what is wrong.

Am I like that? Am I so committed to God that, when it seems like he has abandoned me or, worse, caused my pain, I can be like Job and persist in my honour, worship and praise of God? Could I do this if I learned that all my sons were killed? If my husband abandoned me? If all my financial security vanished? If I had no home, no friends, no support system?

On what is my commitment to God based? Is it based on what he gives me? The blessings I receive? I hope it is based on who God is: my Creator, my Lover, my Rock.

Father, I want to be totally committed to you despite what happens in and ar…

A Whisper of His Power

“And these are but the outer fringe of his works; how faint the whisper we hear of him! Who then can understand the thunder of his power?” Job 26:14

“These are some of the minor things he does, merely a whisper of his power. Who can understand the thunder of his power?” Job 26:14 NLVThe outer fringe of his works, merely a whisper of his power.

A thunderstorm?
A whisper of God’s power.

The northern lights?
The outer fringe of his works.

The towering Himalayas?
A whisper of his power.

The complexity of the human nervous system?
The outer fringe of his works.

The graceful movements of a dragonfly?
A whisper of God’s power.

The fury of the ocean beneath hurricane winds?
The outer fringe of God’s works.

The vast grasslands of North America?
A whisper of his power.

The love that brings two hearts together?
The outer fringe of his works.

The mystery of the cross?
A whisper of his power.

Who can understand the thunder
When even the whisper eludes our grasp?

Confident Hope

“I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.” Job 19:25My Redeemer lives. He will rescue me. He will defend me. In the end it is him and not my accuser or tormentor who remains standing. Therefore I have hope.

I love this part of Handel’s Messiah and have often sung to myself the first line or two when all seems black and without hope. He lives! He will remain standing. He is in control and he is Victor even when all around me contradicts this belief.

Can you feel the strength and power in those words? My Redeemer lives! There is hope. He is not dead, he does not sleep. He lives! I can go on and continue in my pain and darkness knowing that at the right time he will do what his name declares. He will redeem me, save me, bring me succour and nothing can stop him because in the end it will be him standing not his (or my) enemies.

Confident hope. Hallelujah! My Redeemer lives and in the end he will stand.

Thank you, Jesus, that you give t…

Hopelessness and Despair

“My days have passed, my plans are shattered, and so are the desires of my heart.” Job 17:11 Oswald Chambers says that this verse “is unequalled in any language under heaven” for “unfathomable pathos.”* My life is nearly over and nothing I wanted from life has happened. Life has failed me. There is no hope; only despair.

Have you ever felt this way? I have. Sometimes the pain of living is so overwhelming that death seems to be the only answer. Job himself said he wished he had never been born. What do we do when we find ourselves at the bottom of the barrel with no way out? Where can we find hope? Job asks this very question: “Who can see any hope for me?”

We know from the end of the story that there was hope. All his possessions were doubled, his seven children replaced with seven more and his life extended so that he lived to see his great-great grandchildren. God vindicated him. But what about us? What do we do in the midst of our despairing hopelessness? We can’t see t…

Theological Tyranny

Job 15—Eliphaz

Religious tyranny holds onto theology rather than on to God. It has its set of beliefs and refuses to adjust them when all around it is shown to be wrong. This is the problem the Pharisees had. They could not accept God the Father as Jesus presented him to be because it contradicted the castles of air they had built. They had taken what God had taught through Moses and twisted it out of recognition by all the traditions they had developed. These traditions had been created as an attempt to follow and obey what God had taught but in the process, in the focusing on their interpretations and understandings, they lost God.

I see a parallel to today. Many churches, theologians and Christians, when faced with new ways of God’s revelation to us assume that it must be from the devil because it doesn’t match anything they’ve understood about God. Rather than considering that perhaps they have not had a full understanding of God (and who does?) they assume that what is “new” is wro…

Falling and Rising Again

"...Though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again...." Proverbs 24:16a

It's been ten days since I've been here in my prayer room and that's been gnawing on me. Yes, I spend time with God in many other ways and rarely miss a night of reading a good chunk of my Bible, but there's something about coming here and soaking in God's presence that impacts me in a way nothing else does and I've been remiss.

I notice too, that when I slide in one area of my life I slide in others as well. I've been trying to lose weight. I had lost 60 pounds in what I could only conclude was a gift from God because they came off relatively easily. But in the last year I've regained twenty and I can't seem to get them off. In the past couple of weeks I've found ways to justify eating things and amounts that I know I shouldn't. Is my lack of discipline in weight loss connected to my lack of discipline in coming to God? I don't know but it might.


Controversy and Silence

He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. Isaiah 53:7 (NIV)

When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 1 Peter 2:23 (NIV)

"Eschew controversy, my brethren, as you would eschew the entrance to hell itself. Let them have it their way; let them talk; let them write; let them correct you; let them traduce* you; let them judge and condemn you; let them slay you. Rather let the truth of God suffer itself, than that divine nature in you to be a controversialist."
(Alexander Whyte, quoted by Oswald Chambers in "Baffled to Fight Better" in The Complete Works of Oswald Chambers p. 62)

"Heal me of this lust of mine of always vindicating myself."
(Augustine, quoted by Oswald Chambers same page as above.)

*Traduce: To expose…

Zophar the Bombast

If someone was to hand me the contents of Job 11 out of context, I don’t know that I’d see a whole lot wrong with it. There is much that sounds like what any Christian speaker or writer might say—or even David in the Psalms. What is wrong with statements like, “If you devote your heart to [God] and stretch out your hands to him…you will lift up your face without shame; you will stand firm without fear”? (v. 13, 15) Who can argue against the idea that we cannot fathom the mysteries of God? (v.7) Who would disagree that there is security and hope for those devoted to God?

And yet we know from the end of the book that Zophar was, as Oswald Chambers suggests, full of bombast—defined by as “pompous or pretentious speech or writing.” I love Chambers’ alliterations. Check out the four section headings for his discussion about Job 11:

Stirring of Self-Respecting Indignation
Schemes of Spurious Invocation
Self-Consciousness of Serious Instruction
Self-Complacency of Sentimenta…

Perplexities and Questions

After too long of a break, I am continuing my study of Job with Oswald Chambers. This morning I looked at Job 9-10. Job is speaking in these two chapters. According to Chambers, Job’s friends have a creed they believe or follow—a list of statements they are certain are true—and all they experience or observe is filtered through this creed. Their creed allows for no uncertainties or perplexities but rather assumes that it contains all there is to know about God.

Job, on the other hand, is faced with perplexities. He knows he is innocent and yet he feels crushed. Being crushed, however, does not destroy his belief in God. In these two chapters he waxes eloquently about God and attributes to God what truly belongs to God:

His wisdom is profound, his power is vast…He moves mountains without their knowing it…He speaks to the sun and it does not shine…He alone stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea. (9:4, 5, 7, 8 NIV)At the same time, he is not afraid of facts that might…