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Archive for June, 2013

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Eliphaz began his discourse in Job 4 by deeming Job a hypocrite.  Rather than offering comfort or encouragement to his desperately hurting friend, he compounded Job’s pain by bringing false accusation against him.  Eliphaz goes on, adding further insult to injury in verses 7-11.

 “Remember: who that was innocent ever perished?
    Or where were the upright cut off?
8 As I have seen, those who plow iniquity
    and sow trouble reap the same.
9 By the breath of God they perish,
    and by the blast of his anger they are consumed.
10 The roar of the lion, the voice of the fierce lion,
    the teeth of the young lions are broken.
11 The strong lion perishes for lack of prey,
    and the cubs of the lioness are scattered.~Job 4:7-11

Eliphaz asks Job to consider why he is dying with troubles heaped upon him.  His arrogant and foolish assumption is that Job is guilty and full of fault and that God is angry with him.  He claims that innocent and upright men do not suffer so.  But what of Abel?  Has he forgotten Lot?  

Eliphaz couldn’t be more wrong about Job.  How much more pain it must have caused Job to know his friend thought so ill of him.  His innocence and blamelessness was the very reason he was chosen to suffer!  Just like Jesus.  

If God was angry with anyone at this point, it was Eliphaz – the arrogant, assuming, asinine accuser of his beloved child.

How many times I’ve played the role of Eliphaz!  Distrusting and accusing my Savior of not being who he has indeed faithfully proven himself to be!  How much pain I’ve arrogantly and carelessly heaped on my Jesus by misrepresenting him publicly while claiming to be his closest friend!  God forgive me!

Lord, give me wisdom.  When I am tempted to be Eliphaz, help me learn to encourage the downtrodden.  Give me grace where I have not only so often failed to comfort, but even further injured the innocent and painstricken with false accusation and misrepresentation.  Show me your compassion and teach me how to share it.  When I am in suffering like Job and accusers tear me down without cause, will that I might learn to trust you alone.  Help my unbelief.  Amen.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8zOVp537lk

 

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Every pursuit begins with desire.  Whether we want something we do not have (desire) or we have something we do not want (discontent), humans are primarily driven by wants, not needs.

Desire and discontent are the mother and father of ambition.  These parents serve us well; without them we cease to strive.  But ambition gives birth to both great and terrible heirs.  

It’s not just having drive and motivation that’s paramount to success, it’s what we do with them and how we define success.  In the grand scheme of good and evil, we must consider who our father is before we set out to divide and conquer whatever passion relentlessly grips our soul.  Because man is not naturally like God in his goodness.  Man is most naturally like Satan in his evil.

Man’s desire to attain is never quenched though he has pursued.  God’s desire to pursue is never quenched though he has attained.  Man seeks idols and novelties.  Doubtless, particular idols are indicative of particular weaknesses.  But God seeks the lost.  He has no weakness.

Satan would that we chase after that which we cannot attain, or that flies away once we do attain it, or that never satisfies though we have attained it.  He crafted the first idol – himself – and is the father of idolatry.  

How oft and how apt we are to strive like him and call him father as he masquerades as God!  How far our lusts can drive us from our only true Father!  God help us!

Idolatry is the single most destructive heir of ambition. Ask me how I know. Others include pride, fear, selfishness, and anger.  All these are wrapped up in doing that which Satan first did – making ourselves idols and failing to worship God first, as Father.

Ah, but ambition harnessed by a new heart gives birth to great and wonderful heirs.  God would that we strive for his ideals; that we might ever run as though we truly will receive the prize.  Now, unfulfilled desire gives birth to patience and discontent produces faithful trust.  

How good it is to have God as our Father!  How foolish to mistake Satan and self for Him!  

God help my unbelief!  Redirect my desire and rescue me from idolatrous discontent.  Use my passion to produce good and drive my discontent to develop trust.  Though you have already attained me, relentlessly pursue me that I might relentlessly pursue you despite anything I lack. Amen.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FAyDmJvjxbg

 

 

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When Job has finished speaking of how he wishes he were never born, his “friend” Eliphaz chimes in with some insensitive and unfounded charges.

Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said:

2 “If one ventures a word with you, will you be impatient?
    Yet who can keep from speaking?
3 Behold, you have instructed many,
    and you have strengthened the weak hands.
4 Your words have upheld him who was stumbling,
    and you have made firm the feeble knees.
5 But now it has come to you, and you are impatient;
    it touches you, and you are dismayed.
6 Is not your fear of God your confidence,
    and the integrity of your ways your hope? ~Job 4:1-6

Rather than offering encouragement and comfort to an overburdened and pain-stricken man, Eliphaz makes the worst of every word Job has spoken.  He quickly passes judgement and presumptuously assumes Job is a hypocrite who just needs to take his own advice and deal with his lot like a man.  

Eliphaz begins by reminding Job how oft he has counseled others on matters of patience and perseverance.  He makes little of Job’s great suffering by saying that suffering merely “touches” him now and he is becoming weary and losing faith.  Basically, Eliphaz is rebuking Job claiming he could dish out wise counsel when he was safe and unafflicted, but couldn’t take it when he was not.  Eliphaz goes on to encourage Job to just admit that he is a hypocrite, thereby unknowingly fulfilling Satan’s plan to condemn him as such.  

Jesus is not like Eliphaz.  When we grieve and become overburdened by heavy loads of care, he does not charge and condemn us according to our failures.  Jesus, rather, listens and lifts us out of despair by encouraging us in the good he’s done according to his victory.  Jesus knows self-condemnation does not produce faithfulness.  Self-condemnation simply puts us on the same page with Satan about who we are.  Self-condemnation, for the children of God, is a lie.  Even when we fail in times of long and difficult trials as Job was so tempted to do, our citizenship and character cannot be determined by a single act or moment of faithlessness.  Our citizenship and character is not determined by our failures, it’s determined by Christ’s victory.

If Eliphaz had put himself in Job’s shoes for even just a moment, he would not have hit the ground running with accusation and condemnation.  Eliphaz was human, though.  Jesus Christ is God, and fortunately, he experienced every trial and temptation we face.  Jesus did put himself in our shoes and he will ever sympathize with and comfort we whose trouble he wholly understands.  Let us turn away from self-condemnation and toward him when unwise, unsolicited counsel is offered in extraordinary abundance.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owZfCsRUqR4

 

 

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Playing catch.  Planting a garden.  Riding a bike.  Working hard.  How to surprise Mommy.  Prayer.  Picking blackberries.  Courage.  Sled-riding.  Getting dirty.  The importance of church attendance.  Fishing.  Homework.  How to fight the heebeegeebees.  Computer skills.  Dog walking.  Giving.

These are just a few of the many things my daddy taught me.  Daddy got sick when I was 11 and I spent the rest of my life wishing he hadn’t.  Still, I can’t imagine what my life would have been like if he hadn’t been there at all.  I wonder how the world can pretend fathers are simply an optional appendage to an otherwise fully fulfilled childhood.  

Fatherhood was God’s first idea when he created the first man.  He was the father!  God himself has always been a father, first to his One and Only Son; second to humanity.  He’s been living and working in the hearts and lives of his children for all eternity past.  He’ll continue to do so for all eternity future.  He gave us his best that we might be our best.  That is the role of a every good father.

Married men and women, think of your children before you think of yourself.  Your children need a father who lives in their home.  Single men and women, think of your future children before you think of yourself.  Your children will need a father who loves and is married to their mother.  

If your living situation is not ideal presently, look to God, your first father.  Ask him how you might seek imitate his model for family and abstain from anything that will detract from his plan.  Remember, we serve a redeemer who has unlimited resources and is capable of redeeming all circumstances for the good when we obey.  

Let us all consider Our Father God and never underestimate the impact of a selfless father who willingly lays down his life for his children from beginning to end.  That is, after all, how the world was saved.  Let us also consider Jesus’ mother, Mary, who willingly laid down her life for both her God and her child before he was even born as well as on the day of his death.

Men and women, let us learn wisdom from Our Heavenly Father and go and do likewise.

Father of the fatherless and protector of widows
    is God in his holy habitation. ~Psalm 68:5

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pu6TJeasyWE

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After seven days of silence, Job speaks to his friends.  The gist of his entire speech?  Job wishes he were never born.

“Let the day perish on which I was born,
    and the night that said,
    ‘A man is conceived.’…“Why did I not die at birth,
    come out from the womb and expire?
12 Why did the knees receive me?
                                                               Or why the breasts, that I should nurse?…Or why was I not as a hidden stillborn child,                                                                                                                 as infants who never see the light?” ~Job 3:3, 11-12, 16

When tragedy strikes, it’s a very natural reaction to want to go back in time wishing for a different chain of events.  In our helplessness, we are inclined to look at things from a very human perspective saying if we just could have prevented or changed one specific event in the past, the present would not be so unbearably painful.  Job does this, and let’s keep in mind that we can hardly blame him when we see his story.

The problem is that, while this type of lamenting may be natural, it is not at all profitable.  It does not help Job deal with his pain, it only makes his pain worse.  Wondering why he did not die sooner only keeps Job regretting life later.  While he does not curse God, he does question God’s wisdom and good will.

It’s one thing to question the existence of a God who would allow such suffering for one of his most obedient children, it’s quite another to know that God not only is, but is completely sovereign and begin to question his character and motives.  The former is a scapegoat for the unbeliever (which is foolish enough), but the latter is none other than the elevation of human wisdom above God’s in those who doubtless know much better.  Both are rooted in unbelief and result in hopelessness.

For the thing that I fear comes upon me,
    and what I dread befalls me.
26 I am not at ease, nor am I quiet;
    I have no rest, but trouble comes.” ~Job 3:25-26

I cannot say I’ve experienced half of the loss that Job did, but I can say I have felt the fear and hopelessness he describes here as a result of suffering, failed expectations, unbelief, and distrust of He who I never doubt is completely sovereign.  This is a natural, human response to suffering.  There is no rest.  There is no peace.  There is no joy when you’re set free from sin to serve a God whom you do not trust.

 Therefore, clearly, life’s tragedies are not the problem.  Life’s tragedies simply reveal the problem.  The real issue isn’t how can a good God allow suffering – especially to his best men – because anyone who has believed on Christ has believed on the basis of the suffering of the innocent dealt by God himself for their own good.  The real issue is how can we learn to trust a God who is so good that he will stop at nothing short of ripping our deceitful hearts completely out in order to teach us how to trust him fully.

The answer: Embrace suffering as a prerequisite to tried, tested, and proven faith.  For me that means stop asking woe is me Job questions.  It means stop going back in time and contemplating outcomes of altered reality and circumstances that will never be changed.  It means stop looking at life and suffering from a human perspective and begin to think biblically and spiritually.  It means stop elevating my foolishness over God’s wisdom.  It means stop distrusting God and trust him in all things.  It means stop disbelieving God and believe him always.  Why?  Because quite frankly, I’m tired.  In fact, I’m exhausted from having to deal with myself, and in this is where true rest is found.

“Grace teaches us, in the midst of life’s greatest comforts to be willing to die and in the midst of its greatest crosses to be willing to live.” -Matthew Henry

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wQ5BFivMwxU

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Unordinary People

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It’s not everyday that a legitimate television producing company invites ordinary people to audition for a pilot.  Actually, it never happens. There is no such thing as ordinary people.  C.S. Lewis said it best:

“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously – no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.”

That quote came to life for me this weekend.

A number of months ago, my husband was invited to a casting call for a new reality show entitled “Built to Survive” which took place in Atlanta, Georgia this past weekend.  After checking the credentials of Raw TV, participating in several Skype interviews via the UK, and finally putting away our initial skepticism and disbelief, here I sit in a hotel room in Georgia on my thirteenth wedding anniversary with a man who’s always been capable of entertaining everyone within earshot.

Raw TV sought out eleven people from around the country with artistic and innovative mechanical abilities to work with them to create a program they are hoping to air on the National Geographic Channel.  Men behind the recent hit show “Junkyard Wars” were involved in putting this opportunity together.

My husband, who owns a muscle car performance garage in McClellandtown, Pennsylvania, was chosen to participate as a result of his exceptional and creative work and trade shown on his business’s website.  Others who were selected included a tall ship sailor with robotics experience, a mechanical engineer from Alaska, a German automobile shop owner from Long Island, New York, the first all female hot rod garage owner from Canada, a DC cop who races custom builds he creates, a diesel mechanic/shop owner from Chattanooga, Tennessee, an off-road builder, a robotics guy from Oakland, a rancher from the California desert with robotics experience, and a hot rod shop owner from Atlanta who’s been featured on the show “Overhaulin” and numerous other publications and television programs involving custom car and bike builds.

Like I said, there are no ordinary people.  Because Raw TV was gracious enough to allow me to sit in on the filming, I got to spend the weekend listening to some of the most intelligent and interesting people I’ve ever met exchange ideas, trade philosophies, and discuss life together.  I got to witness true thinkers thinking out loud.  It was amazing.

Perhaps what stood out the most about these minds was their willingness not only to respect, but to embrace the extreme diversity of one another, treating it as an asset rather than a threat.  That’s rare in our culture, but these individuals had it.

I have no idea where the show will go.  Who knows if there even will be a show. Either way, it was definitely worth the trip.  Number thirteen will be an anniversary to remember.  Watching my husband turn junk into a functional machine reminded me of my Creator.  Watching him zip line and bungee jump reminded me of the summer we fell in love swinging from a rope into Lake Lynn.  Watching him share his faith and honor the Lord makes me proud to be his wife.  To some he may seem like an ordinary guy with a blue-collar complete with his name on his shirt, but, TV show or not, anyone who knows Tim Rodeheaver Jr. knows better.

8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. ~Philippians 4:8-9

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-dbw_lLYOQ

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Job lies in pain, suffering, and grief.  He’s lost every earthly possession.  He has buried his children.  He is suffering from a painful disease.  His wife is discouraging and faithless.  In chapter 2:11-13, we find Job visited by three friends as he mourns in the ashes of adversity.

Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that had come upon him, they came each from his own place, Eliphazthe Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They made an appointment together to come to show him sympathy and comfort him. 12 And when they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him. And they raised their voices and wept, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads toward heaven. 13 And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great. ~Job 2:11-13

These guys left the comfort and company of their own peaceful homes and they came to sympathize and comfort Job in his grief.  Clearly, they were true friends who genuinely cared for this man.  False friends never show up when the objects of their use cease from usefulness.

As they approach, they see a man so greatly afflicted that he is unrecognizable.  How fearful.  How sobering.  Seeing one of our own in a desperate state is like seeing ourselves there.

These men have naught to do but weep.  They align themselves with Job and simply sit with him silently.  This is likely the wisest and most helpful act they offered to Job throughout the entire course of his suffering.  Too bad they didn’t realize it.

We all know the story goes downhill from here in regards to these friends.  What began with good intentions, sincere concern, and genuine love went south as soon as these guys opened their know-it-all mouths.  There is a reason we are called to be slow to speak.

Only those who are true friends of Christ will remain with him when trial and adversity come.  They will be known by mere virtue of their willing presence with him apart from any earthly advantage while doing so.  In fact, much pain and many earthly disadvantages may plaque them if they do so.

Furthermore, it is fearful and sobering to look upon our brother so greatly afflicted and marred by the effects of sin.  Jesus, too, had a face that proved unrecognizable.  When we look upon the cross, we cannot help but see out own desperate state and ourselves as the rightful receivers of that punishment.

Therefore, when authentic friends of Jesus see the cross, we have naught to do but weep.  The wisest and most helpful act we can ever do for the gospel is to align ourselves willingly with our suffering servant Savior and simply sit with him silently.  He will teach us all things – not the least of which is being slow to speak when our fellow brothers and sisters are suffering severely without cause or understanding.  “The heart of the wise studies to answer.” (Matthew Henry)

Fortunately, Christ did as much for us, first.  Let us learn to trust him through the ashes of adversity.  Southern Comfort may have its benefits, but they are temporary.  Silent Comfort is everlasting.  He will surely sit with us for as long as he calls us to suffer.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DadzAe1JVAQ

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