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Archive for August, 2013

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After defending himself against his counselors’ false accusations and judgmental advice, Job again pours out his miseries to God.

Only grant me two things,
    then I will not hide myself from your face:
21 withdraw your hand far from me,
    and let not dread of you terrify me.
22 Then call, and I will answer;
    or let me speak, and you reply to me. ~Job 13:20-22

Job asks two things of the Lord before he lays himself bare:

1. Stop the torment for a moment – long enough that I might compose myself to speak with you and understand.  Note, trials and pain of this caliber affect a man’s ability to communicate rationally, freely, and readily with the God he loves.

2. Afford me the confidence I need to come close and inquire of you.  Such trials skew a man’s perception of God and cause him to withdraw out of genuine fear.

Notice the very first question Job has for his maker:

“How many are my iniquities and my sin?  Make me know my transgression and my sin.”

Job looks inward.  He is not inclined to blame God or others.  He simply wants to know for what grievous offenses he is being punished.  He truly does not believe he has done anything that warrants the kind of suffering he has been dealt – and he hasn’t (he’s suffering for his righteousness, remember?)  Yet he never presumes he is innocent merely by virtue of his clear conscience.

Why do you hide your face
    and count me as your enemy?
25 Will you frighten a driven leaf
    and pursue dry chaff?
26 For you write bitter things against me
    and make me inherit the iniquities of my youth.
27 You put my feet in the stocks
    and watch all my paths;
    you set a limit for the soles of my feet.
28 Man wastes away like a rotten thing,
    like a garment that is moth-eaten. ~Job 13:24-28

As Job goes on, it’s quite obvious that he is convinced that God is indeed punishing him as an enemy.  He is desperate to know why.  Jesus himself asked as much saying, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

In chapter 14:1-6, Job contends that life is short and full of trouble.  He says he’d gladly accept the everyday hardships of life if God would give him some respite from the warlike tortures he is now enduring.  He concludes that if life be this troublesome, death is surely where his greatest hope and stay will be found.

Oh that you would hide me in Sheol,
    that you would conceal me until your wrath be past,
    that you would appoint me a set time, and remember me!
14 If a man dies, shall he live again?
    All the days of my service I would wait,
    till my renewal should come.
15 You would call, and I would answer you;
    you would long for the work of your hands.
16 For then you would number my steps;
    you would not keep watch over my sin;
17 my transgression would be sealed up in a bag,
    and you would cover over my iniquity. ~Job 14:13-17

Job longs for death.  He understands that his present severe suffering may likely never see it’s end here on earth.  (Hey Joel and Joyce, take note please.)  He speaks of “change” or “renewal.”  He does not mean circumstantial change, although it would be much appreciated.  But, no.  Job is looking for real, lasting change.  Job wants full and final change.  To him, to die is great gain.  Oh, that he could be free from the bondage of sin and life’s pain!  That is our very best hope.

Nevertheless, Job vows to wait on God for glory.  As tempting as suicide may be, Job trusts his giver to be his taker.  In this, Job displays great faith in the God he longs desperately to hear and see despite his misery and confusion.

In chapter 14:18-22, we see that even though Job has great hope in future glory, he still finds it very difficult to put away his immediate grief.  He claims that God himself destroys the hope of man.  And perhaps he does – that worldly hope of all that gives an illusion of peace and safety apart from Christ – that hope death and the Taker destroy because it is always false.

In the midst of great pain, we, like Job, may find it very difficult to communicate rationally, freely, and readily with God and with men.  We may withdraw out of fear and misconception.  We may begin to err believing God is angry, hostile, and at enmity with us.  We may feel forsaken, even as our Lord felt fully forsaken.

In these times, it is imperative that we remember that our greatest hope and and joy is found in death, not life, and that we must trust and wait for Our Maker to bring that time to pass.

God, keep me from dread, fear, and despair in this transient earthly place.  Help me resist the self-destructive temptations of impatience and unbelief.  Give me grace to communicate with you knowing I am not forsaken.  Let my joy be in the great expectation of my greatest gain – eternal life with you, my rescuer; my deliverer, my joy, my all.  I love you.

Amen.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_d5HbddjrTU

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Some seem to think Miley Cyrus’s recent performance was shocking.  From one who has only seen the reaction and a few choice photos, I really can’t say I’m the least bit surprised.  I mean, isn’t this the same girl who was “caught” sexting on youtube at what, 14? 16?  I’m pretty sure I saw her on the cover of Cosmo baring all but her pink parts just a few months ago.  Even my more-in-the-know-than-me daughters have been known to tell their friends “Hannah Montana is bad because she doesn’t wear any clothes.”  Come on.  Anyone who has to change their very identity in order to be who they really are without disturbing the innocent minds of children has obviously got some issues to work through. 

But don’t get me wrong.  I’m certainly not here to throw stones.  I fear my fragile house would surely fall if I did that.  I’m writing this to point to what truly comes as a shock to me.

I’ve seen photos, blogs, comments, and comedy on the subject for two solid days now.  Everything from disgust, shock, fun-making, object-lesson creating, example-giving, mockery, and hatred offered toward this young woman – namely from Christian sources.  My shocker?  I haven’t seen any identifying with, grief over, or prayer for her as a lost and dying sinner.

I don’t know about you, but as a not-as-young woman who knows just how tempting sensual power is, as a wife covetous over her husband’s eyes, as a mother anxious about her young daughters’ futures, and as a Christian wholly dependent on grace alone in the area of fornication, adultery, immodesty, and impurity, I am grieved much, much more by the lack of sobriety, grace, and support I see for this lost and dying symbol of what our entire culture of lust lives, loves, and wholly approves of daily – Christians not exempt.  In my honest opinion, Ms. Cyrus was just giving us all what we’ve been overwhelmingly been asking for.

I’m literally shocked that “Christians” in this country are still nonchalantly watching MTV.  I’m shocked that this performance is national news.  I’m shocked that people consider it legalistic to read reviews before attending or purchasing movies.  I’m shocked that people who obviously watch and listen to this music think this performance is shocking.  I’m shocked that no one seems to see the sickness within themselves as they watch they sickness of demonic lust on their television each and every night claiming it doesn’t affect them.  I’m shocked that no one finds this shocking.  I’m shocked at myself when I find myself following this culture in competition rather than whole-hearted counter-suit.  I’m shocked at the public outcry void of public prayer and public weeping over the cesspool our nation has veritably become.

I’ve not much to say other than I’m desperately grieved.  Every single day I grieve over the state of the world more than the day before.  I pray I am not alone.

Brothers and sisters, pray for me.  Pray for us; our children.  Pray for Miley.  Pray for our country.  Pray for revival, for conviction, for extraordinary mercy.  God forgive we who live in complete denial all the while claiming we are his.  The Jews did that, once, and, right after he identified with the adulteress they were ready to stone, this is what my Savior said:

 They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did,40 but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. 41 You are doing the works your father did.” They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God.” 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. 43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word.44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. ~John 8:39-45

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MygR5zMia_E

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After spending our last official day of summer vacation rock climbing and waterfall chasing, I can’t help but begin to catalog the past few months.

As one more chapter in this book I call my life comes to a close, I find myself struggling to contrive a way to cradle children who no longer need one and coddle contentment – contentment that comes from being confident in knowing it doesn’t matter if your best dress gets wet as long as Daddy stands under the cold, windy current with you; contentment that follows a father over rough rocks with reckless abandon and frigid fords with complete freedom to fall and to fail.  Because contentment and confidence can’t continue if they need crutches to carry them.

Crutches?  Yes.  Call them whatever you will – summer, Sunday, still water, silence, security, satisfaction – ultimately everything I spend my days searching for ways to save and to stock like Gollum did with his pretty ring. If we get real honest, we’ll call them idols – sinister gods void of salvation.

So with structure and school teaching standing on my starting line tomorrow, I want to come to a steady stop.  I want to remember, reconstruct, and realize for a moment just why I am embarking on year number five of home school education with my children.

And, after all my post-summer thoughts are contentiously placed neatly back where they belong, I find that my answer is, surprisingly, today.  I home school, firstly because God called me – a being-a-teacher-is-the-last-job-I’d-ever-choose-and-I-like-to-work-alone-I-can-do-it-but-I-can’t-explain-it kind of girl – but secondly, because I want my children to know it doesn’t matter if their best dress gets wet.  Reason number two is merely a reflection of reason number one – especially considering who I am.

I want them to learn to follow their Father over rough rocks they’d never choose to climb.  I want them to be recklessly willing to wade through frigid fords with confidence, contentment, and full freedom to fall and to fail – even to their very foundation.  I home school because I want my children to know that chasing the waterfall is worth the risk of damp underpants.  I want them to know that they do not need the crutches of security – summer, Sunday, still water, silence, security, or satisfaction – to save them.  I want them to know they need only Christ to save them.

How will they know?  How will they learn these things?  Have I even learned them?

Perhaps not – certainly not fully.  But one thing is certain: they will see their teacher who is not a teacher teaching because Daddy said climb these rocks if you want to see the waterfall.  They will learn how little the cold matters when you’re crossing with freedom because they’ll have a bird’s eye view of the real life falls and failures of their still-learning-patience-and-kindness-101 mother day in and day out.  They’ll watch as she crawls confidently back to her forgiving Father in unmistakable frequency.  And they’ll watch as, year by year, her crutches become less and less imperative for her own contentment.

For me, home school is not nearly as much about academics as it is about real life.  Children can become literate in almost any setting if given the proper materials.  They cannot, however, become disciples without Christ and a broken vessel to point them to Him daily.  There is no age-appropriate classroom for discipleship and real life rarely happens in a vacuum like we see in most public schools.  God is more creative than that.

Lord, help me remember how little control I have over the influencing factors in my life and give me grace to follow you ever forward.  Help me put away my idolatrous crutches and run with contentment and confidence to every place you wait to show me.  Thank you for another year of opportunity to share the gospel with my three small disciples.  May they follow you all the days of their lives and both learn from as well as avoid their teacher’s foolish mistakes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64Dr98X2I3s

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intruder

The Evil One canvases

as she shadows his steps.

Watching, she silently arms herself

full in the fog.

It’s cloudy; it’s dense

only grim faces she sees

but darkness for her

is like a hometown address.

Inching closer and closer

until Satan stands next to her door

and she desperately searches

for the only weapon she owns.

Unable to grasp

or gain security

full access is bound

to be given to he

who is lurking and looting

and laughing next door

because she can’t wake the master –

for he sleeps evermore.

“He’s coming!” she screams

“Hurry! Pick up your gun!

He’s going to kill us

if you don’t hear me son!”

Still as a corpse

he continues in slumber.

Why will his eyes

not see what is coming?

The war now upon us;

we may not survive.

The Evil One searches

both dead and alive.

“He’s coming inside!

Please hear me my brother!

You’ve got to believe me!

There’s nowhere to hide!”

She turns away

in resignation and fear.

She can no longer bear

the sleeper’s deaf ear.

She lays at the foot of the bed all alone

and she waits for her Savior

to carry her home.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X4XZmdiJFho

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After Zophar’s clumsy counsel, Job answers all of his counselors once again by defending himself as well as his God.  For they have discredited and misrepresented both.

Then Job answered and said:

2 “No doubt you are the people,
    and wisdom will die with you.
3 But I have understanding as well as you;
    I am not inferior to you.
    Who does not know such things as these?
4 I am a laughingstock to my friends;
    I, who called to God and he answered me,
    a just and blameless man, am a laughingstock…

“Behold, my eye has seen all this,
    my ear has heard and understood it.
2 What you know, I also know;
    I am not inferior to you. ~Job 12:1-4, 13:1-2

Job’s sarcasm is quite sharp.  He’s saying, “You’re all obviously the authorities here.  But guess what, boss, I know everything you know.  And I’m not saying that to brag, I’m saying it because everyone knows this stuff.  What you’re sharing isn’t rocket science, guys.  Yet you think yourselves so wise and understanding while you laugh, mock, despise, and ridicule me in my pain.  You offer no answers yet you expect me to keep listening to you.”

Job is sticking up for himself.  He is assuring his unwise, self-righteous counselors that he knows the basic truths of God they’ve been sharing and that he is not suffering as a result of sin as they insist.  He accuses them of despising him due to their lives of ease in the face of his misfortune.  In verses 6-25, he goes on to say he is just and righteous and to prove the falseness of the charge that only good things happen to good people and only bad things happen to bad people.  He explains and gives many examples of how, on earth, good things often happen to the wicked and bad thing often happen to the innocent.  He points to God’s sovereign rule once again and he lays Eliphaz’s foolish assumption to rest.

“Behold, my eye has seen all this,
    my ear has heard and understood it.
2 What you know, I also know;
    I am not inferior to you. ~Job 13:1-2

Job repeats his initial statement saying that he already knows all the things he’s being told.  By again saying, “I am not inferior to you,” he implicates them all as condescending him.  Men who have not been made to feel inferior do not often feel the need to say, “I am not inferior to you.”

But Job has been condescended.  He’s been insulted, mocked, discredited, and misrepresented by men much less wise and godly as he – and this, in the midst of great suffering and terrible personal pain.  Therefore, he calls them out and he calls them exactly what they are:

But I would speak to the Almighty,
    and I desire to argue my case with God.
4 As for you, you whitewash with lies;
    worthless physicians are you all.
5 Oh that you would keep silent,
    and it would be your wisdom!
6 Hear now my argument
    and listen to the pleadings of my lips.
7 Will you speak falsely for God
    and speak deceitfully for him?
8 Will you show partiality toward him?
    Will you plead the case for God?
9 Will it be well with you when he searches you out?
    Or can you deceive him, as one deceives a man?
10 He will surely rebuke you
    if in secret you show partiality.
11 Will not his majesty terrify you,
    and the dread of him fall upon you?
12 Your maxims are proverbs of ashes;
    your defenses are defenses of clay. ~Job 13:3-12

Whitewashed.  Deceivers.  Worthless.  Doctors with neither skill nor cure.  These are some pretty harsh words.  But this is exactly who his friends have been to him.  He just wants them to shut up.  Every time they speak they become more foolish and add more grief to his already spirit-breaking burden.  How awful.

Little wonder why Job just wants to talk to God.  He just wants to hear from God.  He’d much rather argue with God than these clowns.  He is dreadfully tired of hearing unhelpful counsel and nursery rhyme themes about God from men who haven’t believed or practiced them half as well as he.

Job turns the limelight to them and he asks whether they can stand under the microscope they so readily have placed him under.  He attempts to show them God’s terrifying greatness – which he himself has already witnessed first hand.  He hopes they’ll just be quiet and stop their irritating babble so he might stop being unnecessarily injured and be able to speak to God.

In all this turmoil and pain, Job still believes.  He still holds God and his sovereignty in the highest regard.  Despite how dark his life has become, he continues to hope in God alone.

Notice, none of Job’s counselors ever speak to God about Job; they only speak to Job about God.  Doubtless there are far more logs than specks here.  We, also, must beware the temptation of pride which causes us to presume the worst of our brothers and sisters, misjudge their circumstance, and speak more to them about God than to God about them.

Little wonder why marriage, the shadow of Christ and his bride, begins with vows that promise to forsake all others.  When all else in life has been forsaken, we have but one hope – for better; for worse; for sickness; in health; for richer; for poorer.  He is our groom: Jesus Christ.  God, help us trust him.

Though he slay me, I will hope in him;
    yet I will argue my ways to his face. ~Job 13:15

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjNgn4r6SOA

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Being an opinion writer is a lot like being a musician: you chirp a lot what’s on your heart and sometimes take requests.

Over the past few years, I’ve often been asked to write about specific topics.  I get a little nervous and out of sorts when this happens, quite honestly.  It always goes something like this:

“Ya know, Lori, you really need to write about (insert topic.)”  Then the requester goes on to tell me exactly how they feel about the subject and I proceed to smile and nod considering which one of the ten commandments I’ve just been asked to enforce as a policewoman.

Don’t get me wrong, I value others’ opinions as well as biblical moral standards.  I am a Christian which makes me both a Christian thinker and a Christian writer.  But when I’m given these requests, it’s almost always because the requester is disgusted, frustrated, and completely undone by a specific problem they see in someone else.

From prostitution to stealing to gun regulations to ten commandment signs, people think that merely telling offenders what their conscience already tells them is wrong, is wrong, will make some kind of difference.  And it will.  The difference will be that they realize you are no longer on their side where before they thought maybe, just maybe, Jesus and his camaraderie really were friends of sinners.

Do I believe there’s a lot wrong in the world?  Absolutely.  Do I believe telling people exactly what’s wrong with them will magically fix them?  Absolutely not.  Rather, I believe in telling the truth about my own failures and evil inclinations publicly, not theirs.  And it’s taken me a long time to get here.  I was likely the worst offender in the tri-state as far as soap-boxers go.

I believe this because it’s what every single one of our New Testament writers did.  Yes, there is most definitely a time to call people out along with their blatant sin.  But nine times out of ten, humility, not heavy-handed homilies, is what really inspires men and women to change.

Not only is it biblical, it’s logical.  If I make myself an authority over others and spout out flaws, we aren’t going to get very far before they realize how guilty I am of those very same flaws.  If I make myself real instead and paint for my readers a picture of a life that must daily fight against lust, lying, laziness, and the like just the same as they; if I’m willing to be honest enough to let you knows how very often I fail and how lost and lifeless I truly am without the lavish love of a Savior who gives me grace daily because of said failures, and because I desperately need it as much (if not more!) than you do; if I show you my ceaseless, obvious true need for the gospel I claim to cling to, now, and only now, might my readers recognize their own desperate need for that gospel.

Yes, there is risk in this method.  Not only will your life be an open book with your heart on your sleeve most days, but even more, the world may still see you as a hypocritical, unchanged sinner.  But if you are indeed a new creation, the closer you become to Christ, your sin becomes more obvious and your pride less valueable.  And, as the old American proverb says, “You catch more bees with honey than with vinegar.”

I’m certainly not one for flattery or feel-good self-help speeches, either.  I simply believe more in humility and truth than I do high-horse finger pointing.  I’m not good while others who do the things I detest are bad.  Because no one is good and I often find myself doing just that which I detest as well.  Paul did, too (Romans 7.)

But God is good and Jesus Christ was perfect.  Therefore, let me be known to confess rather than compare.  Let me be heard in my helplessness rather than my haughtiness.  Let me point to my Creator without even a hint of condescension.  And with that and the disclaimer that if you ask for a topic, I will write about your struggle (not your neighbor’s), in mind, I’m now taking requests.

David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the Lord. 22 I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.” ~2 Samuel 6:21-22

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jmd8chAUNmU

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No sooner did Job finish crying out to God post-Bildad attack than he get pounced on again by an even more harsh accusatory judge.  Enter: Zophar.

Then Zophar the Naamathite answered and said:

2 “Should a multitude of words go unanswered,
    and a man full of talk be judged right?
3 Should your babble silence men,
    and when you mock, shall no one shame you?
4 For you say, ‘My doctrine is pure,
    and I am clean in God’s eyes.’
5 But oh, that God would speak
    and open his lips to you,
6 and that he would tell you the secrets of wisdom!
    For he is manifold in understanding.
Know then that God exacts of you less than your guilt deserves. ~Job 11:1-6

Zophar begins by saying, basically, “Job, quit your bellyachin’.  Stop whining lest you be punished worse.”  Although he accuses Job of endless chatter and mocking, he is actually the one speaking empty, unhelpful words and mocking Job.  Job never even said his doctrine was pure, but so what if he had?  It was!  And yes, Job said he was not guilty and defended himself when accused of hypocrisy.  Clearly, Job’s life pre-suffering was godly and faithful and that’s all Job was saying.  But he never claimed to be sinless and this guy puts words into his mouth, casting his plea for mercy and grace in the worst possible light.

Is this the way to comfort a dying man?!  Lord have mercy!

As if that weren’t enough, Zophar insists that when and if God speaks, he conveniently knows exactly what he’ll say, and, of course it will be exactly what Zophar himself would say.  Funny how that works, eh?  (Incidentally, when God does “open his mouth” it isn’t against Job, rather, it’s against Zophar and his two high-horse friends.  And this is where self-righteousness gets us folks.)

According to Zophar, God’s wisdom and understanding is as merciless as he and is waiting in heaven to come down and blast Job.  Apparently, in Zophar’s self-righteous, judgmental eyes, Job deserves every bad thing he’s getting.  In fact, he deserves much worse!

Zophar’s speech is utterly unbearable for anyone, let alone a man suffering as Job is.  Perhaps someone should examine Zophar’s life and revoke his license to speak freely.  Nevertheless, he goes on:

“Can you find out the deep things of God?
    Can you find out the limit of the Almighty?
8 It is higher than heaven—what can you do?
    Deeper than Sheol—what can you know?
9 Its measure is longer than the earth
    and broader than the sea.
10 If he passes through and imprisons
    and summons the court, who can turn him back?
11 For he knows worthless men;
    when he sees iniquity, will he not consider it?
12 But a stupid man will get understanding
    when a wild donkey’s colt is born a man!

13 “If you prepare your heart,
    you will stretch out your hands toward him.
14 If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away,
    and let not injustice dwell in your tents.
15 Surely then you will lift up your face without blemish;
    you will be secure and will not fear.
16 You will forget your misery;
    you will remember it as waters that have passed away.
17 And your life will be brighter than the noonday;
    its darkness will be like the morning.
18 And you will feel secure, because there is hope;
    you will look around and take your rest in security.
19 You will lie down, and none will make you afraid;
    many will court your favor.
20 But the eyes of the wicked will fail;
    all way of escape will be lost to them,
    and their hope is to breathe their last.” ~Job 11:7-20

Next, Zophar mixes some glorious truths of God with some assumptions and some lies.  Funny, that’s just what the devil does, too.

He claims that because God is sovereign, he surely knows who is sinning undercover and who really needs to repent.  He undoubtedly implicates Job as a mocker, worthless, evil, stupid, unjust, and unrepentant.  He arrogantly assumes Job is at fault and deserving of punishment and suffering without so much as asking Job how he’s doing.  He assures Job that if he’ll just repent, things will being to go well for him (Job 11:14-20.)

Wow.  I don’t even know how to address this kind of heartless attack on one of God’s broken children.  How often I’ve worn the crown and paraded as Queen Zophar myself!  I only pray I’m never again guilty of taking a position of careless authority over anyone or acting in this way towards another hurting brother or sister.  Lord have mercy on us when we put ourselves in the place of God as all-knowing, condescending, self-righteous assumers.  If one cannot care, listen, sympathize, or encourage the afflicted, he has no business spouting half-truths, misapplying whole ones,  and wrongfully dissecting cause and effect.  Instead, perhaps someone should ask the Zophars of the world that which he so arrogantly asked Job:

 “Can you find out the deep things of God?
    Can you find out the limit of the Almighty?
8 It is higher than heaven—what can you do?
    Deeper than Sheol—what can you know? ~Job 11:7-8

The truth is, no one can know what God has chosen not to reveal and, often, human suffering is one of those things.  Sleep well, Jobs of the world.  If you have examined your life for sin and cannot find just cause for your hard lot, remember Job and know that God is likely displaying your faith and his glory by giving you far more hardship than your guilt deserves.

Don’t feel bad about it.  He did the same to his son, your savior, Jesus Christ.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GrCDdm2yjXY

 

 

 

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