Making Bricks and Calling God by Name

This weekend, the reading plan I am on hits the beginning of Exodus.  Joseph, all of his brothers, and everyone else his age has died.  Moses enters the story.  So much of the story is very well known.  Moses is saved in the river, raised in Pharoah's house as a prince, kills an Egyptian, and flees to Midian.  God speaks to him in the burning bush, and tells him to go back to free His people.  Moses complains because he is still living in fear, and God finally gets him to go.

This time through, a tiny detail stood out to me.  In Exodus 6, God is talking to Moses, He tells him that He appeared to all of Moses' ancestors (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) as the Lord Almighty.  But to Moses, He told him His name.  Jacob wrestled with God, and wanted to know God's name, and He wouldn't tell him.  But here, now, in this story, He tells Moses His name repeatedly.  And He brings up the fact that He is telling them His name.  Why?

I'm not sure.  I wonder if it has to do with relationship at some level?  The people have forgotten who He is, and are so oppressed with slavery, that they need to hear from God on a different level.  He wants to know them in a different way.  I'm not sure, but I wonder it that has something to do with it?  Or if it has to do with the fact that He is trying to set Himself apart from the Egyptian gods they are surrounded with?  There are a lot of different theories, and I'm not sure why He does it.

But He does.

He reveals Himself to them in a new way, when they are broken.  Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were all wandering herdsmen with a lot of money and resources.  These people are slaves, stuck in one spot, with very little.  To them, God is Yahweh.  He gives them a name.  I am your God, you are My people.  We are together.  I have not left you, even though no one else around you knows Me.  I am here.

This is why it's so crucial we live in some sort of humility.  We have to pursue humility, a healthy level of brokenness, in our lives.  It is there that God meets with us at a new level.  He's not lost in the noise.  He isn't off somewhere else.  When we recognize that we are in need, when things are all rolling in the direction we are steering them, it is there that He says "I'm here.  You and I, we know each other.  Come know me better."

The Egyptians were in control.  They were decended from Noah, just as the Israelites were.  But they had forgotten.  A few Pharoah's back, they had known.  But power had numbed their memories.  Resources had built walls between them and God.  When God spoke directly to them, their response was "Shut up and go back to work."

Where will you and I stand today?  Will we hear God and know Him by name?  Will we embrace the brokeness and humility it takes to hear God's voice?

Or will we simply focus on making mud bricks?

Moving Day

God just doesn't make sense sometimes.  In Genesis 46, 47 we see Israel moving his family from the land he had been promised to Egypt, where his son, Joseph was.  The famine had gotten so bad, the people were threatened with death, and they had to go to Egypt to survive. 

But wait a minute... the whole story up to this point had been about how God had promised Abraham and his kids and grand kids how they would have this land as their own, and they would become a great nation.  Then this famine hits, and God has to scramble to come up with a new plan.  Ok, yeah, I know, that isn't what is happening.  But for Israel (Jacob), that is what it would have looked like.  He didn't know why God was moving them out of the place He had told them to be.  He just heard the "go", with no more promises.  And it seemed like it was because a famine had hit this land that was supposed to be theirs. 

From Israel's point of view, in his day, from his eyes, God had been beat, and was coming up with plan B.  That's never a good feeling.  It's so tough when we clearly hear from God about something, we sacrifice and obey, and we begin to see God bless us for that obedience.  Then, all of a sudden, He seems to be saying, "Okay, that was good.  Now leave what you've sacrificed for, and come over here for a while."  Man, that is so hard to trust Him in. 

Why can't He just leave good things alone.  Everything was okay over here, why do I have to go over there now? 

My friends I've had were just fine, why are you telling me to be friends with this new person now? 

My job was great!  You gave it to me, I've trusted you through the scary parts, and am settled in now.  Why are you telling me to go to this other place and start over with a new boss?

I've served you faithfully in this area, and have seen you working.  Things are just getting good, and now you're telling me I need to go serve over there?

We finally got our family settled down and at peace, and you want me to do what?

You get the idea.  But don't miss the point.  God's plan was bigger than Israel could see.  It was bigger than his life.  God moved him to a new place, and he died there.  His kids died there.  Several generations were born and died in Egypt.  But God had a big plan.  His story was being carried out.

So whatever God is asking you to let go of, to move to somewhere new on, don't be afraid.  You've done well where you are.  You've been faithful.  But that never means you get to stay put.  Follow Him.  Fearlessly.

There's a plan.

Pointing Up

The story of Joseph takes the turn we all hoped it would in today's reading.  We left Joseph as a forgotten slave rotting away in prison.  Today's reading in Genesis has him promoted to second in command, saving the entire world, teaching his loser brothers a good lesson, and reconciling with his family.  It's a crazy, feel good story at the end.

As I read these passages, I think Genesis 41:16 is the turning point.  Joseph is remembered and brought up out of the dungeon to meet with Pharaoh.  He goes from the bottom of the pile to the top in one giant step.  The Pharaoh is god, he is worshipped as god, and revered as god by everyone in Egypt.  To not do so is to lose your life.  He brings Joseph in, and tells him that he has heard Joseph can tell him the meaning of his dreams.

Joseph answers: “I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.” 

Sounds good.  Unless Pharaoh thinks he is god.  Joseph puts it all on the line.  Why not just answer, "Yes Pharaoh, the spirits will guide me", or something safe like that.  But no, Joseph goes all the way with pointing to his God, and giving Him all the credit.

He has one shot at being saved, and He risks it all to be sure that God alone gets credit.

It works.

This is the crux of life for those of us who follow Christ.  Everything we say and do needs to point back to Jesus, just like Joseph risked everything to point back to Jehovah.  Whenever we fudge an answer, or hide our faith a little, we miss out.  What if, when a friend wants your advice, your answer was "I can't, but God will provide you an answer."  You think it's crazy; admit it.  But is it?  What IF we live like that?

What might happen?

The whole world might be saved.

Jason Chenoweth

Jason Chenoweth: "I connected Blogger to my http://flavors.me page - http://flavors.me/jasonchenoweth"

Don't Stop in the 4-0!

We read the story of two of the 12 brothers of Israel in Genesis 38-40 today.  You've got Judah, the leader of the brothers, who should know God best.  He ends up dishonoring his daughter in law, sending her away, and breaking the laws of caring for your family.  Then, on top of that, he sleeps with a prostitute after his wife dies, and gets her pregnant.  Of course, being the Bible, this twisted story isn't done.  It turns out the prostitute wasn't a prostitute, but was his daughter in law in disguise, and he gets busted.  He ends up having twins with his son's widow.  What a mess.

Compare that to the second story of Joseph, the second to youngest.  He's been sold off into slavery, and should be bitter for all that has happened.  In his story, a powerful woman tries over and over to seduce him, but he refuses.  He gets thrown in prison, obeys God, and is forgotten there.  He's left to rot, even though he was innocent.

So, in this tale of two brothers, one is dishonorable, skanky, and a liar.  He pretty much gets off scott free and lives a life of wealth and freedom.  The other obeys God in the face of incredible temptation and still does what is right.  He ends up alone, in prison.

So often, when we follow God, this is what it seems like life is like.  We feel like we miss out, or we suffer, because we are doing what God tells us to.  Our friends, or our enemies, who ignore God seem to have a great life, full of fun and freedom.  It really makes us question if following God is legit or not.

But there's the catch.  Life doesn't end in chapter 40.  There is a chapter 41, and we will hit it tomorrow.  It's coming, just not yet.  The story is not done for either of these two brothers.  If we quit reading now, we will never know the whole story, we will never see God's whole plan for them.  It gets much, much better.  There are still some tough times to come in this story.  But it definitely gets better.  Better than anyone in chapter 40 can imagine.

So, maybe in your life, you're in chapter 40.  It seems unfair what is going on right now.  You're trying your best to follow God, and it doesn't feel like He is taking you anywhere.  Other people around you have it alot easier, and they could not care less about God.  Ok.  Yeah, that may be true today.  We all face those chapter 40 days.  But hold on.  PLEASE keep going.  Don't give up.  Chapter 41 is coming.  Something is going to change.  I promise.

You're Such a Heel Grabber!!

I read Genesis 30-37 today (catching up on my weekend reading on my one year plan).  It's the story of Jacob.  There is so much lying and deceiving in it, and yet God blesses Jacob like crazy.  I read it, and I'm so baffled at it.  Why in the world does God bless this guy, who just lies and deceives people, and raises a group of boys who does the same?  I thought God blessed the faithful and cursed the disobedient.

Well, yes and no.  One, I realized that I only have snapshots of Jacob's life in the story.  Genesis isn't about Jacob, or Abraham, or Moses.  It's about God.  So the only parts of Jacob's life that show up in Genesis are the parts God wants to share to show the advancement of His story.  In Jacob's case, the stories that get told are really embarrassing.  But it only shows a couple of months of history from a life that spans over a hundred years.  This isn't necessarily who Jacob is, it's who we see as God tells the key points in His story.

Secondly, God doesn't reward the faithful and curse the disobedient.  Not the way we think.  CLEARLY, when we obey God, our lives run much better, and our relationship with Him is stronger.  Don't be confused on that for a minute.  But for God to bless any of us, He has to lead with Grace, not Justice.  We are all disobedient.  I am just as sinful as Jacob.  I lie, deceive, live arrogantly, twist things for my own advancement all the time.  If God boiled my whole life down to a couple of stories over a couple of months, it could easily look worse than Jacobs.  Yet God blesses me.  Why?  Not as much because I am good, as the fact that He is good.

That is where I fit in the Jacob story.  He and I are brothers, under God's Grace.  Twins, it would seem at times.  And God blessed Him.  And, by the way, God gives him a new name.  He takes away the Jacob name ("heel grabber"), which alludes to Jacob being a thief and deceiver by meaning, and names him Israel ("God's chosen"), the one blessed by God.  He goes from being known for his own mistakes, to being known as one of Gods.  God has changed my name too.  I have gone from being one known by my own strengths and weaknesses to one claimed by God, a follower of Jesus, a little Christ.  I am a Christian.  I am His.

I like my new name much better.

How Sweet the Sound

Ok, so I read Genesis 27-29 today, and I've got to tell you, it always leaves me messed up.  I've read these stories over and over and over, and never walk away without shaking my head.  I really, really want to encourage you to read them for yourself.  But here is a short summary of the story.

Isaac has two sons, Esau and Jacob.  Esau is older and should receive the inheritance and blessing.  Jacob bought the inheritance earlier for a bowl of soup.  Now, he and his mom trick his father into giving him the blessing as well.  He puts on his brother's clothing so he smells like him, and goat skins so he will feel like his hairy brother.  (Just how hairy is this dude, anyway?!)  Since Isaac is blind, it works.  When Esau comes home and finds out what has been done, he begs his dad for a blessing.  The blessing Esau gets is that he will have to live in the desert, he will be a warrior, and his brother will rule over him, but eventually he will get sick of it and rise up.  Okay, really?  This is the dad's blessing??  That's horrible on so many levels.

Jacob runs for it, and flees to his relatives far away.  He goes to find a wife there.  When he gets there, he falls for third cousin named Rebekkah.  She is beautiful, and he wants to marry her.  He agrees to work for seven years to gain permission to marry her.  The Bible says it seems like a few days because of his love for her.  Awww, isn't that romantic?  Well, hold on.  It goes downhill again.  The wedding comes, and Jacob gets so plastered that his uncle sends in Rebekkah's older sister, Leah.  Guess what?  She's blind too.  So, he sleeps with her, and doesn't know it's not Rebekkah.  Yeah, he's not THAT romantic if he can pull this off.  So then he has to work seven more years to get Rebekkah.

Meanwhile, his bro back home realizes that his parents don't like his wives, and he marries someone more acceptable to impress his parents.  He was so blind to what was going on, he didn't realize his parents didn't like his wives. 

So now Jacob has two wives.  He loves one and not the other.  Leah, the unloved, is given four sons.  So Jacob doesn't love her, but they are still able to conceive four boys.

Everytime I read these stories, I get mad.  These guys are heroes of the faith?  They are Jerry Springer rejects!  They are selfish, conceited, deceitful, angry, murderous, lying, hateful, dysfunctional people.  ALL of them are.  These are Jesus' great(x20) grandparents for pete's sake!

BUT, God uses them.  They found the nation that saves the world.  God speaks directly to them.  Why?  Not because they earned it.  It's because of Him.  Through the whole story, with the "blind" motif seen over and over, it says that God sees what is going on, and gets involved.  He keeps promises, He shows grace, He works miracles, He cares for the broken.  Why?  Because that is who He is.  Our junk can't stop him.  Ever.

That's the real story here.  Not the Malcolm in the Middle level of dysfunction.  The unbelievable, beautiful, awe inspiring, powerful, over arching Grace of God.

And He offers it to us.  To our friends.  To our enemies.  To the people on Springer.



He comes to us and offers Grace.

Amazing Grace.

God's Favorite Dysfunctional Family

Today my reading hit Genesis 25 and 26.  The stories involve Isaac and Rebekkah, and their sons Esau and Jacob.  It's Abraham's son (Isaac) and then his grandsons.

A couple of things hit me today.  Isaac is told to stay in the land of Israel, even though there is a famine.  He could have went to Egypt where there were supplies and food, but God said to stay.  So he does, even though there is a famine.  God multiplies his money and family, and then blesses his crops.  While there is a famine.  But then, he has conflict with the people around him, because they are jealous of him being blessed.  So, he sent away with his crew.  As they try to find a new place to settle, every time they get to a well, someone argues with them about whose well it is.  Instead of fighting, Isaac moves on, until finally he hits a well and no one fights with him about it.  Who cares, right?  Think about it a bit.  The famine, the crops, and the well are all of the needs of life.  It equates to our jobs, homes, food, bills, and money.  Same idea.  Isaac is in trouble with his needs.  They are going to starve.  God says stay put and trust me.  Don't fix it yourself, but trust me.  He does.  God blesses him.  Then, because God took care of him, it causes conflict.  His obedience cost him in his relationships.  He moves on, without causing problems, and again faces issues of need (water).  Continuing to be a peacemaker, God provides.  How often in life when we need something do we simply devise a plan to fix it and move on, without ever asking God?  That would have been like Isaac moving to Egypt.  Problem solved.  But God had different plans, and different blessings for Isaac.  Do we miss the same types of blessings when we don't stop and ask God what we should do?

Secondly, Isaac's kids.  Geesh.  Esau is this all guy, hairy, drives a truck with a gun rack, shoots everything in sight, makes quick decisions, and let's his temper guide him type of guy.  Jacob stays home with mom, would rather cook than hunt, and is always trying to leverage things to go his way.  Parenting those two?  What a nightmare.  Both are seen as kind of jerky.  But God still uses them to accomplish his plans.  The parents screwed them up, both boys did their own things, yet God worked in and through them.  It's so good to know that none of us are past God's dreams and His reach.

The stories of this family are like a weird, but true, soap opera.  I encourage you to take some time and read them for yourself.  And then ask, where am I in this story?

Normal Isn't All It's Cracked Up to Be....

Today I read through Genesis 22-24.  There are three interesting stories in there.  The first one is very well known, about Abraham taking his son Isaac to offer as a sacrifice to God, and God stopping him.  Abraham's faith becomes what saves him, and God promises to bless him.

Then his wife Sarah dies.  Abraham has to buy property to bury her, and is able to do so even though people didn't normally sell property very much at that time.

Finally, Abraham sends a servant back to his home land to find a bride for Isaac.  The servant goes back, and God provides Rebekkah for Isaac through a series of small miracles, and they are married.

I look at these three, and begin asking "What is God trying to teach us from these stories?  What's the point?"  I think there are a couple of things.   One, God is proving that He keeps His promises.  He told Abraham that HE would make a nation out of Abraham's family.  Abraham wouldn't do it, but He would.  And so, He provides for the families needs, comforting them in death, and providing the wife who is going to lead this new family / nation.  God is proven to keep His promises, even when He has to go to what we would consider great lengths, and use impossible means to make it happen.  He is faithful.  So what promises does He make to us?  He will never leave us.  If we live life His way, He will care for us and bless us.  He will give us wisdom when we ask for it.  He will give us peace in the middle of storms.  He promises all of these things, and He has proven Himself faithful.

Secondly, nothing Abraham does is "normal".  He lives very, very differently than the people around him, even if it means offending people.  He is willing to trust God by sacrificing his miracle boy.  He doesn't accept the gift offered, but instead pays for the tomb.  He doesn't choose a wife from the local girls, but sends hundreds of miles away for a wife sight unseen.  These things weren't, and aren't, normal.  But He does them.  There is simply no way around the fact that if we want to follow God's ways, it will look different and weird to some people.  But it's because they have accepted destructive ways as "normal".  And we aren't built to live destructive lives.  We are built to follow God.  We have to redefine normal, and follow Him.  What are you being called to do that doesn't look "normal"?  Why are you doing it?

Sickos, Angels, Fireballs, and Salt

In Genesis 19-21, God destroys Sodom and Gomorrah.  It's a rough, rough story.  God sends the two angels into the city, and Lot tries to protect them in his house.  He knew what would happen to them if they stayed on the street.  Every guy in the city shows up, and wants the men given to them so they can rape them.  Yep.  It's that ugly.

Here's the thing.  Lot knew the city was like that, and yet he stayed.  He wasn't acting as a good influence on them, and he was raising his daughters in that city.  Why would you live in a city like that, when you could move ten miles away and be completely out of that influence?

It's the same question as asking "Why do we keep watching movies that we know are teaching us values that are not what God wants?" or "Why do we keep going back to those websites, even though they are full of junk that's rotting our soul?" or "Why do we keep trying to impress those friends when we know they are pulling us away from God?"  It's all the same.  Yet we do it, just like Lot.

So God sends the angels in, and they have to physically, literally drag Lot and his family out of the city before it's destroyed.  Lot knows it's going to be destroyed.  He completely believes the end is coming.  Yet, they have to drag him out.  It's so hard to leave sometimes when we have so much invested in sin.  It is what we know, and it feels like we have some control over our lives.  But really, IT owns US.  And we're afraid to leave it behind.

Once they leave, they bargain with God to reduce the pain.  He grants it.  And then, his wife can't take it.  She stops and looks back, longingly.  She wants what is being destroyed in the city more that the future God has laid out for them.  God promises if they will move forward and trust Him, even though they have been living in filth, He will use them in great ways.  She doesn't care.  She looks back.  And she dies for it.  It kills her.

What are you and I holding onto that God is telling us to leave behind?  What do we run to, that is actually destroying our souls?  Will you let it go, walk away, and never come back?

You Thought It Was Bad When Your Grandparents Just Kissed....

In Genesis 18, we have a story of Abraham, this chosen man of God, who has been told that he will have a son at the age of 99.  Sarah, his wife, is 89.  And those years are the same then as they are now.  They are way beyond child bearing years.  But they are promised to have a kid.  It would take faith to simply try to get pregnant at that age, let alone actually have a child.  But they do it.  It's God's grace that brings them a son.

In that same chapter, Abraham bargains with God for the lives of the people in Sodom.  If you've never read it, you need to read it today.  It's a really funny story.  God has heard how bad the people in Sodom are living, and they are going to be punished for it.  Abraham begins a bargaining session, because his nephew Lot and his family live in the city, and he doesn't want them destroyed.  So, he bargains with God for forgiveness for the city if God finds 40 righteous people in the whole city.  Then 30.  Then 20.  Then 10.  At this point, Abraham is relieved, because his nephews family is there, and they are more than 10, so the city is safe.  What Abraham doesn't understand is that the city has corrupted his nephew, and there is no one in the city who is obeying God.

There are so many lessons from this.  One, how generous God is with His grace, to forgive an entire city for the sake of 10 people.  Two, how powerful the influences we allow into our lives are.  Lot was completely corrupted by where he lived.  And three, what a role we play when we follow God in a hostile place.  If Lot had been obedient, and led his family well, he could have saved an entire city.

So, three questions for today: 1. Where do you need to see God's grace?  He still offers it freely.  2. Who is influencing you the most?  Is it towards God or away?  What do you need to change in that relationship?  3. Do you really believe how you live can be used by God to save others?  That's His plan, but do you believe it?  Really?

You Can't Always Get What You Want... But You Get What You Need...

Today we hit Job 38 and 39.  God answers.  The whole book has had Job and the other guys discussing / arguing about why this has happened to Job.  Job doesn't get it, the others claim its a lack of faith or due to sin.  They get nowhere.  Then God answers.

But God's answer isn't the answer we might want.  He doesn't explain to them that Satan was getting it stuck in his face with this whole scenario.  He simply asks them why they think they are wise enough to question Him?  He gives a long, and beautiful list, of what He has done, and what He does.  It's amazing to read.  If you've never read it, take some time today to work through these chapters and think about all that God describes, and ask yourself why He describes the things He does.  He could have picked anything.  Why these?

He moves from creating the earth, to the universe high above, to the oceans deep below.  He goes from the process of birth to death.  He talks about how He created each of the animals.  And in it all, you hear His love for each and every thing in the list.  That's what I was hit with; how much God loves to create, and how much He loves His creation. 

He answers.  And it's not what everyone wanted to hear.  But if you stop and listen, it's much better than what they asked.  It's not the answer to "why did You do this?"  It's the answer to "who are You and can I trust You?"  The answer to THOSE questions is a loud, resounding "YES!"

And that's enough.

That's His answer.

Eliphaz Could Have Thrown Down a Killer Podcast

Reading through Job 35-37 today, it's all about Eliphaz's continuing speech.  I read his version of what is going on with Job, and I'm pretty sure Eliphaz listens to Mark Driscoll's podcasts and considers himself a Young Calvinist.  What I mean is this; there is a large group of the American church who understands God as someone who transacts in sovereignty and justice.  He is a God who chooses whoever He wants, and then gives them whatever He wants.  He loves the pure in heart, and is heavy handed on the rest.  They tend to be very close minded about any other views but their own, and live out of a place of fear.

God is sovereign (totally in control), there is no doubt.  He is a God of justice, for sure.  But He loves all of us equally, and gives all of us an equal chance to serve and love and follow Him.  He extends grace after grace after grace to us, even though none of us deserve it.  He saves us when we call on Him, over and over.  We are all equal before Him, because He is so very, very, very good.

Because of this, we need to be humble in how we approach each other.  It is not our place to judge.  That's one of the big points in Job.  Job did not lose everything because of sin.  Had he sinned?  Sure.  But that wasn't what caused the detonation.  In his case, God wanted to stick it to Satan, and He trusted Job to stay faithful through it.  Nothing more. No one should have been judging Job for what happened.  They were all off.

Obviously, when we sin, it has consequences.  But even when it's obvious, it isn't up to us to judge people for those sins and consequences.  When we love someone, we can talk about the consequences they face without begin judgemental.  We need to walk in humility and speak in grace, just like the Almighty One does with us.

Who have you been judging lately?  What do you need to tell them?

I Wanna Be....Your Sledgehammer!

Today I hit Job 32-34.  It's the story of Eliphaz, this young dude who jumps into the fray with Job and his friends.  He's waited and listened to the older men while they spoke, but then his anger gets the best of him and he lets it fly.  He tells them in no uncertain terms that he too has wisdom, and they need to shut their mouths and listen to him for awhile.  He is strong on judgment and heavy with truth.  He gets a lot of his understanding of God correct.  But, it's incomplete.  You see, that's the back story to the book of Job.  Every one in the story has truth about God, but it's incomplete.  The problem is, Eliphaz speaks his out of anger. 

Truth is not a weapon in our hands to be used on other people.  It's not.  We think it is, but it's not.  The word of God is a sword, but it's to be used against our enemy, Satan.  Not other people.  It's God's job to convict with truth in other people's hearts.  We are to speak truth, and speak it in very tough spots.  We are to speak truth when it isn't convenient, or when someone doesn't want to hear it.  But if we are speaking it as a weapon in our anger, we are probably out of line.  Especially when we tie that anger to our pride.  We're in deep water then.

I have done, and continue to do this, far too much.  God is changing me as the days pass by, but it is taking alot of work on His part, to be sure.  What about you.  Do you believe that if you have truth, that gives you the right to swing it like a hammer when you are angry?  Have you used truth in anger to hurt someone lately?  What do you need to do about it?

Their Names Begin with J, So Does Mine....

Reading through Job 29-31 today, I realized; I really love Job.  He defends himself, and as I read it, I'm like; "This is a guy I want to have as a friend."  He's bold, honest, compassionate, generous, and faithful.  I'm really drawn to him.

Then I begin to think about my character and actions.  Am I like that?  Could God let Satan have his way with me, and I would be able to know that I was innocent like Job?  No.  I would not.

But I want to be.  Job is just a shadow of who Jesus is.  I want to be like Job, but more importantly, I want to be like Jesus.  Bold, honest, compassionate, generous, and faithful.  Today, I want to work on those traits. 

What is your goal for the day?

I Saw the Light

I had to play catchup on my weekend reading in my Through the Bible in a Year routine.  Job continues his discussion with his friends about his innocence.  But today, one verse stood out to me above all others.  I read about Job's innocence and why God is punishing him.  I hear his friends act rationally, and completely ungodly in their response.  But one verse leaped out to me,  it spoke to me.  I found my life explained in this one verse.

In fact, this epiphany will become my life verse now.

What is it you ask?

It's in Job 19:17 
My breath is offensive to my wife;
I am loathsome to my own family. 

Yes, I find myself in that verse.  I am at peace now.  God has spoken to me.


Guest Post stolen from Stuff Christians Like

This is stolen, er..., borrowed...., well it's completely copied from the Stuff Christians Like blog.  It's a guest post dealing with Job.  Thought it fit the flow of what we're reading right now.  Enjoy.

Comparing our situations to Job.

(I’m doing a chronological read through the Bible plan right now and we’re in Job. So when I got this guest post from John Crist, it felt like perfect timing. Someday I hope to share the stage with this guy. Why? So I can take notes and learn. He’s a hilarious writer, a tremendous guest poster as exhibited last month and a great comedian. Hope you dig the post as much as I did!)
It’s hard to meet girls in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
If New York City is the City That Never Sleeps, Colorado Springs is the city that gets eight hours of sleep on a tempurpedic mattress…and a pillow with extra lumbar support.
So when you do find a girl in church that’s everything you’ve ever dreamed of, you gotta make a good first impression. That’s why I lead with the perfect question:
“What’s your stance on premarital spooning?”
Yep, that was my intro line. That got me a first date.
On our second date, or as Christians like to call it ‘getting engaged’, I went to pick her up at her house. She opened the door and I said confidently, “Baby, Let’s go to Jared’s.” she freaked out and started calling all her friends in the familiar “He. Went. To. Jared’s!” tone.
Not gonna lie, she was pretty upset when we pulled into subway.
She dumped me after I told her my five-year plan was to Eat Fresh.
I found myself sitting on the curb outside of Subway, single, lonely and heartbroken. And you know what I did next? I made an even bigger mistake. A mistake that undoubtedly ever Christian has made.
I started to compare my situation to Job.
Let’s get one thing clear. Job lost all his family, his house, his livestock, his wealth and his own health. My girlfriend of two weeks dumped me. Those are not comparable situations.
Job is one of the saints of our faith. He sits right next to Jesus when the secretary brings in the prayer requests everyday. (The secretary is probably Esther, we all know she’s confrontational and she demands to be called an administrative assistant, not a secretary). I digress. When Jesus shows Job these types of prayer requests, he probably just laughs.
Also, as Christians, let’s remember…we’re gonna meet this guy Job one day. Are you gonna introduce yourself and say, “Hey, your story really encouraged me when I picked up some coffee, drove ALL THE WAY HOME and realized it was a single pump, not double. I was crushed, I read your story and felt better.” I hope not.
For me, the breakup has been hard. Sometimes I feel like there’s only one set of footprints in the sand.
But I think some good can come of it. Please help me and call out your Christian brothers and sisters when you hear any variation of the following sentences:
“My flight was delayed for 20 MINUTES!!! I totally understand what Job was going through.”
“They could only give me store credit and not a refund, I instantly thought of Job.”
“After I got a flat tire last week and had to wait for AAA for 30 minutes, I read the book of Job with a new sense of understanding now.”
As for me and the girl, you ask? We eventually worked through it. I just sent her grandparents a save the date…to when the new meatball sub comes out.
They’re Italian. I figured they’d like to know.
(John Crist is a standup comedian. Visit his YouTube page.)

A Game Changer

Still moving through Job, hitting 14-16 today.  Job cries out and asks God again what is going on.  His friends?  They continue to lay into him, getting a little angry now at how arrogant they think he is being.  They started well, sitting silently with him for seven days, not speaking, just hurting with him.  But now, they are letting him know what they think.  They are giving him their best wisdom, and they are wrong.  They think Job has sinned, and hidden it, and that is why he is being punished so.  In their minds, that is all it can be.  They are letting their theology (what they think they know about God) rule their actions.  That isn't always bad.  But in this case, they are wrong.

I guess if you have a trusted friend, who you know loves God, and they tell you they honestly don't know what is going on, why things are like they are, then don't play God in their life.  The one thing I notice is that none of Job's friends offer to pray for him.  Back at the beginning of the story, we are told that Job regularly prayed for his family and others.  His friends never offer that.  They don't take Job to God.  They tell Job what they think about God.

If someone is hurting, step up to the bat and pray with them and for them.  Jesus is the one who heals, not us.  Prayer is so powerful.  How different the book of Job would be if one of his friends had looked at him and said, "Dude, I don't know what's going on.  I don't get it either.  But let's pray and ask God for wisdom and help here."  That would have been a game changer.  It never happens.


Reading through Job 10-14 today, and it is so interesting.  You've got Job, who is suffering because God wants to prove Satan wrong.  But Job does not know that.  So, he questions God.  He doesn't doubt God, or accuse God of anything wrong.  But he passionately, desperately questions God.  WHY are you doing this?  What have I done that you would do this?

His friends keep telling him if he will turn to God and seek help, it will all end.  It's his faith that is the problem.  But Job won't hear it.  He tells them it is always easy to judge other people's trials and faith when things are going well for you.  That is so true.  I am so often guilty of it, especially people I respect and hold too high.  I think they are better than me, so when they struggle, I begin to get mad and tear them down.  But I never consider what might actually be happening in their life at the time.

Sometimes hard things happen to us simply because God wants to use them for something, and He doesn't tell us what that something is.  We can ask, we can wonder, we can be unsure.  But we still need to have faith in Him.  The situation may make no sense, and God may not answer our questions, but we need to trust Him.  He is worth that risk.

What are you facing right now that doesn't make sense?  Can you still trust God in the middle of it?  Or is there someone struggling nearby that is disappointing you?  Will you give room for God to work in their life, without feeling the need to convict them for the pain they face?  It's tough, but it's worth it.

He Is Simply Not Afraid. That's Pretty Cool.

It's a new year, and I've been challenged through the actions of a friend of mine in my small group to read through the Bible in a year.  I haven't done it in a while, and I feel like it's about time.  So, I went to YouVersion and poked around.  I love their stuff.  They have chronological schedule that you read through the Bible in the order that we think it happened.  (The Bible is not in chronological order, if you didn't know).  So, I've been cruising through Genesis the first couple of days, and went Adam through Noah to the Tower of Babel.  Now I've hit Job.  Again, it's been awhile since I've spent time in Job.  It's good stuff (like any part of the Bible isn't, but anyway).

I've been reading the first few chapters of Job the last couple of days, and am fascinated by a couple of things.  It's God who points Job out to Satan.  Why?  I mean, He knows it will tick Satan off.  Is that they point?  "Hey Lucifer, you used to be a big time angel for me, but you blew it.  While you are out cruising around the earth aimlessly, have you noticed Job?  He's faithful and he loves me.  He's pretty impressive."  It's cool that God loves Job and is proud of him, but He pokes at Satan with Job.  Of course Satan's gonna get ticked.  God is setting Job up for failure and pain.  What do we expect the Prince of Darkness to do after getting his face shoved in it?

Then a very simple thing settled in with me.  God isn't afraid of Satan.  At all.  Not the least little bit.  I KNOW this in my knowledge, but the experience of it hadn't really settled in before.  He can poke Satan all He wants, because Satan is a 0% threat to Him.  None.  Nada.

I respect Satan's power to make life tough.  I know on my own, Satan is way more powerful than I am.  But he is a nothing in God's arena.  God can take Him down with just the word, or the thought.  And judging from how Satan responds, he knows that too.  God is not afraid of Satan.

And God promises to live in me.  Protect me.  Be my strength and hope.  And He is not afraid. 

So neither am I.
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