..."and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; evil minded people shall not travel on it, but it shall be for those wayfarers who are traveling toward God. (Isaiah 35:8, adapted)

Friday, November 30, 2007

Dawn Light From My Window

If people only knew how they might cheer
some lonely heart or lift up some drooping
spirit, or speak some word that shall be
lasting in its effects for all coming time,
they would be up and about it.

-- Dwight L. Moody

photo taken as the sun rose in Feeding Hills, MA

Saturday, November 24, 2007

A Heart Turned Inside Out: The Farewell Sermon of Jonathan Edwards

A Heart Turned Inside Out:
The Farewell Sermon of Jonathan Edwards

Some things really get to me. The farewell
sermon of Jonathan Edwards is one of them.
It ought to get to you, too.

In the early 1730's, in Northampton, Massachusetts,
there was a significant revival called, "The
Great Awakening." Much of the preaching that
brought this about was from the pulpit of
Jonathan Edwards. His passion was for God
and he cared about the souls of his congregation.
He said,

"We ought to seek the spiritual good of
others; and if we have a Christian spirit, we
shall desire and seek their spiritual welfare and
happiness, their salvation from Hell, and that
they may glorify and enjoy God forever

He lived with this view, and he died with it.
He had the archetypal soul of a pastor. He cared
more about the souls of his congregants then he
did about pleasing them. This would cause him much

As the revival fires died down, life proceeded
as life does. The year was now 1750. Change was
inevitable, as change always is, and people
wanted the safety of the church, its benefits
and blessings, but did not necessarily want a
serious commitment to Christ.

Trouble was brewing, and spiritual storm clouds
were settling over the Pioneer Valley. Up until now,
the Congregational Church was the only church
in town, and in order to be fully received
into the church you had to make a public
confession of your sins, and you had
to show evidence of godliness unto salvation.

As standards diminished, people wanted
to have an easier time of it, and so,
sought to lower the standards for church
memberships. To make a long story short,
this produced much controversy and
made its unashamed announcement in public as
"the Halfway Covenant." It means exactly
what you think it means: "The church
will still accept you even if you
only go 'halfway' in the things of God."

The question was AND IS: "Is God going to
accept you?" It was this
question that would cause
Jonathan Edwards many an anguished
and sleepless night. What does a pastor
do when his flock wants the easy way?
What must a pastor feel when those
he has been given to shepherd turn
their back on the great Shepherd?

Jonathan Edwards was about to
personally and painfully find out.

No compromiser, Edwards knew the
scriptures backwards and forwards.
He would often spend 13 to 14 hours
a day studying. And there was no way
that he would find a "halfway doctrine"
in his bible or anyone else's.

His path was clear. He could not
agree to the current winds of change.
He could not give in to what his
heart knew was wrong. He must stand
for the truth, the whole truth,
for the spiritual stakes were high:
the eternal welfare of his flock
and his own standing before God.

His firm and complete opposition to
the "Halfway Doctrine" was not
well-received. So "not well received"
that he was voted out as pastor and
asked to leave the church he had
served for twenty three years.
I wish I could say I could
not imagine what he felt like, but I
am afraid that I can.

His farewell sermon to his congregation
(and I implore you to read the entire thing)
could simply be called, "the heartbreaking
pain of a faithful pastor."

Edwards reminded them relentlessly that although
they were parting company, there would be One
Day that they would all once again be re-assembled:
in front of the judgment seat of Christ.
On that day, they would not have to answer to him,
but to Christ. Would they be ready?

Even as he warned and warned them, his own
broken heart was breaking through. He, the
man who read his sermons in a monotone
from a notecard, must have felt his insides
melting down:

"The deep and serious consideration of our
future most solemn meeting, is certainly most
suitable at such a time as this. There having
so lately been that done, which, in all
probability, will (as to the relation we have
heretofore stood in) be followed with an
everlasting separation.

How often have we met together in the house
of God in this relation! How often have I
spoke to you, instructed, counseled, warned,
directed, and fed you, and administered
ordinances among you, as the people which
were committed to my care, and of whose
precious souls I had the charge! But in all
probability this never will be again.

The prophet Jeremiah, chap. 25:3, puts the
people in mind how long he had labored among
them in the work of the ministry: “From the
thirteenth year of Josiah, the son of Amon,
king of Judah, even unto this day (that is,
the three and twentieth year), the word of
the Lord came unto me, and I have spoken unto
you, rising early and speaking.”

I am not about to compare myself with the prophet
Jeremiah, but in this respect I can say as he
did that “I have spoken the Word of God to you,
unto the three and twentieth year, rising early
and speaking.” It was three and twenty years,
the 15th day of last February, since I have labored
in the work of the ministry, in the relation of a
pastor to this church and congregation. And though
my strength has been weakness, having always labored
under great infirmity of body, besides my
insufficiency for so great a charge in other respects,
yet I have not spared my feeble strength, but have
exerted it for the good of your souls. I can appeal to
you, as the apostle does to his hearers, Gal. 4:13,
“Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh,
I preached the gospel unto you.”

I have spent the prime of my life and strength in
labors for your eternal welfare. You are my witnesses
that what strength I have had I have not neglected in
idleness, nor laid out in prosecuting worldly schemes,
and managing temporal affairs, for the advancement
of my outward estate, and aggrandizing myself
and family.

But [I] have given myself to the work of the
ministry, laboring in it night and day, rising
early and applying myself to this great business
to which Christ appointed me. I have found the
work of the ministry among you to be a great work
indeed, a work of exceeding care, labor and
difficulty. Many have been the heavy burdens
that I have borne in it, to which my strength
has been very unequal.

God called me to bear these burdens; and I bless
his name that he has so supported me as to keep me
from sinking under them, and that his power herein
has been manifested in my weakness. So that
although I have often been troubled on every side,
yet I have not been distressed; perplexed, but not
in despair; cast down, but not destroyed. But now
I have reason to think my work is finished which
I had to do as your minister: you have publicly
rejected me, and my opportunities cease.

How highly therefore does it now become us to
consider of that time when we must meet one
another before the chief Shepherd! When I must
give an account of my stewardship, of the service
I have done for, and the reception and treatment
I have had among the people to whom he sent me.
And you must give an account of your own conduct
towards me, and the improvement you have made of
these three and twenty years of my ministry.

For then both you and I must appear together,
and we both must give an account, in order to an
infallible, righteous and eternal sentence to be
passed upon us, by him who will judge us with
respect to all that we have said or done in our
meeting here, and all our conduct one towards
another in the house of God and elsewhere.

[He] will try our hearts, and manifest our
thoughts, and the principles and frames
of our minds. He will judge us with respect to all
the controversies which have subsisted between us,
with the strictest impartiality, and will examine
our treatment of each other in those controversies.

There is nothing covered that shall not be revealed,
nor hid which shall not be known. All will be
examined in the searching, penetrating light of
God’s omniscience and glory, and by him whose eyes
are as a flame of fire. Truth and right shall be
made plainly to appear, being stripped of every
veil. And all error, falsehood, unrighteousness,
and injury shall be laid open, stripped of every
disguise. Every specious pretense, every cavil,
and all false reasoning shall vanish in a moment,
as not being able to bear the light of that day.

And then our hearts will be turned inside out,
and the secrets of them will be made more
plainly to appear than our outward actions
do now. Then it shall appear what the ends
are which we have aimed at, what have been
the governing principles which we have acted
from, and what have been the dispositions we
have exercised in our ecclesiastical disputes
and contests. Then it will appear whether
I acted uprightly, and from a truly
conscientious, careful regard to my duty to
my great Lord and Master, in some former
ecclesiastical controversies, which
have been attended with exceeding unhappy
circumstances and consequences. It will
appear whether there was any just cause for
the resentment which was manifested on those

And then our late grand controversy, concerning
the qualifications necessary for admission to the
privileges of members, in complete standing, in the
visible church of Christ, will be examined and judged
in all its parts and circumstances, and the whole
set forth in a clear, certain, and perfect light...

And then it will appear whether, in declaring this
doctrine, and acting agreeable to it, and in my
general conduct in the affair, I have been
influenced from any regard to my own temporal
interest, or honor, or desire to appear wiser
than others, or have acted from any sinister,
secular views whatsoever, and whether what I
have done has not been from a careful, strict,
and tender regard to the will of my Lord and
Master, and because I dare not offend him,
being satisfied what his will was, after
a long, diligent, impartial, and prayerful

Then it will be seen whether I had this constantly
in view and prospect, to engage me to great solicitude
not rashly to determine the question, that such a
determination would not be for my temporal interest,
but every way against it, bringing a long series of
extreme difficulties, and plunging me into
an abyss of trouble and sorrow

And then it will appear whether my people have
done their duty to their pastor with respect to
this matter; whether they have shown a right
temper and spirit on this occasion; whether
they have done me justice in hearing, attending
to and considering what I had to say in evidence
of what I believed and taught as part of the
counsel of God; whether I have been treated with
that impartiality, candor, and regard which the
just Judge esteemed due; and whether, in the
many steps which have been taken, and the
many things that have been said and done in
the course of this controversy, righteousness,
and charity, and Christian decorum have been
maintained; or, if otherwise, to how great a
degree these things have been violated.

Then every step of the conduct of each of us in
this affair, from first to last, and the spirit
we have exercised in all, shall be examined and
manifested, and our own consciences shall speak
plain and loud, and each of us shall be convinced,
and the world shall know; and never shall there
be any more mistake, misrepresentation, or
misapprehension of the affair to eternity.

I cease quoting the sermon not for time's sake,
for we certainly need to get used to longer sermons,
but because my heart cannot stand any more of the
pain I hear coming through it.

Recently I spoke of the pain of the prophet,
and now I speak of the pain of the pastor. It is
the same pain, just divided in a different way, but
bearing the same hallmarks.

The pain of the shepherd is the pain of the Great
Shepherd: it is Jesus, calling, calling, calling,
"O Jerusalem, you who stones the prophets, I so
longed to gather you as a hen would gather her
chicks, but you would not!" (Matthew 23:37).

Edwards knew full well that there were "pastors"
out there who would give people what they wanted
to hear. What must have melted his bones from
anguish was the idea of one of those kind of
men taking his place.

This sermon is his last chance to implore
his flock to return fully to Christ. I wonder
with what kind of response it was met with?
Judgments. Bitterness. Relief. "Don't let
the door hit you on the way out."

And so here is the call of a pastor in
all its glory. And if you think you read
even the smallest note of sarcasm in that
last statement, you have read it completely
wrong. Here is the call of a pastor in all
its painful glory: to stand with He who was
Himself rejected of men in order that He
might bring many to life.

For of such pastors, the world is not worthy.

Dear Ones, life is short. Christ appoints
undershepherds to call us back to Him, to
teach us of Him, to rightly discern the
scriptures, to rebuke, to call us back to
truth, to speak for Him. Do we want a
compromised Christ? Do we want a Lord
with a gag in His mouth? Then we should
not expect a pastor who is giving us
anything less than the full counsel of
God. If we do, then it is we who are going
to stand before the judgment seat of
Christ, unprepared and in danger of hellfire.
If we tempt our pastor into giving us
less than what Christ would have him
say, then we dishonor Christ and are
living in rebellion. Yet this happens
subtly or blatantly in churches all
across our land.

The pain of being a pastor should
not be so great. If there are rejections,
it should be necessarily at the hands
of the unconverted. "If it were my
enemy I could have born it" says
the Psalmist, "but it was you, my dear
friend, who I walked to the house of
God with, who has reproached me" (Psalm 55:12-14).

And yet it is in bearing the pain
of unspeakable rejection that a
pastor experiences an indissoluble
identification and indestructible
union with the Great Shepherd.
How high are the ways of God
above man? By what fusion, born
of the heat of untold tribulation, are
we united with our Lord? It is often
by the furnace of rejection, betrayal,
and abandonment at the hands of those
we thought were closest to us.

I wish I could tell you another story.
Another way. A less difficult path.
But that would be a compromise.

I can tell you this: that this was
not the end of Jonathan Edwards.
By no means! Exiled to Stockbridge
to serve the Indians, Edwards had the
time to write voluminously. He became
America's pre-eminent theologian
and his words went on to affect untold
people, even you and I here today.
No-one could say that his influence
or diminished one bit. A seed fallen
into the ground sprouted up to a
field of great harvest.

What if this painful event had never
happened? Only God knows how things
would have transpired. What we do
know is that God redeemed this faithful
pastor, not just in heaven, but on
earth: his testimony stands as a
blazing torch to faithful pastors
everywhere. Of such, this world is
not worthy.

Times being what they are,
not much has changed. The modern church
is falling into apostasy and compromise
both blatantly and subtly. It is imperative
that we hear the truth and obey it.
Pray for your pastor. Encourage
him to preach the whole counsel
of God.

The Desperate Pursuit of God

The Kingdom of Heaven is not
for the well-meaning: it is
for the desperate.
... James Denney (1856-1917)

photo taken in Calhan, Colorado

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Its that time of year when I think
about the year and all that has
transpired and thank God for His many
and varied blessings. I just replied to
a friend in an email as she mentioned how
many tragic things had happened lately and,
not in any sort of self-pitying way, that
life was sad. I don’t disagree with it, as
matter of fact I agree with it more having
lived through this year, but what I want to
say is that an amazing transformation has
occurred within me despite an amazingly tough year.

I started out this year, still with a much
more of a “cup half empty” kind of viewpoint
about life. Pessimism seems perfectly logical
to me. But “logical” is mental and not spiritual.
Over a period of time an amazing thing has
happened. A couple of weeks back I was watching
Fr. Benedict Groeschel on TV. We must have similar
temperaments. In 2004 he was hit by a bus and
no-one expected him to live, or if he did, only
in the form of a vegetable side dish. He is well
back in action and made the comment: “in my older
age I am no longer a pessimist. I am an optimist.”
God must be doing the same work in his heart as He
is in mine. Get hit by a bus and become an optimist.

This year has been tough. The toughest I can
remember. I doubted the prophet who stood
over me last December or so and said, “I see
storm after storm after storm this year, but
you will have great and abiding peace.”
Even pessimistic me did not believe the ”storm
after storm” part….Well, he must have been a
prophet of the Lord because that is exactly
what happened. I started the year out as a
pessimist and somewhere along the line, by
some ironic but blessed work of God, crushed
under overwhelming pressure with no letup in
sight, amidst storm after storm after storm,
I have become an incurable optimist. Go figure.

Benedict gets hit by a bus and comes up an
optimist. RM has a most difficult year and comes
up joyful. God’s arithmetic can be amazing.

E. Stanley Jones said “I need no outer props to
hold up my faith, for my faith holds me. (Said
when a stroke had rendered immobile and almost
speechless after years of missionary work in India.)
I wonder if he started out a pessimist?

Pessimism, in a sense, has a bad rap because
you know, really, life IS sad. But pessimism
needs its glasses adjusted with a rose colored
tint because the blood of Jesus redeems it all,
and redeems our life, and all its sadness, if
we let Him. What pessimists might miss, unless
God gives them a joy makeover, is that life is
pretty awesome, even at what seems like its worse
points, and there is no use being forever unhappy,
moody and self-focused when it is our turn to get
knocked about by the slings and arrows of
outrageous misfortune
. That’s just a bunch of
Shakespearian tragedy gone awry. Cry your eyes out,
scream your brains out, go to God and find the kind
of comfort that only He can give, but don’t say that
life is not worth it. I have been there and am on my
way back again. I tell you the truth.

I suspect that born optimists are taken down a
different road and made to see that life IS sad,
that Jesus being a "a man of sorrows and acquainted
with grief” was not just nice poetry but a glimpse
into the inner life of the God of all Glory while
He walked amongst us. I suppose that optimists get
shown that, and it works just a realistic amount
of pessimism in their hearts so that they can see
that it is not just nice thoughts and the power of
positive thinking that makes life turn out good and
especially not to give shallow soundbites of positive
fluff to people in their darkest hours. It is then
that folk need the true grit of the Cross and the
unembellished hope of resurrection and not some
positive pablum that has never proved itself
a hearty meal in a desert windstorm.

Bad things happen to good people. Outrageously
bad things happened to the only Good Man who
ever lived. It did not stop Him one whit. His Father
saw to that. Raised Him from the dead. Sat Him down
right next to Himself forever and ever, amen! I will
never let You out of My sight, Son! Never again! I
will see to that!

That’s not so sad, is it?

And we are His people and He will never let us
out of His sight again. And that is not so sad
either, right?

Our God is greater than than any sadness we
must endure.

So on this Thanksgiving Day what should our
attitude and goal be?

Brother Lawrence, a happy man amidst unhappy
circumstances, says,

“Let us be the most perfect worshipers of God
we can possibly be.... I sought no more than
how to be God's and God's alone. My goal made me
resolve to give my all for the All.... Always
I worshiped Him as often as I could, keeping my
mind in His holy presence. When I wandered, I
brought Him back to my mind.... At all times, every
hour, every minute, even at the busiest times. I
drove away from my mind everything capable of
spoiling the sense of the presence of God....
I just make it my business to persevere in His holy
presence... My soul has had an habitual, silent,
secret conversation with God.”

May that be our prayer. May that be our lives. May
that be our worship. Whether we live we live unto
the Lord; whether we die, we die unto the Lord,
whether we make our bed in the lowest hell, or
the highest heaven, we are the Lord’s. And that
should make even a pessimist reform his bleak outlook.

And so I greet you, dear ones, at this time of
thanksgiving, not as the woman I was last year
at this time. I great you optimistically, and
with great faith and hope, in the victorious
name of our Risen Lord Jesus. Life sometimes
may be sad,but life is also good, and more
importantly, so is God.

Happy Thanksgiving,

with the emphasis on both

happy and thanksgiving,


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Pain of the Prophet: True Prophets vs. False Prophets

The Pain of the Prophet: True Prophets vs. False Prophets

There is so much that is tossed around in
the name of the prophetic today. That which
is truly prophetic is in a class by itself.
It is called total identification with
the heart of God.

The true prophet is birthed for a season of
calamity and lives set apart unto God.
His or her life is watermarked with pain,
for a prophet sees what will happen
if people cannot hear and obey God.

A prophet lives alone upon a hill, looking
for danger, for the first wisps of smoke
that spell only one thing: "Fire!" He
calls first for the fire of God to enliven
and purify through repentance. Unheeded, his
calls for fire will bring warning of the
fire of God that will burn in judgment.
The prophet, therefore, carries a message
that few would want to hear unless
they care for the state of their souls,
even their eternal lives.

One can ignore the cry of "Fire!" but
that does not make the fire cease its
burning or enable the prophet to cease
his commission. Indeed, for a prophet
to be proved right, a certain judgment
must fall, a sure chastisement administered,
a corrective work applied. If this is
not painful to the prophet then he is
not a true prophet and lacks the heart
of God for true restoration.

There are myriads of prophets who like
to pronounce gloom and doom, but which
of them has the heart to bear the pain
of interceding for a genuine repentance?
A true prophet must desire, above all,
that his or her clarion call will bring a
genuine return to God. It is easy to rail,
it is agony to stand and watch and call
people who are not listening back to
the Father.

It is a fearsome and holy task to enter
into the very heart of God as He calls
His people back to Himself. The
heart of the prophet must echo forth the
eternal love of God. There can be no
joy at the idea of judgment coming, even
when it appears inevitable, even when
the prophet himself is harmed or stoned
or even killed in the process.

God does not wish to punish. He takes
no pleasure in judgment. He does not
wait and watch for wrongdoing in
order to find pleasure in chastising
waywardness. A prophet MUST have this
tenor of heart or he does not stand
for God.

Consider Jonah. He understood God,
he understood the prophetic role,
but he did not have the heart of God.
He understood quite well that for God
to reap a family of restored hearts,
that he would have to be proved wrong.
And if the people of Nineveh did not turn to
God, Jonah should find no pleasure
in their chastisement.

Job failed on both points: he was not
willing to be proved wrong for the
sake of another. He was unwilling to
bear a message of judgment unless it
ended in judgment. He did not want mercy
to intervene for it would make him
appear lesser in the eyes of others.
He did not have the heart of God.
One gets the impression that he preferred
that the people be judged so he could
be proved "right." With "right" like that
I would hate to see what wrong might look

How many prophets have this kind of
heart? How many prophets are unwilling
to bear the pain of their calling
because they are not able to identify
with God as He ever so patiently waits
for His people to return to Him?

God does not ask of a prophet something
He does not endure Himself. People
constantly accuse God of allowing evil
and not putting an end to suffering.
God waits and waits for us to return
to Him. If He was a God who delighted
in meting out punishment, the earth
would be devoid of human life for
all of us would have been destroyed.

That which the prophet speaks should
call people back to God. What becomes
of the prophet, what his reputation
is, what accolades or resistances
are thrown upon him, should matter
not one whit to him: it comes with the
territory of being a prophet.

The words of a prophet are born and
spearheaded out of his or her own
repentance, they are to be ministered in
humility. The true prophet takes no
pleasure in being right. For "being right"
is about words and reputations and
and pride. A true prophet must
bear great pain in a hidden place.
He must live and die for the
kind of reconcilation that Jesus
lived and died for. It is not
for the fainthearted.

The true prophet must be a deaf
and blind servant of the Lord.
The prophet who truly sees must
be blind to all that would
stop him from his mission.
The prophet who truly hears must
be deaf to the reasonings of man,
to the hurtful taunts that will fall
upon his ears, and the painful rejections
that will fall upon his life. He must
be able to accept the pain inflicted
on his heart by those who do not see,
or worse yet, do not want to see.

He must have one prayer:
"Father, forgive them, for they
do not know what they are doing."

This kind of pain is part and parcel
of the prophetic call. That is the
hard part. The glorious part is that
those prophets who identify with
the heart of God, get the heart
of God planted forever within
them. The medium becomes the
message. The prophet becomes
the priest. A heart of stone
is replaced with a heart of
flesh, and that heart is
a redeemed heart, made in
the image of the heart of
Jesus. That would make it all
worthwhile, wouldn't it?

So to all those true prophets
who happen upon this article,
to everyone who thinks
they have a prophetic message,
search deeply to see whether
you are able to administer
it with the heart of God.
You will know the answer
by the amount of pain that
surrounds its delivery. Let us
trust that you will share the
joy of watching the Lamb
receive the fruits of His
labor. Anything less is just not
good enough.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Loving God With Your Every and Last Breath!

"I love You, O my God, and my only desire
is to love You until the last breath of
my life. I love You, O my infinitely
lovable God, and I would rather die
loving You, than live without loving You.

I love You, Lord and the only grace I ask
is to love You eternally....My God, if my
tongue cannot say in every moment that I
love You, I want my heart to repeat it to
You as often as I draw breath."

--John Vianney

photograph taken in Colorado Springs, Colorado

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Good Jesus, Hear Me

Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, heal me.
Blood of Christ, drench me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.

Good Jesus, hear me.

In your wounds shelter me.
From turning away keep me.
From the evil one protect me.
At the hour of my death call me.
Into Your Presence lead me,
to praise You with all Your saints
for ever and ever

--Anima Christi, fourteenth century

photo taken in Robinson State Park, Agawam, MA

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Standing for God When You Are Falsely Accused

Did you know that your soul is a battleground?
Did you know that we are all eternal billboards
for either God or the Devil?

I was pondering about Job, feeling his pain
as he sought to make sense of inexplicably
difficult events in his life. To Job's credit
he was a stickler for the precision of
reading the small print in the Divine-human
contract. So often we see those
"I have read and understand the rules" clauses
on the internet before downloading something.
We click "yes, we understand" when we haven't
even read the clause, just to get what we
need in a hurry. Think about that for a moment!

Job, however, was not that kind of man. He read
every word. He understood the rules.
He hadn't broken any of them and if he, or his
family had, he had done all the things necessary
to repent for them.

So dear Job is bewildered when terrible things
happen to him. He has questions for God.
Legitimate questions. Honest questions.
Questions that will make him a man by
way of face-to-face encounter with the
Living God. Job is good on paper but
not so good with encountering God (but
apparently still better than anybody
else at the time.) All that is about to change.
Job had the kind of questions, born of extreme
pain, that people don't usually have enough courage
to ask. People who end of asking these questions
get answers, but don't come back looking
or acting at all the same way they went in.

Job's soul was in deep torment, the kind
that sends someone just over the brink of what
they can handle. He checked and double-
checked, but he still did not understand.
He had done everything he should at his end:
that left God's end. And everyone knows
it is unwise to accuse God of being dodgy.

His friends said, "Don't even go
there!" His friends said, "No matter
what you say, you are a sinner."
His friends said, "Stop whining
and admit you are guilty". His wife
said, "Start whining and just let
God kill you." God, during all this,
is silent. If that doesn't make you
feel alone in the universe then nothing

Job was falsely accused. There is
the blatant kind of false accusation
that comes from outrageous lies
being spread about you. Then there are the
subtle whispered accusations that can
make you crazy with their insidiousness.
Furthermore, unbeknownst to Job, there
is Satan falsely accusing Job in the
heavenlies. Thank God the accuser of
the brethren has been thrown down.
The matrix of accusation, however,
still remains.

The bewilderment of trying
to discern what has happened to
him, with the added misunderstanding
and accusation of his theologically
challenged, bible thumping comrades,
is like salt poured into an almost
inconsolable wound. His world was
destroyed and he did not even
have a good explanation as to why.
He could not explain what he feels
to be God's actions. So in his
darkest hour a wedge is
driven in between God and Job.

That wedge is not unrelated to a bet
with the devil that God agreed to! Stick
that in your theological pipe
and smoke it for awhile.

If you think that same wager
is not in some form actively battling
over your life today, think
again. Much has transpired
theologically since these events
in the book of Job happened.
Jesus has won the victory over the
wages of sin. We who are Christ's,
are hid with Him in God. The Holy
Spirit resides in the heart of
the believer empowering, counseling,
comforting, guiding. The
Enemy has been defeated. But
all that can sound like more
bible-thumping in our darkest hours.

Always, our chance to choose God over
the Devil stands before us. When
its your turn to cast your vote,
with a gale force wind blowing against
you, every truth we have read in books,
even good ones, even the Good Book,
can seem very far away. You still
have to choose. Our lives are still
a billboard for one side or the other:
for God or the Devil.

False accusation in some form will
cross your life. I am not telling
you it might. I am telling you it will:
whether it be at the hands of
enemies, well-meaning friends,
or the plotting of demons. It may be
one of the hardest things you have
to bear because well-meaning "Job's
friends" will come to you, and
plant subtle or not-so-subtle
hints into your mind. Hints along
the line of "Did God say?" or
"We have this feeling" or
"God told me to tell you" or
they will offer you a mish-mash of
every religious reason they have
ever heard to account for
your pain. You will begin to
doubt yourself. You may begin
to doubt God. And a wedge can
begin to grow between you and Him.

Pressure brings out the most
amazing things in us. How quickly
we are tempted to stop the
dance of praise to our God, and
roll up the banner of adoration
to our Christ, when something
inexplicable befalls us.

We see something bad has happened
and we rightly sense that God
has allowed it, but we do not understand
His reasons in allowing it. Perhaps
it is our interpretation of
the idea of "allowing it." Do
we really think that God doles
out suffering and uses the devil
as His excuse? Please do not
hurt His heart by thinking that!

It is in the midst of our pain
that we are most open to these most
destructive whispers of the devil,
of his cohorts, of our well or ill
meaning friends, or our own hearts.
The pain of others not understanding
and the the pain of 99% right and 1%
absolutely twisted demonic lie of the pit
can swivel our minds until we do not know
who or what we are.

This pain will bring out the most tortured
suggestions and we will HAVE to go to God,
with fear and trembling,
because this is where we
will find rest and this is
exactly where God wants to
bring us: into a closer
encounter with, and understanding
of, Himself. He wants us to be free of the
torment of fear and dread and uncertainty.

Know that something important is
at stake. What you do with your
dose of false accusation is on display for
God and the Devil, angels, saints, demons,
and a whole cloud of witnesses.

The stakes are this: every evil
force is trying to get you to
believe a lie about God and
get you to use the pain of being
falsely accused to strike out
and, in turn, falsely accuse God.
The devil hates God more than he
hates you and is trying to use
your pain to get you to hurt God
and, of course, destroy yourself.

The devil is a master of
non-sequiturs. He will tell
you a bit of truth and follow
it with the most damnable lie.
He will tell you that God is love,
but that loving pond scum like
you is not included in the love clause.
He will tell you that while
God is strong, he is ultimately
stronger. He will tell you that
while God has always kept His
promises, there are some He
might not be able to keep, because
you know, He has overspent on
His credit card and can not
make good on His promises. He will
tell you that while God says He
is good, what He has allowed
to happen to you is not good no
matter what way you frost it.
All of this and more will come
to get you to accuse God.
And make sure you hear this
part in case you started to
doze off: the arguments will be
tailor-made to your weakness.

The good news is that you alone have
the chance to determine what
your eternal billboard will say.
"I am my Beloved's and He is Mine,";
"God is light and in Him there is no
darkness at all"; "The Word of the Lord
is righteous,and everything He does is Good."
Wouldn't you love to have something
like that burning forth from your soul for
all the universe to see? How wonderful to see
the lights of the righteous burning brightly
amidst a dark night!

I ask you: "what if some unseen hand
could pull back the curtain and show you
your audience?" Would it change
how and what you are thinking?
Would it help you refocus
your eyes on your innocent
and good Lord? Would it help
you cast down the false accusations
that you may be developing
toward God?

Anselm said, "I do not understand
so that I might believe,
I believe that I might understand."
There are things too great for
us, wisdom to high, things we
are not privy too: they need
not keep us from childlike
trust in God. This is not
blind belief: it is unadorned faith, faith
best born and proved in the darkest
night of the soul. God has showed
us too much of His love for our
hearts to really doubt Him.
One day it will all be clear.
I don't want for one minute to
have a history of doubting God's character
when the going gets unpredictably
tough and painful.

What is the redeeming value
of every dark and painful thing?
Through them we have the opportunity
and the impetus to encounter the
Living God and to have a vital
and active faith. They push us past our
human resistance to run up the road,
a road often not well traveled, and often
not well lit, to our Lord's house,
there to be caught up in
loving arms of our good Father.

Our creeds and dogmas have a lot of
truth, but they can not
give us encounter with God,
they can only bring us to the place
where we jump off to meet God.
Meeting God is fearsome enough, so often
it is pain and discomfort that
push us past our comfort zone
so that we decide to go to God directly
and stop listening to what people
say about Him. That journey can actually
mean the start of real faith,
not the destruction of it.

Although all the way up the road the
Devil will be taunting us with lies like
these: "He'll turn out to be the Wizard of Oz";
"He'll fry your socks off!"; "He's too far
away for you to reach Him."

Pay no heed. God is all that He says that He is.
Go see for yourself. Just be prepared to have
your notes blown out of your hand and your hair
to turn white when you hear God's answer. And
make no bones about it: God will answer
us when He is ready to and not a minute before. While
you are waiting, trust His goodness. It will make
having to put your hand over your mouth in shame
just a little bit easier when He finally speaks.

And when you do see Your Lord and his good intent
for you, your billboard will glow with
praise of God.

You, yes, small, little, you, have an important
eternal vote to cast! Your life can and does
stand for God or the Enemy. There can be quite a bit of
opposition when you get nearer to the polls.
Souls are won and lost in that battle. Never forget that.
You have a vote the devil wants. Make darn well
sure he never gets it. Even over your dead body
he cannot steal your vote for God once it is cast.

Know too, that Your Lord has already walked this
way ahead of you. He is not asking for you to
do something He has not already done. He has cast
His vote in favor or His Father, and He has endured
great and unreasonable pain because of false accusation.

Be comforted by this: if you are falsely accused,
Someone has been falsely accused before you. Your
Lord knows what it means to swallow that cup and
drink its dark dregs.

The world has a bigger grandstand than you know.
Even now the crowds are gathering to watch what
you will do.

Stand with and for God. There is no greater meaning your
life can have.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Oswald Chambers: Though He Slay Me, Yet Will I Trust Him

We have the idea that God rewards us
for our faith, it may be so in
the initial stages; but we do not
earn anything by faith, faith
brings us into right relationship with
God and gives God His opportunity. God
has frequently to knock the bottom
board out of your experience if you are
a saint in order to get you into contact
with Himself. God wants you to understand
that it is a life of faith, not a life of
sentimental enjoyment of His blessings.
Your earlier life of faith was narrow and
intense, settled around a little sun-spot of
experience that had as much of sense as of
faith in it, full of light and sweetness;
then God withdrew His conscious blessings
in order to teach you to walk by faith. You
are worth far more to Him now than
you were in your days of conscious delight
and thrilling testimony.

Faith by its very nature must be tried,
and the real trial of faith is not that
we find it difficult to trust God, but
that God's character has to be cleared
in our own minds. Faith in its actual
working out has to go through spells of
unsyllabled isolation. Never confound the
trial of faith with the ordinary discipline
of life, much that we call the trial of
faith is the inevitable result of being alive.

Faith in the Bible is faith in God against
everything that contradicts Him - I will
remain true to God's character whatever
He may do. "Though He slay me, yet will I
trust Him" - this is the most sublime utterance
of faith in the whole of the Bible.
--Oswald Chambers

Photo taken in Colorado Springs, Colorado

Monday, November 05, 2007

Oswald Chambers: Pious Fraud or Bond Slave of Jesus?


I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless
I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.

These words mean the breaking of my
independence with my own band and surrendering
to the supremacy of the Lord Jesus. No one can
do this for me, I must do it myself. God may
bring me up to the point three hundred and
sixty-five times a year, but He cannot put me
through it. It means breaking the husk of my
individual in dependence of God, and the emancipating
of my personality into oneness with Himself, not
for my own ideas, but for absolute loyalty to Jesus.

There is no possibility of dispute when once I am
there. Very few of us know anything about loyalty
to Christ - "For My sake." It is that which
makes the iron saint.

Has that break come? All the rest is pious fraud.
The one point to decide is - Will I give up, will I
surrender to Jesus Christ, and make no conditions
hatever as to how the break comes? I must be
broken from my self-realization, and immediately
that point is reached, the reality of the supernatural
identification takes place at once, and the witness
of the Spirit of God is unmistakable - "I have been
crucified with Christ."

The passion of Christianity is that I deliberately
sign away my own rights and become a bond-slave of
Jesus Christ. Until I do that, I do
not begin to be a saint.

One student a year who hears God's call would be
sufficient for God to have called this College into
existence. This College as an organization is not
worth anything, it is not academic; it is for
nothing else but for God to help Himself to lives.
Is He going to help Himself to us, or are we taken up
with our conception of what we are going to be?