Archive for February, 2012

Job Who?

There was a man.

Not a myth or legend or fable, but a real flesh-and-blood man. He lived, most likely, around the lower Euphrates in present-day Iraq.  We think the Garden of Eden was originally in the neighborhood.

His name was Job and he feared, as in “revered”, God.  Here in Job 1:1-5, we see a man who did his dead-level best to live right and reject evil.  With vast numbers of livestock, a large staff, and 7 children, Job was wealthy – and busy.

Yet, he was determined to maintain a righteous household.  After the considerable partying on his grown kids’  birthdays, Job would send for them.  He would bless them and offer sacrifices on their behalf in a ceremonial purification.  It was a kind of spiritual insurance policy against, “maybe they forgot God in the celebrating.”

He did this faithfully.  Job was God-fearing, honorable, and had a great reputation.

Which makes the next 7 verses seem bizarre.  God asks Satan if he’d like a crack at Job’s faith.  Fortunately, a verse in James provides some much-needed light:  “You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord – that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.”

It is important that we keep this verse in mind as we consider this story.  God is always working.  He works in His own way, on His own schedule.  And He won’t be reduced to our neat little assumptions or preconceptions.

What we too often lack is an accurate perspective.

Next post: a scene straight out of Tolkien

Do you have opinions about God or the Bible that may be the result of an inaccurate perspective? or lack of information?


Kisses from Katie

by Katie Davis with Beth Clark

2011 Howard Books

There are some people who seem born to a distinct calling in life, and who pursue that calling with a tenacious single-mindedness.  Katie Davis is one of those people.

On a missions trip to Uganda as a 16 year old, she fell in love with its people, particularly the children. Within three years she had left her privileged life in Nashville, TN for the red soil and extreme poverty of that east African country. Soon, she had rented a house and adopted 14 young girls.

There is a kind of breathless quality to this book.  The reader is swept along through scenes of grinding poverty, families decimated by AIDS, rampant illness, and always – hunger.  Katie moves through the overwhelming need that surrounds her with a faith that is mature far beyond her years, and marvelous in its simplicity.  “Every morning, as I wake up with some impossible task in front of me, I know that God will meet it with impossible strength and love.”  Excerpts from her diary appear throughout the book.  She appeals constantly to God’s Word and personalizes the experiences of men and women in the Bible.  “I see the God who used Moses, a murderer , to part the Red Sea; a God who let Peter, who would deny Him, walk on water.  A God who looks at me, in all my fallen weakness and says, “You can do the impossible.”

Highly recommended. Like me, you will probably be spending some serious time in prayer asking God to spend you a little more for His kingdom.

Job and His Book

The Book of Job.

It sits there in the Old Testament like a great big 10 lb. roast.  To eat it all, you must take small bites over a long period of time, digesting slowly.

It is a story that asks all the big questions:

Can man really know God?  

Can man actually be righteous before God? To decode the religious lingo, “righteous” here means “not influenced by personal interest.” Or selfish motives.

 Is there such a thing as real holiness? 

And those perennial favorites:

 Why is there so much suffering in the world?

 Why, finally, are comfort and trouble, and happiness and unhappiness so unevenly distributed?

We’d like the answers to all those heavyweight questions in small words and short sentences so we can feel smarter fast and comforted even faster.

But we’re going to have to sit with sick, sorrowing, wretched Job for 37 chapters. We’ll sit in the pile of ashes in front of that table of big, fat, questions.  And when God shows up in chapter 38, we’ll find some answers that make sense. I invite you to sit with me once a week, on Tuesday, right here.

Job wanted answers.  God gave him answers.  Let’s find out what they were.

If you have ever asked any of these questions, have you come to any conclusions?

Orange Valentine (Thoughts on February)

While walking early one drizzly February morning with my doxie, I heard a very loud chorus of bird voices. Throughout a large, leafless oak in a farmhouse yard spread a congregation of robins.  Their cheery orange breasts shone in the muted sunlight filtering through showery clouds.  The presence of so many of these distinctive creatures was startling. Their chattering rose in waves that washed over Cosmo and I as we stood on the road. It was like a choir of gladness.

February is robin-like. Mid-month is technically mid-winter and at this precise point Valentines Day arrives.  This funny little pseudo-holiday is the bright orange breast of winter. For a brief moment in the very heart of the season’s stark colorlessness we are immersed in chocolate and flowers and bright red hearts.  We gorge on the color and taste and tenderness of love’s offerings. Somehow winter seems shortened and springtime hastened by the bold admonishment of this one day: Remember to show your love.

The ranks of robins thin by month’s end.  Perhaps they scatter and mingle among other birds throughout the year.  Or maybe they retreat to the hills and woodlands, far from man and his machinery.  Regardless, their unexpected appearance in midwinter gladdens the wet, chilly days of February and makes my heart want to sing along with them.

Do the people you love know it?

Meditation On Dust. And Dusting.

I have always had a somewhat cordial relationship with housework. Except for brief periods when our twins were small, I have always done my own cleaning.  At this stage, all that bending and stretching is, you know, a good thing.  Cheap exercise, I tell myself.

And I don’t mind most aspects of keeping house. I can watch my beloved British dramas while ironing. I hover over the laundry a little, two rinses so there is NO residual perfumey detergent smell.  With a system, cleaning bathrooms is cinchy. Vacuuming is a bit of a bore, but it goes quickly and, for crying out loud, a machine does the real work.

But dusting?

It is the reason conscientious homemakers may come to dread sunlight in a room.  Its beams act like a magnifying glass undermining one’s best efforts. It is sneaky and subversive. It doesn’t lie quietly on a normally shiny surface. No. It shouts, “Inattention!  Sloth!”

All housework is, to some degree, a lesson in the degeneration of the earth.  Man is flawed and unclean, the earth is flawed and – well, it’s pretty much dirt. Naturally, it ends up in the house. I have decided, upon serious reflection, that one of the chief purposes of dusting is to remind us of mortality.  And the fact that I used the words “serious reflection” and “dusting” in the same sentence reveals the deleterious effect it has had upon my psyche.

But back to mortality.  Dust is, after all, fine particulate matter composed of dirt and skin and fabric floating around and landing on virtually every surface. In fact, due to the wonders of science, we now know that dust is not just annoying, it has friends, friends so hideous they belong in the “What was God thinking?” category.

Vacuum your mattress and take the gleanings down to your neighborhood science lab and see what shows up under the microscope.  It’ll make you want to pave your mattress AND your pillows.

Dust is tangible evidence of the slow decay of the planet and everything on it.  Including us.  It’s the only household chore where you might suddenly ponder:  “Oh, look, there’s me in 500 years.”  But there is one beneficial effect:  it’s a surefire cure for knickknacks. If it has to be dusted, I can live without it.

What’s your least favorite household chore, and why?  No, you may not vote “All of the above”:

a) Dusting

b) Vacuuming

c) Cleaning bathrooms

d) Cleaning the kitchen

e) Laundry

f) Ironing

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