Monday, January 31, 2011

January 31 - Genesis 47:20

So Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh.
Genesis 47:20
The 47th chapter of Genesis begins with Joseph’s whole family moving to Egypt. Pharoah gives them basically anything they wish.
Why the generosity? Because Joseph has been such a successful leader.
  • Guided by God, Joseph has blessed Pharoah and saved the country.
  • Joseph prompted Pharaoh to prepare for the famine by storing grain.
  • As the famine progressed, people used their money to buy grain from Joseph/Pharaoh.
  • When they ran out of money, they sold all their livestock to Joseph/Pharaoh for grain.
  • When they ran out of cows, they sold their land.
  • When they ran out of land, they sold themselves into slavery.
  • By the end of the chapter — and because of Joseph — Pharaoh owned everything, including the people.
In America today, our financial condition is not much better than Egypt’s was then. What if some of the predictions regarding our economy come true this year? What if governmental requirements for more grain for ethanol prompt a food shortage and significantly higher food prices? And what if gas rises to five dollars as gallon? And what if increased transportation costs double the price of many commodities? And what if sudden inflation makes many Americans as desperate as the average person in the age of Pharaoh?
Today’s question is simple ... In the midst of tough financial times, are you living wisely and proactively like Joseph or desperately like the people who sold themselves into slavery?
In Christ’s Love,
a pretty good steward
who hasn’t done enough

Sunday, January 30, 2011

January 30 - Genesis 46:34

all shepherds are abhorrent to the Egyptians
Genesis 46:34
The Jews used sheep for both food and sacrifice.
The Egyptians, with a different religious system, didn’t need livestock for sacrifice. And their taste buds didn’t care for the sheep as food. Furthermore, most shepherds were dirty; they were hairy nomads while Egyptian ideal was to be as clean-shaven as the court priests.
In Genesis 46 and 47, the Egyptians’ abhorrence of shepherds led to a simple solution. We Egyptians will stay in Egypt-proper, while you all can stay over there. That’s how Jacob’s family wound up settling in the separate province of Goshen.
And it worked well for a while — Egyptians here, Israelites there — but as the years advanced (see Exodus 1), this divide caused suspicion. And then persecution. And then slavery. And then judgment.
We can fall into the same trap as the Egyptians whenever we judge by our standards rather than by God’s standards.
God, for example, had a very different view of these keepers of the sheep. Israel’s greatest king, David, began his "career" as a shepherd, writing poetry beneath the night sky. The first recipients of the Gospel were shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. Jesus, himself, became our Good Shepherd who laid down his life for the sheep.
We all tend to look at others through the eyes of our culture. So … maybe … who do you need to look at through God’s eyes instead?
In Christ’s Love,
a guy who used to
help his grandpa
feed the sheep

Saturday, January 29, 2011

January 29 - Genesis 24:26

One who gives an honest answer
gives a kiss on the lips.
Proverbs 24:26
I'm not sure I like this Proverb. While I may want an honest answer from my auto mechanic, I'm pretty certain that I don't want a kiss on the lips from him!
Nevertheless, I know what it means: Honesty is a rare and welcome greeting!
Elsewhere in Proverbs, it says, "Honest balances and scales are the Lord's; all the weights in the bag are his work." Again, I know what it means: There is so much dishonesty in this world, that honesty is rare, welcome, and usually a pretty good sign of God's presence.
As we continue our journey through the book of Genesis, we hear about honesty again. Joseph (the Governor of Egypt) says to his brothers (who don't recognize him), "42:19 if you are honest men, let one of your brothers stay here  [while] the rest of you ... go and ... 20 bring your youngest brother to me."
Joseph said this, of course, because honesty had been rare with his brothers. Instead of figuratively kissing him on the lips, they had, once before, literally sold him into slavery. On the scales of justice, Joseph's brothers were weighted crookedly.
Everyone of us crafts a name and a reputation for ourselves. If we're crooked, we'll likely spend the rest of our lives trying to prove ourselves. So let's try a path of integrity and see if we don't receive a kiss of peace.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who's wife doesn't
like to kiss him anymore
(I hope it has more to do with
my new beard than my old character)

Friday, January 28, 2011

January 28 - Genesis 41:15-16

And Pharaoh said to Joseph,
"I have had a dream,
and there is no one who can interpret it.
I have heard it said of you that
when you hear a dream you can interpret it."
Joseph answered Pharaoh,
"It is not I. It is God who ..."
Genesis 41:15-16
Some people practically petition for compliments. Me? I'm really not so good at accepting affirmations. In fact, most of us are sometimes unsure of what to say and how to act when fawning praise comes our way. Therefore, we often hem and haw and look down and blush and force a smile and ...
Over the years, I've had to learn to get better at accepting a compliment. After all, it's only polite.
But I have a friend who responds much better. When someone compliments him, he immediately points up at God.
What makes it so endearing is that it's honest, spontaneous, and sincere. Some of us could fake it, but it's powerful to be in the presence of someone who really does give all the credit and all the glory to God.
That's what Joseph did in today's lesson. Pharoah flattered him, saying essentially, "I hear you're a great, powerful, important man who can interpret dreams." Joseph could have blushed and looked at his shoes and said, "Well, shucks. I guess I can." But his response was honest, spontaneous, and sincere: "It is not I, but God ..."
In Christ's Love,
a guy who wants
that honesty, sincerity,
and spontaneity.
After all, it is all God!!!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

January 27 - Genesis 39:21, James 1:2-4

My brothers and sisters,
whenever you face trials of any kind,
consider it nothing but joy,
because you know that
the testing of your faith produces endurance; 
and let endurance have its full effect,
so that you may be mature and complete,
lacking in nothing.
James 1:2-4
Consider our trials nothing but joy?! Yeah, right. I don't care if "3 the testing of [my] faith produces endurance, and ... endurance [makes me more] mature." I'm not going to likely to start praying for trials!
I think most of us have a common perspective. If we're honest, how many of us base our faith on our feelings and circumstances?
In Genesis 39, Joseph -- who'd already been sold into slavery -- was now thrown into prison. Surely that was a sign -- if ever there was one -- that God was against him, right? Yet God was taking care of Joseph, and God is taking care of you.
In fact, it's often during the challenges that God's presence is most apparent. When all the comforts of life are stripped away from us, it's often then that we see God most readily.
I'm tempted to say, "Pray for Hard Times!" But I don't need to do that ... hard times will come in this world whether we want them to or not. Therefore, what I pray is that we may all remember Joseph in the midst of our trails ... and God's steadfast love which never falters.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who needs to remember
that even in the midst of my trials,
I can plug my name into Genesis 39:21
"the Lord was with ME and showed ME steadfast love"

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

January 26 - Genesis 33:4

But Esau ran to meet [Jacob],
and embraced him,
and fell on his neck and kissed him,
and they wept
Genesis 33:4
Up to this point in the story, Esau is mainly hairy, stupid, and murderous.
  • He sells his birth right for a bowl of stew (26:29-34)
  • He is easily immitated because he smells like a barn (27:27) and feels like a goat (27:16).
  • He marries a woman whose nationality and personality combine to "26:35 ma[k]e life bitter for Isaac and Rebekeh."
  • He hates his brother Jacob with so much fury that he plots to kill him (27:41,44)
Therefore, today's verse is a huge surprise.
I can only give three potential explanations for Esau's change of heart ...
  1. Time -- Maybe it is true that times heals all wounds.
  2. Prayer -- In chapter 32, as Jacob began his journey back, he was rightfully afraid. Therefore, he prayed about this encounter. If we can believe that time can heal all wounds, we probably ought to add to the list that God can heal all wounds too. (Question: Who might you need to pray for in terms of healed relationships?)
  3. Charity -- Charity's been given a bad name. In our time, it means "handouts to the poor." But what it means is really "benevolent goodwill and love." The opposite of charity is greed. It is holding on tightly to all kinds of things -- including perhaps, hurtful emotions. Esau has completely let go of bitterness and rage. When presented with gifts for appeasement, he's able to say, "44 I have enough, my brother; keep what you have for yourself." And in a spirit of love, goodwill, and charity, he's able to "run ... meet ... and embrace" his prodigal brother.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who's cheering
for the hairy guy
(P.S. Have you watched football lately.
Half the players we cheer for are hairy guys too.
Go ________.)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

January 25 - Genesis 32:11

Jacob prayed,
"Deliver me, please,
from the hand of my brother,
... for I am afraid of him."
Genesis 32:11
One of the greatest truths that I've learned over the years is that fear is often the first step into sin. Fear readies us for transgression. Anxiety causes us to act defensively rather than confidently ... selfishly rather than generously ... cynical instead of trusting ... angrily instead of peacably ... chained instead of free.
Jacob is absolutely afraid. Fortunately he gives us today a positive pattern for dealing with fear:
  1. Pray -- "9 Jacob said, 'O God ...'"
  2. Remember God's Faithfulness in the Past -- In saying "9 God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac," Jacob is remember that if God was faithful in the past he will be faithful in the present.
  3. Remember God's Promises -- Every year, one of the best-selling books at every Christian bookstore is some version of God's Promises to Christians. These kinds of books list every promise in the Bible that you can claim for yourself in troubling times. Jacob held fast to God's promise that "9 Return to your country and ... I will do you good." He acted on faith and on the promises. How about you?
  4. Humbleness -- Humbleness is how and where we need to stand before God -- trusting in his power, not our own. "10 I am not worthy."
  5. Remember God's Faithfulness Again -- Remember "all the steadfast love ... you have shown to your servant" in the past.
  6. Now Ask -- "11 Deliver me, please, from __________." Be specific.
  7. Name the Dragon you are Facing -- Dragon's are like vampires. Sometimes just pulling them out into God's light robs these threats of 90% of their power over us. Say outloud, "11 I am afraid of ____."
  8. Remind God of God's Promises -- "11 I am afraid ... yet you have said ..." It's not that God's forgetful, it's that he wants to hear us claim his promises. And your specificity helps define how he will answer. For example, if you want to be set free (a big promises), don't just ask for comfort (a nice but smaller promise). Be bold!
In Christ's Love, 
a guy who needs to remember
how to count to eight

Monday, January 24, 2011

January 24 - Genesis 28:12

And [Jacob] dreamed that
there was a ladder set up on the earth,
the top of it reaching to heaven;
and the angels of God were
ascending and descending on it.
Genesis 28:12
In my head, I always picture this scene as "Jacob's Ladder."
Some translations render it as a "stairway ... to heaven" (NLT), surely reminding some of the legendary rock-n-roll anthem.
Perhaps a better image than either a ladder or stairway is the Cross of Christ! Jesus himself hinted at this truth in John 1. Jesus drew Nathanael into his circle of disciples by speaking prophetically," but then he said, 
"50 Do you believe because I told you
that I saw you under the fig tree?
You will see greater things than these.
51 You will see heaven opened and
the angels of God ascending and
descending upon the Son of Man."
Jesus is the link between heaven and earth -- not a ladder, not a staircase, and only the cross symbolically.
The same truth, though, is proclaimed in both Genesis and John: A link between heaven and earth has been established by God. He wants a relationship with Jacob. He wants a relationship with Nathanael. He wants a relationship with you.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who's ridden a skylift to Purgatory (a ski hill)
but finds more purpose on the stairway to heaven

Sunday, January 23, 2011

January 23 - Genesis 27:41

Esau hated Jacob because
he had stolen his blessing,
and he said to himself,
"My father will soon be dead and gone.
Then I will kill Jacob."
Genesis 27:41
And blame. Blame! Esau blamed everything on Jacob.
Jacob was indeed a schemer. And Jacob did indeed trick his father and did outright rob Esau of his birthright. But ... we must not forget that Esau played his own role in losing this gift. He sold his own birthright for a bowl of stew.
How often is that true of us? Others may indeed lie and trick and steal, but how often have we played a role in our own downfalls?
When we lie to ourselves and play the total victim, hatred, bitterness, and unforgiveness grow in our hearts ... maybe even murder (even if it's only a desire to assassinate the other person's character through gossip).
Who's on your hit list? Who might you need to forgive ... in order to set yourself free. 
In Christ's Love,
a guy who has no one else to blame
for his weaknesses and defeats

Saturday, January 22, 2011

January 22 - Genesis 25:29-31

Once when Jacob was cooking a stew,
Esau came in from the field, and he was famished.
Esau said to Jacob, "Let me eat
some of that red stuff, for I am famished!"
Jacob said, "First sell me your birthright."
Genesis 25:29-31
This story, in part, is the history of how the line of Abraham and Isaac passed through Jacob (the second born) instead of Esau (the first born).
But let's make it even simpler. Let's call this a story about temptation. Esau was hungry. He was, in other words, vulnerable. When we are hungry, tired, anxious, or worried, we are vulnerable. Very vulnerable.
When we are hungry, tired, anxious, or worried, wisdom doesn't guide us. Values don't guide us. And truth doesn't even guide us -- because when our emotions are controlling us, it is much harder to hear God.
The point?! Don't allow yourself to get too tired, too hungry, or too vulnerable.
Also seek the necessary truth, encouragement, and spiritual protection so that you will not be vulnerable anxiety, worry, and fear.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who's continually discovering
how to balance his life
so he's not too hungry for stew

Friday, January 21, 2011

January 21 - Genesis 22:1-3

God tested Abraham ... sa[ying],
"Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love,
and go to the land of Moriah,
and offer him there as a burnt offering ..."
So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey.
Genesis 22:1-3
This is such a rich story.
And such a horrifying story.
First a little texture from these first three verses: 1) God tested Abraham ... which means, perhaps he tests us too. 2) Abraham obeyed immediately ... and perhaps we should too. 3) But what's this about sacrificing your own son?!!!
It is an understandably abhorrant thought to most of us that God would ever call us to sacrifice our own child. But here's what you need to know about this story to make it make sense: 1) God did NOT ask Abraham to go through with this sacrifice, 2) but all the other "gods" of the world did.
Who are "all the other 'gods'"? It is pure evil that brings about the shedding of innocent blood. The true God showed powerfully on top of Mt. Moriah that he would never, ever demand the sacrifice of a child. He will always, always provide a substitute for our blood.
And here on this mountain was a powerful foreshadowing of God's love and God's eternal plan. In place of Isaac was a ram / a lamb. This pointed forward to the Passover, where God's people were spared by the sacrifice of a lamb. And this pointed forward to the cross, where God's people -- you and me -- were spared by the loving sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God.
Human blood does not need to be shed. God -- in his love -- always provides a substitute. Isaac lived ... and so do you and I!
In Christ's Love,
a guy who likes lamb

Thursday, January 20, 2011

January 20 - Jude 1:7a, 2 Peter 2:6

Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns
gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion.
[God] turned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into
heaps of ashes and swept them off the face of the earth.
He made them an example of what will happen to ungodly people.
Jude 1:7a, 2 Peter 2:6
In Genesis 19, we are told that "24 the Lord rained ... sulfur and fire ... out of heaven." This is definitely NOT one of the happiest chapters in the Bible. Yet it remains an important story.
Throughout scripture -- including today's readings from the apostles -- Sodom and Gomorrah are used as symbols of immorality and judgment. In the writings of the prophets, these cities are a symbol of those who "[do] no[t] turn[] from wickedness" and "br[ing] evil on themselves" (Jer 23:14 and Isa 3:9). When Jesus talks about those who reject the Gospel (Mt 10, Mt 11, Lk 10), he compares the judgment they will receive to the fiery judgment received by these ancient cities.
I don't know about you, but I'm not a big fan of the word "judgment." I'd rather focus on words like "love," "mercy," and "grace." And God's gentle generosity is, indeed, the overwhelming and dominant themes in scripture. But we must not forget the undeniable theme of consequence.
Now, I don't like the word "consequence" much either. But that too is a repeated theme in scripture. Our actions have consequences. But when Jesus Christ came to save us from our sins, it is clear he also wanted to save us from the consequences of these actions too. Rather than having us continue to wallow in our "wickedness" or "br[ing] evil on [our]selves," the whole Gospel is his God's desire to set us free -- free from sin, free from consequence, and free from judgment.
Love, mercy, grace, and peace are the natural and sulfurless fruits of turning away from sin.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who's calling a moving truck
(I don't want to live anywhere near
Sodom and Gomorrah anymore)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

January 19 - Genesis 17:5

"No longer shall your name be Abram,
but your name shall be Abraham"
Gen 17:5
Every time I read this verse I laugh.
Abram is 99. He has no children. Yet after God shows up, this old man starts tottering around town and demanding that people call him "father of many nations." (That's what the new name "Abraham" means.)
They probably thought he was senile. "Yeah, right. Let's humor the old guy and call him 'Grandpa for our Nation.'"
The name of God is Yahweh. In ancient times, it was so holy, that the Jews would neither say it or write it out. At most, they would abbreviate our Lord's name: YHWH. Look at those letters. It is not an exaggeration to say that when God changed Abram's name to AbraHam and Sarai's name to SaraH, he gave them both one of his H's. Or more accurately, he gave them part of himself.
Part of the covenant in Genesis 17 meant that God would giving Abraham and his family part of his name, part of his identity. From now on, God's future and Abraham's future (including the future of his offspring) would be inseperably intertwined.
In and through Christ and the New Testament, there is a new covenant. Part of what God promises through Jesus is that your future and his will be inseparably intertwined.
And guess what ... you don't have to wait til you're 99 to claim this identity!
In Christ's Love,
a guy who's thinking of
changing his name from Ed to Led
(I'll take a L from Lord)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

January 18 - Genesis 12:2

By faith Abraham obeyed
when he was called to set out for a place
that he was to receive as an inheritance;
and he set out, not knowing where he was going.
Hebrews 11:8
[I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; 
I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. Genesis 12:2]
The call of Abraham is described powerfully in two places -- in Genesis 12 and Hebrews 11.
Combining the two, here's a few things we might like to know about a God-honoring life ...
  • It is trust-centered -- Abraham trusted in the spiritual rather than the physical. "Not knowing where he was going," means that rather than needing a physical map, he trusted in God to be his compass and map.
  • It is faith-driven -- Hebrews 11 tells us a half dozen things that Abraham did simply and totally by faith, including "9 living in tents [but] 10 look[ing] forward to the city ... whose architect and builder is God."
  • It is future-focused -- Most of us demand a little immediate gratification. Abraham patiently waited (and patiently traveled) simply because of the promise of some future inheritance.
  • It is Father-centric -- Abraham left his earthly father's house to follow his Heavenly Father.
  • It is blessing-based -- God told Abraham that his faithfulness would lead to blessings. But my favorite part of this is that the blessings were not just to be for Abraham. He was blessed to be a blessing for others. What if we all accepted that as our call -- to turn every blessing around and shine our blessings forth as even richer blessings for others.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who got his wife a TomTom for Christmas
(now, like Abraham, we don't rely on physical maps,
rather we have the voice of a 90-year-old
Hungarian Grandmother telling us where to go.) 

Monday, January 17, 2011

January 17 - Job 40:1-4

the Lord said to Job:
Shall the faultfinder
contend with the Almighty? ...
Then Job answered the Lord,
"I lay my hand on my mouth."
Job 40:1-4
Have you ever blurted out anything so rude, outrageous, or hurtful that you tried to grab it with your hand and stuff it back in your mouth?!
We're left there with red cheeks and our palm over our lips.
It's so much easier to find fault and criticize than it is to look for truth or achieve viable alternatives. Most critics would do better to keep their hands over their lips. Or maybe they'd do better lending a hand and being part of a good solution.
After thirty-nine chapters of human "wisdom" -- read, "human foolishness" -- God speaks out of the whirlwind and Job puts his palm over his flapping gums.
And when his mouth quits moving, his ears start listening and his heart starts believing again.
Elijah once encountered God in the sheer silence and a still small voice. I wonder if his hand was over his mouth allowing him to do so!
In Christ's Love,
a guy who too often
looks like a cartoon character --
big mouth, little ears 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

January 16 - Job 38:4

Where were you when
I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
Job 38:4
When I was a child, I lay in bed at night, contemplating the impossible ...
The universe HAD to have an end.
But once it ended, then what was there.
My brain hurt.
We'd all like a little more understanding from time to time. And Job's question -- why do bad things happen to good people? -- echoes many of our own questions.
God doesn't answer Job with details -- because even if he did, we'd still only understand part of it! Rather, God says, "I'm God, and you're not. When you create the stars and lay the foundation of the world, then people can come to you for answers."
Now ... is that a satisfactory answer for you? For me it is!!! Why? Because I trust God. If I could bring God down to my size, it'd be a pretty little universe with precious little hope.
Our God, instead, is big. Big!
And his character is great. Trustworthy!
And his love is vast. Enough to send his very own Son to die for us.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who's transformed
by trusting in an eternal Him
rather than in a temporary me

Saturday, January 15, 2011

January 15 - Job 35:8

Your wickedness affects others like you,
and your righteousness, other human beings.
Job 35:8
When people sin, a common excuse is, "I'm not hurting anybody but me."
As the Apostle Paul says, "None of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself ..." (Rom 14:7).
How many of us have seen the behavior of one person pull down the character of others? The same can happen with the generosity of spirit. Faith, hope, love, righteousness, and heroism can absolutely inspire others.
In both cases we can be like the tide, lifting up or pulling down others as our behavior rises or falls.
In Christ's Love,
a beach bum
who's praying for
high tide

Friday, January 14, 2011

January 14 - Job 32:1-2

Job's three friends refused to reply further to him
because he kept insisting on his innocence ...
he justified himself rather than God
Job 32:1-2
I'm taken by that last line: "Job justified himself rather than God."
The New Living Translation helps us understand more fully what this means, by translating it and telling us that Elihu became angry at Job because "2 Job refused to admit that he had sinned and that God was right in punishing him." 
Elihu is a refreshing alternative to Job's previous three friends. But still no human completely understand's what's going on here. The book begins with Job being "1:1 blameless ... upright ... God fear[ing] ... and [actively] turn[ing] away from evil." Job was right and Elihu was wrong. Job really hadn't done wrong. 
Secondly, Elihu was wrong about this being a punishment. While we all deserve punishment -- because we all sin and fall short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23) -- God is not shown as angrily punishing or smiting Job. What we see, however, is God taking his hand of protection off of Job and allowing certain calamities. 
We know that calamities happen. And because bad  things happen to good people, we infer that hand of God's protection is at least occasionally off of us. I'm convinced that when we stand in heaven, we'll all be amazed at all the times his hand did keep us safe! Nevertheless, we can't help but ask why?
God will answer Job in the final chapters of this book. He'll simply say, "Human, you can't understand my ways." And our lives will be transformed if we learn to say, "I don't understand, but I trust anyway."
And in the meantime, I don't want to fall into the pit of "[me] justifying [my]self rather than God." I know what that line means, "Job justified himself -- declared himself just -- rather than viewing God as just," but I want to turn it ninety degrees and declare it like this: "Rather than Ed justifying himself, he tries to rely on God who has promised to justify him by his grace" (Rom 3:24).
In Christ's Love,
a former graphic artist
who knows that in typography,
left justified means ragged on the right
and right justified means ragged on the left.
I want to be full justified --
ragged in neither direction
and not self-justified either!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

January 13 - Job 30:1

But now they make sport of me ...
Job 30:1
I wonder if Job invented the concept of "Pride Goeth Before a Fall."
Job tells us that once he was very proud -- and secretly enjoyed it. "29:7 Those were the days when I went to the city gate and took my place among the honored leaders. 8 The young stepped aside when they saw me, ... the aged rose in respect at my coming ... 10 [and] the highest officials h[e]ld their tongues in respect. 11 All who heard of me praised me. ... 12 For I helped the poor in their need ...13 and I caused the widows' hearts to sing for joy. 15 I served as eyes for the blind and feet for the lame. 16 I was a father to the poor and I made sure that even strangers received a fair trial. ... 21"Everyone listened to me and valued my advice... 23 They longed for me to speak as they longed for rain. 22 And my words fell on them like dew."
Proud? Yes. Notice how many times he said, "I ... I ... me ... and my."
But now, he is humbled.
Job said, "29:18 I thought, 'Surely I will die surrounded by my family after a long, good life ... 30:1 But now they make sport of me." And so, I wondered if Job invented the concept of "Pride Goeth Before a Fall."
Shakespeare would have been my second guess. He seemed to have invented half the cliches in the English language.
But the truth of the matter is that it was God who invented the phrase. Wait, let me be careful how I say that! God didn't invent it from personal experience. He whispered it to Solomon after watching hundreds of generations rise and fall before him. We still do. We swell with pride, and then we ALL fall. Death is inevitable. And if it is not a heart attack or accident that destroys us in an instant, even great kings and industry titans will languish in nursing home beds with barely a drawer full of possessions nearby.
Like Job, have you ever been made sport of? It's probably because you were thinking, "I ... I ... me ... and my." There's better balance and perspective that even kings, titans, and celebrities should learn. We should say, instead, "He ... He ... God ... and Awe!"
In Christ's Love,
a guy who doesn't want to rise
too proudly nor too high
Because the inevitable falls
hurt more from greater heights
(and since I can't rise as high as God anyway,
I might as well just settle on worshiping him from my knees)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

January 12 - Job 28:12

where shall wisdom be found?
Job 28:12
One of my favorite books is Andy Stanley's, "The Best Question Ever." He says the one question that could have saved him from most of the heartaches he's faced in life would have been to ask: "What is the wise thing to do?"
Job -- though in an awful and confusing pit of grief and calamity -- was, nevertheless, a man of wisdom. Listen as he advises us about this important subject ...
12 Where is wisdom to be found?
13 Mortals do not know the way to if
[for] it is not found in the land of the living.
3 Miners [seem to] put an end to darkness
[by] searching out the farthest bound,
14 [but] the deep say, "It is not in me."
15 It cannot be gotton for gold.
18 The price of wisdom is greater than pearls.
20 Where then does wisdom come from?
It is hidden from the eyes of all [the] living,
[but] 23 God understands the ways to it.
When I read "The Best Question Ever," Andy Stanley laid out chapter after chapter of wise advice. He talked about wisdom in circumstances like finances and purity and accepting a coach's advice. Yet as I read it, I kept getting angrier and angrier. Yes, this was wise advice, but he was missing the best advice of all!
He didn't let me down! The last chapter -- once he'd hooked his non-religious readers into buying into the principal of seeking wisdom -- is the truest line from scripture: "The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord" (Prov 1:7, 9:10, Ps 111:10).
In Christ's Love,
a guy who knows that
the "fear of the Lord" is not being scared
but rather showing a "profound respect."
My God knows the way to wisdom ... not me.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

January 11 - Job 24:13-17

There are those who rebel against the light ...
When daylight is gone, the murderer rises up ...
The eye of the adulterer watches for dusk ...
In the dark, thieves break into houses ... 
For all of them, midnight is their morning; 
they make friends with the terrors of darkness.
Job 24:13-17
I love that line: "Midnight is their morning."
I also hate the truth of that lie.
Murderers, adulterers, and theives are constantly emboldened by the cover of darkness. Mostly, they hide their ways so they won't get caught. And "they make friends," along the way, "with the terrors of darkness."
But isn't there another element to this cover of darkness? Don't some of our most wreckless habits start at night because of shame? It's fine if our co-conspirators know -- fellow theives, fellow drunkards, fellow adulterers -- but who are the people we're hiding our activities from? Mom? Grandma? Our boss? Our spouse? God?
Shame is usually in terms of relationships. Therefore, when Job says, "There are those who rebel against the light," he's not talking about a fear of sunrays; he's talking about a rebellion against God and his ways.
Scripture tells us that "God is light; in him there is no darkness at all" (1 Jn 1:5). Therefore, true light and true darkness have nothing to do with the time of day. True light is a relationship with the One who is light.
Think about it: When we're ashamed, we stay away from the light ... including the person who is light. And we make friends, instead, with darkness. And, I guess, accidentally, we run the risk of making friends with that person too.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who's tired of working 
the 2nd and 3rd shift.
I want a day job.
I want to work in the light.