Friday, November 10, 2006

right between the eyes...

we all have a nose. Do you ever feel like you got socked on the nose or hit between the eyes...much that I have been reading lately has done that.

This morning in the Bible Psalm 130:4 But with You there is forgiveness; therefore You are to be feared. The note in my Study Bible says "honored, worshiped, trusted, and served as the one true God. If God were not forgiving, people could only flee from him in terror."

True but also there is fear in simply being forgiven and accepted - if we are forgiven and accepted we are vulnerable and that is quite frightening.

I started to read the Bible in a year this year. I fell behind and then quit so now I won't finish it in a year but I recently resumed where I left off. The guide I am using is by Webb Garrison and he has comments on each day's reading and today he said something I found startling, challenging, and reasurring.

"Regardless of how stirring or sublime it may be, no piece of literature or work of art or system of thought can deserve the label 'biblical' unless it deals not with God in the abstract or with man in the concrete but with God and man in a state of conscious relationship."

I read these recent studies by Oswald Chambers. I almost want to throw away the book. But I didn't he challenges me in an incredible way...

A Bondservant of Jesus

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me . . . —Galatians 2:20

These words mean the breaking and collapse of my independence brought about by my own hands, and the surrendering of my life 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 this point three hundred and sixty-five times a year, but He cannot push me through it. It means breaking the hard outer layer of my individual independence from God, and the liberating of myself and my nature into oneness with Him; not following my own ideas, but choosing absolute loyalty to Jesus. Once I am at that point, there is no possibility of misunderstanding. Very few of us know anything about loyalty to Christ or understand what He meant when He said, ". . . for My sake" ( Matthew 5:11 ). That is what makes a strong saint.

Has that breaking of my independence come? All the rest is religious fraud. The one point to decide is— will I give up? Will I surrender to Jesus Christ, placing no conditions whatsoever as to how the brokenness will come? I must be broken from my own understanding of myself. When I reach that point, immediately the reality of the supernatural identification with Jesus Christ takes place. And the witness of the Spirit of God is unmistakable— "I have been crucified with Christ . . . ."

The passion of Christianity comes from deliberately signing away my own rights and becoming a bondservant of Jesus Christ. Until I do that, I will not begin to be a saint.

The Undetected Sacredness of Circumstances

We know that all things work together for good to those who love God . . . —Romans 8:28

The circumstances of a saint’s life are ordained of God. In the life of a saint there is no such thing as chance. God by His providence brings you into circumstances that you can’t understand at all, but the Spirit of God understands. God brings you to places, among people, and into certain conditions to accomplish a definite purpose through the intercession of the Spirit in you. Never put yourself in front of your circumstances and say, "I’m going to be my own providence here; I will watch this closely, or protect myself from that." All your circumstances are in the hand of God, and therefore you don’t ever have to think they are unnatural or unique. Your part in intercessory prayer is not to agonize over how to intercede, but to use the everyday circumstances and people God puts around you by His providence to bring them before His throne, and to allow the Spirit in you the opportunity to intercede for them. In this way God is going to touch the whole world with His saints.

I picked up "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" by Betty Smith at the thrift store recently because it was recommended to me by a friend at book club. I haven't started the book yet but I found this in the afteword to be interesting.

"The tree is the center of everything that is life to Francie. Through the tree, with the tree, because of the tree, little Francie, growing up in desperate poverty, has a fix on another kind of life, one born of a child's longing and aspiration." Alfred Kazin

Seems like something a child of Christ can understand.

I am also working through "Heart to Heart About Men - Words of Encouragement for Women of Integrity" by Nancy Groom. One of the central premises of her book is that women make idols of men. Just this morning, I read.

Cynthia Heald observed, "When God sits down with me, He's not going to say, 'Let's talk about Jack.' So I won't be able to say, 'Well if he had been a better Christian, I would have walked more closely with You.' That's why it so important for my heart and my eyes to be on Jesus" God wants our undivided loyalty, and a wife's idolatry of her husband is neither a blessing to him nor acceptable to a jeaouls God who will brook no rivals.

later she writes

She clings to the illusion that an improved husband or a different man or perhaps the freedom of singleness will somehow diminish her pain and bring her the happiness she feels she deserves. This is often the energy behind our strategies to control or change men: We are trying to shore up the idols we have made, trying to make men into 'good gods' we can manipulate to make our lives smooth or problem free.

and finally...I am reading "Silence" by Shusaku Endo. I read it first in college and it has haunted me for years. I am rereading it in order to suggest it as a potential discussion book for bookclub. At the point I am going to quote, a priest in Japan has been captured and is being held. The goal of his captors is his apostasy so that he will undermine the faith of the peasants. However, they do nothing to harm him.

The priest reflected on the days in the hut of Tomogi Mountain with Garrpe, and how they talked about the torture and whether they could endure it, if once it came their way. Of course, the only thing was to pray for God's grace; but at the time he had felt in his heart that he could fight until death. In his wanderings through the mountains, too, he had entertained the strong conviction that once captured, he would be subjected to physical torture. And he had felt it (was it a sign of his tense emotion?) that whatever torment came his way, he could clench his teeth and bear it.

But now his resolution had somehow weakened. Rising from the floor and shaking his head, he asked himself if his courage had begun to crumble. And was it because of the life he was now leading. The suddenly, from the depths of his heart, someone spoke to him: 'It is because your life hear is so pleasant.'

Since coming to Japan, it was practically only in this prison that he had had the chance to live the life of a priest...It was only since coming here that he had a chance to live with the people and to spend a great part of the day in prayer and medititation without suffering the pangs of hunger.

Like sanding flowing through an hour glass, each day here passed quietly by. His feelings, formerly tense and taut like iron now gradually relaxed...Now that he had once tasted the tepid waters of peace and secruity, would he have the resolution again to wander through those moutnains and conceal himself in a hut?"

This dovetails in with the Beth Moore study of Babylon I am doing at church early on she talks of Daniel's captivity and she says "Nothing is more dangerous than friendly captivity. Captivity never remains friendly. We, too, will lose our identity and integrity without resolve."

Maybe it isn't between the eyest that I've been hit but in the gut.

A note on the photo it was taken when I was seven months pregnant with my second child K. I had taken C to a small free zoo. She wanted to run ahead and as we were quite early and the zoo was empty I told her she could. We were walking down a slight incline and I saw her gain speed and start to lose control and I knew what would happen - but there was nothing I could do to prevent it from happening.


  1. Wow Me, a lot of thoughts and things to think about.

    I loved this quote from the Oswald Chambers book:
    "...not following my own ideas, but choosing absolute loyalty to Jesus".

    The scripture:
    We know that all things work together for good to those who love God . . . —Romans 8:28
    Has always spoken to me. I do think that sometimes it is taken out of context to mean 'things turn nice for those who love God'. But if you look at the next verse:
    v29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
    Read with v29 it now makes sense in that if we love God (and therefore obey Him) whatever happens to us will conform us to the likeness of the 'good' in v28 is becoming more like Christ, not that 'nice' things come of everything that happen to us.

    You sure are reading a lot of books! :o)

  2. mrs blythe,

    I think what so challenges me is the some apprehension about how everyday life works when one is a bondservant to Christ. I know it is silly and I am praying on this tremendously often shooting up prayers while I work.

    I have a hard time letting go of self. I think many do.

    As for Romans 8:28 - I agree about the misuse of it...we tend to forget that God's ways are not our ways and we will not know the purposes for most things until we reach heaven - but boy can we rejoice in the purposes He does show us because the complexity of how He works is remarkable and beautiful.

    Joseph was fortunate in that God revealed the purposes at least in part to him - little did Joseph comprehend the greater purpose of preservation that we see much more clearly from our position on the timeline of Biblical History.

    Now for what seems a bit of a non-sequitor but isn't. I think part of what some of these readings pointed out to me especially as I typed them yesterday is how double-minded I can be. My mind loves some of what I read the beauty and symmetry of how God works. The truth inherent in it. But my soul rebels - 'It is too hard!' and I often find that my feelings regarding what I read and what my mind says I should do with it can shift in a few short moments.

    As to the books! :) It isn't as much as it seems - I read certain books at certain times and seldom for long. The Bible gets the most extended reading daily and Silence is my workout book. I go to the YMCA and pedal and read so it gets a longer read about twice a week.

    (The YMCA seems necessary in the frigid north where we will be locked inside for months and my girls are extremely active!!)

  3. Hi Me, I think that controlling our passions and our wayward thinking can only come through surrender to God. I guess it's kind of like coming to the conclusion "I know nothing, You know all". The human heart is deceptive (somewhere in Jeremiah, lol) and just confuses us. It takes time to be 'broken' enough to reject our reliance on ourselves and surrender completely. 'Common sense' often goes against God's will for us. Imagine how we would have coped with the situation Jesus was in with Lazarus. He didn't immediately rush to him in his sickness but knew God's will for Lazarus and waited until he had died. As a result of this God's glory was shown by raising Lazarus from the dead. When Jesus gets there Mary says (paraphrase) "if you'd have been here earlier he wouldn't have died!" Common sense isn't always God's will.

    I hope this makes sense I'm typing this whilst my 5 year old is reorganising a cupboard I have only just tidied, grr, lol.

  4. you take beautiful photos

  5. I saw your prayer request on Am Praising Him's blog...I will pray for you...I have lived through much anger and have experienced much and receiving. May God's promises comfort you as you walk through this valley...He will give you enough light for the path you are on.

  6. I want to give you big hugs. I have been in the depths of despair and have not been able to find any respite from it. I couldn't make sense of it and I couldn't pretend everything was ok. I've been struggling for a long time now but as happens often for me, I lose my Christian support during struggles because people find it somehow wrong to continue being my friend unless I'm being a strong, non-stumbling Christian. This has added to my despair as it made me feel very insecure in blogging and having internet friends, which seemed all the more tenuous.

    But in the midst of it all, I met you and here today I come and it's as if God gave you all the answers to convey to me. It's as if God said, through you, "Hey Lisa..I's gonna be ok..just trust me." You hit on all the issues that have been beating me up and now I sit here in tears, feeling no longer alone in it. Not only do you understand because you are, yourself, speaking with God about these things but also I feel that God has reached out to me through you.

    Thank you.

  7. Thank you for sharing. This is just what I needed to start my day. Such a sweet, sweet photo as well.