Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Do Not Fear

Yes, I realize that yesterday I posted about how we Christians ought to fear.  We should have reverent fear - a fear based on love and awe and respect.  We who have been lavished with grace and goodness ought to fear that we would disappoint the One who poured out His blessings on us.  We also ought to be praying for our loved ones, fearing that they might be people who are warned in the Bible to examine themselves to see if they truly are in the faith.

Today, I read Luke 1.  Certainly a familiar passage, and one that mentions the word "fear" 4 times:

Luke 1:12 And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him.

  • Luke 1:50 And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.

  • Luke 1:65 And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea,

    Luke 1:74 that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear,
    In the first chapter of the gospel of Luke, there are two instances of an angel appearing to someone and counselling them, "do not be afraid".  

    First, Gabriel appeared to Zechariah as he was carrying out his duty in the temple, and told him that his wife would bear a son.  On this momentous occasion, a once-in-a-lifetime privilege to light the incense beside the veil in the temple, an angel appeared with the BEST of news.  Zechariah's prayers would be answered.  His wife would give birth to a son who would be filled with the Holy Spirit and would be used to make ready for the Lord a people prepared for Him.  

    Zechariah's response showed a lack of trust.  Perhaps he had prayed and prayed and prayed some more, begging God to grant him a son.  Perhaps he had listened to his wife's cries as she lamented the fact that she had suffered reproach among her people for many long years, because she was barren.  At any rate, Zechariah questioned the angel Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God!

    Lessons Learned:

    • God knows every detail about ever human baby, even in the womb.
    • God plans out each life from the beginning.
    • God calls certain people for special service.
    • We should NEVER get weary of praying for something - PERSEVERE!
    • We should ALWAYS trust our Father to do what is best in His good time.
    Second, Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her that she, a virgin, would bear a Son, who would be great and be called the Son of the Most High.  Gabriel's greeting puzzled Mary:  
    "Greetings, O favoured one, the Lord is with you!"
    Mary's response was one of wonder.  She did not know HOW she could conceive.  She didn't know why she, a simple girl from an obscure family with little means, would bear a son equal to the Most High God.  Astounding!

    The title "Favoured One", bestowed on Mary, is the same designation all believers are referred to.  Check out Ephesians 1:

      Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:3-6 ESV)

    Blessed in this instance is the same word as favoured.  It means full of grace.  Mary was no different from us - she was blessed, favoured, full of grace, as are all who have been redeemed and purchased and adopted and sanctified.  

    Mary rejoiced and praised God in the Magnificat.  Go and read Luke 1.

    Zechariah was mute for months because of his lack of trust in God.  At the birth of his son, John, God opened his mouth, and the first thing he said was "His name is John."  Then he pronounced this Benediction:

    And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying, 
      “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people
      and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
    in the house of his servant David,
      as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
      that we should be saved from our enemies
    and from the hand of all who hate us;
      to show the mercy promised to our fathers
    and to remember his holy covenant,
      the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us
      that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
    might serve him without fear,
      in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
      And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
    for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
      to give knowledge of salvation to his people
    in the forgiveness of their sins,
      because of the tender mercy of our God,
    whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high
      to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
    to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
     (Luke 1:67-79 ESV)
    Do you see that?  God remembers His holy covenant.  He delivered us from the clutches of sin and gave us a new life.  We now can serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all of our days.  

    • We do not fear that God will leave us.
    • We do not fear that He will not help us every step of the way.
    • We do not fear that He will forget us.
    • We do not fear that He won't be gracious and merciful to us.
    God is our Abba, Daddy, Father, and He loves us.  Jesus is our Saviour, Lord and Master, and He loves us.  We do not fear - we have confidence to approach the throne of Grace, knowing that the Holy Spirit will always guide us into all truth.

    The only thing we fear is forgetting these glorious truths.  The only thing we fear is not living in the light of the gospel.  We fear ourselves - our sin nature - our flesh.  But with God on our side, we persevere with courage, and we do NOT FEAR.

    Tuesday, February 22, 2011

    Fear God - Sermon Notes

    Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said,  
    “As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest,’”
      although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.” And again in this passage he said,       
      “They shall not enter my rest.”
       Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted, 
      “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”
       For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. 
    Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. 
    Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. 
    (Hebrews 4 ESV)

    Hebrews was written to the persecuted church.  They faced various challenges, such as Roman persecutions and the Judaizers who wanted Christians to remain under the law.  The writer of Hebrews extolled the Superiority of Christ - He is better than angels, better than the law, better than anything.  Christians at the time of the writing of Hebrews may have fallen into apostasy and given up their faith.  The writer wrote to encourage them not to give up.

    The Bible tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  Hebrews Chapter 4 starts with fear, too:

    Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. (Hebrews 4:1 ESV)

    Why should we fear?  We are secure in Christ.  Oh, some people can think to themselves, "If I sin again and again, continually falling into the same pattern, will the Lord give up on me?"  One of the great truths of the Reformation was the Perseverance of the Saints, along with Justification by Faith Alone, and the Priesthood of the believer.  The Reformation was against the false teachings of the Roman Catholic church, which wanted to control the people, to frighten them in order to make them give money and to obey the church leaders.

    We don't believe those priests.  We don't have to fear that we will lose our salvation.

    What, then, should we fear?  Why should we fear?  Who should fear?  In what kind of situation ought a believer to fear?

    Let us fear lest we fail to reach His rest.

    Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. (Hebrews 4:11 ESV)

    We ought to fear that some that we love may not be able to enter into the kingdom of heaven.  Jesus said that not all of those who will say, "Lord, Lord" are really His.  

    In the great Exodus of the people of Israel from Egypt, Moses led the people across the Red Sea, to Mt. Sinai, and to Kadesh Barnea.  Twelve spies were sent out, and ten of them feared the people of the land, instead of fearing God.  They then were forced to wander forty years in the wilderness, and all of the people of that generation (except Joshua and Caleb) died, not permitted to enter the promised land.  

    This is a picture of our Sanctification.  We are stuck in slavery, then "baptized" in the Red Sea as we follow Christ.  We spend years of wandering in the wilderness, and the Lord leads us by night and by day.  The crossing of the Jordan River into the promised land is a picture of death - the pathway to heaven.

    We should fear

    • not that God would change His mind
    • not that God would give up on us
    • not that Jesus will stop interceding for me
    • not that He will separate Himself from me
    For He promised never to leave us.  He knows His sheep, and we hear His voice and follow Him. However, we should fear that some may not be able to enter into this rest.  How can I be sure that my beloved spouse will enter?  It is not to be taken lightly.

    Why should we fear? We have work to do!  We are not justified by our works, but by faith in the finished work of Christ.  Yet we still have work to do - Work prepared beforehand by our loving Heavenly Father.  We need to be diligent, to be careful, to work out our salvation in fear and trembling, knowing that some day we will give an account to God.

    Who should fear?  I am sure that I am a Christian, so why should I fear?  

    . . . no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. 

    Everything is naked and open before God.  He knows my conscience.  He knows my thoughts.  He alone knows if my faith is real.  He is the One to whom we must give an account.  We should have holy fear and holy reverence for our Holy God.   Yes, we are justified by faith, but we are to be judged according to the works we do.  He declares that He knows our works.

    Let us hold fast our confession.  What is our confession?

    • I do not deserve grace.
    • I am a sinner.
    • I deserve nothing but a lake of fire.
    • Jesus is my Saviour.
    • My salvation is a free gift to me, but it cost God everything.
    We can't take it easy, or take it for granted.  Should I ever forget the day that Jesus carried the cross for me?   He worked so hard for me.  He did it all; He paid the full price.  Should I not fear, and work for Him?

    I need to fear - that I will not live with the gift of Grace in mind every day.

    When should I fear?  Today!  Today I should fear that I will mess up and disappoint my Master.  I should constantly fear that I would sin against God.  I do not want to dishonour such a lovely Saviour.  

    Think of the Prodigal Son, after he's been welcomed back home by his Father.  How will he act?  What will he do?  He will not fear that his dad might not love him - his dad already proved his love, over and over again.  He has been forgiven, and brought back into the family. His greatest fear ought to be that he would disappoint his dad.

    We are on a long journey, travelling through the wilderness, following the Lord.  Let's be like the five wise virgins, prepared and ready when He returns.  Let us therefore come BOLDLY to the throne of grace.

    When?  In time of need - all of the time.   There is never a time we don't need the Holy Spirit to guide us.  There is never a time we don't need our Father to provide for us.  There is never a time we don't need our Saviour to intercede for us.  We are needy people.  Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, fearing to dishonour our Beautiful God.

    Lord, help us to have a holy fear, for You are worthy to be praised.  You are worthy for us to strive, to do our best, to work hard, to further the Kingdom for Your name's sake.  Help us not to take it lightly.  Thank You that You love us, pitiful sinners that we are.  Help us to know You more, to look to Jesus, to know His love - because only the Love of Christ is able to transform us.  Our only hope is in You, Oh God, and we look to You for everything.  We pray in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

    Sunday, February 20, 2011

    Book Review - The Sabbath by Dan B. Allender

    I mentioned in a previous blog post that I often have puzzled over the commandment, "Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy."  I waited with great anticipation for the mailman to deliver from Booksneeze a copy of this book, and when it came, I devoured it.  

    The message of the book is this:  The Sabbath should be a delight.

    Phyllis Tickle, in her foreward, writes, 

    "I never thought of shabbos as a thing of delight before, never thought of it as a time for the soul to play and take its leisure, never before thought of it as a time of training for learning to walk again, as once we did, in familial communion with the Father.  What has happened for me in working with this manuscript is a transposition of the Sabbath from rule and commanded observance to holy romp and secret playground where each visit only adds another level of delight."  p. viii.

    It happened to me as well, Phyllis.

    Dan Allender explains the difference between a true Sabbath and a "bastard Sabbath" - a day that merely ceases from work.  Sabbath ought not to be merely the cessation of work, but the turning from work to something utterly different from what we normally call rest.  When God rested on the seventh day, He...

    "didn't rest in the sense of taking a nap or chilling out;  instead, God celebrated and delighted in his creation.  God entered the joy of his creation and set it free..." p.28
    We are to enter the joy of creation, to have a day of wonder, delight, and joy EVERY SINGLE WEEK.  The Sabbath should be the Queen of Days, a day to celebrate four key components:

    • sensual glory
    • rhythmic repetition
    • communal feasting
    • just playfulness
    Sensual Glory

    God stood back from each day of creation and declared that it was good.  Everything He created revealed something different about His glory.  In the busyness of our lives, we simply do not take the time to marvel at creation, to delight in our senses, to praise our Beautiful God for all of the beauty which He bestows on us.

    "We are to bask in beauty, to surround our senses with color, texture, taste, fragrance, fire, sound, sweetness, and delight.  And if we are to do so, each and every day, with joy, then how much more are we to do so on the Sabbath...?" p.44

    The intriguing concept for me was that each and every Sabbath should be a delight, but each and every Sabbath can be different.  Dan asks,

    "What beauty will you explore and get lost in during this day of celebration?  What beauty will open your eyes to the questions God wants you to ponder in order to increase your awe and gratitude?" p.47

    The only parameter is that the Sabbath should be a delight.  Do what delights you!  Do it intentionally, planning ahead, asking yourself and your family, "What will bring us joy?"

    Rhythmic Repetition

    Dan explains that there is a rhythm to celebrating the Sabbath.  There must be planning and preparation through the week, so that work can be suspended on that day, and the joy of the Sabbath celebrated.  

    The key word is intentionality.  Joy doesn't just happen, nor is it served up on demand.  Much as the notion that creativity is 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration, so Sabbath joy is part mysterious surprise preceded by much planning and preparation.  The Sabbath calls us to receive and to create with God the delight he gives and invites us to orchestrate for his glory.  It requires surrender and imagination.
    Once the Sabbath ends, the next three days can be reflection, a remembering of the day, savoring what was sweet and reconsidering what might have made the day more glorious. p.62
    Communal Feast

    Sadly, some people think that the Sabbath should be a day of forced quiet, spiritual exercises, and religious devotion - spent mostly indoors, napping or praying, but not partying.  Dan makes the case that instead of somber reflection, the Sabbath ought to be a feast day, when we say to one another, "Taste and see that the Lord is good.  Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!" ~Ps. 34:8

    The Sabbath is a day when we enter a dance with God and others and experience a beauty that takes our breath away. p. 67
    Dan explains that we do this through enjoying beauty, sensuality, and feasting. 


    If you watch small children or even young animals, you'll see them abandon themselves to play.  Play is a gift; it's also an affirmation that life is a celebration, and that death has no sting.

    The Sabbath is our play day - not as a break from the routine of work, but as a feast that celebrates the superabundance of God's creative love. . . p 82
    To play in the fields of God will vary from Sabbath to Sabbath.  There will be countless Sabbaths spent indoors in front of a fire, reading a novel; and there will be others on the side of a stream watching a bull trout meander with feckless disregard...
    Sabbath doesn't deny that death exists; instead, it celebrates life. p. 97.
     Part Two of the book explains the purpose of Sabbath in great detail.  The sheer abundance of God's gifts overwhelms His children and makes them grateful.

    The Sabbath is not a vacation; it is a grateful celebration.  Who are you celebrating?  To whom do you owe your life, your current taste of re-creation?  Who marked you with kindness that has enabled you to offer care in return?  Who has scarred you with heartache that has enabled you to enter the woulds of others with grace?  p. 12

    The reality of God's love and provision overwhelms His children and fills them with joy.

    Worry is anti-Sabbath.  Both regret and worry assume there is no God, or at least not one who loves and pours himself out for his children. p.136  

    Dan Allender does not minimize the reality of living in a fallen world.  Instead, he makes the case that in the midst of our brokenness and pain and suffering, we can turn our thoughts to Jesus.  We can clear away the debris and gaze with joy at our Saviour.  We can see our suffering as a gift that teaches us more about His suffering, and we can learn to use both the joys and the sorrows of our lives to taste and see that the Lord is good!

    Part Three discusses Sabbath Performance.

    Life is a drama, and each of us is a character in an evolving script, living a life that reveals something of the nature of the human condition.  

    We are in God's play, yet our rebellion creates a drama that requires God to enter our play in an act that goes far beyond linking the separated stories . . .  p.151
    Dan asks the question, "What symbols and rituals help you focus on the play, delight and awe of the Sabbath?  How can they transform or make sense of the "drama" of your life? p. 198

    Whether it's the lighting of candles or listening to worship songs, rituals can help us focus our thoughts and senses to the delight of the day.  

    Silence can also be a tool that opens the heart to mediation and prayer.   

    The celebration of Sabbath is open to all who have been saved by the grace of God.  Justice is usually considered to be the righteous application of the law against those who do wrong.  It punishes and corrects the evildoer.  But GRACE is not an exception to justice - rather it is its fulfillment.  

    When we consider what we deserve, and compare it to what God gives, we are astounded by the grace of God.  We learn to "pay forward" the generosity that has been bestowed on us, and share our freedom with others.


    I read this book with delight.  There were a couple of statements in the book that disturbed me, but overall, it was an inspiration.  I highly recommend this book to anyone who longs to understand more of the grace of God, and to delight in all of His gifts.  The Sabbath ought to be a day of delight.  I plan to implement many of Dan Allender's suggestions, and I am thankful he wrote the book.  

    I received this book for free from Booksneeze in exchange for my book review.

    Wednesday, February 16, 2011

    Tomorrow for sure...

    The day just got away from me.  I was searching for some files and busy with other things, so I just didn't get that Book Report on the book, Sabbath, by Dan Allender, done.  Mea Culpa... I'll try really hard to get to it tomorrow, or maybe Friday.  

    Meanwhile, as I was sorting papers, I came across a neat little booklet by Wayne Mack, a Christian Counsellor.  It's called, "You Can Resolve Interpersonal Conflicts."

    It's a great little booklet that discusses the difficulties between two women in the Bible, Euodia and Syntyche.  I remember a pastor once joking that their nicknames were "Odious" and "Soon-Touchy".  At any rate, they weren't getting along, and Paul urged them to live in harmony, and he urged their fellow workers to help them get along.  The booklet spells out the responsibility Christians have in seeking help with interpersonal conflicts when they arise, as well as the responsibility of others to counsel those going through difficulties.  

    There are some good Suggested Assignments at the back of the booklet.  I'll copy them here for anyone who is interested:

    1.  Make a list of several biblical principles for solving interpersonal conflicts.

    2.  Circle the principles that you are guilty of violating.  Confess  your sins to God, seek cleansing through the blood of Christ, and ask the Holy Spirit to help you make the necessary changes.

    3.  Make a list of what you have done or said that may have aggravated the situation.  The list should be very specific; it should include sins of omission as well as commission, sins of attitude as well as words and actions.  When you ask for forgiveness, be very careful to accept full responsibility for your own sins.  Talk about what you have done.  Don't justify or seek to rationalize.  Be brief and to the point, and beware of violating the principles expressed in the following three passages:

    Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. 
    But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. ~Ephesians 5:1-6 

    “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. ~Matthew 7:1-5 
    Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. ~James 4:11 

    4.  Study Romans 12:18-21;  Philippians 2:1-9; 4-8; Ephesians 4:17-32; Colossians 3:12-15;  Matthew 5:42-49.  Make a list of insights that these Scriptures give for preventing or solving interpersonal conflicts.  Review these verses and insights daily.

    5.  Make a list of good qualities or actions found in the other person's life (past or present).  Look for opportunities to express your appreciation for the other person's good qualities and actions.

    6.  Make a list of specific, practical ways that you can serve, help, encourage or please the other person.  Begin immediately to put items on the list into practice.

    7.  Assume personal responsibility for the other person's reputation

    8.  Ask him for his advice on a question or project in which you are interested and about which he has some knowledge.  

    9.  Seek out a Christian counsellor and ask him to help you become more biblical in your lifestyle in general and in your relationships in particular.  Certainly your main desire in life should be to glorify God, and that will happen as you become more biblical in your living.  If you have conflicts or problems that you have not been able to handle on your own, plan now from whom and when you will seek God's kind of help for  your own life.  

    We live in a world that is full of sinners.  Look in the mirror to find the one with whom you will always have the most trouble.  Expect conflict in your life - it's going to happen - and learn to deal with it Biblically.  In so doing, you will glorify God and find peace.

    If you have time (and it's worth every second) listen to D.A. Carson speak on The God Who Helps.

    Tuesday, February 15, 2011

    Sabbath - an intriguing practice.

    A Sabbathbreaker Executed
    Numbers 15:32 While the people of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering sticks on the Sabbath day. 33 And those who found him gathering sticks brought him to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation. 34 They put him in custody, because it had not been made clear what should be done to him. 35 And the Lord said to Moses,  “The man shall be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp.” 36 And all the congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him to death with stones, as the Lord commanded Moses.

    This passage from the book of Numbers demonstrates how seriously God regarded the Sabbath.    The notes from my ESV Bible explain:

    ESV Notes: This seems to be a case of sinning “with a high hand”—and publicly, too—so that the offender is actually executed, not just left to be “cut off” (cf. vv. 30–31), which applied only when the offender escaped human detection. In this case it is clear that the man has sinned, since all work on the Sabbath is prohibited (Ex. 20:10), including lighting a fire (Ex. 35:3). However, in this case the people did not know what his punishment should be: it had not been made clear what should be done to him. The mode of his execution underlines the importance of observing the Sabbath.

    In my Christian life, I've always felt vaguely uncomfortable about the Sabbath.  After all, one of the Ten Commandments is "Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy".  What does that mean for a Christian, a person not under the law?  Should Christians do nothing on the Sabbath but read the Bible and memorize Scripture?  

    And what about Jesus' attitude towards the Sabbath?  He hated the petty, burdensome rules of the Pharisees.  He made it clear that it was fine for His disciples to pick and eat grain on the Sabbath, as they were walking through the fields.  He healed on the Sabbath, knowing that the Pharisees and scribes were watching and waiting for a chance to accuse Him.  He commanded a man to take up his bed and walk, knowing that the Jewish leaders would consider that a violation of the Sabbath.  

    He did all that to show that He was Lord of the Sabbath.

    Matthew 12:8 For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”

    But the verse that puzzled me the most was this one:

    Mark 2:27 And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.
    Ok.  Jesus said that the Sabbath, a day of rest according to the ten commandments, was made FOR man.  It was something God designed for the good of man.  

    In what way would it be good?  What day should be celebrated?  How ought the Sabbath be observed?  What are essential components of remembering the Sabbath Day?  What MUST be included, if anything?  What activities should be avoided, if any?

    All of these questions niggled at me for quite some time, so when an opportunity arose to read a book on the subject, Sabbath, by Dan Allender, I jumped at the chance.  I was familiar with some of Dan Allender's teaching, having read journal articles written by him on a variety of counselling subjects.  I also read "The Wounded Heart", a book that offers practical advice to victims of abuse.  

    The book was liberating for me.  I found it exhilarating, challenging, encouraging, and intriguing.  Tomorrow, I'll tell you why.  

    I received this book from Booksneeze for free, on condition I write a review.  I'll write that review tomorrow.  

    Colossians 2:16   Let No One Disqualify You
    Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath.

    Tuesday, February 8, 2011

    Leave Me Alone.

    Job, a righteous man, said it.

    "Leave me alone."

    Job 7:16 I loathe my life; I would not live forever.

    Leave me alone, for my days are a breath.

    17 ¶ What is man, that you make so much of him,

    and that you set your heart on him,

    18 visit him every morning

    and test him every moment?

    19 How long will you not look away from me,

    nor leave me alone till I swallow my spit?

    Job has lost everything.  His livelihood, his children, his health, his reputation, his standing in the community.   And he just wants to be left alone.

    Why won't You leave me alone, You watcher of men?

    Give me a chance to catch my breath, to swallow my spit. 

    Have you ever felt like that?  Has your world crashed in on you and tested you, stretching you to your limits?  Have you felt that God has abandoned you, or treated you unfairly?  Do you wonder why He ordained the trials and tribulations you are experiencing?
    How do you react?
    Do you want to be left alone?
         You really don't.
         You would be lost and undone without God.  To Whom would you go?  He's the One who has the words of eternal life.  He's the One who has the power to heal, to redeem, to restore, to bind up the brokenhearted.
    It may be some day that you think you want to be left alone.  You may even cry it aloud, like Job. 
    But after you do, after you've lamented and mourned and sobbed and spent all of your tears, do the only logical thing.
    Turn your heart towards God. 

    Lamentations 3
    21 ¶ But this I call to mind,

    and therefore I have hope:

    22 The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;

    his mercies never come to an end;

    23 they are new every morning;

    great is your faithfulness.

    24 “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,

    “therefore I will hope in him.”

    25 The LORD is good to those who wait for him,

    to the soul who seeks him.

    26 It is good that one should wait quietly

    for the salvation of the LORD.

    27 It is good for a man that he bear

    the yoke in his youth.

    28 Let him sit alone in silence

    when it is laid on him;

    29 let him put his mouth in the dust—

    there may yet be hope;

    30 let him give his cheek to the one who strikes,

    and let him be filled with insults.

    31 For the Lord will not

    cast off forever,

    32 but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion

    according to the abundance of his steadfast love;

    Monday, February 7, 2011

    Like a weaned child

    As a grandmother to 19 grandchildren, I am a keen observer of human nature in the young.  Because I am blessed to be the mother of 12, I have watched typical behaviour for many years.  Children really do follow a pattern - going from selfish concern about their own needs to people who begin to be concerned about others, and from little worrywarts who think they might not get what they need to confident adults who trust in the Lord.

    Today I watched Ava Grace as she whined and wriggled in her mom's lap.  Heather and I were having a tea together, and Ava wanted tea.  She was charming in her petition, as usual.  She scrunched up her nose, and pleaded with mom.  When mom said NO, Ava turned to Granny - a last resort. 

    "Please, Granny, can I have a tea?"

    Heather reminded Ava, "I said No."

    Ava retorted, "I'm asking GRANNY!"

    Of course, Ava is a big girl now, and she understands no, and she also knows that when Mommy says no, she means no.  Granny is an easier mark, but we won't go there.

    As I observed Ava, I thought about how I, too, want what I want when I want it.  I don't want to wait on God for the goodies.  I want it now.  I also don't want to trust Him with what is best for me - I think I know it perfectly.  I act just like a three-year-old who wants a cup of tea.

    Tim Challies posted the following today.  It's worth the read:

    The Anti-Psalm 

    This week, in the course I am taking with CCEF, I read David Powlison’s reflections on Psalm 131. And as he teaches the Psalm, he re-writes it as the exact opposite—rather an interesting teaching technique. But rather an effective one, I’d say.
    So here is Psalm 131, words I’m sure you know well.

    O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; 
    my eyes are not raised too high; 
    I do not occupy myself with things 
    too great and too marvelous for me. 
    But I have calmed and quieted my soul, 
    like a weaned child with its mother; 
    like a weaned child is my soul within me.

    O Israel, hope in the Lord 
    from this time forth and forevermore.
    And here is Powlison’s anti-psalm:

    My heart is proud 
    and my eyes are haughty 
    and I chase after things too great and too difficult for me. 
    So of course I’m noisy and restless inside; it comes naturally, 
    like a hungry infant fussing on his mother’s lap, 
    like a hungry infant, I’m restless with my demands and worries.

    I scatter my hopes onto anything and everybody all the time.

    I can be just like a hungry infant, fussing on his mother's lap.  I chase after things I think I need, rather than trusting in my Abba, my Daddy who not only knows exactly what I need, but has the means to provide everything.  

    How silly of me!

    How childish. 

    How lacking in faith.

    Today I read about the 12 spies who went into the Promised Land to scope it out.  Ten of them came back and whined.   "There are giants in the land".  

    Then they grumbled.  "Why didn't we die in Egypt?"

    They fretted, "We're gonna die!  Our wives and children will be prey!"

    How silly of them!  How childish.  How lacking in faith!  They didn't believe God's promise that He would give them that land flowing with milk and honey.  They didn't trust Him to rout the Amalekites and the Canaanites and give them farms and buildings, wells and gardens.  

    They acted like a bunch of whiny-babies.

    Except for Joshua and Caleb.

    It's funny.  All twelve of the men saw the same things.  They went into the land together.  They brought back the grapes and they reported on what they saw.

    But Joshua and Caleb saw it all through eyes of faith and spiritual maturity, 

    and said to all the congregation of the people of Israel, “The land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land. If the LORD delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the LORD is with us; do not fear them.” 
    (Numbers 14:7-9 ESV)

    "It is a great land!"

    God will bring us into this land!  He'll give it to us!

    Joshua and Caleb were like the weaned child resting on his mother's lap.  They trusted the Lord for His provision.  They waited on Him for His leading.  Their hope was in HIM.

    Read the rest of Numbers 14 to find out what the Lord thought about the whiney-babies who were restless with their demands and worries.  Notice the contrast between how God dealt with those who rested in Him, and those who were restless and discontented.

    How about you?

    Are you like a weaned child, resting humbly in Abba's lap, trusting Him with the things that are too marvelous for you?  

    Or are you a restless, discontented, proud and haughty searcher, chasing after things you don't understand?

    God is worthy of our trust.  

    Leviticus 20:24
    But I have said to you, ‘You shall inherit their land, and I will give it to you to possess, a land flowing with milk and honey.’ I am the Lord your God, who has separated you from the peoples.

    Wednesday, February 2, 2011


    I've been away.

    Away from my blog.

    Away from my Bible.

    Away from my Bible Notebook, from early morning musings, from meditation and prayer.

    I've been busy.

    And I don't know where the last week went to. 

    I do know that I started a new eating protocol in an attempt to take off the excess pounds that have been affecting my life, my energy, my joints.  The accident I experienced four years ago left me in enough pain that I did a lot more sitting and a lot less moving, and I gained weight.  Lots of weight.

    Since then, I've worked at shedding 45 pounds; but over Christmas, it snuck back on, slowly but surely, until I ended up within 30 lbs of my highest weight.  Ugh.

    My daughter told me about a medical protocol for re-adjusting the hypothalmus, which controls the three forms of fat in the body.  She was having great results, but I balked at it.  I didn't want to go on a low calorie diet.  I didn't want to have to give up cream in my coffee, or my relaxing glass of red wine in the evening.  I didn't want to have to stop frying my eggs in butter or snacking if I felt like it.  I stomped my feet (virtually, not in reality) and stubbornly refused to even consider it.

    In the Providence of God, our church is studying a book on Spiritual Disciplines. One of the chapter was on fasting.  It makes the point that fasting IS a Spiritual Discipline.  Jesus fasted.  Great men and women of God fasted.  They did it for a purpose, for their own souls to draw closer to God, or for heightened awareness of God in prayer.  Some, like John Wesley and David Brainerd, fasted weekly.  Others fasted rarely... but always for a purpose.

    Another thing that was discussed was the fact that fasting can be from all food, or from food and water, or from certain foods.  It can be for a short time (missing one meal) or for an extended time. 

    I thought about that a lot.   The Holy Spirit kept prompting me, reminding me, whispering to me... "why not consider this very low calorie diet as a time to break free from the habit of eating whenever you want to?  Why not break free from the selfishness you have exhibited?  Why not give up delicious things for an even better reward - a body that is fit for service, and an attitude that is free from the bondage of having to eat lots of food, on time, many times per day?"

    It was a struggle, but I gave in.

    When I did, to my surprise, some family members joined me on this journey.  What a blessing it's been to see the pounds drop off!  More than that, what a blessing it's been to realize that I don't have to be controlled by food.  I can control myself by exercising the gift of self-control!

    So, I've been busy learning.  I've been reading and counting calories and weighing grams and studying protocols.  I've been measuring and planning and preparing food for myself and the others who have joined me on this journey.  I am so proud of them!

    Here's a website where you can learn more, if you struggle with the same issues.  We've lost a family total of 54 lbs so far.  More to follow. 

    I'll be back tomorrow, Lord willing.

    Back to my Bible.

    Back to my Bible Notebook.

    Back to my meditations and ponderings and blogging. 

    See you then!