Tag: Oswald Chambers

alphabet of thanks, “U”

I’m thankful today for UNDERSTANDING.

Giving it and receiving it.

I think understanding is a lost art.

Let’s face it. When we give understanding, we can’t at the same time be intolerant or hateful. I think sometimes we think that if we offer understanding, we are watering down our beliefs. And I also think that we look at understanding as “acceptance”.

I don’t think it has to be that way.

The definition for understanding is:

  •  as a noun:  the ability to understand something; comprehension.
  •  as an adjective:  sympathetically aware of other people’s feelings; tolerant and forgiving.

You notice there is nothing about agreeing with, overlooking anything, denying the truth, turning a blind eye, etc.

I can tell you that offering understanding to someone while at the same time not excusing their behavior or offering advice that is watered-down is very hard to do. How do you emphasize with someone’s feelings while accurately appraising their situation so you can help?

A good example is the story of the women caught in adultery. You know the one. If you don’t, here it is.

John 8:1-11New Living Translation  

A Woman Caught in Adultery

Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.

“Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”

They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!”Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.

When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. 10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”

11 “No, Lord,” she said.

And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

Jesus understood how she felt but he didn’t offer any platitudes or easy-on-the-ears advice. He understood that while she was perhaps a victim of the men who used her services, there was still some culpability on her part. She needed to change her behavior. “Go and sin no more”.

And understanding probably has stages.

For example, Jesus might well have treated this woman differently the second or third time she was accused. He would have forgiven her, of course, but he would have also told her to change her behavior in more certain terms.

How do I know that?

Because Jesus was amazingly consistent. He forgave, yes, but he also preached regeneration, meaning change. He never cajoled or coaxed anyone into obedience. He still doesn’t.

At times, I wished He did.

It feels good to have someone try and understand us, doesn’t it?  And aren’t we more receptive to hearing some tough words when we feel we have been understood? No one ever gets our attention if we sense they are judging us.

We should always try to understand first. And if the situation continues and our understanding is no longer the proper response, then perhaps the words, “Go and sin no more”, will be received.

For example, let’s say I overeat and have a stomach ache. I mention it to someone and they remind me it’s pretty much all my fault and walk away.

But what if someone else says, “I am really sorry you are sick.”

What happens though if I continue to get sick because of my overeating and I continue to want “understanding”. Does that do me any good? Does that help me change my behavior?

Probably not.

There comes a point when understanding needs to give way to honesty. But let’s always start with understanding. I just read this in Oswald Chamber’s, My Utmost For His Highest: (this is my summary)

“Don’t get in God’s way when He’s dealing with someone. You may be doing them more harm than good. Don’t rescue.”

It’s one of my favorites because it speaks to one of my faults, the need to rescue. Sometimes the best thing we do for someone is to step aside and let them learn.

God bless and have a good day.

 

 

zentangle

How God changes drudgery into glory

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For the most part wouldn’t you agree that our lives are largely composed of the mundane? Our daily tasks take on a feel of drudgery and boredom. We don’t see how God is glorified through doing our job, whether at home or in a workplace or both.

But I think that our “drudgery” becomes transformed when we perform our duties and let God’s light shine on them. We do this be realizing that God speaks most often through the commonness of our life, not the exceptions.

How many times do we read about feet washing in the New Testament, a true act of humility if ever there was one.

As Oswald Chambers says:

“When the Lord does a thing through us, He always transfigures it.”

I don’t think we can expect to see that transformation. It’s kind of like “air”. It surrounds us and yet in most circumstances, we’re not aware of it.

We breathe in God’s grace and we breathe out his glory. I have no clue how that happens but I firmly believe we either make the world a better place or not depending on our actions. If in God’s eyes, even the most humble act of washing feet (John thirteen in the Bible) is worthy enough to be mentioned in a book that is chock-full of miracles, then it is obviously important for us to understand why it’s there.

Why did God want the mundane recorded amidst the amazing?

To remind us that life is almost never about the amazing and almost always about the drudgery. It is in the most ordinary of life’s events that God is glorified the most.

So for today, I encourage you that if what you do today seems insignificant, it doesn’t have to be. Anything we do today can bring glory to God. Colossians 3:17 says:

New International Version
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

God bless and I hope you have a good day.

ps. You know the posts of the last three days? I have something so wonderful to share with you, I can hardly wait. But I want my words to capture the experience and the lessons learned in the most precise way possible so I’m taking a few days to process it all. Keep a watch out for that post. I’ll let you know a day ahead of time. All I can say is, it might well be the most important (and from God’s viewpoint the hardest lesson he’s ever had to teach me) spiritual insight I’ve ever gleaned.

What’s is the secret of the spiritually growing Christian?

Don’t you wonder sometimes about the strength of other Christians? I do. And often I come up short by comparison.

Many times I feel “flawed”. I mentioned yesterday that I have met some very inspiring people these last eight days. (In order to understand this post you will absolutely have to read yesterday’s post.  I don’t want to have to reiterate it all again. Besides, it makes me cry.)

I visited my mother this afternoon and once again I am hopeful. Bringing her home and canceling all the scheduled caregivers, nurses, therapists, etc, seems to be working.

It was so good to visit with her in her own home, to talk with her, have lunch with her. As you read last week, I never thought this would happen again. I also shared how God’s grace has seen me through this quagmire of the medical domain. I also shared about the importance of having God’s word in our hearts and how that happens.

I often say to myself after God does something that tickles my heart, “God, how do you do that?” For example, I’m in a quandary about something and God brings the perfect piece of information my way.  “God, how do you do that?” Or I’m shopping for something specific and find it on sale, “God, how do you do that?”. There are some weeks it’s like an everyday occurrence.

As you can surmise, I haven’t had much “alone” time with God recently. But finally yesterday afternoon, I found the time and had another one of those “God, how do you do that?” experiences.

I’m going to quote this verbatim. It’s from Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest”, October 19th.

“You have no idea of where God is going to engineer your circumstances, no knowledge of what strain is going to be put on you and if you waste your time in over-active energies, instead of getting into soak on the great fundamental truths of God’s Redemption, (that was a little hard to follow but I think he is using the word “soak” to mean “study”) you will snap when the strain comes, but if this time of soaking before God is being spent in getting rooted and grounded in God on the unpractical line, you will reamin true to Him whatever happens,”

I mean really, did he copy me? This is exactly what I wrote about yesterday. What an affirmation.

“God, how do you do that”?

God bless and I really do hope you have a good day.

How do you crash land after flying?

HARD LANDINGS

Perhaps one of the hardest things to do is to “come down” after a particularly good time.

Do you have that problem, too? You know, it’s like when you come back from vacation and face your real, mundane world again. It was so much fun not thinking about people and situations, wasn’t it?  It was so much fun not having to be somewhere at a certain time and obligating oneself, wasn’t it? It was so much fun not having to go to work, to clean the house, and especially (for me, anyway), not having to cook the meals.

But believe it or not, being on vacation all the time would get kind of boring after awhile.

There’s something to be said about the “ordinaryness” of life.

For me, I adjust fairly quickly but do you know what really is a problem for me? It’s when I’m soaring spiritually and then crash land into reality. So many times, my “alone” time has been really special. I feel God’s touch so easily. I gain new insight so easily.

God and I solve everything so easily. And then I come down to earth as I encounter rude salesclerks, unanticipated interruptions, difficult relatives. Well, you understand completely, don’t you?

FLYING LIKE EAGLES

But something I read in Oswald Chamber’s, My Utmost For His Highest, really helps me when this happens.  It goes like this: (Some  of this is paraphrased but ihere is the  original.)

“There should be nothing between you and Christ. If there is, you must get through it by facing it. We have to mount up with wings of eagles; but we must also know how to come down. Because come down we will. The power of the saint lies in the coming down and living down.

Can I face reality or does that reality put me in a panic?”

So how do we come “down” after being “up”.

I think it’s always the same.

We simply have to remember that life is life because of the ups and downs, not in spite of them.

THE REALITY OF OUR FLIGHT

All we have to do is read the gospels and follow the life of Jesus to know this is true. There is no one in history that has been as much on a mountaintop as our Lord, and also in the deepest depths of despair.

  • Jesus laughed and loved.
  • Jesus got mad.
  • Jesus cried.
  • Jesus despaired.
  • Jesus had times of great communion with God.
  • Jesus felt abandoned by God at times

When we consider the life of Jesus, we have a clear example that, yes, it’s great to “fly”,  but it’s more important to “walk”.

There will come a day when we will fly and fly only. Won’t that be wonderful? But for now, it’s just one step at a time.

God bless and I hope you have a good day.

 

When God brings things to the forefront of our mind

god-dreams

FALSE GUILT AND UNNEEDED SACRIFICE

I think when we get to a certain level of maturity in our Christian faith, God’s prompts are pretty obvious.

When we’re young Christians, we often have an over-developed conscience and hold ourselves to a standard that is far harsher than the standards God holds us to. We’re big into “sacrificing” for God because we haven’t learned that God desires our obedience way before any self-imposed sacrifice we might think is a good idea.  Of course, there may come a time when God does require a sacrifice from us but when he does, it really won’t seem like one.

Oswald Chambers says it this way, “The sense of sacrifice appeals readily to a young Christian.”

Because of my childhood, history, I have a natural inclination to feel more guilty about things than I should. My early Christian experience was thus burdened with what I now call “false guilt”. And the interesting conundrum about that is we become so focused on what we think is a sin, we ignore the ones that are!

Are we grow in Christ and practice the spiritual disciplines of prayer, Bible study, tithing, silence and solitude, and sometimes fasting, we learn to distinguish between the guilt that is truly ours to confess, and that which is not.

For myself, I pretty much recognize my Father’s voice and know when I’ve stepped outside his will.

HOW GOD SPEAKS TO ME

Are you asking, “How?”

For me, it’s just an uncomfortable, persistent kind of pinprick in my heart that something is not right. Sure, I get it wrong sometimes, but I always know to at least address that little nagging feeling, and check it out.

Sometimes, I have resorted to some old habits. But if something has been brought to my mind, I assume it’s God’s Spirit working in me. I sense that God has detected something some small thing that needs to be addressed. It’s either something I need to give up or at least change, or it’s something I need to do.

I think feeling convicted by the Holy Spirit is a good thing. First of all, it keeps me on track. Secondly, it reminds me just how much God loves me.

So if you have a nagging feeling today that something isn’t right, there’s a good chance God is speaking to you. And the wonderful part about that is, he’s right there ready to forgive and to help you move on. No extended guilt feelings required, just a change of action.

God bless and I hope you have a good day.

 

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