Job & The Chariot of Fire

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“Then ADONAI answered Job out of the whirlwind… ‘Now gird up your loins like a man; I will question you, and you will inform me!'”–Job 38:2-3 TLV

THE MORE I READ The Book of Job, the more I’m convinced that it wasn’t meant to explain the problem of suffering. The suffering itself is a decoy–like the fiery chariot that seperated Elijah and Elisha, when Elijah was transported to heaven in a whirlwind (2nd Kings 2:11). The real subject matter is in the whirlwind, for it is the whirlwind that narrows our focus onto God, making no effort to tame Him. The whirlwind is where our souls are calmed and quieted, like King David when he said, “I do not concern myself with great matters, nor with things too profound for me” (Psalm 131 NKJV).

The God of the whirlwind and the burning bush bows to no one. He’s not some indefinable cosmic energy that we can tap into, but He’s not a flat orthodox figure either. He is not an entity that will morph to suit our fancy or a cracked fresco on the ceiling of a Byzantine monastery. “I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 3:14). He is who He is.

But He is unchangeable, and who can make Him change? Whatever His soul desires, He does.–Job 23:13 TLV

In chapter 28, Job declares that true wisdom, like gold and precious stones, is hidden in the depth far beyond the surface of things; and, by the same token, those who approach The Book of Job with logic and presumption, reasoning away the mysteries of the supernatural, have already missed the point.  Continue reading “Job & The Chariot of Fire”

James: A Commentary on The Book of Job

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THE BOOK OF JOB is a portal into an unseen war, a tribute to the glory of God in creation, and a testimony to the fact that people inevitably disappoint each other and great men are only men after all. With so much to unpack, it can be very confusing, and many scholars have written commentaries to help readers understand it. The Bible is its own best interpreter, however, and if you want to unlock the The Book of Job just flip ahead to The Epistle of James.

Oh, I know Job is only mentioned once in James’ letter, but every verse in The Epistle of James is relevant to The Book of Job.

Job’s life was a perfect model of the “pure and undefiled” religion that James wrote about, and when Job takes inventory of his life in chapters 29 and 31 of The Book of Job, it’s almost as if he is saying: “Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works” (James 2:18 NKJV).

James must have had Job in mind when he wrote that we all stumble in many things, we should be quick to hear and slow to speak, the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God, mercy triumphs over judgement, and “the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16 NKJV). He must have been thinking about Job and Job’s friends when he wrote about the destructive power of the tongue and warned against worldly wisdom, favoritism and pride.

See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity…–James 3:5-6 NKJV

Continue reading “James: A Commentary on The Book of Job”

Dusting Off The Arab Hero of The Bible

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BEFORE MOSES DELIVERED the Ten Commandments to the tribes of Israel, before the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, and before Muhammad founded Islam, there was a mighty son of the East who lost everything and wanted to enter God’s court with boldness (“like a prince”).

Jews, Christians and Muslims honor him. Scholars are puzzled by him. Even in his own lifetime, he was a legend and a riddle. He was truly his brother’s keeper, and yet his name means “hated”–he suffered because he was hated, and then he was hated because he suffered. His name has become permanently linked with persecution and perseverance, immortalized in what is possibly the oldest and most ironic book in the Bible (a book that is revolutionary, exotic, and too often misunderstood). But while a crude and irreverent imitation like The Shack gains a cult following, his ancient story gathers dust…

Who is he? He’s Job, of course; and in the next several posts, I’m going to dust him off.

When and how did an Arab sheikh get written into the Hebrew scriptures? No one really knows. But Jews love a survivor, they love someone who wrestles with God, and so it was only natural for them to adopt him as one of their own.

What would Job say to us if he were alive today? He might have some choice words, like “Don’t shoot the wounded,” or “Better keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than open your mouth and prove it.” Or, on second thought, he might bite his tongue and not say anything at all. Continue reading “Dusting Off The Arab Hero of The Bible”

Every Year With Jesus Is A Good Year

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I HAVEN’T BEEN IN THE “ZONE” now for seven months! (gasp)

I have some free time now, and I’m energized and more like my normal self. Decluttering–not writing–is currently at the top of my agenda (I’ve been inspired by Becky’s blog about minimalist lifestyle, and I’m stoked to try some of her ideas in 2018). But I still have two pet projects that I’m determined to publish this year; and since my friends and family appreciate the personal touch, here’s a recap of 2017:

There were some growing pains. Old family “skeletons” came out of their closets. Idols toppled. There was a lot of pressure at home and at work, and adversities that only God knows about.

My brain was tired, and my heart was tired.

I was tempted to shed faith and morality like a dress that doesn’t fit anymore. I had to re-evaluate my convictions and my relationships while getting involved (way over my head) in the family business; and I found out just how hard it can be to juggle business and personal life. I crept out of bed in the mornings like an old woman, feeling disoriented, depleted, stuck in a rut, missing my dreams and wanting them back (you know the feeling).

But enough with the self-pity–I’m here to tell you that it was a good year!

In 2017, I was reunited with my long-lost Gypsy sister in LA, who had been dead to me for fifteen years. In 2017, I had a beautiful Passover celebration with my family (a rich, new tradition in our Christian home). In 2017, Jewish believers “came out of the woodwork” and threw their prayer shawls over me. In 2017, for the first time in my adulthood, I had the luxury of consistency in more than one aspect, and I saw God’s grace flow freely in the areas of my life that weren’t clogged with worry. Continue reading “Every Year With Jesus Is A Good Year”

Madam Secretary Reflects on International Relations and Happy Happenstance

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The Ring of Kerry. My photo.

WELL, MY FRIENDS, IT’S MARCH, and I’m sure we all agree that Old Man Winter has way, way overstayed his welcome.

I thought I’d be making espressos or waitressing somewhere and writing web content for a friend. Instead, I’m working in our office, and my current occupation doesn’t involve traveling to anywhere except the post office. (It’s like doing laundry: you sort through the junk mail, code and file and distribute amounts between cost centers, answer the phone, try not to dock anyone’s wages or shred anything important, empty the waste baskets and get everything tidied away for a little while, and then you start over again.)

I’ve always said that administration and accounting are not my thing.

So the joke is on me, as usual.

Anyway, I’m bored and I have a headache, and thinking of tea and travel makes me nostalgic, so I’m going to ramble about other countries and things that are none of my business.

I’m not a politician–just a farmer’s daughter. But Ireland and Israel are like strangers who keep crossing my path and bumping into each other, and I feel like they should be friends.

As an attaché to locals, my experience of both of these places has been of a more intimate quality than that of the average tourist; and when I hear the bagpipe or shofar, I hear some of my most endearing memories. Perhaps someday I’ll have a son and a daughter–one full of chutzpah, the other full of blarney–and perhaps their father will be willing to name them Israel and Ireland. Continue reading “Madam Secretary Reflects on International Relations and Happy Happenstance”

Revenge of The Broken Horse

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I KNOW WHERE WILD HORSES roam free as the wind. It’s a peaceful place, high in the hills, where there are no fences. I’ve taken a few friends there, when the sun was sinking behind the white peak of the volcano.

I’m not a cowgirl by any stretch of the imagination, but I do love horses in my own way. I always have. I think I’d hardly be human if I didn’t love horses. And horses in the wild are especially beautiful. They’re shy and curious at the same time, and violent and playful, and their thundering hooves drum the anthem of the free.

The Bible contains a famous eulogy to the horse–a poetic tribute that almost jumps off the page (remember that awesome scene in Secretariat, with the Edwin Hawkins Singers belting “Oh Happy Day”?)

Do you give the horse its strength, or clothe its neck with a flowing mane? Do you make it leap like a locust, striking terror with its proud snorting? It paws fiercely, rejoicing in its strength, and charges into the fray. It laughs at fear, afraid of nothing; it does not shy away from the sword. The quiver rattles agains its side, along with the flashing spear and lance. In frenzied excitement it eats up the ground; it cannot stand still when the trumpet sounds. At the blast of the trumpet it snorts, ‘Aha!’ It catches the scent of battle from afar, the shout of commanders and the battle cry.–Job 39:19-25 NIV

One day I realized that, although a circus of wild animals are described in this chapter, these verses are a picture of a warhorse, and warhorses are not wild.

I have to imagine a warrior on this horse’s back, even though a warrior is not mentioned, because he is implied by the horse’s disciplined and extraordinary behavior.

Wild horses, as beautiful as they are, don’t gallop into the clash of arms, “devouring the distance.” They don’t tremble with excitement at the signal of the trumpet, and they would almost certainly spook at the first glimpse of any shiny weapon. A horse without a master would perform badly in this context, but when a horse and rider function as one they become something truly amazing.

An unbroken horse, free as the wind, is beautiful to behold. But an unbroken horse never plowed a field, or won a race, or carried a king into battle…

The Romance of The Cross

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San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. My photo.

STAY, MY RESTLESS HEART, my wandering feet. The way of escape is here. The place of newness and purpose is here too. Not in the next adventure, the next accomplishment, the next good deed, the next admirer.

Stay and look up, above the spectacles, the sensations, the vanity. There is a cross up there in the sunshine, strong and plain, beckoning you back to Contentment. Back to your First Love–the Christ who willingly went “like a lamb to the slaughter.” Back to the Christ who healed the pastor’s broken marriage and rescued him from the cartel.

How many kings and priests and prophets of ancient times longed to see what you see? You belong to someone, not something. You belong to a person, not a religious tradition or ideal. It is nothing less than the precious body that was broken like bread and the precious blood that was poured out like wine. “God With Us.” God for man and man for God. God and man, reconciled in the person of Jesus Christ.

Stay, my restless heart, my wandering feet. Desire the one who desires you. Continue reading “The Romance of The Cross”