Showing posts with label Job. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Job. Show all posts

Sunday, April 09, 2023

About the Weather

“Whether for correction or for his land or for love, he causes it to happen.”

The line above is from the book of Job. The speaker is Elihu, the young man who attempts to correct his elders on the subject of suffering, since all four men who have held forth previously have, in one way or another, erred in their understanding of how God works. Like most young men, Elihu is full of earnestness and conviction, but also shows admirable restraint in allowing the discussion he is witnessing to reach an impasse before stepping in to offer his own opinion. Age and experience receive their appropriate deference.

Elihu’s mission is not to attack Job as all the other speakers have done, however unintentionally, but rather to justify God. So he begins to talk about … the weather.

Wednesday, March 08, 2023

When the Chickens Come Home to Roost

In his classic The Horse and His Boy, C.S. Lewis wrote a scene I loved as a child, and have never been able to forget as an adult. The lion Aslan (Lewis’s Christ analog) is speaking to Aravis, the Calormene girl who has fled her family and home country to avoid a forced marriage, and is currently recovering from a fairly serious injury inflicted on the way to Narnia by a previously unrecognized lion.

So Aslan tells her the real reason for her injuries.

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Sympathy and Solipsism

Much of scripture is historical. No surprise there. We learn that in Sunday School.

History is just the words and doings of men recorded by other men, but Bible history is a little different in that the Bible’s historians recorded what they did not just to provide an accurate account of what happened, but with spiritual ends in view. Sometimes the conversations and speeches the Bible’s historians documented for us were essentially truthful; other times they were not.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Inbox: Have I Got a Deal for You

Alison writes:

“Something [has] been bothering me for a really long time. Everybody says, ‘Read the book of Job for comfort, blah blah blah’, but look at Job 1:8.

‘Have you considered my servant Job?’ The speaker is God.

OMG did you get that?!?! It was YHVH who pointed Job out to the Adversary in the first place! He might as well have said, ‘Sic him, Satan!’ ”

[Throws hands in the air and wonders what it’s all about anyway]

That’s a big question, Alison. And though your wording may jar some readers, I think that at the end of the day, it’s actually quite a fair one.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

You Don’t Know My Father

Let me tell you a story about my father.

Once upon a time (actually, more than once), a very badly behaved little boy sat in the back seat of the family car during a long road trip, deliberately provoking the driver by ramming his pointy little knees into the small of the driver’s back. It was a source of great pleasure to the boy, who disliked long car trips, had become bored and was looking for something fun to do.

From the front seat of the car came a series of calm responses something like this: “Stop that, please” … “I believe I told you to stop that” … “If you don’t stop that, there are going to be consequences”, and eventually, “The next time you do that, we’re going to have to pull over.”

Finally, after the third or fourth transparently intentional provocation, the car eased over to the shoulder of the highway, and child and parent made a trip into the woods together for some clarification as to who was in charge.

Keep this story in mind, if you will.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Serving and Being

“Have you considered my servant Job?”

The jargon believers use with one another often sounds a little unusual to those unfamiliar with it, something of which I was jarringly reminded during a conversation a few weeks back with an unsaved friend. I lapsed momentarily into incomprehensible Churchian and unthinkingly used a euphemism to describe a Bible teacher with whom we are both acquainted.

I called him a “servant of the Lord”.

Servant?” my friend remarked. “What a strange thing to say!”

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Spiritual Treachery

Samuel Reproving Saul, John Singleton Copley, 1798
It is not enough for certain kinds of people to despise truth. They can’t just express their lack of interest and walk away.

I suspect every Christian who has ever shared his or her faith has run into people who have no trouble making their lack of interest clear, and no trouble beating feet. I think it’s fairly normal. Picture yourself talking to someone about the love of Christ and the things in his word that have become intensely precious to you; the things that make it worth getting out of bed every morning; the things for which you and I live.

Now of course if you’re like me, you’re not a perfect communicator.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Mystery Beasts and Inscrutability

The forty-first chapter of the book of Job has thirty-four verses in an English Bible. Thirty-two of those describe a mystery beast you and I have never seen and almost surely never will. The remaining two are about God.

I think those two are probably the point of the chapter, no? At least it’s as good a guess as any.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

A Little Monday Morning Quarterback

Have you ever been in a disagreement that got out of control? I have.

People are different. Some respond to criticism by trying to placate the other side, even groveling if necessary. They are willing to cede any intellectual or moral position in hopes of ending the argument, even when they believe they are in the right. They take the proverbial knee ... or occasionally the literal knee.

Others fume and fuss and become emotional when the logic of a critique disturbs their received worldview. They take correction personally, as a negative commentary on their character rather than a learning opportunity. Easily baited into debating hypotheticals, they can even find themselves arguing positions they don’t really believe because they are so caught up in trying to “win”.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Call and Answer

As I have probably mentioned from time to time, it is my habit every morning to try to read one chapter of the Old Testament and one chapter of the New. Other Christians I know do much the same thing. More than once we have found ourselves sharing with one another how remarkably one passage seems to dovetail with another.

Coincidence? Perhaps. But the unity of scripture is a real phenomenon, and it should not surprise us when that inherent thematic oneness expresses itself in remarkable ways. This morning it is in the form of a call and answer.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

More Than Accurate

“My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right.”

In his first letter to the churches in Corinth, as he so often does, Paul appeals to the authority of the Old Testament in making his argument. He says, “For it is written.” Apparently that settles the matter.

Incidentally, Paul is quoting from the book of Job. The text at the top of this post comes from Job as well.

Tuesday, June 09, 2020

Unhelpful Friends and Uneasy Times

When Job’s three friends came to show him sympathy in his time of distress, they wept, tore their robes and sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him because they saw that his suffering was very great.

The week of silence was a genuine gesture of solidarity and goodwill, but everything Job’s friends did from that point on was a bit of a bust. Why? Because they opened their mouths and started talking — and arguing at great length — about something they weren’t going through and clearly didn’t understand.

We Christians may be at risk of doing much the same thing with respect to the current racial tensions in the U.S.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Anonymous Asks (39)

“How did dinosaurs exist if they are not found in the Bible?”

It’s next-to-impossible to determine for certain what really happened fifty years ago, let alone four thousand plus. Try internet-researching a moderately popular TV series from the late 1960s or early 1970s. A few are quite well preserved. For most, you’ll find a super-grainy, speedily deteriorating video clip of the opening and closing credits of a single, sorry episode, hastily digitized and uploaded to YouTube, and maybe a transcript of a TV Guide episode summary on one of the Wikis.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

A Word of Discouragement

“If you look at most successful people, somewhere in their background there is someone cheering for them and believing in what they can accomplish,” says Harrison Barnes.

“Have you ever been in a situation where you really needed someone to just say the words ‘It will be okay’? Until you reach that point, you might underestimate the power of encouragement,” say the people at

Encouragement means believing in people, cheering for them and getting them to think positively about their chances of success at what they are doing. Or at least so goes the conventional wisdom.

Naturally I disagree, or this wouldn’t be much of a post.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Inbox: Have I Got a Deal for You

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Semi-Random Musings (3)

Some meanings are just lost, I’m afraid. At least that’s how it seems to me when I dig into the original languages of scripture in hope of finding the most accurate translation of specific words.

To the post-modernist, a text means whatever he pleases at any particular moment. Authorial intent doesn’t matter in the slightest because the post-modernist assures us intent cannot be known and, further, if intent could be known it would carry no more weight than the most trivial and uninformed interpretation of the reader.

Word studies? Who cares?

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Problems You Can’t Fix

The rich get a bad rap sometimes. But they also have their defenders.

A few years ago in Forbes, John Stossel pointed out that the big-money folk in America don’t have enough spare change between them to put a dent in the financial woes of their own country, let alone the rest of the world.

“If the IRS grabbed 100 percent of income over $1 million, the take would be just $616 billion. That’s only a third of this year’s deficit.”

The finer details of Stossel’s math might be debated, but all the same he’s got a point, and one that won’t go away. Some problems can’t be fixed — at least not by human beings.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Helping / Not Helping

Job’s three friends came to help. Their purpose is explicitly stated: they came in order to “show him sympathy and comfort him”, and they probably traveled great distances to do it.

They all failed. In fact, they failed horribly. They made Job’s situation that much worse.

Some might make the argument it’s because they were men.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Way That I Take

He knows the way that I take.”

I don’t. You don’t. Nobody else does.

In this world we see God’s specific purposes for us only dimly. Hopes rise only to fall again. Is this what God is doing? Maybe. Maybe. Uh, no … never mind … not that. Right, well, back to prayer …

“He knows the way that I take.”

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Transgression Bag

The eye of faith is an amazing thing.

In all his bitter distress and confusion, Job never completely loses sight of the character and purposes of God. Like most sufferers, he talks at length about how things appear to him: “Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble.”

Yep, can confirm.

But nowhere in all of his inquiries does it occur to Job for a moment that God may not be there at all. That’s one big difference between the righteous and the wicked. “There is no fear of God before their eyes,” as Paul puts it. They do not consider God in the slightest. “They did not see fit to acknowledge God.” God and eternity have simply been dismissed from their calculations.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

God on the Hot Seat

Cheryl Schatz on the subject of calling God to account:

“So the question we need to ask is, should we call God to account for gifting women in areas that men say God has ‘disallowed’ or ‘disqualified’ women from using their gifts for the benefit of all?”

Now we all trust Cheryl’s answer is going to be no, right? I mean, the idea of calling God to account for anything at all is actually pretty funny, and it’s especially odd to see a professing Christian use the phrase. After all, those who make the public claim that it is God who created and God who sustains them ought to be the first to recognize our relative place in the universe.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Private Interpretation

I believe all scripture is breathed out by God. That’s not a new idea and it won’t shock anyone here. Holding and maintaining that view of the Bible is one of the marks of orthodoxy going back to the first century.

I’ve been enjoying the book of Job recently, every word of it God-breathed and profitable. But that does NOT mean every word of it is correct.

No, really.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Semi-Random Musings (2)

There’s often quite a difference between what we assume went on in a Bible story and what probably really happened.

My mental pictures of Bible characters and their environment tend to auto-default to the flannelgraph cutouts of my Sunday School years. These presumably came from the fertile minds of whoever was drafted to produce the art for the curriculum. But such sacred two-dimensional imaginings are not necessarily the first thing a ten-year old challenges or even notices. They are what they are, and they stuck with me.

This was long before Veggie Tales, so thankfully I don’t carry around the mental image of the prophet Daniel as played by Larry the Cucumber. Not much, anyway.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Message You’re Sending

“There’s always someone looking at you.”

The line was penned by Sir Bob Geldof way back in 1979, long before personal computers with memories that the average person cannot easily erase, long before the Internet, before the NSA was on your hard drive and tracking your every movement through your cell phone, before your TV started watching you while you watch it, and before the unblinking eye in the sky that is Google Maps. It seems more than a little prescient, but Geldof had become (briefly) famous, and the world was paying more attention than he would have liked.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Spiritual Treachery

 The most recent version of this post is available here.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

You Don’t Know My Father

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Truth Is Out There

I have often thought pityingly of people who lived before Christ, especially those who lived before God’s Law was written down for Moses and Israel: How did those poor savages go about pleasing God? What were their chances of avoiding punishment — let alone of successfully navigating their way to eternal life — without any clear directions?

I suppose my underlying assumption was that God had somehow been unfair to them. How do we explain that?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


“But he is one, and who can turn him?”

Job said it about God to his companions as he suffered.

God is one. That can be read in many different ways and has a bunch of implications, certainly more than Job had in mind at the time.

1/ One vs. Three

When the Unitarian says, “Good, God is one; that puts paid to this nonsense about a trinity,” he is making a theological point. He’s wrong, of course. Don’t use the word trinity if it bothers you. Don’t refer to the ‘persons of the Godhead’ if you find it a non-scriptural or extra-scriptural turn of phrase. That’s certainly a position one can take. But if you can read your Bible without noticing that God manifests himself in three distinctly different ways, modes — or possibly, um, ‘persons’ — well, you’re just not reading the same thing I’m reading.

But despite all that being very much the case, we read that God is one.