Lifeway Christian Stores carrying 'So Called Christian' 

Lifeway Christian Stores carrying So-Called Christian: Healing Spiritual Wounds Left by the Church This is an amazing blessing since we did not even market the book to them. It was presented in the proverbial 'stack of books' that many distributors place in front of book buyers hoping that one or two of them will be chosen. We are thrilled and honored that ours was selected! Praise to God!

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Entries in Daily Living (2)


Conflict Sucks! But it just might be my best friend.

Conflict Sucks! But it just might be my best friend. That’s a bit crass, I know, but it comes closest to hitting the mark of how I typically react to conflict. My very conservative background tells me not to use this common colloquialism. My sensitivities to my social circle are clanging in loud alarm. But the word “sucks” works! I hate conflict! The knots I get in my stomach and that tightness on the right side of my back – the one that always gives me a headache if it doesn’t get relieved – testify to my displeasure at any sign of conflict. I could be polite and say, “Conflict is an irritant” but that just doesn’t say it. I suppose if I had the vocabulary of a Harvard professor I could come up with a word that says the same thing, in the same shocking tone, but with less offense. My education was great but I missed that class.

Saying that conflict sucks is shouting the human perspective out loud. It’s the earth’s-eye view. Seeing conflict as a good thing is almost never in my range of thought. I see trials, temptations, testings, and the like as gross inconveniences to my comfortable daily doings. I can say very glibly (especially with no conflict on the horizon) that we all grow when tested. I can repeat the worn illustrations of the tree that is strong because it endured the fiercest winds. I can trip merrily along on these quaint idioms until real, raw, conflict stalks into my world. Then I hate it. I want it out faster than it came in. I want relief and I want my comfort back. I don’t want the pressure and I don’t believe that it can really do me any good. There it is – that’s where I live. How about you?

So where did I get this idea about conflict maybe being my best friend? From James, the guy that many would characterize as being the sternest apostle of them all. We are going to learn that the various trials that come into our lives, regardless of their origin in evil or good, are to be esteemed like royal monarchs. They are to be honored and given heed as if they were kings and queens in full ceremonial regalia. They are to be treated as some of our dearest friends – not because of the pain and displeasure they bring – but because of the refining and fruit bearing they produce in us. James will show us that great gain often hides in the folds of displeasure and great loss is sewn tightly into the broad fabric of self-interested pleasure.

And what about the things that make me happy or bring pleasure? Where do you get off telling me they may be my worst enemies? We love pleasure don’t we! We are all closet hedonists. We want what we want. We know that pleasure as a gift of God is not evil so we excuse many of our wanton pursuits. I’m not speaking of God given pleasures and neither is James. James will be pointing out to us those pleasures that have slithered into the camp of the righteous masquerading as virtues. Those masked manifestations of our dark but lively old man. The ones we excuse and nurture and brandish at the time most appropriate to our advantage. The ones that are truly our darkest enemies posing as our dearest friends. He is about to expose them to the white-hot light of holiness. He will show us our love for them and make us recoil from ourselves in the realization. James never shoots but that he unloads the whole clip. Gird up, my brother, to face the man in the mirror.


Doable Daily Delight: Finding God In Your Everyday Rubble

“Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4) has been the catalyst for many a recent book on making God our center and source of pleasure or joy. Rightly so – what better springboard into the joys of rejoicing in God than one that ends with so rich a promise! We correctly understand that the point of the verse is when we delight ourselves in the Lord – our heart’s desires are going to be met because He is our deepest desire. Delight in God and He will fulfill our delight with Himself.

In my heart of hearts I’m certain that God is enough to meet every real need I have. As I sort through the everyday rubble that so easily piles up I run smack into the practical reality of seemingly unmet needs; not enough money, not enough time, difficult relationships, physical or emotional weakness, loneliness, or perhaps an overall brooding dissatisfaction with my circumstances. This practical bubble of daily battles I live in often creates a barrier to delighting in God. So, my thoughts often turn to those battles and barriers. Just how can I overcome the daily distraction of temporary cares and get to daily delight in my infinite God? 

That’s a good question isn’t it? Don’t you wonder how to get past the “nasty now and now” and onto the “sweet by and by” in your mind, heart, and soul? If you don’t mind learning from a person many Bible scholars consider rough, doctrinally incorrect, and insensitive, you, like me, may be able to pick up a few pointers on the practice of delighting in God.  I found this person, this “counselor” in the book of Job. He’s one of the “three wise guys” who sat in the dirt with Job but later flung some accusatorial mud at him. Even though Eliphaz dishes out some suspect advice to Job, he does circle around the truth from time to time, and in a few cases lands right on it.

I found some help to my dilemma of pursuing delight in the daily rubble of my life while reading the last few lines Eliphaz as quoted in Job, Chapter 22. The phrase that caught me was in verse 26, “For then you will delight in the Almighty.” Really? When will I delight? I read backward from there to find out what the “For” was referencing and found a great agenda for daily, lifelong, practical delight. Eliphaz, whether he knew it or not, lays out a doable daily regimen for delighting in God. I hope you’ll find this as helpful as I have. Let’s look at the simple steps first and then we’ll dig in a bit.

Doable Daily Delight

Do This:

  1. Yield. 
  2. Receive Instruction.
  3. Return to God.
  4. Remove Unrighteousness.
  5. Bury Your Money.

Enjoy This:

  1. God Will Be Your Treasure.
  2. God Will Be Your Delight.
  3. God Will Hear Your Prayers.
  4. God Will Establish Your Decrees.
  5. God Will Be Your Confidence.
  6. God Will Be Your Salvation.
  7. God Will Be Your Deliverance.

Yield:  This is a fascinating word that has been translated differently in nearly every major Bible version. Some of the options are Acquaint, Submit, Agree, Yield, Reconcile, or Acquiesce.

Regardless of the word choice, the idea is to defer to or be of use to someone deserving of your deferment or service. It’s an imperative that carries with it the idea of “getting to know” God with an attitude of  “yielded-ness or submission”. Verse 29 shines a bit more light on this attitude by saying that God will save the humble person. The simple meaning – Humble yourself and abandon your insistence upon self-defense, self-promotion, self-interest, or self in any of it’s manifestations. You are standing before God, you know!

What does this look and sound like in my moment-by-moment world? It’s the habit of saying to yourself and to God – “Ok Lord, this moment is yours, tell me what to do with it.” It gets repeated tens, hundreds, or thousands times a day in your mind and spirit as you walk with God. It’s a constant, tangible yielding to His desires while retreating from yours.  The immediate outcome of this deferment is peace. When we give up our tightly clutched trinkets of self-promotion, God will replace them with the true riches of delight in Him.

Receive Instruction: I love the NAS’ emoting of this phrase by putting the “please” in front of the phrase. It’s a plea, “Please”, I beg of you, be instructed by God. The book of Proverbs fleshes this out sufficiently as to not need more commentary. In fact, the invitation to learn at the feet of God is extended de facto by the very fact we have a Bible. Every word is a feast of delight because they all unfold for us in some fashion who God is and what He is like.

Eliphaz doesn’t stop there though. It’s not enough to simply receive instruction. We all know that “hearing is not doing”.  He adds a phrase to his plea, “establish His words in your heart.” It means to put God’s instruction in a readily accessible storage location. This is not the self-storage rental space down the road that keeps the stuff you don’t need quick access to. This is the easy to reach pantry of essential items, the silverware drawer, or sock drawer, or key rack, if you will. It’s that place and part of us that’s often hard to organize and manage.  The place that gets messy and disorderly if we don’t keep up with it – in my case and perhaps yours – it’s my Mind. I constantly have to place God’s word in the drawers of my mind and keep them organized for easy access.

There, I said it, and you know what it means – Meditate, Memorize and Practice Scripture. How many times have we heard this? Are we doing it? This is the most basic root-level truth any Christian teacher could express. It’s the golden key to delight. God’s Word is the conduit for every blessing, every joy, and every delight. The Word has to enter in and find a permanent place in our minds and then travel well-worn paths to our hearts. It has to be worked out with every breath and footstep. Will you start now? Perhaps the question we asked about yielding also fits here, “Ok Lord, this mind is yours, tell me what you want me to do with it.”

Return to God: Simple – turn around – go back. Yes, it may cost your reputation, your fortune, your secrets, your position, your pain, your whole self! God’s promise is that it is worth it. (Isa. 35:10) Restoration to glory, joy, and gladness is an abundant substitute for the empty pursuits that are keeping us from God.

“Doable” is a little naïve here. This may be a tough one, depending on what force may have you in its iron grip. Our enemies build their largest ramparts and dispatch their fiercest warriors to prevent our return. It may be a bloody and bitter path back to God but there is healing for any wound once we are there. It may seem like an unbearably long journey to get back but it is really only the distance of a desperate whisper. Cry out to God – He will navigate every obstacle and battle every foe with you. Perhaps a good first step here would be to keep the same theme we have been emphasizing “Ok Lord, my life’s a wreck, I’m coming back, what do you want me to do?” May you find it safely back!

Remove Unrighteousness: Tic Tock, Tic Tock, tic tock, tic tock, tic…. We don’t hold live grenades hoping they fail to detonate. We throw them as far from us as we can. Remove means to thrust away or repel. You may be holding a grenade, not knowing how long you have till it detonates – it’s time to hurl that thing away – violently!

To me, unrighteousness is a soft word. It’s akin to a “white lie”, wrong and sinful but not quite as aggressive to my ears. The KJV uses “iniquity” here and the Hebrew Lexicon’s render it “wickedness or depravity”. Now those are hostile and intimidating words, much more descriptive of the danger. Sin hurts us in every painful way imaginable, like a little boy slowly tearing the legs off a grasshopper before he stomps it. If we could see the complete grotesque picture of it and feel it’s ferocious reality we would treat it like that ticking grenade. Problem is, sin is pleasurable, a short lived but addictive high, insidiously beautiful, deceitfully captivating, and stubbornly adhesive. It’s hard to throw away.

So even while I encourage you, according to Scripture, to cast it far from you I’m painfully aware of the reality of that action. In part, that’s what the Body is for. We have brothers and sisters in Christ who will engage our battles with us. You may need to find fellow Christians to hear your confession, refuse to judge, and fight with you – go to them – NOW! The Holy Spirit is ever at the ready as well. Listen and obey His voice concerning the bomb you’re holding. Again, cry out, “Ok Lord, my sin is killing me, how do I get rid of it?” Find books and lessons by godly writers that address and give practical advice on beating your sinful struggles and demons – then follow their counsel. All of us have besetting sins – few of us discipline ourselves to fight to the death against them. The delight of victory and the presence of God is ours once we slay these enemies.

Bury Your Money: This is a short way to say, “you cannot serve two masters”. It’s God or Stuff! Eliphaz is quite poetic here. He exhorts Job to “place his gold in the dust” and “toss it in the stream” like so many common pebbles. I like that! If we can truly look at our wealth as “dust and rocks” and consider it of similar value in contrast to our delight in God, we will mirror the attitude Eliphaz describes here.

The Bible is ripe with instructions about materialism and money. Books have been written expounding the Bible truth about finances. I don’t want to repeat them, I want to encourage you to read what’s been written. Check out Randy Alcorn, Larry Burkett, Ron Blue, Dave Ramsay and others like them. They will help you. Remember our question again here, “Ok Lord, this money is yours, tell me what you want me to do with it.”

The core of the whole subject is this – When we value God and His works as our treasure above all other possible treasures, we will find our ultimate delight. How do I do that? How do I cultivate delight in our invisible God when the things I can touch, see, and sense cry out for my attention? That’s just what we’ve been discovering – everything we’ve said up till now is included in the answer. Everything we’ve said up till now can be described succinctly with one word – discipline.

To yield, receive instruction, return to God, remove unrighteousness, and bury our money is to practice spiritual disciplines. These are not skills we learn once, master, and never return to. They are cultivated habits that require continual nurturing and laborious exercise. This is the stuff of Paul’s confession that he beat his body (figuratively) to keep it under. He was speaking of the hard work of living for eternity. Investing in infinity by resisting the transient involves work, wisdom, and focus. Mastering these disciplines is what leads us to delight.

Athletes have a daily workout regime often with core items they do every day. Eliphaz gives us the Doable Daily Regimen for Delighting in God. Submit to this routine and we will find ourselves delighting more and more in God. We will also reap a substantial list of other benefits. More on those later…

Yield, Receive Instruction, Return to God, Remove Unrighteousness, and Bury Your Money, ‘Then the Almighty will be your gold, and choice silver to you. For then you will delight in the Almighty, and lift up your face to God.” Job 22:25-26