It’s Thursday morning, May 22, 2012. The only “holiday” I can find for today is National Escargot Day. I don’t think so. On this date in 1964, a riot erupted at a soccer match. … Isn’t that kind of like a fight breaking out in a hockey game? On this date in 1844, the first commercial telegraph message was dispatched from the U.S. Capitol to a railroad station in Baltimore, MD. The message was “What hath God wrought?” On this date in 1974, Duke Ellington died. And on this date in 1935, the first MLB night game was played between the Cincinnati Reds and the Philadelphia Phillies. The Reds won 2-1.

Not much to report about yesterday, other than Phillip Phillips winning American Idol. I’m actually happy about that. I thought Jessica was going to win. I actually picked her to win back during the first live shows. I’m pretty sure this is the first time ever that the person who won was the person I wanted to win. Let’s see…I was pulling for Lauren Alaina last year, Crystal Bowersox in 2010 (has anyone even seen Lee Dewyze since then??), Adam Lambert in 2009; oh, wait! There’s one! I did want David Cook to win in 2008. So there’s another one. In 2007, I was pulling for Melinda Dolittle…she came in third. In season five, I wanted Katherine McPhee to win, and in season four (that’s when this all started for me…only watched the finale), I wanted Bo Bice to win. I guess I’m kind of a “runner-up” kind of guy.
I had some thoughts though, during this finale last night. As I watched Rihanna stand there soaking in all the worship (if you think about it, isn’t that what it is?) after her performance, with an expression on her face that said, “Yeah, I deserve this because I’m so great,” I was a bit disgusted. Our society feeds the “fame monster” (as Gaga calls it). And it seems to be getting worse. There was no humility in Rihanna. There was plenty in Phillip, as he couldn’t even make it through his song at the end. But will he stay that way? Odds are against it. I like that young man and wish him success. I also hope that he resists the monster that lurks beneath the surface of fame.
As I was driving to work one morning, I went a different way than usual, because of traffic. I passed a church along the way. Outside on their sign, it said “Alliance Idol Talent Show.” Really?? Am I the only one who sees something very, very wrong with a church (allegedly the “body of Christ”) having an activity with the word “idol” in the title? I mean, it might be okay if it were, say, “Smash Your Idols” night. Anyway…time to get off my soapbox and into what’s really important.

Father, I pray for some inspiration this morning. I’m feeling drained today. Refresh me, by the power of your Spirit!

(I’m probably feeling drained because I stayed up until 1030pm watching the American Idol finale.)

My Utmost For His Highest

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Revelation 1:17

John saw Christ in his majesty, and had no other choice but to fall down before him. Sometimes the only God reveals himself to us is in his majesty, “and it is the awfulness of the vision which brings you to the delight of despair.” The only way to be brought out of that is by God’s own hand. Doesn’t it sound strange to describe a vision of the majesty of God as “awful?” Anytime I think about that, I am reminded of a lyric written by my music hero, Terry Scott Taylor. (By the way, it’s his birthday today! Happy birthday, Terry!) In a song called “Darn Floor, Big Bite” (from an album by the same name), God is described by the lyric, “You are beautiful; a terrible, terrible sight.” When we are face to face with the majesty of God, language fails us. Yes, he is beautiful. But yes, he is also terrible and awful to behold.
But, as in the case of John in Revelation, “In the midst of the awfulness, a touch comes, and you know it is the right hand of Jesus Christ.” Not a hand of correction; not a hand of restraint; “but the right hand of the Everlasting Father.” It is a hand of “ineffable peace and comfort.” Attached to his hands are the “everlasting arms,” that are full of “sustaining comfort and strength.”
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Once we receive the touch of his right hand, fear has no power over us; he says to us, “Fear not.” “His tenderness is ineffably sweet.” (He likes that word today…just to be sure, I looked it up. It means “too great or extreme to be expressed or described in words.”) Have I experienced this with Jesus? Perhaps not, because I still experience fear.
There are things that cause despair, though, that bring no delight. The only despair that brings delight is that which is brought when I must fall prostrate before God when he reveals himself to me in all his glory, after which the only way I can get up is by his right hand.
I don’t quite agree with Chambers’s last statement. He says, “God can do nothing for me until I get to the limit of the possible.” I get what he means…I just don’t agree with the way it is worded. I hesitate to use “can’t” when describing God. Yes there are a few things God cannot do. He cannot stop being God. He cannot lie. He cannot be other than perfect. But he can do whatever he wants to and to say that he “can’t” do anything until I reach my limit is not quite accurate. But what he will do when I reach that point of delightful despair is, as the word says, “ineffable.”

Tabletalk Magazine

Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Psalm 37:3

Tabletalk continues to discuss the fruits of the Spirit, as listed in Galatians 5:22-23. Today’s fruit is faithfulness and goodness. Goodness involves more than just doing an external act. It also involves the motivation of the heart. “Thus, a deed is fully good only when it is motivated by a desire to please the Lord.” Jesus, if you remember, had some pretty harsh words for people who acted holy for the wrong reasons. Because of this, true goodness is only possible for people who have the Holy Spirit.
I’ve always liked the way John MacArthur described this in one of his broadcasts. Unbelievers who do “good” things (like doing civil charity acts and loving their families) are still doing “bad good,” because the motivation is not correct. Only believers are capable of doing “good good,” which are acts done to please their Father in heaven. When unbelievers do “good” things, they can only be described as “splendid vices.” Only the Holy Spirit can prompt us to do good things for the purest of motives. And please note, lest we start getting big-headed about this…even Christians mostly do “bad good.” We are, after all, still encased in jars of clay and have selfish motives most of the time.
Faithfulness is another part of the fruit. This is more than just believing in God, for even the demons do this. It is trusting in the promises of God alone. When we sin (which we do…or at least I still do, I guess I can’t speak for you), we express disbelief. Remember when I wrote about worry the other day, and how, when we worry, we don’t believe that God can take care of the details of our lives? Sin, at its core, is unbelief. “To transgress God’s law is to show that we do not consider evil to be evil and do not fear the Lord’s promised wrath.” When we flee sin, we show true faithfulness. It’s a cold sounding statement, but, at the core of things, it is true. When I choose sin over righteousness, I am choosing evil over good. And when I choose evil over good, I am defiantly saying that I don’t believe what God says about evil. If I would stop and consider that ever time I’m tempted to sin, I’m pretty sure I would sin a lot less than I do. “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25a)

Father, I pray for goodness and faithfulness in my life. I pray for less sin in my life and more righteousness. May your Spirit prompt me, next time I am tempted to sin (which will, no doubt, occur during the next hour of my life), to consider the ramifications of acting in disbelief to your commands and precepts. May I consider the cold, hard fact that, when I sin, I defy you; I declare that I know better than you (an absolutely, utterly ridiculous idea) and that evil is not, in fact evil. I pray that you continue to shake this jar of clay until it has no strength left to defy you. Help me to take every thought captive to your glory. And while I’m praying about your glory…
I pray, Father, that you would make that appearance to me, in your majesty, that would result in me falling on my face before you, as though dead, like John had to do. I desire to be placed in such a posture that only your right hand can raise me up. I sound insane today. What am I asking for? Nothing less than for you to be fully glorified in my life, Lord. That’s what I’m asking for. I don’t really care how it happens. I just want you to be the most important thing in my life. I don’t want losing weight to be the most important thing. I don’t even want my family to be the most important thing. I desire it to be you and you alone! So get me to that place, Father; that place of delightful despair; that place where language fails me and all I can do is fall on my face and proclaim, “You are beautiful; a terrible, terrible sight!”

I pray for this day; this Thursday. Give Christi boldness to stand in the face of the insanity where she works. I pray that she will be able to get hired back to her old job (or at least one like it at the old place). As crazy as that sounds, it would be better than what she has fallen into. The process is in the works, Lord. I pray that it would happen very quickly. In the meantime, give her confidence to get through what she must endure. And we will be satisfied with your will because far be it from us to dictate to you what should be done. We have our faulty desires, but you, O God, are sovereign and in control of all things.
I pray for a smooth work day for me today, with no crises to deal with. I also pray that Stephanie will get her work done so she can get it turned in tomorrow when her teacher comes to the house. Please let her get everything finished that is necessary to complete high school.

This morning, Lord, I lift up a group of men from our church. I’m going to name names, too. I pray for Jordan O’Leary, our drummer; Bart Bullard, our “tech master;” Jay Lundy, our lead guitar player; Ben Alvarez, our keyboard player; Brandon Gaines, our sound guy; Brett Foster, our other sound guy; Terry Guilliams, our bassist (and good friend to Stephanie); Alex Henneke, another tech guy; Joel Engle, our lead paster; Robbie Buie, our interim worship pastor;vBen Carr, another pastor; and Jeremy Edgar, our director of worship ministries. All of these men are very active in our worship ministries (including myself) and we all need your protection. Place your hand on our lives, Lord, as we live our daily lives. Let our lives be faithful and true, full of righteousness, and full of the fruit of the Spirit each day. May we gather together on Sundays to lift your name on high, and, during the week, when we all have other responsibilities, may we be faithful to lift each other up in prayer.

Your grace is sufficient.

Goodness and faithfulness…and a delightful despair. May we fall on our faces before him today, and then be lifted up by his right hand.

Grace and peace, friends!

8 thoughts on “Ineffable

  1. Thank you for pointing out Chambers’ reference to the word “can’t.” I had not noticed that. I agree with you–God can do whatever He wants, whenever He wants, and to whomever He wants. I suspect that Chambers was referring to the human process of becoming receptive to God’s revelation and works–like you said, reaching our own human limit in order to need God’s participation in our life. Until we reach that point, then God “cannot” help us because we would not recognize it as such–and yet, He could because He is unlimited in His ways.

  2. Jeff, did you check the history on May 22 or May 24? (Today is Thursday May 24 but you wrote May 22 by mistake.) About the Chambers quote, I didn’t like the way it was worded either but I am also not sure I grasp the total truth of the concept. It seems to limit God in a way that I don’t think is necessarily real, or even of faith. But maybe I’m missing something here…

    1. Haha!! You are correct! I put the wrong date. I did check the correct day’s history, though. I don’t see the statement as limiting God, because I don’t think that’s what Chambers means. I think there are certain areas of life where God won’t help us until we’ve reached the end of ourselves. Partially because the “help” is already out there, just waiting for us to avail ourselves of it.

      1. I checked later (Duke Ellington etc.) and realized the “22” was just a typo. About the Chambers quote, I think I get it in context. Often our self-will prevents us from availing ourselves of God’s blessings; or, for example, if we’ve made plans for ourselves that run counter to His will; yet we hang on to them without seeking Him, until they miserably fail. It’s just that in my experience, He often makes Himself known at times when I wasn’t seeking Him, wasn’t looking for Him, and had He not come up, would probably not have even been thinking of Him at all. That was where I was coming from, approximately.

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