Thursday, April 30, 2020

Gracious Uncertainty

The book, My Utmost for His Highest, was published after Oswald Chamber’s death in 1917. His wife Gertrude Hobbs compiled the passages after his death from her shorthand notes of Oswald’s sermons. It was given to me in high school and I’ve been reading it most mornings for 45 years!

Today, my words are taking a back seat to the words of Oswald Chambers, as it relates to this season of the Coronavirus. This is indeed a strange season of isolation and fear, but as always, God is here and at work. May we all gain strength through the words of one of my heroes, Oswald Chambers.

By the way, years ago someone re-wrote “My Utmost for His Highest” in simpler language to make it easier to understand. It was given to me and it still sits on the shelf. Oswald’s words (beneath, but similar to scripture) are sometimes hard to understand. But it’s good for our lazy minds to wrestle with truth.

                                                     Gracious Uncertainty
                                                     By Oswald Chambers
                       "…it has not yet been revealed what we shall be…" —1 John 3:2

•Our natural inclination is to be so precise– trying always to forecast accurately what will happen next– that we look upon uncertainty as a bad thing. We think that we must reach some predetermined goal, but that is not the nature of the spiritual life. The nature of the spiritual life is that we are certain in our uncertainty. Consequently, we do not put down roots. Our common sense says, “Well, what if I were in that circumstance?” We cannot presume to see ourselves in any circumstance in which we have never been. Certainty is the mark of the commonsense life– gracious uncertainty is the mark of the spiritual life. To be certain of God means that we are uncertain in all our ways, not knowing what tomorrow may bring. This is generally expressed with a sigh of sadness, but it should be an expression of breathless expectation. We are uncertain of the next step, but we are certain of God. As soon as we abandon ourselves to God and do the task He has placed closest to us, He begins to fill our lives with surprises. When we become simply a promoter or a defender of a particular belief, something within us dies. That is not believing God– it is only believing our belief about Him. Jesus said, “…unless you…become as little children…” (Matthew 18:3). The spiritual life is the life of a child. We are not uncertain of God, just uncertain of what He is going to do next. If our certainty is only in our beliefs, we develop a sense of self-righteousness, become overly critical, and are limited by the view that our beliefs are complete and settled. But when we have the right relationship with God, life is full of spontaneous, joyful uncertainty and expectancy. Jesus said, “…believe also in Me” (John 14:1), not, “Believe certain things about Me.” Leave everything to Him and it will be gloriously and graciously uncertain how He will come in– but you can be certain that He will come. Remain faithful to Him.•

It is said that much of Oswald Chamber’s thoughts were molded during the hardship of World War One, as he was stationed as a chaplain to British troops in Egypt. Much like the Pandemic, the times were difficult. His dominating truth was that our wonderful God rescues us while we’re in the difficulty, not necessary out of the difficulty. Like the Apostle Paul, this was carved into the character of Chambers, in the midst of trial.

God is carving (better, is trying to carve) that into our characters during this difficult season. Might we all surrender to His providence and grace.

Thank you again, Oswald Chambers, for speaking to our hearts.

By Oswald Chambers (and a few words by Eric Joseph Staples)

Friday, April 17, 2020


“But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ…” -Phil. 3:7-8 Sometimes it’s especially difficult to deal with a loss. When my grandfather died in 6th grade, it was tough. When we lost the city championship in football in ’76, I was overwhelmed. When someone stole my bike in college, I was ticked! When my dad passed away in the late 80’s, I was devastated. I’ve had lots of loses in my life: Some of my Loses 1972 Grandfather died 1975 Rusty (dog) died 1986 Miscarriage with Jeanie 1987 Todd (teen I counseled) died 1988 Dad died 1989 Josie (dog) died 2001 Maggie (dog) died 2003 Elizabeth left for college 2006 Eric left for college 2010 Doulos Ministries closed 2010 Kipp (dog) died 2010 Richard (my boss and mentor) died 2011 Pelham (my brother) died 2012 Maisy (dog) died 2014 Marc (my brother) died 2017 Mom died 2017 Papa Beadle (my Father-in-law) died Of course, I’ve had a lot of other important losses. It would fill up a book if I listed them all. Losses come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Some loses are even good things, even though they are a loss. In this season of the COVID-19 Pandemic, we are also dealing with loss: loss of consistency, loss of health, loss of freedom, loss of community. We can rationalize and justify, but the truth is, loss is difficult. I lost something a few years ago and it really bothered me. It was small, but a loss to me. Someone brought some candy into my office. Reluctantly, I put a piece in my mouth and began to chew. Immediately, I felt a crown in the back of my mouth come loose. I felt back there with a finger and it was gone. I couldn't believe it. I was ticked. I was upset. I was surprised. I was disappointed. It hurt and it would be expensive to fix. I called my dentist’s office. They didn't have an opening until the next week. I pleaded, but they said I’d have to wait. I considered calling the dentist himself, a good friend. I considered calling another dentist. But I finally conceded that I’d have to live with the loss. Truth is, I wanted to find fault. But a person didn’t cause it. It wasn’t Bit-0-honey’s fault. My mouth didn't cause the problem. I simply lost a tooth. There were no guarantees. Maybe I’d lose another. I needed to let it go. The tooth was gone and worrying about it wouldn't bring it back. I had to let it go, I needed to let it go, and I wanted to let it go. One last time, with my tongue, I reached into the back of mouth. Maybe it was a dream? Maybe I’d only imagined the loss? Nope, the tooth was gone. I decided to let it go. There is such power in “letting go and letting God.” I’ve found that when I give it over to my loving God, He brings comfort to the difficulty. He doesn’t necessarily rescue us out of the loss, but He promises to rescue us while we’re in the loss. I wonder what you need to release to God today? “Letting go” means I truly give over my anxiety and load- I hand it over to him in prayer. No wonder we need to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). It’s not a “once and for all” deal- it sometimes requires me giving it over to Christ time and time again. May we give Him our losses and trust Him in these uncertain times. He is worthy of our load… …teeth and all. By Eric Joseph Staples ©

Thursday, April 2, 2020

How Great is Our God?

Isaiah 40 In trying times, like we're in today (of course, when are there not trying times!)it’s important to remember that our God is mighty! He has proven Himself over and over! His wonderful creation is our best reminder… •Drop an anchor in the pacific Marianna trench and an hour later it will hit the bottom- 7 miles down. The oceans of the world contain more than 340 quintillion gallons of water, yet God holds them in the hollow of His hand Is. 40:12, "Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, and marked off the heavens by the span, and calculated the dust of the earth by the measure, and weighed the mountains in a balance and the hills in a pair of scales?" •The earth weighs six sextillion metric tons, yet to God it represents but dust on the scale Is. 40:15, "Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales; Behold, He lifts up the islands like fine dust" •The known universe stretches more than 30 billion light years (200 sextillion miles), yet to God that great expanse represents but a “breadth of his hand” A hand’s width, 40:12 •It takes 80K years to get from one end of the Universe to another… 10 million years to get to the farthest we can see… That same Universe contains at least 100 billion galaxies, each made up of approximately 100 billion stars- yet God knows them by name Is. 40:26 "Lift up your eyes on high and see who has created these stars, The One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name;Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power, not one of them is missing" HOW GREAT IS GOD TO YOU? One of these lines might look shorter than the other. But they are both the same, regardless of how we see it. God is mighty and huge, regardless of how we see it! Ask yourself these questions: 1. How do I limit the strength of God? 2. Could He really be larger than I can imagine? 3. Why do I limit His might? 4. Would it be like for me to trust in His strength today? 5. What would it be like for me to replace the fear with faith in Him? Spend some time in prayer, thanking our mighty God for His grace and love and might… “But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel,“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!” -Isaiah 43:1