oreo cat

My, It’s Cold! (& The Elephant in the Room)

My, it’s cold.

Wind chills hit -51 this morning. The high temperature, without windchill was -14 yesterday (1/30/19). It’s been fun telling how Midwestern temps were lower than those in Antarctica, Sibera and Alaska these past two days.

The last time a polar vortex whirled its way this far south was five years ago. I wrote about it then, but back then it the high was only twelve below. The wind chills in 2014 barely cracked the -35 National Weather Service advisory line. We kicked that ball way off the frozen tundra this week.

My, it’s cold.

When the Cold Came this Way

The mercury began dropping Tuesday evening en route to the dangerously low temperatures we’ve had the past two days. And right in the middle of its pretty little plummet, I had to stop and capture some gorgeous polar vortex images, because- well, you know- I stalk the sun.

But in the span it took to take 10 seconds of video and a few quick glistening sunset pics, my fingers nearly got frostbit and my van did get drifted in.

My it’s cold.

In that split second, the knockout sunset took a backseat to the seriously frigid wind and drifting snow. Because here I was, alone at dusk on the eve of the coldest day in two decades, stuck on the side of County Road A.

So I prayed. Then I gunned it forward and back and still couldn’t go. And I prayed and thought again,

My, it’s cold.

Don’t Play Around With This Cold

Schools, businesses and governments announced closures. Not even the mail went through. The US Postal Service put a pause on mail delivery yesterday and today because of extreme weather. When I took the garbage out this morning it was -24, with a -51 windchill. But garbage pick-up was suspended too. At last count, 1,009 was the number of closures listed on the upper right of my screen.

At the very least, this kind of cold crimps our style. I don’t just mean hat heads and puffy coats. I mean, all this sunshine and snow and days off in the middle of the week and there’s not a single kid on a sled to be seen. This kind of cold does way more than sting the toes and bit the nose.

We don’t play around with this kind of cold.  

To miss the message of this kind of cold is to miss the elephant in the room.

By the Breath of God

If I know anything about God, I think I know this: God’s got the weather. Just take a minute to read Job 37 if you have any doubt about that.

5 God thunders wondrously with his voice;
    he does great things that we cannot comprehend.
For to the snow he says, ‘Fall on the earth,’
    likewise to the downpour, his mighty downpour.
He seals up the hand of every man,
    that all men whom he made may know it.
Then the beasts go into their lairs,
    and remain in their dens.
From its chamber comes the whirlwind,
    and cold from the scattering winds.
10 By the breath of God ice is given,
    and the broad waters are frozen fast.

11 He loads the thick cloud with moisture;
    the clouds scatter his lightning.
12 They turn around and around by his guidance,
    to accomplish all that he commands them
    on the face of the habitable world.
13 Whether for correction or for his land
    or for love, he causes it to happen.

God’s got his reasons, and we might never know them, but He is behind this and every other winter snow and frigid, arctic blast.

Stop and Consider

And He wants us to know that. Because the next verse, verse 14, the punchline, if you will for Job then and for us now:

 Hear this, O Job;
    stop and consider the wondrous works of God.

Stop and consider the wondrous works of God. God’s behind this and God’s got this. And if God’s got this, what makes you think he can’t handle the less extreme stuff in your life? But if we never take time to stop and consider we might not trust Him much, and he wants our fear and our trust.

God wants our attention.

Don’t Toy With Me

John Piper writes,

It is one more way God says, “Whether hot or cold, high or deep, sharp or blunt, loud or quiet, bright or dark . . . don’t toy with me. I am God. I made all these things. They speak of me, just like the warm summer breezes do, and the gentle rains, and the soft moonlit nights, and the lapping of the lakeside, and lilies of the field and the birds of the air.”

John Piper, https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-kind-of-cold-that-kills

God made these cold polar winds. They speak of Him.

That is the elephant lurking in a lot of comfy, cozy, fire-in-the-hearth homes these past two days. Maybe we’re afraid to mention it because it’s out of our control and a little scary. I got a taste of that on County Road A before God sent a strong, kind man in a big Balestrieri Builders truck. I already know control and comfort are overrated.

But I needed to hear again God’s word for us in this extreme, unsettling cold. May God give us all eyes to see, ears to hear and wisdom to stop and consider the wondrous works of the Lord.

Because, you’ve felt it too.

It’s been cold.

He sends out his command to the earth;
his word runs swiftly.
He gives snow like wool;
and scatters frost like ashes.
He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs;
who can stand before his cold? 

Psalm 147:15-17

Cold Temps on Phone

/

oreo cat

Foiled again? Expectations unmet? Don’t fret.

Fret not when your plans fall apart

When the closest ones break your heart

Don’t fret, God knows.

Fret not when you’re misunderstood

When folks don’t come through like they should.

Don’t fret, God knows.

Fret not when you’re mistreated, used

Left, alone, frustrated, confused

Don’t fret, God knows.

The Judge of the Earth will do right

The Lover of your Soul- He knows

Don’t fret, Jesus sees all of those.

Come to me, cast on me,

Wait for me, rest in me

Fret not: I see. I know. I care. 

Do you fret?

I fret. Not a lot, but sometimes I calculate without God. I focus on my plans pinched apart, my deadlines overdue, my expectations unmet.  I fret.

The circumstances-my foiled-again, stymied ways- don’t matter. What matters is what my God says. And over and over again this week I heard the Living Word say. Don’t fret. Your ways are not my ways.  This JoyPrO post is me preaching to myself after a fretful week. But maybe you fret too. 

It Tends Only To Evil

Fretting- call it overthinking or worrying, brooding or stewing, or tag it as angsty or just plain stressed, regardless- tends only to evil. Only to evil. Only to evil. To evil. Only.

David wrote that in Psalm 37, my go-to chapter when I catch myself in a fret. Rather than being an indication of how wise or caring I am, fretting is more likely an indication of how wicked I am- how far my favored ways are from God’s perfect ways.

Does the word wicked make you wince? Substitute a suitable synonym, say sinful or wrong. It is wrong for the child of God to fret. Because fretting springs from a determination to get our own waySince our way doesn’t always overlap 100% with God’s way and God’s way is always a perfect way, we’d best not insist on our way or fret when things don’t go our way.

Even and including when we think our way was such a good, God-glorifying way. Or when it seems like evildoers are succeeding in their wicked ways.

Even then. Don’t fret.

Calculate With God

Because cheaters finishing first and bad guys succeeding in their ways is exactly the context of the Psalm 37 injunction: Do not fret. Because God’s got your back. And your front. And your coming and going. So, Wait for the LORD and keep his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land. This is what it means to calculate with God.

But it’s one thing so say, “Fret not,” but a very different thing to actually be able to not fret.

Oswald Chambers explains,

It sounds so easy to talk about resting in the Lord and waiting patiently for Him, until the nest is upset — until we live, as so many are doing, in tumult and anguish, is it possible then to rest in the Lord? If this “don’t” does not work there, it will work nowhere. This “don’t” must work in days of perplexity as well as in days of peace, or it never will work. And if it will not work in your particular case, it will not work in anyone else’s case. Resting in the Lord does not depend on external circumstances at all, but on your relationship to God Himself.

Fussing always ends in sin. We imagine that a little anxiety and worry are an indication of how really wise we are; it is much more an indication of how really wicked we are. Fretting springs from a determination to get our own way. Our Lord never worried and He was never anxious, because He was not “out” to realise His own ideas; He was “out” to realise God’s ideas. Fretting is wicked if you are a child of God.

Have you been bolstering up that stupid soul of yours with the idea that your circumstances are too much for God? Put all “supposing” on one side and dwell in the shadow of the Almighty. Deliberately tell God that you will not fret about that thing. All our fret and worry is caused by calculating without God.

Hitch your hopes to a winning horse. Aim to realize God’s goals. His plans will come to pass. Delight yourself in what delights Him and he will give you your heart’s desire. Calculate with God.

Haul Yourself Up 101 Times A Day

How do you calculate with God?  How do you fret not and let not your heart be troubled? 

Always, we must replace-Trust in God for troubled hearts. Let not your heart be troubled, the Prince of Peace said.  Then: Trust in God, trust also in me. Preach that to yourself. I go often to those words in John 14 and to some in Psalm 37 and 42 and 43.

Why so downcast, O my soul, and why so disturbed within me? Like Chambers said, Deliberately tell God that you will not fret about that thing. So the Psalmist finishes, replaces strong, Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. Name your fretting. Then hope in God.

These three C’s have been my fret-busters this week. Daily, hourly, and often I call them to mind and haul myself up when I’m being sifted.

  1. Calculate with God: All of His perfect plans will come to pass (Job 42:2).
  2. Commit your way to God: He will act in perfect time (Psalm 37:5).
  3. Cast your cares on God: He really cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).

Then repeat 1-3, as needed. Oswald Chambers again, Haul yourself up a hundred and one times a day in order to do it, until you get into the habit of putting God first and calculating with Him in view. Don’t fret, For the LORD loves justice; he will not forsake his saints. Preach that to yourself when you start to fret and haul yourself up again.

And when you stumble and your way is stymied still don’t fret. The Lord upholds you with his hand. 

Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.
Refrain from anger and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; 
Though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.

Psalm 37:5, 8, 23-24

oreo cat

Fearful People Do Stupid Things

The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe.  

Proverbs 29:25


I don’t know what the bumper sticker meant. Maybe it was a reference to timid drivers. The ones who go 5 miles under on the freeway.  Those who hesitate then inch out at busy 4-way stops.  

I doubt it was directed at those who keep their life savings under the mattress, only to see it burn. Maybe, as my husband thought, it was a veiled political message. Don’t fall for the lying, fear mongering welfare reform will “throw-granny-over-a-cliff,” ads.

But the minute I pulled out behind the pick-up, my mind flew to two.

Two Bible-time kings prove the point. They happen to be Israel’s first and last. 

1. King Zedekiah (Jeremiah 38:14-39:7)

Judah’s last king sees the writing on the wall. So he sends for Jeremiah the prophet, fresh out of the cistern. Tell me what’s coming, he begs. Assured the king won’t kill the messenger, Jeremiah delivers:

Thus says the LORD, the God of hosts: If you will surrender to the officials of the king of Babylon, your life will be spared, and the city will not be burned with fire, and you and your house shall live. 

But if you do not surrender then the city will be given into the hand of the Chaldeans, and they shall burn it with fire and you shall not escape from their hands.  

King Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, “I am afraid of the Judeans who have deserted to the Chaldeans, lest I be handed over to them and they deal cruelly with me.” (Jeremiah 38:17-19)

At least he was honest.  Zedekiah admitted fear of his countrymen. No paralyzing fear of the barbarous Babylonians. Fear of the mocking cruelty of his fellow Jews; that they’d laugh at him. Give him the old, Told you so. He’d opposed their surrender before. They’d mock him to scorn if he surrendered now.

Matthew Henry asks, If he should be taunted a little by the Jews, could he not make light of it? What harm would it do him? Those have very weak and fretful spirits indeed that cannot bear to be laughed at for that which is both their duty and interest. 

What would you have done?  What do you do when you realize you’re wrong?  

Do you swallow your pride, and eat your words? Fear the God who hates haughty hearts and lying tongues? Or do you double down, afraid you’ll be mocked? Surrender to the marauding Babylonians? Or hightail it outta Dodge?

Wrong fear reigned and he did a stupid thing. Zedekiah fled. Fear of his fellow man trumped the fear that Jeremiah’s sure word of the Lord should have invoked. Matthew Henry again: He thought it would be looked upon as a piece of cowardice to surrender; whereas it would be really an instance of true courage cheerfully to bear a less evil, the mocking of the Jews, for the avoiding of a greater, the ruin of his family and kingdom. 

Alas, when when Zedekiah and his soldiers saw the officials of the kings of Bablyon, with very scary sounding names like Nergal-sar-ezer, Samgar-nebu, and Sar-sekim the Rab-sans, they fled, going out of the city at night by way of the king’s garden…

And, as Jeremiah foretold, it didn’t go well for this fearful man, doing this stupid thing.

But the army of the Chaldeans pursued them and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho. And when they brought him up to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon…and he passed sentence on him.  The king of Babylon slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and he slaughtered all the nobles of Judah. He put out the eyes of Zedekiah and bound him in chains to take him to Babylon. (Jeremiah 39:6-7)

The parallel account of Judah’s fall in Chronicles is sadder still. The Chronicler paints a tragic, sweeping picture of Israel’s demise. It’s so sad because the stupidity of trusting man and ignoring God is so stark. Note the contrast: Who has compassion? Who has no compassion? 

The LORD, the God of their fathers sent persistently to them by his messengers, because he had compassion on his people and his dwelling place. But they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD rose against his people, until there was no remedy. (Jeremiah 36:15-16)

God, a loving father warning consequences, threatening punishment. Over and over he warned Israel, Zedekiah. Finally, time was up and there was no remedy for his people. Their misplaced fear was their demise.

Therefore he brought against them the king of the Chaldeans, who killed the young men with the sword…and had no compassion on young man or virgin, old man or aged. (Jeremiah 36:17)

Don’t be stupid! he warns. Don’t fear man; fear your loving Lord.  Did you see the stupidity of ignoring a God who has compassion on his people and trusting- cowtowing- to a king with no compassion?  

The contrast between Zedekiah and David is glaring. Late in his reign, David counted his kingdom. It was a grave mistake and he knew it. Confronted by the prophet Gad with a choice of three punishments his choice was clear:

David said to Gad, “I am in deep distress.  Let me fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is very great; but do not let me fall into human hands.” (1 Chronicles 21:13)


2. King Saul (1 Samuel 15)

Israel’s first king also had a bad case of misplaced fear. Rather than fear and obey the One who had raised and anointed him to be head of Israel, he feared the people. 

Samuel gave Saul explicit directions.  When you strike Amalek, Samuel had instructed, do not spare them. Devote all they have to destruction.  But Saul and the people spared Agag, their king, and the best of the sheep and cattle-all that was good.  But all that was despised and worthless they devoted to destruction. (1 Samuel 15:9)

This selective sparing prompted Samuel’s, to obey is better than to sacrifice, rebuke. Sober and grim it ends.

Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you from being king.

Saul said to Samuel, ‘I have sinned; for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice.” (1 Samuel 15:23b-24)

John Piper deals with Saul’s misplaced fear in his sermon, The Pleasure of God in Obedience.

Why did Saul obey the people instead of God? Because he feared the people instead of God. He feared the human consequences of obedience more than he feared the divine consequences of sin. He feared the displeasure of the people more than the displeasure of God. And that is a great insult to God. Samuel had said twice to Saul and the people in 12:14 and 24, “Fear the Lord, and serve him faithfully with all your heart.” But now the leader himself has feared man and turned away from following God (1 Samuel 15:11).

Oh, for this holy, God-exalting fear!

Not the slavish fear of God that mistrusts him, recoils at his majesty. Perfect love casts that fear out. Not apprehensive fear that the shoe is about to drop; that sickness or sorrow will inevitably overwhelm. Fear not for I am with you. Definitely not fear that His love will fail and run out.

And yes, fearless people do stupid things, too. Just google “stupid stunts.”

But it’s all about WHO you fear. As Jesus sent his sheep out among the world’s wolves, he warned them to be wise. Not to misplace their fear.

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. 
Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 
Matthew 10:28

Fear him, because he loves his own. They will never perish, His sheep, and no one can snatch them out of His hand.
oreo cat

Strong Fair Horses

His delight is not in the strength of a horse, nor his pleasure in the legs of a man, but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.       
Psalm 147:10-11
  
Percheron mares, aged 3 and under 4: Please enter the ring, sounded over the arena loudspeaker. 

His pleasure is NOT in these strong horses? resounded over my bemused brain.

What is it about draft horses?

Their stable is just inside the east gate at the Walworth County Fair. We enter through that gate. So we stop and see the draft horses. We all stop. And I gawk.

Entranced.

By such immense strength enveloping exquisite equine form. By burly, bulgy backsides and shimmery, sleek shoulders. They bear witness. Divinity designed such elegant power.

In the case of the yesterday’s Percherons, French breeders played a role. In harnessing living, breathing strength:

From the war horse (heavy saddler) to diligence horse (heavy coacher or light draft) to the true horse of heavy draft, the breeders of Le Perche sculpted away on their beloved indigenous breed for hundreds of years, altering the animal to meet the demands of the times and to entice the buyer. (http://www.percheronhorse.org/origin/default.html)

Entice they did. I stood in awe of Belgian Drafts, Clydesdales, and Percherons. And their Creator. To lay eyes on these beautiful hulks is to marvel.

So why did God say his pleasure is NOT in the strength of a horse? He praised them to Job (39:19-24), asking:

Do you give the horse his might?
Do you clothe his neck with strength?
Do you make him leap like the locust? 
He paws in the valley, and exults in his strength;
He goes out to meet the weapons.
He laughs at fear, and is not dismayed;
he does not turn back from the sword . . .

What does God mean, then, when he says he doesn’t take pleasure in horses? John Piper’s explanation is helpful:

God is not displeased with horses and legs, but in those who hope in their horses and their legs. He is displeased with people who put their hope in missiles or in make-up, in tanks or tans, in bombs or body-building. God takes no pleasure in corporate efficiency or balanced budgets or welfare systems or new vaccines or education or eloquence or artistic excellence or legal processes when these things are the treasure in which we hope or the achievement in which we boast.

To feel secure and take pleasure in visible strength is only natural. Patriot pride swelled my heart as I watched the Blue Angels this spring. I felt secure. Big bank accounts and low blood sugar have a similar effect. But aegis of God they are not.

They’re false security. But worse.

When we swell secure with anything less than the Lord, we not only dig broken cisterns, but forsake the Living Water (Jeremiah 2:13). Buy our own-save our own-be our own strength, while we reject God our strength.  

Strong fair horses point past themselves. They point to a God who is not impressed by sheer strength. God helps those who help themselves doesn’t have a Bible address. Almighty God is not dazzled by military might and financial force. Or delighted by our healthy lifestyle and a BMI under 25.

…but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, 

in those who hope in his steadfast love. 

To swell the heart of God fear and hope in Him. Both. Together.

Matthew Henry writes that fear and hope not only may, but must concur:

In the same heart at the same time, there must be both a reverence of his majesty and a complacency in his goodness; not that we hang in suspense between hope and fear, but we must act under the gracious influences of hope and fear. Our fear must save our hope from swelling into presumption and our hope must save our fear from sinking into despair.

Oh, for this holy, God-exalting fear! Not the slavish fear of God that mistrusts him, recoils at his majesty. Perfect love casts that fear out. Nor is it an apprehensive fear that the shoe is about to drop; that some sickness or sorrow will inevitably overwhelm body and spirit. Fear not for I am with you. And it’s definitely not a fear that his love will fail and run out. Not a chance! They will never perish, His sheep, and no one can snatch them out of His hand.

But, dear Friends, there is another fear that ought to be cultivated—the reverential fear which the holy angels feel when they worship God and behold His Glory—that gracious fear which makes them veil their faces with their wings as they adore the Majesty on high! There is also the loving fear which every true, right-hearted child has towards its father—a fear of grieving so tender a parent—a proper feeling of dread which makes it watch its every footstep, lest, in the slightest degree, it should deviate from the path of absolute obedience. May God graciously grant to us much of this kind of fear! – Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) taken from: The Right Kind of Fear, Sermon No. 2971, September 2, 1876. 

John Piper describes a place where this right fear of God commingles with hope:

Hope turns fear into a happy trembling and peaceful wonder; and fear takes everything trivial out of hope and makes it serious. The terrors of God make the pleasures of his people intense. The fireside fellowship is all the sweeter when the storm is howling outside the cottage.

And why God delights in us when we’re there, hoping and fearing at once:

Surely it is because our fear reflects the greatness of his power and our hope reflects the bounty of his grace. God delights in those responses which mirror his magnificence.
God has pleasure in those who hope in his love because that hope highlights the freedom of his grace. When I cry out, “God is my only hope, my rock, my refuge!” I am turning from myself and calling all attention to the boundless resources of God. http://www.desiringgod.org/sermons/the-pleasure-of-god-in-those-who-hope-in-his-love

Some would argue that these heavy horses have served their purpose. No more armored knights needing trusty steads. No more cavalries needing war horses. In city and in country replaced; by taxis and hundred horsepower tractors.

But still.

Strong fair horses were truly glorious. I get why Solomon broke the command and multiplied horses and chariots. There’s security in strong horses. I think that’s why God chose them. It’s a lesser to greater argument: but trusting those gams will let you down. But, He who hopes in me will not be disappointed.


It’s a wondrous loop. A ride I never want to leave. I fear and hope in God. He gets the glory he deserves. I find security in His unfailing love. His grace is exalted.

Better than a ride on a Percheron, I’d venture.

Some boast in chariots, and some boast in horses; 

but we boast in the name of the Lord our God. 

Psalm 20:7 

Follow
Get every new post delivered to your inbox
Pressing On, Pressing In. To the praise of His glorious grace.
Powered By WPFruits.com