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"Suck The Rug" Devotion
"Relaxation: Beneficial Or Superficial"?
Ecclesiastes 4:7-12 (In reference to family function)
Job's Question; God's Answer (A Research Paper)
2 Tough Questions For The Author (A Testimony)

 "Suck The Rug" Devotion

 "Relaxation: Beneficial Or Superficial"?
Relaxation: Beneficial or Superficial?
     Life is a timed race with several hurdles along the way. From the day a human being is placed on the earth, they will never be able to escape the grasp of time. Humanity lives and dies by the minute and therefore, every second counts. We rush around extensively with daily planners, watches, meeting schedules, cell phones for quick business deals, laptop computers for quicker communication and even the term “overtime” seems to have attracted the dedicated workers of this day and age. However, in the midst of human reality, their lies an answer to this issue over time management. A small key that unlocks the scheduling problems and provides a sense of laughter in our lives is presently right under our daily planners. It is easy to find, if one will take the time to search for God's answer, which is found in the Bible.
     In the book of 1 Kings, it has been recorded that Elijah heard the voice and felt the presence of God (1 Kings 19:11-14). Most would consider this event to be a life changing experience, but the lesson taken from this story fits well with the current trend of society. The NIV Bible Commentary reflects on the event by stating the following:
“11-14 The Lord did not comment on Elijah's self-justification but offered instruction. He was to come out of the cave and stand before the Lord, for he would soon pass by. Suddenly a rock-shattering tempest smote the mountain around Elijah. Surely this would announce the divine Presence. But the Lord was not in the wind. There followed a fearful earthquake, but still God was not there. A sudden fire followed; yet God had not come. All these physical phenomena were known to be frequent precursors of God's coming (Ex 19:16, 18; Jdg 5:4-5; 2Sa 22:8-16; Pss 18:7-15; 68:8; Heb 12:18). There followed a faint whisper, a voice quiet, hushed, and low. Elijah knew it instantly. It was God! What a lesson for Elijah! Even God did not always operate in the realm of the spectacular!”

Elijah retreated to the cave due to the stress and current expectations that others held on his behalf. He had previously pleaded with God to take his life. Elijah begins to fit the measurements of modern human thinking and reactions. When the schedule seems to have no room for us and our load begins to crowd clear thinking, our minds start thinking of an easy escape. We begin to look for help, rest and a spectacular rescue from God. However, according to Elijah's experience, God can be seen and heard best when we are silent. Elijah was not stressed when he was told that the presence of the Lord would pass by. Instead, he became still and waited in patience to see God.
     Just like Elijah, we must take time out of our schedule and rest. The Christian walk is not easy and several hurdles stand in our way from completing the race. Many times, the very reason we are stressed is due to our lack of rest and relaxation. The Bible implies in various other passages the importance of rest and looking to Christ for peace.
(Psa 46:10 NIV) "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."

(Eccl 9:7-9 NIV) “Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is now that God favors what you do. Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil. Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun-- all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun.

(Prov 15:13 NIV) “A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.

(Mat 11:28-30 NIV) "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

However, Biblical references are not the only passages humanity owns that inspires the concept of relaxation and happiness. Tim Hansel's book, “When I Relax, I Feel Guilty” deals with the issue of restfulness straight on and speaks directly to the hard workers of our society. Though the book relies heavily on Christian values and Biblical passages, the reader will notice the various poems that are also included in the book. One unparticular seems to clearly focus on the topic of happiness.
     "From tomorrow on I shall be happy,
From tomorrow on.
Not today.
And every day, no matter how good things may be,
I shall say
from tomorrow on I'll be happy
not today."
The previous poem was taken from the American perspective and many times this poem can adequately describe our thinking. If life begins to weigh us down, we loose sight of God due to our lack of relaxation in Him. However, Hansel later records that a young Jewish girl, surrounded by the horrors of a Nazi concentration camp, had the grace and composure to write the following poem:
     "From tomorrow on
I shall be sad
From tomorrow on --
not today.
Today I will be glad,
and every day
no matter how bitter it may be
I shall say
From tomorrow on I shall be sad
not today."
The difference in these two poems lies not in the circumstance, but the reasoning each author goes about responding to their current condition.
Our lives will continue running to the sound of a clock and unfortunately, time cannot be stopped. However, we must realize that pure joy and happiness comes only through Christ who can provide us with rest and comfort. If we settle with our constant moving, fast paced lifestyle, we will miss the small, wonders of God's amazing power. Therefore, even in the rainy days we can relax and feel God's presence through each raindrop that falls. We as humans have control over our thoughts and actions. Though our death is not known, one truth will always remain. Everything that has breath can be used and comforted by God, which brought it life. Therefore, rest in Christ and find hope in His presence. Next time the schedule is being made, make room for the most important and crucial meeting of your life; always make time for God.

Rainy Days
As I marvel at Your wondrous tears,
My feet lay soaked in Your puddles,
Precious water, poured from heaven, oh so very near,
This rain comforts me in my deserted troubles.

Just like a child, I leap and kiss the cloudy sky above,
My feet land in a shallow puddle, peace fills the air,
In this day only, my shadow does not cover me like a dove,
For the sun is not needed, this rain shows God's true care.

Though my heart will cherish the sunsets I have seen,
It will always be in the rain that I clearly see God's face,
Tears of happiness and grace, flow directly down to me,
Oh how I love these cloudy days, that I may sing in Your heavenly grace!

 All Bible verses and quotes have been taken from the Zondervan Reference Software, Version 2.6, 1994

 Ecclesiastes 4:7-12 (In reference to family function)

Ecclesiastes 4:7-12 (NIV)  Again I saw something meaningless under the sun: There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. "For whom am I toiling," he asked, "and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?" This too is meaningless-- a miserable business! Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

     This verse alone includes an important quality that a well functioning family should acquire. It begins with the leadership concept of the family. At the beginning of the passage, a man asks the questions, “For whom am I toiling” and “why am I depriving myself of enjoyment.” Many times in the family's of the 21st century, the leadership role (one of the two parents) often seem overwhelmed with the various stresses that they intend in solving within the family. Therefore, the family is seen as under the authority of one person, who has ultimate control and is content about running the family the way he or she desires. In response, all of the family's burdens, hardships and disagreements fall on this person's shoulders. This verse suggests the importance of equaling out the authority of the family, leaving each person feeling somewhat responsible for the current family situation (whether good or bad in status). In some cases, if the family lacks good communication skills and intimacy, one member may feel blamed for the current situation (an example would be a pregnant teen or a father who has lost his job). This passage stresses the need for a family (or any group of people trying to accomplish a goal) to share a bond with one another. This is a type of relationship where if one falls, the other members of the family will help the member back onto their feet. A family should be a unit, which is not easily overpowered, but forms a “cord of three strands.” No one person can make it alone and two people may last for a small amount of time. However, three or more people willing to form this close relationship will form a force so strong and reliable (basically due to it's foundation on God), they are capable of holding down all of the pressures that this world brings. This passage is a necessity for any family in today's day and age.  

 Job's Question; God's Answer (A Research Paper)
     Many times throughout our lives, we struggle through various life situations. Events happen which we have no explanation and we earnestly seek some type of answer. Job suffered greatly in this area and constantly pleaded with God for a resolution to his troubles. God appeared to Job, but God never mentioned why trouble crouched at his feet. By examining both parts of this counseling situation between Job and his Maker, points can be made that can be applied to suffering in general and how to rationalize unexplainable circumstances that appear in a Christian's walk.
     The dialogue between Job and God begins in chapter 38 and continues to the end of the book (Chapter 42). However, for purposes of this paper, chapters 40 through 42 will be the focus. Before the consultation began, Job was dealing with the ideas of the three counselors, each focusing on the idea that, “”Job was guilty of some terrible sin” (Sper, 5). Job responded to Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar remaining on the truth that he was not being punished for any wrong actions. “Job is at the point where he is not only physically hurting, he is also dealing with the stresses that his friends are now against him” (Sper, 6). God truly appears at His desired timing, for Job has desired to talk with God since his outburst in chapter three. This consultation through the whirlwind marks the climax of the book.
Chapter 38 is a monologue spoken by God directly to Job and the counselors who are nearby. Faussett describes the purpose of this chapter in the following terms:
“Jehovah appears unexpectedly in a whirlwind (already gathering), the symbol of "judgment", to which Job had challenged Him. He asks him now to get himself ready for the contest. Can he explain the phenomena of God's natural government? How can he, then, hope to understand the principles of His moral government?” (Faussett, 1015).
Therefore, God begins to speak to Job through a storm, which can be directly related to Job's current circumstance and suffering. Faussett continues by analyzing the idea that God was preparing Job for a great adventure (1015). Throughout this chapter God pushes Job to look at what he (as a human) is not capable of doing and how God is thoroughly able and willing to carry out these acts. Matthew Henry states the chapter in several points, which all is pointing to Job's knowledge:
“1. He knew nothing of the founding of the earth (v. 4-7). 2. Nothing of the limiting of the sea (v. 8-11). 3. Nothing of the morning light (v. 12-15). 4. Nothing of the dark recesses of the sea and earth (v. 16-21). 5. Nothing of the springs in the clouds (v. 22-27), nor the secret counsels by which they are directed. 6. He could do nothing towards the production of the rain, or frost, or lightning (v. 28-30, 34, 35, 37, 38), nothing towards the directing of the stars and their influences (v. 31-33), nothing towards the making of his own soul (v. 36). And lastly, he could not provide for the lions and the ravens (v. 39-41). If, in these ordinary works of nature, Job was puzzled, how durst he pretend to dive into the counsels of God's government and to judge of them?” (Henry, 1075).
     The next chapter, 39, is a continuation of the previous speech. In chapter 39, God speaks to Job about the animals and the nature's dependency on Him. The previous chapter provided Job with an overview of God's hand in all aspects of His creation. Now God seems to deepen the conversation, focusing on the animals themselves.
“These verses begin a new aspect of the Lord's control over nature. From this point forward, the focus is on creatures of the animal world that are objects of curiosity and wonder to people. The choice is somewhat random. It has never crossed Job's mind to hunt prey for lions or to stuff food into the outstretched gullets of the raven's nestlings. But are not their growls and squawks cries to God, on whom all these creatures ultimately depend?” (Barker and Kohlenberger).      
Upon the arrival of chapter 40, God has hammered His presence home to Job. Throughout the entire book, Job has fought his emotions and physical needs by himself. Here, God does not cure any of his hardships, but informs Job that He is present, even in pain. Job's reaction in chapter 40 is very interesting because it shows Job's humbleness to the works of God. Matthew Henry states the actions that take place at the beginning of this chapter in this way, “Many humbling confounding questions God had put to Job, in the foregoing chapter; now, in this chapter, He demands an answer to them (v. 1, 2). Job submits in a humble silence (v. 3-5)” (Henry, 1077). When God asks for some form of response, Job puts his hand over his mouth. Theodore Beza views Job's actions as a way “by which he shows that he repented and desired pardon for his faults” (Beza, 1623). Therefore, Job has realized the unimportance of his own words, compared to the presence and authority of God.
However, right when Job shows his humbleness before his Creator, God begins to strike at the real issues on Job's heart. Job 40:6-8 reads:
“Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind:
"Gird up your loins like a man;
I will question you, and you declare to me.
Will you even put me in the wrong?
Will you condemn me that you may be justified?" {Job 40:6-8 RSV}.
Ray Stedman translated this verse in his own words, ”Now God says, "What about the moral realm? That is the realm you have been charging me with fault in. Can you handle that? Are you able to put me in the wrong in this area of morality and justice and fairness?" (Stedman, 2). God helps Job to see God's specific role in human life by asking Job if he could fill this honored position. God even tells Job that if he could save himself, then he could be of the same position of God (Job 40:14). Theodore  Beza concludes this issue of justification boldly noting that, “they who justify themselves condemn God as unjust… proving by this that whoever attributes to himself power and ability to save himself, makes himself God” (Beza, 1624). In human terms, God is telling Job that He is in control and this fact alone should provide comfort for Job in the midst of the storm.
     After verse 14 in chapter 40, to the reader's amazement, God directs Job's attention to an animal called the behemoth, which according to God, was made along with Job (Job 40:15). There have been many commentaries fully devoted to naming the animal's origin. Faussett seems to believe that the creature is a combination of the qualities of “the hippopotamus, in part with the elephant, but exactly in all details with neither” (Faussett, 1021). However, Matthew Henry supports the view that the animal was an elephant, a typical view in most commentaries used for this research:
“Some understand it of the bull; others of an amphibious animal, well known (they say) in Egypt, called the river-horse (hippopotamus), living among the fish in the river Nile, but coming out to feed upon the earth. But I confess I see no reason to depart from the ancient and most generally received opinion, that it is the elephant that is here described, which is a very strong stately creature, of very large stature above any other, of wonderful sagacity, and of so great a reputation in the animal kingdom that among so many four-footed beasts as we have had the natural history” (Henry, 1082).
Regardless the origin or current name of the animal described on chapter 40, the power and strength of God's animal creation is explained. John Wesley, taking the same view as Henry, sums up the discussion on this creature:
“He hath strength answerable to his bulk, but this strength by God's wise and merciful providence is not an offensive strength, consisting in, or put forth by horns or claws, as it is in ravenous creatures, but only defensive and seated in his loins, as it is in other creatures…He is one of the chief of God's works, in regard of its great bulk and strength” (Wesley, 1135).
After God explains the power that this creature possesses, He puts the issue of authority back on Job's shoulders. For no human hand can capture this creature that has been described, yet it came from the hands of God, which serves as the behemoth's only authority.
     Chapter 41 brings about another animal, which possesses close to (if not equal to) the same power and strength as illustrated by the behemoth. The leviathan is seen as a water creature with strength and not uncontrollable by humans. Again, the name and the origin are not clearly indicated in scripture, but there seems to be a general acceptance that this animal is close to a crocodile or a whale.
“Literally, "the twisted animal," gathering itself in folds: a synonym to the Thannin (Job 3:8, Margin; see //" Psalms 74:14; type of the Egyptian tyrant Psalms 104:26, lineStudyBible/bible.cgi?passage=Isa+27:1" Isaiah 27:1; the Babylon tyrant). A poetical generalization for all cetacean, serpentine, and saurian monsters all the description applies to no one animal); especially the crocodile; which is naturally described after the river horse, as both are found in the Nile” (Faussett, 1028).
Both of these animals are used by God to illustrate His control over all aspects of the world. Job probably never thought about (in the detail that God described) what defined God as the supreme being of the universe. Throughout these last few chapters, Job has heard God talk about two animals, which are seen as a lower class as he, take over more power than Job possesses. If Job cannot control these two animals, how is he expected to control the entire universe?   
     Chapter 42 verses 1 through 6, Job responds to God's speech by humbling himself before God and therefore repenting of his self-justification. Matthew Henry states that, “the words of Job justifying himself were ended…the words of Job judging and condemning himself began” (Henry, 1087). Theodore Beza translates Job's words in verses two and three to, “No thought so secret but you see it, nor anything that you think but that you can bring it to pass. I confess in this my ignorance, and that I spoke of what I did not know” (Beza, 1637). Job was an upright man, yet he admitted that he did not know God. Job is telling God that he now submits to His ultimate control knowing that he has no authority of God's plan. Barker and Kohlenberger stated that:
“Job's immediate response shows that he understood clearly the thrust of the second divine speech. Job opened his mouth to tell God that he had gotten the message: God's purpose is all that counts; and since he is God, he is able to bring it to pass. There is nothing else Job needed to know--only, perhaps, that this Sovereign of the universe was his friend” (Barker and Kohlenberger).
One key element not mentioned in any of the commentaries in this study was the fact that Job answered God before he was healed and was blessed. Job trusted God to the point where he would continue the suffering without self-justification or even anger at God. Job's reply showed the growth of his faith through suffering.
     In conclusion, a reader must remember one important fact that is usually overlooked, due to the blessings that Job received at the end of this book. God spoke for most of the conversation with Job and detailed many areas of interest. However, God remained silent on why He allowed Job to suffer. In fact, Job was never told about the deal made between Satan and God. However, as Barker and Kohlenberger conclude, Job's faith is still used as an illustration to millions of suffering Christians.
“Job has learned that human beings, by themselves, cannot deduce the reason why anyone suffers. Still unknown to Job was the fact that his suffering had been used by God to vindicate God's trust in him over against the accusations of the Accuser. So without anger toward him, God allowed Job to suffer in order to humiliate the Accuser and provide support to countless sufferers who would follow in Job's footsteps” (Barker and Kohlenberger).

Works Cited
Barker, Kenneth; Kohlenberger, John. NIV Bible Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1994.
Beza, Theodore. The 1599 Geneva Study Bible.
Fausset, A. R. Commentary Critical And Explanatory On The Whole Bible.
Henry, Matthew. Matthew Henry Complete Commentary On The Whole Bible.
Scofield, C. I. Scofield Reference Notes. 1917.
Sper, David. Knowing God Through Job. Grand Rapids: RBC Ministries, 1990.
Stedman, Ray C. The Nature Of God. Palo Alto: Discovery Publishing, 1995
Wesley, John. John Wesley's Explanatory Notes On The Whole Bible. 1754

 2 Tough Questions For The Author (A Testimony)
Describe your Christian pilgrimage to date. Note the major turning points, and the people and/or events that played key roles.
     My Christian pilgrimage, up to this point, has suffered through several valleys, only to land on some of the highest mountaintops that others are amazed to see me climb. In other words, I have discovered that God uses our weaknesses to be a witness to others on a daily basis. Here is my story.
     I was born on May 13, 1982 to a couple who would a few years later be the proud parents of two other children. However, unlike others, I was born not breathing and required an immediate surgery in order to save my life. Evidently, my air way was closed by an improper bone placement and the surgery, which I encountered at the beginning moments of my life literally allowed me to live to see today. However, throughout the childhood years of my life, I was faced to deal with the fact that I was different than everyone else, even my own family. I have hearing challenges (deaf in my left ear due to the absence of an ear canal and mild hearing loss in my right ear due to the puncturing of my ear drum), visual hurdles (mostly blind in my left eye due to the dead tissue surrounding my cornea and a strong stigmatism surrounding dead tissue in my right eye) and physical struggles (my right arm is shorter and smaller than my left). All of these “symptoms” as doctors called them were existent upon my birth and remain in my life today.
     I struggled so hard throughout my journey to find why I thought God created me of less quality than everyone else. I attended church and was rejected by many who called themselves, “Christians.” My parents always told me that I did not have enough friends and they never understood the torment that occurred through the hallways of my education (elementary through high school). Everywhere I looked, I never found why God wanted me here on earth. I even looked to fulfill acceptance in drugs and alcohol. I was to the point of giving up because I felt like no other human being could possibly comprehend the pain and torment that I encountered every waking moment of the day. In order to escape this pain, I went on several missions trips sponsored in part by my church and overcame my loneliness, meeting a younger boy on an Indian Reserve in Arizona who had a right arm similar to mine. We shared no words, but for the first time I realized there were other people in this vast world who suffered through challenges, just like myself.
     To be honest, I'm not sure how I ended up on the campus of Kentucky Christian College. My youth minister mentioned my abilities to work with youth and understanding those who were of a different status than others. However, I still had not embraced the opportunity to face the loneliness and pain from my past. My primary goal for attending college was to get away from home and start my life over. However, God led me into a journey by introducing me to people I could really call, “friends” and the ability to be accepted for who I was as a person by others on the campus. For the first time ever, I opened up about my past and was comforted spiritually by several individuals from KCC. The staff at Kentucky Christian College challenged my view on God and my life. I finally realized why God created me and I soon experienced the meaning of grace. On April 11, 2001 I was baptized into Christ in Grayson, Kentucky in front of my new group of friends. The past two summers I have worked with kids at Blue Grass Christian Camp and participated in the “Super Saturday” program at Southern Acres Christian Church (this program is for the inner city kids each Saturday of the month). Most recently, I assisted with Power Ministry's “Handi-Camp” which is a week of camp dedicated to kids and teenagers who have physical and mental challenges. I have been amazed at how God continues to use me and bless my life in the most extraordinary ways. My life is a mirror. My desire is for everyone who looks in my direction to see just a glimpse of Christ as I continue this Christian pilgrimage.

What is your current view of the relationship of your faith to social issues?
     As a Christian, my faith can be defined by saying, “forsaking all I take Him” (note that the beginning letters of each word can be formed to the word, “faith”).  I trust in the Bible as authority and see union possible through the acts of Christ. Many times today, Christians care not to associate with those who believe differently than they have been raised. However, by really getting to know a person, the reason they believe in a certain religion will become easily understood. I believe that Jesus Christ has set the example of how we should handle various social issues by His actions throughout scripture. In other words, when a current issue makes itself known, I turn to scripture first to define my stand.
     First, I believe that Christ has commissioned us to step out of our social comfort zone and reach out to others, regardless of ethics, origin, race, sex, or distance. The Great Commission instructs us to go out into “all nations,” not just the neighborhood around us. However, in America today, the world is coming to us. We live by people from other countries and backgrounds, yet we never gain the courage to reach out to people who are different than us. I am tired of looking others straight in the eye and seeing their loneliness and hopelessness. Jesus Christ reached out to the lame, the blind, the women, the children and even the Samaritans. Yet, we who call ourselves “Christians” cannot walk across the street and build a relationship with others who look or believe differently than us? In this case, we as Christians are reflecting a belief that Christ only accepts certain people. In essence, many Christians are walking around with a “fun house” mirror, reflecting to others that God will not accept them the way they are. It takes faith to check your own reflection.
     Second, many times we (Christians) expect to change the world by handing out Bibles and sponsoring children, claiming that we can bring God to another country. Before I gained the courage to board a plane to Mexico or hop onto a church bus to ride to Arizona, God was already working in these places. In Arizona, the Indian reservation had been working on clearing out an old church in order to have room for a possible revival and God was working through the people of this particular tribe through the arrival of many groups before our visit. In Mexico, land was bought for a church, but was abandoned later by those who bought the property (they had no money to build a church). When we came, we brought money to lay down the foundation for the building, even pouring the concrete the same week. A year later, we returned to build the outside of the building and add plumbing. A year later we returned to find that the church had finished the building by gaining enough support from it's members and was even able to buy a sign for the outside of the building. Many times we fail to trust God to handle situations and we find ourselves with the attitude of having to solve the situation ourselves. God uses others, not just ourselves, in order to make His will known.
     In conclusion, Christians must begin to realize that faith is required to develop answers to social issues that arise. We must build ourselves up spiritually by feeding off of God's Word and challenge our comfort level by making our love for Christ (as mentioned in the Bible) known to everyone.