Oswald Chambers on Being Carefully Careless

“So many of us think only of the visible things, whereas the real concentration, the whole dead-set of the life, should be where our Lord put it in the huge nugget of truth which we call the Sermon on the Mount.

“There our Lord says, in effect, to take no thought for your life; be carefully careless about everything saving one thing, your relationship to God. “

–Oswald Chambers
The Love of God, p. 67

Being Respectable is Conformity to the World

One of the primary virtues of social living is being “respectable.” People feel a need to dress and talk respectably and own respectable stuff. This seems like a fine thing to do, what could possibly be wrong with being respectable?

Respectable is defined as “worthy of esteem, of good social standing.” Sounds like a fine virtue, might even be a Christian virtue.

You would certainly think so by observing professed Christians who look very respectable.

But let’s throw some Bible in here shall we? Yes, yes we shall. Jesus once said, “that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.” If being respectable means being “worthy of esteem” and God despises what man esteems, it seems God is steamed when we are esteemed.

“Be not conformed to this world” is one of those phrases we quickly pass over in Romans 12. I think it deserves some attention. Conformity is nothing more than living for the esteem of those around us, in other words, conformity is “being respectable.”

Now, this doesn’t mean Christians need to do what is not respectable, in other words, our goal is not to flaunt conventions of society in an effort to put ourselves on display.

Rather, Christians are people who esteem what God esteems and this will look different and will lead to choices the world will not respect.

Many Christian groups over the centuries have attempted to come out from among them and be separate and yet have based their nonconformity on a list of rules:

No dancing
No movies
No smokingNo drinking
No blue jeans

But this is merely replacing one bit of conformity with another.

The idea is to be so sold out to Christ, so moved by what He says, that nothing else sways us. If we are truly living sacrifices, we won’t need someone to tell us to follow their nonconformity, we will be to busy being transformed into Christ.

The Spirit’s role in our transformation is critical and cannot be replaced by a checklist. Checklists will never result in Christ-likeness.

Being respectable is worth nothing in the scope of eternity. The fact that you are fashionably dressed means little when your neighbor is going to hell. If we were truly living after Christ our nonconformity would shine in this dark world and lead us into some true, honest persecution.

“The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil.”

“If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.”

Rhetorical Devices, Jesus and Serving Two Masters

I am a moron. I know this because 1) I’ve lived with me a long time and 2) lots of people have told me. I have come to grips with this reality, maybe even reveled in it from time to time. I am a fully functional moron.

One of the times I was informed of my moronicness is when I published my book The Gospel-Filled Wallet. I was accused of not understanding that Jesus uses rhetorical devices.

My opening chapter is about me loving my stuff and thus concluding that I hated God. I based this on the verse saying–no man can serve God and mammon (wealth, riches, stuff) because he will hate the one and love the other.

It’s a little known fact that the original title for the whole book was going to be “I Think I Hate God.” I can only imagine what a moron I would be today if I had gone with that title.

I was accused of not understanding Jesus’ affinity for rhetorical devices. A “rhetorical device” is defined by dictionaries as “a use of language that creates a literary effect (but often without regard for literal significance).”

A “rhetorical device” is defined by Christians as, “stuff Jesus says I don’t have to deal with cuz I know He didn’t really mean it, duh, it’s a rhetorical device.”

A rhetorical device is a way of making a point. The point is true and to stress its truthiness, extreme language is used. No one use exaggeration in making a point to deny the point being made.

The Chicago Cubs are the stupidest organization in the world. That’s a rhetorical device using hyperbole. Obviously the Nazi Party is slightly more stupid. Ah, I did it again!

Now, although my actual statement may be overstated, my point is clear–I think the Cubs are stupid.

When Jesus says you can’t love both God and mammon, which then means if I love my wealth I hate God, I think He actually meant something by that. I think it means if I love what my wealth does for me then I do hate God.

To me, that’s His point and I think it would help us to think in these terms. If I were given the choice between God or my wealth I’d go with God. But life is not made up of stark choices that often.

Life and your wealth have a way of weeding their way in, slightly distracting you. Even while you tell yourself, “Oh, I’d choose God over my stuff,” the stuff sure seems to take up a lot of your time.

Jesus is using a rhetorical device, it is true. There is a hyperbolic contrast going on in serving two masters. But His point is very true. One of the points of being born again, being made a spiritual creation, is to disinterest you in the things of this world.

If Jesus took time, and a lot of time at that, to warn us about money and how it destroys faith, I think we ought to listen up.

The Gospel-Filled Wallet

About three years ago I published a book. My intent was to have it be so warmly received, so transformational, so powerful in its effects that I would not even have to lift a finger to get people to read it.

When the book came out it was reviewed by a number of people, few of whom whole-heartedly got behind my message. Then the publisher went out of business, which seemed about right. Family, friends and mailmen avoided the subject with vigor.

So, the book is still on Amazon and can be bought cheaply as it sells for what it costs to publish a copy. I also have a box of them in my basement.

I’m not a good salesman. I hate sales. But as I reflect on the book and the passing of years, I have heard enough from people who found the book helpful that I am encouraged to bring it up again and see if anyone else would like to read it.

Here are some reader reviews:

“Every soul on earth is precious, including yours. Do yourself a favor and feed it good food for a change.”
–From Frank Zimmerman’s Amazon review

“In The Gospel-Filled Wallet, Weddle doesn’t attempt an exhaustive exegesis of all things money and wealth.  He does provide witty, pastoral and provocative insights to get us thinking the right way.  You’ll find the book an easy read and one that will encourage more faithful stewardship.”
–a blog review

“Weddle is to be commended for taking on a challenging and controversial topic head-on with an approach that many would consider counter-intuitive or dead wrong. The Gospel-Filled Wallet is Weddle’s biblical version of an “inconvenient truth.” If a book worthy of being read is one in which both your head and heart have been challenged, then The Gospel-Filled Wallet is worthy of our prayerful consideration.”
–BibleX review

“I would recommend that Christians read The Gospel Filled Wallet, then really pray about and focus on both what the Bible says about money / wealth and what He wants each of us to do with it in our lives. You may not agree with the conclusions Jeff reaches, but you will definitely be challenged to look at money in a fresh and new way and then be challenged to live the model that God gives you.”
–blog review

“This book pulls back the curtain and reveals a professing church that is very far off base when it comes to wealth. I have been challenged to reexamine my heart and how I use what God has provided. I recommend the work and hope that everyone who reads it will in the end love and serve God more and use their blessings more wisely to God’s glory.”
–blog review

“For brave, idol-smashing studies of the Bible, there aren’t many writers stronger than Jeff.”
–My publisher I put out of business. Sorry Milton.

Click here to buy your copy from amazon

Click here to buy one directly from me

God Will Never Leave You. Act Like That Matters.

So, if God is to be feared, what would life look like if we actually did fear Him? Any ideas? Are we constantly trembling, looking over our shoulder for God’s right arm of justice to smash us? Are we too petrified to go out the door for fear of the Lion of Judah in the street?

On the contrary, a life lived in fear of God is a life that appears confident, free of anxiety, and not moved by the shifting opinions of people.

We enjoy flopping out some phrases from Hebrews 13 from time to time to sooth ourselves when our phone doesn’t allow us to text and that one light is blinking in the car again and the whole world is, like, totally against us. “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” We put on our Facebook status with the obligatory :)

We might even follow it up with “The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” when the mechanic tried to overcharge us for getting the blinky light to go off. Don’t you even!

Ah yes, modern Christian self-help. It’s enough to make you want to vomit and yet boy howdy, that vomit looks good, might go back to it for a snack later.

Yup.

Note the context of these phrases “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.  So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.”

Someone who truly believes the Lord is with them so they need not fear man, has a life free of covetousness and filled with contentment. Our desires for iPads and cars and fancy clothes and pretty much everything, shows that we don’t really know who God is. He’s not our treasure; we just want Him to help us get more of our treasures.

We’re sick, sick people.

The larger context of these verses is about love, love of strangers, love of imprisoned believers, love in marriage, love of those who teach you from God’s Word.

You can’t love unless you are free of selfishness and worry. You can’t be free of selfishness and worry until you know God for who He is and He sets you free from yourself and replaces you with Him. It’s a beautiful thing.

Instead we’ll be distracted by the new double thick burger commercial and not think about this again.

Rejoice in Hope

Heaven is the realm of our rejoicing. If we are earthly minded our rejoicing will be temporal at best, non-existent at worst.

The problem with heaven is that it is THERE and we are HERE. How can we who are HERE rejoice in what is THERE?

I think this is tough and is why heaven gets so little air-time in our theology. We know we are to set our affections on things above, but things above are not seen, so soon our affections are drawn to what we can see.

“Hey, that guy Moses who brought us out of the wilderness, he’s been gone for a couple weeks, let’s go worship some golden cows.”

“Dude, sweet idea.” and off we go.

We laugh at goofy Aaron and the Israelites, yet we do this all the time, just not with golden cows, but with plastic Apples (this is a reference to the various iProducts produced by the Apple corporation that everyone has their face in and is intended to be a joke with some truth and applied much further than merely Apple products). (Jokes that need to be explained are not funny.)

Heaven is like Christmas for a kid. I remember many a Christmas Eve having a hard time sleeping. Looking at presents under the tree for weeks beforehand, even popping some tape off to see if I could get a glimpse at the package inside without mom and dad finding out.

“Anticipation is better than gratification” my parents always told me. They also told me lima beans taste like candy.

But in many cases anticipation is what makes the gratification worth it. Heaven is our anticipation, it is our hope, our hope of God’s glory fully revealed and reveled in that causes us rejoicing now.

Don’t even try to give me this, “Oh, but we can have heaven on earth” business, because we can’t. If we could, then all the promises of heaven and its hope are meaningless. As we convince ourselves heaven can be on earth, we talk less about heaven and fixate on materialism (see American Christianity).

We rejoice in hope and hope maketh not ashamed. Whatever junk life throws at us, our eyes are on heaven, and since heaven is our real expectation, we are filled with rejoicing.

God Didn’t Give You All The Things You Thank Him For

Hebrews 11 talks about people of faith, a great cloud of witnesses showing us how faith is done. The consistency of their testimony is that they lived for another world, a better country.

Christianity has lost its voice. We do not live for a better country, instead we make ourselves at home in this one. We sell out our responsibilities and authority to the government, get wrapped up in economic debates and live as the world does.

This is all very sad. Pretty much every book of the New Testament has a warning about living in and for this world. We are warned over and over that money is the great faith killer, and yet we continue to think we are the few who can serve both God and money.

Furthermore, when we get our material blessings, we thank God for them. I have heard a number of people give thanks to God for landing the job that allows them to live a better sinful lifestyle and ruin their family.

“All good gifts come from above, brother. Praise God for my excessively wasteful house I have.” We are under the impression that faith equals prosperity, oh sure, not crazily like them whack-job Pentecostals, but evangelical Christianity believes God blesses spiritual faithfulness with physical abundance.

It’s why we thank Him for our comforts, don’t ya know.

“Do not love the world or the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world— the desires of the flesh and  the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.”

We know these verses, but do we really understand what it’s saying? Allow the ever so correct ESV to put it nicely for you. Notice the “–” in there and the phrase it sets apart, a kind of parenthesis. Read the verse without that phrase once.

“For all that is in the world is not from the Father but is from the world.” Now, specifically He is talking about our lust and pride after the worlds things, the things of the world we are not to love–lust after.

But the things in the world that you lust after for your own pride, when you get those, don’t thank God for them, He didn’t give them to you. You heaped them to yourself after your own lust.