Job 9:12-Accepting God’s Sovereignty, but Questioning His Love

Job 9:12 Behold, he taketh away, who can hinder him? who will say unto him, What doest thou?

The book of Job is hard for me to understand sometimes because it seems as if he constantly is moving from faith in God to bitterness.  It’s true that in the beginning he still held fast to his integrity though God was unjust (2:3) but soon we find him asking God for death (3:1) (editors note:  the lack of comfort from Job’s friends would have something to do with this).

Job chapters nine and ten is an interesting contrast with faith and bitterness as Job in 9:12 points out God’s sovereignty (complete control) means nobody can question Him, yet a few verses later he takes it on himself to question the justice and goodness of God.


Job 9:17 For he breaketh me with a tempest, and multiplieth my wounds without cause.
Job 9:18 He will not suffer me to take my breath, but filleth me with bitterness.

Job 9:22 ¶ This is one thing, therefore I said it, He destroyeth the perfect and the wicked.
Job 9:23 If the scourge slay suddenly, he will laugh at the trial of the innocent.

Job 10:1 ¶ My soul is weary of my life; I will leave my complaint upon myself; I will speak in the bitterness of my soul.
Job 10:2 I will say unto God, Do not condemn me; shew me wherefore thou contendest with me.

Job 10:3 Is it good unto thee that thou shouldest oppress, that thou shouldest despise the work of thine hands, and shine upon the counsel of the wicked?

I personally believe this swinging back and forth from faith to bitterness is partially because Job’s judgment didn’t originally come because of sin…however in a way it has to do with his questioning the love of God.

There was no right on the part of Job or anybody else to question the authority of God (what doest thou in 9:12) because He was the one who created them, and obviously controlled everything that happened.

But at the same time we do see him question the GOODNESS of God (he multiplieth my wounds without cause, destroyeth the perfect and the wicked).  In other words God is viewed as unfair tyrant who must be obeyed, even though his actions aren’t just.


The scary thing about Job’s struggle (believing in God’s sovereignty but questioning His goodness) is it’s a very common experience.  All of us have submitted to the Will of God (His sovereignty) while at the same time questioning His love (having a bad attitude). This may not seem like a big deal at first (after all we are obeying God) until we realize Satan attacks our belief in His love first.

When Satan came to Eve he focused on the ONE THING they couldn’t eat in the garden, and used it to make her question God’s love .  I like how Sally-Loyd Jones describes his temptation in the “Jesus Storybook Bible”

As soon as Satan saw his chance he slithered silently up to Eve.  “Does God really love you?”  the serpent whispered.  “If he does, why won’t he let you eat the nice, juicy, delicious fruit?  Poor you, perhaps God doesn’t want you to be happy.”

The snakes words hissed into her ears and sunk down into her heart, like poison.  “Does God love me?”  Eve wondered.  Suddenly she didn’t know anymore

Satan likes to tell us submitting to the sovereignty of God while questioning His love isn’t that big of a deal.  But eventually that whispered questioning of God’s love will lead to direct rebellion against the sovereignty of God.  It’s just impossible to believe God is complete control while questioning whether or not He is loving.

Why I Love Playtime


At about 5:00 every afternoon I finish telling Bible stories on my porch, put on an  Australian kangaroo leather hat, change clothes, and walk to a nearby park for what can only be referred to as “playtime.”

Usually when I’m within eyesight of the park kids will start calling out “Mr. John” and running towards the gate entrance.  For twenty minutes we will play some kind of game, usually “lashing hat” which is their favorite.

It consists of me trying to hit them on the arm with my kangaroo leather hat (not too hard) and their running away.  Sometimes we play a variation where someone steals my hat and takes great joy in “lashing” Mr. John 🙂  Recently we started a game called prisoner where Mr. John was taken prisoner and had to escape jail.  This led to an embarrassing experience on Friday when the “prisoner” was forced to sit down and catch his breath.

In the beginning I visited the park every afternoon to get to know the children’s names, but now I look forward to gametime as an opportunity to connect them them in an unstructured way.

When reaching children one thing you learn very quickly is the need for structure or rules, and someone who isn’t afraid to enforce them.  This is particularly true for ministries like Bible club that I run four days a week at Tabernacle Baptist Church.  Since there is expensive audio equipment and the children are fascinated by singing into microphones, we have four very serious rules.

  1. No going past Mr. John:  I stand at the third row and teach them sitting on the back rows
  2. Nobody gets water, or goes to the bathroom:  both are on the Church stage and too close to the sound system
  3. Nobody gets on the stage for any reason
  4. And nobody touches the microphone for any reason

Unfortunately just having rules and enforcing them is not enough because some children just enjoy breaking them.  There is a group of three girls that always come by about 15 minutes before Bible club and try to come in, if they do get in the entire group will immediately run to the stage (knowing that I can’t keep all of them away) so I’m forced to keep the Church gate locked till they leave.  Also there are some children I won’t allow to come in Bible club knowing they won’t obey the rules, and at least three times a week I’m forced to “escort” children out of the Church.

To be honest I’m a big softie and don’t enjoy doing things like this, but at the same time having a ministry without structure (rules) means the kids will pretty much just do what they want.  And part of my calling as a missionary is not only to evangelize children, but disciple them so that they are prepared for the real world.

However after the structured ministry there is in my opinion a need for unstructured ministry where the kids are basically allowed to be kids. In fact I would go as far as to say sometimes the need for unstructured ministry is GREATER than structured ones!  

Children are filled with enormous amounts of energy.  For much of the day they are asked to keep calm and contain that energy in school or at home, so they are looking for a place to let that energy out. For children in Barrouallie that place is the park, unfortunately while there their energy turns to the wrong kind of things

  1. like arguing with and threatening each other
  2. Fighting
  3. Keeping others from using something they want (swings, slide)
  4. And creating lots of chaos
  5. An unstructured ministry like playtime gives children an opportunity to expend their extra energy towards a fun and positive game instead of fighting.

A few Saturdays ago a little boy learned how to successfully defend against the lashing hat during playtime.  Instead of running away as I lashed him with it he turned and grabbed onto the hat with both hands so as I tried to pull the hat free suddenly ten tiny hands began to lash Mr. John excitedly.  That day and the expression of absolute joy on his face was a reminder that though the work of missions emphasizes a structured ministry, it often begins during playtime.

Why I Sweep the Floor After Devotions


My morning routine usually goes pretty much the same

  1. Walking into the kitchen at 5:30 and turning on the coffee (editors note:  I NEVER get up that early in America but having roosters in the vicinity makes it hard to sleep much later)
  2. By 5:45 I’m the porch drinking coffee, after two cups feel somewhat human
  3. Around 6:00 I start watching sportscenter or the news for thirty minutes
  4. At 6:30 I’m having devotions with a Ryrie Study Bible
  5. And then about 7:00 I start sweeping the house

no seriously I always sweep the house after devotions

Actually sweeping isn’t a very strange thing since I keep the doors open whenever I’m home (the sea-breeze makes it cooler) so its common for dust and sand to be tracked or blown in (especially when kids are around).  But 6:55 in the morning IS kind of a strange time to start cleaning.

Actually sweeping that time if day isn’t just about being clean or organized, it gives me a chance to meditate and pray over what I’ve just read from God’s Word.

Like many of you I sometimes struggle with meditating on the truths of Scripture after having devotions.  I realized that part of my problem was going directly from Scripture to sitting in front of my computer working through a seemingly endless to-do list, which left no time to just stop and think.  

So a kind of “unplugged work” that didn’t use any kind of electronics was necessary…work that allowed for silence and moments without mental distraction.  

Hence the sweeping 🙂

My morning sweeping ritual usually consists of two different things. I either think through a Bible verse from that mornings devotions (I’ll spend ten to fifteen minutes getting it in my mind first) or work through the HEAR method of Bible journalling  mentally (Highlight, Explain, Apply, Respond).  And of course this kind of meditation usually leads to prayer.

As an illustration let me use a verse the Lord helped me memorize from yesterdays devotions, Nehemiah 9:33

Neh. 9:33 Howbeit thou art just in all that is brought upon us; for thou hast done right, but we have done wickedly: (emphasis added)

As I swept, dried dishes, and folded laundry from the day before my mind was first struck by the word “just” in that verse.  However the more I thought about it  “In all that is brought upon us” made a greater impact because it refers to the sovereignty of God who places everything that happens into our lives.

That thought of God’s sovereignty led to prayer

  1. Lord thank you for ordering the small parts of my life as well as the huge parts
  2. I confess that often I question the justice (goodness) of what you “bring upon me” thinking that somehow I know better
  3. This improper attitude leads to stubbornness that doesn’t trust your love
  4. Help me focus not on the circumstances of life, but the one who brings them, and trust your love

Not every day has such a life-changing truth but for me that really isn’t the point. The point is allowing God to speak in the stillness of the morning hours, and then meditating on the truth He has given for the rest of the day.

The world we live in is filled with constant noise, interruptions, and busyness so sometimes the best thing we can do is create a moment of silent reflection among the clamor.  And in the midst of that moment allow the still small voice of God to speak.

The Glory of Plodding


Early this year I read an article written by Kevin DeYoung (the original post can be found here) that discussed the churches need for more “plodding visionaries” instead of “revolutionaries.” The reason for this article is “many Believers are starting a revolution of real Christ-followers living in real community without the confines of church.” In other words many Christians are focused on doing radical (world-changing) things, without exhibiting self-discipline or faithfulness. After something bores them, they simply move on.

The true problem that Kevin DeYoung has with this mindset is most days discipleship or ministry within the Church is really ordinary.

maybe that’s why so many Christians are getting tired of the church. We haven’t learned how to be part of the crowd. We haven’t learned to be ordinary. Our jobs are often mundane. Our devotional times often seem like a waste. Church services are often forgettable. That’s life. Life is usually pretty ordinary, just like following Jesus most days. Daily discipleship is not a new revolution each morning or an agent of global transformation every evening; it’s a long obedience in the same direction.

As a missionary I had to teach myself this…like many of you I had an idea in my mind of what missions was about. I envisioned myself cutting down vines in Africa with my machete and swinging from tree to tree on a vine rescuing fair damsels in distress every day. Of course 95% of the work involved in missions are ordinary day to day things that could never be included in a prayer letter

When the majority of the day is filled with ordinary work, I find myself sometimes focusing all of my attention on the 5%, or trying to complete more revolutionary work while overlooking the ordinary work. But DeYoung points out those who are faithful in the day to day ordinary work (plodding visionaries) are far more revolutionary than those who have dreams of changing the world, but haven’t proven faithful to anything yet.

“With all due respect, what’s harder: to be an idolized rock star who travels around the world touting good causes and chiding governments for their lack of foreign aid, or to be a line worker at GM with four kids and a mortgage, who tithes to his church, sings in the choir every week, serves on the school board, and supports a Christian relief agency and a few missionaries from his disposable income?” Kevin DeYoung

Each of us have opportunities to daily choose between revolutionary acts, or the ordinary work of a plodding visionary, and in those moments we must remember God’s blessing of faithfulness. Every morning around 7:00 I have a choice between starting sermon work, or sweeping the house (this is necessary every day since I keep the doors open for an ocean breeze to come through). To be honest in those moments wrestling with the definition of Greek words seems a lot more important than dust on the floor, but I sweep first because faithfulness in the ordinary work brings greater glory to God.

Exchanging Love for Being “Nice”


“Paul was not a people-pleaser.  He was a people-lover, and because of that he did not change his message according to what others might think.  Only people-lovers are able to confront.  Only people-lovers are not controlled by other people.” Dr. Ed Welch

I was working on some notes for a sunday-school lesson on the fear of man when I came across the above quotation from “When People are Big and God is Small” by Ed Welch (Other than the Bible, this book has done more to affect my personal walk with God than any other) and was suddenly incredibly convicted.

As an introvert who struggled with self-esteem issues (secularized view of shame) as a child I’m really susceptible to people-pleasing (must be loved by others in order to feel successful).  With the Lords help I’m finding  my identity in Christ instead of others and experience victory over people pleasing, but during my study was reminded confrontation is an area where I’m still addicted to others approval.

Now for most of us even the word “confrontation” brings up uncomfortable emotions, awkwardness, and cold sweats so its very difficult to link that with the word “loving.”  But the truth is not confronting sinful behavior is the truly unloving act.

Here’s how Paul David Tripp describes this in “Instruments in the Redeemers Hands.

A rebuke free of unrighteous anger a clear sign of Biblical love, but I am afraid we have replaced love in our relationship with being “nice.”  Being nice and acting out of love are not the same thing.  Our culture puts a high premium on being tolerant and polite.  We seek to avoid uncomfortable moments, so we see, but do not speak.  We go so far as to convince ourselves that we are not speaking because we love the other person, when in reality we fail to speak because we lack love. (emphasis added)

Dr. Tripp refers here to exchanging niceness for love, instead of doing the loving thing (confronting sin) we do the nice thing (allow it to continue).

Sadly this idea has grown till today the definition of “love” has moved far past just being nice.

“In the West today, we then lay our definition of love directly on top of this negative conception of freedom.  To love someone is to set them free-it’s to remove all constraints and judgments:  If you love me with conditions or judgments, you don’t love me because your not letting me be free.”  Jonathan Leeman

The above quote comes from “The Church and the Surprising Offense of God’s Love” by Jonathan Leeman.  Chapter one (the idolatry of love) is the best description I’ve found of this redefined love and how we got there (worth the price of the book alone).

Back to this morning…because our culture has exchanged niceness for love it’s very easy for us as Christians (especially those who are people-pleasers) to choose being nice because “it’s the loving thing to do”

There’s just one problem with that

Refusing to confront sin isn’t very loving

In fact it’s the most unloving thing we can possibly do.