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May 15, 2007
Working Out

Though I used to be unable to understand him, I find more and more that Oswald Chambers's My Utmost for His Highest has a forcefulness and acuity that renders the Biblical scriptures fresh, essential, and pressing. He wrote his meditations in relative obscurity, and perhaps because his text has not been run through a thousand times by the silver tongue of a preacher, or dissected by bloodless theologians, it still holds magic.

This is merely the reflected magic of the Bible, but it seems at times that preachers and teachers have sucked the life right out of the latter, made it a dry text to which we already know the ending:

God was really mad for several hundred years; Jesus died for your sins (but you really don't deserve it); everything that happens is God's will and perfect; yada yada yada, don't forget to put your ten percent in the collection plate and volunteer for Sunday School duty.

Maybe because they haven't gotten to Chambers, it feels like a refuge from both the world and the neutered God-talk, or maybe it's just what I need right now — because the Lord is like a good parent in that he finds a way to keep you nourished even when you don't want your vegetables. Either way, I'm really digging Chambers, and I urge you to get a copy as well. You might even be able to find it in the modern-day Christian tchotchke store, right there between the "God's Love is Purrr-fect" cat-lover bookmarks and Bruce Wilkinson's latest book, The Hidden Secret: How God Put the Formula for Health and Wealth Right under Your Nose in the Last Verse of an Obscure Proverb.

Here's a snippet from today's meditation in Chambers:

"You cannot do anything for your salvation, but you must do something to manifest it, you must work out what God has worked in."

Poking a stick in the eyes of seven-eighths of the Christian industry probably isn't what he had in mind, but at least I'm trying.

Posted by Woodlief on May 15, 2007 at 07:46 AM


So THAT's how you spell "tchotchke." Thanks, Tony (for the spelling tip and the reminder of the value of Chambers).

Posted by: UberGoober at May 15, 2007 9:07 AM

One of my favorite books is Abandoned to God, the biography of Oswald Chambers.

I highly recommend it.


Posted by: Nick at May 15, 2007 9:56 AM

I don't even go into Christian (maybe that should be "Christian") bookstores any more; I'm embarrassed by all the Jesus Junk (my term, since I can't spell tchotchke) and wonder what a non-Christian who wandered into such a place might think of our faith based on that evidence.

I've had Chambers in my bookcase for years. I'm going to actually read it now--thanks.

Posted by: Julia P at May 15, 2007 11:07 AM

Thanks, Julia! JesusJunk (with the words run together breathlessly) perfectly describes what the "American Christian Religion." My Utmost for His Highest does not play well with JesusJunk: too much challenge, not enough comfort; too much rugged mysticism, not enough feel-good spirituality; too much God, not enough Me. My bracing-slap-in-the-face snippet from Chambers:

"To become one with Jesus Christ, a person must be willing not only to give up sin, but also to surrender his whole way of looking at things."

I expect to be working on that one for a while yet.

Posted by: JudyH at May 15, 2007 1:39 PM

Well said...I remember trying to follow an online devotion once that used "my upmost...". I couldn't get into it. I have a hardback from an early printing on my bookshelf that now seems to demand my attention. A freshness...yeah. Many thanks Tony !

Posted by: Rob at May 16, 2007 10:11 PM

I am a Chambers fan, he has a way of helping put things into perspective. I usually start my day with a devotion which should be my highest priority. Some days what seem to be important tasks get me sidtracked. This morning I was distracted by an issue with a customer and felt the need to address that first, God will understand, after all this is the way I earn a living and provide for my family. Once I addressed the issue I went to my devotional.

It sometimes suprises me how God uses the usual events of the day to remind us of His presence and to keep us grounded in His word. In todays My Utmost for His Highest I was reminded of the way God orders our lives in Matt 6:23 "..seek ye first the kingdom of God..". It is such a simple thing but I am thankful that God takes the time to remind us that when we allow Him to order our lives there is a peace that we don't find anywhere else in the World.

Posted by: miked at May 21, 2007 5:37 AM

I love Oswald Chambers! His writing is so unique and Spirit filled. My husband introduced me to him when we were dating, many years ago. I borrowed his copy and devoured it. One of my favourite quotes is from Sept 2nd of "My Utmost": "It is not that God makes us beautifully rounded grapes, but that He squeezes the sweetness out of us." And this one from Sept 1st: "The destined end of man is not happiness, nor health, but holiness." Chambers' words are very powerful and thought provoking. The book about his life is also profound, and well worth reading. Did you know he was only 43 when he died, and it's thanks to his wife's devotion that his writing was published? What a man!

Posted by: Loretta at May 28, 2007 10:55 AM

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