Saturday, October 18, 2014

Joy in a Small Life

     I am going through some big life events right now. I have a new job. I am moving out of my parent's home. I am finding myself faced with more and more decisions that have no right or wrong answer, but do require all the knowledge and judgement I have. It is an exciting and exhausting time.

      Tonight, in the middle of worrying and planning, I was scrolling through my news feed and I saw a picture. It was the kind of picture you see of friends having fun every day. I don't know why, but I suddenly stopped and really examined the picture. I thought "how did I come to know these people? What decisions have I made in my life that resulting in me befriending these people?" It wasn't because I didn't like them. It is more of a cosmic question, I think.

     I thought back to my high school graduation. I had a lot of plans then. I think I have finished only one of them. What if I had walked away from nursing school? What if I had turned my back on it and had walked straight into Bible school? Would I be living in a foreign country right now? Would I be friends with an entirely different set of people? Would I be happier or more fulfilled with my life?

     I had friends who were on the same path as me. They did all these things. Bible school, missionary work, great happiness: where did my path diverge from theirs? Why was mine different? When others have found it so easy to leave and follow to the ends of the earth, why does God hold me back from even leaving town? If I was not so sure that it was absolutely in God's plan, I would go stark raving mad.

     Wasn't there a quote by Aslan? We cannot know what would have been, we only know what story is set before us? There could have been many things that were different: but they aren't. This is the life I have been given.

     Despite the self-centered introspection, I do mean to be encouraging. It is easy to look at whole lives given over to God and wish that your life mirror that. But a small, quiet life can be just as wholly devoted to Him.

     When I was teaching in children's ministry I remember we would have the most amazing missionary stories. It was always exciting to tell about tiger fights, hiding from murderous natives, or facing up against witch doctors. But in every single story there would always be a time when the missionary had nothing left. There was sickness, disease, hunger, danger, and they were left with no help except for prayer. What would happen then?

     That is when God would bring the small lives out of the woodwork.

"I felt God leading me to give this money to you."

"I'm sorry there was a delay. I went the extra mile to deliver this package to you when I could have forgotten about it."

"I don't know what an old lady like me can do against this gang of men, but I will protect you."

"If I ignore this I could live a comfortable, peaceful life. But I cannot allow you to disrespect my Savior in that way."

"I can hide you."

"A woman and her children are poor and unfed. We must help them."

"Do you need help?"

     Sometimes we aren't meant to live great lives. Sometimes we are meant to live small lives. Each life will always be useful though. And if you can be useful, if at the end of it all, small or great, you still hear "Well done good and faithful servant!".......

What more can you ask for?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Joy in Praise

Jesus, my Master and King
Honor and praises I bring
Search me and know me
Try me and show me
Jesus, my Master and King

Jesus, my Savior and Lord
You will I trust and adore
I long now to serve You
I'll never deserve You
Jesus, my Savior and Lord

Jesus, Most High El Shaddai
Giver, Creator of life
Keep and deliver me
Lord draw me near to Thee
Jesus, Most High El Shaddai

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Joy in Joy!

    Judge me, O God, and plead my case against an ungodly nation.O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man, for Thou art the God of my strength, why then do You cast me off?

    O send out Thy Light and Thy Truth! Let them lead me! Let them bring me unto Thy holy hill and unto Thy tabernacles! Then will I go unto the alter of God, unto God my exceeding Joy! Yea, upon the harp will I praise Thee O God my God!

     Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God! For I shall yet praise Him who is the health of my countenance and my God!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Joy in Wholesome Talk

      I have been bothered for a while about something. Foul language and crude humor. I know that when people's actions bother you the most, it is probably because you recognize that you do those things yourself. I acknowledge that I do struggle with these things, but that I am also making a very determined effort to rid myself of these flaws. But the thought came to me the other day "What in the world is the Lord's stand on these two subjects?" I mean we are TOLD from childhood that the Lord does not want us to use bad language and tell crude jokes. But where EXACTLY is it mentioned? I thank the Lord that He has provided me with friends who spend their time studying the Bible more than I, because in a phone conversation today I had a friend direct me towards the right place. What I found was astounding! I would like to share with you the passage and break it down as I go.

  1.    "Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity." Ephesians 4: 17-19

        You are first told that you should NOT be like those who are unsaved because they literally do not understand what it means to live for God and they do not live for God. Their understanding of the world is incomplete and it is futile, hopeless, to think as they do. They are ignorant, stubborn, their consciences' are seared; they are sensual, greedy and excited to do everything that is wrong. This is not how the Lord wants His children live.

2.      "But that is not the way you learned Christ!- assuming you have heard about Him and were taught in Him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness."  4:20-24

     First, this does make a small exemption for those who have not been taught the true way. But in my circle everyone I know has been taught that at least bad language is wrong. So what are you to do? You are told to stop acting like you did before you were saved! That behavior is old, a former manner, corrupt, rotting, with all greedy, unfulfilling desires! Instead you are you try to become like God in all of his righteous and holy characteristics and you are to train your mind to behave 100% differently than it did before.

     Are you following me so far? Bad things are things that unsaved people do, and since you have been saved by God you aren't supposed to do bad things, but instead, do good things. Simple, right? But I still have not addressed the specific issue of foul language and crude humor. Well in chapter 2 of this message...

3.      "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. .. let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice." 4:29,31

      Clear enough? Just in case you wonder what corrupting talk is, its anything that does not build up others, is not fitting for the occasion, and does not give grace to those who hear it. I have never known foul language to be good for building others up, it is improper for nearly all occasions, and it is impossible for foul language to give grace. For myself it gives the kind of feeling you would get if someone were scratching their nails down a chalkboard. It grates terribly.

4.      "But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you...let there be no filthiness or foolish talk, nor crude joking, which are out of place..." Ephesians 5:3-4

      Could God be any clearer?! That means gay jokes, "that's what she said" jokes, bathroom humor, gossip, sex jokes, crude humor all are out of place and should not even be mentioned!

         What are you to replace these things with, as it should be for one who has put on the new man?

 "Instead let there be thanksgiving." Ephesians 5:4b
 "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." Ephesians 4:32

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Joy in NOT Being Happy All The Time

So if you read at least my first blog post you know that I do not believe that when the Lord Jesus commands us to be joyful, that it means we have to be happy all the time. While this is definitely not Scripture, I always love a good sarcastic rant that explains the truth perfectly. Have fun watching!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Joy's Helper

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This cornerstone, this solid ground, firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace, when fears are stilled, when strivings cease...
My Comforter, my All in All,
Here in the love of Christ, I stand

There in the ground his body lay,
Light of the World by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious day
up from grave, He rose again!
And as He stands in victory
sin's curse has lost its grip on me!
For I am His and He is mine
bought with the precious blood of Christ!

NO guilt in life, NO fear of death,
this is the power of Christ in me!
From life's first cry to final breath,
JESUS commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
can ever pluck me from His hand
Till He returns or calls me home
here in the power of Christ, I'll stand.

Till He returns or calls me home
here in the power of Christ, I'll stand.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Joy in Trembling

I heard something a while ago on TV. "The God of the Bible is a God of judgment and punishment." Now I have heard this before in different places and it always bothers me some, but this time it just REALLY got to me.

I've been reading through Jeremiah lately. If a person had access only to that one book in the Bible they might think that my Lord is just a God who likes to punish people. But if they only single out that part of the Bible, they are missing the other parts that stand directly in contrast to this misconception. For example I have found these verses lately that definitely are not describing a God who loves to punish.

"Comfort, yes comfort, My People. Speak tenderly to them...Behold your God!...He will tend His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs in his arms, He will carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those that are with young." Isaiah 40

Sometimes the Lord must discipline His people. Have you ever seen a child misbehaving and NOT wished that their parents would discipline them in some way to make them behave better? In the same way sometimes the Lord must discipline His people in order to make them better. But even when He disciplines, He still loves His children.

"After I have plucked them up, I will again have compassion on them, and I will bring them again each to his heritage, and each to his land." Jeremiah 12:15

But what bothers me the most is when I fail to give voice to this knowledge.

I had a very revealing experience the other week. In my Anatomy class, my teacher was offering extra credit if we students would write up on the board, in front of the class, a list of the different kinds of tissues in the body ect, EXACTLY like he had a few weeks before. I had already tried once before and failed. But I had written down the corrections and had spent an hour the night before class writing and rewriting that list, correcting myself where I got things wrong, forcing myself to recite it perfectly from memory. That morning I tried again. It felt so great because I KNEW I was writing it down perfectly. I had not missed a thing, I just knew it. Well, my teacher had to critique it in front of the class. I stood right in front of him, arms crossed waiting for him to tell me I had done it right. I was experiencing this great amount of emotional turmoil and I remember thinking "If he says I got something wrong I'm gonna break down and cry in front of the whole class." But the great thing was that my whole body was TREMBLING because I KNEW I had done it right and that he could not find any fault with what I had done. It was rather exciting. :)

Anyway, whatever thoughts were passing through my head were not being clearly interpreted through my body language. Because, my teacher looked at me (and I have no idea what kind of look I had on my face) and whatever he saw made him say " I have this feeling...that if I tell you this is wrong..... you will throw something at me." Then he said it again......and again...and finally he said "I feel like I need to leave the room if I don't want to get hurt!" It was rather funny to watch, because that wasn't what I was feeling at all. :)

Anyway, he critiqued my work. It as perfect just like I thought it was. I got the extra credit. I was elated for the rest of the day. Then a thought struck me:

I had knowledge. I had reviewed and studied that knowledge until I knew it backwards and forwards. I knew everything about it. I knew it was trustworthy knowledge. And knowing that I knew it, made me excited, made my body TREMBLE with the assurance that I was right. This assurance filled my body and gave me such a great amount of confidence I was daring the professor in my mind to find anything wrong with my work. This confidence came through in my manner, my stance, my gaze and it literally made my professor cower before me (and by the end of his critique if he had found something wrong he really might have gotten something thrown at him).

The point I want to get across is this: if I can be that confidant about something as ordinary as the tissues of the human body, why can that overwhelming confidence not come through when I am speaking about my Lord Jesus? When I hear someone tearing down my Lord and Saviour, why does my stance not become taller, my arms cross, my body start trembling with the mere thought that I have the Knowledge of my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ who "is not willing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance"? The Lord who has loved you with an "everlasting love and has made you with lovingkindness"? The Lord who got so heartbroken over punishing the children He loves so much that He sent His own Son to die for not only His children, but all the people in the world, thereby having their sins forgiven so that they would no longer be punished and be taken away to be with Him in Paradise forever? WHY does this overwhelming, exciting, trembling confidence not come through in my conversation?

Your smile is always shining out,
and they know what its all about :)

It's not hard for them to figure out
the way you show Jesus :)

You know LOVE is what they heard
and you didn't even say a word!

Ain't it funny, that's the way it works
when you know Jesus :)

Oh, it's like flipping on the light switch when you're walking into the room!
You're so undeniable! The way you SHOW HIM!
Jamie Grace, Show Jesus

HERE is a trustworthy saying that deserves to be fully accepted: Jesus Christ came into the world to SAVE sinners- of whom I am the worst! But it is for THAT VERY REASON that I was shown MERCY so that in me, the WORST of sinners, Christ might display His IMMENSE patience as an EXAMPLE for those who would believe in Him and receive eternal life! Now to the King, Eternal, Immortal, Invisible, the Only God,  be honor and glory forever and ever!! Amen! 1 Timothy 1:15-17