Thursday, September 2, 2010

Ready, Set, LIVE! - Point 3: Your Coach Has Already Won!

Here is the last chapter in my little mini-series:

My last question about life being a "race" was, "OK! So I am called to spend every minute of every day of my life doing my absolute best and giving it all I've got. But what about when I have nothing left? What happens when life is just too hard and I can't do it anymore?"

Thankfully, I don't have to go far for the answer. It's found in God's word! Even better, it's already lined up perfectly with the race analogy! Better yet, since God has an infinitely better way of saying things than I do, I'll let you read for yourself his answer.

Hebrews 12:

1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

Great! That's what point 2 was all about. Running with perseverance, throwing aside that stuff that gets in the way, and going all out! Verse two tells us how to do that:

2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Now HERE is the key:

3
Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

When you run out of steam, you can get your strength from the one who's already won the race. Not only that, but it was a lot tougher for him than it will ever be for you and me. Think about it. ANY problem you're facing, Jesus has been there:

Pain: Obviously, Jesus experienced more pain in one day than most of us will ever face in our entire lives. It was SO terrible, there was actually a new word invented to describe it. "Excruciating" comes from the word "cross." Yet even that word doesn't do justice to the pain Jesus endured. And he did it willingly, for us. He feels your pain.

Hunger:
I'm guessing most people reading this have never gone hungry, and if so, probably not very often or for very long. Jesus fasted for 40 days! Most people these days can't even fathom what that would be like. The longest I've ever gone without food is less than two days. Even that was tough. But Jesus knows what it's like.

Temptation: We all wrestle with it at times. But Jesus was tempted by Satan himself! And yet, he still did not sin. Take a look at what Hebrews 4 says: " 14Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens,e]">[e] Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. 16Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." We are promised in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that we CAN overcome any temptation that comes our way. If you are fighting or struggling with a bad habit, a sin, or an addiction, remember that he made a way out for you. You CAN do it, through HIS strength, not your own.

Guilt: This one's tough. Have you ever felt a sense of guilt so strong it made you sick? So terrible you couldn't eat for fear of vomiting? So dark and sinister that you couldn't hide it, no matter how much you tried? Some of the darkest days of my life were those during which the guilt of past decisions suddenly broke through a wall and flooded my mind. I had believed the lie that I was "basically good." But suddenly, I realized just how sinful and terrible I really was. But then I realized something else. That terrible, horrible feeling I had -- the one that kept me from sleeping and eating for days -- Jesus could relate to that too. You see, he took upon himself willingly all of the guilt and shame -- the exact things that I would have done anything to get rid of. He did it for me, to give me freedom! That just makes me realize what a wonderful, beautiful Savior he is!

Loss: The shortest verse in the Bible contains a lot of power: "Jesus Wept." (John 11:35) Jesus' close friend, Lazarus, died, and Jesus felt the pain of that loss and empathized with Mary and Martha's grieving. He also had to face the death of his earthly father, Joseph. Not only did Jesus experience loss while he was on Earth, but think about the eternal loss he has to suffer when one of the people he created turns their back on him and rejects his free gift of love. I can't imagine that kind of loss. Dearest friends, Jesus knows what it is to lose a loved one, and he weeps with you.

Rejection and loneliness: Need I say much about this? Jesus was rejected by crowds that had sung his praises only a week previous. He was rejected by the religious leaders. He was betrayed by one of his best friends. He was abandoned by everyone. Peter denied he even knew Jesus. He understands the pain of rejection. He knows what it's like to be betrayed by someone you love. Yet he forgave even those who nailed him to the cross. No matter how hurt or alone you may be, you will never have to face rejection by everyone. Jesus promised, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." (Hebrews 13)

The list could go on. But I promise you. Whatever your troubles or your problem, Jesus is the only one who can truly say "I understand." So whether you've lost it all and feel like you have no reason to go on, or you're just having a bad day, don't give up! He is holding out his arms and longs to enfold you in his wonderful love. Fix your eyes on Him, and rest in his promises.

I pray that this blessed and encouraged you as you read it! :)
With love from the bottom of my heart,

~Joy~

More on this topic:

Matthew 11:28-30
28"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Addison Road: Fight Another Day Note: This is a GOOD song, and an amazing group!

Facing the Giants: The Deathcrawl scene. Note: This is an incredible movie! Please watch it if you haven't seen it yet!

"Be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10) Remember: Sometimes, living to the fullest and running your race means you have to take that time alone with God, or that quiet rest time to just sit and reflect and enjoy his blessings. An overactive Christian is bound to be a burnt out Christian. Our service isn't measured by quantity (how many activities we do) it's measured by the quality of our service, and the attitudes of our hearts.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Ready, Set, LIVE! - Part 2: Leave it All on the Track

Point #2
Give it your ALL in EVERY moment!

One of my biggest questions while pondering the "race of life" was, "How in the world can I run to win if I don't know how long the race is? How do I pace myself? Do I assume it's going to be short and I need to run like crazy? What if it's actually long and I lose steam halfway through?"

First of all, I don't recall ever seeing a scripture verse mentioning "pacing" ourselves or "holding back." Instead, I see these:

"...one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind, and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:13-14)

and

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." (Hebrews 12:1)

and especially,

"Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize." (1 Corinthians 9:26-27)

Forget the human reasoning that says, "maybe I should save my energy for later."
No! We are commanded to live, "making the MOST of every opportunity, because the days are evil!" Another verse says, "Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders. Make the most of every opportunity!" (Ephesians 5:15-16 Colossians 4:6)

It doesn't matter if your life is "short" or "long." In light of eternity, it's just a drop in the bucket. Yet, isn't it incredible that God can take my 19 or 30 or 70 years that I have, and he can make that little tiny time span of INCREDIBLE value in his kingdom?

Every moment, you are given a choice. Will I make the most of the opportunity I have right now, or will I wait, and let go of a chance that will never come again?

Remember, life really IS short if you look at it in light of eternity. Take this race of life one moment at a time, and do your very best in that moment. Make the most of every opportunity you're given! Leave it all on the track. No Regrets.

“One day at a time--this is enough. Do not look back and grieve over the past for it is gone; and do not be troubled about the future, for it has not yet come. Live in the present, and make it so beautiful it will be worth remembering.” ~Unknown


More on this topic:
One Regret: A true story from my life.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Ready, Set, LIVE!

POW!

The starter's pistol shoots...and they're off! Some runners start with an incredible burst of speed. Others seem to be pacing themselves for a longer run. Several are only walking briskly, while a few seemed to have missed the cue altogether and remain behind the starting line.

Sound strange? Well, this is something like what might happen if you put a bunch of people in a race, told them about an incredible prize at the end, and then let them know that they would not know where or when the race would end until they got there. Some would leap at the opportunity, some would logically figure they needed to pace themselves, and some wouldn't even want to bother because it's just too much work to try to get to an unknown destination.

So how DO we pace ourselves, knowing that the "race of life" is of unknown length? How do we keep from losing heart when it's longer and more tedious than we expected?

Well, I have three points from scripture and experience that might help clarify this matter. I'm going to cover only one point in this post, and I'll continue this "race" analogy for the next two posts, so that I can cover each point in some depth.

Ready, set, GO! Point number one:
It's not a competition against the next guy! (Ephesians 6:12)

In the race of life, you don't have to compete against anyone else. In fact, you'll be better off if you don't! Playing the "compare game" can do two things: It can discourage you, because you see people doing "better" than you in certain areas, or it can cause you to become complacent because you think, "Hey, I'm doing better than Joe over there at loving my family, and I'm way ahead of Maria at my daily Bible readings, so I must be A-ok!"

NO! Don't get stuck in those traps! We're to compare ourselves to Christ, and strive for his perfection! (Galatians 6:4-5)

On the other hand, we also need to have role models who inspire us to be all that we can be. But instead of comparing ourselves to them, we need to look up to them as examples, and figure out how they accomplished what they did. Maybe we can even ask them for advice or help and glean directly from their expertise! (***Question: Who are your role models or coaches in the race of life? Leave a comment and let me know!***)

Competition can also be good and healthy in many areas of life. Just don't let it get corrupted by jealousy or pride.

See point two here!... And as always, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!! :)

~Joy~ :)



More on this topic:
1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Ephesians 6
Philippians 3:12-14

"Running Analogy" from Forerunner Commentary

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Everyday Passion

What is your passion?

A friend asked me this question today on Skype. It caught me off guard. Here's what I came up with on short notice:

Although I must confess an incredible amount of idolatry that creeps in to dilute or distract me from my passion, that aside, it would be this:
- To memorize, understand and live out the word of God, and to make it known to others.
- To make disciples instead of just converts or lukewarm "crowd members"
- To help children realize their potential, which is difficult for them to do in this day when they are mostly being entertained instead of challenged
- To use the gifts and abilities I have been given, however incompetent I may feel, to reach out to my world with the love of Christ

I feel an incredible guilt while writing this. Yes, it is the declared passion of my life, but how often is it REALLY the driving factor behind what I do? How often am I led astray by my "old self" and its desires? How often do I waste time on frivolous things that will never endure? I find myself pleading for forgiveness day in and day out for this, and yet, I do it again and again and again! But my Lord is gracious and compassionate, abounding in love! Praise God!

More than that, the fact that I have a passion and recognize that I am not always faithful to it gives me a great advantage. It gives me motivation to press on in Jesus' name!

I have two questions for you:

1. What is your passion?
2. Are you living for it with everything in you?

Remember, you are not alone if you find yourself struggling to keep your first love, your passion for the Lord and his work. The enemy wants us to become discouraged and distressed. He wants us to fall down and not get up.

I encourage you to write down your passion (just the basic points), and take a minute to evaluate whether the way you live on a daily basis lines up with it. If not, don't lose heart! Instead, let it challenge you to add a little passion to your life everyday.

A little goes a long way, and in this case...it may reach into eternity.

More on this subject: "The Motions" - Matthew West
"The Rebelution: A Challenge for My Generation" - Brett Harris

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Love...Isn't Safe

"Oh no, my walls are gonna break
It's so close, it's more than I can take
I'm so tired of turning and running away
when love just isn't...

Everything you want
But it's everything you need
It's not always happy endings
But it's happy in between
its taken so long, so long to finally see
that your love is worth the risk

...I'm so tired of turning and running away
When love just isn't safe

...you're not safe...
And that's ok."

This is part of a song by Britt Nicole. I've come to love this song just recently.
Here's a link to the story behind the song, told by Britt Nicole herself.

One of the reasons I was drawn to this song is that it reminded me of a quote from C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia. This quote had a profound impact on my view of God:

“‘Is – is he a man?’ asked Lucy.
‘Aslan a man!’ said Mr. Beaver sternly. ‘Certainly not. I tell you he is the King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea. Don’t you know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion, the Lion, the great Lion.’
‘Ooh,’ said Susan, ‘I thought he was a man. Is he – quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.’
‘That you will, dearie, and make no mistake,’ said Mrs. Beaver; ‘if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.’
‘Then he isn’t safe?’ said Lucy.
‘Safe?’ said Mr. Beaver; ‘don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the king I tell you’.”

That last line really hit home for me. How many of us, like Britt Nicole, have been running from the love of our Lord because all we can see is that first sentence? "Course he isn’t safe."

Don't stop at that first part, read the whole thing. No, of course God isn't safe! He does things that we cannot begin to understand! (See Isaiah 55:9)

But through it all, we can always know that He is good. That alone makes it worth the risk of accepting his love and surrendering our lives to Him.

So what's keeping you from running to the Lord? Are you afraid? I can promise you, He's not "safe" or "tame," but neither is trying to make it on your own!

Isn't it worth the risk?


More on this topic:
http://radicalee.blogspot.com/2008/05/hes-not-tame-lion.html
http://everydaybecky.blogspot.com/2009/05/he-is-not-tame-lion.html

Think Short!

Since Montrose (the Montrose Christian Writer's Conference I attended in July) I've been occupied with getting ready for the start of school, working, finishing my online classes, and getting my children's story, Bessie the Busy Bee, published.

I keep telling myself, "You need to write more!" but I can't seem to find the time. Just this morning, I remembered something that I learned from Ginger Kolbaba, founding editor of Kyria.com and one of the presenters at the conference. "You need to keep it short!" she asserted. She went on to say that people are more selfish than ever when reading online. They want to read something interesting, and if what you have to say goes on and on or doesn't keep them enthralled, they will just "click away" and be gone. Just like that, you've lost your reader.

Although it goes against my naturally loquacious nature to keep my writing concise, I know it's for the best. Actually, it works out better for me! Although I might not have the time to go into an in-depth study or story, I can easily find the five or ten minutes it takes to write a small dose of encouragement that might be just what someone needed that day.

From now on...look for more posts from me, and I will be doing my best to keep them bite-sized and easily digestible. Please come back and visit me soon! :)

~Joy~

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Splendor of a King

When was the last time you were in awe of a person? I'm not referring to the Lord, although I hope you are in awe of him. I mean a person, walking on the earth right now. When was the last time you regarded a human being with sheer awestruck wonder?

Psalm 45 has a dual meaning. Although it was a wedding song for King David, it also holds a nearly perfect analogy to the Lord Jesus and his Bride, the Church. The writer was clearly in awe of King David, as he begins the song, "My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king." Psalm 45:1

As we read this Psalm, one problem arises. Few in our culture really understand the analogy. We, after all, don't have a king. True, we have leaders and officials, but they are a far cry from the majestic kings of Israel such as David and Solomon.

Imagine, if you will, meeting one of those men. First, imagine the glory of the palace. It was certainly not like buildings today. There was gold everywhere, and fine jewels were used for decorations in the walls and ceilings. Everything was beautiful; everything was perfect. Expensive tapestries and fine cloths of purple and gold draped the walls and covered windows. The sheer beauty of the King's house would have been enough to stun even the wealthy of our society. His gardens were doubtless enormous and exquisite as well.

Now imagine the man who lived in this magnificent place. Even modest descriptions of King David described him as extremely handsome. He, too, was clothed in the finest purple and adorned with gold, silver, and precious stones. He had many attendants, yet he was a far cry from some of the spoiled, lazy kings we read about in history books. Here was a noble man. He was worthy of the glory and honor he received. He was bold, courageous, and, for the great part of his life, God-fearing and God-honoring. Imagine meeting such a man! There is no one like him in the world today, which is why it is hard for us to imagine our Lord as a king. We don't really know what the word "king" meant in David's time.

Now, imagine all of the glory and splendor of King David and his court, and multiply that a thousand times for our Lord Jesus, the Soon-Coming King! "Gird your sword upon your side, O mighty on; clothe yourself with splendor and majesty. In your majesty ride forth victoriously in behalf of truth, humility and righteousness; let your right hand display awesome deeds. Let your sharp arrows pierce the hearts of the king's enemies; let the nations fall beneath your feet. Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom. You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy." Psalm 45:3-7

How incredible! Now, imagine, if you will, the king's wedding day. Imagine his bride. I'm sure you've seen a wedding. Oh, but a royal wedding? It would be beyond comparison. Flowers everywhere, and people by the thousands. Decorations made especially for the occasion by hundreds of workers. Enough food, beautifully prepared, to feed the whole city! Everything is perfect.

The bride herself wears the most beautiful, flowing white dress. She smells like lilies and roses. Her hair is laced with diamonds, and her neck and arms with gold and silver. She is perfect. Her beauty is beyond imagination. The king, though he himself is magnificent, clothed in his very best, standing tall, his chest puffed out with pride and his eyes blazing with desire yet soft with admiration, can only gaze at his bride and say, "Wow."

"The king is enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord." Psalm 45:11

Doesn't it make you want to honor the Lord even more when you understand not only how magnificent he is, but how beautiful he sees us, the church, when we are honoring and pleasing to him? What wife doesn't want to honor her husband when she knows and feels that he is "enthralled by her beauty"?

My friends, the Lord Jesus is enthralled by the beauty of your heart. You are his bride! Remember that he is your King of Kings; honor him, for he is your Lord!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Virtue in a World of Vice

In a recent school assignment, I was asked to comment on William Bennett’s introduction to The Book of Virtues. My assignment was supposed to be about two paragraphs long. Instead, it is almost a thousand words. As I re-read what I wrote, I realized it is something our society desperately needs to hear. I hope you will take a few minutes to read it, give me your comments, and if you think it is worthwhile reading, pass it along!


“Nothing in recent years, on television or anywhere else, has improved on a good story that begins ‘Once upon a time . . .’” Thus says William Bennett in his introduction to the “Book of Virtues.” While this is true, I believe Bennett leaves out an important factor. That factor is the prevalence of modern media in a child’s life. Although it is true that a child will learn from the fascinating and instructive stories he hears, he will also be influenced most by those things to which he receives the most exposure. A child will be influenced by what he or she sees most, not by what influence is the best story. With modern media and technology and their agendas and influences bombarding the contemporary child from nearly every angle, virtuous stories scattered here and there are not enough. The child will not separate the truths of the stories from the falsehoods presented in the media. To him, they are both just stories. One upholds honesty, compassion, and wisdom. The other glamorizes selfishness, foolishness, and vice. Which should he believe? Which should he cling to? Which should he model? Unfortunately, in modern times, the excitement and entertainment of the latter is almost too much for the over-stimulated child to resist. He chases after what will make him happy and entertain him the most. In many cases, the virtuous tale holds no power compared to the foolish, but highly addictive entertainment by which the modern child is surrounded.

In essence, today’s child needs more than occasional exposure to a virtuous story. He needs a reason to incline his life toward virtue instead of vice. He needs a foundation; he needs constancy in a world of immorality and few absolutes. He needs a moral guideline that goes beyond fairy tales and myths. From personal experience, I can testify that my inclination toward virtuous living did not come merely from tales of virtue, historical examples, or even Biblical examples. First and foremost, I had a desire to please God. I learned at an early age that my goodness would never be enough and that a Savior had died for my sins. I also learned that I could never repay my debt to Him. I did not need to. He paid my debt once and for all. In light of such a sacrifice, I now had a reason to cling to virtue and look with disdain upon vice and “sin.” I wanted to please my Lord, as a young child wants to please his parents. Though parents will not always be there, the Lord Jesus is always here. My motivation in life to this day is to please my Savior. Moral guidelines are unimportant until a child realizes why he should live a moral life.

Once a child realizes his need for and dependence on the Lord, moral stories can then find their place. For, you see, at the end of every moral story, the inquiring child will ask “why?” Why should he follow the example of the characters in the story? Why not watch cartoons or teen idols on TV and emulate their character traits? The answer comes from the foundation that has already been laid. Do you want to live a life pleasing to the Lord? My answer, even in the midst of a temper tantrum at age four, would have been a solemn “yes.” The story, then, becomes an example of how morality plays out in one’s life, not a presiding reason or foundation upon which a life is built. Who wants to live a life based on fairy tales? There is no logic behind giving a child a virtuous story and a cartoon and telling them to abide by one and merely be entertained by the other.

A friend pointed out to me the other day the difference he observed between generations. In past generations, people knew both what they believed, and why they believed it. In recent years, many people have forgotten why they believe. Now, however, children want to know "why?"

The people of recent generations rely only on loose moral guidelines of an origin they cannot remember. Many have even discarded what few morals they had remaining. There has, however, in the generation that is coming up now, been a sort of awakening. The current generations see how their lives were adversely affected by lack of moral guidelines and virtuous living. Consequently, they endeavor to redeem their mistakes by ensuring that their progeny pursue virtue in their lives and avoid the mistakes and pain they themselves endured. As morals are thrust at them and they are commanded to live a “good” life, the budding generation is asking “why?” They cannot understand the distant pain of their progenitors’ past decisions, and a fairy tale story is simply not good enough. They are a generation of realists. They want a reason that they should forsake the culture’s trend and follow a seemingly obsolete way of life. The rules parents attempt to impose, such as “don’t do drugs” and “have safe sex” mean nothing to those who can neither see the consequences nor comprehend themselves being anything less than immortal and invincible. Worse yet, the parents cannot provide the much needed explanations. They cannot tell their children why they should live a good life, because they do not remember. They cannot explain to them why they should not follow the example of their parents, their older siblings, and their friends.

There is one, and only one hope for a worried generation, scarred by past mistakes, to convey truth and virtue to this searching, floundering generation. I maintain that the sole hope for raising a virtuous child in a world where virtue is scorned is for both parents and children to turn to the Savior, Jesus Christ. He alone can change hearts and guide His children in paths of righteousness.

Friday, June 4, 2010

A Quest for Wisdom

I was reading in Matthew chapter 7 today, and I came across one of my favorite verses: Matthew 7:7. It says, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." Since I was in second or third grade, I have been clinging to the promise of that verse. Today, when I read it, I was reminded of another verse about asking. I thought about what I most wanted to ask of my Heavenly Father: Wisdom.

James 1:5-7 says, "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord."

I put these two verses together, and thought, "Wow...God really does want to give me wisdom! So...how come I don't feel very "wise" most of the time? I sure ask for it enough!"

Two reasons come to mind. First: "He (she) must believe and not doubt." I recently realized how much my own doubt gets in the way of things I ask of God. The Enemy likes to get inside my head and tell me that I'm not good enough yet. I have to pray x number of times a day, read my Bible more, be more loving to my family, etc. Now, these things are all good and healthy, but not when they are used by the enemy as a weapon of condemnation and false guilt! God longs to give his children what they ask of Him because HE is good, not because WE are good! (See Matthew 7:7-12, James 1:17)

Secondly, I realized that my prayer was "Lord, let me have wisdom so I can make all the right choices and so I can do things right." Essentially (though I definitely didn't SAY this, I often have the mindset of "Lord, give me that super-spiritual wisdom that some people seem to have, so I don't have to constantly ask you what I should do and be so dependent on You." Ouch. Is that ringing a bell for anyone? Let's go a little further in James chapter 1. Verses 23-25 say: "Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does."

You mean...I can't just ask for wisdom and *POOF!* I'm wise like Solomon???

Sorry, Charlie, it doesn't work that way. The Lord wants us to be continually dependent on Him for wisdom. We can look into His word and get the answers for every question we've ever had! But because we are finite, and his perfect Law contains infinite wisdom, our puny little brains can't hold it! We have to keep coming back for more and renewing our minds every day.

So, what are the 25 secrets to having Godly wisdom every day of your life????

Actually, it's much more simple. I think we can sum it up in 3 steps:

1. Ask God! How can you receive something if you don't ask for it? (Matthew 7:7-8, James 1:5-7)

2. Don't Doubt! REMEMBER: God's gift to you is based on HIS goodness, NOT yours! (Matthew 7:9-11, James 1:17)

3. Come back! You are not infinite. There's no one-shot method for wisdom. Keep going back to God's word, asking him for more wisdom, and putting it into practice! (James 1:23-25)

Do this, (and eat an apple a day) and I guarantee you are on your way to being healthy, wealthy, and wise! (Hmm...or was that "i before e, except after c..."?) Oh well, I guess I still have lots to learn! I'm going to go ask my Daddy for a refill of His Wisdom. :) TTFN!

~Joy~

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Advertise Your Treasure

"People don't know what you have unless you advertise it."

This is some advice my bank teller gave me today. She was referring to the relatively large sum of money I was carrying, in cash, down the street to another bank to deposit it into my dad's account. (I learned that to do a wire transfer to another bank would cost $17!!!) I expressed my slight nervousness at the prospect of carrying the cash, and that's when she smiled and said "Don't worry about it honey, people don't know what you have unless you advertise it!"

Though said lightly, her words were quite profound. I mulled over the proverb in my mind as I sauntered down the sidewalk, doing my best not to look conspicuous. (Yes, I realize this is terribly cheesy!) I realized that what she said was not only true of the cash in my purse. It was true of something I hold much more dearly. Ironically, my greatest possession can never be stolen from me.

As Christians, we possess something worth far more than a wad of cash. Our salvation is a pearl of greatest worth. Unlike material possessions, we never have to be concerned about someone stealing it away.

In fact, in relation to our Treasure, my teller's advice should have the opposite effect. People don't know that we have Christ in our lives unless we advertise it by our words and actions. No one knew that what was inside my purse was any more valuable than what is in any other purse. (Around here, that constitutes a couple of bucks, cheap lipstick, and a bunch of junk. This isn't NYC after all!) In the same way, no one will know that our lives are any different from theirs unless we show it! We shouldn't be hiding our pearl away, trying to blend in with the crowd and pretend we are not different. My brothers and sisters in Christ, YOU ARE different! But unless you advertise it, no one will know!

I challenge you: Make a conscious effort to "advertise" what you've been given. I promise, no one will mug you for it, and you'll be fulfilling your mission as an imitator of Christ!

PS. In case anyone was concerned about my well being (or my dad's money), I made it to the bank safely due to my masterful skills in being totally cool and nonchalant. ;)

Monday, March 1, 2010

Malachi 1

I've been reading Malachi 1 this morning. It begins by talking about God's great love for Israel as he reminds them that he chose them and will never break his promises to them! Even though the rest of the book seems like a condemnation of Israel's evil deeds and broken promises, God reaffirms, in the very beginning, his enduring love for them. No matter what happens, if Israel returns to God, he will return to them (see Malachi 3:7).

God had been punishing Israel and had turned his face from them, for their deeds were wicked. They blamed Him and said "you must not love us anymore!" Of course, that was not the case! The Father longed to lavish his love on them, but one thing was in the way: Their hearts. Have you ever felt that God's face was turned from you? Be assured, he still loves you! He longs to give you the desires of your heart, but you must look to him; you must return to him. "Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart!" (Psalm 37:4) In the New Testament, James says "Come near to God, and He will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double minded." (James 4:8) Yes, come near to God, but first confess and renounce what is keeping you from him!

After assuring them of his love, God began to show Israel where they had strayed from Him. He showed them exactly what it was that was keeping them from him. We can trust that if we desire to come back to God, he will show us what is wrong in our lives. Let's use this first rebuke to Israel as an example. God was quite specific with them. They were not offering him their best. More that that, they were breaking promises. They promised God to give him the best of the flock, but then became greedy and half-heartedly offered him blemished sacrifices. I know this is a tough subject to deal with. Let me ask a question though (and I say this to myself, as well as to anyone reading this): Are there areas in your life in which you have promised God your best, but have settled for giving him less? My answer is definitely "yes." But my purpose (and God's purpose) in saying this is not to condemn or make anyone feel guilty. Everyone has at one time broken a promise! Only God's promises are sure! Right now, however, we need to ask God to reveal to us the specific areas in which we have been unfaithful, or offering "less than our best." I guarantee he wants to show you, because he wants nothing more than for you to return. Return to Him, so He can return to you and once more lavish his unconditional love and blessings upon you!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Praise the Lord!

I will exalt you my God the king. I will praise your name forever and ever. Every day I will praise you and extol your name forever and ever. For Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. One generation will declare your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts. They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty and I will meditate on your wonderful works. They will tell of the power of your awesome works and I will proclaim your great deeds. They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness! (Psalm 145:1-7)

That's one of the passages I memorized for the Bible Bee. I actually turned it into a song, which is why I remember it so well. I might have transposed a few words here and there, but for the most part they are all right. It's such a powerful passage. I have been praying it subconsciously for a few minutes, and now I've typed it out. I just want to say it over and over and over. It is so true! The Lord is great and worthy of praise. His greatness no one can fathom! But the beginning is what really gets me. I will exalt you. I will praise your name. Every day I will praise you. I haven't really been living up to that. I have a hard time giving thanks and praise to God all the time, every day. Yesterday (Friday) that was really not what I felt like doing. However, when I do, everything seems to come together! Why can't I keep myself doing this more often? For some reason, I just find myself slipping from where I should be. I cry "sympathize," he replies "praise!" (That's from a Jim Elliot journal entry...) When I start complaining to God and begging for pity, he tells me to praise Him! I am praying that I will be able to obey Him and praise even when it's hard; even in the midst of a storm. When I do, the storm gets a lot smaller. :)

One more time:

I will exalt you my God the King.
I will praise your name for ever and ever.
Every day I WILL praise you
and extol your name for EVER and EVER!

For GREAT is the Lord and most worthy of praise!
His greatness, no one can fathom.
One generation will declare your works
to another; they will tell of your mighty acts!

They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty
and I will meditate on your wonderful works
They will tell of the power of your awesome works
and I will proclaim your great deeds!

They will celebrate your abundant goodness
And joyfully sing of your righteousness!

Psalm 145:1-7

PS I'll probably be revisiting these verses quite frequently from now on. I'd encourage you to do the same! Oh, and if you're looking for more amazing verses, check out the rest of this chapter! I've only typed out 7 verses here; the whole Psalm is 21 incredible verses long!