Friday, December 23, 2011

This is stolen, with permission, from a dear new friend.  I followed her from a craft site over to her Caring Bridge site where she chronicles her journey through the world of cancer.  I use the following with permission.  Please feel free to see her page at
She states from within the experience what I was trying to communicate about pain not being the opposite of joy
With no further ado:  Mrs. Paula Pike:

It's funny -- a number of people have commented on what a strong woman I am. I'm here to tell ya it ain't so. The burden of that image kinda weighs me down, actually ;) 

I've been thinking about strength lately. Physically, I'm lacking it. I mean, I'm not noodly so much these days -- but I get worn out very easily. And mentally -- I'm in hibernation mode. Very little power pumping there. 

Nehemiah 8:10 says, "The joy of the Lord is [my] strength." Yesterday, Blair and I were both humming songs with those very words. I was doing it very consciously because I felt so weak and felt frustrated by my inability to do much, and I was trying to change my focus. This is the version I was singing -- well, sort of :) I share that link with you because the Billy and Willie production just made me smile -- laugh out loud, actually. Gotta love the piano ornaments ;) (Blair, just hearing the music in the background, asked if someone was having a seizure.) 

Blair was singing this song with the same words (which can be heard just over a minute into the song). 

Rather an odd thought, don't you think -- that the Lord's JOY is our strength. Shouldn't it be the other way around? Shouldn't His strength be our joy? (I feel like we've gone down this road before -- but remember what I said about my mental power!)

Ya, no -- we're back to the JOY thing. And as we've learned this fall, the joy comes when we give thanks. (If you're new to this journal -- go back and read some of the older stuff so you know what I mean;) 

So any strength that you might see in me comes from the joy He's given me as I've counted God gifts these last few months. (And I confess I've been getting lazy with that lately!) It's not my strength at all! 

2 Corinthians 12:9 confirms this. I like the King James version of this verse: And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

I know I've shared this verse before, but it's one I need to reflect on again. I am not a strong woman, and I know it. My weakness has not ever been more evident (and the Enemy is good at showing me all the ways I'm weak! Isn't it good to know that our Redeemer doesn't accuse us before the Father? John 5:45).

But as I am weak, His strength is made perfect -- so, like Paul, I say again that I will "glory in my infirmities" instead of complaining about my ailments. I can't help thinking that Christmas epitomizes this concept, as you don't get much weaker than a tiny, new-born baby laid in a manger. Yet in that bundle of weakness we have the Creator of the universe and the Saviour of the world! 

Having said all that, you can still pray about my weaknesses! :) There's the physical element. There's the short fuse. There's the negative mindset that makes me snarky and snappy. There's the lack of self-control around sweet stuff, even though I know it makes me feel lousy. Ya, I'd love for you to pray that the power of Christ would rest upon me in all those areas so that there is more of Him and less of me lumbering around here wishing life away. (I love Christmas -- but I find myself wishing it were over with for this year.)"

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

His Gifts and Our Joy

The world tells us that happiness and joy are found in having what we want, the way we want it. Strangely, the words "you deserve a break, a treat, a rest..." come from the mouths of believers. I've heard it from the mouths of those I respect deeply, and I wrong in being taken aback by this? Don't get me wrong, God does grant times of refreshing. He gives good gifts to be enjoyed. He is a Father who delights in His children and gives gifts.

But the gifts are not an end in themselves. Again, don't misunderstand me. Sometimes there are eternal purposes, things He is teaching, that may not look "productive" here and now. But we see through a shadow. We see dimly. Sometimes, we, like Job in his troubles, don't see the reason or benefit at all!

The gifts are given, though for the encouragement of others. We comfort so that we may be able to comfort. 1 Corinthians 11 hints that other created beings (angels) may be learning from us as well.

Yes, enjoy the gifts. But be enthralled with the Giver. Don't demand what we "need" but trust that He truly knows when and where we need what better than we do ourselves. Above all, set our hearts and minds on our blessed Savior.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

His Rescue and Our Joy

In the last post, I discussed how our own desires, and the salesmanship of the world, pull us away from finding our joy in Christ.
So, we need to wean ourselves radically away. Maybe embrace the "fortress mentality" , but ah, that fails, too. James tells us that we sin when we are dragged away and enticed by our own desires. Can't escape them. Well then, what we do ?
We don't.
"The problem is we need new thoughts, new inclinations, new desire. We don't need to learn how to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps or 'gut it out'. We need to seek to replace our sinful passions with holy one. When God grants these new passions to us, we'll find that our will, which seemed so weak before, will joyfully comply" Elyze Fitzpatrick, pg 147
As Richard Foster says in Celebration of Discipline, the disciplines put us in a place to receive God's work in our lives. Our Scripture reading, our good works, our meditations do not transform us. Rather it is the Lord's doing...His Word transforming us, His Spirit changing our desires. It is He who completes the good work He has begun in us. Philippians 1:6

from Elyse, quoting a sermon by C. H. Spurgeon
"Let it be a scarlet line that you tie in the window, namely, an avowal of true faith in his precious blood...It is a high privilege to dwell peaceable and quietly in the finished work of Christ, and in the same immutable promise of God, who cannot lie. Why fret ye yourselves...and go about with a thousand anxieties when salvation's work was finished on the accursed tree and Christ has gone into the glory, and has carried on his perfect work before his Father's face?"
Communion, Remembrance, Breaking of Bread...whatever you call it, may it be real in your heart..not a day a week, but each moment of the day. May your life, your heart, your desires, your joys be tranformed by Him.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Our Desires and His Joy

Once again, Elyse Fitzpatrick's Idols of the Heart, provide the backdrop for my musings.

"Remember that your strongest desires, the things you are most passionate about are what ultimately define your worship." pg 138.

We cannot be happy nor can we experience real joy when our desires are contrary to that for which we have been created. We say that someone is as "happy as a lark". What lark are we thinking of? The lark who is singing, flying, nesting..doing all the things she is created to do. We are not thinking of a caged lark. Or a lark who is trying to swim. Or a lark who would rather be a bear. We are thinking of a lark who wants to be a lark!

How often are we pulled this way and that, by various influences, to love that which we do not love, to desire that which we do not want. A quote in our high school business teacher's office read something like this: "A Salesman is a professional needs creator." And oh, are we sold!

But not only by the those without...but by our old man within. In fact, we, on our own, no longer desire the things that we, in our original state, would have delighted in! Remember the joy of Adam and Eve as they walked in the cool of the day, fellowshipping with their Creator?

Galatians 5:17 "For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish."

By His spirit, we need to identify our desires. What, truly, are we worshipping. As Elyse says elsewhere in this book, what we are willing to sin for is what we are truly worshipping. Ok, we aren't shoplifting or robbing a bank. We aren't bar hopping or unfaithful (at least in real life) to our spouse. What angers us..when someone gets in our way and upsets our plans? What will we hedge a bit to obtain? What will be just a tiny bit deceptive to prove?

So, here we are, desiring things that the New Man does not want, reveling in that which the new man despises...and worse yet, though there is a faint hint of a longing for our Father, it is often a vague, undefined desire. Often undefined, because we do not go after it. We do not believe we will find our joy in Him. We know that in coming closer to the Light, our dirtiness will be revealed, so we, ever so politely, ignore it. Where do we go from here. Do not fret. Do not be afraid. He has not left us on our own....More coming!

Ephesians 4:22
17 This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of[d] the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; 19 who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.

He has not left us without hope....