Friday, May 18, 2012

short and sweet today

"God, who foresaw your tribulation, has specially armed you to go through it, not without pain but without stain.”
 (C. S. Lewis)
Thank's to Kim Sharp's fb page!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Pain is not the Opposite of Joy

Knowing that some may be coming to visit me for the first time from Raising Arrows,  I am re-posting what I consider to be one of the essential posts.  
To give you a summary, I have always found the subject of joy a bit scary.  I figured there were be corresponding lows to any high.  Joy was fragile.  Joy was something that enabled one to endure in a godly manner, but too often I was caught up in dealing with the problem in my life or that of someone else.  Joy, for me, I finally realized, is a matter of trusting the Father completely.  If there is a corresponding low to a felt joy,  is He able to see me through it?  Of  course.  Furthermore, it finally, finally hit me that rejoicing (root word being joy!) is a command.  I don't have a choice about this.  It is not a luxury I can simply pass on.  

I invite, encourage, urge and plea for your input on this subject!  I'm sure many understand and live this more fully than my toddling steps and look forward to your insights!

Pain is not the opposite of joy. Pleasure is the opposite of pain.
My friend who lived in a non-western country during her growing up years told me that we in the west view pain very differently than much of the rest of the world, and sometimes to our detriment. Pain is an expected part of life in much of the world where they do not have the luxuries we take for granted. While I'm not ready to forego pain relief after surgery, nor do I think it's advisable, I am willing to consider that we come to fear pain to the point we don't see it's benefits. And fear is turning away from trust in the Father. If our minds are not stayed on Christ, there is no perfect peace. (Is 26:3).
I believe it was in the book Fearfully and Wonderfully Made, that the author explained how victims of leprosy loose limbs not due to the disease, but due to the lack of pain. They endanger their limbs and bodies in general because things simply do not hurt. This leads to damage, and eventually the loss of limbs. Pain alerts us to the fact something is wrong. Pain can protect us.
Pain may also cleanse us. Are we in pain because our selfish desires are not met or our reputation upheld? Maybe it needs to be purged. Are we in pain because we are not experiencing the pleasure we craved, maybe our appetities need retrained.
I don't want to write about physical pain. So many have suffered so much for the sake of Christ. It is an area I loathe to consider. I confess I'm not eager to join their exalted ranks . (Rev 12:11) But Paul said our example is Christ, who for the joy set before Him endured.....Hebrews 12:2-3
Wait. For the joy, He endured. Consider Him. Consider Him so you don't grow weary or loose heart. Endure for the joy set before .
C.S. Lewis in The Great Divorce, beautifully portrays how this earth is such a shadow, it is not true Reality. What is above is Really Real!
May the Father increase our love of Him so that we can endure for the joy that is set before us!

Monday, May 7, 2012

"Only a deep appreciation of all he has done for us in Christ will motivate us to pursue true happiness, to put off all our shabby attempts to make our mud pies a little more tasty, and to see the One who loves us more than we'll ever comprehend." Because He loves Us, Elyse Fitzpatrick, 

Only such a deep appreciation of Christ will help us to distinguish between the Truth, and  the self-sufficient counterfeits we create.  We were made to worship, so find fulfillment in doing what we were created to do.  But when we think we cannot live, or be fulfilled without a particular circumstance, a person or an object, a position, or some other measure of success it only shows us for the idolaters we are.  God is a jealous God.  Not because he is arrogant, but because He knows what we were created for...and who He is!

Maybe that is why God was always telling the Israelites to recall what He had done for them.  That was the whole point of all those feasts.  Jesus, on the night He was betrayed, told them to remember what was about to happen with the bread and wine.

Ann Vos Kamp challenges us to remember...more than that to see  grace in our everyday lives.  To identify it and respond with gratitude.

This is not an escapist "everything is fine" attitude.  It is truth.  Yes, there is pain here.  Yes, there is ugliness here.  Yes, there are lives ruined by brutality. But this is only a reflection.  This is not real reality.  But what we see, feel, and hear is only a small part of reality,a nd it is often tainted.  When we renew our minds to think as He thinks, we can have joy

Thursday, May 3, 2012

 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. .....Even angels long to look into these things.  Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.  As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.  But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 1 Peter 1:8, 12b-13.

The root of joy is again revealed to be Christ himself.  Not simple joy, but that which is inexpressible and glorious!  Because of the unchangeable God granting us all we need to believe, we see beyond now.  

In C.S. Lewis' The Great Divorce, the characters from hell find their day in heaven unendurable because the reality is so real.  The grass hurts their feet, because they are only used to a shadow of reality.  What we have here appears so solid, so real.  But in truth, Real Reality is much for real.  Our  joy is altered when we loose sight of what, and Who, is real.

The word used for glory (referring to our joy) is defined in Strong's dictionary for Greek words as:
  1. to think, suppose, be of opinion
  2. to praise, extol, magnify, celebrate
  3. to honour, do honour to, hold in honour
  4. to make glorious, adorn with lustre, clothe with splendour
    1. to impart glory to something, render it excellent
    2. to make renowned, render illustrious
      1. to cause the dignity and worth of some person or thing to become manifest and acknowledged

The emphasis is mine, but I think that considering the context,these words are most appropriate.  Our salvation, a gift, gives us something to celebrate!  He is giving us something excellent.  And the here and now cannot dampen the joy of what truly is.

We are privileged to be granted these things that the angels year to comprehend.  Not because we are worthy.  Because He has chosen.

This joy is not self absorbed-seeking it's own happiness, making itself happy and wallowing in it's own hard -won feeling of satisfaction.  This joy is a result of the gracious gift of salvation from our Creator and Redeemer. And it spurs us to obedience and holiness.  Our joy starts in Him.  And our joy is not about us, it's about Him.

This is essential.  The pursuit of joy, in my mind, was so "self".  But joy is not a pursuit, it's a result of a gift.  Joy is not a lake with no out-flowing streams.  It's a "state of being" transformation that results in action, in purfication, in obedience.  Not a begrudging following of rules, but a glorious enabling to do what we have created to be and do.  

Romans 6:17-18NIV
17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.