Sunday, September 30, 2012

Relationships that hinder joy

I had promised a revisit two posts ago, and here it is.

How can we be unruffled when there are schedules to keep, money problems, world terrors?  There is so much to derail us!~  Today, we will deal with our relationships to others.

Self-seeking, pride and fear cause trouble in our relationships (James 4:1-3).

This happens on a personal level.  We give to children, friends, our spouse, and friends, and they don't respond in thankfulness, but rather despise or gift or take advantage of it.  We are doing battle financially, in the limits of time, in relationships ,to protect and provide for our loved ones.  We are focus on making sure they have what they need in abundance.  And somehow it's hard to discern that it is all about them...or all about us.

 And even those we are trying to benefit don't cooperate.  In fact, they seem to sabotage our efforts.  We are afraid that our husbands won't be respected, our children won't be accepted, we won't be successful. In this day, we are vaguely afraid that somehow we will be the next homeless statistic standing in the food pantry line. 

Those we love cross us, mess up our agendas, have expectations we didn't figure in.  We want our time, our stuff and our reputations protected and promoted.  And when our desires for pleasure, whether they are in terms of pleasures that appeal to our physical senses, or things  which are a little less defined as our reputations, recognition, appreciation, or  sense of accomplishment are hindered or  damaged, we react in harshness.  Many times, honestly, out of fear.  We believe if we do not have these things, we will feel lost, hopeless and worthless.  Our idols again revealed.  They must be crushed, discarded.  And our true God trusted.

  Eric Ludy suggests that
"Gentleness is softness when struck with hardness, mildness with hit with harshness, and a gentle word when belted with a spiteful word.  Gentleness is the divine control and governance over  the inner man, holding the flesh in check that it not be given voice or strength in the matter..." 

Mr. Ludy admits that, outside of Christ we cannot respond like this.

This time paraphrasing Eric Ludy:

We seek God's mercy and kindness but we are unwilling to show mercy and grace to others.   Who is the worse perpetrator...ours to God or theirs to us?  We deserve hell.  They deserve a slap on the wrist, yet we will hold back gentleness and mercy from them.We will judge them and condemn them.   We will expect gentleness and mercy of God.  To the same measure you are willing to be a flow-through channel for the behavior of the Father and the grace of God that is bequeathed to you God responds to you    I desire my God to be gentle with me  and long suffering and gentle with me. Which demands the I become a flow-through channel of his gentleness and mercy to others. 

Other times we are cruelly attacked, lied about, or ignored.  Yet we are to respond, as Eric Ludy says, with the "featherduster" of gentleness.  In truth, this gentleness,which Jesus exhibited, is great strength.

How.  The horrible, demanding question.

We trust.  In God.  No matter the circumstances, we trust His character when the circumstances are painful, unclear, even unimaginable occurs, we know we can trust Him.  It is essential that we and our children are grounded firmly in His character, so whether the trial is great or small, our hope is truly in Him.

Also with Elyse Fitzpatrick, we recognize that:
"We are more sinful and flawed that we ever dared believe; we are more loved and welcomed than we ever dared hope. In light of this, we're to put off all the unbelief and self-love that motivated our former identity."

And we can rejoice.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Loved Not By Our Own Merit

"We are more sinful and flawed that we ever dared believe; we are more loved and welcomed than we ever dared hope.  In light of this, we're to put off all the unbelief and self-love that motivated our former identity."
                                         -Because He Loves Me, Elyse Fitzpatrick

The old man, sinful and self-serving, sought to console itself in finding it's worth in something outside itself.  It would seek to bring something in, without giving more than necessary,  like a parasite.  Fame, money, praise, accomplishment, affection were all sought as a balm for our desperate souls.  

Now, we are loved completely.  Not the way we were, but how we are now-in Christ.  Not because of what we have done, but because of His choice (agape) and His righteousness (Christ's atonement for our sin).  

But too often we behave as if the transaction has not taken place, and then wonder where our joy, our security, our peace has gone.  Sometimes,while we search elsewhere,  we even dare to suggest God isn't keeping His promises. His promises are not to keep us from trails, temptations, bad days or even awful years.  His promise is His presence, His transforming power.  He is more interested in making us more like His Son than making the day flow smoothly for us.  Each occasion is an opportunity to grow in righteousness.  But this even is not in our power.  It's is through Him.  Ephesians 2:6, "As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it[b] with thanksgiving."

Yes, there it is again, that thanksgiving word. It's intertwined with joy.  Again, it's having our hearts and minds transformed.  It's grace, His power to live and move.  His righteousness to live out.  His love to revel in.

16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Rejoicing, Relationships and Trust

Philipians 4:4-7
Be glad, be delighted in the Lord, I repeat be glad and delighted!
Let your moderation, gentleness be known by everyone around.
Your master is near by.
Do not be concerned about things, but contrariwise in every situation, through public and private petitioning of God, with thankfulness and gratitude. make your requests to God.
And the superior tranquility from God that is above understanding will protect your heart and mind (intellect, purpose, passions, desires, appetites, affections, purposes, endeavors ) because of the anointed Messiah, Jesus.
( taken from greek definitons as found on

Before the command, yes -note that command- to rejoice, Paul urges for peace between two particular believers.
Discord between believers -within the same home or in the local body- disrupts our desire and ability to delight in the Lord.

Psalm 24:3-4

24:3 Who is allowed to ascend 4  the mountain of the Lord? 5 
Who may go up to his holy dwelling place?
24:4 The one whose deeds are blameless
and whose motives are pure, 6 
who does not lie, 7 
or make promises with no intention of keeping them. 8 

Self-seeking, pride and fear cause trouble in our relationships (James 4:1-3).  In contrast, the gentleness we are to display means essentially to be unruffled.  How can we be unruffled when there are schedules to keep, money problems, world terrors?  

The answer is in the next verses of Philippians:

4:8 Finallybrothers and sisters, 6  whatever is truewhatever is worthyof respect, whatever is justwhatever is purewhatever is lovely,whatever is commendableif something is excellent or praiseworthy,think about these things. 4:9 And what you learned and received andheard and saw in medo these thingsAnd the God of peace will be withyou.

More thoughts on that next time!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

After quoting many notables from Augustine to C.S. Lewis on the subject of Christian joy, John Piper in His book The Dangerous Duty of Delight asks:

"So if Christian Hedonism (the pursuit of joy) is old-fashioned, why is it so controversial?   One reason is that it insists that joy is not just the spin-off of obedience to God, but part of obedience.  It seems as though people are willing to let joy be a by-product of our relationship to God, but not an essential part of it.  People are uncomfortable saying that we are duty-bound to pursue joy."......."joy is an act of obedience"

.  Is this as foreign to you as to me?  Seeking joy has not been on my radar.  It's not been on my wish-list.  Gentleness and  kindness, but not joy.

It's an act of obedience.  Of course we are all familiar with the "Rejoice in the Lord" commands scattered throughout the Word.  But it seems so.....vague.  Of course when our feelings hit us right, when circumstances are good or we experience God's working, we can be glad and rejoice.  But this is commanded.

Those disciples in prison.  The martyrs of history.  Those Singing through the Night   even now know that this command is not a passive matter.  Rejoicing, being glad is not something that happens to us.

This is foreign.  How do I "glad"? tell me that "rejoice" as s "a primary verb; to be "cheer"ful, i.e. calmly happy or well-off; "

That leads me to think about the "gentle and quiet spirit" I spent so much time studying and dreaming  I would posses.  Gentleness came from confidence in the Lord, and it means to be "unruffled".  

I guess there is food for thought for another time.  But I'd love to hear what you think!