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Tag Archives: joy

Hope Deferred

Hope deferred makes the heart sick.

Delayed promises, unfulfilled dreams, missed expectations. The things we humans hope for yet trust God that He has our best in mind and our puny hopes are replaced with His grand plans.

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Broken promises, disingenuity, deception. These are NOT words associated with a perfect heavenly Father. They are also not words and phrases one would expect to hear connected with God’s Church, yet today we see it still in many areas.

Why?

I believe one reason is that we’re in the last of days. No doubt our enemy, satan, knows this. Using every tactic he’s honed he desires to get the Church off track. His game plan is to get Christians focused on their belly buttons or the lint in someone else’s… Discourage believers with the heart-sickness of broken dreams… Cultivate Pastors and Elders deluded with authority, who forget servanthood and become like the Pharisees of old. He’d like to convince regular church goers that their weekday sins somehow fly under the radar and get as many folks believing they are Christian as if it is the same as “American” or “Canadian” while  being nothing remotely Christ-like.

Christ’s followers expect to be a fighter in a battle, not a potato on a couch. We’re promised tribulation, we’re asked to die to ourselves. We’re promised victory and great reward when we endure to the end. Somehow, though, it’s easier when the battle is against evil, against injustice outside the church walls. It’s harder when we find ourselves wounded by our own family. Yet isn’t our response to be the same? Keep our eyes on Christ, draw close to Him, count on Him for our justice either now or later, count on Him for our joy in spite of the pain.

I’m certainly not saying that’s easy. I think it’s one of the hardest things to do. Natural emotions are real. God gave us those emotions and doesn’t begrudge us when we experience them. My heroes in the faith have experienced deep emotions as a result of brother- or sister-inflicted wounds yet instead of retaliation they seek God and a trusted confident to work through the pain and arrive at a place of healing and wholeness.

Life is messy, inside and outside of the Church. I’ll take the messiness with a loving Father, Brother, and Helper to guide and comfort me over messiness with no hope and no support. This time on earth is a blink of an eye compared to eternity, what will be our response to injustice (inside and outside the church) and the call of God to die to ourselves?

Put on the “whole armor” friends — I don’t think the ride is going to get any smoother. 🙂

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Posted by on June 29, 2013 in Relationships, The Church, The Journey

 

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In the Absence of Grace

Lack of joy is in the absence of grace, and often I think this is due to legalism. What a dirty word. I hate, hate, hate it. Legalists really push my buttons. Probably because I used to be one. In a very recent conversation with a dear friend, I realized how I’d been watched earlier in my Christian walk. Further reflection caused me to grieve for my legalistic ways and how they have contributed to my dear sister’s hurt and confusion. I used to hurt the same way. I didn’t even know I was perpetuating this common malady of the American Christian church…

Most of us raised in the church, or saved for a very long time, especially in our Western Christian culture, can identify with legalism’s nasty grip and lasting effect. We have to DO things right and make sure others do, too! We can’t miss church, or quiet time; we must ‘say grace’ before a group meal, and never say ‘no’ to whatever is asked of us… Pretty soon we forget why we even started down this path; We become frustrated and angry and burned out; and we don’t even know why. We lost our joy because our joy stopped originating from the Giver of Himself; It gradually shifted to us — us trying to be what we think He wants us to be. Or maybe what we think the Pastor or Pastor’s wife, or some other brother or sister wants us to be.

A life of liberty comes from knowing God, from seeing and savoring Jesus Christ. Not for what He does for us, but simply (or maybe not so simply) Who He Is. We are here to make much of God; to glorify Him alone. Sure, we go to church because we are more effective in this together. Sure, we pray and read God’s word because we hunger and thirst for Him like water in a dry desert, not because we feel obligated to put in our 20 minutes of quiet time… When the perspective changes to God Himself being our very food, water and breath, legalism creeps quietly and rightfully out the back door.

The liar of liars wants us to carry around guilt for not doing. Or not doing things right. The Giver of Himself wants us to know and love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. If we do that the liar is shamed and hushed, and we are joyful and victorious.

“When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth.  I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.”  ~Ephesians 3:14-19

 
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Posted by on June 20, 2011 in God's Word, Grace, Jesus, Joy, Love

 

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The Faces and Colors of the American Christian

Dance your shoes off.  

I love it.

 
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Posted by on April 13, 2011 in Current Events, Jesus, Joy, Purpose, The Church

 

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