Tag Archives: encouragement

Want More Joy in Your Life?

3 Sep

I hope I’ve caught you at a good time. For just a moment or two I want you to think about conversations you had yesterday. If you can, think back over the last week in more general ways to consider the topics while not the actual conversations. What do you remember about them? Did they bring happiness or heaviness? Laughter or grief? Or did they just fill airtime?

I know a lot of mine camped around the housing rehab we are wading through. With summer rushing toward winter, we know we need to get all painting and varnishing done while we can open windows and empty the house of the obnoxious (and unhealthy) fumes. Adjusting our to-do lists, replotting our schedules, and working around the rest of life define me at the moment.

Realizing that reminded me of some verses I read recently. The Message Bible presents 1 John 1:1-4 this way: “From the very first day, we were there, taking it all in—we heard it with our own ears, saw it with our own eyes, verified it with our own hands. The Word of Life appeared right before our eyes; we saw it happen! And now we’re telling you in most sober prose that what we witnessed was, incredibly, this: The infinite Life of God himself took shape before us.

We saw it, we heard it, and now we’re telling you so you can experience it along with us, this experience of communion with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. Our motive for writing is simply this: We want you to enjoy this, too. Your joy will double our joy!”

Each year has favorite quotes people put on plaques, tee shirts, mugs and such. One several years ago announced JESUS IS ALIVE. I TALKED WITH HIM THIS MORNING. I think that is what John was trying to get across to his readers. Witnessing and fellowship is about having conversations about what Jesus has done and is doing in our lives. It is about spreading that joy, becoming contagious with it.

That’s hard to do if we are not seeing with our eyes, hearing with our ears and touching with our hands that Word of Life. Of course, Jesus is not standing in the flesh before us as John was able to testify, but that doesn’t mean we cannot have as real of an experience through the Holy Spirit in our hearts.

My word for the year is “Come.” I have been learning the joy of responding to the Lord’s call to come to him and fellowship with him. Lately, I’ve seen how my conversations have been far from him. Talking about how the rehab on our house is going dulls my enthusiasm and drags me down. Even the best conversations filled with compliments on my work lifts me only so high and leaves me wanting.

Yes, my word for the year is come, and I’m taking a guess that next year’s word may be “abide.” It seems like a natural progression: come and abide. Even if it isn’t, I know I want that to be my experience and practice.

Crown-worthy Preparation

2 Jul

My life took a tumble within the last few weeks. On top of surgery and recovery, I went through hard to swallow disappointments, discouragement, and dashed dreams. Paul wrote that I can rest assured that what I’ve experienced is not uncommon, so I know you can relate to me. Perhaps some are in the tossing, turning, and free fall of life right now. If so, take heart. God has a purpose.

Have you ever watched clothes in a dryer? Especially noticing your favorite shirt rolling up the side then dropping down, disappearing, catching a glimpse of it in the back before showing up again pressed against the glass? Knowing it will in the right time come out of the chaos dry and wrinkle free gives us patience to let it continue.

Recently, I read an article on how to polish rocks using a rock tumbler. I couldn’t help but see a metaphor for what I’ve been going through and of life in general, especially the Christian life. The rock polishing process begins with selecting the right stones. And once selected, they are scrubbed to remove surface crud. That may include knocking or chiseling off sharp protrusions before being put into the tumbler.

As much as we say we found Jesus, the fact remains he chose us–before the foundations of the world Paul tells us. And after our being joined to him, we often see much of our crud purged from our lives. Joy fills us when we realize for the first time how great it is to be free of those things.

When we think life couldn’t be better, we experience upset. Confusion, pain, and disillusionment tosses us like the shirt in the dryer and like the stones in the rock tumbler. Here is what to remember. After the choosing, scrubbing, and shaping, the craftsman puts several stones into the tumbler along with some hard grit and water. He then turns on the tumbler for a specific amount of time. At the end of that time, he turns off the tumbler, washed the stones, and checks their progress. Then the process is repeated.

Jesus is the master craftsman. He has a purpose for each one he chooses, a purpose far greater than scrubbing away our crud. He puts us together with others {we aren’t alone in our tumble}, uses the washing of the word and the power of the Holy Spirit to smooth out other imperfections. The stone-polishing process is repeated until the ugly rock shines with the brilliance of a precious gem. (Note: the gem was there all the time, but only the Master could see it.) And so it is with us. Jesus is changing us from “glory to glory.”

As Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:16-17 “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory…”
Perhaps the next time life is a jumble with no stable ground to stand on we can remember our heavenly stone polisher. Instead of fearing or complaining we can say, “I’m becoming what God sees in me and shown to the world–a gem suitable for being part of his crown of glory.”

Mining Treasure from the Crisis

9 Apr

I found a silver lining. Some of you may know or recall that my hard drive died a few weeks ago. Nearly everything from 2018 and much of 2017 is gone. I’ve been circling back through my online activities in an effort to recapture some of what I thought was lost forever. Social media has been a big help, but that isn’t the silver lining I’m referring to.

One resource of recovery is my blog site. I have been going through old posts and copying them back to my computer. That’s where I found something I had forgotten about. Two years ago I had chosen a word for the year. That word was pursue. As I read my post on the topic, its similarities and differences to my word for this year, which is come, spoke to me.

Pursue and come both have the same goal: to be closer to the Lord, taking on the same attributes as his spirit leads me in greater measure. The challenge to pursue had me focused on my heart attitude. Did I draw near to God to experience peace, joyous worship, or even material benefits? Or, did I hunger and thirst for him? Pursuit and the right motive in it depended on me.

Come has me as the object. The King has invited me (sometimes perhaps summoned me) to be in his presence. I remember how much anxiety filled me when I was newly with the Lord and one of the church leaders asked me to meet with him. I tried to remember everything I might have said or done that required correcting. I sat tense as the elder tried to initiate conversation, and I chose my words carefully. As our meeting drew to a close, I asked why he asked me there. He smiled. “Just to get to know you more.”

It took a few of those meetings before I could relax and know he was sincere in his desire and purpose.

Now, this year, I have the King of kings, the Creator of everything, saying “Come. Meet with me. Let’s spend quality time together. Let’s share hearts and thoughts and see what happens. Let’s be friends.”

Tripping over my word for the year from two years ago made the call this year to come pop for me with new excitement. By the end of the first quarter (yeah, it didn’t take me long) the call had grown cooler. I hadn’t lost it entirely, but it lacked the fire it had in the beginning. Then seeing it in contrast with pursue refreshed me. I found a silver lining in the computer crash.

I have to go now. I hear the King calling me.

I find consistency can become routine, habit, an activity on a to-do list to check off. How do you keep your meeting with the Lord consistent and fresh?

Latest devotional published

3 Aug

Do you remember that song about those “lazy, hazy days of summer”? You do know those days are not limited to just suDSC_0128mmer, don’t you? They even creep into our Christian lives. I have a thought or two on those–the first being how much we desire them and how easily they slip in. As enjoyable as they may seem, beware of the hazards.


Consider the flowers of the field

24 Jun

I love the fact that Jesus really does know what we face on a day-to-day basis. He knows our tendency to worry about everything–especially those things that might affect how others perceive us. But He told us not to worry even over what we wear because Solomon in all his glory was never clothed as gloriously as the flowers of the field. Here are some picturDSC_0129adjust72es I took yesterday. I hope we all can be encouraged by their glory.DSC_0126crop72DSC_0132crop72DSC_0127crop72DSC_0123crop72


20 Sep

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints.
Psalm 116:15

You know, that verse never did give me much comfort. Until recently I found it rather disturbing that the Lord would take pleasure in seeing one of His followers die. Having had a third friend die from cancer in as many months, I found myself thinking about that verse and how it might relate. There seemed to be a progression of my emotional responses with each one. I left the first funeral hoping my friend had stayed true to his faith. With the second one, I sensed a huge void because of how sweet and giving my friend was. The third funeral was so very peaceful with a sense of fullness. There was a joy in knowing a life that was spent for the Lord. Yes, his absence will leave a huge void, and he will be sorely missed. And, yes, we who knew him can be glad he is free from the suffering associated with the disease. But I felt we could laugh right in death’s face and say, “You have no victory here.” I have to admit that is precious.

The second insight into the verse caught me unawares…going home to be in the presence of God viewed from His perspective. As Christians, we know by faith that being with the Lord for eternity in unimaginable joy. We will then see face to face the One who has such incredible love for us. Seldom do we consider His joy. He created us for mutual love and fellowship. After that open relationship was broken by Adam and Eve’s sin, God created a new way to fellowship through the atonement provided by His Son Jesus at Calvary. Certainly He delights in our seeking His face and His will, in our spending time in His Word and in prayer, and in our being like His Son before our friends and family. However, as long as we remain in our earthly bodies, we are never fully in His presence with nothing standing between us. It must be precious indeed to our heavenly Father to see us coming home to be with Him forever. I can relate to that. One of our sons is over seas with the army. We occasionally get to connect with him on instant messaging and Skype. Being able to see him, his wife and our granddaughters is fantastic, but we still long to have them right here so we can hug them and express our love for them in many ways. It is a time of rejoicing when he gets to come home; I believe it is much the same with our heavenly Father.

Life from a new perspective

4 Jun

Do you ever have those times when you ask the Lord to fill your cup, fill it to overflowing and running over–and He fills your plate instead? Those can be tough times. We know. We are coming to the end of one of those, or at least we think the end is in sight.

We’ve had our times of moaning and, in all honesty, complaining about the pressures and the heaviness we have felt through this time. We would not have called it complaining, but in simple terms, that’s what it was. But in the scattered moments of quiet times my wife and I tried to understand what we were to gain from our experience. We found quiet places when we could get out of the house and take a walk. We talk about things as we walk that we can’t talk about with everyone around us. In that way we sort out our thoughts.

On one walk we agreed that the Lord was teaching us at the beginning of these last three years that He is our provider and that He really can do more than we can ask or think. In the last four months He has been teaching us to serve as our plate went from full to running over.

I shared with my wife that I awoke one morning confessing that it is hard to focus on the needs of others and serve them when our basic needs demand attention. That’s when God’s economic plan made sense: “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you,” Matthew 6:33. And Luke 6:38 “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” Most people work with the paradigm that they will do for others after all their own needs are met–after all, charity begins at home. They will have time for others when all their work is done. That is man’s way; God’s way is to begin with serving others. That is what living in the kingdom of God is about.

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