Posts Tagged With: joy
(Based on reflections on our inheritance in Christ which is mentioned in Paul’s letters and the gospels and my own yearning for “something more.”)
I long for an infinite treasure
I can’t even start to measure.
Something yet to dawn and come,
More sure than death has ever won
Against our mortal, human flesh.
Eternal life will never mesh
with gaining stuff when others lose.
I want to rest, but cannot snooze
when I worry about lost love.
My hands now shake, though I wear gloves,
And it is warm around about.
My heart’s soul cries, I want to shout:
with many friends, I remain alone.
So inwardly, I start to groan,
and I am burdened with heartfelt pain.
In my global quest, what have I gained?
“Lord, hear me as I sob and cry!
And if You answer, here am I.
Provide fresh joy and hope and grace
that I might know and see your face.”
God’s Comfort comes despite my self,
And thus I’ve found that treasured wealth.
A peace the world never knew
I have God’s Love: the Lord is True.
This Gift is not for only me:
God gives to all who ask, He’s Free!
I hope these words expand your view:
Christ Jesus came for me and you.
Pots and pans seem to understand
that the best way to wash your hands
is not to hold a royal trial of the King,
but to humbly serve in love and sing
while feeding those who work and hurt
and scrubbing away the world’s dirt.
Love is willing to serve in simple ways
while deflecting to Jesus all the praise.
Quiet at home, proclaiming abroad
listening to the angel’s laud
of the Lord. They serve all night
yet enduring not an ounce of fright,
for at the break of day, the dishes
will return along with prayers and wishes
over eggs and croissants made at home
before we go out again to our local Rome.
Happy Valentine’s day to the woman who’s dishes I have washed dishes for nearly fourteen years.
The Lord’s hatred is more loving that the most compassionate Buddhist or most devout Muslim.
Buddhism states that that the key to escaping the pit of suffering is to cease desire.
The Word of God says that the way to escape suffering is to desire the Lord Jesus more than your necessary food.
Often, compassion is demonstrated by Buddhists by allowing people to die with dignity.
Jesus displayed the depth of His compassion by getting angry at death and raising the dead.
Mohammed demonstrated his devotion by calling for the execution of those who dishonored him.
Jesus displayed his devotion by calling for mercy on his executioners as he was shamed on the cross.
Mohammed demonstrated his love by gathering up to 10 wives at one time to himself, regardless of their marital status, age, etc.
Jesus showed his love by rebuking religious hypocrisy and forgiving the immoral woman who threw herself at his feet.
Human religions of every variety excuse sin.
Jesus judges sin and pardons sinners so that we might come to Him.
Jesus did not stay on the cross for us to gaze upon; He rose from the grave on the third day so that we might have power to transform societies into gatherings of saints who likewise hate sin and love one another.
O that I might hate sin more and live in God’s love more!!
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn:
a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.
Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”
Perhaps you will disagree with the assertion in my title of this blog entry, but taken at face value, these words quoted above from Jesus’ sending of the 12 in Matthew 10 certainly do seem to agree with the title. The normal pattern of people on planet earth is to do other than what Jesus wants them to.
Oh, sure, people may be nice enough, they may participate in religious observances, even Christian religious observances, even often, but at their heart, people want to be comfortable in this world.
Jesus makes it clear: HE does NOT want you comfortable in this world. He wants you to find joy in the world to come. While the rage in Christian circles is to get people busy about their jobs, their careers, their families, their health, their ease and to enjoy this world and to share that joy in this world.
Jesus, being ever counter-cultural, calls us to get uncomfortable. “Leave your comfort zone,” is sometimes said to those going on short-term missions. However, we are to daily take up the cross and get uncomfortable for Jesus. We are no where in the Good News encouraged to be comfortable in the world. If you are comfortable in the world, you will be uncomfortable in eternity. That is a promise.
However, if you find your life right now uncomfortable, not just occasionally, but regularly, routinely, daily, you open up the way for the Kingdom of God. No longer is it about this world nor is it about you. Rather, it is about eternity. Your life is to be about God. 100%. Sold out, consumed with the vision of the Living Lord who guides and controls every moment of your life.
You are NOT your own. You belong to Jesus. You are no better than anyone else, but you do belong to Jesus. If you accept this as the mission for your life, you will have a reason to live and a reason to die. Jesus bought you with His life. Your life is now to be hidden with Christ in God. If you reject that, you reject hope, meaning, purpose, and a reason for living.
Oh, you will say, I am my own god. I define my own purpose.
Really? What happens when you die? All your efforts to define yourself will fall flat and you will be cast into hell. IF YOU define your purpose and YOU define your life and YOU define your destiny, the moment you get sick, the moment you die, your meaning is challenged and then extinguished.
However, because Jesus proved that meaning is not coterminous with one’s natural life by rising up out of the grave of His own accord, those who hide themselves in Jesus and accept Jesus Christ as the definition of their purpose suddenly have a life beyond this world.
Even if your own family members reject and crucify you and beat you and spit on you and persecute you, you will have meaning. God redeems your suffering if you let Him. However, you must look to Jesus Christ the righteous Suffering Servant when you are suffering if your suffering is to have meaning.
Notice, I do not merely say that you will feel good. There are many who feel good though they are ultimately going to be cast into hell. The wrapper on a fine chocolate may look and appear gorgeous, but the moment the chocolate is consumed and enjoyed and the chocolate reaches its fulfilment and the wrapper is cast aside into the trash, discarded, it is JUNK. People do not go to the candy store to buy wrappers, they go to buy confections. The wrapper is merely a transportation device for getting the goods from the factory to your home into your body so your heart will rejoice.
Likewise, our comforts in this body and in this world are merely means to an end. If we ever look at them as an end, we will be disappointed.
Yes, despise this world. Do not love it. Do not pursue a high place in the system of the present world. Your throne satan will be cast down and you will come to nothing.
Rather, if you want an enduring life, seek a low place. Seek humility. Seek poverty. Seek abandonment in the arms of the infinite Creator. You are not infinite. Anything you create has limits on how satisfying it can be. But if you look to God to create satisfaction in your heart, you will find it. Though the final peace waits many days and though you see not a glimpse of joy in this world, do not be discouraged: there is a resurrection.
Rejoice in the world to come.
Peace to all who heed these words.
What I mean by the title is not merely that you pray that your enemies be winsome people who get more people on their side. Rather, that we must pray that our enemies would repent in order that they might become our friends. This is a risky way to pray.
It means you may have to leave the comfort of your home, your internet connection and go to meet someone you are scared of face to face. It may mean confronting your persecutors with the standards of the law so that they will be ashamed enough to repent … They may not necessarily repent, but if you pray, and pray faithfully, you may persuade God to persuade them to change their heart.
There is a risk you could lose a fortune on your new friends. You could lose the comfort of financial security. You could lose your health by going to people who are diseased or who intentionally infect you and seek to do you harm. You will at the very least have to spend time you could use making money and spending time with easy friends in order to represent the Kingdom of God in “hostile territory.” Indeed, you could die, without winning any new friends from among your enemies in your own lifetime.
Is it worth it?
Yes … if you do it on behalf of Jesus, completing the sufferings He suffered.
He promised that those who are persecuted for righteousness sake have the kingdom of Heaven which is peace, joy, and righteousness. You just can’t beat that deal. But first pray. Indeed, the beginning of the beatitudes is, “Blessed are those who are beggars in spirit, for theirs IS the Kingdom of Heaven.”
You have the treasures of heaven available, if only you will come before the Throne of God and beg, if only you will obey until you suffer. Wow!!
If you were to ask the Gazan Christians if this was easy, they would tell you that they count it all joy. If you were to ask the observers of the character of Christians who fled terror in Iraq, you would hear that the Christians did not respond in kind with violence, but with kindness. The saints violate the normal tit-for-tat way of doing things by forgiving enemies.
This sounds too hard, you say, too surreal. Let me ask you a question: Would you rather suffer a little in this life, or suffer for all eternity apart from the presence of God?
Take up the cross Jesus hands you, or suffer all loss because you do not understand Jesus.
I hope that as you count the costs, and consider the benefits in the long-term of following Jesus, you will follow Him with a glad heart.
Right now the Middle East remains in an uproar: Egyptians are in an uproar, and Palestinians are raging against the state of Israel. Jordan is facing a flood of refugees. Bethlehem may soon have a few tourists. But I find that the “Jerusalem Syndrom” or “Stendhal Syndrome” to be most interesting of all this: people go to the “holy” city only to find that there are a bunch of sinners there. Sinners needing to be evangelized, so they evangelize them, or at least attempt to, in their own religious versions.
I’ve been there and done that! In 1994, I was a short term worker in Washington, DC. Enjoyed my time, but got a little too isolated from the group and my mind started to wander away from the mission. I started to peregrinate and preach. I dare say, it was fun. I thought the world was going to end in 3.5 days. (Times, time, and half a time, you know.)
Well, it didn’t, and the Lord forgave me for my false prophecy. So I am no prophet. Big deal.
But that does not mean I am not an evangelist. I may not be called upon to bring a final serious message of judgment, but I can bring a message of joy to the world. That joy is found in Jesus. Moral reform is good. Preaching is good. But all cities need this preaching. All souls need the good news. I am not much of a church planter, though my efforts to disciple others have resulted in a small disciplemaking movement.
The reality is though, that my life is marked (or some would say marred) by something else: suffering and disappointment with the worldly and the temporal hopes dreams. I work part time for a government agency that works among the least and among of those in the worst circumstances as a certified peer support specialist. In other words, I’m not just certifiable, I’m certified. I have a plaque to prove it.
That sits at my desk like the the Plaque I once received as a Distinguido Guesped used to at my dorm in college. I was a Distinguished Guest of the governor of Sinaloa State or Mayor Mazatlan there in Mexico, or something like that. Yippee!! Distinguished guest. All I had to do was do a little dramatic interpretation and travel with a bunch of choral members to a podunk, persecuting part of our Southern Neighbor and have a good, clean, moral life as I honored Jesus. The Bible says, those who honor God, God will honor.
What if the Kfar Shaul Mental Health Centre in Israel, were to not issue a certificate of insanity, but of honor to these guests, who like Saul (i.e. Shaul) had a few chips shy of a full bag, with a certificate for their intense interest and compassion for this city of conflict. Imagine how you would feel going on vacation to Hawaii only to find all the natives working in gray suits and ties and all the land given over to the chaos that happens on Wall Street … Doesn’t sound like a vacation.
Just because you went to such an advertized “tropical paradise” that had been corrupted and spoke out for a little common sense, would you want to be called a fool? No.
But Hosea said that the prophet will be called a fool (Meshuggah). When a nice person meets a wicked world which has been worshipped with wonderful words, that nice person might get a little upset when they find out the reality. You would … Right? I hope you would.
So, back to the issue at hand. As these prophets / religiously fanatical tourists recover, why not give them a certificate for wanting the city of Jerusalem to be morally pure and peaceful?? Honor them for their ability to cope again with a sinful world. Commission them in Jesus name to preach peace to all nations.
Use those with Jerusalem or Stendhal syndrome to become Fools for Christ … people who don’t fit in with the world because they love God. Let us be a little loony for the Lord! Let us give him our minds and let us give the world a piece of it too.
Maybe those that the world calls misfits are simply called to fit into another world, a world yet to come. A world that is perfect.
In this world, we will have trouble. BUT, TAKE HEART! Jesus conquered the world!!! He is alive! He’s not dead. He’s not crazy. He’s not lazy. HE really is LORD and HE really dead get up and folded the grave clothes at the tomb. Now, he is busy building a new Jerusalem.
The old Jerusalem is like Sodom and Gomorrah: it distresses the righteous lot who try to live their so much that they can’t stand staying there forever, they run for their lives. Distressed and dispirited. But Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He takes care of souls who go to great cities like Mecca, Rome, and Washington, DC and New York City, only to lose their grasp on “normalcy.” He comforts us with the hope of His return. He is the Messiah. We are not.
Now, what about those who think this world is all there is? I feel sorry for them. They may be in animistic tribes wearing animal parts or they may be in the ‘hood wearing hoodies or they may be businessmen wearing ties and going to fine restaurants or they may be on a campus wearing a backpack or they may be taking care of a posse of kids whom they hope will grow up to be “normal.”
Let’s get real. It is OK if dreams are shattered and illusions are exposed. It is OK to be different. It is OK to preach outside or in the streets. Let the prisoners free! Let the slaves go free! Let the fools go free! Maybe if Jerusalem had tolerated the most Divine Fool she would be a cultivated city today, instead of a city where the past is nearly all that there is to celebrate about it at the present.
Blessings on all who go to Jerusalem to comfort my people: the mentally ill and non-conformists. May God’s people surround the saints restrained with comfort and friendship.
Every day when I go out on the bus, I am forced by the words of Jesus to ask, “Who and how will I make disciples today as I am going about my daily business?”
This is not about flashy campaigns or buttons. Slogans fail me. But there is a compulsion coming from the command of Jesus: I must make disciples. I have made few, if any, converts in my lifetime, but I have discipled quite a few. If not all of them were baptized by me, I have taken them one step closer (or more) to Jesus. It almost routinely requires that I go. Teaching to obey Jesus is the stuff of life.
The most dangerous aspect of this is that I must obey Jesus. I must take up my cross daily. I must choose the path that is despised by the world. I must choose the hard road rather than the easy road. I must embrace suffering now as the means to later reward.
Yet the suffering I face is not all that hard: occassional misunderstanding, risking rejection and snubs initially, being despised by those I love, poverty, long hours, etc.
These are the kinds of suffering that are not absolute. They are accompanied by joy, even laughter and singing. With this suffering and joy a comradery is built with others who have taken the hard road. It is the bond of brotherhood (sisters are welcome too) that is shared by the saints, of whom I am the least.
And so continues the story of the international fellowship of everyday saints.