An Everyday Kind of Joy

I’m often blessed by men and women with the attitude described below by Oswald Chambers. From time to time I return to his writings and today these words seem especially applicable. Choose today not to settle for what the world describes as joy…seek His and walk in it. You may just be the unexpected blessing someone needs.

“Living a full and overflowing life does not rest in bodily health, in circumstances, nor even in seeing God’s work succeed, but in the perfect understanding of God, and in the same fellowship and oneness with Him that Jesus Himself enjoyed. But the first thing that will hinder this joy is the subtle irritability caused by giving too much thought to our circumstances. Jesus said, “. . . the cares of this world . . .choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful” (Mark 4:19). And before we even realize what has happened, we are caught up in our cares. All that God has done for us is merely the threshold— He wants us to come to the place where we will be His witnesses and proclaim who Jesus is.

Have the right relationship with God, finding your joy there, and out of you “will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38). Be a fountain through which Jesus can pour His “living water.” Stop being hypocritical and proud, aware only of yourself, and live “your life . . . hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). A person who has the right relationship with God lives a life as natural as breathing wherever he goes. The lives that have been the greatest blessing to you are the lives of those people who themselves were unaware of having been a blessing.”       -Oswald Chambers

Oswald Chambers’ daily devotionals can be found at: http://utmost.org/

We Can Trust Our Guide

I remember being dropped in an unfamiliar location with only a map and compass, along with instructions to find my way back to the assembly area. Needless to say, it was a challenge, but all part of the learning experience. I had signed on to become an Army Cavalry Scout, but before I could lead others, I needed to gain trust in my map and compass…and I did. 

In our daily journey following Christ, we also have an incredible map (the scriptures) and compass (the Holy Spirit). The Master Guide has given us tools and landmarks to see our progress. If we are to reach the summit of maturity, I think there are 4 landmarks we’ll all pass by on the way: 

Landmark 1: Embracing God’s Authority – Do I really view God as sovereign? He is totally free to do as He pleases. In the beginning God made everything (Genesis 1:1, John 1:3). There simply isn’t any escaping the fact that God is in control. He not only created everything, but defeated the evil that came afterwards (Matthew 28:18). He’s the mountain in the distance standing taller than the clouds. 

Landmark 2: Attitude Correction – Just like catching a glimpse of a water tower along a ridge, Philippians 2:5-11 helps me to see something specific on the map (the nature of Christ). I may have been traveling for miles in the wrong direction, but seeing a known object restores my bearing. Without stopping to look, I may assume everything is great and be headed for trouble. The standard of Jesus never changes and the compass of the Holy Spirit always points north to Him. 

Landmark 3: The Big Picture – Sometimes walking into a clearing to get a good view helps me see the overall scale of things. I can spot rain coming or look back over the ground just covered and know why the trail had to go the direction it did. Like Joseph in Genesis 45, we don’t always understand what’s happening in the grander scale, but trusting God in the smaller sections of the trail (climb this rock, cross this creek) leads to eventually seeing. Focusing on the truths I do know helps me deal with what I don’t know. 

Landmark 4: Dealing with People – As we go, encountering others is going to be part of it. This one tends to be moss-covered and slippery, so watch your step! James 3:13-18 tells us wisdom from above in dealing with others involves purity, peace, mercy, and authenticity. 

Hopefully you’ve seen some of these already. If not…trust your Guide. The Bible says for those of us who’ve placed our trust in Jesus, the Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth (John 16:13). So, if you’ve found these landmarks, help point others. That’s called making disciples and what a privilege it is to do so!

Jesus on Facebook, Twitter and Blogs

Recently, while reading a Christian leader’s blog, I couldn’t help but wonder, “What kind of posts would Jesus write?” Would He be direct? Sarcastic? Critical? Hmmm…I wonder. Obviously social media wasn’t around then, but there was social-networking, and His ministry was in full view of the opinion-makers of the day. Yes, formats and venues have changed, but human nature hasn’t. 

As a follower of Christ, everything I say, write or do involves Jesus. The Bible says I’m His temple, a part of His Body, and I’m not my own (I Cor. 6:19 & 12:12-27). So, since Jesus lives in and through me, the question has become three tests to apply to my posts: 

1. The “Like” Effect – “What’s the motive?” Am I sharing an encouraging or affirming word? Am I passing along something I’m learning? Or does the “Like” button motivate me more than I want to admit? It’s a subtle little thing, but its presence (like “retweets” and “sharing”) can influence subject, tone and content. It can even involve foregoing a post for fear of not getting “likes” and appearing foolish. 

2. The Whine Factor – Nobody enjoys listening to whiners. Whether it’s personal, business or spiritual, the temptation to vent frustrations can destroy credibility, friendships and opportunities to share what Christ has done in my life. Yes, as a follower of Christ, I should always be ready to share God’s truth unapologetically, but in an authentic spirit of love (Eph. 4:15, I Peter 3:15). 

3. The Value Question – Do I see my opinion more importantly than others? Yes, probably. Hey, I like my own opinion, but it isn’t always important. Contrary to pop-culture, all opinions are not equal and certainly not always welcome. With comment boxes everywhere, we sometimes offer answers to questions that weren’t asked. When in doubt, the old saying, “silence is golden” fits very well.

Ultimately it should come down to “Am I representing Christ well?” To be certain, there are times for boldness, subtlety, forgiveness, humor and encouragement, but all should be in agreement with Christ’s model. My prayer is to know when the proper times are for each and simply let the rest go.

Do You Have Marriage “Ground Rules”?

In conversations with couples, I’ve found an interesting thing. Many have never discussed the “Ground Rules” of their marriage and home. There may be hopes and expectations, but that’s simply not enough. If you don’t have some predetermined boundaries, then the risk of crossing into undesired territory becomes much more likely. In daily life together, “norms” get established, and it’s a great idea to clarify what they are and where the lines fall.

Here are some of the non-negotiable “Ground Rules” my wife and I worked through and decided would be foundational in our relationship. They’re not earth-shattering, but may be helpful: 

  • Speech – We’ve established that certain words/language/ways-of-speaking are not acceptable in our house. It applies to all of us and the guests that enter, especially during times of disagreement. (Colossians 4:6)
  • Transparency – Money, friendships, etc are always in clear view of both. Secret feelings can be very destructive. (Ephesians 4:25-32, 5:22-33)
  • Solidarity – We don’t “break ranks” with each other concerning extended family. We defend each other to our own family in things like holiday activities and parenting. After making choices as a couple and family, we stand as a unit. (Genesis 2:24)
  • Confidence – Conversations with a person of the opposite sex never include things reserved for one another. In other words, there’s no room for emotional intimacy with someone other than my soul-mate. (Galatians 5:9)
  • In Public – We’re committed to not embarrassing each other in public settings by making disrespectful comments about the other; physical attributes, work habits, etc. (Ephesians 5:1-2) 

Hopefully you’ve discussed such things in your marriage. If you haven’t, please do. Having a plan really makes a difference. Either way, habits are going to be established, why not try to make them good ones!

For a printable PDF version, click here: https://dl.dropbox.com/u/96565037/Marriage%20Ground%20Rules.pdf

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