Thursday, June 18, 2009
Having read James many times before, I finally read this passage and saw that it is really just a fancy way of the old saying that anything hard that you must endure is a way to 'build character.'
In response to complaints about frustrating or unfair things in a child's life, many times adults say that it is building character. Of course, this response is usually met with sighs and more complaints by the frustrated child.
However, after reading, reflecting, and hearing someone's thoughts on this very passage, I find that I have a new understanding.
Instead of responding in childish ways, I can respond in a different manner.
When responding to trials, I have the choice to either respond by relying on God, or I can become 1) resentful, 2) retaliatory, or 3) resigned.
Do I want to endure this process at the present moment?
No, not always.
But willl I endure?
In light of the end result, I seek to endure, striving for patience and perseverance. For I want God to produce stability and spiritual maturity in my life.
Therefore, I endure through the present and temporal trials to receive the future and eternal results.
Also of great importance is the first part of verse two, 'Consider it pure joy,' or 'Count it all joy' in another version. We are to welcome, embrace, and find joy in times of trial and tribulation; as we struggle in facing trials, we are brought closer to God in a more meaningful relationship and intertwined existence.
So when I'm old, this is what I will tell people younger than me. Not only do trials simply 'build character,' it is written in the Bible, God's personal words to humans, that trials produce a rooted, established, and mature life in Christ.
I can count a million times
People asking me how
I can praise You
with all that I've gone through
The question just amazes me
Can circumstances possibly
Change who I forever am in You
Maybe since my life was changed
Long before these rainy days
It's never really ever crossed my mind
To turn my back on you, oh Lord
My only shelter from the storm
But instead I draw closer through these times
So I pray
Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings
You glory And I know there'll
be days When this life brings me pain
But if that's what it takes to
praise You Jesus, bring the rain
I am yours regardless of the clouds that may loom above
because you are much greater than my pain
you who made a way for me
suffering your destiny
so tell me whats a little rain
Holy, holy, holy
Holy, holy, holy
is the lord God almighty
is the lord God almighty
I'm forever singing
Sunday, June 7, 2009
I CHOOSE LOVE… No occasion justifies hatred; no injustice warrants bitterness. I choose love. Today I will love God and what God loves.
I CHOOSE JOY… I will invite my God to be the God of circumstance. I will refuse the temptation to be cynical… the tool of a lazy thinker. I will refuse to see people as anything less than human beings, created by God. I will refuse to see any problem as anything less than an opportunity to see God.
I CHOOSE PEACE… I will live forgiven. I will forgive so that I may live.
I CHOOSE PATIENCE… I will overlook the inconveniences of the world. Instead of cursing the one who takes my place, I'll invite him to do so. Rather than complain that the wait is too long, I will thank God for a moment to pray. Instead of clinching my fist at new assignments, I will face them with joy and courage.
I CHOOSE KINDNESS… I will be kind to the poor, for they are alone. Kind to the rich, for they are afraid. And kind to the unkind, for such is how God has treated me.
I CHOOSE GOODNESS… I will go without a dollar before I take a dishonest one. I will be overlooked before I will boast. I will confess before I will accuse. I choose goodness.
I CHOOSE FAITHFULNESS… Today I will keep my promises. My debtors will not regret their trust. My associates will not question my word. My wife will not question my love. And my children will never fear that their father will not come home.
I CHOOSE GENTLENESS… Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle. If I raise my voice may it be only in praise. If I clench my fist, may it be only in prayer. If I make a demand, may it be only of myself.
I CHOOSE SELF-CONTROL… I am a spiritual being… After this body is dead, my spirit will soar. I refuse to let what will rot, rule the eternal. I choose self-control. I will be drunk only by joy. I will be impassioned only by my faith. I will be influenced only by Christ. I choose self-control.
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. To these I commit my day. If I succeed, I will give thanks. If I fail, I will seek his grace. And then, when this day is done, I will place my head on my pillow and rest.
Max Lucado (When God Whispers Your Name)
Saturday, June 6, 2009
I will show you how to waste your life.
Consider this story from the February 1998 Reader’s Digest:
A couple ‘took early retirement from their jobs in the Northeast
five years ago when he was 59 and she was 51. Now they live in
Punta Gorda, Florida, where they cruise on their 30-foot trawler,
play softball and collect shells. . . .’
Picture them before Christ at the great day of judgment:
‘Look, Lord. See my shells?'
That is a tragedy.
Wise words for how I've been feeling about my relationship with God lately. Not bad, but definitely not good. More like pathetic, apathetic, and most scary of all, complacent. I have not been awake and have not been watching God work and move. At the end of the day, the most frustrating thing for me is that I have not even been trying to work and move in this world for Him.
I have been pathetically saying, 'Look, Lord. See my shells?'