Accommodating Life

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“How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.”

James 4:14

The story is told of a man who went to a toy store to buy something suitable for his young son. He looked high and low for something just right; he wanted a gift that would be perfect. Perhaps an educational toy? The sales girl was helpful. She steered him to many different toys, but nothing was what he was looking for. He didn’t want just any toy– he wanted a memory maker, and something that would last.

Then at last he saw a rather plain-looking box. It wasn’t shiny or glossy like some. But the description on it was interesting, and it said it was suitable for ages 5 through 95. That kind of intrigued him and he read the fine print. It seemed to be a puzzle or game of some kind or another. He shook the box and heard the pieces rattle inside. It seemed to captivate him.

The box said that it came unassembled. Parental help was helpful. There also was a statement that the contents were designed to teach a person how to deal with life, and required some diligence and intelligence to put it together. But there in the smallest fine print, “this toy was never intended to be put together perfectly.”

The man realized that this was the ideal gift for his son. It would teach him that life really never can be assembled quite right. There will always be something missing, or a critical flaw. And there is very little we can do about it. Perhaps the most significant lesson learned is “humility.”

That is why we must turn to God. He alone can make our lives work. The father wanted to teach his son that critical lesson. He wanted to prepare him for failure and frustration. Life never works out the way we want it to, and we should accommodate that idea.

“All have been given a box of tools, a formless rock and a book of rules. And each must make in his life, a stumbling block or a stepping stone.” 

~unknown

Flourish-61

12 “In the few days of our meaningless lives, who knows how our days can best be spent? Our lives are like a shadow. Who can tell what will happen on this earth after we are gone?”

Ecclesiastes 6:12

aabryscript

Joy is Not Optional

“The test of Christian character should be that a man is a joy-bearing agent to the world.”   –Henry Ward Beecher

The last several days have been quite difficult.  I have lived in a separated state with the Lord and that is not anything that I can long tolerate or endure.  I have gone into this period of self-hatred with eyes wide shut and quite ashamed with my own stupidity.  I am not a saint, I am a 100% sinner, through and through.

I have come to see Nehemiah‘s ministry was only superficially building up the walls of JerusalemRebuilding the walls was just a pretext to rebuilding a people.  They were defeated and overwhelmed.  Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, “This day is sacred to the LORD your God. Do not mourn or weep.” For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law. Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength” (Neh. 8:10).

13 Things About What the Bible Says About Joy:

  1. Jesus’ aim in all He taught was the joy of His people (Jn. 15:11).
  2. Joy is what God fills us with when we trust in Christ (Rom. 15:13).
  3. The kingdom of God is joy (Rom. 14:17).
  4. Joy is the fruit of God’s Spirit within us (Gal. 5:22).
  5. Joy is the aim of everything the apostles did and wrote (2 Cor. 1:24).
  6. Becoming a Christian is finding a joy that makes you willing to forsake everything (Mat. 13:44).
  7. Joy is nourished and sustained by the word of God in the Bible (Ps. 19:8).
  8. Joy will overtake all sorrow for those who trust Christ (Ps. 126:5; 30:5)
  9. God Himself is our joy (Psm. 43:4; 16:11). Joy in God outstrips all earthly joy (Ps. 4:7)
  10. If your joy is in God, no one can take your joy from you (Jn. 16:22).
  11. God calls all nations and peoples to join in the joy He offers to all who believe. No racism. No ethnocentrism (Ps. 67:4; Ps. 66:1).
  12.  The whole Christian message from beginning to end is good news of great joy (Lk. 2:10; Isa. 51:11).
  13. When we meet Christ at His second coming we will enter into his indestructible joy (Mt. 25:23).

 List by John Piper

I believe that  joy should mark a person of spiritual health.  Joy is to be embedded into our character for all to see.  Without joy we no longer can rebuild our walls, and we toss aside our tools.  The work of restoration is intense, and unless we take joy in the Lord we will falter and fail.

“God threatens terrible things if we will not be happy.”Jeremy Taylor

aabryplain

Brutal Honesty: Self-Control

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“A person without self-control
    is like a city with broken-down walls.”

Proverbs 25:28

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”

2 Timothy 1:7

There is no harder subject for me to broach than this one. It splits wide open a Number 10 “can of worms.” The issue is this: what is my mental illness, and what is my “flesh?” I suffer from Bipolar Disorder (and a mild form of epilepsy). But I am also an evangelical Christian believer.

So what is what? If this BP is causing extreme behavior, am I somehow exempt from the control of the Holy Spirit in my life? (Now this maybe easy for some of you to figure out, but I’m still contemplating here. Please bear with me on this.) I like things explained to me.

People are very complicated, and there are seldom any lines drawn between emotion/spirit/body. At any given time we all operate on different levels. For instance, my body maybe cold; but I’m praying quite fervently in the spirit. I can have a toothache and be really angry at Lynn (my wife). I never feel the need to analyze these actions.

Having zilch self-control is one of many bipolar symptoms. Believe me, my life has been completely devastated by snap decisions that carry terrible implications. I also habitually excuse my impulsive behavior by…

  • compartmentalizing, (categorizing everything as different)
  • rationalizing, (reasons behind ‘bad’ behavior)
  • and justifying my bad choices, (The devil made me do it).

My Bible tells me that the Holy Spirit is present to give me self-control. I believe this truly. But way too often (actually, most of the time) I’m focusing on trying to eliminate the negatives like bingeing, isolating, obsessing or plotting. I completely ignore the positives, like worshipping, praying, reading devotionally, or fellowshipping.

The vaunted “fruit of the Spirit” cannot be found in my carnal life. (If I may, allow me to change metaphors on you.) Suppose you had a real nice car sitting in your drive-way. It’s a real beaut. But since you don’t have the key, you must push it to make it go. It’s really tiring and you feel like giving it up all the time. (A trip to the store takes hours and hours.)

Silly you say? Yes. But no sillier than trying to live a Christian  life without the Holy Spirit. You see its his presence that allows you to live an impossible Christian life. My mental illness causes me a lot of grief. It affects me tremendously, as well as my friends and family. I must take meds to ease the worst of its disturbing symptoms. But there is supernatural help.

16 “So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. 17 The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.”

Galatians 5:16-17, NLT

To be guided into the “fruits of the Spirit” is imperative (see Gal. 5:22-23). We’ve a tendency to accentuate the “deeds of the flesh” to our own detriment. As mentally ill people we must turn this on its head and invite the Holy Spirit to energize us.

My BP symptoms are no match for His presence. If anything they force me to helplessly call out to Him. This is a supernatural transaction that is mandatory to becoming Christlike. My physical weakness can be the backdrop for walking out convincing discipleship. Trust me, to live like a “receiver” is far better than trying to live like a “generator.” (But you  probably already knew that.)

aabryscript

Are You a Half-Shekel Short?

The Jerusalem shekel
How much money a person has can make a big difference in many things in life. It can mean the difference between shopping for groceries as Whole Foods or WinCo, or not being able to shop at all but having to go to a food bank instead.

Money can mean the difference between driving a BMW, or a 30-year-old “beater car”, or not being able to have a car at all. Money can mean the difference between having designer clothes and a nice house or wearing hand-me-down clothes and living in a one-room shack, or not having but the clothes on your back and a cardboard box to keep you warm at night.

But there is one thing that’s available to all regardless of financial circumstances. The rich have no more claim to it than the poor. And that is the gift of salvation offered through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.

Once when I was reading through Luke, I came to the story of when Jesus, after His resurrection, appeared to some disciples on the road to Emmaus. Describing His conversation with them, Luke says, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” Luke 24:27.

When I read that, I realized that all of the Old Testament, and not just the New Testament, is about Jesus. He existed before the world began and His story is the story of God’s relationship with His people. At that time, I prayed and asked God to show me where Jesus was revealed in the Old Testament scriptures as I read them.

Another time, in answer to that prayer, God revealed an interesting passage to me in Exodus. Generally, the book of Exodus is considered the story of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt and their subsequent wanderings in the desert of Sinai. This is not a book where one normally would think to find reference to Jesus. But it is there nonethless.

Then the LORD said to Moses, ”When you take a census of the Israelites to count them, each one must pay the LORD a ransom for his life at the time he is counted. . . . Each one who crosses over to those already counted is to give a half shekel, according to the sanctuary shekel, which weighs twenty gerahs.

This half shekel is an offering to the LORD. All who cross over, those twenty years old or more, are to give an offering to the LORD. The rich are not to give more than a half shekel and the poor are not to give less when you make the offering to the LORD to atone for your lives.”

Exodus 30:11-15, NIV

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p>When I read this, it became clear that the price to ransom every person’s life is the same. Whether we are rich or poor, the price to pay for all our sins and redeem us, to reconcile us with God, is the same. And that price was the life of Jesus Christ; He is the half shekel. The price has been paid. Satan seeks to hold us captive, but God paid the kidnapper’s ransom 2000 years ago on Calvary.

The rich are no better off because they could give more; the poor are not at a disadvantage because they cannot pay the price themselves. Standing before God on our judgment day, rich or poor stand in the same position. The only question is whether you and I will claim we have paid the price ourselves by our good deeds and works, or whether we will accept the offer of Jesus to take care of our debt and to pay our ransom price.

So are you feeling like you are a half-shekel short in life? Look to Jesus who is our half-shekel who ransomed us all for God.

ysic, Linda

Please check out Linda’s blog. It’s found at http://lindakruschke.wordpress.com/

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