Thursday, December 31, 2015

Thoughts & Goals for the New Year

This past year was one of real suffering, of physical, emotional and spiritual weakness, but it was also a display of God's faithfulness and ability to bring healing to my body and soul. As difficult as the first half of this past year was I am thankful for the experience and for all that God taught me through it. It's been a really amazing last few months with me heading to seminary in September and it will be exciting in this next year to see how God leads me as I graduate this spring!

There’s a lot being said about now about New Year’s resolutions and if/how we should make them. I do think it is good to periodically evaluate your life and see where you need to grow and change, and this takes humility. You have to be honest and willing to admit where you have failed or where you are weak. But we also need to realize that it’s not always enough to just “resolve”. There needs to be true commitment and a plan towards the changes you want to make. And let us echo the words of Elisabeth Elliot below and seek to make our growth into the likeness of Christ our primary goal!
But as we make resolutions or set goals the first step towards change must be prayer. We cannot change apart from the work of the Holy Spirit, at least it won’t be real, long-lasting change. I’ve been thinking and praying over the last week about areas in my life where the Lord is showing me that I need to grow and change and came up with the following four. I have committed to daily praying specifically about each of these and evaluating my progress. To my close friends, as you are able please do pray for me and assuming you are able to offer constructive criticism (see my posts on that maybe if you're not sure!) then you have my permission to ask me about these areas and how I am doing… as Christians we are part of a body for a reason; we need each other.

So, four areas where I need to and want to grow and change this year:

I want to be more focused on the Lord and on the present in my thought life.

I put this one first, because the truth is if you want to change in ANY area, the first thing that needs to change is your thought patterns. But thinking patterns are hard to change and there are limits to practical steps you can take towards change. But I am seeking to try to be more aware of my thinking patterns and be more spiritual minded and focused on the present (as opposed to thinking about things that aren’t relevant or helpful or are distracting or where I’m over-thinking the future that I have no control over). Prayer is going to be crucial here, and I will be seeking to have more of an attitude of prayer.

I want to quit eating sugar and “extra” sides or snacks.

Oh boy. I cannot tell you how many times I have tried to do this and failed or not lasted very long. Quite honestly, I am not strong enough which shows me even more that I need to press towards growth and change in this area. On the other hand, there have been times where I have been successful so I know that it IS possible – especially since I have the Holy Spirit and a new nature within me that enables me to resist temptation! But this is a difficult area for me because I have SUCH a sweet tooth and it’s hard for me to resist things that I like. It can be small like a piece of bread with dinner or snacking on nuts when I’m not hungry. Or it can be bigger like wanting some ice cream or chocolate. Also, how often do we eat just to be social when we really don’t need to and it’s not really helpful to our bodies?

So… (here it goes, Lord help me!) I will be seeking to not eat sugar and avoid unnecessary snacks and “sides”. But to be realistic sugar is in almost everything so it’s acceptable to have things like salad dressing or if it’s in something that I can’t really help.

I want to become more grace-filled in my speech.

To put it negatively, I want to be less negative and critical in my speech (and my thoughts too). Most people that know me probably would say that I don’t have a problem with this at all, but still the Lord has convicted me about this. I do find myself being critical of others and I desire to grow in graciousness and love towards others.

I want to spend less time with social media/entertainment.

It can be super easy to take a break from school work and “just check Facebook” or watch a movie. This easily becomes a bad habit and a big time waster. To put this positively, I want to pray more and read more. This is also a matter of self-control and saying no to something I want to do at a given moment. This will be a difficult one as well, but it’s an area I do want to work on.

Specific goals in this area are that I will seek to at most, watch 1 movie per week and that only on Friday/Saturday (although exceptions may be made if I’m with friends/family). In regards to limiting my time on Facebook, I’m still not sure how to best do this so that it will be most effective for me. I probably need to get a timer to keep track of my time. Also, I will seek to not be on at all in the morning hours.   

I decided also to pick a verse for the year, Psalm 19:14: "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD my strength and my Redeemer."

Thanks for reading my blog this year... I don't really know who all does, but I wish you all a very happy and blessed year ahead!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Is Anxiety Sinful?

This post is based on a session given at the 2015 CCEF National Conference. This particular session was titled “Six Ways to Help and Anxious Person” and was presented by David Powlison. For more information please visit http://www.ccef.org/

The reality is that in this fallen, uncertain world we have good reason to be afraid. We should not be surprised of the abundant reasons we have to be concerned. However, there are better reasons to not be afraid, the main one being that we have a God who is in control of the world and every detail of our lives. But despite this hope-giving truth, I for one have struggled with anxiety. There was a time where my body and mind were both working against me to overwhelm me with feelings of stress and anxiety. At times I didn’t even have a good reason to feel anxious, but I still was. Sometimes I couldn’t even explain how I was feeling or why I was feeling that way. How is one to understand these feelings? Are those feelings of anxiety, as some preachers and writers have said, sinful in and of themselves? Do I need to repent of what I feel?

The answer, I would argue, is no. Feelings of anxiety are not sinful. Feelings and thoughts of worry are not sin and one should not feel guilt concerning them. Feelings cannot be sinful in and of themselves, for they are just indicators of what is going on in our mind, body and heart. Feelings and thoughts are not sinful, but they may be a temptation, and it is the response that can be sinful. This is a very important distinction; those who are anxious are not necessarily sinning! There are bodily weakness that can contribute, or it may be the result of other suffering. Those struggling need others to ask questions and understand their struggle. They need help to respond well to this temptation. There is usually much more going on below the surface that even they realize.

As we seek to help those who struggle with anxiety David Powlison gives us four questions we can ask. First we should help them ask “What’s going on with me?” We need to help them understand what they are feeling. This was such a great point because when you’re feeling anxious often you are not really sure what you are actually feeling. Also, they need to get to the root of their feelings – what is underneath their anxiety. Often there is fear, and they need to realize and face that fear. Second, “Who’s here with me?” They need to be reminded that God is with them and they can trust Him. Often in times of suffering it is hard to feel loved by God and they may need to be reassured of this truth. During my own personal struggle with anxiety and depression something that helped so much was people reminding me over and over that God loved me - because my circumstances and feelings were telling me otherwise. Third, “What’s pressing in on me?” Anxiety reveals what’s important to us, what we can’t control. We need to face those things and bring them to God. This leads to the fourth question which is “What’s hijacking my heart?” We easily forget who God is and fear man or circumstances more; we need to realize what is ruling our heart.

Then there are two action steps we can present to those who are struggling with anxiety. First, we need to help them have an honest conversation and be transparent about their struggles. Their feelings are not just going to disappear, they need to deal with them! We cannot hide, we need to be open. I love how he talked about how our prayers are worries, but they are God-oriented. We take our concerns to God in prayer, and to others to help us. Secondly, we need to help them focus on doing what needs doing today. God has things for them to do now; He has a mission and a purpose right now, even though life seems really overwhelming. Often we just need to focus on taking small steps of obedience and not on the bigger, distant things that we have no control over anyway! Repentance indeed may be needed. We may need to repent of our desire to control or of our self-centeredness. These are the actual sins that need to be dealt with; feelings of anxiety are simply the overflow.

For some anxiety may be a long-term struggle. This is a trial and a suffering that God has allowed in your life but He is in the one in control and will carry you through. But also remember that in it He also calls you to seek to persevere through it in faith. Throughout Scripture we meet men and women who were beset by circumstances that left them overwhelmed, anxious and weary. But they also give examples of how we should respond -David wrote the words on the picture below as he sought to bring his anxieties to the Lord. By all means seek medical counsel and remember that just because you feel anxiety doesn't mean you are sinning. But you do need to pay attention to how you are responding to those feelings. The beautiful thing is that anxiety can be a door to faith; it’s an opportunity to trust God. In fact, you have a responsibility to seek to trust God no matter what you feel. You are not a victim of your feelings, they do not have to control you; they do not define who you are. Also, this is an opportunity for the church community to love and pray for others. We need to be open and honest about our struggles, and we need to seek to know how people are really doing. As we learn to really get to know others and what’s going on in their heart we can better minister and love them. That is what the Church is supposed to be all about. 



Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Seminary Update: Finals Week!

I finished up my classes last week, which was rather bittersweet. I so enjoyed being a student and taking the classes this semester that I'm sad it's over. But I start again in January (I'm taking 3 credits over the J-term). And hey, I made it through the semester still a New Covenant Baptist! :-)

Finals start this coming Thursday and I have 6 of them so I'm trying to focus on studying, which is rather tedious. I like writing papers better!!! Some of my classes were challenging but I feel like I learned so much through them! Most were application or case study response papers so really practical. I also wrote a research paper on the work of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament which was really interesting to study.

I'm super grateful for this whole semester and for all that I've experienced and learned. I'd appreciate your prayers now through next Tuesday as I study and take my finals. I really want to do well! Thank you to all who have been so supportive, encouraging and who have prayed for me through this time. I wish you all a very merry Christmas! May the Lord richly bless you in this season and in the new year ahead!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Seminary Update: November Happenings and Reading List

Hello, and happy November! I’m counting down to 2 weeks till Thanksgiving break! We’ve had a lovely fall here (I think in New England they did as well), the end of October/very beginning of November were quite warm! It was nice to have a little longer fall! I did get a cold two weeks ago, and am still getting over the leftovers from it, but otherwise I’ve been doing good. I had 2 midterms which went pretty well. Now just a few more papers for the semester (I think 3 more bigger ones) and then finals!

Books I’ve been reading: Various books for classes, some on Christian history, Old Testament theology, and some counseling information reading. I’ve read Augustine’s Confessions, Calvin’s Institutes (just part of it), Jonathan Edwards (a collection of various writings), The Defense of the Faith by Cornelius Van Til (great book on apologetics – heavy reading though!), and also The Battle Belongs to the Lord by Scott Oliphint (my apologetics professor), Darkness is My Only Companion by Kathryn Greene-McCreight (really great book on bipolar disorder from a Christian perspective), and I’ll be starting Christianity and Liberalism by J. Gresham Machen soon.

In addition (!) to school reading I also recently read this book: How the Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill. The author is not a Christian, but this is a fascinating account of the fall of the Roman Empire into ruin and illiteracy and how the Irish actually brought back learning, books and also Christianity to the European continent. Without St. Patrick’s mission work in Ireland we would not have the vast amount of Latin literature we have today. If you like history, this is a great one to pick up!

I went downtown Philly last Saturday for just a few hours, so that was fun. A few pictures below....

Til next time, I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving!



Wednesday, November 4, 2015

A Time to Speak (part 2: 10 ways to Confront in Love)

This post is based on a session given at the 2015 CCEF National Conference. This particular session was titled “10 Ways to Confront in Love” and was presented by Alistair Groves. For more information please visit http://www.ccef.org/
In the last post we talked about the foundation we need to build before confronting someone. If you have not read that most please do so first! It’s important to have that groundwork covered before you move forward. But as you do here are 10 ways we can confront in love. (These I learned from Alistair Groves at the conference mentioned above so are not original to me.) They are not in any particular order, but the first 5 should be pursued first before proceeding to the others.


1. Ask questions. Ah how many hurt feelings could be avoided if we learned this art! At the risk of sounding repetitive, please go over the cautions again in the previous post. Do NOT assume that you know what the person meant or that you know what’s wrong. Ask honest, curious-type questions and really listen to them. And how you ask these questions is important to, watch your attitude. It’s easy to ask questions in a critical manner. That will likely result in the other person being defensive and that will only make things more difficult. Do not be critical or make judgments about their motives, feelings, etc. Rather, with gentleness seek to know what is really going on.


“The first one to plead his cause seems right, until his neighbor comes and examines him.” - Prov 18:17


2. Encourage. Did you know that your encouragement can actually be a way of confronting someone? You do this by naming and encouraging the good that you see. Indirectly this lets them know that the opposite is not OK. They may need to see the contradiction, and encouraging the good things helps them to see more clearly. 


“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up.” - 1 Thes 5:11


3. Remind. Simply remind them of what God wants for their life and what the Holy Spirit is seeking to produce in them. We easily forget that God’s goal for our life is holiness and gently reminding them of that will help to re-orient them to right thinking. Do this without criticizing or telling them what they’re doing wrong. 


“For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth.”  - 2 Peter 1:12


4. Exhort. This is basically holding up before them what is good and encouraging them to pursue it. Give them a good goal to press towards and show them ways that they could grow. Again, do this with gentleness and without being judgmental. 


“Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God.”  - 1 Thes 4:1


5. Acknowledge the difficulty of temptation. Be sensitive to the fact that they may be struggling and that the struggle with temptation is HARD! Saying something like “wow, if that were me I would be tempted to _____, how are you dealing with that?” is a way of helping them realize the fact that they are being tempted and need to be fighting it. 

“The law of the wise is a fountain of life, to turn one away from the snares of death.” - Prov 13:14


Now these latter 5 begin to feel more like actual “confrontation”. Again, these should be exercised only after the former 5 have been put into practice. Also these steps should only be pursued if you are convinced there is actual sin involved.

6. Express concern. Tell them that you’re concerned, but do NOT give advice. Giving advice or counsel at this point still may mean you are presuming upon their motives and it’s important to wait to see how they respond to this step. Ask more questions to get to their heart. While here you are pressing a little harder still proceed with gentleness, you’re expressing concern not attacking them!



“Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.” - Prov 20:5 

7. Admonish/Warn. This is more like actual correction. It’s saying something like “I don’t think you should be doing that because….” You believe they are doing something that could be sinful so you should have pretty clear Scriptural principles backing you up at this point, and you should be showing it to them. This is also where you would also warn them of implications/consequences. 

“I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you.” - 1 Cor 4:14


8. Plead/Urge. This takes it a step further. You are urging them to stop and think about what they are doing (or not doing perhaps). Seek to show them how much you care about them and earnestly ask them to reconsider/repent. 


“I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus… that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ's appearing.” - 1 Tim 6:13-14 


9. Rebuke. One step further that basically says “What you are doing is wrong and you need to stop/repent”. Sin can be very clearly identified, and they are showing resistance to the truth.


“Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear.” - 1 Tim 5:20


10. Hand over/Cut off. If they are unrepentant, this is where something like church discipline would commence (Matthew 18). If it’s not someone in your church, than you still may need to distance yourself or even cut off your relationship with them but you do so purposefully, clearly telling them that unless they repent you cannot treat them as a fellow Christian. 


"Put away from yourselves the evil person." – 1 Cor 5:13



A few comments on what to do if you’ve done this all wrong… 
-Humbly confess to God where you’ve been wrong and then be willing to go to the person you’ve (most likely) offended with your wrong attitude/approach.
-If the situation was never resolved, now is not the time to try and do it right. You need to simply ask for forgiveness and work to restore the relationship. Sorry to say, you lost the right to speak into their life so don’t presume that you can just pick up where you left off. They may not trust you very much. There may be a time in the future where you can talk to them about the issue and begin to confront them correctly but again, proceed with much caution and prayer.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

A Time to Speak (part 1: How to Confront in Love)

This post is based (in part) on a session given at the 2015 CCEF National Conference. This particular session was titled “10 Ways to Confront in Love” and was presented by Alistair Groves. For more information please visit http://www.ccef.org/

Believe it or not, confronting can be done in love, AND it can be done without feeling like “confrontation”! We are told to “speak the truth in love” (Eph 4:15) but most of the time we end up being heavy-handed on one or the other.  Most of the time we either avoid confrontation in the name of “love” (usually because we don’t want to get involved or we are fearful of the person’s reaction), or we confront too strongly in the name of “truth”. We need to learn to be balanced and be grounded in a right understanding of truth with humility and love. Your goal in confrontation is not to win your viewpoint; rather it is to win your brother/sister. Your goal is to grow closer to the person, not push them further away. Unfortunately often in confronting someone we end up doing the latter.

 “A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a castle.”      - Prov 18:19

How can we avoid this? First of all it’s important to consider the situation from another perspective, not just your own; sometimes we can be blindsided by our own point of view. Perhaps we were offended because we took it too personally. Take a step back from the situation and consider whether or not you are being overly sensitive. Is it really that big of a deal? Also, remember that the vast majority of the time what we need to do is cover the offense. If it’s not a sin issue or something that is really affecting the relationship than for the sake of love, we need to put it aside. We need to learn to cover well and love others despite disagreements.

 “The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, and his glory is to overlook a transgression.”    - Prov 19:11

However, there are times when there is something that we believe is sinful or something that is hindering the relationship. As we consider the idea of confronting the other person we first need to deal with our own hearts. Oh our hearts are so deceitful. We think we know so much. Let me give you a few cautions:

-beware of your assumptions! We very quickly assume we know what the other person meant, how they are feeling, what exactly they’re thinking….. hmm yeah, we don’t! “He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him.” (Prov 18:13)

-beware of your pride. Humility is so, SO crucial! If you think you’re humble enough, wait awhile longer, you’re probably not. “By pride comes nothing but strife…” (Prov 13:10)

-beware of your feelings. Many times we confront because we were personally offended. But this cannot be about you! We cannot be motivated out of personal feelings, offense or resentment. “A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back.” (Prov 29:11) & “A fool has no delight in understanding, But in expressing his own heart.” (Prov 18:2)

-beware of your attitude. Gentleness is another crucial characteristic that we need to exercise in this process. Gentleness means that we use the least amount of force necessary. It is caution and quietness.“By long forbearance a ruler is persuaded, and a gentle tongue breaks a bone.” (Prov 25:15)

In summary, spend time in prayer about the situation. Prayer is important as it helps to orient you correctly to God, and the reality that you need His help! In prayer you ask the Lord to guide you and to work growth and change in you, not just in the other person. Ask the Lord to humble you, to reveal anything in you that needs to change. The ultimate goal is to glorify God and then to win your brother/sister to greater growth in Christ.

In a follow-up post I will give 10 ways Alistair Groves gave on how to confront in love. 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Just Put On A Happy Face


“How are you doing?” the tenth person asked me. I smiled and said “fine”. Only, I wasn’t really. But that day, just like the day before I tried to put on a happy face and say that I was fine.

I’m sure you’ve been there; those hard days, that lonely path of suffering where you don’t feel that anyone could possibly understand. But you smile and say “I’m fine”. There are many reasons… I just want to hide, they won’t understand, they actually don’t understand, they won’t know what to say, it’s too awkward, I’m supposed to be happy, what’s wrong with me?

I was reading a book1 recently and something the author talked about stood out to me as so true in many churches today. We tend to have this idea that if you’re a Christian you’re supposed to be happy no matter what. And especially when you come to church! If you’re suffering, well that’s normal, but we’re here to worship God not focus on our suffering. Todd Billings writes, “…when we inevitably face the reality of death or suffering – along with the fear, anger, and grief faced during other hardships – we are not encouraged to bring those ‘to church’; such emotions have come to be frowned on as ‘unreligious’. When worship expresses only ‘victory,’ it can unintentionally suggest that the broken and the lonely and the hurting have no place here.” (p. 41) But is that the way of Scripture? All throughout the book of Psalms we have psalms of lament. They are songs lamenting, complaining and crying out to God in the midst of suffering. Do you know how to comfort a suffering brother or sister? Too often most of us, if we do speak, say something like “I’ll be praying for you” (but then never follow up - this happens ALL the time, but I am guilty too!) or offer some trite word of “comfort” that actually isn’t comforting at all. How often has someone said to someone suffering “Don’t worry, God will work it all for good” or “God says we need to rejoice in our suffering”? While that is Biblical truth please excuse me while I go and nurse the wound that you just poured salt on. Unfortunately sometimes our efforts to help don't end up helping at all.

Too often we focus just on the need to praise God instead of the reality of suffering. Billings further writes, “Cherry-picking only the praises from the Psalms tends to shape a church culture in which only positive emotions can be expressed before God in faith. Since my diagnosis with cancer, I’ve found that my fellow Christians know how to rejoice about answered prayer and also how to petition God for help, but many don’t know what to do when I express sorrow and loss or talk about death.

But we may ask, is it OK to complain to God? Isn’t that an expression of unbelief? It can be. Our lamenting to God can be misguided. But while we are called to “rejoice always” (Phil. 4:4) that doesn’t mean that we rejoice the actual suffering itself, rather we rejoice as we look past the suffering and see a God we can trust. “The Psalms bring our whole life before God – in happiness and grief, in joy and bitterness – and focus our eyes on God’s promises.” We can look to God and express anger at sin and its effects, we can cry out to God for judgment. God is a God of justice after all. But in these moments we yield Him the right to act and trust His timing. You notice in these psalms that they start off with lament, but then they grow. The psalmist moves from lament to a statement of trust in the Lord’s faithfulness even in the midst of his suffering. Lamenting to God does not mean that you have unbelief, although it can at times, it means that you realize that this isn’t the way things are supposed to be. We should bring our lamentations to God, but not against Him. If your laments are a prayer to God, than they are actually a form of worship, not a form of unbelief. Despair does not pray at all, unbelief accuses God, but lament brings its complaint to God, and looks upward. The Enemy of course will seek to use this as an occasion to condemn you for unbelief, as if you should be some kind of super-Christian who only rejoices in the midst of extreme suffering. That kind of person does not exist! Certainly God gives some an extra dose of grace in some circumstances to be remarkably joyful, but God also does not minimize our pain. It is real, and He wants to share in it with us. “Praise, petition, and lament in the Psalms are all tightly woven together in prayer that help us recognize and rest in God’s promises.”

Psalm 77:1-3 says, “I cried out to God with my voice - to God with my voice; and He gave ear to me. In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord; my hand was stretched out in the night without ceasing; my soul refused to be comforted. I remembered God, and was troubled; I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed.” Psalm 13:1 cries out “How long will you hide your face from me?  How long O Lord?” Psalm 62:8 says to “pour out your heart” to God. That means going to God will all your emotions. Take your pain, your disappointment, your confusion, your fear to God. That’s what prayer is; prayer is worries and doubts taken to God, to the One who can actually do something with them.  Another song of lament in the Bible comes from the book of Lamentations. Here we have a whole book full of laments to God concerning the destruction of Jerusalem and the captivity of God’s people. Especially chapter 3 where Jeremiah is despairing of God’s judgment against Israel. But then he says, “This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness” (Lam 3:21-23). There is hope, the sun will shine on you again.

It’s OK to feel sad, it’s OK to grieve. You don’t have to put on a happy face, you can be honest about your feelings and your struggles. Part of the beauty of the church is that we are all broken, we all need help. Don't be ashamed to admit it. Listen! We should not hide our needs from our brothers and sisters. We need to learn to have compassion on those who are hurting and you can help us. Instead of giving advice we need to learn to cry out to God with you for deliverance. Let us walk alongside of you.

Next time someone asks you how you are doing, be brave and try to be a little more honest. Start by saying something like "I'm just OK" and see how they respond. And for the rest of us, next time you ask someone how they’re doing, are you ready to really listen and love them?



1 All quotes from this post are taken from J. Todd Billings’ book Rejoicing in Lament: Wrestling with Incurable Cancer & Life in Christ. Even if cancer is not your struggle, this book will still be extremely helpful and very encouraging to you as you walk through your own form of suffering, or as you seek to minister to others in midst of their suffering.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

My Soul's Delight: Finding Treasure in the Field of Suffering


"Yes, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend.” (Song of Songs 5:16)

Nearly all my life I’ve wanted to be married. Not only that, but I wanted to get married young and have a whole string of little ones to raise. Well, here I am, 31, and not a prospect in sight! This has been an area of suffering for me, and the Lord tested my devotion to Him rather severely in the recent past. But, as extremely difficult as that season was, I have come out with something so valuable, that I really would go through it all again.

I’ve been a Christian since I was 13; I fell in love with Jesus then and never really looked back. But yet there was so much deeper to go, so much more of this Lord and Savior to know and delight in. The Bible talks about God being everything we need, about Christ being more precious than any other thing. We believe this to a degree. Yet coming to the point where we really, truly believe that so that it utterly consumes us, is another matter. To love Jesus to the point where your soul nearly bubbles over with joy; to the point where you just weep with joy; to the point where truly nothing else matters, that sadly is not the experience of many.

However, it is possible. David writes in Psalm 16:11, “You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” This is not theoretical! It’s real! Yes, it’s spiritual and not physical, but that doesn’t make it any less a reality. In His presence (which really is all the time), there IS fullness of joy, there are pleasures beyond anything this world has to offer. It took a severe disappointment, a hard time of suffering for me to learn this. There may indeed be weeping for a night, but joy does come in the morning (Ps. 30:5). There is a joy and delight to be found in Jesus that comes only when everything else has been stripped away. He indeed can fill the soul with a rapture and delight that is other-worldly.

I have been reading through the Gospel of John recently and was stopped short by a passage I have read probably a hundred times. The Pharisees brought a woman caught in the act of adultery to Jesus and basically asked for His judgment. But Jesus responds by saying “let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” At this all the men just walk away. Then the passage says this:

Jesus said to her, "Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one 
condemned you?" She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said to her, "Neither do I 
condemn you; go and sin no more." (John 8:10-11)

To think that Christ, because of His death on the cross, does not condemn me, when He as the Creator of the universe ought to, it beyond amazing! I was nearly overwhelmed by the love of Christ! How glorious to think that He no longer condemns me! Are you amazed by this truth? If you’re not, then you know nothing or very little of God’s love. For how should one respond to such a love as this? How then shall I live? The answer is found in the last part of Jesus response: “go and sin no more”. This is more than going and trying not to sin; it’s much more than legalism. Jesus wants us to delight in Him! He wants us to love Him so freely, so unhindered, because it’s also there that we experience a greater measure if His love for us.

The other night I was in the car and a little song came on that was a love song. At first it only served as a rather painful reminder that I had no man to love me in that way, but then instantly I was reminded that I had a much better Lover. He loves me more than anyone else ever could! He wants my whole life, my whole heart, my whole devotion. This means my thought life, my spare time, my daily life stressors, my relationships with my family and others. All of it, He wants to be the center of every part of my life. Shall I resist Him? This wonderful beautiful Lover of my soul? If you do resist Him (even just in certain areas you are unwilling to fully surrender) what does that say about your response to this love? Can you really look at Christ on the cross and not give up all that you would hold dear?

Friend, Christ is all-sufficient for you! The struggle, the disappointment, the suffering you face is worth it, because on the other side you have the opportunity to know Jesus in a deeper way that you think is possible and let me tell you, it’s worth all the pain. Wait, and He will come to you, He will restore you and give you more joy than you had before. I would do it all again, I would turn away from the dreams I have for my life, and I will be content never getting married, all because He is enough . Unless the Lord so pleases and I meet a man who delights in Jesus as much as I do, there’s no way I’d give up what I’ve gained. I’m not perfect nor have I attained perfection, there will be trials yet ahead I am certain and times I will fail. But I’ve found a treasure hidden in the field of suffering, and He’s worth everything to me.

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.
(from the hymn, Be Thou My Vision)