I Love My “Job”

I cannot even begin to tell you how thrilled I am when I get to baptize folks in water who have made the decision to follow Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Today it was even sweeter when I got to baptize a father and son!

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Poetry Saturday—Joy And Sorrow

I know this technically isn’t a “poem” but I found this allegory poetically beautiful. I hope you enjoy it as I did!

FullSizeRender“…sorrowful, yet always rejoicing…” (2 Corinthians 6:10)

Sorrow was beautiful, but her beauty was the beauty of the moonlight shining through the leafy branches of the trees in the wood, and making little pools of silver here and there on the soft green moss below. When Sorrow sang, her notes were like the low sweet call of the nightingale, and in her eyes was the unexpectant gaze of one who has ceased to look for coming gladness. She could weep in tender sympathy with those who weep, but to rejoice with those who rejoice was unknown to her.

Joy was beautiful, too, but his was the radiant beauty of the summer morning. His eyes still held the glad laughter of childhood, and his hair had the glint of the sunshine’s kiss. When Joy sang his voice soared upward as the lark’s, and his step was the step of a conqueror who has never known defeat. He could rejoice with all who rejoice, but to weep with those who weep was unknown to him.

“But we can never be united,” said Sorrow wistfully.

“No, never.” And Joy’s eyes shadowed as he spoke. “My path lies through the sunlit meadows, the sweetest roses bloom for my gathering, and the blackbirds and thrushes await my coming to pour forth their most joyous lays.”

“My path,” said Sorrow, turning slowly away, “leads through the darkening woods, with moon-flowers only shall my hands be filled. Yet the sweetest of all earth-songs—the love song of the night—shall be mine; farewell, Joy, farewell.”

Even as she spoke they became conscious of a form standing beside them; dimly seen, but of a Kingly Presence, and a great and holy awe stole over them as they sank on their knees before Him.

“I see Him as the King of Joy,” whispered Sorrow, “for on His Head are many crowns, and the nail prints in His hands and feet are the scars of a great victory. Before Him all my sorrow is melting away into deathless love and gladness, and I give myself to Him forever.”

“Nay, Sorrow,” said Joy softly, “but I see Him as the King of Sorrow, and the crown on His head is a crown of thorns, and the nail prints in His hands and feet are the scars of a great agony. I, too, give myself to Him forever, for sorrow with Him must be sweeter than any joy that I have known.”

“Then we are one in Him,” they cried in gladness, “for none but He could unite Joy and Sorrow.”

Hand in hand they passed out into the world to follow Him through storm and sunshine, in the bleakness of winter cold and the warmth of summer gladness, “as sorrowful yet always rejoicing.” —Lettie Cowman

Thursdays With Oswald—My God-Given Vocation

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

My God-Given Vocation

     The vocation of our Lord had accepted was that of sin-bearer, not of dominating world-lord. satan’s aim was to get Him to fulfill His vocation on another line, “There is no need to die for sin, You can fulfill Your vocation by a ‘short cut’ and evade the Cross.” Our Lord came here for one purpose only—to bear away the sin of the world in His own Person on the Cross. He came to redeem man, not to set them a wonderful example. … 

     Have we accepted that kind of vocation, or are we only concerned that we get deep conscious communion with God? The acceptance of the saint for himself is that he is concerned about nothing at all saving this one thing, “that I might finish my course with joy,” not happiness. Joy is the result of the perfect fulfillment of what a man is created for. Happiness depends on things that happen, and may sometimes be an insult. It is continually necessary to revert to what the New Testament asks us to accept about ourselves. 

     Have we received to this ministry from Jesus, “As Thou hast sent Me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world”? How did the Father send Him? “For I came down from heaven, not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me.” The first obedience of Jesus was to the will of His Father, not to the needs of men. Then our first accepted vocation is not to help men, but to obey God, and when we accept that vocation we enter into relationship with the despised and the neglected. 

From The Psychology Of Redemption

Do I sometimes wish God would give me a “bigger ministry”? Or that He would use me in more visible ways? Am I looking for applause or recognition?

Jesus prayed, “Not My will, but Yours be done.” And He taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done.”

If I truly accept the vocation God has given me, I will see that it is the same vocation He gave Jesus: to go to the “despised and neglected,” and in the process to be despised and rejected by the world, just as Jesus was. But I’m not looking for the applause of men; I just want to obey God regardless of the personal cost. This is my God-given vocation.

Poetry Saturday—Garden Of Trust

FullSizeRenderBuild a little fence of trust
Around today;
Fill the space with loving work,
And therein stay;
Look not through the sheltering bars
Upon tomorrow;
God will help thee bear what comes
Of joy or sorrow. —Mary Frances Butts

Thursdays With Oswald—What Does Your Religion Mean?

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

What Does Your Religion Mean? 

     To believe is literally to commit. Belief is a moral act, and Jesus makes an enormous demand of a man when He asks him to believe in Him. To be “a believer in Jesus” means to bank our confidence in Him, to stake our soul upon His honor. …

     Many of us use religious jargon, we talk about believing in God, but our actual life proves that we do not really believe one tithe of what we profess. … “The unsearchable riches of Christ”—yet we often live as if our Heavenly Father had cut us off with a shilling! We think it is a sign of real modesty to say at the end of a day—“Oh well, I have just got through, but it has been a severe tussle.” We carry our religion as if it were a headache, there is neither joy nor power nor inspiration in it, none of the grandeur of the unsearchable riches of Christ about it, none of the passion of hilarious confidence in God. …

     Christianity is the vital realization of the unsearchable riches of Christ. …

     We have made Christianity to mean the saving of our skins. Christianity means staking ourselves on the honor of Jesus; His honor means that He will see us through time, death and eternity. … 

     Why do you pray? Why are you religious? Because of a consuming passion for a particular set of your beliefs to be enthroned and proved right, or because of a consuming passion for Jesus Christ? 

From The Place Of Help

Wow, those are excellent questions to consider—What do I think Christianity really is? Do I really believe what Jesus did for me, or is it just jargon I use? Am I consumed in my passion for Christ, or is it only something I profess when things are going my way?

9 Quotes From “Your Joy Will Turn To Sorrow”

Your Sorrow Will Turn To JoyAlthough Your Joy Will Turn To Sorrow is intended to be read each morning and evening of Holy Week (check out my book review here), the content is so good that it will benefit you anytime you decide to read it! Here are some quotes that especially caught my attention.

“The only Savior who truly saves, only saves through suffering. The Cross was the only means of making us sinners right before a holy God. Our salvation was purchased with suffering, and it will be sealed and preserved with suffering (James 1:2-4), not comfort. We are promised comfort in the Christian life (2 Corinthians 1:4), but not the cheap, temporal imitation we’ve grown accustomed to in our modern world.” —Marshall Segal

“Jesus did not come to purchase the approval of others. No, He ‘was despised and rejected by men; a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as One from whom men hide their faces He was despised’ (Isaiah 53:3). Why? Because it is God’s approval we desperately need. And God’s approval doesn’t come by popular opinion, but by divine intervention—the substitution of His own Son in our place.” —Marshall Segal

“The irony of Mark 14 is that Judas could see the value of the ointment rolling down Jesus’ head, but he couldn’t see the value of Jesus. He was a pawnbroker with cataracts. That’s why he took such offense at the woman. The woman, on the other hand, could see both the value of the ointment and the value of Jesus. That’s why she broke the flask.” —Jonathan Bowers

“No one understands better than God how difficult it can be for a human to embrace the will of God. And no human has suffered more in embracing the will of God the Father than God the Son. When Jesus calls us to follow Him, whatever the cost, He is not calling us to do something He is either unwilling to do or is never done Himself.” —Jon Bloom

“So, now, we say with an entirely different meaning, let His blood be on us, not defiantly as the crowds that crucified Him, but desperately—with gratitude and hope and adoration—as those who depend wholly on His sacrifice. Jesus, let Your blood be on us. Let it cover us. Let the blood that flows from Your head, Your hands, Your feet wash over us and cleanse us from all our iniquity. We proclaim Jesus’ death. We rejoice in his death, not because we believe He was a fraud or a lunatic, but because it is by His death, by His wounds, by His blood that we are healed.” —Marshall Segal

“Jesus spoke of this joy as He faced the torture of Good Friday. He faced denial, faced betrayal, faced beatings, faced splinters and nails and spears—He could not stop talking about joy! Only joy would keep Him going. Joy was on His mind, joy was on His tongue, and joy was drawing Him, not away from suffering, but into it (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus went to the Cross for joy: to buy joy, create joy, and offer joy. As the world celebrated the savage killing of God, out of this sea of foaming rebel hostility emerged a blood-bought, inextinguishable joy.

“If the killing of the Author of life could not extinguish this joy Jesus speaks about, nothing can—and nothing ever will. No opposition from the world, no opposition to the gospel, and no cultural despising of Christ will overcome the resurrection joy of Jesus.” —Tony Reinke

“If Christ is still dead, death reigns, and all our joys our vain. So hoard every plastic Easter egg you find, because whatever you find inside is all the joy you have to grab. Or, as Paul says, ‘If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die’ (1 Corinthians 15:32). But if death is dead, and if the dead are raised—if Christ is risen from the dead!—brothers and sisters, let us feast and celebrate, for the daunting light of our inextinguishable and inexhaustible eternal pleasures have broken into the darkness, offering us a life of joy in Christ that cannot fade or rust or be stolen away!” —Tony Reinke

“Easter has now become our annual dress rehearsal for that great coming Day. When our perishable bodies will put on the imperishable. When the mortal finally puts on immortality. When we join in the triumph song with the prophets and the apostles, ‘O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ (Hosea 13:14; 1 Corinthians 15:55).” —David Mathis

“Indeed, even agony will turn to glory, but Easter doesn’t suppress our pain. It doesn’t minimize our loss. It bids our burdens stand as they are, in all their weight, with all their threats. And this risen Christ, with the brilliance of the indestructible life in His eyes, says, ‘These too I will claim in the victory. These too will serve your joy. These too, even these, I can make an occasion for rejoicing. I have overcome, and you will more than conquer.’ 

“Easter is not an occasion to repress whatever ails you and put on a happy face. Rather, the joy of Easter speaks tenderly to the pains that plague you. Whatever loss you lament, whatever burden weighs you down, Easter says, ‘It will not always be this way for you. The new age has begun. Jesus has risen, and the Kingdom of the Messiah is here. He has conquered death and sin and hell. He is alive and on His throne. And He is putting your enemies, all your enemies, under His feet.’” —David Mathis

Your Sorrow Will Turn To Joy (book review)

Your Sorrow Will Turn To JoyHoly Week is always a good time to slow down to take a closer look at the events leading up to Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. I never want to “go through the motions” and miss out on some new revelation of all that Jesus did for us. An excellent companion for this journey is Your Sorrow Will Turn To Joy by the writers at Desiring God.

This book covers the eight days of Holy Week, from Palm Sunday to Resurrection Sunday. Each day has an insightful reading selection for both the morning and evening. The authors pulled together the accounts from all four of the Gospels, to offer unique insights and observations on each step of Christ’s journey to the Cross, the grave, and the empty tomb. As I read, I marveled again at the amazing love God showered on us!

The good folks at Desiring God have made this book available free of charge in its ebook format. Otherwise, the paperback can be purchased at a nominal cost.

Pick up a copy and read through it on the next Holy Week, and I promise you will see something fresh about the joy that Christ’s finished work on Calvary brings to those who will believe in Him!

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