Sunday, July 27, 2014

I will say to my soul...

The first half of this month was rough... full of things that resulted in lots of emotional turmoil.

Emotions are tricky things, aren't they? They are a powerful part of how God created us, and without them, we would lose much of the richness in life.

But they are also quick to tell us when we've been hurt... and they remind us over and over and over again.

This where we have a choice to make. We can choose to dwell on our hurts, our worries, and our pain. Or we can follow King David's example. He knew that we must sometimes choose to rise up and command ourselves.

We have the Holy Spirit inside of us, as we must side with Him and say as David did in Psalm 42:
Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why have you become disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him
For the help of His presence.
David commanded himself. He made a choice.

I will hope in God. I will praise Him.


We sang a song last week:
Find rest my soul
In Christ alone.

This is from another psalm of David - Psalm 62 - where he says:
My soul, wait in silence for God only,
For my hope is from Him.

This is me, the singer, commanding my soul - my emotions - to stop looking for rest anywhere else. It is me reminding myself that to hope for rest and peace from any other source is pointless.

The song continues:
Know His power
In quietness and trust
This references two verses:
Be still / Cease striving and know that I am God. - Ps. 46:10
In quietness and trust is your strength. - Ps. 30:15

When I sing these words, I am telling myself to calm down, get my emotions under control, and choose to trust my God instead.

Is it easy? Nope. But his grace is available for this.  His grace is here to forgive others, forgive ourselves, and to  choose to trust Him in those moments.  To choose to be still and know - experience all over again - that He is enough.
I will be still, and know You are God.

Here is the song:




Thursday, July 03, 2014

The lie of the American Dream...

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.."

That's from our Declaration of Independence, which we're about to celebrate.  Those three things - life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness - are rights that we have as Americans.

I am immensely grateful for those rights and for those who fought and died to win them and protect them.

But as the years go by, I see more and more that the "pursuit of happiness" part has become twisted into a huge lie that most Americans -- and even much of the world -- has bought into.

"I'll be happy if I can achieve _______."
"I'll be happy if I can have _______."

Thus we have a materialistic society that is engaged non-stop in the pursuit of happiness... and looking in all the wrong places for all the wrong things.

We look to the government to solve or do this or that ("this" or "that" varying according to your politics)... yet Jesus said, "I am the way."

Teenagers and twenty-somethings praise anyone who is "the life of the party," but Jesus said, "I am the life!"

We have a list of things in our life that we think are keeping us from being happy. And yes, if all those things were fixed, perhaps we'd find some measure of happiness.

Yet happiness is only surface deep. There is something greater and deeper and stronger and more lasting than mere happiness.

Joy.

Joy is the strength and the depths of ocean currents while happiness is only the waves on top.

Do you want to continue your pursuit of happiness?  Or do you want depths of joy?

Did the Declaration of Independence grant us joy?  Is there even such a thing of "the pursuit of joy"?

Consider another declaration:
You will make known to me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand there are pleasures forever.     - Ps. 16:11

In His presence is fullness of joy!

Do you get that?

We can spend our entire lives pursuing happiness and never find what is even greater... because we're pursuing the American Dream instead of pursuing Him.

But if we pursue Him until we are in His presence, what is there?

Happiness?  Nope, not just that, for it doesn't say that there is happiness in His presence.

It doesn't even say that you can find joy in His presence.

It says that there is fullness of joy in His presence!  The complete, total, life-filling kind of joy.  Take a look and see everything the Bible has to say about where joy comes from.  I promise you... there's nothing about pursuing the American Dream.

What are you spending your life pursuing?  Happiness? Or are you spending your life pursuing the One who is so amazing that simply being near Him immerses you in Joy until you sing because the joy is so great?

But let all who take refuge in You be glad,
Let them ever sing for joy;    -Ps. 5:11

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