Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Strength and Joy

Human strength fails. It falls apart, bringing us crumbling to the ground with it. So where is this power we have in God? When we've been trusting him, keeping our eyes up and find ourselves still falling?

Isaiah 41:10 "fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

How is it that at the moment we are looking up we can still feel like we're falling. Our God wants to strengthen us...but somehow me must learn how to let him.

Digging into the scripture I see it again...something I've known but I can't remember. The key to strength is there. The key to letting him empower - thanksgiving.

Eucharisteo - to give thanks to God, is how we let God fill our lives with his dynamic power.

Colossians 1:11-12 "May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light."

I see the connection and it makes me curious - the words there, "strengthened with power" is the word we get dynamite from.

This power is explosive and big and powerful.

And it's directly connected in Greek to the giving of thanks "eucharisteo".
Nehemiah 8:10 says it too... "...And do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength."

This word "joy" is Chedvah - meaning rejoicing, gladness, joy. In Greek they would use the word "chara". And Chara is the root word of Eucharisteo - to give thanks.

So this power that we long for - this dynamic filling of God - is joy. We need joy. His joy is not just a by product of our faith, it's the power inside of us. Trudging through life, hoping to receive back our joy isn't going to work. We're going to have to find it, and plead with God for it. Because without it, we fall apart.

Strength is Joy.

And joy is found in us giving thanks.

Life is hard, and giving thanks can be hard to come by. I don't want to be a person of thanks only on thanksgiving or special occasions because I want to be filled with this strength each and every day.

And there in giving thanks "eucharisteo" - that is where I find the key to what to give thanks for...because in the middle of that word is another root. "Charis" means grace. And grace is all around me - if I can learn to see it.

This dynamic strength, it's all about having joy (Chedvah, chara), which comes from giving thanks (eucharisteo), as we stand in awe of his grace (charis).

So again, I pull out my list of his gifts, and I write it slowly thanking him again and again...for the ways he loves me.

#653 The hard things that make me pause, and turn back to you.

And the count continues...counting my way to 1000 more gifts and joy overflowing.

Monday, September 14, 2015

A Lesson at Wendy's

I have an unhealthy/healthy habit of taking my two dogs to Wendy's and eating french fries and a frosty. It's unhealthy in that, yes, we're eating lots of greasy fries and a sugar loaded sweet. At the same time, it's healthy for me - it's a time for me to unwind, enjoy my dogs, and somehow re-energize in the quiet.

Lyric's big brown eyes begged me for a taste, and I could feel Rusty's stare burning a hole in my head. And yet, I withstood those adorable eyes and withheld the very thing they desired most. The thing I planned on giving them...but not quite yet.
We bypassed McDonald's on our way to Wendy's in search of better fries. McDonald's is notorious for their cold salty fries, but we have found that at Wendy's we can get fries that are nice and hot and moderate on the salt.
Of course, I'm sure the dogs' don't see the value in searching out the best fries. And as they were waiting, somewhat impatiently, they couldn't understand why they had to wait...The fries were fresh and very hot...what I consider the best, and the dogs couldn't help but drool over the smell. But to my dogs, the best simply meant waiting. And once the fries had cooled off and they got to dig in, I'm certain that they still did not understand the wait. After all, I had saved them the pain of burnt mouths, but they had no idea.
As I savored our treats, I had to ask the question "Am I willing to pass the mediocre for the best God has for me? And am I impatient with him when I have to wait, somehow believing he's withholding something from me unnecessarily?"

There are some things in life that are okay, just like the McDonald's fries, that maybe I would choose out of desire to get it quickly, only to be disappointed when it's not the best. Things worth waiting for, just like the hot fries, sometimes require a lot of patience. Frustratingly I don't always understand why I have to wait, even when looking in hind sight.

On our drive home I thanked God for withholding those things that might burn me and only giving them to me when He knows I'm ready. I know that He understands things I'm completely unaware of.
Tonight I learned a valuable lesson while contemplating - to trust in His timing and wait for the best...and I'm not planning on stopping this habit anytime soon, healthy or not.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Why I Won't Attack You If You See Fifty Shades of Grey

To see or not to see Fifty Shades of Grey...Is that the question? As I look towards this holiday, I'm struck by the fact that, in the theaters, there will be the war of opinions. There will be a "choosing of sides" as people choose to see Fifty Shades of Grey or Old Fashioned. There will be looks of disdain, and incredulous laughs. And the irony of it all? The irony is that February 14th is to be a day of celebrating love. And we're making war.

War has started even before the movies come out. One glance at the comment section of most blogs and articles will show you terse words, pointed fingers, and pride in opinions. I don't dislike the sharing of opinions. Anyone who knows me well can attest to the fact I love a good-natured debate. What I don't enjoy is how hearts are turning against one another, in most cases against people we don't even know!

What do we hope to attain through attacking one another or proving our point? Do we think that attacking another person's opinions will actually change them? I have yet to see that work in any case.

We must come face to face with the fact that when a person chooses to see either of these movies, their choice is rooted in their world view. Attacks do not convince a person to change their world view. It causes them to stand behind their cause in the face of threat.

I have greatly enjoyed reading the opinions of many different people for or against this movie. I value their well thought out opinions, because it provides me with a greater ability to understand their world view, and the world views of others like them. For those interested in the opinions of others, I encourage you to read the thoughts of others. Respect them. Consider what they have to say. Make your own opinion. But don't attack another for theirs - I'm calling for respect, not agreement.

Because of my own world view, I choose not to see this movie. I won't look upon those who choose to see it with judgmental eyes. On matters of opinion, I will debate but I will not fight. I will disagree, but I will not judge. I don't expect to change your world view, because only you can do that.

So this Valentines Day, I choose to love rather than wage war.