Tuesday, August 21, 2012

August 2012 Guest Post

This month's guest post is by Taryn Martin.

    Her family's ministry is Biblical Discipleship Ministries. Her father, Dr. Jobe Martin, wrote the book, The Evolution of a Creationist & has two DVD series called Incredible Creatures that Defy Evolution & Creation Proclaims. (I think both sets have 3 DVD's right now). Be sure and take a look at the Martin's websites! 

   I'd like to personally thank Taryn and Mirren for doing these guest posts for me! Conversing with you both has been awesome ;-) I look forward to seeing you again!

   So, without further adieu, Taryn:

Contentment in the Lord is a Rare Jewel

What do the majority of life’s yearnings, strivings, and frustrations stem from?—A lack of contentment. Contentment is something that we all struggle with in different areas, but what an amazing impact you can make for Christ when your soul is lifted with this spiritual pillar! We should be encouraged in our struggle to be content, knowing that even the Apostle Paul had to “learn to be content” (Phil. 4:11). However, Paul also says “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil. 1:13).
If Christ as our Creator and Redeemer commands us to be content with what we have and then promises that He will never leave or forsake us (Heb. 13:5), then it IS possible to live above our circumstances and choose contentment. First Timothy 6:6 reminds us that “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” Contentment stems out of a right relationship with our Savior the Lord Jesus Christ. It provides a sense of peace and acceptance in the midst of life‘s unpredictable circumstances. Contentment is a rare jewel because it is the most powerful tool that can be used to respond to the frustrations and feelings of discontentment that life brings.
If you know the Lord Jesus as your Savior then true contentment starts with developing a close relationship with Him where you learn to “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” (Pr. 3:5). Just as you spend time with your best friend, talking and sharing, you must do the same with the Lord Jesus. He promises that if you “acknowledge him, in all you do that ―he shall direct thy paths”; if you “depart from evil. It shall be health” to your whole body; if you “Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase” your physical possessions will be greatly blessed (Pr. 3:6-9 excerpts). Thus, complete trust in the Lord’s love and provision for each of us is the first key to true contentment. Each of us must believe that the Lord loves us even more than we love ourselves and that He wants what is best for us even more than we do. Are you ready, after praying for something for years, to truly say “Not my will, but thine, be done” (Lk. 22:42) as Jesus said in the Garden of Gethsemane when facing His crucifixion? Do we trust in the Lord enough that when He answers the prayer of our heart with a “no” (because He knows better than we do what is the very best for our future) that we can respond with contentment and not anger and discontented feelings? The Lord promises us in Isaiah 26:3-4, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. 4Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength.” A heart trusting completely in the Lord’s protection and provision will bring a contented peace to the soul that will empower each of us to rightly respond to life’s twists and turns.
Why does contentment give your life a peace that has power? When you choose an attitude of contentment and trust upon the Lord’s grace for whatever comes across your path, you are opening yourself up to be used without reserve however the Lord wants to use you for His glory and praise. Instead of reacting to life’s adversities as frustrations to be avoided, see them as the Lord’s university where He is going to teach and train each of us for the future—polishing us into those rare jewels. One of the most illustrative Puritan writers was Thomas Watson who wrote an amazing work called The Art of Divine Contentment. In this book, Watson beautifully put contentment into word pictures that vividly show how powerful an attitude of contentment can be. He calls divinely given contentment a “golden shield” which will protect its bearer from all the discouragements of life (62).
There is no way to capture the full meaning of Watson‘s word pictures in summaries so below are some of his most poignant expressions on contentment. “[Contentment] is a sweet temper of spirit whereby a Christian carries himself in an equal poise in every condition (19).” “Contentment makes a man in tune to serve God. It oils the wheels of the soul and makes it more agile and nimble” (60). “Contentment is like the cork which keeps the heart up when it is sinking through discouragement. Contentment is the great support; it is like the beam which bears whatever weight is laid upon it. No it is like a rock that breaks the waves” (63). “Contentment, as a honeycomb, drops sweetness into every condition. But discontent is a leaven that sours every comfort” (68). “‘Sickness,’ says contentment, ‘is God‘s furnace to refine His gold and make it sparkle all the more’” (69). “A contented Christian is an advocate for God against unbelief and impatience, whereas discontent takes everything from God in the worst sense; it accuses and censures God” (69). “Discontentment is not only below faith, but below reason. . . .[Because] a Christian is invested with the title and privilege of sonship [through Christ] (Eph. 1:5). . . . A discontented man is a proud man; he thinks himself better than others, and therefore finds fault with the wisdom of God that he is not above others. . . . Discontent is nothing else but the boiling over of pride” (81).
Thus, a heart that is truly content in the Lord’s plan and timing in each of our lives is able to accept whatever circumstances that come along with the right attitude. May each of us be just as the young pauper when he contentedly looked at his meal of bread and water and said, “All this and I have Jesus too?” The Bible tells us that “godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Tim. 6:6). True contentment will open a channel in each of our lives which will allow the character qualities of Christ to flow out of each of us and minister to all those around us. If each of us is truly living before the “Audience of One” then we will be content not trying to gain or prove things to others. Contentment must be learned and practiced as our relationship with the Lord deepens so that as we grow in Him it truly becomes a rare and sparkling jewel. 

   I hope Taryn's thoughts have blessed you today, my dear readers!

Au revoir! (good-bye)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Ah, Life....

"My life is SO normal! I don't want to live a normal life!"

   Don't tell me I'm the ONLY one who's thought something similar to this. [wink] Actually, I didn't just think this - I bawled this to my mom. [ah, the joys of being a very emotional person] BUT, that's not a great story for sharing- so I'll save you the sorry details and get on to the point of this post. =)

   For those of you who have thought/ are thinking something similar to the above quote - I ask you, can any of us really say that? I mean, by what standard do we judge what is "normal" anyway?
   In reality, no one lives a "normal" life - all our lives are different, all are unique; and for those of us who are following our Lord, the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob, and who are trusting in Christ Yeshua (Jesus) alone for salvation - our lives should be anything but "normal".

   I'm preaching to the choir here, because, I love adventure and excitement & I detest "normal" - 'cause "normal" = "boring". I want excitement, I want thrill, I want difference - not normal mediocre living. This is something I've struggled with, because, I've always [as long as I can remember] also struggled with contentment. Contentment is probably the trait I need most in my life - and it is one that God has been trying to teach me this year. =)
   But, I've realized [drum-roll, please] that since I am the daughter of the King of kings, follower and servant of Yeshua (Jesus), and have the spirit of the living God within me, my life is totally NOT normal. It is different - just like I said I wanted!
Matthew 7:13&14"Go in through the narrow gate; for the gate that leads to destruction is wide and the road broad, and many travel it; but it is a narrow gate and a hard road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

   The verse above seems to imply that the road we are on is one that only few travel, does it not? Wouldn't that mean that our lives couldn't be classified as "normal" or "mediocre" then? Yes, exactly! If only few find and walk this road that I am walking, then it isn't my life that is normal - it's their's.

   Our lives should illuminate with the Fruit of the Spirit - which sets us apart from the rest of the world, and which push us further from being able to say we have a "normal" life.
Galatians 5:22&23But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, self control. Nothing in the Torah stands against such things.

   What is more, in the Bible, God calls us to be set apart, holy, different, etc. - our God actually calls us to be the opposite of "normal"! 
   'Now, that's great' - you may say - 'but being set-apart, holy, and different spiritually is completely different than being physically different and not "normal".' And, you are correct, there is a difference here, but, with Christ, all things are possible! 
   Our minds are very powerful and if we continually tell ourselves that we live an oh, so boring normal life - then eventually we will truly believe it and actions that complement those beliefs (complaining, discontentment, irritability, etc.) will follow. For "Your Actions will ALWAYS follow Your Beliefs". [quote from Facing the Giants]

   If you think (and bemoan) that you are living a "normal" life - think again - change your mindset. If we are truly striving to follow Christ with all our might, then each day will challenge us to draw closer to God by following Him more fully. And that can be anything but "normal" [*IF your definition of "normal" is interchangeable with "boring".*] Had to add that, because I know not everyone sees "normal" and "boring" as interchangeable ;-)

   Think on this also - I read [so, I'm not sure exactly how reliable the source was] that many people are actually afraid of living a normal life. I thought that sounded pretty accurate, and rather sad. Considering that you cannot live a "normal" life, because everyone has their own opinion of what normal is and therefore what you say would be the perfect, exciting, as-far-from-normal-as-you-can-get life, would be considered tiresomely normal to the next guy. So, many people are afraid of living in a way that is relative to who you are! How confusing!!!
   If we spend our time and energy bemoaning the fact that our lives aren't exciting enough we will miss the opportunities the Lord gives us each day. Opportunities to do things for Him and others. Opportunities to experience joy & peace.
   As servants of the Lord of Hosts, the Most High God - our lives should be so different from normal that other people will think, "What is so different about him/her?" and they could very well ask us why! How exciting is that?!?

   The deeper issue here is: contentment. If we are truly content with out lives we won't begrudgingly mutter, "My life is so boring! I wish I had a life like her's/his'." God gave each of us the life we have & He doesn't want us to waste it by being discontent and complaining how unexciting it is! PLUS - if you make the most of every day living, I think you'll find that your life isn't so boring after all! 
   ~ In fact, I've been getting more and more excited as I write this post! [honest, truly, I am] ~

   After all, Life is What YOU Make of It!