On Fire for All Things Christ

Archive for January, 2011

Learning in Suffering

In these first few weeks of January 2011, I have read and listened to many messages referencing suffering and/or struggles. This topic is surely a heavy one upon the body of Christ at this moment. Undoubtedly, at some point in our own personal lives, suffering or struggles have fallen as heavy yokes upon our shoulders. Maybe in some way, God is preparing the body for a larger struggle about to take place. Let us pray for Christ’s beloved.

Oh great, (sigh), it’s Job

I ended 2010 and began 2011 reading in Job, a book about suffering. For me, having recently suffered emotionally for about eight months, I didn’t exactly leap for joy in coming up to read this book. In my flesh I thought, I’ve had enough suffering for myself this past year, I don’t want to have to read about it too! I didn’t want anymore suffering! My mind and heart was ready for restoration and I surely didn’t want to start 2011 in Job, reading about suffering! But seeing as Job was next in my chronological reading, I hesitatingly started reading.

Synopsis on Job

For those of you who may not be familiar with the book of Job, here is a quick synopsis: In chapters 1 and 2, we learn that Job was a Godly man with much wealth and stature. Upon a request from Satan to God, Satan was allowed to test Job’s faith. You see, Satan thought that the only reason Job worshiped God was because God had given him much wealth and stature. Satan thought that if he took all of Job’s wealth and stature away, that Job would then surely curse God. So, God allowed Satan to test Job, killing and destroying all the things that brought prosperity to Job. Then for the next 30+ chapters, there are speeches back and forth between Job and his wise friends. They discuss back and forth the reasons for Job’s suffering. Job’s friends think that Job is suffering because of unconfessed sin. They say that God only punishes the wicked, yet Job responded back to them that he didn’t have unconfessed sin. Job’s friends considered Job to be stubborn for not admitting his supposed wrongfulness. Finally, the last five chapters are between God and Job. Job finally hears from God. God gives Job no answer to his suffering other than He is sovereign. Job then gives God reverence and fear (respect). And in the end, God restores Job’s wealth and stature.

Reading through Job, chapter after chapter, the friends argue with Job about the cause for his suffering. At some points, I thought … yes, the friends are right. Or, yes, that’s what it must be. But in reality, their answers were not full truths and they did not apply to Job. I remember thinking, why are there so many chapters on the nonsense of the so-called “wise friends?” Why not just get to the stuff that God has to say about the matter? My answer for this is: because it is reflective of how we ourselves battle suffering. We question God and go to our friend’s comfort and advice. We become impatient in wanting to hear from God and we don’t show Him reverence and fear.

The book of Job taught me a lot about the thoughts of suffering:
1) The things that cause our suffering happen quickly without much warning.
2) Although we want to hear from God, sometimes we don’t get an answer from Him, so we turn to the advice of friends.
3) Reading the responses of Job’s friends revealed to me my own false thoughts on the causes of suffering.
4) Wait for God’s answer.
5) God will restore!

As I read about the advice of Job’s friends, I mostly cared to really read God’s answer at the end. Now think with me … what if, in our own personal lives, we would actually do that? Instead of turning to our friends, we respect God and wait to hear what He has to say about the matter.

As we suffer, do we go to our friends for comfort and answers, or do we turn to God? No doubt, in listening to our friends, as Job did, some truth is revealed. But often times, wisdom and understanding is left out and false advice is given. We go back and forth with our friends, but no resolve is found. Yes, some suffering is because of sin in our lives, but not all suffering is from the root of sin, as was in Job’s case. Today, maybe this is illustrated best in trying to understand why a young child suffers in sickness, or why natural tragedy such as an earthquake strikes innocent people.

So I write this to myself and to you, in the midst of our suffering and struggle, let’s remember that God is the One with the answer. He is the Sovereign One. Let us remember that despite our circumstance, Daddy deserves our full reverence, respect and trust. We may want answers to why things happen to us, but because God is God, we do not always know the answer to our why questions. Praise God that He restored Job! And, let us praise God who will also restore us from our suffering! Why we suffer is not always understood , but in the end, glory is always given to God. Amen!!

Be blessed by the reflection of His Word as we grow to be filled by Him.

A Ministry Revealed

Last Friday, I was sitting at my work computer getting ready to finish the day. I struggled in deciding what I was going to do that evening. I was going to either 1) volunteer/minister at the Harris County jail, (as I had done the past two Friday nights), or 2) write for my blog. I thought to myself… I really want to stay and write, but I can do that another time. The volunteer activity at the jail is just for tonight. hmm… my mind teetered. There were a few things that I wanted to write about for my blog, but I just hadn’t taken the time earlier in the week as I expected.

After all day (or really, all week) of procrastinating in making a decision, I decided that it was now too late for the volunteer activity and that I would just stay and write, so I did. After a few hours of indwelling myself in my blog, I received the most amazing revelation!! … it was as if the Lord smiled at me and said, “Edmee, I am glad you chose to write this evening. I know you want to go out and serve Me, but the jail ministry is not the place I have for you now. Your ministry is your blog. I am glad you obeyed Me tonight.” WOW!!! I love revelations like that! So clear! How awesome!

The Holy Spirit also revealed to me that although my volunteering at the jail was good and I was willing to serve there, that wasn’t where He was leading me. I served at the jail twice, and I served in love, but it wasn’t from the pure passion in which God wants us to serve. I served mostly out of wanting to be a “light,” and because I knew there was a need.

For the past year or so, I had been serving in different opportunities here and there wanting to get experience but not really knowing my fit. I believe sometimes we try different activities/service opportunities to get clarity and see if passion arises. And, once we know where God wants to use us and that clarity is revealed, it truly is amazing! I’m not sure if this is my “calling” or destiny forever, but I do know that this is what He is calling me to at the present.

After this burst of knowledge, on my way home, I thought … really God, my ministry is my blog? … I don’t get to go anywhere or be with anyone? But then, in the morning, as I was brushing my teeth, I reconsidered those negative thoughts. I actually have an awesome ministry! I can write about anything, from anywhere at any time! How cool is that?! And, although I mainly write for my One, the blog reaches the world. Wow! I sure don’t know all that God plans to do through me with this, but I lay it at His feet! I am surely excited to share what the Spirit rests upon me to you!

Here is another amazing thing, that Friday (the day that the Holy Spirit brought me my ministry revelation) was the day I chose to finally finalize an icon for my blog. I made the icon and titled it “Afire Within,” just like my blog title. God is solidifying this thing and I am amazed!! Like I have mentioned before, this blog wasn’t my idea one bit. The Holy Spirit lead me to it. Thank you Jesus!!!

For about six months I had really struggled and prayed in knowing what God wanted to do with me. Now I know and I feel truly blessed. I know without a doubt that I can continue in this writing knowing that it is bringing glory to Him. How He will move it forward or who will it touch – I don’t know. But, I have an excitement in my heart about it.

In our first meeting the other night in my new theology class, our teacher asked us to share our ministry, and I was so thankful and confident to say, “God revealed to me just the other day that my ministry is my blog!”

Everyones ministry and calling is different. I am praying for you beloved, that the Good Shepherd may reveal to you your service of love!!

The Gospel at Work

The other day, I discovered that HFBC had made the images from their mission’s calendar available as desktop wallpapers. That’s kinda neat I thought, so I decided to switch my desktop image at work to the January wallpaper. But, I actually have two monitors at the office, so I excitedly got the idea to ask my designer friend if he could hook me up with some additional artwork from the church. I sent my friend an email and within minutes he replied back with the artwork and a message. His reply made me chuckle, so I am posting it here for you to chuckle at too. (Note: the Company I work for is called Savage, hence his reference below.)

Are you going to put this on your desktop at Savage and try to spread the gospel at work? You’re like a missionary going into the jungle spreading the gospel to “Savages.”

Yes my friend, I am letting God direct a path (as the artwork below shows) to spread the Word through the Savage jungle (the office). Although currently God is not calling me to share the Good News far away, my mission field is in every place that the Lord has placed me now. With that, I delight in using simple things (like my computer desktop) to glorify Him. May you also delight in using the simple treasures that God has given you to glorify Him!

Below are just a handful of simple ways to allow the Gospel to work from where you are:
• Write scripture references on the back window of your car
• Let your voice mail recording be a Godly message
• Use scripture or a Godly message as your email signature

Artwork from HFBC

Unveiling Opportunity

Sometimes, on breaks from work, I like to take the opportunity and go for a walk outside. As I walk, I sometimes make my way to the St. Basil Chapel at the University of St. Thomas that is just a few blocks away. Although the chapel doesn’t have the warm atmosphere and lighting in the inside that I would prefer for a chapel, I do like and appreciate its modern architectural elements inside and out.

From just a few meters away, one can see the full white entrance to the chapel. For me, the entrance is like a veil that has been cut – an invitation being held open by Jesus Christ. Narrow is the entrance and short is the time remaining to enter (as maybe the veil indicates), but the opportunity into the Kingdom of God is still open!

Brown Paper Bag Story

Last night, I pulled this bag out of the bag holder in our pantry (which is very close to the bottom cabinet of the sink). I stuffed it with some items that I am getting ready to donate to the Food Pantry/Clothes Closet. In looking at the bag, I read the message and it made me laugh. I hope this cute little message from the bag also makes you smile. 🙂 And, I hope that the brown bag remembers when it was used to hold items for donation!

Let us also remember the times that God picks us up and we become useful for His work. Like my friend taught from one of Max Lucado’s books…
1) Are you in the pile (not being used)?
2) Are you on the anvil (being shaped by God)?
3) Are you in the hands of God (being used for His work)?

Do you have a short story that you remember of when God used you? Maybe your story goes something like this…

I am a child of God. More than likely, I am at church with a few of my friends. I might get caught up in a storm or trial, or just be a shoulder for a friend in need. It would be nice if I went out to the mission field and told the Good News to others. I’d like to be a missionary. But whatever happens, I will never forget the day God told me who He was and of my Home in Heaven!

Trust through Trials

Yesterday, I heard a sermon message covering John 6:16-24. This is the scene where the disciples were trying to row their way through a storm in a lake at 3am in the morning. The disciples struggled with their oars through the winds and rough waters to get to the other side of the lake. (This story is also told in Mark 6).

The emphasis of the message was to let Jesus be the one to take us through the storm from one side of the shore to the other. To trust Him through times of struggle. (I know… this is easier said than done. It sounds all good in theory, but what about real life?) Often, we see/experience Jesus do something amazing, and we get a spiritual high for a few hours or a few days. Yet, when struggles and trials comes along, we question whether He even exists, despite the amazing thing we may have just experienced with Him. Life is a series of trials. We are either 1) on a shore about to face a storm, 2) in the water going through a storm, or 3) on the other side of the shore, past the storm. The hardest part is of course being in the storm, that is when we question God the most. It is vital to remember that Jesus is the one who will take us through to the other side. If we try in our own strength, we will get tired and fearful. But, let us trust God to take us from one side to the other.

As the pastor finished the message, I drew this image that came to my mind:

TRUST – there will be valleys in between, but with Him, we will make it to the other side.

———

If you’d like to listen to this message by Pastor Gregg Matte, it is called Water Walker (part 1). Some other interesting points from the scriptures were: immediately, once the disciples let Jesus enter the boat, the disciples were at the other side of the shore. For us this means that immediately once we let Jesus take the oars to battle our storm, we reach the shore. Our destination is Him and with Him.

Where do you think you are right now? Do you think you are on the shore about to face a storm, in a storm, or on the shore past the storm? I am so thankful to say that for me, Jesus recently just pulled me through a storm I had been battling for about six months, and how sweet it is to be with Him on the shore. During my storm, I held on to this artwork (see below). I put it up on my wall above my bed as a reminder that Jesus will pick me up. Be encouraged beloved that Jesus will pull you through your storm!! Praise God!!

This artwork from Eternal Path

Transforming Prince

For Christmas, a friend lovingly gave me a “Magic Frog-to-Prince” gag gift. I looked at it, laughed and smiled. My friend knew that for a while I had been feeling down about the ending of a past relationship, and she thought this little gift would be perfect to lift my spirits. What a sweet gesture from my friend. Add water and the frog magically turns into a prince in a just few minutes. How adorable and funny!

I tried the experimental toy a few days later. The instructions read: add water and watch as the frog transforms into a prince in minutes. I did just that. Slowly, the water started to turn green and muggy as layers of the frog dissolved into the water. The water turned bright green and gross, and I could no longer see if anything was going on. The longer I looked at it, the grosser it seemed, so I stopped watching. Besides, it was taking longer than I expected, so I went on to do other things and I left the jar alone.

When you think about it, isn’t it funny how this little scenario actually relates to daily life? As we wait for our “prince,” God doesn’t want us to stop what we are doing and wait, He wants us to do other things. Enjoy God and life as God magically transforms your frog into a prince. Watching isn’t going to make the process go faster. Like the toy, the transformation of our real prince will probably take longer than expected, and it may be a “gross” process. No one ever said that transformation would be clean, cute and easy. No, transforming is lots of grossness, dissolving of layers and difficult (to go through and to watch).

So after a few hours, I looked at my jar again. It looked like gross, green water. But in really looking through, I could see the silhouette of a small person figure. I poured out the green water, and there he was – a little prince. I filled the jar with new, clean water and let it sit to grow to full size as the instructions read.

In order for the frog to turn into a prince, it had to be submerged in water and go through a transformation. Maybe I’m stretching it, but think of that as being like a baptism of faith. The “frog” starts transformation once baptism of Christ takes place. Then a prince that was hidden is revealed, and by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit he grows. Just like us before Christ (the frog), we accept Christ, we become baby Christians (prince), and by the power of the Holy Spirit, we grow to be mature Christians (full grown prince). Of course, the process with the toy in the jar all happens within a few days, but for us, the process takes much longer.

Sisters, let us be hopeful and patient as we wait for the Lord to transform our frog into a prince and allows him to grow. Don’t settle for a frog!

With love to His beloved.
In Christ.

Tag Cloud