Monday, April 25, 2011

joy.

I've been thinking a lot about joy this week.


  • In the gospels it says the shepherds rejoiced with "great joy" with the birth of Jesus. Their joy came from their foundation of hope and trust in the Messiah and what He was born to do. It wasn't from a temporary feel good satisfaction, but from a deep rooted faith.
  • In Acts there are multiple accounts of joy as many are saved and healed. Those experiencing this joy were those whose hearts and lives were founded and transformed in Christ. They knew that each salvation and each miracle was done for HIS glory.
  • In all of Paul's letters to the churches, he urges them to rest and be comforted in the joy of Christ amidst suffering, temptation, trial, pain...This isn't a "let's put a fake smile on our face and suck it up" happiness, but again, a contentment and hope that supersedes any temporary high or excitement of that moment. 


Joy is the result of a life marked by a complete trust, rest, faith, hope, and comfort in who God says that He is, and who He declares us to be in Him. Joy isn't shaken when the world around us is shaken...as Paul said in Philippians, "I have learned in all circumstances to be content..." THAT is joy.

So. This is dedicated to those in my life who radiate the joy of Jesus Christ. I aspire to have the joy that you have.

This is my pastor, Steve Hardin, during one of our Easter services. There's a song we often sing that our worship leader, Isaac Wimberly, put a rap to. This is Steve singing along with Isaac. He is so into it that he isn't aware of anyone around him, not even the guy videoing him. It's not just during a rap that he's this zealous either. You give him a stage and he will passionately preach the name of Christ. You get him in conversation and he will proclaim Jesus as much as he can, and you give him a rap song? He'll rap it for the glory of Christ!! His joy is absolutely beautiful and contagious.

http://www.twitvid.com/QEOSD

My niece, Faith. The way she looks at life is just beautiful...It's simple, full of a childlike joy that we, as adults, so often lose. My prayer would be that Jesus would grab a hold of Faith's life, transform her heart, and create a TRUE, lasting joy that would continue to shine through her entire life. I love this girl more than I love any other child. Save her, Christ!!


Kailey Hughes. One of the most genuine and godly young women I have ever met. She's graduating high school this next month and going to A&M for college. Her life really is founded in Christ. I have absolutely no doubt that He will continue to use her on her college campus as He has used her at Marcus high school. She has a passionate desire for the lost to come to know Christ, and her unshakable and foundational joy plays a huge role in that. I admire this young woman deeply.


A new, but already dear, friend of mine, Alina Ford. The first night I met her I was drawn to her. She has this crazy spiritual gift of making any person in a busy room feel as if they're the most important. She's a servant hearted, loving, joyful, kind, welcoming woman. Just by being around Alina, I want to know Christ and His love deeper. Love and respect this girl so so much.


My momma. Just a few months ago I asked her to tell me about her life growing up, and not leave out details. I don't think I had ever asked her that. I knew much of it, but had never heard the whole story. I was just blown away by the hard life she endured, but more than that, but the Lord's continual hand on her life: in saving her, preserving her, loving her, comforting her, sanctifying her, and being her true joy. She truly knows what it's like to be LOW and rest in Christ as your JOY, your CONTENTMENT, your COMFORT when the world is dark around you. Wow. If I could have half the joy she attains I would consider myself blessed. I admire this woman greatly and pray to be a royal and beautiful daughter of the King as she is. I love you so very deeply momma.


Those who look to Him are radiant, and their faces 
will never be ashamed.
Psalm 34:5

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Dallas

It hit me today that I've lived in Dallas for almost 7 months... What?? How has time flown by that quickly? I'm seriously amazed. When the Lord pressed on me to move to Dallas, it was in a matter of a few weeks that I was there. I didn't have time to even sit down and think about it or dwell on what this move could bring. I just up and did it, completely resting and trusting that Christ knew what He was doing.


I didn't adjust quickly, or well. Prior to moving to Dallas, I had promised myself I NEVER would. I may have worked in Dallas, but I hated the city and never wanted to move there. After I made the move, I kept that mentality. The first few months were difficult.


- I was lonely, with a handful of Dallas "friends" - mainly just my roommate (shout out, emily. you are beyond amazing and an incredible blessing in my life)
- My youth girls were in Lewisville, and I didn't get to see them near as much.
- My friends were in Lewisville, and I was being prideful about not wanting to make new ones.
- I didn't like the Dallas campus, nor did I want to try to like it
- Dallas people made me so frustrated and angry; their entitlement and materialism.


I could continue. But notice a pattern? It was all about me. I begrudgingly obeyed Christ in moving to Dallas, but I stopped with that. There I was, sitting in my own sin of pride, entitlement, and control. Instead of looking around me for ways to serve, loving the lost around me, reaching out and making friends, getting invested in my city, making much of HIM in my life, etc I chose to take the easy way out and just make it all about me.


In the Lord's grace, discipline, and love, He didn't allow me to stay there long. Over the past few months, I have been beyond blessed and loved by my Savior as He has sanctified me. He has crushed my pride and slowly but surely, is teaching me what it means to serve and love the body and the lost around me. Instead of sitting around having a pity party, I (with ALL His strength) stepped out to make friendships. It was hard and awkward, to say the least. I asked a friend of mine (shout out brent bell) if anything fun was happening in Dallas. That week I went to a "warming" party at some girls house, and the rest is history. That night I met some guys and girls (you know who you are - shout out) that have been used mightily the past few months to point me to my Savior. I leave hang outs, volleyball, coffee dates, parties, etc...just wanting more of Jesus and His glory. THAT is what the body of Christ ought to be. I'm so edified and encouraged I could cry (which I do often) :)


What the Lord has taught me about those prior selfish fears:


- I'm not alone. I'm human, so I will experience days of loneliness, but I am never alone. Ever. With each passing day, His intimate nearness is closer than the day before. He is my everything, and I don't ever have to feel alone because of that. Not only that, but I have the most amazing family. Not just my physical family, but my spiritual family. I've learned more about community and how the body of Christ works these past few months than I almost ever have. It really has been surreal and beautiful.
- My youth girls ARE still in Lewisville, and some days are hard. But it's been for GOOD. It's humbled me to know the Lord works with or without me. I've been able to have them come out and experience Dallas, they've realized they can't just rely on me, and it's forced me to stay true to my word and commitments, when driving 40 minutes comes into play. Half of them graduate this year and the other half next year. After next year I'll be saying goodbye for real to  any ties to the Flower Mound campus. (but really, who even knows? Only Him. so, I may take that back...) :)
- I do have friends in Lewisville, and I'm thankful for them just as I am for the friends I've made here. It's totally different and sanctifying in different ways. Most of my friends in L are married, which I love to walk alongside. But having been so used to that, it's been surprisingly refreshing and encouraging to walk alongside men and women who "GET" me, who understand the life of a mid to upper 20s single person. Ah. We gotta stick together :) So blessed by all those I do life with.
- I now ADORE the Dallas campus. This part the Lord just ripped to shreds, showing me that the body is not just one specific building or campus, but everywhere. It is so beautiful to worship week in, week out with this body. Man...I can't say enough about how I've just grown to love this campus.
- I'm in Dallas and around "Dallas people" so that I might make much of Christ. My sin of anger and frustration MUST be daily nailed on the cross, just as the sins of entitlement and materialism are. 


So. 7 months. Wow...I really never ever saw that coming, and every day, I love it more and more. ME? The farm girl loving the city of Dallas? WHAT THE HECK! Ha. The ironies of the Lord and His sovereignty. I am SO thankful He keeps His plan for my life a secret and mystery, because I wouldn't believe it ahead of time. I'm so thankful for Jesus and who He is. I'm thankful He chose me and saved me, and that He gives me the desire to know Him deeply. That desire and passion in me comes from Him. It's not myself. I'm thankful He's zealously after my heart and won't relent until He has it all. I'm thankful He works in ways I cannot imagine or foresee, and that His name is glorified in that. I just love Jesus a lot. I'm thankful for the brothers and sisters I have made; I'm thankful we're running this race together. Man...life in Jesus really is just sweet. I can't imagine what eternity in His glory must be like! Let the legit dance parties begin!!!


Dallas, you've surprised me. Thanks for being real :)