Replacing Suffering with Joy

I don’t know how to replicate what Jesus did for me.

I know it’s not by standing on a soap box. It’s not by holding up a sign, saying that without Christ you’re going to rot in hell for eternity. I don’t believe Jesus did it like that. Jesus did not walk through the villages and say, “You better accept me or else rot in hell.”

So how do I do it? I’ve spent years working on this question. I’ve read and prayed. I’ve asked God to show me how He wants me to reflect the love of Jesus. I’m not done yet. I think this is an ongoing part of the Christian life. But the effort so far has been worth it. I truly believe that God has given me an opportunity to reflect Jesus in an awesome way. God has shown me how to follow Jesus by becoming a servant leader.

As a servant leader, I get to help give suffering people every possible chance to experience joy. What a blessing! I want to do this! I want to ease their burdens. I want to help create new and sustainable ways of living through clean water, food, family, freedom, and fulfilling work. I want to help create joy in the very best way that I possibly, humanly, can. That’s the most that I can do, but it’s the least that Jesus does. He loves us so much!

Being a servant leader also means guiding and teaching. While I am doing my best to create joy in places where people suffer, I am also creating opportunities for young people to participate. I am nurturing them as servant leaders. To me, there’s no greater way to feel Jesus than that.

I love my God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. I will do whatever He asks. I want to know that He looks down on me and smiles. I want to feel that so much, and I can feel His smile when I do something good for somebody. I can feel His love reflected back to me.

That’s why I feel good when I go to bed at night. I lay my head down on my pillow and I feel great. I’m enjoying life so much!

You can do the same. You can go to bed saying, “I just helped someone get rescued from slavery today.” Or you can say, “I just helped a village of 1500 people get good drinking water.” You can say, “I just helped build an orphanage that will put shelter over kids’ heads and give them positive opportunities to learn and to be leaders.” Or you can say, “I just sent 200,000 meals to hungry families and fed them for a year.” Whatever! There are so many opportunities!

There are so many opportunities for us to create joy. Not a day goes by that we don’t receive the opportunity to reflect the love of Jesus into the world. And when you know that you’ve done it, man, that’s just an awesome feeling. You have received the love that He gives and then you’ve shared it. You’ll feel it because you’ve replicated it.

That’s the joy of bringing the kingdom!

See you Friday.

Joy in Waiting, Being, Doing

And Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all the young men here?” Then he said, “There remains yet the youngest, and there he is, keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him. For we will not sit down till he comes here.” So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with bright eyes, and good-looking. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!” Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. 1 Samuel 16:11-13

As a young shepherd in Bethlehem, David got his call – to be King of Israel! And what happened next? Nothing! He just went back to his sheep.

Fifteen years passed before David took the throne. It was an eventful life. He became a celebrated hero when he killed Goliath. He wrote beautiful music. He joined the household of the existing king Saul, and he made lifelong friends.

At the same time, not all of David’s life was good. I mean, not good at all! When King Saul found out that David had been chosen by God to replace him, things got rough for David. He was persecuted by Saul. It was so bad that David actually had to run and hide. He kept on the move, hid out in caves, and survived by his wits.

This was the life of the man who was already anointed king! He had been called to the throne, and yet he wasn’t ruling. He was hiding in caves!

David waited 15 years to become king. I think we want our call in 15 minutes. So David’s story is instructive. He had to wait, man. He had to wait a long time to become king.

Waiting for a call can be tough (although hopefully not as tough as it was for David). It’s so hard to wait! But there is so much joy to be found in waiting. You can still be filled with the Spirit of the Lord, just as David was. Open your heart up to God your Father, and say, “Alright, what do you want me to do? Anything you want me to do, I’ll do it. I just want to serve you.”

Tell Him, “I am a child of yours, and I would love to go out and be a part of something that’s just awesome. If now is not the time, okay! But I’d really like to go, if it would be okay with you. I would love it.” And then just see what He says. If He says no, then that’s okay. Keep doing what you’re doing. If He says yes, He’ll make it happen.

I think sometimes God wants you to ask. If you never ask, you’ll never know. That’s what the Bible says. “You have not because you ask not.” (James 4:2) But don’t forget, if you’re going to ask, you’d better be ready for the answer! If His answer is no, then you need to be okay with that. You may be disappointed, and it’s okay to be disappointed. But you need to accept His answer.

And if the answer’s yes, then get ready! You might find that you need to be accepting of that too!

And you know what? Right now, while you are waiting, God is still calling you to joy. Joy is found in doing, yes. But it is also found in waiting. And sometimes joy is simply found in being, right where you’re at. I think that’s important to God. Sometimes He wants you to just be. Be content. Be content for now. When He feels like you’re ready for what He has in store for you, He’ll call you. He’ll send you out. Trust Him on this, and until then, just be content.

In the long run, you’re going to be happier because you waited. If you do something that you think is great, but you do it outside of God, then you’re going to be disappointed. And if He lets you go before you’re ready, then you’re going to be miserable. You’re not going to like what you’re doing.

God doesn’t want that for you! What would be the point? God wants joy for you!

So wait until He calls. Find joy in the waiting. Find joy in the being. And when the call comes, you can be sure that you’ll find joy in the doing. Kingdom work is joyful work! And that’s what God wants for you.

More on this next time. See you Tuesday.

The Joy That I Feel

I’ve spent years studying, asking God how to reflect the love of Jesus. I want to help create joy in the best way that I possibly, humanly, can. That’s the very most that I can do, but it’s the very least that Jesus does. He loves us so much.

If you read the Bible, it’s all about loving your neighbor. It’s all about helping those who do not have. People think the Bible’s a bunch of made-up stories that make this life sound great. But I think it’s Truth. I think it all points to Jesus. It all points to what he came for. Not only did he come to die on the cross for us and save us from our sin, but essentially, He came to fulfill us.

Part of our fulfillment in Jesus lies in helping the poor. Continue reading

The Joy That I Feel

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I’ve spent years studying and asking God how to reflect the love of Jesus. I would like to help create joy in the best way that I possibly, humanly, can. That’s the very most that I can do, but that’s the very least that Jesus does. He loves us so much more than even that.

If you read the Bible, it’s all about loving your neighbor.  It’s about helping those who do not have.  People think the Bible’s a bunch of made-up stories that make this life sound great.  But I think it’s Truth.  I think it all points to Jesus, and it all points to what he came for. Not only did he come to die on the cross for us and save us from our sin, but essentially He came to fulfill us.

And part of that fulfillment lies in helping the poor.  I really truly believe that Jesus left it up to us to help with these issues in the world, because essentially that’s what He came for.  He said, “I came to rescue. I came to take people out of bondage and create joy where there is no joy.”

God has given me an opportunity to create joy in an awesome way. He has given me the opportunity to help REACH out to suffering people, and give them every possible chance to experience joy. I’m trying to do my best, by creating environments of joy in places where people suffer. But even more than that, I’m trying to do my best by helping young people participate in that too.

To me, there’s no greater way to feel Jesus than by creating joy for others. And that’s why I feel good when I go to bed at night. I lay my head down on my pillow and I feel great. This is my “best life now” scenario. I don’t have suicidal thoughts, because I’m enjoying life so much.

You can do the same by partnering with me in REACH. You can go to bed saying, “I just helped someone get rescued from slavery today.” Or you can say, “I just helped a village of 1500 people get good drinking water.” You can say, “I just helped build an orphanage that will put shelter over kids’ heads and give them positive opportunities to learn and to be leaders.” Or you can say, “I just sent 200,000 meals to a village in Uganda and fed them for a year.” Whatever! There are so many opportunities, you know?

There are so many opportunities for us to create joy. Creating joy is reflecting the love of Jesus. And when you do it, and you know that you’ve done it, man, that’s just an awesome feeling. You’ll receive the love that He gives. You’ll feel it. Why? Because you’ve replicated it.

I love my God with all my heart, soul, and mind. Because I feel his smile on my life, I’ll do whatever it takes to reflect that on others. I want to feel that so much! And I can feel His smile when I do something good for somebody. I can feel His love reflected back to me. That’s heaven. That’s the joy that I feel.

Next week I’ll tell you about the nuts and bolts of the REACH program. See you Tuesday.