House of Mourning

Journal Entry // June 8, 2021

Sorrow is better than laughter, for by sadness of face the heart is made glad. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.

Ecclesiastes 7:4 ESV

Mourning and Mirth. Sorrow and Amusement. It is not too difficult to discern which of these any person would rather experience. We would all rather have the daily experience of amusement over and above a daily experience of sorrow and mourning. Yet, the Preacher tells us plainly that the person who is wise will have their heart in the house of mourning.

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True Satisfaction

Journal Entry // June 7, 2021

All the toil of man is for his mouth, yet his appetite is not satisfied.

Ecclesiastes 6:7 ESV

Satisfaction… How is it that my toiling and striving and labor results in dissatisfaction? This statement and discussion by the Preacher is entirely spot on with how I have felt about my life over the last many years. I have had this insatiable desire prevalent in my every moment that will not allow me to enjoy the good things of this life. There has been a continual unhappiness with my present state at every point of life.

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Days of Old

Journal Entry // May 6, 2021

I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands.

Psalm 143:5 ESV

Remember, Meditate, Ponder… The good and faithful hand of the Lord is upon me in each and every situation at each and every moment. When my spirit and my heart are struggling, the mighty works of God are the prescription for healing and strength.

David is genuinely helpful when it comes to the matters of the heart and soul. He can write a psalm where he seems so negative and distraught, so completely honest before himself and God. He lays his feelings out before the Lord and brings them out into the open. He doesn’t let his fears or guilt or shame just languish within working bitterness and doubt deep into his soul. He brings this before the Lord.

This is essentially the same as what Peter tells us when he says we should humble ourselves before God’s mighty hand and cast all our anxieties onto him. Why? Because he cares for us. This is the truth of the matter. The heavy hand of God may be upon me bringing me to a point of humility. He allows and even ordains suffering and adversity to permeate my life because he loves me. He sets me in a place of humility because he cares for me.

This is why I need to remember, meditate, and ponder on God’s good works in my life. His faithfulness and love is my motivation for enduring suffering and adversity. Better than that, I can then see that the suffering and adversity is a blessing to draw me closer to Jesus. That as I continue to keep my eyes on Jesus, he himself will restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish me. Maybe not in a way that the world around me recognizes or even honors. I may never again see leadership or influence as I previously had. But I know that I will have something far more than honors in this world.

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These are the marks I want to outline my life. I want to be so engaged with Christ that this world and all that it offers fades away. That my eyes will be able to see through the lies and deception around me as the peace of God anchors me in his love and grace and mercy and compassion. Trusting in Christ alone.

Don’t Veer Off

Journal Entry // June 18, 2022

Therefore, be very strong to keep and to do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, turning aside from it neither to the right hand nor to the left,

Joshua 23:6 ESV

Where is it that I find the struggle with being obedient and following all that is written in the holy Word of God? For the most part, it is not outright disobedience set to go explicitly against what is commanded. Though it is true that my heart does lead me down that path at times and my mind does consciously and knowingly disobey what is explicitly commanded. Most of the time though it is far more subtle. There is this slight veering and turning aside to the left or the right from the teaching of the Bible. There is a gradual mixing of the world into my thoughts and ideas and holy things. There is justification and defensiveness for taking a slight variation on the clear word of the Lord to me.

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Full Joy

Journal Entry // April 30, 2022

These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

John 15:11 ESV

What are these things that Jesus has spoken of to me? It is the importance of abiding in his love by obeying his commandments just as he abides in the love of the Father an obeys his commandments. The key to abiding in Christ is simply obedience. I want to overcomplicate this and focus on other good things that are also important, but if I am to abide in the love of Christ there is only obedience. How important is this principle? Abiding in the love of Christ through obedience is the source of joy in my life. Abiding in the love of Christ is the pathway of His joy being in me and consequently my joy then being full. Not just a measure of joy, but the fullness of joy. Not just the fullness of any joy, but the fullness of joy in Christ!

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Grumbling at Joy

Journal Entry // March 31, 2022

So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. [7] And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.”

Luke 19:6-7 ESV

Why did they all grumble at Jesus deciding to stay at the house of Zacchaeus? Here is an everyday example of Jesus deciding to stay with someone in their house and enjoy a meal together. I am sure that Jesus did this fairly regularly and spent time with a host in the various cities he visited. Why is it that this time, the author reveals that the crowd grumbled? Is it simply because he went into the house of a sinner? Or is it because Zacchaeus was a tax collector? A rich tax collector at that. So when Jesus saw the enthusiasm of this man that was seeking to just glance at him as he passed by, Jesus stopped and gave him the honor of hosting him and his disciples. An honor that was not lost on the crowd and the crowd was not pleased.

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Fear and Delight

Journal Entry // April 11, 2021

Praise the LORD! Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who greatly delights in his commandments!

Psalm 112:1 ESV

This is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10). The fear of the Lord always sounds like such a negative state to be in a relationship. We don’t like to think about fear being a part of a loving relationship, but it is probably more due to our lack of understanding of what fear means in a loving relationship.

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Urgent Fear and Joy

Journal Entry // February 13, 2022

So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.

Matthew 28:8 ESV

As I reflect on this passage, I see that there are three emotions that the two Marys carry with them after encountering the resurrection of Jesus. They have a sense of fear, a great joy and overwhelming urgency. These are typically the emotions we all have when we first encounter Jesus and his resurrection. Every new believer has a sense of fear, joy, and urgency all mixed together. The question I ask myself at this moment is, “Why do I not feel these now?”

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Thousand Elsewhere

Journal Entry // March 20, 2021

For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.

Psalm 84:10 ESV

I want this verse to be true in my life. I know the truth of it and my heart yearns for the presence of the lord, but there is still within me this impulse that seduces me with lies about the grandeur of elsewhere. The lies that prick at my heart. The constant barrage of sights and sounds that tempt me to lust and covet. The lies that tell me it is better to have a thousand days elsewhere than just a single day in the presence of the Lord.

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Place of Abundance

Journal Entry // March 6, 2021

we went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.

Psalm 66:12 ESV

Psalm 66 is an interestingly relevant study into my current metal state. There is a focus on the trials and adversity that the Psalmist remembers, but there is a dedication and hope about the present and the future. This is where the Lord is leading me. I think I have been so focused on the “fire” and “water” that my present has become clouded and muddied. I have placed too much emphasis on learning from my past mistakes and mulling over what has been lost to the detriment of seeing the hand of the Lord leading me to a place of abundance.

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