We are over halfways done with June and I am still memorizing Colossians. It has been a slow journey, but a very special one. I love it when new things jump out at me and I want to share one of the things God pointed out to me a couple days ago.
Colossians 3:23 talks about Paul being a servant of the gospel. Now, I don't know about you...but I often think about the disciples as being servants of Jesus. It's a little different twist to think of them as servants of the gospel. The gospel is the truth about what happened to Jesus and the result it provides for us. It is the message of personal hope that each one of us has because of the redeeming work of God's son Jesus Christ. When I was a child, I learned it like this:
...that He was dead...that He was buried...that he arose on the 3rd day...according to the scriptures:) Those simple statements and the truth they embody are the hope of a dying world. Simply because of what that sacrifice provides for us.
So, I have to ask myself. Janene...what does it mean to be a servant of the gospel? I also tend to think of myself as a servant of Jesus. I try to do what He wants, when He wants me to. My life revolves around trying to please the one who gave me life. But, I think I need to do a better job of following Paul's example. I need to be a servant of the gospel. I need to work for, and be ready to die for the message. The gospel is the message the world needs. If I were to be a servant of that gospel...I would work hard for the message. I would not expect to get anything in return. I would be loyal to the message. I would put my desires and my plans 2nd. My life would exist simply for the message...for the gospel. I would be "all in".
Praying tonight that I would be taking steps towards becoming that kind of servant.
Tomorrow we head to the hospital. It's time for Joshua's yearly long term follow up appointment at Childrens Mercy Hospital. It has been over 12 years since my Joshua was diagnosed with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma. We head back tomorrow for them to monitor any long term effects of the cancer we affectionately named "the monster".
Tonight I was preparing Joshua for the appointments. I went through his medical history with him because the long term clinic wants him to learn to manage his own medical care. They will be asking him the questions instead of mom. Joshua was somewhat shocked by his medical history. He was a bit blown away by 8 rounds of chemo, tumor resection, stem cell transplant, 28 rounds of radiation, 8 rounds of monoclonal mouse antibodies and 4 rounds of accutane. He said...wow...too bad I had to do all that. I just smiled at him and said I'm so glad he did. I went on to explain that I was so glad we had each been given the opportunity to be changed by God during those 2 difficult years. I told him how God had walked with us and changed the inner parts of our souls to make us into the people we are today.
In true Joshua form he said "mom I learned something from God too." I learned that when I go through hard times, I need to respect His will. I need to stop questioning His plan and believe that He has my best plan in mind. Then he repeated the importance of respecting Gods will.
And tonight ... thats what I'm pondering. Do I respect His will? I'm afraid I have allowed myself to get used to being OK with questioning His plan. If the unimaginable happens tomorrow, Would I respect His will or question it? I know and believe that God understands my questions. He isn't threatened by my questions or angered by them. But, oh the joy it would bring him if I would simply respect His will without the doubts and without the questions. He is pleased by my trust in Him and He has promised He will never let me down. Joshua has been through cancer and survived. He seems to understand that without issue. I'm praying His mom understands the same soon!
Colossians 2:9-10Amplified Bible For in Him the whole fullness of Deity (the Godhead) continues to dwell in bodily form [giving complete expression of the divine nature].
10 And you [a]are in Him, made full and having come to fullness of life [in Christ you too are filled with the Godhead—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—and reach full spiritual stature]. And He is the Head of all rule and authority [of every angelic principality and power].
Sometimes I feel plain and simply empty. It's usually after a particularly stressful time when I have been going 90 to nothing and haven't made time for God or been kind to myself. I feel like I lack every signficant thing in my life and that I don't and won't matter.
What a lie that is. I know the enemy loves to see me in that spot. It doesn't take much for him to defeat me that day. He feeds me a few lies about how worthless and void I am and I believe it and craw into my self absorbed hole. This is an ugly hole. It's where I focus on me and my own pain so much that it doesn't leave any time for serving others and loving Jesus.
This morning I was reading A Call To Die by David Nasser. Todays reading contained the following quote: "Everything we say and do needs to be filtered through the sacrifice Christ made on the cross".
Instead of just thinking Is that response worthy of Christ...I need to think Is that response worthy of the sacrifice he made on the cross.
Instead of just thinking is that evening activity worthy of Christ...I need to think is that evening activity worthy of the sacrifice he made on the cross.
Instead of just thinking is that food I'm going to eat worthy of Christ...I need to think is that ood worthy of the sacrifice he made on the cross.
I can fool myself into thinking that a good activity is worthy of Christ...until I remember the sacrifice He made. At that point good isn't good enough. My only thought can be if He sacrificed in this way for me. What sacrifice does He want from me. What sacrifice is worthy of Him.
And thats the point where I might get it right!
This week has been fun. I've been asking God to "Thrill Me" when I sit down to work on Colossians. Sometimes I say it out loud and sometimes...like this morning...I whisper it as a prayer in my mind. But the theory is true...you get what you expect. When I look at a passage of scripture with the expectation that something in it is going to thrill me spiritually...that's what usually happens. And that is what happened today. I was going on through chapter 3 reading the verses and came to verse 5. It says to put to death sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed which is idolatry. Now I've been working on Colossians since November and when I have read that verse previously, I have read it with a bit of relief. My mind usually says "Good, at least I don't have to worry about those things. Those are not things I struggle with. But this morning, God pointed out that little word greed. Greed is simply wanting more. I would define it as wanting more of something that I don't have. The opposite of contentment. I usually think of money with greed, but this morning God reminded me that greed can be wanting a different scenario...wanting a different outcome...wanting a different future that He hasn't given me.
Right now in my life. I am having trouble being content. I want things to be different. I want the outcome I would choose and I definitely am grumbly about it. I'm pretty sure that it all comes back to my pride. I want people to think I'm good and that my family is good and that we have it all figured out. I hate how much my happiness and my feelings of worth and success are wrapped up in those warped thoughts. I want to only care about what God thinks, but it is easier said than done.
So is it greed? Yup! I want what God isn't giving me. I want more and am letting myself not be content with his plan. I think I know what is best and I need to stop.
Father, please help me be content with your plan for our lives. Help me today...at the shower to not care what people think. Help me to only care about what you think about me. Help me to want more of you instead of a comfortable, non shameful life. Help me to not seek easy. Take those thought away and replace them with a more urgent and more desperate love and desire for you Father.
Asking that you remove my greed,
My Joshua is a load lifter. I know he learned it from watching his dad. But somehow...along the way...He has taken it to new levels. When I come home from grocery shopping...he runs towards me to grab my bags for me. When he sees me picking up around the house, he stops what he is doing and comes to me (often taking the item from my hand so that he can put it away for me). When we shop at walmart together, he pushes the cart for me. When he knows I have people coming over in the evening, he comes home from school and immediately starts cleaning. He unloads the dishes from the dishwasher on his own and he often says "mom, how can I help". His response when I ask him to help isn't just ok. It's "sure mom, I'd love to help you". There are no other words that explain it better. He's simply a load lifter. He is happiest in life when he is lightening my load. And that simply blows my mind.
I think that is what true service is. It is all about lifting loads from others around us. It is working to lighten the load of those God places in our path. It is being happy and content simply because we are load lifters. If I put all the cards on the table, I am a lousy load lifter. Sure...sometimes I do things for others to help. Sometimes I volunteer to serve and sometimes I even organize the process. But I do it because I know I should. I do it out of "oughtness" way too many times. I wish that I was more like my Joshua. I wish that I looked at those around me and ran to them to lift their load. I wish that my heart and soul found purpose and joy from lightening the burdens in their lives. I wish that my selfishness didn't hold me back from becoming the load lifter that God desires.
Jesus was the ultimate "Load Lifter". When he died on the cross, He took the load of my sin and my punishment of death on Himself so that I didn't have to bear it. Because of that I have hope, purpose, peace and life itself for eternity. I think lifting loads points people to Jesus. It's not normal for people to have others come alongside them and share their burdens. They will soon ask questions and they will soon recognize that Jesus is the reason. And hopefully they will soon recognize what He offers them personally. And that is our purpose isn't it? As we are going...being examples of Jesus to those around us. Loving people enough to lift their load and speak Jesus into their lives. My family needs that...Washburn University needs that...Topeka needs that...This country needs that and so does this world. Praying today for one more load lifter in the Freerksen home!
Colossians 1:16 says it quite simply. All things have been created through him and for him.
It feels like I’ve always known that. I have never not believed that God created the world and everything in it. I also have understood for many years that I was created for Him. But when I read this verse, I had to ponder about me being created for Him. That simple sentence is a perspective changer. The world teaches us that we were created for ourselves. It teaches us that we are here on earth to fulfill our purpose, our dreams and our destinies. No wonder sadness often invades my soul. Because my purpose sometimes seems questionable. My dreams sometimes seem unattainable and my destiny …who knows. Sometimes I feel like a miserable failure.
I wish that I would remember every day...every minute that I was created for Him. I wish that I would remember that it's not about me...my desires...my rights...my goals...my dreams. It is truly all about Him. I wish that I would remember that I was created for Him every morning when I walk the sidewalks of Washburn making my way to a busy student service center. I wish that I would remember that I was created for Him every evening when I come home...often feeling tired, grumpy and me centered. I wish that I would remember that I was created for Him when I lash out at those I love most...thinking I need to show them their "wrongs". I wish that I would remember that I was created for Him when I focus on my fear of the future...especially of becoming a grandma and all the things my Amelia will be facing as she grows up. I wish that I would remember that I was created for Him when I think after yet another "fail" that I will never succeed. I wish that I would remember that I was created for Him when I make the choice to selfishly sit in front of the television...telling myself that I have the "right" to a few minutes or hours of down time. I wish that I would remember that I was created for Him when I am too tired to pray. I wish that I would remember that I was created for Him when I am too selfish to pray. And finally, I wish that I would remember that I was created for Him all the time. I wish it was the first thought in my head instead of the last. Praying this morning that this would be so.
The other morning, my alarm rang at 6:00 AM and I stumbled out to the kitchen like usual. I met Joshua in the kitchen and we exchanged our normal “morning”. He wakes up happy and sharp and ready to hit the ground running. I, on the other hand am usually waking up about the time I get out of the shower. Anyways…while we were standing in the kitchen that morning…Joshua’s phone buzzed. My mom sense immediately went into overdrive and I asked “Joshua, who is texting you at 6:00 AM?” He smiled up at me and said “Its ok mom. It’s just Josh Smith. He’s texting me to remind me to get up and spend time with Jesus.”
I went away from that conversation smiling, but it has challenged me since that point. My son and his best friend are quite the example for me and I imagine plenty of others. They are taking time daily to encourage each other to run towards Jesus. I do that a lot with students who I am investing in, but the challenge for me is to make that the norm. There is no bigger purpose or calling than to help and encourage people to run towards Jesus. I believe the thing that often spooks me from that calling is that in order for me to encourage others, I must be doing. The natural accountability is sometimes weighty. However, I know that the purpose and fulfilment that it provides is second to none. It’s actually worthy of a lifetime.
12 Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.
My goal this semester is to become more like this guy named Epaphras. Not very much is written about him, but the fact that He is known for wrestling in prayer for those he loves pierces my very soul. The concept puzzles me and exhausts me at the same time. I try not to think about it because I don't understand how to get there. Then a day like today happens and I see the sheer necessity of wrestling for one I love. If I don't, I believe their lives will be effected forever. So...I'm asking tonight for a wrestling spirit. God, please teach me how to wrestle in prayer for those I love. Help me die to myself and obey you and become a woman who fights on her knees.
Tell Archippus: “See to it that you complete the ministry you have received in the Lord.”
I really would have liked to meet this guys Paul addresses in Colossians 4:17. Our of nowhere he feels it is important to remind him to complete the ministry he had received from God. That poses numerous questions for me. Was he not doing it for a reason? What happened? Did he just need encouragment? What ministry was it?
This week I felt like Archippus. I felt tired and felt like I was a failure and not very effective in anything I did. Sometimes in my down times, I wonder if it's worth it. When I read this scripture this Tuesday, it felt like God was speaking directly to my heart. He simply said..."It's Ok Janene...go ahead and complete your ministry." He was saying to take heart and fight for the confidence He has in me. He reminded me in his gentle way that it is worth it.
I'm learning that sometimes walking this road is difficult. Sometimes it doesn't make sense and it feels like maybe it's time to quit. Then He breaks through the clouds with a gentle prod and says keep walking and complete the ministry I gave you. Someday...somehow it will all make sense and you will see the big picture. And for tonight...that is enough.