Joyska's Journal

Sunday, December 05, 2010

what can I say?

Quick update on the Bible reading... Started Deuteronomy today. Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers ... lots of stories, laws and census numbers... but all about the faithfulness of God, His calling of His people out of slavery, His love and commitment to them, His desire to be their God and for them to be His people, and what struck me most was Moses' obedience to "do as the Lord commanded". Amazing.

Sorry... what can I say beyond that? There is so much in those three books, and it's an amazing way to see God's heart, justice, compassion, and love. I highly recommend reading them! :)
Joyska at 8:27 PM

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Genesis... again :)

I started doing the 90 day reading plan again on the 23rd of November. I'm already supposed to be in Leviticus, but am only half way through Exodus... but I'll catch up.

I just wanted to say a few things about what God is teaching me already. Genesis really challenges me. There is of course a decision that I have to make every time I read it. Do I believe the creation story as it is written? Do I believe it is a literal 6 days? Do I believe He rested? Do I believe the snake spoke words to Eve? Every time I read it I realize that it is foolishness to many... but not to me.

If I believe the scriptures are God breathed and that God is incapable of lies, then I have to believe that the scriptures... all scriptures are literal, even the talking animals... the snake in Genesis, Balaam's donkey, and the talking eagle in Revelation. There are many things in scripture that seem odd, or beyond belief, even offensive to my thinking processes... but then again isn't Jesus' death offensive? Aren't the wars and death of the old testament offensive?
Yet they are true and I wouldn't be who I am if they weren't.

Jesus' birth, death and resurrection are the cornerstones of my faith... and so is His immanent return. He is coming back... and He is coming as a king and will bring true justice. Maybe sooner than some think.

I guess my point of all this is His word is not something I want to question. It's what I want to live by and let change my thinking... not the other way around.

Many things to think about :)
Joyska at 9:11 PM

Friday, November 26, 2010

deep thoughts by Joyska

I've been very lazy about my blog lately. Partially because I seem to have so many other things to do and be occupied by. However, I'm discovering this is a good place to just share what is in my head regardless of who is reading it...

This week God has really been challenging me in the issue of surrender and trusting Him when it feels like my world has been turned upside down... The question has been is He worthy of my trust? OF COURSE He is!!! But I often get so caught up in the day to day struggle that I loose my way, and begin to question that. So His challenge to me has been, will you give me everything? Your heart, your emotions... all of it, not just most of it... but all of it?

Scary place to be.

Yet it's the safest place if I read scripture right. He is the God of justice, which means He is the highest standard of righteousness, and He will return to deal with the wicked and those who stand against Him. He is holy, which means there is no sin or darkness in Him and He longs for our lives to be found completely in Him. He's jealous, which means He is not content to have only part of us, He wants everything... and when we turn to Him and let Him do what He wants to do, it is for our good, but more importantly for His glory.

How much safer can we be?

But it comes at a cost. We have to be willing to follow, to surrender, to hold nothing back, to give Him His rightful place in our lives. It's not an easy choice, because it requires forsaking everything else, but it's really the only choice if we are going to be completely His. And He is looking for hearts that are completely His.

God's power lies in His ability to redeem our lives. (at least part of His power). He is infinitely more than that I know, but his redemption is one of the things that Satan cannot counterfeit. Jesus is the only one who can take a messed up life and turn it for His glory. He doesn't do it just to use us in other peoples lives, though that often happens... but He does it simply because He loves us and wants more for us than our own sin. That's why He came in the first place isn't it?

I do believe that He is returning, maybe sooner than most of us think, but I know that He is coming for a pure and spotless bride. He isn't coming for a half hearted luke- warm faith... He is coming for hearts that are ready and are fully His.

How ready is my heart? I have a ways to go, but I am on the right track. As difficult as life has been at times, and as messed up as my thinking has been, I'm beginning to really get the bigger picture. As I turn to Him, He turns to me, and life may not get easier, but it gets better. He is growing character in me... He is showing me my own sin, and helping me let go of the sins of others, but most importantly He is showing me that He gave everything for me and He expects no less from me.
Joyska at 3:31 PM

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Fire in my bones

It's early Sunday morning and the house is really quiet. My roommate is sleeping and I well... couldn't, so I got up.

There is a lot running through my brain as of late, I guess there always is, but I've noticed it more lately :).

Whenever health issues crop up, I think I take a look at my life and try to figure out what I did wrong, or how I failed to take care of myself or if it simply is what it is. It's always a time of evaluating my own standing with myself but also with God. The big question for years for me anyway was "how could God let me be a diabetic, or sick, or (fill in the blank)?" That question has changed a little to "why is God allowing the sickness, etc?" But I don't think that is even the right question. So if it's not me, and it's not God than what is happening?

These are deep questions for so early in the morning, I know, but I think the answer is quite simple. Nothing is an accident. God really is in control. I don't always get it, I don't always like it (in fact rarely get it or like it) but if I believe that God created the universe, that Jesus saved the world and as I was reminded yesterday FREED me from my sin, and the Holy Spirit is in me... IF I believe these things, the other things, sickness, emotional struggles, life issues are simply opportunities to run to Him.

Here in lies the problem. I don't always make that choice. Let's be honest... sometimes it is easier to kick and scream and throw a tantrum, because then it's not my fault. Sometimes it's easier to shut it all down because then its no big deal. Sometimes it's easier to run, because then I don't have to look at anything face on (especially when I have no clue which way to go).

But here in lies the bigger problem. When I chose and yes, it is a choice, to respond in any of the fore-mentioned ways, I am loosing out on an opportunity for growth in my trust of Him and others and am loosing out on the miracles that God wants to show me or do through or in me. But like the old prophet Ezekiel, I feel like I get tricked sometimes. I feel like He calls me to something way bigger than me and I say no until it becomes like fire in my bones and I have to cry out and speak truth... to myself and eventually to others.

I'm still in that stage I think of saying "you tricked me God" and I'm not impressed. But at the same time it's this fire He is calling me to walk through that will refine me and make me a better representative of Him. But fire hurts. There is the promise that you will walk through the fire and not be burned. I take great comfort in the story of Shadrach, Mechach, and Abednego for they walked out of the fire not even smelling like smoke. But these three men, stood before the most powerful man in history and declared that they would not bow down, would not worship idols EVEN IF GOD DIDN'T SAVE THEM.

My heart wants to have that strength. My heart wants to stand and proclaim faith in every circumstance. These men, like Daniel lived in a hostile, evil, demented, land. Babylon was a wicked city that held them captive and in exile. But these men chose God above all else. I have a lot to learn about my responses to everyday life. I have some choices to make of my own. I don't always make the right ones, and my guess is that no one always does, but my heart desires to be a Daniel, an Ezekiel, a true believer of God's words and a fighter to make those words true in my life.

Up to this point, this blog has been about what I'm reading... and it on some levels will continue to be, especially as I start grappling with concepts that I'm learning at the seminary, but this will also be for me a place of trying to find that faith of Daniel, trying to live out my convictions that I know are true in every circumstance, and grappling with my failure to do so at times.

It may get a little raw sometimes... because I am at that place... it may be over zealous at times... because I get there too. But it will be honest... it will be where I'm at and it will be what Jesus is showing me about myself (to a healthy degree of sharing... sorry no deep intimate truths on this public forum) and what He is showing me about Himself.

I will be honest and say I'm nervous. There are some deep valleys to travel ahead of me... I can see them, but on the other side of every valley is a mountain top that will give me a view of where I'm going and as long as (to borrow a phrase) my boots are pointed in His direction and I'm moving toward Him, I'm on my way.

I think God has much to say to me right now. I think He has much for me to say... but I first need to listen, to obey and to follow with everything that is in me. So this morning I'm kicking and screaming a bit... okay a lot, but I know He is in control of all of it. I just need to figure out how to let go of the fear, and to follow willingly, because there is a fire in my bones, there is something He has planned for me... it may be huge, it may be little, but its His will for my life and I know I have to get in line with it...
or miss it.
Joyska at 4:23 AM

Friday, October 29, 2010

nothing to do with scripture

I just need to put it out there. The last two days have had some scary moments. I'm not sure which was scariest, the 8 hours of dizziness, the panic attack in the hospital when they put in the IV, or the moment when the doctor said it's an inner ear virus causing vertigo, OR, you may have had a minor stroke.

Or really, it could have been yesterday as I sat at home and the more I talked to people on the phone the worse my stutter became and the harder it was to put sentences together. Then there was going for prayer at church and having my greatest fear be that I wouldn't be able to sing anymore.

Thankfully I can still sing without stuttering and my laying still and doing absolutely nothing today seems to have stilled the dizziness... for now.

So how do you go from being relatively healthy, to a virus, to a possible stroke? And how do you process a relatively normal life and processing to feeling like your whole world is spinning? There is a place of confusion that takes over for sure... if you let it.

In my quietness today, even though I haven't prayed, or read, or worshiped in any formal sense of the words, yet today has been peaceful and quiet. I haven't been "fighting against the goads" so to speak, but rather have been just thinking about how life throws things at you and how you have a choice on how you respond.

I certainly never planned to be diabetic. I didn't expect to have 3 eye surgeries in a year, I didn't plan on moving to a small town after my whole adult life was based in the inner city. But that is just it... my plans never worked out. It's always been His plan. Do I like what my body is doing? Absolutely not and it doesn't take the fear away, but do I believe that God is bigger? What choice do I have?

This blog for months now has been about the scriptures and what they are teaching me and what I am learning. I love the Word and it is life to me. But these last couple days especially, when i feel like all other avenues are unavailable to me, the Lord has brought a peace that I don't understand. I'm not panicking, I'm not stressing, I'm trusting... and choosing to believe that the God that I read about and get to know through His word every day is the God who holds me when I'm scared to death and filled with confusion.

Maybe it's a picture of how He will work in us in the future when things do get harder for everyone in different ways. Maybe He's just showing me that He is here, even in my own sense of anger and frustration... that even if things get WAY out of my control... He hasn't left me yet.

Sometimes those experiences speak louder than His word.
Joyska at 6:39 PM

Saturday, October 23, 2010


It's been awhile since I blogged. I am well into day 56 of 80 days reading through end time scriptures. It's been amazing to see that the amount of scripture in the old testament that warns and proclaims what is yet to come is astounding to me.

It's been a journey of reading and experiencing on a different level the commitment that God has both to justice and to His chosen people, and along with them the church.

But there has been a great hesitation in me over these last few weeks, and probably the reason why I stopped blogging for a time. The hesitation isn't that the words I'm reading aren't true or that they are taken out of context or anything like that, quite the opposite actually. I am currently reading scriptures in Ezekiel that foretell the fall of Babylon but also the promise of one who will rule forever. It's powerful to recognize the thread that holds the beginning to the end and that the desire in all of us is to get back to that place in the garden of Eden where we will be WITH God.

My hesitation arises more in myself. The struggle to understand and AGREE with God's judgments right along side the struggle to be patient for His righteous judgments to come. It's an interesting conundrum. God come quickly and deal with the brutality in our world... by coming and wiping out all your enemies... brutally. And yet, it's not with brutality, it's with justice and righteousness and mercy that He comes, and gives warning, and pleads with the peoples of the earth...

My hesitation also comes from an understanding that God is all knowing, all powerful, and all sufficient. His timing is always right, yet how can the world be such a messed up place? I know and am learning as I study all these passages that John 3:16-17 remains true... He did NOT come to condemn the world but to save it. But does the world want to be saved?

In the three religions of Christianity, Judaism, and Muslim, Christians are the only ones who believe that God would become man - that he would stoop that low, it is heresy to the others. Yet we as Christians base our very faith and salvation on the proclamation that Jesus came to earth as a baby, lived, died and rose again, and is seated at the right hand of the Father and is coming again to rule and reign ON THE EARTH. This Jewish man, this fully God, fully man, will someday return and vanquish His enemies and set up His kingdom of righteousness and freedom.

That's why all those stories of Kings and kingdoms and princes and princesses pull at our heartstrings... we long for His return as righteous King and judge. And still in my heart I hesitate. Again, not because I don't believe and long for His return, but because it is so foreign to the way we live. His kingdom will not be a democracy. His rule will be absolute. I've lived in a world where those things sound menacing, not reassuring.

But then I remember His heart... For God SO LOVED the world that He gave His only son that whoever believes in Him will have eternal life. He is coming again. There is this great line in a song that Misty Edwards from IHOP sings that goes "He's not a baby in a manger anymore, He's not a broken man on the cross, He didn't stay in the grave, and He's not staying in heaven forever" That in a line is the truth of what I believe.

Here is again the hesitation... my heart doesn't LIVE what I say I believe. There's an honest statement for you. I still live in a place of fear and brokenness and not in the promises He's given. I quickly default to old habits and run to other things in the hopes that THEY will satisfy whatever it is my heart is longing for... or afraid of... or trying to attain.

In a message I heard this weekend, our pastor laid out beautifully the reason that it is to our ADVANTAGE that Jesus went away and sent the Holy Spirit to dwell IN us. God has given us complete access to His heart and His power through the Holy Spirit, and WHEN (not IF) Jesus returns the Holy Spirit will remain IN us to teach, comfort and guide us into all truth... the truth of who Jesus and the Father really are. His return is to bring GLORY to HIS name, and for the whole world to know that HE IS LORD.

But that seems so big and "out there" for my day to day struggles. Where is the line of walking that truth every day and going to work and raising money for a college? How do we walk the now and the not yet (to quote John Wimber)? How do I live in my daily pain and inner struggles and still walk out the truth of His glorious return?

Sometimes I wish it would be as simple as finding a wardrobe that led to Narnia. Really... that is what that story grapples with... can the two realms exist together? They have to, or really what is the point?
Joyska at 8:43 PM

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

The only one worthy.

The seals. Only Jesus was worthy enough to open take the scroll and open the seals. All seven of them. Reading Revelation can be a little unsettling, a little concerning, and then I remember that only Jesus was worthy to open the scroll. Those seven seals are incredible judgements released upon the earth, the skies, the rivers, and on man. Each one took out a third the land, the sun, moon and stars, the rivers and eventually mankind. A third.

But only Jesus was worthy to open the scroll.

I feel a little bit like the weeping prophet, crying out to God, does it need to be this way? Is this the only way to bring about salvation for those you love? And I hear a resounding "yes". "Agree with my judgements".

Jesus was the only one worthy to open the scroll.

I find myself doing a "cleansing" of many things as of late. I am reading scripture way more than I have in a long time, I'm praying more, I totally cleansed and rearranged my room and office (a HUGE change and cleansing) and I'm worshipping a lot more. Why? Because I feel like I have to? Because I'm reading end times scriptures and I want to be ready? (yes, actually) But also because I WANT to. I want to honour the only one worthy. I want to be a "good and faithful" servant of the only one worthy.

This is the month of Ramadan, a month of fasting and prayer of the muslims where they cry out to allah to hear their prayers and to return quickly. The most devout of the muslims pray 7 times a day during Ramadan. They fast from sunup to sundown. They consecrate themselves and seek to live holy lives to gain favour with allah. The world sees them as fanatics... or do they? Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world... including in North America. They have decided to stand for something. To live out what they believe is right, and it's become attractive to those who have grown up in a world of church that doesn't hold them to any standard anymore, that seems to have lost it's power, but claiming to have religion.

It's not the gospel or Jesus that has changed, but the church. And as the day draws ever nearer, when Jesus does return, so many of us... myself included are distracted, are focusing on the here and now, when Christ has always called us to follow Him and keep our eyes on things above.

Yes, I need to go to work every day and give 100% of who I am into the job. Yes, I need to pray, yes I need to live a HOLY life, simply because Jesus said to live as he did.

I can't get around that only He was worthy to open the scroll... because He was completely complicite to the will of His father... He took on the sin of the world, without hesitation... without regret making Him and He alone worthy.

I don't know where I'm going with all this other than to say... I am more and more day by day committed to who HE is, and who I am in Him. I want to live a life holy... seperate and completely His. And the only way to even attempt such a life is total surrender to Him... 100%.

I set my heart to worship
I give You all I am
The brokenness, the failures
The worst of who I am
But I stand before you open
My heart, my mind, my soul,
I ask for Your to fill me
So I can give you all...

I long to worship you alone
I long to honour your name alone
I long to worship you alone,
For you alone are worthy... so worthy.
(song I'm working on)

God, you've captured my fascination with who You really are and what You really mean. I am committed to the journey to finding You more and more each day. For you ARE the only one worthy.
Joyska at 8:12 PM

Monday, September 06, 2010

"the dangers of the last days"

A couple of days ago, my reading plan took me to 2 Timothy 3 and 4. It starts out like this:

"You should know this, Timothy, thot in the last days, there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents and ungrateful, They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforginving; they will slander others and have no self-control. THey will be creul and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but the will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that. (2 Tim 3:1-5 NLT)

Its a strong warning and a strong beginning and premise from which he writes the rest of the letter. It's somewhat easy to look at this list and think "we must be in the end times" as so many of these things are happening all around us. But what struck me was two in the list "ungrateful" and "they hold nothing sacred". Both speak of incredible selfishness to me, and my heart resonates with being "ungrateful" Yet I think it's the second one of these two that wounds God's heart. "they hold nothing sacred". Nothing has value or worth. Everything is common place and holds no wonder or delight. That is not the way the Lord created us, the earth, or anything He made.

To be ungrateful and hold nothing sacred goes together in a way. And both break his heart. I want to write more, but I have to be up in 6 hours ready to receive all the new students! I will get back to this next time.... until then... happy autumn :P
Joyska at 7:44 PM

Thursday, September 02, 2010

warning signals

So, this is the first time in my life I have owned a car. Granted, I didn't pay for it, but it is mine. Today, the "service engine soon" warning light came on. At first, I thought "OH NO!!! MY CAR IS GOING TO BLOW UP!!!" But after a few deep breaths and a few reassuring words from my wise friend Cheryl, I realized it is most likely just needing an oil change. PHEW. That I can handle.

It made me laugh though, because it's the same kind of reaction that my heart and mind have been having to my reading of the End Times scriptures. I kind of go through this "OH NO!!!! THE WORLD IS COMING TO AN END!!!" moment and then through the wisdom of the Holy Spirit and trusted friends, I realize, okay, it is coming, but not today. In the mean time, I need to change the oil... (get rid of the old to make way for the new) and keep my life well maintained... pretty good metaphore really.

As I've continued my reading through the scriptures on the end times, I am constantly amazed at the severity of the warning signs... Wars, rumers of wars, nation against nation... and then the natural disasters, earthquakes, floods, famines... and still they are only the beginning of the birth pangs. HOW MUCH MORE SEVERE WILL GOD NEED TO GET TO GET OUR ATTENTION?

I know that I need to take my car in and get it serviced. I know because the warning light tells me to. There was no light yesterday... there is today. Do I risk it and see how long the light will stay on before the car dies? Of course not... I'm taking it in this weekend (hopefully).

Then why do I think I can ignore the signs that Jesus himself told us to look for? He is coming like a thief in the night... we don't know when, but for those of us who believe and have the Holy Spirit in us, He has given us the playbook. We DO get to know the "signs of the times" and we DO need to stay awake and alert ... Praying and proclaiming His return. I know my car WILL blow up if I ignore the warnings... I know too, that I will miss what Jesus wants to do in me to prepare myself and others for His return if I ignore what's all happening in the world around me.

I'm not so sure that "service engine soon" warning was just a coincidence.
Joyska at 9:06 PM

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I swear it's in the air

Everywhere I went today someone was talking about being ready and prepared. It wasn't all about the end times, but it was everywhere! In Timmies, the two older gentlemen sitting beside me were talking about the importance of the Jews to Christianity and that we need to be ready to stand by them if anyone tries to take them out again. SERIOUSLY... IN TIMMIES!

Then at work today, lots of conversations about being ready and prepared for the students soon to come through our doors, praying for them, praying for their families, praying for their hearts and minds to be open and ready.

My reading today too... Be alert, keep watch, you never know when the owner of the house will return... don't be caught unaware.

So today, there is a renewed tenacity to be ready. I want to know His word, I want to learn how to LOVE, to truly love like He loves us, I want to reach out, help where I can, live my life like I said the other day... as if He was coming back tomorrow. There are some drawbacks to that, I will admit. It's hard to justify stuffing envelopes for 8 hours if I am living for His return, but at the same time... He commanded us to do all to His glory and honour. So... as I stuff, I pray.

I was watching a dvd teaching series last night and was struck by one statement "We are raising our kids to be ready for persecution". How many of our kids (not that I have any) would be ready if the church suddenly came under persecution? How many of us would be ready? Could I stand in the face of insults, my rights being taken away, false accusations, and potentially much worse? Today? No, probably not, but I'm getting there. Getting rid of things that are a waste of time, and spending more time in His word, and praying... watching... waiting... expecting His return.

I know a lot of things have to fall into place before Jesus returns, but I also know that the judgements played out in scripture happened in a day... God saved Noah and his family on the same day He sent the flood, God spared Lot and his family on the same day that he destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. It was too late for the people in Noah's day... it was too late for the people in Sodom and Gomorrah... God's judgement fell quickly and with great power.

When His judgements are released on the earth, at least as Revelation tells it, it will come quickly and many will not survive. But He also promises in Amos (3?) that He does nothing without first telling His people. His word tells us a lot... the specifics of what signs to watch for, what will take place... how to pray, and what to pray for... AND He raises up prophets and forerunners to prepare the way of the Lord.

My job as far as I can figure so far is to stay awake, stay steady in Him, watch with anticipation of His return, and Pray for the salvation of the lost. That's a lot to do... and yet it's the only thing to do! So stuffing envelopes I watch and pray... planning fundraising events, I listen for His leading and I watch and pray... praying for others at church and elsewhere... I watch, listen and pray... and I go when he says go, stop when He says stop and keep my heart connected to His. (abide in Me and I will abide in you). My heart feels somewhat overwhelmed by it all, but I long to and need to be "a bride made ready" for the return of my King.

Keep watch, pray, and get ready. He IS coming soon.
Joyska at 7:18 PM