Joyska's Journal: August 2010

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

Sunday, August 29, 2010

So now what?

I've decided to start a new challenge. There are 170 scriptrures... mostly chapters that refer specifically to the End Times. There is an 80 day reading plan that gets me through those along with a few different dvd series from our pastor and of course a wealth of information on It' s time once again to really study the End Times.

I actually stated on Friday and am 3 days in already. It's an interesting study having just finished the whole Bible in 90 days. I am finding that there even as I read through it the first thime I had placed stars by those passages that I felt were specifically end time prophesies and am pleased to see that so far I was correct.

I had a discussion yesterday with a trusted friend asking the question of what is next for me. Their response was I have been through a year and more of intense healing and have moved quickly through it, now is time to build stamina. At first I thought "for what?" And then I rememberes how quickly I burn myself out by jumping into ministry or work or whatever with everything I am. I do thrive on structure and pressure, and as a result take on too much. This was a great reminder that my main goal is to Glorify God in everything I do. I am working full time, I'm involved in the prayer and worship and church on different levels, and I'm studying -- right now the word, but soon will be taking courses. That is a lot already.

It's time for me, I think to continue working on discovering God's plan for me, for my own growth, but also to pursue Him in prayer and worship to give honour to His name, and to tell others of His glory. That is my purpose now. And that is a wonderful privilege.

So how does this relate to studying the end times? I guess it's all about perspective. Jesus is returning and he demanded that we stay alert and watch for His return. It comes up over and over in scripture. I want to be diligent in that and ready for whatever comes whenever it comes. He wrote those words over 2000 years ago, and His disciples lived it like He was coming back tomorrow and it changed them... the way they lived, the boldness in which they spoke the message of the Kingdom, and the priorities they held. That is how I desire to live my life... as if Jesus were coming tomorrow. Even as I write that I think... okay what priorities need to change?

I know that I want to speak boldly to those I love and care about, not holding back because of fear they won't like me... and yet speaking in love. I know that it causes me to be much quicker to forgive and ask for forgiveness as if time were short. Time is short, whether He comes back tomorrow or a thousand years from now. It is short for me. For each one of us. A young man at the Seminary was in the prime of His life a year ago, and in less than 4 months cancer took him from us. Time is short and as I said to my friend... I don't want to waste another minute of it. I've wasted enough time.

So again I fight with the delicate balance of being in prayer and worship and being out in the world working for Jesus, especially where the poor are concerned. But I know, beyond any shadow of a doubt that I was made (to borrow a line from a song) for loving You (Jesus) I was made for loving You. Whatever that looks like... that is what I am after. And loving Him means following His commandments and knowing and living out the fact that He is love. The rest, I'm discovering is up to Him.
Joyska at 4:35 AM

Friday, August 27, 2010

Genesis to Revelation

Well, so much for writing more the next day! Life has been busier than it used to be since I started working! But that hasn't stopped my love for daily reading the Word. And today, I finished the Bible. Genesis to Revelation in a little less than 90 days!

I woke up this morning and found myself just a little bit sad that it was done. But as I read through the end of Revelation I was so humbled by the fact that God loves me enough to give me a heart that delights in His word. There is so much hidden treasure in every page... It's the wisdom of God to conceal a matter... it's the glory of kings to seek it out....

The New Testament is a glorious testimony to what God did through His people, His apostles, His friends, after He went back to sit at the right hand of God. It's about the ordinary Joes who turn a city upside down, not in their own power, not by their own intellect or clever tricks... but simply and only through the power of God.

Paul is no different of a human than I am. But the Spirit of the Lord rested on Him. John who saw the Revelation of Jesus and of the things yet to come is no different than I am. But the Spirit of the Lord was in him and on him.

But the Spirit of the Lord is in me and rests on me too at times. Why aren't the people in my immediate influence "turned upside down" by the gospel of Christ? I take my Bible with me every morning to Tim Hortons an hour before I go to work to read and meditate on what the Lord is saying... why isn't there a revival happening at Tiny Tims in Steinbach?

Those are the questions I've been grappling with as I finish the reading through the Bible. What hinders God's power in me? What stops the gospel from turning this city on it's knees? What keeps the two edge sword from cutting to the quick in the two schools close to me? Why do my friends live in their own worlds of agony and pain? Why? I think I'm asking the wrong questions.

I think I need to be asking how and what.... how do I share the gospel with power, how do I minister with grace, yet bring conviction where needed?

I think back to June 1st when I started this journey. I wasn't working, I was facing surgery, and my heart was healing, but still somewhat broken. These last 90 days have sustained me through those tough moments of "God, I'm done" and "I'm too tired to keep fighting". These 90 days have caused my heart to rejoice as I watched God provide for me again and again. And here I am now, not content because I'm not seeing the world turned upside down by the gospel.

I caught an article today that talked about "fake" Christianity in teens and that it's a "feel good deism" that kids are following yet they lack conviction and stamina if challenged. It made me sad to read, but also encouraged me because the teens I know here are on fire and know that there are consequences to actions and God is not always a "feel good" God.

After reading through Revelation, especially, I'm seeing a different God. There are two words or phrases that I can't shake out of my head: Arise church arise!" and "Agree with My judgements" I don't know what the future holds... but I do know that I have not felt such an urgency in my Spirit to see His power move on the earth in a very long time.

I like it... and I'm going to keep reading the Word and praying like crazy because a day is coming when the Spirit AND the bride (the church and the Jews together) will cry out, come Jesus come!

I know that I could wax elequant and spout off knowledge that I've learned, but it's not about that... it's about my heart and the redemptive power of God. I know and believe that God loves me in a way I didn't 90 days ago. I'm more convinced than ever that there is a plan and purpose for my life, but it's not necessarily what I's to Glorify His name in everything I do and say and am... I have a deeper confidence in the truth of His word than I did 90 days ago, and most importantly I am more connected to Him than I have ever been.

Will I do this again? You better believe it!!
Joyska at 3:58 PM

Monday, August 23, 2010

General Electric Power Company

Otherwise known as Galations, Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians.
Yesterday's reading took me through all four books in one sitting. Paul spoke to each congregation in its own unique way. I have also been reading a book that talks about how big these congregations actually were. I have always envisioned them as small house churches that gathered in someone's home and shared the gospel with every one they saw. Actually, even in Acts it talks about 3000 being added to their number in one day!

That is roughly the size of the church I attend now and we do four services in a weekend!

These letters were written to thousands of people. It's crazy to think of it in that way. He challenged them in areas where they beginning to walk away or listen to other "gospels". Paul had people everywhere that would come and report to him and he would respond with the wisdom from Jesus. It's really profound as you read these in one sitting.

I will write tomorrow, along with the the letters to the Corithians, Timothy and Philemon... I have to catch up the writing with the reading! There are only four days left til I finish the 90 day reading plan... that went so fast!!!
Joyska at 10:16 AM

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

catching up

I finished the book of Acts today. It was amazing actually. I say that about all the books, but this one was inspiring to me for today. A friend and I have been talking a lot about the "gods" of our day and what and who people worship. The book of Acts has incredible examples of how the apostles and followers of Jesus lived and ministered in a time of persecution, a time of scattering of the believers to cities outside of Israel, a time of the apostles dealing with the incredible growth of the church even in the midst of persecution and a time of the Gospel being brought to the gentiles. THIS is where I fit into the story again!

Luke and John were powerful in their own right. There are phrases like "and Jesus entered the synagogue and preached the good news of the kingdom" and "the power for healing came upon Him" or "and being filled with the Spirit, He..." These phrases have kept me up late... God what do they mean? Does healing only happen when "the power" is present? What DID Jesus preach in the synagogues and how is it different than what we preach today? What did it mean to preach the Kingdom? And being filled with the Holy Spirit... that one just wows my heart. Is that even a word? wows?

I realized today that there are only ten days left in the reading plan. Ten days! The last 80 days have gone by so quickly and my life has changed so much since I started reading. I was waiting for eye surgery with no income in sight (no pun intended) on June 1st and by Aug 1st my eye was healed far faster than the doc anticipated and I had already been back to work for a week. I got a car, I had a "celebrate what God has done" party, and I failed my road test (crazy parallel parking poles).

But I've been learning a lot too... again the threads of the old testament continue through the new... the expression of God's UNFAILING love, the importance of true justice, warnings of judgements to come and promises of blessings if we follow God and his commandments, which are personified and prophesy fulfilled in Jesus and described in 4 unique ways in the gospels. Someone said today, that they had for almost 20 years been praying that they would feel and know His love. He spoke about Ephesians 3 and being rooted and grounded in love ... that was what happens when we believe in Jesus, but that the prayer goes on to ask for the power to grasp how high, wide, deep and long that love is... It's an action too... we have to grasp it... grab hold of it, and though it surpasses to knowledge to live in that love everyday.

That is what reading every day is teaching me. Yes, I am by definition God's child, but I will never grow and mature into his friend and servant unless and reach out and grab hold of the truths in scripture. I do again say... This is a new book to me this time around, and it's wonderful.
Joyska at 6:57 PM

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Matthew to Mark

I have to make this short because I need to get some sleep.
I just read through Matthew and am solidly into Mark. I have a lot of thoughts bouncing around my head that I want to share, but they aren't composed quite yet...
I think I may wait and do a post on all four gospels as there are so many similarities and yet remarkably different in their own ways. One thing I will say before I head off to sleep is that His word truly is living and active... saw it in action today, as I had opportunity to pray at work and see God do wonderous things.
The other thing I will say is that there is a growing urgency in me... for what I'm not exactly sure, but just an urgency to know the word entire, to know the Lord more, and to be transformed by His Spirit day by day. There is more to it than this, more behind it is a better way to say it, but for now I will leave it at that.

Anyone else confused by this post? haha... I'm just sorting it out in my head before I post it here... but once I have it sorted, I'll take a chance at writing it out. G'night!
Joyska at 8:41 PM

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Through the Old Testament... on to the New

I'm almost sad that I'm "leaving" the Old Testament. It's been my daily companion for 68 days already and I have grown rather attached to it. When I started reading June 1, I was dreading the Old Testament a little bit... all the begat so and so's and God bringing judgement and the precision of Numbers and Leviticus. But as I finished Malachi today, and started Matthew. I realized that was what I LOVED about the old Testament! (okay maybe not the begats, but even that showed the Soveriegnty of God and His greater purpose for Israel and the earth... and sure does Matthew start? BEGATS again... !!!)

I said to someone the other night that the Bible has become a new book to me. (to which he heartily agreed) I've read it before, but it is resonating on a deeper, more practical... more redemptive level than ever before. I think it has something to do with... no, I KNOW it has something to do with my longing to give 100% to God, His Son, and the Holy Spirit. I've approached this reading with a longing to see God's heart, to understand His justice and to receive His wisdom and experience His mercy. It's never been "just a book", but it really is a new book to me this time around, and I am rejoicing because of that!

I have loved watching (reading) the story unfold. It's a story of redemption and God's steadfastness, His mercy, and His again UNFAILING love for His people... for His creation... for those He would eventually give His life for (now I'm jumping ahead haha). The Old Testament, The Law, The Prophets... all of it is so precise and so perfectly laid out. Genesis 1:1 "In the beginning God..." and Malachi 4:4-5 "Remember to obey the law of Moses...Look I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of the Lord arrives...." The Bible Starts with the premise that God created everything for HIS Glory, and the Old Testament ends with the promise of His coming and His return...

Everything inbetween builds to this moment... I am sending a prophet who will prepare the way of the Lord... The Major Prophets and the Minor (Miner?) Prophets all spoke of both the judgement coming in the days they were written and of a judgement to come. I can't imagine what the people of the day would have thought about this "great and terrible" day of the Lord, or the events that will happen in the far off future as He says to Danel, but those words are resonating with me for today. He is coming again, and He will send a prophet to prepare the way for His return as He did in the days of Jesus. John was the prophet then... to Israel... now to us as the body what does this prophecy mean?

The worship at church this weekend was all about Christ's return to rule and reign over the earth. Pastor Ray's sermon was on submission to authority... I couldn't help but put those together. The Bible is a love letter... calling His people to himself, whether through struggle or blessing, judgement or favor, He is jealous for His own.

The New Testament brings me, us non Jews, into the equation even more. (we were just foreigners and other nations in the OT) But now, the time of the Gentiles is introduced.... our place in the story. I'm excited to see how the threads continue through the next 20 days...

I'll keep you posted :)
Joyska at 7:18 PM

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

a melting. softening heart....

I'm taking a quick break from my reading updates... not because I'm not reading, but because today was my birthday. I say was because it's getting close to 1:00 am and I should be sleeping! *the time posted is a little off*.

This year I decided to do something I have never done before... I purposefully invited people to my house to celebrate, not just my birthday, but all that God has done this past year. I was amazed, stunned, delighted and amused by how many people actually came. It was ... well amazing.

At one point as I looked around my living room and saw all the people that came, and what they have meant to me over this past year and longer, I could feel my heart melting. It wasn't that I didn't know these people and many others who sent their regrets cared about me, I knew that, it was a moment of letting God's love be personified in these people.

I then went to my email and there 48 messages of birthday greetings. Now I know that people on facebook get birthday alerts, but they responeded to it, and sent a message.

I got an ecard from a dear friend, I got a phonecall today from a friend who I miss dearly who lives far away. My boss (new boss no less) bought me a rose and took me out for lunch, and I was greatly blessed.

It was God's love personified because as I looked around the room, every one of them had God's Spirit in them, and there was much laughter, and even great effort to get here (thanks Ray... that rocked :) It was God's love because God was showing me in a tangable, un-ignorable ( I know not a word...) way that He saw me, He loved me, and He has surrounded me with people of His character... and what is that ? Love.

As one of Misty Edwards songs says "I am blessed, I am blessed among men".

Years ago, I was walking somewhere in Michigan and saw a pond near the end of winter. It was the perfect picture for what God was promising to do in my life at that time. I knew that he was promising that my heart too, would melt, that spring would come, and that my heart would be softened by His love. That was many years ago, and tonight I am reminded of that promise. I've come a long way since then, through seasons of melting and freezing and melting and freezing and melting again. But tonight was different. It wasn't just the number of people, or even the depth of friendships represented in each face, but it was something more... something I can' t seem to explain... but it impacted me greatly.

Since I know there are some of you who are reading this, (the counter lets me know how many lurkers there are) If you were in that room... THANK YOU. If you weren't, thanks for reading my random and almost daily thoughts. The Lord has been so good to me and I can't believe the privilege I have to walk with a body of believers that personify His love to me.

Thank you Jesus, for my life, for the struggles in it, for the journey you have me on, and for all that is yet to come. And my heart softens and melts BECAUSE You move in and through my life. There aren't enough words to say thank you.
Joyska at 10:17 PM

Monday, August 02, 2010

"that they may know that I am the Lord"

Why does God do what He does? Now there is a question that we can spend the rest of our lives trying to figure out!

As I finished Ezekiel today and have been reading throught the book these last few days... I came to realize that repeatedly (in fact its stated 63 times in the first 40 chapters) when God gives a word to Ezekiel it was to show them that He was the Lord. Whether it was judgement coming, judgement already administered or the promise of restoration... God would end each degree with one of two statements: "that they may know that I am the Lord" or "I, the Soveriegn Lord have spoken"

It is so easy for me to think that I exist for my own purposes, but I exist solely to bring glory to Him. His judgements and promises aren't about me or us, they are about Him. That sounds a little egotistical stated that way, but it's the exact opposite of egotistical. He created us as an expression of Love, as an expression of himself and the longing that He has for His creation to love Him back. His judgements harsh and extreme as they were for Israel, were expressions of His deep love and longing for them. He wanted them, the nations surrounding them, and the nations of the earth (all mentioned at different times) to know that He was the true God, the one that made them, and He would demonstrate His power in an attempt to woo them back, to see His power, soverignty, justice and LOVE, in order to draw them back to Him.

God does things, ALL THINGS, so that we would turn and recognize Him as God. The phrase (and I've used it in previous postings) "He is God and there is no other" keeps running through my mind and heart. What I'm discovering as I let that permeate and marinate in my mind and heart is that God who has no equal, no one to even compare him to... Loves insignificant me... (or despicable me... which I still haven't seen yet) That means life for me. Real life. And I'm seeing a whole different side of God.

And in that I am awed and amazed, humbled, afraid, and some what more alive than I've ever been.
Joyska at 6:53 PM