Tag Archives: James 1:2-4

It’s ALL a PURE joy

8 May

Have I ever mentioned that I love the book of James? Well, I do.

In fact, a few of my favorite verses, which I’ve mentioned in several previous posts, are ones that are quoted often:

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds. For you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness, and let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4 (ESV)

Even though I typically read and study from the ESV, I LOVE the way NIV tells us in verse 2 to “consider it PURE joy.”

Wait. Trials are “pure joys”? Really? You’re probably thinking, “Isn’t that a bit extreme?”

To me, “count it ALL joy,” means counting every single one of your trials–ALL of them–as joys. And “considering it pure joy” means your trials are totally, completely, unequivocally a JOY to face. Each trial is a joy, and each joy isn’t just some silly little sprinkling of joy…it’s an unmistakable heaping of PURE joy.

Do I sound crazy yet? I’m not, I swear…

Sometimes when we face hardships, we fail to understand why. We think we don’t deserve it. We think we’re pretty good people and that we should have an easy life because we’re Christians and we love God. So why do trials come?

James makes it clear. God allows our faith to be tested so that it may become stronger. And, after we’ve remained steadfast under our trials (aka: when we never lose faith in God despite the hard stuff), we’ll receive the “crown of life.” We’ll make it to heaven, where there will be no more trials. (See my previous post for more on that.) Don’t you think that reward is worth the pain?!

Try considering it it ALL a PURE joy today, no matter what you’re facing. Mandisa does a great job of putting tough times into perspective in her song “Stronger”:

When the waves are taking you under, hold on just a little bit longer, He knows that this is gonna make you stronger.

Jen

Rolling in the deep or lifting HIM on high?

26 Apr

Music (n): A mixture of voices and instruments that worships something and has the ability to make or break you.

Don’t be mistaken. That’s not Webster’s dictionary definition of the word “music.” It’s actually my own personal definition. It’s nothing fancy, but it summarizes the point I want to make today. It’s been a learning experience for me, actually.

Right vs. Wrong?

In my 21 years of life on this planet, I will be honest and tell you that I’ve met Christians who stand on complete opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to secular music. Some believe that all of it should be avoided, some say that secular music is okay as long as it’s clean, and some truly think any secular music is okay, regardless of content.

So, what is okay and what isn’t? Where can the line be drawn? Is it wrong for me to listen to Michael Buble? (If it IS wrong, I’m not so sure I want to be right…LOL.)

But seriously, these are questions I’ve often asked myself. It can be hard to determine where to draw the line in our present culture.

Truthfully, I’m not here to tell you what you should and shouldn’t listen to, but…

Here is what I’ve found, and it has helped me in my decision making: “Garbage in, garbage out” couldn’t be any truer. If music makes you angry or depressed, if it causes you to sin, if it encourages you to disrespect your family, if it pushes you to hang with the wrong crowd….well, I’d suggest you throw it out.

But what if the music you listen to isn’t actually “bad”? What if it’s just sad?

My Adele Experience

Let’s face it: We’ve all heard of Adele. Virtually all of us can recognize her songs by her incredible voice and the sad, bitter lyrics. I’ve never actually intentionally listened to Adele, but I can recognize her music because of its popularity and presence on American Idol. In fact, over the past six months, I have felt as though I hear her music everywhere. It pretty much follows me. And it really hadn’t bothered me too much, until I listened to it closely.

The other day I was washing dishes and listening to a station on Pandora Radio, and one of Adele’s songs came on. Although my natural inclination would have been to skip the song (sorry, Adele fans), my hands were all messy and soapy, so I had to let “Rolling in the Deep” play.

For the first time, I actually listened to every word of the song (I was kind of forced to). Can I be totally honest? This song tried to steal my joy.

I’ve found that whether we can relate to the lyrics of a sad song or not, I truly believe music can affect us. And even if we can relate to it–in this case, even if we’ve had our hearts broken–do we honestly think listening to Adele will help us? Sure, whoever broke Adele’s heart made her a millionaire, but listening to her music isn’t going to make you and me rich or famous, let alone happy.

Can I just say: No thank you!

As some of you know, 2012 has been a challenging year for me. But at the very same time, it has been an incredible season of growth and opportunities. I am thankful for it!

Why is that?

I’ve learned from the book of James (1:2-4, in particular) that trials are allowed in our lives by God so that he can perfect and strengthen our faith. He uses them to make us more like Christ, if we are willing to surrender. Without the struggles and suffering this winter/spring have brought me, I would be nowhere near where I am in my walk with Christ. My journey is just beginning, and God has already been faithful to me through it.

Truth be told, I don’t know where I would be without Jesus right now. If I had turned to Adele-esque music earlier this year, I could very well be caught up in self-pity and consumed with my less-than-desirable circumstances. I could have chosen to become unforgiving of my enemies and allowed them to become lord over me. Instead, I ran with all my might toward the Cross and the grace, forgiveness and peace that result from Christ’s crucifixion. I proactively chose to fill my heart and ears with the music of Kari Jobe and Britt Nicole–that is, positive and encouraging music that thanks God for trials and for his faithfulness and goodness through them.

If you’re struggling today (actually, even if you’re not!), I encourage you to take a close look at the music you are listening to. Honestly, all music worships something or someone. Ask yourself what your music is worshipping (drugs, sex, alcohol, materialism, money, relationships…or God?) and how it’s affecting you. Ask God to show you ways you can honor and glorify him, even with your iTunes Library.

Whether you realize it or not, the music you listen to will affect you. I disagree that you can just “enjoy the beat” and ignore the words. What are you feeding your heart, mind and spirit? Does it sincerely please God? And does it help you grow as a follower of Christ, or does it hold you back?

Just some things to think about…

Jen

That “pesky verse” in James

7 Apr

You know that verse in James that tells us to rejoice when we’re going through a tough time?

You know what I’m talking about. A guest speaker (actually, the former pastor of my church and our current lead pastor’s father) mentioned this verse last Sunday and referred to it as “that pesky verse in James.” Hearing it reminded me of how I have been wanting to blog about it. Check it out:

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kids. James 1:2

If you’re reading that verse for the very first time, you’re probably thinking, “Huh? Seriously?”

Yes, seriously.

The NIV words it like so: “Consider it PURE JOY whenever you face trials of many kinds.” The reason we’re told do so comes in the next two verses (ESV):

For you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:3-4

The greatest good that can come of our lives, according to Romans 8:28-29, is to be conformed to the image of Christ. That’s what Paul meant when he wrote, “For those who love God, all things work together for good.”

So…when you face a trial, God allows it because he’s perfecting your faith. He’s also molding you into the image of his Son, if you let him. Those are pure joys.

Today, let go of your hurt and give it to God. Do it every day if you have to! I encourage you not to dwell on your trial, but to look to God and allow him to heal you. Ask him for strength. Consider this time in your life a pure joy. You might not see it now, but when you’re on the other side of this, you’ll be grateful that God allowed whatever you’re facing to happen.

Jen