Saturday, June 22, 2013

Blue Like Jazz, Think Like Paul

When inspired thoughts come to me, as an author I can't wait until later to write it down.  I have learned that I won't remember exactly how I felt when the thought came and exactly how the inspiration was leading me to express it on my computer screen or writing pad. So immediately I'll either dig in my purse and scribble the initial thoughts on the back of a crumpled receipt or go to my computer and just type out a few of the insights that flashed in my mind.
Well it happened when I was reading Donald Miller's book, Blue Like Jazz.

Donald Miller is a skillful writer, obviously using his God-given talents and I have enjoyed reading his book. Here's the passage that gripped me the most and I knew I needed to share this insight! (That's what Encouragers do, when they find something wonderful they want to encourage everyone with it! Yes, just like I'm doing now.)
"I know a little of why there is blood in my body, pumping life into my limbs and thought into my brain. I am wanted by God. He is wanting to preserve me, to guide me through the darkness of the shadow of death, up into the highlands of His presence and afterlife. I understand that I am temporary, in this shell of a thing on this dirt of an earth. I am being tempted by Satan, we are all being tempted by Satan, but I am preserved to tell those who do not know about our Savior and our Redeemer. This is why Paul had no questions. This is why he could be beaten one day, imprisoned the next, and released only to be beaten again and never ask God why. He understood the earth was fallen. He understood the rules of Rome could not save mankind, that mankind could not save itself; rather, it must be rescued, and he knew that he was not in the promised land, but still in the desert, and like Joshua and Caleb he was shouting, "Follow me and trust God!"' I see it now." -- Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz, pg. 100
After I read this paragraph by Donald Miller, it quickly sparked thoughts that we -- God's people -- are spending w-a-a-a-y too much time fretting over circumstances that come up and we are worrying our lives away! We're shocked when life gets hard. We're worn out from worry. I think Donald Miller is simply reminding us of what is written in the Scriptures. We shouldn't be expecting this world to be a perfect place. Jesus never said we won't have any troubles in our lives on earth! No. Instead His Word teaches the truth about life on earth and offers hope with each instruction.
"In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33) 
"Dear Friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of  Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed." (1 Peter 4:12) 
"His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by his own glory and goodness." (2 Peter 1:3).
"The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective." (James 5:16).
"I have loved you with an everlasting love. I have drawn you with lovingkindness." (Jeremiah 31:3)
"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." (Isaiah 41:10)
And these are just a few of God's promises of love, provision and protection for His people!
So why aren't we living the abundant lives (John 10:10) of love and joy that Jesus came to give His  people? Why do we live with this (worldly) entitlement mentality and have become a society of whiners? Why aren't we contented, thankful people?
In my studying and research for my Totally Devoted series, the secret to contentment and thankfulness has been another inspired revelation for me. The Apostle Paul knew the secret. Yes, God revealed it to me, too, I just can't successfully live it out every day because I'm still a sinner... saved by grace, living in a sin-sick world.
When I learned the secret -- and as an Encourager remember, I had to share -- I wrote a devotion  and called it, "The Secret" in my book, Totally Devoted 2.

The secret is in Paul's testimony:  "I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:12-13). This is the secret: Paul was so deeply in love with Jesus Christ that nothing could bother him! He was so riveted to the love and will of Jesus that nothing else mattered! All his shipwrecks, beatings, repeated imprisonment, and countless persecutions could not stop Paul from rejoicing in the Lord. He even sang in prison!
Author Donald Miller saw it, too, and we just read how it clearly blessed and encouraged him.
It blessed me to learn the secret that God taught to Paul! And now, here I am again, sharing the GOOD NEWS.
That's what Encouragers do.
All glory to GOD.