I'd like to introduce to you my best friend and author... Joyce Ray. We have been best friends for over 30 years. We met in the 5th grade, and she hasn't been able to get rid of me since! Just kidding. ;)
Seriously... Joyce has stood by me through thick and thin. The good. The bad. And a lot of the ugly. Just ask her. No...She won't tell you. She's too good of a friend. See what I mean? But yes, she's been there for it all.
We've learned a lot over the years. Even now as we're older, the Lord is still teaching us and helping us grow in Him. Often He's teaching us the same lesson at the same time, each in our own way. It's when we get together to talk that we discover how God works in us and our friendship. Iron really does sharpen iron, and I consider myself blessed to have such a friend in Joyce.
Not long ago, Joyce wrote a book called Active Christianity. It's available at Tate Publishing. In it, she talks about the struggles of trying to be the perfect Christian. Hiding behind the mask of who we believe we should be... or the mask of what we think others expect of us. And the feeling of failure from 'pretending' to be the perfect christian. She reminds us that abiding in Christ and accepting the finished work on the cross is the only way to live the life God intended.
Our world is filled with things – some good and some bad – that can fill our minds, take our time, and drain us of our energy. Then there are the messages that the world sends our way every day. Messages like “money brings happiness, looks are everything, and happiness is found in a good relationship”. As Christians we know where our focus should be; we know where we want it to be; but sometimes it seems like the pull of the world overrides all that we know should be. The end result is often guilt and depression as we find ourselves crying out as Paul did, “The things I want to do I don’t do, and the things that I don’t want to do I do.”
So what is the answer to this struggle? I used to think that the answer was found in living a disciplined life - be a doer of the Word, make the right choices, die to self, and walk in absolute obedience to God. What I discovered, however, was that I had it all backwards. All of these things are important, but they are not the first steps. They are the outcomes of a life dedicated to loving God.
As Christians we’ve got to start putting first things first. If we want our love for God to be real, and not just one of those things we say because we are Christians and of course we love God, then we can’t just say we love Him; we have to fall in love with Him. We’ve got to get to know Him, find out what’s in His heart, and what He desires for us. We’ve got to spend time with Him, talking to Him and listening as He talks to us. We’ve got to start running to Him when things in life start crumbling around us, and quit running away from Him. We’ve got to share with Him our hopes, our dreams, our fears, and our innermost desires. We can’t worry about trying to be good enough; we’ve got to come to Him just as we are. This is how true love happens.
Once we have fallen in love with Him, as the words of the familiar hymn says, “The things of the earth will grow strangely dim…” Obedience will no longer seem like a chore or a struggle, it will be a natural reaction to the overwhelming love that we’ve experienced in Christ and that we have for Him. It will be only then that we can truly say as Arthur Blessitt says, “I love Jesus, and I love people.”
Joyce is a gifted writer, speaker, and teacher. She has so much to share. And speaking of sharing... she'd like to give away a copy of her book. Ok... 2 copies!
This is my first giveaway... ever. So, if you'd like to enter, please leave me a comment including your email so I can notify you if you win. If no one comments, I'll save it for another time. If you're the only one to comment, then... you win. And if I have more comments than books (here's hoping!) then I will have a random drawing for the books. Sound fair? Great.
And I should mention that I will take entries thru Monday, March 7th at midnight and the drawing will be held Tuesday, March 8th. I will notify the winner by email.