Thursday, January 6, 2011

Just A Few Words

Hello Everyone,

My thanks to each of you for sharing your thoughts this past year. Quite honestly, I am in awe of the grace our God pours out so richly upon us. Some of you have shared your hurts, griefs, and extraordinary circumstances; through it all, our God remained faithful.

I wanted to take a moment to answer a question (asked in my last post) from my brother in Christ, and fellow blogger, Ian Curtis (What's in a Name?): "how things are going with your church?"

I'm not sure if this question is in reference to a post I wrote some months ago on worship or if I have somehow erroneously communicated that I have a church. I am not a shepherd (pastor) or teacher.

It was a year ago that I asked God to pull me out of the pig sty I wallowed in for so many years. Years ago, I attended church and then I simply stopped. I could give you a number of reasons, but none would be valid or should find sympathy. What I came to realize towards the end of December, 2009 was that I needed Christ in my life. Why? I was miserable and I made life miserable for those around me.

I began to pray and read the scriptures, at times, I fasted. For months, the Lord remained silent to my voice. I say that God was silent but he actually spoke to my heart with a direction to begin writing. You could say, "God asked" and I refused.

Fortunately for me, I wasn't swallowed up by a whale, but I did have a Jonah-like experience that led me to the place of humility. It wasn't until March, 2010, that I agreed to begin this blog. I wanted to remain unseen. I didn't want to create any controversy. I thought God should be happy.

As I began reading and writing, I met so many Christians who spoke of a faith that challenged their life. Christians who wrote with passion and concern. So many of you challenged me to stand on the ground of faith in Christ Jesus. So many around me were standing as a kind of cloud of witnesses that I began to stand up from my fetal position and walk.

I was still asking God to speak to me but He remained silent. I begged for just one word, anything, Just say something Lord. I wondered if what I was doing was worthless, that I should just give up. But something in me wouldn't allow it. I cried to the Lord and confessed, "Even if what I'm doing is worthless, pointless and useless, I'm not giving up. If my name is the last one in the book, it will be just fine by me Lord."

Something happened, I can't point to a single, significant event, but I will say that, God restored the joy of my salvation. His word became alive in me. I no longer concerned myself with an external image and concept of myself; I just wanted to worship and serve the Lord with a comittment. I have a passion for Jesus Christ and I'm learning to love my neighbor. I've come to realize, that serving Christ without a passion is exactly what the devil desired of me. I have no desire to go back to that old life, a life lacking in love, passion and joy. A life without peace. A life of just going through the motions of living, but not experiencing any fullness of joy for life.

One of the things the Holy Spirit has been revealing to me, is the height, depth and extent that God's grace traveled to release me from my prison. I cannot grasp that kind of love, but it is so appreciated. God's grace has given me a true revelation of love and forgiveness; I can do no less than what was given to me.

There are so many Christians, my wife, family and friends (both near and far) who've encouraged and supported me. I want to honor our Lord and each of you by the life I live for Christ.

Blessings and peace.

MTJ

36 comments:

dunlizzie said...

MTJ -
God restored the joy of my salvation. His word became alive in me.

Hallelujah! He is so very good.

Talking about the extent grace traveled to free you reminded me of something.

In traditional passover celebrations, the Jews sing a song called dayenu. The word means, it would have been sufficient.

They start by saying God alone is sufficient, but then God went along and delivered them out of Egypt. That would have been sufficient, but God crushed the enemy. That would have been sufficient, yet God took them to the promised land.

Such is the love of God. He alone really is enough and yet isn't it so amazing how far He went for our reconciliation. In John it says Christ came that we might have life AND have it more abundantly. It is certainly undeserved and indeed overwhelming. May we all walk in that revelation of love and forgiveness of which you spoke. May we in turn have the grace to extend it to all we meet.

God bless :)
dunlizzie

Dianne said...

Dear MTJ,
Your words have touched my heart. A beautiful post. Thank you for your transparency and blessing us.

Blessings,
Dianne

Sharon Kirby said...

MTJ - I am one of the many people who are so glad that you "agreed" with God and started this blog. Your words have meant so much to me - I know that this sentiment will be expressed by many.

The thing that really meant a lot to me in this post, was when you talked about wondering at one point if what you were doing was worthless, if you should just give up. I have come up against that wall several times in the last six months of blogging. As writers, we want people to read what we write, we want it to "reach" them. And when what we're writing about is God, then we want that even more. I know I do. And yet, somehow there is still a "me" wrapped up in that process. A "me" that gets discouraged. Here's one thing I've learned, though. And you said it too - there's SOMETHING in me that won't allow me to stop. And here's what I think it is - God is using the venue of blogging to speak to ME. Don't you feel that way? That the words you write are FIRST of all spoken to YOUR heart?

That is the joy you speak of, I think. When the grace of God, and the things He wants to say to others THROUGH us, He first of all says TO us.

I'm lucky to be sharing in your journey - and you have helped me immeasurably with mine.

GOD BLESS!

Wanda said...

MTJ, I too have had those long periods of silence from God. I think those times makes us more appreciative of the times when we can hear Him. I'm amazed at my new found love for God & His Word. You and your writing has been a great blessing to me.

Wanda said...

MTJ, I too have had those long periods of silence from God. I think those times makes us more appreciative of the times when we can hear Him. I'm amazed at my new found love for God & His Word. You and your writing has been a great blessing to me.

Lloyd said...

What a blessing you are MTJ to the readers of your blog. I have personally witnessed a change in your heart and soul as you wrote different posts glorifying our Lord and Savior. I just dropped by to let you know how humble I am just to have you as a Christian blogger friend and follower on my blog. Blessings to you and your family. Lloyd

Glynn said...

And you are mightily blessed. What encouraging, wonderful. worshipful news!

MTJ said...

Dunlizzie: It wasn't that long ago that I read your blog for the first time; Your passion and commitment inspire me. I love that sufficiency aspect of the dayenu song; that does it for me. That deserves a shout of praise!

Dianne: I so admire your gift. The ability to capture a glimpse of God's beauty or the inspired creative work of craftsmen and artists, is a God-give talent. It is as if God uses you as His emmissary to impart that beauty to us.

Sharon: Even more than questioning whether to write, I had serious doubts that God would allow me access. It's hard for me to put in words, but I can identify with Job here because in Job's questioning his plight, He didn't receive an immediate response from God. Job's wife told him to "curse God and die" I battled with the thought that my life was cursed because there was no immediate assurance from God. But even in my despair, God wouldn't let go of me. He gave me that determination to say, "No matter if it's all in vain, I'll be a fool for Christ.

Wanda: You have a gift that truly inspires me. I'll read something you've written and it launches me into a thought process I had not considered. Thank you for blessing me.

Lloyd:The blessing has been mine brother. You were one of the first bloggers I began reading in this forum. You write with a genuine passion, sharing God's love, grace and truth. So many times, you've shared a word to build me up. I praise our Lord for the changes in my life over the past year. I'm seeking to draw nearer (Lord willing) in the months ahead.

Glynn: You and a group of writers share the gift of words. Sometimes it's poetry, and sometimes it's a discussion of a book; always, it includes the flow of thought and conversation. Intelligence can be intimidating. Often I read what's shared among Friends, and much is unfamiliar ground for me, but there is always illumination because your words speak to, not at.

sarah said...

wow. I loved reading this MTJ. And you do have a passion for Him. I read it in every one of your posts...and am so grateful for you and to you. Thanks for being you MTJ and for always sharing your heart. AFter reading this post...you inspire me even more. ☺

Renee said...

Thank you for sharing your honest thoughts and feelings here. So glad you started your blog...your posts are thoughtful and get me and others to ponder your words! Blessings on you on 2011 as your journey continues forward. Praise God for His goodness in your life and all of ours. He is faithful!!

Merana Leigh said...

Oh my dear, dear friend! I feel SO incredibly blessed by your posts, your comments, your prayers, and your encouragement. You have brought me to much better, stronger places than had I traveled this path without ever having met you. God is faithful to provide us with those who bring just what He knows we need into our lives. I count you one of those! Thank you. Hugs ~ Merana

Karen said...

Thank you for sharing your heart candidly. This is a great encouragement to me.

Nicole said...

Another wonderful post my brother! I am so thankful that God found you and pulled you out of your 'pig sty'

It's just amazing how powerful His word can be, how powerful He is!! Even when He remains silent His power is still there surrounding us.

I am so thankful that you decided to start this blog and come out of your shell a a little bit, came out so we could see the real you! I love your posts, your faith, strength and knowledge. God speaks through you my friend and that is a powerful thing!

I hope you have a blessed weekend!

Audrey said...

MTJ, thank you so much for sharing your journey openly and honestly. It has truly been an inspiration to me. God bless you!

Vintagesouthernlife said...

Thank you for sharing your heart. This post was a blessing.

Pain to Purpose said...

Fantastic post! Getting to know Christ is quite an incredible journey. Thanks for letting us look in to see what you've been learning.
Carrie

Clif said...

Thank you for sharing from you life and your heart. This post will bless many who read it. God bless you as you live for Him.

Charlotte said...

I absolutely love this post. Thank you for sharing your heart with us. I know it will be a blessing to many others as it has been to me.
Charlotte

MTJ said...

Sarah: When you talk about how you had to fight for survival, your heart speaks to me because it is something to which I identify with. I'm learning that I paired my fear with anger as my one and only response to what I perceived as aggression or intimidation. However, God commands me to love and forgive, not strike back or lash out. Still, after all these years, there is still that compulsion to strike back and lash out. I'm learning to yield myself to God when these moments arise. I no longer see them as assaults against my manhood, they are opportunities for spiritual growth; learning exercises. Because of that I shout for joy and give God the praise.

Renee: I just read your post on Winter Blues and took comfort in these words: "When the news tells us we are experiencing the saddest days of the year, don't take their word for it, just lift up your voice in praise and smile."

Merana: I am thankful for your friendship and fellowship. How often your words have challenged me to be more than just a sounding board of quotes, but to open myself up and allow the Lord and others to see that I'm a man, unashamedly in love with Christ. I'm learning the joy in allowing Him and others to see me; even when I fail.

Karen: The beauty of the body of Christ is that we learn from one another; iron sharpens iron. We encourage each other.

Nicole: I could say so much about our frienship, things I've already said before, and will continue saying some more. Simply put, you have blessed me! You have a strength to say, "even when my day goes terribly wrong, Listen up everyone, here's what's going on in my life." There is such power and strength in that kind of transparency which I find admirable. Thank you for being honest to speak from the heart with grace.

Audrey: Though I may be new to reading Wisdom from the Throne, your writing imparts inspiration and encouragement. I remember your recent post on the The Spirit of Compromise and your discussion of the different types of famine one faces. I found strength and encouragement in this post.

Annette: Thank you for blessing me with that passage in Ephesians 5, along with the words: "My prayer is to live this year purposefully and firmly grasping the will of the Lord."

Carrie: I'm thinking of your reminder, "God gives us strength". To know that when I'm weak, He is strong enough to reinforce me to stand up by His grace. It is an incredible journey!

Clif: Thank you for extending friendship and fellowship. It's always good to meet a brother in Christ!

Charlotte: I have been so blessed by both you and Ginger. Spiritual Sundays has allowed me to read the blogs of men and women of faith; finding voices that speak with a true passion for Christ.

Ginger~~Enchanting Cottage said...

Thank-you for sharing your story with us. I just loved reading how the Lord has been with you.Sometimes I feel like I'm walking side by side with him and then there are times when I'm walking and holding his hand.
God Bless,
Ginger

The Paper Princess said...

Thanks for stopping by tonight, and thanks for sharing your story with us. I pray that the joy of the Lord will be your strength for many years to come!

Blessings
Ramona
http://create-with-joy.blogspot.com

Charlotte/For Such A Time As This said...

Thank you for sharing your Christian walk...and your heart. Your writing honors Christ and encourages others to do the same. Keep following where He leads you.

Tea said...

I have been in a similar place this week. Lost my identity. Then, found it again when I focused on God's will for my life. If it's not the Lord's way, it's not a good path, fork in the road or journey. I'm thankful HE shared more of HIS message with me through your post this Spiritual Sunday. Thank you.

micey said...

what an awesome testimony of your perseverance and surrender!

I cried to the Lord and confessed, "Even if what I'm doing is worthless, pointless and useless, I'm not giving up. If my name is the last one in the book, it will be just fine by me Lord."

This is beautiful! Thanks! and thanks to you and your wife for joining me in Uganda!

Jane said...

Brother, thank you for you heart-felt sharing, you're not alone. :)

Ian Curtis said...

My apologies, brother, if you misunderstood me. I recall a post some while ago (perhaps I don't remember well enough to have quoted you properly) where you had been in a church that you did not feel welcome or at home with. You were searching for genuine worship and fellowship; I suppose I was inquiring: how is your journey progressing? But I think you answered me well enough on this post. Have a great Sunday, brother! Ian

A Gracious Home said...

I'm glad that you are back on solid ground. I enjoyed your post. God bless you, Doylene

Joan said...

MTJ:

God restored the joy of my salvation. Those words really stood out to me. I was saved at the ripe old age of ten :) but for many years I didn't grow in the Lord and there was a time when I walked away from serving the Lord. (He never walked away from me.) It took a series of adverse circumstances to turn me back to serving Him and now I can't get enough of learning about Him and growing in His grace and knowledge. I remember the joy I felt at the time I was saved and I lost that joy. However, He has also restored the joy of salvation to me. For that I am eternally thankful.

Wonderful post and I am among those who are glad you are blogging. Your posts always inspire me, encourage me, and cause me to dig deeper into His word.

Blessings,
Joan

Saleslady371 said...

Your post is wonderful and gives me so much hope that my loved ones will yield to Jesus one day. Please tell us more about your journey. You are a good writer; so glad you write.

Carol said...

Hallelujah! What a testimony to our God! I rejoice with you, and am thankful for your obedience to God.

Carolyn said...

Hi MTJ!

Thank you for sharing and I have to tell you that your posts have truly been a blessing to me!! I am thankful that God brought you to these places that you speak of, if it meant that is what it took to bring you here to blogland for so many needy souls! You have been a blessing to so many of us here and you are right up there with my favorites! When I have been away due to studying and work, I always come back to check your posts as I always glean great truths that are such an encouragement to me! I pray that God's plans are for you to continue writing posts on your blog as the posts are truly a gift from God!

Happy New Year and God bless you!
Carolyn ~ Cottage Sunshine

MTJ said...

Ginger: Through Spiritual Sunday, you and Charlotte have provided a forum that enables Christian fellowship, encouragement, confession, and inspiration. I have learned so much in these few months. I praise God for you both.

Ramona: Thank you for interceding with prayer. I just want to live fully committed to Christ.

Charlotte: I'm learning that following is a daily commitment. Thank you for your encouragement.

Tea: I think that learing from others has helped me realize that I'm not alone. Our struggles may differ, but He is the same Lord and Saviour. He will strengthen our walk by His grace.

Micey: Thank you for sharing your mission journey; through you I have been to Haiti and in 65 days will journey to Uganda. Go with God my friend.

Jane: Words are inadequate to express my appreciation for your fellowship and friendship. Thank you so much.

Ian: I'm glad your question was regarding my post. I am learning to extend myself to others; this has helped to ward off the sense of isolation I experienced. Since then, I am more comfortable worshipping the Lord by focusing on my attitude of worship before the Lord and not on the peripheral things around me. Thank you for your friendship, fellowship, and concern.

Doylene: Thanks for visiting and being an encourager.

Joan: For months you have often written on a topic which speaks to me. I so enjoy Reflections. Your writing inspires me.

Mary: Thank you for those encouraging words. We shall both pray for family and friends who need to experience the Light of God's love and grace.

Carol: Thank you for standing with me, rejoicing in the Lord our God. I'm discovering the joy of the Lord is my strength.

Carolyn: I am so thankful to have found your blog. Your words speak to me with an honesty and sincerity. I know that due to your new work responsibilities, your time is compressed. Just know that you remain in my prayers. Much success and joy to you in this new year.

Janis@Open My Ears Lord said...

Wow!I know so much more about your journey through this post. Thank you for writing it. And I can see how the Lord has been working in you and giving you a tender and humble heart toward Him.
Just as Sharon said, we writers always seem to stumble across that obstacle that makes us want to stop! We feel we aren't making a difference for the Lord. I liked your thought process though that said you would keep writing even if you thought it was in vain. That's an obedient, trusting heart.
You bless many with your insightful words.

Blessings,
Janis

lioneagle said...

Hi MTJ -

You love the Lord - yes you do, brother!

I am glad that you obeyed our Lord.
Your love and concern for others is evident and welcome. We love you, MTJ.

Thank you for all of your valuable contributions. What you share is wise, sensitive, and helpful to many.

Nicole said...

:) Thanks MTJ!

IF I actually only posted when things were all great and well then I wouldn't post at all! lol Oh, there are times when things are going great but most the times I still feel scared and inadequate. I have so many questions about stuff and I just kinda lay it all out there hoping someone might comment and help me out! lol
Love ya brother and I know you know it and know how much you have blessed me but it is always nice to hear so...
I do thank God for you always!

MTJ said...

Janis: Thank you so much for sharing in this Christian journey. I find much encouragement from those who share their journey; it really is a walk of faith.

Sandra: Your words speak from a heart that seeks to honor our Lord and Saviour. I am glad there is room at the cross for me.

Nicole: You're not alone in your journey; we all have doubts, fears, and insecurities that would have us believe that, "I'm not worthy." But the truth is learning that I don't need me to achieve worthiness, Christ alone is worthy, and He stands in my place. Keep trusting God, even when you feel scared and inadequate. Thanking our Lord for you!