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Friday, September 18, 2009

The John 15:11 Challenge

These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” John 15:11 (NASV)

I challenge you to ask yourself what does this verse mean to you? I find it interesting to take a step back and look at how I tend to perceive/translate the word of God. So many times I will relate “joy” to what I feel during the events surrounding my life. But is that really the “Joy” that God talks about? I sure hope not. Because how many times has that “joy” turned into sadness, anger, depression, fear, or hopelessness. All of these feelings might not come at once or even under the same circumstances, but we have all felt them at one time or another. Are you tired of living in your own created “joy”? I know I am. It’s a process that I have to continually rely on God to overcome. I stopped looking at the situations in my life to define how I feel and act. I even stopped creating solutions within my life that would bring me “joy” and meet my needs. This is more of a challenge than one might think. Whether life is amazing or it is a struggle at the moment, it is vital to live life connected to God. It is in my opinion that God should be the main source of our fulfillment. So it is in God’s hands and His hands alone that I choose to turn to and receive “Joy”. The funny thing is God’s way is so much simpler. I simply get out of the way and let Him do what He does best.

One way that I get in the way is that I will look to actors, bands and other forms of entertainment as a place to find “joy”. And as much as I hope that my music and entertaining antics bring a level of “joy” to everyone’s life, I challenge you to never allow it to replace God’s pure “Joy”. Entertainment as a whole isn’t bad it just shouldn’t replace our need for God’s “Joy”. When we replace God’s “Joy” we start to loose the strong foundation that life in God provides. Our life begins to feel shaky and we struggle with the things that before, were so easily conquered.

So what does God’s “Joy” really look like? For that question to be properly answered it is a must that you turn to the Bible. God’s “Joy” is so multi faceted that there isn’t just one definition. In Galatians 5:22 “joy” is described as one of the fruits of the Spirit. So to begin, “Joy” is a product of God. In James 1:2 “Joy” is what we are recommended to consider when we face trials within this life. Simply put “Joy” is our security when things in this life prove difficult. 2 John 1:12 speaks about “Joy” as a face to face relationship, a pure communion between to like-minded believers. Needless to say the Bible mentions the word “joy” 242 times so one has to note that this is a subject that is dear to God’s own heart. So I challenge you embrace God’s “Joy” and learn to live in it.

God has nothing but great things for you and me. He believes in you more than you can ever imagine. Trusting God to provide “Joy” should be the easiest thing we do. The sad part is it is not always the natural thing to do. We have all been trained one way or another to trust on our physical circumstances. That’s why I want to leave you with this, that you strive to truly let God’s “Joy” be in and through you. Simply start relying on God to provide for your needs and focus your attention on him and off of your issues at hand. I encourage you to stop looking at man made “joy” to bring you fulfillment and find out what God’s “Joy” is really like. Till we see you at our next show, may God bless you and keep you!


Jon Haire

MIKESCHAIR (bassist)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

How people can think that there isn't a God?

As I type this I am on HWY 101 in California. This is my first time in Cali and I have to say that I think I could live here.  I am overwhelmed by the beauty of the desert like mountains (some might call them hills but I am from FL so they look like mountains to me) that are right next the beautiful coast.  This is definitely one of those moments when you wonder how people can think that there isn’t a God. God’s hand is all over the place and I am thankful for these moments when I am reminded of that. 

I am in the middle of reading a book by Francis Chan called “Crazy Love” and I have to admit that it is really kicking my butt. Francis Chan is one of those guys who challenge you to step up and live out the things we say we believe.  Early in the book he talks about the parable of the sower and the seed and says something that no one has ever said to me, he says “Let me warn you, do not assume you are good soil”.  In the parable there is a farmer is throwing seed for harvest.  Jesus compares our hearts to the different types of soil the seed landed on and the seed itself is the word of God.  Jesus explains that the seed that fell on the path is heard but quickly stolen away, the seed that fell among the rocks has the appearance of growth and depth because of the good soil beneath the rocks but because of the rocks the seed has no roots, Some of the seeds fell amongst thorns and could not grow because the seed was eventually choked out by the thorns, lastly some of the seed landed on good soil and was able to grow, take root, and produce fruit.  Those of us who call ourselves believers like to think that we are in the “good soil” category.  In this book Francis challenges that thought.    

He thinks that most American churchgoers fall in the “Thorny ground” category because of all the distractions in our lives that choke our relationship with the Lord.  Thorns can be anything; money, video games, music, school, work, and even acts of service.  All these things can be distractions that end up keeping us from having the relationship we want to have with the Lord.  I think that if we are honest with ourselves, we all have distractions we have let creep in that are “choking” the seeds that God has planted. My prayer is that, as a body of believers, we will stop assuming that we are the “good soil” and start making steps to get rid of the distractions and fall in love with our Creator once again.


Monday, July 20, 2009

Prayer over the iPod? Oh yeah!

I am fully reclined in a faded blue woven wool seat inside of an American Airline 747 with all the other guys in MIKESCHAIR flying to Tulsa, OK for the first of many stops during our CD release week. The pilot announces over the intercom system that we are 33,000 feet off the ground, above the clouds and my heart starts to pound.  I try taking out my headphones and listening to music, I try closing my eyes and falling asleep, I even try to humor the idea of purchasing a bug vacuum off of the sky mall magazine that they so cleverly placed in the seat pocket in front of me for my leisurely reading. Every time I feel like I am almost fully distracted enough to bypass the anxiety, we slam into some turbulence and I am abruptly confronted with the situation I am in.

It's funny to me that something as small as me being a wimp on a flight can remind me of a much broader human tendency to fill our lives with distractions. Things that we know aren't really going to get us through whatever conflict we are facing, but are rather temporary fixes to a much deeper wound. We can get lost in our distractions, but as soon as that “real life” turbulence hits us hard enough we wake up, look around and still feel helpless in the situation we are presently in. We all have our own means of worldly escape. Maybe it's social networking that lets you vicariously live through someone else's life that takes your mind off the problems of your own, or fantastical movies that transport you to another place, or even something as simple as your favorite “feel good” song on your iPod. We fill our lives with meaningless noise, distractions and deterrents to put off facing our every day problems and fears.

Honestly, the very last thing I thought to do in an effort to get rid of the feeling was to close my eyes and pray. I prayed for safety, I prayed that God would continue to let me live to be used by Him, I prayed for forgiveness of my sinful nature, I just sat there and prayed for the entire remainder of the flight. I told God all about my fears, my lack of faith and my desire to fully trust Him and Him alone for my safety.

I opened my eyes and immediately realized that I didn't need a bug vacuum, didn't need the calming music on my iPod, and I didn't need to pass out asleep to get through this ridiculous fear of flying. I just needed to trust that God had all of it under His control even when my own understanding and brain told me something different.

The Bible tells us in Proverbs 3:5-6 to, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

I pray that all of our lives can continually grow in trusting the tender hands of God more and leaning on our own feeble minds less.

In God's Love,

Sam Tinnesz


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