Monday, October 28, 2013

Pursuing Joy

Two weeks ago I posted on Surprised by Joy here. At the end there is a small summary and I'd like to expand on the first point. I haven't jumped into the Word to see what scripture has to say yet, I hope to soon, but I have been dwelling on it and God has led me a little further down the road.

Joy is not a destination, it is something that you experience while pursuing a destination.

The Westminster Creed has been something that I have taken as a personal belief. It begins with the line, "I believe man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever," John Piper pushes that a little further by saying, "I believe man's chief ends is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever." You can read more about what John says in his book Desiring God. I would suggest it, but be warned it is a very heavy and long read.

We're looking at Joy and what it is. We said that it's what you experience while pursuing a destination. If our destination is to glorify God by enjoying him forever, then to receive joy our destination must be to glorify God. Now what hit me in the face tonight was that this is a continual pursuit. It's constant everyday. We can never reach the end of glorifying God. We have to take up our cross daily and pursue our destination of glorifying God.

So here's a little illustration, I'm not sure if it will help you, but it's what God showed me to get the point across. Many people have preferences on music, it's safe to say that everybody has a preference on music. In the church some prefer Hymns, some prefer Southern Gospel, some prefer Contemporary Christian, and some would say that we don't even need music in the church. Each person has a reason for what they like and what they don't like. When talking to some of my older friends (Bill & Wanda, you might know them) they say that the modern praise and worship songs are 7/11 songs. The same seven words sung eleven times. My music preferences are very different. You can find anything from Southern gospel to Opera and then back to songs from the Billboard Top 40. I was listening to some of my "7/11" songs and in between the fifth and sixth repeat there was a break and the singers were singing freely with some hallelujahs. Traditionally I wasn't a big fan of this open spot for people to sing whatever they felt. I was always thinking, "okay, get to the point, on with the song, there's lyrics for a reason." Over the last few years I have become more welcome to that and especially liked it at GHOP where I would go to worship with some of my friends. While I was dwelling on this pursuit of joy and the destination of glorifying God I realized that those hallelujahs are enjoying God in the song. It's feeling His presence where we are on the journey and expressing it to Him. The song is just the road that we take to get to His presence, what we add is our personal expression of glorifying Him.

This is just one example. With having a task-orientated personality the relation side of my life normally lacks in many areas. Remembering some of the things that I've talked about here will help me to pursue the glorification of God on a daily basis. Building that relationship with God. It's a journey not a destination.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Until that day

There was a worship session tonight lead by a family from Holland. It was really nice. Here are the lyrics of the last song that was sung, they wrote it. Reminds me of what I should be doing.

Until that day.

There will be a day
That the sky will open up
And all the dead will rise up
There will be a day
That I meet you face to face
And that I look into your eyes of love.

There will be a time
That You bring us to a place
Where there’s no more pain or sorrow
There will be a time
That You come near by our side
And you gently wipe our tears away.

(But) Until that day
I will choose to know You more
I will choose to give myself
And to live a life of worship
Until that day
I will listen to Your word
I will keep it in my heart
As a gift full of love.
Until that day.

I am longing for that day
That I kneel down at Your feet, Lord
And I know it’s You by hearing my name
And together we will walk
In Your paradise forever
For eternity, I’ll be where You are.

English lyrics: Elisa Krijgsman
©2002 Unisong t/a Reli Music Productions

Normally I only post my own pictures on the blog, but one of the ship photographers captured this moment and it's too good not to share.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Joy...working on it.

Have you ever been on the pursuit of happiness and joy and when you got there realized that it had gotten up and left? This is one of the things that C.S. Lewis talks about in his book Surprised by Joy. On his personal search for joy, when he got to what he thought his destination was he realized that joy was something quiet different than the original definition. Adding detail upon detail of what he thought he was looking for, perfecting it to what he thought was going to bring perfect joy to his life. As he said, 

"Finally I woke from building the temple to find that God had flown."

He went on to talk about a present that he had received from his father one Christmas. After receiving this gift he could remember many details of the moments around the time that he looked forward to enjoying it.

"That walk now I remembered. It seemed to me that I had tasted heaven then. If only such a moment could return! But what I never realized was that it had returned-that the remembering of that moment was itself a new experience of just the same kind. True, it was desire, not possession. But then what I had felt on the walk had  also been desire, and only possession in so far as that kind of desire is itself desirable, is the fullest possession we can know on earth; or rather, because the very nature of Joy makes nonsense of our common distinction between having and wanting. Therefore, to have is to want and to want is to have. Thus, the very moment when I longed to be stabbed again, was itself again such a stabbing."

There's a lot going on in that quote. But to paraphrase it I would have to say that we receive joy not in attaining a goal. It's the journey, desire, the feeling that we get when we are pursuing and end destination. The destination cannot be the goal. If it is, as soon as you reach it your source of joy will end.

I should probably stop there and let that linger for a while. If it's enough for you to think about and process maybe you could come back and read this next part when you understand the first part better. But since it's in the same book and I think it's worth sharing I will go ahead with something elses that C.S. Lewis goes on to talk about in Surprised by Joy

He talks about contemplation and enjoyment. Two things that I can relate to myself. It might be hard to believe, but I am an introvert. I've been sitting here in my room for five hours and enjoying very minute of it. You might not believe it if you saw me out during work. I could easily be found talking to people in the Ship Shop, chatting with people as I make their drink in the cafe, or laughing with somebody as we walked down one of the many hallways the ship has, but I get energized when I spend time by myself or with just a few close friends. To go along with that I am very contemplative. When I'm off by myself it's often that I'm reviewing things from the day or planning the next step of something.

"Enjoyment has nothing to do with pleasure, nor Contemplation with the contemplative life. When you see a table you "enjoy" the act of seeing and "contemplate" the table. Later, if you took up optics and thought about seeing itself, you would be contemplating seeing and enjoying the thought. In bereavement you contemplate the beloved and the beloved's death and "enjoy" the loneliness and grief; but a psychologist  if he were considering you as a case of melancholia, would be contemplating your grief and enjoying your psychology. We do not "think a thought" in the same sense in which we "think somebody is unreliable." When we think a thought, "thought" is a cognate accusative. We enjoy the thought and, in so doing, contemplate the unreliability of the person.

So, when I am enjoying some of the many memories that I have I'm not necessarily enjoying that exact moment. I'm thinking about the enjoyment that I experienced while doing something weather it be an hour ago or ten years ago.

It seemed to me self-evident that one essential property of love, hate, fear, hope or desire was attention to their object. To cease thinking about or attending to the woman is, so far, to cease loving; to cease thinking about or attending to the dreaded thin is, so far, to cease being afraid. But to attend to your own love or fear is to cease attending to the loved or dreaded object. In other words enjoyment and the contemplation of our inner activities  are incompatible. You cannot hope and think about hoping at the same moment; for in hope we look to hope's object and we interrupt this by turning around to look at hope itself. Of course the two activities can and do alternate with great rapidity; but there are distinct and incompatible....
The surest means of disarming an anger or a lust is to turn your attention from the girl or the insult and start examining the passion itself. The surest way of spoiling a pleasure is to start examining your satisfaction. But if so, it followed that all introspection is in one respect misleading. In introspection we try to look "inside ourselves" and see what is going on. But nearly everything that was going on a moment before  is stopped by the very act of our turning to look at it. Unfortunately this does not mean that introspection  finds nothing. On the contrary, it finds precisely what is left behind by the suspension of all our normal activities; and what is left behind is mainly mental images and physical  sensations 

If asked to summarize everything that's been covered I would have to say that
  • Joy is not a destination, it is something that you experience while pursuing a destination. 
  • When you are doing the different acts that lead to the culmination of the desired destination you can enjoy them but only when when you take the time and stop the act.
  • In contemplating the events you recall the joy that you had in that moment.
  • When you turn your attention away from the destination and the acts leading up to the destination what you see isn't actually the experience it's the impression that you left that you are able to see.
I hope to use this summery when I look into scripture to see what the Bible says about joy;where it comes from, what prevents it and how we can share it.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Sterile Processing Education Charitable Trust

My friend, Christina Fast from Calgary, Alberta, Canada has been working hard this past year to establish a charitable organization called Sterile Processing Education Charitable Trust. We first met in 2011 when the ship was in Sierra Leone and she worked in the sterile processing department on the ship. She happened to know that I like taking pictures so she asked me to snap a few picture one night when they were starting the long process of organizing an NGO (non-government organization.) Since that time she has done all the essentials of making her dream a legitimate organization recognized by Canada.
L-R: Jane, Johana, Christina
We met up again in Guinea when she came as a Mercy Ships partner organization doing training in local hospitals helping them with the way that they sterilize the tools and equipment for surgeries.
Christina, along with my her parents Dan and wife Olive are here now on the ship through November 8th where they will be visiting three hospitals to assess sterile processing techniques and equipment and conducting workshops to provide health care workers with information and resources crucial to improving sterilization standards leading to a decrease in post-operative infections, hopefully resulting in lives saved. " 

They've applied for a $100,000 grant to support this work, public participation is taken into consideration when choosing the applicant so she would appreciate your support. You can find out more about what she wants to do. There is a video and a place for you to vote for her here

When asked to describe Sterile Processing Education Christina said, "We propose an innovative & salable intervention supplying low cost sterilizers &customized training for health workers,to achieve disinfecting & operating room sterile practices closer to international standards,adaptable to remote & low resource settings."