Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Jumping around and having fun

This morning I received a message from a new friend on myspace. He shared his website with me, and on the website was a link to a pretty cool site, the Personal Promise Bible. On this site you can order a Bible that is personalized with YOUR name in various verses (5,000 verses, I think). You can view samples here. (Example: Col 3:3 For Joel died, and his life is hidden with Christ in God).

On the sample page, I typed my kids names in this morning as they were playing on our other computer next to me, and the sample verses appeared with their names in them. I read the verses out loud so they could hear them. They perked up as they heard some verses that they recognized with their names in them! I think it's a great idea to personalize the Bible in this way (keeping the Bible verses in proper context of course)!

After I had read a few verses out loud, my seven year old daughter, in sort of a funny-sarcastic way, asked, "Does it say anything about me jumping around and having fun?"

I snickered for a moment and then I realized what an "out of the mouth of babes" statement that was! Although she was joking, I had been seriously thinking about a similar thing just yesterday evening as I was finishing work. It's great to understand doctrine and it's great to hear how specific scriptures relate to our daily lives in Christ. It's great to study Bible doctrine and to understand what it means to us.

But I know that sometimes I can get so caught up in the meanings of verses and in understanding God's grace and growing in it that I forget to enjoy each precious moment, no matter what I'm doing! I do laugh every day and I really do enjoy life overall, but yet sometimes my over-thinking, over-analytical mind keeps me from enjoying my life in Christ to its full extent. Having read several of your blogs lately, I know I'm not alone in this! Again, I love studying scripture. I love digging deep and learning the meanings of words and verses. But I guess sometimes I can get so caught up in head knowledge that the peace of Christ doesn't reign in my heart (Col 3:15). When Christ's peace reigns in my heart, LIFE is lived to the full!

Is there anything in life that distracts you from letting the peace of Christ reign in your heart?

I don't know exactly how I started thinking about all this last night but I think it came as a result of me feeling like I had squandered a big chunk of my day yesterday. The kids were off school due to snow and my boss had called, telling me that most of my job was canceled for the day due to the weather. I just needed to come in and the end of the day and do a few things. So I was home most of the day, and basically I did a whole lot of nothing! I did do a couple of "serious" things like folding laundry and clearing snow off the drive, and I attempted to help a friend with a computer issue by writing an email. But as I looked back on the rest of my day I felt like I had wasted a lot of time. I pretty much messed around on my computer as the kids played on theirs. We usually have time limits for the kids on the computer, but I pretty much let them play most of the day yesterday.

Throughout the day yesterday, and into the evening as I was looking back on my day, I felt tinges of guilt creeping in because I wasn't "about my Father's business," either in the way of doing something to spread the gospel or in giving of myself as much as I could to my children or others. However, the guilt did not last because I'm grounded in the truth! And my daughter unknowingly helped to solidify this in me even more this morning! Not that I don't want to spread the gospel and not that I don't want to spend time with my family, but is it not also ok for me to jump around and have some fun?!?!

The seeming problem would be that I cannot find a Bible verse that specifically commands or admonishes Christians to "jump around and have fun!" And I can't seem to pinpoint the exact chapter and verse that says, "Go therefore and play a computer game." And why can I not find any scriptures that say, "husbands, love your wives and take the family out and have some fun at the bowling alley?"

But yet can't all those things (and so much more) be part of the beauty and enjoyment of our LIFE in Christ?

We can get so caught up in studying the scriptures and trying to apply them to our LIVES that we forget to LIVE! We read all of the New Testament epistles and we see all the things Paul and others said about holy living and loving one another and serving one another. It would seem, from reading these epistles, that these guys never laughed or had fun. All their words seemed to be about serious Christian doctrine. Paul's own life seemed to be nothing more than traveling and preaching the gospel and confronting people and leading people to Christ. We don't see Paul ever stopping to play a game of UNO, or ego-surfing (imagine what he'd find!), or saving up enough money to buy a Nintendo Wii (if he could even find one). We don't know if he ever told any jokes. I think there are hints of sarcasm in some of his letters, but what I'm getting at is that Paul's letters were not moment by moment journals of all of his life's activities. We mostly find doctrine in his letters. And doctrine is a great thing! I'm thankful for doctrine. And I think that as an apostle, it was Paul's biggest joy to teach and preach the gospel.

But shouldn't that doctrine, shouldn't that gospel message, be freeing us to live, rather than keeping us in joyless cages of head knowledge and trying to keep ourselves in line with every jot and tittle of scripture? We find a lot of doctrine in Paul's writings, but isn't the overall point of the doctrine to lead us into the living out of the full, abundant life that we have in Christ? One more time, I love scripture and I always hope to learn more and to understand better. But if I'm not living - if I'm not jumping around and having fun - then what's the point of knowing?

Thoughts, anyone? I typed this up kind of hurriedly, and even if my thoughts didn't come across perfectly I hope my overall point came across.
Col 3:15-17
15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.


  1. Oh Joel, I love this post so much! I agree 110%!!!!! What is that abundant life for if we don't actually live it.

    Thanks for so beautifully articulating this.

  2. Joel--

    Great post!! One of the scariest, yet most freeing admitions I ever made to myself was how little joy I was experiencing as a Christian. And I saw it in others around me, too. We might have had all our 'doctrinal ducks in a row', but it wasn't translating into much joy. I know for me, the problem has been, that while I may know 'alot', my knowledge of God Himself has been pitifully weak, and even eroneous.

    In my own 'out of the mouths of babes' moment, several months ago, I was reading a Bible story to my two youngest boys, whom I homeschool. My seven-year-old interrupted me and asked "Mommy, how come whenever you read what God or Jesus says, you use a scary voice?" Gulp!! Did I do that? Yeah, I think I did. Probably because at least subconsciously, I still see God as scary, and distant, and not very happy with me. And it's pretty hard to find joy in Someone Whom you don't think finds much joy in you. So I am asking God to show Himself to me, in part through the study of doctrine, because if my knowledge doesn't cause me to know and love Him more, it isn't worth a thing.

    Really tasting the goodness of God makes me want to jump around and have some fun!!!

    Kathy J

  3. I liked the idea of Personal Promise Bible as many struggle to personalize the promises of God.

    I am a person coming from a very very conservative background where my parents even didn't like laughing loud as they thought having so much fun would evoke something bad soon. Their theory was that there are valleys for all mountains.
    Though I knew it wasn't true, it kind of put me in a chain even after I became an adult.
    But, now, ever since I started my grace walk, such guilts are melting away. Sometimes I am amazed to see how much time it can take to really really feel free.

    Ego surfing was a news to me though I used to do that unknowingly that its called ego surfing. I love to see the stuff coming up when I put my last name in Google.Yes, it is satisfying my ego:)

    I agree with Kathy about using a heavy voice for God. I think I too do that. Movies/drama, illustrated sermons at churches do the same. Kids get that impression and as they grow up they want to run as fast as they can from this scary god. I used to enjoy this song when my daughter sings it (She was taught this song in a church where we used to attend):

    Oh, be careful little eyes, what you see.
    Oh, be careful little eyes, what you see.
    There's a Father up above, looking down in tender love,
    So be careful little eyes, what you see.

    Be careful little ears what you hear
    Be careful little mouth what you say...
    Be careful little hands, what you touch...
    Be careful little feet, where you go...

    Until I read, 'So You Don't Want to Go to Church Anymore' by Jake Colsen . What is the impression kids get from this song? God is waiting up there ready to punish us... Pathetic! It's a lie! 'He came not to condemn, but to save'!
    They mix words such a 'love' and 'tender love' with such songs but the message it conveys is totally opposite.

  4. GW,

    God's gift of abundant life is truly amazing, and indeed He doesn't give it to us so we can simply stand by and watch it. :)


    I can relate to you on all of that. I thought I knew so much, but my knowledge of God was weak and erroneous too. I've had a lot of "unlearning" to do and a lot of new growing to do, and it sure has translated into joy that I never knew existed!

    I like your story about reading to your kids. It's truly a 'God thing' when our kids point out things that we haven't seen. :) The original movie The Ten Commandments has frustrated me because of the way God's voice is presented. "THOU SHALT NOT..." I'm having trouble thinking of a word to describe it, but if you've seen the movie you know what I mean. But of course, all the characters' voices and acting was over-done in that movie, especially Heston's. :)

    Bino, it's so true that it takes longer than what we would think to truly be free. As I said above, and as you have blogged about before, we have a lot of unlearning to do. In Christ we truly are free from sin, bondage, death, etc, but in our minds and in our daily living it takes an ongoing process of renewing our minds in order to stand more and more in the freedom we have.

    "Oh, be careful little eyes what you see..." You are so right about that. That song is rooted in legalism and in fearing God (being afraid), rather than in fearing God (awe and reverence).

    Thanks for reminding me about that Jake Colsen book. I downloaded it a while back, and I began reading it but I forgot about it. I really want to finish that book!

  5. Hi Joel - I found you through LivingSword and I really like your blog.

    A really good point you've brought up. I laughed when I read about the "scary voice" from Kathy - I totally relate. My most heartfelt prayer these days is for wisdom to pass on a real faith to my children.

    As to when the bible tells us to just go and have some fun - Ecclesiastes talks about that. Here's an example:

    "So go ahead. Eat your food with joy, and drink your wine with a happy heart, for God approves of this! Wear fine clothes, with a splash of cologne!"
    Chapter 9 vs 7-9 (I think)

    I think that calls for a night on the town, don't you?

  6. Hi Ruth, and welcome! Thanks for bringing up the verse from Ecclesiastes. Funny thing about the "fine clothes" and "splash of cologne." My wife persecutes me (LOL) for being a plain vanilla guy. My favorite clothes are my t-shirts and cotton shorts. :) As for cologne, my wife used to always tell me I smelled so good and she wondered what kind of cologne I was wearing. She didn't believe me when I told her that was Speed Stick that she was smelling (not cologne), but it was the plain honest truth!