IS GOD – knowing God, walking with God, hearing from God, obeying God, worshipping the One True and Living God, enjoying God, DESIRING GOD – the singular pursuit of your life? Of your family? Of your church?

Just so you know – with George Washington, in my role as a pastor, and all that apocryphal ”I cannot tell a lie” jazz – as for me and my house and my church, I’d have to say, “It depends.”

     Which is to say, in the interests of honesty, transparency, and integrity, sometimes God is my/our singular pursuit.

It depends on the day, the week, the season. It depends on the mood we are in (I am in) at any particular moment. It depends on if we are being spiritual or natural – you know, regular people.

And, it depends upon what you (I) mean by: “Is God the singular pursuit of your/my/our life?

I was reminded of this last night, after supper, by my lovely and adorable daughters.

Now, you need to know – if you couldn’t tell, already – that I absolutely adore my daughters.

I’m not exactly sure what the Old English phrase ”the apple of my eye” means, or where it comes from, but I have two apples – one for each of my eyes, and their names are Abby and Ashleigh.

(I should note, and quickly, that I dearly love my 26-year-old son Christopher and my wife Shelly. But on this particular occasion, it was my daughters. And there is the daddy-daughter-thing ….)

To think that God loves me – me! – and them infinitely more profoundly and fondly than I love my own children is, well, impossible to comprehend. And it makes me smile.

But there we were, last night, at the dinner table. In our dinner table discussion, Abby (13) and Ashleigh (10) both mentioned this “funny guy” that one of them had found on, of all places, youtube, and that I “just had to hear him, because he’s so funny!”

At some point, after supper, as I dutifully took out the trash, which for me in my trash-eradicating-obsessive-mode means going all over the house trying to find every bit of trash before it makes its way into the trashcan I just emptied(!), I realized that my dear sweet daughters were waiting patiently for me, so they could introduce me to this aforementioned “funny guy.”

Honestly, I’m not sure that I knew I could laugh so much, and so hard … in three minutes’ time.

I asked Abby to send me the link, which was waiting for me, when my Blackberry and I awoke this morning. The most enjoyable part of this 3-minute snippet of a longer comedy routine was that the “funny guy” touched upon one of my pet topics: the use of language … sort of.

When I found the link on my Blackberry this morning, I couldn’t resist listening to it again. (Also, there are graphics to go with it – not video, exactly – that enhance the laughing experience.)

I thought I might be laughing so hard (again) as to awaken the whole family.

My laughing experience last night and this morning prompted me to wonder:

     Why does our pursuit of God so frequently look lilke and feel like and constitute something other than an en-JOY-able pursuit?

Oh, I know that life and relationships and work and ministry are hard. That’s a given in the fallen world in which we live, and any version of ‘Christianity’ that white-washes this self-evident truth with spiritualized  magic thinking should be avoided – fled from, even.

Indeed, it’s not one of the promises of Scripture that we would want to claim, but to every person who aligns himself or herself with Jesus Christ and commits to living out His gospel, the Bible promises that we will have trouble in this world (John 16), that we will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12), and that we might even despair of life (2 Corinthians 1).

Yet, we should be heartened to hear that, in the midst of our circumstances – whatever they may be, we can have … JOY. This, too, is a promise from God’s Word – written in Holy Scripture, lived out and made possible by the Word-made-flesh, and granted to each of us by the Holy Spirit.

I was reminded of this last night and this morning, as I literally laughed-out-LOUD, and the Lord reminded me of His promise of joy to those whom He loves and who love Him …

     “Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” — Jesus (John 16:24b)

     “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the Word of life–the Life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the Eternal Life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us–that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us, and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. — 1 John 1:1-4

     “Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to come to you and talk face-to-face, so that our joy may be complete.– 2 John 2:12

Oh yes, and here’s the link to “the funny guy” but with a disclaimer: He uses one quasi-swear word (‘hell‘) in a quasi-swearing sort of a way (as in ‘What in the hell are you talking about, Brian?‘) But if you can get beyond that, you’ll laugh-out-LOUD, too. I PROMISE!

     http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1cYS6aGstU

Grace, peace, and MUCH JOY from me and mine to you and yours!

Pastor Mark

P. S.

The first part of this week (Mon., Jan. 31st–Wed., Feb. 2nd), I’ll be attending the Desiring God Conference for Pastors (www.desiringgod.org) in Minneapolis, Minnesota, for the third year running.

This year’s theme is “The Power of a Praying Pastor.” I’m very much looking forward to it, and for the first time, attending with friends and colleagues from Winnipeg.

Pastor Jeremy Kim of the Korean Church of Winnipeg (www.winnipegchurch.org) and with whom we share our facilities here at Bethesda is joining me.

Also, our brothers at Grant Memorial Baptist Church (www.grantmemorial.ca) are gracing us with their fellowship and a ride down and (hopefully!) back in their church van.

     Please pray for me, especially. First, I need the refreshing that this conference and its theme offers. Also, this is the exact point at which my first attempt at a blog died. I just never got back to it, after the break in momentum brought on by last year’s conference. I’d appreciate it, very much!

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