Book Review: The Happiness Project

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KjU04I was having a life crisis…we have all had one. Big or small they happen. With life’s ever-present ebb and flow of circumstance and change it is hard not to get caught up in the waves of influence. Last year brought a few life shaking changes to my life and I will admit…I had a crisis. I was turning 30, we were moving to an unfamiliar place and I was diagnosed with a chronic illness all within a matter of months. When so many things that I thought defined me were taken away, I grasped to find meaning in my existence. I wanted to be busy again, doing things that I liked to do. I wanted to accomplish something before I was too old to establish myself  in a career. Most of all, I just wanted to be happy.

And it was then that The Happiness Project seem to just fall in my lap. With her lists and diagrams and rules the author, Gretchen Rubin, seemed to be a good fit for me. I function well with having structure. Knowing ahead of time that this book was not coming from a Christian perspective thoroughly intrigued me. I had read plenty of Christian books about joy and happiness and fulfillment but I was curious to get a view from the other side, to see how a person who does not have Christ deals with life and seeks to find happiness.  I did not intend for the book to give me answers to my problem but I did intend to find some inspiration or pattern to follow.

But the intrigue soon wore off and was replaced with frustration. I found myself actually shouting at the book at times…”Don’t you see…you are doing the opposite of what you should be doing. You have to find joy outside of yourself and you keep searching farther inward!! Agh!!” And then I’d put the book down for a while and pick it back up again in a couple of weeks to give me time to calm down. The author described a scene from her life where, finally, in trying to find happiness she tried to make someone else happy by throwing her mother-in-law a birthday party. She took time to find all of her mother-in-laws favorite things…presents, food, decor…but by the end of the chapter she had concluded that she could never make anyone else happy so she needed just to focus on making herself happy and basically live her life just for her. I felt she had completely missed the point. It seemed to me that she was happier when she was just trying to please her mother-in-law but it was when she spent too much time worrying about how it all made herself feel, she sunk into bitterness and frustration. I felt that if she had just served her mother-in-law and seperated her own feelings from it, she could have been much happier with the situation.

And though I found myself being frustrated with her I could easily make a reflection on my life. My search for joy was never as pure as I intended it to be. I often serve others for the sake of making myself feel better. I often makes sacrafices just so I can receive recognition or some tangible reward. I often do things for other people so I can get something in return. And I know God is the ultimate joy and yet I avoid Him and even when I take time to worship him or reflect on Him it is for my own personal gain…I want joy so I turn to Him.

The structure of the book was easy to read and often very insightful and funny. And though I would not agree with her terms that border on obsessive and legalistic…I would support the intention of making a whole life change by taking small steps and changing one thing at a time. Too often I have wanted to write more or spend more time outside or be more intentional about spending time with people…but I attempt to make the changes all at once and fail to stick to anything because I have overwhelmed myself.

The chapter on spirituality was particularly interesting to me. I have spent my whole life intrenched in Christian culture and beliefs. I have had very few non-Christian friends and have never asked a lot of questions to them about religion. So to get a glimpse into the life a someone who is practically a spiritual blank slate created so much curiosity. Everyone is searching for something to make them feel fulfilled. Everyone wants the hole within them filled with something.

In the midst of criticism, I did find a profound nugget of advice that propelled me forward in my own search for personal growth. I have spent most of my life being spread thin between an extensive list of hobbies, interests and jobs. But recently I have become overwhelmed and frustrated with my lack of focus and expertise. Because I had failed to be more specific about what I liked to do, I was merely mediocre at everything and I felt stretched between too many activities. It was in a complete moment of exasperation that I stumbled upon the answer to my folly. I read, “What did you like when you were a child? What you enjoyed as a ten-year-old is probably something you’d enjoy now.” (p.120) And in that moment a dim picture flashed in my head. A ten-year-old me lying in the tiny space of a closet under the stairs, scribbling furiously, lost in the world of my writing endeavor. By the time I had finished, I had far exceeded the one page requirement for class. I had stapled multiple pages together full of colorful drawings and rich vocabulary. This was pure happiness to me…and because of this book, writing is the avenue I have chosen to pursue.

Though I will not be following the particulars that were laid out in this book any time soon, in all, the book was very interesting. I learned a lot about the world’s view of happiness and it challenged my mind to think on my own Christian perspective of happiness. The pattern set out in the book is a good resource for making change in your life, but the premise and final conclusions made were contradictory to the Christian beliefs of sacrifice and humility. I would recommend reading this book with caution, having a firm stance on biblical joy and happiness.

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Being A Christian Is Distracting Me From the Gospel

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My daughter attends public school, a decision my husband and I didn’t take lightly. Many factors went in to the decision but the point that pressed most heavily on my heart was the volume of opportunities our family would encounter on a daily basis to share the gospel. The decision was weighted by the imagined droves of my daughter’s friends riding to church with us on Sunday, learning about Jesus for the first time because of our invitation. I had calculated the amount of times I thought we would have school families over to our house and how many teachers we could influence over the course of Mia’s 13 year school experience. But Kindergarten will come to a close in two short months and I have made three friends at my daughter’s school…all of which are professing Christians with churches that they attend regularly. It’s comfortable for me to talk to them because they already share my beliefs. I don’t have to be brave. Being a Christian has become like a secret club to me, and it’s distracting me from the truth of the gospel.

To many of us, being called a Christian has become a badge of pride. We boast more in our associations and actions than in Christ. We think that posting quippy statements about church, reposting quotes about Jesus, and publicly boycotting any company that supports gay rights makes us strong in our faith. We think that promoting faith-based movies, standing behind Christian oriented businesses, and debating homosexual marriage gets us a nod from above. In fact, we think arrogantly that these things are what separate us from non-Christians.  But being a Christian is not primarily about what we stand for or against, it’s also about who we place our faith in, it’s about who we follow. Being a Christian isn’t about what we accomplish, it’s about what Christ has done for us through his death for our sins. If we’ve lost sight of that then our actions are meaningless. If we are acting in order to simply be recognized as Christians and to be associated with Christian values, then our motivations are distracting us from the gospel.

And when we think that Christianity is some sort of achievement with points to earn, we stop looking at people as people and we start viewing them as tally marks on our score sheet. People become a means for having more baptisms than the church down the street. People become a faceless mass reserved to boost the numbers of attendance. We stop acting out of love and obedience and only take action when we can get something out of it. The great love that Jesus showed for us in his death should compel us to share that love with others. We should be so grateful for his gift to us, that we can’t stop giving to others no matter what we get back. If Jesus responded in obedience merely based on how it would be received, he never would have died for us. If we are motivated to act only based on results then we have lost sight of the gospel.

And when our “points” aren’t building as we think they should, we begin to view suffering very differently. If our points are not gathering as we think they ought to we are convinced we chalk it up to the suffering we have been promised to encounter. We are being kept from an admirable goal, so we must be facing adversity. But suffering is not being told you can’t pray in our classroom, suffering is continuing to pray anyway and losing your job for it. Suffering isn’t being made fun of for just being a Christian, it’s being mocked for actually saying something about what you believe. We forget that the gospel is so important to people in other countries that they are being tortured for it. Suffering doesn’t have to mean death or beatings but it should at least involve some sort of sacrifice on our part. If we aren’t making a sacrifice to be a Christian, then we have forgotten the gospel.

Being a Christian is about much more than putting a Jesus fish on our car, supporting faith-based films, wearing Christian t-shirts and listening to Christian music. It’s not about what makes us happy and comfortable. It’s about Christ and what he did for us and our humble,sacraficial response. So, can we be less concerned about our labels for a while? Can we stop hiding behind our computers and stop lazily resting in the comfort of a movie theatre? Can we stop reading about radical action and start participating in it? Can we stop relying on what we know about the Gospel and start living it? For me, that means speaking about my beliefs to a non-Christian at my daughter’s school. What will it mean for you?

What Being A Pastor’s Wife Has Taught Me About Life

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If I have learned anything over the past few years it is that I always have more to learn. We were thrown for a loop a year and half ago when my husband lost his job at our church in Ohio. Our whole married life had been preparing for ministry and when that was no longer David’s primary focus, I felt confused, lost, useless and like all those years of working had been wasted. In God’s sovereignty, we were brought into full-time ministry once again and I walked in with much more insight than I had the first time around. Our paths are not always the way we plan, but I know that wherever we are sent I can remember a few key things that I have learned from being a pastor’s wife that apply to whatever life situation we may find ourselves in…

1. Everyone will not like you. This has always been very hard for me to accept. I love making friends in every different kind of social circle. I have always been able to fit in with most people. But when I come across someone who I just don’t have much in common with…or whose interests and values completely conflict with mine I go into panic mode. I try way too hard. I over analyze everything I say. I try to create situations where we could possibly have something in common. And then in panic’s final stages, I just avoid the person and hope we never have to work together. But you know, God has a sense of humor…those are the exact people I end up encountering the most. And so I’m resigned to the fact that I can’t control what other people feel towards me. I can only do what God has called me to do, be who I am while continuing to be sanctified, and rest in the working hands of my Lord.

2. You do not have to be perfect…or even appear perfect. Have you ever met one of those people who seems to have it all together all the time? They dress perfectly, their hair always looks exceptional, they have well-behaved children, they make the best food for church dinners, they speak confidently, they have a clean home, and they are very organized…they just seem to have everything together…while you are just trying to keep your toddler from taking his clothes off in public, hoping no one will notice the macaroni and cheese stain on the white shirt you wish you didn’t even own and praying your daughter doesn’t share anymore embarrassing family situations in front of her Sunday school class. It’s hard to talk to the “perfect” person when you feel like your life doesn’t measure up. God actually uses our imperfections to minister to people. Your struggles create avenues for people to feel connected to you. I’ve had plenty of people express to me how thankful they are that my son is very rambunctious because they always feared being judged for their own children’s imperfect behavior.

3. You do not have to do everything. Burnout is a major cause  of people walking away from jobs…especially jobs that involve Christian ministry. I chronically commit to too many responsibilities…which gradually begins to take the appearance of irresponsibility and lack of commitment because I can’t keep track of everything I was supposed to be doing. So I’m trying to learn how to say no…I’m trying to understand what’s important to me and to stick to one commitment at a time so that I can fully devote myself and do the best job I can at one or two things instead of doing an okay job at a million things.

4.. Be who you are. Every life situation evokes a different atmosphere…and an opportunity to be persuaded by the values and behavior of the people around you. Two years ago, I got my nose pierced. I had always wanted to, and as I approached 30 I felt like it was good chance for me to finally look the way I wanted to. I found nothing biblically wrong with it…I was not being rebellious or arrogant about it. I just liked the way it looked, so I did it. But when my husband got a job at a church where no one had nose rings, I began to question my decision. I felt uncomfortable with my preferences and I found myself wanting to change. I began to wrestle with giving in to conformity. In that moment I was faced with the reality that if I constantly changed the way I looked based upon the crowd I was in, I would never know who I really was or what I really liked. If I focused too much on what I looked like compared to everyone else, I could easily become distracted from the purpose of the church…fellowship, growth, worship, and service.

5. You are a sinner in a world of sinners…keep people in their rightful place. I’ve been known to hold people, including myself, to standards that can never be met. I’ve put people on pedestals and let my life crumble when they fell. I’ve idolized people and let that affect the way I interact with them to the point of succumbing to sheer terror in their presence. But it’s unfair to them. It’s unfair to me. And most of all it’s sin. It’s the definition of idolatry…putting someone or something in the place of God. Everyone is in the same situation…we are flawed and sinful and no one deserves to be held higher than someone else.

6. You are a sinner in a world of sinners…so cut everyone some slack. Being an eating disorder survivor gave me a completely different outlook on life-consuming sins. Being involved in addiction ministry softened my heart toward those trapped in the repetitive cycle of the same sin. We all have some rebellion toward God in our hearts. We all have some sin that we can’t seem to overcome. We have all made a choice that sent us into a spiral of behavior that we can’t seem to control. I didn’t want to starve myself every day, but one day I made the choice not to eat, the next day I chose not to eat again and my choices compiled  until I felt like I wasn’t making choices anymore but my that my behavior was making the choices for me. Getting to know people…I mean, really getting to know them…who are trapped in drug addiction has made me realize that they are no different from the person who can’t stop yelling at their kids so I shouldn’t judge them any more harshly. We are all sinners in need of Jesus..I need him just as much as a murderer does…so I cannot view myself any higher than anyone else

Lest You Drift Away

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Hebrews 2

Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. 2 For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, 4 while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.

5 For it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. 6 It has been testified somewhere,“What is man, that you are mindful of him,   or the son of man, that you care for him? 7 You made him for a little while lower than the angels;you have crowned him with glory and honor,8 putting everything in subjection under his feet.”Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. 9 But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

10 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11 For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, 12 saying,“I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.”13 And again,“I will put my trust in him.”And again,“Behold, I and the children God has given me.”

14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. 16 For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

A tiny boat sits on the shoreline, bobbing effortless against the sand. Down the beach the waves leave a crisp line of foam and the tranquil sun casts a calming glow on the beach. For awhile the vessel clings tightly to the coast but gradually it begins to drift upon the crashing water. The turbulent ocean tosses the wooden craft over a crowd of angry rocks. At first the crags only knock against the fragile sides then they tear into the surface, taking large chunks out of the smooth surface. The gentle waves become wild and wreckless and the weakened walls of the little boat are smashed into pieces. The dispersed shards are carried out to sea and are lost forever in the raging water.

The story of the little boat could have been different, somewhat uneventful if only the poor ship would have been securely tethered to a strong source. As the waves came the boat could have held tightly to its strong foundation and stayed completely intact. Hebrews 2 is a reminder to us that our fate could be similar if we wander from the source of our salvation and we forget the Gospel.

Jesus Christ and all he accomplished through the Gospel is our source.(v.5-18) As we have been reminded over the weekend holiday…through his death he accomplished so much! Death was destroyed so that we don’t have to fear it. Through his death, he was glorifed…his name forever made known. Because of what Jesus did on the cross, we are made right with God. Because of his death, everything is subject to Jesus but he cares specifically for us…we are not just another part of creation. In his death and life he was perfect….but we often forget that he was tempted just like us, so he understands our temptation.

How do we know all of this to be true? (v.2-4).The angels declare it. The law was made known to us by the voice of God himself, and through the angels speaking on His behalf. And over the course of man’s history, the breaking of this law has received punishment. If the law didn’t exist, then failing to adhere to it would not produce any consequences. Then, those who heard it first hand shared the gospel. And through signs and miracles of those who represent God, we see the glory of the Gospel revealed.

What happens if we don’t remind ourselves of what Christ has done? (v.1) We drift away. Our minds and hearts are like a plant. If we pour the truth over it once, our faith will die. But the secret is to water to be nourished every day, continuously giving our souls a constant stream of life. Remind yourself daily of the great gift you have been given through the death and resurection of Jesus.

When God Closes A Door: The Torn Heart of a Missionary

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Have you ever wished you were in two places at once? Do you ever have a deep longing to be able to be with old and new friends at the same time? Do you hate that you have a responsibility to take a job across the country because you wish that you would get to stay close to your family? The sense of being torn in two directions became a reality when Helen Gullett, a native of Indonesia, moved to small town southern Ohio over seven years ago. Though her heart may be torn in two directions her life has shown the steady working of God’s hand and she does not doubt his purposes for where he has led her and her family.

Growing up in a mix-religion family with many cultural influences, she always had somewhat of a confusion about who God was and how she was supposed to worship. “We practiced Catholic and Buddhist, Chinese tradition, and had different perspectives about “God” from that. When my sisters and I were teenagers, we got involved at the church activities as well as at the temple, too. We were confused about which one was the best and which was the right one to follow. Practicing the beliefs and worshiping idols were part of our lives every day. We went to church on Sundays and at home we also worship other gods.”

When her family’s business collapsed in 1995, their financial situation was greatly effected and they were forced to move to Jakarta to find work. After her dad had a heart attack, her parents continued to go into debt and finally in 2002 Helen was forced to drop out of college because her family could not afford her tuition. “For all of those hard situations, I blamed “God” for all of these matters. I blamed him for allowing this to happen in my family. I thought if we respected and worshiped these gods, we would be fine, no hard times. But we had nothing left.”

And it was from this place of having nowhere else to turn that a classmate directed Helen to Christ. “It was my last day at school. I was on campus, confused, sad, angry, disappointed…one of my classmates came approaching me and sat beside me. She asked me how I was doing that morning and I just started crying. Finally, I told her what had happened and she said, “God never makes mistakes and will never leave you behind. He loves you, Helen.” She asked me if she could pray for me and she invited me to go to church with her. I went to the church with her that Sunday and that was the very first time I felt God spoke to me, touched and healed my heart.” Helen eventually came to give her life to Jesus and then because of her prayers, her parents and sister were converted as well.

Living in the United States had always been a dream for Helen. But she always thought that it would only ever be a fantasy because her family could not afford for her to study abroad. But as she puts it, “God had a different plan. I ended up in the United States because of God’s work.” She married her husband, Dave, after meeting him when he traveled to her country on a short-term mission trip. Helen has now lived in the US for seven years and she and Dave have two daughters.

“I miss my family a lot,” Helen says, “I cannot get together with them on their special days, I even missed my middle sister’s wedding in 2007. I missed my cousin’s and uncle’s funerals. I cannot be there in person when they were sad or in hard time. It’s been hard for my parents also because they only see my daughters on Skype and haven’t got a chance to get to know them or spend time with them. Being away from my family is difficult for me and them.”

Helen and Dave had plans to be missionaries in Southeast Asia.”When I could not continue my study at the university, God led me to study at a Bible College for a year. During the summer break, I went to a village in East Kalimantan with a short mission trip team from the college. We spent 2 weeks helping the church planter and spending time with the Dayak people…we had language and culture barriers. We spoke Indonesian, while the people didn’t speak enough Indonesian to understand the Good News we shared with them. 

“I came back to the city with a big question in my heart and mind: “How can these people be believers when they could not understand the Good News?” At that time I didn’t know how they can read the Bible in Indonesian because there were no school in that village, and they were too poor to send their kids to school in the city.”  
“In 2005, God amazingly provided a scholarship for me to finish my study at the university that I left behind in 2002. While I was finishing my study, I attended a local church where I was actively involved in student ministry and found out about a mission conference for students.” 
“The question about the Dayak people and how they could trust in Jesus was still a burden in my heart. At that conference I got my answer. I felt strong in my heart that God called me to be a missionary. At that conference that year, God led me to the director of Kartidaya, an Indonesian organization affiliated with Wycliffe Bible Translation.”
“The director offered me a chance to be a volunteer with them while I was praying for more specific way of how I can serve Him with my education background and skills. Since the Summer 2005 I volunteered with Kartidaya as their Prayer Coordinator and went on 4 short mission trips with them. God used those trips to confirm my calling.”
“On one of those trips I met my husband. God had prepared his heart to serve as a missionary as well. Now, as a family, we plan to go to a country in Southeast Asia to serve as missionaries.”

Their plans were to raise support and to begin mission work last fall. But things didn’t work out exactly as they had planned. “We were so discouraged with the decision we had to make. But we prayed asking God to really help us to stay strong in faith and obeying his callings in our lives. We know well in our hearts that it is about bringing the Word of God to the people who don’t have any in language they can understand.”…and because of this pull on her heart, she continues to trust God to guide their path. Though she feels torn in two directions…she lives in Ohio, but longs to share the gospel with people in South East Asia…she knows God does not make mistakes and will give her grace and comfort no matter where he leads. 

Helen knows it is the prayers of friends and family that has kept her so strong. And she relies on prayer to give her the strength she needs to continue to pursue missionary work.“Please pray for us in this time of preparation and raising support. We will spend this Spring and Summer raising support and building our partnership team. Our goal is to be in the country by Fall 2014. They really need us to be there to help them with their projects. Please pray for God’s divine meetings with individuals and open doors for us to share at churches and meetings about what God has put in our hearts to do in Southeast Asia. Please pray for me and Dave as we prepare ourselves to serve as missionaries, that we will keep our hearts focused and our eyes on Jesus, and to remember that it is all God’s work and not ours. Ask God to keep us strong in our faith and away from temptations. For Indonesia, my home country, please pray God will show his glory and grace. You can check out the Joshua Project website to check on the list of unreached people groups in Indonesia and their needs where you can pray and adopt a people group.”

 

 

Has It Been A Year Already?

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David started his job at Cornerstone on April 15th of last year…and here it is April 15th once again. Though so much has happened, it seems like such a short amount of time has passed. I never sat down and wrote out my experience. I never journaled my thoughts of the days that flew by. But as I look back now I can paint the events with a broad sweeping stroke.

Every time we came to visit it snowed and I should have received that as an omen of the winter to come. But, honestly, though the winter has been the coldest in decades and we ended up beating the all-time snow record for our city, life in Detroit just keeps on moving. We were snowbound only two days out of the whole winter and Mia only had to miss eight days of school (mostly for temperature, not snow). We can practically pull out of our driveway and be at any store or restaurant we could want and they get the major roads cleared off pretty quickly.

The culture felt achingly different at first. Leisurely drives through the hills were replaced with honking horns and yelling drivers. It is the complaint of some in a small town that you can’t go anywhere without seeing someone you know, but I missed that reliable occurrence. And it frustrated me that our doctors didn’t know us and the barista at the coffee shop didn’t recognize us. Though I still am not a fan of the driving, I have often gone to the mall or the grocery store and seen people from church or from my daughter’s school. My husband doesn’t even have to speak his order at the coffee shop anymore. As soon as they see him walk in their response is, “Tall Mocha?”. And I’ve actually seen my doctor out at a restaurant…and he recognized me and my kids.

When we first came to Michigan in 2013, I felt overwhelmed to make any social connections. We had left some very close friends and all of our family behind. Though I was surrounded by so many people, I had many days of feeling lonely because I didn’t know them the way I knew my old friends. I’d like to say I’m past that, but it’s still a bit of a struggle. I left a place of close ties and bonds through hardship and walked into an overwhelming sea of faces that I struggle to remember a connecting name from week to week. I do look forward to seeing the relationships I have formed grow into something stronger and more vibrant. Though it often terrifies me, I am being stretched to put myself out there all over again…and in ways I never would have if we had stayed in Ohio.

We are so blessed to be part of the Recovery ministry at CBC. Over the course of a year we have seen it grow and change. We’ve seen people come to Christ, be baptized and join the church. We’ve seen hearts changed and strong relationships formed.  We look forward to seeing what God is going to do in the years to come. I haven’t been able to be as involved as I would like to because of childcare issues. But last month the wife of one of the other leaders stepped up and said she would watch our kids while I helped to serve. And when she can’t help out, there are many other leaders that step up to watch out for our kids. I cannot even begin to express to them how thankful I am. I have felt disconnected and frustrated in the months prior to that. It is such an encouragement to know my kids are safe and cared for as I serve alongside my husband. That is something I have prayed about over the last year and have seen God answer.

Though life has changed abruptly, I have experienced great disappointment and fear, and I have felt stretched beyond my capacity at times…I know God is making me into who He wants me to be and moving to Michigan was part of that wonderful plan. I am excited to see what the next year brings.

Hebrews: The Supremacy of Christ

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Does life ever seem like it is just a mess of frustration, disappointment, evil, and death? Hebrew chapter 1 gives us a pretty extensive list of why we don’t have to focus on these things because Jesus is so much more than the difficulties of life.

1. He is the Word of God. Before Jesus, God spoke to people through prophets. But now there is no need for messengers because Jesus is the direct message straight from God’s mouth.  He has a direct connection with God, because he is God. Nothing else needs to be said…Jesus is the final complete word. We need to know nothing else.

2. He is the heir of all things. God created the world and it belongs to Him and he has chosen Jesus to receive it all. So when Jesus makes promises to give us something, he has the complete resources to follow through with it. And according to Romans 18:16-17 we are co-heirs with Christ. We share in all that has been given to Jesus.

3. He is the radiance of God’s glory. Jesus allows us to catch a glimpse of the devouring fire of God’s glory without being consumed by it. Without Christ, we would never get an opportunity like Moses did to have God’s glory even pass before us. But in Jesus we can completely experience God’s overwhelming glory.

4. He is the exact imprint of God’s nature. If you want to know God, get to know Jesus. The Bible is full of accounts of how Jesus acted, what he said, his emotions, his character…and through this we can know The Father because His Son is exactly like Him.

5. He upholds the universe.The entire universe works the way it does because Jesus upholds it. The planets stay in complete balance because Jesus keeps it that way.  If he can manage the planets, he can handle my life.

6. He made purification for my sins. All that I have done and will ever do has been taken care of, completely cleaned away so that all that God sees now is the righteousness of Christ.  And because of this truth I don’t have to strive for perfection, Jesus was perfect for me. And I don’t have to be punished with the eternal death that I deserve because he died and took the punishment in my place.

7. He is seated at the right hand of God. To say that Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father is to say, as John Calvin explains, that “Christ was invested with lordship over heaven and earth, and solemnly entered into possession of the government committed to him — and that he not only entered into possession once for all, but continues in it, until he shall come down on Judgment Day” (Institutes 2.16.15). Jesus is powerful and sovereign…equal to God in authority.

8. He is superior to angels. Many times people place angels in an undeserved position of favor to the point of worship. But angels are created beings, just like us. They are actually made to serve God, and to serve us.

9. He was with God when the world was created. Sometimes we forget that Jesus has been God forever…before he was born as a baby, Jesus was the Son…he has always been part of the trinity. So when the world was formed, he was there…In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1)

10. He is eternally the same. Life can change very quickly. One day your bank account is full, the next day it’s not.  One day your relative is vital and active and the next day they are lying in a hospital bed. But Jesus is the same forever and when all else is changing in front of us, we can count on him to be a stable constant.

12. He is THE conqueror. When life feels like more than we can handle, we have a great warrior on our side who has conquered all evil…all death…all frustration…all disappointment. And we will see this all come to completeness when he returns to make the entire universe new again.

We have no need to trust in anything else. Our desires and hopes are fulfilled in Jesus. Our tears and hurts are wiped away. Our fears and anxieties are removed. Our salvation is made complete. All power and strength come from him. We could ask for nothing more and we should want nothing less.