The Reluctant Missionary

Authentic stories from the travels of Michael Smalley.

Anchor your relationship in joy

marriage spiritual growth the joy of difficult conversations Aug 20, 2020

What is the scariest movie, human, animal, or story for you? Me, it is Poltergeist reigning supreme at the top of my list. Perhaps tied with the freaking shark from Jaws, I still struggle swimming in open water when I cannot see the bottom...lakes, oceans, nighttime in pools, are all accompanied by the haunting sound, "da na, da na, da na, da na daaaaaaa"! Yes, the music from Jaws plays loudly in my head swimming in a pool at night. My brother convinced me at a tender age sharks can swim through the pipes of a pool. They hide during the day and hunt unsuspecting children at night. 

But even scarier than giant sharks hiding out in a pool is the twisted clown devil, monster, destroyer of worlds from Poltergeist.  It is the prolegomenon of my horrifying fear of clowns. 

Today is about joy.  I bet you did not see this coming! Your relationship can feel scary at times.  Are we going to make it? Is he/she ever going to change? Will I survive my current circumstances? Where does your joy, confidence, security, satisfaction, calm-in-the-storm come from? It comes from choosing to be an authentic disciple of Jesus Christ. What does this mean? The scariest verses in the Bible are Matthew 7:21-23 when Jesus said,

21 “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. 22 On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ 23 But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’ NLT

How can you be known by Christ? The people crying out, "Lord, Lord", were not murderers, thieves, clowns! They were people like us.  People feeling secure in their salvation, but on the day of their death, the biggest fear and disappointment of their life is going to become a reality. Yet, "I never knew you." These words will cost you an eternity separated from Christ.

Who is in charge of your children, spouse, family, job, circumstances, and financial security? Crippling fear, anxiety, worry, lack of desire to learn are signs it is not Jesus but people, places, or things of this world. Discover what it takes to be known on the day of your death by Jesus, the source of your joy in difficulties.

To be a true, authentic disciple

It starts with a choice to believe and follow him. Putting Jesus in charge of:

  1. Your spouse
  2. Your parents or siblings
  3. Your job
  4. Your kids
  5. Your security
  6. Your strength
  7. Your patience
  8. Your kind reactions
  9. Your self-control
  10. Your discipline
  11. Your ability to love difficult people
  12. Your forgiveness of impossible hurt
  13. Your joy and satisfaction

It starts with belief Jesus is who he said he is. Prove your faith by following his commands. Download almost all of his demands on this post. Jesus' love language is obeying his commands, yet most of us do not know or obey the 52 unique commands Jesus gave us to follow. John Piper put together a wonderful free PDF of these 52 commands in a free PDF, also available on this post.

How do you know Jesus is not your master?

It comes down to how you treat difficult people. It is about your reaction when a button gets pushed or you feel triggered. Our reactions matter and will echo throughout eternity. Managing difficult conversations in a loving way shows Jesus you truly know him. If we:

  • Keep trying to prove to our spouse we've changed instead of showing them
  • Are scared and panicked
  • Are not praying and allowing the Holy Spirit to guide our actions
  • Live in constant fear, worry, and anxiety about the future

It is NOT attending church regularly, serving at the soup kitchen, complaining about bad things occurring around us, praying before a meal, acting religious, doing our Bible study, denouncing alcohol, smoking, abortions, or sex before marriage.

What is it to be a true disciple of Jesus? People experience our decisions in difficult circumstances like:

  1. Peace
  2. Patience
  3. Kind reactions
  4. Forgiveness
  5. Surrendering or quitting
  6. Honoring boundaries
  7. Self-control
  8. Joy
  9. Selflessness
  10. Confidence
  11. And basing our identity in Jesus

To be known by Jesus is to obey his commands. People will experience the fruit from the choices we make when they are behaving like a turd. If you want to experience true joy when stuck in difficult situations, ground your joy in the one person who can give it to you, the son of man, Jesus Christ.


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