Joey Sparks
22Nov/110

Amanda’s Chocolate Chip Pound Cake

  • 1 box Butter Cake Mix
  • 1 small box chocolate instant pudding mix
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 Cup Water
  • 1 Cup Canola/Vegetable Oil
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • 6 oz chocolate chips 
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Grease and lightly dust bundt pan with flour
  3. Mix first 7 ingredients until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
  4. Bake for 1 hour, or until toothpick is clean when inserted in center of cake.

James tells us, "Count it all joy...when you meet trials of various kinds." It's difficult to "label" tough times, tragedies, and discouragement as anything that's good. Yet James tells us to consider those opportunities as "joy."

Though difficult, he does not expect us to do something this extreme without any assurance about future results. In fact, the very reason he says we should "count it all joy" is that we "know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness" (Jas 1:3). He points to the foundational principle that testing and proving our faith will always lead to strengthening it into faith that lasts. He then instructs Christians to, "let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing" (Jas 1:4).

http://flic.kr/p/GjwLz

http://flic.kr/p/GjwLz

We can know with certainty about the connection between trials and steadfastness, but we must let it take place. This is the second of James' imperative statements in this letter; yet it is one that we must allow to happen in our own lives. We can't force it to happen. We can't fast forward to a time where it's already happened. We can't negotiate the length of time in which it happens. We can't eliminate the pain accompanied with the trial itself while it happens. But we can--and James says we must--target our attitudes in a godly direction because of our conviction and the assurance that it does happen.

Enduring trials will never be easy. They rarely, if ever, taste good on their own. We must continually mix them with healthy attitudes and heavy doses of God's promises. Then, despite our skepticism and short-sightedness, we must allow the oven of time, faith, and God's providence to deliver the sweet steadfastness of trusting Him. Delicious.

15Nov/110

The Truth About Trials

When we find ourselves in the midst of a "trial," we often focus on the trial itself. We commonly believe several myths about trials:

  • They're always someone else's fault. (Another person, God, the devil)
  • We are the only one experiencing trials. Our trials are far worse than anyone else's.
  • Once we become Christians, trials happen less often, don't hurt as much, or stop altogether.
  • Once we deal with a significant trial, all future trials disappear or become really easy to handle.
  • Removing or ending the trial will eliminate all pain associated with it.
  • If we can just fix all the problems we're facing, we can be happy.

The Bible is clear we must address problems for which we're responsible. But we commonly shirk responsibility for those things and focus our energy upon fixing things we cannot.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/xtrarant/2207094409/

So don't miss James' first imperative statement--one of many--in his letter. "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds" (1:2). Before we can "count it all joy" when we face them, we should observe a few truths that counter the false assumptions we believe about trials.

  • Christians are not immune to trials ("my brothers"). In fact, the trials for these Christians resulted directly from their commitment to Christ.
  • We will face trials ("when you..."). He didn't say "if you..."
  • We will continually face trials. “Trials” is plural.
  • We won't face the same trial/trials over and over ("trials of various kinds").
  • We aren’t the only ones facing trials. It was written to Christians in the first century and has applied to everyone since. We may feel alone at any given time, but that doesn't mean we are alone in our struggles.

We must exchange our dependence upon misbeliefs for confidence in the truth. Once we do, we can begin to "count it all joy" when we face trials.