Weird title? Well, those are all things I used as an example of my lesson with the kids yesterday in church. Not literally the cow poop though... But I totally should have! If it wasn't for my gag reflex, it would have REALLY made a memorable lesson!
So what was the lesson on? It was based on James 1:2-4
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature & complete, not lacking anything."
First though - its important to look at this verse with the word JOY in it different then we may think. We think God wants us to handle horrible things with a smile & a happy heart? No way... God knows the emotions we feel & I don't think He expects that from us at all. "Joy" in this case can be traced back to actually meaning "Confidence"... confidence in God - that He will come through for us... AAHHH - that makes me feel so much better! So I don't have to put on a fake smile in troubles & say, "Because I'm a Christian, I am going to face this like Pollyanna"... nope - no need. I can face trouble & say, I have joy... "I have CONFIDENCE that everything is going to be alright!"... that's a relief!!!
So where do the examples come in? Perseverance = Gold!!!! Have you ever seen how gold is processed? Its melted down to a liquid & all the impurities rise to the top where it can be skimmed off the top. Then its formed into whatever you want it to be & it hardens stronger then before because the impurities are taken out! When you Persevere, you become stronger!!! You get melted down & you get the bad stuff skimmed out of your life & you harden up stronger then before! Oh yeah... good stuff!!!!
Mature = Cow poop! Yes.. again, remember I work with Jr. High kids & any talk of poop is fun for them! But think about it - cow poop is nasty, stinky & who wants to deal with it! But what does it do? It makes plants & flowers & trees GROW! Its the oldest knows fertilizer there is! So we can look at trials in our life as stinky & nasty... but they ultimately make us grow! Right? Oh yeah... lesson out of cow poop! You wont look at it the same!
Complete = Bolt! Now, we wont ever be complete until we reach the other side of Heaven - but we have to keep working to be as complete as God calls us to be while on this earth. How complete is that? Just striving to be more Christ like! So I showed the kids a big bolt! Asked them if they were on a roller coaster - the highest in the world & this bolt was what was holding your seat belt on... what if it popped off? Would you be scared? Would you feel as safe? Probably not! And its such a small thing compared to the big roller coaster! But its the bolt that makes the ride feel "complete" - safe! So troubles in our life can actually COMPLETE us... they can make us grow into a more Christ like person! Someone who gets more complete with every lesson learned!!!
I just asked the kids to remember what Jesus said in John - "In this world, you WILL have troubles - but take heart! For I have overcome the world!".... You WILL have troubles... but find JOY! Have confidence that God will get you through it again... & again... & again...
And if you have too - remember Gold, Cow poop & a big bolt! God's example is in everything!