Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Bible and the Coal Basket

The story is told of an old man who lived on a farm in the mountains of eastern Kentucky with his young grandson. Each morning, Grandpa was up early sitting at the kitchen table reading from his old worn-out Bible.

His grandson who wanted to be just like him tried to imitate him in any way he could. One day the grandson asked, “Papa, I try to read the Bible just like you but I don’t understand it, and what I do understand I forget as soon as I close the book. What good does reading the Bible do?”

 The Grandfather quietly turned from putting coal in the stove and said, “Take this coal basket down to the river and bring back a basket of water.” The boy did as he was told, even though all the water leaked out before he could get back to the house.

The Grandfather laughed and said, “You will have to move a little faster next time,” and sent him back to the river with the basket to try again.

This time the boy ran faster, but again the basket was empty before he returned home. Out of breath, he told his grandfather that it was “impossible to carry water in a basket,” and he went to get a bucket instead. The old man said, “I don’t want a bucket of water; I want a basket of water. You can do this. You’re just not trying hard enough,” and he went out the door to watch the boy try again.

 At this point, the boy knew it was impossible, but he wanted to show his grandfather that even if he ran as fast as he could, the water would leak out before he got far at all. The boy scooped the water and ran hard, but when he reached his grandfather the basket was again empty.

Out of breath, he said, “See Papa, it’s useless!”

“So you think it is useless?” The old man said, “Look at the basket.” The boy looked at the basket and for the first time he realized that the basket looked different. Instead of a dirty old coal basket, it was clean.

“Son, that’s what happens when you read the Bible. You might not understand or remember everything, but when you read it, it will change you from the inside out.”

That is the work of God in our lives.

To change us from the inside out and to slowly transform us into the image of His son.

Take time to read a portion of God’s word each day. Pray that He will use it to turn your heart and mind to Him.

-Author Unknown

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Come out, come out, wherever you are!

Hello readers!

Here's a shout out to all you "secret readers"...maybe you read our blog, but have never commented. Or maybe you are a regular reader, and have commented before, for which we're grateful! I'm now inviting all of you who read our blog, to please comment, even if you never have before. Tell us how you heard about JOJ, a little about yourself, and whatever! We love hearing from our readers. 

Would you mind completing our short survey HERE? It's just 4 questions long, so will only take a minute. Your input is greatly appreciated!

If you can't get to the form, feel free to answer the questions below in a comment:
                                -Your name 
                                -What do you want to see more of on JOJ?
                                -Would you be willing to write for us sometime?

Looking forward to hearing from you!! 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Are you seeking God?

Let the heart of those who seek the Lord be glad. Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his face continually. 
- 1 Chronicles 16:10b-11

Seeking God. It's an interesting topic. (And yes, one that I have a stackload of pertinent Bible verses on, lol!)

But before we really dive into it in any depth, here's a question for you, no matter who you are.

Are you seeking God?

(There you are. I put it in a nice big font so you couldn't avoid seeing it.)

Here's the official definition of the word 'seek'. Just because it's fascinating.

  1. attempt to find (something).
    "they came here to seek shelter from biting winter winds"
    synonyms:search for, try to find, look for, look about/around/round for, cast about/around/round for, be on the lookout for, be after, hunt for, be in quest of, quest (after), be in pursuit of
    "six bombers took off and flew southwards to seek the enemy"
    • attempt or desire to obtain or achieve (something).
      "the new regime sought his extradition"
      synonyms:try to obtain, pursue, go after, strive for, go for, push towards, work towards, be intent on, aim at/for, have as a goal, have as an objective

    • ask for (something) from someone.
      "he sought help from the police"
      synonyms:ask for, request, solicit, call on, invite, entreat, beg for, petition for,appeal for, apply for, put in for
      "you may need to seek the advice of a specialist"

Some of my favourite synonyms are "hunt for, be in quest of, be in pursuit of, have as a goal, be intent on, strive for, pursue, beg for, petition for, try to find, and cast about for".

So, are you hunting for God? Are you in quest of him? Are you in pursuit of him, is he your goal, are you intent on him, do you strive for, pursue, beg for, petition for him? Are you trying to find him and casting about for him?

Because can I very respectfully say, dear friend, that if you answered no to any of those questions, then you should seriously review why not.

Seek the Lord, all who are humble, and follow his commands. Seek to do what is right and to live humbly.
- Zephaniah 2:3

If you follow his commands, you are commanded to seek him.

Seeking God most definitely has it's advantages. And not only because we are commanded to seek him! He rewards us if we seek him.

[Uzziah] continued to seek God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding through the vision of God; and as long as he sought the Lord, God prospered him.
- 2 Chronicles 26:5

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
- Matthew 6:33

"The Lord is my portion", says my soul, "Therefore I have hope in him." The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the person who seeks him.
- Lamentations 3:24-25

.....he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
- Hebrews 11:6b

He rewards those who earnestly seek him. Let's not be half-hearted about it!

You will seek the Lord your God, and you will find him if you search for him with all your heart and all your soul.
- Deuteronomy 4:29
(With all your heart. All of it. )

You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart.
- Jeremiah 29:13

Those two verses are mighty similar. I've found that if God says something twice, it's because he means it and really really wants to get his point across.

Friends, if we seek after God with all of our heart and all of our soul, he will be found by us.

The Lord is with you when you are with him. And if you seek him, he will let you find him.
- 2 Chronicles 15:2

Go back and read that last verse again.
I think that makes it pretty clear, to be honest!

One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock. 
Hear my voice when I call, Lord; be merciful to me and answer me. My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, Lord, I will seek.
- Psalm 27:4-5, 7-8

Are you seeking God?
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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A Spring of Joy


 I carefully braced my feet on the slippery bank, and wrapped my arm around the trunk of a tender sapling for extra stability. Then, with a leap, I was standing on a medium sized rock whose water smoothed surface emerged from the surface, looked rather like a giant loaf of brown bread. This stone on which I stood, rested in the center of a small pool which was surrounded on two sides by sloping rock walls, whose otherwise sheer surface was broken up by cracks through which the indomitable grasses had wormed their way. On another side was a bit of stone free woodland, and it was through the final end that the river had cut its narrow channel between rocks and under roots, leading to the world beyond. I suppose it continues to flow until it is either dammed up or, as most rivers do, until its waters mingle with the briny ones of the great sea.

     At the corner where the two rock walls met, there fell a rushing torrent of water, sparkling and white as it hurled itself over the rocks and dashed itself into the pool beneath.  As I stood and watched this continual and reckless descent, I thought how everyone thinks of a water fall as a joyful spot.  None weep for the waters as they cast themselves down from the heights to be shattered on the stones beneath. There is nothing in their downward journey to betoken sadness or grief.  Indeed, as many authors have remarked, the waters seem to find joy in hurling themselves down ever lower until their final engulfment by the salty ocean.
When I see a water fall and a stream, I often pray, that my life would be like the uplifting movement of the waterfall and continue to be useful and happy as the joy-filled stream.
    I think that we can learn much from the waters. We can contrast the vibrant activity of a waterfall with a stagnant pool which only receives but is never full and its waters flow from it yet benefiting no one, except perhaps, the plants in an indirect way, as the only way for it to go anywhere is to seep into the soil or be vaporized into the air.
    Many would say that in our lives, this would contrast usefulness to uselessness. But I would present to you, that it is a picture of contented, vibrant joy as opposed to selfish, discontented bitterness. 

    In Eleanor H. Porter's classic, "Pollyanna,"  the heroine makes an extremely simple and yet important point. While discussing the struggles of a preacher with a minister she explains how in a moment of particular discouragement, her father, who had also been a pastor, looked up all the passages in the Bible commanding us to rejoice; according to Pollyanna there were eight-hundred of them.  In her own words, "[Father] said if God took the trouble to tell us eight hundred times to be glad and rejoice, He must want us to do it--some."  This is an understatement; in Philippians Paul tells us to rejoice always "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!" And just in case we didn't get it then, he says so again in 1 Thessalonians, "Rejoice always..."  I agree with Pollyanna, if God told us to rejoice and be glad so many times, He must have wanted us to do it--always!
      Remember the waterfall. As long as there is water it never ceases to ecstatically cast itself down onto the rocks, always hastening down, and yet never bringing sorrow with its descent. Think of the trees, in the Autumn they drop their leaves and die and yet at what other time do they array themselves so brightly?  I once heard someone say, "The trees make dying look glorious."

    God had a message to impart to us through the dying trees and falling water, and when we have God's special care over us we should be the last ones to be complaining when even the trees and the waters know better!
      When you have to wash dishes for the "millionth time," look at the water flowing over your hands and remember the joyful stream.  "When your little brothers are being just too exasperating glance out the window and remember that just as the dying trees are beautiful, so to die to oneself is a truly beautiful thing.
       If you struggle with sleep at night, count your blessings instead of sheep. Remember the joy of each sparrow whom God cares for and know that He cares even more for you.  Rejoice always, eventually you'll find that, not only is joy contagious, but it will be a magnet to repel discontent and draw you closer to your Maker.
   He is with us all the way; we, of all people, should be the happiest in all the world!
All the way my Savior leads me,
Cheers each winding path I tread,
Though my weary steps may falter,
And my soul athirst may be;
Gushing from the rock before me,
Lo, a spring of joy I see.
Gushing from the rock before me,
Lo, a spring of joy I see!

He is with us all the way; we, of all people, should be the happiest in all the world!
Let us be a spring of joy that all the burdened, and sorrow-filled ones may rest beside our rivers and find comfort in our Christ centered happiness.


I live in North Carolina with my wonderful parents and seven siblings. I love music, theology and my Creator. I would love to know what you think about this topic, you can find me at or my blog at 
 And a big thank you to Rachel for asking me to write!

~Christianna Hellwig