Joy Comes in the Mourning (Guest Blog Post: Jonathan Frejuste)

No one can escape the impact of loss.

The loss of someone who passes away, the loss of a friend through betrayal, the loss of health through illness, the loss of a marriage through a divorce, the loss of routines and stability due to a job loss or moving to a new country, the loss of innocence through abuse, the loss of the dream family through miscarriage, or the loss of a dream of a career. However big or small, everyone will go through loss in life.

The question is how do we deal with loss and its accompanying pain. The way to deal with loss is through grieving. Grieving is not limited to tears. The grieving process could be through artistic expression, journaling, or helping someone else in the area of your loss. Grieving is any way of getting the pain that’s inside out to the surface. Jesus said blessed are those who mourn (get the pain of what’s inside out), for they will be comforted. (Matthew 5:4)

Personally, I know what it’s like to face loss – specifically the loss of innocence through sexual abuse at a young age. Through this loss, my life became consumed by fear – the fear of never being able to trust anyone, the fear of never being able to be mentally or emotionally stable enough to pursue the dreams that God placed on my heart, the fear that I was gay because of what happened to me as a child. Like many people, the pain of loss was so great that I suppressed it for many years and put on a happy Christian veneer to avoid the pain that I felt. After a number of emotional breakdowns, I knew it was time to come clean and stop lying about what I was going through. Fortunately, God placed a great support system around me who helped me find my way to a competent Christian counselor to begin to deal with the pain of the loss of innocence at such a young age. The first few steps were acknowledging the loss and starting the grieving process. Here’s what I learned in the process.

Each time we don’t grieve losses, 2 things happen:

  1. We begin to compartmentalize our lives where we walk around with a false optimism, pretending that everything’s okay. But the reality is that there is unresolved grief and if it’s not grieved fully, we are tempted to use unhealthy coping mechanisms like hiding/denial, minimizing, rationalizing, distracting, avoiding, addiction, becoming hostile or other unhealthy ways of not facing the pain.

While everyone thought all was well with Jon because I was accomplished – graduating with honors, getting my CPA license, working for a reputable company, etc., I dealt with secret addictions and emotional and mental battles that most people couldn’t believe. At different points, I also had bouts of anger that lead to disrespectful confrontations and misunderstandings and when I suppressed the anger, it led to depression. These issues kept me from having healthy relationships, walking in God’s perfect will, and were robbing me of the fullness of the destiny that God has for me. Once I understood what was occurring, I concluded that unresolved pain is like a beach ball pushed underwater – it will always find its way to the surface. In what ways are your unresolved issues showing up in your life?

  1. The 2nd thing that happens is that our hearts become hardened to avoid getting hurt again. Proverbs 13:12 says that a dream deferred makes the heart sick and when we experience loss, to keep the heart from getting sick again, we stop pursuing our dreams or even worse, stop dreaming. Grieving gives us the freedom and permission to risk again and set big goals for God. For close to a decade, I’ve worked in the corporate world, but I’ve always wanted to be a teacher. In the last few years, the Lord has placed a burden on my heart to work with young men from the inner city. Through a series of circumstances, I started working as a resident advisor in a transitional living facility aka group home teaching life skills to young men who have been temporarily displaced from their homes due to issues of abuse, a parent’s drug addiction, or a parent’s incarceration. Unbeknownst to me at the time, the pain that these young men faced would be similar to what I’ve known. Had I not grieved the pain of my past, I would not have emotional capacity to deal with the serious issues that came with the position, let alone possess the heart and empathy to walk them through their own pain in a healthy way. As bible teacher Geri Scazzero says in her book, I Quit, I could enter the pain of others because I’ve entered my own.

In life, there will always be grief because there will always be loss. We cannot choose our emotions selectively – to be happy and never to be sad. Let’s not neglect the benefit of grieving and embracing sorrow. As Ecclesiastes 7:3 says, a sad face is good for the heart. In a weird way, grieving pain leads to greater empathy and compassion for others, a better perspective of what really matters in life, and a restoration of the peace and joy of knowing that what God is doing is best. I’ve learned and continue to be reminded that joy truly comes in the mourning. What losses and pain have you yet to fully grieve and let God’s divine healing meet?

JonathanFrejuste
Jonathan Frejuste

 

Jonathan Frejuste was born and raised in Newark, NJ. He went to Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia where he was saved at the age of 19. Though he has been saved for 10 years, God has taken him through a painful sanctification process which is what lead him to learn more about emotional health and how vital it is to one’s walk with God. He is currently serving as a life group leader at New Life Fellowship Church in Queens, NY and is committed to giving people who have been broken by sin a safe place to heal and provide them with the encouragement and resources to pursue their destiny in God.

Connect with Jon via LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/jonathan-frejuste/42/202/b0a

 

Watch Jon’s Story here “The Story of New Life”: 

 

Faith Without Action Is Dead (Guest Blogger: Wodline Hippolyte)

The other day my son decided to lock the door to my work room. I was angry and frustrated because it was the week of two upcoming events and I needed my supplies. What made things worse was I didn’t know where the key to that room was…long story.

I felt defeated which caused me to wait two days before I made an actual effort to do something. The night before I needed to get access to my supplies I decided to ask my dad for help. He brushed me off and told me to call a locksmith.

That night I was determined to pick the lock, but I was unsuccessful. My only options were to call a locksmith or face my fear of heights by getting a ladder to climb through the room window. That following morning I was determined to face my fear to get inside that room. As I walked outside the front door I was greeted by my dad who asked me where I was headed. I told him what I was planning to do and with the help of my youngest brother he ended up climbing the ladder for me to get into the room.

Won’t He Do It!

That week I learned it is with that same determination we are to pursue our God-given dreams. My dad came through for me because he saw the effort I made to “get my stuff” and many times God does the same with us. God has always come through for me when I allow my faith to be greater than my fears.

In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. – James 2:17

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View More: http://marjoriedatuin.pass.us/wodlineWodline is a mompreneur, wedding planner and savvy startup specialist who loves the Lord and is passionate about empowering young people to follow their dreams.

Website:          www.wodlinehippolyte.com

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The I in Relationships (Guest Blogger: Ruth Joseph)

The I in Relationships
Relationships are inescapable. In world of 7 billion people,1 we spend our entire lives in a repetitive cycle of forming, nurturing or ending relationships. Some are good, some are bad and some are just “ehh ok”. But no matter the status, our lives exist in relationships.
When relationships are healthy, we thrive. However, when our relationships become unhealthy, we are deprived. Scripture tells us that, “bad company corrupts good character (1 Cor. 15:33).” This verse tells us not to hang around “bad company” because they corrupt the “good character” that Christ is forming in us. While this is true, there is another meaning that strikes closer to home.
 
What corrupts healthy relationships is not only the bad company of others, but also the bad company within one’s self!
We can’t ignore the “bad company” in our genes, family, and everyday lives. It’s easy to deflect on others what we are reluctant to identify in ourselves, but we need to stop deflecting and start reflecting. 
Here are two lessons that I learned.
 
1- I was created for relationships. Relationships were not created for me.
In a world that is so individualistic, Christ calls us to a higher standard than self-service. He modeled REAL relationships with His family, His disciples, His enemies, and people in society. In each relationship He didn’t come expecting to be served, but rather to serve in hopes that many would be won to the good character of the Father (Mk 10:45). 
 
2- I grow into a better me when I am in a healthy relationship with you.
We are called to “love one another” as Christ has loved us (Jn 13:34). This kind of love is not of convenience, but rather a free-willed choice. Healthy relationships thrive best when we freely choose love and sacrifice our pride. We are always transformed for the better, when we love through Him.
So take time to reflect on your existing relationships and the bad company that may be hindering all the good God wants you to enjoy.
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RuthJoseph2015Deaconess Ruth Joseph is an emerging young adult leader at Christ Church. Most Sundays, she can be found at the West Campus helping to lead worship or at the altar joyfully dancing during worship. Whether it’s on or off the altar, Ruth has a heart of worship that extends beyond just singing. She is a 316 person that is committed to service (passing love on), as a Community Service Coordinator, Life Group leader and a Bible Study Facilitator for the Quest/College & Young Adult Ministry. Last June Ruth it was an honor to have one of our very own be ordained into the Deaconate Ministry. (Deaconess) Ruth welcomes the opportunity to continue to model 316 within the walls of the church and beyond.

Three S’s of Spiritual and Emotional Refreshment (Guest Blogger: Dr. Ron Walborn)

RonWalborn

Somebody commented to me the other day about the pace of my life. They were genuinely concerned for me when they asked the question: “How do you recharge spiritually?”  I was actually thankful because it gave me a chance to reflect on whether or not I am taking adequate time to recharge and refresh myself on a regular basis. Here is what I came up with that I practice and seems to work for me most of the time. I call this plan my “Three S’s of Spiritual and Emotional Refreshment:” 

 

1. I regularly take Sabbath SeasonsIt is no secret to anyone in a busy life and ministry that there are some weeks you just don’t get a true sabbath day. I have learned that if you work three weeks in a row without a Sabbath Day, you need to plan a long weekend or extended period of time for Sabbath rest. God did this for the land when the Israelites neglected to give the land its 7 year Sabbath rest for 490 years. As a result, God took them into captivity for 70 years (you do the math) so that the land would have its rest. A Sabbath Season. If the Lord was that serious about the land, how much more concerned is He for us?

 

2. I also guard my Secret Life with God very carefully:  When you are constantly giving out and speaking to other people, your temptation is to use everything you get from God in your public ministry.  If you have no reservoir of Secret Life with God, it is a recipe for burnout.  Furthermore, if your entire relationship with God is shared publicly, you are an exhibitionist not a lover. I have to have times alone with God where I foster an intimacy and friendship that does not get shared publicly. The busier I get, the more I value my solitude with Him.

 

3. Finally, I have learned to love a variety of Spiritual Disciplines:  The Disciplines are just intentional practices that are designed to make space for God in our lives: reading, prayer, fasting, silence, journaling and many others allow us to slow down and be refreshed by His presence. Don’t be afraid to read up on the disciplines and add some variety to your times with God. We often get stuck in a rut and need something new on the menu.

 

I want to thank that brother who asked me how I get refreshed. We bless each other when we ask the heart and soul questions of life. Those are my “Three S’s of Spiritual and Emotional Refreshment.” What do you do to refresh your soul and recharge spiritually?

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Dr. Ron Walborn is the Dean of Alliance Theological Seminary and the College of Bible and Christian Ministry at Nyack College. He has been on faculty at Nyack ATS since the fall of 1999. Ron also serves on the Board of Directors for the Christian and Missionary Alliance and has served on the Theological Issues Committee for the denomination.

Ron is originally from Western Pennsylvania where his father was a Christian & Missionary Alliance pastor in several churches. He holds a B.A. in History from Nyack College and a M.Div. from Alliance Theological Seminary. He completed his D.Min degree at Fuller Theological Seminary. Ron has pastored C&MA churches in Connecticut and California. He planted Risen King Community Church with Dr. Terry Wardle in Redding, CA in 1989. While living in Redding for 10 years, he taught part time at Simpson University.

Ron has spoken at numerous Christian and secular colleges across America, and at churches and conferences throughout the US and internationally. He has written a book on stewardship, Stewardship & the Kingdom of God, published by the Christian & Missionary Alliance and chaired the committee that wrote the C&MA position on Spiritual Gifts, Expectation Without Agenda.

Ron has been married to Wanda (the Director of Spiritual Formation at Nyack College) since 1984. They have four adult children: Kelly, Brice, Karis, and Karly, and one granddaughter, Isabella.

Website: http://www.nyack.edu