Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Application from Psalm 71

Hope you enjoy reading this...this was a homework assignment I did for my Psalms class.

God’s Word is something that is alive and moving, and can inspire so many people. When I looked through the list of Psalms for this assignment, at first I felt like I was half-heartedly going through something that would take 5 minutes to go through, but that was until I read Psalm 71, and read 5 verses that I could relate to.
19 Your righteousness reaches heaven, God,
You who have done great things;
God, who is like You?
20 You caused me to experience
many troubles and misfortunes,
but You will revive me again.
You will bring me up again,
even from the depths of the earth.
21 You will increase my honor
and comfort me once again.
22 Therefore, with a lute I will praise You
for Your faithfulness, my God;
I will sing to You with a harp,
Holy One of Israel.
23 My lips will shout for joy
when I sing praise to You,
because You have redeemed me.
*from the Holman Christian Standard Version
71:19-23 talks about rejoicing in God when things don’t always work out the way we had hoped. Tonight (Wednesday) I was trying to go over to my church and my car wouldn’t start. This is after a warranty I had on the car expired and now I am stuck without a way to get around. But you know, tonight was also great for me because even in the midst of this trouble, I could choose to say, God I will rejoice because you have redeemed me, like the Psalter does in verse 23.
The earlier parts of the Psalm speaks of people who treat God like he will abandon the person that the Psalm is speaking about; well on the contrary. God presents us with difficult circumstances to show us that he is in fact in control of everything: good or bad.
“My mouth is full of praise and honor to You all day long” (Verse 8)

Tonight also, I ran into someone from the Psalms class, and I didn’t have a smile on my face, and I wasn’t too happy when we spoke, and he stopped me right then and there and told me “Joel, why can’t you be happy.” I have been foolish ever since I got to seminary, because I have not been happy about anything, and God has been blessing me tremendously even though things have not worked out the way I planned them to work out. I cannot plan ahead for anything because a plan that is conceived by the mind of a human being is pure foolishness, because God can trump anything resembling a plan that could ever be done by a human being. His works, his deeds are noble, they are pure, they are for our benefit, and when we doubt that God is moving in our lives, we are lost.

1) Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice!!!!
a. Live your life like a savior has redeemed you. I did this to myself tonight when I wrote this assignment and you need to take an opportunity to do the same thing. If you have a Facebook page, go into your profile and look at pictures of yourself from a few years ago. See what you look like, what you were doing in those pictures, and see what you felt. Were you happy? If you were, think to yourself, why don’t I feel happy now, and rejoice that the Lord of Heaven has given you a life because you have his son in your life!!!!!!
2) Realize that trouble happens for a reason
a. God is not a God of mistakes or accidents, and you have to see that in your life. Circumstances happen for a reason, and whether they are good or bad, rejoice that you have your salvation, always remember.
3) Voice out praises to God (in verse 6: “My praise is always about You”
a. One of my favorite “praise-sayings” was something Kirk Franklin said in his song “Looking for You”

The Asia Chronicles – Blog Post #4

Concluding the summer months in God’s Word…

I honestly can’t even remember where my devotions had left off, but when I was reading through scripture tonight, I was blown away. I finished reading Ecclesiastes and came to the realization that I had finished a 6-book endeavor that started in May.

Since May (probably the first weekend of the month)

I have read through:
• Nehemiah
• 1st and 2nd Samuel
• 1st and 2nd Kings
• Ecclesiastes and Psalm 119

I have seen the rise and falls of history’s most famous kings, watching empires be built up and collapse all around…But the most amazing thing through all of this is the lesson that God revealed to me. what happens to people who steer clear of obeying God…they end up succumbing to ruin, and their lives are nothing, essentially they fail because they choose not to do what God has asked them to do, but when they trust God and are obedient, the Kingdom is blessed.

In the conclusion to all of this (in Ecclesiastes) you see Solomon imparting the beginning of his wisdom he gained from God on the readers. I could relate to what was being spoken at the end of Chapter 12

Solomon was talking about “putting off the anxiety of your heart” and the “troubles of your body”…I can definitely relate to both of those statements just because having been through issues with my heart, things like that speak so loudly to me, it’s like God is shouting it to me through the words of King Solomon.

The next things that you will see as far as "Flashdevos" are from the New Testament: Luke, Acts, and Hebrews...

Monday, September 27, 2010

“The Asia Chronicles” – blog post 3

It really is a big accomplishment when you can say that you’ve finished reading a book, and especially when that book is written by one of the most well-known fiction writers around. I started reading “The Firm” by John Grisham at the end of the summer (I brought it in the car with me on the drive from Florida to Texas) and throughout the so-far semester, have been finding it in me to sit and read books for fun. That is just ludicrous for me, since there is so much that has to be done this semester, but I am just way too nerdy not to do it.

The Firm tells the story of Mitch McDeere, a Harvard Law graduate who gets hired by a very shady law firm in Memphis, Tennessee. Everything in the law firm is exactly what Mitch and his wife Abby have dreamed of, they get a house, a new car, promises for a great financial future, and yet they don’t know the horrible lengths the firm will go to keep their lawyers involved. I can’t ruin the book for you, but read the book and see for yourself.

Now as for my membership class at Southcliff, it went very well. I am excited to see where this year of school will take me now that I am officially a member of a church again. I say again because of the weird place of being in limbo I have felt for the past year and a half. God closed a door for me back home in Florida. Aside from being where my parents, sister, and grandmother live, I literally have nothing left there anymore. So when I joined up with this church tonight (having been through the almost 3-hour long class) I could see I have developed into almost like a family again. I am beginning to make friends, and develop a place where I feel comfortable. I haven’t had that since I left First Baptist to go to Boyce, and that was back in 2006. I knew my life had changed for good then, and when I was here at the church tonight, and I joined up, bringing my full membership over, and it was like the official fresh start mentality had kicked in for me, and this has become my new life.

The Asia Chronicles basically was a whole “fresh start” piece I wanted to express. I changed the style and layout of my blog, I wanted to make it seem like it was something different, and I expressed where I currently feel God is leading me, and now you can see what to expect from now on.

Tomorrow I am concluding a 4 month journey through the Old Testament in my quiet time, and will begin a 3-book study done by the world’s most famous doctor, Luke.

My FLASHDEVO schedule will look like this…

• Tomorrow (the 27th) → Finishing Ecclesiasties
o You can expect to see a long follow up closure piece on it.
• Gospel of Luke
• Acts
• Hebrews (basing this off the possibility that Luke could be the author)

And like I have said before, the 365 Project will be retooled, since it was something that was already done, and it needs to have a fresh look and something different, so I am considering what that will be. I am giving myself until October 1st (and then I will start a new journey) More than likely, I can tell you that it will in fact be a year-long playlist on my iPod, in which I shuffle a playlist with 365 songs, and each day get a new song…

Better Days are yet to Come…
(my new closing remark)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

"The Asia Chornicles" - blog post #2

This blog will be around to tell people about what I'm doing with my life for the Lord, and to give people ideas about how to practice ministry in a way that will win people to Christ.

This was what I wrote on my blog the day it started, May 21st 2008, over 2 years ago. I wrote this post with the full intent that I would be going back to Japan (this is after my first trip in 2003), and I did go back. I feel like i have fulfilled that desire personally by returning to Japan, and now it feels as though there isn't that much for me to do now, by thinking I have to go back (again). So now I am wondering what God will do with me now that I am here in seminary and working to get a degree.

Even if you look back a few posts to the one entitled "Who am I?" and I said I would go back to Japan. I just said at the ending of the paragraph in there, I knew I was called to the mission field. That was about as specific as I can be right now, because I'm not 100% I am supposed to be in Japan. So it's a good thing.

So we will have to see what I will do from here. For now, be patient, and you'll see how things went with my membership class tonight at Southcliff Baptist Church.


“The Asia Chronicles” Blog post #1

You may have noticed that my blog got a complete and total makeover, and has a new name and a new sense of “journey” to it. I really don’t know where my life will go from here. As I am getting seriously settled into seminary and into a clear-cut routine, I can tell you that my living will be focused on serving God and being faithfully obedient to him. I couldn’t get onto the internet, so I decided to write this on Word for the time being, and when I had access to a WiFi connection you’ll be able to read it.

I love the black color…It has that dark, gothic kind of feel to it. I want to go for a deep, serious looking blog, and I believe that a dark color will help emphasize my thoughts better.

When I moved out to Texas, it felt like I was starting over again. Like there was this massive restart button pushed on my life, and you have no idea how true that is for me; especially now. I came out to Texas with the intent on going back to Japan. Well, I am sitting here, unconvinced of that intent. Because I spent some time talking with people, and had experiences where I had to listen to their perspective on what happens when you pray out of selfish ambition rather than humble obedience.

“God, I will faithfully serve you as a missionary only in Japan”

Well I see the problem right there is that I was not willing to compromise, and God is showing me that there are possible compromises in the flow of life. I have been given opportunities to serve with a local church and the staff of this church have informed me of the existence of several Asian people groups (none of which were Japanese) living very close to the church, so I was left to wonder, “God if I am called to the Japanese people, then why is it that there aren’t any Japanese people close by to the school” so I am convinced that God is telling me that maybe I should close the book on Japan, and open a bigger book, the book of Asia.

I wrote this “Letter to God” after having read a chapter from “EAT, PRAY, LOVE” in which Elizabeth Gilbert wanted to cry out to God for help (and keep in mind, she isn’t a believer. So reality is, this should really be classified as a prayer, since I have done that numerous times before.

Dear God,

You know that I want to have a better image of myself and after everything that I have been through in my life, I am ready for a fresh start. I have come out to Texas by faith, with very little resources that I personally can provide for myself. I am being humbled day by day, as I am being taught daily to trust in your provision for my life. Wherever you lead me I will go, whatever you have me do, I will do. I know I feel called to Japan, but I prayed in this sense, God send me to nowhere but Japan. And on that Thursday night (September 23, 2010), I was sitting in the presence of a man who prayed a similar prayer, Lord don’t send me to Japan, and you send him there. If you decide to change that location to someplace like Burma or Thailand, and lead people to Jesus, then reveal that to me. I am open to do whatever you call me to do and be whoever you want me to be. I have been acting out of the selfishness of my own heart, and you must teach me that you are the solid ground I must be trusting in. Give me diligence to continually serve you. I don’t quite understand what you are doing in my life, but right now, your actions are speaking louder than words. You are providing for me, you are showing me that… “NO” I can’t do things on my own; I need you; I need your help to do all the things that I want to do in my life for every desire, everything about my life is something you have blessed me with. So I ask you to take down walls I have built up and reshape me into the person you have brought me to Texas to become. I am ready to be remade Lord.

In Jesus’ name I do pray…Amen.

On a personal note…I have come to the difficult decision to end the Year-long photo journal known as the “365 Project” and will give my blog a new year-long task when I work my way through the Bible in 2011. I may have pictures on my blog, but those will be topically related rather than for a daily occurrence. I was doing the project because I saw someone else do it, and I want to do something original, something that hasn’t been done before. Who knows, maybe I will review a song everyday or something.

“The year-long playlist” – Go through a song on iTunes every day for an entire year. Because when I did the Photo project, there wasn’t the guarantee I would be around to take a picture or write about it.

So you will read up more on my blog tomorrow with Asia Chronicles post #2, after I have been through membership class at my church and you will see what that has been like.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Who am I?

In response to one of my closest friends linking me in his blog, (thank you Douglas :P) I had to make up my own personal version of the “Who I am” piece to be put on my blog ( I don’t think I have even done this on my blog before…ever, so here’s a chance for people to get to know me a little bit better.

• Joel Freeman
• Soon to be 25 (November 30, 2010)

I am fluent in sarcasm so be warned of my sense of humor, it will kill you. I blame this on the fact that I am a full-blooded New Yorker. I have been called a “Pizza Bagel” by my cousin (who is completely Italian) but the concept behind that description is that I have an Italian mom (Pizza) a and Jewish dad (Bagel); which is the most common family heritage dynamic of New Yorkers around. It is also because of this fact that I was brought up in an environment that focused on the Jewish heritage of Jesus the Messiah.

My parents are both missionaries working with CHOSEN PEOPLE MINISTRIES to share Jesus with the Jewish community of South Florida (where close to a million Jewish people call home). We moved to Florida from New York when I was 13, and it was there that I basically developed my tastes in music, movies and everything else that makes me who I am now.

My two biggest skills I have are writing and cooking. I have to be such a dork, but if I were to go out somewhere for fun, I would love to go to places like Central Market or Whole Foods (just to walk around and look at food; which is something that Julia Child did when she lived in Paris). My 2 favorite
ethnic foods are Japanese and Indian. (Italian does not count because I grew up eating that kind of food)

I have written a book that is in a serious pit of editing. “The Joy of Judah” is a modern retelling of the book of Job, from the perspective of a family of Jewish believers with a Holocaust survivor as the main character. Someday it will be published, but since I am pursuing my M.Div at Southwestern, I jump around to various things; and someday may be after Jesus’ second coming.

Like any good New Yorker, I love Billy Joel. He is one of my favorite musicians. Among the tops on my list are Mark Schultz (even though people say that “Running Just to Catch Myself” sounds like Weird Al Yankovic), Switchfoot, Third Day, TobyMac, Michael Buble, and Evanescence.

Recently I have come to like John Grisham books. I am currently reading “The Firm”, but one of my favorite authors is Ted Dekker. The Circle books are unbelievable (GREEN, BLACK, RED, WHITE). But like Douglas had mentioned being a huge Star Wars fan, I am a huge Harry Potter fan. I love both the books and the movies. The same goes for Lord of the Rings and Chronicles of Narnia. I love it when book series are made into movies and they are EPIC…But Harry Potter tops the books made into movies list for me.
When I attended Boyce College in Louisville, I would have movie nights in my room, watching the Harry Potter movies, and I’d even have food that was mentioned in the movies depending on which one we were watching. (Like Jelly Bellies for the first movie, cupcakes and gummy worms for the second, and dark chocolate for the third…you have to have read the books to understand how any of those food choices make sense)

Lastly, I will let you know the more serious side of me. I graduated from Boyce in May of 2010 with a Bachelors of Science degree in Missions, and right now I am typing this from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas; where I am pursuing an M.Div degree in International Church Planting AKA the 2 + 2 program. So after 3 years of coursework here in Fort Worth, I will prayerfully move to Tokyo, Japan where I will serve as a missionary. I fell in love with Japan in 2003 after going on a short trip with my dad while he was there preaching (I was 17 at the time), and then 6 years later in 2009, I served for the summer with the International Mission Board in Tokyo as an intern, and it was through this experience that I confirmed God’s calling on my life to the mission field.

I hope you have enjoyed getting to know me better, and understand why I even write in the first place. It is a talent from God that I will keep doing until the day I die…

Grace and Peace

Monday, September 13, 2010

9 years later (an update that should have been sooner)

This was one of the most eerie pictures I have ever seen in my life, but the concept of it is so powerful. 9 years have come and gone since that fateful day, September 11th, 2001. I was 15, and in 10th grade at the time. I remember watching the buildings colapse, and the horror/realization that our country would never be the same again, and truly, that has become the case. The world has become a truly different place.

I am sorry that there haven't been any posts recently, but I had to sort out my priorities and school does come first. I worked so hard last night at getting reading done, and that was an important thing for me to get a grasp on. But I will at least give you this update that I think everyone has been hoping I'd give you. This will be on Facebook within 5 minutes anyway.

*About the 365 Project...I won't be posting those pictures on the blog anymore. You will find the pictures on Facebook in a last album on January 14th, 2011. So be on the lookout for those, since there will be a whole lot of pictures to be seen that day.

FLASHDEVO - A whole new chapter.

*Okay, this will conclude a certain series of books, I read through Lamentations, and i wrote down my thoughts on that in a journal, so I am now in Ecclesiastes , and will finish that up. Then the quiet time cycle will start all over again.

Ecclesiastes 1 and Psalms 119:113-128

I had done a series of quiet times before on Psalms 119, but I wanted to refresh myself on those passages. I have been jumping around like crazy with my journals, since there are a number of classes that I have to be writing for, and I haven't had a chance to update this.

But in this passage, there was a verse that stuck out to me. Psalm 119:124 - Deal with your servant according to your love. When I read that verse, I am instantaneously reminded of our sins. God deals with each person the same way, by extending his sacrifice of Jesus' life for ours. So it can be interpreted differently for each person, but I feel that it all leads to the saem thing, and that's the redemption through the blood of the lamb.

Now, the next book, Ecclesiastes; I have gone through several hundred years of traditions and history. Nehemiah, 1st and 2nd Samuel, 1st and 2nd Kings, Lamentations, and now Ecclesiastes. I have seen the rise and fall of kings, and their cries out to God for help in time of trouble, and their extreme sorrow during their captivity, but this book has jumped back into the time of Solomon.

This passage (chapter 1) reminded me of Japan, and in many ways the cultural history of winds blowing to the north and the south. Japanese culture gives so much emphasis to nature, and the worship of nature, and yet, they don't know Christ. I have met many missionaries this week who readily go out and reach people to tell them about the one who makes the winds blow to the north and south. Be in prayer for these people today.



Tuesday, September 7, 2010


I must have left off so long ago, because my last post was more than a week ago, and it is becoming more than out of character for me. I am learning to get along with my school work before most things that i do in school, so forgive me in that there is just so much to these days, and I feel that i have to take time away from the blog. I am still devoted to it, but I have so much to get done in the days of school, and with possible jobs coming up, I really have to make all possible use of my time.

More of the pictures will come in later posts, but I at least wanted you all to know what was going on in this time. This past weekend (Labor Day) I was able to travel down to Austin, which is a big deal, because this is the first time I have ever driven some place for a period of longer than an hour and a half, and now I can say that I can go anywherem so I was visiting my family. Now school is back in serious rise, and I have to focus as best I can.

Look for the blog posts in the future, they will come.