Aimee Joseph

About Aimee Joseph

Aimee's Blog





Aimee Joseph is a mother of three little boys and wife of G’Joe, who directs Campus Outreach San Diego. She serves at Redeemer Church and has a passion to see women trained to love God and his word. She writes regularly at her blog.






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A Quiet Courage

A Quiet Courage by Aimee Joseph

A Quiet Courage by Aimee Joseph

When I think of courage, images of Navy Seals on covert missions come immediately to mind; however, the Apostle Paul wrote about a much broader and more encompassing scope of courage.

The Biblical concept of courage includes unsung humans doing ordinary things out of an extraordinary longing and hope. Thinking through this lens, rather than the Hollywood version, I am beginning to see faces and places of quiet courage all around me. My dear friend raising her four children alone while her husband is deployed and my widowed friends facing life without their lifelong partners live in quiet courage. Likewise, my mom friends who are letting their hard-earned diplomas serve as coasters for a series of sippy cups and my husband’s friends who come home from hard days at work and choose to invest in the lives of their children and youngest men are deeply courageous.

Allow me to unpack and explain.

In 2 Corinthians 5, Paul writes about living in burdened, bruised bodies in a broken world as exiles. In this particular part of his second letter to the Corinthian church, he juxtaposes temporary residence in a tent with permanent and secure residence in a home to remind the fledgling Church of their ultimate end. We were made for glorified bodies in the presence of our Glorious Lord, not the tattered bodies and lives we inhabit while we await Christ’s second coming.
Because they were made for more than this earth, Paul reminds them that their longings will betray them every time they attempt to make the raw-hide tent anything more than that.

Paul, who kept up tent-making as a side hustle when ministry support ran low, knew much about tents and had blistered his hands in their production. He, more than anyone, knew of their weaknesses and limitations as compared to a strong edifice that could not be loosened or torn.

As such, Paul draws a picture of stability and security in the Lord’s presence in bodies meant to keep, pulling the heads of the Corinthian believers back up from the grind of life on earth to their glorious inheritance as saints.

Having fixed their longings and gaze back upon the life to come, Paul ushers in the word and concept of courage.

So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please Him. 2 Corinthians 5:6-9. NAS.

Paul’s context for courage is not limited to the battlefield or sky-diving, but extends to the everyday life of the common Christian. He told the Church then and still tells the Church now that living by faith rather than sight takes great courage. The Christians mode of operation and motto, faith over form, runs counter to that of the world in which we live.

The Greek word tharseo, translated courage, used twice above comes from a root word meaning “bolstered because warmed up,” “strengthened from within.”

The image embedded in this word, being warmed up, softened and stirred to courage, helps me understand how to stay courageous in my common life. I will not be able to courageously live by faith, choosing to forego instant gratification and creature comforts in light of eternal satisfaction with the Lord of all comforts, unless my hearts stays warm and bolstered by the fires of His great love.

The more I sit by the warming love of the Cross, the most obvious representation of His life and promises, the more my heart will be bolstered for the battle that is daily and consistently fighting to walk by faith rather than sight.
It will take a life of settled security in the love of Christ to live the life of quiet courage required of Christians while they live in torn tents, awaiting an eternal edifice.

May we warm ourselves early and often at the hearth of the heart of Christ; may we invite others and even go so far as to labor to bring others to the hearth. May we bolster each other to continue to live lives of quiet courage until we are at home with the Lord.

 

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2018-01-08T19:36:26+00:00 By |

In Barrenness or Bounty

In Barrenness or Bounty by Aimee Joseph

In Barrenness or Bounty by Aimee Joseph

Places have power, especially deeply personal places. There are certain spaces and places that evoke deep emotions for each of us.

To others, a childhood home, a favorite tree or a frequented restaurant may appear to be nothing more any other house, shrub or eatery.

However, as we all know, the commonest of people, places and things take on uncommon meaning when they are ours.

In much the same way, certain Scriptures evoke deep and layered memories and meanings to those who have camped long and often in their locale. My soul has favorite nests and sitting spots, places where I could sit for hours recounting my fears and His faithfulnesses, my tears and His taming presence.

Strangely enough, Micah 7 is one of my soul’s favorite campsites. Even just hearing the reference, my heart beats more quickly, my lungs breathe out a little more deeply. Different pruning seasons in my life, seasons of depression and deep anxiety parade before my memory, escorted by the Lord who brought me bravely out of each season.

It seems a strange campsite to frequent, with its images of woe and weariness, famine and fallow fields. Micah imagines himself a picked over field, all stripped and sapped of its fruitfulness. As one who has lived in the South and seen the quick transformation of a cotton field from a white, fluffy field of life to a barren field of sick sticks, the picture deeply resonates with me.

Woe is me! For I have become as when the summer fruit has been gathered, as when the grapes have been gleaned; there is no cluster to eat, no first-ripe figs that my soul desires. Micah 7:1.

For all its melancholy, Micah 7 is a field of a hope. I love Micah’s stubbornness and his desire to sit right there, in the middle of a barren and picked over place, waiting for God to come back, brining the life that always accompanies His presence.

But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me. Rejoice not over me, O my enemy, when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me. I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against Him, until he pleads my cause and executes judgement for me. He will bring me out to the light; I shall look upon His vindication. Micah 7:7-9.

I love Micah’s seasoned confidence, his cries of defiance to anyone who would say he and his field were abandoned. It is as if Micah says, “Think what you will; let my field and I appear to you as they may. My God is committed to me and my field, despite all of our failings and foibles, we are His. He will do what He always does. He will make this field fruitful. I need only sit here and cry out to Him.”

For those of you who find themselves sitting alone in barren fields, may Micah give you hope in the Lord. Jesus, the one who visited the barren earth all broken and ravaged by our sin, was planted on an instrument in death. From that Cross as epicenter, life has been rippling out ever since.

I wrote this poem as a poetic version of Micah 7, one of my soul’s most storied spaces in the Scriptures.

Micah’s Prayer

When the first ripe figs
Lay crushed and rotten,
My sad, starving soul
You’ve not forgotten.

When once fruitful fields
Sit eerily fallow
New depths of soul
You’ll grow and hallow.

When once fertile ground
Hardens like steel,
Your comforting presence
I’ll increasingly feel.

Feverish and fig-less,
I’ll sit down right here.
You’ve sworn in due time
Again You’ll draw near.

Let passerbys laugh
And enemies deride,
For my God shall arise
And return to my side.

Baskets of bounty
With Him He’ll bring.
Then this tired soul
In worship shall sing.

Lord of the Harvest,
In drought I’ll wait,
Knowing You’ll come
Not a moment too late.

Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus!

 

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2018-01-08T19:36:19+00:00 By |

The Intolerable Compliment

The Intolerable Compliment by Aimee Joseph

The Intolerable Compliment by Aimee Joseph

We have all received our share of painful compliments ranging from the tame “Wow, you look so much healthier than you used to” to the more potent “Where on earth did your sons get that incredible skin? They clearly did not get that from you.”

But C.S. Lewis had something different in mind when he wrote about the intolerable compliment.

To borrow from Old Testament imagery, God is the potter, painstakingly and patiently, yet powerfully working on us, his lumps of clay. According to Ephesians 2:10, believers are His workmanship, His masterpiece.

Initially, this sounds like a high compliment, as indeed it is. However, if God is an infinite artisan with perfection as His standard, then to be one of His masterpieces can be seen as an intolerable compliment. For He cannot and will not leave well enough alone. He will not cut corners or rush the process to get to the finished product. And, if He has an eternal backdrop in mind, He will not be in a rush or a hurry.

Over the past few weeks, my husband has been working on a pair of mid-century modern chairs. He didn’t start from scratch, but planned on transforming two of the ugliest and largest chairs on the earth into functional and aesthetically pleasing furniture. Quite a tall task, especially considering that he works in our cluttered garage with three small boys underfoot.

Usually I step onto the scene for the finishing and staining after he has done all the hard work; however, this time, motivated by a selfish desire to have chairs to sit on in our living room, I jumped in a little earlier in the process, offering to sand the chair.

For an hour or two, it was just me, the chair and an electric sander. At first, I thoroughly enjoyed the process, as countless layers of veneer and varnish disappeared leaving smooth fresh surfaces. However, as novelty and exhilaration gave way to boredom and exhaustion, I began caring less about the process and rushing to the product.

The corners, crevices, curves and other hard-to-sand places left me frustrated and exposed me as simultaneously hasty and lazy. I just wanted the chairs to be complete; besides, who looks on the underside of arm chairs, anyway?

If I am honest, I often wish God were more like me, rushing to His final product with little regard for the details and quality. I want God to sanctify me, electric-sander-style, sloughing off layers of selfishness in one motion.

Yet, in what Lewis calls the intolerable compliment, God will not treat me as a cheap piece of furniture to be thrown away in a decade. He will treat me as His masterpiece that will live on with Him eternally.

“Over a sketch made idly to amuse a child, an artist may not take much trouble; he may be content to let it go even though it is not exactly as he meant it to be. But over the great picture of his life – the work which he loves, though in a different fashion, as intensely as a man loves a woman or a mother a child – he will take endless trouble – and would, doubtless, thereby give endless trouble to the picture if it were sentient. One can imagine a sentient picture, after being rubbed and scraped and recommenced for the tenth time, wishing that it were a thumbnail sketch whose making was over in a minute. In the same way, it is natural for us to wish that God had designed us for a less glorious and less arduous destiny; but then we are wishing not for more love but for less.” The Problem of Pain, C. S. Lewis.

Just as Jesus used his hands to sand literal pieces of furniture as a carpenter, He continues His carpentry on His sentient masterpieces. With the slow, steady strokes of a Master and the ease of One who is outside time, He will slowly shape and sand His children into those completely made in His likeness. He will not rush the process to get a poorly made product, His intolerable compliment to His children.

When the sandpaper of life and relationships rubs you raw or circumstances grate against your knotty places, know you are being shaped by the scarred hands of the Master who means to make you into His masterpiece. Receive the compliment of His uncomfortable sanctification.

 

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2018-01-08T19:38:24+00:00 By |

Craving a Clothesline

Craving a Clothesline by Aimee Joseph

I’ve been thinking about clotheslines lately. I know that seems odd. Believe me, I love my washer and drier so much that I use them daily. They have become old friends to me. And, while I know the sun is a natural bleaching agent, I am not a big fan of crunchy clothes. So why all the recent craving for a clothesline? Allow me to explain.

I was asked to speak at a women’s event for our church about the need for authentic gospel community. As I was preparing and praying and pondering, the unique isolation that women in our society experience kept burdening my heart and mind. In a day and age more connected to more people through social media and the internet than ever before, why are women, myself included, more isolated and lonely than they have ever been? What is missing? Can we bring it back?

Thus began my craving for a clothesline. I imagine that at the clothesline (or the town market, before that; or the well, before that), women had natural times and places to encounter and connect with other women. I imagine that there were rich laughter, tears, and conversations between women of different ages and stages at the clotheslines: burdens shared, marital hardships discussed, fears assuaged. I am also fairly certain that there was also a fair amount of gossip peppered in there, as women are women, good, bad and ugly.

As it stands in modern society, no clothesline remains, physically or metaphorically. Many women are, to use the timeless words of Thoreau, “living lives of quiet desperation.” They need a place to be real, to be raw, to meet with other women who have gone before them and can coach them through the stages of life.

Oftentimes, we look at the modern situation (the post-Christian situation, the post-modern situation, whatever you term it), and quake in fear for the Church, as if She is going out of style, as if She will be relegated to the history books. However, in each age, the Church remains relevant and deeply needed if She preaches and points to her Christ, who is the same yesterday, today and forever. Each age provides unique challenges and opportunities for the Church to be the Church.

The Church has a unique opportunity to be the clothesline and to create clothesline environments for women. The Cross of Christ provides the safest place for women to come broken, undone and wounded to other women. The Cross truly is the place where we can hang our dirty clothes and our unmentionables. The gospel alone can cut through the cattiness and comparison that pollute and discolor the friendships of women. The gospel levels the playing field and brings us all the clothesline of Christ with our hampers of stained clothes, not to compare and spy out the deep stains of our neighbors in an effort to make ourselves feel better, but to trade them in for like robes of righteousness.

In an age of selfies and Insta-competition and keeping up with a thousand Joneses rather than the traditional two on either side of you, the Church has an incredible opportunity. The Church has the chance to introduce women to other women in a uniquely intergenerational way, in a real flesh-and-blood presence way.

The Church can set up the clotheslines (and many have), but the clotheslines do no good if we don’t come honestly and vulnerably in the transparency that the Gospel allows. So, put down the phone, turn off the TV and bring your dirty laundry to the clothesline of Christ. Deep healing and presence are there. There is always room for more.

 

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2018-01-08T20:13:21+00:00 By |

A Mid-summer Day’s Confession

A Mid-summer Day’s Confession by Aimee Joseph

Mid-summer checkpoint: We have done the beach and the bay and the lazy mornings. We have stayed up late and eaten more popsicles. On the outside, all is well, but my soul has not been well.

Through self-pity and comparison, which have been on a low, silent simmer for a few weeks now, I have allowed sin to insidiously seep into our summer.

Rather than be filled with joy for my friends, I have envied them their exotic vacations and neighborhood pools. I have bought the lies of picture perfection yet again without realizing it, imagining that there are no sibling spats and errant attitudes in your homes. As such, I have felt ashamed at my own irritability with my dear but far-from-perfect children. Rather than confess it quickly, I have heaped on “What’s wrong with me and them?” shame.

I have allowed the combination of lower structure and higher time with my crew to distort my vision of my children. Rather than seeing their strengths and wise choices, I have had a magnifying glass on their weaknesses. This distorted vision starts with the way I wrongly imagine God views me.
Somehow this summer, I have slowly forgotten that Our Heavenly Father doesn’t wear sin-magnifying shades, but looks upon us through the lenses of love He has for His perfect Son.

In the midst of trying to find a perfect formula for lowering screen time and raising reading, decreasing grumpiness and heightening fun, I have minimized His grace and maximized my contribution. As such, by mid-summer, I have come to the end of my own small storerooms of patience, peace and joy. Thankfully, He has silos upon silos of these commodities to offer me when I come to Him in repentance and rest.

In the likely event that there exists another introverted momma who craves structure and alone time and has wearied herself trying to create a memorable summer for her chilren on a tight budget without air conditioning, I would love to lead us through Psalm 32.

Psalm 32 is a well-worn trail through the narrow places confession to the broad spaces of comfort and consolation at the Cross. David deeply loved God but was not immune to seasonal sin patterns; throughout his life, he got tripped up in the same way, as seen in the repeated introduction to his slippery slopes, “In the spring when the kings went off to war, David…” (2 Samuel 11:1; 1 Chronicles 20:1).

David’s feet knew ruts of unrighteousness but they also learned ruts of righteousness through repentance, Psalm 32 being one of those paths that lead us to Christ.

Blessed is the one whose trangression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. …I acknowledged my sin to you and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgression to the Lord and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.”….Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found.
Psalm 32:1 & 5-6.

It is not a lack of sin that separates the godly from the ungodly; rather, it is the acknowledgement, uncovering and confession of sin that delineate the two. Both groups struggle with a chronic sin-sickness, but only the godly drag that struggle into the shadow of the Cross.

I am not surprised by my sin, but I am continually shocked at how long it takes me to honestly call it sin and bring myself exposed to God through Christ. When I come to Him in such naked vulnerability, He quickly covers me in His abundant blankets of forgiveness and grace.

When, and only when, I am warmed by His grace, I am able to offer forgiveness and warmth to my children and those in my flock.

After dumping the slow buildup of summer’s sin at the Cross, I am ready to face the rest of the summer in His strength rather than my own. While cirucmstances may not have changed and our scenery will likely not change, my heart is changed and renewed by a fresh reapplication of His grace. We mommas know sunscreen has to be reapplied double-time in the summer; may we know that the same is true of God’s undeserved grace.

 

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2018-01-08T22:53:53+00:00 By |

A Word to the Worried

A Word to the Worried by Aimee Joseph

If worrying were a field of study, I would have received an honorary doctorate by now. I have been perfecting the art of worrying as long as I can remember. I packed emergency survival kits for small outings by day and planned elaborate fire escape routes for various scenarios by night. When my wild and crazy Grandmother took her five grandchildren on a trip to Niagra Falls, I spent the entire trip worrying my baby sister would plummet down. What can I say, I am a natural.

While not everyone is as skilled in the art of catastrophic thinking, every human experiences worry to some degree. Whether our fears our highly implausible or rather probable, worry wearies our hearts and pulls us away from the present and into the unknown future.

When worries begin to decimate the peace Christ has purchased for me at a great cost, I camp out in Psalm 37. The word translated fret, laced throughout the Psalm, literally means to kindle a fire. Those of us skilled at worrying are fully aware that passing sparks and embers of worry, if not snuffed out and suffocated quickly, will indeed light a wildfire in the soul.

The Psalmist calls us to dwell in the present reality, whatever that may be. He bids us to lay off the fretting and lean into trusting the Lord. Rather than imagining scenarios (most of which will not happen), he invites us to keep ourselves busy by doing tangible good in our current circumstances.

Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him, fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices. Psalm 37:3-7.

The phrase befriend faithfulness can be translated, “Feed on truth” or “Feed on faithfulness.” Rather than letting uncertain fears be our food, we are called to feed on the certain truths of God’s word. Claim His promises and His character rather than allowing fear to claim your peace.

The Hebrew word translated dwell in this psalm is the Old Testament equivalent to the Greek word meno in the New Testament. Both carry the same range of meaning: dwell in, settle down into, abide in, take permanent lodging and abode within.

Roll around in the field of God’s faithfulness. Nestle down into the now in which God has providentially placed you.

 

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2018-01-08T22:51:27+00:00 By |

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