Faith-Based?

I follow Kevin Sorbo on Facebook and Twitter.  I have been a big fan of his ever since he played Hercules on the small screen.  For those of you who do not know, he is a Christian and has worked in several Christian faith-based movies, most notably, “God’s Not Dead”, and he is involved in two major projects now, “Breathe Bible” (lending his voice to an audio Bible), and “Let There Be Light” movie that he stars in and directs.  He is outspoken about the fact that since he admitted that he was a Christian, Hollywood has not been as kind to him as it once was: “…my faith certainly hurt me in Hollywood. I did Hercules for 7 years, it was the most watched show for a good number of years. But then, for me to get called into read for anything – it just dropped drastically when I came out of that conservative Christian closet so to speak. I used to read for a lot of pilots and TV shows, and it’s very rare now.”  He credits independent films for allowing him to continue his acting and directing.

He recently posted a comment with regards to the new movie: “The Case For Christ”, a movie based on the book by Lee Strobel, which is soon to be released.  Sorbo wrote: “Face it… every film is “faith-based.”  It was obvious that he was being purposefully controversial with the comment to illicit thought-provoking dialogue and I can’t help but join in the conversation.

I will admit that I enjoy watching movies.  I will also admit that I have been more disappointed of late that family-friendly, feel good movies are slowly, but surely being replaced with more worldly, profanity-laced, blasphemous drivel that Hollywood seems more inclined to present to the public nowadays.  Hollywood represents the current pop culture around them and caters to the whims of those who are, let’s face it, opposed to a Christian worldview.  Therefore to even suggest that “every” film is faith-based is absolutely incorrect.

However…

The question is how we define “faith-based”.  Certainly if Hollywood is as inclusive (as it prides itself on), of all faiths being represented in some manner in that industry, then that would include all world religions, atheism (which some would argue is not a faith and I would disagree with that…but that’s another blog to write); cults, and lastly of course the Christian faith.  However, though Hollywood is great with putting movies in theatres that have Satanic, witch-crafty themes, and self-centred worldly themes, it tends to shy away from Christian faith-based movies, T.V. shows and actors and actresses who profess their allegiance to that faith alone.  Again, that’s another blog to write on another day, but if Kevin Sorbo suggests that every film represents a faith of some kind, perhaps his statement is correct.  It just depends which faith it actually represents.  Perhaps most of Hollywood is full of idol worship, for example…just look at that Oscar statue…

Now I’m being controversial.

Personally, I think the public would like to have more films that give them Hope, rather than what Hollywood is now pandering to us…just sayin’…

I would like to have your opinion on this topic.  Leave a comment.

Oh, and make sure you go out and watch “The Case for Christ” next weekend.  Let’s all show support for Christian faith-based movies!

Will do!

 

 

Advertisements
Posted in Proverbs 16:9 - Journey Thoughts | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

25 Encouraging Scripture Verses to Read at Funerals

As Christians we should live with eternity in our sights.  It will be a home-coming, a celestial celebration, if you will, where we will stand before His throne in hopes of hearing our Saviour say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!  Come into your eternal rest.”  (Matthew 25:23, 34)  For we who depart this world knowing our eternity is secure through the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, there is no weeping or sorrow.  Still, as we attend the funeral of a believer, though it may be a celebration of a life well-lived, we will mourn and miss our loved one until we are once again reunited with them in Heaven.  Be comforted by these Bible verses and share them with those who might need encouragement in their time of bereavement.

Psalm 23  (NKJV)  “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.  He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.  He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.”

Matthew 5:4  “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

John 14:27  “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Romans 8:35-39  “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?  As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

John 14:1-4 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.  My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.  You know the way to the place where I am going.”

Isaiah 41:10  “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Psalm 46:1-10  “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.  There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.  God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.  Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.  The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.  Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth.  He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth.  He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the  shields with fire.  He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

1 Corinthians 15:50-57 “I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.  Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.  For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.   When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

“Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Philippians 4:7  “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

2 Corinthians 1:3-5  “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.  For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.”

Psalm 34:18  “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Psalm 90:1-6, 12  “Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.  Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.  You turn people back to dust, saying, “Return to dust, you mortals.”   A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.  Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death—they are like the new grass of the morning: In the morning it springs up new, but by evening it is dry and withered.  Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

Isaiah 57:1-2  “The righteous perish, and no one takes it to heart; the devout are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil.  Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.”

Psalm 139:7-12, 23-24  “Where can I go from your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence?  If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.  If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.  If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.  Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

1 Thessalonians 4:13-17  “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.   For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.  According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.  For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  And so we will be with the Lord forever.”

Job 19:25-27  “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth.  And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another.  How my heart yearns within me!”

Psalm 61:1-2  “Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer.  From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”

Isaiah 25:6-9  “On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine—the best of meats and the finest of wines.  On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever.  The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth.  The Lord has spoken.  In that day they will say, “Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us.  This is the Lord, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”

Isaiah 61:1-3  “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the  captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.  They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”

Lamentations 3:22-26, 31-33  “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”  The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.  For no one is cast off by the Lord forever.  Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love.  For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone.”

Psalm 27:4-5  “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.”

Psalm 4:8  “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.”

Psalm 42:1-5  “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.  When can I go and meet with God?  My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”  These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of  the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng.  Why, my soul, are you downcast?  Why so disturbed within me?  Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”

Psalm 56: 10-13  “In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid.  What can man do to me?  I am under vows to you, my God; I will present my thank offerings to you.  For you have delivered me from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.”

Psalm 121  “I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from?  My help  comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.  He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.  The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.  The Lord will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”

Unless stated otherwise all scripture used on Journey Thoughts is from: THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Posted in 25 Encouraging Bible Verses - Topical | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

50 Encouraging Scripture Verses to Combat Fear

In the Bible “fear” is spoken of over 500 times!  In addition to the 103 “Fear not” or “Be not afraid” verses there’s also the “fear of God” verses which speak of the reverence for God alone, and then many more verses that encourage us to not worry or to not to be anxious.  God does not want us to live in fear, and yet in our humanness it is hard to let go of our anxiety and just allow the peace of God to indwell us.  Since fear (anxiety and worry) seems to be something so many people struggle with, I have compiled 50 verses rather than my usual 25 verses to encourage you to “let go and let God” handle your fear.  He is in control!

Psalm 23:1-6  “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.  He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.  He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.  Even though I walk through the darkest valley I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.  You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.  Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Isaiah 41:13  “For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”

Exodus 14:13  “Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today.  The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.”

Deuteronomy 31:6  “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

2 Timothy 1:7  “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”

Psalm 27:1  “The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?”

Luke 1:30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.”

Luke 2:10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.”

Hebrews 13:6  “So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.     What can mere mortals do to me?”

John 14:27  “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Isaiah 35:4  “say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.”

Joshua 1:9  “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Matthew 6:34  “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Isaiah 43:1  “But now, this is what the Lord says—he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.”

Psalm 34:4  “I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.”

Psalm 94:19  “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”

Romans 8:38-39  “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

1 Peter 5:6-7  “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.  Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

Psalm 118:6-7  “The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.  What can mere mortals do to me?   The Lord is with me; he is my helper.  I look in triumph on my enemies.”

Psalm 115:11  “You who fear him, trust in the Lord—he is their help and shield.”

John 14:1  ““Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.”

1 Chronicles 28:20  “David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished.”

Psalm 56:3-4  “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.  In God, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid.  What can mere mortals do to me?”

Isaiah 41:10  “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Matthew 10:28 -31  “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.  Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.   And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

Romans 8:15  “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.  And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”

1 Corinthians 16:13  “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.”

1 Peter 3:13-14  “Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?  But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.”

1 John 4:18  “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

Philippians 4:6-7  “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Luke 12:22-26  “Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear.  For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.  Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?  Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?”

Psalm 55:22  “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.”

Mark 6:48-50  “He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified.  Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

Psalm 46:1  “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”

Proverbs 29:25  “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.”

Mark 4:39-40  “He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.  He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

Psalm 34:7  “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.”

Deuteronomy 3:22  “ Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you.”

Revelation 1:17  “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.”

Mark 5:36  “Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

Zephaniah 3:17  “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves.  He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

Psalm 91:1-16  “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”  Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.  He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.  You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.   A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.  You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.  If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent.  For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.  You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.   “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.  He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.  With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

Deuteronomy 5:5-6  “ (At that time I stood between the Lord and you to declare to you the word of the Lord, because you were afraid of the fire and did not go up the mountain.) And he said: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”

Isaiah 12:2  “Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid.  The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.”

Isaiah 8:11-12  “This is what the Lord says to me with his strong hand upon me, warning me not to follow the way of this people:  “Do not call conspiracy everything this people calls a conspiracy; do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it.”

Matthew 14:27  “But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage!  It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

2 Corinthians 4:8-9  “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”

Revelation 21:3-4  “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Philippians 4:8-9  “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

Unless stated otherwise all scripture used on Journey Thoughts is from: THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Posted in 25 Encouraging Bible Verses - Topical | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

My husband has a favorite expression that he likes to repeat, “Don’t sweat the small stuff!” and then he adds, “Everything is small stuff” and then I always tack on, “In God’s eyes.”

How true!  When I am unable, He is able.  When I am weak, He is strong.  When I feel burdened I need only to cast my burdens on Him.  God can handle anything, why is it then that I continue to worry and fret?

My children would call it a “Mom thing” to worry.  Perhaps they are right.  It’s my perogative to wonder and worry about them especially when they have a car and can go wherever they like.  I have great kids.  I trust my kids (although sometimes they doubt that when I am constantly grilling them the “who, what, where” questions.)  I thought I’d worry less now that they are young adults.  I was wrong.  I think about them constantly and pray they are remembering all the things we tried to teach them as they were growing up.  When I know they are struggling, I want to rush in and “save” them, but I’m reminded time and time again that it’s not up to me to do that.  They have to make their own way and they have to discover for themselves how they fit into God’s story.  Still I worry.  It’s a “mom thing”.

My husband is calm and composed, if he worries, he seldom shows it.  I know his burdens because he shares them with me.  Perhaps he knows that I will worry enough for the both of us so he doesn’t need to.  Maybe that’s a “wife thing”.

Philippians 4: 6-7 has always been a worrisome scripture for me. : “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”   Yeah, I said it,… “worrisome”!  I’m worrying over a scripture that says “do not be anxious”…that’s definitely a “Lynn thing”!

But it does worry me because try as I might to NOT worry, I still do!  The Gospels outline several circumstances in Jesus’ life where He was “deeply moved in spirit and troubled”…in other words, Jesus worried!  John 11:33 (after Lazarus’ death); Matthew 26:36-38, and Mark 14:32-34 (in the Garden of Gethsemane); John 12:27 (after Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem) and John 13:21 (The Last Supper).  Especially the Gospel of John, chapters 11-13, is like a “trilogy of trouble” for Jesus, from the death of his beloved friend Lazarus, the plot to kill Jesus, Jesus’ predicting His own death, predicting His own betrayal and predicting that Peter would deny Him,  Jesus had good reason to be troubled (worried).  Yet amazingly the opening line of John 14 Jesus speaks these words: “Do not let your hearts be troubled…”   Wow!

In His humanity Jesus did worry but unlike most humans He did not let worry overwhelm Him.  He did not run away or avoid a troubling or worrisome experience.  He faced the experience with boldness and courage even though He knew that He would suffer great pain and even death.  Jesus was focused.  He knew that the worries of this world would be shortlived and His eyes were fixed on eternity.  When He was troubled, He practiced what He preached: He made his requests known to His Father through prayer and thanksgiving and He was comforted and at peace.

I can’t help but think on the lyrics of this great hymn today:

“When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll; whatever my lot, thou has taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul.”

I won’t sweat the small stuff because I know everything is small stuff in God’s eyes.

Posted in Family Life, Inspiration & Devotion, Proverbs 16:9 - Journey Thoughts | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Finding Joy NOT Happiness in the Lord (6)

finding-joy-not-happiness-in-the-lord-6Today we end our series on Finding Joy NOT Happiness in the Lord.  I pray that this six-part series has touched your heart in some way and has indeed brought you closer to finding JOY in the Lord.

We talked a little bit about practical ways to find that lasting Joy last time.  Today we continue with talking about the importance of finding joy through Worship, Trials, Friendship, Attitude, Gratitude and having a Servant’s heart.

Worship Unleashes Joy.

  1. Worship has a special relationship to Joy.  It is both a key to joy and an expression of joy.  (1 Thess. 5:16-18).  If you want to be joyful always, you must also worship God and give Him thanks always.  When you worship, it gets your mind off of yourself and your focus is directed towards God where it should be.

(When I was too sick to come to church, basically I could barely get out of bed, the worship team came to me.  I have pictures of the team sitting in my living room, playing guitar and singing hymns and choruses of praise.  I could hardly sing myself; I sat in my P-J’s with my little knitted cap on my head to hide my baldness and they sang for me.  It really lifted my spirits, as well as take the focus off my circumstances and focus on God!)

Worship doesn’t mean just going to a Worship Service once a week.  Worship is praising God continually.  Do you praise the Lord when you are comfortably enjoying the light, cool rains of blessing or do you praise Him even in the dry, difficult times?  Your answer to these questions will determine whether you live in joy most of the time, sometimes, or hardly ever.  It’s a choice you make to worship.

Trials Build Joy.

  1. “While pain is unavoidable, misery is optional.”  God may not remove your problems, but when you are focused on Him, the problems are less ominous as compared to His greatness.  Joy doesn’t come from easy circumstances, but from a deep, settled confidence in our loving Heavenly Father who controls life’s details.

Here are some steps to help you find joy in your trials:

  1. Focus your eyes on God, rather than on your problems or circumstances.  (Heb. 12:2)  When our minds mull over our situations, we can become depressed, angry or full of self-pity.  Look to God and He will fill you with JOY.
  2. Pray about your situation and prayerfully sort out your feelings.  (Phil.4:6-7)
  3. Trust God to handle your situation and wait for Him to work. (Psalm 33:21)
  4. Choose to rejoice in the Lord…ALWAYS. (Phil. 4:4)  Joy is not a feeling, it’s an attitude that requires a constant choice.
  5. Find a friend so you can talk, share your feelings and pray. (2 Cor. 7:4-13).

There came a point in my recovery where I just needed to talk to someone else who had “been there, done that”.  Sometimes we just need someone we can talk to for mutual support and God knew I needed a confidante who empathized with what I was going through but would also point me towards God through the experience.  God connected me with a strong and courageous woman at my church who had battled breast cancer several years before me.  We became dear, dear friends as she shared her experiences with me and could relate to what I was going through.  Years later, she developed cancer again and this time I was able to be HER support.  Unfortunately, cancer finally claimed her life but she was praising God even until her last breath.  When I wrote my second book, Heal the Wounded, I dedicated the book to my mother, Ellen, my mother-in-law, Laura, and to my friend, Victoria – all courageous women who had “fought the good fight” with breast cancer.

Friendships Increase Joy.

  1. Someone said, “When you share pain with someone you divide it, but when you share joy, you multiply it.”  God designed us to receive joy through our relationships.  Friends should never replace our total dependency on God. (Ps. 73:25, 1 Thess. 2:20).  Remember that if you hold resentment against someone that will pulverize joy…you need to ask forgiveness and give forgiveness.

How do you give and receive joy in relationships with friends and family?

  1. Share deeply from your heart with one another.
  2. Really listen to one another with your heart.
  3. Pray together often.
  4. Discover creative ways to encourage each other.
  5. Have fun together.

Joy is like good food.  It tastes better when shared around a table that overflows with love.

An Attitude Check Unbinds Joy.

  1. Do insecurities rob you of some joy?  These insecurities may have built up over many years even since childhood.  There may be things in your past that have caused you to be in bondage and you need to break those chains in order to be joyful.  Becoming a joyful person involves looking inside and understanding oneself.   It means dealing with destructive attitudes which rob us of joy, and then building healthy attitudes.

How do we change our attitudes and get rid of our insecurities?

  1. Accept yourself and others as God’s unique creations, perfectly and wonderfully made.  (Psalm 139:14).
  2. Recognize that no one bubbles over with joy every minute of every day.  Allow yourself some “down” time without any guilt, but present your “downs” to God so He can deal with them and not allow yourself to be overwhelmed by them.  (Remember the Devil’s D’s).   Many things can temporarily hinder us from choosing joy: physical problems, stress, disappointment, depression, anxiety or overwhelming grief.  Choosing to rejoice can keep our feelings from taking control.  Paul experienced great emotional pain in his life.  2 Corinthians describes some of his struggles.  Paul found the strength to rejoice because he fixed his eyes on what was unseen – Jesus and His work. (2 Cor. 4:18).

If you are struggling with a lack of joy, it may be because you are carrying burdens that God wants you to discard.  Heb. 12:1 states:  “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”

  1. Have personal freedom to rejoice.  Do you need permission to be joyful?

Christ died to give us joy!  Do not hold on to past sins etc. that you have repented from.  Also watch the company you keep…are you surrounded by joyless people…you know the “Eeyores” in life?…joyless people rob us of joy too.  If you are overwhelmed by world circumstances or worry, take a “worry retreat”.  Go for a walk, listen to uplifting praise hymns, play a game, read a book, take a bubble bath, turn off the news….etc.  Hug on your grandbaby … just had to throw that one in there 🙂

Gratitude Encourages Joy.

  1. Like worship, gratitude has a special connection with joy. (Zeph. 3:17).  A godly response when we’re joyful is to express gratitude to the Lord for His goodness.  Joy often creates gratitude.  But the opposite is also true, gratitude creates joy.  When we give God thanks, He gives us joy.  When situations snatch away our joy, we feel like doing anything except thanking God, but that’s exactly what we need to do.  Our thanks must come out of a heart of genuine gratitude to Him, regardless of our immediate feelings.  God then responds by filling our hearts with His joy.

The Key to Lasting Joy is choosing to be a Servant of Jesus Christ.

  1. The child of God who has committed to being the Lord’s servant will hear a CLEAR call, lead a CLEAN life, proclaim a COURAGEOUS message and have a CHALLENGING purpose.  This is the heart of what it means to be a servant of God.

The life of a servant is the willingness to be God’s person right where you are in the tasks and relationships that are already the substance of your life:  soccer Mom, Sunday School Teacher, Volunteer in your child’s classroom, Grandmother, Wife, Corporate Executive….

Servanthood is more a matter of attitude than action, that God wants our availability more than our talent, and that for most of us servanthood means faithfulness in the ordinary affairs of everyday living.

Servanthood will be demonstrated in the way a person lives, different ways for different people.  Just as God’s call to salvation is unique and personal, so is His call to service.  Paul addresses this issue in 1 Cor. 12:14-31.  You should not expect everyone, including other believers, to be like you in every way, nor should they demand that you be like them.  Each servant of God has a clear call, but that call is different for each of us.  One way we can see the difference in calls to service is in the different gifts that He has given to us by His Spirit for the proper functioning of the church.  Different people have different gifts and as a servant it is important to discern what spiritual gifts you may have and develop them in His service.  Remember though that God may give you an assignment that is way out of your comfort zone or not any where near your realm of giftedness and He will equip you for the task.  The idea is that we must be willing to say “Yes” to God no matter what He may ask of us.  You must have settled in your mind that you will say, “Yes, Lord” before He even asks.

Being a Godly Servant means:

  1. Clear Call: He calls us all to serve and He calls us uniquely as individuals.  We minister in His strength (not on our own), so we can rely on His strength to overcome obstacles and give Him the glory He deserves.
  2. Clean Life:  As His servants we are to live clean, Holy lives.  We must look at the importance of what we allow into our minds and what we dwell on.  Remember: garbage in – garbage out.
  3. Courageous Message:  God calls His servants to proclaim a courageous message.  He wants us to speak boldly on His behalf.
  4. Challenging Purpose:  God gives us a challenging purpose – that of being involved in reaching out to people everywhere with the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  There are rewards in heaven if we are His faithful servants (1 Cor.9:24-25) but that should not be our motivation.  We are servants because we love God and we long to hear at the end of our life time these words:“Well done, good and faithful servant…now enter into the JOY of your Lord.”  (Matt. 25:21)  That’s lasting JOY!

(Much of this practical advice comes directly from two books The Key to Lasting Joy by T.W. Wilson and Unlocking the Door to Joy by Ken L. Williams.  Read them….they will bless your lives!)

(*This blog series was first published by Lynn Dove in April/May 2012.)

Posted in Inspiration & Devotion, Proverbs 16:9 - Journey Thoughts, Scripture Study | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Finding Joy NOT Happiness in the Lord (5)

finding-joy-not-happiness-in-the-lord-5So now we come to the practical application side of this series and why I titled it: Finding J0y NOT Happiness in the Lord.

Although there are many great books written on JOY, these two have been particularly impacting on me personally: 11 Keys that Unlock the Door to Joy and Keep It Open, by Ken L. and Gaylyn Williams Whalin (Broadman & Holman, Nash. Tenn., 1993). And The Key to Lasting Joy by: T.W. Wilson (Word Books, Waco, Texas, 1987).

Practical Ways to Finding Joy NOT Happiness in the Lord:

Have a growing “heart knowledge” of God.

  • The more intimate we are with God, the greater our joy.  If you are not joyful at this time, try seeing if it’s because you have more of a head knowledge than heart knowledge of God.

How do we have a heart knowledge of God?

  1. Focus on what God has done in your life and thank Him.
  2. Read Psalms and praise Him for Who He is.
  3. Personalize scripture by inserting your name in places where pronouns or other nouns are used in the text.  Begin with Ephesians 1 & 2.
  4. Discover verses that describe God, and memorize them.
  5. Meditate on Scripture.
  6. Sing praise and worship songs from your heart.  (I especially like to do that in my car!  Sure, I get strange looks from other drivers, as I belt out “Shout to the Lord…” but that’s okay 🙂 )
  7. Share with others what God reveals to you about Himself.
  8. Claim God’s promises in tough times.
  9. Pray through Scripture.
  10. Keep a journal, or prayer journal so you can look back periodically and be reminded of God’s activity in your life.

We must keep growing in Him, it is an ongoing process.  (2 Peter 3:18).  We’re able to joyfully give thanks to God as we come to know Him and all He means to us. (Col. 1:10-12).

  • God’s Word Reveals Joy.
    • Spending time in His Word is important to finding JOY in Him.
    • It’s not merely reading the Word, but experiencing it (as my Pastor likes to say.)

How?

  1. Carve out time.  (I know we live busy lives, but even a few minutes a day will help you find Joy in the Lord through the reading of His Word.)
  2. Read the Bible, not just books ABOUT the Bible.  (I have dozens of great devotionals etc. I might use to “whet my palate” so to speak, but the “main course” has to come from the Bible reading itself.)
  3. Memorize God’s Word.  (I really struggle with this, I’ll be honest.  So here are a few practical suggestions on how to memorize scripture):

As you start to memorize a verse…

  • first choose which translation you wish to use to memorize a passage of scripture.  I prefer NIV but there are many great translations to choose from.
  • read in your Bible the context of each verse you memorize.
  • try to gain a clear understanding of what each verse actually means.
  • Read the verse through several times, thoughtfully, aloud, or in a whisper.  Each time you read it, say the topic, reference, verse, and then the reference again.
  • pray about what you have just read, and pray that God will give you success to commit the verse to memory.

As you begin to memorize the verse:

  • say the verse aloud as much as possible
  • learn the topic and reference first and repeat it after the scripture passage.  ie: Philippians 4:13 “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13 
  • for longer passages, learn the first phrase of the verse, and once you have mastered that, continue adding more phrases until you have learned the entire passage.
  • write the verse out, put it on “post it” notes and post in conspicuous places – like the bathroom mirror or your computer.
  • partner with someone to help you memorize the verse.
  • practice, practice, practice!

The idea is to:

  • Fill your mind with scripture.
  • Meditate on scripture.
  • Pray through scripture.
  • Get involved in a Bible Study (individual or group)
  • Dig deeper – do a word study or a book/chapter study on your own.

This will allow you to gain “heart knowledge” as well as “head knowledge” about the Lord.  You are actually building a trust relationship with God through these exercises.  Why?

  1. Because Trust Releases Joy.
    • “Joy is a deep settled confidence that a loving Heavenly Father is in control of the details of my life.”

We have a choice how we will respond to our trials.  We can worry, get uptight, complain or we can rejoice in Him knowing He is in control.  We can measure our trust in two ways:

  • Do we really say: God will use this for good in my life? (Romans 8:28)
  • We can measure our trust by the degree of contentment we feel as we choose to focus on Him in the midst of our trials.

2.  Obedience Restores Joy. – obey God and have joy; disobey Him and be miserable.  (Luke 11:28)

Sin is like spiritual leprosy – it robs you of joy, and deadens your spiritual senses.  If you are deliberately disobeying His Word, how can you expect God to give you His full measure of JOY?  The list of blessings for obedience is endless, but be careful that you are not being obedient just to obtain JOY – that should NOT be our motivation.  (John 14:23-24)  We obey because we desire an intimate relationship with God.

3.  Prayer Maintains Joy.

  • Your prayer life may be one of the best indicators how rich or how poor your JOY life is.

Look at the following prayers of Paul:  Col. 1:9-11, Phil. 1:9-11 and Eph. 3:16-19.  Each of these can be used as model prayers for yourself, for your family, children, friends and others.

Homework today:

  • 1.  What one thing are you doing now that is helping you to have a “heart knowledge” of God?
  • 2.  What thing or things would you like to do better?
  • 3.  Commit to doing one of those things you’ve listed in question 2 (ie: memorizing scripture, going to a Bible Study, praying, reading Scripture etc.) and make a point of sharing that commitment with a trusted other (spouse, relative, friend) so you will be held accountable.

(*This blog series was first published by Lynn Dove in April/May 2012.)

Posted in Inspiration & Devotion, Proverbs 16:9 - Journey Thoughts, Scripture Study | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Finding Joy NOT Happiness in the Lord (4)

finding-joy-not-happiness-in-the-lord-4Today we continue our series of Finding Joy Not Happiness in the Lord.  If you haven’t read the three previous posts of this series, I invite you to do so now so you will be caught up.  How many of you have been keeping up with the homework?  Has it been a helpful exercise for you?  I sincerely hope so.

As Ken L. Williams says in his book “11 Keys That Unlock the Door to Joy and Keep it Open”, “Sometimes joy flows from us like a gushing spring, but much of the time we must hold on for dear life.  Joy can be elusive.”

Joy is a way of living, it takes time to foster joy, it is the result of a hard won victory over entrenched attitudes of apathy, pessimism, doubt, unbelief and despair.  For true joy, Christ is the only source.  The Morales’ know this.  Rev. Lang knows this.  I know this.

In 2001, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  It was a two year battle with the disease, but it was also a two year endurance course of trying not to dwell on my circumstances but to focus entirely on God.  Some days I did a better job of it than other days, but that was when God would bring people into my life who would walk with me through the struggles and always, always, always point me towards God.  You may find it weird for me to say but I truly “rejoiced in the Lord” through my cancer journey.  Would I want to go through cancer again?… no way, but I understand better than ever before what it means to “rejoice in our suffering” as Paul states in Romans.  I learned more about God, about my family, about my friends, about my church family and about what was important in life, and what was not.  I am convinced that had I focused on my circumstances, I would not be the person I am today.  The scars of the experience would have overwhelmed me in more ways than one.

Now you’re probably thinking to yourself…”OH OH…looks like the only way I can experience true JOY in the Lord is to go through a really bad experience“…a valley experience I call it.  Rather than try to avoid the bad experiences to find JOY you’ve got to seek out those negative experiences to find joy…right?  Believe it or not, there are some radical world philosophies out there that demand just that.  Ever hear of spiritual self-abuse?  It’s actually a form of self-mutilation where you whip yourself or starve yourself etc. to somehow grow spiritually closer to God.  I guess followers of this philosophy feel they must somehow experience the same kind of pain that Christ did when He went to the cross.   That is, in my opinion, slightly insane.  However, the scriptures that state denying oneself and picking up your cross are extremely valid when we start talking about how to find JOY in the Lord.

The joy of God came to full fruition in human history in the Person of Jesus Christ.  Joy and exultation run through the entire biblical account of the coming of Christ. (Luke 1:14; Luke 1:44; Matt. 2:10).  The most familiar passage is the angel’s announcement of “good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people”. (Luke 2:10).  Jesus spoke of His own joy and the full joy He had come to bring to others (John 15:11; John 17:13).  He illustrated the kingdom of Heaven by telling of the joy of a man who found treasure (Matt. 13:44).  Zacchaeus was in a tree when Jesus called him, but he quickly climbed down and received Jesus joyfully (Luke 19:6).  He had found life’s ultimate treasure in Christ.

As Jesus’ death approached, He told His followers that soon they would be like a woman in labour, whose sorrow would be turned into joy (John 16:20-22).  Later they understood, when the dark sorrow of the cross gave way to the joy of the resurrection (Luke 24:41).  Viewed from this perspective, eventually they came to see that the cross itself was necessary for the joy to become real (Heb. 12:2).  Because of His victory and the promise of His abiding presence, the disciples could rejoice even after the Lord’s ascension (Luke 24:52).

The Book of Acts tells how joy continued to characterize those who followed Jesus.  After Philip preached in Samaria, the people believed and “there was great joy in that city”.  (Act. 8:8).  After the work of Paul and Barnabas in Antioch, “the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 13:52).  After the conversion of the Philippian jailer, he “rejoiced, believing in God with all his house”. (Acts 16:34).

Joy in the Christian life is in direct proportion to a believer’s walk with the Lord.  As believers we can rejoice because we are in the Lord (Phil. 4:4).  Joy is a fruit of a Spirit-led life (Gal. 5:22).  Sin in a believer’s life robs the person of joy (Ps. 51:12).

When a person walks with the Lord, the person can continue to rejoice even when troubles come.  Jesus spoke of those who could rejoice even when persecuted and killed (Matt. 5:12).   Peter and James, like Paul, echoed the Lord’s teachings about rejoicing in troubles (1 Peter 1:6-8; James 1:2).

Joy in the Lord enables people to enjoy all that God has given to them.  They rejoice in family (Prov. 5:18), food (1 Tim. 4:4-5), celebrations (Deut. 16:13-15), friends (Phil. 4:1).  They share with others the joys and sorrows of life: “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, weep with them that weep.” (Rom. 12:15).

Let’s look at Phil. 4:4…”Rejoice in the Lord always.”  It does not say rejoice sometimes, or rejoice only when we feel like it, it says “rejoice in the Lord always.”  (In the Lord) means in His fellowship, in His love and grace and in the knowledge of His dominion over our lives and His rule over all our destiny.  In other words, the Lord has EVERYTHING under control.

Which leads us to our first MYTH about JOY:  The idea that if we’re NOT joyful every minute of every day, we’re terrible Christians.  That myth can rob us of the little joy already in our lives.  Every Christian struggles with a lack of joy at times, but God’s response is compassion, not accusation and anger.

We can choose JOY.  If God commands joy, then it must be possible to choose it.  During my cancer experience I had two choices as I saw it: I could choose to laugh or I could choose to cry.  That was my philosophy throughout the experience.  Laughter gave way to hope, hope to life,…the opposite was true when I cried; I felt defeated, and hopeless.  There are all kinds of studies about terminal illness about the effects of laughter and the longevity of life:  people who laugh and have a generally positive attitude during their illness, live longer and have a better survival rate than those who tend to be pessimistic and discouraged throughout their illness.   So, very soon after my initial surgery and during my recovery and especially during my chemo treatments, I made a point of trying to laugh every day.  That wasn’t always easy especially as the side effects of chemo kicked in, so I recruited people to send me emails to encourage me, especially when I was too weak and sick to leave the house.  I would get on the computer and people from around the world sent me wonderful, humourous anecdotes, silly jokes, pictures, videos and I would immediately feel better because they made me laugh.  When I was feeling overwhelmed and discouraged, my family, friends and church family supported me in hundreds of little acts of kindness and always they tried to bring a smile to my face.  When I couldn’t do it for myself, I found JOY through others!

Of course there is a down side if you choose NOT to have JOY.  Then we are vulnerable to a host of what has been called the Devil’s D’s: doubt, discouragement, disillusionment, dejection, depression, despair and disaster.

Homework today:

  • 1.  Do you think it is possible to choose “JOY”?  Why or why not?
  • 2.  Should Christians be “joyful” all the time?  Why or why not?
  • 3. Several scripture verses were mentioned today.  Read through them and choose two that speak to your life right now.  Memorize them, or write them in your prayer journal, or share them with a friend.  If you’re brave, share them in a comment here and tell me why they have impacted you today.

(*This blog series was first published by Lynn Dove in April/May 2012.)

 

Posted in Inspiration & Devotion, Proverbs 16:9 - Journey Thoughts | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Finding Joy NOT Happiness in the Lord (3)

finding-joy-not-happiness-in-the-lord-3Perhaps last day’s homework assignment left you a bit wary, questioning why you do some of the things you do.  Sometimes it’s good to get a healthy perspective on things.  Some of you may have thought, “I have to work to support my family.  It’s not an activity that makes me happy but I have to do it anyway.”  It is absolutely true.  As I tried to tell my sixteen year old daughter when she balked at doing her homework by saying, “I will never, ever use this Math after high school so why bother doing it in the first place?”  I said, “You just gotta do what you gotta do”.  (I’m thinking of having a t-shirt made up with that saying!)

It proves my point.  If we base our happiness on doing activities, or getting “stuff”, we will be quickly disappointed.  Sometimes we just “gotta do what we gotta do” to survive.  It may not make us happy…and here it comes…it can be a JOYFUL experience.  How?

You do not need “stuff” to be joyful.  In fact the Bible points out that JOY can be achieved in good times AND bad times.  JOY is not dependant on the circumstances of life.  JOY is a constant.  Joy can be experienced in the middle of a very negative experience, but it can only occur if God is the focus and not on the circumstance itself.

Let’s read Romans 5:1-5.  Paul tells us to “rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who He has given us.”

2 Corinthians 4:16-18  “Therefore do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Someone asked me once how it is that some people can handle personal tragedies so well while other people seem to fall apart when hardships befall them.  Let me give a few examples:

In 1986, my husband, Charles worked for an oil company about the same time the federal government brought in some oil royalties that saw the bottom drop out of the oil industry in Calgary.  The result was massive layoffs and my husband found himself without a job as did a few men and women from our church family then.  We did all the practical things to get by: downsize, modify our budget etc. etc., but one thing we agreed upon was that we would not stop tithing to our church and we would focus on God as we remembered our life verse from Proverbs 16:9….”You may make your plans but the Lord determines your steps”.  We watched in awe as God opened doors and led Charles to new career ventures.  It was an awesome time in our lives because we knew that God was in control and we leaned on the promise that He would never leave us or forsake us.  Certainly there were times of worry and certainly we had to modify our lifestyle, but we grew closer to God through the experience as never before.  On the flip side of this: another man from our church who lost his job the same time Charles did crumbled.  He stopped attending church, he ended up losing his home; his wife ended up leaving him.  We completely lost touch with him and to this day I do not know what became of him.  I don’t know why we seemed to handle the upset better than he did but I think it is because we did not focus on our circumstance, we focused on God.  We found true joy in following God through this very trying circumstance.

I can’t help but think about some other families who seem to know what it means to rejoice in the Lord no matter the circumstances of life:

Rev. Dale Lang whose son was murdered in the hallway of his school years ago.  Rev. Lang was able to forgive the young man who shot his son and even ministered to him in jail.  You can’t have that kind of forgiveness if you are focused on the circumstance.  He focused on God and was able to forgive his son’s murderer.

Pastor Stauffer in Edson lost his 14 year old daughter, Emily.  She had been raped and murdered.  In the family’s statement to the press only hours after her body was discovered,  they made a point of saying that they “rejoiced” that Emily was with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

I think of the Morales family.  Pastor Jesse (as he was lovingly called) was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) in 2008.  Jesse struggled valiantly with the disease for nineteen months, even leading a few of his caregivers to follow Christ even though he had difficulty speaking towards the end of his life.  If you want to witness first hand what it means to be “rejoicing in suffering”…look at the Morales’ during that difficult time in their lives!  Jesse’s daughter Stephanie posted this blog:

“Posted by Jesse’s Girl at 3:09 PM 1 comments                        

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Gotta Give Him Praise!

Upon returning from the Philippines, my dad decided not to go back to work due to his decrease in functional ability. This was a pretty devastating step but at the same time, we were thankful that he was able to know when it was time to stop. We had a bad “breathing” scare not too long after. The doctor assessed his breathing ability (which is the biggest indicator of lifespan) and it looked grim at first. He saw a Repirologist today who confirmed that he is at 73% of normal capacity and has not declined since August. Each new day is a gift, and every day that the symptoms don’t worsen, we celebrate!

Since then, 4 of his siblings have been up to visit. The gold girls, Cleo, Fely and Rose made the long drive up for only a 1 day turn around a couple of weeks ago. Among the many highlights was my Aunt Cleo stir-frying dad’s healthy breakfast cereal (concocted by Aunt Remie) thinking it was brown rice. She added the usual onions, soy sauce, etc. to OATMEAL and the best part was… she ate it! (Bless her heart for not wanting to waste food!) You have to find joy in the little things right?

Last week Uncle Lope and his family were up and thank you to Les especially who has the wonderful gift of humor. I know you made him laugh hysterically on more than one occasion. Uncontrollable laughter is a symptom of ALS but we’ve unanimously decided it’s our favorite symptom! Praise God for laughter.

This is a hard road that we’re on. But as I was told by a very godly woman, you have to revel in those little moments of happiness that God brings your way. Otherwise, we’re doomed to being a victim of circumstances.”

Jesse passed away on August 17, 2009.  We attended our friend’s memorial service along with hundreds more.  It was a celebration of a life well lived!  Canadian Country superstar, Paul Brandt even sang at the service, his life having been touched personally by Pastor Jesse.  Every year, his family, friends and church family participate in the ALS run held in Calgary to raise money for ALS awareness.  Jesse left a timeless legacy.  He never focused on his circumstances…his sole focus was on the Lord!

Homework for today:

  • 1.  What challenging circumstances are you facing right now?
  • 2.  Are you able to look beyond those challenges to find a sense of “joy” even in the midst of those circumstances?  Why or why not?
  • 3.  Pray to the Lord to help you find “joy” even in the midst of hardship and challenges.

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do…

12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”  (James 1: 2-8,12)

(*This blog series was first published by Lynn Dove in April/May 2012.)

Posted in Inspiration & Devotion, Proverbs 16:9 - Journey Thoughts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Finding Joy NOT Happiness in the Lord (2)

finding-joy-not-happiness-in-the-lord-2Today I continue my series on Finding Joy NOT Happiness in the Lord.

How many of you did your homework?  For those who did, I would be interested to hear what “happy” thing you did and why it made you happy.  You can leave me a comment if you’re brave enough to share.  To others, did you just avoid the whole activity because you thought it might stress you out more than make you happy?  Believe it or not some people even avoid “happy” activities because it can be an added stressor in their lives.  Don’t believe me?  I know people who find Christmas the most stressful time of year…

I love dinner parties but they stress me out planning them!  I’ve nearly had a nervous breakdown planning a child’s birthday party…(I told you yesterday I was an A-type personality!)

Sometimes it would be so easy to avoid those activities but let’s face it, avoiding stressful activities, whether they give us happiness or pain is pretty impractical.

Now I don’t know about you, but I would say that this would be a constant struggle for me to try to avoid anything in my life that would cause me pain, hurt, distress or upset.  In fact, I would think this is an impossible goal…and yet many men and women in this world have embraced this philosophy.

Ever heard the expression “If it feels good, do it.”?  We live in anything but an altruistic society, where the pursuit of happiness is entirely centered around one’s own wants, desires, and needs.  Just look at today’s advertising.  It is entirely centered on what we should buy so we will be happy in today’s world: the cosmetic industry alone is a 30 billion dollar industry with a 20% growth rate each year!  We need to ask ourselves: can happiness be found bottled in a L’oreal jar, or found under the hood of a sport’s car, or found at the bottom of a yoghurt cup?…and yet that is exactly what the world would have us believe.  If we buy this or that, if we change this or that about ourselves, if we only think positively and never negatively, we will be truly happy.  It is a deception, it is a falsehood and unfortunately we buy into it over and over and over again, and for a time we may be happy, but it is fleeting, then we need to buy something else or do something else, or try something else… and that’s why the commercials never stop and why we are never completely satisfied and why we are never completely happy.

JOY is different.  Whereas happiness is described as a buoyant emotion that results from momentary plateaus of well-being.  Joy is bedrock stuff.  Joy is the confidence that operates irrespective of our moods.  Joy is the certainty that all is well, however we feel.  Joy isn’t a feeling based on circumstances, Joy is an attitude based on our relationship with God.

Joy is the happy state that results from knowing and serving God.  A number of Greek and Hebrew words are used in the Bible to convey the ideas of joy and rejoicing.  We have the same situation in English with such nearly synonymous words as joy, happiness, pleasure, delight, gladness, merriment, felicity, and enjoyment.  The words JOY and REJOICE are the words most often used to translate the Hebrew and Greek words into English.  JOY is found over 150 times in the Bible.  If such words as “joyous” and “joyful” are included, the number comes to over 200.  The verb “rejoice” appears well over 200 times.

Joy is the fruit of a right relation with God.  It is not something people can create by their own efforts.  The Bible distinguishes joy from pleasure.  The Greek word for pleasure is the word from which we get our word “hedonism”, the philosophy of self-centered pleasure-seeking.  Paul referred to false teachers as “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God” (2 Tim. 3:4)

The Bible warns that self-indulgent pleasure-seeking does not lead to happiness and fulfillment.  Let’s read Ecclesiastes 2:1-11.  This is the sad testimony of one (Solomon) who sought to build his life on pleasure-seeking.  The search left him empty and disillusioned.

Pleasures Are Meaningless 1 I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.” But that also proved to be meaningless. 2 “Laughter,” I said, “is madness. And what does pleasure accomplish?” 3I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly—my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was good for people to do under the heavens during the few days of their lives.

4 I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. 5 I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. 6 I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. 7 I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. 8 I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired male and female singers, and a harem as well—the delights of a man’s heart. 9I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me.

10 I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;    I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my labor,    and this was the reward for all my toil. 11 Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done  and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.”

Proverbs 14:13 offers further insight into this way of life, “Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful.”  Cares, riches and pleasures rob people of the possibility of fruitful living (Luke 8:14).  Pleasure often enslaves people in a vicious cycle of addiction (Titus 3:3).  The self-indulgent person, according to 1 Tim. 5:6, is dead while seeming still to be alive.

Here is some more homework for you:

  • 1.  What are things that you strive for under the sun?
  • 2.  What pleasures (rewards) do you get from striving for them?
  • 3.  Are you happy in your pursuit of them?  Why or why not?

(*This blog series was first published by Lynn Dove in April/May 2012.)

Posted in Inspiration & Devotion, Proverbs 16:9 - Journey Thoughts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Finding Joy NOT Happiness in the Lord

finding-joy-not-happiness-in-the-lord-by-lynn-doveIf I were to take an informal survey, raise your hands and tell me if you are “Happy” today?  Now if I were to ask you again, how many of you are “Joyful”?

Did some of you raise your hands for HAPPY but not JOYFUL?  Why?

How many think Happiness and Joyfulness are one and the same thing?

How many just don’t feel like raising their hands?…..just kidding.

Well, over the next few weeks I plan on doing a series about Finding Joy NOT Happiness in the Lord.  I will attempt to show you the difference between Joy and Happiness.  That’s not to say that you can’t be happy and joyful at the same time, because obviously you can, but there are also times when you can experience joy without feeling happy.  How is that possible, you might ask?…well let’s start with some definitions:

Happiness: is a state of being that is generally short-lived.  In other words, happiness occurs over and over again for a variety of different reasons, generally caused by a pursuit or an activity that the individual has done or experienced resulting in this “happy” emotion to occur.  For example:

You can feel happy when you are:

Reading to your child, or walking your dog, or going on a holiday….I’m sure we could come up with countless things to list that make us happy….

Now some of you may say, “But Lynn, I experience “joy” doing those things as well…”  In other words the word “happy” is just not a strong enough emotional word to adequately express how you feel.   I totally understand that.  It’s like we equate the emotion JOY as a kind of step up from happiness.

Here’s the differentiation between Happiness and Joy and we’ll use our original examples:

You are happy reading to your child.  It’s bonding time.  It’s cuddling with your child and sharing a good book and getting some good quality time in with your child…you are happy until he suddenly looks up at you and you realize he has a kind of “green look” in his face.  In fact, as he leans against you, you feel that he’s a little warm and suddenly your “happy” emotion has dissolved into concern for your sick child….

Another example:  The prospects of going on a holiday makes you happy.  You have planned this tropical get-away, you have enjoyed a week soaking up the sun and the whole experience has left you happy and contented.  On the way home, you’re still happy reliving all the great memories of the past week, until you land and you discover that the airline has lost one of your bags.  Your happiness is replaced with frustration, possibly anger.  In fact, if you are an A-type personality like I am – this ONE negative experience may adversely affect how you felt about the entire holiday….

Let’s take another more extreme example:  You are a fit, active woman.  You eat healthy, you are happy with your good health.  Sure, you’re happy…until one day you become sick….

See where I’m going with this?…

Happiness is a state of being, an emotion that can be interrupted and therefore is temporary.  It can be experienced again and again but not necessarily with the same intensity as before…

-you can go back and read to your child and be happy but you might never recapture the same mood as before the child got sick.

-you can go on holidays and be happy but you might always be thinking about whether or not you’ll come home with the same amount of bags as what you left with.

– you can recapture your healthy state again and be happy, but you might have had to change your lifestyle to do so.  It just won’t be the same again.

I came across an interesting website that actually measures how Happy you are….I am not a social scientist so I don’t know whether the measurements are accurate etc. but I thought that their definition of “happiness” was interesting:

“Happiness is a belief that a hoped-for state of affairs is coming into existence.  Pleasure is limited to the feelings of the moment.  Contentment is the feeling that a hoped for state actually exists.  Unhappy reactions to being blocked from an activity are the best measure of a person’s true goals.  It matters little where you came from but greatly where you now choose to go and what you choose to do.”  (Charles Scamahorn’s Happiness Scale – HAPS – A scale for measuring human happiness, 2006).  http://www.probaway.com/MetaScales/Happiness/Happiness.htm

Based on that definition alone, we can see that it is entirely up to the individual whether or not he or she will be happy or not.  We can also add that if you set your goals too high for yourself and you fail in the attempt to achieve that goal, you won’t be happy.  Often happiness is in the pursuit of things entirely centered on the individual.   In other words, if you set out to be rich, or healthy, or powerful, or lose weight etc. etc. and you somehow are not successful in achieving that goal you will not be happy…ever.  Therefore you have two options:  try harder to achieve those goals (and we know what that means…stress, stress and more stress….) or try to avoid being blocked in achieving these goals.

What I read here is that the only way to achieve true happiness is to completely avoid anything that would cause you to be unhappy…..in fact as I researched a little more, many world philosophies today are based entirely upon that fact alone: avoidance of anything that will cause you pain, hurt, distress, or upset.  Happiness is only achieved if all negative experiences and feelings are removed.  So these philosophies advocate that people try to avoid or at least control negative influences that would undermine their state of happiness.

So here’s some homework for you today:

  • 1.  Make a list of things (people, events, activities etc.) that make you happy.
  • 2.  Briefly ask why those things make you happy?
  • 3.  Take time today to participate in one of those “happy” activities!

 

(*This blog series was first published by Lynn Dove in April/May 2012.)

Posted in Inspiration & Devotion, Proverbs 16:9 - Journey Thoughts | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment