Tag Archives: joy

Reflecting God’s Image, Even His Winsome Side

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Image source: Kevin Benn via Free Images

Although God does have a very serious side, it’s good to be reminded that part of reflecting His image means reflecting His winsome, loving, creative side, too!  My daughter shared an excellent article with me yesterday called Lighten Up, Christians: God Loves a Good Time.

 


Happy 1st Day of Spring!

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It snowed about 4 inches, but now the sun is shining and it’s almost 50 degrees. After experiencing so many days and nights of sub-zero temperatures, it actually does feel like spring.


Singing, Feeling and Knowing

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“Happy is the person who not only sings, but feels God’s eye is on the sparrow, and knows He watches over me. To be simply ensconced in God is true joy.” —Alfred A. Montapert

“Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? 7But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.”  —Jesus  (Luke 12:6, 7)


Wisdom Wednesday: How to Have a Merry Christmas

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Have you ever felt truly loved and known after receiving a particular gift?  Have you ever felt unloved and unknown even though given a gift?  While it’s true that some of the best gifts are handmade, the truly best gifts are those that are timely and fit who we are, because they were given out of love and according to knowledge and not simply out of duty or expectation.  One of the keys to loving is knowing.

“To be known is to be loved, and to be loved is to be known…”  —Chris Kinsley and Drew Francis in “The Woman at the Well”

3Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established: 4And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.  —Proverbs 24:3, 4

If wisdom is the right application of knowledge, then knowledge without application must be foolishness.  And even more foolish still is to have the knowledge available but never take advantage of it.

“Knowledge without wisdom is a load of books on the back of an ass.”  —Japanese proverb

“[The] opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of love is apathy. Love and hate both engage the emotions. Apathy demonstrates a lack of concern.”  —BJ in The River Walk: Weeping and Laughing

When you fall in love, don’t you want to know everything about that person?  Don’t you want to spend as much time as possible with them?  Don’t you try to think of ways to make them smile?  In order to do that, you have to spend time with them and learn to know what would make them smile, right?

“Nothing is desired that is not known.”  —Latin proverb

“There is no shame in not knowing; the shame lies in not finding out.”  —Russian proverb

“Lack of knowledge is darker than night.”  —Hausan proverb

With today being Christmas, Jesus’ birthday, people sometimes wonder what they can possibly give Him as a birthday present. The Westminster catechism based on several verses from the Bible says that the chief purpose of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.  Don’t you enjoy people who enjoy being with you?  Part of the reason Jesus became a man was so we could know and understand God better.  He came to demonstrate His love for us and invites us to live with Him.

“Come live with me and you’ll know me.”  —Spanish proverb

“Knowing about Him is a necessary precondition of trusting in Him, but the width of our knowledge about Him is no gauge of our knowledge of Him.”  —J.I. Packer

“Christianity is not an action; it is a reaction.  The Bible is not a list of requirements, but a list of results after experiencing God’s love.”  —Peter Haas, pastor in his sermon Pharisectomy Part 2 – Joy Driven Christianity

The apostle Paul, who had a list of religious credentials, wrote in his letter to the Philippians that he counted everything as loss and even as poop in comparison to really knowing Jesus.  Because Paul had had an encounter with Him and experienced His mercy, grace and love, Paul had a desire to know Him more.

Since Christmas is really about the birth of Christ, the best way to have a truly merry Christmas is to find peace with it. Usually the best way to find peace with something is to understand it, and to understand we first need to learn and gain knowledge. So the best gift we can give Jesus, as well as others and ourselves, is to seek to know Him.  And if we already know Him, seek to know Him more.

Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones!


Wisdom Wednesday: Don’t Worry

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Have you ever spent so much time worrying about what might happen that you missed enjoying the moment?  I have been reminded of that a few times in the last couple of weeks.  I traveled to Vegas for a huge family Thanksgiving reunion, and just when we arrived at the airport in Vegas, two things happened that made my heart sink, one of which caused me to worry.  But that one thing is still yet future, and there’s nothing I can do about it anyway, so I was determined to put both things aside and into God’s hands and enjoy every moment I could.

Jesus said, “Be not therefore anxious for the morrow: for the morrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”  (Matthew 6:34 ASV)  In other words, today has enough troubles of its own so why worry about tomorrow today?  A Yiddish proverb is very similar.  It says, “Do not worry about tomorrow, because you do not even know what may happen to you today.”

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”  —Corrie Ten Boom

“Worry gives a small thing a big shadow.”  —Swedish proverb

“Dreadful is the state of mind that is anxious about the future.”  —Latin proverb

“Fretting cares make gray hairs.”  —English proverb

“Worry is the darkroom in which ‘negatives’ are developed.”  —Unknown

Proverbs 15:15 says, “All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.”  People who worry about everything enjoy nothing, while those who are agreeable or cheerful live full lives.  It’s not that we should stick our heads in the sand, but we should be careful not to make mountains out of molehills.

“The past is behind, learn from it.  The future is ahead, prepare for it.  The present is here, live it.”  —Thomas S. Monson

“The first rule of focus is ‘Wherever you are, be there.’”  —Unknown

“We’re so busy watching out for what’s ahead of us that we don’t take time to enjoy where we are.”  —Bill Watterson, author of Calvin and Hobbes

So whether your holiday season ahead looks hectic and stressful or dismally lonely, take each moment today as it comes and don’t worry about tomorrow.  Find something to enjoy today.  Don’t miss it.

“You must be present to win.”

“In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.”  —Philippians 4:5, 6 ASV

If you like this post, you might also like:  Wisdom Wednesday: Making Plans


Conviction Vs. Condemnation

Have you ever felt condemned?  This video of an excerpt by Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church is just over five minutes long and well worth listening to if you’ve ever felt condemned by something someone said or did.  There is a distinct difference between conviction from the Holy Spirit and condemnation from Satan.

In addition, while I don’t agree with everything Pastor Peter Haas teaches, in his sermon Pharisectomy Part 2 – Joy Driven Christianity, he said this:

“The Bible teaches that guilt, shame and condemnation are inferior substitutes for grace.  They are an inferior form of motivation, but they are a form of motivation, make no mistake.  That’s why so many preachers turn to them.  That’s why so many Christians turn to shame.  They get an instant response when you shame someone.  The only problem is it kills joy, and it’s not sustainable.  And joy is the very power that God gives us to overcome sin.  Again– the joy of the Lord is your strength…. We use guilt, obligation and shame to motivate ourselves and others into being a better person, and not only does it steal our joy, it steals God’s glory.”

If you are feeling heavily burdened because of something someone said, or if you have been made to feel like God cannot use you because of something you did, please watch this video.


A Missed Blessing?

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I think I may have missed a blessing, a gift of provision.  My eyes and ears are not always open to the things of the Spirit, and sometimes I know I’ve missed things because of unnecessary fear or a lack of faith even when I have felt prompted to do or say something.

On my way back home after taking my daughter to the airport in Manchester, NH, I saw some ice fisherman on a lake at dawn.  I immediately took the exit following, but being a woman alone and realizing I’d have to walk through the woods and then onto the ice to get a picture, I decided against it.  The morning light was so beautiful, and I really wanted to take a picture, but I foresaw no future opportunity along the interstate.  As I continued to drive, I felt impressed to take the Bethel / South Royalton exit long before I even reached it.  I said, “Lord, I want to take a picture, but I’m tired and hungry.  If You want me to take the exit, I will, but You’ll have to compel me.”

By the time I reached the exit, I felt compelled.  I hoped I wasn’t wasting my time.  I turned toward South Royalton and reached the intersection that hosts Eaton’s Sugar House, and it was open, bustling, and serving breakfast!  I bypassed it, not wanting to miss the beautiful lighting, and turned again toward South Royalton.  I found a place to park next to a rocky spot of the White River.  It was a beautiful spot, and since I’d been wanting to capture a slow-shutter water shot, it was perfect, and I used the rocks as a tripod.  I am so happy with how the photo turned out!

I didn’t end up stopping by the sugar house to have breakfast despite my hunger.  Instead, I decided to drive the relatively short distance and fix something to eat at home.  Strangely, it hadn’t occurred to me that the sugar house was just as much God’s provision as was the river.  Now, I’m kicking myself for possibly missing a greater blessing.  But still, I am filled with joy at His thoughtfulness.  I feel like He grabbed my hand and said, “Come with Me!  I want to show you something I know you’ll love!”


Nature’s Worship and Expectation

ImageWhile taking advantage of this gorgeous cool spring-like day, I took my daughter’s dog for a walk and silently talked with the Lord, reminiscing about the bee and other ways He has expressed His love and care.  The wind began to blow, and I heard a noise.  The trees were ‘clapping’ together, and I was reminded of a worship song that is based on Isaiah 55:12, which says, “For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.”

I also heard another sound that wasn’t quite as worshipful.  A pine tree creaked and groaned.  Romans 8 records how “the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together” in expectation of its delivery from the curse— delivery Jesus Christ will bring at His Second Coming.  And those of us who have believed what Jesus said about Himself, although our adoption ‘papers have been signed’ and we’ve been sealed by the Holy Spirit, we, too, groan at times in our frail and aging bodies, as we wait in expectation of deliverance also.

As I continued walking, I sang the song and began to hear other sounds join in— crows cawing, the melting snow dripping, and an occasional rush of wind.  It was beautiful.  Just like today.


Hosanna!

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“Did ‘Mimi’ teach you to do that?” my son wondered aloud as he watched his twenty-month-old daughter raise her hands as she sang along with Steve Green’s Hosanna, a song from his album Hide ‘em In Your Heart.  After realizing how much my granddaughter loved the song, I’d given her the cassette tape my son, himself, had listened to as a child.  I remember the first time I played the tape for her and how amazed I was when she raised her hands upon first hearing that song.  Y’see, although we’ve had a diversity of worship experiences, for more than a decade we’ve worshiped in Baptist churches, and Baptists generally do not raise their hands.  Why?  Baptists are taught that raising ones hands can lend itself to being showy, distracting, and prideful.  So when I saw Gracie so freely and spontaneously raise her hands to Hosanna, I must admit, I was both surprised and tickled.

Does the Bible mention anything about raising our hands?  Yes, it does.  Psalm 134:2, for example, says, “Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the LORD.”  Can raising ones hands be showy, distracting, and prideful?  Yes, but should we discourage it because it can be abused, or should we teach the whole truth and allow people the freedom to worship God in spirit and in truth?  Didn’t Jesus say in Matthew 18:3 & 4, “Verily I say unto you, ‘Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven’”?  As our pastor would say, it’s all about the heart.  Perhaps we should be more like Gracie, lift up our hands and sing, “Hosanna!”


You Invite Us In

Has God ever spoken to you through a dream?  I had a dream a few nights ago, and while I don’t remember every detail, I do remember the instruction given.  “Go and read what came before the High Priestly prayer.”

I’ve never received a message so clear and direct, so I got up and read the verse before Jesus begins to pray, but since it begins with, “These things I have spoken unto you,” I asked, “What things?” and started further back to Chapter 16, verse 1.  But it, too, starts with, “These things have I spoken unto you,” so I went back further to the beginning of Chapter 15 and read all the way through to the end of the High Priestly prayer in Chapter 17.  What was God trying to tell me?  It seemed to be a confirmation of the Spirit’s still small voice reminding me a few days earlier that I cannot bear good and lasting fruit on my own.  Only the Spirit can produce the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in my life.   But I sensed there must be more, so I continued to read and study over the next couple of days.

While browsing some posts in a social network, I happened upon a message by D.A. Carson entitled The Supremacy of Christ and Love in a Postmodern World, which centered around Jesus’ High Priestly prayer!  Coincidence?  I think not.  Interestingly as well, the subject of ‘glory’ had come up on another occasion, and it is one of the subjects Carson touched on.  I wish I could share his whole message in a nutshell, but I’ll simply share a few highlights that pertain to what I believe God wanted to communicate to me as a reminder and encouragement of His love and work in my life.

I love Him, because He first loved me.  (1 John 4:19)

Jesus wants us to be one as He and the Father are one.  “That all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You.  May they also be in us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me.”  –D.A. Carson paraphrasing parts of verses 20-23

Jesus is not only one with God and is Himself God, but He is also not the Son of God through DNA, despite what some sects may teach.  Besides being the only begotten Son of God because He came from the Godhead and added humanity to His deity, He loves the Father and does whatever He sees His Father doing, because He is the Son of God and no man has ever seen the Father except the Son.  We become children of God when we accept Jesus’ work on the cross, and we ‘prove’ our sonship by loving Him and doing what we see Him doing, when we do the work He has given us to do, just as Jesus did the work the Father gave Him to do.  Compare what Jesus said to the scribes and Pharisees in John 8:38-45.

“You are not what you think you are, but what you think, you are,” a quote by Norman Vincent Peale that parallels Proverbs 23:7a, “For as [a man] thinketh in his heart, so is he…”  “In terms of social interaction we’re pretty nice people, reasonably disciplined, don’t blow up too often.  But would you really like everybody… to see a transcript of every thought you have thought today?”  –D.A. Carson

Jesus wants the full measure of His joy to be in us.  He wants us to be with Him forever and to see the glory He had from before the foundation of the world.  When Moses asked to see God’s glory, God said, “I will make all my goodness pass before thee…”  (Exodus 33:19a)

While I was walking the treadmill at the gym last night, Criminal Minds was playing on the monitor in front of me.  Although I am fascinated with human behavior, watching evil being portrayed and knowing it actually exists is very disturbing.  Oh!  To be where Jesus is, to experience the full measure of His joy, to see His glory and be in the midst of goodness and be one with God who is love!  As Juba says in Gladiator, “Not yet,” at least not in its fullness, but we can catch a glimpse of it when we do what we have been created to do.  But unless we open our eyes and ears, we may miss seeing and hearing what the Father is doing and miss His invitation when He invites us in.  Do you understand that?  If we can only grasp what we have available through the Lord Jesus — perfect communion with the Father, perfect reconciliation — we can rest in grace.  He has invited us in.  We don’t have to knock down the door.  We don’t have to beg, plead, clean ourselves up, or offer bribes.  Jesus Christ has already provided the perfect offering, and He invites us in.

It’s funny, but I have another post I’ve been contemplating, and as I was trying to decide which to do first, I thought, “Duh!  Where do you see God working?”  Thank you, Father, for inviting me in.


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