Friday, December 23, 2011

This is stolen, with permission, from a dear new friend.  I followed her from a craft site over to her Caring Bridge site where she chronicles her journey through the world of cancer.  I use the following with permission.  Please feel free to see her page at
She states from within the experience what I was trying to communicate about pain not being the opposite of joy
With no further ado:  Mrs. Paula Pike:

It's funny -- a number of people have commented on what a strong woman I am. I'm here to tell ya it ain't so. The burden of that image kinda weighs me down, actually ;) 

I've been thinking about strength lately. Physically, I'm lacking it. I mean, I'm not noodly so much these days -- but I get worn out very easily. And mentally -- I'm in hibernation mode. Very little power pumping there. 

Nehemiah 8:10 says, "The joy of the Lord is [my] strength." Yesterday, Blair and I were both humming songs with those very words. I was doing it very consciously because I felt so weak and felt frustrated by my inability to do much, and I was trying to change my focus. This is the version I was singing -- well, sort of :) I share that link with you because the Billy and Willie production just made me smile -- laugh out loud, actually. Gotta love the piano ornaments ;) (Blair, just hearing the music in the background, asked if someone was having a seizure.) 

Blair was singing this song with the same words (which can be heard just over a minute into the song). 

Rather an odd thought, don't you think -- that the Lord's JOY is our strength. Shouldn't it be the other way around? Shouldn't His strength be our joy? (I feel like we've gone down this road before -- but remember what I said about my mental power!)

Ya, no -- we're back to the JOY thing. And as we've learned this fall, the joy comes when we give thanks. (If you're new to this journal -- go back and read some of the older stuff so you know what I mean;) 

So any strength that you might see in me comes from the joy He's given me as I've counted God gifts these last few months. (And I confess I've been getting lazy with that lately!) It's not my strength at all! 

2 Corinthians 12:9 confirms this. I like the King James version of this verse: And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

I know I've shared this verse before, but it's one I need to reflect on again. I am not a strong woman, and I know it. My weakness has not ever been more evident (and the Enemy is good at showing me all the ways I'm weak! Isn't it good to know that our Redeemer doesn't accuse us before the Father? John 5:45).

But as I am weak, His strength is made perfect -- so, like Paul, I say again that I will "glory in my infirmities" instead of complaining about my ailments. I can't help thinking that Christmas epitomizes this concept, as you don't get much weaker than a tiny, new-born baby laid in a manger. Yet in that bundle of weakness we have the Creator of the universe and the Saviour of the world! 

Having said all that, you can still pray about my weaknesses! :) There's the physical element. There's the short fuse. There's the negative mindset that makes me snarky and snappy. There's the lack of self-control around sweet stuff, even though I know it makes me feel lousy. Ya, I'd love for you to pray that the power of Christ would rest upon me in all those areas so that there is more of Him and less of me lumbering around here wishing life away. (I love Christmas -- but I find myself wishing it were over with for this year.)"

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

His Gifts and Our Joy

The world tells us that happiness and joy are found in having what we want, the way we want it. Strangely, the words "you deserve a break, a treat, a rest..." come from the mouths of believers. I've heard it from the mouths of those I respect deeply, and I wrong in being taken aback by this? Don't get me wrong, God does grant times of refreshing. He gives good gifts to be enjoyed. He is a Father who delights in His children and gives gifts.

But the gifts are not an end in themselves. Again, don't misunderstand me. Sometimes there are eternal purposes, things He is teaching, that may not look "productive" here and now. But we see through a shadow. We see dimly. Sometimes, we, like Job in his troubles, don't see the reason or benefit at all!

The gifts are given, though for the encouragement of others. We comfort so that we may be able to comfort. 1 Corinthians 11 hints that other created beings (angels) may be learning from us as well.

Yes, enjoy the gifts. But be enthralled with the Giver. Don't demand what we "need" but trust that He truly knows when and where we need what better than we do ourselves. Above all, set our hearts and minds on our blessed Savior.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

His Rescue and Our Joy

In the last post, I discussed how our own desires, and the salesmanship of the world, pull us away from finding our joy in Christ.
So, we need to wean ourselves radically away. Maybe embrace the "fortress mentality" , but ah, that fails, too. James tells us that we sin when we are dragged away and enticed by our own desires. Can't escape them. Well then, what we do ?
We don't.
"The problem is we need new thoughts, new inclinations, new desire. We don't need to learn how to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps or 'gut it out'. We need to seek to replace our sinful passions with holy one. When God grants these new passions to us, we'll find that our will, which seemed so weak before, will joyfully comply" Elyze Fitzpatrick, pg 147
As Richard Foster says in Celebration of Discipline, the disciplines put us in a place to receive God's work in our lives. Our Scripture reading, our good works, our meditations do not transform us. Rather it is the Lord's doing...His Word transforming us, His Spirit changing our desires. It is He who completes the good work He has begun in us. Philippians 1:6

from Elyse, quoting a sermon by C. H. Spurgeon
"Let it be a scarlet line that you tie in the window, namely, an avowal of true faith in his precious blood...It is a high privilege to dwell peaceable and quietly in the finished work of Christ, and in the same immutable promise of God, who cannot lie. Why fret ye yourselves...and go about with a thousand anxieties when salvation's work was finished on the accursed tree and Christ has gone into the glory, and has carried on his perfect work before his Father's face?"
Communion, Remembrance, Breaking of Bread...whatever you call it, may it be real in your heart..not a day a week, but each moment of the day. May your life, your heart, your desires, your joys be tranformed by Him.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Our Desires and His Joy

Once again, Elyse Fitzpatrick's Idols of the Heart, provide the backdrop for my musings.

"Remember that your strongest desires, the things you are most passionate about are what ultimately define your worship." pg 138.

We cannot be happy nor can we experience real joy when our desires are contrary to that for which we have been created. We say that someone is as "happy as a lark". What lark are we thinking of? The lark who is singing, flying, nesting..doing all the things she is created to do. We are not thinking of a caged lark. Or a lark who is trying to swim. Or a lark who would rather be a bear. We are thinking of a lark who wants to be a lark!

How often are we pulled this way and that, by various influences, to love that which we do not love, to desire that which we do not want. A quote in our high school business teacher's office read something like this: "A Salesman is a professional needs creator." And oh, are we sold!

But not only by the those without...but by our old man within. In fact, we, on our own, no longer desire the things that we, in our original state, would have delighted in! Remember the joy of Adam and Eve as they walked in the cool of the day, fellowshipping with their Creator?

Galatians 5:17 "For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish."

By His spirit, we need to identify our desires. What, truly, are we worshipping. As Elyse says elsewhere in this book, what we are willing to sin for is what we are truly worshipping. Ok, we aren't shoplifting or robbing a bank. We aren't bar hopping or unfaithful (at least in real life) to our spouse. What angers us..when someone gets in our way and upsets our plans? What will we hedge a bit to obtain? What will be just a tiny bit deceptive to prove?

So, here we are, desiring things that the New Man does not want, reveling in that which the new man despises...and worse yet, though there is a faint hint of a longing for our Father, it is often a vague, undefined desire. Often undefined, because we do not go after it. We do not believe we will find our joy in Him. We know that in coming closer to the Light, our dirtiness will be revealed, so we, ever so politely, ignore it. Where do we go from here. Do not fret. Do not be afraid. He has not left us on our own....More coming!

Ephesians 4:22
17 This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of[d] the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; 19 who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.

He has not left us without hope....

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Over a year ago, it was a road I was sure I could not walk. There had been many trails, valleys and steep hills I had journeyed upon, but this was one I was reasonably, gratefully, sure I would not have to walk.

About six weeks we began a journey on that dreaded road.

Now, I'm amazed by the grace...the grace that did not let me become a blubbering, useless burden. Even more incomprehensibly, to experience less stress and more joy than when we entered this road. My Father has done in me what I would have never imagined--and it was truly none of my own doing.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Joy that Strengthens Our Hearts

"It is essential for us to think about God's love today, because it is only his love that can grant us the joy that will strengthen our hearts, the courage that will embolden us in our fight against sin and the assurance that will enable us to open up our lives to him so he may deal powerfully with our unbelief and idolatry. If we're not completely convince that is loves is ours right now-fully and unalterable ours-we'll always hide in the shadows, focusing on our performance, fearing his wrath....Our faith will become all about us, our performance and how we think we're doing, and our transformation will be hindered" Because He loves me, Elyse Fitzpatrick pg 24

What great yearning overflowed in the imprisoned, bound Paul and caused him to daily implore the God of heaven? He prayed that the Gentiles in Ephesus would be throughly and utterly convinced of God's boundless love for them.

Ephesiah 3: 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Our fears. Our idols. Our "self-image". The thing that swallows up all of these is the extensive, extravagant, undeserved, unalterable love of Christ. Maybe this is why that we are called to remember the Lord. So often, it was forgetting-even directly after a deliverance- that led Israel to worship other gods...that were not gods at all (Acts 7:38-43).

No striving to be accepted. No fear of falling out of favor. The newlyweds oblivious to all but their pure love. The little girl reveling in her father's smile. The son shadowing his Papa. Just a heart so overwhelmed with His undeserved, unmerited love that our hearts, behavior, attitude, values and actions are mirror his love.

May our joy spring out of a heart completely and totally convinced of his great love.

Monday, August 29, 2011

True Stability

Nehemiah 9:19
"Yet Thou in Thy manifold mercies, forsook them not in the wilderness. The pillar of the cloud departed not from them by day, to lead them in the way; neither the pillar of fire by night, to show them light and the way they should go."
The Israelites left Egypt to go .....into the wilderness! Western believers often expect that their lives will become a rich, abundant valley filled with pleasure and joy and free from cares when they are come to Christ. But always, sooner or later, there is a wilderness. Dangerous. Unpredictability. Barrenness. Scarity.
The promise is His presence. His comfort. His protection. His provision. His power to walk through the wilderness. The joy is that he never leaves. Never forsakes. Always enables.
How often we forget. Elyse Fitzpatrick in her book, Because He loves Me, sheds some light on this on page 18:
It's essential for us to think about God's love today because it is only his love that can grant us the joy that will strengtehn our hearts, the courage that will embolden us in our fight against sin, and the assurance that will enable us to open up our lives to him so taht he might deal powerfully with our unbelief and idolatry. If we're not completely convince that his love is ours right now--fully and unalterably ours-we'll alsways hide in the shadows, focusing on our performance, fearing his wrath."
"Yet indeed I count all things for loss for the excellance of the knowledge of Jesus Christ my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things"..... Philippinas 3:8

Friday, August 19, 2011

It seems backward

Neh 8:11b says
"...for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”

Really?! I would think the strength of the Lord would be my joy! And there are other verses that delight in God's strength. But I have pondered this one for some time, yet I don't think I have a grip on it yet.

One aspect is having experientially understood our own violations of God's holy law. But once understood, we joyfully revel in our redemption...and as we do, we live in His strength.

Without doing a purposeful survey, it seem to me that many of those who have endured trial and persecution for the sake of the Lord has a good hold of this truth. They were so caught up in the marvel of their redemption, that they would not let go of it at any cost.

May God grant us the grace this day to joy in Him!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Looking for the praiseworthy

I read this blog that came through my email this morning. How does this relate to joy?
It gets us looking for those things that are true, right, and praiseworthy, which are the things we are commanded to be "thinking on".

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever thingsare noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. Philippians 4:8

And as we look for ways to praise our children (and spouse?) how can our hearts not be lifted in gratitude to the Lord for His work in them, and the gifts they are from Him?
To my shame, I have one really good story on this. When daughter number two was quite little, her older sister and I taught her how to make her bed. The both of us encouraged her greatly on the job she had done as well as how hard she worked. That little girl, who I'm sure wasn't more than 4 at the time, but I know she made her bed without being told for two weeks!

May God grant that this is a weekend of praise.
Off to go find something to praise! What did you find?

The Boyer Blog: Part 1: The Importance of Teaching Character to Yo...: "Praising Character Why is it we so often forget to praise our children? As parents we are responsible to steer them in the right direction..."

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

do not be anxious

Philippians 4: 4-7
Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

I'm pondering the relationships...between rejoicing, gentleness, and the lack of anxiety......I kind of get the prayer/thanksgiving and the peace of God. That seems like a logical progression. And it's a beautiful to picture the peace of God guarding our hearts and minds.

When the heart and mind are filled with rejoicing, and the attitude and actions are filled with gentleness, there won't be room, it seems, for anxiety. It goes back to "the Lord is at hand", doesn't it?

Such a simple truth. Yet we often fail to live like it. How are you doing living cognizant of His presence? Conscious of his gifts. Aware of His love and power. Do you have examples to share? I'd love to hear them!

Presence, praise and gentleness

Philippians 4: 4-5
Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.

First, this is striking to me right now, as it is an adamant command. I have been so convicted that my Lord is telling me to do something that I have purposely set aside so often.

Second, it sets me to pondering the relationship between this command and the instructions around it. Before this command is the admonition to the two fellow workers in the gospel to be of the same mind...and for those around them to help them. If there is known sin, bitterness, disunity, it seems that is will effect our rejoicing. We must keep very short accounts in our relationships, especially those who are of the household of faith.

Many of us lady's wish we were more gentle. Perhaps many of the men wish we were too. And many women admire the strength of gentleness when exhibited by our men. Gentleness is sandwiched between rejoicing and remembering the Lord's continual presence (or some would say imminent return). If we are rejoicing, how much more will be aware of the Lord's presence. If we are aware of the Lord's presence, how much more will both rejoice and be gentle. This seems to be a vital key which so many of us have rattled off as a memory verse without deeply contemplating the implications.

I'd love to hear in the comments how you have experienced this in your lives
a. unity that enhanced your rejoicing
b. Rejoicing that enhanced your awareness of the Lord's presence or your gentleness
c. Awareness of the Lord's presence that enhanced your rejoicing or gentleness
d. any other thoughts that you have

Thanks for sharing this journey with me!

Monday, August 8, 2011

This should have been first!

This blog is an attempt to synthesize the many ways the Father has been teaching me about joy and gladness.

Many, but not all of the sources He has used are in the right side bar,and I urge you to explore them.

I'm in kindergarten on this, but want to try to articulate, and hopefully thereby live, what He is teaching. My hope is that it might be an encouragement to others and that we might be able to spur each other onto love and good deeds here!
I'm not really sure what happened.  I meant to post this in August!  But htere it is now.  A bit revelaing, but I hope encouraging!

" Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! " Philippians 4:4

A command. Those of us who have been bought with the price of His blood don't have an option.

Yet, I have disobeyed this often out of fear. Fear?!
With heights are corresponding depths, are there not?

But hasn't my Lord said,

Psalm 139:7-8 "Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there;If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there."

There are 235 references to rejoice in the KJV. It's a gift. It's part of our relationship with God. And I would do well not to overlook it! In truth, it is sin for me to neglect this.

E-Sword defines rejoice as:

A primary verb; to be full of “cheer”, that is, calmly happy or well off;

Long ago I studied what it meant to be of a gentle and quiet spirit as my Father commands in Titus 2. It's not defining volume, but a matter of inward solace, and inner state that is unruffled. This comes through our explicit trust in the Father.

May He grant us grace to live this so that His Word.

It's a command, not a suggestion

A question in the book Idols of the Heart asks what does God desire. One thing He desires is that we serve him with joy.
Deuteronomy 28: 47 “Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joy and gladness of heart, for the abundance of everything,"....
It was something He wanted. Seriously.

It's not an option. It's not selfish. It is when we are living in His reality.