Archives for posts with tag: Joy

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I recently had a conversation with a friend who said “I saw so-and-so (a mutual friend of ours) last week and boy are they broken.  Really in bad shape . . . I know this person makes a lot of effort to help others . . . but how can they even think of helping others when they have so many issues themselves?!”

I was so taken aback that all I could say was “I don’t agree!”.

I have not been able to get that statement out of my mind since my friend said it: “. . . how can they even think of helping others when they have so many issues themselves?!”  Consequently I have thought and thought about it and decided to share some thoughts with you.

First of all, unfortunately . . . this is a pervasive perspective that many of us tend to gravitate toward.  When we turn it back on ourselves it says: I won’t attempt to do this or that until I have ______ (you fill in the blank) resolved or worked out in my life.  Not far from the attitude of I’m not good enough (at least until I get my stuff together) to ___________(again . . . fill in the blank).

What a limiting perspective!

I grew up in a large denominational church . . . one with a lot of pomp and ritual . . . lots of responsive readings and ups and downs in the pews.  The minister would parade on to the pulpit with his beautiful robe and collars and a couple of other folks who were clearly his underlings.
The whole setting smacked of the idea that the minister was a holy man . . . a man who had it all together . . . perhaps even less sinless than the rest of us. After all, he would lead us through reciting our Confession of Sins: “Lord, I know that I am lower than a snakes belly in the mud after 10 inches of rain . . .” I can remember leaving that place with the idea that I would never be good enough to _____________ or have it together enough to ________________,

So, this limiting idea has been around in our cultures for eons.

Fast forward a zillion years when Kris and I moved to Southern California and attended great churches like The Crystal Cathedral and Saddleback Community Church for over 20 years. Among a million messages we heard, the over-arching main theme we learned was that Jesus was the only perfect human to ever walk the earth . . . none others before or after Him.   And . . . that God created us to be in relationship with him . . . just as we are . . . warts and all. Translation: Where you are right now in your life . . . God has equipped you perfectly to do whatever He has put in your mind for you to do.

When we decide to wait until we have this or that handled or resolved before we follow through with an idea from God . . . we miss it . . . the amazing blessing that God intends for us to be in other people’s lives!

That’s it . . . end of story!

Here are the “and so’s” to the whole thing:

 

And So . . . “God never wastes a hurt” (Rick Warren). The junk you are going through or have been through makes you perfectly qualified to help others going through similar stuff.

And So . . . When I was in Nicotine Anonymous . . . even though I was still smoking . . . I didn’t have it all together . . . others in the group were still gaining tools from me from watching my struggle!  This is the case in all 12-step programs.

And So . . . We don’t need to be disillusioned with an attitude that we have it all together.  But rather, humble . . . I don’t begin to think that I have it all figured out . . . but here is what I have learned so far . . .

And So . . . Rest in the confidence that you are a work in progress . . . you will never be perfect in all things. The one thing you are perfect for is being the you in God’s plan for your life right now!

 

 

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I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart . . . WHERE? . . . down in my heart . . .

During my quiet time this morning God put an interesting concept in my mind . . . as He almost always does.

The idea is that God has filled each of us with joy. The joy is always there . . . essentially, for us to harvest. It is up to us, and our free will as to whether or not we choose to embrace that joy.

Think of Paul when he was in prison writing his letter to the Philippians; “for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.” Ph1:19 NIV Paul was choosing to embrace the joy that was there . . . even in his dire situation.

I guess we could say that Paul was choosing for his glass to be half full rather than half empty! He was choosing to look at the sunny side of the slope!

Does this idea make sense to you?! What about it . . . what do you think?

Has God placed continuous joy in our lives . . . and rather than praying for joy to be delivered to us . . . all we have to do is reach out and embrace the joy that is already there . . . within us?!?!

I’m interested to hear your comments on this!

Thank you for reading!!

Pat

I left my boss’ office  . . . or should I say former boss’ office deflated, dejected and emotionally in a tailspin.  You see, my career in the first half of my life was in the homebuilding and land development industry.  That industry is traditionally boom or bust . . . and when it is good  . . . it is very, very good.  And when it is bad . . . it’s awful.

This day, it was decided by the higher ups in my company to change the direction of the company and my position would no longer be necessary . . . I had been laid off!

I went home and after explaining to my wife why I was home so early, I set to work getting my job search underway.  The first call I made was to the executive recruiter who had found this position for me; Jaquie.  I have always had the utmost in respect for Jaquie as she was a strong Christian and a lady of very high integrity.

“Sounds like you’re having a James 1 day!” Jaquie said after hearing my story.  Not being that familiar with James 1, I responded with something lame like “uh yeah, I hadn’t really thought of it that way.”  After I hung up the phone, I looked up James 1 and read it with renewed interest here is what it said:

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] 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.  James 1: 2 – 4  NIV

At first I was frustrated with Jacquie; Wasn’t this like praying for patience?!?! I didn’t need perseverance or to be complete . . . I needed a job with income for my family!

But God worked on me and helped me to understand a lot about that verse.  It is now one of my life verses.  You see, I finally came to realize just how true this scripture is (like all scripture isn’t true!).  I guess a better way to put that is that as I began to embrace the meaning of the scripture in my life . . . it really helped me to mature just a bit more into the man God created me to be.

You see, when we look at our challenges in life not as inconveniences to us or something that a judgmental God has chosen to punish us with we begin to realize who God is.  I began to understand that He is always there, working behind the scenes to make us more like Christ . . . to make us more content in our own skin . . . with our own circumstances.  When we understand that God didn’t cause this difficult time in our life but will use it for good . . . our good, then we are beginning to come more in alignment with who God wants us to be.

After all, as Christians, we all want to be mature and complete don’t we?  And that takes perseverance . . . and perseverance requires the testing of our faith.  Darn, don’t you hate it when that happens?!  But that is just the way the God set the universe to spin . . . the sooner we embrace God’s economy and stop fighting it . . . the sooner we start to be mature and complete . . . and . . . content.

Oh, and about the job, I had a new one in a couple of days!  Not that I found a new way to manipulate God . . . but when I focused on God and what He wanted me to do in my life rather than my selfish desires and wants . . . a blessing was a by-product!

OK . . . perhaps I will take perseverance and being complete.  Thank you god for helping me to get this straight . . . again!

Thank you for reading!

Blessings,

Pat

GRATITUDE

In a recent bible study, we had a great discussion about Gratitude.  The sharing was super and we got into a long discussion about the role that gratitude plays in our lives  . . .  in the level of joy that we each live with . . .  or don’t.  After a lot of discussion and turning this subject all around I think we all agreed that the main thing that having gratitude does is bring us closer to God.

Think about it.  If we believe that all things came from God then it would make sense that He is responsible for the things that we have to be thankful for.  Now, this can open up a new discussion on whole different track . . . is God responsible for everything that happens . . . our getting that promotion  . . . having a healthy baby . . .  our mom getting cancer . . . uncle Fred dying in a car crash?!?!  That is a track I will discuss in a future posting, but in short; my thought on this is that there are natural laws of our universe and there are natural consequences to decisions we make.  And let’s face it; bad things happen to good people!

I don’t believe that God causes these bad things to happen.  I do think that He allows them to happen . . . but He will use even the bad stuff for good.  See James: 1, 2-5 (again, another blog post subject!)

Anyway, back to our discussion on gratitude: It is helpful for us to explore the things that we have and experience in our lives that we can give God thanks for . . . in nature . . . in our relationships . . . in our work.  It really helps us to tie things back to Him . . . Our Creator.

For me, I find that gratitude or thankfulness is a muscle all in and of itself.  Like any muscle in our body, if we go long enough periods of time without using them they will atrophy . . . lose their tone and not function as well.  When I go through times when I am not actively exploring and searching out the things I have to be thankful to God for . . . my attitude starts to go downhill . . . and pretty soon negativity starts to creep in and that is not a healthy track for any of us.

This discussion could go on forever and I would welcome any of you reading this to keep it going by way of posting your comments to this blog.

For now, I want to close with this: Several years ago when Kris and I were so busy in our lives that we could scarcely see ourselves coming or going,  I ran across a book which made a radical change in my prayer life:  “Too Busy NOT to Pray” by Bill Hybels.  This is a great book in many aspects but the thing that got my attention and continues to influence my prayer life was Bill sharing the A.C.T.S. model for prayer.  Here is an excerpt of Bill’s book and his discussion on A.C.T.S..  Hopefully it will have a nugget or two that you can hold on to:

Excerpt from His Book: “Too Busy NOT to Pray” by Bill Hybels
A.C.T.S. Model for Prayer

I. A doration.

In adoration we focus on our God who has dreams for us rather than beginning by focusing on our problems. It is good for us to be reminded that God is bigger than our problems and difficulties.

What is meant by adore? Webster defines adore as “regard with utmost love, esteem, or respect, to worship as divine.” We usually call Sunday morning services in our churches at R-S, worship services. Just calling a service worship, does not necessarily mean that worship takes place. Adoration, in private prayer or in a gathering of Christians, requires our involvement.

Have you ever thought about how you adore God? You might think about the many attributes or qualities of God or focus on a particular attribute of God you are especially aware of at that time. To help me do this I may use a Psalm of praise or another scripture which tells of the qualities of God. I may sing a great hymn of praise or a praise chorus. You may notice that I often plan our Sunday morning services to spend some time in adoration of God, frequently having us join together in hymns or praise choruses. We have already sung our theme song. (8:30) Let’s adore our Lord with some more songs of praise. (10:30) Our choir is going to sing an anthem of praise and then we ask you to join in singing a couple of hymns of praise.

II. C onfession.

Confession may be a neglected area of public and personal prayer. We become aware of our sin and confess it to Jesus Christ as we are born into life with Christ. Jesus died to forgive us for our sins and when we confess our sin and ask for His forgiveness, He does indeed forgive us and cleanse us.

If you have made this vitally important step in your life, let me ask? Have you sinned since then? Have you confessed that sin to God? Notice I said, “That sin, not all your sins.” We certainly should confess them all, but naming specific sins privately to God is a much more effective means of confession than lumping them together and saying, “Lord, Please forgive me for all these ways I have failed to please You.” Be honest with God. He knows the truth about you and me anyway. Our conversation with God is so much better when are open and honest with our Lord. Think about honesty in other relationships, too. If I am trying to hide something I have done against you, what kind of relationship can we really have?

Some people, including some church attenders don’t like to think about sin. Pastor Bill Hybels tells this story.

Many years ago I had an interesting conversation with a man-I’ll call him Harry-who regularly attended my church. I had given a message on our sinfulness and our need for a Savior. Harry came to my office and said, “All this talk about sin is making me feel really bad. I for one don’t consider myself a sinner.”

Harry was a guy I could shoot straight with, so I said, “Well, maybe you’re not. Let me ask you a few questions. You’ve been married twenty-five years. Have you been absolutely one hundred per cent faithful to your wife the whole time?”

He chuckled and said, “Well, you know I’m in sales. I travel a lot…” We both knew what he was admitting to.

“Okay,” I said, ‘when you fill out our expense account, do you ever add something that wasn’t strictly business?”

“Everybody does that.” he relied.

“And when you are out there selling your product, do you ever exaggerate-say it will do something it won’t, or promise to ship it tomorrow when you know it won’t go out until next Tuesday?”

“That’s the industry standard.” he said.

I looked straight at him and said, “You have just told me that you are an adulterer, a cheater, and a liar. Repeat those words after me-I am an adulterer, a cheater, and a liar.”

He looked as if his eyes were going to pop out. “Don’t use those awful words!” he said. “I only said that there was a little something on the side, a little this and a little that…”

“No,” I said. “Just say it like it is. You’re an adulterer, a cheater, and a liar. To me that means you’re a sinner in desperate need of a Savior.”

Your sin may be different from Harry’s, but are you willing to call it what it is before God and ask for His forgiveness? That’s what confession really is, saying the same thing about sin as God says. Don’t try to rationalize it because others do. Let’s take a few moments right now to privately confess our sin to God, after we confess together using 890.

III. T hanksgiving.

Repeatedly the scriptures call us to thanksgiving, not merely a holiday we observe once a year. In Paul’s first letter to the Christians in Thessalonica he wrote (5:18), “in everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Pray thanking God for who He is, for what He has done for us through Christ, for how we can find Him actively at work among us each day.

Some of us as parents know how wonderful it makes us feel to have a daughter or son freely thank us for something we have done for them! That really blesses me when Rachael or Jonathan says, “Dad, Thanks for taking me to the ball game or the playground!” Don’t you think God, our heavenly Father is also deeply moved when we express our gratitude to Him?

Let’s take a few moments to thank God now, maybe share some God hunts, but please don’t share prayer concerns yet. Then we will share communion, thanking God for the wonderful gift of His Son to give us salvation.

IV. S upplication.

Supplications, that’s the aspect of praying that most of us do better than the previous three. After we have adored Him, confessed our sin to Him, and thanked Him for the delightful things He has done for us, then it is time for supplication, for telling God what we need, for making our requests to the source of all our blessings. We’ll do this now.

As always thank you for reading.  I pray that this posting has ministered to you in some way.

Please feel free to comment or open up discussions on this or any other subject you are interested in.

Blessings,

Pat