Friday, June 29, 2012

Overflowing Joy

"I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy.  Yes your joy will overflow!"

These words, surfacing over and over again in my thoughts, just savouring them making me feel joyful...  What precisely did he tell us so that we would be filled to overflowing with joy?

"I have loved you..remain in my love..."

He loves you.  Remain in--be vitally connected to--that love. Let His love be the source of your life.  Then you will overflow with joy...

As soon as the source of your life is the approval of others, the comfort of your circumstances, your sense of control over your life, the behavior of your children/siblings/friends...the joy begins to drain away.

Remain. Stay vitally connected to His love that never fails, is unconditional, that supersedes all circumstances...and your joy will overflow.  Meditate on His love.  Fill your mind with the truth that you can't earn it or lose it.  He loves you!

Knowing how loved we are takes the sting out of every rejection and failure.  Letting our thoughts dwell on that incredible love rather than all the he-said, she-said, what-if...and your joy will overflow.

He told us these things because He wanted us to be filled with His joy

John 15:9-11

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Let Joy

I'm a word nerd.  

If there was a club for word nerds, I'd want in.  Words are amazing!  I love all that you can express with them--and am sometimes frustrated by lack of just the right one.  I've secretly longed to be Greek just so I could have more to choose from.  If I had loads of money and time, I'd get a degree in linguistics just for the fun of discovering more of the wonder.  I'm so convinced of the fun of words that I'm sure others would think they were fun too, if only they knew!

Take for instance a little-known, virtually overlooked, yet profoundly impactful word...a word that, once you recognize it's full meaning, changes your entire reading of the Bible.  Seriously.  Three common letters that have the power to change your understanding.  What is this word you ask?  Let.  Yep, that was it--slow down and reread if you missed it.  Let.

The word "let" as it's translated into English means to grant permission, allow, or to loosen, slacken, relax.  Relax.  Oh, yeah, that's the one I need a reminder on some days.  Relax.  Let go of your need to control.  Whether it's control of my own world or control of how everyone else manages theirs, sometimes I need to let.

I've been thinking about the connection between joy and let.

Along with secretly wishing I was Greek, I've also secretly wished I was African-American.  This is partly because I'm convinced that I could sing better, but mostly because I like the way they let the joy roll in church.  I wish I could just let out the joy-whoops like those mommas do in the movies.  Full disclosure:  I know I can because I've tried this at home.  Perhaps what I mean is that I'd like to do it any time the joy bubbles up without giving anyone whom I dearly love a heart attack.

I've found a bit of scriptural evidence that God doesn't mind a little volume and enthusiasm.  He's even granted permission to let the godly rejoice and be filled with joy.

But let the godly rejoice.
Let them be glad in God's presence.
Let them be filled with joy.

Sing praise to God and to his name!
Sing loud praises to him who rides the clouds.
His name in the LORD--
rejoice in his presence!

He's granted permission.  I need to relax and be filled with joy in His presence.

Let yourself relax (relinquish control) and let His joy flood your soul.  All those things preplexing and worrying you?   Let go of control and let the joy fill that space.  It's often when I'm not looking, when I'm letting the joy bubble up, that all that stuff becomes clear anyway.

And if there's ever a time you feel a bit uncomfortable with someone's enthusiasm level, just remember that God said it was good.  Let them rejoice.

I'm going to go sing some loud praises now.


Psalm 68:3-4

Monday, June 25, 2012


In the '80s there was a really popular song called Don't Worry, Be Happy.  It was so catchy, so happy!  You couldn't help but love it and people loved to hate it.  It was often described as cheesy.  I'm not sure exactly why it's not cool to be happy...I think it might be another one of those lies we've been sold.

"Serious, calm, cool, and collected" didn't make it on to the list describing the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  Joy did.  That is not to say that there isn't a time to mourn and be comforted--it's just that mourning is not a defining characteristic of those who are filled with the Spirit of the Living God.

To be joyful does not necessarily mean to be obnoxious or silly (though it possibly may look that way to the uninformed).  As a fruit of the Spirit, it is accompanied by love, peace, patience, long-suffering, gentleness, and self-control.

Joy looks different on everyone.  I have an uncanny ability to laugh and/or cry when I'm filled with joy.  (It's not always pretty which is unfortunate.)  My beautiful friend Amy is a lot more quiet than I am, but she radiates.  My husband's eyes twinkle.  My daughter just has to spin around.  Joy in any form is unmistakable.

So is joy something we get randomly blasted with or must we conjure it up?

I can conjure it up once in a while.  When I've had enough sleep, the sun is shining, I've had my coffee, the kids are behaving, adequate amounts of chocolate have been consumed, no one has looked at me funny...  You get the idea.  Conditions are rarely optimal.

He gives it to us.  He came to give us "messages of joy instead of news of doom, a praising heart instead of a languid spirit."  Instead of.

So why can't I feel it sometimes?  Because I quench His Spirit within me. I forget to give thanks in all things.  I stop praising and begin fretting.  I pile on all kinds of burdens, complaints and worries.  I get my undies and my eyebrows in a knot.  (That's not pretty either!)  I've gotta lay them all down at the feet of Jesus and look into His love-filled eyes.  

Joy is the fruit of His spirit.  It's what naturally happens when we "abide in the Vine."

There is joy in His presence!

His joy gives us strength

Blessing you with the courage to lay down your burdens and trust in His promise of good plans for your life.  May you feel the strength-giving joy of His presence!

Joy is yours, it belongs to the children of God.  Don't let anything steal it away.

Is 61:3 MSG, John 15, Nehemiah 8:10

Friday, June 15, 2012

For Wives Only

A beautiful friend is getting married soon.  As we who love her gather 'round to help her prepare, we are reminded of our own vows.  The promises we made.  The road we've travelled since.  Reminders are good.

I had an opportunity to speak a blessing at her wedding shower.  The words I was inspired to speak stirred my own heart, stirred others...perhaps you might be encouraged too?

When  God created Adam He said, “It is not good that man should be alone, I will make him an help meet for him.”

Not a “helpmeet”.  A help.  Meet for him.  Two words.  Describing words.

The Hebrew word that has been translated “help” is a beautiful word.  It doesn’t mean “picker-upper-of-dirty-socks or scullery maid” it means to “aid, succour, comfort”.  It is only used to describe a wife…and to describe the kind of help God gives.  Only.  Pretty powerful, isn’t it?

God will help you as you help your husband.  All the resources of heaven, yours.

The word “meet” is an old English word that means “suitable, fitting.”  So God designed a wife to be “just right” for her husband.  There may be days in which you wonder if you’re doing anything right…remember that when God created you He said you were just right.  Don’t be afraid.  Ask Him to help you be all that He created you to be.

More modern translations render this verse:  “The Lord God said, It is not good for the man to be alone.  I will make a helper who is just right for him.”

That’s you.

Anything else is a lie.  If you're feeling inadequate or like a miserable failure, lean into the arms of the Father and absorb His strength.  Look into His eyes and believe the promise.  Listen as He tells you that he made you just right for the job.  He will help you to be all He created you to be.

God said it is not good for your husband to be alone.  He made YOU a helper who is just right for him.

We put our hope in the Lord.
He is our help and shield.
In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.
Psalm 33:20-21