Monday, July 29, 2013

A 2nd Look At Joy

Periodically, you run across a person in life that for whatever reason, inspires you more than others. Some people call the reaction "chemistry." You just click. It's a feeling caused by your personal value of them. This reaction is meant to prompt goodness. (Among healthy relationships it does. We'll talk about victim/bondage relationships another day.) Because we are creatures who respond to pleasure, when we figure out a way to get the reward, we repeat the action. I have many friends, but recently the Lord allowed one of my friends to show me something about HIM that I hadn't fully realized.

God has emotions...
I'm your classic, emotional artist/musician. So, in efforts to stay in control of myself and not flip out in a destructive Van Gogh way, I've done a lot of study and research into emotions, so I've known for a long time that God is very in-touch with his emotions. If you're just starting to get to know God, remember you're created in His image. Yes, he is Almighty. Yes, he knows the end from the beginning. Yes, he can squash anyone like a little bug! But he doesn't use his power willy-nilly like that. And just because he has power, prestige & position, doesnt make him immune to emotions. What breaks your heart, or makes you happy has the same affect on him. Perhaps not the same things, but the emotional response is absolutely identical. The scripture is full of God expressing his emotions. God sings, cries, feels jealous, gets angry, laughs, and enjoys life. Don't reject him, cheat on him, or talk mean about him. Not because he'll squash you like a little bug (though he might. I guess.) But because you don't want to cause him pain. He can be a wonderful friend if you'll engage in the "dance of friendship." The dance being moments when you learn not to step on each others' toes, where you learn what makes him happy, or annoys him. And might I add, that in the "dance of friendship" the goal is never to teach, but instead to learn. One who enters any relationship with the intent to teach is indeed selfish. All healthy relationships are about LEARNING how to please, help, encourage & uplift.

After hitting some life-turbulence, I was thrown into the nasty arms of depression. (Divorce has a way of doing that. As it should since its a spiritual disturbance.) After about 2 years of this overwhelming sorrow & defeatism, I read a book called, "Happy For No Reason." And it was the perfect tool to pry me from the bottom of that terrible pit. I was doing all the things I knew to do; like pray, read my Bible, attend church, be active in ministry. But the book added some new habits for me to start practicing; like smiling, thinking thankful, deliberately banishing hopeless thoughts with hopeful ones. I had assumed the spiritual habits would create an emotion to spark the smiles, thankfulness & hopeful thoughts. But it turned out to be the opposite; when I started the purposeful behavior the depression began to release its hold.

But all this time I still had not attained an outright "joy." Now, for a Christian this is a big deal. Because "joy" is a fruit of the spirit, so it's often referred to as a "sign" that a person is not allowing the Spirit of God to work if you don't have joy. My relationship with God is not a side issue, back-burner, conscience-soother to me. To me, my relationship with God is PREEMINENT! If that's not in its proper place of "perfect" then NOTHING is or can be right! PERIOD. (By the way, "perfect" doesn't mean that I'm perfect. But rather that the relationship is in a progressive state rather than a stagnant or regressive one.)

The scripture is clear that the joy of The Lord is my strength. So for all this time I've been aware of a lack of "bubble and sparkle" in my emotions. And though I've truly been aware of healing, that lack of joy has concerned me.

"What am I doing to cause God not to put his joy in me?"
"Why won't God give me joy?"

This worry moved far from the place of "I need joy." To "Something must be wrong with my relationship with God."

So, now lets jump back to my starting story about my friend. In an effort to lift & encourage them, to show them I valued them, when they responded positively, I found myself "strengthened" to further attempt to please them. It was the classic lab rats reward system at work! A simple return of a smiley face, or an "lol," and I was inspired to do more!

That's when it hit me... 
The joy of The Lord is my strength!"
Or, "I am strengthened when I give The Lord joy!"

When I seek first to meet the needs in HIS kingdom, when I set my affections on things above I can see how God needs HIS needs met. When I give HIM some loving it gives HIM joy, and BAM! The natural result is that I gain strength and inspiration to further repeat the actions that give HIM joy!

Honestly, my own selfish inclinations blow my mind! All this time I've been so focused on MY need for joy, I haven't been able to see HIS need for joy! While I do still believe that I too will have the literal emotion we describe as joy, I'm aware that it'll never come from seeking joy. It'll come from GIVING joy!

I'm thankful and excited!!

Sunday, July 28, 2013


Don't give up,
Instead stand up.
Don't throw in the towel,
Instead muster another growl.
Don't play dead,
Instead tell em what God said...

That u can do all things thru Christ
That ur not done w/this fight
That there r less against u
  than that r on ur side
That ur coming out swinging
   and u will not hide
That the sword ur carrying
   has his death wish inscribed
That the angels decorated
   for ur victory party inside

So don't lie down and give it all up,
Instead beat this clown
   then go drink the victory cup!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

God Is Bigger

There are stories and events in scripture that I've been confused by and have chosen to file them under, "Time Will Tell." Evidently, Time stopped by in the night and told, because I woke up pondering the old stories and feeling a grasp and grip on their meanings for my life.

Because I believe that God can only work in an atmosphere of faith and cannot work in a life of doubt, doubt has been my mortal enemy. Even when I think I have doubt, I choose to bombard it with faith-speak. Even when my brain is saying, "impossible," my mouth speaks louder, "all things are possible." But because I know the inner battle I question the reality of my faith-speak. I question, "What IS faith?"

I also believe faith is not a FEELING. Faith is action regardless of the feeling. For instance, when the widow and her sons were gathering empty vessels, we have no clue of what they were thinking and feeling. I had always imagined them going door to door happily asking for empty pots. Maybe even testifying of their interaction with the prophet. But if any of them had MY personality, they'd have approached each door with cotton-mouth and a brain utterly VOID of words! Because, though I'm a great actress, the reality is I'm incredibly shy by nature and new interactions with people scare me brainless! Plus, I'm both logical and emotional. So, I'd be going door to door nervously asking for pots, yet knowing the value of vessels. We're not talking about plastic milk jugs here. These "vessels" were handmade of clay. specialized artisans created each vessel over the course of hours and days. These vessels werent crumpled and trashed when they were emptied, they were reused hundreds of times. We're talking about asking for the equivilant value of someone's REFRIGERATOR!

"Hey, could my family have your refrigerator?"
"Well, it's empty right now, but we were going to refill it. How long will you need it?"
"I'm not sure. Could you just GIVE it to me? Because I can't even pay my current bills, so I really couldn't afford to buy your fridge." 

Yeah. I could have that convo if I HAD to. But I would NOT have a hyped, positive emotion driving that particular task. 

The other story that has always confused me was the one about Peter being released from jail by an angel. If God can't work in the presence of doubt, then how did Peter and the church experience that miracle? Because it seems that not a SINGLE person involved in that had "faith!"

We've got Peter not believing his release was actually occurring, choosing rather to believe it was merely a dream. And we've got the church refusing to open the door to let Peter inside because they didn't believe it was possible for Peter to be released! What?! That's always confused me because my definition of "faith" has always been one believing so strongly that what you need is happening that one already feels the emotion to rejoice. There's no rejoicing in the Peter-Released-From-Jail story! 

The last story I'll reference is the one where the man said to Jesus, "Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief." This occurrence is what I believe is the HEIGHT of faith. This is what I believe was going on in every story I've pondered; dwelling within one person the presence of faith AND doubt. The doubt being the logic triggering an emotion. But the ACTION being the faithful confidence regardless of the emotion.

As it turns out, God is more powerful than my doubt!

He doesn't need my emotion in order to work on my behalf. He needs my behavior to be stronger than my emotion.

We do not know the description of the three Hebrew boys' emotion as they went into the fire, we only know their words and behaviors. We do know the general mood of those at the prayer meeting where the miraculously-released Peter showed up at; they seemed to already be at his funeral or viewing! What is "faith" about THAT?! I'd say that they weren't sulking at home alone was faith. That they demonstrated behaviors of joining with believers when they could have had fear of being arrested just as Peter had been was  an act of faith. The BEHAVIOR was faith, not the thoughts, nor the emotion.

So, as for me, I will speak and behave in ways that shows God how in spite of circumstances around me, in spite of my mood, in spite of my thoughts, questions and fears, GOD IS BIGGER, STRONGER, & MORE POWERFUL!

God isn't merely stronger than my enemy, He's actually stronger than my doubt!
God isn't just more powerful than my situation, He's more powerful than my fear!

I am in the hands of a God who loves me. He has my best interests at heart. And I am CONFIDENT that He Is working things out for me, His princess-boo.

(Yeah. I totally just lost all the male readership with that "princess-boo.")

Thursday, July 18, 2013


Today I feel lonely...
But tomorrow I will not. 
Today I feel I've been fighting for every advancement that I got
Today I feel defeated...
But tomorrow I'll see how FAR I've come.
Today I feel beat down 
But tomorrow I'll see the victory I've won

Bc while the dust from the battle  hangs heavy in the sky,
While the tears from my aching heart make puddles in my eyes,
I can't see how far I've come
Or how many comrades r by my side
But I have a Commander who CAN see it all
& tomorrow he'll show me the victory instead of the fall

The Storm

When like sea waves sorrow swells
& like thunder pain rolls
Be still & kno that HE is God
Calming the storm-tossed soul