Category Archives: Joy

A deep, abiding love

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” ~ Ephesians 3:17-18

No matter how hard we try, how many achievements we make, or how many ideals we keep, we will never be able to do enough to earn God’s love. Such attempts lead us down a dead-end road paved with feelings of life-depleting guilt and condemnation. Only the grace and love that God gives freely through his merciful nature can provide us with that which we long for: peace and joy.
~ Excerpted from Dancing with My Father by Sally Clarkson

Stop for a moment and consider this truth. God cannot love you any more than He does right now! Really! Nothing you do will make Him love you any more or any less!

Are you allowing yourself to be embraced by His deep, abiding love?

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Filed under Christianity, Grace, Joy, Love of God, Peace

Encouragement is a vital part of the journey

Kyrsten, Mykaela and I just got back from five days of rock climbing, rappelling, caving, hiking and whitewater rafting in OH and WV. It was our second year to participate in the trip and it was awesome in many, many ways!

A favorite part for Kyrsten and I is always the whitewater rafting on the New River Gorge River near Beckly, WV. It takes about 4 hours to complete and involves several Class 5 rapids.

If you’re paying attention you will have noticed that Mykaela was not mentioned in the previous paragraph. That’s because of all the activities that we squeeze into the five days, rafting is her least favorite.

But guess what Mykaela’s favorite part was this year?

Whitewater rafting!!!

What made the difference? The guide Tony, or Bunny as we affectionately nicknamed him. Last year’s guide tended to be rather quiet unless she was chatting with the other guides. She was good at navigating the river but was not very engaging.

But Bunny was a riot! He joked and kidded with us the whole time; which helped Mykaela relax and enjoy the journey. In his own unique way, Tony was a great encouragement. And isn’t that what we’re suppose to be doing for one another?!

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Even the challenging parts of life can be enjoyable. Are we encouraging one another?

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Filed under Encouragement, Joy, Life in General

How would you do it?

Strategize with me a moment. If you were preparing to launch a whole new movement, one that would completely revolutionize how people perceived and lived life, how would you start? 

  1. Gather a group of top CEO’s for a special strategy meeting.
  2. Organize some kind of spectacular public event sure to draw attention.
  3. Launch a multi-media campaign using various social networking venues.
  4. Go hang out at a wedding.

Chances are, most of us would choose any or all of the first three; and yet Jesus chose to hang out at a wedding and perform His first miracle by turning water into wine (John 2:1-11). Why would Jesus start this way? 

In the Old Testament, weddings symbolized the time of the Messiah (Is 54:4-8, 62:4-5), when God will again marry His Bride, Israel. And wine was a symbol of joy (Judg. 9:13; Ps. 104:15). It was a central part of the messianic wedding banquet (Is 25:6). An abundance of wine also symbolizes the joy of the last days (Jeremiah 31:12, Amos 9:13-14).

Perhaps most significant is the type of jars Jesus used for this first miracle. They were ceremonial jars, those used for ritual cleansing of their hands before eating, studying the Law and so on. This practice was all part of keeping the Old Covenant that God had established through Moses.

Jesus is making a major statement by transforming ritual water into new wine – a symbol of the messianic age. The abundance of the kingdom now fills the containers once reserved for the obligations of the law, and the result is joyful and life-giving – just like a wedding feast.

Jesus came to fulfill the Old Covenant (Mt 5:17) and usher in the New Covenant. It was a significant shift from external cleansing to internal transformation. 

Jesus was making possible a whole new level of intimacy with the Father and that was worthy of celebrating; worthy of a wedding feast!

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Filed under intimacy with the Lord, Jesus, Joy

Throw it off today!

It was the very first game of the season and Kyrsten had played great right up until the incident. There were only a few minutes left when she and a teammate went up for a rebound. Her teammate got the rebound and Kyrsten got an elbow to the nose. Ouch!

She dropped to the floor like a rock and we just as quickly were up and moving toward the sideline. She walked off the floor but was clearly dazed. Her nose was bloody, bruised and broke!

Statistically, an elbow trumps a nose almost every time.

Nothing was out-of-place so there was no need for surgery but … there would have to be a protective mask worn for 5-6 weeks. Kyrsten is not always quick to express her feelings but this was an exception. She HATED the mask! It was uncomfortable, hot and difficult to see through at certain places.

Last week was Kyrsten’s first game WITHOUT the mask! Not only was she was very excited but she also played noticeably better. Sin has a similar negative effect on us. The author of the Hebrew letter wrote…

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. ~ Hebrews 12:1-2a

Certain behaviors are sin not because God is a killjoy or delights in setting moral boundaries, but because they simply are not healthy for us. They offend God’s glory and keep us from living the full, free life that our Creator intends for us to experience.

What could you accomplish for God’s kingdom were you not hindered by sin? Who might be influenced toward God were they to witness a full, abundant life in you? What measure of joy are you missing out on?

What’s your sin issue? Why not throw it off today!

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Filed under Glory of God, influence with the world, Joy, Sin

What would your superpower be?

The last several years have seen a rash of movies bringing comic book superheroes to life. Batman, Spiderman, Iron Man, The Hulk, Fantastic Four, Daredevil, X Men… We obviously have a fascination with possessing powers that would enable us to do extraordinary feats.

So if you could choose any superhuman power to possess what would it be? Strength, flying, crawling up walls or swinging among buildings? Maybe you’d prefer x-ray vision or super elasticity or invisibility? More importantly, what would you use your powers to accomplish?

Paul makes a startling statement in Ephesians when he states:

I want you to know about the great and mighty power that God has for us followers. It is the same wonderful power he used when he raised Christ from death and let him sit at his right side in heaven.  ~ Ephesians 1:19-20

The very same power of God that raised Jesus from the dead is available to us today, right now. But for what purpose? What does God want to accomplish in us or through us by His mighty power? Actually, a variety of things such as:

  • Joy and Peace and Hope ~ Romans 15:13
  • Endurance and Patience ~ Colossians 1:11
  • Christ dwelling in our hearts through faith ~ Ephesians 3:17
  • Grasping the enormity of His love for us ~ Ephesians 3:18-19

I don’t know about you but all of those things appeal to me. I could use more joy and peace and hope and endurance and patience. And I’m pretty sure the world would benefit from my living out more of all those attributes. And which of us wouldn’t benefit from a greater awareness of Christ dwelling in our hearts or the enormity of His love for us? But there’s one more that trumps all of these!

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. ~ 2 Peter 1:3-4

By God’s power we can become more like Jesus and the real person God intended when He created us! I am confident that God loves me as I am but I can’t help but want to become all that God fully intended. I want to live fully engaged in His story to be part of all that He wants to accomplish. Is there any bigger adventure than that? I don’t think so!

May God have His way with all of us to demonstrate His power through transformed lives!

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Filed under Determination, Encouragement, Faith, Holy Spirit, Hope, influence with the world, intimacy with the Lord, Joy, Morphing, Peace, Surrender