The bumper sticker on the car ahead of me boldly declared, “Happiness is being in Hawaii.” Hmmm. I’ve lived for more than a dozen years in beautiful, tropical Hawaii, and I don’t recall that everyone was happy all the time. And there were times when I wasn’t, either.
So could we say that happiness is a sometime thing, a blessing that lands on you—but may soon fly away? Comes and goes like the wandering wind . . . ?
. . . or that it’s like the Monarch butterfly, suddenly swooping into your garden, all blazingly beautiful, dazzling you as it flutters from flower to flower; then suddenly is gone, skittering off on its impossible migration south, yearning for its far-off Mexican breeding grounds.
Would you go along with me that happiness like the butterfly, is inclined to be here and gone, touching down and then taking off for regions beyond?
And how about joy? Is that something that can stick with you, to stay as part of your fabric and make-up, even if things are falling apart all around you?
And would you follow along with me that joy should be a permanent condition? That joy is more like a brilliantly-feathered, scarlet-red cardinal that nests in your back yard, stays all year, feasts at your wintertime bird feeder, all the while providing countless hours of sheer delight as it flashes its radiant beauty from tree to tree around your garden.
Can you tell that I have this love for flying creatures? OK, almost anything that flies.
So, if being happy is a blessing, a fleeting feeling that meanders in when things are good—then darts away when circumstances change—what therefore is joy? And what does God have to say about these two human qualities?
[Disclaimer: I have almost no knowledge of Hebrew or Greek. Mr Strong, with his exhausting Concordance is such an amazing help for duffers like me.]
There are about 26 ‘happys’ and ‘happinesses’ in the Bible, many of them that fall into the ‘butterfly’ category: temporary, instantly-gratifying feelings of wellbeing.
Remember poor, unwanted and less-attractive Leah, Jacob’s older daughter? Her father deceptively offloaded her onto Jacob on his wedding night (when he was expecting his true love, Rachel)! It was Leah who later on gives us the very first mention of ‘happy.’ [Gen 30:13] ‘Happy’ is how she described herself, although I would not classify much else of Leah’s life as very happy . . . though she did bear Jacob several sons and a daughter. [You can read the whole sad story in Genesis 29-34.]
Joy however, and its spin-off words, number close to 300 in the Bible. Some of these ‘joys’ can be interchangeable with ‘happy,’ but real joy, we know, is a fruit of the Spirit, one of the manifestations of love. How many people that you know, including yourself, are joyful all the time? [Dear reader, pause here, while you make a count.]
I think we’d all like to live in joy, all the time.
Did James really mean it when he wrote, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds . . . “?
Give me a break! Even during ‘trials of many kinds’? So read on: “ . . . because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” [James 1:2-3]
So it’s maturity that indicates when joy is a permanent part of us. All the time.
Would you agree that Paul was a mature believer? He certainly faced physical & spiritual trials of many kinds (2 Cor 11:23-28), yet he kind of flicks them off as being nothing (compared to his concerns for the churches he planted).
And Jesus, who bore more ‘trials of many kinds’ than anyone who ever lived, spoke often of joy and the “joy set before Him” as he faced His ultimate trial, the cross and the shame surrounding it.
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. [1 Thess 5:16-18]
To be always full of joy? Now there’s a challenge for all of us. (We need ‘happy’ too, but when ‘happy’ flies away . . . does joy hang around?
Till next time,
‘On the surface, he’s profound, but deep down, he’s superficial,’ a quote from an article by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, referring to Richard Dawkins and company, the new atheists. (Taken from The Weekly Word, by Jeff Fountain.)
God is looking for those with whom He can do the impossible—what a pity that we plan only the things that we can do by ourselves. A.W. Tozer
Biblical prophecies are not given for us to speculate about what will happen in the future, but to confirm what is happening in the present. Floyd McClung
If only Paul had today’s ‘tech’ helps . . . Who knows what a DONATE button at the end (or beginning), of his letters would have done for him, for his team and for his ministry?
While testing some ‘blue-blocker’ sunglasses in a store recently I found a whole new world—everything blue was now green!
Well, it actually was blue, but the glasses had changed the way that I saw it. And just as the way we see things in the physical realm is influenced by the kind of lenses we look through, so also in the spiritual realm.
How we see God; how we perceive truth, will depend on the lenses in our minds through which we filter truth. For example, people who have grown up in an environment of stern or harsh discipline will tend to see God as being that way too. Their mental lenses are set to see anyone in authority as being stern and unapproachable, and since God is the ultimate authority He must be like that as well!
In a more general sense, each one of us has a basic set of beliefs or assumptions about truth and the way that the world works. This is called our worldview, and we may consciously come to this understanding, or we may not have thought it through. Our worldview works something like this: it determines what you see, but not what there is to be seen. The person I described sees God as stern and unapproachable, but fails to see that He is warm and loving and longing for an intimate personal relationship.
Often the words we use give an indication of the lenses we are looking through. Consider, for example, the difference in worldviews disclosed by describing the child in a mother’s womb as either an “unborn baby” or as a “product of conception.”
It is not surprising that the Apostle John puts so much emphasis in his first letter on the importance of us knowing what truth really is. He uses the word ‘truth’ at least fourteen times and in every chapter; the word ‘know’ thirty-three times; and the phrase ‘this is how we know,’ six times. He goes to great lengths to ensure that we live consistently with what is ‘true truth’—that which God says is true!
He encourages Christians to ‘test the spirits,’ and warns about false prophets. The church at the time John wrote his letter was being challenged by a group who wore Gnostic ‘blue-blockers.’ [The Greek word for knowledge is gnosis, hence Gnosticism]. Their lenses gave them a particularly warped view of salvation and who Jesus was, and so they preached and lived a total distortion of truth. This is a crucial point for all Christians, for how we interpret truth will determine how we live our lives!
The onslaught against truth has not abated. In fact, it has escalated. The Gnostic ‘blue-blockers’ are still there, and so are a whole host of other kinds of ‘blockers’—worldviews which seek to infiltrate the Christian faith.
Who then are we to believe? John gives us a clear answer: “We accept man’s testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son.” [1 John 5:9]
John is a veterinarian, a husband, father (spiritually to many), a pastor, a teacher and a friend. He lives in Tennessee, though South African by birth.
Thirty years ago, a businessman asked a friend, “What makes YWAM different?”
The friend replied, “Other evangelical youth groups focus upon teaching how to ‘witness.’ YWAM focuses upon knowing God and making Him known.”
Thanks for this to Ben Gilmore
It's so important that we all feel like we ‘BELONG.’
As followers of Jesus we belong to Him. Whether we live or die, we belong to our Lord Jesus. [Romans14:8] Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. [Gal 5:24] That is so reassuring, but we also need to feel we belong to a group of believers here on earth, who we can trust and who will accept us as we are.
Acceptance doesn't always mean approval or agreement of a person’s actions; but it's God's love through us, and revelation of that love, that changes ours and other people's behavior. The greatest need for the younger generation is to feel they belong. It’s not possible to belong to a building, but it is to a ‘family.’ We all need each other.
You can go to a church building every Sunday and not feel like you belong. I believe there are thousands of people who belong to Jesus but don't go to a certain building on Sundays because they don't feel they belong. My friend, what can we do about this?
I hear people say, "I'm a Christian but I don't go to church anymore.” Can that be true? If you think of church as a building, it's true people don't go to church anymore. In the Bible, the church isn't a building, it's a people, who have an amazing walk with Jesus and fellowship together to encourage, love, and pray for each other; and worship God. [Acts 2:42-47] The local church is very important, but do people feel like they belong?
Recently I was speaking in a DTS, and one of the students had been in prison with a lifetime sentence. He was released after seventeen years, but during that time didn't have one visit. He belonged to a gang in prison who belonged to the devil. [John 8:42-44] Out of FEAR, that became his ‘family’ who would kill you for disagreeing with them. He gave his life to Jesus in prison which put him in a very dangerous place.
Now he belongs to Jesus and the DTS is his family, which is bringing such healing to him. The staff and students love him and trust him for who he is. While teaching, the Lord asked me to wash his feet (that's what Jesus would have done), and the two of us sobbed and he hugged me saying he would keep his eyes on Jesus. He knew in his heart he now belonged to Jesus and His great big family.
In another DTS, someone came to me and said, “Jesus is my Savior and my Lord, I've repented, now can I be born of the Spirit?” I said, “You already are!” He got so excited and told everybody that he’s been born again and now belongs to the family of God.
I'm pondering in my heart, along with thousands of others, what the ‘church’ will look like when people all feel like they belong. It takes work and heart commitment for that to happen. In our immediate family there are 18 of us (starting with two), from four different nations. We try to keep the unity and make everyone feel like they belong, and God has added ‘adoptions’ to our numbers because others want to belong too.
What amazing days we're living in.
If you have more revelation on ‘belonging,’ please let me know.
Love and Blessings,
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And Finally . . .Prophecy—or Crystal-gazing?
I’m really quite ticked off with predictions of impending disasters and spiritual events that will occur on specific dates. Tarot card readers and fortune tellers don’t have a monopoly here; Christians are in the same market (and it can be a market). What I can’t figure is, that if Jesus Himself doesn’t know the date of His return (only His Father does), how can one of us have the gall to even think they know the future so clearly, to the point of forecasting a 9.7 earthquake that will cause untold damage and destruction, many deaths and even splitting the Golden Gate Bridge in half . . . on October 3rd, 2013?
I sometimes wickedly wonder if, when these catastrophes don’t happen, are these doomsayers disappointed?
Till next time,
The Small Print
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