Flipping the House

(of Joy and Happiness)
We live in an age of anxiety, stress and disappointment. Surely our benevolent God just wants joy and happiness for His creation, right? Well, yes and no.
According to Webster, to be happy is “to feel or show pleasure or contentment”. Webster defines having joy as “feeling, expressing or causing great pleasure or happiness”. Good stuff, but we can have and were created for so much more. I’d like to unwrap some slightly deeper definitions of the concepts of joy and happiness through the lens of the Believer.
John Piper, of desiringGod.org explains what “Christian joy” is, “…a good feeling in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit, as He causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the Word and in the world”. Characteristically, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. infused brotherly love in his description of happiness stating, “Those who are not looking for happiness are the most likely to find it, because those who are searching forget that the surest way to be happy is to seek happiness for others”. I imagine these descriptions, developed by these two preachers of God’s good news were undoubtedly somewhat influenced by the teachings of the Apostle Paul, who made eleven references to “joy” and “rejoicing” in his letters to the Philippians, written during his imprisonment for evangelizing. Paul thought it was important to encourage and praise efforts in the young Church to continue to spread the gospel under the power of the Holy Spirit, and choose JOY ( “Jesus Over You”, as one of my sisters characterizes it) even in the face of persecution and death. Paul opens one letter with selfless encouragement, “Therefore my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm, this in the LORD, my beloved.” ( Phil. 4:1 ESV)
What about Jesus? How would our joy and happiness look to Him? He lovingly characterized how we Believers can connect to Him, be nourished by Him and experience true joy in the fifteenth chapter of John. He said in verse 11, “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full”. So then how is a Believer truly “in” Christ? When we with great effort do as Jesus tells us to in His Word: “…If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me”. What “cross”? Whatever breaks your heart. Whatever binds you to this world and burdens you. Bring it with you. Then what? Follow? To follow Christ is to immerse yourself in His teachings, model His ways, applying His ways to your burdens. So where does the “joy” come in? It comes in the inevitable exchange of your desires for His. Whatever moves Him to act, moves you to do the same. You are less worldly tethered and more Kingdom-minded. Not lofty, mind you, but with the help of the Holy Spirit, actually grounded in God’s desires for you.
My conclusion? To live in a state of Christian joy and happiness is far more valuable and lasting than the temporal happiness of my small self-revolving world. House flipped, joy and happiness ensues.

We Are All A Puzzle (and that’s a good thing)!

Puzzle pieces, taken as individuals look pretty interesting. Some are colorful, some are not. Some are really irregular and some have straight edges. If they could talk, they may wonder why. “Why am I so curvy?” says one. “Why am I so boxy?” says another. “Why am I tri-colored?” or “Why am I so plain?” Scattered about, you have a puzzling “mess”. Is this random? No, because unbeknownst to these precious pieces, once the Puzzle-Creator starts to arrange them and connect them, a beautiful thing happens. These malformed pieces make a glorious picture.

You see, each piece’s contribution to the picture is priceless. The picture is just not complete with even one piece missing, and not one piece can duplicate itself on its own.  You could say that each unique piece of the puzzle has a unique responsibility to the completion of the picture. Each has a duty to make it whole, its shape and color serving a visual and structural purpose all at once. It seems like each piece is obligated to lend it’s individuality to the beauty of the Puzzle-Creator’s creation.

“Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.”(Romans 12:6-8 ESV)

So if you’re wondering why you have the physical attributes; the interests, talents, skills and abilities you have, just know that it is because they are needed. If you wonder why you must endure the experiences you’ve had, just know that they helped to configure you into the shape our Creator needs to complete the Big Picture, His Grand Design, His Master Plan. Do your part. Be responsible by being the best YOU that you can be. No one else could do it better.
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10 ESV)

Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com

Let Me Explain…

I am a plain and simple person, living an imperfect life.  But I am a believer in the saving grace of Jesus Christ, so I try to live this life to the glory of God. I have tripped myself up on many occasions through this journey and have often failed to acknowledge the tools and mentors around me which might have kept me on course had I tapped in to them. One purpose of this blog is to possibly serve as one of those tools connecting our faith with the practicality of life in the current culture.

I am no theological giant, in fact all I have by way of academic accomplishment is a B. A. in Criminal Justice. I do have life experience and the beauty of hindsight to offer, however. I am grateful for God’s patience with me and I want to make Him smile in His service and in serving those.seeking a relationship with Him. I thank you, the reader for stopping by. I look forward to our encouraging each other as we try to navigate our little boats through the sea of life.

Please pray for me. I am praying for you. God bless you.

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9