Broken Joy? How to Get It Fixed

6 Oct

Pinterest has inspired many great crafts. 

But in at least a few cases, it has also inspired broken dishes!

I recently read about “12 Creative Crafts that Take Broken China from Trash to Treasure!”

Some of the new creations suggested were a watering can, a birdhouse, a birdbath and an end table. (I’ve pictured some in this article.)

A friend of mine actually broke some perfectly fine old—I would call them beautiful antique—dishes so she could make some “broken dishes” crafts with the pieces!

It’s not a Pinterest thing, but when I saw the picture of  the broken joy pottery (above), it inspired me to piece together a piece about “broken joy.”

Joy is such a beautiful thing. It’s extremely sad when it gets broken.

Pastor Jim Johnston wrote, “One key sign of spiritual danger is losing your joy. … Joy is one of the vital gauges on the dashboard of the Christian life.”

Here are 10 thoughts about fixing or rebuilding broken joy.

1. Joy wanes when we neglect time with God and His Word.

When I came to the Lord in faith, receiving what He did for me on the cross as the sacrifice for my sin, He made me a new creation and He fills my hearts with joy. He delights in His beloved children.

But many things can rob me of His joy—distractions and “joy-killers.”

That’s why David, after committing horrendous sins, prayed to the Lord, “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation…” (Psalm 51:12).

After I confess my sin, I need the Word of God to water my soul and continually restore me to spiritual health. 

Joy is a byproduct of a relationship with the Lord through the Spirit of God. As a praise song says, “Joy is the flag flown high from the castle of my heart when the King is in residence there.”

In the Lord’s presence is “fullness of joy,” and if we want joy full to overflowing, we must remember what Jesus has spoken to us in the Word of God.

2. Joy abounds when we are safe and satisfied in the Lord.

Being “safe” in my salvation, with my name written in heaven, helps me rejoice. Abundant joy comes when my heart is fully satisfied in Christ and not tempted by lesser things.

Whenever I am tempted to trust in something or someone other than God for my ultimate satisfaction, I quickly find these chosen idols can’t help me.

The Lord is the only One who can make known to His children the “path of life that leads to satisfaction. We are wise to take refuge in Him. When we rejoice in the Lord and share our heart and requests with Him, He floods our hearts with protective peace.  Kingdom Life is filled with God’s goodness, peace and joy in the Spirit. But to experience this kind of joy, we must shift our focus to Jesus and His work in and through us.

3. Scripture connects joy to spiritual obedience and ministry.

Believers are twice commanded to “rejoice” in one verse: Philippians 4:4. It’s a powerful command! I will abide in God’s love and experience His joy when I keep His commandments. It’s not a feeling. It’s a response of love.

The Psalmist says we will “come home with shouts of joy” when we minister to and invest in people. This is especially true when we bear the “seed” of the Word of God. We are to help others walk in the truth to experience the Lord’s love and joy. Be a disciple-maker.

4. To be more joyful, choose holiness.

Simply put, when I am “pure in heart,” I will see God; and dwelling in His holy presence, there is “fullness of joy.”

Pastor John Starke explained why holy people are happy people: “Not surprisingly, God’s designs for our sanctification are most satisfying. In contrast, a life in sin is tiring, placing joy just outside our reach.”

Our reason for choosing holiness is a key factor, however. “We aren’t pursuing holiness in order to be happy with ourselves. No, our holiness focuses our vision on Christ….” We want to put aside anything that obscures our view of and satisfaction in Him.

5. Life-building within God’s will brings us greater joy.

The Apostle Paul says joy comes when we “finish our course,” the ministry given to us by the Lord (Acts 20:24). God wants us to grow, and we need a plan for the process to cooperate with Him.

As I am intentional to build within God’s will, I can become more like Jesus, “increasing” in every area of life: spiritually, socially, mentally and physically.

6. For more joy, squelch conflicts with humility and forgiveness.

Paul encouraged Christ-followers to interact with unity and pursue peace. This takes humility and love for others that grows from the love of God within us. We are to bear with one another, but also forgive each other’s offenses.

Sometimes we come across tough situations. When we have done all we can, it may be necessary to follow the biblical process for confrontation with the goal of reconciliation.

7. Joy is enhanced by gratitude and diminished by comparisons.

A God-ward focus will tend to make us more grateful; but I’ve noticed in my own life how much “comparisons” with others diminish my ability to be grateful. It’s foolish to measure others by my own measuring stick in order to commend myself. A grateful-to-God heart has no time for silly comparisons.

When we cannot find anything else to be thankful for, we can always thank God for our salvation! But we need to cultivate thankfulness, because it is God’s will for us. Make a list of God’s blessings. Watch your joy increase.

8. Practice contentment to experience real-time joy.

Whenever I have a lot of “what ifs” in my life, I struggle with joy. Don’t you? It’s the silly “grass is greener” syndrome; we want what others have and fail to see our own blessings.

The Lord wants us to practice contentment. He knows our many expectations for things and entitlements. “Hope deferred,” not getting what we hope for, can make our heart “sick.” Contentment has to be learned, and the greatest source of contentment is to remember “The Lord is my portion.” He is all I need!

Some of my favorite ways to let go of my attachment to “stuff” and practice contentment are: to give away what I think I need; to stop self-focusing, and to think of ways to invest in others’ lives.

9. Walking in wisdom can set you up for joy no matter what you face.

Walking in wisdom, making the best use of time and seeking the Lord’s will, is a set-up for more joy! When I listen to God’s counsel and hear His voice, I can walk confidently in Him.

Circumstances change and can even be painful, but joy comes in embracing godly wisdom in the midst of struggles (Psalm 30:5; Romans 8:28).

10. Guard against the joy-robber himself: Satan. 

Just as the joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10b), broken joy from our enemy saps our strength!

I’m learning to be alert to the schemes of the devil as I watch and pray. Also, focusing on the Lord helps me not be shaken when tough times come. I don’t want to neglect the body of Christ either, because it’s a source of encouragement and instruction in joyful living.

If your joy is broken, don’t lose heart. Follow these suggestions and search the Word of God, speak to Him daily and seek to know His heart. In due season, you will reap a heap of joy!

Graphic adapted, courtesy of MissCaraReads, Pixabay

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Do You Have a ‘Lopsided’ God?

8 Sep

It was interesting to see some celebrities highlighted online who have lopsided smiles”—smiles that pull naturally to one side or the other. These asymmetrical smiles sometimes resemble a grin, like the smiling person is perpetually ready to crack a joke. Or maybe they know something we don’t.

It’s a matter of opinion, but I think Mona Lisa’s smile is a tad lopsided, which makes me wonder what she was thinking about.

Lopsided smiles are interesting, adorable and captivating. But lopsided things aren’t always so positive. 

Lopsided can also be false and hurtful . . .

especially in the case of the “Lopsided” God.

Lopsided God? Yes, unfortunately.

Perhaps it’s more like our lopsided view of Him.

The lopsided view of God does not resemble the true God of the Bible, but many who claim to be Christians believe in and act based on their falsely-created god.

We have a lopsided view of God when we emphasize only one aspect of God’s character.

Think about how a person might respond to the circumstances of life with these lopsided views.

We also have a lopsided view of God when we practice religious pluralism—when we think we can serve other gods and say there are many valid ways to God (idolatry)—when He clearly says He is the only God and there is only one way to live with Him in eternity (Deuteronomy 6:5; John 14:6; Matthew 7:13-14; Acts 4:12; 1 Timothy 2:5; Joshua 23:16).

We wouldn’t want people to see only one part of our character, and neither does God.

Charles Stanley wrote, “In every temptation, there is a deception about the character and motive of God, plus an attractive promise of a better way.” *

If we truly want to know the God of the Bible, we must seek Him in the Word. It is how He reveals Himself to us.

“We need to be reading the Bible so that His words will be woven into the fabric of our being,” Stormie O’Martian wrote in The Power of Praying Through the Bible (page 331). “We must know it so well that it becomes our guide, a source of renewal and knowledge of God’s will. We must let it increase our understanding of who God is and who we are in Him.”

The Bible says there is one true God, the sovereign Creator (Isaiah 42:5; Ephesians 1:11) and we need to get to know Him for who He is: eternal, all-knowing, all-powerful, unchanging, holy, just, loving, truthful, holy, compassionate and merciful, the righteous judge, forgiving … and so much more.

All of God’s divine attributes combine to form one consistent whole.

We must adjust to who God is, and not try to adjust Him to our “lopsided” views.

Work Up a Sweat

1 Sep

Sometimes our experiences don’t really count in the military.

One soldier, shortly after joining the army, stood in line as the sergeant stepped forward with the day’s assignments.

After handing out several tasks, the sergeant asked, “Does anyone here have experience with radio communication?”

The young inductee—a longtime ham radio operator—quickly and proudly shouted, “I do, Sir!”

“Good,” the Sergeant said. “You can dig the hole for the new telephone pole.” *

LOL!

The military does provide excellent, tailor-made training to prepare recruits for the many facets of serving and the possibility of battle. At boot camp they push recruits to their limits, trying to build in the character and stamina heroes are made of.

We’re all familiar with the stories of soldiers and their tough drill instructors. They aren’t trying to destroy recruits; they’re trying to break them down so they can build them up in strength for a strong military response.

I’m reminded of the Navy Seal Maxim. According to SEAL Team 6 commander Richard Marcinko, ** Seals say,

“The more you sweat in training,

the less you bleed in combat.” 

[Some argue the quote came from General George Patton who actually said, “The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war.” And Patton was supposedly quoting an old Chinese proverb.’

Regardless, the point is the same.

If we wait until the war starts to prepare for battle, we’re in trouble!

In a practical sense, once we enlist, we’re already IN the next war because we’re being trained to fight.

Let’s take a lesson from drill instructors. They have a purpose in mind.

So does the Lord. He wants to teach us how to be strong IN HIM.

Sometimes we may not like the “drills” God takes us through.

In a spiritual sense, Christians will face many battles over their lifetimes. They have a strong, deceitful and vicious enemy, out to destroy every child of God.

We can’t wait until we’re in the heat of battle—facing tough temptations or hurtful circumstances—to prepare for the fight.

Sadly, many Christians do not even realize there’s a spiritual war. God’s children have faced-off against the enemy of our souls since the book of Genesis and we see evidences of warfare throughout the Old Testament.

(Actually that war against God and His followers began before Adam and Eve when Satan fell from heaven.)

We see the continuing truth about spiritual warfare as Jesus was tempted by Satan and in His encounters with demons before the cross. And we see the battle in many of the early stories in the church.

Others who DO understand we’re in a war don’t understand the weapons needed to fight Satan’s schemes and win. 

The Apostle Paul wrote about spiritual warfare and the divine weapons we’re to wield in Ephesians 6:10-20. James encouraged us to resist the devil. Jesus and Peter warned about our adversary too.

But it’s one thing to know all this truth. It’s quite another to PRACTICE it. Practice as in “be trained.” To walk in wisdom and train in truth. To be ready. 

We cannot fight our battles alone. We need the strength of the Lord.

We also need teachers and mentors who will help us understand how to walk in a manner worthy of our calling (Ephesians 4:1) and be good soldiers of Christ—determined to do whatever it takes to honor Him (2 Timothy 2:3-4).

And we must remember we’re not only fighting the devil. We’re also fighting the worldly culture and our sinful flesh—which Satan also uses to attack us (Ephesians 2:2-3a; James 1:13-15).

My point is. We need to be watchful, prayerful and ready. We need to work up a spiritual sweat now so we don’t “bleed” later.

 * Adapted from Military Jokes and Truth (clean humor).

 ** from Rogue Warrior by Richard Marcinko with John Weisman

Graphic adapted, courtesy of skeeze at Pixabay.

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