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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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When Christmas Peace Falls to Pieces

17 Dec

A stressed young mom tried to wrap Christmas presents for her toddler while juggling her new infant. It was dogindiaper_akc-aboutdogdiapersafter midnight and she was so tired and not thinking correctly.

Imagine her husband’s surprise when he walked in to see the dog, Murphy, wrapped in one of the baby’s diapers.

“I didn’t have time to take him for a walk,” she said.

Now that’s stressed!

Some people get so stressed in December, they use their stress ball to throw at people who stress them out!

For many years, when I flipped my calendar to December, I flipped out!

My heart and mind started racing. Everything had to be “just so,” perfect for the holidays. I justified my heightened expectations with nice, spiritual-sounding statements: “I want everyone to enjoy the spirit of Christmas” and “God would want us to do all things with excellence in honor of Jesus’ birthday.”

But the reality was, I was a Christmas Control Freak.

I have a pretty ceramic plaque in my home that reads, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!” But if you asked some of my family members back then, they might not have agreed with that. Whenever I got into Christmas Control Freak mode, I created chaos in our home.

Christmas Control Freak mode is the quickest way to destroy Christmas peace.

Christians or not, there are times we all struggle with finding peace. We may try to generate it within ourselves with positive thinking. We may seek it in others, longing for the kinds of encouragement that will keep us calm.

Some people travel to far off lands in search of some kind of peace. Others go into seclusion, hiding from the stresses of life.

But the truth is, no one can give us true, lasting peace except the Lord, because He created a restlessness within us that can only be satisfied in Him! The apostle Paul says when we are “justified by faith”—when we have trusted Christ alone to rescue us from our sin—we have peace with God (Romans 5:1).

The Psalmist said “the Lord will bless his people with peace” (Psalm 29:11). This means there is no condemnation when we stand before the Lord someday (Romans 8:1); Jesus paid sin’s penalty, which we could never pay (Romans 5:6-8).

The world the peace gives can be good for a while, but it doesn’t last. Because we live in a fallen world, peace is temporary.

But Jesus says,

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. . . . I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 14:27; 16:33 ESV).

So the peace of God is ours, but we must receive it. We must learn to stop our striving and rest in Christ’s peace (Matthew 11:28).

We have to seek peace and pursue it (Psalm 34:14). We gain peace when we love the Word of God and fix our minds on Him (Psalm 119:165; Isaiah 26:3).

And we must not only receive it, we must let it rule our hearts (Colossians 3:15). When the Holy Spirit is in control, one of the results of being “spiritually-minded” is peace (Galatians 5:22-23; Romans 8:6).

Too many of us will not let peace reign. We insist on sitting at the control boards of our lives, manipulating and fixing things ourselves, when God calls us to surrender to His control—to trust and obey—so He can usher peace into our hearts.

I think Mary, the mother of Jesus, understood the importance of peace reigning in the heart. She responded to the angel’s announcement with words reflecting her heart surrender: “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord, let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38)

Peace in the midst of tough circumstances is especially hard. “Peace on earth” can become a struggle with strained finances, death of a loved one, loneliness and isolation, and other not-so-peaceful situations.

These days, when Christmas peace begins to fall to pieces, I am learning to pause and pray. I ask the Lord, “Where am I running ahead of you or focusing on things that aren’t important? and “What do you want me to do next?”

His answers to my heart sometimes surprise me.

  • “Come apart a while—be still and listen for My instructions”
  • Rest in me and find fresh strength.”
  • Be more relationship-oriented and less task-oriented.”
  • “Be less self-absorbed and more others-conscious.
  • “Help that person see Me.”

I’m reminded by scripture, those that have peace must learn to sow peace (James 3:18). We sow God’s peace (and love) as we seek to resolve conflicts, share our resources, spend time with others who are hurting, comfort the grieving, and act with compassion toward those who need it most.

Christmas peace is ours if we will receive it and let it reign in our hearts. Three of the quickest ways I know to realign with God’s peace is to be grateful, practice contentment and stay surrendered.

All three are choices we can make to pursue peace.

~ Dawn

Dog in diaper graphic on American Kennel Club site, regarding dog diapers.

 

 

‘Bad Day’? It’s a Matter of Perspective.

24 Sep

I’m always surprised by how people define “bad day.” For many, a “bad day” is when:

  • You can’t find earrings at Charming Charlie’s to match your dress for caution-baddayinprogress_lolwithgod_dawnwilsona birthday party. (This almost never happens because that store is amazing!)
  • You break a fingernail, right after getting a professional manicure.
  • You can’t find a parking space a few paces away from Home Depot’s front door.
  • You discover someone ate the last chocolate chip cookie in the bag … which you carefully hid.

Really?

OK. This isn’t going to be an especially lighthearted post. But I thought about this topic after I got upset looking for that aforementioned parking space. God really spoke to my heart that day. Broke it, actually.

THESE are the kinds of real-life “bad day” issues that lead to REAL frustration or fear:

  • You can’t find your child at the mall for more than 60 minutes.
  • Your husband loses his job. Again.
  • Your cancer returns. With a vengeance.
  • Your home is burglarized, your house ransacked and you discover many treasures are missing.

And then there are “bad days” most of us will never have to face.

  • Total rejection: A woman who cannot find a job because no one in her village will hire a “Christ-follower.”
  • Horrific persecution: A pastor whose leg is broken during torture in Laos because he dared to preach the gospel.
  • Unspeakable pain: A mother who weeps because her daughter was raped because the family converted to Christianity.

A bad day is a matter of perspective, isn’t it?

There’s simply no comparison between the first group and the last.

We can view the circumstances in our lives in multiple ways, and how we view them affects how we feel and respond.

One of the best ways to view circumstances—especially the tough ones (because really, with the absurd ones we just need to grow up!)—is through the lenses of trust and gratitude.

Trust when you feel abandoned? Gratitude when a crisis comes?

Stay with me here ….

There is great power in trusting God; and there is great transformation in a thankful heart.

For the Christian, there may be many bad days, even awful-horrible days; but there is more to life than even these circumstances. In the midst of great upheaval and struggle:

  • We can trust the Lord when we are afraid, and be grateful that most of the things we most fear never even happen.
  • We can trust the Lord for what we don’t understand, with gratitude that He is never perplexed and always has a plan.
  • We can trust the Lord with an uncertain future, gratefully acknowledging He will be in our future as assuredly as He has in the past.
  • We can trust the Lord to care for us, grateful for His endless resources and loving supply.
  • And we can trust the Lord when life falls apart—when we suffer incredible loss or pain—still grateful He is sovereign and will yet accomplish His will in, for and through us.

Granted, this is easier said than done. But daily practice is good heart preparation.

When we practice trust and gratitude in the simple, everyday circumstances of our lives, these habits will strengthen us when the bigger challenges and unexpected trials come.

In wisdom, we exercise our trust and gratitude “muscles,” and God (because He cares about us) wants to help us with that. As Matthew Henry wrote,*

Christianity teaches men to be joyful under troubles: such exercises are sent from God’s love….”

Believe me. I am not taking on this topic lightly.

I love and pray for The Persecuted Church and have found both conviction and great strength in the stories of God’s struggling children around the world. These believers “count it all joy” when they face trials of various kinds (James 1:2-8). Many rejoice and even celebrate, knowing God is working and they will receive great reward for any sufferings they face (Matthew 5:12; Romans 5:3; James 1:12).

How can they do this? They’ve counted the cost of following Christ and partaking in HIS sufferings (Luke 14:25-33; 1 Peter 4:13-16). They’ve  found God’s grace sufficient and strengthening in their greatest times of need (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

When asked how we can pray for them, members of The Persecuted Church usually do not ask people to pray their burdens will be lightened, but rather that they will be wise to make good use of their afflictions—especially to be a strong witness to those who observe how they are suffering for Christ.

In cushy America, our concept of suffering for the Lord is so skewed. We’re constantly praying for “safety,” but not for opportunities to share Christ. Amy Carmichael wrote, “We must learn to pray far more for spiritual victory than for protection from battle wounds.”

So convicting. Especially when I lament over a broken fingernail or empty cookie bag.

It puts our petty “bad days” to shame, doesn’t it?

Are you having a bad day today? How might more trust in the Lord coupled with the practice of gratitude help your perspective … and ultimately, your responses?

 – Dawn

 * Matthew Henry, Commentary on James 1:1-22.

 

 

 

 

 

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