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Are You ‘Excited’ about Jesus?

10 Oct

In their excitement, people do some really over-the-top things at athletic events. Think about it:

  • They make  and raise huge signs (to be seen on TV?) – blocking the view for people behind them.MinnesotaVikingsFan_SourceUnknown
  • They mysteriously show up in the same color or wear “costumes” to identify with their team (some better left to Halloween).
  • They raise their hands together and do “the wave.”
  • They show their support for their team with yells and mantras – “We will, we will Rock you!”
  • They aren’t afraid to taunt the other team … or the refs.
  • With passion for their team, they shell out money for symbols of their support (like giant foam fingers).
  • They get crazy about their team … and nobody thinks they’re weird!

I wondered recently, why don’t Christians show similar excitement about Jesus?ExcitedAboutJesus_LOLwithGod

In all fairness, we do sometimes.

In September I attended an Air 1 tour concert. The music and lights, the crowd’s enthusiasm … it wasn’t hard to be carried along in the musicians’ high praise to the Lord of Heaven!

People got into the music, their hands swaying back and forth overhead. (A Christian version of The Wave?) They shouted out responses at musicians’ cues. Many rushed to the lobby to purchase rainbow-colored lights (used like metronomes in the darkness, keeping in time with the beat). The excitement level in the auditorium was as high or higher than any ball game I’ve experienced!

I’m sure the room was filled with many kinds of people that night. Some were there just for the music. Some were there to experience an event. Others were there to worship, or hoping to connect with God in a new, fresh way.

It was a great, exciting night! But it was just one night. And I wondered the next day, how many are still excited to know the Lord as they go back home, or to school or work?

The Christian life isn’t a one-night, one-event, one-conference “high.”

The Christian life is joy filling the heart regardless of circumstances. It’s excitement about who Jesus is and what He has done for us. It’s faith and faithfulness, appreciating God’s goodness and grace. It’s abiding in Christ. It’s the outflow of the Spirit.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism says (answer #1) one of our main goals in life is to “enjoy” God forever. Maybe “enjoyment” is a better word than “excitement,” but anyone who’s been in love knows the two are linked. 

Enjoying God doesn’t just happen. We have to know Him. We have to understand what He’s done for us. And to experience lasting joy, we have to hop on board with His plans for us. 

Just as when we go to an athletic event, we have to “get excited” about Him and being on His team!

Here are some scriptures that speak to me about why I can enjoy God:

Psalm 16:5-11. . . . I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices. . . You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Psalm 144:15. Blessed are the people to whom such blessings fall! Blessed are the people whose God is the Lord!

Philippians 4:4. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.

With that in mind, here are just 10 ways I’m nurturing my enjoyment of the Lord, which lead to greater excitement about Him.

  1. seek His presence and read His love letter and guidebook (the Word).
  2. I spend time with others who love Him too, so we can enjoy Him together.
  3. I find new ways to appreciate Him – to praise and adore Him (singing, writing, etc.)
  4. I talk to Him about everything, because He is my Lord and my friend.
  5. I view my life as an adventure with Him, with opportunities to grow and serve.
  6. I cooperate with His work in my life, knowing I am becoming more like Jesus.
  7. I embrace the freedom I have through His grace and transformed thinking.
  8. I use the gifts He’s given me to make a difference in the world and for the Kingdom.
  9. I rejoice in His work in others’ lives, the progress I see as they trust Him and obey.
  10. I am amazed whenever I see His handiwork in creation.

How do you “enjoy” God? How do you build excitement in your life for Jesus and what He is doing in the world?

* I could not find the original source of the Viking Fan photo. If you know the source, please tell me so I can properly credit.

“Excited” Graphic adapted: Image courtesy of nenetus at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 – Dawn

It’s OK to Laugh, Christians!

3 Oct

I stood behind a woman in Walmart and God taught me a lesson. It’s fair to say God teaches me many lessons at Walmart. There are such interesting people there!

The woman checking out grumbled about everything.WalmartCheckout

  • She complained about some do-dad she couldn’t find in the hardware department.
  • She whined about the store being too hot.
  • She had a fit over the price for a carton of eggs.
  • She fussed that her daughters braids were a mess and “I didn’t raise you to look like a pig!”
  • She grumbled about her husband who was sitting out in the car (who’d blame him!) when “he should be in here helping me.”

Trying to lift her spirits, the poor checkout girl ended the transaction with a cheerful “Have a nice day, Ma’am!”

“Yeah, right,” the nasty lady said. “Not likely.”

And it was then I noticed the “Jesus First” pin on her shirt collar. 

Oh great.

Another “Christian Loonie” for all Walmart to see.

I wanted to shake her and say, “Lady, if Jesus is really first, why don’t you act like it?”

I think the world is soooooo hungry for authentic Christianityfor people who are full of faith, courage and vision. And yes, JOY too!

It might surprise you to know John Calvin, an influential French theologian and OK2Laugh_JCalvinpastor during the Protestant Reformation, once said, “We are nowhere forbidden to laugh….” *

Calvin would remind us God created laughter. It’s a good thing. Clean humor is a godly thing.

So why don’t more Christians laugh?

Christian comedian Dennis Swanberg says, “It’s almost as if those folks think, ‘If I’m not suffering, I’m not doing this Christian thing right. I’d better not ever look like I’m having fun.'” **

How sad.

I’ve found when I’m not responding to the circumstances of life in a godly way—when I am selfish, angry, prideful, discontent, stressing my own rights—it’s pretty hard to express joy.

Joy is part of the “fruit” of the Spirit,  and Galatians 5:22-23 says there is “no law” against this fruit! Joy is one of the evidences that the Holy Spirit is working in and through us. If we’re not exhibiting joy, we may need to consider whether we are yielding to the Spirit’s control in obedience to the Word of God (Romans 8:14; Galatians 5:18).

Life can get tough. Though we’re not forbidden to laugh, it just might not be possible sometimes. But we can always be filled with true joy that comes from a close walk with God.

Have you laughed at something funny today? Here’s some clean humor for women, a short video by Chonda Pierce called “The Truth.”

– Dawn

* Calvin was writing about Christian Liberty–Institutes of the Christian Religion, III, 19, 9

** http://www.cbn.com/entertainment/books/swanberg-love-tank-full.aspx

Rely on Joy

28 Mar

After Zeuxis, a Greek painter, completed his painting of an old woman, he thought it was pretty funny. The painter laughed so hard at his creation he couldn’t catch is breath. He ended up choking to death! (Mentalfloss.com relates this and nine other stories about people in history who laughed themselves to death.)

It’s one thing to laugh until you cry. But laugh until you die? I’ve heard the phrase, “I laughed my ClingToJoy_LOLhead off.” Really? Maybe it just felt like it. It’s been my experience that extreme laughter can give me a headache.

Have you ever laughed so hard, maybe even while crying and holding your sides, that you declared, “Oh. Oh! I can’t breathe!”

I’ve had those moments. Once, while on vacation with my husband, his sister and her husband, we got so tickled we were all laughing, crying and pounding the table, yelling, “Stop! Stop! Oh . . . it hurts!” Just when we got settled down, one of us made a comment and we’d sputter into a laughing jag all over again.

Health mag* shared some facts about laughter.

  • 25 – number of calories burned in a five minute laugh session
  • 17 – average number of times an adult laughs every day
  • 15 – number of facial muscles that contract when you laugh
  • 5 years – age at which we laugh the most exuberantly
  • 30 times- greater likelihood of laughing when with others rather than alone
  • 3 months – age at which humans start to laugh
  • 4/10 second – amount of time between the occurrence of something funny and your brain’s  reaction to it

Clearly, laughter is good for us – when it doesn’t kill us!

And it is, the Good Book says, “good medicine” (Proverbs 17:22).

But what do we do when laughter escapes us — when circumstances hurt and we think we’ll never smile again, let alone laugh?

Then we rely on joy.

Depending on the translation, the words “happy” and “happiness” show up in the Scriptures around 30 times, but “joy” and it’s cousin “rejoice” appear more than 300 times!

James says joy can occur even in the midst of trials (James 1:2) . . . “Knowing that the testing of our faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:3-4). This kind of joy comes through the Lord as He strengthens and matures us, in spite of our struggles, but also in our struggles as we place our trust in Christ.

For Christians, when happiness flees, joy remains. It’s not dependent on circumstances. Paul could speak repeatedly of joy while in Rome’s prison because God transformed his perspective about suffering. Paul rejoiced because He relied on God’s purposes, and He understood one of those great purposes was for him to share the Gospel with the prison guards (Acts 28:30; Philippians 1:12-24).

Cling to joy. It’s a gift of the Spirit. And when you can, enjoy a good, healing dose of laughter.

When do you find it most difficult to laugh? Can you cling to joy instead?

* “Laugh It Up,” Health mag, June 1013, p. 90.

Graphic adapted, Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

– Dawn

 

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