Archives For Joy

Self Control in the Storm

March 15, 2015 — 1 Comment

Fold Hands Self ControlThere is nothing I love more than being a father. The journey has been amazing. What continues to baffle me, however, is the amount of lessons my little toddler has taught me during his not even two years on this Earth. He can barely speak a sentence, yet some things he has shown me have forever impacted my way of living. Quite often he teaches me these “lessons” when I am trying to instill something in him – it seems to always work both ways.

For example, my wife read about this particular concept in a book. Essentially, when my son gets overwhelmed, frustrated or if it seems that a tantrum might ensue we simply tell him to “fold your hands and get some self control.” Much to my surprise – this method works like magic! Each and every time he quickly stops what he is doing, folds his hand and calms down. Swiftly he returns to his happy place.

I understand why this works; it gives him something to focus on other than what it is that has frustrated him.

How does this relate to our walk with God?

So many times we can become overwhelmed by the world around us – the situations, the failures, the defeats and we enter into a time of anxiety, stress or doubt. Just as I say it to my son, I believe God says it to us “Fold your hands, and get some self control.”

Prayer solves everything.

Everything.

If things are in dismay and we try to solve it ourselves, I promise, we will only create more dismay and chaos. On the contrary, if we pause, fold our hands and give it all to Him – how quickly things will change.

I love the reaction that Jesus gave to the storm in Mark 4:35-41.  We read that the disciples and Jesus were all in a boat as a furious storm invaded. As the disciples go into panic mode, they find Jesus asleep in the boat. They wake him with an accusation saying “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” Jesus then turns to the wind and waves rebuking it and everything went calm.  He then responds to his disciples in verse 40: “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith.”

Jesus demonstrated how we should behave during the storms. Controlled and at peace. We should know that God is always in control – no matter what is happening outside the boat.

Today, let me encourage you with the same words I share with my son: fold your hands and get some self control. Focus on the one who IS peace and I promise that peace will ensue in your life.

Question: How do you get self control through a storm?

 

Christmas Eve. A night of wonder and anticipation. Over 2,000 years ago a man and his young (very pregnant) bride traveled through the cold desert only to find no room at the Inn. They were full of anticipation for the baby that was about to make His entry. This was no ordinary baby. This was the prophesied King and He was about to make a very unique entrance.

For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. (Isaiah 9:6-7 NKJV)

My Christmas wish for you is this: That you would be overcome with anticipation for what Jesus wants to do in your life. That you would walk into each day with acknowledgement of this amazing gift that was humbly given to us over 2,000 years ago.

One of my favorite Christmas songs celebrates the coming of the King – I love this rendition and wanted to share it with you this Christmas.

May you be blessed this and full of anticipation this wonderful Christmas Eve!

Leaving Self-Pity Behind

August 14, 2012 — 2 Comments

Mamertine Prison, Rome

I took this picture on a recent visit to Rome.  This is the Mamertine Prison located adjacent to the Roman Forum.  It is believed that both Paul and Peter were imprisoned here.  Compared to the hustle and bustle of Rome, this was a quiet and humbling spot to visit.

As we walked down the narrow stone stairway into the prison itself, I became speechless.  It is hard to find words to describe the experience.  The fact that anyone could be imprisoned in this environment and survive is stunning – but what is even more impressive are the words that the Apostle Paul wrote while being imprisoned for his Faith:

Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, gladden yourselves in Him]; again I say, Rejoice! (Philippians 4:4 AMP)

The fact that Paul could find it in him to Rejoice, even when in a prison like this, should simply inspire us to do the same.  I think it is safe to assume that none of us have experienced some of the trials and tribulations that Paul did.  I know that I have personally never been shipwrecked, tortured, stoned like he was.  But yet, we can get so caught up in our problems that we forget to stop and rejoice.  Notice, Paul said it twice – Rejoice and again Rejoice.  If anything is mentioned twice (in the same sentence mind you) I think it is worth heeding attention too.

I have said it more then once, we are not promised an easy life – and Paul telling us to rejoice is not meaning we ignore our troubles like some feeling-less robot, numb to the world.  Even Jesus showed deep emotion, weeping for Lazarus – but we must keep our eyes focused on Him.

When you read a bit further into Philippians, Paul goes on to tell us:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds thought Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 4:6-7)

I have gone through trials.  I have been anxious.  I have been stressed.  This week alone I have experienced personal trials and disappointments that could easily cause me to retreat and fall into a cloud of self pity – but that is not an option for me.  The Word tells me above, to paraphrase in my own translation, give all your troubles, your issues, your sadness, your disappointments to God – and peace that doesn’t make any sense will overcome you.

In Francis Chan’s book, Crazy Love, he sums it up quite well:

When I am consumed by my problems – stressed out about my life, my family, my job – I actually convey the belief that I think the circumstances are more important than God’s command to always rejoice.  In other words, that I have a “right” to disobey God because of the magnitude of my responsibilities.  Worry implies that we don’t trust that God is big enough, powerful enough, or loving enough to take care of what’s happening in our lives.

There have been things that I have been standing in faith for for many years now that have still not come to pass.  Circumstances that are beyond my control.  But I know that I serve a God who is big enough to provide.  Do I know how?  No.  But, I know His Word promises it.  I know that when I come to Him with thanksgiving and prayer – He will hear me.

No matter where things stand in my life, I know that there is truly no better option then to Rejoice.

Question: Do you find sometimes it is easier to retreat in self-pity than it is to Rejoice through the trials?

 

Destiny School Uganda

Lately, I can’t get this face out of my mind.  The sincerity.  The smile.  The hope.  It just puts everything into perspective.  I had the great privilege of meeting this sweet young lady, Daphne, in 2007 during one of my trips to Uganda.  This was not my first trip – nor would it be my last.  But each and every visit brings new images, new relationships, and a new outlook for me.

Daphne, at this time, was living at Destiny Orphanage and Boarding School just outside of Kampala, Uganda.  I don’t know her backstory, but what I do know is she is truly one of the most joyous people I have ever met.  Perhaps that sounds strange – she was probably 6 at the time and I realize most 6 year old children are truly happy – but there was something noticeably different here.  In a country plagued by HIV/AIDS where children are without parents more than they are with – Daphne had a way of looking beyond her situation and choosing happiness over pity, joy over sadness.

At one point, I remember clearly, as the rain started coming down that little Daphne led a group of her friends out of class to orchestrate a song and dance for us, her new American friends.  What a humbling experience.  I clearly remember fighting my strange mix of emotions with both tears and laughter coming at the same time.

I have never been truly the same.  I am forever changed from those visits.  It is amazing how events like this can change your view on everything else.

But yet, it is still easy to get caught up in the daily stresses of life.  Easy to get sucked back into the “matrix” and forget to put things in perspective.  I can get so entangled and entrapped in what I need to get done today that I can forget the bigger world that exists.  Sometimes I forget the easy lesson I learned from Daphne’s smile, how to find joy over difficult circumstances.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.  (Matthew 6:34 NIV)

Jesus never said we would not have trouble.  In fact, He guaranteed we would.  But, He gives us the commandment to not worry about tomorrow.  In the verse just prior to this, He tells us to seek first His Kingdom.

For me, I use Daphne’s picture to help bring me back to everything that matters.  The bigger story that exists.

I learned how to find joy in all things from a 6-year-old orphan from Uganda, and I am forever grateful.

Question: How do you find joy in difficult circumstances?