joy

Advice from a mountain

During Christmas break some dear friends of ours let us use their cabin in Winter Park.  This was a tremendous blessing to our family.  It was a joy to spend mornings in our “jammies”, afternoons walking and sledding, and evenings gathered around hot soup and fun family games.  On our last day we stopped by one of the many tourist trap shops in downtown and found this wall hanging that caught my eye.Image

As you and I look to this next year with anticipation, there is much truth and wisdom found in this cheesy-chic decoration.

Reach New HeightsThe LORD came down on the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. So Moses climbed the mountain. Exodus 19:20 NLT

God is calling each of us to greater and newer heights of faith, sacrifice, joy and service.  I love Moses’ simple response.  He climbed.  He didn’t second-guess.  He didn’t argue.  He didn’t put it off until it better suited his timing.  He started climbing.  Will you and I do the same?

Rise Above It AllDon’t let evil get the best of you, but conquer evil by doing good.   Romans 12:21 NLT

Dysfunction is all around.  From personal, family relationships to natural disasters to the evil men do to one another.  The way of the Cross is to rise above.  The best response, the best way to soar is to overwhelm evil’s machinations with the transforming Good of the Kingdom of Heaven.

There Is Beauty As Far As The Eye Can SeeHonor and majesty surround him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary. Psalm 96:6

All of creation points to the grandeur and wonder of God.  The psalmist is overcome when considering the loveliness of the LORD.  When was the last time you were cognizant of the beauty of God?  Have you acknowledged His signature in the sunset?  Or His authorship in the sweeping vistas of nature?  In 2013 intentionally choose to sink deep into the beauty of God.

Be UpliftingI’m eager to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours. In this way, each of us will be a blessing to the other. Romans 1:12 NLT

How might your relationships change if by the end of this year people would say of you, “He(she) is the most encouraging person I know.”?  Lifting other’s up is one of the best ways to root out the sickness of selfishness in our hearts.  Sharing an encouraging word costs you nothing but becomes an investment with unlimited returns in others.

Patience, Patience, PatienceFinishing is better than starting. Patience is better than pride. Ecclesiastes 7:8 NLT

Most of us give up before we see the blessing.  We grow weary, distracted and disillusioned often just before the breakthrough comes.  Training for, and running a marathon has helped hammer this idea into me.  Patience is about faithfully putting one foot in front of the next in anticipation of a “finish line” that cannot yet be seen.  Have the resiliency, and patience to pray through whatever lies ahead of you.

Get To The PointFor the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 NLT

Too often I have depended on the “Osmosis Method of Evangelism”.  Trusting that the simple presence of my faith will somehow ooze its way across the membranes of doubt and unbelief of those I meet.  When was the last time you clearly articulated the Truth of the Gospel to someone?  Do not trust in actions alone; get to the point of salvation.

Enjoy the view!I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. John 15:11 NIV

Scripture is clear…a grumpy Christian is an oxymoron.  Joy is one of the best evangelism tools we have.  We must choose it and use it, daily.  Christ does not offer us partial joy.  It is not a 50% option.  His joy in us equals our joy topping out and flowing to others.

I encourage you to take these seven simple exhortations and doggedly apply them to your daily life.  So that 2013 will usher in a new season of Kingdom living for you and those you love.

Joel Thomas

Overwhelmed

It was early and dark when my alarm crashed into my subconscious.  Today was the day.  Eight years in the making, and it was here.  I slid quietly out of bed, pulled on some socks and walked gingerly out of my room and down the hall to my daughter’s door.  As I walked up I could see her wrapped snuggly in the mounds of covers that she loves.  Tiptoeing up beside her, I rubbed her back and said, “Happy birthday sweetheart.  Let’s get up and go.”

My beautiful ‘Bella turned eight today, and the one thing she asked from me was that we would go out to breakfast together.  “Of course!” was my reply.

After we had dressed and climbed into the car we discussed the various breakfast options: Steamers, Denny’s, Starbucks or Village Inn.  She chose the Inn.  As we sat across from each other slicing and dicing our pancakes, I certainly couldn’t argue with her choice.

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‘Bella is adopted and one of her favorite requests is to hear the story of when my wife and I first met her at the hospital just five hours after she was born.  It is a great story and one that always makes both of us smile.  Today though, it made me do more than smile, it made me tear up.  Not for any sense of sadness, quite the opposite.  Sitting across from my “very grown up eight-year-old” girl flooded me with overwhelming pride, humility and joy.  Ultimately it was the “joy” that overwhelmed me.

True Joy has a way of doing that.  You can’t prepare for it.  It is as different from happiness as sticking a glass under the water dispenser in my refrigerator versus stepping into the raging torrent of a 100 foot aquamarine waterfall.  The waterfall will take your breath away every time.

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My wife has begun a new series on Joy on her site: www.womenwhobelieve.wordpress.com beginning with the story of our beautiful ‘Bella.  I encourage you to click through and read it.  She offers some penetrating questions that all of us should wrestle through.

My parents taught me a great lesson about the difference between happiness and joy.  Happiness is fleeting, temporary and based solely on earthly things.  Joy is a choice that is empowering, ongoing and rooted in the eternal heart of the Father.

I hope today that you will choose to step into the whelming flood of God’s eternal Joy.

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” – Jesus, John 15:11

Joel Thomas