By Christie Goodman
I recently had to pack up and move into a new office. Working for a non-profit sometimes means tightening your belt a bit. So, like Nikki Blair wrote about recently, I had a lot of culling to do. And since my new office is smaller than my old one and has more windows (yea!), I had to make some decisions about what could go on the walls.
One thing went undebated: my Garfield poster. I’ve never been a Garfield groupie, but this poster is special. I bought when I was in junior high school. With bent edges and faded colors, it has accompanied me for years, hanging in my school lockers, in my college dorm rooms and later in my various offices. It shows Garfield with his chin on the ground with droopy eyelids. He looks miserable. The first thought-bubble above him says:
“Oh boy, am I down,
down, down, down, down.”
The second and third bubbles say:
“Down, down, down,
dooby doo, down, down…
comma comma down
dooby doo down, down.”*
Joy is the song in our hearts. Sometimes it sounds like the fanfare of trumpets. Other times, it whispers our gratitude.
Joy is not the same thing as happiness. Happiness is based on circumstances. Rev. Michael Cheuk says: “Joy is not the product of outward conditions; it is the by-product of inner transformation.” Joy is habit of seeing light in darkness.
Galatians lists joy as one of the fruits of the spirit (5:22). And Luke even describes Jesus as being “full of joy through the Holy Spirit” (10:21).
In the Christian calendar, we proclaim our joy during the season of advent, anticipating the birth of the Christ child. But, today, we are in the season of Lent – looking forward to the most joyous event in Christian life. Interestingly, the Greek word for joy, “chara” is related to “charis,” meaning grace.
Grace. Gratitude. Joy.
Rev. John Claypool wrote, “Only when life is seen as a gift and received with the open hands of gratitude is it the joy God meant for it to be.”
Yes, God wants us to be joyful.
“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!”
*Ahh, Neil Sedaka. See http://www.azlyrics.com/
By Daniel Zamora
In the “good old days,” Christians used to do bring all the daily life problems to the Lord in prayer and wait for His answer. In the meanwhile, they did their work but trusted God would take care of the big problems.
Christians in the 21st century have a diverse array of challenges that are so different from those in other times in history ranging from technology communications to major relation conflicts caused by but not limited to personality crisis and disorders.
However, we need to be reminded that God is always there for us, no matter if we live in 2014 or in 2199. As people who depend on many resources to maintain our livelihood and sanity, we need to be reminded the words of David in Psalm 37: 3-4:
“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture,
Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
By Barbara Higdon
Recently, my Sunday School class committed to pray at a specific time of day for a member who has suffered a long-term, debilitating medical condition with no apparent relief for years.
On prayer day, I, too, had a medical problem and called my doctor’s office. I was put on hold and had to wait through minute after minute of horrible music interrupted by recordings telling me how valuable I am and how much they want to help me. Yeah, right.
My appointed prayer time came and the phone continued to tell me how hard they were working to take care of me. I found myself wanting to throw the phone at the wall!
Instead, while still on hold, I began to pray for my friend, remembering how much longer her medical need has caused her suffering and how frayed her and her family’s patience must be. Despite the annoying announcements, my prayer time took a surprising turn. As I kept asking God to give her healing, I was able to thank Him for the lessons in patience I still need and receive daily.
“However much we may know God, the great lesson to learn is that at any minute He may break in. We are apt to overlook this element of surprise, but God never works in any other way.” Oswald Chambers
By Edgar Twedt
There is an old aphorism, which says, “Life is what happens to us while we’re making other plans.” In the movie Dead Poet’s Society there is a poignant scene where the teacher has his students look at a picture of former students who have long since passed away. As the students look at the picture the teacher says, ”Carpe diem”, that is, seize the day. But how can one seize the day while “making other plans”, and what does this mean for those who are Christ’s disciples?
It is so easy for all of us to get caught up in thinking about what we’re going to do some day or sketching out so many things to do, and then never getting to them. In the meantime life goes on while we’re “making other plans.”
We need to spend more time seizing the day or doing those things which matter for Christ’s kingdom, those little things which are all a part of Kingdom living. When we do this, life doesn’t happen to us, but in an important sense we happen to life. As a once famous TV ad used to proclaim, “Life comes at you fast.” Don’t let it pass you by while you’re making other plans. “Only one life; ‘twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”