Tuesday, January 6, 2015

what brings real joy


The people who inspire me the most are those who have been through the most difficult of situations arriving at the other side with joy and a story to tell.  All different kinds of people inspire me.  Some I know well while others I don’t know much more than have heard their story.

Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.

The things that they have encountered and gone through run the gamut of battling cancer, to dealing with addiction, to time in prison, to loosing loved ones and more.  Every one that I am referring to has a faith story.  Their connection to God was alive and real at the end.

One of those people is author Margaret Feinberg.  Over the last few years she has battled cancer.  Today her newest book, Fight Back with Joy, comes out.  Our family first met Margaret and her husband Leif when we were visiting Theater Church in Washington DC back in the fall of 2006.  We have spent time together on a few occasions plus they visited The Community Fellowship several years ago.  They have continued to be a great encouragement to me.

Fight Back with Joy is a compelling book about finding joy where the world tells you there is none.  The world lies to you.  Everything other than our faith in God takes us to places and to feelings that will rip out the possibility of joy.

Here are some of Margaret’s words from a post she shared in early December:

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Much of the teaching I’ve heard on joy over the years is oversimplified.

I remember those days in Sunday school learning that JOY is spelled Jesus, Others, Yourself. While that made perfect sense when I was 9, I’ve seen how distorted that can become as an adult.

I watch as friends who love Jesus, spend so much time pouring into their kids, grand-kids and others that their joy looks something like this:

jOy

Technically, it still spells joy, but more than anything, these men and women who are so exhausted, so empty, so running on fumes from pouring into others need to pause and take time to focus on themselves. To rest, reset, refresh. Laying hold of the fullness of joy right now will require them to reevaluate for a season and discover the joy that comes with:

JoY

Most of the definitions I have heard about joy (and probably you, too) define it more by what it isn’t than what it is. I constantly heard that happiness is based on circumstance but joy is not.

I am now convinced the writers of the Bible would say that, the reason we have joy is because we have great circumstances. If you are a child of God, you are drenched in the grace and mercy of God. Who has better circumstances than that?

No matter what you’re facing: Your circumstances are better than you think.

If you're not experiencing joy, perhaps it's because your definition of joy is too narrow.

For the last three years, I’ve been on a spiritual expedition. Digging into the more than 400 references of joy, happiness, merriment, rejoicing, singing, dancing in the Bible.

I’ve discovered joy as so much more than I ever thought or have been taught.

And when it comes to doling out happiness and joy, God is anything but stingy.

Our God is a joyful God. The nature of the Trinity brims with affection and delight. Joy is woven into the fabric of creation.

That’s why I want to invite you to lay hold of a deeper, more robust joy than you’ve ever known before.

In Fight Back With Joy we’re going to challenge what we’ve been taught about joy and examine it through the lens of Scripture.

What you discover won’t just change how you understand joy, but how much joy you experience on a daily basis.

Will you join me in discovering how more than whimsy, joy is a weapon we use to fight life’s battles?

(To learn more or order the book go to http://margaretfeinberg.com/joy-happiness/#more-29122)

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You know this is a plug for my friend and her new book, but this is also a word from my heart.  It is my desire as a pastor to lead people to know the peace and joy God desires for us to have. 

For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

1 comment:

Margaret Feinberg said...

Michael, thank you, thank you, thank you you for sharing this post. Humbled and honored. And grateful for you!

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