Extreme Joy

Extreme Joy

Friday, July 23, 2010


 "Let's take a good look at the way we're living and reorder our lives under God" (Lam. 3:40 - The Message).

Milestone birthdays need to be celebrated and we had two in one family. My brother was turning 50 and his wife, whose birthday was on the same day, was turning 40. Two birthdays that deserved a party.

I had offered my home for our family to meet and celebrate but there was so much that needed to be done to my neglected house. So the work began -- dusting, vacuuming, sweeping, cleaning bathrooms, rearranging the deck. Then the party plans --  pizza was on the menu but we still needed balloons, cakes, candles (lots of candles), and confetti.

The day after the party I was resting in my favorite recliner when I looked up and saw them. Cobwebs. They were gracefully woven between the corner and a beam in my den ceiling. I thought I had cleaned my house. How did I miss those? How? -- I never took the time to look up. It was only in my resting that I looked up and saw the evidence of a neglected place in my home.

It is the same way with our "spiritual homes." How many times do we stay so busy that we have our heads down taking care of what we think is important. In doing this we never take time to rest. Not just a physical rest, but a resting that takes place in our hearts as we spend time with the Lord. It is during these times that He can show us the places in our lives that need attention and cleaning. The cobwebs could be a bad habit, an attitude, an unhealthy mindset, or unforgiveness. If we always have our heads down and never rest and look up, we will miss those places that need attention.

Take time this weekend and next week to rest in the Lord. Take a good look at the way you are living and let God help you not only clean out the "cobwebs" but reorder your life.

Friday, July 16, 2010


"And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart." (Ecc. 4:12 NASB).

image courtesy of photobucket.com

We have a tendency to think we have to face life all by ourselves. Peter tells us our adversary, the devil, "prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour" (I Peter. 5:8). If we are trying to face life alone -- without help, encouragement, or someone to talk to -- then we are setting ourselves up for the enemy to devour us. He is on the prowl looking for prey and this makes us an easy target.

He is a subtle enemy. One of the ways he works is by using the power of suggestion -- planting a negative thought in our mind or a lie -- and then he just lets us run with it. Another way he works is by taking our joy away. Also, he loves to plan the ever popular event called the pity-party. He will provide the cake, balloons and the confetti if we let him and he will even remove all clocks in sight so we will stay for a long time in our misery. Yes, he is waiting.

But, if we surround ourselves with others who will encourage us, friends who can and will shed the light of truth on the lies we have believed, and pray for us, the enemy won't be able to hold us in his grasp.

In this new season of ministry God is calling my family and me, I have allowed myself to roam around alone for a little while and the enemy has quickly come upon me with lies, suggestions, and has been able to take my joy away. I hadn't accepted the invitation to the pity-party yet, but I was getting close to the door. Not realizing at the time, I reached out to two dear friends who I know support me and love me and they have become my bookends.  Both of them in their own way helped me to see what God has been doing in my life, the blessings He has so richly given me, and the future He has for me. They have helped me see and embrace truths not lies from the enemy. Yes, my bookends, one on each side of me, the combination of the three making "a cord of three strands."

Today I put the enemy on notice by saying "I am NOT alone and you CANNOT overpower me, for two can resist you, but a cord of three strands IS NOT quickly torn apart . . . I now have my bookends!!!"

Are you walking this journey called life alone? Are the voices and the lies of the enemy taking away your joy? Well . . . go get your bookends! These will be your sturdy friends who will hold you up as you add chapter after chapter to your book of life. You don't want to live without them!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Surprised Freedom

". . . to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness" (Isa. 42:7 NIV).

I am lost. As I write this I am without my constant companion - my cell phone. So far I have thought about checking with a friend about possibly meeting for lunch, thought about later checking an earlier message I had saved from my daughter's dentist with the phone number for the oral surgeon I need to call today and make an appointment, and thought about how many messages I have waiting on me. All this during the first 15 minutes of my 30 minute drive to work.

I also need the phone number or email address for my brother so can wish him "Happy Birthday," both which are in my phone, and I need a way for the groomer to contact me and let me know when Maggie, my Shih Tzu, is ready to leave the "doggie day spa." I'm beginning to wonder what I did without this small piece of equipment that has so intricately woven itself into my life.

Fast-forward three hours . . . it sure is quite and peaceful. No "pings" to tell me I have a text message, no little red light blinking to notify me of a message, no temptation to pick up my phone and check my email messages or get on Facebook. Matter of fact, this is quite freeing. No one calling me, no one texting me, no thoughts in the back of my mind to check my phone . . . maybe this isn't such a bad thing after all.

Now that I think about it, this is the same way I feel when I finally let go of something I'm struggling with after I give it to God. At first I'm lost because the thing I so badly want to be released from has been my constant companion. At first I miss it and want it near me, like a security blanket. Take worrying for instance, I finally give my concerns about a situation over to the Lord during my prayer time in the morning, but during the first 15 minutes of my 30-minute drive to work I'm already worrying. I go through the reasoning of my concerns until I remember I've already let it go. It's not there, for God has taken it from me just as I asked him to do in prayer.
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Even when it is bad for us, we get so used to something being with us - worry, concern, fear, insecurity, a bad habit - that we miss it when it is gone. When we finally realize that it's truly gone, we begin to feel the freedom the Lord wants us to have in our daily lives. Isaiah told us Jesus would come to "to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness" (Isa. 42:7 NIV).

Fast-forward . . . it sure is quite and peaceful. No "pings" to tell me I need to worry, no little red blinking light in my heart to notify me that I need to be concerned, no temptation to examine the situation again. Matter of fact, it's quite freeing. So freeing I want to call and tell something how great this feels.

Opps. . . no cell phone.