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What Should I Bring?

This week we have learned how joy is a surprise party in the midst of sorrow . We have a happy host . He extends an open invitation into His joy. So when you are invited to a party, what's the next question? What should I bring? What should I bring into the party of God's joy? In the last post , I referenced John 15:11 and John 17:13. Notice in both verses Jesus mentions "these things." These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. John 15:11, John 17:13 What are "these things?" These things are the things you can bring. If you survey the context of Jesus' prayer, teaching, and conversation from John 15-17 we find "these things." What are "these things" we bring? Repentance from Sin The Bible mentions the joy of a repentant, restored sinner more than any other joy. Jes

Your Invitation to the Party

I'm about to go middle school awkward, but I'm 46, and it still hurts! Back in the day, they called middle school, "junior high." Junior high was 2 years of academic purgatory for pre-teens. I digress. But in my 7th-grade year of junior high, there was a party, and I wasn't invited. Did that ever happen to you? Probably not if you somehow avoided that "not quite sure what to do with my hair, body out of proportion, pot-belly phase" that I went through in junior high. And then they slapped braces on my teeth. That helped. To this day, the words "junior high" still recall feelings of insecurity. The vision of Hell in the Bible is frightening, but being sent back to junior high for an eternity would be hell enough.   No matter how old you are it is difficult to deal with not being invited. There are a lot of people who hear of the joy of the Lord but feel uninvited. Perhaps it is because you read the Bible, and then you look at your life, and you

Our Happy Host

In the previous post , we found out that joy suspends sorrow and finds a reason for celebration. In Nehemiah 8, Nehemiah calls an end to mourning and commands the people to observe a festival. Why? Because "the joy of the Lord is your strength (Neh. 8:10)." Joy is like a surprise party in the midst of sorrow. A great party needs a happy host. God, Our Happy Host I have never been to a good party where the host is angry. That would be awkward. It is hard to enjoy a party if you get a sense that the host doesn't want you to be there. That's extremely awkward. A great party host is someone who is happy for the gathering.  Notice that Nehemiah says that it is "the joy of the Lord" that is your strength. That statement reveals one of the most profound truths of Scripture. If you grab onto this simple statement about God, it will revolutionize your faith. Are you ready for it? Here it is. God is happy. It is His joy that strengthens us. It is His joy that we run i

Joy is a Surprise Party in the Midst of Your Sorrow

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In 1995 Henry Strongin Goldberg was born. A few weeks later, doctors diagnosed him with a rare disease that compromised his bone marrow. Sadly, Henry passed away at the age of 7. Though his life was short, Henry's happiness, despite his sickness, impacted a lot of people. Through their experience, Henry's parents realized the challenges families face in caring for seriously ill children. In 2003 Henry's mother, Laurie Strongin, started a foundation called Hope for Henry. The purpose of Hope for Henry is to involve seriously ill children in their own treatments. A big part of their strategy is bringing happiness and laughter to these children. If I can describe Hope for Henry in a simplistic way, Hope for Henry is revolutionizing pediatric patient care by throwing parties. They are an entertainment company in a children's hospital.  The people at Hope for Henry throw all sorts of parties for seriously ill children. They can put together a holiday party, birthday party,

Request and Release

We have a hard time staying happy. This week, I am sharing insight from Philippians 4:4-7 on how to stay happy all day . Here are the treasures of the text thus far. Rejoice and Repeat - "Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, rejoice." Repeated rejoicing deals with our negativity bias. We are wired to take more notice of negativity. Rejoicing in the Lord creates a mindset in which we seek God as our ultimate source of joy. In Him, joy is always available. Reasons Govern our Reactions - "Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand." We are stressed, worried, and angry. How refreshing is it to see the unusual reaction of gentleness in our culture? You have great reasons to be happy. First and foremost, the Lord is at hand. Let that reason govern your reaction. Reject Anxiety - "Do not be anxious about anything." You may have anxiety, but you don't have to obey it. Create realistic expectations. One cause of anxiety is m

Reject Anxiety

This week I am sharing 5 ways to stay happy all day . Our instruction for this comes from Philippians 4:4-7 and to this point, I have shared 2 of the 5 ways, let's review. #1 - Rejoice and repeat. "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice (Phil 4:4)." Because you and I are wired with a negativity bias we need to make repeated efforts to take joy and express it. Ultimately, we must seek the only source in which joy is always available , God Himself. #2 - The right reasons lead to the right reactions. "Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand (Phil. 4:5)" In such a high-pressure society, anger, stress, and worry seem natural, almost expected. But taking joy in the Lord leads to a reaction that is gentle, reasonable. "The Lord is at hand." That in itself is sufficient reason to rejoice. So now let's digest the third way we can stay happy all day. Reject anxiety. #3 - Reject Anxiety Statistics show that anxiety

(Un)Reasonable Reaction

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Since 2006 the folks at Gallup have been measuring America's levels of anger, stress, and worry . I bet you can guess what I'm about to say. Our levels in all three categories are rising. We are not happy. When it comes to stress, Americans scored 20 points higher than the global average. With so much going on in the news and with so much demand on our lives, it's not surprising to hear that Americans are amongst the most stressed-out people in the world. We could probably each give some very good reasons as to why we are so worried. And when it comes to anger, we all feel a little on edge. Such a reaction from stressed out, worried people is not surprising. If anger, worry, and stress have become so natural in our culture, is it even reasonable to think we can be happy? This week I am sharing 5 ways to stay happy all day. In my last post I introduced the topic and shared the first way; rejoice and repeat . With this post, I want to continue to explore Philippians 4:4-7 and

How to Stay Happy All Day

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If you are struggling to stay happy all day, you're not alone. According to an analysis of 509 million tweets from 2.4 million users over a span of 3 years, we are our happiest early in the morning. Our mood begins to decline after 9 am and we are the least happy between 3 and 4 p.m. Apparently life is ruining our day! Unless you are retired or rich, the rest of us are supposed to be doing some pretty productive things between 9 am and 4 pm. I don't know about you, but I don't want to hate my day. I want to be happy whether at work or school. So how can we make sure that what we have to do doesn't make us unhappy? This week I will be sharing 5 ways to stay happy all day. If you want to follow this series of posts, subscribe to my website. As an added bonus, I'll send you a FREE copy of the first chapter of my most recent book, Pulse . Way #1 - Rejoice and Repeat Philippians 4:4-7 gives us the formula for a guaranteed good day . Rejoice in the Lord always; again I w

5 Places Joy is Always Available

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What if I were to tell you that joy is always available? Are you interested in knowing more? I am. If you are reading this post, that must mean that you are as well. I am starving for joy. I’ll admit that I have not been very happy. I walked through quite a streak of stresses and difficult circumstances over the past 3-4 years and it got the best of me. I’ve been waiting on the next bad thing to happen rather than shaping something good. So I started searching for joy. I found it. In Psalm 16 David shares 5 places where joy is always available. Joy is always available in God Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.” Psalm 16:1-2 Joy is a reaction. Joy is a response. There always has to be a reason for joy. You can’t fake it. Joy is not like love in that we can love someone who is not easily lovable. Jesus commands us to love our enemies. But when it comes to joy, you can’t take joy in something th