Tag Archive | joy

Happy?

CSLI recently saw a quote by C.S. Lewis on social media. It was taken from his book Mere Christianity, and he made this observation:

And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history—money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.

We see this being played out ad nauseam in our society today. Being happy is the topic of countless movies, books, self-help seminars, and popular music. One of the best-selling songs of the last year was even entitled Happy. Happiness has now become the driving force behind ill-advised and ungodly judicial and political legislation as we see the religious rights of individuals being trampled on for the sake of another person’s “happiness”.

But while there is nothing inherently wrong with being happy, how we go about it can have quite the opposite effect. The pursuit of happiness as the ultimate goal has populated divorce courts, abortion clinics, medical and mental hospitals, and cemeteries for decades (and longer). The idea that happiness is the most important thing in life is the lie that has perpetrated itself in one form or another down through the centuries. The days of Noah, Sodom, Gomorrah, Babylon, Rome, and many other civilizations that have passed into oblivion because of moral failure and degradation bear witness to the fleeting satisfaction of happiness.

The fact is that there is a void in every person that only God can fill. And while God does not promise us happiness, He does promise every person that puts their faith and trust in Him life and joy. In John 10:10, Jesus says…

I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

In John 15:11, He goes on to say…

These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.

If we are searching after our happiness, we will find it to be elusive and empty. However, if our pursuit is His joy in our lives, that is something no man or circumstance can take away, because it is not dependent on our situation, but on His goodness — and His goodness is something that no diagnosis, disaster, or decree can change or take away.

And who knows… in your pursuit of the joy of the Lord, you might just stumble across the happiness you have been looking for.

Have a blessed week!

On the Path of The Polar Express

I love Christmastime! There is so much to enjoy — time with family and friends, the music of the season, the decorations and lights, wonderful food, nice presents, and…

Christmas movies.

KS12503From wonderful, timeless classics like A Christmas Carol (Alastair Sim), White Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street, and It’s A Wonderful Life, to animated favorites like Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and A Charlie Brown Christmas, these Christmas movies bring back memories of long-ago, transporting us to other places and innocent times. Add to these more recent films such as The Santa Clause series, A Christmas Story, and Elf, and you’ll either be crying tears of nostalgia or laughing tears of joy.

One such movie that came out in 2004 was The Polar Express, based on the book by Chris Van Allsburg. It is the story of a boy who, on the verge of not believing in Santa Claus anymore, takes a ride on the magical Polar Express, and visits the North Pole one Christmas Eve. What starts out with a boy who no longer believes — and actually hesitates to even get on the train in the first place — ends with a fantastical trip to Santa’s workshop, and the great Christmas Eve sendoff, where he is personally given a gift by Santa. No longer in doubt, the boy becomes a “true believer” in Santa.

As the train returns him to his home, and he says goodbye to his new friends, the Conductor turns and says these words to the young boy:

One thing about trains… It doesn’t matter where they’re going.
What matters is deciding to get on.

Holly and snowAs I have often alluded to in my blog, truth comes from odd sources with unlikely messengers. This time of year, that very truth is more obvious than ever, starting over 2,000 years ago with a group of shepherds as the unlikeliest of messengers — sharing the news that the angels proclaimed, and the witness of what they had seen with their own eyes.

Making the decision to relinquish the “engine” of your life to Jesus is full of uncertainty. Just because we are Christians doesn’t mean we are immune to the bad stuff that life throws at us. I have presided over more funerals than I can count — people who have been the victims of, not just old age, but cancer, heart attacks, car accidents, bullet wounds, and drug overdoses. When we sign up for the Spirit-led life, we would do well to remember the words of Jesus…

“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” ~ John 3:8

The Spirit-led life is full of uncertainty. There is no guarantee of good health, unshakable happiness, financial prosperity, or immunity from any other disaster.

That is, unless you are looking “beyond the veil”… beyond the borders of our finite minds and the constraints of time itself.

Here is what surrendering to the will of Jesus, and living a life controlled by His Spirit does guarantee, however…

Eternal life. Surrendering to Jesus, and accepting His finished work on the cross (salvation) guarantees your place in Heaven. (John 3:16)

Peace. Relying on Him as your sufficiency and source is the gateway of the path to peace. Peace with God means that, regardless of what shaky ground we are standing on in this world, our position with Him is never in doubt.

Hope. We hear a lot about hope, but all this world can offer (at best) is a cheap imitation. REAL hope begins and ends with a right relationship with God, and has eternal ramifications… beyond world peace, job security, climate change, and health and wellness. (Hebrews 6:19)

Joy. Not the same thing as happiness, real joy comes from knowing Christ. The very thought of His abiding presence, and the hope that He gives us invokes a joy that the world has no influence or control over. Joy in spite of circumstances. Joy in spite of pain. Joy in spite of sorrow.

These things await the life that is surrendered to Christ.

Can I explain it all to you? No.

That is what living the life of faith is about. After all, if I, or anyone else, could explain it, where would faith come into the equation? One thing I can guarantee you, however, is that there is no peace, no hope, and no joy that can compare to the love and life that Jesus offers.

So this Christmas, if you would like to surrender your life to Christ for the first time, I invite you to pray this prayer…

Dear Lord Jesus,

Please come into my heart, forgive me of my sin, and save me.

Wash me and cleanse me. Set me free. Jesus, thank You that You died for me. I believe that You are risen from the dead and that You’re coming back again for me. Fill me with the Holy Spirit. Give me a passion for the lost, a hunger for the things of God and a holy boldness to share Your love with others.

I’m saved, I’m born again, I’m forgiven and I’m on my way to Heaven because I have Jesus in my heart.

If you prayed that prayer, leave me a note below, and share your decision with me so that I can rejoice with you.

If you wanted to pray that prayer, but still have questions, or if you are already a Christian and need to walk deeper with God, just remember: It doesn’t matter where you think the journey will take you… only God knows the answer to that.

What matters is taking the first step of faith, “getting on the train”, and deciding to start the journey with Him.

Merry Christmas,
Pastor Ron

Bringing the Presence to the Party

A man observed two well-dressed women having dinner in a restaurant. A cake was brought to their table, and because they were obviously celebrating a special occasion, he went over to offer his best wishes.

“What is the special occasion?” he inquired.

“It’s my son’s second birthday,” said the younger woman.

“Well, where is your son?” asked the man.

The women looked at him in amazement, and the mother replied, “You wouldn’t expect me to bring that little brat into a nice place like this, would you???”

Unfortunately, that is how much of our world celebrates the Christmas season — missing the presence of the One who is the source of peace and joy, and Who is the very reason for the holiday.

Too often, we become close with people who seem to enjoy being in our presence, only to find out later that they only want something from us. But Jesus is unselfish in His closeness to us, and His concern for us is abundant. When Jesus comes in, a new miraculous, supernatural, wonderful dimension comes upon your life.

As we celebrate this Season of Christmas, let us start now and invite the presence of the One we celebrate — the One the prophet Isaiah referred to as Wonderful — to be the focus of all we do. Let’s be sure to invite the guest of honor into the festivities, lest we lose the true meaning amidst the gifts, the tinsel, and the lights.

The group Cloverton recently performed a Christmas version of the popular Leonard Cohen song, Hallelujah. I invite you to listen to it, and let it’s beauty and truth resonate in your heart this Christmas season.

TSOCToday’s blog was adapted from book I had the honor of contributing to called The Spirit of Christmas. Other contributors to this delightful collection were John Hagee, Tommy Barnett, James Robison, John Bevere, Creflo Dollar, and Jackie McCullough. If you would like more information about how you can purchase your own copy of The Spirit of Christmas, please call  1-800-877-6493.

Come Home

Easter is just around the corner. It’s a time of resurrection, new life, and new beginnings. More than probably any other season, Easter best represents the hope we have because without the resurrection, the birth and death of Jesus would have little power. There are plenty of religions in the world whose object of affection is lying in a grave. As Christians, we serve the former Occupant of an empty tomb; we serve a Savior who conquered death, Hell, and the grave, rose from the dead, and is seated in a place of honor above all powers, kings, dominions, and principalities.

AH StatueI would like to take this blog today to invite you to come home to Abba’s House this Easter. No matter where you have been, what you have done, or what you have gone through, there is a God who loves you, and wants to spend eternity with you. He is the Father who is standing on the porch, waiting for you to come home so He can wrap you in His arms, and give you a place of honor at the table.

Please join us Easter Sunday, April 20 at 10:30a.m. There’s always room for more, and Abba’s House is a place of love, acceptance, and joy. I would love to see you, meet you, and let you know how much you mean to our Heavenly Father, and how important you are to Him.

So come join us this Easter.

Come into His Presence.

Come home to Abba’s House.

Finding Joy

Through the Looking Glass

British philosopher Sir Francis Bacon once said…

“Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not…
a sense of humor to console him for what he is.”

In spite of the state of our world today, humor can go a long way toward making tough times bearable. Humorist Bill Cosby observed that..

“You can turn painful situations around through laughter.
If you can find humor in anything, even poverty, you can survive it.”

Our God is a God of joy, happiness, and laughter. Proverbs 17:22 says that,

“A cheerful heart is good medicine…”.

Throughout scripture, God puts great value on joy.

There is strength in joy…

There is hope in joy…

There is health in joy…

No matter what your circumstances, make it a point to find joy.  As C.S. Lewis said…

“Joy is the banner flown from the heart when the King is in residence”.

Allow your life to be a declaration of the presence of the King.