SUMMER | 2018
THE MAGAZINE OF CHRIST CHURCH
Rev. Shane Bishop
Rev. Michael Wooton
For a complete listing of the Christ Church Staff visit: www.MyChristChurch.com/staff.
Mission Of The Flame
Be inspirational through biblical articles and devotions. Be informative in the announcement of future events that connect people in ministry.
Joy, it’s as concrete as the ground under us but as elusive as the wind at times. For the Christian, the overriding theme in our hearts should be joy. Some may not agree with that statement, but I contend that, because of Jesus Christ and our eternal hope, joy is not just an emotion, but a deep abiding stability that keeps us anchored not to this world, but to the promise of heaven, the knowledge that we are in Christ and absolutely nothing can take that away when we know and have received Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord.
The only time I think joy is elusive is when we confuse it with happiness. Happiness comes and goes with our circumstances, with the weather being the way we prefer it, with the political climate being in our favor, with all the bills being paid and some left over, with a good health report or (you fill in the blank). Because it is circumstance-driven, we don’t necessarily choose to be happy, but we can choose to tap into the joy that comes from being a child of God. It’s there. At times we have to dig for it, but it’s there because the Bible tells us so. The word joy appears close to 200 times in the Bible, depending on the version you read!
When we truly surrender to the fact that God is fully in control of our lives, we can rest in His goodness and care. Life can be terribly hard and the world we live in harsh, but if we choose to tap into the joy that He gives, we can make a difference in the world around us. Look around and observe. Who do you know that needs the hope that is in you and the joy that only Jesus can give? Think back to the difference He made in your life when you said yes to His Lordship. How wonderful is it to remember that life really isn’t just about us but about sharing the gospel and the joy that it brings?!
Some of the writers in this issue are sharing some heart-wrenching trials they have walked through. Yet they have joy in their hearts and the knowledge that God is with them. What are you walking through today? Do you have that deep abiding joy that comes from knowing Him? God has challenged me to choose joy even in the difficulties of this life. May I challenge you to do the same? Because I truly believe, when we choose joy, we are choosing Him!
You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Psalm 16:11 (New International Version)
In His Service,
FROM THE EDITOR
Fairview Heights Campus
Sundays- 8am, 9:30am, 11am & 6pm
Wednesdays- 6:30pm (Going Deeper)
Thursdays - 6:30pm (Unstuck)
Collinsville/Maryville Campus, Millstadt Campus, & Scott Campus
Sundays at 10am
Tuesdays at 6:30pm (Going Deeper)
The Flame Online
Get The Flame Magazine online. Sign up for email reminders of new editions.
4 Leaking Joy
By Rev. Shane Bishop
5 Praise, Profanity and a Cigarette
By Lowell Sensintaffer
6 Repairing Your Joy Tank
By Rev. Michael Wooton
7 Where Are The Notes?
By Becky Olroyd
8 Feel Joy
By Matthew LaFrance
9 Joy On The Journey
By Sarah Decareaux
10 Joy, Elusive Joy
By Jill Rice
11 The Giving Spirit
By Madison Bradshaw
12 Wonderfully Made Joy
By Shelley Baty
14 Finding Joy!
By Amanda Cates
15 Rejoicing Always!
By Dave Merrill
16 Tears Of Joy
By Ashley Sanders
17 Cherishing Joy
By David Huff
18 Delight Yourself, Even In Loss
By Patrick Herwig
19 Getting To Know You
20-21 God At Work
The Flame Magazine is a quarterly magazine published by Christ Church. ©2018 Christ Church. Learn more about Christ Church at MyChristChurch.com.
EDITOR: Carrie Gaxiola DESIGN: Justin Aymer COVER PHOTO: Mike Creagh
Questions About The Flame?
Contact the Editor, Carrie Gaxiola, at CarrieGaxiola@MyChristChurch.com
By rev. Shane bishop
Since we are all full of something and we all leak; Why not leak joy?
Rev. Shane Bishop
“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Matthew 2:17, NIV
He was the greasy little guy who lived upstairs from me when I was a junior at the University of Missouri-Rolla. It was 1984. He chain-smoked and "chain-cussed." He smelled of body odor, stale tobacco and cheap cologne. He had shoulder-length greasy black hair, a pock-marked, acne-scarred face and a smudge across his upper lip that may have seen the business end of a razor once a month or so. He was a gross little guy in a likable sort of way. He was my friend.
So, I invited him to church. He'd never darkened the door of a church. Not once. He had barely heard of the Gospel. After several invites, my new friend agreed to join me.
We walked into the packed little church one evening and found a few seats in the front row. My greasy little friend just sat there, taking it all in. He did not say a word. He didn't sing. No apparent emotion. Half way through the song service, he reached into his backpack and pulled out a glass bottle of Coke. Twisting off the cap with a loud "pfffsssttt," he began to sip his soda. "Okay," I thought, "Not too big of a gaff. We can talk about it later."
But then . . .
After he finished his Coke, he reached into his shirt pocket, popped out a pack of Marlboros, lit one up, and began puffing away, politely dropping ashes into his empty Coke bottle, all the while dutifully listening to the pastor's sermon. The pastor just looked at my friend with a big grin and kept on preaching. Nice little smoke rings floated over the altar. I was mortified. I don't think I heard another word of the pastor's sermon.
After what seemed an eternity, the pastor gave an impassioned altar call and, to my amazement, my friend went forward and gave his heart to God. Tears of joy flowed down his face as he said a prayer of salvation. In gratitude, he lifted his hands and proclaimed:
"Thank you Jesus! Thank you Jesus! You're so [expletive] wonderful!"
And then he proclaimed it again—loudly and passionately.
The pastor just hugged him. Even a few little old ladies hugged his stinky little neck. Me? I just stood there, dumbfounded. I would like to say I rejoiced with him at that moment, but I didn’t. I was embarrassed--more concerned about how his actions and words reflected on me. It wasn’t until I reflected on the whole experience some days later that I realized what had really happened. Beneath the veneer of my friend’s uncouth persona and actions was a heart reborn, a new creature genuinely expressing himself in the only manner he knew.
I am sure this sort of situation was very familiar and precious to Jesus. I’m sure he heard his share of profanity and crude talk during his ministry in the tiny villages of north Galilee. He certainly relished reaching out to the unlovely, the smelly and the uncouth. Predictably, the Pharisees chastised Jesus for socializing with these sorts of people—those vile tax collectors and (gasp!) sinners. Jesus was (and is) comfortable loving people right where they are--not where I happen to want them to be. What was Jesus’ response to the Pharisees (and to us today)?
“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 2:17, NIV
The pastor rejoiced with my friend.Those little old ladies rejoiced with him as well. And I know the angels in heaven rejoiced. I wish I would have rejoiced with my friend. I missed out on a great blessing and opportunity. While uncouth, uncensored and raw, I believe my friend’s praise was sincere.
I will go one step further. I believe it was perfect praise and Jesus really loved it. I am absolutely certain of that.
By Lowell Sensintaffer
Let’s face it, we live in a tumultuous culture that will rob your joy if you let it. That is right; I said, “If you let it!” As a child of God, joyful is your natural state! Surely Jesus didn’t give his life, defeat death and raise from the dead so his followers could be miserable their whole lives! We could have been perfectly miserable without the resurrection! Let’s begin with an assumption and work from there: Joylessness is an unnatural state for a Christian.
Systems Theory states that all systems are designed to produce what they produce, not what you desire them to produce. So here is the deal: If you are joyless, everything in your life is designed to produce that joylessness. If you want to change your outcomes, you have to change your inputs. I think most people want to be joyful; they are just not quite sure how to change their inputs, so they keep entering the same negative stuff into their systems that they have always entered.
So where do we find joy?
I believe the best route to joy is found by saturating our minds, bodies, spirits and emotions with Jesus and in making joy-giving decisions concerning the way we live our lives! One of the things I love about our Wednesday Going Deeper service is the stripped down worship music. The Bible says to, “Put on a garment of praise for a spirit of heaviness.” (Isaiah 61:3) When we sing (and people DO sing on Wednesday nights), I feel like we are marinating in the presence of God. We literally “put on” Christ through our worship and we are refilled with joy as we boldly enter the throne of God. Many walk into worship visibly showing the effects of a difficult day or week but we walk out on a different plane somehow for we have personally connected with the Giver of Joy!
I also believe we can make life decisions that will enhance our joy. Here are some suggestions to get the joy flowing and overflowing!
1. Increase your exposure to joyful people.
Watch joy-filled people. Read what they post online. Note how they interact with others. Emulate them!
2. Decrease your exposure to joyless people. If there are people in your life who consistently bring you down, limit their access to you!
3. Subscribe to sources that breed joy in you. Think about the things in your life that give you energy, optimism and fulfillment. Do more of those things.
4. Unsubscribe from sources that reinforce pessimism. Think about the things in your life that give you indigestion, cause stress and make you feel crummy about yourself. Do less of these things.
5. Speak positively. God created the heavens and the earth with words! Joyful words are the building blocks of a joyful world view. If you don’t feel joy, speak joy until you do!
6. Keep your joyless thoughts to yourself. “If you can’t say something nice, hopeful and uplifting don’t say anything at all.”
7. Decrease your time with negative media. The media is something we INVITE into our lives. We choose our Facebook friends, what we see on the Internet, who we follow on Twitter or Instagram, and which television stations we watch. If you can turn it on, you can turn it off.
8. Increase your time in the Bible. Stop watching a thirty minute show each day or perusing your Facebook feed and substitute that time with Bible reading. Start with Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Acts. Be inspired!
9. Stop thinking about yourself. Joyless people have very small and self-centered worlds that get smaller and more self-centered by the day.
10. Start thinking about others. Joyful people live in big worlds and are actively making better worlds. Their attention is focused on serving God and serving others.
We are each products of the systemic inputs we invite into our lives. If you lack joy you are the only person who can change it. New outcomes require new inputs. Since we are all full of something and we all leak; why not leak joy?
Praise, Profanity and a Cigarette
Flame Volunteer Writer
Rev. Michael Wooton
By REv. Michael Wooton
When I first began attending worship services at Christ Church, I had a most difficult time embracing the music. The sermons always met me exactly where I was (or wasn’t) in my life, but oh, that contemporary music! I would argue with anyone who would listen that the music just didn’t speak to me. I needed regular hymns – you know, the ones from the red United Methodist Hymnals. The ones we should have on the back of our pews to hold before our faces when we sing. The ones with notes! How could we possibly sing without notes?!
My dear friend Linda, tired of my musing, suggested that I tune to St. Louis radio station 99.1 Joy FM. It was her opinion that maybe I could become more familiar and comfortable with some of the contemporary Christian music if I would open my mind to the possibility of embracing something new.
From the time I was very small, music has played a most significant part in my life. It is rumored that folks would come onto their front porches to hear me sing made-up songs to myself as I walked to school in my tiny home town. There were church choirs, school chorus, band and operettas, music in the home and in the car, concerts, dances and simply singing in the shower.
Until my mother’s death two years ago, she enjoyed telling the tale of my teenage years when I would stand behind the ironing board, iron in hand (I was the designated family ironer, and I love to iron to this day), gyrating to the selections of Johnny Rabbitt on KXOK radio or from the vinyl records being played on the stereo system that my older twin brothers had built. Music just rocked my soul! But this contemporary Christian stuff was a bit much.
So I took Linda’s advice and gave Joy FM a try. It grew on me, and sure enough, I was becoming familiar with the songs we were singing each Sunday. I soon searched for other options of praise and worship music, finding many available on Pandora, which I could play through Bluetooth on my wireless speaker in my living room or through the sound system of my car. I was hooked! It didn’t take long for contemporary Christian music to accompany me on every bike ride, every walk and every weekly household chore. My kids and grandkids have learned that if they are going to ride in my car, there will be no channel changing – and occasionally, I even catch them singing along!
I have added contemporary worship music to the veritable concert that I have outlined for my funeral service (morbid, I know; and I’m sorry, Reverends Shane and Don, for what you will have to endure. Pray for my life’s longevity!) Contemporary praise and worship music lifts me up, gives me peace or heals my pain, brings me closer to Christ and puts joy in my soul!
Another “anomaly” that I discovered early on in my worship at Christ Church was praising with outstretched arms. Who could to that? I would look scornfully at those with their arms waving in the air to a song with no notes to follow. But, guess what? Not only do I find myself swaying to the tunes these days, but those eager worshipers put a smile on my face, and I can’t help but reach high and wide myself at the wonder of joyful worship through song.
Who needs notes when “Glorious Day” breaks out in our sanctuary, and balloons and beach balls fall from the rafters to be batted about by worshipers in the aisles as we sing joyful praise to the Lord? Who needs notes when a precious girl in a wheelchair leads the congregation as we sing “Oceans”? Who needs notes when our hearts swell with awe as we partake of the Lord’s Supper to the strains of “Oh Praise the Name of the Lord Our God” (Anastasis)? When we have joy in our hearts, who needs notes on a page?
And in closing, steer clear if you encounter me on the road, because if I am inspired by my tunes, my hands will probably be off the steering wheel and raised to the Heavens in joyful praise. For “He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in Him.” Psalm 40:3 (NIV)
"I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy..."
Romans 15: 13
Romans 15: 13 I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy...
After my wife and I got married in July of 2007 we moved to our new apartment in Wilmore, Kentucky. We drove our two cars separately, packed full of boxes and our 72 lbs. black Lab, Laddy the Dog. We knew it would be an uncomfortable 5 hour drive, but we had to do it. When we were two hours away we drove through Louisville, KY and I ran over a small piece of steel on the interstate. It sounded like someone hit the bottom of my car with a hammer. Nothing seemed to be wrong at first, that is until we stopped at a rest area. When I looked under my car I saw a steady flow of gasoline pouring onto the ground. I had seen enough action movies to know surely someone was going to light a cigarette and their match would blow up my car. Thank goodness that didn’t happen. I got help cleaning up the gas and had to leave my car at the rest area. For the remaining two-hour drive I sat in the passenger seat of my wife’s car, surrounded by boxes and with all 72 pounds of Laddy the Dog on my lap. I’ll never forget that drive! I'll also never forget the gasoline pouring onto the ground from my punctured gas tank.
I love to be filled with joy, but if we can be filled with joy that means we can lose joy too.
How do we lose joy? Sometime we lose joy for positive reasons like giving it to others by encouraging them. Sometime we lose joy by dealing with ordinary life problems. There are other times we have a hole in our Joy Tanks and a steady flow pours out from where it shouldn’t. I don’t know about you, but I want to keep the joy that God is pouring into me! So let’s take a moment and think about six ways to repair our Joy Tanks:
Spend time with loved ones: Being around people who love us has a repairing quality that we often can’t quantify. Find ways to spend time with loved ones. It doesn’t have to be expensive, it just has to be time together. You’ll get repaired without even realizing it.
Do physical activity: Did you know sometimes we have to get our bodies ready to receive joy? We can hike, run, bike, swim, garden, walk, take exercise classes or find something that gets us moving. Do some physical activity and get your body ready to receive joy.
Read to help repair your Joy Tank: Identify what has caused the puncture in your Joy Tank. Find a book that helps you understand how to walk through the problem.
Laugh: You’ve heard it said laughter is the best medicine. Find something that makes you laugh and enjoy it! Is it a person you know, a movie, T.V. show, joke book? Whatever it is laugh, laugh and laugh some more! Laugh and see what happens.
Simply Trust God: One of my favorite Bible stories is about guy named Naaman (2 Kings 5). Naaman almost missed God doing a miracle in his life because he wouldn’t trust God in a unmistakably simple way. After Naaman trusted God, Naaman received more joy than he ever dreamed! Is there a simple way God is asking you to trust Him? Did you know God is so big He can do amazing things even through simple means? Try simply trusting God.
Pray Joy: Have you noticed many people have it far worse than me and you? Spend time focusing on ways God has blessed you and your family. What if God wouldn’t have blessed you in those ways? Doesn’t it bring great joy that God has provided for you? Bring that joyful praise to God through prayer! Pray joy.
Where Are The Notes?
Repairing Your Joy Tank
By BECKY OLROYD
Flame Volunteer Writer
Flame Volunteer Writing
By Sarah Decareaux
Flame Volunteer Writing
Joy On The Journey
Some people call it wanderlust. I call it itchy feet. It's a condition of the spirit in which it is required of one to move, to explore, to discover. And I've got a severe case of it.
I always have. As a child, I started collecting travel brochures from anywhere I could get them. Before the days of Google, I wrote chambers of commerce of various cities and states, asking for brochures of their areas, of local sights of interest. Some of my peers were writing letters to their favorite pop stars. Nope, not me; I was writing state governments and national parks, plotting out my future adventures.
I sometimes wondered where my desire for exploration came from. I attributed it in large part to my Dad and his tales of hitchhiking to “Cali” in his hippy days; his travels to Mexico, Yellowstone, and more, had me captivated. I decided it simply must be in my blood.
While in college, I realized my dreams were finally getting clearer and closer. Earning my degree meant one more step toward my near lifelong travel goal. And then God did me one better. He one-upped me like He usually does: I met a man who was in the Air Force, one December night, weeks after I had earned my degree. We fell in love fast; and after five weeks of dating he asked me to marry him. “I am going to show you the world …” he promised. And he delivered.
The next twelve years, I saw my dreams come true. He and I immediately moved to Portugal, and the adventure continued for over a decade: we lived in Idaho, England, Italy and Germany. We had five babies along the way and racked up adventures at every turn. We drove the back roads of the French countryside, dined in the cafés of Paris, strolled the cobblestone streets of Italy, bear-spotted in the forests of Yellowstone, explored the castles of London, camped in the forests of Idaho, and paid respect on the beaches of Normandy. This Midwest-girl turned-newlywed and eventual mother of five- had a country visit count of nineteen and a state visit count of thirty-eight.
Just over five years ago, however, fate threw our family into a storm that I would have never expected, when my Dave and two of our babies -- our sons Dominic and Grant David -- entered Heaven due to a hiking accident.. My world was crushed. My dreams erased. Mere survival for my three remaining children and I became the only goal for a very long time. The gauntlet of loss and grief was almost too much to bear.
But. But, then God. Just those two words: then God. God reminded me of who He is. God assured me of where Dave and our boys are. God cemented in me that we will see them again. God whispered to me that He has a purpose in this. And eventually, slowly, tenderly and cautiously, God told me it was time to walk on. Not to deny that waves of grief that will plague me on and off for the rest of my life. But to walk on. Simply, one step in front of the other, one breath at a time, to walk on. To persevere, to honor; and some days, to simply endure.
I looked in the eyes of my Kate, Finn and Elise, and I saw there the same childlike wonder that I used to possess; the same craving for life, adventure, and exploration that I had before life and loss dulled my gaze. I decided it was time to continue raising our kids the way that Dave and I had been raising them together. And as I made that decision, my dulled gaze, my broken heart, my splintered spirit felt a resurge of mission, a jolt of purpose and a clearer view of hope.
Slowly but surely, I felt it. I felt it creep ever so gingerly back in my spirit: the wonder. The wonder for life, and all it has to offer. The childlike desire and need to move returned. The want -- to honor my guys' lives here, by living mine to the fullest -- enveloped me.
A few years into the healing journey, the kids walked in the room one day while I was browsing websites on my computer. I was reading various sites on travel packages to several locations.
“What are you doing, Mom?” they wanted to know.
“I am going to show you the world …” I answered. And I plan to deliver.
The Christian life is supposed to be one filled with joy. I could rattle off one of any number of Bible verses that illustrate that point, but to a good portion of The Flame’s readers, that’s not going to matter much. Why? Because a lot of you don’t easily feel this joy, because you are living with one of any number of forms of depression. And that’s not anything to be ashamed of.
I’ve heard could-have-been Christians state that they felt God had rejected them, because they hear from preachers and others within the church about how great God is and how filled with joy he makes their lives, and yet they’ve just never felt that themselves. You can tell them time and again that God doesn’t reject anyone; that all who come to the Father are saved, but… this is their opinion. And if you’re reading this and you’ve had that opinion, I really need you to hear this:
God is with you. Even if you can’t feel Him or His joy.
More than 18 percent of the U.S. population suffers from anxiety disorders. That’s an estimated 40 million people who are eighteen years and older. And of those, only about 38 percent receive treatment for it, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
If you have an anxiety disorder of any kind: depression, bipolar, social anxiety disorder, or another type, you owe it to yourself to seek help. Having one of these isn’t anything to be embarrassed about; it’s an illness. It’d be no different than seeking treatment for strep throat, mumps or cancer. And, much like any of those illnesses, any of these disorders impacts your overall quality of life.
For years -- longer than I care to admit -- I’d lived with depression. The best part was, I knew it. However, I was that special kind of stupid who thought, “I’ll be alright. I’m strong enough to combat this.”
I think we all know you can’t strong-arm your way out of the flu, though. And if you can’t strong arm your way out of that, you couldn’t strong-arm my way out of this.
The majority of my life, I’d lived this way; trudging through every day, just trying to make it to the next. I was a Christian, and I felt God working in my life. But there was no joy. There was no glee. Oh, sure, here and there, there’d be little spurts. But only in the extreme circumstances. When people say, ‘it’s the little things that count’, I never could find pleasure in the little things. I’ll let you in on a little secret: throughout your life, God throws a lot of wonderful little things your way. Not finding joy in them… well, they may as well never have happened.
I don’t have an inspiring story of spiraling into a drug or alcohol addiction just for God to swoop in and save me. Instead, I self-medicated my depression by shopping. I’d spend to forget the pain, get the bill, freak out, then would subsequently go shop some more. At one point, my bill got too high, and I snapped. As I fought to get out from under the debt, I prayed for God to deliver me from the crushing anxiety I felt, which was brought on by the debt and which had added to the debt.
One morning God said to me, “Get help. Get well. Be healed.”
So I did. I sought medical help for my anxiety, and started making changes in my life. I can’t tell you how liberating it is to feel the way that I feel now. All those little things God throws your way during the day? Wonderful! I seek those with bated breath, just as much as I do the big things God does in my life. There is joy in my life now; and no one can take that from me.
If you’re reading this, and you feel like you may be suffering from anxiety or depression, please: get help. I know firsthand how miserable it can be, and I know how difficult it is to even admit that you need help. But God doesn’t want that life for you, and you shouldn’t want it for you, either.
Seek help. Get well. Be healed. Feel joy.
By Matthew LaFrance
Flame Volunteer Writer
By Jill Rice
Flame Volunteer Writer
By Madison Bradshaw
Joy, Elusive Joy
All my life, at least until very recently, joy has been something elusive to me. In my parenting. In my work life. Most definitely in my life of faith. It is almost like I was serving perpetual penance for past mistakes and fearing future misfortunes.
I was always serious. I had to make up for all of those lost years, not living “right” with God. I wanted perfection. I needed to get it right with my kids and in my marriage. I would get frustrated as I tried to do it on my own.
Sometimes I still try. Then I lose my joy again.
In Nehemiah, God’s word tells me that the “joy of the Lord is your strength”. Or in another translation, “the joy of the Lord is your stronghold” is how it reads. The definition of stronghold is “a place that had been fortified so as to protect it from attack. A fortified place. A place of security or survival.” Joy is a stronghold. I’ve heard of other things being strongholds in a Christian’s life, mostly negative things. Fear. Addiction. Idolatry. Legalism.
I spent the greater part of my early parenting years held captive in many negative strongholds, mostly regret, depression, fear and worry. I survived from day to day with very little joy, trying to raise perfect kids and be the perfect mother. To get it right where I (wrongly) felt my parents had failed me. To make up for horrible decisions in my college years. I was going to raise Godly children if it was the last thing I did. I would shelter them from the ways of the world and anything secular. All that fear of exposure to the world and worry over their development left me exhausted, lifeless, and joyless. I was captive in my own stronghold that I had built to cope with my fear of the uncontrollable.
Never had I heard of joy being a stronghold. Not just joy, but the joy of the Lord. One commentary explains it this way: “This joy of the Lord is not the joy of the Lord over Israel; but Israel’s joy in her Lord.” (Bible Hub commentary on Nehemiah 8:10)
So it’s about me taking joy in my Lord.
Living a joy-filled life is about me taking great pleasure in the fact that I have a savior who has redeemed me. I can rest in this place of security (a God-centered stronghold), knowing that whatever the enemy throws my way, he still cannot take away my eternity in heaven. And by virtue of that, the enemy cannot take away my joy. Hallelujah!
In the New Testament Jesus gives us more insight into joy:
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” (John 15:10-12, NIV, emphasis added)
How do we find and keep that elusive Joy?
Loving each other = keeping his commands = remaining in his love = Jesus’ joy inside of me = ability to love as Jesus loves = keeping his commands = remaining in his love = COMPLETE JOY
You get the picture. Love brings joy. No love, no joy. Great love, great joy.
Here’s the reality: I no longer want to control everything. It’s too much pressure, and God did not ask me to! I cannot control my children’s decisions, but I can love them. I cannot control the circumstances in my workplace, but I can be loving to my co-workers. I cannot make anyone else be anything other than who they are. All I can do is take control of my own thoughts and actions and love others well.
I don’t know about you, but I want me some of that COMPLETE JOY! So, from this day forward I will strive to make joy my stronghold and love my banner. I want to forget the past mistakes, let go of old strongholds and press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus has taken hold of me. Today, and every day, I choose JOY!
The Giving Spirit
In the short years that God has given me thus far, I have learned a great deal about joy.
Romans 14:17 says “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating or drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” I have found this verse to be true in the spirit of good will towards others. The giving spirit -- the act of giving and enriching other people’s lives -- is one of the most joyful things a person can possess.
Being a Christian people, we are called not only to give to the world, but also to be unselfish in it. In 2 Corinthians 9:7, it says “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” We are meant to be joyful in our giving. It shouldn’t be a pain or a chore. We should want to give, not feel compelled to because it’s “what we do.” We give because we love our fellow human beings as God does.
The giving spirit and the gracious heart are the gold stars of a Christian, the greatest accolades that God can bestow. How does one get these heavenly honors? Simple. You give joyfully, and you show others God’s love in the joy of doing so.
My mother had this quote below taped to my bathroom door for years:
“Do all the good you can.
By all the means you can.
In all the ways you can.
In all the places you can.
At all the times you can.
To all the people you can.
As long as ever you can.”
- John Wesley
I looked at it every day as I grew up. It made a significant, yet subconscious impact on me. It is simple reminder that we always have the opportunity to give to others and to spread joy while doing it.
Giving to others and helping other people to have joy is one of the very best ways to show God’s love to the world. By being a blessing to others, we show the world the true tenets of Christianity: kindness, grace and joyfully following our calling to spread God’s love to the world.
Time is the most valuable things that God has given us. Each day is a new blessing, another day to journey on the path God has created. The most rewarding thing we can do is give our time to help others. It’s really simple. There’s no feeling like that of truly helping someone who is in need of your time and some joy in their life. There are thousands of ways to do it. Whether it’s smiling at strangers as you walk through the grocery store; sponsoring a Philippines Scholar; or going out of your way to make life a little easier for someone else, even if you don’t see their point of view. There is overflowing joy in the aid of our fellow humans.
There is not only joy for the receiver but also for the giver. God blesses the kind heart that gives with joy. There is an infinite amount of joy to be had and given in this lifetime. It must be our ever-constant goal to give as much as we can. Those who cling to their gifts from God will not receive many. God’s gifts are intended to be shared with others, not kept to ourselves. When we are selfish, we really hurt ourselves as well as deprive others of the joy we are meant to share.
The selfish heart hurts everyone, including themselves. To be selfish is completely against the calling of Jesus and his ministry. God gave us everything when He gave us Jesus. He didn’t withhold His dearest treasure at humanity’s expense. He gave willingly, for our joy in Him to come. The least we can do is give freely to one another out of joy and love, as a means to honor God’s giving to us.
It is through the enrichment of others’ lives that our Christian mission is fulfilled. When we pour love and joy into others’ lives, we leave God’s love and joy in that place as a lifelong blessing. When we make the lives of others’ better, we do the same to our own. So why wouldn’t we take every opportunity to reach out and share our loving joy? The Lord’s joy in giving is clearly made for sharing. Throw it around like confetti!
Wonderfully Made Joy
As worship music plays, an elementary boy claps and jumps with a smile filling his face. Bible verses are memorized while writing, swinging, stacking blocks, or walking around the room. There may be time in a large group, a typical classroom, or the sensory room. The Wonderfully Made ministry is designed to ensure children and adults with unique physical, emotional, or cognitive needs are provided the opportunity to worship and serve God to the best of their ability. Adults and teens serve as mentors or buddies, spending the church hour meeting the needs of one individual. I joined this ministry several years ago to assist a student in middle school. When I was asked to serve, I did not feel qualified, but I did feel the Holy Spirit leading me to say yes to this ministry opportunity. My initial reluctance, because I feared not knowing what to do, soon turned into weekly anticipation of spending time with my buddy. Initially I served once a month, then twice, and now three Sundays each month because I simply cannot stay away. Some of my buddies are non-verbal, while others are beginning to use language; there may be physical limitations or sensory needs, but each is capable of hearing the gospel and worshiping God.
Serving others means I will give of my time, my energy, my emotions, and my prayers. There is a cost to serving that must be considered; however, the rewards are often overwhelming. Watching the eyes of child light up as the music begins, having a preschooler sign and say “more” in the seconds between one song ending and the next beginning, hearing a loud “Amen!” from a mostly non-verbal child, and watching a little one flawlessly demonstrate the hand motions as a Bible verse is read cannot be described as anything other than pure joy. Explaining the feeling itself is difficult. The thesaurus does not contain a word that accurately depicts the feeling that explodes inside when you realize God has used you to minister to someone who is so eager to connect with Jesus Christ. I have begun to think of this as contagious joy. Just get close to the individuals in this ministry and you will be infected with their joy.
Because of the unique needs in Wonderfully Made, there are some difficult days. Our buddies are often not able to describe why a particular morning is harder than most or why they are not acting like they normally would. Even on these days, there is joy. We are able to teach them to pray when they struggle just as they do any other time. We continue to show them the love of Jesus, just like He loves us when our day isn’t going quite right. There is joy in helping our buddies see that God loves them and wants a relationship with them all the time.
I started serving in Wonderfully Made Ministry because I was asked. I continue because I find such great joy in watching the pure worship, love, and delight displayed by my buddies. They may not speak much, I may not always know what they are thinking or how much they are understanding; but I know they are worshiping Jesus, and I am beyond thankful to play a part in making sure they have the chance to do so. Each week that I am given the opportunity to serve in this ministry, I come away exhausted, but full of joy. It is a joy that is indescribable; and I invite you to come experience it for yourself. If you have ever considered serving in this ministry but kept putting it off, come spend a day with us. The joy is infectious!
Flame Volunteer Writer
By SHelley Baty
Flame Volunteer Writer
“Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.”
Joy. It is a word that could’ve been created solely for Hallmark Christmas movies. I can picture the final scene to pretty much any of those movies we moms binge watch during the Christmas season. There’s the previously broken and tattered family, filled with joy and recently reconciled. They are joined together in a beautiful living room adorned to its full Christmas glory, and they are all dressed perfectly in their season’s best, smiling gorgeously, and getting along happily. Such a beautiful scene! Then, as if on cue, snow starts to fall outside and is visible through the picture window. It will be a White Christmas after all! Sigh. Release the breath you didn’t even realize you were holding and grab a tissue to clear the tears from the corners of your eyes. Joy, pure joy. A big joy. A joy so big and beautiful that one wonders if they will ever experience it.
I asked a few people what brings them joy. One said singing. One said spending time in Godly places. Another said grandkids enjoying themselves at her house. Then someone turned the question back on me. They pointed to the cup in my hand and replied, “Coffee in a quiet place?” and laughed because they knew that was the truth. I enjoy watching my children do what they love and work hard at, and I enjoy a cup of coffee, alone and in the quiet. I don’t care if my coffee is plain black or dressed to the nines with cream, chocolate, cinnamon, and topped with whipped cream. I don’t even care if it’s good coffee. It just has to be coffee. The taste of ground and roasted beans brewed with simple water transports me to a nostalgic time. A time when my favorite person (my Grandmother) and I would sit at a small kitchen table drinking coffee so weak you could see the bottom of your cup. We could solve all of the world’s problems over a couple of cups of coffee. So you see, a cup of coffee reminds me of her, and her memory brings me joy.
There are so many things that can bring us joy: places, times, relationships, activities. Is joy that blissful moment we have to wait until all the elements line up perfectly to experience? Do we always have to wait for joy to come to us? Nope! The Bible tells us: “Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.” Psalms 47:1. 1 Peter 1 proclaims that because we are Christians and believe in Jesus, we are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy. We are filled with this joy as the end result of our faith and the knowing of our soul’s salvation. Funny, the Bible doesn’t say that we are filled with joy because we have the perfect home, or because we are without strife of any kind. We, as Christians, are simply filled with joy because we believe in Jesus.
“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:8-9 NIV.
How do we go from the Hallmark Christmas movie idea of joy to an every day, much more tangible joy? We stop waiting for the big moment when everything comes together to form a beautiful joyous scene ready for the big screen. Our joy comes from the Lord, even when we experience strife. We believe in a God that is capable of anything, and He says that we are already filled with joy. We simply have to find it! We have to find our joy amidst our own busyness. When your family makes it out the door to school on time in the morning, JOY! When your less-than-empty gas tank gets you to the gas station without running out, JOY! When your children do their homework before you ask, JOY! Your favorite flower is in bloom outside your window, JOY! You ate your meal while it was still hot, JOY! We are Christians. We are already filled with joy! We just have to let the small things remind us of the biggest joy that has already filled us.
By Dave Merrill
I hold great hope in my Christian walk through many key life verses. Among them are Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” and 1 Thessalonians 5:16, “Be joyful always!”
So what does it look like, what does it feel like, and what does it take to always rejoice? Is it even possible? Maybe this is just a passing thought from the apostle Paul in an attempt to encourage the churches he founded. Allow me to point out there are 449 verses in Scripture with commands to “rejoice”, to find “joy”, or to “enjoy”. 114 of those verses are in the New Testament. You may even recall the story in Luke, Chapter 2:10 regarding the birth of Jesus. “But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.’”
God’s will is for all people to rejoice at the good news of Christ Jesus. Paul’s first letter to the church at Thessalonica mentioned above follows up “be joyful always” with the words “...for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” That is good news and newsworthy to share with others and celebrate with joy in our hearts.
I have adopted a habit to reflect my life verse at the close of all my correspondence, whether letters, texts, or e-mails. Instead of “Yours truly” or “Sincerely”, I simply complete my thoughts on paper or in electronic media with “Rejoicing always, Dave”. Many people over the years have commented how much they have been cheered by that salutation and have expressed thanks for it. While some may discount my joy in their reading (likely because of their absence of happiness in life), let me make a clear distinction between joy and happiness.
Do you always see me smiling? No. Do I ever experience sorrow, grief, or pain in my life? Yes. Are there times in my life I am unhappy? Of course there are. Joyfulness is not defined by the presence of a smile, nor by the absence of grief, sorrow, or pain. Joyfulness is not happiness. I have heard Pastor Shane say many times that “happiness is a response to external stimuli, but joyfulness is an internal condition of the heart.” Our hearts can be joyful without our faces projecting happiness. Our joy reflects our supreme confidence in the eternal saving grace of Jesus despite conditions of this world. We are taking joy in His Kingdom, living in His will, and walking in His Way.
I will be honest with you, it is sometimes very difficult for me to sign-off from correspondence “rejoicing always.” When a friend delivers bad news, when a grievous error is found in an important document, or when disciplinary action is the order of the day, I hesitate to close “rejoicing always”... yet I do. I want people to know that regardless of my situation in life, there is reason to rejoice. Hebrews 10:34 highlights an example of those who “sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.” Let us count our blessings and the joy of knowing Christ as a condition superior to any hardship we may face in this world.
I think 2 Corinthians 6:4-10 expresses these thoughts as well as any other verses of Scripture. “As servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.” This is the LORD’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
May you experience the kind of joy I am speaking of in this article. May you find indescribable joy in knowing Jesus as your LORD. May you share your joy with others and help them know the joy that cannot be experienced outside a relationship with our Savior.
By AMANDA CATES
Dir. Of Children’s Ministries
“Trust in the Lord with all of your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do and He will show you which path to take.”
By Ashley Sanders
By David Huff
I am an English major. Words should be easy for me. Sometimes they seem less than clear or adequate. Happiness. Joy. Contentment. How do we define or differentiate? I find happiness seems to depend on circumstances. When I get what I like or want, I am happy. I am happy with vanilla ice cream in a waffle cone. I am happy when I get a meal that truly satisfies my personal tastes. Steak and seafood come to mind. I am happy when things go my way and everything seems to fit in my preferred view of the world. But it does not create joy in my heart.
Paul says in his letter to Thessalonica that we should “be joyful always”. To the Philippians he says “Rejoice”. Repeatedly, the man who was arrested, beaten, imprisoned, and, ultimately, martyred, speaks of joy. Clearly this is something greater than happiness. So, I think joy comes more from a transformed, freed, enlivened soul. It is something that occurs when we live deeply out of transformation and conversion. It is evidenced in small ways rather than large ones. My family is slowly but assuredly helping me to understand the difference. Several years ago, at my lowest point, happiness was not even perceptible, let alone present. Suicide seemed like a preferable option. My children talked to me. They said something I have never forgotten: “We need our daddy.” It was not a moment of joy. But the door of possibility began to open. The truth of a Christ who redeems and offers hope at least became a glimpse.
I began to look for joy. It is not always an overwhelming feeling. It often comes in small, surprising ways. The other day, I stopped at my youngest daughter’s house; I had forgotten my phone the night before. I walked into the house, only to be greeted by Elyse. She is an exuberant 3-year old who loves me dearly, “Boppi, you forgot your phone. Here it is!” I hugged her and went to the door to leave. She stood in the doorway waving goodbye the entire time. She loves me so much. Deryn, my youngest granddaughter, will run to me with great excitement every time she sees me. When I see my wife first thing in the morning, I marvel that such a beautiful, incredible woman has chosen to spend life with me.
I have begun to cherish and appreciate every little moment in life. My wife, my children, my grandchildren, my friends, my Lord—they all teach me joy. It rests in my soul. It grows. It sustains. It shapes. It fills my being. I know it sounds goofy, or even shallow, but I have learned contentment, because of the joy that fills my soul.
“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.” –Paul, to the Philippians
“O Lord, The house of my soul is too small; enlarge it that you may enter in. It is in ruins; repair it!” –St Augustine
"But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you"- Psalm 5:11
Flame Volunteer Writer
Tears Of Joy
Flame Volunteer Writer
As I write this, there are tears. Tears of joy perhaps but maybe also tears of pain. Can there be joy and tears concurrently? What is joy? Having everything go your way and as planned? Or is it knowing that no matter what circumstance you are in now or lies ahead, your heavenly Father is with you always and you have constant access to His joy? It’s been almost a year since my husband Dwight and I found out that we miscarried one of our identical twin boys at 17 weeks gestation last year. Since then, we have had frequent doctor visits with our precious six month old baby Levi who has had low platelets since birth. He has had at least weekly platelet transfusions and what seems like endless tests and labs drawn with no answers to the cause. He is soon getting a bone marrow transplant and will be hospitalized for 4 to 6 weeks and homebound for 6 months after that. Where do we go from here? Where do we find joy in all of this? Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us to “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do and He will show you which path to take.”
Many times, life throws us events we don’t understand or wouldn’t choose. We have absolutely no control over them but we do have control of how we react to them. We have the opportunity to learn and grow from these events, or be stagnant and let them overcome us. Most importantly, we have the choice to lean in closer to God. True joy is found in His presence. I have been caught in tailspins of emotions during this last year that have been completely valid and called for, and have lost my joy when I have not surrendered all things to Christ. There might be times where we don’t “feel” like we should be joyous and surrender those “feelings” but Philippians 4:6-7 instructs us to no be anxious about anything but make our requests known to God by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving. Sometimes we spend our life worrying about things we have no control over. We’re worried about tomorrow and sometimes even things that never happen. We must remember that each day has troubles of its own and we don’t need to worry about tomorrow. Part of having faith is not having to see everything before believing and seeing them come into fruition.
Choosing joy during a challenging life circumstance is never easy. If I’ve learned anything over this past year, it is that the good “top of the mountain” seasons help us to get a glimpse of God’s glory. We usually experience happiness in these times. Happiness many times gets confused with joy but they aren’t the same thing. Happiness is the temporary feeling we have when circumstances are going our way but joy … joy is the never-ending state that isn’t affected by our circumstances because God is present. Joy is living our purpose out. It’s saying yes to Jesus on the daily, hourly, and minutely. It’s remembering that our lives are not our own and He indeed does have our best interest in mind, even when we don’t see our desired result immediately. Levi is our son but he, along with us, belongs to God. We are on this earth to live for Him and represent Christ to a lost world. God has entrusted us with a precious baby that we are simply called to raise as a man of God. If that would be six months or a lifetime, we have simply learned to be available to be used by Him.
What area in your life are you holding back that’s stopping the joy of the Lord from pouring into your life? Joy comes in the morning. It’s fresh and new every day. Embrace it. Wake up with a joyful and thankful heart. Joy comes from God and God alone. Joy is constant no matter what your circumstances are and happiness is an emotion that can change in an instant. The peace and joy that has been with Dwight and me is unexplainable. God is not finished with us yet. Our story does not end here. We don’t have joy because everything is going our way or have even the slightest idea of what lies ahead but because our God is good. He is constant, He has our best interest in mind, He loves us, He loves you and always will.
What made you decide to attend this church?
My mom and stepdad attended for a few years and then I started working here. After awhile it became my home/family. Finally, I fully committed myself to attending because I realized just how much I needed God and I knew this was a great place to start based on what I had seen and experienced over the years.
What do you think delights God above everything else?
When we choose to make God a priority in our lives and not just a convenience or an option.
What extremely difficult life situation have you overcome and how did you do it?
I went through my divorce. Before the process began, I realized I was going to need God if I was going to survive and make it to the other side. I threw myself at the mercy of God and handed over the reigns.
When is it most difficult to trust God? What about trusting other people?
When I have the false illusion that I’m in control or have some capability of taking control of the situation. When they have full control and I have to simply trust them to do what right. (I have control issues. Can you tell?!)
When you think about God – what is the first thing that comes to mind?
Love and forgiveness.
What would you do if you didn’t have to work?
Travel literally any and everywhere. I want to see the world. I want to be immersed in nature.
Do you attend a small group? How has this changed your relationships?
Yes, I have an incredible support group and have been blessed with the opportunity to guide and lead a younger group of women who all are actively seeking to grow their relationship with God. Being the leader of the group, it has made me even more aware of how I act and behave around others. I want to lead by example, not just by words.
What don't you want said at your funeral?
She’s was a really great worker, but never had any time for her friends or family. She was just too busy.
What have you learned recently from another Christian?
I’ve learned the importance of not only reading the Bible, but also understanding how important it is to understand the context!
Do you have a nickname?
Wrecka/Airwrecka/Rex/E-Dawg - I basically answer to anything at this point. There’s a good chance people are starting to forget my real name
What is your motto?
Have you ever met a famous person?
Yes….not exactly excited to brag about it, but my mom made me go. I met Paris Hilton.
What jobs have you done?
Gymnastics Coach, Waitress, Chick Fil A, Office Manager, Children’s Ministry.
Which do you prefer, sunrises or sunsets?
Sunrise. I love watching everything come alive.
What makes you feel most alive?
Spending time with friends and family. I thrive off of being around those I love.
What is your weirdest quirk?
I LOVE dad jokes. I’m pretty upset I’m not a dad because it’s not called dad jokes when I make them….they’re just called cheesy then.
What drives you every day?
Who do you respect the most?
My Dad. I have admired how he has handled life with such grace and how he’s always working to improve himself. He’s an incredibly hard worker and filled with so much compassion and love for others.
What were you like when you were a kid?
Quiet, polite, shy, peacemaker - Still mostly true today, but I highly doubt anyone would call me quiet
What would your dream house be like?
Isolated in the middle of a forest. Wood cabin with floor to ceiling windows so I can enjoy all of nature’s beauty.
What advice would you offer to a newlywed couple?
Keep God at the center and communication truly is key. You lose those and all of the pieces fall apart without them.
Student Ministry Administrator
Whatever Zack needs me to do!
Flame Volunteer Writer
By Patrick Herwig
Getting To Know You
When you think of joy, exuberance and happiness come to mind. I’m going to tell you how I found that through loss.
In 6th grade, I started a new school. Everything about this school was different than the last. I went from a large school where I was gifted in sports and close to my friends to a class of 12 where I was considered “poor” and bullied for just being different. I lost a lot in this change. I did not like coming to school, talking about school, nor anything that reminded me of that building.
As time went on, however, I made a friend named Mike who stuck with me through high school into my adulthood. We respected each other and brought out the best in each other. A quote I found painted on a tile was “A friend is one who sees your first act and stays for the show.” That’s how we were.
Fast forward to adulthood. Mike and I had lost touch. I became a person who could make my own decisions. Before I came to Christ, I was drinking everything put in front of me, indulging in every transgression that came across my path, and I had “friends” that pulled me further into immorality. I would go to a hundred different places a week but always end up the same way: alone.
Sobriety: restrained, sedate, controlled, content. You don’t expect to find joy in sobriety. There is a lot to get through while working on yourself. To me, being sober is the greatest gift I gave to myself. It gave me freedom to operate on my terms, to love what I wanted to love, and to grow at the pace I wanted to.
With that said, I did lose a lot in my sobriety. I lost comfort in my warm intoxication. I lost my identity. I lost people I depended on to be there and to wallow in the mud of negativity with me. By constantly searching for something I thought would complete me, I lost my way. Letting these things go meant I had to go to another school again. I had to start over and go through the hard knocks. I was tired; I was worn out both from performing for so long with my past and from the tough path ahead of me.
In my initial stages of my sobriety I found that alcohol was masking a lot of pain. Pornography, infidelity, and material goods were the underlying aftertaste I thought I needed to feel good. Although letting these things go was easier with a clear mind, it meant I did not have instant gratification. These things were depriving me of the rich and fulfilling life God wanted me to have.
But with loss comes joy. Here’s how: Letting go gives you the chance to grab something so much better! When I let go of the bottle, I grabbed the Bible. The first passage I wrote in my journal was Luke 11: 23: “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” God has already won the battle, why be on the losing side? When I chose to be clean, people scattered. But those who gathered with me pushed me to do better, held me accountable, and helped me become the spiritual leader my family deserved.
Jesus gave his life for me; the least I can do is lose my indiscretions, lose my need to feel good at the cost of myself and others. Losing all of these things made me realize how important I am in the eyes of God. Ultimately, losing everything I wanted gave me everything I needed. It gave me a new identity. Just like when I lost my old school, I gained Mike. Alone, I was weighed down by the actions of others. Together, we were strong enough to shield the worst.
Above all, I found more than joy, I found contentment. I can only find myself when I give myself to Him. Through all of the times I thought I was losing everything good, I was really gaining traction for the trials ahead: temptation, transgression and iniquity. By letting go and gathering with those who want Christ in their lives, I am stronger than ever. 2 Corinthians 12: 10 “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Delight Yourself, Even In Loss
March Average Worship: 2729
March Average Connection: 545
April Average Worship: 2923
April Average Connection: 372
May Average Worship: 2446
May Average Connection: 292
June Average Worship: 2212
June Average Connection: 238
" 22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law."
Galatians 5:22-23 New International Version (NIV)
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* = Confirmation
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Grace is God's all-reaching, never-ending, game-changing love for you and me. In this series, Jorge Acevedo and Wes Olds examine God's Word and discover how grace works in our lives and in our world. A Grace-Full Life seeks to answer the questions: In what ways is God an ever-present God?, Why does God want to have a personal relationship with me?, How can I fully experience and respond to God's grace?, How can I die well surrounded by God's grace?.
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