The Truth About Joy

Recently, someone commented to me her admiration for my joyful spirit and positive attitude. In that moment, there was no sense of flattery in my heart. I was thankful that she saw this in me, but deep in my heart, all I really wanted to do was to confess to her that my flesh was NOT joyful most of the time.

This is a reality of ministry life. We are expected to be joy-filled workers for Christ. We have nearly mastered the art of the “china doll” smile. You know what I’m talking about, right? That beautiful smile we wear, but that smile that is oh so fragile on the inside.

As a ministry wife, this smile, this type of “joy” is so difficult to wear. Our human nature so often wants to take over, and truly rips away at the back of the china mask. We are called to be the hands and feet of Christ. His leadership. His model of love and forgiveness. With Him, and only Him, we CAN BE all these things; however, that doesn’t keep us totally free from our sin nature. Honestly, how do you feel when you must show love to that person who recently ripped your husband to shreds? How do you want to respond when you’re tired from constant spiritual and physical battles that go along with church leadership? Joy is not a response I would choose for either of those or a thousand other situations in ministry.

So, how do we get past this “china doll” joy? I mean, at this point we should know the answer right? We should have it mastered, should we not? Come on ladies, don’t let the Enemy tear you down. We are not perfect! Just as Paul talks about in Romans 7, we will struggle, even when we know what is right. Our freedom comes in knowing that, and most of all in knowing the Father of freedom! Give it to God ladies. There will only be false joy in our lives until we do.

Unfortunately, ministry life thrusts us into glass houses, not of our choosing, but of our calling. We are expected by many to live unrealistically perfect Christian lives. We aren’t allowed, by many, to fail, or be angry, or be hurt, etc. We must carefully chose who we trust, who sees our tears and hurts, and who knows our frustrations. But we can live in JOY!

Joy is found in the freedom of the gospel! Joy is found by giving our hurts and fears to God! Don’t carry the weight of the world, His yoke is easy and His burden is light! He is our JOY!

psalm87_7

I’ve found when my true joy starts waning, that reading Paul’s writings help tremendously. (Philippians & 1-2 Timothy are my favorites from a ministry perspective.) He endured it…joyfully! He knew the source of his strength!

Oh, my sweet sisters, I pray JOY for you! I pray for freedom from unrealistic expectations that steal your joy. I pray for comfort in the arms of your Abba Father!

Be joy-filled!

-De

Some days we just need a little extra encouragement, don’t we?

The past few weeks, for me, have been tough ones for many reasons. But in the midst of it all, my Abba Father has been so faithful to speak comfort into my heart.

We are His children! He loves us more deeply than we could ever fathom!

Today, as I was praying over my quiet time, the Spirit drew me to James. I sometimes forget how much I love this book. Yes, there is encouragement here, but James also gives us many reminders to check-up on our heart attitudes.

When we feel wronged, it’s human nature to lash out. That’s not our Father’s nature, and we are to reflect Him.

I encourage you today, pray & read through this short book. Take a look at your reflection in God’s mirror. Are you reflecting Him or the world in word and deed?
I definitely need to do some polishing on my reflection today!

**Father, thank You for Your mercy! Thank you for love us and allowing us to be imperfect children, but also for reminding us to strive to perfectly reflect You! Help us to daily check our heart attitudes for anything that is not of You. Heal our brokenness and help us to live in the fullness of Your joy everyday! Amen!**

Be blessed!

-De

A Call to End the Silence

My heart has been so heavy over the past weeks…maybe months. I no longer have the desire to turn on the daily news. I barely ever want to peek at social media because in the desire to see what my friends and loved ones are up to, I’m bombarded with the craziness that is occurring in our world.

I’ve found myself wishing it would just all go away. (Yes, I know, lovely attitude there…just being real.)

As I sat in prayer this morning, God spoke louder to me something He’s been whispering to me for a while.

stop being silent

Church, we’ve been too silent for too long! What has our silence brought us? Just look around!

  • Churches across the nation are more divided than EVER…and NOT over things that matter.
  • Reaching the lost for Christ has become more difficult because too many “Christians” do not live out what they claim to believe.
  • Sin nature in our country has overtaken our culture partly because Christians have taken their focus off of evangelism & discipleship.

I could continue a nice long list, but that’s not the point.

The point is that we need to WAKE UP! We need to rediscover the urgency of the Gospel! We need to STOP attacking each other over things that don’t matter! We need to STEP UP and PRAY for our leadership (both in the church and the nation) before we open our big mouths to tear them down to others. And, maybe, let’s be a little more Christlike and NOT tear them down anyway, just pray and pray some more.

Christians, we need to UNITE & PRAY like never before. We don’t have time for our petty differences of opinions. There are lost people dying and going to hell at a faster rate than I’ve ever seen. We need to grab onto Christ, bind ourselves to Him and His mission, and GO for what is absolutely the most important ride of our lives!

We can no longer be silent about our faith. We must fulfill the great commission. We must GO! We must TELL! We must LIVE a life fueled by and filled with the LOVE of Christ!

Matthew 28:18-20

Ephesians 4:1-6

1 John 3:11-24

1 John 4:7-21

1 Corinthians 15:1-5

Be blessed & LOUD!

-De

 

A Little Bit of Worship

My hubby and I have had many conversations recently about worship.  (Of course, over the Christmas break we traveled 1800+ miles, so there was LOTS of time to talk.) Our observation is that the majority of Christ followers just don’t truly know how to worship God anymore.  Is it that we aren’t taught?  Is it that we’ve simply forgotten due to lack of practice?  Where has it gotten lost?

Worship goes beyond singing songs on Sunday morning.  (For those who actually participate in that part of the services.)  Shouldn’t worship be how we live our lives for God?  I love this statement from Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary’s definition of worship:

All true worshipers must worship God in “spirit and in truth.” That is, true worship takes place on the inside, in the heart or spirit of the worshiper (cf. Psalm 45:1 ; 103:1-2 ). Worship pleasing to God must be unfeigned and transparent, offered with a humble and pure heart ( Psalm 24:3-4 ; Isa 66:2).

That doesn’t sound so difficult, does it.  Worship is simply our humble, heart-felt offerings to God.  Worship can happen when we are alone or with our church family.  Worship can happen while scrubbing the bathroom (crank up some praise music and offer Him your heart while doing that chore you despise) and during silent prayer in the middle of church.  Your heart is where it begins! 

When was the last time you were overwhelmed with the presence of God?  I mean that speechless place where no words or songs or sounds you could utter seemed worthy enough for Him.  But also that place when you knew that you were so wrapped in the Holy Spirit that you didn’t need to make a sound, and you simply lifted your heart and hands to the Father to offer Him your purest worship.

Oh, my sisters, that is a place I want to live!!  No, it doesn’t happen every day, but when it does…my heart cries out to my Abba Father, the joy of the Lord fills every inch of my being, and I offer Him the best of what I have to give…as unworthy as that may truly be.

Just offer ALL of yourself to Him.  Humble yourself & let Him lead you.  Pray that He will guide your worship.  Pray that He will free you to worship, if that needs to be your prayer.  And simply worship Him in spirit and truth!

Be blessed!

-De

I Will Be Audacious!

I just sat down on my couch after a blessed, blessed day! Our church hosted the Living Proof Live Simulcast today, & what a WORD God gave to Mrs. Beth!

Leading up to the event, I prayed for God to speak to the women who attended. To move in their heart. To prepare a word just for them. Here’s what I didn’t expect…He prepared a word just for ME!

Backstory: My hubby and I, for years, have prayed that no matter what, we would do what God calls us to do. Whether to go or stay and serve, just to follow Him & hear His direction. Now, for sometime now God has been building a ministry calling within me in addition to were He has me now. He has given me a great passion for worship leadership, & I adore preparing His church to approach His throne in worship. But, He has also been speaking a ministry of encouragement to ministry wives (and women in ministry) to my heart. My pastor hubby has been diligent in asking me what my hold-up is. Why haven’t I just stared DOING it? My answer has always been, I don’t feel prepared & most of all I don’t feel confident enough in myself to speak to these women. Fear ladies, it’s all fear. And we know who is the author of that fear!

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When Christ is the Supreme Romance of our lives, we can do ANYTHING!!!  Even face/conquer our fears!!!  Praise Jesus!!

Thank you Mrs. Beth (if by some miracle chance you read this) for calling me out! “Zero confidence in the flesh! 100% confidence in the Holy Spirit!”  Thank you for helping me realize that I can be Audacious! I am a mighty woman of God because Christ lives in me! Because Christ lives in me I can do anything that God has called me to do, or speak, without fear!!

“I’ve got the guts to give Him the glory!”

Be blessed & be AUDACIOUS!

-De

Have Things Really Changed?

Every night, before bed, my hubby and I always spend some time together watching a little TV or movies.  It’s just something we’ve always done.  Usually it’s episodes from some of our favorite shows (Doctor Who, LOST, Once Upon A Time, Friends), nothing too serious.  Occasionally we’ll find a movie to spread over a couple nights, also, generally light-hearted flicks.  But over the past two nights we changed that a little bit.  We finally relented and let a movie that we’ve put off for several years move to the top of our Netflix DVD queue.  One, most people our age watched years ago, but that for some reason, we’d both avoided. Schindler’s List.

Being a huge lover of history, I’d always wanted to watch it.  But, anyone who has ever studied that part of world history also knows why I’ve always avoided it.  It’s painful. Very painful.  I still can’t wrap my mind around the Holocaust.  It just doesn’t make sense to me.  How?  Why?  What were they really thinking?  I mean…there are no words, only a million questions.  I will never understand how anyone could justify any of that.

But what has weighed heavy on my mind and heart since we finished the film last night…have things really changed?

Sure, the scale of genocide that occurred then was massive, and things like that don’t happen very often even on a small scale.  But the hatred.  The pure hatred of people who are the slightest bit different…has that changed in our society?  Watch the news for 5 minutes and you’ll know it hasn’t.

Most of culture doesn’t seem to value life.

Just because your ethnicity is different than mine, doesn’t mean you don’t have value.

Just because your lifestyle doesn’t line up with what I believe, doesn’t mean you don’t have value.

Just because you worship (or don’t worship) a god that isn’t my God, doesn’t mean you don’t have value.

Just because you were “unplanned” doesn’t mean you don’t have value.

LIFE IS VALUE!

You live. You breathe. Your heart beats. You think. You love. You hurt. You laugh. YOU HAVE VALUE!

For You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are Your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in Your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. Psalm 139: 13-16

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We will never all agree on lifestyles, religions, etc.  But disagreeing doesn’t mean we have to hate.

Christian sisters & brothers, please, oh please, hear this.  Christ called us to love the world.  LOVE.  Don’t be confused or misled. Take a lesson from Paul:

Romans 12 English Standard Version (ESV)

A Living Sacrifice

12 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Gifts of Grace

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

Marks of the True Christian

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Be blessed!

-De

And I Almost Gave Up

Don’t you just love how God can reach out and smack you in the head sometimes?  I don’t know about you, but I need it on occasion, and today was one of those occasions.

Yesterday afternoon, the hubby and I were sitting at our kitchen table discussing Bible studies.  I was lamenting how I was really wanting a good, beyond surface level study to do during my quiet time.  Not a book on spiritual formation, or a feel-good 2 minute study, but a real “dig in” kind of study.  He told me to go out and find one. (I love him and his simplistic answers.)

Background: A few months ago, a friend from seminary posted on facebook that she was seeking some accountability as she wanted to go through Beth Moore’s 90 Day Journey with Paul.  I had the book already, so I said sure.  We formed a little group on fb and got started.  Shortly after this, we were called to a new church and the task of moving began.  As much as I tried to keep up studying, I failed, and Paul got packed away with everything else.

I got so far behind everyone else, I thought to myself, why bother picking it back up.  Catching up isn’t going to happen.  You know, I was really rather embarrassed to let the other ladies in the group know how far behind I was.

Back to Yesterday:  I mentioned to my hubby that I had been enjoying the study, while I was doing it.  It may not have been as “deep” as what I thought I wanted, but it didn’t really matter now.  I was so far behind there was no point in picking it back up.  He lovingly gave me that “whatever you think you should do” look, and we continued on with a new conversation.  (Ladies, don’t you just love how your fellas can speak a million words with just a look.)

This morning, I put my risen sour dough loaves in the oven to bake, fixed my cup of coffee and sat down with my Bible.  Not really having a clear direction, I felt nudged to go grab Paul from my desk.  Here’s what was at the end of our little lesson:

How does it help to know that a real enemy is engaged in battle against you, an actual foe who is seeking to deceive you and distract you? Rather than suffering endless pangs of guilt over your inconsistency or weakness of character, does it strengthen your muscle to know that your acts of obedience are blows against Satan’s army? This is war! Wanna fight?

Thanks for that, Beth!  God has used your words to smack some sense into me this morning.  I was so wrapped up in me and what I had failed to do. I was allowing the enemy to distract me from the whole point.  Here was my reply to her question:

It helps me to not condemn myself as harshly. It’s so easy to forget that the enemy has an army surrounding us, trying to beat us down & prevent us from getting in the Word, & spending time in prayer. We should acknowledge our victories!  Celebrate them & then seek them our more often.

distractions

It’s so easy to allow Satan to distract us every day.  And after a while, we start blaming ourselves, beating ourselves up because we were distracted.  Then, we just want to write the whole thing off, and never get God’s blessing for us.  So what if you get behind in your quiet time?  Here’s a thought…pick it back up!  Proclaim a victory!  Be obedient and give the enemy the blow he deserves!  Rejoice in your victories over Satan’s distractions!  Keep at it!  Distractions will happen!  Worry more if they don’t!  When Satan sees you as a threat, he’s going to pound you with everything he’s got.  Kids are going to need you.  The phone is going to ring.  People will knock on the door.  Etc, etc, etc.

Let me end this with Beth’s prayer from 1 Peter 5:8-10

We heed Your call, Lord, to be sober, to be on alert! For our adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. May we resist him, Lord, firm in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are being experienced by our brothers in the world–knowing, too, that You, the God of all grace, who called us to Your eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will personally restore, establish, strengthen, and support us after we have suffered a little.

Don’t give up!  Don’t let Satan beat you down with distractions and life.  Let’s celebrate our victories (even the smallest ones) together!

Be blessed!

-De