Turning Sorrow Into Biblical Joy

I have found that sorrow is not only a natural part of life, but it is something we deal with more often than we would like to admit.  While there is sorrow all around us, there are times when our sorrow is deep, long-lasting and at times, all encompassing. Sorrow, when left alone can lead to depression, despair and total discouragement. I have found that type of sorrow can grip you and take hold of your entire life and keep you in a state of seeing “no light at the end of the tunnel”. I also know this is a place that Satan would like to keep every believer. For if we wallow in this grief and despair we are living under self-pity and allowing the enemy to win the battle. Sometimes it takes a Godly friend to confront someone who is in this state and give them sound Biblical advice. Biblical joy is a choice that one MUST make if he or she is to live ABOVE the circumstances of life. Biblical joy, as I have told my children, is not something that comes naturally, but is a CHOICE to walk in the light, in spite of our present difficulties. Over the last 3 years I have had to choose Biblical joy more often than anytime in my life to get through a day, or an hour or sometimes the present moment. Happiness is nothing more than an emotional feeling of glee when things are going our way, but this emotion only lasts when we get what we want like a small child. Anybody, believer or non-believer, can have happiness, but only a child of the king can have Biblical joy.

A dictionary definition of happiness is “a state of well-being, a pleasurable or satisfying experience.” The definition of the word “rejoice,” from which our word “joy” comes, is “to feel great delight, to welcome or to be glad.” Depending on the translation, the Bible uses the words “happy” and “happiness” about 30 times, while “joy” and “rejoice” appear over 300 times.

The word “joy” comes from the Greek root wordcharaand means “to be exceedingly glad.”James 1:2says, “Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials.” How could we ever consider going through difficulties and trials a reason to feel joy?James 1:3-4 gives us a clue when it says, “Knowing that the testing of our faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” The deep, abiding joy comes as we persevere through trials, with God’s help, and our faith matures and is strengthened. So happiness tends to be fleeting and depends upon temporal factors like circumstances or other people.


Joy, on the other hand, is true contentment that comes from internal factors like our faith in the Lord. True joy is everlasting and not dependent upon circumstances. The book of Philippians is a great study in the difference between joy and happiness. Written by the Apostle Paul while imprisoned in Rome, this book uses the words “joy,” “rejoice,” and “joyful” 16 times and teaches us how to have true contentment in Jesus Christ, despite our circumstances. In chains and aware that his life was coming to an end, Paul talks about his faith and trust in Christ and how it had changed his whole perspective on suffering. InPhilippians 1:12-24, Paul says that because of his two-year imprisonment (Acts 28:30), the whole Roman guard heard the gospel from him, and it had even spread throughout all of Rome. In verse 18 Paul says, “What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice, yes, and I will rejoice.” Paul goes on to encourage others to have peace knowing that God strengthens us (Philippians 4:13) and “supplies all our needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

So the Bible teaches that happiness is fleeting because it often depends on things outside of ourselves, but true joy is eternal because it is based on our relationship with Jesus Christ, which is itself an everlasting source of joy.

Read more:http://www.gotquestions.org/joy-happiness.html#ixzz3B89BQUBw

Happiness is more momentary, as it is a result of short-term contentment, while joy is long lasting. There were so many days, when my life was turned upside down, that I had to choose Biblical Joy.

Read more: Difference Between Joy and Happiness | Difference Between | Joy vs Happiness http://www.differencebetween.net/miscellaneous/difference-between-joy-and-happiness/#ixzz3B8NPzZ39

When I was in my deepest and darkest moments, and there were more in the first year of our ordeal, than in all of my life combined, there were days and days I did NOT choose joy. I saw the circumstances, knew it came from those who claimed to be believers and pastors/deacons/SS teacher, and could not see past my hurt and pain. I asked God why. Why would you allow this to come upon me and my family? I have served you for over 20 years in the ministry, left our families, and gave it all for you and this is what I get in return. I was mad at those who did this TO us, but in the end there was some bitterness and resentment towards God. I understood hurt and disappointment from the world, but this was coming from within “the church” and from those who were pastors and leaders. This was coming from those who were trying to cover up their own sins and transgressions and were throwing me and my family “under the bus” to save their own skin or so they thought.

In the end I HAD to choose joy. I HAD to trust in Him, no matter the feelings and deep hurt. I HAD to believe he was and is in control, even when my life was out of control. I HAD to choose joy. What else could I do? While this should always be our first response, there are times in our lives when it isn’t. What I should have turned to in the beginning, was where God brought me to in the end.

When you lose your ministry, your income, your reputation (even though we were exonerated), your house, all of your savings and are working 3 part time jobs at $8-10 an hour that is easier said than done. We had no insurance, but needed medicine and doctor’s visits, but could not afford them. We could not pay our house note and had to turn the house back over to the bank. We lived under a cloud of suspicion by those who knew the truth, but kept it under a cloud of confusion and lies. My wife and I felt all alone and without direction. We had lost everything, but the Lord, each other, our children and those who were close to us and were there by our side EVERY day. The pain, grief, sorrow and endless nights with little sleep wore on us, but it especially took its toll on me and my walk with the Lord, relationship with my wife and children. I hurt to the point I could not feel anymore. I grieved to the point I could not cry anymore. I felt so much pain that I could not feel pain or hurt anymore. While I never considered taking my life, I had no reason to care about life anymore. My life was in disarray and I was spinning out of control. I used to always love life and looked forward to the next day. My wife and I used to say we hated it when it got dark, because the nights were so long and never seemed to end. But then morning came and reality sat in that my life mirrored nothing of the past. This is when we choose Biblical Joy.

Psalm 30 English Standard Version

Joy Comes with the Morning

 I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up

    and have not let my foes rejoice over me.
Lord my God, I cried to you for help,
    and you have healed me.
Lord, you have brought up my soul from Sheol;
    you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.[a]

Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints,
    and give thanks to his holy name.[b]
For his anger is but for a moment,
    and his favor is for a lifetime.[c]
Weeping may tarry for the night,
    but joy comes with the morning.

As for me, I said in my prosperity,
    “I shall never be moved.”
By your favor, O Lord,
    you made my mountain stand strong;
you hid your face;
    I was dismayed.

To you, O Lord, I cry,
    and to the Lord I plead for mercy:
“What profit is there in my death,[d]
    if I go down to the pit?[e]
Will the dust praise you?
    Will it tell of your faithfulness?
10 Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me!
    Lord, be my helper!”

11 You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
    you have loosed my sackcloth
    and clothed me with gladness,
12 that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.
    Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!

 

This is my prayer. I want my life to be in God’s hands daily. I want to always choose Biblical Joy, no matter the circumstances.

 

The past 3 years have forever changed me and my family. I am living 1,000 miles from where I was, working 2 secular jobs and starting over financially. I am learning to trust again, though this has not been easy for me or my wife. Trusting pastors and leadership will take some time and God’s work in my life.

 

 

 

1 Thessalonians 5

18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

He sees the end from the beginning

He sees the end from the beginning.

It is difficult to understand and make sense of things that come at you, when it is from those that are supposed to be within the body of Christ. We all understand and expect the “world” to treat us bad and be harsh on those who claim the name of Christ. But when the very ones who are supposed to be partners in the ministry turn their backs on you and then stab you as you walk away it becomes more difficult.

These past 2 1/2 years has taught me alot. Much of it I didn’t want to learn or never did I expect I would have to encounter. When your best friend (at least I thought so) and senior pastor both lie, manipulate, and falsify to protect themselves it is hard to deal with. The very ones who preach the gospel of Jesus Christ were the very ones who turned on me and my family. I used to believe that cover ups and behind the scene corruption was done only in politics, but to see it in the body of Christ leaves a lasting scar that heals SLOWLY. I do know that He sees the end from the beginning.

I take refuge in several areas:

1.) My wife and best friend has been by my side EVERY day and has been my rock at all times.

2.) My children have been a blessing in so many ways. They have many questions I can’t answer, but they know God is in control and not man.

3.) I was blessed to have great support by my families. Both my physical and spiritual families helped me thru a most difficult time.

4.) And last, but most importantly the full knowledge that God is and has always been in control is what sustains me. I know that nothing has caught him off guard and by surprise. He will hold those accountable for their actions one day.

I know that He is never taken by surprise, for our past, present or future are before Him and in His grip all at once. An emergency to you or me is an opportunity in His overall purpose, a useful occasion for building trust, stretching our faith, teaching us to hope and nurturing our patience.

He sees the end from the beginning and I am thankful for that.

 

Romans 8:24-25

24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

This is known as perspective, the lens through which you choose to look at the things that matter in life.

The question I have to ask myself is, how will I deal with my personal crisis? Will I see it as an emergency or an opportunity? Is it a stumbling block or a steppingstone?

The moment you and I begin to see things through the heavenly lens, the picture becomes bearable, and we find strength.

While I know all of this to be true, there are days where this is VERY difficult to put into practice. I see the hurt in my wife and children. I see the loss of my home. I know our savings account is gone. I know I am not in the ministry and don’t know if I will ever take that step to trust a pastor or church again.

I do know He sees the end from the beginning. This brings me hope.

One of my favorite songs is Forgiven by Matthew West.


It’s the hardest thing to give away
And the last thing on your mind today
It always goes to those who don’t deserve

It’s the opposite of how you feel
When the pain they caused is just too real
It takes everything you have to say the word…

Forgiveness
Forgiveness

It flies in the face of all your pride
It moves away the mad inside
It’s always anger’s own worst enemy
Even when the jury and the judge
Say you gotta right to hold a grudge
It’s the whisper in your ear saying ‘set it free’

Forgiveness, Forgiveness
Forgiveness, Forgiveness

Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible
Forgiveness, Forgiveness
Help me now to do the impossible
Forgiveness

It’ll clear the bitterness away
It can even set a prisoner free
There is no end to what its power can do
So let it go and be amazed
By what you see through eyes of grace
The prisoner that it really frees is you

Forgiveness, Forgiveness
Forgiveness, Forgiveness

Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible
Forgiveness

I want to finally set it free
So show me how to see what Your mercy sees
Help me now to give what You gave to me
Forgiveness, Forgiveness
Forgiveness, Forgiveness
Forgiveness

I take great comfort knowing that He sees the end from the beginning.

God is not through with me yet. I have NO idea what the future holds, but I know He does.

Biblical anger is not bad

Biblical anger is not bad.

October 4, 2013

This was an old post that I re-read and thought it was worth passing along again. I know I needed to be reminded of it. I am 10 months removed from this post and ALOT has happened and I still don’t have answers to so many questions, but I do know that my God still loves me, cares for me and is there by my side. I am grateful for a loving and caring wife and children, Godly friends and a caring family.

Biblical anger is not bad.

As I have been working thru different emotions for months on end, one begins to wonder if any of these emotions are legitimate. A friend suggested a book that has been a blessing and a challenge all at once. When speaking on anger the writer suggests that anger can be good or bad, helpful or harmful. There are just and unselfish reasons for anger. There is anger when someone is misused or abused, or anger over an injustice done to you or a family member. This is valid anger with reasons for just demands, and it deserves careful reflection and purposeful expression.

But anger in itself-a normal, truly human emotion-is a morally neutral source of human energy, arousal, and excitement. Biblical anger is not bad. Anger can be harmful to us-physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially. But it may be transformative, regenerative, and renewing-in reforming a person, in driving him to shake off slaveries, in inspiring him to risk new possibilities, in empowering him to attempt new goals and make something new of his life. (The New Freedom of Forgiveness).

Disciplined anger, I have learned, can be both dynamic and potent. There is a place in the soul for such anger. Biblical anger is not bad, as long as the motives are pure .If we don’t feel deeply, care passionately, or speak for what is right, about injustice, when “anything goes”, when everything is tolerated, then all is lost. Disciplined anger focuses its demands on what is just and on what is good.

For months, early on, I was anger, bitter, confused and felt my world was spinning recklessly out of control. So many around me, who had walked with the Lord more years than I had even lived, were angry, hurt and bitter. They were hurt for me and my family first and foremost, but in the end, they were all angry at the injustice, un-Christlike behavior, and mean spirited actions of those in leadership position at the church they had so loved. There were times I questioned my emotions and feelings. I was, and still am, so hurt by those who I had loved so much. How could they cover up what they did to me and cover up their own lies to not look bad? Then I realized I could not do anything about what they had done to me and my precious family. That did not mean I didn’t have a right to be angry and mad. To deny these feelings and emotions, would be a lie to myself and others. Why would I be the only one to not be mad, upset and angry? Why would the one who had been lied one, mistreated and hurt at the deepest core possible not be mad? What I learned was anger, initially, was okay, but how I dealt with the anger would be a true test of my love and devotion to my Lord.

We are to use anger and not let it use us. We are to live out the depths of our thoughts and feelings. We are not to let them live our life for us. I knew I needed to learn to be reflective in how I responded and not reflexively as a reactor.

I often wondered how those who saw the injustice and were confronted with it, could just sit by passively. They had seen what was done, knew it to be true (even admitted it), but chose to do nothing. What I learned is that more and more people in our society and unfortunately in our churches, sit by as injustices are done and never step in. How many churches and believers have never reacted, become angry or lifted one finger for the cause of abortions, gay lifestyles, and other moral issues? Too many have become complacent, compliant, and confluent. They have forgotten how to be indignant! Too many people have learned to settle for what is. When they see evil and injustice, they are pained, but not revolted. They mumble, but rarely cry out. They sin by omission by not becoming angry.

My days are better than they were months ago. God’s penetrating word, his soft voice, Godly advice from men and women who walk daily with the Lord and the love of my family has moved my many steps forward. While most days are no longer filled with anger, there are days when certain names or reflections cause raw and real emotions of hurt and anger. When I see the DEEP and PAINFUL hurt in the eyes and feelings of my sweet and caring wife I am moved beyond words. Why would God allow such hurt to be placed on one so innocent and sweet as her? Why would my children be so hurt for no reason of their own?

Then I am reminded of something I read months ago. If you find yourself in a difficult and trying situation, know that God either placed you there or allowed you to be there for His purpose for reasons you may never know or understand. I hold to that, since I know it to be Biblically and personally true. God has a purpose and plan for this deep and lasting hurt and I may never know what it is. As a pastor friend told me, quit asking why, but what next Lord.

I bless the Lord for His word and for His movement in my life. May I be found obedient in all I say, think and do for His glory!

Faith tested produces endurance

Faith tested produces endurance.

James is one of those books I love to read and study. I am always challenged, encouraged and convicted in my area of faith. We all want to stand before our Father and hear well done my good and faithful servant.

I also want to be a man of “TRUE” biblical faith, that doesn’t let the circumstances and cares of this world dictate his faith.

James 1:2-4

Trials and Temptations

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Faith tested produces endurance.

James says that when our faith is tested our endurance has a chance to grow. What a concept that is so simple but true. Without the testing of our faith, how would we know if we had true and sustaining faith? It is in the testing of our faith that the true character of a person is exposed. Kind of like the old saying, when you squeezed a lemon, lemon juice comes forth, so what comes forth from me when I am squeezed? While neither I, nor any of us are perfect, what should come forth in trials and tribulations is the lasting and enduring faith that God, who brought me this far, will NOT leave nor forsake me. He is allowing our faith to be tested and tried and endurance to be increased.

Much like an athlete preparing for a race, he is working hard to increase his endurance so that he will be ready when the time comes for his challenge. We should be prayed up, studied up and have a heart that is geared up, when the trials come our way. It is too late, once we are hit with adversity, to try and get a quick fix of God. A distance runner does not wait until the week of the race to prepare. He has spent months, if not years, preparing himself for the race. We, as believers, should be prepared at any moment for whatever comes our way.

The result of being fully developed and ready will be a person who has strong character and ready for ANYTING. The true mark of a man/woman is not who he is in the good times, but in those times of hurt, pain and agony. For anyone can walk in the light of good days. Only a person who is well prepared and disciplined in His word and His faith will be ready when the hard times come their way.

Am I ready, geared up and prepared for those times? The scriptures encourage us to put on the full armor of faith. Prepare ourselves for battle, because the enemy is roaming to and fro waiting to devour those who are walking in step with Jesus.

Faith tested produces endurance.

I want to be a man who has been tested and found faithful.

Faith tested produces endurance.

Choosing joy in the midst of hurt

Choosing joy in the midst of hurt.

I have learned alot these past two years. One of the things I knew to be true has been magnified in the midst of my nightmare. As believers, we often have to choose joy in the midst of our hurt and pain. I know, as a follower of Christ, that there will be hard times, there will be struggles, and there will be times when life doesn’t make any sense. In those times, there is no way I can let me feelings, emotions or the circumstance dictate my obedience to Christ. In those times, I must choose the joy of the Lord.

Choosing joy in the midst of hurt, is a life lesson that brings you to the foot of the cross.

I can say that the last two plus years, I have had to choose joy more times than I could have ever imagined. I have chosen joy more in the last two years, than I have in my entire life. Choosing joy in the midst of hurt and pain is difficult at times. This is especially true when the hurt has been inflicted by those who “claim the name of Christ”. There in lies my dilema. How do you make sense of what has been done to me and my family, at the hands of those who should be the very ones who should be loving and caring, but instead have inflicted the harshest pains you have ever known or experienced?

Choosing joy in the midst of hurt is aligning our hearts and emotions with the Lord. It is walking in obedience.

That is when I have to choose joy. I would be the first to tell you that it is not something that comes naturally or easily. It is not something that I want to do, but it is better than the alternative, which is hurt, pain, disgust, bitterness and hatred. There have been days I did not choose joy. I gave into my hurt and pain. I let the enemy win the battle, that had already been won through the blood of Christ.

Choosing joy in the midst of hurt.

Joy is both an outcome of our relationship with the Lord and our source of strength for our obedience of Him. Our tests and trials are God-allowed circumstances in our lives that are tremendous tools in His capable hands to grow us in grace. When our joy is in anything or anyone other than the Lord it can be stolen or taken away because all apart from God is temporal. When our joy is in the Lord, it cannot be taken away or stolen because He is eternal and what He promises to do He does.

Joy is a choice.

Today I am choosing joy in the midst of hurt

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