Archive | November 2012

Christmas Favor

As you read the beginning of the Christmas story in Luke, have you ever thought about the word “Favor”? Have you ever wondered what the favor of God is all about? Christmas is about the favor of God invading your life today…

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Joy That Only Thanksgiving Can Bring

Peanut butter and jelly … little girls and ruffles … springtime and the smell of hyacinths … the Fourth of July and fireworks.

Just like all of those things … and so many others … thanksgiving and joy are intrinsically and eternally woven together in my soul.

What do “Thanksgiving” and “joy” have to do with another you may ask?  Allow me to explain:

I have always loved Thanksgiving day! From the parades to pumpkin pie … from corn pudding to a Christmas movie in the evening … from left-over turkey to a deep and heart-felt awareness that I have been blessed so much more than I deserve. 

I have relished sitting around a family table with people who are so dear to my heart that it makes me cry even now to remember each one.  I have treasured the atmosphere that only a multi-generational scene can evoke. 

Grandparents with pride on their faces and contentment in their hearts as they gaze at this crew of humanity who came from their own genetic pool.

Middle-aged mamas and daddy’s who are thankful for a moment when everyone’s knees are under the same table again if only for one meal.

The younger generation up to their eye-balls in daring dreams, new marriages and the delight of babies in the womb and in their arms.

College students home for a long week-end who are completely thankful for this conglomeration of eccentric people that they lovingly call “family”.

And … the little ones … rife with mashed-potato faces and bringing laughter to the entire day.

“You have crowned the year with Your bounty, And Your paths drip with fatness. The pastures of the wilderness drip, And the hills gird themselves with rejoicing.  The meadows are clothed with flocks, And the valleys are covered with grain; They shout for JOY, yes, they sing.” – Psalm 65: 11-13

And yet still … what does the fourth Thursday in November have to do with joy?

“Joy” is my passion.  It is my message and addiction.  It is the call to joy that gives me a reason to live beyond my own preferences and selfish agenda.  God has called me to a joy so rich and deep that it is my one assignment in life to convince all others that joy is a sure and certain possibility in the midst of disappointing elections, failing economic systems and hopeless health challenges.

“You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” – Psalm 16:11

I dream day and night about how to communicate the strength of joy.  I study Scriptures, classic writings and new-found truths concerning joy.  I ask questions of those wiser than I.  I glean from other hearts, testimonies and stories what it means to be a person of joy.  And this is what I now know.

If you don’t love thanksgiving … you will never experience joy.  If you are unable to conjure up a moment of gratitude … joy will ever be the illusive butterfly of your soul.  If you have never discovered the high and holy purpose of worship in spite of your pain … then you will never know the strength of this three-letter word.

Joy.  Thanksgiving.  Two words that are forever bound together because of the presence and purpose of One Man.  Two words that are the theme and message of One Book.

“Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth.  Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing.  Know that the Lord Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.  Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise.  Give thanks to Him, bless His name.  For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting And His faithfulness to all generations.” – Psalm 100

My prayer this year is that you will know the joy that only a life of thanksgiving can bring.  Thanksgiving is not a season or a day … it is lifestyle that ushers in the joy of His presence!  What a gift!

A Grateful Heart

What does it really mean to have a grateful heart…not just at the Thanksgiving holiday, but all year long? Carol McLeod is an author, popular speaker at women’s conferences, and hosts her own radio program called Defiant Joy! She is the founder and CEO of Just Joy! Ministries. Visit us online at http://www.justjoyministries.com

Little Girl Dreams

When I was a little girl I wanted to marry a pastor …. CHECK!

When I was a little girl I wanted to have a lot of babies … CHECK!

When I was a little girl I wanted to be a teacher … CHECK!

When I was a little girl I wanted to write books … CHECK!

Actually … when I was a little girl I wanted to write books that would make a difference.  I wanted to write books that would be in every library in America.  I wanted to write books that would change people’s lives and take them places that they had never before been.  Even when I was a little girl, I wanted to write books that would heal people’s hearts.  I guess it is not time to “CHECK!” that one off my list just yet.

When I was a little girl I wanted to make a difference in the Kingdom of God …. but I didn’t know how that was going to happen.  H-m-m-m … will this one ever deserve an emphatic “CHECK!”?

When I was a little girl, because my father loved the Lord so completely, I wanted to love Him, too.

When I was a little girl, because my father loved the Bible so passionately, I wanted to love the Bible, too.

It was really my father who put the dream in my heart to be a part of God’s strategy at this time in history.  However, being a child of the 1950’s and 1960’s and then a teen of the early 1970’s … there weren’t many women in ministry.

Certainly, there was Kathryn Kuhlman who had a dynamic healing ministry and my parents took me to her meetings.  I experienced the power and the presence of God in life-changing ways in those meetings.  However, I wasn’t sure that I was called to do what Kathryn Kuhlman was called to do.  Although I certainly respected her anointing, I knew that Kathryn’s anointing was unique to her.

My dad would read me biographies and tell me the stories of great women missionaries.  He told me of the martyrdom of Betty Stam, of the calling of Darlene Rose and of the commitment of Elizabeth Elliot. (By the way, I highly recommend that you “Google” these women and read their life stories.)

It was exhilarating to realize that God used women!  God used little girls who grew up to change the world for Christ and His Kingdom.  However, I wasn’t sure that I was called to serve God on foreign soil.  I was certainly willing to do so … but felt that perhaps my calling would be different than the call across the ocean.

And so, as my little girl years melted into the teen years and then as I faced college, I had no idea what to major in at my Christian university!

If I majored in piano … I could be a great pastor’s wife, right?!  Don’t all pastor’s wife’s play piano and teach Sunday School?  Maybe I should minor in Christian Education?!

Were women even allowed to major in Theology?  In Hebrew or in Greek?  Or would that be perceived as too aggressive?  Too feminist?

And then, one day during my freshman year in college, Kathryn Kuhlman came and spoke in chapel.  This Kathryn Kuhlman of my youth prayed for a new generation of men and women to rise up and change the world for Christ.  She prayed, as only Kathryn Kuhlman could pray, with a waving of her white chiffon-draped arm over the entire 3,000 member student body.  I believed that her prayer was for me, and me alone.

A year or two later, Corrie ten Boom spoke at the college chapel service.  She told of her years of imprisonment in a World War II concentration camp and then she taught the Word of God.  She dealt with the sin of unforgiveness. Her teaching was rich with Scriptural references as well as personal illustrations.  She called herself “a tramp for the Lord” and at that moment, I wanted to tramp right along with Corrie!

And so here I stand today.  I have been married to a pastor for over 35 years and have raised 5 marvelous children to young adulthood.  I have taught high school Latin and English to hundreds of students over the years.  And, I have written 3 books that are my attempt at making a difference in women’s lives.

Life is a journey, isn’t it?  From the days of little girl dreams … to big girl realities … to adult check lists;  God is using each conversation, each prayer and each person to craft us into the women (and men!) that we are today.

The important reminder in all of my ponderings today is to keep on dreaming!  Don’t ever stifle the little girl dream that was early birthed in your young heart.

Keep on praying!  Keep believing God for great things in your life!

Keep learning and exposing yourself to people who are changing the world!

And now … if you will excuse me … I have to get back to studying the Word of God and to writing a new book proposal!  I have magnificent things to accomplish for the Lord before this day is over!  How about you?!  What will you spend your day doing?!