Archive | February 2013

Perspective

white beach I went to the beach last week!  The beach is my “happy place”!

Every morning when I woke up, the first thing that I would do was to walk out on our fourth floor deck and just listen … and then look.

Some days the ocean was turbulent and angry with white caps and high, threatening waves.

Other days, the surface of the ocean looked like glass – glorious in its hues of emerald green and peacock blue.

I love the sounds at the beach.  The never-ending call of the ocean surf reminds me that God never changes.  He is always calling my name … trying to capture my attention.  God is relentless in his pursuit of me and the perpetual motion of the waves remind me of His eternal perspective on my life.

The weather was cold all week long so I wasn’t able to sit on the beach and soak up the sunshine but I took long, luxurious walks on the beach every day I was there.  I walked for miles and miles listening … watching … and praying.

I rolled up my sweat pants, dug my hands deep into my sweatshirt pockets and walked along the shore line.  My feet were always numb by the time I came back to the condo – but my heart was alive and warm!  I was filled to overflowing with the grandeur of creation and with a God Who loved me enough to create a beach!

My husband, Craig, joined me for the last part of the days spent in Florida.  He joined me on my daily walks where ocean meets land.  I know that he did it as a gift to me because it really was cold … and he likes the beach … but he doesn’t LOVE the beach the way that I do.  Some days we would talk as we walked … other days we just walked.

walk barefoot

One late afternoon, when Craig and I were out on our daily pilgrimage, we talked about 2 things that that I want to share with you … so join us … roll up your pant legs and get ready for the ocean surf to splash upon your soul.

“I have noticed that there are different types of homes on the beach,” I remarked to Craig. “On this end of the beach, there are homes worth millions of dollars, aren’t they?”

“At least a million,” said my dashing, no-nonsense husband.

“As you travel down further toward the west,” I continued, “the homes seem to be simpler and worth less, don’t you think?”

“That’s a nice way of putting it, Carol,” he responded. “I would call them run-down.  Some of them are not much more than shacks.”

“But do you know what they have in common?”  I persisted.  “Do you know what is the same with both the multi-million dollar homes and the shacks?”

“Tell me,” Craig said with his ocean-blue eyes penetrating my soul.

“They all have the same view,” I imparted.  “It doesn’t matter how much money the people spent to live here … they all see the same ocean.  The same sand.  The same sunsets.”

My talkative husband was quiet and smiled as he thought about it.  We didn’t need to talk anymore that day.  We both knew what God was speaking to us.

Our view of life has been spectacular!

The next day we walked east along the shoreline so that as we turned toward our home for the week, we would be walking west and thus see the sunset.

panama city sunset

Craig was kicking the sand like a little boy and I was just enjoying the moment.  The sun … the white sand … the depth of the ocean’s colors … the roar of the waves.

I smiled at the heavens and said to Craig, “Did you know that this is one of my very favorite things to do in all of life?  I love walking on the beach.  I love everything about it.  My heart is so happy.  It’s right up there with Christmas music,” I said impishly.

My thoughtful husband replied, “What are your favorite things to do in the whole world?”

I didn’t need to think long about that … this is what I said …

  • Reading my Bible …
  • Teaching the Word of God …
  • Worshipping the Lord passionately and with reckless abandon
  •  Being with my children and grandchildren …
  •  Preparing for Christmas …
  •  Talking to my mom …
  • Reading a great book …
  • Writing a great book …
  • Listening to timeless music …
  • great hymns of the faith and contemporary songs of praise
  • the masterpieces of classic composers
  • scores from musicals and Broadway show tunes

 

  • Filling my soul with the glory of creation …
  • walking on the beach …

Then … I looked at my husband with a twinkle in my eye and remarked to this great theologian of a man, “You know, I am a lot like Jesus … because He loved the beach, too!”

splendeur matinale

We both laughed and kept walking toward the sunset.  The imprints of our feet were erased in the evening tide and our laughter was swallowed in the roar of the waves.

But our lives and our faith were both renewed in the joy

  • of the day.  In the glory of the moment.  In the security of love.  In the Reason we live.

What is YOUR Book Title?

roomswomansheartbookcover“The Rooms of a Woman’ Heart” …

That was the name of my first book … “The Rooms of a Woman’s Heart”.

What a profoundly safe title for a book that truly was geared toward comforting, yet in a gentle way challenging, the heart of grown-up girls!  It just made me feel all fuzzy inside.  Secure.

However, it was after writing my first book that I discovered that I am not a safe Christian.  I am a peaceful Christian but I do not dally in the mundane world of “safe”.

I am not talking about my salvation … my salvation is safe.  Immovable.  Eternal. Solid.  Irrevocable.

I am talking about the way I live out my life in Christ.  I don’t want safe.  I want what Paul had.

Shipwrecks because of passionately desiring to make hell smaller and heaven bigger.

Jail cells because no one can keep me quiet when it comes to Christ.

Beatings because of a passionate resistance to the mediocrity and sin of a heathen culture.

And so … the name of my second book was “Defiant Joy!”DefiantJoy_overlay.indd

Because that is who I am.  I am a Christian who defies her circumstances with the joy of His presence.

I am not rebellious but I am defiant.

When it comes to the Gospel, I am humbly obedient and daily ache for more of Him.    My heart bows lovingly and longingly at everything that He is and every Word that He speaks.

However … when it comes to fulfilling the call of God on my life and ultimately dealing with the culture … it is then that this formerly fuzzy girl becomes fierce.

There are some days when you actually might feel that an appropriate description of how I live my life would be more accurately described as violent.  And, if you do use “violent” to describe me, I would consider it a high compliment.

These are the words that Jesus spoke to His culture while He was living on planet earth, “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.” – Matthew 11:12

Every generation needs a John the Baptist … a Daniel … an Esther or a Paul.  Every generation is crying out for men and women who are not silenced by the culture or by the call of mediocrity.  Every generation of believers is defined by their willingness to be defiant.  To be fierce.  Even … to be violent.

I will not lay down or burn out.  I will not cave in nor will I compromise.  I am fiercely determined to fulfill the call of God upon my life at this time in history.  Fiercely.  Defiantly.  Violently.

I will not cross my finish line rusty but I will cross that line bruised, sweaty and violently victorious!

One of my friends says that she is so dangerous to the domain of darkness that her face is on a wanted poster in hell.  I want to live like that!

Now … let’s talk about you.

If you were to write a book, what would it’s title be?

cover of the book with space for your title

Because you are writing a book with your life.  The book of your life may never be published by a traditional publishing company … but the story of your life is read every day by the people with whom you come in contact.  What kind of story have you written?

Will the story of your life be a passionate response to the cause of Christ?  Or will it be a  vanilla and lazy retelling of the life stories of thousands of others who chose safe rather than fierce?

If someone were to use an adjective to describe your life, what would that word be?

pink punch

I want to live so violently that hell shakes with terror every time my feet hit the floor in the morning.

I want to live with a reckless abandon for the sake of the Call.  The One Call.  The Only Call.

I will be fiercely faithful and defiantly joyful as I serve my God at this time in history.

My call is to convince you that you, too, are called to live a life of extraordinary significance and violent choices.

If you are raising a child at this time in history … then raise a champion!

If you are working in the marketplace … then make it a mission field!

If you have free time on your hands … then enter the battlefield of intercession!

If you have abundance … then give generously and without reserve so that others may know your Savior!

There is no excuse for not giving all that you have and all that you are so that others may know Him.  It is why we live.

I live for a violent and fierce demonstration of His power and His glory being manifest through my life in even ordinary days.

And now, my friend … let me ask you this …

Why do you live?

21 Days to Beat Depression – Day 21 (FINAL DAY!)

Free Scripture booklet cover web“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12: 1 & 2

Jesus went through trials and difficult circumstances while He was living on earth as a man.  The cross was more than a trial and greater than an inconvenience.

The cross was pain!  It was suffering!  It was the greatest agony known to all of mankind.

How could Jesus endure the cross and the torment of the physical pain that was thrust upon Him?

He endured the cross, even though He despised the pain, because of the joy that was set in front of Him.  What was the joy that Jesus saw when He was on the cross?

What was the extraordinary joy that He kept His focus upon when the pain was nearly too much too bear?

The joy that gave Jesus the strength to carry on was you … and it was me.  We are His joy and He is our joy!

day 21Jesus knew that He had to die so that we could live … that was pure joy to Him!  Jesus knew that He had to be nailed on the cross so that we could be set free from pain, addictions and depression … that was indescribable joy to Him!

Jesus knew that His Body had to bear the pain of a horrific death so that we could be healed … and He counted that as pure joy!

Did Jesus like what He had to go through?  No … the Bible tells us that He despised it … but He did it because He named you “Joy”.

The only reason that we can experience joy during our tenure on earth is simply because we have Him!

MAKING IT PRACTICAL –

1 – Today, would you write me an e-mail?  Write to me at carol@justjoyministries.com.  Let us know how “21 Days to Beat Depression!” has helped you.  Also, let us know how we can pray for you!

2 – Read through your “Thanksgiving in January and February!” journal.  Remind yourself about all of the things for which you are thankful.  Make one final entry today!  Today, list 10 things for which you are grateful.  #beatdepression!  Mine are

1 – All of you who have gone the distance in “21 Days to Beat Depression!”

2 – The opportunity to serve the Lord at this time in history.

3 – The Bible!

4 – Pandora and Spotify where I listen to great worship music!

5 – Unsweet iced tea with lemon

6 – A great team of women who work with Just Joy! Ministries.

7 – Blizzards, hot tea in beautiful mugs and books to read.

8 – The Holy Spirit!

9 – The view out my kitchen window.

10 – That joy has the power to demolish depression in Jesus’ Name!

DECLARATION –

I declare that the power of depression has been broken in my life!  From this day forward I will walk in the joy of His presence and in the power of the Holy Spirit!  I will live an abundant life this side of heaven!

PRAYER FOR TODAY –

“Dear Jesus, I thank You for the Bible.  I thank You for dying on the cross for my sins.  I thank You for sending the Holy Spirit to empower me to live a life of joy and purpose.  You are God and I will praise You all of my days!  I thank You for Your presence where there is always fullness of joy!  Amen.”

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Coupon for day 21

21 Days to Beat Depression – Day 20

TODAY’S FREEBIE!  A free printable download…subway art 1

Free Scripture booklet cover web

 

“Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit.  Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will be converted to You.” – Psalm 51:11 & 12

 

One of the delights of my life is to “chew” on Scripture.  Today, we are going to do just that with Psalm 51:11 & 12!  Let’s read it again …

“Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit.  Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will be converted to You.” – Psalm 51:11 & 12

        Do you see what this verse says?! When you have joy in your life, it will increase your testimony!

When joy is restored to your life, you will have the power to make a difference during the days of your walk upon earth.

Sinners will listen to you because you have joy.

Transgressors will be interested in what you have to say when you exhibit the joy that only salvation brings.

Isn’t that what we all want?  We all want to make a difference during the span of our life.  We want our life to count more than just for a dash on our tombstones.  We want to leave a legacy found in the lives of people who have been changed because they crossed our pathway in life.  Joy will enable you to make a difference in someone else’s life.

Joy will strengthen your witness and you will have the capacity of changing someone else’s life.  If you thought that joy was invented just to make you feel better you need to change your thinking!

God needs a generation of joy-filled people who are willing to make a profound impact on the world in which we live.  I’m in … how about you?!

MAKING IT PRACTICAL –

1 – Today, practice joy!  At work … exhibit joy!  At the grocery store and post office … demonstrate joy!  At home … be a joy not a killjoy.  As you begin to express this Fruit of the Holy Spirit, that you may not feel in your soul, you will make a difference in the lives of others around you.

2 – Thanksgiving and joy are so dependent upon one another that I just have to challenge you one more time to express what you are thankful for today.  Me?!  I am thankful for daughters-in-law, walks through rustling leaves in the fall and Panera! #beatdepression!

DECLARATION –

I declare today that I will express joy regardless of how I feel.  I will change the world as I establish my life upon the Fruit of the Spirit known as joy! 

PRAYER FOR TODAY –

“Lord Jesus, You are my God and my King.  Thank You for restoring to me the joy of my salvation!  Thank You for giving me a willing spirit that will enable me to express joy to the world around me.  Lord, I thank You that as I demonstrate joy I will be making a difference!  In Jesus Name I pray.  Amen.”

21 Days to Beat Depression – Day 19

Free Scripture booklet cover web“Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous ones; and shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart.” – Psalm 32:11

Never underestimate the importance of righteous living in your determination to be a joy filled Christian.  If you think that you can live a life of compromise and selfishness and still be the beneficiary of heaven’s joy, think again!

The Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, is filled with God’s opinion on the importance of living a righteous life.  I am not talking about legalism or bondage but I am talking about the decision to make sure that your life is aligned with the principles set forth in the Word of God.  Righteousness is God’s idea of freedom and life at its very finest!

Righteousness is simply living your life in submission to God’s ways.  It might mean ridding your life of compromise or second-rate decisions.  It might mean changing the way you talk or how you spend your time.

Perhaps today would be a great time to take stock of your life and to ask God to reveal anything in your life that needsday 19 to change.  If the thought comes to your mind that you have been impatient with your spouse lately, don’t minimize that thought.  It is probably from God and He is revealing an area of your life that needs to change.

Perhaps, after asking God to reveal areas in your life that need to change, you might wonder if you have been spending too much money lately.  Or you might wonder if you have been wasting too much time on the computer.  Don’t throw those thoughts away.  It might just be God helping you to clean up your life so that you are able to life a life of joy today!

Sin is a thief that targets the valuables  which will determine your potential to live an abundant, joy-filled life.  If Satan can keep you in a place of sin or compromise, you will find it much harder to live a life of heaven’s joy.

This is hard stuff, isn’t it?  We want the joy without having to give up gossiping, fantasy and selfishness.  I can tell you from personal experience that you can’t have sin and joy at the same time.

God doesn’t want you miserable … He wants you filled with the joy of His presence!  You can do it and I can, too!  We can all determine to demolish the momentary pleasures of sin in order to be blessed with the joy of His dear presence!

MAKING IT PRACTICAL –

1 – In what ways have you been compromising your life with sin?  Why don’t you write those things down, repent for each one and then throw that piece of paper in the trash!  Today is a new day and God loves to help us overcome!

2 – If you don’t understand what joy is all about … that’s o.k.  This is what I can tell you:  joy and thanksgiving are not so very far apart!  Thankful people just happen to be the most joyful people on planet earth!  So … today I am thankful for Christmas music, pumpkin pie and the beach.  What 3 things are you thankful for?  Write it in your journal and share it with me on Twitter or on Facebook.  #beatdepression!

DECLARATION –

I declare today that I will no longer be in bondage to sin and its chains.  I will live a life of righteousness and joy!  I will put the past behind me and choose to live my life in alignment with the Word of God!

PRAYER FOR TODAY –

“Dear Jesus, I know that I have often sinned and therefore disappointed you.  Will you forgive me?  Will you forgive me for my selfishness and my compromise?  Jesus, I confess that I need You in order to overcome the sins of my flesh.  Thank You for giving to me Your Power and Your strength.  In Jesus’ Name I pray.  Amen.”

21 Days to Beat Depression – Day 18


Enjoy the new single by Chris McLeod – “Remind Me”

Free Scripture booklet cover web

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, ‘rejoice’! – Philippians 4:4

Philippians is one of the shortest Epistles in the New Testament and was written by Paul by the murky light of a window in a Roman prison cell.  Certainly a man in the cesspool of life is entitled to write a letter of complaint to the management!  Surely a man who has been beaten and bruised for choosing to preach the Gospel gets to vent his emotions or tell his side of the story at least one time!  None of us would blame the great apostle Paul if he chose to be “real” and share his disappointment with God … with life … and with the hand that he had been dealt.

Instead, in this short letter written to an obscure church that existed nearly 2 millennia ago, Paul uses the words “joy” or “rejoicing” no less than 14 times!

One thing that we can surely learn from the life of Paul, is that our circumstances do not need to be perfect in order for our lives to be a walking, talking demonstration of the joy of heaven!

“Rejoice in the Lord always!  Again I will say rejoice!”  This is strange advice written by a man in the bowels of a Roman prison cell.

This is the advice of Paul that is strongly declared from a first century Roman prison cell straight into your 21st. Century heart:  Your inner attitudes do not have to reflect your outward circumstances!

There will always be situations in life that will cause you to be unhappy or unproductive or even weak emotionally.  But there should never be any event in your life that causes you to stop rejoicing!  There should never be any episode or happening that steals your joy.

This is only possible when you are rejoicing “in the Lord”.  It is not possible in our humanity but it is indeed possible in the Lord!

Your joy is a result of a vertical point of view as you are looking straight up into the face of God Himself!  If you have a horizontal perspective on your life, as far as the eye can see you will only gaze at a dry and barren wasteland of existence.  But if you can choose to look up into the face of the Father, you will be captivated by His love … His peace … and His goodness!

MAKING IT PRACTICAL – 

1 – Sometimes it is the simple joys in life that are the best!  I want to challenge you today to participate in a simple joy.  Go for a walk either by yourself or with a friend.  Make yourself a favorite snack.  Cuddle up with a good book and your favorite CD. Call an old friend and have a long chat.  Watch a favorite TV show.  Buy yourself fresh flowers at the grocery store.  Take a deep breath … and revel in a simple yet valuable joy in life!

2 – You always have time to be grateful!  Get out that “Thanksgiving in January and February” journal and make at least 3 entries in this beloved book.  I am thankful today for fresh raspberries, Skype and bubble baths. #beatdepression!

DECLARATION –

I declare today that I will rejoice regardless of my circumstances.  I declare that my outward circumstances do not have the power to determine my inner attitudes. 

PRAYER FOR TODAY –

“Dear Jesus, I love You so much.  Today I thank You for sunsets, for the promise of spring and for freedom.  I thank You for strength to carry on and a song in my heart.  Thank You for being so very good to me!  In Jesus’ Name I pray.  Amen.”