Easter, Faith, healing, joy, Uncategorized

Propelled by joy

Everything felt strange. Nothing about today was ordinary. Nothing about today was going as she had thought it would, and with every passing hour things seemed only to get worse. An eerie quietness settled over her as she stood at the base of the hill, powerlessly watching Him suffer. It was all so surreal. Images of all they had shared flashed before her eyes: the miracles, the love and friendship, the words of life, the simple moments together. Present-moment reality rattled her with a cruel jolt.

Now Jesus, her Jesus, the man she knew and loved, was gone.

Keep moving she urged herself. She had to keep moving or else, fall apart, so she followed them to the tomb, watching as they laid Him to rest. The pain was unbearable, yet she clung desperately to every moment to be near His body.

There were still things to be done before the sun set and Sabbath began. She knew she had to leave Him and run to the market to buy all the spices and oils necessary to honor Him, wanting nothing to delay her return to the tomb on Sunday morning. But leave him? How? Numbness, having replaced the pain, left her paralyzed. Her only consolation was the opportunity to care for Him in death as He had cared for her in life. That was all the fuel she needed. The tasks were accomplished in a determined haze, and now, if nothing else, she could provide a proper burial.

But first, the Sabbath.

How could she possibly rest with Jesus gone? It seemed almost impossible in this moment. A hot flood of memories washed over her again, as she recalled the example He’d set. She managed a half-smile through welled eyes, whispering ‘even now, He’s still caring for me.’ Jesus was her model and no matter what was going on in His ministry, He had known how to rest. She had learned so much from watching Him. He had shown her the freedom and joy found in obedience, in always living in response to the Father’s love. In humble determination to honor the Sabbath in order to honor her Lord, she yielded.
Oddly, the forced rest was good, giving them time to process and grieve. One emotion gave way to another. They were angry—He was innocent! They were confused—why didn’t He fight back? They were resolved—they must keep His ministry going. As they voiced their questions and reflected on all the things He said that hadn’t made sense in the moment, many of His words became chillingly clear. Hadn’t He told them this would happen?

No one slept much those two nights and the moment the sun began to rise on Sunday morning, they made their way back to where His body was lain. What started as a walk, quickly turned into a run. They were desperate to get to Him. Devotion and love carried them the whole way.

But as they approached the tomb, anticipation turned to fear. The ground began to shake; lightning and thunder stopped them in their tracks. They exchanged startled glances. The men who were guarding the tomb fell to the ground, unconscious, the stone pushed aside. The tomb was empty. Jesus was gone. Horror overcame her.

A man (or at least he looked like a man, yet so bright and blinding) appeared and began to speak. His words pierced into her soul. She was in shock but what she heard changed everything. “He’s not here. He’s alive. GO. TELL.” It made no sense but at the same time this was the truest thing her soul had ever heard.

The desperate ache within was telling her to stay—to stay where Jesus had been, but revelation was inviting her to go.

And so, she ran.

Even though she hadn’t seen Him yet, the truth that He was alive propelled her forward with a joy that overpowered her pain and fear. Tears streaming down her face, heart pounding, and her legs moving faster than ever before, she had one goal—find the rest to tell them He was alive! They needed to know. Everyone needed to know. But would they believe her?

She ran without care or concern for her dignity. None of it seemed to matter now that her Lord was alive. Her lungs burned but she kept running. And then, just there, ahead in the distance, she saw Him. She froze. Standing in the middle of the road they locked eyes, and even from afar, she knew it was Him.

Jesus.

Time stood still and nothing else existed in the brilliance of that moment.

She fell at His feet. Her tears soaked them as she poured out her love upon Him—it wasn’t the first time. This was a familiar posture. She didn’t know what to say to Him, her words meant nothing compared to how she felt.

Jesus had met her. He had come for her.

He had come for them and for us.

It was true. He’s alive. Go! Tell!

 

Joyfully,

Season

Published in Joyful Life magazine, Spring Edition 2019.

LISTEN TO THIS BLOG BY CLICKING HERE

Faith, friendship, joy, Uncategorized

The joy of FOMO

FOMO

Fear Of Missing Out.

It’s real. Have you ever experienced it? When all your friends are going somewhere great and you’re stuck at home with the sick kid, the big project due tomorrow, or without any money to put gas in your car. The isolation shouts, “They’re having fun without you!” FOMO happens even when things aren’t fun. When there is a tough moment and people bond around it, if you weren’t there, it feels like you missed out on something important. You are no longer on the inside and therefore you are out.

It’s why we are often glued to our phones for the latest update on social media, news stories, or why we keep one ear to the proverbial ground of happenings.

One day I was feeling particularly down, left out and isolated for one of the many seemingly silly reasons, and I thought to ask the Lord how he felt about my FOMO.

It may seem hyper spiritual or weird, but to me, I have learned to simply include the Lord in all my feelings, thoughts, and actions. Ok, when I say I include him in all, what I mean is, I intend to include the Lord in all – like right away. My intention and deep desire is to be aware of and include the Lord in every moment. But often, that looks more like swirling around the drain of some feeling or negative thought for a bit while experiencing all the pain, frustration, and other stuff associated with being human, and then going, “Oh wait! Lord, what do you have to say?!” Either way, no matter when I do it, it’s so helpful.

So, I was having this moment of FOMO and it was proving to not be life giving and producing joy in my heart, so I said to the Lord,

How do you feel about my FOMO?

To which he replied,

FOMO about them?! They should have FOMO about us!

Jesus cracks me up.

And he’s right! What the Lord and I have is awesome! I am not missing out on anything because what we have is EVERYTHING!

My attention was then turned to the very real presence of the Lord and I began to talk to him, laugh, discover, and adjust my awareness of the reality of my situation and life from God’s perspective. Suddenly it didn’t matter that I wasn’t with “them” and experiencing the latest and greatest thing. I was with HIM!

You may be thinking, what do they have that is worth FOMO? Well, when you spend time with your Creator, the one who loves you more than anyone ever could, the one who sees the best in you and believes the impossible for you, that time is far beyond what you could experience with anyone else.

But the good news is, you’re not actually missing out on what we have – you can have your own! God is always with you – yes, always. Even in the moments you think he wouldn’t or couldn’t be with you, he is. Even when you don’t feel him with you, he is. Even if you don’t believe it, he is. All you have to do is pay attention.

So what really causes that pain and fear of FOMO? Frankly, it’s when we place more weight on others than on the Lord. There is a more formal and ancient phrase used for this…. Idol worship. I know, just when you think you don’t have to worry about that commandment because you don’t have a literal shrine to a god in your home, I come along with this bomb.

However annoying, it’s still true. We hold people, things, and experiences in higher regard than the Lord. They become what we try to please, what we strive for, and what we long to have and suddenly our ladder of priorities has shifted.

FOMO has a way of revealing where our hearts have laid up treasure Matt. 6:19-20). We tend to be easily persuaded with our affections and therefore we get hurt. The Lord knows that what he offers is far greater than any earthly experience. The Lord will never quit on you. He will never disappoint you. He will never overlook you. He will never hurt you. He will far exceed all your expectations.

Your heart is safe with the Lord.

The fear of missing out is a tell. It will reveal to you what has a hold on your heart. I bless you to know that what you can have with the Lord is so good you’ll find joy in FOMO.

Joyfully,

Season

joy, radio, Uncategorized

The Best Day Ever Challenge

What do you do when your day just sucks? I’ll tell you what I want to do…NOTHING! I count the moments till I can be home with my husband and zone out on the couch with the current binge-watch of choice, and then sink deep into a sleep that will quicken the dawn of a new day – one that brings a fresh start and a pile of joy.

But that defeatist attitude doesn’t sound like one a daughter of the King who has the spirit of the victorious living God inside her should have – right?! So I tried something recently that shot me out of the crappy day funk.

The BEST DAY EVER CHALLENGE.

Joy99 FM is a radio station that I have the privilege to be on from 10am – 2pm Monday – Friday. The station is committed to encouraging lives and bringing JOY to west Michigan and beyond. They offer weekly challenges to the listeners to make it the Best Day Ever. The challenges include,

  • Tell your boss something nice about a co-worker
  • Pay for the person behind you in line
  • Tape a prepaid gas card to a pump
  • Tell your kids the story of their birth and then eat dessert to celebrate

The list goes on. In fact, there are 52 challenges – one for each week of the year. It may seem a bit obvious but the Best Day Ever serves a duel purpose, to do something nice for someone else to make their day better, and to shift your focus outward – towards the action of love, and help make your day the Best Day Ever.

That’s the trick! When your day feels like a tidal wave and you’re drowning in the chaos and pressure, turn the tide! Make it the Best Day Ever by intentionally choosing to shift the focus outward.

I have been in a season full of particularly difficult days. They aren’t bad, just complex and full of challenges. I feel like I am in a period of product testing….as a Joy Bringer who teaches all about joy as a consistent and powerful lifestyle, I better be able to defend it in all times! And I can.

The tools work, and you can be sure I’ve been using every one of them. Gratitude, forgiveness, flexibility, and rest are my go-tos…but I’ve added another one! The Best Day Ever challenge.

There is an assumption that we should always be looking to do something that blesses someone else, especially if you claim the title, Christian. Love is verb, and action word, right? Yes, but while that’s true, it isn’t our natural response. Life gets in the way. We narrow our focus and zoom in on what’s immediately in front of us, and unfortunately we loose sight of the real goal – to love God and love others as ourselves.

Live to serve others. Live with love as a priority. Live as one who is loved.

YES! But if that is the goal, we need to make some intentional choices in our days to live it out. I want to challenge you to intentionally place the Best Day Ever challenge (or something like it) into your week. If you’re anything like me I have a lot of great intentions to do things, but if it doesn’t make it onto my weekly to-do list, it wont get done.

Here is a link to the Joy99 Best Day Ever challenge calendar if you want to check it out. Use this one or create your own with your family! Imagine the ripple effect!

Make it the Best Day Ever!

Joyfully,

Season

Uncategorized

Why I don’t let my husband do anything

Yup, you read that right. I don’t let my husband do anything. Before you think I’m the world’s worst wife who has a slave instead of a husband, you need to hear the inflection.

I’m not saying, I don’t let my husband do ANYTHING

I mean, I don’t LET my husband do anything.

I don’t let him do anything because he’s a grown man who can choose to do anything he wants!

I think we get it all wrong. Commitment in marriage has been twisted to insinuate a sort of obligation against one’s will, especially the husband’s.

Ball and chain

Happy wife happy life

If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy

If this is the truth about marriage, why would a man want to get married?! What about the husband?! The reason there is a lopsidedness to this idea is that we have a wrong view of love.

Love is a selfless act. Love is a choice. Love is a gift. Love is a willingness to serve.

Love is not a threat. It’s not fueled by fear. Love does not manipulate. Love doesn’t hold back. It does not force or intimidate.

Love is free and yet it costs you everything.

I don’t let my husband do anything because I love him and honor his choices.

Don’t get me wrong, there are times when I’ve been unhappy with his choices. And subsequently, there have been times when he’s been unhappy with mine. The truth is, our choices have consequences – both good and bad. The key to a happy marriage is to choose the person wisely, be confident and not controlling, and love freely… Meaning love both generously and with freedom.

So what happens if and when your spouse makes poor choices that cause hurt or frustration?

The answer is simple and yet proves to be the number one issue in marriage. Communication. The solution to the problem of hurtful choices is to communicate your feelings and what you need. Communication with clarity, respect, and love is key.

  • CLARITY – Start by understanding your own feelings. If you don’t know how you feel and why, then you can’t articulate it to the other person and they can’t respond. It’s not productive to just emote all over your spouse.
  • RESPECT – It begins with understanding. You must understand that, for the most part, your spouse isn’t trying to hurt you. Most of the time, people are doing the best they can with what they have. To respect your spouse, you must trust that they do indeed care about your feelings and give them have a chance to respond to your needs.
  • LOVE – Love bares fruit….joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. Before you communicate your feelings or needs, do the fruit test to be sure that what and how you are going to communicate is delivered in a fruit basket.

Let me give you an example.

My husband loves to push his body and challenge himself. Right now it looks like racing mountain bikes and training jiu jitsu. Not only does he love these things, he also needs the physical and emotional release. He is very in tune to his needs and he knows what to do to manage himself well. HOWEVER, he is aware and so am I, that these things can very easily take priority and severely cut into time at home. Because he loves what he does he doesn’t notice the impact.

I love this part about my husband. It’s one of the things I’m attracted to! He’s so passionate and committed to the challenge of growing and pushing himself. But, I also love spending time with him. I love our life together and I made the choice to get married to do live with someone, not do it solo.

I am told that the other guys he rides or trains with often tell him,

“dude, you’re so lucky your wife let’s you ride/train all the time!’

But that’s where they’re wrong. I don’t let him. He makes the choice. He’s free to make that choice.

I would be lying to say that I don’t care or am not affected by his choices. I certainly am! His passion and commitment went from something that I thought was sexy and compelling, to a source of building resentment and bitterness towards him.

So what did I do? Well, I didn’t tell him what he could do. I examined my feelings. I recognized that my husband dearly loves me and our family. I sifted through my own feelings to identify the root and I told him the state of my heart and my needs. I included that I understood his love and passion and that I never wanted to squash those things in him. I simply asked him to examine if his time was reflecting his true priorities and if he felt that there was room to adjust them accordingly.

The outcome was peaceful and loving. He simply honored my feelings and needs and examined his time. Because his heart is for me and our family, he adjusted his weekly schedule to be more attentive to when we are all home and adjust his riding or training to honor his first love, us.

I see such a change in him! He is still riding and training a lot, but he does it with an awareness of us. He chooses love.

Too often we think that we need to control others in order to be loved or get what we want. We are afraid that if we let go and relax into it, it won’t happen. But the truth is, it’s already happening. God loves you so much and there is nothing you can do to control it, earn it, manipulate it, or stop it. You are just simply and totally loved. Breathe it in. Sink deep into that truth. Receive it and let it fill you. You can loosen your grip on fear. The demand on others and constant disappointment will subside when you are filled with the all sufficient love of the Lord.

My goal for our marriage, and yours (if you’re married!) is that your home is motivated by love. That you give it and receive it freely. Let go of the control and LET YOURSELF BE LOVED.

Joyfully,

Season

joy, love, sex, and marriage, Uncategorized

The sexiest thing about him

Let me begin by stating that my husband is not perfect. You might read this and think, “He’s amazing! Is he for real?” Let me assure you, he’s real. I know I won a prize. And trust me, I’ve been on the other side so I appreciate the gift of an amazing man! However, he’s not perfect. I am totally over the moon for my husband, but I am also a normal woman in a very real marriage to a normal man. I have experienced first hand the ease in which we can go from totally in love, to annoyed, over it, and even disgusted by our mate. I’ve experienced the moments where only complaints, negative thoughts, and snarky words come to mind and sometimes out of my mouth (more times than I’m proud to admit).

But, I’ve also seen what these thoughts and feelings can breed if left unchecked. My first husband told me in the first month of our marriage that he wasn’t attracted to me (well, he first told me that when we were dating but then brought it up again one month into our marriage….then why did he marry me, you ask? Good question). He told me it was up to me to fix this issue. He would tell me that if I just lost weight, if I acted like someone else (you know, since I was a professional actor I should be able to do that). Eventually it became, if I would enter into the swinger lifestyle or sleep with someone else, then maybe he’d find me attractive. He was so deep in his tainted perspective of me that he couldn’t see me any other way.

I learned through that experience that what we focus on when we look at our mate has everything to do with how we feel about them. Our feelings toward our spouses are a choice. Yes, I have a freaking hot husband, but let me tell you what the absolute sexiest things about him are….

His worship – my man is a worshiper. He is sold out, passionate, and worships with total abandon.

His prayer life – my husband is in the closet. No! Not that that closet! His prayer closet, silly! It’s pretty much his favorite place in the world and he’ll lose hours in there.

His daddy-of-three-daughters skills – he can do hair, pick out a fabulous outfit, and out shop all of us. Nothing sexier than when he loves them well.

His confidence – there is something about my husband that will make you ask the question, is he confident or cocky? It’s sexy! He almost gives off that bad boy vibe, until you realize he’s actually humble, never foul with his words, and ALWAYS respectful.

His humility – under the confident exterior, there is a spirit of of real humility. He really does want to be molded to be more like Jesus everyday, and he’s not afraid of the process.

His desire to grow – never have I met someone with such a desire to learn and grow. He’s never done. Always pressing into learn more about the Lord, or whatever thing he’s into…it usually involves sweating a lot and pushing his body to the limits, or competing.

His creativity – I love watching him get an idea and see it to completion. One of my favorite dates is a trip to Lowe’s or Home Depot! He’s got a real gift, and whether it’s something we’re doing together or a piece of art he’s creating in his garage/studio, I love seeing him create! He’s a project finisher and I’m so inspired by him. http://www.facebook.com/theartofalionbykrisbowers

His commitment to me – my husband is a transparent and honest man. I trust him. I really trust him. He loves to be with me, and the way he desires to protect what we have makes me feel cherished.

His humor – he’s a nut. He knows when to laugh and doesn’t let any of his girls get too far down the rabbit hole of drama before he has us giggling, usually in some sort of jiu jitsu choke hold.

His muscles – yup, I said it. But it’s low on the list! I don’t just love the way they look, I LOVE how safe he makes me feel. He’s always alert and aware of his surroundings so I can walk with my head in the clouds and not fall off the curb. When I’m with him, I’m untouchable.

The list goes on, but I’ll spare you. My husband isn’t perfect, but he loves Jesus more than he loves me. I’m not perfect, but I love Jesus more than I love my husband. I believe this is the glue that makes us stick. It also is the lens though which we see each other. The moment where the enemy wants to get me to grumble and complain about my husband, I choose to focus on what I love about him. Instead of cursing him, I bless him, and bless him, and bless him!

If you’re married, I pray that you will join me in focusing on the qualities unique to your spouse. The Lord has designed them and crafted them with shiny and priceless qualities, and you get to help polish those gems! What an honor! The things that make your spouse who they are, are purposeful! Enjoy them, celebrate them, and see how it changes your perspective!

Joyful and hot for my husband,

Season

Faith, joy

STOP SINGING NEW WINE!

There’s a song we sing at our church (and I am sure many of you sing it as well) called New Wine by Hillsong. At first hearing I was captivated and deeply moved. It has a beautiful sound and a powerful message of surrender. I get caught up when I sing it and think, “YES! That’s what I want, God!”

But is it?

This blog is intended to make us aware of the words we sing in worship and help move us from merely Sunday singers who give lip service to the Lord, to a life of real growth and power. So read on to see if you should stop singing New Wine.

It begins,

In the crushing, in the pressing, you are making new wine.  

Have you thought about how wine is made? It is a literal process of crushing and pressing grapes to squeeze out the juice. Sound fun? Maybe if you’re the barefoot one in a giant vat of grapes in the countryside of Italy. But the reference in this song isn’t grapes, it’s us. Do you really want to ask the Lord to press you? We want the good stuff – the metaphorical wine to flow out of us, but in order to produce wine we must go through a process that may require crushing. CRUSHING. And we sing it like it’s nothing! It’s a strong statement so we need to be sure of what we are asking.

In the soil, I now surrender. You are breaking new ground,

For something new to grow, there needs to be a surrender to the process: Death of the old, burial, breaking open, sprouting new growth, pushing up through the dirt towards the surface, blooming in the sun, being watered. All of these steps are necessary in the cycle of growth. Are you ready and willing to let the old die? Some of us may say, “YES! The old hasn’t been working very well for me, I gladly lay it down!” But others of us may get stuck there. What we’ve been doing is working just fine. Do we really want to give it up, let it die, and and endure the crushing to squeeze out something new? Well, if you believe the next phrase, then yes, you actually do.

The song goes on.

So I yield to You and to Your careful hand.
When I trust You I don’t need to understand.

If you trust that God is a loving and careful Creator, then it does become easier to surrender to the work the Lord wants to do in your life. But let’s not be fooled, it’s not that simple to surrender to something you don’t understand. In fact, you wouldn’t be wrong to be leery of the idea.

So how to we get to the point of surrender? How do we agree to the process when we don’t know what’s ahead? Furthermore, how do we ask to be pressed and crushed?!

The answer for the future is often found in the past. Look back. How has the Lord touched your life? Have you been rescued? Has the powerful and loving hand of God interceded and guided you into something new and unexpected? What was your life like before God?

When I look back I can see the are moments when doors were shut, walls were built, and times when I was yanked by the hair away from the edge of the cliff. Those moments weren’t always easy, in fact they were often very painful, but with hindsight I can see the loving and powerful work of the Lord doing something greater in my life. I didn’t understand then, but I do now. It reminds me of a quote I love from Dag Hammarskjoid, “For everything that has been, thank you. For everything that will be, yes.”

If you need even more proof of the faithful and careful hand of God, go to the Word! The big-picture narrative of the Bible is the beautiful love story between God and humanity. It’s amazing to see the constant mercy, love, and grace given to us with the freedom to choose to receive it. I challenge you to read if for yourself (it’s especially interesting to read it in chronological order. You can find all kinds of reading plans on the Bible app).

When you look back and see the Lord’s work in your life, it becomes easier to open the hands that grasp for control and surrender to His leading and we are then able to sing,

Make me a vessel, make me an offering. Make me whatever you want me to be. I came here with nothing, but all you have given me. Jesus bring new wine out of me. 

Do you ever get frustrated when cleaning out bottles?  My family puts much more than water in them and leaves them all over the place. You never know what’s growing inside! They are hard to clean because you can’t see all the way in and around the edges. So you shove a brush inside, shake the soapy water around, and rise, hoping for the best. We too are vessels, filled with the fresh, living water Jesus gives us.  But because of our sin, when we go to pour out that water to others, it is often tainted – like the hidden mold or residue in the bottle.

Something powerful happens when we realize that we are vessels filled with the spirit of the living God! Through faith in Jesus Christ and the repentance of sin, we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit who lives in and works through us. What a gift!! Because of this, we are invited to do the work Jesus did – spread the good news and empower others to do the same. In fact, Jesus said we would do greater things than he did. WHAT?! HOW? Because of the power of the Holy Spirit living within us, we have the ability to do far more than we can imagine. But there is a giant IF right here….IF we follow his leading and surrender our time, attention, gifts, and agendas to the Lord. When we offer our lives to the Lord as an offering, to be poured out, He is faithful to take what we offer and do infinitely greater things.

Scripture says that new wine can’t be put into old wineskins. Why not? This idea isn’t something familiar to our modern sensibilities. A wineskin couldn’t just be refilled when empty, it had to be replaced. New wine would expand when put into a container and an old used wineskin was already expanded to it’s limits, therefore new wine would cause it to burst.

We love to sing it loud…..

Where there is new wine there is new power
There is new freedom and the kingdom is here
I lay down my old flames to carry Your new fire today.

Oh, it’s so fun to ask for more! More power, more freedom, more fire! But do we really mean it? The reality of this request, the passionate cry of our hearts is, “I want to be used by you! Do something new in me, Lord!” but that requires us to exchange our old skins – our old flames, for something new.

That’s not easy! Our way, the old way of doing things, works well for us. We’re used to doing things one way and getting a pretty satisfactory result (or we wouldn’t be doing it that way). So, in order to have something new, something better, we have to sacrifice the old…even if it’s not broken. The song says, I lay down my old flames…it doesn’t say, I want you to start the fire because mine burnt out. If you are laying down your flames, that means there is already a fire.

Are you willing and ready to lay down what you have now for something new? Are you ready to be pressed so the deeper, richer stuff can come out?

One more thing. In the Bible, wine is often a sign of freedom and joy. Are you ready more of both? If you are, SING OUT! If you’re not, stop singing New Wine.

Joyfully,

Season

 

Uncategorized

The reason I’m offensive

“Hey, can I talk to you for a minute? I have to confess something. I haven’t been able to stand you ever since I started coming to this church. There is something about your perkiness and your energy that just rubs me the wrong way. When you are up on the platform I put up a wall in my spirit and want nothing to do with you.”

You may be shocked to read this, but I’ve heard it many times. In fact, I love it!! After one of the services where I was preaching a few weeks ago, a woman I didn’t know came up to me, said this, and went onto say…

“I just didn’t believe it was real. I didn’t think you could say something that would touch me or effect me in any way. But I have to repent to you. I was wrong. I am sorry. Today the wall broke and I was so impacted by your message. I know that who you are and what you carry is real. I just needed to tell you that. And thank you for being you.”

Yup. Heard it before, and I’ll hear it again. I celebrate when this happens! Because here’s the thing…..

I know that the joy I carry can be offensive.

The enemy of our souls wants us to believe that the joy of the Lord isn’t real. That the purity of love is a facade. That no one could be that happy all the time. And in a small way, he’s right. I am not that happy all the time – but I am always joyful.

So why is joy offensive? The enemy’s voice tries to be louder than my joy and say to someone, “You’ll never have what she has. And plus, is it even real?!” That voice causes disdain and offense to creep in, it rubs people the wrong way and suddenly a wall is built.

I have never claimed to be a happy-maker, I am a joy bringer. That means that I proclaim the good news of Jesus and release the power of joy that comes from spirit of the God. I am not interested in your happiness, nor am I focused on always being happy. I set myself right in the middle of the fountain of love flowing from the throne of God and my goal is to release what’s flowing through me.

A marker of joy is freedom. Everywhere Jesus went he left a wake of freedom and joy. Joy comes as a result of chains being broken and the release from bondage. But those who are unaware of their bondage have a hard time coming face to face with my joy, let alone receiving their own! That may also be offensive. I am not sorry.

I don’t mind being bold – taking a risk – and saying that offense to joy is a sign of bondage. Notice I did not say that you not liking me is a sign of bondage. I give you permission to not like me, that’s okay! But I want to encourage you, if you do feel an aversion towards me, check it. Why?

I compare it to those who mock or look down on the Polllyannas of life. Pollyanna was an optimist. She didn’t deny the bad, she just looked for and focused on the good. Those who didn’t like her were under the influence of the lie that they couldn’t have what she had….then, because she was fearless of their disdain, they did experience joy for themselves and the whole town was transformed!

The benefits of being a joy bringer are great…but it also has consequences. People judge me. They write me off as being fake, shallow, or annoying. But I’m not bothered by that. I know it’s not personal. I know where it comes from and I bless people where they are and trust the Lord to do the work. He cares even more about your joy than I do. The thing that I find so precious is that the Lord moves people to actually confess to me how they’ve felt! And for as many people that have done that, there are MANY more who wont (and they don’t need to!).

Yes, my joy can be loud, but that doesn’t mean it is always at a 10. Joy can be peaceful and quiet…and while my joy tends to be outward and booming, that doesn’t mean yours will.

Your joy will look like you.

My joy isn’t offensive because it’s loud, it only highlights what you believe. If you believe the lie that joy isn’t for you, then you will not like the noise my joy makes. It will rattle and clang in your ears. But if you are open to the truth that joy is for you and that there is no limit to the joy you can have, then I encourage you to take it! Grab hold of the joy that is offered to you in endless supply from the original Joy Bringer himself, Jesus.

If you are one who has been offended by my joy, I bless you.

If you are one who wants more joy, I bless you.

If you are one who needs to know that your joy will look like you, I bless you.

I bless you to know the truth that joy is for you.

Joyfully,

Season

 

Faith, joy

How to gain influence

I asked the Lord this question this time last year. I was working so hard to build my social media platform and blog following in preparation for shopping my book to publishers. When it comes to publishing, it’s often a numbers game. It’s exhausting and yet necessary for any kind of public platform.

But I was exhausted and found it draining to my soul, so I asked the Lord,

God, how do I increase my influence?

In total God fashion, he immediately popped back with one word.

Intimacy.

I was surprised and yet not at all shocked by his response. I didn’t quite get it, but was up for the challenge of finding out exactly what he meant. The thing is, I thought I was intimate with the Lord! Cearly, he had deeper places to show me.

To be honest, I was disappointed and a bit frustrated. You see, I’m really good at getting things done. God knows this about me, which is why just about every time I’ve had big promotions or leaps forward toward my goals it’s after he’s asked me to do nothing – like zero. I have been told the following,

  • Sit down.
  • Just look at me.
  • Who better to speak for you than me?
  • I’m going to do it and when I bring it to you, you’ll know it’s me.

That’s right. When God wants to do big things in my life he asks me to step out of the way.

So what do I do? I obey! I’ve learned that his ways really are better than my ways. Yes, I know how to do things and get them done, but what I can accomplish on my own is not nearly as significant as what He can do.

If there is anything I’ve learned over the last few years, it’s that God wants to do amazing things in our lives, but we have to work with him, not against him!

And don’t worry, there will be work ahead! When the time is right, He’ll say,

Ready, GO! Do what I’ve created you to do! Be you and watch me do the rest!

We are so much more productive when we are working with the Lord, not arm wrestling him to do it our way. Because that’s the crazy thing about God’s love, He’s not a bully and we have the choice to do what we want and how we want to…It’s just way harder and less effective.

So once again I’m looking to the Lord this year. Focusing on attention and gaze on the love of my life. I’ll work hard at the things he puts in front of me and listen and obey when he tells me to back off.

If you’re like me and wondering how to become more productive and influential, the best practical advise I can give you is to dive into the Word of God like never before. If you’ve never been a Bible reader, start now and try reading one book of the Bible, or 1 Psalm a day. If you are an occasional reader, get on a consistent plan. If you’re a lover of the Word, try a new translation.

You may not see it right away, but you’ll soon discover the change in your heart and in your perspective. Things will shift and ways will become more clear, and this time next year you’ll be able to look back and say, “hallelujah! He is faithful!”

I believe the power of your influence is directly related to your connection with the Lord. The more your mind and heart is in tune with the Lord’s, and your steps are in line with the Spirit, the less energy you have to spend cleaning up the mess of sin, and the greater your love grows.

You can’t have authority over that which you don’t love.

Love. Love for yourself, for others and for God. That’s the greatest influence one can have.

And let me be clear… That love does not need to be returned – just given. You’ll be filled as you look to the Lord – His is the most sufficient love you’ll ever know.

I bless you this year to be more intimate with Lord than ever before and watch as your love influences the world!

Joyfully,

Season

advent, christmas, joy, Uncategorized

Day 24 – Candle of FORGIVENESS – JBA

Merry Christmas eve!

What a wonderful journey this has been. Thank you, dear friend, for joining me for the Joy Bringer’s Advent.

Today is the last candle…. The candle of forgiveness.

As we light it together, let’s just stop for a minute and take it in – the forgiveness of Jesus.

There is nothing greater.

There is nothing more powerful.

There is nothing more passionate.

It’s for you and for me. I am blown away by his love.

“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” Isaiah 1:18

There have been times in my life when I was very aware of my crimson red sin. I felt the weight, I lived in the shame, and sometimes I repented, and other times I buried my head in the sand of excuses and pride. Then there are times when I live oblivious to my sin because it’s not so high on the sin-o-meter according to the list created by us.

Here’s a recent experience…

I was sitting with a group of pastors and one of them shared a story about a guy who was visiting him. They were in two cars and the visiting friend wasn’t keeping up as he was following in a car. My friend had to keep pulling over and waiting for the guy to catch up. When they got to their destination, my friend, the driver in the leading car asked, “are you ok? Was I driving to fast?” The guy, with total sincerity said, “oh, your fine. I just don’t do anything to grieve the Spirit so I follow all the traffic laws.” We all laughed at this guys “extreme conviction” and joked, “that’s crazy! Then we’re all going to hell!” (of course we don’t really believe that).

Later, while I was in bed, I asked the Lord,

“God, do you actually care about traffic laws?!”

To which I heard him kind of laugh and say, “well…. it’s not about that. It’s the spirit behind it.”

Ugh…immediately I was deeply convicted.

The spirit behind my blatant disregard for some traffic laws is PRIDE. It’s my pride that says, “I don’t have to follow that rule, that law doesn’t apply to me.”

I repented for the pride in my heart that has lived there without any acknowledgement for so long. Who do I think I am?! Forgive me, Lord Jesus!

Often, we get caught thinking that our sin isn’t red. It may be a little pink, but not RED. But from God’s perspective it’s all deep crimson. When we do this, we cheapen the price Jesus paid by shedding his sinless, crimson blood for us to live in freedom and loving relationship with the Father.

We don’t like to think we need a savior. We don’t like to think about our shortcomings and our sin. We don’t like to focus on that part. But the good news of the gospel is that that is exactly who Jesus is!  We can’t celebrate Christmas without that part!

“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord”  Luke 2:11

He is our savior. And through the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, our sins have been forgiven. We are washed white as snow.

As we celebrate the birth of our Lord and savior, Jesus, it’s important that we see the whole picture. You may not want to look at it, but the invitation in this moment is to ask the Lord to show you your red….but not so he can condemn you – he doesn’t do that. No, he wants to take that red, and turn it white. Will you let him?

See the whole picture and receive the fullness of his love.

Rejoice!

Joyfully,

Season

Joy Bringer’s Advent

advent, christmas, joy, Uncategorized

Day 23 – Candle of PEACE – JBA

Deep breath.

How about we do that again, I need it.

Deep(er) breath.

That’s a little better. Now it’s time to light our 4th candle – the candle of peace. Isn’t it pretty? I just want to sit here and look at it…

Tomorrow is the last day of advent, and it isn’t lost on me that today we are led to dwell on the gift of peace. It’s like the Lord knew something about human nature (go figure).

There is something in us that feels the need to work, strive, and busy ourselves when we know something is coming. So when the angel appeared to declare the arrival of the new born King, the message was,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:14

Peace to those on whom his favor rests. Did you know that’s you?

No, really. You are favored by God. And the Lord wanted all of us to know that with the gift of the Savior comes peace. We don’t need to earn the gift. In fact, we couldn’t even if we tried. That’s why he came – we needed it, didn’t deserve it, and couldn’t earn it. So it had to be a gift. And gifts are free.

I need this message today.

We have taken the idea of Christmas – the celebration of the greatest gift ever given – and turned it into the most busy and stressful time of the year!

I want to start out by confessing that this has been the craziest holiday season for me. I have a ton of balls in the air, and while none have dropped, and my juggling act has been quite impressive, I am screeching into Christmas with nothing left to contribute.

I am not proud.

So, today, (while doing 4 Christmas services) I am going to center my attention on the declaration of peace that precedes the gift. I am grateful that the Lord knows us. He knows that we are inclined to work from a place of worthlessness and fear and he meets us in his generosity and love and says,

“my child, rest”

Have you been like me this year? Working to make this season great for everyone else, but not resting in the gift? I am stopped by this revelation. If we are receiving his favor, we need to honor the Lord by not making this season about work. Of course, we can have fun and celebrate, but if it becomes about everything else but the celebration of His love and gift, what are we celebrating!?

So, today, I receive the good news of the peace that we are given before the gift. And I bless you to join me.

Peace, be still.

Joyfully,

Season

Joy Bringer’s Advent