Finding peace and joy against the odds

What if joy is more a function of the gratefulness you express than that of what you have or what surrounds you? In other words – joy is more a function of perspective than circumstances.

We swim in an ocean that surrounds us with agenda driven messaging that says you can control your circumstances. It tells us that says you can have joy by having things or doing things.

And perhaps these are terrible lies that plague our minds and hearts. They are lies that feeds the horrible mindset that we can be god of our own lives and beyond. Lies that feed our pride. Lies that kill joy and contentment, and breed fear, anxiety and depression.

So why not run into the face of our generation’s deepest fears and let go of your need to reason and understand and control everything, and give away your possessions. So often we run away from the sources of fear – when the answer is to run headlong into it.

Begin celebrate what you have.

Begin to daily choose contentment

And you may find that you will be quite alright, and the things that you thought you needed, you are perfectly fine without.

And you may find that a joy and a peace and a contentment will begin to spring up, if but a seed.

May we be known for being a generation that runs headlong in the opposite direction of everything around it.

May we choose gratitude, and choose generosity, daily.

May we be filled to overflowing with an outrageous and contagious joy.

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Why we must fight for contentment

Such a title seems paradoxical.

It is the idea that we must fight discontentment with gratitude and delight. We who are of Christian orientation have the great advantage of having an object of complete and utter delight who we worship. Somehow by delighting in God, everything else finds it’s rightful place.

In this world there will always be trouble. The question is how not to avoid it, but to be at peace with a life that will see trouble. Whether it be sickness of a loved one or self, or wars or famines or floods.

The life that is all together and good and lovely is an illusion anyway. For one, what we think we want we probably actually don’t need. And a life without trials or hardships is one that will remain immature and naive.

So I have come to resolve that I will fight for contentment. It seems counterintuitive, but if we realise that the default mode of the human being is to be jealous, to be discontent, to want more, then it starts to make sense. And if you throw in the fact that the average human being floats day by day in a sea of advertising, and media designed to make you discontent, then it really starts to make sense.

And we have all bought and continue to buy into this illusion. We are surrounded by messaging that creates a desire in us and tries to sell us something to satisfy that desire. and when we do, we feel good for a little while, but then find we must have more to satisfy the same desire. And our general level of contentment only gets lower and lower.

False idols, broken cisterns, that’s the Bible calls them.

So I will fight for contentment every day in Christ alone. To find my fullest love and my fullest delight in one thing alone, the everlasting fountain of life. For that alone will set me free. For that alone will bring me contentment.

So I will worship. In the morning and in the day and in the night.

Somehow it always comes back to worship.

Just had a conversation with someone that said “God would bless me because I’ve done so much for him in the past and that there’s no need to worry”. This was said in the context of finances.

And it just struck me that the place in my heart where this statement leads is a place I want to avoid going.

Because there can be the assumption behind this sort of statement that we could do anything for God.

And this sort of thinking may lead me down the path of entitlement and pride when things are going well, but when things are not going so well this road only leads to bitterness and disappointment.

And I think that it doesn’t matter in the least, what we do or don’t do for God.

Oh, for the right perspective!

For Christ has done everything for me! And he continues to do so today. He put himself on a cross for my sake and continues to intercede, that TODAY my very heart might beat, that TODAY I might keep breathing every breath. That I would be able to walk the next step. His grace is the only thing that sustains my every waking moment and it is his goodness is the mercy that keeps me on the narrow path.

So I want to walk in thankfulness and contentment. For I have everything I need and everything I will ever need. This is the path of freedom, this is the path of joy, and this is the path of contentment.

Prone to wander Lord I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love
Here’s my heart Lord
Take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above.

Jesus. Our magnificent obsession

No other reality so liberates us, so fills us with pleasure, so causes love to well up from inside. And in so doing it frees us from every other terrible master  we so easily find ourselves following. 

And the bride of Christ will not have a begrudging betrothal to a man she barely knows or distractedly loves. 

She shall be obsessed and possessed. Her gaze will only be upon the one who has infinite beauty and worth. The one who calls himself the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and End.

To love and be loved. She shall require nothing more and nothing less.

To desire and be desired. And in this place she shall know what it means to be alive and to be free.

Jesus. He is and shall be. Our magnificent obsession.

At the foot of the cross

I am filled with thankfulness this morning for I’m seeing so clearly once again:

I give him my weakness, for there is nothing else to give but weakness, and I would be kidding myself if I thought that I could give anything but weakness.

I give him my weakness, and he lends me strength.

There is a river of incredible grace and mercy and it flows so freely at the foot of the cross. And you can only get there by bending your knee and bowing your head.

I give him my five loaves and two fish, and he works wonders.

And when my gaze shifts from him as it is so prone to do. When my heart wanders and drifts, I will tell my mind and remind my heart:

I am weak but he is strong.

And he lifts my head and smiles at me, and he says “Arise my son, I love you and you are mine.”

And I am undone.

At the foot of the cross.

Seasons.

I’m looking out of the cafe I usually sit at in Beecroft and I have been noticing a particular tree change over the last 5 months. From having countless beautiful tiny white flowery blooms in late winter to tender light green spring leaves in spring to a darker harsher full and strong foliage as it holds right now at the start of summer.

And I have been noticing that my heart is sometimes in a state of unhealthy waiting and wanting for something better. For the “next step” to arrive. For more money, for more pleasure, for more of Christ and his kingdom, for more happiness, for a better job, for more of my dreams to be fulfilled. It is a wanting that has a dangerous thought tacked on: “if only”. “If only” I got to this place in my business, or “if only” I had this or that. And indeed the fact is that our hearts are constantly presented with a smorgasbord of delights and pleasures in our media-crazy society that most of us don’t have the capacity to have. Perhaps I contribute to that – I sent my first marketing email for the dental surgery a few weeks ago.

And yet, longing and desiring for better or more is actually, I think, a beautiful thing in itself. For there must be some measure of dissatisfaction before there can be a measure of satisfaction. It takes some measure of hunger to enjoy any kind of food. It takes longing and desire for there to be fulfilment.

So I am noticing a tension that must exist – of the need holding my heart and my mind in a place of complete contentment and complete dissatisfaction. It’s almost this paradoxical state of wanting for something more without needing it. I can’t describe it fully, nor do I probably have the emotional capacity to walk it out fully.

But let me just say there is something beautiful about being able to yield to the season which we are in, whether it be hard or easy, barren or productive, painful or joyful. For there are no glorious summers without the beautiful spring. There are no beautiful springs without the harsh and cold winters. There are no harsh and cold winters without the peaceful autumns. And I sense that a stretching and a growing is always occurring in the waiting. There is a reason for every season. Nothing is wasted.

It’s all about the destination, but perhaps equally if more all about the journey.