JOY IT’S NOT QUANTUM PHYSICS

Physics

This is not like a lesson in physics or quantum theory. It is, however, a lesson designed to show that the catalyst for our joy is a fundamental constant. How much joy we have depends on how much joy we want!

Most people think in the context that joy is like the weather. Our joy is either hot or cold, present or absent, on or off. We incorrectly assume that fixed external factors determine the scale of joy we experience.  We believe we have no personal, individual control over our joy.

We believe our joy results primarily from things like dollars in our wallets, the square footage of our homes, the cars in the garage, the carats in our diamonds, and other measures of apparent success. Not true.

Joy is something we regulate. Just like we turn the thermostat up to get more air conditioning in summer or more heat in winter, we can also adjust the amount of joy that we have in our lives at any given moment.

The dimension of joy is entirely up to you!

The degree of joy is all in your hands.

The magnitude of your joy is completely under your control.

The Word speaks to us definitively about the source of full joy. Jesus had an abundance of the Father’s joyfulness, and as we grow in Christ-likeness, we grow in His joy. These words, spoken about Jesus Christ by the Apostle Peter, quote the prophetic words of David recorded in Psalm 16:8-11.

Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.—Acts 2:28

Life!  What a fascinating journey. Yet, unfortunately, too many of us listen to self-defeating words and discouragement. We are on the brink of experiencing the greatest deficit of joy that the world has ever known.  Why? Because we are so accustomed of seeking joy in external things. Continual joy comes only from continually practicing His presence in our everyday lives.

It’s time to get ready for your moment of unsurpassed joy! Can you sustain it? The goal is to make your joy last, not just for a moment—for a lifetime! In Christ, we enjoy God’s presence and favor forever.

With that level of joy, suddenly—anything is possible.

THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT

Butterfly-Effect

You are powerful! You exist to make a difference. You are an integral part of God’s plan for His universe.

In his New York Times best seller, The Butterfly Effect, author Andy Andrews explains how everything that we do sets something else in motion somewhere on the planet. As Andy describes in his tiny, illustrative book, everything you do matters. And not just for you, but for everyone—both now and for all of eternity.

Everything has a pivotal impact. Each decision you make. Every word you speak, action you take, and move you make has an impact on someone’s life. Andy is not just talking about how you shape the life of the person seated on the sofa next to you right now or the one working in the cubicle across the hall.  That someone—the recipient of your influence—might be half a world away or, perhaps, yet unborn.

What you do makes a difference.

I think you already knew that.  However, the realities presented in The Butterfly Effect will cause you to rethink how significantly you impact the universe. Andy unveils a wider, deeper, more global purpose for your existence. It is this depth of purpose you may not have completely understood. In this little 100-page book, with glossy pages and calming pictures, Andy goes on to say that you influence families, neighborhoods, ecosystems, businesses, technology, art, society…all of life.

Yes, I’m talking about YOU!

The theory of the butterfly effect is that the flapping of one butterfly in some part of the world can have a far-reaching, phenomenal impact somewhere else. Tiny changes in the atmosphere can alter the path of a tornado or cause a typhoon halfway around the globe.

As I contemplate that thought today, I’m intrigued by the possibilities of this ripple effect—how one seemingly insignificant that I do or say can affect a generation I may never meet. A word I speak may inspire a great artist. Or save a life. Or heal a broken heart. So, I guess that’s why I’m here.

In 2001 when the oncologist diagnosed my incredible fatigue, not as the result of overwork, but as stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, I had a frank talk with the Lord.  It was an up close and personal, get down, “Jesus, I’ve-really-got-to-speak-with-You” conversation. I told God that I did not want my husband to have to do ministry without me. I was Floyd Prude’s helpmeet, his right arm. I was his sounding board, road dog, one-person support team;  you name it. “I love Heaven, Lord,” I said, “but I just can’t go now!” Yes, I heard the doctor. Of course, I knew how serious the diagnosis was. However, my response was to say to my body “By His stripes I am healed” and to my oncologist, “What kind of medicine do you have for this? Just give me some of it because I’ve got stuff to do!”

I know that God honored my determination to live and not die. He rewarded the claim I made on each healing scripture. Each day I literally rewrote Psalm 91:16  by changing the pronouns and putting myself in the passage, saying,  “With long life He will satisfy ME and show ME His salvation.” (I think I got that from Dodie Osteen so I want to give her credit.)

What occurs to me now is that I suppose it never occurred to me to include in my prayers the fact that, conversely, I didn’t want to minister without Floyd. I assumed a mutual continuity of our life together; that, of course, would be a given. Certainly, being a widow is not the future I had planned.

So today, I ponder where my butterfly wings will take me. He Who guides knows the answer. I must be here to shift something. You too.  Of all those born on the earth, you are the only one chosen to do some work. Let’s get it started. Go on; flap your wings.

Take a moment to watch this video on YouTube about Andy’s book here: http://bit.ly/kDm3PY

THE BIG QUESTION WE ALL WANT TO ASK GOD: WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO NOW?

You know, there are days when you just want to send God an email. Or a text message. Or ask Him to send you one! God, could you please leave me a yellow sticky note…You can put it anywhere. In the middle of my forehead would probably work.

The one clear certainty we all have is this: You are here to matter, to make a difference. You may not know for sure what your assignment is, but the one thing you’re confident of is that you have one. And, in that surety, you’re determined to shake your world, transform everything within your reach, and enlarge life abundantly within as wide a circle as you can touch.

So, what do you do when everything in life changes and you’re no longer certain how your assignment has shifted. Transitions occur in life—sometimes planned and sometimes not.

I’m more aware than ever how dynamically life’s changes can impact your view of your assignment. Our children grow up. Our parents grow older. Our jobs end. Our dream opportunities fade and fizzle. Our vision shifts. You no longer aspire to do what you thought you wanted to do.

Being passionate about how we respond to life’s changes begins with setting real, concrete goals.

1. Set a quiet moment for contemplative Bible study. God’s Word provides spiritual insight into how He directs our life’s work and our goals. Study both the Old Testament stories of spiritual direction and New Testament encouragements.

2. Ask God. Pray and seek His direction to lead you to the work He wants you to do. Your experiences, contacts, connections, open doors and current opportunities are all arrows pointing you in the right direction. You don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow or who you’re going to meet who will be instrumental in your life, but He does.

3. Dream your biggest dream for being God’s agent in our world. You have the power to energize your dreams; that’s a power that has already been given to you. Write down your dream goals and your target dates for achieving them.

4. Take into account and write down any obstacles you foresee. Ask God to remove or help you navigate around anything you feel will block your progress.

5. Start right now! Develop a plan for doing everything within your power. How many hours will you spend developing needed skills? How will you make yourself available for learning whatever is important? So, you want to write a book? Then, tie yourself to the computer chair with your bathrobe belt and write. Want to start a prison ministry? Who are the people you need to meet who can assist you or who can introduce you to the right connections in prisons?

God’s answer to my “what’s next” question is this. It’s the formula for “exceedingly abundant” living found in Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus: God is able; you can’t even imagine how far He can take your dreams; get excited; go ahead and kick start the power that is already within you.

20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,

Ephesians 3:20 (King James Version)

KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON

Keep-Calm-Poster

KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON  – A 70 YEAR-OLD MESSAGE, REPOSITIONED

Today, we are facing so much.  You’ve been knocked down; you can’t pray. We have those hand-wringing moments when we cry: “Lord, this is bad. What am I going to do?” I call them spiritual panic attacks. What’s the solution? Let me offer six assurances that you can claim from the King of Kings, and a repositioned, timeless message from an earthly king and our friends across the Atlantic.

First, a quick story. One of my best travel memories is a trip to England with my friend, Fran.  Actually, to say that I traveled “with” her is a misnomer.  Passionate, dedicated, compulsive United flier that I am, the thought of racking up 8,000 miles that didn’t count towards elite flyer status struck panic in my heart.  I flew on United Airlines; we met in London.  After a stay at the Lowndes Hyatt, Belgravia (charming, very British, we could walk to Harrods!), we rented a car and drove off—no particular destination in mind.  We stumbled upon Castle Combe, called the prettiest village in England, and the posh Manor House.  In the middle of manicured grass was a helicopter pad. (So, now you know my travel motto is basically: if you can’t sleep in your own bed, don’t go downhill.)

As we drove across southern England, our last stop was a bed and breakfast in Selworthy, a village of thatched-roof cottages. We were fed hearty breakfasts of thick sausage, ate scones, and drank tea so strong it gave me palpitations. I grew to love the English people and the countryside.

Reminiscing about that trip is, perhaps, why this historic English poster so inspires me. Produced in 1939 by the British Ministry of Information, it was rediscovered in 2000 in a box of antiquities at a used book store.  The motivational theme—Keep Calm and Carry On—was intended as a morale-booster at the start of World War II, a succinct message from King George VI to his people. Facing impending wartime disaster, the insignia of George’s crown and the message were meant to instill courage, cheerfulness and resoluteness as a remedy for uncertainty.

What does the King of Kings have to say about our uncertain times? Here are the six assurances, based on the promises of God:

  1. You can trust the faithfulness of God.  Lamentations 3:22-23—Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
  2. You can do great things if your vision is right. Peter walked on water—Matthew 14:22-31.
  3. Take your eyes off the chaos.  Keep Calm
  4. Get doubt out of the way; be courageous.  Carry On
  5. Keep focused on Jesus.
  6. Your ultimate victory is certain!  Jesus’ blood conquers every trial.  1 Corinthians 15:57—“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Pray the promises of God’s Word! Plead them! Believe them!  What are your favorite promises?

SHE’S A BAD MAMA-JAMA

Got your attention? Thought so. But, wait a minute; hold on. Don’t let go of your favorite gospel tune. David, sweet singer of Israel, concluded Psalm 150 (verse 6) with the words—Let everything that has breath, praise the Lord. I’m convinced that, in this case, a disco lyric is part of “everything.” Especially when we focus our attention on the heavens.  It reigns supreme among a billion starry wonders in our solar system. God created this colossal fiery sphere. He lets it breathe cataclysmic gulps of gas into the universe. And He called it the sun. So, I’m turning a disco beat into fervent praise. Start with the title, “She’s A Bad Mama Jama,” then just make up your own words.

It’s Saturday, its March, its 73 degrees in Nashville and I’m writing outside on the deck. Drinking sweet tea and eating old fashion shelled peanuts from the downtown Arcade (a tradition my husband started). Gazing up at a nearly cloudless sky, I’m thanking God for His awesome sun.

When God finished speaking creation into existence, He sat down and said: “That’s good.” Not that He needs my concurrence—but I agree. God, You are awesome.  When it comes to the sun, God might also have said: “She’s a bad Mama Jama.”

Life magazine recently reminded us that, while we’re accustomed to seeing the sun as a life-giving force, we forget about it’s awesomeness and how downright terrifying it is.

SOHO, the space-based Solar & Heliospheric Observatory, captured this solar prominence erupting from the sun’s surface. According to Life, such loops of superheated gas rise hundreds of thousands of miles, suspended for months at a time…eerily gorgeous reminders that our sun is an unfathomably large and volatile nuclear reactor, releasing every second more energy than humans have used in the last 10 thousand years.
Consider this:  You may never have pondered the sun—what it is, where it is and what it’s like in comparison to us. And you may never have asked:   What is the source of all that power, heat and boundless energy? Who lit it? How does it stay suspended up there? And here we are, third rock from the sun—a sun that’s just close enough to warm you yet far enough away not to burn you up or set your hair on fire.

Photo Credit: NASA

Kim was the first to draw my attention to it. At breakfast after a family wedding, she asked: “How many times can the earth fit into the sun?” So we imagined the sun as a huge bowl; our guesses were wildly wide-ranging. Her answer was astonishing. One million times.

In a world that’s so incredibly UNpredictable, there is one thing you can count on…our unbelievable sun.  It drives the oceans, the currents and our climate. Sunlight is the secret to life. Our sun provides an umbilical cord of light stretching across a vast 93 million miles of space. It breathes temperatures up to 1 million degrees Fahrenheit. If you listen, you can almost hear it’s heartbeat.

The sun was the subject of an historic sermon by African American former slave, The Reverend John J. Jasper, one of the nation’s most famous preachers.  His landmark message: “De Sun Do Move.” Folks came from around the world to hear him, even if they disagreed with his scientific hypothesis. Jasper preached it by invitation more than 250 times and once before the entire Virginia General Assembly. I don’t think anyone ever convinced John Jasper that the earth revolves around the sun, but that’s okay; we can appreciate his baptized-by-fire enthusiasm for God and His creation.

And so, this blog post is for YOU, a lesson from the sun and an 80’s disco beat. You…with the audacity to believe your problems are too hard for God to solve. It’s for you…whenever you think you’ve gotten yourself into something too thorny for God to untangle. The God who created the majestic sun, flung it into the heavens, balanced it’s fiery presence on an invisible cord and hasn’t let it self-incinerate—that God.  Next time you’re in doubt, break out in your own song and know that the great God of the universe can surely fix absolutely anything you’ve got broken.
——-

Photo sources:  http://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/gallery/images/large/superprom_prev.jpg

and  http://bit.ly/hKrbAs
For the curious, you’re invited to read John Jasper’s sermon (in original dialect) on the web site of Virginia Commonwealth University at http://bit.ly/fbVhq9

STARTING THIS DAY

Get ready! Get ready! Get ready!  Starting now, here come the blog posts about your Joy, your new-found Fearlessness and your Healing…my sharings, all designed to encourage you to get your glow on.  I have declared myself the Lord’s Chief Evangelist of Joy…that’s what I’m all about.  Spreading the Good News—to share the evangelion, inGreek, the announcement, the gospel. Declaring those things which God speaks through His Word or in my soul’s ear…the things I truly believe you should know.  Sometimes you’ll already know them but perhaps you’re just waiting to be reminded.

Here we go.  Stick with me now!  Get ready, get ready, get ready!  We’re going somewhere.  Choose now to pack carefully. Carry with you all of your faith, confidence, courage, love, peace, joy and determination; letting go of the baggage you’ve been carrying around by instinct—your fears, doubts, disbelief, chaos, turmoil, confusion and uncertainty.  In the victorious Christian life, I’ve discovered that there are some things you have to leave behind.

As we coast towards the end of the first month in 2011, it’s time to get ready for whatever God has for you this year.  Accept the reality that He is calling you out of some things.  Abraham (Genesis, chapter 12) was called away from Haran onto a new path God had chosen.  God was saying:  “Abraham, leave the comfortable and the familiar behind.  Stretch out on faith and on your trust in Me.” That’s what 2011 may mean to you. Out of the old, into the new.

Today, I bask in a renewed awareness of the One who is the only source of our strength.  Philippians 4:13 says:  “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.”  (New International Version)

Don’t you just love it when we gain fresh clarity of the real issues of life?!  Know today that you have a strength, an unbelievable inner potency and vigor which will allow you to face anything…truly, anything that life throws at you.

“Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.”   Isaiah 43:19 (King James Version) Hallelujah!

I’m overwhelmed by His awesomeness.  When God lets go, when He opens the floodgates of Heaven, when your new thing breaks forth, you can’t even stand up under the weight of His tremendous blessings. It’s coming!  So…ready, set, GO!