Tag Archive | joy

(Video) What Brain Science Tells Us about Joy

What does brain science tell us about joy?
How can we trigger the circuitry in our brains so that our marriages are strengthened?

These are some of the questions that Chris Coursey answers during a fascinating conversation about his new book, co-authored with Marcus Warner: The 4 Habits of Joy-filled MarriagesChris shares many helpful insights and practical suggestions for increasing the joy in our marriages.

You will enjoy watching this interview!

You can learn more about this encouraging book HERE.

If you would like to enter the drawing for a free copy of this book, be sure to comment HERE or HERE by June 23.

God bless you as you build joy in your relationships!
Tami

“Fight Back with Joy”

Last week, I mentioned a new book entitled, Fight Back with Joy. However, I did not get any farther than the title! 🙂 Today, I’d like to share a bit more with you about this book by Margaret Feinberg.

fight back with joyNot long ago, Margaret began focusing on joy as her “word of the year.” After several months of pondering and pursuing joy, Margaret learned that she had cancer. God had lovingly and wisely equipped Margaret with a new weapon before she entered the brutal battlefield of dealing with cancer.

Joy proved to be a formidable weapon, indeed. It was not always the emotional cheer that Margaret would have liked, but it was also deeper and more fierce than she had realized.

The book is easy to read, thought-provoking, and encouraging. Here are 12 quotes which I appreciated from Fight Back with Joy:

1. The Bible insists that joy is more than a feeling; it’s an action. We don’t just sense joy; we embody it by how we respond to the circumstances before us. (page 19)

2. What is the genesis of this joy? I believe that, at its core, joy emanates from the abiding sense of God’s fierce love for us. (19)

3. The astonishing love of God found in the relational Dance of the Trinity is brimming with delight. (21)

4. You are founded in joy, created for joy, and destined for joy. Joy is where you come from. Joy is what you are created to experience. Joy is where you are headed. (23)

5. Joy is a far more dynamic, forceful weapon than most of us realize. The abiding sense that you are fiercely loved by God? That kind of joy empowers you to rise above any circumstance. (23)

6. [It is important] to mourn well. The process of mourning is like a long exhale. Expelling sorrow can feel like it’s emptying us of life, but it’s crucial to breathing joy more deeply. (72)

7. When we don’t allow ourselves to grieve well, something inside us dies. … We may not feel as much pain, but we also don’t feel as much joy. Our spiritual vitality depends on our ability to mourn the notable losses in life…. (79)

8. When done well, the tears of mourning become a river that washes away our pain, a holy stream carrying us toward healing, wholeness, and joy. (81)

9. [Celebration] is a discipline. Sometimes you have to will yourself to do it. (90)

10. Celebration is a discipline. But it’s also divine. (93)

11. Most days rejoicing didn’t make us feel better. Some moments buoyed our spirits, and laced us with smiles that attracted new friends. More often it opened the floodgates of tears. Joy is an action, something we can do, regardless of what our emotions may reveal. (107-108)

fight back with joy12. Like a fistful of red balloons, joy picks us up when life knocks us down. … Not only does joy enhance our stride in life, but it also shouts, “Look up!” (132)

God has overflowing joy for us. We can trust that. I agree with Margaret that our joy springs, first of all, from knowing that we are deeply, unfailingly loved by God. It then deepens as we know (experience) Christ more and more.

As C.S. Lewis said, “Joy is the serious business of heaven.” In other words, God is committed to joy! For believers, earthly life is preparation for entrance into our Master’s joy (Matthew 25:21). All of history is being shaped and funneled for the fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11): God and His people will delight in one another without end.

How do you practice the discipline of joy? How do you grieve in healthy ways? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Blessings of joy to you,
Tami

(Click HERE for last week’s post, “Is Joy a Weapon?”)

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Is Joy a Weapon?

The word “fight” is what caught my attention.

Fight Back with Joy is Margaret Feinberg’s latest book.[i] As you may know, I am passionate about fighting on our knees for our marriages and families, and I am convinced that worship is a powerful weapon in spiritual battle. When I saw Fight Back with Joy, I was eager to consider joy as another important weapon.

But is joy really a spiritual weapon? As I pondered that question, I focused on Nehemiah 8:10: “The joy of the LORD is my strength.” My thinking followed these successive steps:

1. The word used here in Nehemiah for “strength” is maowz, which means “place or means of safety, protection, refuge, stronghold” (Strong’s H4581). Maowz is sometimes translated as “fortress.” The prophet Jeremiah wrote, “LORD, you are my strength and fortress [maowz], my refuge in the day of trouble!” (16:19, NLT)

2. This means that the joy of the LORD is our refuge; it is a place of protection. In fact, the HCSB translates Nehemiah 8:10 like this: “Do not grieve, because the joy of the Lord is your stronghold.”

When we let go of joy, we make ourselves vulnerable to the enemy.

3. So … if joy is a weapon, then perhaps it is a shield, which offers protection. Roman soldiers had shields which would completely cover them, protecting them from attacks above or from the side.

4. The apostle Paul said that our faith functions as a spiritual shield. Could joy be a part of our faith? It is! It is a core piece, just as metal was sometimes the core piece of a Roman shield.

Joy is the faith that God loves us passionately and personally, intensely and intimately. Joy is the faith that God will keep His covenant promises to us without fail. Our conviction that we can trust God implicitly is what protects us from the schemes of the enemy.

Joy is not an emotion, although it can be expressed as an emotion. Joy is something we do: joy is choosing to believe that God loves us.

Perhaps we can say that joy is like the inner layer of metal within an ancient shield, adding strength to the wood and leather.joy

5. If joy is a weapon, then it is a shield of defense. We can choose to keep ourselves within the refuge of joy, keeping our thoughts and spirits deeply sheltered within the love of Christ—a love that is so wide and long and high and deep that it covers us fully and endlessly (Ephesians 3:18).

6. In researching Roman shields, I learned that the ancient shield was not only defensive but also offensive. How interesting! In fact, some claim that the Roman shield was primarily offensive. It was actually used to punch the enemy. It was the Roman soldier’s “main weapon.”[ii]

So … if joy is a shield, then it is also offensive. I love that! We do not only protect ourselves through joy, but we also advance through joy. We come against the enemy—we overcome the enemy–when we practice tenacious joy.

Here is how we “punch the enemy” with a shield of joy:

We will believe that God loves us. (Pow!) We will believe that God is actively loving us right now in this situation. (Crash!) We will believe that God’s love in unfailing. (Wham!) We will believe that God’s love for us is perfect, wise, and powerful. (Boom!) We will believe that God withholds no good thing from those who belong to Him. (Smash!)

7. So … yes, I think that joy is a weapon. Our shield of faith, strengthened with a core of joy, is a powerful spiritual weapon. As we believe truth, including the truths of love which strengthen us with joy, we are well equipped for victorious battle.

Ann Voskamp puts it this way:

The joy of the Lord is your strength and the person of Christ is your unassailable joy – and the battle for joy is nothing less than fighting the good fight of faith.[iii]

Take up your shield of faith, with its strong core of joy, and watch God win!

Image courtesy of savit keawtavee at

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[i] Worthy Publishing. 2015.

[ii] http://web.utk.edu/~cohprima/scutum.html. Accessed 6-6-15.

[iii] http://www.aholyexperience.com/2015/06/when-you-want-to-thrive-instead-of-just-barely-survive/

(Shield) Image courtesy of vectorolie at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Strength of Joy in Your Marriage

Here is an amazing verse:

      Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.   (Nehemiah 8:10, NIV)

That is not only a command and a statement, but it is also a promise!

God is full of love, and He is also full of joy. Not only is He the greatest Lover, but He is also the most joyful Person in the universe. His love and His joy are woven together.

joy

We tend to think that if we have joy, then we can love others. But I think it really works the other way around: if we love, then we can have joy. When we give to others, we gain joy.

The exhaling of love allows the inhaling of joy.

But there is more! I think there is something else involved in this giving and this joy—something that is very important but often overlooked:

Covenantal love is a decision to enjoy another person.

While godly love is a commitment to give, it is also a commitment to enjoy.  Part of loving our spouses well is enjoying them–enjoying who they are. God does that for us, and we can do that for others. God delights in us, and we can choose to delight in others.

So I guess we can say that this, too, is a giving because we are giving the gift of enjoying. When someone enjoys who you are, isn’t that like a gift to you?

joyVery often, our joy in marriage is lacking because our commitment to enjoying our spouses is lacking. We think that enjoyment should simply come to us. It’s great when that happens, but sometimes we must make the decision—the determination even—to enjoy someone. After we take the challenge to enjoy, we can pray for eyes to see past faults and past behaviors to the core treasure of someone. We can pray to see more of what God sees and more of what God delights in.

Enjoying our spouse is part of our love. That is part of what we give. And when we give the way God does, then we have the joy that God has. Then we have the joy of the Lord as our strength.

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Image courtesy of Witthaya Phonsawat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Starving at a Banquet, and Staring at my Feet

Imagine that you go to a grand banquet. With great excitement, you find your name on a place-setting at the table. As you sit there, you focus on your name card. You focus on your name card even as the warm bread is passed. You focus on your name card as the savory soup and then the juicy steak go by. You focus on your name card as the chocolate cheesecake comes around and as the coffee is served.  As the evening goes on, you wonder why your stomach is growling.

It is important for believers to know that we are the children of God, the valued sheep of His flock, and the apple of His eye. However, if our focus remains on who we are, our healing will not be complete, and our joy will not be full.

Think about it this way: it would be a good thing to learn that we were someone’s child and that we had a father, right? But that joy, in itself, would be quite limited. The full joy would come in knowing that our father was a kind and patient man!

The fact that we are  beloved children of God gives us joy and brings us into God’s Presence. But too often, we stand there and stare at our own feet. Focused on ourselves, we say, “I am God’s child. I am loved.” We wonder why our healing does not progress and why our joy does not grow.

But then … we feel the gentle fingers of Jesus beneath our chin, lifting our head so that our eyes see Him. Here is our full healing! When the Lifter of our Head becomes the focus of our eyes, then is our joy made complete.

It is good to see that our feet are bought by Christ, but our healing  progresses when we then focus on the pierced feet of Jesus Who bought us! It is good to know that we are sheep of God’s flock, but our joy is made full as we then focus on the gentleness and wisdom and goodness of our Shepherd.

Our list of who we are in Christ (“I am chosen; I am accepted; I am loved; etc.”) is what we stand on in order to see the awesome “I AM” of God.  God uses my “I am … ” to lift my head to see His “I AM.”  Our complete healing and full joy come from focusing on Him and on savoring Who He Is.

My “I am … ” helps me to find my place at the table, but His “I AM” is the feast!

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus.  Consider Him, so that you do not grow weary or discouraged (Hebrews 12:2,3).