Unspeakable Joy to All You Ebenezers Out There

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“Joy, it’s always a function of gratitude — and gratitude is always a function of perspective. If we are going to change our lives, what we’re going to have to change is the way we see” (Ann Voskamp).

I love the 1951 version of Scrooge, known to us Americans as A Christmas Carol. Most of what I love about the movie is how giddy Ebenezer Scrooge is at the end when he discovers the true spirit of Christmas. That gets to me every single time.

I’m thinking about a Facebook friend who posted about how much she hated Christmas, partly due to the fact that all she saw were the crazy spending, the long lines, the push-and-shove grab-all-you-can mentality.

That’s not Christmas. At least that’s not what Christmas is truly all about.

Joy does come when you shift your perspective from what is seen, i.e. the money exchanging hands, to the unseen, i.e. what can never be bought and can never be earned but only received as a free gift.

I often lose perspective, especially in Nashville traffic. But I always love being reminded that as a believer saved by that amazing grace, I have more reason than anyone to have unspeakable joy.

I hope you never forget who you were when Jesus found you. I hope you never lose the feeling of that moment when your life changed forever and you went from being a nobody set on a dead end street to a child and heir of God bound for something much better than anyone has ever dreamed.

Jesus now and Heaven ahead. Actually, Jesus now and then Jesus AND Heaven ahead. There will always be Jesus.

I love that I discovered Advent later in life because I appreciate it so much more than if I had grown up with it. I also love that I am still coming to understand the full extent of what that unspeakable joy looks and feels like.

I hope and pray that never gets old for any of us who have ever experienced it.

The end.

 

Awakenings and The Gift of Being Alive

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Leonard Lowe: We’ve got to tell everybody. We’ve got to remind them. We’ve got to remind them how good it is.

Dr. Sayer: How good what is, Leonard?

Leonard Lowe: Read the newspaper. What does it say? All bad. It’s all bad. People have forgotten what life is all about. They’ve forgotten what it is to be alive. They need to be reminded. They need to be reminded of what they have and what they can lose. What I feel is the joy of life, the gift of life, the freedom of life, the wonderment of life!” (Awakenings, 1990).

First of all, when did this movie get to be 25 years old? Where was I? Why wasn’t I consulted about this occurrence?

I do so love this movie. It reminds me of what a gift being alive is. It reminds me of the blessings of all those things that I daily take for granted that so many people don’t get to experience– waking up, breathing in fresh air, having the freedom to go and do as I please, being able to worship God freely.

The saying goes that every day may not be a good day, but there is good in every day. No matter how hard-pressed or stressed you are, you can still find the good if you look for it. Even in the midst of incredible loss and grief, there are blessings waiting to be found.

You have to train your eye. If you expect bad to happen, that’s all you’ll see. If you expect good, you’ll find it. You project onto others what you see in yourself (I learned that in one of my Psychology classes way back in my Union University days).

The best way is to look for God in every situation. You’ll find Him and you’ll also see whatever you’re going through in the best possible light.

As a friend of mine always says at the end of his blogs, just you think about that.

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What I Did Today

  
When I typed in the title to today’s post, I almost felt like I was getting ready to write on of those essays that we all used to write as sixth graders about what we did last summer. In my case, it wasn’t last summer, but this Sunday.

I started off in usual fashion by greeting the fine folks who came to worship at The Church at Avenue South. It was PERFECT weather, mid-70s, the kind that for me that conjures up every happy childhood memory.

I still can’t believe that I’m a part of what God is doing in the Berry Hill/Melrose area of Nashville (and that we’re literally next door to Athens Family Restaurant, which has some so-good-it-makes-you-wanna-slap-yo-momma Greek food. Plus, they serve breakfast food all day. Win.

From there, I went to the 28th annual Greek Festival at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church. Everything was stellar, from the Greek salad to the Greek dancers to the almost ungodly baklava. The church building itself is beautiful, a fine example of a Byzantine cathedral (as I learned in the 30-minute tour provided by the church).

In addition to the perfection that was my Greek salad, I came home with a Greek Orthodox cross and an “Opa!” pin (for whenever I’m in a My Big Fat Greek Wedding mood. Which is often.

Then it was back to Ave South for a church-wide fellowship. They showed the Titans-Bucs game, which turned out really well for the Titans. For the Bucs? Not so much. At least for one week, the Tennessee Titans I root for have a winning record.

I’m truly blessed to know some of the amazing people I got to hang out with today. Plus, it’s hard to feel too depressed when it’s sunny with a high of 75 outside. Yeah, I think I mentioned already how perfect the weather was.

Worry doesn’t add anything to tomorrow, but it does rob today of it’s blessings. It keeps you from seeing what’s in front of you and from fully engaging in the moments as you’re living them.

Generally I’ve found that 9 out of 10 times, those worst-case scenarios you’re obsessing anxiously over never happen. The world doesn’t end and you don’t kick the bucket. Most of the time, you won’t remember what it was that stressed you out so bad to begin with.

You will remember the moments when you chose not to give into worry but instead chose to trust God in the moment. Those turn out to be the best kinds of moments.

 

What I Love on a Friday Night

The Life-Light was the real thing:
    Every person entering Life
    he brings into Light.
He was in the world,
    the world was there through him,
    and yet the world didn’t even notice.
He came to his own people,
    but they didn’t want him.
But whoever did want him,
    who believed he was who he claimed
    and would do what he said,
He made to be their true selves,
    their child-of-God selves.
These are the God-begotten,
    not blood-begotten,
    not flesh-begotten,
    not sex-begotten” (John 1:9-13).

I love how through following Jesus and dying to self you find your true self.

I love how the best expression of who we are and what we were made for is to be a “child-of-God” self.

I love how it all starts and ends with God, not me.

I love that because God started and will end it, I can rest assured that the end is already as good as done and I don’t have to fret that I will somehow screw it up.

I love how no one who ever truly wants to find God and know Jesus will ever be disappointed for all find what they truly seek.

There are lots of things I love about this passage, but those are a few.

Most of all, I love how God’s got me right where He wants me even when I have no idea of where I am or where I’m going and I can ultimately trust Him more than what I can see or feel.