Here's A Thought...

Here are some "THOUGHTS" that will hopefully answer some of the questions that you may have about what the Bible has to say about our everyday lives. These articles are here to provoke thought; provide answers, guidance and resources; all in an effort to bring you into a closer relationship with your Heavenly Father!


Saturday, November 27, 2010


In a recent study series that I have been in, I was confronted with a question that has plagued me most of my life. The most amazing part of all of this is the Edison moment (light bulb going off) that I received. What an epiphany it was to come to the realization, the understanding, the identification and unveiling, answering the question of where’s my joy! (I lament)

The study series that I was in that led to this huge moment in my life was on the subjects of Faith and Hope. Believe it or not, in the study of these questions, it ultimately led me back to the question of why I and so many Christians seem to be so devoid of joy. Where is the joy of the Lord? Shouldn’t Christians experience joy? Does the bible not promise joy? Or does it? So I began to read; and to read very carefully.

Through much study, thought and debate, I have chosen to study the Word (Bible) using the English Standard Version (ESV). And in that version, the word “joy” appears in 171 verses. (Yes, I read them all). And in not one of those verses is “joy” promised.
Are you kidding me?! Imagine my surprise to find out that there is no promise of joy in the Bible. Who lied to me?! Somebody shoot me!
So once I had calmed down and really began to understand what I was reading; it became crystal clear that even though there is not promise of joy; joy is right there in front of us. Let me explain.

The circle and whirlwind of questions that led me here comes from my own internal struggle with anxiety; particularly my anxiety over the future. In various times and stages in my life, I have attempted to get involved, become active in, or serve in a church. I found that I would quickly become discouraged and impatient when I felt that things weren’t progressing fast enough or to be quite honest; when things weren’t going my way. Things work out, they don’t work out, churches split, I get angry…what is going on…why are things happening the way they are…who is in control here…what is my purpose. The questions go on and on. It is easy to get so wrapped up in attempting to understand and explain or even fix, that we lose our focus. We become so engrossed and consumed in our problems that we develop tunnel vision or just become blinded in our struggles and in our trials.

Who, what, why, when, how? These are not bad questions, not by any means. But to what degree do they consume our lives? I hate to go all “glass half full” on you, but really. How much do we focus on the negative? Look at the media of today, we have become a people of pain and drama junkies. The news is a constant stream of well…bad news! We can’t get enough. Who watches a car race just in hopes to see a crash? Really?! So I ask the question; where is our focus? Where is our joy?

So let’s begin our study. If your focus is on things that our not of God and are of things of this world; your joy is temporary if not a complete deception all together. A new car might bring you a sense of joy, until you have to make the first payment. Spend and buy, mountains of debt; pleasures of the flesh, lifetime or eternity of regret. Have we become such a society of introspection and self-service? Has our vision become so short sighted that more and more of our daily thoughts are consumed with making us feel good? Is the growing epidemic of addiction in this country and around the world more about our desire for instant gratification? Where is our focus? What are we trying to satisfy: is it our needs or our lusts; is it our needs or our desires; do we want true joy or just a quick fix? (There are a couple commandments that warn us about coveting.) Where is our focus!?

In a search for answers to these questions, I turned to God’s Word, to the bible. Again; 171 verses that contain the word “joy”; here are just a few:
You (LORD) make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalms 16:11)
Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord. Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart! (Psalms 32:10-11)
The hope of the righteous brings joy, but the expectations of the wicked will perish. (Proverbs 10:28)
Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. (Habakkuk 3:17-18)

Jesus said; “I am the true vine, and my father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. John 15:1-11

We are not promised joy; we are given promises of where our joy lies or can be found. Our joy resides in His presence; our joy is found in Him! Sure, things happen in this life that bring us joy, but those things of this world are short lived. I cannot express my joy in my children, but my joy cannot depend on my children. Children get hurt, they get sick, they rebel, they become teenagers, they get angry, and they eventually leave to live their own lives in Christ. Things can bring us joy, but there is only one joy that is eternal!

Then why is there so much pain? What a good question, but again I am going to defer to our primary question; where is our focus? When we focus on the pain of our circumstances, we are unable to see the value in the lesson. When I was at Paris Island (Marine Corps Boot Camp), my only focus was to get through as fast as I could, not realizing the benefits of the physical, psychological, and emotional training I was receiving for combat and well, for life. Pain promotes growth. Look at it solely on a physical level. Here are some physical training mottos: no pain, no gain; pain is weakness leaving the body; and so on. Pain is necessary for physical growth, for physical improvement. The same principles apply to emotional growth. It is only through emotional trials that we are able to obtain emotional growth. Knowledge comes from learning, from studying, from painful effort. Wisdom comes from experiences, some from good, but most from bad!
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. (James 1:2-3)
I will be the first to admit, there are a lot of pains that I do not understand. But if I can keep my trust in God, maintain my faith in Him, keep my Hope in His promises; maybe I can get through the pain learn His lesson, to see His glory!

I leave you with these final thoughts. Spend time in the Bible, for it is the written thoughts and commandments of God. Where is your focus; is you focus on God’s word?
Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts. (Jeremiah 15:16)

What is your focus; do your actions reflect your focus?
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, division, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

If we keep our focus on Him and in Him, there too will we find our joy!

Friday, November 5, 2010


I have noticed that in and around my life, dealing with conflict has been consuming more and more of my time and effort. I have noticed that most of the people I know have also been dealing with increased conflict in their lives as well. With more than 20 years of dealing with conflict in law enforcement and as an Emergency Room nurse, I would like to share just a couple of thoughts that have become staples in my philosophy with addressing conflict resolutions.

First, I want to speak on a spiritual level. When confronted with a situation of conflict or when we are about to knowingly enter into a tense situation; we need to be in prayer, stay in prayer, and finish in prayer. Paul wrote in Ephesians chapter 6; “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12) We have to understand and recognize that there is a spiritual battle that is going on around us. We need to engage in prayer so that we can call into play God our father, His son Jesus Christ, His Spirit and all the Angels in heaven to be involved in this spiritual battle; for we have no power or no authority in this realm. We need to turn it over to God and pray for His intervention.

Next, I want to speak to three items of importance when dealing with our flesh and conflict. First, we need to remove our emotions from the situation. We have to remember that when dealing with conflict, it is not personal. Most conflict is born of lack of information, misinformation, miscommunication, anxiety, stress, and/or fear. The confrontation or conflict then is a result of someone acting out in response to their emotions. I urge you; do not enter onto the battlefield of emotional conflict; no one wins. Both parties get angry and both parties get hurt; no one wins. I urge you to check your emotions at the door; that leaves you better equipped to discern the source of the conflict which moves you quicker towards a resolution.

Second, stay calm. When we are confronted, our natural fight or flight mechanisms begin to kick into gear. Our adrenalin begins to pump; our heart rate increase and we begin to breath faster; we develop tunnel vision as our brain transitions from cognitive mode to reflexive mode; this is all as our body prepares to enter into physical battle or the run to safety. I urge you; when you feel this begin to happen, physically make yourself calm down, slow and deepen your breathing. The writer of Psalms 46 reminds us that; “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalms 46:1, 10) Calm down, be still and know that it is in God’s hands. Engage your brain and do not react out of a reflexive response to the situation.

Third, be patient. In our excitement to address or fix a problem, we can become very impatient and excited; then we act in hast when it may not be needed. Sometimes, when exercising a little patience, a situation will resolve itself or God will reveal His solution to the situation. I have been in a study and focus on Paul’s second letter to Timothy. In the 4th chapter, Paul is advising Timothy; “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” (2 Timothy 4:2)

Conflict can be a very aggravating, stressful, a burden that becomes increasingly heavy; however, if approached with the right outlook and attitude; conflict can be handled with peace and ease. For those who work in the Law Enforcement or Security fields; even when physical confrontation is necessary to resolve a conflict; a calm controlled response is much more effective than a reflexive, emotional, chaotic response. Remember to pray, remove your emotions, stay calm, and be patient and you will find that you will more quickly identify the source of the conflict and move faster towards resolving the conflict before it becomes a burden.