Joyless Reaction or Joyful Response

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Apostle Paul tells us that living a joyful life is God’s will for us.

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Even though it is God’s will, he still gives us the free will to choose it or reject it. We have the free will to determine how we respond to every situation we experience. Every opportunity we have is an opportunity to think joyfully.

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. James 1:2

Often we think of joy as a destination. We often ask, “How do I find joy.” What if…joy is not a destination, but the path we choose each day?  How does that switch your thinking?  What if joy is not something you get? Here is the truth: joy is not something that you get or find. Joy is something you choose.

Situations that affect our joy can range from a personal slight to a full on personal attack. They can include situations where others have tried to rob us of joy or they can be situations where we sabotage our own joy. Perhaps you’ve been short or snappy with someone. Perhaps you’ve gossiped or criticized someone. Perhaps someone has done you an injustice. Perhaps someone disagree with you. Perhaps someone you love makes bad choices. Each of these scenarios affects our joy.  I have experienced the full range of joy robbing. These situations can try us, they can cause us to stagger in our faith, they can cause us real physical ailments, they can cause us to temporarily move into our cave of despair, but the essential question is, will we allow these situations to rob us of our joy? When the joyless thought enters your head, you get to decide how long it stays there. That length of time will create either a joyless reaction or a joyful response. That length of time will shape your hour, your day, and often your month and your life.

When the bad thought enters your mind, replace it by following these steps.
1.    Rename  – Tell yourself this thought is a negative, bad, ungodly, or unkind thought
2.    Re-frame  – Focus on a positive or distracting thought
3.    Redirect - Change your actions to something uplifting, fun, or engaging.

With each situation, we choose how to think, speak, and act. We can choose to have a joyful response or a joyless reaction.

What I can tell you from my own personal experiences with situations that can steal or joy is that…
the sooner I completely let God give me his strength and wisdom,
·      the sooner I completely let God give me his strength and wisdom,
·         the sooner I determine my responsibility in the situation,
·         the sooner I make right any wrong I have caused,
·         the sooner I am proactive instead of reactive,
·         the sooner I take realize what I can control and what I can’t control,
·         the sooner I get a handle on my emotions, my thoughts, and my actions,
·         the sooner I ask myself “what is the truth of this situation?” and then deal with the truth,
·         the sooner I seek wise counsel,
·         the sooner I stop dwelling and ruminating,
·         the sooner I make deliberate choices to switch my thinking,
·         the sooner I act in loving, positive ways,
·         the sooner I heed Jesus’ advice as found in Matthew 10:14, “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet,”
·         the sooner I decide to live forward and not backward,
·         the sooner I examine how I can grow in this situation,
·         the sooner I realize that people have a right to have different opinions, ideas, and choices and being different doesn’t mean one is right and one is wrong,

…then the sooner I will dwell in joy.

 To hear a one hour audio of my lesson on How to Live a Joy-Filled Life, click here.
How to Live a Joy-filled Life

Controlling Your Emotional Life

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Tommy Newberry, author of The 4:8 Principle and 40 Days to a Joy-filled Life, says to master our emotional life, we must understand 3 simple maxims that explain the mental dynamics of emotional health.

 Law of Attention – Whatever you dwell upon becomes increasingly prominent in our own mind.  You will always feel what you dwell on. We have emotional reactions to what we think. Newberry suggests we often act to chronically share our mistakes, setbacks, and disappointments, and thus accelerate our negative spiral downward. Do you broadcast your negative headlines to everyone you meet? Or do you over share your personal crisis? If so, you may be sabotaging your own joy by dwelling in the negativity of your life. What gets your attention? Do you dwell and broadcast your blessings or curses?

Law of Exchange -  You can do away with a negative thought only when you replace it with a positive thought.  Have you ever tried to block out a thought? Just telling ourselves not to think about something is not effective. If you are upset by someone, you can’t just tell yourself not to be upset and then it will go away. The solution is to shift your attention to something else completely. Thoughts of unhappiness are exchanged for thoughts of gratitude. We can replace thoughts that lead to emotional upheaval with thoughts that lead to peace..

Law of Reversibility – This is your God-installed capability to produce feelings as a result of deliberate behavior. The method for upgrading your emotional life means acting your way into having positive emotional feelings.  Remember:  we’re talking about “emotions,” not health issues, real mental issues. We have been conditioned to believe the emotions should happen naturally. Some believe that if you have to work at emotions, they are not genuine. You may feel like a phony or as if you are lying to yourself when you act better than you actually feel. This is what Newberry says about that – “If you rule out the option of acting into your feelings, you will forever by doomed to enjoy only those positive emotions that arise spontaneously.”

For example, have you ever really dreaded something like exercise or going to lunch with a friend and then began it and found that you enjoyed it? You make yourself do these things and then you find enjoyment. It’s the same principle. What if you never did anything you didn’t “FEEL” like doing? Even the word emotion is 86% motion.

The author of Psalm 43, probably David, is going through a time of turmoil, stress, and personal attacks.

Declare me innocent, O God!
    Defend me against these ungodly people.
    Rescue me from these unjust liars.
For you are God, my only safe haven.

    Why have you tossed me aside?
Why must I wander around in grief,
    oppressed by my enemies?
Send out your light and your truth;
    let them guide me.
Let them lead me to your holy mountain,
    to the place where you live.
There I will go to the altar of God,
    to God—the source of all my joy.
I will praise you with my harp,
    O God, my God!

David’s life appears out of control and he feels abandoned by God. He has a broken heart and is wandering around in grief. However, he recognizes God as his safe haven and asks God to send his light and truth to guide him. His desire is to worship God at the altar in the temple on Mount Zion. I imagine David wants to take his inner turmoil, his stress, and his emotional upheavals to the altar, for his source of joy is at the altar. David reminds us it is in worshipping God that we experience real joy. Will you take and leave your emotional upheavals at the altar? Or are you tempted to take them but not leave them?

God wants us to give him our emotional stress and leave them with him. He wants to still our spirit and give us hope and peace at the altar. How much will you leave with him?
To hear the one hour audio of my lesson, click here.
Controlling Your Emotional Life





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