THE Goal (Part V): Called To Be Joyful

By Gordon T. Smith

Emotional Holiness

“One of the primary indicators and fruits of faith is joy in midst of a confusing and broken world….[Joy] arises from a life lived in wisdom, with a vision and passion for good work and with a resolve and capacity to love as we have been loved….[Joy is] the fruit of or the evidence of our union with Christ” (p. 154).

“What defines the church and the Christian, intellectually and emotionally, is the deep awareness that all will be well.  This means we will get angry; we will fear and we will get discouraged.  And we will mourn the deep losses of life.  And yet sorrow is not our true home.  We were designed to live in joy” (p. 157).

“[Holy] people are happy people.  They know how to dance….They are not happy all the time, of course.  It is important to stress that holy people feel keenly the fragmentation of the world.  They sorrow with those who sorrow; they know how to be angry without sinning. They know what it is to be profoundly discouraged without allowing their discouragement to go to seed so that they are nothing but cynics.  They know the pain and sorrow of mourning; they have experienced loss and they have walked with others who have experienced loss.  And yet what defines them is an emotional center, an emotional resilience, an emotional maturity that is perhaps most evident in deep and abiding joy” (p. 158).

By John Ortberg

“The decision to sin always includes the thought that I cannot really trust God to watch out for my well-being” (p. 69).

Unveil

“There is nothing more winsome or attractive than a person who is secure enough in being loved by God that he or she lives with a spirit of openness and transparency and without guile” (p. 76).

“Some people use their intelligence as a veil.  Others use ignorance.  Some veil themselves in busyness, in their work, in their vast competence and success….Ironically, many people in the church veil themselves in spirituality” (p. 79).

Accept

“Acceptance is an act of the heart.  To accept someone is to affirm to them that you think it’s a very good thing they are alive.  We communicate this in a hundred ways, but the most powerful way is to listen with patience and compassion as they reveal their dark secrets” (p. 101).

Empathize

“[Generally] people who don’t read others well aren’t aware that they don’t” (p 108).

“[There] is a direct correlation between the number of words you say and the number of sins you commit” (p. 111).

“Every human being you know is making a request of their friends, though it often goes unspoken.  Here is what they ask: ‘Motivate me.  Call out the best in me.  Believe in me.  Encourage me when I’m tempted to quit.  Speak truth to me and remind me of my deepest values.  Help me achieve my greatest potential.  Tell me again what God called me to be, what I might yet become” (p. 121).

Conflict and Confront

“To be alive means to be in conflict” (p. 131).

“Avoidance kills community.  Avoidance causes resentment to fester inside you” (p. 132).

“Scott Peck says that most of the time we live in what he calls pseudocommunity.  Its hallmark is the avoidance of conflict.  In pseudocommunity we keep things safe; we speak in generalities, we say things that those around us will agree with.  We tell little white lies to make sure no one’s feelings get hurt, no one gets tense.  We keep relationships pleasant and well-oiled.  Conversations are carefully filtered to make sure no one gets offended; if we feel hurt or irritated, we are careful to hide it.  Pseudocommunity is agreeable and polite and gentle and stagnant — and ultimately fatal” (p. 180).

Forgive

Forgiveness is not:

  • Excusing
  • Forgetting
  • Reconciling.  Reconciling “requires the rebuilding of trust, and that means good faith on the part of both parties” (p. 158).

Forgiveness is:

  • “[When] we decide to stop trying to get even….
  • A new way of seeing and feeling….[When] we discover the humanity of the one who hurt us….
  • [When] you find yourself wishing the other person well” (pp. 159, 160).

Include

“There are few joys in life like being wanted, chosen, embraced.  There are few pains like being excluded, rejected, left out.  At the core of Christian community is a choice, in the words of Miroslav Volf’s great book on the subject, between exclusion and embrace….It is part of our fallenness that makes us want to be in not just any group but an exclusive group….We exclude others because of pride or fear or ignorance or the desire to feel superior” (p. 186).

“The desire to make it into the Inner Ring is by its nature insatiable.  You will never succeed.  However, when it comes to the choice to include people, you can hardly fail.  They may refuse you, of course.  But the mere effort will expand your heart and bring joy to God” (p. 192).

“Bonding activities might involve people in the same ethnic group or economic status.  Bridging connections, by definition, are ‘outward looking and encompass people across diverge social cleavages” (p. 195).s

Be Grateful

“The ability to assign value is one of the rarest and most precious gifts in the world.  People who live deeply in community learn to discern and express the value of other human beings.  They are masters of expressing love in word and gesture.  They assign high worth, value, and importance to others by viewing them as precious gifts…In a word, what they give is called honor” (p. 205).  They are grateful for God and others.

 

“What Happens In A Life God Wants To Use And Improve?”

If You Want to Walk on Water..

By John Ortberg

 

READ Matthew 14:25-32.

“There is a consistent pattern in Scripture of what happens in a life that God wants to use and improve:

  • There is always a call….
  • There is always fear….
  • There is always reassurance….
  • There is always a decision….
  • There is always a changed life….

Those who say now are changed to.   They become a little harder, a little more resistant to his calling, a little more likely to say no to the next time.  Whatever the decision, it always changes a life–and it changes the world that that little life touches” (pp. 9, 10).

On Water-Walking

  • Water-walkers recognize God’s presence.  “In each case God had to get people’s attention….In each situation the person that God called felt afraid” (p. 15).
  • Water-walkers distinguish between faith and foolishness.  “This is not a story about risk-taking; it is primarily a story about obedience….This is not a story about extreme sports.  It’s about extreme discipleship” (p. 16).
  • Water-walkers get out of the boat.  “Your boat is whatever represents safety and security to you apart from God himself.  Your boat is whatever you are tempted to put your trust in, especially when life gets a little stormy.  Your boat is whatever keeps you so comfortable that you don’t want to give it up even if it’s keeping you from joining Jesus on the waves.   Your boat is whatever pulls you away from the high adventure of extreme discipleship.  Want to know what your boat is?  Your fear will tell you.  Just ask yourself this:  What is it that most produces fear in me — especially when I think of leaving it behind and stepping out in faith?” (p. 17).
  • Water-walkers expect problems.  [We abandon ourselves to the power of Jesus.  Then it happens.  We experience the wind and we become afraid again] (p. 19).
  • Water-walkers accept fear as the price of growth.  “The choice to follow Jesus–the choice to grow–is the choice for the constant recurrence of fear.  You’ve got to get out of the boat a little every day….fear and growth go together like macaroni and cheese….Karl Barth said that comfort is one of the great siren calls of our age” (p. 21).  “Each time you get out of the boat, you become a little more likely to get out the next time.  It’s not that the fear goes away, but that you get used to living with fear.  You realize that it does not have the power to destroy you.  On the other hand, every time you resist that voice, every time you choose to stay in the boat rather than heed its call, the voice gets a little quieter in you.  Then at last you don’t hear its call at all” (p. 22).t
  • Water-walkers master failure management.  “Failure is not an event, but rather a judgement about an event.  Failure is not something that happens to us or a label we attach to things.  It is a way we think about outcomes” (p. 22).   “The worst failure is never to get out of the boat” (p. 23).
  • Water-walkers see failure as an opportunity to grow.   “Here’s the principle: Failure does not shape you; the way you respond to failure shapes you” (p. 24).
  • Water-walkers learn to wait on the Lord.  “We have to wait on the Lord to receive power to walk on the water.  We have to wait for the Lord to make the storm disappear” (p. 25).
  • Water-walking brings a deeper connection with God.  “I believe that God’s general method for growing a deep, adventuresome faith in us is by asking us to get out of the boat.  More than hearing a great talk, or reading a great book, God uses real-world challenges to develop our ability to trust him” (p. 27).  “The call out of the boat involves crisis, opportunity, often failure, generally fear, sometimes suffering, always the calling to a task that is too big for us.  But there is no other way to grow faith and to partner with God” (p. 27).

On Gifts and Growth

There is not tragedy like the tragedy of the unopened gift” (p. 32).

“There are few things that attract us more than growth.  We were made to grow, and we love to be around growth” (p. 33).

“Consider the sense of fulfillment in the leaders of a company that is expanding, achieving its mission, giving vocational opportunities to men and women who yesterday didn’t have any.  They are watching the miracle of growth….On the other hand, there are few things sadder than stagnation” (p. 34).

“At the end of the day, God will not ask you why you didn’t lead someone else’s life or invest in someone else’s gifts. He will not ask, What did you do with what you didn’t have?  Though, he will ask, What did you do with what you had?

“Fear makes people disobedient to the call of the master” (p. 44).

“It is only in the process of accepting and solving problems that our ability to think creatively is enhanced, our persistence is strengthened, and our self-confidence is deepened.  If someone gives me the answers, I may get a good score on a test, but I will not have grown” (p. 47).

“Growth happens when you seek to exert control where you are able to rather than giving up in difficult circumstances.  It happens when you decide to be wholly faithful in a situation that you do not like and cannot understand.  It happens when you keep walking even though you see the wind.  Then you discover that you are not alone” (p. 104).

“Sin, to paraphrase what psychologist Carl Jung once said about neurosis, is always a substitute for legitimate suffering.  It is an attempt to obtain the pleasure that does not rightfully belong to me or evade the pain that does….Sooner or later, you have to turn and face the pain that makes temptation so attractive.  Sooner or later, you have to run to God” (p. 106).

“As Scott Peck puts it, ‘It is in this whole process of meeting and solving problems that we grow mentally and spiritually….It is for this reason that wise people learn not to dread but actually to welcome problems and actually to welcome the pain of problems'” (p. 111).

“The single command in Scripture that occurs more often than any other — God’s most frequently repeated instruction — is formulated in two words: Fear not…. I think God says ‘fear not’ so often because fear is the number one reason human beings are tempted to avoid doing what God asks them to do.  Fear is the number one reason human being are tempted to avoid getting out of the boat” (pp. 117, 118).

“All research suggests that self-esteem largely boils down to one issue: When you face a difficult situation, do you approach it, take action, and face it head on, or do you avoid it, wimp out, and run and hide?  If you take action, you get a surge of delight, even if things do not turn our perfectly.  I did a hard thing.  I took on a challenge.  You grow.  When you avoid facing up to a threatening situation, even if things end up turning out alright, inside you say, But the truth is, I wimped out.  I didn’t do the hard thing.  I took the easy way out.”  Avoidance kills an inner sense of confidence and esteem (pp. 124, 125).

“[The cave named Failure] is where you find yourself when you thought you were going to do great things, have a great family, or boldly go where no one had gone before, and it becomes clear that things will not work out as you dreamed.  Perhaps you are in the cave because of foolish choices.  Perhaps it is the result of circumstances you could not even control.  Most likely it is a combination of the two….There is only one other thing you need to know. The cave is where God does some of his best work in molding and shaping human lives.  Sometimes, when all the props and crutches in your life get stripped away and you find you have only one God, you discover that God is enough…that God wants his power to flow through your weaknesses” (pp. 138, 139).

On Working

“God is particularly active in working with people” (p. 57).

“You are a piece of work by God!… And because you were made in God’s image, you were also created to do work” (p. 58).

“You have a purpose–a design that is central to God’s dream for the human race….As a crucial part of your calling, you were given certain gifts, talents, longings, and desires” (p. 58).

“A calling is something you discover, not something you choose.  The word vocation comes from the Latin work for voice.  Discovering it involves very careful listening” (p. 60).

“As a rule, the people whom we read about in Scripture who were called by God felt quite inadequate….The first response to a God-sized calling is generally fear (p. 70).

“[People] will experience God’s power–but they will have to take the first step.  This not only involves acknowledgement of God’s power, but requires them to take a step of action based on the assumption that God is trustworthy as well” (p. 79).

Two Laws

  • Law of Cognition: “You are what you think” (p. 161ff).
  • Law of Exposure: “Your mind will think most about what it is most exposed to” (p. 162ff).