Courageous Joy

Habits are like plants.  Start small, find the right place for them, grow them over time.”  - Dr. BJ Fogg

Lately, I’ve been studying joy.  It’s an English word with a very simple dictionary definition: “A feeling of great pleasure.”  But life has taught me that joy is not simple at all - it’s beautifully complex and it’s pervasive or permeating – meaning once you have it, it influences and affects every area of your life.   

Joy is an identity feature.  It’s comprehensive, completing and eternal.    

Of course, in North American Culture - when we think of ‘joy,’ we often subconsciously rush to connect it directly with happiness, which is so temporary.  Happiness is directly tied to our situations and circumstances, and the second we have it, we face the reality that the moment will pass and the unknown next moment will soon come.  This state of ongoing anxiety is the source of great stress and the subconscious bandit of peace.

Globally, people can’t help but dance as soon as the first beats of the hit song Happy by Pharrell begins, but most people don’t understand that the attitude that the song celebrates are actually evidences of an identity established in joy.  

How can we cultivate habits that lead to an identity rooted in joy? 

I believe by faith.  Jesus talked about this directly when He told his disciples that “I have told you these things so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I loved you” (John 15:11-12).  How different would our lives become if we lived out of this kind of pure love that Jesus lived and taught?  How different would our relationships be if we lived out of love and truth instead of out of fear of loss.  How different would the world be if we found completion in love leading to courageous joy? 

Cultivating the habits that lead to an identity rooted in joy is about authentic faith. Leading to appreciation of the sacredness of a moment.

A moment spent in prayer.  A moment spent in gratitude for the beautiful gift of life and the person or persons that are sharing the moment with you.  Even in conflict and in crucial conversations, * an identity rooted in joy will understand the deeper issues that led to the struggle.  And understanding often leads to compassion, and compassion leads to love.

I pray that you will begin today – prayerfully cultivating the habits that lead to a life of joy.  So that when trouble comes, you can be a conduit of hope for everyone involved, including yourself.

*Joseph Grenny – Crucial Conversations | Willow Creek 2014 Global Leadership Summit,https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aCkHT_4CtNA

Healthy Things Grow

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I started training for the 2017 Chicago Marathon back in April.  I love to run and I’ve always wondered what it would be like to run 26.2 miles.  I can’t remember where I read it but there’s a quote that says, ‘When it comes to running your first marathon, the person you are when you start is not the same person you will be when you finish.’  

I love that kind of stuff!  Aristotle wrote that, ‘Growth is evidence of life,’ and more recently a guest Pastor at my church simply stated; ‘Healthy things grow.’ This really caught my attention because training is all about growth - physically, spiritually, intellectually, and relationally.  As I’ve trained for this marathon, I’ve learned that to train, step by step is to really live, because to train is to grow. 

Everything I’ve done since April, when I decided to add a marathon to my story has been affected by that decision. What I eat, how much I sleep, and especially how I spend my time.  

The Bible tells us of how Jesus told His disciples that He is the vine and we are the branches and how in Him we live and move and have our being.  He also says, 'Apart from Me, you can do nothing.'   I appreciate this scripture on a whole new level because of my commitment to run this race.  The early disciples committed to follow Jesus and to allow God to train them every day to live their lives for His glory.  They gave their lives, one choice at a time to share His message of everlasting joy and hope.   This commitment to life and growth changed every part of their story.

So I’m wondering about you today.  What commitments have you made that are they helping you to grow each day?  Are you keeping your aspirations and the steps you need to take daily right where you can see them?  How do these commitments affect how you live, eat, sleep and spend your time?   

I hope and pray that you’re living life on purpose today because I believe that real life is about the journey.  And it's a growing journey, fueled by a faith that inspires others to grow as well.   

 

The Eclipse. Your Life. My Life. His Masterpiece.

My son is an artist.  Every other day he has a new creation to show me and they keep getting more and more elaborate. He’s creating worlds, adventures, and characters all inspired by real-life.  Each work of art represents wisdom acquired through much practice, or something new he’s learned or someone new he’s met. 

I was thinking about this over the weekend because I know that today – August 21st is a big day. From what I understand, it’s the first total solar eclipse since June 8, 1918 which crossed the United States from Washington State to Florida.

My Uncle’s Godmother she said she remembers being a little girl in rural Alabama.  No telephones, no tv and the neighbors yelling from porch to porch that it was the end of the world.  But it wasn’t. And these days we can watch the eclipse peacefully because we know what’s happening so there’s no need to panic.  Right?

Even though the eclipse is  big news today, after the event depending on where you live or where you traveled to see it, most of us will go on about our day as if nothing happened even though what’s happening in the heavens is nothing short of a miraculous work of art. 

Life is just like this.  A miraculous masterpiece moment in one person’s life is only a passing moment of little to no consequence in someone else’s.  Unless you happen to be hosting a Morning Radio program with thousands of listeners every day looking forward to sharing the journey. That’s my story right now, much like the eclipse, this chapter of my life is passing much faster than many hoped. 

For the past 15 years that I’ve served with Moody Radio – full time, part time, volunteer and contract, it’s been nothing but a blessing for me to learn and grow with so many wonderful Christ following people. I appreciate our listeners very much. You’ve helped me to love God better than I ever knew I could. 

One of my favorite scriptures says, “You are God’s Masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).  I'm thankful to know that many are wondering what’s next for me, so I will tell you what I know right now:    

I will continue to build my Behavior Design Tech consulting company while working with a brilliant Built-in-Chicago start-up, Aop.  I will complete my manuscripts for two new books, ‘The Gift of Sorrow’ and ‘Why We Share.’  I will continue to invite others at every opportunity to join me in the adventure of a lifetime; leaving a legacy of intimate faith. Fueled by Jesus’ eternal strength.

God is an Artist.  The eclipse, your life, my life - His Masterpiece.  They are all the same to me.  And when we are truly committed to a life that brings Him glory, we move as Jesus says mysteriously like the wind (John 3).  Peacefully and joyfully with no need to panic and no need to fear.