Don’t Worry, Be Happy

“It is not fitting, when one is in God’s service, to have a gloomy face or a chilling look” – Francis of Assisi

This is one of my favorite quotes.  When I am in a social setting with other people I know pretty quickly who is grumpy and I tend to shy away from them.  I would rather be in the company of those who are happy and show it.  In fact, those who exude joy are those who typically are surrounded by others.  Certainly many could put on a smile and it would not be authentic for them.  However, it is possible to not be very pleased yourself and still reflect the joy of Christ.  Francis of Assisi is encouraging us to lead others into this joy of Christ.  Whether we are having a bad day or not, it is through us that others may or may not see the love of Christ.  It is our duty to show that joy and love.

Next time you are at church, at a party or even out at a store, check your face.  Is it showing God’s love or is it saying, “stay away, I am grumpy”?   I remember walking into a church where it seemed EVERYONE was smiling. People were so filled with the joy of Christ that I wanted so badly to be part of it and it was not long before I was smiling from ear to ear.  Certainly not everyone there was super happy and had no problems, but in that moment, when they were in the House of the Lord and with other disciples, they mirrored Christ’s joy.  HIs joy was more important than their issues or feelings.  Christ won out for that time and it was glorious.

Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. (Psalm 34:5)

Victory

I have a friend who approaches each day the same.  When he wakes up he says to himself, “I just want one victory today.  God please grant me a victory.”  Sometimes he is looking to have that victory be part of his business.  Other times, he wants to just have a small victory of personal growth.  Yet other times, he just wants to not goof up too much.   When he really needs a bigger victory for the day, he turns to the Psalm below.  I pray that you receive a victory in your day today.

Psalm 118

A Song of Victory

1 O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his steadfast love endures forever!

2 Let Israel say,
“His steadfast love endures forever.”
3 Let the house of Aaron say,
“His steadfast love endures forever.”
4 Let those who fear the Lord say,
“His steadfast love endures forever.”

5 Out of my distress I called on the Lord;
the Lord answered me and set me in a broad place.
6 With the Lord on my side I do not fear.
What can mortals do to me?
7 The Lord is on my side to help me;
I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.
8 It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to put confidence in mortals.
9 It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to put confidence in princes.

10 All nations surrounded me;
in the name of the Lord I cut them off!
11 They surrounded me, surrounded me on every side;
in the name of the Lord I cut them off!
12 They surrounded me like bees;
they blazed like a fire of thorns;
in the name of the Lord I cut them off!
13 I was pushed hard so that I was falling,
but the Lord helped me.
14 The Lord is my strength and my might;
he has become my salvation.

15 There are glad songs of victory in the tents of the righteous:
“The right hand of the Lord does valiantly;
16     the right hand of the Lord is exalted;
the right hand of the Lord does valiantly.”
17 I shall not die, but I shall live,
and recount the deeds of the Lord.
18 The Lord has punished me severely,
but he did not give me over to death.

19 Open to me the gates of righteousness,
that I may enter through them
and give thanks to the Lord.

20 This is the gate of the Lord;
the righteous shall enter through it.

21 I thank you that you have answered me
and have become my salvation.
22 The stone that the builders rejected
has become the chief cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord’s doing;
it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
25 Save us, we beseech you, O Lord!
O Lord, we beseech you, give us success!

26 Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
We bless you from the house of the Lord.
27 The Lord is God,
and he has given us light.
Bind the festal procession with branches,
up to the horns of the altar.e]”>

28 You are my God, and I will give thanks to you;
you are my God, I will extol you.

29 O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

Overcoming Self

“Above all the grace and the gifts that Christ gives to his beloved is that of overcoming self.”

Francis of Assisi gave us that bit of wisdom.  He understood that what more often stands in our way of growing as a disciple, loving God more fully, loving others better than we are, and loving ourselves is…us!

God gives us the ability to know ourselves, love and forgive ourselves, and change.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.  2 Cor. 5:17

Do a self evaluation today.  What is it about your life that you need to change?  What difference would it make to you, your family, your community, to God?  Ask God to love you through this time and give you the strength to change.  Seek others who will help you hold yourself accountable to the change.  As a last step rejoice in any changes you are able to make, no matter how small.

Do you want to know more about Francis of Assis?  I invite you to read this article.  It is very good:  http://www.biography.com/people/st-francis-of-assisi-21152679

Others over self

There’s an old Chinese Proverb that says, “Seek to understand before seeking to be understood.” In Scripture we are told: “Look out for one another’s interests, not just for your own” (Philippians 2:4).

Who is it in your life that you would care more about their interests than your own?  Your children?  Your parents?  Brothers and sisters?  Maybe a very dear friend?  Jesus taught us to go even further.  We are not just to look out for our interests but even those we do now know or do not like or even worse….are our enemies.  Do you really care more about that annoying neighbor than yourself?  That is REALLY hard to do but Jesus invites us to act that way.  Our love should flow so fully that it reaches out to everyone.

It wasn’t an accident that he ate with tax collectors, invited prositutes to folow him and loved the lonely and the lost.  Evaluate your interests and those of those you encounter and begin to care more for the other than for the self and see how it can transform them, you and the world.  It is what we are called to do as Christians.

Simple

Some of the most simple inventions have really changed the world.  Think about it.  How many of you have thrown a frisbee…someone invented that concept. Remember that silly but oh so fun toy…Slinkie?   What would you do without velcro?  I just wrote myself a reminder on a POST-IT note.  All of these were simple concepts but impacted the world.  The modern equivalent for me is SCRUB DADDY.  If you do not have one, you do not know what you are missing.

Then there are the giants of inventions.  Those who invented the automobile or computers, the printing press and iron.  I never could invent such things, my mind does not work that way.  However, someone had the skill set to invent each thing.

The same principle can be said about our faith.  There are the giants of faith and discipleship.  John Wesley, Martin Luther, the Disciples, Mary, Martha, Moses and many more.  They impacted and continue to impact the world.  But most of us are never going to have books written about our faith or will be asked to go on the news to discuss issues of our faith.  That does not mean, however, that we are unable to make an impact.  Even our small gestures and triumphs of faith can make an impact.

Think of this illustration.  If a large rock is thrown into a pond, it will make a big splash and cause big ripples.  If you throw a small pebble in, it will make a small splash and small ripples.  However, if you take a hand full of small pebbles and throw them in, the effect is as large or larger than the large stone.  Together, our church can do great things if we all participate.

1 Corinthians 12:12

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.

Taking Life for Granted

The other day I was laughing with my children about how exciting it was that school was about to start.  The looks they gave to me were PRECIOUS and scary!  I responded by saying how important education is for their well being, their intelligence, what kind of job they will get etc.  It didnt seem to make any difference.  It is funny how something so important that will benefit them so highly is taken for granted and not fully appreciated.

The same can be said of our faith.  For many the only time they really fully rely on faith is during the most difficult times in their lives or during a major life moment.  Most of the rest of the time, we just take it for granted or moan about having to get up so early on Sunday morning (yes, that moan was me this week).

One of my goals this year is to not take blessings in my life, including my faith, for granted.  I really want to work on appreciating my faith life, my spiritual journey, my faith community and my family.  I hope you will join me in appreciating what you have more.

Ecclesiastes 7-9The Message (MSG)

Don’t Take Anything for Granted

7 A good reputation is better than a fat bank account.
Your death date tells more than your birth date.

2 You learn more at a funeral than at a feast—
After all, that’s where we’ll end up. We might discover
    something from it.

3 Crying is better than laughing.
It blotches the face but it scours the heart.

4 Sages invest themselves in hurt and grieving.
Fools waste their lives in fun and games.

5 You’ll get more from the rebuke of a sage
Than from the song and dance of fools.

6 The giggles of fools are like the crackling of twigs
Under the cooking pot. And like smoke.

7 Brutality stupefies even the wise
And destroys the strongest heart.

8 Endings are better than beginnings.
Sticking to it is better than standing out.

9 Don’t be quick to fly off the handle.
Anger boomerangs. You can spot a fool by the lumps on his head.

10 Don’t always be asking, “Where are the good old days?”
Wise folks don’t ask questions like that.

11-12 Wisdom is better when it’s paired with money,
Especially if you get both while you’re still living.
Double protection: wisdom and wealth!
Plus this bonus: Wisdom energizes its owner.

13 Take a good look at God’s work.
Who could simplify and reduce Creation’s curves and angles
To a plain straight line?

14 On a good day, enjoy yourself;
On a bad day, examine your conscience.
God arranges for both kinds of days
So that we won’t take anything for granted.

Pasta Dinner and Silent Auction March 21st

Support the Youth Mission Team by attending the Pasta Dinner/Silent Auction on March 21, 2015 from 5:30pm to 7:30pm in the ACS cafeteria. Please contact Steve Hoefs at shoefs@nalco.com or (630) 406-6960 for tickets. Ages 4 & under are free, Ages 5-12 are $4, and 13 & up are $8.

Some of the exciting items we will have up for bidding starting this Sunday, March 15th are:

Bread For a Year from Panera Bread in Batavia, movie passes, babysitters, electrical labor, Raging Waves passes, Colonial kitchen sinks, Roller skating and bowling from Funway, carpentry labor, sweet treats delivered to your home, sports memorabilia, Fox Valley Park District gift cards, Woodman’s gift card, marriage renewal ceremony, SciTech family passes, freezer meals, woman’s hair care, handmade canvases, execution of a basic estate plan, windshield repair, and more!