Month: May 2015

Joy and Happiness

Can we be happy without being joyful?  Can we be joyful and yet miserable?  If given a choice, would you rather be happy or joyful?

They aren’t the same thing – happiness and joy.  Happiness is temporary – an emotion that passes through for a moment.  I’m happy when I eat cake.  I’m not happy when I get the sugar low after eating it or when I gain weight from it.  I’m happy when the Phillies get a hit and I’m unhappy when they lose the game.  Happiness is like other emotions – anger, sadness and fear.

Joy.  Joy is in our soul.  It is both a foundation and a fountain that runs through our veins.  We can grieve and yet know joy is there.  Joy from our Father goes far beyond the temporary situations that we face – it gives us hope, faith and strength to weather the storms that we face.

The Bible references happiness about 30 times.  It references joy over 300 times.

Enjoy happiness when it comes.

Cling to joy in every moment whether you feel like it or not.  Our joy is rooted in our faith in God.  It is everlasting.

If you’re not happy – I’m sorry.  I hope your situation changes.

If you’re not rejoicing – seek the Lord and don’t stop until you wrap your arms around Him.

James 1:Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

My World Fell Apart

Over the past ten years I feel like my world collapsed.  There are too many issues to bring up here.  Let’s just say it has been rough – kind of in the Job way (If you don’t know about Job, it’s a book in the Bible).   Some like to say – it’s Karma: I must deserve it.  Some say I must have sinned and God is punishing me.  Some say I have managed my affairs badly.  Some say I should be happy with the blessings that I have and not focus on the bad.  Some say it’s a test and that God will turn my test into a “His testament”.   Hmmm, it sounds like I could re-write Job and put my name on it!

I don’t really want a “testament”.  I know that I have MANY blessings but a broken leg still hurts if you know what I mean.  I have managed some things poorly and I quickly admit it.  Actually I blame myself for most of the problems so there is no problem with self pride – it is more self failure.  Karma – I’m not going there.  I’m too tired to even think about it.

If you picked this blog for answers, I don’t have many.  Job didn’t either (although his friends did).  All I can say is that at the end of the day, I bow down to a loving God that doesn’t practice Karma and blesses me with Grace even though I deserve punishment.  I know that He is making something out of this broken world of mine – I just don’t know what it is yet.

Stay tuned.  If your world is broken, hang in there.  We are not Humpty Dumpty.  God can and will pull us back together again!

Job 1:20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
    and naked I will depart.[c]
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
    may the name of the Lord be praised.”

 world fell apart

Saving Anyone

At least once a year I watch part of “Saving Private Ryan”.  Last night I watched the beginning and saw what I assume is a true depiction of the landing at Normandy.  I don’t know how any of our men survived that.  I can barely watch a fictitious Hollywood portrayal.  If I had been there I probably would have just wanted to die quickly and get it over with.

The question in my mind last night was ‘how did the survivors of that go on with life in any normal way?’.  Tom Hanks portrayed Captain Miller, a school teacher before entering the war.  If he had survived how would he go back to teaching English to a bunch of kids who really didn’t care about learning?  How would he go shopping and watch a ball game after seeing what he saw?  How would it change his values, goals, ambitions?

How does anyone go back to “normal” after seeing tragedy, brutality, death or suffering?  Beyond survivor’s guilt, how does one snuff out the sounds, smells and sights of awfulness?

At the end of the movie, Private Ryan is an older man and questions if he was a good man.  What do we base our worth on?  How do we base whether we were good or not?  How do we continue living knowing that others are dying or suffering?

Acts 20:23-25 (NIV)

23 I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. 24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me;my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.


Brown Shirts

I’m sharing this over to the mission blog for those of you who don’t follow Random Thoughts.

Random Thoughts

I have made mention of the “brown shirts” in recent posts and I have received numerous questions on what they are.  Since this blog is a little lengthy, I am breaking it up into sections.  The first is a brief summary.  The second is a more detailed history.  The third is how this topic relates to current events.  The fourth is some of the references that I referred to.

1) “Brown Shirts” is a nickname for groups of men in the beginning of the Nazi Party.  They were put together by Hitler to create fear in the public, weed out dissenters, begin persecution of Jews and provide protection during rallies.  The term brown shirts came from the uniform that they wore.  During rallies and marches, the brown shirts would assault anyone who was not participating or showing support for the Nazi cause.  Their fear incitement is largely the reason why…

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Based on a true story

I watch a lot of movies that are “based on a true story”.  After watching the movie, I like to Google the name to see what was “true” and what was “fiction”.  Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference.  Some movies are produced with the goal of being as “true” as possible.  Others start with a kernel of truth and build a totally fabricated story out of it.  When this happens, it may be just for enjoyment but sometimes the producer is using a “true” situation to push an agenda based around the “true” situation.

Unstoppable, staring Denzel Washington.  This was a fun movie to watch but only 2 minutes of it had any truth.  The rest was the imagination of the writers and production team.  No real agenda, just a movie to keep viewers on the edge.

Good Morning America, staring Robin Williams.  The script was re-written to fit Robin.  The actual person is a card carrying Republican that has supported the military.

My most recent entertainment: The Butler.  This is a story about a black man who worked as a butler in the White House from Eisenhower to Reagan.  As I watched the movie I believed it was a true story.  Turns out it was a fabrication and combined story of what a black family in Washington may have faced.  There was a real butler who served these presidents but the truth ends there.  The movie ends with a slam on Reagan which didn’t feel fair since it wasn’t true and he wasn’t here to deny it.

Truth or Fiction.  Even documentaries can mislead and be total falsehoods.  History is a tricky movement to recreate.  Making it interesting to watch is even harder.  In the movie, We Were Soldiers, it has been reported that Colonel Moore’s children really thought it was their dad talking on the screen.

True stories are hard to tell.  The Bible has four Gospels that tell the life of Jesus and they vary at times that critics have a hard time believing them to be accurate.

Our own testimonies are sometimes hard to remember.  Brian Williams found that out the hard way when he was removed from NBC NEWS.

We listen to stories every day.  Which ones are true?  Good question.  My encouragement to you today is to seek God’s wisdom for yourself.  Stay true to who God is calling you to be.  If you are called to be a rebel, do it in God’s direction.  If you are a pastor, lead in God’s Grace.  If you are a stay at home mom, love your children like Jesus loves you.

Don’t worry about everyone else’s fiction.  Worry about your own.

1 John 5:19-21 New International Version (NIV)

19 We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. 20 We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.

Hannah thanksgiving


As we soon head into the summer (and beach!) I wanted to re-post this.


My post today is an observation Laurie and I witnessed at Ocean City New Jersey yesterday and today (we took an overnight get away).  There are two points.  I hope you enjoy this true story.

We witnessed an older woman (70ish) standing about ankle deep in the ocean.  Her back was to the water and she was holding a child’s swim ring that had a cord tied around it and it was also tied to her swimming suit.  Her head hung down and she was slowly making her way out into the water.  Because of how she was hanging her head and moving in the water we first thought that she was mentally challenged.  After some time, we realized that she was blind.  She continued to back into the water until she could sit on the ring.  As the waves brought her back to shore, she would reach down and…

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Nepal Earthquake

I found this article to be amazing.  I have not experienced a major earthquake and this article gives some honest emotional reflections.  Although this is not “mission” based, I do have friends in Nepal and I felt it applied to what they are experiencing.  Please take a moment to read:

Voices: Nepal’s earthquake still causes me tremors


KATHMANDU — Scattered remnants of the camps of thousands who rushed to leave Kathmandu after a powerful earthquake a week ago are still visible in the grassy areas outside the capital’s airport. These dozen or so tents join thousands of others throughout this city, pitched on every available green space by residents stuck in limbo — nowhere to stay, nowhere to go.

As I enter the airport, I do my now-usual scan — where are the nearest exits and what open spaces beyond might I escape to? Do those windows open? How sound does the ceiling look; are those cracks in the walls? Every low rumble sets me on edge — my eyes flicking up and around to see if anyone else feels it, too — and there are few places as loud as an airport.

Please continue: