Joy Is A Choice

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by Gordy McCoy

I am learning that having joy has so much to do with attitude and that it is a daily choice to live in HIS joy. It’s not dependent on how much money I have, where I live, the job I have, how well I am liked, if life is going well, or not, it’s about HIM and me.

Now I am not ignoring the fact of the impact of lifes’ blows that rock our world. We need time to regain our focus when disaster, turmoil or heartbreak cuts us to the core. I’m talking about day to day life. When the storms come we don’t want the storm to overtake us. We need His stability, His direction, His presence so we don’t feel shipwrecked.

A poet, Ella Wheeler Wilcox, wrote:

One ship sails east,

One ship sails west,

Regardless of how the wind blows.

It is the set of the sail

And not the gale

That determines the way we go.

Regardless of how severely the winds of adversity may blow, we set our sails toward joy.

If we look at things thru God’s point of view, having confidence in Him, it helps when we are having a bad day. He is at work even when we don’t see it and good can come out of hard situations. We need to look hard, not at our struggles but ……at Him. He has a purpose and in the midst of our troubles we need to fix our thoughts on Him. Sometimes being determined to get to laugh again, realizing it’s a good medicine is healing. It’s much better than whining our way thru life complaining we never got a fair shake. We have the choice.

When the path before us looks easy, we made be tempted to go in our own strength instead of relying on Christ. This is when we are in the greatest danger of stumbling. We need to ask His Spirit to help us as we go each step of the way, never neglecting the privilege and power of this glorious source of strength within us.

Remembering that true joy is not dependent on our circumstances but a a by-product of living in His presence. Therefore, we can experience it whether in a palace or a prison. If we would make problem -solving secondary to the goal of living close to Christ, we can have the peace that doesn’t make any sense to the world.

Some days joy shines brightly on our path, glistening in the Son. Other days, it can be gloomy and foreboding and yet there is the Light shining thru to light our way and remind us of His presence. It is a sharp contrast to the dark trials we face. Joy is still attainable thru the trails. Not the happy ha-ha joy but the thankfulness that He is there and we are happy we belong to Him. Thankfulness takes the sting out of adversity. That is why we are to give thanks for everything. There is an element of mystery in this transaction. We give Him thanks and He gives us joy. That sounds like a fair trade to me.

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Lessons From the Grinch Who Stole Christmas!

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by Martin Schlomer

In 1957, Theodor Seuss Geisel, who was widely known author of children’s books under the pen name Dr. Seuss, published his holiday classic, How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The Grinch was an angry, bitter cave-dwelling catlike creature with a heart that was two sizes too small. He lived on the summit of the snowy Mount Crumpit looking over Whoville, home of the joyful and warm-hearted Whos. Jealous of their joy and Christmas spirit, he hatches a plot to steal their Christmas presents, holiday hams and decorations. In doing so, he would “prevent Christmas from coming.” Despite his success, he discovers that Christmas comes to Whoville just the same. Reality dawns on him that Christmas is more than gifts and decorations! He heart grows three sizes larger and he returns all of the gifts, holiday hams and decorations and he is warmly embraced by all of the Whos in Whoville.

In the current economic times, we hear many friends and strangers who—in the midst of struggling to make financial ends meet—mourn over the thought that there may not be any gifts this year. It is not uncommon to hear them say; “There will not be any Christmas this year.” While they may not have the bad attitude of the Grinch, they share the beliefs of the Grinch: Celebrating Christmas requires—or is greatly enhanced by—opening presents. I must be honest, I like giving and receiving presents as much as the next person. However, is the giving and receiving of gifts the place where the joy of Christmas is most experienced? If so, we need to take some steps back and come up with some creative ideas to change this! The place of where we most experience our joy in this incredible season must be found in slowing down and connecting with Jesus along with family and friends. I offer the following ideas.

  • Plan to attend a Christmas Eve Candle Light service. This is a great time to calm our minds, focus our hearts and celebrate the birth of Jesus with family and friends. Elim’s candle light service will be at 7:00. Nursery will be provided for pre-school and under.
  • Participate in community family activities that are inexpensive or free. Check out these ideas:
  • As a family, spend some time planning your Christmas meal. The Schlomer family has done this the last two years and it was a lot of fun! Every person is responsible for planning and cooking their part of the meal! Afterwards, everyone helps with the clean up!
  • As a family, bake some Christmas cookies and drive around looking at Christmas lights while you eat cookies and drink hot chocolate.
  • Bake a cake on Christmas Eve and celebrate Christ’s birthday the next day.
  • Buy a couple of new family games to play Christmas Day. Invite another family over for dinner and enjoy a great time of family games.

There are more ideas out there waiting to be discovered! Ask your friends and family. If you have family members who were alive during the depression in the 1930s, ask them to share their stories of how they celebrated the holidays and then incorporate those ideas into some new family traditions! If you don’t have family members who were alive during that era, go to a retirement home and visit some of the residents. Listen to their stories and experiences. In doing so, you have no idea how much joy you will give to them. Celebrating the birth of our Lord is much larger than the giving and receiving of gifts! Go forth and CELEBRATE!

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Monday’s Freezing Night

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By Larry Short

I wanted to provide an update on our second “Freezing Nights” project, which took place last Monday evening.

We hosted 26 local homeless guests here in our facility, offering a warm place to sleep, good food, and a listening ear. This ministry is being undertaken in conjunction with the work of the Puyallup Homeless Coalition.

In addition to hosting nearly twice as many guests, there were the following other contrasts to our first event, two weeks’ earlier:

  • Almost twice as many volunteers participated, and we were substantially better organized.
  • We had a more intentional focus on evangelism. Bob Hedge shared pocket New Testaments (courtesy of the Gideons) and sat down and chatted with those guests willing to talk with him about the Bible. Brian Holthe (our new coordinator) shared his testimony during a pre-breakfast devotional. And Bob Walsh and I were privileged to lead our guests in worship in the sanctuary for nearly an hour on Monday evening.
  • Where our first event was pretty quiet and uneventful, this event was quite different due to an altercation that had occurred between some of the guests at one of the pick-up points. Several individuals were seriously inebriated, which created some unique challenges for the evening and late night shifts.

I want to thank all the volunteers and donors whose efforts and prayers made this event possible. (We really felt the impact of your prayers, especially between about 11 p.m. and 1 a.m.!) I don’t have space here to list everyone (and would probably miss someone anyway). But you know who you are … and you are deeply appreciated! I believe the heart of God is pleased by this very rubber-meets-the-road ministry to our community. I have no doubt you will someday hear His “Well done, thou good and faithful servant!”

I also want to thank the children of this church, who created beautiful and thoughtful cards for each of our guests. We placed these in lunches. What a great love offering!

So, what’s next? We are debriefing with Freezing Nights leadership (and other churches) next Tuesday on how to help moderate the behavior of some of the more disruptive individuals. We have committed to them that we will host the group one Monday night per month. Our next Freezing Nights is therefore scheduled for two nights after Christmas, on December 27.

Please continue saving warm clothing (especially socks); gently used top sheets, towels, and wash clothes; personal (hotel-sized) toiletries; used Christian books and Bibles; and other items for this ministry, not to mention food. You can bring these items any time during regular office hours to the church office, designated for “Freezing Nights.”

In addition, please pray about joining with us on December 27 to pray for this ministry and serve our guests in whatever way you can, even if by simply “being present” with them and providing a listening ear.

Thank you!

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