The Weekly Epistle 5/24/23

Hi Living Hope,
I was on face time with my daughter and her three little ones.  Being that silly papa that I am, I used the computer as a steering wheel and “drove around the room,” swerving to the left and to the right, making car sounds.  The two older ones laughed.  Then I stopped.  You know what happened next.  “Again, papa, do that again.”  So, I repeated what I did the first time.  Again, they laughed.  What happened next?  You know.  “Again, papa, again.”
John Ortberg writes, “Jesus came as the Joy-bringer.  The joy we see in the happiest child is but a fraction of the joy that resides in the heart of God.”
How often, though, what is present in God is absent in people?  My grandkids remind me of living in the moment and enjoying life.  That isn’t to say life isn’t to be taken seriously.  We aren’t to be frivolous and flippant about spiritual matters.  But kingdom work is to be found in the atmosphere of joy.  Or as C.S. Lewis so aptly puts it, “Joy is the serious business of heaven.” 
Kingdom work is to be taken seriously.  But that is not at odds with joy.  Do a word study on joy found in the Scriptures and you could only conclude that joy is non-optional for followers of God.  
Perhaps, look at some of those passages that speak on joy and take a few minutes to meditate on them (see Philippians 4:4-6; Nehemiah 8:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:16; John 15:11; John 17:13; Psalm 16:11; Romans 14:17- a small sampling).  
I know life is hard.  We all have our share of concerns we carry with us.  Parenting can wear us down.  Aches and pains that don’t go away.  Relational hurts, past wounds, financial struggles, smashed dreams, feelings of loneliness, regrets, failures, losses, are all real.  There is no denying that!  Even serving the Lord and ministering to others can take its toll on us at times.  But do we have to look like we just came from a funeral, and we are the next in line?
I read of a little girl who kept staring at this man behind her as they waited in line at the supermarket.  He was rather straight-faced, serious, and wouldn’t crack a smile even as this cute little girl stared at him.  She finally blurted out, “Hey mister, are you a minister?”  He replied, “No, but I have been sick for about three weeks.” Apparently, looking ill and being a minister have the same appearance.  
I don’t want to give the impression that ministry is a joyless, heavy undertaking.  Is that the impression that I give? Or how people see me? Is that how others perceive Christianity observing you? May we brighten others’ days by the joy that is written all over our face?  
Charles Spurgeon instructing a group of seminary students on sermon delivery said, “When you speak of heaven, let your face light up.  When you speak of hell, then your everyday face will do.”
I want my everyday face to show the joy of knowing Jesus.  As we walk with the Joy-bringer, what should spill out is joy!  It is one of the 9-flavored fruit that is evident in those who walk according to the Spirit.  And shouldn’t our face show it?  
Minister of Joy, Pastor Brian