Pastor's Pen
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September 19, 2013, 2:36 PM

Words from Rick








A Note of Joy


I have often said and strongly believe that the central note of the Christian faith is joy...and the central expression of that note of joy is gratitude!  The distinctive note of the Christian faith is joy!  "Joy to the World, the Lord Has Come," we sing at Christmas.  "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee", "Rejoice the Lord is King."  You find it everywhere in the great hymns of the Church.  And this joy that we sing about and talk about in the church is not going around saying "Ho, Ho, Ho".  It is the living of life in the quiet assurance of our faith...with a positive joy about it.

But research is showing that so many Christians in so many churches lack a sense of joy.  Robert Louis Stevenson said, "To miss the joy is to miss everything".  I agree!  He also reported to a friend one day, "I have been to church today, and I am not at all depressed.."  That is worth thinking about.  Would a casual visitor to your church service be depressed, or would he/she be lifted up with a sense of joy and vitality experienced in your service?

Ibsen had the Emperor Julian make this comment about the Christians of his time:  "Have you looked at these Christians closely?  Hollow-eyed, pale-cheeked, flat-breasted all...they brood their lives away, unspurred by ambition; the sun shines for them, but they do not see it; the earth offers them its fullness, but they do not deserve it; all their desire is to renounce and suffer that they might come to die" (Lloyd J. Ogilvie, God's Best For My Life).  My Gosh!  What a grim picture that is.  Not a very appealing group to be around.  Perhaps the most biting comment in American history was that made by Oliver Wendell Holmes who said, "I might have entered the ministry if certain clergymen I knew had not looked and actged like undertakers.

That might be a bit unfair, but really now, how much joy and sparkle do others observe in our lives because of our faith in Christ?  I know a great many Christians who have just enough religion to make themselves miserable...and everyone else around them!  They are judgemental and critical.  Heck, I know churches that are that way!  I know a lady who is always talking to me and others about the joy that her faith brings to her...yet you see none of that joy in her face, or hear any of it in her voice, and she has the ability to depress people around her.  She reminds me of the lady who shook hands with me one day after church and said, "Dr. Baggett, I had to take two pain pills in order to come and listen to you preach today."

The note of joy needs to be sounded in our lives and in our churches!  There will be little contagion to our faith unless those who do not believe sense in us the joy that it brings and can bring in their lives as it has in ours.

September 22, 1913





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