The Gift Of True Joy

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By , July 22, 2013 5:05 pm
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This summer I’ve posted a series of articles exploring praise and worship. While researching this topic, a friend introduced me to the writings of Peter Ogle. In his 7-year journey of living with cancer, Peter discovered what it meant to truly rejoice in the Lord.

 

 

THE GIFT OF TRUE JOY

 

When troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.

James 1:2 NLT

 

Just as there can be no real joy in life without first knowing sorrow, those who experience the depths of sorrow also know something about the gift of true joy. Joy and sorrow are, in effect, two sides of the same coin. I’ve found that those who have truly known sorrow—their own or that of someone they love—are often the most joyful people in the world. It’s the emotional flat-liners, those who succeed at cutting off the peaks and filling in the valleys of their emotional lives, who are most to be pitied.

 

Sorrow never comes invited into our lives. I did not choose to become a cancer patient. But by accepting the darkness that comes with a sense of loss, and knowing that the darkness is neither permanent nor complete, I can enjoy the light more than I ever imagined. It’s the kind of joyous light for which you had better leave your car at home. Joy, too, is transient, but while it lasts it’s intoxicating. Its memory brings a form of second-hand glow to the darkness when it descends. It can be a nightlight to the soul.

 

When I say that cancer has been a blessing in my life, this is one way I mean it: it has forced me to work and fret less and to open up time in which God can both bless me and allow me to bless others. It has both raised and deepened the spiritual topography of my life.

 

The joy that I have felt in these months can be described as a lightness of spirit. When you face the prospect of a premature exit from this earthly stage, but are in otherwise good health, you are unencumbered by many of the cares that otherwise weigh on us. I have little drive to achieve. I need prove nothing to others. I have completed my career. I have no desire to seek payback from those who I believe may have wronged me. I have no complicated schemes for the future. I desire less. I am at peace.

 

There was a moment last month when I was in England that brought my sense of joy in life to a brief pinnacle. By design, I planned my travel in the U.K. to include visits to a couple of the great cathedrals. The soaring spaces of these churches in which man reaches up to God in stone are counterbalanced by magnificent stained glass in which stories of how God has reached down to mankind are communicated in visual art. What I felt missing in these great churches, however, were the actual people of God. Everyone there, myself included, was a spiritual sightseer.

 

But when I reached Lee Abbey, I discovered a community of believers that not only spoke of God in personal terms, but…worshipped together in a manner that brought me to tears. People from more than a dozen nations ranging in age from 15 to 85 raised their voices in prayer and in song to the God of all creation. It was exhilarating. The joy we experienced together had little to do with the space we occupied, and everything to do with the object of our adoration.

 

This, I’ve concluded, is the truest form of joy: the praise I lift to the Creator. The lightness I’ve felt at other moments in my life is the lifting of burdens by the God who loves me, and who loves to be loved in return. True worship is this connection with the source of all light and joy. My life is not only about worship, as much as I might wish it to be. There are other things in this world that I need to be about. But I do know that some day I and everyone in His presence will worship God ceaselessly. Our joy will be complete, and all darkness will be subdued. His light will fill the universe. We will be in a cathedral without walls, and his stories of grace will have only begun.

 

Adapted from “Nightlife to the Soul” originally published October 9, 2010. To read more about Peter’s story, beginning with a cancer diagnosis in 2006 until his home going in May 2013, visit Theogler.blogspot.com. 

A New Song

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By , July 7, 2013 10:10 pm
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He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God.

 Psalm 40:3 NLT

 

I first discovered the power of praise as a desperate, fruitless Christian in the early 90’s. My life was practically devoid of love, joy, and peace. I was willing to try just about anything to find the abundant life that I knew Jesus had promised. So when the opportunity came along to go away for a weekend of prayer and praise, I decided to give it a try.
 
My only acquaintance with singing to God had been on Sunday mornings with the Baptist Hymnal or joining choruses of “Pass It On” around a campfire. But on that fateful weekend, I spent a big portion of those days singing praises to the Lord. It is no exaggeration to say that I was changed forever and so was the way I relate to the Lord.
 
That time of praise was so potent that I came home and immediately invested in the tools to make praise a lifestyle. I was a stay-at-home mom whose husband had an unpredictable income, yet I raided my stash of savings to start a music collection and get a 6-disc CD player installed in my car. (They weren’t standard in those days.) My kids and I ran errands to the sounds of Don Moen, Darlene Zschech and Judy Jacobs, singing along as we went.
 
I found that my praises silenced the chorus of condemnation that had been playing in my head for years. Only later did I find the Scripture that says just that: “From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.” (Psalm 8:2 NIV)  Whenever we sing of God’s mercy, the barrage of accusation is drowned out by the truth of God’s grace.
 
Rehearsing the truth in song became a source of joy in my life. When I found a song lyric that ministered to me, I’d search for verses to support it. If there was a principle that I sought to integrate into my life, I would create a playlist of spiritual songs on that topic. Somehow singing the concepts helped them burrow deeper into my soul—I literally sang them into my life.
 
Today I have collected over 4000 praise and worship songs. So many of those songs represent significant moments in my journey with the Lord. “Rejoice Africa” will forever take me back to the sweet presence of God’s Spirit impacting a boys’ soccer tournament. In the days when my father lay dying in ICU, “Made Me Glad” was my lifeline. “You Have Been So Good To Me” represents a turning point in my understanding of God’s character, the day I became fully convinced that His perfect love surrounds me and everything that concerns me.
 
It is my hope that you, too, will discover the powerful blessing of praising the Lord. To that end, I have compiled a list of songs and albums that have been meaningful to me and to the members of Divine Design’s Servant Team. I pray that you will soon be able to say that God has put a new song in your heart!
 
Favorite Artists:

Tommy Walker
Travis Cottrell
Klaus Kuehn
Gateway Worship
Paul Baloche
Michael W. Smith
Chris Tomlin

 

Favorite CDs:

“Revealing Jesus” by Darlene Zschech
“White Flag” by Passion
“Counting On God” by New Life Worship
“Alive Forever” by Travis Cottrell
“Revival At Brownsville” by Lindell Cooley
“Cover The Earth: Lakewood Live” by Various Artists
“WOW Hymns” by Various Artists
“Passion: Hymns Ancient and Modern” by Various Artists
“Greatest Hymns” by Selah
 

Favorite Songs:
 
From Sissy:
“Whom Shall I Fear ” by Chris Tomlin
 
From Dana:
“The Stand” by Hillsongs
“Reign In Us” by Starfield
“Great I Am” by New Life Worship
“Hello, My Name Is” by Matthew West
“I Lift My Hands” by Chris Tomlin
“Stronger” by Hillsongs
“Hallelujah We Will Sing” by Tommy Walker
“One Thing Remains” by Passion
 
From Martha:
“Just As I Am” by Travis Cottrell
“Jesus Paid It All” by Kristian Stanfill
“All My Fountains” by Travis Cottrell
“Who Am I” by Casting Crowns
“Voice Of Truth” by Casting Crowns
“Deep Cries Out” by Bethel Church Live
“A New Hallelujah” by Chris Tomlin
 
From Phyllis:
“Blessings” by Laura Story
“Holding On” by Jamie Grace
“How Great Is Our God” by Chris Tomlin
“Oh Love That Will Not Let Me Go” by Indelible Grace Music
“The Power Of The Cross” by Keith and Kristyn Getty
“We Win” by Dennis Jernigan
“You Are My All In All” by Dennis Jernigan
 
From Donna:
“Never Once” by Matt Redman
“Broken Hallelujah” by Mandisa
“In Christ Alone (with the Solid Rock)” by Travis Cottrell
“How Great Thou Art” by Chris Rice
“How Great Thou Art” by Carrie Underwood
“I Will Rise” by Chris Tomlin
“The Struggle” by Tenth Ave North
“By His Wounds” by Brian Littrell, Mac Powell, Mark Hall, and Stephen Curtis Chapman
 
From Debbie:
“Abba Father” by Klaus Kuehn
“Awakening” by Chris Tomlin
“Love Like Fire” by Hillsong Live
“Roar From Zion” Klaus Kuehn
“Whisper His Name” by Deluge
“Be Thou My Vision” by 4Him
“Counting on God by New Life Worship
“Standing” by William McDowell
“God Of The Impossible” by Sarah Reeves

 

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