Chasing Happiness But Finding Joy

How-to-keep-your-dog-safe-and-at-ease-when-the-fireworks-start.jpgI have recently been contemplating the difference between happiness and joy. It occurred to me that there is a distinct difference. For a good portion of my life, I have targeted them as relatively the same thing. I have chased being a happy person, or for lack of a better thought, overall happiness. Although I found it, and lost it, and found it again, and lost it, it wasn’t until I discovered that joy was what I was after that I finally found peace.

Do you ever wake up in the morning feeling refreshed, renewed and “happy” only to have it quickly pulled away from you as soon as your finances, to-do-list and schedule rob your smile? That is the eternal pursuit of happiness rather than joy. Joy comes in resting in the fact that while your bank account may be thin, you are standing in your house. Your commute to work may be frustrating, boring and long, but you have a job to travel to. You have a boring meeting to attend, but, you have been chosen to sit on that committee by your boss. Perspective plays a large part in the difference in happy and joyful.

Happiness comes and goes. Happiness in life is like a grand fireworks display. There is anticipation as you wait for the next big, bright, beautiful moment when the firework glistens in the darkness. Then, as it fades, you wait in anticipation for the next one. Boom! Oh there it is! Wait, it’s gone again and the darkness has returned. Joy can be found in knowing that life is filled with happy moments, like fireworks, but resting in the fact that you are safe, even in the darkness while waiting for it again. Sin comes when we chase the fireworks. Imposing our will on the guy lighting the fuse. Chasing after momentary happiness in pleasures of the mind, flesh, the eyes or a drink. These moments of letting into sin don’t last and the darkness that follows comes heavier and heavier. It’s like running in quick sand. You sink deeper and deeper, while chasing after a quick thrill.

I found happiness in losing 5 lbs. in a week. I found joy in no longer being morbidly obese. I found happiness in stuffing myself with food and drink. I found joy in being able to tie my shoes without getting out of breath. I found happiness on a first date. I found joy when I married her. These are differences in a real life.

Rest in the comfort of knowing that you were created for joy. Joy in your life, the joy you bring to others, and the joy you bring to the Lord our God. Find peace in the life that you were given. Don’t chase fleeting moments of happiness, rather live in the heart of Jesus. There you will find eternal peace and joy.

Be blessed,

Deacon Jason Bowden

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Hope

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Merry Christmas.

I hope that this message today finds you happy, healthy and at peace in your world. For unto us this day a child is born. But more so I pray that, no matter what your situation is, you find in the celebration of our dear Savior’s birth, hope. Maybe it is hope for your life. Hope for your marriage that is strained. Hope for an illness that you or your loved one is suffering from. Hope for your child who is suffering from being bullied. Hope for your family that is separated due to strife. Hope for your finances. Hope for the world we live in that is so torn with violence, hatred and terrorism. Hope for our nation that is separated by so many beliefs and opinions. Hope for humanity.

It is this child, that we celebrate today, that we should look at as a reset. A new beginning. Just as a baby needs help to survive and grow, so do we. Each and every one of us is in need of assistance at some point. Look to this celebration of a new life to start anew.

Don’t wait for the new year. Today is your day. Today is a chance to start over. Live a new life given over to Him who created you. He is waiting. He has come for you and has done so in a way that shows us just how to be. Humble, frail and in need.

May you and your family have the most blessed Christmas season yet. One filled with love and hope.

Be blessed,

Deacon Jason Bowden

Avoiding A Postage Stamp Existence

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How’s life?

No really, how is life? Is it good? Bad? Just existing? Life is so much more than going to work, paying bills and waiting to die. You were created for a purpose, and that purpose is what you must find. How do we do this? How do we know if we find it?

When you look at some of the greatest people in history, I mean those who have lived what appears to be a successful or otherwise meaningful life, it may seem that they had it laid out right in front of them. History is flooded with great people who had monumental accomplishments. So why do our lives seem sometimes to be so bland and uneventful? Maybe it is in the way we approach our everyday lives.

Think with me for a moment about our own creation. Why are you here? Do you truly believe that it was just to exist? Do you think, in the mind of God, He decided one day just to create a life so that he could drop burden and toil on someone? Of course not. You, my dear friend, were created for joy. His and yours. So why are you so miserable?

I know, I’m asking a lot of questions. I want you to start thinking outside of yourself. What is it that makes you so downtrodden? Now, I am not telling you to sell off everything you own, give away your kids and drop your marriage. You are where you are because this is where you have been planted. God is in control but your free will choices have brought you to this moment. Right here and now. It is time to tend the garden of the world around you so that you and the others in your garden can grow and prosper, in joy, as you were created to be. God gave you and I free will, but he already knows the choices you will make. Time to let the Master Gardener take control.

First pray for God to increase your joy. Not just some whisper in the wind prayer but a true, heartfelt conversation with the Father. Let him know the things that pain you and the things that you are thankful for. Now listen. Watch. Wait.

But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” -James 1:6

Keep a journal. It doesn’t have to be some expensive leather bound expenditure. A notebook or some folded papers will do. Jot down the things you have prayed about. Leave some room after each one. This space will be set aside to revisit the prayers. Start coming back to them and jot down how these prayers were answered. Watch how God starts to work out the heartfelt requests that you have laid out to him. Remember though, it is on his time schedule and not yours. You will be amazed how much of a difference this can make. He WILL amaze you, I promise.

Start reading scripture daily. Better yet, start Google searching some scripture on joy. Read it, mark it, digest and live it. Want some examples?

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 | NIV |

The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17 | NIV |

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!Philippians 4:4 | NIV |
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.Romans 12:12 | NIV |
When anxiety was great within me,
your consolation brought me joy.Psalm 94:19 | NIV |
Lastly, I ask that you just be joyful. I know that life is hard and joy can seem like a distant memory or dream, but it is all around you if you really want a piece of it. Find, through constant conversation with God, what it is that He wants you to do and where he is taking your life. For it is in finding each and every day what He is calling you to do and be that you will truly find the joy that is meant for you. If you take comfort in knowing that all of us were created to bring God joy and to live a joyous life, then don’t you think it is truly worth finding and working towards. Let go and let God. It is there that you will abandon what ails you and avoid the cookie cutter, postage stamp, run of the mill life.
Be blessed,
Deacon Jason Bowden
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Power and Control

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Recently I was asked what it is about my life that has changed. I must admit that over the course of the past year or two I have changed. I am 43 years old and have never had so much joy in all of my life as I do now. So as a cradle Christian, how can so much change this late in the game?

It is all in how you exercise free will. Free will is a gift given to us by God at birth. No matter how long or short a life on earth is, we all have free will. Believers and non-believers have the same amount. But how do we use it?

I was in full control. If you asked me, I would freely tell you that I wasn’t. I would happily tell you that God had total control of my life. Upon doing some deep personal examination, it just wasn’t the case. Food, money, relationships and even my Ministry were all under my control and I just couldn’t see it. Sure, I have had some success during that time in life, but it is minuscule compared to now.

So what happens when you actually give control of EVRYTHING to God (not just tell yourself he does). Food no longer gave me comfort. Money no longer drove me and my mood. My marriage, which was already amazing and blessed, shot to a new level. I wake up each and every day and cannot wait to see what God has in store. I no longer rely on myself for my joy. We get in amazing ruts in life when everything depends on ourselves. With God, every day, every hour, becomes new and refreshed. I was busy, but now, I have an even fuller schedule because I do things for Him rather than myself, and I couldn’t be more excited to tackle each packed full day.

So where can you begin to have this kind of life? It starts with letting go. Admit to your Heavenly Father that you no longer want control. Realize that you, dear sinner, can’t make it on your own. Know that God wants nothing more than for you to rely on him for your joy, comfort and peace. Faith is verb. It is the action of giving in and letting go.

I find now that 10 minutes less sleep equals 10 more minutes of morning prayer. Start each and every day by giving up control and starting with your creator. If you had a watch that was broken, who better to fix it than the guy that made it?

WARNING- making this decision does not necessarily mean that everyone you come in contact with will know it. It takes time. Watch how those around you daily start to see the change. They will eventually see it and want to jump on board. This isn’t something that can be seen like a new ball cap. This is supernatural! Share it with them, but don’t stumble just because their initial excitement doesn’t match yours.

Thank you for reading, liking and sharing…

Be blessed,

Deacon Jason Bowden