Joyfulness

On April 9, Mindy Caron taught the lesson on “Joyfulness” since I was gone a ministry trip with my dad.  Here’s my sister’s (Deborah) recap of meeting.

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We were so blessed to have our friend Mindy Caron teach the lesson on Joyfulness. Mindy originally started the Bemidji Bright Lights group a number of years ago, and she is such a radiant example of joy!

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Joyfulness…what is the opposite? Self-pity is the opposite of joyfulness. Why is joyfulness important? Well, we are representing Jesus, who is the Source of joy. The world cannot give joy; only Jesus can.

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Meet Joy. Joy loves to read her Bible. She sings a lot, too—there’s a song in her heart. Joy often has a smile on her face as well.

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Now meet Selfie. Selfie is much different than Joy. She has no smile, sings no song. Her attitude is negative much of the time.

What makes the difference between these two?

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Joy focuses on God. She compares herself with Him—her goal is to be like Him. She’s not focusing on the circumstances around her. Joy realizes that God has a purpose for everything that He allows to happen each day of her life. She trusts Him. Since she is not focusing on herself but rather on the Source of joy, she has joy that only God gives. He is the One who puts joy in her heart!

Selfie, on the other hand, is focused on herself. She is constantly comparing herself with others and wears a polka-dot dress because she wants to be like everyone else. Selfie focuses on the circumstances around her instead of deciding to trust God’s plan for the circumstances. Selfie has no joy because she is not focused on the Source of joy.

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Sometimes things happen in life and it seems we only want to be angry, bitter, or irritated. But joy does not depend on life’s circumstances. Our girl Joy chooses to trust God’s plan and remembers there is a bigger picture. One day Joy’s little brother took her bike out and accidentally crashed it. He came and apologized to her. Joy was tempted to be angry, but she remembered that God is in control of her circumstances and realized that God was using this to grow her character. “I forgive you, buddy,” she said. “It’s just a bike.” Joy could have let self-pity creep in and rule her actions. She could have said, “I deserve to be upset—he wrecked my bike and now I can’t ride it.” But instead she realized God allowed this for a reason, and she was able to respond in an appropriate way. Joy felt a flood of joyfulness come over her. Since she chose to focus on the Source of joy, she experienced the joy He gives.

Don’t be filled with self-pity; instead, be grateful. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” If you start to fall into the trap of self-pity, stop and give thanks for the blessings you have been given. It is amazing what an attitude of gratefulness can do!

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Whenever you don’t feel joyful—say you are asked to do a job you dislike—choose to rejoice (“I get to help my mom!” “I have an able body to do this!” “I’m learning character!”). Or when something happens that you really don’t like—for instance, when Joy’s brother crashed her bike—remember God’s words in James 1:2-3: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” Philippians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” Notice we are not told to rejoice just when our circumstances look good. In the Lord, we always have much to rejoice about! Remember, Selfie looked at her circumstances and compared herself with others, and as a result she had no joy, while Joy focused on God and made it her aim to be like Him, and He filled her heart with joy. You may not feel joyful in the moment, but keep your focus on God and keep rejoicing in Him, and your feelings will catch up.

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One of the “Joy-Givers” Mindy listed was gratefulness. Yes, giving thanks can really give you a joy boost! The activity we did was what I’ll call a “Grateful Race.” We divided the the girls into two teams and the girl at the front of each team line had to run to the board and write something she was grateful for. We made it more interesting by changing the letter of the alphabet they were supposed to use to start each word (for example, use the letter A—apples, air). They only had two or three minutes, and whoever had the longest list at the end won. It was a great way to get them to think fast about things they were thankful for!

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As a follow-up to that principle, my sister and I made little thankfulness notebooks to give to the girls where they can write things they are thankful for…to get a little boost of joy!

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Royal Apparel

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Last night we had our meeting titled “Royal Apparel.”  We learned that God doesn’t give us a dress code.  That’s because it is a matter of our heart. He wants us to choose to dress in a way that honors Him because we want to, not because we have to.  The Lord doesn’t give us detailed rules or guidelines about what kind of clothing we should wear.  However, He does give us many principles in His Word that teach us what He desires and why He desires it.  Here are the principles we examined last night:

#1: Dress Modestly (1 Tim. 2:9)—The concept of modesty includes several aspects: (1) not revealing that which God intends to be covered, (2) not seeking to draw attention to ourselves, and (3) not stirring up wrong desires by dressing/acting in a sensual way. Immodesty is a huge problem for young ladies in our culture.  However, many times girls don’t even realize that they are dressing immodestly—they are simply following the fashions of the world.  It really goes back to this bigger question: to whom are we looking for approval?  Who are we trying to please—and why?

#2: Do Not Copy the World (1 John 2:15, James 4:4, Rom. 12:2)—The world’s thinking must not be our standard.  We do not need to act, look, or think like the world—in fact we should specifically purpose not to!  Being different from the world is a major part of our testimony and calling as Christians.  If the world can’t see any difference between our lives and theirs, how will they be drawn to Christ? How will they be drawn to the light if the light looks just like the darkness?

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#3: Do Not Defraud (1 Thess. 4:4-6)—The word “defraud” means to deceive or take advantage of someone; it carries the idea of causing harm to someone. 1 Thes. 4 explains that we are called to walk in holiness before God and warns us not to defraud others by stirring up lust. The Lord takes this issue seriously. Why is that?

  • First of all, we have been called to holiness.  We are to be holy as God is holy.  Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19-20).  God expects us to take this seriously and to be a temple for His glory through which His holiness can be seen in the world.  This requires cleanness and purity.
  • Secondly, immorality is extremely serious in God’s eyes.  The Bible tells us to flee from it (2 Tim. 2:22).  To flee means to run in the opposite direction.  Defrauding, on the hand, is getting close to it. Defrauding in itself may seem harmless, but it is the attitude behind immorality.  It is a selfish “getting” attitude.
  • Thirdly, as the Body of Christ, we are called to encourage and build one another up.  If we defraud a fellow believer, we are doing just the opposite—we are a stumbling block and tearing others down.

Some girls use the argument “It’s the guy’s problem if he can’t control his thoughts—it’s not my responsibility.”  But remember, we are one body in Christ; when one member suffers, we all suffer.  As girls, we should do everything in our power to help our brothers in Christ, and we certainly shouldn’t do anything that would cause them to stumble!  When we dress immodestly out of our own desire for attention and cause a young man to notice us, we are stirring up desires in him that we cannot righteously fulfill.  This is defrauding, it is selfish, and it is the opposite of true love.

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#4: Honor Your Father (Eph. 6:2-3)—Some girls see clothing as a ‘little’ area in which they don’t need to honor their parents.  But Scripture doesn’t make a distinction between ‘big’ or ‘little’ things; it simply says to honor them.  Jesus said that those who are faithful in little are faithful in much.  It will matter for eternity if we seek to please the Lord by honoring our parents, but in the long run it really won’t matter if we please our friends.  Listen to your parents, especially your dad, regarding your clothing choices.  They want to protect you, and your dad can give you a guy’s perspective one whether something is truly modest or not.

#5: Remember that You are Representing Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 5:20)—In everything that we do, our goal must not be to please ourselves, but to honor Christ and represent Him well.  Scripture tells us that we are ambassadors of Christ.  We communicate a significant message by our smile, bright countenance, posture, confidence, manners, and clothing.  The next time you go shopping, remember that you are actually purchasing clothing for Christ’s ambassador.  By His grace, let’s represent Him as well as we can!

#6: Dress Femininely (Mark 10:6)—We see evidence of Satan’s attempt to pervert our God-given roles even in the way he influences fads and fashions.  He wants men to look like women, and women to look like men.  As young ladies, we can be feminine through our actions, words, appearance, and godly attributes of womanhood.  As we apply the principle of femininity to dress, it’s not wrong to wear clothing that is similar to a man’s (i.e. modest pants). However, there are special benefits to wearing clothing that is specifically feminine!  It shows the world that we are not ashamed to embrace our calling as women.

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#7: Draw Attention to Your Countenance (Dan. 12:3)—It’s amazing how the light of Christ can shine through our lives and countenances even when we do not speak a word.  What do we want people to notice about us?  As Christians, our desire is that anyone who sees us would see Christ. This will only happen if we allow the joy and love of Christ to shine through us in our smile, attitudes, words, and actions.  We need to keep this in mind as we decide what to wear.  We should dress and act in a way which will draw attention to our joyful countenance, and ultimately to the Lord.

#8: Don’t Judge Others by Their Outward Appearance (Matt. 7:1-5, 1 Sam 16:7)—Others will probably judge us by the way we dress, but we should not judge others by their outward appearance. We want to follow Jesus’ example of being sensitive and responding to the “inside,” not the “outside.”  Be careful not to jump to conclusions based on outward appearances.  When we see immodesty in others, we should give grace to those who do not share the same convictions as we have.  As we show them love, we may be able to lead and encourage them in the right direction.

The world is going in such a wrong direction in the area of clothing.  It’s time for us to take a stand for the Lord.  The world is pushing girls to dress immodestly, to attract attention in a wrong way, and to just go with the flow.  Instead of getting as close as we can to worldly ways, let’s strive to set an example of modesty, discretion, maturity, femininity, and beauty as we represent the King of kings!  Ask the Lord to give you a heart that desires to honor Him in the area of clothing, and to give you the courage to be different from the world.  Talk with your parents about your family’s standards for modesty and how you can honor the Lord in the way you dress.

For our activity time, we divided into teams.  Each team was tasked to create a princess dress out of brown packing paper.  It was a fun activity that helped to remind us that we, as daughters of the King, should dress in a way that brings Him glory and honor.

Meekness

We had a wonderful Bright Lights meeting on November 15.  The Lord really blessed our time as we learned about meekness.

Meekness is a word that we don’t often hear anymore, yet its even more rare to see this character trait in someone’s life.  Meekness is giving up our rights and dying to our wants knowing that God is in control.  Although the world often thinks of meekness as weakness, it couldn’t be more opposite.  It takes a lot of self-control and strength to respond meekly to situations in which others violate our “rights”.

We learned about the meek examples of Moses, Corrie ten Boom, and Abraham Lincoln.  We also studied the meekness of our Savior, Jesus Christ – the ultimate example of meekness.  He left the glories of heaven (John 1:14), submitted to the will of His Father (John 8:28-29), and gave up physical comforts (Matt. 8:20).  He has set a pattern for us this area of our lives.

Meekness is a good way to stop an argument, because it is giving up our “right” to win an argument.  It is the ability not to argue because you realize that there is nothing to win, but much to lose.  Just as Proverbs 15:1 tells us that a soft answer turns away wrath, a meek response softens hearts and changes attitudes.

As part of the lesson, Deborah told us the Pineapple Story about missionary Otto Koning.  Otto planted a pineapple garden in Paupa New Guinea where he was a missionary, but the natives kept stealing the pineapples before he could get to them.  After nearly 6 years of anger and frustration, Otto yielded up his right to own the garden and gave it to God.  It was only after he understood that everything that he owned actually belonged to God and he could trust Him to take care of His property, that God was able to use Otto to bring others to salvation.

We, too, need to have this proper perspective of stewardship.  Meekness is trusting God to protect us, our reputation, our possessions – all the the things that are important to us – rather than fighting for these things ourselves.  When we surrender our “rights” to God, that is when we experience true joy (Isaiah 29:19)

After the lesson, each girl had some time to fill out a worksheet on surrendering our rights to God.  Then we split up into small groups for some discussion on how we can apply meekness in our lives in everyday situations.

For our activity, each small group had to find 6 balloons (in their color) around the church.  Each balloon had a Scripture reference inside.  They had to pop the balloons, look up the references, and write down what the verse said about the blessings of meekness.  The groups were racing against each other to see who could finish first.

Our yummy snacks were provided by Addison and Lily.  And we also had some pineapple to remind us of the Pineapple Story.