Deck The Halls With Boughs of Holly

Deck the halls with boughs of holly,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Tis the season to be jolly,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Don we now our gay apparel,
Fa la la, la la la, la la la.
Troll the ancient Yule tide carol,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

See the blazing Yule before us,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Strike the harp and join the chorus.
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Follow me in merry measure,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
While I tell of Yule tide treasure,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Fast away the old year passes,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Hail the new, ye lads and lasses,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Sing we joyous, all together,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Heedless of the wind and weather,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Deck The Halls“, originally called, “Deck The Hall”, is a Christmas Carol, that is for New Year’s Eve.  The idea that Christmas hails the new year, is brought to light in this song.  It was originally a Welsh poem, translated into English by Thomas Oliphant and published in 1862.
The words above are the rendition that I am most familiar with.  My understanding is that these words were not the original, but changes were made in the fifteen years following 1862.  The original has lines in it about drinking:
“Fill the meadcup, drain the barrel”, and, “See the flowing bowl before us”, 
As well as, 
“While I sing of beauty’s treasure”, and, “Laughing, quaffing all together”.
See the wikipedia article, if you are interested in reading about the variations.
I was wondering what this song was all about.  I get it about, ’tis the season to be jolly’.  And that is true right now.  We are in a season of joy.  And the world is trying to convince you otherwise.
Holly symbolizes masculinity.  And ivy symbolizes femininity.  There is another Christmas Carol called, “The Holy and The Ivy”.  But this song is about putting up holly throughout your house.
The word ‘holly’ is not connected to ‘holy’, but ‘prickly’.  Holly has leaves with sharp, prickly ends on it.  The vibrant, red berries on holly are also associated with masculinity and the blood of Jesus.
In ancient times, holly leaves were used as a tea, to treat arthritis, kidney stones and bronchitis.  
Some people believe that the crown of thorns that the Roman soldiers put on Jesus’ head was holly.  This may be a myth, but the symbol of the holly and it’s similarity to the thorny vine used as the crown of thorns put upon Jesus’ head remains.
David Beaulieu, wrote:
“There are hundreds of species of holly plants (Ilex), and the plants come in all sizes, ranging from spreading dwarf holly shrubs 6 inches in height to holly trees 70 feet tall. Their shapes vary from rounded to pyramidal to columnar. Landscaping enthusiasts use this versatile plant in a number of different ways, including as foundation plantings.”
Here is an excerpt from Andy Byfield’s article on Holly, in the Guardian’s Gardening Blog:
“As well as playing a key role in a woodland’s winter ecology, holly has a strong cultural resonance amongst humans. Festive holly imagery on Christmas cards may be a Victorian invention, but the tree’s association with Christmas goes back to pagan times, when it was customary to bring holly boughs in to deck out the house. Holly was seen as a powerful fertility symbol, and was believed to be an effective charm to ward off witches and ill-fortune: for this reason it was often planted close to homes and outbuildings. Conveniently, its thorny foliage and blood-red berries lent themselves to Christian tradition, and the early customs surrounding the species were fully adopted by Christianity. With its intense red berries, the holly was also seen as a very masculine plant – after all, “the holly wears the crown” – though the fact that hollies with berries are always female seems to have been conveniently forgotten by some in society.”
According to Catholic tradition:
“the holly is held by tradition to be of the same plant as the wood of the Cross was said to come from. During Advent and Christmas Christians acknowledge the need for a Savior and holly reminds them of this: the holly bough is one of St. John the Baptist’s symbols; the Saint heralded our Lord’s coming as Isaiah did in the Old Testament.”

Joy To The World!

Joy to the world! The Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the earth! the savior reigns;
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make his blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of his righteousness,
And wonders of his love,
And wonders of his love,
And wonders, wonders, of his love.

-Isaac Watts, Psalms of David Imitated (1719) under the heading “The Messiah’s Coming and Kingdom.”

This magnificent hymn, which is popularly sung at Christmas time, is about King Jesus and the kingdom of God.

The echo is of Psalm 98: “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises!”

The gospel is the gospel of the kingdom.   The great joy in the gospel is that the Lord has come.

It is a great misconception that the kingdom of God is all future, all ‘not yet’.  The kingdom is ‘already and not yet’.  The kingdom is neither finished coming nor postponed in coming.

The kingdom of God has been coming.  Isaac Watts’ song is describing the world: past, present and future-

“Joy to the world, the Lord is come.  Let earth receive her King!  Let every heart prepare him room.”

“Joy to the earth the savior reigns.”

A hallmark of the kingdom of God is joy.  It is the realm of the Holy Spirit, filled with righteousness, peace and joy (Rom 14:17).

Father’s great joy is to give us the kingdom (Luke 12:3).

The news of the kingdom is news of great joy (Luke 2:10).

Right now, the kingdom is breaking in and breaking out on the earth and a marker of it is the joy.

Despite what the world would tell you, there is more joy right now and joy is increasing in your life.  Joy is flowing out from God to you, if you will see it.

Look for, recognize and live in the new level of joy that God has provided.  Cultivate it and share it.

Experience the joy that God is opening up to you, pouring out upon you and reinvigorating you with

The message is: “Joy to the world, the Lord is come.  Let earth receive her king!”  That was the message when baby Jesus was born, when Jesus lived, when he died, when he rose, when he ascended and today.

We do not live in a ‘grim time’ of no joy.  Today is a day of joy.  God is pouring out joy on his people today.

Joy is coming from heaven to earth today.  Joy from God is here.  Christians are meant to be the joy filled people and God is making sure of this by giving us more joy right now.

Discover it, pick it up and put it on.  See it in your heart and let it out.  Thank God for it.

Praise God.  Worship the Lord.  Turn to God always.

Simply enjoy your life with God and welcome those you meet to join in and be adopted by papa in Jesus.

Joyful Living

My heart and soul explode with joy- full of glory!
Even my body will rest confident and secure.
-Psalm 16:9 (TPT)

What can I do to cultivate joy in my life?  What actions on my part bring me to a place where joy is birthed and flows out of my life?  What is the source of authentic joy from God?

Have you ever experienced joy, but part of you did not?  That part is like a Christmas light on a string that is burned out.  The electricity passed by it, but not through it.  The electricity touched it, but does not light it up, because it is broken.

Many people have broken places inside.  They experience joy or exhilaration and happiness, but there is a dead place that might be touched but not penetrated.

When we have unprocessed feelings, we can become blocked.  And our soul or our liver does not function properly.  Because of this, we can not experience the joy in life that God wants us to have.

Most of our inside parts of our bodies are hidden from our consciousness, until they cause us pain.  I have no idea if we ever feel our liver, like how we feel our stomachs or feel our intestines or feel our gall bladder.  But even though we do not see it or feel it, our liver is doing it’s job or hindered in doing it’s job, giving us benefits or problems.

The word rendered soul: “My heart and soul explode with joy” carries with it, the meaning of ‘liver’.  We are very comfortable with saying, “My heart broke”, or “My heart bursts with love”; and we are not referring to our vital organ that pumps blood, but to our emotional experience.  But, we do not say any such thing using the word liver, and yet it is also symbolic of something, to the ancient, eastern mind.

The liver is considered the “general” or “the chief of staff”, in charge of vision and strategy.  From the liver, come the drives of ambition and creativity.  The liver is the processor of our anger, which is normal and is a secondary emotion.

We get angry when we have a loss or when we are afraid or when we lose control.  When we have a backlog of life events that we need to release our anger over, then we end up with seething anger that is out of proportion with slights or offenses in our present lives or irritability.  And all of this might be happening inside us and possibly, unconscious.

Unprocessed or unreleased anger causes headaches and a life that lacks drive or ambition.  A sick liver, metaphorically speaking (like a ‘broken heart’) results in a life that can not flow in the joy that Psalm 16 describes.

All of this is important, because God wants us to be able to live in joy.  Many people want this joy, but can not keep it going, because they have brokenness, dysfunction or blockage in their souls.  And the soul and the liver are metaphorically connected.

From a life that has a clean and clear soul, comes creativity, drive and ambition.  God wants you to create things.  God wants you to have the ambition to walk into your dreams.  God wants to see you driven to live the life that you have been destined to live.

This is all about your destiny, your inheritance and the gifts that God wants to give you.  This is not about works or ‘if I do this, then God will do that’.  This is just about walking on the path of love and blessing that releases explosive joy into and out of your heart and soul, for your blessing and to the glory of God.

With that in mind, let’s look at what David says, before he says that he is exploding with joy and has become full of glory.  And I am excited to see how The Passion Translation translates David’s words.

Lord, I have chosen you alone as my inheritance.
  You are my prize, my pleasure, and my portion.
  I leave my destiny and its timing in your hands.
Your pleasant path leads me to pleasant places.
  I’m overwhelmed by the privileges
  that come from following you,
  for you have given me the best!
The way you counsel and correct me makes me praise you more,
  for your whispers in the night give me wisdom,
  showing me what to do next.
Because you are close to me and always available,
  my confidence will never be shaken,
  for I experience your wrap-around presence every moment.
My heart and my soul explode with joy- full of glory!
  Even my body will rest confident and secure. (Ps. 16:5-9)

  1. Inheritance
    • David chose God alone as his inheritance.  Whatever your earthly inheritance, take the stance, like David, of making God your inheritance.  Be so radical as to say, “You alone are my inheritance”.  Money is not evil, but “the love of money is the root of all evil”.  Do not love or lust for money.  Do not put love of money over love for God.  Always see God first and pattern the rest of your life after and under your love for, allegiance to and worship of God.  
    • Money or fame or power are never to be what drives the believer’s life or is the central organizing principle.  Loving God is the bedrock that we build our lives on.  Upon that, we live in contentment.  Joy is given beyond measure to those who make God their inheritance.
    • Since Adam and Eve’s fall, we have all lost the inheritance that God has had for us.  Our inheritance is restored in Christ.  We have to partner with God to receive our inheritances.  It is not automatic.  
    • We have to go after it.  We have to have passionate desire for it.  We have to pursue it to find it and receive it.  
    • God is restoring our inheritances to us.  We live in the paradox of going after our destinies but leaving the timing and the ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘where’ and ‘how’ of it with God.
  2. Walking with God
    • God’s pleasant path leads to pleasant places.   The key to a joyful life is to walk with God every day and all the time.  Loving God, being loved by God and then loving your neighbor is really what life is all about.
  3. Living in thankfulness
    • When we practice a life of walking with God, we also are thankful.  We learn that God is good and we are continually thankful.  Every day is thanksgiving and every meal is thanksgiving.  We learn that being thankful cultivates the presence of God in our lives.  
    • This is because thankfulness aligns ourselves with the truth of God.  Thanklessness is actually a sin.  And when we are not thankful, we shut out God and are making a statement that we do not believe in God.  
    • In matters about God and in matters of faith, their is no neutral, passive middle ground.  If we are passive or inactive about thanking God, it really means we are ungrateful and not thankful and do not believe.  To be continually overwhelmed with thankfulness is the normal Christian life.
    • If you are not taken aback at God’s generosity, you do not know him and you must not be walking with him and have not made him your sole source in life.  It is hard to be thankful if we have not already seen God as our inheritance and have begun to walk with him every day and in every way.
  4. Being counseled and corrected by God results in more praise
    • When we are secure in our relationship with God, then we can receive counsel and even correction from him and let it have its good and transformational effect on our lives.  When we are secure in God’s love, we learn to hear his voice at all times and are attentive to him.  When we securely walk with God, we can hear him say, “you are wrong”, or “don’t do that”, and feel no shame or badness, but only Father’s love.  
    • Having God be your father, your mentor, your guidance and your teacher of wisdom and your transformational teacher will cause you to praise him even more.  The child of God lives in a life of continual thankfulness and praise towards God.  We are already praising, worshiping and living in thankfulness when we come together with other believers.
  5. Explosive joy comes from a secure life in the Father’s love
    • Believers know God loves them and that is the bedrock of their lives.  Knowing God loves me gives me confidence in life.  All of my anger, from hurts, losses and fears is filtered by my soul that is in God’s hands; because I have given it to him and he has me.
    • I have nothing to fear, because God loves me.  I am secure in Father’s love.  I have no need to be offended or unforgiving, because I know I am loved.
    • I can take my life that I do not understand, and give it to God as an offering.  I can walk with God through the halls of my heart and soul, opening the doors to the rooms with pain inside, hurt or loss.  I can give everything that holds me back, known and unknown, to God, my redeemer.
    • I can say that God is my portion in this life.  I can say that God is my all and all.  I can say, “He loves me”.

These are some of what cultivates a life of joyful living.  This is some of what I can do to have joy.  This is part of how joy can explosively and gloriously permeate your whole life.

The Great Joy of Seekers

When they saw the star, they were overjoyed beyond measure.
And when they saw the star, they were so ecstatic that they shouted and celebrated with unrestrained joy.

-Matthew 2:10 (HCBS, TPT)
Joy is a remarkable emotion that we get to experience.  And in the birth story of Jesus, the people who experienced incredible joy were the wise men, from the east.

They were experts at reading stars. They were interested in magic, dream interpretation and the future.  Magicians is what they were (“Magi”) and they seemed to be honest inquirers of the truth.  Some other magicians in the Bible were indeed charlatans (Acts 8:9, 13:6-8).

The Magi did not just feel some joy or gladness, but the way Matthew writes it, is that they were exuberant and ecstatic.  “Overjoyed beyond measure”, or “So ecstatic that they shouted and celebrated with unrestrained joy”.  They were “thrilled” (CEV), “could hardly contain themselves” (MSG), “their joy knew no bounds” (TLB) and they were, “overjoyed and enraptured” (VOICE).

Keep in mind also that their explosion of joy was just over seeing that star (again).  It was only the guiding sign that caused them go wild with joy.  They had not seen Jesus yet.

Most of us, in my western, predominantly european rooted, caucasian culture know almost nothing of this kind of joy.  When was the last time that you jumped up and down or ran in circles or danced or shouted with unrestrained joy, over a piece of guidance that you believed was is from God?

I would bet that many believers have never danced for joy over a sign from God.  And I think that many believers would say that people who would unleash a public display of extreme joyousness are crazy.  Or perhaps many of us would just be uncomfortable seeing this sort of response in public.

To be fair, there are probably many believers who do not have a negative opinion about exuberant celebration and unrestrained joy; but just do not roll that way, because nobody around them does it or encourages it.

I know people, who attend churches where the people dance in worship.  In my past, I attended a church, where we danced with unrestrained joy, during our worship times.

It has always been funny to me, that in our western culture, we yell and scream at sports games; and dance is a part of our culture, but mostly only in either productions or in night clubs; but not in church or when we gather with believers.

Eugene Petersen calls the Magi, “A band of scholars”.  Brian Simmons calls the Magi, “A group of spiritual priests'”.  Other translations commonly say “Wise men”, and a few dare to say, “Astrologers”.

Maybe these guys are, what we in our western Christian culture, would call “New Agers”?  This fits better for me, than saying that they were part of a cult, which implies they were religious or practitioners of a religion.  Closer still would be to say that they were in the occult.

Occult means hidden and different.  Witches and warlocks who practice witchcraft are occult.  Are magicians, people who practice non-Judeo/Christian spirituality, and magicians who are more than illusionists in the occult?  Maybe and probably.

We have to get our heads around how people can have a spirituality outside of the Judeo/Christian framework, and be seeking God.  There is some mystery surrounding these wise men.  All we know is that they were these people called Magi, which is short for magician, and that they were ‘star gazers’ and ‘star scholars’, who somehow discerned the special light in the sky, that signaled the birth of The King of the Jews.

Some have postulated the theory that these guys were descendents from people who were influenced by Daniel.  They learned about God, The Jews, and the coming Messiah, from Daniel or the teachings passed down from Daniel.  Maybe.  (Dan. 2:48 & 9:24-27)

What is notable is that these people were searching for Messiah and they were not Palestinian Jews.  They were from outside the area and were not connected to Jerusalem, the center of Judaism.  And they were not just explorers or historians or researchers.  They were worshipers.

These guys were ‘off-the-map’, ‘off-the-grid’ and ‘outside-the-camp’ from traditional believers.  Yet, they were guided, knew exactly who they were seeking, desired to worship him, traveled a great distance in danger and brought expensive gifts to give the King of the Jews.

These wise men remind us that giving gifts back to Jesus, who is the gift, and the King, is what this whole thing is about.

The reason they followed the star that pointed them to the Jerusalem area, but evidently not Jerusalem itself, was to worship a child who was born King.  In the time of Jesus birth, there had been the ‘Messianic Expectation’ in Israel.  But it was much more fever pitch in some quarters, like perhaps with the Essenes.

Herod did not consult with the Essenes, but with Sadducees and Pharisees, who ended up being hostile to Jesus, during his ministry, ultimately killing him for impersonating Messiah.

The joy of the wise men is in stark contrast to the indifference of the priests and the scribes.  We read that “Jerusalem was alarmed” at the news that the wise men brought.  They were not joyous and we have no record of Jerusalemites who followed the wise men’s lead and also wanted to find the Messiah child and worship him.

Because of Herod’s brutality, that is illustrated later in the chapter, when he kills all the children in Bethlehem, two years old and under, we can understand the alarm in Jerusalem, to a certain extent.  But the larger scope of the story is that God chose to be born into such a dangerous time, under the nose of a brutal tyrant.

When God comes inconveniently and dangerously, are we going to reject God or follow joyfully?

The part of the story I am looking at is how these Magi were overjoyed in their journey, even before finding Jesus, which is sadly contrasted with the indifference of the Jewish leaders and the people of Jerusalem, who were more upset that Herod would get mad than being lit up and curious about the birth of the savior and their King.

The point might be or the application for us today is that God may be leading people outside the normal Christian paradigm, perhaps people we would describe as “New Agers”, to himself.  I do not claim to know if they have been born again yet.  But they have a radical purity of heart.

These people are on a journey to find God.  They are excited about the journey they are on.  And God is leading them.

But they may not be Christians, from their own self-identification or from how believers see them.  These seekers are guileless, apolitical and child-like in their pursuit of God.

They are coming and God is guiding them to Jesus.  The question for us is this:  Will we help them find Jesus?  Or will be be put off by their culture, their false, fake, counterfeit, spooky and deceived beliefs, shewing them or shunning them?  Will we block the way to Jesus?  Or will we throw open the way to Him, seeing seekers as people God is saving?

Will we join into the exuberant, extravagant celebratory joy of the seekers who are finding?  Will we allow very different people to belong to God’s family (our family) before they have become children of God?  Can we allow people who do not have their doctrine straight to worship the King and bring him extravagant gifts?


Joy is a remarkable emotion that people experience when God is leading them into knowing Jesus.  There is a joyful rejoicing that is overflowing in the life of a person who is discovering Jesus.  We love to see and experience this with everyone.

Let The Son Shine In

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord shines over you.

“You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden.No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lamp stand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

-Isaiah 60:1, Matthew 5:13-16
Do you know the Cowboy Sunday School song, that says this?:

So let the sun shine in, face it with a grin.
Smilers never lose and frowners never win.
So let the sun shine in, face it with a grin
Open up your heart and let the sun shine in.

Every Christian ought to know that the Christian life is about letting the Son of God shine into and out of their life.  I saw a cartoon, the other day, that showed a solemn seeker of Christ, who climbed to the very top of the mountain, seeking the deeper wisdom and knowledge.  When he got to the top, Jesus simply said to him, “God back down there and love people.”
Did you know that smiling makes you feel better?  Did you know that laughter is an antidepressant?  Did you know that there is a spiritual law, that says that when you give, something will be given to you?
Some people are more natural smilers than others.  I have had seasons in my life where I was either very unhappy and did not smile much or smiled constantly.  God actually took me from darkness into light and I had been very depressed, but God healed me and I was very joyous, and so much so, that people commented that I was a smiling person .
I do understand depression and I do know about plastic smiles.  I have learned though, that smiling is, to a large degree, a choice.  We can choose to smile or not smile.  
People that frown often, who are otherwise “normal” are pretty much choosing to frown.  I can not guess why they make the choice, but from my own frowning, or “refusal-to-smile-even-though-I-have-Christ-living-in-me”, I would say it is a learned behavior, from inner workings having to do with our selves.
Psychoanalyzing, asking, “why?”, is not my quest or point to make here.  
Another question that is relevant, because of who Jesus is and that he is in my life, is, “Did Jesus smile all the time?”  There is a Jesus film, and in it, Jesus smiles most of the time.  I can think of about three other Jesus films: and they range from having him not smiling at all, to having him smiling much of the time, but not always.
It is a creative, speculative decision on how much Jesus smiled.  He certainly was full of joy and love, but also serious and intense.  Bono described his saying, “Let the dead bury the dead”, as being punk rock.  In other words, straight up, direct; not smiling.
Every day, I have to walk down a long hall, from the parking structure, to my office.  I walk past a lot of people, and many days I attempt to make eye contact and smile with as many as possible.  And the reactions are diverse, but mostly positive.
Smiling at people or even smiling and letting people see your smile, if they are looking; is a gift and a blessing.  Despite all the entertainment and consumption, we really do not have a happy or joyful world.  Many people live in authentic joy, but many do not.
Happiness and joy are contagious.  It is a good thing to share and spread.  Everybody has the ability to turn from frowns to smiles, from gloom to happiness.
One of the greatest gifts that every Christian carries, and we need to give it away as much as possible, is hope.  Smiling signals hope.  I have a lot to be thankful for and a lot to smile about, but the big one is that I am in love with Jesus Christ.
I smile when I think about him.  He is not like a simple love, but he is my savior and my king.  He knows me and he is very good to me.
I smile because of this.  I do believe that this has to be cultivated and practiced.  There are tons of things that the enemy does to try to rob us of our joy and our simple standing in Christ, where he loves us.  We have to practice the joy.
Our love can cool off, and the fire that burns within can dim.  But it can always easily be brightened.  Repentance like rest, is a lifestyle.
There is a time to grieve and we don’t smile the same way when we are full of grief.  And we love people by weeping and grieving with them.
But most of the time, is smiling time, because I am happy.  Frowning and doing the gloom, anger, or arrogant sarcasm thing is what makes the enemy pleased; and is not who I really am, but a nasty caricature.   Bye bye evil spirits, I am gonna smile.

Happiness, Anger, and Your Liver

  • Therefore my heart is glad and my spirit rejoices; my body also rests securely. 
  • That’s why my heart celebrates and my mood is joyous; yes, my whole body will rest in safety.
  • This is a good life—my heart is glad, my soul is full of joy, and my body is at rest.
    Who could want for more?
  • So my heart rejoices and I am happy;  My life is safe.
  • Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure.
  • Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure.
  • Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will rest in hope.

-Psalm 16:9 (HCSB, CEB, MSG, NET, NIV, ESV NKJV)

A secure person has healthy emotions –  healthy happiness and sadness, joy and anger.  Our heart is the seat or inner place of our love and our liver is the seat or inner place of our anger.  Healthy, normal people experience love and anger, and because of this, they walk securely.

Having God’s protection, living a life of worship towards God, loving your neighbor, declining to live in idolatry, making the Lord your life, receiving and living in your inheritance in contentment, receiving counsel from God even while sleeping, and living in 24-7 intimacy with God.  These all lead to or produce the fruit of a secure life, from the inside out, symbolized by a healthy heart and liver.

David says that three aspects of his life are good, and I looked at seven different translations, because the second part, aspect number two, is translated differently, in different translations.  He says his heart is good, and something else is good, and that his flesh, body, or life is good.  That something else is translated:

  • my spirit
  • my mood
  • my soul
  • I
  • my tongue
  • my whole being
  • my glory
The King James has “my glory”, as does the NASB and many other older translations.  But we simply do not say, “my glory rejoices”, today; so translators had to choose other words.  It probably tells us that the Hebrew is difficult or obscure here.
I found a note, in the NET Bible notes, that makes the case that this word, and they translate it “I”, is synonymous with liver.  Again, we do not exclaim, “my liver rejoices”, so no English translation says that, but the writers of the NET Bible notes make the exegetical and anthropological case that this is what the original statement meant.
We have to remember that we are in the West, but David and the other authors of the Bible lived in the East.  Sometimes people do fear-talk and say, “watch out for those eastern religions”, and  I imagine they have in mind Hinduism and Buddhism.   But Judaism is from the middle-east, and is closer to China and India than to London, New York, or Los Angeles.
Even though Continental Europe is closer than those, it’s western, modern ideas of psychology and medicine will not help us with Hebrew as much as looking at Eastern anthropology.  And, from Chinese medicine, we find out some things, from the eastern mind, about the liver.
Some of our bodies’ organs are connected to our emotions.  It is believed that the liver is connected to our anger.  How you feel, deal with, or process anger is connected to your liver.  When we have a weakened liver, it is more difficult to deal with anger.
Overeaters or compulsive overeaters often eat because something is eating at them, which is often anger or resentment.  Alcohol and drugs, including Tylenol, are hard on the liver.  Ironically, people take drugs and alcohol to cope with anger, and actually weaken their body’s built-in anger processor. 
Anger is a secondary emotion or a reaction.  Anger is healthy and normal.  A robust life includes healthy anger.  David might have been such a person: a passionate warrior who had fiery anger that regularly was processed through his inner man or liver.  He had a bright light, we could say.  He might have been a person who changed the atmosphere in a room or place, just by his presence, which included his passionate, fiery personality.
Anger includes irritability, resentment, and frustration.  We get these, but we do not stay in these, but process them; which is the inner role the liver plays in our body’s emotional processing system.  If we do not process or allow our system to process, or if our system is blocked somehow, and we can not process the anger that comes, then we have a back-log of anger and we become angry easier at smaller annoyances in our lives.
Headaches, dizziness, high blood pressure, stomach, and spleen problems can be the result of anger backed up in your insides.  There are actually about 100 conditions that could be connected to your liver’s health.
The liver is the blood filter.  The liver stores sugar, for energy.  The liver works for the growth and repair of the body’s tissues.
The liver is in charge of your body’s peripheral nervous system.  People with dysfunctional livers have difficulty relaxing and with balance.  Dysfunction also results in lack of drive, ambition, and creativity; and feelings of anger: frustration and rage for no reason.
The liver and gallbladder work hand-in-hand.  If one is unhealthy, it affects the function of the other.  A healthy life-style for one is helpful for the functioning of the other.
Most of these things are the negatives of an unhealthy liver.  But, in Psalm 16, David says, “my liver is great!”  So what are the positives about a healthy liver, that David must have been experiencing enough to say this?
In Chinese medicine, the liver is “the general”, or “the chief of staff”.  The liver is the general in charge of strategy.  We are talking about vision, planning, and creativity.  
A person with a healthy liver is vibrant in their kindness, benevolence, compassion, and generosity.  This reminds me of the fruit of the Spirit. A healthy liver function, according to Chinese medicine, results in the feelings of ease, harmony, and peace.  
The macro functional idea of the liver’s role is to make you go somewhere, to set you free to be creative, to live going out, up, and forward.  “Carpe diem!”, with peace, is what your liver wants to say.

Net Bible, Liver
The Liver Doctor: Your Emotions Can Effect The Health of Your Liver
What Are The Seven Emotions?, by Shen Nong
Liver: Wood-energy yin organ

The Cow Jumped Over The Moon: Glorious Joy

You love Him, though you have not seen Him. And though not seeing Him now, you believe in Him and rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy, because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

-1 Peter 1:8-9
I have an idea that God wants to give us joy that not limited.  I have a thought that the joy that God has in store for us, in this life, is something that seems impossible; but He is going to give it to us anyway.  I believe that God has unrestricted happiness available, that we get to live in.
I believe that God has unlimited delight for us, that he wants us to have now.  I believe that joy is going to be the story, the fragrance, and the personality of God’s people.  I believe that a door is opening, for people, to walk into the unlimited space of delight.
I believe that God wants to take us into unrestrained happiness.  People who thought they could never be happy will be surprised.  People who thought that the Bible only gave us theory and truth, will find out that the experience of God, that the Bible’s authors describe, is coming to them.
We are about to come into a place in God where we will experience unfettered joy.  We are about to have unimpeded happiness.  The controls that kept us back are about to be lifted.
God is about to do something that, in our minds, we deemed impossible.  God is going to give us untrammelled delight.  We are being set free to enjoy life.
You might be wondering why the title of this post is, “The Cow Jumped Over The Moon: Glorious Joy”?  Here is the answer: 
The phrase, “The cow jumped over the moon”, means “untrammelled delight”, or, “very happy or delighted”.  Some people think it also means, “something impossible”.

-Not deprived of freedom of action or expression; not restricted or hampered.

I would say, that, “The cow jumped over the moon”, is an expression of unrestricted, unfettered, delight, joy, and happiness experienced.  I have read people saying, “I love you to the moon”, or, “over the moon”, or, “to the moon and back”.  These seem to signify great delight and pleasure in another person.
If we try to analyze the the nursery rhyme, “Hey Diddle Diddle”, and not just say, “it’s nonsense”, then, we can see the absurd pictures that the words paint as meaning something.  

Hey diddle diddle,
The cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon.
The little dog laughed,
To see such fun,
And the dish ran away with the spoon.

Cows do not jump over anything, much less, the moon.  So, a cow jumping over the moon signifies something beyond our experience, beyond our rationality: something impossible.  And that is how, I suppose, that people get that definition.
But, in literature, there is the saying, “Ready to jump over the moon in delight”, from which we see the idea of extreme delight.  I wonder if many children intuitively know what a cow jumping over the moon means, and then they begin to forget, as they grow out of childhood?
If you can make the connection, what I am saying is that I believe God has in mind, in store, and available now; “The cow jumped over the moon”, experience of joy unspeakable.  Have you ever thought about that verse?  It means joy that can not be put into words, because it is so immense.  Have you experienced that joy?
That joy from God is also glorious, or full of glory.  Imagine I have a white board in front of us.  In a circle, at the center of everything is the glory of God.  God is glorious.
Everything about God is glorious.  The meaning of the word glory carries the idea of honor.  This is why we call the flag, “old glory”.  When beings in heaven say, “Glory!”, it means “honor”.  God is honorable and The Honorable One.
We automatically worship God, when we come into contact with him.  We give God glory.  If God visits you, worshiping, and dropping to your knees or getting on your face, is the natural response.
The idea that the joy from God that he gives us is glorious joy, is that it is a gift from him and that we give back to him.  We thoroughly enjoy what he gives us, but we give it back to him in living lives of worship.  It is glory to glory.
The joy comes from God and we enjoy before him and give it back to him and he gives us more and it goes on and on.  The giving it back does not mean we lose it, but the life lived from God is lived through God.  We are completely free in God.

Happy People Know The Shout For Joy

The people who know the celebratory shout are truly happy!
They walk in the light of your presence, Lord!
-Psalm, 89:15

Happy people know the shout for joy.  “Blessed are they that know the joyful sound” is how the New King James Bible says it.  I have known the song that says this for years, but I did not know that it meant more than enthusiastic singing.  In the translation I use, the Common English Bible, it says, “celebratory shout”.  Happy are the people who know the celebratory shout.

I was wondering what this joyful sound was, that the psalmist had in mind.  We might assume that he meant the sound of voices praising God.  That seems like a good answer and that is what I assumed for these past 25 years.  Thank God, for a newer translation, that tries to get closer to the original language’s meaning.

The NIV Bible version has been pretty popular, and it says, in Psalm 89:15, “blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you”.  Even though I use the words, “blessed”, and “blessings”, in personal speech and correspondence; I’m not sure it works with a wider audience today, especially not with those outside our faith.  I’m not sure that I use the word “acclaim” very often or that most people use it.

The ESV translators keep “blessed”, but translate the NKJV’s, “joyful sound” as “festal shout”.  I think that is a good translation that takes us where the Hebrew word teruah goes.  By the way, I am not a Hebrew or Greek scholar and don’t claim to be.  I look these words up and see what the scholars or experts say.  

Even more so than “blessed”, we have to explain what “festal” means.  That is a word I have never used and it is an example of why I do not use the ESV.  Like the NASB, it tries to be literal, but uses words that most people don’t use or know.

So, what is a celebratory shout, the joyful sound?  Have you ever been to a sports game and heard what people do when their team scores?  They yell and shout and hoop and holler. They jump up and down and wave their arms in the air.

Christians ought to be the most happy people around.  What Christ has done is a much bigger deal than the points scored at a game.  If you are a Christian and your songs are about Jesus and God and if that is what the speaker’s sermons are about, why are there no shouts, no cheers?  

Remember the song, “if you’re happy and you know it”?  In that song, we teach kids to use their voices and their bodies.  Adults need that training too.  The church should be the people with freedom of expression to shout for joy to God. 

If you allow yourself the freedom to shout for joy, the next thing is that you might start bouncing a bit.  Soon, you’ll be jumping for joy.  Then you’ll twirl a bit.  Next thing, you are just plain dancing for joy.

The church I am wanting to join is a church where we shout for joy at what Jesus has done.  This is what believers did in the Bible, so why not today? 

Art credit: Ain Vares, Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth

Happy People

“Happy are people who are hopeless, because the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
“Happy are people who grieve, because they will be made glad.
“Happy are people who are humble, because they will inherit the earth.
“Happy are people who are hungry and thirsty for righteousness, because they will be fed until they are full.
“Happy are people who show mercy, because they will receive mercy.
“Happy are people who have pure hearts, because they will see God.
“Happy are people who make peace, because they will be called God’s children.
“Happy are people whose lives are harassed because they are righteous, because the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
“Happy are you when people insult you and harass you and speak all kinds of bad and false things about you, all because of me.  Be full of joy and be glad, because you have a great reward in heaven. In the same way, people harassed the prophets who came before you.
-Matthew 5:3-12

Do you want to know who the happy people are?  Happy people are the people who are experiencing deep inner joy….  because us Jesus.  Happy people are not happy just because they know something or have been taught something.  Happy people are happy because something has happened to them.

A person brings happiness to us.  It is personal.  I am happy because of a person.  That person is Jesus.  I am happy because of him.

But he is not just like any person or like something you put on a shelf, in a drawer, on your dash board, desk, fridge magnet, or bumper sticker.  Unlike every other religion, self-help program, education, indoctrination, boot-camp, or guru; he is a person who is personally involved with each one of us.

The whole thing is that Jesus is savior and Lord.  You don’t go to school to get saved.  You can not do independent studies or classroom work to get saved or sanctified or empowered.  It’s all personal and relational.  Someone had to die and that same someone calls each one of us to death to our selves.

Happy people are people who recognize the kingdom of God, who see it and respond to it.  Jesus mentioned people being in a negative state like hopeless or poor, mourning or grieving.  Jesus says that these people are happy, because of his kingdom, because of him.

We are happy because of Jesus, because of the kingdom of God in our lives, because we are being saved- saaaaaaaaaved.  A man does not “go forward”, or “wave his hand with every head bowed and every eye closed”; and then go back to a life of sin, with “Jesus” tacked on.  Salvation is an event and a process.  It’s just like starting over.

In the kingdom of God, every problem comes with a promise – and provision – attached to it; Graham Cooke is fond of saying.  If you are poor, grieved, humiliated, boxed in, or vexed and perplexed; then in your world, God has placed a gift box that has blessing in it.  Find it and open it.

I found the picture above at Linda’s, from her thoughts on Matthew 5:3.

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