I am continuing to read books by Jim Wilder and others like him who have written extensively about living from joy. He explained in his book, “The Other Half of the Church”, that healthy relationships are the source of a life of joy. Joy increases as you encounter people who are happy to see you. Joy helps you to bounce back from negative emotions. Jim notes that the Hebrew blessing that is prayed over our people includes the phrase “may God’s face shine upon you.” Imagine if we pictured God’s face full of joy when he sees us. Then, we reflect that joy back to God and others.
I love the few references in the Word which portray Yeshua being full of joy through the Holy Spirit. In John 15, Yeshua exhorts us to remain in his love by following his commands, the main one being to love one another. Then he says “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” Being full of joy in the midst of hardships and in a world blanketed in darkness draws people to the hope that is within us. My spiritual mom told me on several occasions, after I poured out my woes to her, that “when you find your joy in the midst of hell no one can take it away from you.” Through grace we can be filled with joy through the Holy Spirit and impart that joy to others. When a person is walking in joy that is not dependent on circumstances they have power to change the atmosphere around them!
I am so grateful to God for his empowerment of joy in the midst of the difficulties of an intense itinerary this summer. Many of you can relate that as we grow older our mind often takes a while to catch up with our increasing physical limitations. But when we are filled with the joy from our source in the Holy Spirit, we can rise above painful backs, jet lag, and sleepless nights. So, this summer I have some challenges — but greater joy!
UPDATE FROM DAN
This season has been one of the happiest in recent years. First, the time with the leaders in Baltimore at Rosh Pina began our itinerary in May. We deeply share the building of community. The books Patty mentioned above were recommended to us by Berelyn Gillespie, the wife of the new leader there, Daniel Gillespie.
Then came our Tikkun America Apostolic Team meetings, where we provide governance and develop strategy for the network of 30 North America congregations. This was followed by our annual conferences, first for leadership and then for congregational members and families. It was such a happy time. 175 came for the Leadership Conference. It was a post-COVID kind of joy to be together after two years. We also had the maximum allowed for the family conference — 350. The presentations were solid. My son Ben was recently appointed President of Tikkun America and provided excellent leadership throughout the week. The seminar by the Kirks on intergenerational transmission was a highlight for me. Hearing Ohev Yisrael’s young leaders Aaron Allsbrook and his wife Brooke was also very encouraging. Dean Briggs from IHOP-KC gave a powerful exhortation to rise up as sons (and daughters) of Israel. Then Jerry Miller, part of our work for 43 years, shared with his wife Jo and gave a message on grace that was tops. And there was more! The fellowship was amazing. People were full of love and joy.
However, the highlight of the summer so far was visiting New City, New York. We spent time with the new younger leaders, Aharon and Zhenya Mendez. They had just come through a three month battle for their premature newborn, who sadly died. They are handling it with grace, courage and maturity. Seeing Aharon read the Torah and lead the liturgy was special. Jack Jacobs continues in eldership but is wise and allows Aharon to lead. One of the fruits of Jack’s ministry is working for unity with the churches of the region. One especially fruitful connection has been with the Chinese Alliance Church in Tappan, New York. I was privileged to preach at that congregation. They are committed to us on a deep level and support our Tikkun Israel congregation and ministries in Haifa under Leon Mazin. This fulfills a vision that has been hard to effect, but deeply desired, that the Tikkun America Congregations would be linked in covenant love with the Tikkun Israel congregations, and that support from their relationships with churches would go toward building up the Israel congregations. They do so much, with humanitarian aid and very important programs for all ages. So far, this is a great visit to the United States!