Defiant Joy (book review)

I’m always intrigued by oxymorons. You probably know what these are—when two seemingly opposite things are put together to make something memorable. Like a fine mess, or deafening silence, or seriously funny. Or defiant joy.

Usually “joy” is paired with descriptives like pleasurable, or bubbly, or uncontainable. But “defiant”? Stasi Eldredge makes the case that we need to fight to hang on to joy—that our pursuit of joy against all odds should be, as her book is entitled, Defiant Joy. 

Stasi shares many of her painful life lessons that led her to the conclusion that joy has to be clung to tenaciously or it can be stripped away quickly. Defiantly clinging to joy doesn’t mean a bury-your-head-in-the-sand denial view of life. It is facing the challenges squarely and honestly, and still recognizing that the joy Jesus gives is greater than those circumstances. 

In fact, one of the first quotes Stasi shares in her book is this truism from C.S. Lewis: “Joy is the serious business of Heaven.” Talk about a powerful oxymoron! 

I so appreciate the transparency and candor Stasi exhibits as she pulls back the curtains of her own battles for joy. She honestly shares her darker moments with us, tells us where she’s still working, where’s she had breakthroughs, and the applicable lessons we can all use. 

I’m sure everyone one of us will have to face joy-threatening circumstances. The principles in Defiant Joy will help you overcome those circumstances while still tenaciously clinging to joy. Read this book for yourself or read it with a friend going through a difficult time. You’ll be glad you did.

I’m a Thomas Nelson book reviewer. 

God Is The Sun

John Piper said, “We were made to live with God as the all-satisfying center of our lives, with everything else in good, godly, happy orbit. Instead, we have a solar system with competing gravitational centers, and nothing else flying in its right orbit.” 

In Psalm 16:11 David wrote, “In Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Lasting joy and guilt-free pleasure are found in God’s presence. If He is the “sun” of our universe, everything else stays in its proper “orbit.” How do we make sure God is our sun? The first phrase in Psalm 16:11 is the key: “You make known to me the path of life.”

Did you catch that? Not only is God the sun-center of our universe, but He tells us when our sun-center has become (or is becoming) something other than Himself. That’s why David also prayed, “Search me, O God,” and why Paul told us to regularly examine ourselves.

The Holy Spirit will keep us properly centered and in the place of ultimate joy!

Do People Know That You Know That God Is Good?

If you’ve been reading my series on God’s favor the last few weeks, I hope you truly know this: God is for you! 

But the key question for Christians comes down to this—Do others know that you know that God is for you? 

You see, God is for you because God is joyful and happy, and He wants you to not only know this but to radiate this joy and happiness to those around you. 

Here’s how it works:

(1) Joy is an inside job. The dictionary defines joy as “a feeling of great delight caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying.” When we know by our personal experience with Him how good God is, joy is birthed in our heart as we see Him as All-Good and All-Satisfying. 

(2) Joy is regardless of my external circumstances. Some people try to pursue happiness apart from joy. Trying to get happy without having the foundation of joy is like having a flower that has been picked from the plant. Happiness may be pretty for a short while, but it is already fading because it is completely dependent on the environment around it. True happiness isn’t dependent on external circumstances because it is rooted in something far greater. 

(3) Knowing God’s favor fuels our joy. There is a Hebrew word for know which means “knowledge through intimate, personal experience.” Psalm 100 describes happy people and their joyful praise. Their joy comes from this: They know that their Lord is God and that He is good. This joy comes from seeing and savoring God’s favor.  

(4) Our internal joy should bubble up into external happiness. All throughout the Bible we read how those who are filled with joy as they get to know this exceptionally good, all-satisfying God cannot help but burst out in songs of happy praise (see Psalm 28:7 and Luke 10:21).

(5) Our external happiness becomes our testimony. In Psalm 126 we read that God’s people who were full of God’s joy burst out into happy praise. When they did the people around them recognized that God had done great things for them. 

Check this out—

“I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that to be a Christian and to be unhappy is a sin. An unhappy Christian gives God no praise, robs His glory, and paints God in a bad light. A happy Christian knows the Lord is his strength, his comfort, his supply. The happy Christian lifts God high and invites others to know this All-Good, All-Happy God too!” —Craig T. Owens 

So let me ask you again: If you call yourself a Christian, do people know that you know that God is for you? Are you making God look All-Good and All-Satisfying by your deeply fueled joy and your face-brightening happiness? 

What a testimony it is when God’s people are happy in Him! 

If you have missed any of my other teachings about God’s favor, be sure to check them out:

A Leader’s Confidence

Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my meditation. Give heed to the voice of my cry, my King and my God, for to You I will pray (Psalm 5:1-2).

When David prays, he prays with confidence—he is confident that God will hear him.

Where does his confidence come from? From these two truths about the nature of God:

  1. You are a God who takes no pleasure in wickedness (v. 4), so David must confess his sin quickly.
  2. In fear of You I worship (v. 7), so David doesn’t have to cower before God wondering if God will forgive his sin.

David didn’t take the condition of his soul for granted (v. 5), but he came quickly into God’s presence because he knew of God’s mercy to forgive.

Not only was David confident that God would hear his prayer, but he also eagerly anticipated receiving…

  • …God’s answer to his prayer
  • …God’s joy
  • …God’s blessing
  • …God’s protection

A mark of a godly leader is one who prays confidently and then eagerly expects God to answer.

If you want confidence in your earthly leadership, do what David modeled: Enter God’s presence quickly and confidently, and then eagerly anticipate what God is going to do!

This is Part 16 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts on this topic by clicking here.

Saturday In The Psalms—Like No One Else

Praise is awaiting You, O God… (Psalm 65:1).

Why is praising awaiting God? Because no one else does what He does!

  1. He hears all our prayers
  2. He turns no one away
  3. He atones for our transgressions
  4. He helps us approach Him
  5. He fills our lives with good things
  6. He longs for us to dwell with Him
  7. He satisfies our deepest longing
  8. He is All-Righteous
  9. He does awesome things!
  10. He is Salvation
  11. He is Confidence
  12. He answers our prayers
  13. He is Creator
  14. He is Wonderful
  15. He is Beauty
  16. He is All-Powerful
  17. He is Provider
  18. He is Abundance
  19. He is Good
  20. He is Joy

There is no like You, O God!

So my praise will be lifted to You—to You my vows will be fulfilled!

Thursdays With Oswald—Do You Think Life Is A Drudgery?

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Do You Think Life Is A Drudgery? 

     God made man a mixture of dust and Deity—“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7). The dust of a man’s body is his glory, not his shame. … 

     Drudgery is the outcome of sin, but it has no right to be the rule of life. It becomes the rule of life because we ignore the fact that the dust of the earth belongs to God, and that man’s chief end is to glorify God. Unless we can maintain the presence of Divinity in our dust, life becomes a miserable drudgery. If a man lives in order to hoard up the means of living, he does not live at all, he has no time to, he is taken up with one form of drudgery or another to keep things going. …  

     The wisdom of today concerns itself chiefly with the origin of things and not with God, consequently neither the philosopher nor the mystic has time for actual life.

From Shade Of His Hand

God created us to enjoy life as we enjoy Him, enjoy His creation, and enjoy doing what He has created us to do.

If you find life toilsome, burdensome or a downright drudgery, can I suggest one simple question: How is your relationship with God?

If you truly ask Him, God will show you how to live a life filled with JOY!

John Piper On Defeating Lust

John Piper“Faith is not content with ‘fleeting pleasures.’ It is ravenous for joy. And the Word of God says, ‘In Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore’ (Psalm 16:11). So faith will not be sidetracked into sin. It will not give up so easily in its quest for maximum joy.

“The role of God’s Word is to feed faith’s appetite for God. And, in doing this, it weans my heart away from the deceptive taste of lust.

“At first, lust begins to trick me into feeling that I would really miss out on some great satisfaction if I followed the path of purity. But then I take up the sword of the Spirit and begin to fight. …

“As I pray for my faith to be satisfied with God’s life and peace, the sword of the Spirit carves the sugar coating off the poison of lust. I see it for what it is. And by the grace of God, its alluring power is broken.” —John Piper

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