JOY: Day 2 of 3 “Obstructions to Joy”

obstructionMatthew 18:6 NIV “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

Mark 9:42 NIV “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea.

Luke 17:1-2 NIV Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come.It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble.



One Wednesday afternoon I noticed a man with white hair seated across the table in the fellowship hall began choking on his food. His wife was patting his back and calling his name. “Someone call 911!”, she shouted. I knew he could not wait for the EMT’s to arrive and began moving to reach around his midsection to start the Heimlich maneuver. I made a firm grip and began to press in on his diaphragm hoping to dislodge a small portion of this lunch that was blocking his airway. I tried repeatedly without success. Occasionally small amounts of air would go in, but none would go out. Whatever was stuck would not budget. The EMT’s arrived and began using what looked like a plastic hook into his throat. After pulling and prodding, our came a piece of cauliflower and in and a rush of expended air. Not every obstruction is life threatening, but most are small.

What might possibly block or interfere with finding JOY?

  • Grief: When we are saddened by the loss of love and loved ones we might not want to celebrate their faithful reward. Our attention is more drawn to our hurt and need. Grief is a process that is to journey through, but when will not allow room for JOY we begin to be stuck in the full muck of grief’s emptiness.
  • Fear: Fear of being rejected, fear of the unknown, fear of the all-to-familiar anxieties in life wear down our patience and willingness to trust. We give into fear and close the door on JOY.
  • Pain: Physical and emotional pain demand our attention now, and chronic pain steals our attention. JOY takes back seat to the immediate call for comfort. The desire to quench that demanding hurt does not want to wait nor work for JOY. We push JOY aside for those moments.
  • Lack of Information: Sometimes we forget to draw on the JOY of Christ or we don’t think that God knows or cares. Reminding someone to seek JOY through the Spirit is not our first suggestion.
  • The Law: Some folks are rule followers and their value for keeping assumes there are times that JOY is not to be tapped into. “No running in the church.” “Don’t get your clothes dirty.” “Don’t interrupt.”
  • Lack of Experience: Some folks have experienced so little JOY they don’t recognize what it is or when it is most needed. [ Parish Trip vs Watchnight Service ]

What is JOY?

  • Joy is the comfort of being safely back home
  • Joy is the assurance that we have another day to practice tomorrow
  • Joy is belonging to the herd
  • Joy is being happy being the self God created you to be
  • Joy is walking on the water with Jesus (Feeding the hungry and seeing the face of Jesus)
  • Joy is doing one small thing that makes a giant difference in someone’s life.
  • Joy is sharing goodness and seeing it bloom in someone’s heart.
  • Joy is the source of our happiness.
  • Joy is God working in our lives: past, present and future.

Orbiting the Hairball <Gordon MacKenzie>

A fun book about Gordon’s work culture at Hallmark. His job called for creativity in a corporate machine that had little interest in the JOY of being creative. To Hallmark, the goal was to make money and success for the those in the company and the investors. The products of Hallmark are intended to sell heartfelt greeting cards and special objects of memory-keeping. In reality, the left hand had no idea what the right hand was doing and it was a depressing place to work, Gordon reports. He describes an occasion where we visited schools trying to instill creativity in students and found those in Kindergarten had great creative ideas and an extremely high desire to share ideas. Half as many in first grade; by third grade only a few and by 5th grade, only one or two per class. By high school, no one would talk to him or share their work or ideas.

The same is true of JOY. We become calloused when others tell us what we cannot do, should not do or become, we develop into the lowest common denominator experience of JOY that related to possessions and celebrations.

What Is the Worst Obstacle of Joy?

It is a spiritual doubt/questioning:

When we experience fear, pain, ignorance, rules, grief and other factors of life,

we believe that these things are greater than the God who made us and

stronger than the God who loves us.

They are closer than the God who died for us and

more tangible than the God who Spirit is always with us.


Getting Un-Stuck of Millstones

A: They have to be untied or they will weigh us down and eventually drown us.

Naming the Obstacles and giving them to God.  [ Writing Assignment : using paper to confess/offer to God our obstructions to JOY]

Claiming Joy

Excited visions of what can be and will be

Seeing the best and celebrating the JOY in others

Turning to God rather than blame, look for excuses, begin to fear, lead with our doubts and pain.


I’m Going to take you off the shelf spread you all around.




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