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Joy

1/22/2023 8:00:00 AM BY Dr James H Dotson Jr

The dictionary defines joy variously as the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; a source or cause of keen pleasure or delight; something or someone that provides a source of happiness; a person or thing that causes happiness.

How do I get that? How do I keep that? How do I experience joy in a life that, while it includes blessings, also includes unwanted, unexpected, and undesirable issues, problems, pain, trauma, as well as trouble and tribulation all around?

The Good and the Bad

There is no question but that I have many blessings in my life. At the same time, I have experienced and still experience some drawbacks, trouble, hurts/harms, grief, and loss, including child sexual abuse; an absent father (Dad was out of our home before I was 11-years old); loss of one kidney due to cancer; a tumor in my brain; loss of vision in one eye resulting from radiotherapy to prevent further increase/expansion of my brain tumor … 

So, how do I deal with that? And, how do I find joy in the midst of ALL the realities of my life—the good and the bad?

Temporary Happiness

Earlier in my life, I sought happiness through lots of stuff that was only temporary. I smoked, I drank, I was sexually promiscuous with many women, and for a time I pretty much did whatever I felt like doing.

But the happiness always evaporated. Yes, it was fun and cool and pleasurable at the time. But eventually, it left me unfulfilled and, sometimes, dealing with unintended consequences—often too high a price to pay for what was only temporary.

What brings you happiness? When you’re “hit in the gut” with the circumstances of your life, what or who is it that enables you to keep on going? To what or to whom do you turn to be happy?

A Sustaining Joy

Fortunately, I’ve found a way to experience a kind of happiness that is lasting and transcends the everyday realities of my life—joy

What is the source of my joy in the midst of my good AND my bad?

Allow me to share some selected passages from the Bible to answer that question.

  • ““For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, NLT
  • ““Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” (Revelation 3:20, NLT)
  • “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. … “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!” (John 15:4–11, NLT
  • “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. …” (Galatians 5:22–23, NLT
  • “So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”” (Luke 11:13, NLT
  • ““Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.” (John 14:1–3, NLT
  • “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”” (John 16:33, NLT)
  • “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. … And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” … All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children. …”” (Revelation 21:1–8, NLT)

My Bottom Line

There is so much more I could share with you about joy. But in the interest of time and space, let me end with this summary of how believing and living by these biblical truths in my life has and continues to bring me joy, both in the “good” and the “bad” of my life.

  1. Jesus Christ invites me into a relationship with him. It’s not mandatory or compulsory, but voluntary. I believe in Jesus and willingly accept his invitation.
  2. For me, that’s more than just head knowledge. It’s an ongoing relationship. I love Jesus and Jesus loves me; I abide in Jesus and Jesus abides in me. We are friends.
  3. Jesus is also my Savior and Lord. As I follow him, I seek to keep his commandments. This is not a checklist of do’s and don’ts I mechanically follow. Keeping his commandments flows from my loving relationship with him.
  4. But you know what? I can’t do any of this on my own. I need help—and not just once, but continuously. So, I ask my heavenly Father for help and seek day-by-day to live in the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit who he willing gives to all who ask.
  5. And I am counting on and trusting God’s promise that he has a better life ahead for me at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. This gives me the hope I so much need to keep journeying through life even when I face the unwanted, the unexpected, and the undesirable.

What About You?

Are you looking for joy? Do you need joy in your life?

I invite you to believe in Jesus Christ and anchor your joy in Him. 

Will that remove all issues, problems, pain, suffering, sorrow, trouble, or tribulation from your life?

No, not at all. The Bible doesn’t promise that to us in this life. (See, for example, John 16:33.)

But to those who are followers of Jesus Christ, the Bible does promise that God will walk with us through life and will never forsake us (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5).

And the Bible also promises those who believe and follow Jesus Christ that God will also work all things for good (Romans 8:28), ultimately including the inheritance of a new Heaven and Earth at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ (Revelation 21:1-8Revelation 22:10-20). 

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Copyright © 2023 Training for Transformation, Inc. All rights reserved.

Be Alert!!!

1/7/2023 10:30:00 PM BY Dr James H Dotson Jr

Did you know that every 68 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted?

Or did you know that:

  • 1 out of every 6 American women and about 1 out of every 33 American men has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime;  
  • Eight out of 10 rapes are committed by someone known to the victim; and 
  • Only 25 out of every 1,000 rapists will end up in prison?

Or were you aware that from 2009-2013, Child Protective Services agencies substantiated, or found strong evidence to indicate that, 63,000 children a year were victims of sexual abuse? (Note: A majority of child victims are 12-17. Of victims of sexual assault and rape under the age of 18: 34% are under age 12, and 66% are age 12-17.)

What is Sexual Violence?

These statistics do not tell the whole story about sexual violence, because there are other forms of sexual violence and, unfortunately, many cases of sexual violence are unreported because victims:

  • May be ashamed, embarrassed, or afraid to tell the police, family, or friends about the violence. 
  • May keep silent because they have been threatened with further harm to self or family if they tell anyone.
  • Do not think anyone will believe or help them.

“Sexual violence is sexual activity when consent is not obtained or freely given.”

Sexual violence is an all-encompassing, non-legal term that refers to rape, sex trafficking, sexual assault, sexual abuse, child sexual abuse, incest, intimate partner sexual violence, and other forms of nonconsensual or forced sexual activity. (Note: Here in the USA, the legal definition of crimes vary from state to state.)

Sexual violence is a serious problem that profoundly impacts the health and wellbeing of those who are victims. And the impacts can be lifelong, especially if left unaddressed. 

Is Help Available for Victims of Sexual Violence?

Yes!!! If you need help or know someone who does, consider these resources.

Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN)

National Domestic Violence Hotline

  • Free. Confidential. 24/7.
  • Call 1.800.799.SAFE (7233) OR TTY 1.800.787.3224
  • Text “START” to 88788
  • Chat Live Online

love is respect

  • Help specifically for young people.
  • Call 1.866.331.9474 OR TTY 1.800.787.3224
  • Text LOVEIS to 22522
  • Chat Live Online

Read the brochure Breaking the Silence: You Can Stop the Violence. This can be a healthy step to getting the help you need.

What Can We Do to Stop Sexual Violence?

First, be alert. “… Anyone can experience or perpetrate sexual violence. The perpetrator of sexual violence is usually someone the survivor knows, such as a friend, current or former intimate partner, coworker, neighbor, or family member. …”

Second, set aside myths and other common beliefs about sexual violence that are not true. These undermine efforts to prevent sexual violence, become an obstacle to taking appropriate actions when sexual violence does occur, and ultimately make it difficult for victims of sexual violence to receive the help and justice they so deserve. 

Space in this blog does not permit an exhaustive review of these myths and false beliefs. To raise awareness about the facts about sexual violence, begin by reading the brochure Breaking the Silence: You Can Stop the Violence.

In the meantime, let me just call out some of the falsehoods that are common.  

  • Only strangers molest children. 
  • Children will quickly outgrow effects of abuse. 
  • Abuse survivors exaggerate.
  • Some people ask, provoke, or want to be abused.
  • It is a sin for Christian victims to seek to prosecute their abusers. 
  • Some people deserve to be abused.

These are among the myths and common beliefs that are not true, which are obstacles to dealing lovingly and justly with victims of sexual violence.

Finally, if you suspect someone you know is being abused, the Women’s Ministries Department of General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists offers this counsel on how you can help.

  • Call the authorities and report the abuse.
  • Don’t try to solve the abuse situation by yourself.
  • Find out about abuse prevention agencies in your area. Call and initiate the help needed.
  • Listen without interrupting and don’t feel as though you have to offer advice.
  • Encourage him/her to seek professional counseling.
  • Don’t criticize the abuser.
  • Offer to be a prayer partner.
  • Invite him/her to join you on outings without bringing up the abuse situation.
  • Keep your word and frequently follow-up to see how he/she is doing.

Be alert!!! Don’t be a passive bystander. Do what you can to help stop sexual violence.

References

“Breaking the Silence: You Can Stop the Violence”

CDC, Injury Center, Violence Prevention, Intimate Partner Violence

CDC, Injury Center, Violence Prevention, Sexual Violence

RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network)

For More Information

Visit the TFT Online Resource Center for more information about sexual abuse and exploitation.

Copyright © 2023 Training for Transformation, Inc. All rights reserved.

Where Are You Going?

12/16/2022 11:00:00 PM BY Dr James H Dotson Jr

Is your life a collection of random experiences, or a purposeful journey?

I have found that living with purpose—guided by a vision—is one important aspect of personal wellbeing.

Let’s take a moment to explore this further.

What Is Vision?

In this context, the dictionary defines vision as: an ideal or a goal toward which one aspires

Your vision is an overarching goal for your life—a statement of what the ideal future looks like for you (i.e., your best self in terms of who you are, how you live, and what you do). 

Does having a vision mean there will be no problems or challenges or obstacles or setbacks or failures in your life? Certainly not!

But having a vision allows you to keep moving forward to what you want your life to look like at its best, even as you face the unexpected and the undesirable.

Your vision will provide focus, purpose, and direction for your life as you work towards realizing your ideal future. 

What Is Your Vision?

Here are some key questions to consider as you answer this question: What is my vision?

  • Why were you created? Why are you here? 
  • Who is God calling you to be? What is God calling you to do?
  • What gives your life meaning, purpose, and fulfillment? About what are you most passionate?
  • What are your dreams—who is the person you dream to be and what is the purpose you dream to fulfill?
  • Who do you need to be and how do you need to live to make a positive difference here on the earth?
  • What is the legacy you want to leave behind when your life comes to an end? 
  • How would you want a biographer to sum up your life?

How Do I Write My Vision?

Once you answer these questions, you should be able to write your vision. Your vision should include four elements:

  1. Vision Statement: A concise statement of your vision—who you want to be, how you want to live, and/or what you want to accomplish (i.e., your ideal future; your life at its best; your best self). 

  • Write in the first person and write as if you are already making your vision happen in your life (e.g., “I am …”). 
  • Some experts recommend keeping your vision to one sentence or to 50 words or less.
  • But what’s more important than how long or short is your vision is this. First, fully articulate the vision you want for yourself/for your life. Second, don’t try to mimic or copy another person’s vision; make it your own. And finally, make sure it’s something you are able to easily remember. There will likely be little value to writing something you can’t even remember. 
  1. Rationale: Your rationale is the reason or the reasons for your vision. 

  • It answers the question: Why is this my vision? 
  • There are many visions you could have for yourself.
  • Why is this one the one you’ve chosen for yourself?
  1. Definition of Success: Your definition of success lists the key indicators that you are successfully living your vision. 

  • It answers the question: How will I know when I have achieved or am achieving my vision? 
  • In other words, what will it look like when you are being the person you dream to be, living the life you dream to live, and fulfilling the purpose you dream to fulfill?
  1. Core Values: Core values are the fundamental principles you must live by in order to achieve/live your vision. 

  • A principle is a kind of rule, belief, or idea that guides you; a basic truth that helps you with your life—a belief which exercises a directing influence on your life; a standard, guideline, or governing law of your personal conduct; a settled precept consistently directing your actions; a truth that may be used as the basis for reasoning; or a rule by which to make decisions or choose among options (e.g., love, honesty, integrity, justice, etc.). 
  • In this case, the idea is not to just randomly choose from a whole host of nice sounding principles for living. Rather, the point is to selectively choose those principles that are essential to living out your vision.
  • In other words, in order to successfully achieve your vision, what are the principles you must live by, without which you will not succeed? 

What Are Your Next Steps?

Now, let me invite you to write your vision in one integrated paragraph.

  1. Begin by writing your vision statement. I find that writing a one sentence vision statement is best. That tends to require a much more clearly focused statement of purpose for you/your life. But, again, the length is up to you.
  2. Then, follow with the main reason or reasons you’ve chosen this as your vision for your life (rationale).
  3. Now, follow that with what you/your life will look like when/as you are living your vision (definition of success).
  4. Finally, close the paragraph with the key principles you must live by in order to successfully live your vision for your life (core values).

Once written, place this paragraph where you can easily see it and review it daily so that it becomes like a compass that guides your journey through life.

For More Information

Visit our website at www.TrainingForTransformation.com for more information.

Copyright © 2022 Training for Transformation, Inc. All rights reserved.