John 15:10-12 English Standard Version (ESV)- If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. fudge-brownies-1235430__340 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

What??!!! Brownies relate to commandments – love – joy? Come on, it’s not that early in the day that your brain is still asleep. How in the world can you connect brownies with joy in the Lord?

Well, since you asked…..

I enjoy cooking. As a child and even into young adulthood, brownies were one thing I could not master. They would either be too dry (to the point of hard) or too gooey (not fudgy, just nasty). And then I gave up trying to make the fudgy brownies and stuck to the cake brownies, they were okay. But ultimately, okay was just not good enough. (Persistence in the midst of adversity?) And, of all places (like it hadn’t been there for years), I found a recipe on the back of a baking cocoa can and tried it. They were good. But the next time better, because I had to make a substitution and it improved the recipe! I have used that adapted recipe ever since. These days I can eat one, maybe two brownies. But then I have an almost full pan. That is the commandment – love – joy part. Love your neighbor as yourself. I take a couple brownies out of the pan and then I start walking down the hallway in my apartment building, knocking on doors. I’ve done it enough that sometimes I’ll see someone in the hall and they ask, “Did I smell you baking brownies?” I smile and tell them it was me and that I’d come by in a little while to share. The result – Joy.

Christian joy is a good feeling in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit, as he causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the word and in the world. – John Piper

Okay, what about cats?

Well, I swapped dogs for cats and have discovered they can be fun (well, mine is) as they interact with humans. Their independence is amusing, cat in a basketas well as frustrating at times. But the silly cat knows when I’m troubled, or sad and comes to me purring his heart out. And he can tell when I am really happy,  and then it’s play time! The cat is a creature of God, so of course, I will find joy in all that having a pet encompasses, being obedient to do the right thing for him, in love, with joy, knowing a commandment has been fulfilled.

Proverbs 12:10 -The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.

Okay, fine. Fireplaces?

Fireplaces mean memories to me. In my case, wood stoves where you could watch the flames. Memories of not only family, but warmth, and earthy smells, sounds of the crackling burning wood, the work required to lead up to having a fire, all wrapped together in a basic need for warmth. God supplying creature comforts in a way appealing to the senses. Sight, sound, smell. It reminds me that God is a consuming fire. However, in my little apartment, options for real fires are not allowed. Someday I’ll have a real fake fireplace (haha), but for now, the television will have to do.fireplace

The commandment-love-joy in a fireplace, how do I connect it with joy? In interpreting some verses in the Bible, fire is referenced by some people as a symbol of the presence of God, of his power. What greater joy is there than that? My own personal reminder, where I can be still, and know that He is God. Obedient to acknowledge Him, love Him, find joy in Him to prepare me to love others in turn.

Okay, so I’ve had some fun with this blog. But hopefully, it has been a reminder that joy can be found, as Piper said, in the Word and in the world around us.

John Piper is a Bible teacher I have enjoyed reading and listening to, and I’m sharing a link here in case you’re interested in a short series on joy.

How Do You Define Joy by John Piper

Next blog: Recognizing the things that hinder you