The Joy Model, by Jeff Spadafora: A Book Review


In January, I wrote about a gift I received from my husband Scott, The Joy Model: A Step-by-Step Guide to Peace, Purpose, and Balance, by Jeff Spadafora. It was an early #joysighting!. I intended to review it sooner, but chose to savor its wisdom before bringing it to you here at 
 Joy Let Loose. Now that I have finished it, and have enjoyed looking around Jeff’s blog, and companion devotional journey, I can’t wait to tell you about it!

 

Book Review

The Joy Model

Jeff was successful in life in many of the ways our culture defines success. He had a beautiful family, vibrant career, and a lovely home. Jeff also had access to many life luxuries many of us only dream of. But he sensed something was missing. He defines the years of his life between ages 25-40 as years of “smoldering discontent”. Jeff describes a pendulum swing between “doing for God” and “being with God” that left him exhausted and frustrated. Although he was doing everything he thought he was supposed to be doing to grow as a Christian, somehow the joy promised in the Bible was elusive to him.

It’s almost as if this faith thing had ignited a thirst that could never be quenched. (13)

As he shares his story of discontentment and joylessness, Jeff challenges readers to examine their own lives and smoldering discontent.

Revelation

Have you ever had an idea elude you for a long season, even though you know something is there? Then all of a sudden, comprehension comes like a lightning bolt to clear the fog? That is what happened for Jeff after several months of trying to create a diagram that adequately described the concept of joy. In a moment, he had a profound, yet simple, grid. It revolutionized his teaching, and accurately portrayed his own journey from discontent to joyful living.

Not only does this joy model portray the concept, but it shows how to move from where people are now to greater joy. Jeff calls it the M.A.S.T.E.R. Plan. He is careful to explain that seeking joy for joy’s sake is kind of like chasing a butterfly in its elusiveness. His plan coaches readers to seek God, promising that peace, joy and fulfillment are by-products of a focus on God.

M.A.S.T.E.R. Plan

I felt exposed by the first few chapters of this book. As an almost 20-year-old believer, I could hear my own discontent echo through their pages as I saw my pendulum swinging. So, I loved the helpful depth and clarity of chapters four through ten, as Jeff gently walked me through each element of the M.A.S.T.E.R. Plan:

  • Margin
  • Abiding
  • Self-awareness
  • Treasure (and Temple)
  • Engagement
  • Relationships
Thoughts

Margin is what actually makes room for change to happen. It is difficult to allow for in our busy cultures. But it is essential. We just returned from a two-week trip designed specifically for margin. Our family transition that has been unfolding over the last year has drained us physically and emotionally. We all needed to just breathe. Rest by the pool in the sunshine, on the sand by the ocean, and around the dinner table with family and friends was what my soul needed! 

Jeff’s coaching on margin, though, goes beyond the periodic vacation, and points to the need for space in everyday life. He gives permission to dream of the ideal life, and contrast it with reality. Margin is necessary to bridge the gap.

Inner Focus

Abiding echoes Jesus’ words in John 15:5. So many of us get caught up in all of the “doing” of Christianity that we do not truly abide in Christ. Jeff gives permission for readers to enjoy God in ways He has uniquely designed them. But he also challenges us to come close to God in ways we perhaps haven’t before. He outlines specific disciplines that can draw us closer to the Lord.

Jeff’s chapter about Self-Awareness reveals a revolutionary part of his own journey. It exposes what he calls the “False Self”, against which most of us war. It helps us see the destructiveness of self-deception, and the limits that our selfishness place on us. But it points us toward the “Real Self”, and movement on the joy model. He promises this discovery holds the life you have always wanted.

Real joy is being exactly who we are in service to others and for the glory of God. (114)

In his chapter about Treasure, Jeff introduces the “Green Monster”. He discovered that, far too often, finances degrade people’s joy. But he says that wealth and a life of joy are not mutually exclusive. His own discovery that he relied on wealth to form his identity set him on a trajectory to learn how His money could bless other people. This chapter is one of strategy to help readers take the same steps. 

Outward Focus

Engagement is about being enlisted in the work of the Holy Spirit on this earth. But it is impossible to enlist prior to the self-examination of the previous chapters, so don’t rush ahead! By now, our passions and paradigms have changed, and we are freed up to step in fully to God’s will for our lives. This is not about the obligation of what we ought  to do, but more about being brave to do what we were created to do.

We don’t lack clarity from God about what we should be doing. We lack he creativity and courage to go do it. (136)

Finally, in the section about Relationships,Jeff reminds us of the treasure we have in the people God has given to us. He challenges the superficial relationships we often keep, holding people at arm’s length. And Jeff encourages readers to examine their key relationships, resolve conflict more carefully, and develop intimacy.

Jeff encourages readers not to try this journey alone. He recommends mentoring, coaching, and accountability. His companion blog and devotional journey are helpful tools he provides to help. But he says most people will not be successful trying to go this road alone. 

The Joy Model Recommended!

The Joy Model

I am so glad I took my time working through The Joy Model: A Step-by-Step Guide to Peace, Purpose, and Balance,  rather than simply consuming it in a day or two! I plan now to go back through it again, following Jeff’s recommendations and strategies. His joy model is clear and very helpful. If you are excited to start reading right away, I’d recommend you download the kindle version.  On this journey toward joy at  Joy Let Loose, I want my life to radiate the joy of the Lord. But I can still see my pendulum swinging sometimes, and my propensity to focus more on what I ought to do, rather than what I was created to do.

I am confident that Jeff Spadafora’s book will have a significant impact on my own joy-journey, and I want to recommend it to you in yours. If you have felt smoldering discontent, unsure why the joy of the Lord seems elusive to you, then please check out this book! 

Comments

I would love to hear about your experience with The Joy Model in the comments below! Where are you on the grid? How is God moving you from where you are to where you want to be? 

Elizabeth Joy

 

 

 

Joyful Obedience: 4 Real Ways to Rejoice in Everyday Life

Joy is a command. Straight up. Writers throughout Scripture tell us to be joyful, to rejoice. Is it that easy? In February, I showed you seven things Scripture says about joy. Now I’m unfolding a series of articles to flesh those out. Last week, I wrote about the reality that we can find natural (supernatural) joy in our everyday lives.  Today, I want to talk about joyful obedience, and 4 real ways we can keep the command to rejoice. Below you will find several resources to help you rejoice in normal, everyday life.

Joyful Obedience: 4 Real Ways to Rejoice in Everyday Life 

Joyful Obedience

Rejoice in your salvation

We all have a story of who we’ve been. And if we have clung to Jesus, then we aren’t the same people any longer. Praises! One amazing exercise we can do in our everyday lives to rejoice in our salvation is to lay claim to the fact that the old has gone and the new has come.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:  The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Cor. 5:17)

It’s healthy and beneficial to remind ourselves over and over of our new identity. Like Gideon did in Judges 6 when God revealed Himself to him, we can stack stones into an altar of peace and joy, to replace the ones of immorality and evil we have torn down. As we remind ourselves of what we used to be, and stand firm on who we are now, we participate in joyful obedience. 

I used to be… but now, this is me.

Download the free resource below to help you rejoice in your salvation. Column one is a place to remind yourselves of the old altars of your life, the things the God of peace has helped you to tear down. Column two is for your new stones. These are the new names God has given you; they are the things that are true about you now because the God of Salvation has rescued you. Gideon was the weakest member of the weakest clan. But God called him “Mighty Warrior.” Who were you? And who are you now?

As you write down the things that used to be true about you, cross them out. In Jesus’ name, they are finished and done. Praise God as you write down what He has birthed in you. Lay claim to the new that has come and is coming. Rejoice in your salvation!

Joyful Obedience: I used to be, but now this is me

Download the PDF

Rejoice in God’s protection

I’m convinced we have absolutely no idea how many things God has spared us from. Scripture shows God to be a fierce protector, and all of us can attest to situations in our lives where the unexplainable has happened to keep us from physical, emotional, or spiritual harm. Gideon experienced God’s astounding protection, and no one but God could be credited with the victory. After instructing Gideon to whittle down his troops more than once, he gives the Midianites right into the hands of his measly 300 soldiers (Judges 7). It was not Gideon’s strength that won the fight, because God had confused the Midianites, and they turned on each other. Gideon had so little to offer into the battle, but he came out victorious because there is no one stronger than our God. 

Everyday rejoicing includes the acknowledgment and praise for God’s strong protection in our lives. So call out God’s powerful and protective attributes, and trust that He protects us even when we don’t realize we are in danger. The resource I’ve created below is to help you be deliberate with joyful obedience.

Rejoice in God's ProtectionDownload the PDF

Rejoice in God’s provision

Luke 17 holds a story surprisingly similar to many of ours. Jesus miraculously healed ten lepers. These men had been outcasts, the lowest of the low. Each was unclean until our Savior cleansed them. He told them to go and present themselves to the priests, and as they went on their way, they realized they were healed. The provision for a cleansed leper extended far beyond the radical restoration of a physical body. It returned to them dignity, family, standing within their community, and the ability to once again be involved in the everyday activities and rituals of life. 

Shortly thereafter, one of the men returned to Jesus, throwing himself at Christ’s feet in abandoned gratitude. Even Jesus seemed a little surprised that only one came to thank Him. As he encouraged the man to head home, He said that the man’s faith had made Him well. 

How often do you and I overlook the incredible provisions of our God? What do we take for granted? He is a Father of abundance, who gives good gifts to His children. From the breath that sustains us, to the food that nourishes, and the people to cherish, we really have no end to the reasons to pour out our gratitude. I want my faith to continue to make me well; to be the one who comes back…

I want my faith to continue to make me well; to be the one who comes back... (Luke 17) Click To Tweet

The resource below is another one you can download to help focus your gratitude as a part of joyful obedience and everyday rejoicing. I suspect each of us could fill this a hundred times over and still never run out of things to be thankful to God for!

All I Need

Download the PDF

Rejoice in God’s care

 When Jesus stood on the mountain to teach, He revealed the incredibly caring nature of the Father. He spoke of comfort for the grieving, kingdom inheritance for the meek and the poor in spirit, filling for the thirsty, and sonship for peacemakers. Later, He revealed God’s care over the birds of the air and the flowers of the field, reminding the people how much more valuable they are to God than even those. God’s care for His people is intimate and profuse. Jesus demonstrated God’s care by looking little children in the eye and pulling them up on His knee, by touching the unlovable, and dining with the sinner. 

At  Joy Let Loose, we believe that rejoicing in God’s care includes acknowledging His care in our lives, but also letting it loose to others. Joyful obedience and daily rejoicing is found in extending grace to others in the everyday, whether in words, finances, help, or simple company. How can you begin to rejoice in God’s care by caring for others? What tangible expressions of God’s love can you give in your home, your workplace, or your community? 

I would love for you to use this resource to begin to drink in and pour out God’s loving care on others. Pray. Brainstorm. Where can you begin letting joy loose even today?

Where I Can Care for Others

Download the PDF

Joyful Obedience

Joy is a command. Straight up. And commands are given for our benefit. I want to be one of those people who exudes the joy of the Lord. And I want to rejoice daily in my salvation, God’s protection, His provision, and His care. So I pray that these resources will help me and help you to begin to live in joyful obedience, as we find real ways to rejoice in everyday life. 

How are you living joyfully? Share your stories in the comments below about how you are using these resources to rejoice in everyday life.

Elizabeth Joy

You Really Can Find Natural (Supernatural) Joy in Everyday Life

Many of us struggle to believe that natural (supernatural) joy can be real in our everyday lives. Although we see it throughout scripture, our circumstances tend to obliterate it from our daily sight. And even though we sing about it on Sunday morning, our lives don’t echo it on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday. So, is joy really natural?

I recently wrote the article, Why We Need to Know If We are Starving for Joy. Inside, there is a list of 7 things scripture shows us about joy, which will serve as foundational truths for this series of articles. Because many of us have forgotten what joy is like, or don’t even realize we’ve lost it. So what does scripture promise, and how are we going to realize its promises?

 Natural (Supernatural) Joy in Everyday Life

Natural (Supernatural) Joy

Joy Is Natural

Joyfulness is a response. It is both something we are given, and something that is cultivated in us. Joy is what settles deep and spills out as we come face to face with the spiritual reality of our deliverance (1 Samuel 2:1), echoing the rejoicing expressed in heaven at the salvation of each believer (Luke 15:7).  

Numerous words in Scripture translate as “joy”, including:

  •  ἀγαλλίασις (agalliasis) – exultation, exuberant joy
  • χαρά (chara) – joy, delight, gladness
  • חֶדְוָה (chedvah) – joy, rejoicing
  • שָׂשׂוֹן (sason) – exultation, rejoicing
  • שִׂמְחָה (simchah) – joy, gladness, mirth

Joy is the response and the reaction of the soul to a knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.  (Martyn Lloyd-Jones)

Hebrew or Greek, each of these point to a variety of root words, and appear in different forms. But each one points to the responsive nature of joy. Among many other things, our joy may be in response to God’s presence (Psalm 16:11), strength (Psalm 21:1), salvation (Psalm 51:12, Isaiah 12:3), or favor (Psalm 30:5). It can be in response to his provision (Ecclesiastes 9:7, Luke 1:14), protection (Isaiah 35:10), family (Acts 2:46), Son (Hebrews 1:9), purification (Jude 1:24), or his Word (Isaiah 52:12).

The undergirding essence of all of these joyful reactions is exuberance. In each case, joy sort of explodes, unable to be contained. This is in stark contrast to the kind of anemic, sedate joy described by many Christians, which is often separated entirely from emotions. Our emotions absolutely are intertwined with natural, responsive joy. If we aren’t experiencing exuberant joy in response to all that God is, perhaps our joy is not yet natural.

Joy is a natural response to the undeserved & unexplainable activity of God in our lives. Click To Tweet
Joy is Supernatural

Joy is only natural to people whose nature is being transformed, because our actual nature is corrupted by sin (Jeremiah 17:9, Ephesians 2:3). Without Christ, we are turned inward, blind to God, and unable to respond to Him. We cannot experience true joy. We need the supernatural intervention of the Holy Spirit to be truly joyful.

The one who has received God’s incredible gift of grace has come alive. Now, we are gardens to be cultivated by the indwelling Spirit of God. We are rich earth to be tilled, seeded, watered, and tended, ultimately on a trajectory towards Christlikeness.

Joy is second in the list of fruit named in Paul’s letter to the Galatians (5:22). He says joy is one of the things that grows naturally in the person who has nailed his or her fleshly desires to the cross of Christ. And the gentle cultivation of the Spirit towards the things of God and away from our former passions yields fruit that is alive and growing, colorful and healthy.

As we partner with the Garden-keeper, our joy becomes vibrant, noticeable, and unable to be contained! We can count on it to flourish when roots are dug deep in faith.

Assurance is the fruit that grows out of the root of faith. (Stephen Charnock)

Cultivating Natural (Supernatural) Joy

So what do we do if our joy has faded? Is there hope for the Jesus follower who just can’t seem to find joy in life anymore? I think there is! If  joy is a natural response to the undeserved and unexplainable activity of God in our lives, but we are struggling to feel it, perhaps we have lost sight of Him. Maybe in the hectic nature of our schedules, the kind of disappointments life seems to deliver, or the treacherous path of the unexpected, we have diverted our eyes. Perhaps former desires have crept back in and we have stopped co-operating with the Tender of our garden, so we are no longer flourishing and producing the fruit of joy. Allow the soil to be cultivated again.

1. Decide (choose)

After Jesus’ baptism and subsequent 40 days in the wilderness, he began his public ministry by opening the scroll and reading from Isaiah, the prophet. Isaiah’s prophecy, in full, had contained promises that Jesus would comfort those who grieve, replacing their sadness with the oil of joy and their despair with a garment of praise (Isaiah 61). Our first step in receiving the oil of joy where it has drained is in simply choosing to believe that Jesus has come to give it to us. We must decide to pursue it again. Jesus is the only one who can provide what we’ve lost. Do we really believe that? 

If you have no joy, there’s a leak in your Christianity somewhere. (Billy Sunday)

Dear worn out, discouraged, joy-seeking reader, may today be the day you decide whether Jesus meant what he said. Don’t leak anymore! Cup your hands to receive his oil of joy.

2. Renew (fill)

In the article 6 Joy Scriptures to Memorize this Month, I wrote about Paul’s encouragement that we renew our minds in the Word of God (Romans 12:1-2). He said it will help us not to conform to the {joyless} patterns of the world. We tend to see everything through the lens of whatever we think about most. So God has given us his Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth (John 16:13), and it is his Word that is true (Psalm 33:4). It is alive and active, and has the power to  expose our innermost thoughts and desires (Hebrews 4:12). 

Even today, you can make a plan to search his Word, to meditate on it, memorize it, and to allow it to begin to knit itself into the fabric of your being. As you do, your oneness with God will move you towards complete joy (1 John 1:4). Decide today to let God minister to your weary soul. Let it renew your mind and change your perspective. Fill up!

3. Praise (pour)

Filling up necessitates pouring out; jars that are full can’t help but spill over. Exuberance characterizes authentic joy, so make the choice today to start letting it out. Actively put on the garment of praise instead of the spirit of heaviness. Thank God, speak of him, sing of him, share his goodness with others. Look for #joysightings around you, and document them in photos, journals, and conversations. I guarantee that sharing out loud with God and with others about your gratitude for his goodness and grace will simultaneously fill you with even more joy, because gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. This is a waterfall that replenishes itself as it pours! 

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. (Melody Beattie)

 

Decide, Renew, and Praise

These three things will help the tired traveller begin to re-discover natural (supernatural) joy in his or her everyday life. Here is a free printable to help you start this journey of rediscovery. Jesus promises us natural (supernatural) joy. We can live it out loud! Will you join me?

Natural (Supernatural) Joy Printable

In the comments below, let us know how you are rediscovering natural (supernatural) joy!

Elizabeth Joy

What Joy Looks Like: And Other Places Joy Lives

Joy Language

It has been ten weeks since I launched  Joy Let Loose, and I’m so thankful for reader engagement so far! The journey to the place that joy lives, so it spills out and impacts people around us is one so many of us crave, and it is possible through Jesus Christ. Our God is a joy-giver!

At this ten week point, I re-assessed to make sure I’m on track with my writing to convey what I intend to. I decided to run a word search through Wordle to get a visual representation of what we have been thinking about over the last ten weeks together. I was pleased with the results, and affirmed that I have been remaining in the intended lane for this blog.

 

Visual Joy and Other Places it Lives
The Focus of Joy Let Loose
Other Places Joy Lives

Thankfully,  joy is more than simply the subject of my blog. It is something I am contending for in all areas of my life. I am thankful to have opportunity to write for other venues as well, lending my voice to different aspects of life. At the end of February, one of my articles appeared with Annesley Writers, whose monthly theme was “Beauty”. I found it a challenge to write this article because it sits so close to home, and is something I tend to keep in the shadows.

You see, gains and losses have been a pattern for my whole life as I’ve struggled to be… enough. Malicious, the lie taunts me with forked tongue and tempts me to trust its razor sharp voice as it slices me open again and again. You are fat. You are ugly. You are less than. Tears sting and salt snakes its way down my cheeks and the familiar ache creeps into my jaw.

Head on over to Annesley to read this article, Steel. While you are there, please browse other authors’ writings. Because you will find that joy lives there!

Steel, the Quest for Beauty

 

Teaching Worship

Next week I have the opportunity to teach a three-day intensive course about worship to people currently pursuing ordination. This is another place  joy lives for me. After all, I love the discoveries people make when they dig deep in to the theology and philosophy of corporate worship, and begin to see our patterns of worship inside the larger context of God’s Story. We need to be reminded again and again of God’s faithfulness through all of time. William White says, “We are a forgetful people. We need storytellers. We need someone to lay the drama of God’s love before us. We need to be reminded of the uncommon grace of God.:

We need to be reminded of the uncommon grace of God. Click To Tweet

Please pray for me and for the students I teach. Because I want God to be visible, and celebrated for all of His goodness?

Where Your Joy Lives

Some of you have been faithful readers for the last ten weeks. You’ve taken the Morning Joy Challenge, contributed ideas of Family Traditions, and begun praying the morning prayers, or memorizing Joy Scriptures. Thank you for coming along with me! Others may have stumbled on this post through Pinterest or through a variety of blogging groups I belong to. Regardless how you got here, you are on your own journey, and I’m confident it includes a desire for  joy. God has made us to discover His joy, and let it loose! While I’m busy finalizing my teaching curriculum, and then pouring out to ministry students next week, I would love to hear from you!

Please Let Me Know!
  • What aspects of joy are you focusing on in your life?
  • Are there questions about the joy journey that I can address in upcoming posts?
  • Will you share your living joy testimony with our readers at  Joy Let Loose?

Please add your voice to the comments below. I will be eager to respond!

Elizabeth Joy

 

6 Joy Scriptures to Memorize This Month: Renewing My Mind

I’m setting a new goal with 6 joy scriptures to memorize this month to renew my mind. This week has been crazy. Just nuts. And my mind has been all over the place. (All over the place is not a good place.) So today I know I need to be extra intentional to focus and fill my mind with good things. On the journey toward  joy a primary area to be proactive is in rearranging my thinking. But I simply can’t do that on my own.

Do Not Conform 

Paul tells us not to conform to the pattern of this world – not to copy its behavior and customs – but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2).  We tend to think about whatever we fill our minds with. So, how do we renew our minds?

We tend to think about whatever we fill our minds with. Click To Tweet

If we take in a lot of crime drama, we may find we tend to be frightful and suspicious. When we take in a lot of sexualized music or video, we may find we tend to be lustful. And if we read or listen to a lot of profanity, don’t be surprised if our thoughts – and then our words – become (*ahem*) colorful.

Renew Your Mind

But if we take in an abundance of Scripture, I think we’ll find we tend to encounter the world in a Christlike way. Philippians 4:8 describes exactly what kinds of things are worthy of our thoughts. 

 

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. (Phil. 4:8)

 

So, on this journey toward  joy, I’ve decided on 6 joy scriptures to memorize this month in order to renew my mind. And I’m confident that these three verses from the Psalms and three from the New Testament will fuel me for  joy.

Would you join me on this journey? Here is a free resource I created to help us all jump in!

6 Joy Scriptures to Memorize This Month: Renew My Mind

 

Another resource that has helped me in the past is Beth Moore’s Praying God’s Word Day by Day. She helps to pinpoint specific passages that focus our daily attention in a devotional format.

What is your plan to renew your mind? Share your journey in the comments below!

Elizabeth Joy