Restoring Gladness Newsletter

For weary leaders in a time of tumult and uncertainty.
July 2024 (II)
A twice-a-month resource for leaders seeking to serve the Lord with gladness.

Click here for a printable version.
“Sing praises to the Lord, O you saints, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is but for a moment and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”
(Psalm 30: 4,5).

“Go before us, O Lord, in all our doings with your most gracious favor, and further us with your continual help; that in all our works begun, continued and ended in you, we may glorify your holy Name and finally, through your mercy, obtain everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
Book of Common Prayer 2019, p. 669.

“Almighty and eternal God, so draw our hearts to you, so guide our minds, so fill our imaginations, so control our wills, that we may be wholly yours, utterly dedicated to you; and then use us , we pray, as you will, and always to your glory and the welfare of your people; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.”
Book of Common Prayer 2019, p. 668.

“Joy comes with the morning!” What a lovely thought!

Amid all our praises sung to the Lord, we come to realize the need we have to continue to trust in Him. We give thanks for the Lord’s care for us and for those we love. We delight in his joy for us as it pours into our minds and hearts like a waterfall. We glory in the Lord and in his care for us.

Some of us, however, may be in a place in our lives where it would be helpful to find a “Joy Friend,” a person who can walk alongside of us until we get to the place of singing a new song to the Lord.

I have been in situations where I needed a “Joy friend” as well. My friend carried my joy, so to speak, while the Lord was doing a hard work in my life. It was very powerful to have that kind of friend who I knew was praying and caring for me. And, oh the delight in being asked to help someone else along their journey towards Joy.

I am grateful that the Lord goes before us and helps us continuously, even though we may need others to tend to us, from time to time.

We glorify your name, Lord Jesus. We are grateful for your continual help and tending of us. How wonderful to know that Joy does come with the morning!

May the Lord bless and keep us, each one.

July 2024 (I)
A twice-a-month resource for leaders seeking to serve the Lord with gladness.

Click here for a printable version.

“One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.”

Psalm 27:4

“O God, grant that I may seek you, and seeking you find you, and finding you be satisfied in you forever. Amen.” Book of Common Prayer 2019, p. 668.


“O God, we want your beauty, beyond our comprehending, to be our deepest desire. But we confess that our desires are unruly and incoherent. By the power of your in-dwelling Spirit, please shepherd all of our desires into the one true desire, to dwell in your presence all the days of our lives to gaze upon your beauty.”

We have all been captivated by beauty at some point; in a painting, in a sunset, in music that evokes emotion, in the smoothness of a piece of pottery, or in wonderfully aromatic food. We want to linger and absorb all the beauty before us. So, we can understand David’s focused and deep desire (“one thing...will I seek after”) to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord.

But what is beauty? Beauty invites and then defies explanation. Every appeal to ideas (such us symmetry, colors, shapes, movement, invoked memories, etc.) ends with, “Well, yeah, that’s part of it, I guess.” And, if defining beauty stumps us, how are we to think of the beauty of the Lord?

When David speaks of the beauty of the Lord, He is speaking more poetically than theologically. He is less picturing a Bible study than imagining being transfixed by the Lord’s presence, enthralled in joy, awe, and wonder.

Let’s join David in desiring the one thing that he asked for and sought wholeheartedly, to dwell in the house of the Lord in order to gaze upon His beauty. Let’s allow the truth of God’s Word, the glory of His creation, the power of His gospel, and the indwelling of His Spirit to lead us into the beauty of His presence.
June 2024 (II)
A twice-a-month resource for leaders seeking to serve the Lord with gladness.

Click here for a printable version.
“Count it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

James 1:2-4

"Sovereign, Good, and Faithful Lord, we groan because we believe that our painful circumstances somehow reveal those three of your attributes. We cry out, “How long, O Lord?”

We also offer to you our deepest heart longings (to be loved, to be wanted, to know who we are, to belong, to matter, to make a difference, etc.).

Finally, we choose hope because we have seen your faithfulness and we trust your promises. We choose to rejoice in our trials because we believe that you are sovereign, good, and faithful.

We offer our prayer to you in the name of Jesus, our Mediator, and in the power of the Spirit, our Intercessor. Amen.

Unlike “losing” our keys or glasses, losing joy in ministry usually happens because of “trials of various kinds” (trials coming from outside the Church, from inside the Church, and from within our own hearts). These are the trials that are leaving pastors weary and discouraged. James tells us to “count it all joy,” like Peter and the apostles in Acts 5, when we encounter these trials.

In our experience, though, the path to joy amid trials goes through groaning. Paul points out in Romans 8 that creation groans, we groan, and the Spirit groans because of the effects of the Fall. Groaning itself is a form of prayer; a part of the process of lament.

Psalm 13 provides a good template for lament. In verses 1 and 2 David groans under the burden of feeling ignored or forgotten by the Lord. The “trials of various kinds” that James alludes to usually stir in us groaning before we discover joy. Like David we cry out, “How long, O Lord?”

In Psalm 13:3,4 David prays the desire of his heart, a desire that goes deeper than mere relief of the trial. To move from groaning to joy, we likewise need to lay our deepest desires on the altar before the Lord.

By the end of Psalm 13 (verses 5 and 6), David chooses hope and praise; in a word, joy. His joy is based on His experience of the Lord’s faithfulness in the past and on His promises for the future. For James the promise is that our trials will make us “perfect and complete.”

In the midst of “various trials” we can discover joy by walking David’s path of lament. We groan. We pray. We choose praise and hope. We rejoice (long before the circumstances change!). Rather than trying to skip straight to a false joy based on suppressing our actual pain, we start with groaning, which Paul tells us is actually the language the Spirit uses when He intercedes for us (Romans 8:26).
June 2024 (I)
A twice-a-month resource for leaders seeking to serve the Lord with gladness.

Click here for a printable version.
“You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
 Psalm 16:11

“O Lord, we stumble about grasping for joy, careening from one pleasure to the next, finding only fleeting satisfaction. Give us grace to know that all true joy is found in you, to desire that true joy, and then to orient our lives to you; through Christ our Lord. Amen.”


“O God, the light of the minds that know you, the life of the souls that love you, and the strength of the wills that serve you: Help us so to know you that we may truly love you, and so to love you that we may fully serve you, whom to serve is perfect freedom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

Book of Common Prayer 2019, p. 668

When raising children, it can seem like 20-80% of one’s day is spent finding lost items: shoes, cups, coats, socks, books, papers, tablets...anything and everything. After the tragedy of the lost treasure is announced (because every lost item is always, by definition, “my favorite!”) the parental mantra is, “Where did you last have it?”

That question is a great starting point for pastors and lay leaders who have lost their joy in ministry. “Where did you last have it?” To remember a time of joy, many of us would need to go back before COVID-19 threw our worlds into turmoil.

When you do remember a time when you were serving the Lord with gladness, where did the joy come from? Quite likely, your joy bubbled up from some blend of satisfying accomplishments, supportive relationships, a clear purpose, and consistent prayer times. If you are looking for lost joy, starting with those four sources is wise. The most critical one is time with the Lord because, when the other three wells of joy dry up, there is fullness of joy in the Lord’s presence.

Before you toss this aside as an admonition from a person standing on the beach to someone caught in a rip current to “swim harder,” let me assure you that praying harder (at least in my experience) rarely increases joy. Guilt, shame, frustration, yes., rarely joy. Instead, I’m inviting you to rediscover the presence of the Lord. You may encounter the Lord on your knees at set times of formal prayer (which the Church from the beginning has declared important). But you might also experience His presence while walking, or conversing with a friend, or reading, or painting, or bird watching, or lying in a hammock.

We will pick up this theme in the next newsletter. But, for now, it is important to note that until the fulness of the kingdom comes, while we experience joy in the Lord’s presence, we also experience groaning. Stay tuned!

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