David C. Hughes, Writer

“For the LORD your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your JOY will be complete." –Deuteronomy 16:15

Archive for the tag “Apostle Paul”

The Epiphany of Joy, Chapter 13: Joy in Obedience (1 of 3)

Blessed are all who fear the Lord,

   who walk in obedience to him.

                      –Psalm 128:1 (NIV)


My obedience to what I know to be right brings me joy. My disobedience to what I know is right brings me misery.

–Matthew Kelly, A Call to Joy, page 154


“Why are you so mean to me?!” Hannah yelled as she jumped out of her booster seat and stomped to her bedroom. “This just hasn’t been a good day!” Slam! The door smashing into the doorframe shook the house. Mary looked at me. I shrugged and shook my head. We both took another gulp of wine and continued eating in silence. Welcome to dinnertime at the Hughes house, where getting our six-year-old to leave the nutritionally-barren desert of meat, cheese, and Ranch dressing and venture into the verdant garden of rice, potatoes, and anything colored green is like getting our dogs to quit barking at jackrabbits: it’s been, uh, challenging.

For the most part, our household is a sanctuary of fun, learning, and family time, but when disobedience sailed in on the waves of Hannah’s blooming personality, peace has jumped overboard on more than one occasion. Some call it being “strong-willed.” Mary and I call it “Pour me another glass of wine.” First came the flat-out “No,” followed by copious applications of timeout. As the petals of Hannah’s personality continued to unfold, however, the ubiquitous “Why?” replaced “No.” Now acknowledgement of our imperatives results in one of three responses: “Yes,” deliberate ignoring, or nuclear meltdown.

“What did we do?” Mary asked as we finished dinner to the accompaniment of muffled crying coming from Hannah’s bedroom.

“Nothing,” I replied. “I blame Eve.” And, indeed, isn’t that where all this disobedience stuff started? You have to admit, Adam and Eve had it pretty good at the beginning. They walked with God, talked with God, hung out with God, and tended the Garden of Eden. Shoot, they even ran around naked without having to worry about what the neighbors thought! God provided for all their needs and all He asked from them in return was to keep their paws off the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This was the first application of the well-known parental utterance, “Don’t touch the hot stove.” God desired worship, relationship, and obedience, and He lavished on Adam and Eve pleasure and every good thing. And what did our ancestral parents do? Eve caved in to a talking serpent. Just like we still do today. Why? Because we want to be in control. Some things never change.

Time and again Mary and I have explained to Hannah the difference between discipline and flat-out meanness in response to her question “Why are you so mean to me?” As she’s gotten older, her tendency to do as she’s told rather than blatantly disobeying us is improving, but, like her parents, she still clutches the fruit of the Fall. “If you’d only obey us,” we’ve pleaded, “we’d never have to spank your bottom or put you in timeout or yell at you.” Blessed peace would rest on our household, and Mary and I would be belting out Hosannas alongside the choirs of angels singing in blessed reverence. Nevertheless, Hannah still pushes against our will. Pride certainly goeth before the fall. And the spanking spoon. And timeout. And the daddy voice . . . .

When God speaks, He expects His people to obey, and the primary source of His commands and His will for us is Scripture. “If God tells you to do something, do it!” I’ve been told many times. Like the old E.F. Hutton commercials, when God talks, people need to listen! Why? Because God doesn’t just speak to hear Himself talk, like we sometimes do. No, when God tells us to do something, whether it’s through His word, other people, or directly through His Spirit, it’s for our own good. When we obey God, we honor Him. When we act on His directives, commands, and precepts, we glorify Him.

This very book is the result of obedience; God told me to write it, so I did. Despite the fact I lived in ignorance of the true meaning of joy and its very real and very practical manifestation as a fruit of the Holy Spirit, I obeyed God’s directive, stepped out in faith, and started researching and writing this work. Throughout this journey I’ve witnessed miracles resulting from obeying God’s commands. Despite leaving a well-paying job with a relatively secure future, God the Provider has “somehow” maintained my family’s financial well-being, leaving little doubt He’s managing all aspects of my new career. Despite my ignorance of the subject of joy, God has directed me to books, blogs, websites, and other folks living joy day-to-day, revealing bit-by-bit the potential of existing in a state of permanent joy despite circumstances. Don’t get me wrong, living a life of obedience to the Father sometimes isn’t easy–that darned old flesh still seems to get in the way–but I move forward knowing it’s what I’m being called to do. Indeed, it’s what we’re all being called to do.


Copyright ©2014 by David C. Hughes


The Epiphany of Joy, Chapter 3: Joy in Wisdom [2 of 2]

The writer of the Book of Wisdom described her this way:

Wisdom is radiant and unfading,

and she is easily discerned by those

     who love her,

and is found by those who seek her.

She hastens to make herself known to

     those who desire her.

One who rises early to seek her will

     have no difficulty,

for she will be found sitting at the 


To fix one’s thought on her is perfect


and one who is vigilant on her account

     will soon be free from care,

because she goes about seeking those

     worthy of her,

and she graciously appears to them in

     their paths,

and meets them in every thought.

–Wisdom 6:12-16 (NRSVCE)

When God told me to write this book, my first reaction was one of surprise and disbelief: “Me?  Write a book about joy?”  But then my faith gear kicked in and I told God “Okay, this is Your deal.  I’m a conduit for Your Spirit to work through me: I’ll provide the fingers and the brain and the computer, but Your Spirit has to provide the rest.”  In other words, I needed wisdom to show up at my gate in a hurry so I could complete my Daddy’s assignment.  Later, while attending a Prayer Ministry training session at New River, Denise Bell, the Freedom Minister, prayed over me, and as she prayed she spoke a message to me: “You don’t have to learn before you put pen to paper,” she said.  “You can learn while putting pen to paper.  Whatever that means.”  What Denise didn’t know was I’d been spending a lot of time with my nose buried in texts, both divine and conventional, in an attempt to understand joy.  In this moment of prayer Wisdom hastened to make herself known to me, and she’s hung out with me throughout the entire adventure.  In fact, I’m constantly amazed when I revisit these chapters for honing and polishing and read something I could not have written on my own.  “She understands the turn of phrases and the solutions to riddles,” the author of the Book of Wisdom wrote in Wisdom 8:8b (NAB).  I continue to witness that truth first-hand, and it’s amazing!  It’s in those moments I realize God’s Spirit has been sitting here typing and whispering and enjoying this process right along with me.  As I’ve become vigilant to the Spirit’s presence, my cares and worries about accomplishing what God assigned me have diminished.  After all, I’ve got my very own Holy Ghost writer!

Once we acknowledge and respect God’s sovereignty, and after we’ve asked Him to bless us with His wisdom, He will make our paths clear and straight:

“Who has learned your counsel,

unless you have given wisdom

and sent your holy spirit from on high?

And thus the paths of those on earth

     were set right,

and people were taught what pleases


and were saved by wisdom.”

–Wisdom 9:17-18 (NRSVCE)

For decades fear of failure, fear of financial disaster, and fear of man shackled me to the status quo.  I was a slave to the comfort of the here and now, and I genuflected to the world’s shaky promise of a secure future.  Money and the accumulation of wealth had become my end-all be-all, despite its fickleness and empty promises.  I rode the undulating roller-coaster of the stock market and my bank accounts with increasing distaste and distrust.  I knew there was more to life, I just couldn’t release the safety bar and walk away from it.  But once I began to sincerely trust God and embrace His wisdom, something miraculous happened: the light of God’s face shined through the darkness of fear and illuminated the white stones of His promises He’d already placed on the path to Him.  One-by-one things began to snap into place: God, through the wisdom of His Spirit, revealed the source and structure of this book; my company allowed me to transition to half-time employment, giving me time to begin this journey in earnest; the lady who moved in next door to us is a children’s novel author and the owner of a publishing company; my company laid me off only two months before I intended to quit, and I received a severance package; opportunities to serve my fellow writers in the capacity of editor “just happened” to pop up–two opportunities in the same week, diminishing my fears about financial solvency and my future capability to keep a roof over my family’s heads.  God saved me–and continues to save me daily–with His wisdom.

And as dots connect and doors continue to open, as Wisdom pours into my heart and puts a smile on my face, joy walks hand-in-hand with her, and together they continue to reveal to me what’s next.  As Ben Sirach wrote in his book: “Whoever loves [wisdom] loves life, and those who seek her from early morning are filled with joy.  For at last you will find the rest she gives, and she will be changed into joy for you.” (Sirach 4:12, 6:28 NRSVCE).

Copyright ©2013 by David C. Hughes

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