Sister to Sister: Not a Minimalist

I will never be a minimalist. In fact, I am a bit ashamed to say I think I am a maximist. ( Since “maximalist” has a political meaning, I made that word up.) It might not be right, but it’s true. So many people have blessed our family through the years with friendship and comfort and then tokens of those sweet relationships…and I am an avowed sentimentalist. I can’t part with anything that was my mother’s. I have a thimble that my grandmother gave to me when I was a little girl. She said it came over on the boat with my ancestors. My grandchildren are wearing the same clothes that my children wore. I even have a very hard time throwing away a dish when it breaks, if it was made by one of my children in a pottery class or given to me for Christmas by my father. 

But lately, I’ve been trying to make myself part with clutter. I’ve been making a conscious effort to trample a bit on the sentimental side of me and “see” what I can throw away. I give myself all those reasons: If you haven’t used it in three years, then…or…Do you want your kids to have to sort through all of this one day?…or…You know, you can remember the day he took his first steps out in the yard without keeping the stick he picked up off the ground. I know…I need this exercise, so, as I put the Christmas stuff away and put the “regular” stuff back out, I tried to put a little less “decor” back out and a little more in the trash. 

And I saw this book that had been lying on a desk in the study. “I’m going to get rid of that,” I thought. “That book always makes me sad, anyway.” It’s one of those journals that mothers fill out for posterity, telling children all about  how they grew up, how they met the children’s daddy, favorite toys and prices of things in the good old days. Our little family had given it to my mom for Mother’s Day during the year that she passed away, so she didn’t even have enough time left to fill it out. So I picked it up to put it in a give-away place…or at least to try. 

But I looked inside and saw our note to her. I saw the four-year-old and eight-year-old signatures of my kids. Then the note from my father when he gave the book back, along with a couple more notes that he’d sent through the years since her passing. The first one I read said this:

Cindy, 

If crying is wrong  for an old man, I’m sorry, but that is exactly what happened when I  came across this book given to Johnnia in her last year here. The pictures are Johnnia’s type thing. She didn’t have a chance to write diary things in it. 

The message of love from you, Glenn, and the children touched me. I thought of how obedient you were over the years and how miserable you would always be if you slipped a little and disobeyed her in a moment of weakness and how eager you were to rectify it quickly. You and (your mother) are influencing me every day of my life. Not unrelated to this is the Duncan-Smith bunch (her family)…fathers, mothers, grandfathers, grandmothers, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews and cousins…but of the good qualities of all, you got a double dose. 

Then there was another note, written following one of our big family holiday visits to his house:

…The sound of feet stomping…the sound of young voices (and old)…the sound of the bounce of the basketball…the sound of and sight of roller skating…the sound of the ultra-young to the older ones in offering thanks for the food, etc…the sound and sight of the splashing of the pool, in the summer…the much work done here when y’all come (allowing me to sit around). All of this is summed up in one word: LOVE. Cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, maybe a grandparent here and there. 

The sights and sounds described herein, at times have likely been annoyances, but to me, they have become music to my ears…Keep up (your mother’s) traditions. Love…

PS…the part I miss most on these occasions is her voice and joy.

Then next, I noticed a letter of encouragement written to my daughter, Hannah, from her grandfather during her teen years. Among other things it said:

“You have not, in any way, let us down…you are of sterling quality and good for the church and the family…Keep on doing what you’re doing and living like you’re living. I love you…You’re my tweetie!

Funny how I thought I could just throw that book away. Funny how words can re-appear and resonate with encouragement on days when you need it most. Funny how one of the people who’s had the most profound influence on me could make me believe that I could influence him! Funny how someone long gone to glory can still influence so many so deeply. Dad’s little notes made me want to encourage people more…especially in writing. I have friends, especially one (Carol), who do it constantly. But I need to be better at written encouragement. 

I didn’t throw the book away. Instead, I think I’ll write in it’s beautiful pages and pass it on down. Maybe when Hannah is a grandmother or when Caleb is a grandfather, one of them will think about throwing it away on another day. Maybe they can be minimalists. But I doubt it. 

Sister to Sister: You’ve Got Something New!

Providence always seems to make our Bible studies very applicable to our lives. Here we are in the initial days of 2017, trying to make our lives better this year for His glory and our study coincides with a new journey made by His people of old from a life of bondage to a life of freedom and, ultimately, rest. God is good! Their passover was in their first calendar month and, from there, life changed in some very good ways for Israel. Today, let’s notice some of those new  experiences for Israel and how they correspond to the new lives that we have in Christ. Here’s the list from last night’s podcast. It will make you appreciate the cross and the deliverance from your bondage of sin even more. These are taken from Exodus 14-24.

  1. A new camp (14:2). Christians are moved to a new place, too. Colossians 1:13, I Peter 2:9.
  2. A new champion (14:4). Don’t miss these great passages: Romans 8:31-39, Hebrews 13:6.
  3. A new guide (14:19). We follow the Lamb (Rev. 14:4)
  4. A new song of praise (chapter 15). This was the song of Moses. But we get to sing the song of Moses and the Lamb (Rev. 14:3).
  5. A new promised inheritance (15:17). Heaven is our inheritance. Are you an heir (I Peter 1:3,4, Revelation 21:7)?
  6. A new voice (15:26). Matthew 17:5. Are you listening (Hebrews 1:1,2)?
  7. A new source of sustenance (16:1-10). He always provides for our ultimate good (Romans 8:28).
  8. A new urgency about bread (16:16-18). We should seek the Bread of Life every day, too (John 6:35; Luke 4:4)
  9. A new priority (16:26). Their sabbath took precedence over gathering bread. Matthew 6:33 says our priority is seeking the kingdom and He will provide the bread!
  10. New battles within the camp (17:4). Do Christians have discouragements within the church? (Take a cursory look at the book of James and the book of I Corinthians. The devil doubles his forces when people become Christians!)
  11. New battles from without the camp (17:16). Ephesians 6:12-13. Living for him is spiritual warfare.
  12. A new evangelistic thrust. (18:11). If we live for Him, the great commission (Mark 16:15, 16) becomes second nature to us. There are those, like Jethro, who will naturally be impacted by our faith. 
  13. A new clean (19:14). We are washed (I Corinthians 6:9-11).
  14. A new priesthood (19:22). Praise God for our high priest and for the fact that he made us holy for the priesthood (Hebrews 4:14-16)!
  15. A new freedom ((20:2). We are no more servants of sin (Galatians 5:1)!
  16. A new purity (20:20). We are done with intentional sin (I John 2:1).
  17. A new law (21:1; 24:12). The law of the Spirit in Christ has made us free from the Mosaic law of sin and death (Romans 8:1,2). We, too, have a new law!
  18. A new standard of morality (chapter 22). The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 is replete with “You have heard…but I say unto you.”. Jesus’ way is a path to a new morality.
  19. A new rule of giving (22:29-30).  Leaving the tithe behind, we give as we have been prospered (I Corinthians 16:1,2). 
  20. A new passover feast (23:14-19). Christ is our Passover (I Corinthians 5:7) and we memorialize our Lamb in the Lord’s Supper as instituted in Matthew 26:26-29.
  21. A new covenant (24:4-7). Have you signed on to the covenant that required His blood (Hebrews 8:6)?

Catch-up on Recipes! Here are three more from the December contest: 

Chicken Tortilla Soup

(This recipe, from Lindsey Cella, sounds good for Alabamians today! Brrr!)

Ingredients:
3 large boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cubed (We use 1 (48 ounce) bag of Tyson’s boneless skinless chicken thigh strips, it works out the same)
1 (10 ounce) package frozen whole kernel corn, thawed
1 onion, chopped
3 (14 ounce) cans chicken broth
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
2 (10 ounce) cans tomatoes and green chilies
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon minced garlic
(Tortilla chips and shredded cheese added by bowl, if you want it. We always want it.)😝
Directions:
•Combine chicken, corn, onion, broth, tomato paste, tomatoes and green chilies, cumin, chili powder, 1 tsp of salt, and garlic in large crockpot.
•Cover and cook on LOW for 5 to 7 hours or on HIGH for 3 hours to 3 hours and 30 minutes(essentially just cook it until the chicken isn’t pink that’s what we do😂)
•serve with Tortilla chips and shredder cheese serves about 6 to 8 (that’s what our recipe says, it’s a lie, this makes tons😂)

Easy and Delicious Peanut Butter Fudge

Ginny Vines

1 package of white almond bark
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1 16 Oz jar of peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)

DIRECTIONS:
Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray.
Melt the almond bark according to directions on package.
Stir in peanut better until smooth.
Stir in condensed milk. You must do this quickly because it will start to harden.
Put in refrigerator until cool and hard, cut and enjoy!

Pineapple Casserole 

Janice Knight

This goes great with ham.
2 tall cans pineapple chunks with juice
6 Tbs. flour, mixed with 1 cup white sugar
1 sleeve town house or ritz crackers
1 cup shredded cheese
1 stick butter or margarine, melted

Using a 9×13 inch dish, pour in the pineapple.  Then stir in the flour/sugar mixture till combined.  Put half the cheese in next, and stir. Crush the sleeve of crackers and distribute crumbs evenly on top. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on that, then drizzle the melted butter all over.  This makes it shiny and crunchy.  Bake till brown (about 25-30minutes at 375 degrees F.  This is good hot or cold.  Greg at church eats it for his dessert.

(from cc: Shout-out to Greg, I guess! This is a favorite at the Colley house, too!)

 

To Honor Annie

10011689_10152669580002586_1383661133_oThis weekend, friends in Salem, Virginia laid to rest the body of one of the dearest friends I’ll know in this lifetime, Annie Shrader. It was just about this time of year, twenty-nine Octobers ago, when I came to know her. I was moving to a state in which I’d never lived, to a house I’d never seen, to work with a church of people I did not know.  When I arrived at that empty house, on that crisp October morning, there were wreaths on the doors, donuts on the mantel, coffee in the kitchen and leaves and pumpkins in festive corners. The empty house was not so empty, after all. There was already warmth and there were telling signs of the deep fellowship we would enjoy with God’s people in Salem.  And it was Annie’s doing.

 

I loved those sweet anonymous (at the time) greetings and so did my very young children. It just made for a happy end to a difficult trip and an inviting threshold to a whole new life for our family. It was later that I found out it was Annie who made my home warm that day. And it was later that I learned she was very sick, having had cancer first as a child, and that she would battle it over and over for the rest of her days. My first visit to her home was when our family trick-or-treated at her house that same October. She was confined to her bed that Halloween, but she laughed and laughed at our silly costumes and she made our pictures and kept them on her refrigerator. One year, for Halloween, our family dressed up to impersonate the Shraders.   Halloween became a traditional time of fun with this sweet family and, even after we’d moved to Alabama from Salem, we exchanged silly trick-or-treat cards every year. I’m sad that I will not get those funny cards anymore at the end of October. I will miss them.

So, as I remember Annie, I remember the person in my life who was the most likely candidate for being absorbed with self pity, but the one who was the most caring for those who could use a hand up…the one who brought the most smiles to innocent faces of children…the one who wrote long letters to those who were far from home…the one who took time for the fatherless…the one who made lives that were shattered by sin a little more hopeful. She made those who were left out or eccentric feel included and normal.

Several years ago I wrote the following in which I reminisced about Annie. I’m thinking about her again tonight. It occurs to me that the words I used above, about my new home in Salem can also be used about her new home: “…a happy ending to a difficult trip and an inviting threshold to a whole new life.” She’s pain-free. Her neck and face are not misshapen any more. Her speech is not slurred. I want to see her like I’ve never seen her. I want to see her whole and strong.

 

In honor of the person who never pity partied…In honor of the person who sent me all these Halloween cards that make me smile anew every October when I pull them out and peruse…in honor of Annie:

 

Have you any friends who are party animals? I mean pity party animals?  I do, and I love them, but they are not very much fun.  They always get the raw end of every deal, the short end of every stick, and nobody, but nobody understands their plights. If it’s raining, they’re depressed. If it’s sunny, they’re  sweaty. Either no one pays attention to them or people just won’t leave them alone. They just have perpetual gloom, despair and misery regardless of the circumstances in which they find themselves.
Why do we have pity parties?  Why do we allow the circumstances of this life to impede our progress toward the next?  Let me offer a few reasons. Perhaps these can help us to be prepared for pity party invitations and just RSVP in the negative every time. There is always something better on the agenda!
1. Sometimes we forget that we are not alone. 
Our God is described as the ever present source of strength (Psa. 46:1) and He has promised that he will never leave or forsake us (Heb.13:5). The never of this passage is actually a double negative word adding emphasis to the assurance of His presence.
2. Sometimes we forget that Christians see in 3-D.
Having worked extensively with a group of ladies who are newly converted to Christianity, I have observed that it’s very difficult for them to correct the one-dimensional vision that characterizes worldliness. The focus of their existence has always been on themselves. Every decision has been based on “What’s in it for me?”  This inward obsession is simply and sadly characteristic of our society. To begin to have an upward focus and really care about what God thinks is a challenge for ladies coming out of the world.  Then to develop an outward focus, noticing and responding to the needs of others is just a whole new dimension of vision that the new Christian must really work to maintain. Symptoms of the problem are evident. A new Christians may think the fellowship meals are for her, never stopping to think to prepare food and bring it to an activity. A new Christian may have a different problem she wants you to help resolve each time she sees you at a worship service while she may rarely express interest in the problems of others or take the time to pray for them. She may tell you how busy she is and how little time she has for activities of the church, listing all of her job demands, sports activities and hobbies, never even thinking that those who are faithful and involved have tough schedules every week as well.  She may expect to be visited or called, without once thinking of visiting someone herself.
But these ladies are babies in the faith. We must remember that babies are all about themselves.  All of us who are moms understand that babies are not thoughtful of the needs of others. The focus is definitely inward. But for those of us who have been Christians for years the focus should no longer be one-dimensional. Stopping the self- absorption and becoming absorbed in the Word and in fervent, practical prayer has the ironic effect of self-fulfillment.  Likewise, when we see and minister to the desperate needs of the people around us, we ourselves are lifted up. We begin to be great when we begin to serve (Mt. 23:11).
3. Sometimes we stop walking and have a seat.
Idleness is the devil’s workshop.  Sometimes I see widows who go home from the funeral, close the door and just resolve to never be happy again. Other times I see widows who, for a very long time, have been unable to do much else besides care for an invalid husband. But once the long hours of caretaking are over, these godly women immerse themselves in programs of the church, ministry to the needy and the development of godly friendships.  These widows are some of the happiest Christians I know.
I remember when I was in my thirties (you know a couple of years ago), I had a dear friend named Annie. I was amazed at what Annie could accomplish for the Lord. She visited several nursing homes weekly, carrying little goody baskets to several patients. She had a tiny gift for every single child of the congregation at each holiday. (She was the Dollar Tree Queen!) Her four and five’s classroom was amazing as her husband lugged a big box of visuals and activities every Sunday and Wednesday night. She remembered birthdays and anniversaries and took the time to keep children when their parents were sick or just needed a little time away. She brought computer-made banners to the building for us all to sign so they could be posted in a lonely hospital or dorm room. She prepared welcome signs and goody baskets for the hotel rooms of our visiting preachers and teachers. In short, she was “ready to every good work (Tit. 3:1). I think some people thought Annie was just a great person with lots of spare time to do great stuff for other people. Annie was, in truth, a cancer patient, having already had several surgeries with several more to come. She was raising a child with a disability, caring for a mother-in-law who was in poor health, and struggling with severe back problems. I actually remember her attending our Wednesday night ladies class and lying in the back of the classroom on a table because sitting in a chair was both painful and harmful to her back. Annie simply chose not to stop and sit down when life hurt. She chose to keep walking toward heaven.  It was her choice not to have a pity party!

4. Sometimes we forget who fills our tank.  Sometimes when I am driving a long distance, I am frustrated because I have to stop and pump gas. I hate to pump gas. I especially hate to pump gas at night. I abhor pumping gas at night when the price of gas is three times what I paid only two years ago. I can get in a bad slump over pumping gas. When I do start feeling frustration at the pump, it only takes me a minute to think about the primary reason this frustration builds. It’s because pumping gas is a pretty rare occurrence for me. See, I have a husband who will go out of his way to pump my gas for me under normal circumstances. It’s only when I travel alone that I am forced to deal with the bite of the chilling air, the smell of gas on my fingers and the pinch of the price gouge.  Naomi in the book of Ruth said, “God hath sent me out full and brought me home again empty.”  It is true that Naomi had experienced devastating losses while she was away from home. But she, like so many of us today, was quick to blame God for the losses while failing to credit Him with the sustenance, strength, and even the lessons that come with trials. She could have used a quick lesson from the book of Job .

And he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:21)

5. Sometimes we like to broadcast the problems and keep the blessings a big secret.
Listen to Naomi’s homecoming statement in full:

But she said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. 
I went out full, and the LORD has brought me home again empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the LORD has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?” (Ruth 1:20,21)

She said, “Don’t call me by my old name. I would like to be called ‘Bitter’.”
She said, “God treated me very bitterly.”
She said, “God emptied me.”
She said, “God testified against me.”
She said, “God afflicted me.”
I believe Naomi had thought ahead about this little speech. I believe she was ready to get a few things off her chest when she got back to her family and friends. Perhaps it was not the first time she had delivered it. But the indictment of the Almighty God, who is the giver of every good and perfect gift (Jas. 1:17), was a pity party theme that borders on blasphemy. (Thankfully, the party was brief and she soon had an outward focus once again.) Broadcasting our problems in a spirit of bitterness serves to feed that spirit. It is a call for reinforcements for all that is negative in our lives.  Sometimes Mom’s words, “If you can’t say something positive, then don’t say anything at all,” make a lot of sense.

*(Much of this material taken from Women of Troubled Times, by Cindy Colley, Publishing Designs, Huntsville, AL.)

Sister to Sister: Q and A…Can Someone Be Good Enough?

Questions Or Answers Directions On A Wooden Signpost

Question: “I don’t really believe there is a God; But let’s just say there is, and you live your whole life for him and nothing was up to his standard’s and just not good enough to get you into heaven? What if you do all that work for him, for nothing? Most ”christians” to me are fake anyways! I was once a member of the church of christ, and everyone was just so rude and unfriendly and have cliques, that they only allow certain people to be, if you don’t met their standards, you’re not welcomed. It’s such a turn off! So… How perfect does one have to be, to live up to god’s high expectations?! If we can never live up to them, then no one is going to heaven, right? Anyways…. There are too many contradictions in the bible for me to believe there’s a god almighty.”

 

Response: Of course, I do not have all of the answers. I believe my Father does, but since you do not believe in Him, we have to go at your second question from an angle that’s very labor intensive. That’s okay, of course. But let’s look at your first observation/question first. I’m glad you said, in that one, that we can assume there is a God. When we do that, we get to look at His Word for answers. You further posited that it’s possible to serve Him to the best of one’s ability for all of a  lifetime and then, at the end, to find that, in spite of it all, “good” just isn’t good enough. So, I think you are asking for my thought about that scenario.

 

Well, first, it matters not even minutely what I think about that. All that matters, since we are assuming there’s a God—an all-powerful final authority over my life and yours—is what He says. And His Word is in absolute agreement with your theory that we cannot be good enough. Not one of us can be good enough…that’s just a fact. All of us have sinned (Rom. 3:23) and even one transgression is enough to damn our souls.Romans 5:12 tells us that we are all subject to death (hell) because we have all sinned. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23) so, since we have all sinned, the payday for every one of us is eternal death.

 

So you’re right. No matter how we try, we cannot be good enough to escape hell and enter heaven. But Christ, who died FOR me (taking my punishment for sin) was good enough. He is sinless, so God accepts his death in the place of my death. While nothing I can do is good enough to deserve heaven, nothing but nothing can negate the sacrifice He made so I can have it. A “propitiation” is a payment or offering done by someone in place of or in the stead of it being done by the one who owed it (Rom. 3:25; I John 2:2; I John 4:10). That’s what Jesus did for me and you. He died so I would not have to. Calvary occurred (was planned and executed by God) so that I will not arrive at the judgment scene and come up “short”. It is not my goodness that insures that, but God will look at me and see that I am inside of the one who IS perfect and paid the price for my sins. So I have to be sure I am in Him (Rom. 6:3,4 and Galatians 3:26, 27 tell me how I can know I am in Him) and strive to walk in His ways. If I am trying to be faithful, He just keeps on making me clean and I have nothing to fear regarding the final judgment. I John 1:7 is very clear about that. John said he wrote the book so that we could be confident in our salvation. I John 2 (the whole chapter) is a great confidence builder for His children. He says he wrote the letter so we can know we are right with Him and have confidence for the judgment day.

 

You are so right…living without confidence that, in the end, I will have heaven, would be tormenting. I’m glad I already know the outcome of that dilemma. No one is good enough. But Jesus is. He gets to have heaven. That means I automatically get to enter because I am inside of Him. I got into him when I was baptized. I stay in Him by keeping the heart of wanting and striving to be like Him. So as long as I stay faithful to him…not good enough, not perfect, not worthy of heaven…just faithful to Him, I am sure I am heaven-bound. Just as I know how to stay faithful to my husband, I know how to stay faithful to my spiritual husband. I love Him and want to please Him. I can do this through Him (Phil. 4:13)!

 

…And about those “Christian hypocrites”…let’s revisit them soon in another edition of Bless Your Heart.   Unfortunately, they will still and always be around.

Sister to Sister: Feedback from an “Orphan” Sister

Two women outdoors hugging and smilingPerhaps you read the recent post called “Orphans Among Us”. If not, you may read it here: http://thecolleyhouse.org/sister-to-sister-orphans-among-us. This reader response made me want to be more like Christa (and more like Christ).  I hope it will encourage us all to value our family in the Lord more than even our physical families.

 

Hi, Cindy!

I hope all’s well with you. I just read your article “Orphans Among Us” and I really enjoyed it! I was raised half in the church. I was born into a Catholic family. My parents divorced and my mother remarried (unscripturally) to a man who attended (a very permissive and not wholly biblically sound) church of Christ. While that congregation had some issues that eventually led to my whole family walking away from the faith, I know God had me in the palm of His hand. When I got older and started looking, the local church of Christ is where I started (and fortunately that one was sound). While my family growing up is still lost, I’m thankful that the process resulted in my husband becoming a Christian and my children being raised in a Christian home. All the backstory was just to say this: I’ve had an amazing experience with other women stepping in to be my surrogate mothers in the faith. I’ve been blessed with several wonderful women who have been wonderful friends and tasked themselves with teaching me as their own. I don’t know what I would have done without them. I got really nervous when we moved to a new place because I was losing my physical family, but also my surrogate family in the faith.

Last year was especially hard for us. We were still relatively new in town. I’m a stay-at-home homeschooling mom. I lost two babies last year, and some wonderful women helped me through that. The doctors thought there was an ectopic pregnancy. I was desperate and scared. We’ve since been been “adopted” by an older couple at our congregation. They have my little boys calling them Gigi and Pawpaw. Once, I was at their house and one of their actual kids called. They’d come in from out of town and were telling them where they were. Lloyd and Christa, who had “adopted” us, told their children that they had company and would have to see them later. When I offered to leave so that they could be with their kids, they told me that my family was closer than theirs. As Christians, we’re closer to them than their blood family (who are lost). When I lost my second baby, Christa had been acting as my mother the whole time (my blood family wanted me to have an abortion because I have a history of difficult pregnancies). When we went to the ultrasound and the doctor couldn’t find the heartbeat, Christa was the first person I called. While my own mother wasn’t willing to look at the ultrasound photos (they were all I had, but our baby isn’t alive in them), Christa came over and cried with me over them. When I hemorrhaged at 5:30 in the morning (and my husband, after rushing me three blocks to the hospital, had to leave me there to get back to our kids–who we didn’t have time to wake up), I called Christa. She wasn’t angry that I woke her up (but said she would have been if I hadn’t). She sat with me all day, held my hand, and prayed with me. I know that it’s so very true that there are orphans among us. I just wanted to share my experience as one who was adopted.

Sister to Sister: Where’s the Joy?

unknownIt’s unconscionable. The language…the view of women…the perversion of God’s plan for sexuality…the profaning of the marriage covenant. It is unholy. It is lewd. I am saddened. But I am still going to do what I can to keep the murderers of innocent babies out of the Supreme Court. There is very little I can do. But I will keep speaking against abortion and my vote will still have to reflect my position in that battle. She promises to strengthen the forces against the babies. Pence is loudly and logically fighting FOR them. He does not control the ticket, but he was chosen by the candidate. That says something she would never, ever say. I’m prayerful for our country. But I have never been more thankful that my truest citizenship does not lie in my American identity.

That’s the long and short of how I’m still planning to head to the polls. That doesn’t mean it’s pretty. There’s an awful lot of negativity that’s just necessarily accompanying our plans for November’s voting.  I find myself easily discouraged and, on the worst of days, even despondent. So, tonight, as I write, I’m beginning a short personal study in preparation for an upcoming lecture I’m giving on our eternal joy. He always seems to provide the needed topic at just the right time.

 

The following list, published in The Bible Friend, of various places where joy cannot be found, is an apropos beginning to a study of eternal joy; for we, who believe He exists, cannot even write or talk about the joy God offers without simultaneously embarking on a quest for finding that joy for our individual lives and families. History verifies the findings of Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes—that searching for happiness outside of full submission to the Will of God is vanity. Here’s a partial list from history in answer to the question, “Where can joy be found?”

Not in Unbelief — Voltaire was an infidel of the most pronounced type. He wrote: “I wish I had never been born.”

Not in Pleasure — Lord Byron lived a life of pleasure if anyone did. He wrote: “The worm, the canker, and grief are mine alone.”

Not in Money — Jay Gould, the American millionaire, had plenty of that. When dying, he said: “I suppose I am the most miserable man on earth.”

Not in Position and Fame — Lord Beaconsfield enjoyed more than his share of both. He wrote: “Youth is a mistake; manhood a struggle; old age a regret.”

Not in Military Glory — Alexander the Great conquered the known world in his day. Having done so, he wept in his tent, before he said, “There are no more worlds to conquer.” 

Knowing where it’s not is a great motivator for searching where it is. I’ve got that book open right now to Jeremiah 15:16: Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.

Have you found His Word for your life? Are you devouring it today? Is there joy and rejoicing in your heart? Are you called by the name of the Lord of Hosts?

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