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?

Womens-bible-study

 

The Secret Celebration

12309716_10153138255241384_7154760262295702121_o-1Tonight I was privileged to sit in a Bible class about the book of Job, taught by a real Bible scholar, Brandon Renfroe. He reminisced a bit about a statement made by Wendell Winker. I’m not sure I’m getting this word-for word, but he said that everyone wears an inner garment of sackcloth. The point being made, of course, was that, like Job’s companions, we often do not know or comprehend the extent of the  suffering others may be enduring.

If everyone wears “secret sackcloth”…then surely every Christian woman should also be wearing a sort of secret “party dress”…a celebration garment. See, in Christ, we all have much in every day about which to rejoice, even when things are tough and circumstances are challenging.   Even a casual reading of the short letter to the Philippians  makes me ashamed of the days in which I have failed to rejoice. It makes me keenly aware that the substance of joy is not in delightful circumstances or ease of living. It’s in Christ. It’s the peace—a peace that surpasses our capacity to understand— that gives us the inner garment of celebration (Phil. 4:7).

It’s funny how that, as I grow older, I become more and more intent on living in the moment—taking joy from the good things that are right here and right now. I think that happens to us in our fifties, when we start to realize that we are not really even middle-aged, much less young (because we are probably NOT going to live to be 110!) “Over the hill” was funny at parties when I and my comrades were turning thirty. Now that the hill really is in the rearview mirror, “over the hill” is less funny and more sobering. Most of all, it makes the moments of life increase in their intrinsic value. (It’s supply and demand. Every commodity becomes more valuable when there is less of that commodity.) When you realize the moments are fleeting, you search them out. You want to find their sweetness and extract it. You just begin to live more in each moment.

So, today, a day spent with my ninety-three-year-old father, held a bunch of ripe moments that were worth the savoring. Here are a baker’s dozen of them:

  1. We bowed our heads in a busy breakfast restaurant and I heard him thank the Father for “all Thy many blessings.”
  2. He can still carefully place each of his morning pills on a grid, wash them down with that liquid med, check them off as taken, and get it all right (at least mostly). That’s a super huge blessing.
  3. He voluntarily did his muscle therapy. It made me feel a bit ashamed of all the mornings I find excuses to skip the treadmill.
  4. He wanted to get on about the business of getting that Christmas tree and finding the stockings, buying fruit and getting me up in that barn loft to find the decorations. I hope I can still “have fun” when I’m a nonagenarian, if I even get to be one.
  5. He did not want me to pick the tree. He wanted to peruse, with walker, the long aisles of trees and this WWII veteran could not BELIEVE that some of those little trees were sixty-five dollars and they were “not even Scotch pine.”
  6. Happiness for him was finding a tree that was full and pretty and six feet tall and, best of all, twenty-five dollars.
  7. He had me hold it up, so he could walk around it, twice. “I think I’ve found my tree, right there.”
  8. The thing that made him happiest was that, when we got to the register, that tree was on sale for $19.99. “I never even knew I was going to get it for a cheaper price!”
  9. For hours, I watched him organizing and attaching name tags to big red stockings. He was happy to find that tiny red one. “This one would be good for Ezra, but I’m not sure all his stuff will fit.”
  10. He doesn’t know the first thing about my laptop, but he does want it in HIS lap when I’m scrolling through pictures of Ezra or watching his soon-to-be grand daughter-in-law on that new FHU lectureship promo video. “Is there anything that you can’t find on a computer?”
  11. “Let’s leave the Christmas tree on when we go to church, so we can see what it looks like!”
  12. I heard the trembling voice beside me in worship singing “Years I spent in vanity and pride…Caring not my Lord was crucified.” I don’t think there were many of his years spent in “caring not.” But then probably all of us have spent most of our years needing to care…more.
  13. Commenting on the class as we were driving away from the church building: “I couldn’t hear so much of what he said in class, but it sounded like he was not so complimentary of Job all the time.” I went on to tell him that I thought it was more Job’s friends that he was criticizing. “Well, I don’t think you could call them friends. In fact Job told them they were pretty miserable counselors, at one point.”

Well, I want us all to be good counselors—real friends—women who are full of the Philippians kind of joy and comfort and women who are able to seize that joy and pass it around when sisters are in need. That’s how we will make it to heaven together.  I want us to really live our lives—every moment of them— in the happy, hopeful shadow of the cross. It’s a perpetual inner celebration that only people in the family can understand.

Right Turn

For four days now I’ve been wishing for a right turn. Right is the way I turn now to go to my dad’s regular hospital room and left is the way to the ICU, where he has spent the past three days. I’m thankful for all the turns in life through which the Father leads because I have that wonderful assurance of Romans 8:28. “All things” (the good things and the bad things) “work together” (are assimilated) “for good” (to be in the best eternal interests) “to those who love Him and are the called according to His purpose” (for faithful Christians). That makes every turn the right turn for me.

Lots of you already know that my father has been hospitalized since Friday afternoon. For many prayers and kind words and visits and snacks and meals and cards, we are very thankful. Dad’s main problem is pneumonia now and I covet your prayers for some easier breathing. I think the brewing pneumonia and resulting lack of oxygen to the brain last Friday morning was the cause for his disorientation and confusion, As he later said, “Cindy, I have just never been so inept and confused in my whole life.”

I said, “Dad, could you not even think to call me?”

“I could not think of the answers to any questions and I didn’t know what to do.”

So he went to the church building. In all of his confusion, he just put on his coat and tie, grabbed his glasses and his Bible and, in auto-pilot, he drove to the side of the building where he normally parks his car. There are six turns and about five stop lights between his house and the meeting place of the Jacksonville church of Christ. According to the surveillance camera later viewed, he entered the building at 10:24 A.M. and then proceeded to the auditorium. Still confused about why it was empty (apparently thinking it was time for one of the assemblies), he spent the next six hours, likely losing consciousness and falling, struggling to get up and becoming more and more desperate. Thankfully Homer Smith, one of the shepherds of the church, began to wonder about why his car was there and where he was. I was notified and I began asking everyone who might know about where he was until Homer, our new MVE (most valuable elder) found him and called the EMTs, who took him to the ER, where he was later admitted to the ICU.

He’s not out of the woods, but an enzyme count of 14,000–so very dangerously high–has dropped to 800. That’s impressive. He is completely coherent. That’s way better. His breathing is nothing but wheezing! That’s the part, for now, for which we need prayers. It’s really hard to watch and hear him breathe so laboriously.

But there is a blessing trail here. I can quickly enumerate ten of the many blessings about the whole episode:

  1. Win or lose the battle for life on this earth, the battle for life—the real battle–has already been won.
  2. There are ministers of the Father all around His people and they are extremely caring. They are servants with an attitude; the attitude of Matthew 25: 31-40.
  3. Eighty-nine years of relatively good health is a great record. Just being in this hospital or even on this internet makes us aware of so many whose trials are so premature compared to any we might be experiencing. Dad is the only surviving child in a family of eleven children. He’s been very blessed.
  4. When my dad “can’t think of any of the answers to any of the questions,” he goes to the place of worship. (That’s kind of like the Psalmist in Psalm 73.)
  5. There are lots of colder, more desolate places to be unconscious than in the church building.
  6. The proximity of excellent medical facilities in almost any region of our great country is a blessing we consistently count on.
  7. The presence of skilled doctors, nurses, technicians and even smiling volunteers is a very good gift from the Giver of all good gifts.
  8. Cousins, sons-in-law, husbands, fathers-in-law and brothers-in-law who are elders and preachers in the kingdom are double-kin and that’s special. I have about twenty-one of those and they are wonderful.
  9. Dad, the “lost” sheep, was found by a shepherd.
  10. “Clinically improved,” the term used to describe Dad today, is fun to hear and I love turning right.

We Wish You a Merry Christmas!

It’s not too late. Tune up (actually, vocal talent is quite unnecessary), grab your coffeemaker, a few packets of cocoa, a few people and a few Styrofoam cups, and take a cup of cheer to those in your congregation who may be experiencing a gladness deficit this holiday season.

For the young professionals group at West Huntsville it was about eight stops. A couple of them are recently widowed, one has terminal cancer, one is a recent convert, and one is a young boy who recently lost contact with his father. But the main beneficiaries were those of us who were singing, choreographing (not dancing, for sure =) the twelve days of Christmas, and bringing on the cheer. We, somehow in the process of belting out the blessings, found them ourselves; the blessings, that is,– in those yards, on those porches and in those little living rooms and apartments.

Here’s the recipe. Just have everybody bring some small item…a tube of lotion, a piece of fruit, a Bible workbook, or a pretty cupcake. Have someone map out the stops and call ahead to verify that people will be home. Have someone else bring sheet music–or at least lyrics–to any less familiar songs you plan to sing. Find folks at one of your stops who don’t mind you plugging in the coffee urn and serving up the cocoa. Then get going.

Be prepared. You will see a lot of genuine smiles, some emotional–even tearful–recipients, and you will hear laughter; sometimes uncontrollable laughter. Your gratitude for the amazing blessings in your life will be renewed at the end of each visit as you bow your head with people…all with different needs, yet all needing the same Thing.

Now, this doesn’t have to be a six-hour escapade, as ours was. (This group has to include eating out together in every activity. Maybe that’s why I love them so much!) It can just be two or three stops. It doesn’t have to involve lots of people. Sometimes the sweetest of the season’s songs are those from little families with children in training for service (…and what a great Family Bible Time project…a way to teach your kids as you are “walking by the way” Deut. 6:4).

So there’s the recipe for the joy. On our little tour, I brought along a batch of chai tea mix to go along with the cocoa. It was a hit, so I’ve included the recipe for that, too. Now, go spread the cheer!

“And we urge you,… encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.” I Thess. 5:14)

Best Chai Ever!

1 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1 cup powdered non-dairy creamer
1 cup French vanilla flavored powdered non-dairy creamer
2 1/2 cups white sugar
1 1/2 cups unsweetened instant tea
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cardamom

Directions
In a large bowl, combine milk powder, non-dairy creamer, vanilla flavored creamer, sugar and instant tea. Stir in ginger, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. In a blender or food processor, blend 1 cup at a time, until mixture is the consistency of fine powder.

To serve: Stir 2 heaping tablespoons chai tea mixture into a mug of hot water.

(But I do not do the blender thing. I just mix it up really good. That blender thing sent dust all over my house and made me cough! =)

…and don’t forget your contest entries. Monday is the deadline. See post for 12/08/10.

The Real Woman of the Da Vinci Code, part 2

Mary was busy on Sunday morning.

Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. (Mt.28:1)

Mary started her trip to the tomb before dawn on Sunday morning. It occurred to me as I was studying the devotion of this woman of God that I know many women who often begin their journey to celebrate the empty tomb each Lord’s day before dawn. I have met women in foreign countries, where congregations are few and far between, who arise before dawn on Sunday mornings to make the trip to a distant village to worship God. I have known women here at home who are diligent on Saturday evenings and Sunday mornings to make sure all the clothes and shoes are assembled and ready so the preparation time for worship will be a time of calm and peace. I have known many women who have been on the worship site long before others preparing communion or visuals for children’s classes. It may seem an obvious point, but we all need to have a Sunday morning agenda that’s more important than any weekend relaxation or late Saturday night activity. We should prepare ourselves and our families for on-time, alert and focused worship. We all have a weekly Sunday appointment at the tomb!

Mary didn’t fully understand the implications of the empty tomb at first.

In John’s account, we are given details of Mary’s visit to the tomb that are not given in the other accounts. It appears from John 20:1-10 that Mary saw the empty tomb, was devastated that the Lord’s body had been “taken away,” and, in great despair, reported this “theft” to Peter and John. Peter and John came running to the tomb, found it as Mary had reported, and returned to their home.

For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. (John 20:9)

Looking back from our vantage point, having read and reread all of the Messianic prophecies and having heard Jesus say he would raise up the temple again in three days (Jn. 2:19), we tend to become impatient with the four disciples examining the empty tomb. These two Marys and Peter and John still didn’t “get it.” This lack of understanding about what had actually occurred at dawn on that Sunday left Mary weeping at the empty tomb, when her emotion should really have been great joy.

We often encounter people who are slow in grasping the personal significance of the empty tomb. Sometimes people know the story of Jesus years before they develop faith to obey. As I think of the people in my small sphere of influence right now, I think of one young woman who once believed in the empty tomb, who just confessed to me that her faith has grown cold and she no longer believes in the deity of Jesus. She needs to re-examine the evidence as Mary did. I think of another who once was risen with Christ, but has allowed the temptations of the world around him to draw Him away from the risen savior. He needs to go back to the tomb and re-evaluate its significance. I think of another who is in a Bible class I am teaching. She has just discovered the tomb! She is excited and ready to run with the news. New-found happiness and eagerness is written all over her face. May she never lose her zeal as she takes the gospel to those she loves deeply.

While Peter and John went home. Mary went back to the tomb and wept (Jn.20:11). She peeked back into the tomb and the most amazing part of her Sunday …no…of her life, unfolded before her.

Mary saw the gospel.

I am blessed immeasurably because I have heard the gospel! It has forever impacted my life and eternity. I will never be the same. Praise God for the telling and hearing of the gospel story! But did you ever think about the fact that Mary Magdalene, along with a very few select people didn’t have to hear the gospel? They saw it. The gospel is defined by Paul as the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. These three events compose the Good News of the ages (I Cor. 15:1-4). Mary, along with many other people watched him die (Mt.27:55,56). Mary went to the tomb for the interment (Mt. 27:61). It would seem possible from the context that very few people, possibly only Joseph of Arimathea, any helpers he had to carry and place the body and roll the stone, and the two Marys witnessed this burial. I believe it highly probable that a few more of the faithful were present, since it seems likely that Mary, the mother of the Lord would have followed the body to the tomb. It seems that, if she did, then most likely John and perhaps others accompanied her. But in the moments immediately following the resurrection, the two mortals who heard the words directly from the heavenly beings were only two:

Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.
And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men.
But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.
He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. Mt. 28:1-6.

There were to be many witnesses to the empty tomb and the risen Savior. After all, those who saw him die and then later walked and talked with him, were indeed witnesses to the resurrection. But what a remarkable honor was given to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to hear the angel voices say “He is not here, for He is risen.” What an amazing and unforgettable event of a lifetime to be invited first to “Come see the place where the Lord lay.” This woman, once tormented by the agents of death, was called by heavenly voices into the little arena on the side of the Judean hill, to the very spot where death was conquered for all of eternity. And the good news was then delivered by Mary to Peter and the rest of the apostles, to be delivered by them in Jerusalem on the very next Pentecost to a world of people who could access salvation because of the empty tomb.

Mary saw the Lord.

At some point very shortly after the angels comforted Mary, she saw the Lord himself. John tells us that the meeting occurred there in the burial garden, because Mary just turned around and there He was, the risen Son of God! Still slow to process the amazing truth with which she was quickly coming face to face, she thought Jesus was the gardener. She asked this “gardener” where he had laid the body of Jesus. Then Jesus turning to her, said “Mary!”

It was the moment of truth. I wish I could have seen her face when she finally turned to Jesus and realized that this gardener was the great I AM! Processing the events, it just finally dawned on her that if he could cast the demons from her body, he could overcome the grave! She would not be needing those spices she had brought for the dead. She would, instead fall down, grab his feet and worship the living as she cried out “Master!” (John 20:15, 16; Matthew 28:9).

Have you fallen at His feet? Is he your master?

Mary ran with the good news.

So should we.

So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word. Mt.28:8

The news these two women were given from heaven was the most precious news ever delivered to mankind. Giving validity to the incarnation, the death, and the burial, was this, the truth that He had risen. The truth of the gospel hinges on the empty tomb. Paul said as much in I Cor. 15: 13-20:

But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen.
And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.
Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise.
For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen.
And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.
But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

Great things will happen to us if we hasten with urgency to spread the good news. And so it was with Mary. She encountered Christ first when he cleansed her of the torturous evil spirits.. Realizing that she owed her very sanity to the Lord, she followed him to the cross, the grave and almost certainly waited for His promised Comforter in the upper room in Jerusalem (Acts 1:14). Thus, she became a part of his eternal kingdom when Peter and the apostles spoke the good news of the resurrection on the day of Pentecost…the news first delivered to them by Mary Magdalene. I believe Mary Magdalene also followed the Lord to heaven. May the empty tomb open heaven’s doors for Cindy Colley one day, too. I want to meet Mary Magdalene!

Works Cited:
*Barnes, Albert: Notes on the New Testament, 1958, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI, p. 33.
** Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries, www.esword.com

Above article taken largely from “Power Lectures, 2009,” edited by Wade Webster, Southaven, MS; 2009 (article by Cindy Colley)

Where’s the Joy? (part 3)

THERE IS JOY IN REPROACH     

“But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. ‘And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled’” (1 Pet.3:14). “But rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy” (1 Pet. 4:13).

First Peter is the epistle on suffering. It is replete with exhortations and encouragement for those first century Christians who were being persecuted for their faith. We thank God in our assemblies today for the privilege of gathering to worship without fear of persecution. That line was not in their prayers. We ask God to help us be faithful unto death. This was not mere rhetoric in their prayers. The tyrannical powers of the Roman Empire were thirsty for the blood of Christians. The methods of torture inflicted on believers were unthinkably inhumane. Real life issues for them were not about whether or not it was socially acceptable or politically correct to confess the Savior. The issue for them was whether to confess and die or deny and live. While 1 Peter was written against this backdrop of incredible persecution it could just as aptly be called the epistle of joy, for joy and hope fairly oozed from the parchment as the words of this great apostle were read in the quiet and hidden rooms of worship.   These were Christians who, earlier in the same day, had likely been placed in real and perilous situations because of their alliances with Christ. The Holy Spirit was, through this letter of Peter, giving people who desperately needed comfort, security and hope, a reason to leave those secret assemblies with determination to endure for Christ, whatever the cost. 
      
We sit on padded pews in buildings that have large signs in the yard proclaiming that what we are doing inside is worshiping. In our assembly each week, there are police officers and elected officials, who not only endorse what we are doing in the service of Christ, but participate heartily. So when 1 Peter is read in our meeting places, we may not receive the same blessing they did in the first century. Some may even think the comfort offered in 1 Peter seems like overkill in our comfortable society.  After all, a spiritual survival kit like I Peter is hardly necessary when we have it so easy…or is it?
      
Consider the words of Paul in II Timothy 3:12:
      “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.”
      
I’m convinced that if we are His…really living godly lives in Him, we will suffer some form of persecution. I’m convinced that if my life is void of sacrifice and any discomfort resulting from my faith, then my faith is not what it should be. I think of our teenage girls today in the Lord’s body. I look at the styles of clothing that are the norm in our society. I cannot imagine a teen girl today who exhibits modesty at all times not being excluded from certain activities or facing taunting because of her “different” look. I think of the entertainment crazed culture around us and am sure that those who refuse to be entertained by movies laced with profanity and sexuality must be excluded from certain groups or activities and face the ridicule of their peers. I reflect on the materialism that drives parents, even in our churches, to allow others, even non-Christians, to be the primary caregivers for their children.  When I think about this societal norm, I come to the conclusion that those who choose to sacrifice income for Christian child-rearing are doing just that…sacrificing for the cause of Christ. So how does joy factor into this picture of sacrifice?
      
I confess that, at times, it’s difficult to recognize the joy in sacrifice. But I believe joy results from sacrifice, first, because if 1 Peter teaches anything at all, it teaches this.  Secondly, I believe joy results from sacrifice because I understand that the biggest part of Christian joy happens when I’m finished living here on earth. (1 Peter says that, too. Check out chapter 1, verses 6-9.) Thirdly, I believe that sacrifice comes from joy, because the fact is recognizable in my life and in the lives of those around me. My daughter was baptized on a night when she was sacrificing a play rehearsal in order to attend a gospel meeting. That was a time of joy. I know of many teens who’ve sacrificed parties, proms, movies and more because they were Christians. I don’t know a single one who regrets having made the sacrifice for Christ. I know of many who wish they had.  I know a host of mothers who’ve given up careers to fulfill godly roles in the home and 100% of those I know who have done it have experienced joy because of this decision.
      
Finally, I know there is joy in reproach because of the words of Christ in Luke 6:22, 23:

Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you,    
and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of    
Man’s sake. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your    
reward is great in heaven, for in like manner their fathers did to the         
prophets.

This is a promise of Christ. The reaction that I should have to this promise is specified. When I am blessed, yes blessed, with an opportunity to sacrifice something that’s important to me, to be excluded from a group of my peers, or to be ridiculed because of my spirituality I should rejoice and leap for joy!  I can do this but it takes a retrospective look at the prophets who have already suffered for their faith (verse 23), and an anticipatory look, by faith, into heaven (verse 23). What this means, in practical terms, is that I can do this IF I stay in the Book. When I am buoyed by the victories of those great heroes of faith listed in Hebrews 11 and by the precious promises of my God, I can rejoice when I am called to suffer reproach in this life. 
                                
YOU ONLY GO AROUND ONCE
So you might as well be joyful in Christ. You can view Christianity as a life of restrictions and that’s what Christianity will be…restrictive. You can view Christianity as a life of joyful commitment and that’s what it will be. If you view it as a joyful commitment, you can say with Paul,  “For this reason I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to keep what I have committed (emphasis added) unto Him until that Day.” And that Day will be the most joyful of all!
      
Oh, by the way, the happiest man I know is not in an asylum.  He is an elder who studies his Bible and seeks to restore, to reproduce spiritually, and often bears reproach.  His joy is found in his commitment.
      
(This post and the previous two are taken largely from ‘How Shall I Be Remembered?” Edited and produced by Freed Hardeman University Associates and available at Freed Hardeman University Bible Bookstore.)