Browsing Tag

Prayer

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: The Ultimate Hot Spot

Talofa! For the past week, Glenn and I have enjoyed extraordinary hospitality and we’ve been blessed to teach on the beautiful island of American Samoa. Glenn has done elder case studies with the men of the Nu’uuli congregation and surrounding areas in hopes of their aspiring to be godly elders for the future of the church here. Unlike most places on the mainland, women were willing to spend two-and-a-half hours in study of the Word with me and then, when that was over, they wanted to stay and ask questions. Our treatment by the family there was far better than we could deserve and we will always be grateful. I ate a few foods that were brand new to me, including mussel and turkey tail (I did not even really know there was a tail!). I have eaten taro root and yams that were white and Glenn loved the octopus. 

We met for our services in a red and white building at the foot of a huge mountain that exhibited beautiful waterfalls when the rains came. (We teased them that they painted the building just for us Bama fans!) The singing was the most beautiful and energetic I have ever heard. I could not understand most of the Samoan words, but I knew, for certain, there was no reservation of praise and thanksgiving. Abraham Soli, who traveled with us from West Huntsville, along with Joseph, occasionally, (who is local) did the interpreting for Glenn. His sisters, Ruth and Pisa, also from West Huntsville, interpreted for me in the women’s classes. This island was their childhood home. Their father, a faithful elder and preacher of the gospel, started the congregation and his body is now buried in a tomb that stands right behind the building. Their mother’s tomb is beside his. To say they are loved here is an understatement. They did an excellent job translating, as well as being very generous and loving to the people of the island. In return, the islanders were very kind and generous to all of us. They did not eat until we were finished. They would not allow us to wash as much as a fork or cook a dish. They truly loved beyond measure. 

The biggest challenge of the week was communication. Though our translators were excellent, there are all kinds of difficulties when you are trying to match two languages to deliver exact meaning. Imagine trying to define Greek words from Titus 2 to the best of your limited ability, and then, when you are done explaining, the explanation is still not in the right language for understanding. You still have to go through one more round of defining. 

Connectivity with the world off the island was almost impossible. We had no cell phone connections, an extremely scant facebook connection every now and then, and our email was turtle slow. There were some important emails and urgent correspondence that we did not feel could comfortably wait till we got home, so we kept trying…trying at the hotel, trying at the church building, trying at McDonald’s. But it was to little avail. We will be spending some time trying to catch up when we reach the mainland on Wednesday morning. The 17.5 hours in the air, between here and Huntsville, Alabama, is a chasm of lost communication, itself. We will wait to hear from loved ones until that communication is restored. 

But there was One that we love dearly with whom we never dropped a call, with whom we never had to wait for connectivity or for whom distance has never been a problem. I am so glad—SO GLAD—that my God is never unavailable. When I could not offer any help to the couple who were experiencing marriage problems, I could still implore in their behalf and beg for His providence in making a way for restoration. I could pray James 1:5. When I could not speak with my children or grandchildren, I could still talk to their most important PARENT and beg for his mercies on them—that they would be constantly in His service and in His care. I could still talk to the ONE who could do so much more for them than I could ever dream of doing. When I could not call my siblings who are so good to me as we work through the settling of matters after our dad’s death, I could talk to that other Father, Who is overseeing the whole process and Who is, even now, caring for the father and mother we miss so much. On Sunday, when we knew that we could not worship with our spiritual family on the mainland, we knew that we were doing the exact same things that they had already finished doing and that the sweet savor had been coming before our Father’s throne all through the hours of the first day of the week from all around the world. We were connected in the most important ways.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Where Is Your Sting?–Part 2

The Sting of Death Is Dread

This series about death might be the most relevant one on this blog. It is not going to be morbid or unpleasant. In fact, I think it will be filled with hope and I pray it will give his daughters confidence as we anticipate the inevitable. Did you get that? This is the one topic we all need, event we will all encounter, passage we will all make. One hundred percent of us will die. Death is not “If I die”. It’s “when I die.” I know at some point, there will be a comparatively few people who will be alive when he comes and, thus, not make the passage of death. But even those people will make the trip from time to eternity—just in a different vehicle. 

Next, I hope you will not think that I imagine my own experience as my parents left this world, particularly my dad, this fall, is any different or more enlightening to me than your losses have been to you. I am not wiser in reflection and certainly, because of the inevitability of death, his passing is really not any more significant than the passing of any of God’s faithful people. I know all of that and yet, his death is fresh on my mind and the lessons I’m learning from it could be helpful to someone walking that path. 

I’ve always been far too much of a worrier. I remember when I was a little girl, I loved to stay at my grandmother’s house. But I did not like the night time there. My grandmother was in her late sixties and I thought she was ancient. (Imagine that!) So I would go to bed in that back bedroom, but I’d often get up a couple of times before I’d go to sleep, just to “check on her”…to be sure she was breathing. I remember having a talk with her one day about death. I told her I was very worried about my other grandmother who was already in her eighties. “I’m always afraid she is going to die.” 

“Oh, you should never worry about that,” she said. “God is taking care of that, and besides, she may outlive us all.” Those words, obviously, had a profound impact on me and I thought of them often during the care-giving days at Dad’s.

My dad had an off-the-wall sense of humor. He liked to shock/tease people by telling them that abrasions or bumps on his head or his broken wrist were resultant from falling from a helicopter while flying upside down. My nephew believed for many years that his Piedaddy had survived such a fall. Dad also piped up in conversation when anyone would comment on his age or health by saying “I’m gonna die next Tuesday.”

The sad thing about that quip was that it always put the reality of impending death right in front of me. The truth is, for about twenty years I stressed over just how that moment would come or what I’d be doing when I got the call or when the doctor came to some waiting room to tell me. My mother preceded my father in death by twenty-five years. It was shortly after her death that my father, then aged 70 decided to buy the family house—the place where we siblings (as children) had visited my grandmother. 

I thought “What??!…My dad is 70 years old and at this time when most folks his age are down-sizing or buying little condos or townhouses, Dad is buying 20 acres to mow, a pool to maintain and a barn that needs a ton of work, and he plans to live there all by himself?!…” 

But my husband thought it was a great idea. “Cindy, if he just has five happy years there, it’ll be worth it to be back on that beautiful farm just down the highway from his birthplace.” My dad had 25 happy years there. (Just one more reason I should always listen to the wisdom of Glenn Colley.)

During those ensuing years,  I did not always do so well at putting things in the hands of the One who already knew the exact moment of my Dad’s passing. I prayed the words of Romans 8:28 often, but I am not sure I always let them live in my heart. I worried about things I could not control. I worried he might fall in the pool while cleaning it. I worried he might fall in the house and break something and be unable to get up and call us. I worried he might eat food that was too old to eat. I worried he’d be in a wreck. I worried he would cut himself on a power saw. I worried someone would observe he was aged and kind and take financial advantage of him. I worried about mistakes in the dosages of medicines. I just worried. 

I do not know how many of these things actually occurred. I know at least a couple of them did and God blessed us with His family, the church, which was also looking out for Dad, to help us know when and how to intervene. In the final months when care became intensive and then around-the-clock, my worry intensified right along with it. Every time there was chest congestion or a fall or a hospitalization, I would wonder “Will this be the time when His life here is done?” Even in the night, at his house, I would sometimes go and check on him to make sure he was breathing. I would worry about going out to worship in the cold months, though we always did. “Will he get a cough that could develop into pneumonia?”  I would worry about combinations of medicines and look online to see how different ones interacted with others. I was anxious and it made it hard to enjoy all the good moments. In short, I think I was probably far too fixated, for far too long, on his inevitable death. 

Here are some short lessons that I’ve learned, after the fact, about that dread. I knew them already, in theory. But reflecting on the end of a life well-lived has helped me to have a different— a better— perspective about the dread of death that’s a very real part of its sting.

1. Since death is the entranceway to the best and eternal part of my existence, it should be anticipated with joy rather than dread. Though we are to love life on earth and consider it sacred, it’s extension is not always the will of God, nor that which is ultimately best for His children. One of my sisters, Celine, said as much to me when we were in the throes of making last health-care decisions. She was right. From Numbers 23:10, the words of Jehovah through the prophet, Balaam:

    Who can count the dust of Jacob, Or number the fourth part of Israel? Let me die the death of the righteous, And let my last end be like his!

2. God is in control of life and death. Though He allows his ordered system of nature to prevail,  He is quite the One who knows how to give His people what is best. Romans 8:28 is a great resting place for me as His child when in the valley of death’s shadow. 

   And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

3. Thus, there’s very little I can do to influence when-and-how the death call comes. So why should I spend any of my “stress-quota” worrying about that which I cannot control? That’s the message of Matthew 6: 25-34:

    Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. 

4. The pearl of the above passage, of course, is verse 33. It is THE answer to those of us who struggle with dread and worry. I say this to people all the time. If you are having a tough time conquering worry in your life, get busy in the kingdom. Get busy evangelizing. Every soul you reach will drive out doubt and replace it with hope. Get busy serving needy people. Every one you feed at your table, comfort in sorrow, aid in good pursuits, or rescue from temptation will replace a bit of your despair with confidence in His plans. Get busy worshipping and studying. Every time you ingest the Word and spend time in praise and devotion, you denounce the world of sin and stress and set affections on things above (Colossians 3:2).

   Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are upon the earth.

5. Worry is a sin. There’s a clear difference in being concerned—about sin, suffering,  sickness and any number of maladies—and in worry over that which I cannot control or that which probably will never happen. Concern motivates action. It prompts being awake to opportunities. It makes me pro-active in situations I can affect. Worry over that which is beyond my control dulls my ability to think clearly, inhibits my passion about the positive things I could be doing and takes valuable time from productivity for Him. Those in the know estimate that 40 percent of the things we worry about never happen and another 30 percent are beyond our control. When we look at these numbers, we are forced to admit that worry is a huge waste of valuable time and energy (not to mention health). God knew this long before psychoanalysts began to study it. It’s up to me to trust the Shepherd Whose rod and staff are constantly comforting (Psalm 23:1). 

   The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want. 

6. Prayer is the weapon. He has promised to do the “caring” for me. But I cannot turn over the worry without talking to Him. He’s made that very clear in some key prayer passages. Prayer is the closest thing to a miracle that we will experience till the trumpet blows. It is not miraculous, but it is God in heaven listening to me. It is an amazing spiritual phenomenon. Every word of that definition is powerful. God, the Supreme Creator, the One who is the embodiment of wisdom, is the one who listens. He’s in heaven, a far-away place that’s completely distanced from trials and sin. And yet He hears. He listens. He wants me to give him my burdens and He, the One who can do all things, has promised to answer according to His great mercy and wisdom. And all of this is for me—individually. He takes time for my petitions as if they were the only petitions. Faith in the power of prayer is a big part of our faith in the God of miracles. It is the practical tool by which we overcome worry (Phil. 4:6,7; I Peter 5:7).

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 

…casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

One more thing.That last verse assures me that, if I let him, he will do the nasty business of anxiety for me. But for Him, it is not anxiety. It’s not hard for God. He’s powerful enough, wise enough, loving enough and knowledgeable enough to execute the very best, for me, of every situation. I’m resolving to try and let Him always do the caring for me…in my stead. He’s got this. 

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Prayer List and Podcast

The very first Great Escapes Podcast is here tonight at 7 CST: https://livestream.com/whcoc/for-women

I do not know how people make it through life without prayer. The realization that the Creator of the universe listens to me, Cindy Colley, and that He can actually be influenced by my petitions and pleadings is simply unbelievable. But it is true and that reality, along with the promise that I can come through trials without allowing them to jeopardize my faith and, thus, my eternal home (I Cor. 10:13) is THE way I deal with pain and sorrow. It is not a mechanism, though. It is a relationship that guards my heart and gives me the peace that really does surpass my ability to understand. 

Here’s the prayer list from our “Sweet Hour of Prayer” last Friday night. I hope there are some faithful prayer warriors who will add these to your lists. Even if you can just pray for one of them each day, your pleas to Him are very much appreciated by the ones who made these requests. We had about 70 precious praying women in attendance, but technology makes it easy for us to lay these petitions at the throne en masse. Our God is “so big, so strong and so mighty…” that He can hear and answer us all without diminishing from His infinite abilities that transcend time and schedules. 

Some have asked about the name of the prayer app that I mentioned on Friday night. It’s ECHO. There are several good ones, but that is the one I use. It keeps up with my list and reminds me to pray, individually, for each need on my list. Surely those of us who are using technology to keep up with the number of steps we make each day might also be using it to keep up with the regularity of remembering one another in prayer. You don’t have to have an app, though. You do have to be apt to pray. 

Here are 45 requests to add. Each one means a great deal to one or more of your sisters.

  1. Deena Sadler’s family, Deena passed away over the weekend, cancer, friend of Cindy Colley.
  2. Rhonda—son in spiritual trouble. marriage trouble
  3. Tammy —following her divorce, her husband has led children from the church.
  4. Norma, an evacuee is studying the book of Acts with a Christian.
  5. Amanda—Marsha York has requested prayers for her as she will soon be the mother of twins. Lots of challenges going on here,
  6. Paul—the Prodigal son of Ann M.
  7. Ann —very hard preaching work for her family
  8. Lucy’s parents—for reconciliation if it can be according to God’s plan, for wisdom for those who are giving counsel, for Lucy’s future.
  9. Lorrie Centeno—3rd recurrence of cancer, daughter soon to be married, Fresno, CA (Woodward Park church)
  10. Lee Holder, dad of Cindy Colley and Celine Sparks.
  11. Those struggling after loss and damage in TX and FL 
  12. Tugbeh Brown—that her daughters, Mosneh and Ruben, may come to the Lord (request from Liberia)
  13. Gracie—Donna Seale’s friend. She is 14 years old and very sick.
  14. Tammy Turner—seeing kidney specialist, stones, seizures, mild dementia, migraines
  15. Cindy Colley—an anonymous friend locally who is in the midst of a divorce and fears custody battle after marriage of abuse.  Abusive older step sibling is a threat to young child.
  16. Jennifer Russell—for a 2 year old (her cousin’s child) who is living with Jennifer because of parental instability and sin. This little girl needs Jennifer. The cousin needs God.
  17. Missy Lanning’s mother—Multiple health issues of aging.
  18. Missy Lanning’s daughters—for eventual mate selection within the Will of God, for financial peace and solutions for family as they go to college.
  19. Rhoda —as she begins DD, that it will be a beginning for her to come back to God after divorce and falling away (Husband was a very bad example of Christianity.)
  20. Steve Bolton’s family—He fell from a deer stand and was killed (age 52) Louisville, KY
  21. Alyssa and Ryan—awaiting marriage, separated by distance, prayer for strength and walking in God’s ways till the time comes.
  22. Vilma Preza—colon cancer recurrence, treatments, Honolulu
  23. Robert Taylor—faithful preacher, elderly, very sick, for daughter Rebecca, as she cares for him.
  24. Digging Deep—strength for those studying along, salvation’s light for those lost, wisdom for those working, boldness in the Gospel. permeation of Truth.
  25. Mrs. Emily—Cared for because of cancer by Carol Laney and that she will be able to restore her to faith.
  26. Tammy—That she is able to establish a routine prayer life
  27. That women in general will stop wanting to be like the world
  28. Melissa Davidson’s father—He is struggling with Parkinson’s disease (not a Christian) and for her mother who is caring for him
  29. Lori Morris—Pray that the delivery of her baby in a few weeks goes well with no complications
  30. Shameika Hanna—Family’s mission work in the Bahamas in January
  31. Rachel Smith—Continued good results for cancer treatment
  32. Nancy Price—Has a brain tumor and has very little time to live
  33. Sharon —Health issues, both physical and emotional.  Also, her two adult children have sin in their lives, need to be reconciled with God
  34. Sarah—Teenager who is struggling with depression and self-harm and has given up spiritually
  35. Edgewood church in SC—That they will overcome our challenges, grow stronger and shine the light of the gospel into the community
  36. Alfred Rowe—Feeble, losing weight, Grandfather of Stephanie Vick
  37. Patricia Rowe—feeble, possible mini-strokes and their caregivers. Grandmother of Stephanie Vick
  38. Nuris Reyes—Her brother Pablo Reyes is in jail in Virginia —pray all goes well with his release 
  39. An Anonymous Prayer of Thankfulness—“Years of difficult times, health struggles, financial struggles, struggles with difficult works in the Lord’s church.  Beautiful, encouraging things have left new hope and thankfulness.  I never doubted the Lord’s faithfulness but am so thankful for blessings…
  40. TeNea—That she will find a job that can support herself and 2 daughters
  41. Jeffrey—As he makes decisions about his life, career and pending marriage and to always walk with God through it all
  42. Steve Hall—Recently had a brain tumor removed…that he will continue to recover.  He is not a Christian.  Please pray that the family will have the opportunity to teach him the truth.
  43. Anonymous Prayer—For her two adult children that they will turn their lives back to God.  They both are married to non-Christians and both have children that they need to be an example to
  44. John—He left the church years ago and needs to get back to the Lord
  45. Jessie—She is mourning the life of her dad.  She needs comfort and to know the Lord is with her.
Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: God Can Find Lost Opportunities

Song then…

 

Yesterday I sat beside my sweet niece, Song, during Bible class and morning worship.  The lesson we had just heard was largely about opportunities, so in the intermission, she shared something that had been in her heart for the last few months.

Song had a close childhood friend. We’ll call her Anna Beth. They had been in lots of the same activities as young children, but Song’s family moved several hundred miles away before they entered the teen years. They exchanged a letter or two, but drifted apart and lost contact for the next ten or twelve years. Song, from a strong Christian family, became a Christian shortly after moving away. Anna Beth’s family, however, was not part of the body of Christ.

Song now…

Song grew and grew as a Christian and so did her sense of responsibility to the lost. She thought about Anna Beth and how that she had lost contact with her before she, herself, had ever really had the maturity to know the full importance of even speaking with others about their souls. But Song had loved Anna Beth and she wanted to make a connection with her again and tell her about the way to heaven. She wanted to share eternity with this sweet “old” friend.

She looked on Facebook, but she could not find her, so Song just began to pray for Anna Beth. She prayed that, even if she was never able to reconnect with Anna Beth, that someone would connect with her—someone who could share the gospel with her. 

After several months of praying about Anna, Song was looking through her Facebook birthday wishes from friends on the evening of her birthday. She noticed a friend request from someone listed simply as  Anna Elizabeth. Her heart skipped a beat as she wondered “Could this be Anna Beth?” Clicking on the friend request, Song recognized the profile picture immediately and excitedly accepted the request. Then she noticed that Anna Beth’s profile said “In a relationship with” and named her boyfriend. We’ll call him David Price.

“I know him!” Song exclaimed. “He’s a Christian and he goes to Bible camp with me every summer!” Song and David had grown up in Bible camp together and now they are both counselors in the camp.

Song called her Dad, who directs the camp,  to tell him the good news. He, of course, remembered the dear little friendship of so many years ago and took great joy in the news that Anna Beth was once again connected to Christianity. And then he remembered.

“Wait!” Song’s Dad said. You know one of the camp counselors told me that David Price’s girlfriend was recently baptized and that she will be coming to help at camp this year!” 

So that was that. As I spoke with Song, the two girls had just enjoyed an amazing week reconnecting, not just as friends, but this time as sisters.  Song’s words as she finished the story were these: “It wasn’t anything I did, of course, but it sure shows what the One Who is hearing our prayers can do!”

I know you are praying for new opportunities. I hope we all remember to pray for old and lost opportunities, too. Because we never know what the One Who is hearing our prayers may be doing!

 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Prayers for Pago Pago

Monday 5:45 am.

I have finally found my seat on this little jet that will taxi us over to Houston on our first leg of a trip to Pago Pago, American Samoa. They told us to go to the restroom before boarding because the lavatory is inoperable. I mean they told us that just after I purchased and drank half of that large coffee. I was sure I needed that coffee, after having started my day at 3 am. Now, I’m pretty sure I paid five dollars for a cup of misery in the air. After three extra expedition fees, my passport did not arrive. Here’s hoping the copy of my birth certificate works when I try to exit the states in Honolulu. If not, I guess there are worse things than waiting there in Waikiki for my husband to come back from the mission trip in Samoa. 

But really, I am very prayerful that lots of good can be done by the One who is hearing my petitions through the clay vessels that we are. He is good. This church (the Nu’uuli church) has recently experienced a loss of valuable leadership along with facing all of the other obstacles that the devil loves to put in the paths of congregations. I’ve been asked to speak about the role of women in the family. I hope you will pray for Glenn and me, and Abraham and Ruth Soli, our translators and fellow teachers, as we try our best to help immunize this church against false teachings with the powerful spiritual booster that is the Word. We love the Soli family and their patriarch, who passed away last year, is sorely missed by God’s family in Pago Pago. We are so blessed to have a large constituency from this good family at West Huntsville.

By the time we get home from Pago Pago, it will be the tenth flight since last Friday for Glenn and me. We’ve learned to sleep sitting up, to hurry up and wait, to unpack and repack to beat the business pros and that sharing a toothbrush every now and then is the only practical thing to do.  Most of all, we’re extremely blessed to have learned that God’s people, wherever they are, are a welcoming, nurturing family. 

I hope you’ll pray for His blessings on our travel and His work in American Samoa. We’re so thankful for all of those who have worked so hard and sacrificed so much to be sure there’s a group of God’s people on this island. They built the fire. We just get to fan the flames a little.

You keep fanning them, too…wherever you are!

Monday 10:45 am… And the post script to the above is…

We all got off the plane so they could fix that lavatory. Somebody had stuffed a large quantity of paper towels into that toilet. Regulations would not allow us to make the flight with an inoperable toilet after all, although the pilot really wanted to take to the skies. The toilet repair delay caused us to miss the Houston connection to Honolulu, which caused us to miss the only flight to Samoa for the next four-and-a-half days. Our mission was aborted, the gospel meeting postponed, all of the people in Pago Pago who had taken off work were displaced. And, now, five hours later, we are back home. All because of a large wad of paper towels in the wrong place. This mission trip, for now at least, literally went right down the drain …with that wad.

Still there’s the Romans 8:28 clause.I believe in that clause today.

“…all things”… (that’s all the ramifications around the wad in the toilet, too)…”work together for good to those who love Him and are the called according to His purpose.” Maybe the reschedule will work a greater weight to His glory than would the work of the present week. Whatever the reason, the result is a repurpose for this week. And there are so many purposes competing for the bonus time.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Can We Go to the Playground?

 

I smiled at  a recent conversation between my two-and-a-half-year-old grandson and his mother:

Ezra: “Can we go to the playground today?”

Ezra’s mom: “No…not today, baby.”

Ezra: “Can we go to the playground?” 

Ezra’s mom: “I said ‘Not today,’ Ezra.”

Ezra: “I’m going to give you oooone more chance, Mama. I said ‘Can we go to the playground?’”

Ezra’s mom: “Ezra, Mama and Daddy are the only ones who can say  ‘one more chance’”.

Ezra: “Oh…Well…Can we go to the playground?”

We do this sometimes with God. We wish for things and sometimes we even ask for things that we know are against His expressed will. He has already told us we cannot go to that playground, but we keep insisting that going there is what we desire, as if we are not listening to him at all. Sometimes we ask for material things, knowing all along that we already are much too obsessed with riches. We ask for promotions to other cities, not minding the fact that there are no faithful churches or Christian encouragers there. We ask for success on the corporate ladder without ever giving a thought to the stairway to heaven. This can also be described as the Balaam syndrome. (Read Numbers 22-24). 

Then we give God “another chance” sometimes. We act as if we are in control. We build our own little towers of Babel (Genesis 11) and begin to actually think we can make our own rules of philosophy and morality. We discount His absolute truth in favor of our relativism. We dismiss His power and talk about how we can save the planet. We even decide we can define things like life’s beginning point and marriage and even gender. We just kind of tell God that we’ll give Him another chance to get it right. 

James said it this way: 

Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God (James 4:4).

All of our misguided ambitions and repeated pleas for things outside His will make  us His enemies and, ultimately separate us from Him eternally.

James also gives us the direct route to true success. It’s friendship with God. It’s spelled out in verses six through ten of the same chapter:

But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.