Joy is a choice

Cait Harrison

It is. God gives us joy, but we have to choose to receive it.

You can choose to become consumed by your circumstances and wallow in them – looking primarily at the here and the now – or you can choose to look up to God, showing gratitude for all He’s done in your life and trusting that he is in control. That’s real joy.

Joy is so much deeper than happiness. It’s not circumstantial. Happiness will come in your life, certainly, but it’ll also fade. Notice how you can be on a cloud one day and down in a ditch the next?

Joy isn’t like that. It never fades. We can have it regardless of our circumstances. It comes from God and it lives deep within us. It’s an outcome of our relationship with the Lord, and it can give us strength to get through whatever we’re facing.

The…

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Lures: Biting the Bait

Duck Dynasty

Be careful little ears what you hear…

The first in a series

Have you ever watched an episode of Duck Dynasty? This reality show is about a Louisiana family that produces superior-sounding duck calls. An interview recently aired where one of the family showcased their handmade products, touting the best one named Duck Commander. They claim to have the most authentic-sounding calls of any other manufacturer, boasting that ducks are fooled into believing that they are hearing another live duck. This sound of trickery then lures the poor, unsuspecting birds into a death trap.

Dead Ducks

So what is the exact meaning of the word lure? Merriam-Webster defines it as:

1. An appealing or attractive quality, and 2. A device used for attracting   and catching animals, birds, or especially fish.

A duck call deals solely with the sense of hearing. Perhaps ducks can be fooled, but can the enemy also trick people in the same way?

A good example flies off the pages of ancient literature through the story of the hero Odysseus in The Odyssey. One of his adventures as he sailed home took him by the island where the Sirens dwelled. All sailors knew that their sweet, hypnotic singing was like a fishhook that slowly reeled in its doomed prey. Many wrecked ships attested to this fatal end, and not one of them escaped alive. In order to sail by and not be caught in this deadly trap, Odysseus first used earplugs to deafen his sailors. Next, he instructed them to tie him to the mast as they sailed by, giving strict orders that they not unlash him, no matter how much he pleaded. He wanted to be the first man to hear the luring songs without also losing his life.

Odysseus beat the evil Sirens at their game with the help of his loyal crew. But on another front, can people beat Satan against his luring games? Unlike The Odyssey, these deadly temptations are not fiction.

Satan has an arsenal of “sirens” that call out to everyone, tempting them with sweet sounds that are hard to resist as they lead to spiritual and sometimes physical death. What are they? In  part one of this series, we will specifically target music.

heavy metal music

Before God expelled him from Heaven, Lucifer was the leader of the angelic choir who created beautiful music of praise and worship to God. So is it any wonder that through gifted musicians he now creates and leads satanic music on the earth—music that glorifies him–the devil– with lyrics of death, destruction, and despair? This music certainly causes separation from God. At best, it may influence people to fill their minds and hearts with evil ideas that can negatively impact  their lives. At worst, we read and hear about so many young people who are influenced to commit murder and suicide because of specific lyrics, which lure them to commit these horrific crimes.

heavy metal 2

If Satan is trying to lure you with his lies wrapped up in music such as  heavy metal or rock, can you escape? Or do you believe–as do so many young people and teens– that you are immune to becoming hooked? Do you listen because it is the cool thing to do? Do you fear rejection if you don’t go along with everyone else?

Whether you are simply flirting or have already bitten the bait, there is good news. God has provided a way of escape from all of Satan’s sweet-sounding lures. Like Odysseus, we do not have the power to resist such strong temptation without help—but our help is from the Lord God.

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it (I Cor. 10:13).

The bottom line is that God will help you as you guard your ears from evil. Here is a clip of some of my favorite music by Chris Tomlin– to free you from the enemy, uplift and draw you closer to God– called Our God (Live). 

God bless you!

A Mantle of Kindness

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Childhood memories are precious relics that I guard on dusty shelves in the deep recesses of my heart. When I have time to visit this library, I pull out books written by the lives of my grandmothers. As I turn the pages, their work-worn hands come into focus and tell the story of kind deeds.

The oldest woman in our family was my great-grandmother, Martha. When I was very young, my mother would often take me to our family’s Kentucky farm to visit. Great-Grandma was a small, round lady who let her hands, not her tongue, do her talking. In the kitchen her hands were like a conductor, waving around bread dough, mixing cornmeal batter, turning chicken in sizzling oil, and swirling gooey frosting on moist cakes. Never upset by anything out of the daily routine, she was accustomed to hearing her husband call out to a passerby or two.

Have you eaten dinner? Well come on in and join us—tie up your horse here–Marthie’s setting dinner on the table!

When the missionaries arrived, Grandma’s hands supplied them bedding and linens she had sewn with her skillful fingers. Every quilt and pillowcase was embroidered with love as she sat by the fire of an evening, peacefully rocking in her favorite chair. She and Shelby even sacrificed their own bed to those missionaries for months on end, putting their own comfort last–and they did it with humility and joy. Everyone who knew her hailed her as a saint, and rightly so.

The end of her life had a stunning conclusion when she came to herself, after having suffered a stroke at the age of 89. She sat straight up in bed after weeks of semi-consciousness, reaching out her arms to the unseen and pleaded,

I want my crown. Give me my crown!  

Then she fell back onto her pillows, asleep in the arms of Jesus.

Martha’s gracious spirit was next passed down to her daughter, Ethel, whose kindness welcomed strangers to her table and never turned away anyone hungry. Ethel was just like her parents regarding hospitality. My grandparents’ home, often nicknamed the Johnson Hotel, was permanently welcome to family and friends traveling through Cincinnati. In spite of the hard times of the 1930’s, there was always plenty of food on the table and warm beds for guests.

During the Depression, her compassion would lead her to take pork sandwiches and a cups of coffee to jobless men, hungry and discouraged, who knocked at her door. The look of desperate gratitude from their eyes into her sympathizing ones was their sole exchange. Even stray animals seemed to sense that scratching at her door would bring them a meat bone or a pan of milk.

Her last act on this earth was to minister kindness to others. Feeling sorry for a lone neighbor across the road, she decided to bake him a cake and personally deliver it. It was on the walk back home that her heart gave out, and she died a few days later in a hospital.

I remember traveling to that red brick hospital for that final visit. Her face shone with a heavenly glow as her spirit was ready to fly away. I can still see her hands reach out to touch the face of my mother as she bent over the hospital bed. A touch of love passed on that mantle of kindness.

Although these two women now live only in memory, their linens, tablecloths and quilts they made years ago have been passed on to me. Holding them is like taking hold of their hands again. Even now as I sleep under the quilt that my grandmother finished for me just before her death, I feel wrapped in that mantle of kindness passed down through the generations.

She stretches out her hands to the distaff, and her hands grasp the spindle. She extends her hand to the poor. And she stretches out her hands to the needy. (Proverbs 31:19-20) NAS

 

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