Sunday, October 30, 2011

Just Give Me JOY!

Happiness is highly overrated.
It can be contingent on one's feelings or other people or circumstances or the weather or even the time of the month.
It is fickle and conditional and fleeting.
It is often demanding of others.

True Joy, on the other hand, is a state of the soul.
True Joy is steadfast and unshakable,                                                
regardless of life's trials and struggles.
True Joy is a source of strength even when the bearer is weak.
True Joy does not demand that another fulfill her expectations.
True Joy is the fruit of one who is at peace with her LORD.
True Joy is eternal…in the end you get to take it with you.

Give me True Joy over happiness any day and I will thrive.
True happiness, by the way, is a by-product of "complete JOY" and there is only One source.

John 15:9-12 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in My love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commands and remain in His love. I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you."

Friday, October 28, 2011


Book Description
LONESTAR ANGEL by Colleen Coble
Eden’s hope is rekindled when Clay delivers astounding news: their baby girl has been found. Five years ago Eden and Clay Larson’s baby was stolen. When they went to pay the ransom, what happened changed their lives forever—the kidnapper’s car with Baby Brianna inside sunk deep into the river. Eden blamed herself, Clay lost himself in work. Their young and rocky marriage ended. Or so Eden thought.
My Review
   Although "Christian Romances" aren't my first choice in reading selections, I chose to read LONESTAR ANGEL for two reasons: It's a mystery novel and it involved children. The author Colleen Coble, wasted no time setting the stage for this mystery romance. There were no flowing introductions to the characters, no detailed descriptions of the scenery. Instead, she immediately, from page one, jumped right into the plot of the story and the drama that would soon unfold. She captured my attention from the beginning and held it until the end.
   She did fairly well in breaking my presuppositions to the stereotypical nature  of so many "Christian Romance" novels (although not completely). I find that they, too often, run the same course with heroes who are nothing like the men we are inclined to know and heroines who are most often thin, beautiful and irresistible. 
   Nor do I have time for a frivolous, empty plot and if it's going to be called "Christian" then I would like to at least sense that the characters have more than a cursory relationship with or knowledge of God. The mystery element of LONESTAR ANGEL kept it from being a "typical" romance and there was evidence that both Clay and Eden were making significant spiritual changes in their actions and attitudes. 
   And, while there was no way to figure out the end because of the complexities of the plot, it did get a little complicated and, at times, hard to follow. Overall, I found LONESTAR ANGEL to be entertaining and would recommend it to others.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://booksneeze®.com/> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 

Monday, October 24, 2011

"Stained Glass Hearts" Book Review

"Life is no doubt full of difficulties, but it is also filled with promise and possibility," says best-selling author and WOF speaker Patsy Clairmont. In Stained Glass Hearts Clairmont guides readers to view the difficult experiences of life through the lens of God's grace. Using art as a theme, and likening people to stained glass windows, she shares that it's when we're surrounded by darkness that His healing light shines most brightly within us. Encouraging women to step back and see life from this new perspective, Patsy offers help and hope for the dark places of life. Much like stained glass, life's broken pieces become the prism through which God's grace shines most brightly and beautifully.

My Review...
I really liked Patsy Clairmont's book Stained Glass Hearts. She uses stories, analogies and word pictures to make profound and indelible points.  She also draws on an eclectic collection of quotes, poems and works of art that I found inspiring (probably because I collect the same things) and interesting. She writes like I preach-by using every day circumstances to communicate and illustrate life principles in colorful and delightful ways. At one point, in my own journey of pain, I used a similar  illustration of stained glass only my object of focus was a of kaleidoscope, but the lessons I believe God taught me very much corresponded with Patsy's. 

I was especially fond of her description of the importance of books in her life, how she enjoys them, uses them and relates to them.  This book is a resource I will draw on again and again.
I think another appealing aspect of this book was the fact that I believe far too many believing women live lives of woundedness for which they never find any true healing. I hope that, for many, Stained Glass Hearts, will open the way for His daughters to find healing for the spiritual and emotional pain that cripples them.  

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://booksneeze®.com/> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

What if America truly were a Christian nation?

There is so much here to ponder...

Tom Ehrich asks, "What if we (America) really lived like Christians?"

What if America truly were a Christian nation?
Not a Southern Baptist nation, or an Episcopal nation, or a Roman Catholic nation. 
Not grounded in the doctrinal and ecclesiastical isms that have grown up over the centuries. But a Christian nation, doing what Jesus did.
Well, we wouldn’t be arguing about sex, that’s for sure. Jesus devoted no time to matters of sexuality.
We wouldn’t be leading cheers for any particular economic system, capitalist or socialist, for in His many teachings about wealth and power, Jesus saw both as snares and delusions.
We wouldn’t be taking votes on who gets medical care, or who gets to live, or who gets to learn, or whose rights matter more, or whose race or religion can’t be allowed to breathe freely. For Jesus gave healing to all who asked, defended the lives of sinners, taught all who were eager to learn, welcomed all to His circle-even outcasts, lepers and children. He had no regard for His own tradition’s finely tuned boundaries.
We wouldn’t be loading great wealth onto the already wealthy, but rather would be asking them to follow the lead of biblical tax collector Zacchaeus and to give away half of what they have.
We wouldn’t need as many lawyers, because generosity would trump tax-reduction strategies, parables would trump rules, property would be shared as needed and people would be forgiving — not suing — each other.
If we were a genuinely Christian nation, we would be gathering the harvest of this abundant land and sharing it with the hungry of our own land and of many lands. 
We would forgive our enemies, speak truth to power and go forth to serve and to sacrifice, not to rule.
We would stand with the poor when predators circled around them. 
We would stand with sinners when the self-righteous picked up stones. 
We would join hands with nonconformists and strangers.
We would become God’s beacon to the nations. And when the tired and poor followed that light to our borders, we would greet them with open arms and make room for them in our communities.
That’s what Jesus did, and that is what it would mean to be a Christian nation.
So to those who insist that America be a Christian nation, I ask: Is this truly what you want? 
Do you want the I-was-hungry-and-you-gave-me-something-to-eat of Matthew 25? 
Do you want the Sermon on the Mount? 
Do you want to shine God’s light in the darkness?
Your behavior says no.
Your shouts against generosity say no.
Your penchant for oppressive culture says no.
Your willingness to shower wealth on the few while the many suffer says no.
Your hostility to freedom says no.
So stop pretending. At least be as honest as the hedge fund manager who paid himself $8 billion last year. It’s “all about the Benjamins,” not the Gospel. 
It’s about stifling any freedom but your own. 
It’s about imposing your cultural preferences on others. 
It’s about turning your fears and appetites into law. 
It’s about you, not about Jesus Christ.
That’s the nature of politics, of course: one “you” versus another “you.” That’s fine, and it’s why we formed a democracy, so that our various interests could compete fairly. 
Just spare us the religious posturing.
If America became a Christian nation, doing what Jesus did, you would be aghast.
Tom Ehrich ( is a writer, Episcopal priest and church consultant. 
Religion News Service distributes his column.