Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Merry Christmas & Happy New Years

We pray that 2007 has been a blessed year for you and yours. It certainly has been for the Andrews’. God is good all the time and All the time God is good! All that comes upon us cannot prevent nor hinder His love, mercy, and grace from ministering His life to us. Everyday is another opportunity for God to display His glory and to give us peace that passes all understanding. We praise Him upon our every remembrance of you.

As you can see, the grand kids are growing and doing great. Our kids are doing great, as well. From youngest to oldest – Stephen continues as a cabinet maker and trim carpenter. He lives with us and is not only helping around the house but in making the payments, too. We are grateful for his help. Most importantly, we are grateful to the Lord for doing a great work of grace in Stephen’s life this year, calling him back to Himself. It is a joy to see the life of Christ becoming relationally real to him over the past 10-12 months.

Cathy and her family (Lloyd, Victoria [4], & Jacob [3]) are preparing to purchase their first house. It is being finished up and should be ready to move into in the next few weeks. Lloyd works for Schlumberger and Cathy works part-time for Pearl Vision as an optician.

Chrissy and her family (Michael, Michaela [4], & Isabella [3]) are doing well. Chrissy has been accepted into a nursing program at a local community college. Her goal is to become an RN and then continue to a Master’s Degree and become a Nurse Practitioner. Michael works for Dell Computers.

Estela continues to be “super woman”, working at the dental office, preparing and selling meals weekly, taking care of Chuck, seasonally decorating the house, cooking for the family, and being the world’s best Nana. WOW! Yes, she is amazing. And, on top of all that, she’s as beautiful as always.

As most of you know, Chuck had to resign from pastoring in October 2006. He was placed on the national heart transplant list on April 14, 2007. He is listed as a Status 2, which means serious but not critical. He probably will not receive a heart until his conditions worsens. Status 1 is reserved for patients who are in life threatening situations. Humanly speaking, as Chuck’s condition deteriorates he will move up the list, sovereignly, as the Lord opens doors we will walk through.

For those of you who have given to the Andrews Benevolence Fund, we are more than grateful. The Lord has provided through the love and prayers of our family and friends. We praise our Lord and Savior for you and Emmanuel Baptist Church in Enid, OK for providing this fund as an avenue for those who want to give. The fund is still open and continues to help us.

We hope to hear from you and if you are in the area, please, come by and see us.

Chuck & Estela Andrews
3405 Pathway Circle
Norman, OK 73072

Hm: 405-573-0493
Cell: 405-834-2444

To God Be The Glory
Great Things He Hath Done!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

This is not an attempt to assign motive but to interpret body language. Much like folded arms can indicate a posture of resistance, “the arm over the shoulder” can indicate an internal attitude with an external posture.

The posture of Dr. John Floyd, when discussing the victory of his leadership to censure Wade Burleson says a lot. If you have never experienced “the arm over the shoulder” posture then you may not recognize what is being communicated. With victory in the eyes and face of Dr. Floyd “the arm over the shoulder” communicates a sense of superiority, dominance, control. It is a common subtle gesture of shame and disgrace intent to be discrediting and degrading. It can be one of those subtle things of spiritual abuse.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Prayer: A Continuous Power

When I think of prayer there are images that come into my mind. Hands together, a bowed head over a plate of food. Someone on their knees at an alter. A face with eyes closed with head and arms raised so as to be reaching out. A worship service where someone says “Let’s pray” and everyone bows their head and closes their eyes.

I think most people associate prayer with a physical action. But prayer has little to do with physical posture. In fact, the physical posture only has value if it is a response to the posture of our spirit. You see, prayer is simply communion with God through the means He provided, His Son, Jesus Christ. That’s what it means to pray in the name of Jesus. It is recognizing Jesus as the means through whom we are invited to come to God. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (Jn 14:6). To dare to speak to The Almighty, to commune with Him, to pray in Jesus name is to recognize He is Lord. It is to recognize his character. It is to call out for His salvation “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom 10:13).

Communion is Communication–not only talking but listening. Read this text, it speaks of talking: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Mt 7:7). This one speaks of listening: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you” (Jn 14:26). Prayer is not only us bringing our request to God but listening, hearing what He says to us “My sheep hear My voice” (Jn 10:27). It is a conversation. God speaks to us through His word and Spirit. He communicates to our spirit and confirms who we are and whose we are “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God” (Rom 8:16). We communicate to God through our spirit, heart, mind, emotions, etc. Prayer is how we take “every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor 10:5). This communication may be verbal or silent, made with physical movement or just spiritual accent, may happen spontaneously or it can be a scheduled time of purpose. Regardless of how, where, or when, a prayer conversation is a two-way street with come and go traffic, with ebb and flow.

Communion is Openness–requiring honesty. “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” (Ro 8:26-27). Why not be open to God? We can’t hide anything from Him. Be honest about our weaknesses and that we really can’t even know our own hearts “The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” (Jer 17:9). We can talk to God about anything and everything. And should! He knows us better than we know ourselves and He knows our thoughts before we even think them “Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O Lord, You know it all“ (Ps 139:4). This kind of honesty is found in the psalmnist prayer “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way” (Ps 139:23-24)

Communion is Relational. When communion involves a superior to an inferior the inferior must be humbled by the fact that the superior would even allow the relationship. In the case of God, He not only allows it He initiates the relationship. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16). “You did not choose Me but I chose you” (Jn 15:16). We are humbled because He invites
us to “draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb 4:16). Prayer is based upon our relationship with God. We relate to Him on the basis of His mercy, love, and grace. Prayer must take these into consideration “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you” (1 Pt 5:5-7). We are invited into His presence. Salvation is relational not religous. Jesus taught us to pray with this relationship in view “our Father who is in heaven” (Matt 6:9).

With this description of prayer, let me propose to you that prayer is not just something we do. Prayer is something we live because life is lived in communion with God. Everything we are and do is to be lived out in relationship with Jesus Christ. How else can we “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess 5:17). That means to live your life in an attitude of prayer. Prayer is living in the reality that He is with me no matter where I am or what I’m doing.

Living in an attitude of prayer is to live in a spiritual mind set. To be worldly is to derive my person, identity, pleasure, etc. from anything or anyone other than Jesus Christ. If the scripture forbids something then I’m not to do it. If the scripture commands me to do something then I am to do it. Everything else is an option within my particular relationship with Christ. Prayer is living life in complete communion with Jesus while experiencing the freedom that he gives “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal 5:1). Prayer is what keeps us living in freedom.

Experiencing prayer as a life attitude gives us the ability to live life to its fullest while assuring us that we are not being enslaved by sins of commission or omission. Now, it’s a good habit to physically express what is in my spirit. To humbly bow our head, close our eyes, kneel, prostrate ourselves, raise our hands, or whatever physical posture we feel led to take. It’s a good practice to schedule particular times that are dedicated to praying. It’s a good exercise in faith to keep a written list of prayer request and how God answered those request. All these are good but living a life of prayer is what will give your life a continuous power of the presence of Christ.

So, whether you are riding your bike or reading your Bible, whether you are smoking a cigar or singing a chorus, whether you are wrangling around with buddies or worshiping together in a church service, whether you are dressed in leathers or liturgical garb you live in a holy attitude of prayer. Communion with God in all situations. Communicating with Him. Letting Him read your life as an open book. Living out your relationship with Jesus. Letting others see Jesus in you.

Prayer is what keeps you sensitive to the mood and movement of the Spirit. It helps you discern the moment and method of the Spirit. An attitude of prayer is essential to living the Spirit filled life. Any ministry (preaching, witnessing, etc.) can be done in the power of the flesh or the power of the Spirit. Prayer is what divides the two. If you want to be a person who lives in the continuous power of the presence of Christ then be a person of prayer.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Find Out Who Your Friends Are

What a Great Song to add to my post on Friendship.

Listen to the song on YouTube Here

Run your car off the side of the road
Get stuck in a ditch way out in the middle of nowhere
Get yourself in a bind lose the shirt off your back
Need a floor need a couch need a bus fare

This is where the rubber meets the road
This is where the cream is gonna rise
This is what you really didn't know
This is where the truth don't lie

You find out who you're friends are
Somebody's gonna drop everything
Run out and crank up their car
Hit the gas get there fast
Never stop to think 'what's in it for me' or 'it's way too far'
They just show on up with their big old heart
You find out who you're friends are

Everybody wants to slap your back
wants to shake your hand
when you're up on top of that mountain
But let one of those rocks give way then you slide back down look up
and see who's around then

This ain't where the road comes to an end
This ain't where the bandwagon stops
This is just one of those times when
A lot of folks jump off


When the water's high
When the weather's not so fair
When the well runs dry
Who's gonna be there


Artist/Band: Tracy Lawrence
Lyrics for Song: Find Out Who Your Friends Are
Lyrics for Album: For the Love

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Authority, Leadership, & Relationships

After reading Paul Burleson’s post about Authority In The Local Church the following thoughts and ideas came to me.

In the Old Covenant people were born into their position of priest or king. Their authority was inherent in their person according to their birthright. Prophets were called into their positions of authority and a stereotypical personality doesn’t appear to be a prerequisite to the call. The following may show how historically culture has influenced our thinking in the matter of “authority” in the local church.

The Divine Right of Kings states that a monarch owes his rule to the will of God, not to the will of his subjects, parliament, the aristocracy or any other competing authority. This doctrine continued with the claim that any attempt to depose a monarch or to restrict his powers ran contrary to the will of God.” Wikipedia

A Priest is defined as “One who is designated an authority on religious matters. In some churches, especially the Anglican Communion, Eastern Orthodox Church, and Roman Catholic Church, the ordained church leader who serves a congregation of believers is called a priest. The priests in these churches administer the sacraments, preach, and care for the needs of their congregations.” The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th edition, published by Houghton Mifflin Company

A more evangelical term is Prophet. Defined by the The American Heritage Dictionary of the
English Language, 4th edition, published by Houghton Mifflin Company
1. A person who speaks by divine inspiration or as the interpreter through whom the will of a god is expressed.
2. A person gifted with profound moral insight and exceptional powers of expression.
3. A predictor; a soothsayer.
4. The chief spokesperson of a movement or cause.

In most of the SBC pastoral training I’ve been through and, for that matter, most of the evangelical pastors I have been around have added these three historical cultural ideas together and come up with an understanding of their gift and calling. They owe their rule (kingship) to the will of God and to question their authority is to oppose the will of God. Though, confessionally, they verbally give ascent to the priesthood of the believer, they believe themselves to be ordained, educated, and authorized by God to administer the ordinances, preach, and be the all around expert on ministry. And when they speak it is as the inspired interpreter of God’s word and will, with irrefutable insight (because God told them), and they use oratorical persuasion to convince people that they are right. We are trained to hold the professional position of pastor. Rationally, biblically, spiritually, and culturally I could defend the “authority because of position and person” view and believed it whole heartedly. My identity was wrapped up in being a prophet, priest, and king--contemporarily, culturally, and sometimes compassionately called pastor. This historical cultural understanding has found its mate in this combined reproduction of prophet, priest, and king from the relics of Christianity.

There are some truths in this understanding—we do owe everything to the will of God; we do believe in the priesthood of the believer (at least in theory); and preaching is a ministry of inspiration, insight, and public speaking. Also, there is nothing wrong with being trained through education and mentoring. I don’t believe there is a problem with being a pastor professionally and doing everything you can to be the best pastor you can be. Diligently leading is not only commendable but commanded in the scriptures. In Romans 12:8 those who are gifted as leaders are to express that gift "with diligence." “The elders who rule (to lead out in care for) well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard (persistent strenuous labor) at preaching and teaching” (1 Ti 5:17).

Yet, more often than not, we are seduced by our own egos to swallow, hook-line-and-sinker, the historical cultural perception of authority. Pastors who are more concerned with authority than leadership use that perception to defend their authoritarian posture. In word or deed they say something like, “God has called me, ordained me, and anointed me so don’t question my authority. After all, I have a degree, license, and ordination hanging on the wall.” Then they throw in something like “It’s very dangerous to do anything against the Lord’s anointed.” Their authority and identity is postured in “I am the pastor!”

In support of this seduction, it seems that in today’s church growth movement, churches are looking for a savior who will redeem their church from irrelevancy, the next king who will lead them to kingdom growth (more numbers), a priest who will represent them before God, and a prophet who will confidently and effectively tell them God’s will for their lives. We are more than pleased to be that person, if we can, and if we can’t, we judge ourselves against those who can. What is pragmatically a pastoral health, wealth, and prosperity mindset comes through in our conventions and conferences, then it filters into our churches. Paraded before us are a few men, and fewer women, who are highly acclaimed because they are successful as defined by our culture. Then with all the right verbiage and pragmatic values we deceive ourselves into believing that if we can look, lead, and lecture like them we too will be successful as defined by our religious culture. The mindset becomes, God wants all pastors to be dynamic preachers, charismatic personalities, and gifted CEOs. He wants all churches to have continues numerical growth in attendance, finances, and ministries. If we’re not being that kind of pastor and if our church is not experiencing that kind of growth then it’s because we are not allowing God to develop us into the leader He wants us to be. Antiquity has become relevant in this post-modern cultural phenomenon.

Whether these values are by the Spirit or the flesh it makes no difference. Visible results are what matters. Today, in this Western culture, it is not uncommon for a local church to be developed and grow around a charismatic (not theologically but personality) pastor. With the advancement of electronics these types of pastors can become bigger than life being broadcast to multiple locations and reaching thousands through video and internet. Accordingly, pastors can begin to judge themselves in comparison to these bigger than life images. Also, churches can begin to judge their pastors by those they see on the internet, hear on the radio, watch on TV, or read from the Christian bookstore. Unfortunately, lay leaders can be seduced by their own egos to be a part of a “successful” church and become authoritarian toward pastors, too.

With this marriage of past and present the stage is set for a culturally acceptable form of spiritual abuse. In some circles it’s called “Pastoral Authority.” In other circles it is “Congregational Authority.” In my opinion, in all circles it is an “identity crisis.” Both, pastors and churches, are getting their identity from culture instead of from Jesus.

In the New Covenant we are all (re)born equal and called equally. Maybe at Christmas time we would do well to remember that the one whose birth we celebrate was born Savior, Prophet, Priest, and King. He alone has authority inherent in His Person and Position. He alone rules His kingdom. He alone fulfilled all the roles of the Old Covenant completely and perfectly. He alone absolutely and faultlessly represented God to people and people to God. He alone is the one and only God-Man. If the local church is His then He is her Authority. As our authority He is our identity.

There is to be a harmony and melody between pastors and people. Not a blind following due to authoritarian roles but a relationship built on personal knowledge, reputation and giftedness. Eugene Peterson interprets Hebrews 13:7 “Appreciate your pastoral leaders who gave you the Word of God. Take a good look at the way they live, and let their faithfulness instruct you, as well as their truthfulness. There should be a consistency that runs through us all. For Jesus doesn’t change—yesterday, today, tomorrow, he’s always totally himself.” Then in verse 17, “Be responsive to your pastoral leaders. Listen to their counsel. They are alert to the condition of your lives and work under the strict supervision of God. Contribute to the joy of their leadership, not its drudgery. Why would you want to make things harder for them?”

You see in this interpretation that a relationship between people and pastors is developed through a willingness of each to serve the other. Pastors receive a positive reception, responsiveness, and respect in direct proportion to their willingness to relate their lives to the congregation and employee their gifts in service to the congregation. Congregations are to give this positive reception, responsiveness, and respect as they, in relationship with their pastors, observe the identity of Jesus throughout the lives of their pastors. Christ is “seated far above all rule and authority and power and dominion” (Eph. 1:21) and as servants of His, we serve each other in “the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Eph. 1:23). It is impossible to serve one another as is defined in Hebrews without people and pastor being in a growing relationship with each other. The bases of this relationship is a recognition that Christ is the Head and each submits to Him and that one is not more “full of Christ” than the other. In fact, maybe it takes “all” to experience the totality of the fullness of Christ since He “fills all in all.”

Regardless of the time period, churches don’t need another Savior, Prophet, Priest, or King. We need servants who will demonstrate Jesus, regardless of whether those servants are called pastors, elders, deacons, teachers, councils, leaders, committees, or members. May we all find our identity in Christ and learn to live in Christ. If we do, we will become servants like Christ. Then pastors and people will not be campaigning for authority but will be serving one another--accepting one another, respecting one another, appreciating one another, knowing one another.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Prayer When Words Won't Come

O My Father, I have moments of deep unrest -- moments when I know not what to ask by reason of the very excess of my wants. I have in these hours no words for Thee, no conscious prayers for Thee. My cry seems purely worldly; I want only the wings of a dove that I may flee away. Yet all the time Thou has accepted my unrest as a prayer. Thou has interpreted its cry for a dove's wings as a cry for Thee, Thou has received the nameless longings of my heart as the intercessions of Thy Spirit. They are not yet the intercessions of my spirit; I know not what to ask. But Thou knowest what I ask, O my God. Thou knowest the name of that need which lies beneath my speechless groan. Thou knowest that, because I am made in Thine image, I can find rest only in what gives rest to Thee; therefore Thou hast counted my unrest unto me for righteousness, and has called my groaning Thy Spirit's prayer. Amen.

- Rev. George Matheson (1842-1906)

Friday, February 02, 2007


“Suppose one of you has a friend, and goes to him at midnight and says to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves;
6 for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’;
7 and from inside he answers and says, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’
8 “I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs.”
(Luke 11:5-8)

Friendships are defined in a measurement of relationships. Our three year old granddaughters have already begun identifying some friends with the phrase “My best friend.” We have friends, good friends, and best fiends. When a friend disappoints us he/she is a “so called friend.” Friends who don’t help in the time of need are called “fair weather friends.”

Friendships are built or developed over time. For there to be a very close friendship there must be trust and, over time, trust is developed. Time spent observing, sharing, and uncovering layers of self-protection is essential to developing really close friendships.

A big struggle we all have is fear that after investing time and energy into building friendships we discover that the relationship is less than what we thought. Something bad happens and you call upon your friends for help. If they are truly friends they will help--no matter what. The implication of Jesus is, if one is a true friend it wouldn’t take a persistent pestering to get help. Also implied, the assumption of a friendship assumes the freedom for one to be a persistent pest, if the need is great enough. Yet, even if the need is significant, very few people like the feeling of being a pest (begging). Maybe this is a reason we don’t ask for help when we really need it. Asking could turn into a persistent pestering which would identify the shallowness of our relationship. We would rather live in a fairy-tale, make-believe world where all our friends are great friends and would do anything to help us and us them.

The problem with make-believe is real life can’t be lived there. Learning to live life to its fullest only comes with facing reality and choosing to live in reality. In this case, reality is: not all whom you call friends are truly friends. The scary part and sometimes hurtful part is discovering who is and who isn’t. The depth of friendship is determined by a mutual consideration. You may consider yourself a good friend and that if a particular person called with a need you would do everything within your power to help. Time. Money. Support. Encouragement. Whatever within your power, whether convenient or not. But if the other person is not mutual or reciprocal in that consideration you do not have that close of a relationship. This remark is not to place blame but to move into reality. No matter how painful this discovery may be it is worth it to live in reality.

You see, if there is trust between you and them, they would know you wouldn’t ask them to do anything that you wouldn’t do if the tables were turned. Or you would not ask them to do anything that would compromise them. Nor would you depend on them for help if it were not a real need.

Maybe part of the struggle is internal as you ask yourself “how good a friend am I?” If someone I call friend truly had a need would I help them. We say things like “whatever I have is yours” or “if there is anyway I can help let me know.” Yet, when it comes down to it, are we truly friends? Am I the type of person whose talk is cheap? Am I, in reality, a fair-weather friend? Are my friendships relationships of convenience? If I am to learn to live life then I must, in reality, answer these questions about myself as well as those I call friends.

Like an archeologist going through the difficult and dirty work of digging to find the valuable artifact-- discovering your friendship quotient and those who are true friends is difficult and dirty work. Going through the hard work of digging through relationships to discover the true friends is the only way to find the real thing. The value of the artifact to the archeologist determines the degree of willingness and work that he/she is prepared to go through to discover it. Yet, just as a skilled archeologist uses great care and sensitivity, this relational digging must be done with a soft, delicate, and graceful touch. The potential artifact in every relationship is discovering true friendship. A friendship that is mutual in giving and growing.

'Misfortune shows those who are not really friends.' –Aristotle

Aristotle’s words have proven to be true in my life. Misfortune happens and we have to call upon our friends for help. Then we are surprised by the reality of who proves to be a true friend and who proves to be a fair-weather friend. Close friends jump at the request to help, even if it is inconvenient. Those who through pestering finally fulfill the request may still be friends but they have identified themselves, in degree, by their willingness and speed of response. Fair-weather friends don’t even help after persistent pestering. Through the misfortune and the discovery process, I’ve had to face reality not only about myself but about others, too.

“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

To lay down my life for a friend means a lot more than being willing to take a bullet for someone. Most of the time, it is just the willingness to, consistently, be. Be there. Be vulnerable. Be respectful. Be available. Be willing. Be all that you can be. In Christ, the good news is, I can choose what kind of friend I will be.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Learning to Live in Choices

I had a twinge of guilt because I still have doubts about what God is doing within me. I mean, it’s like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde inside me--Dr. Depression and Mr. Optimism cohabitate simultaneously within my mind and spirit. It seems that some days depression wakes me up, takes hold, and won’t let me go. Other days, optimism reigns without much thought. Most days, depression and optimism are like two sides of the same coin, they exist at the same time, come and go as they please, triggered by who knows what.

This life scenario caused me a moment of guilt during a praise chorus in church on December 31, 2006. Guilt for a moment, because the thought came to me that if faith really reigned in me then this doubt, frustration, depression wouldn’t be a day to day struggle.

Then I realized that this is life and living everyday is a choice. The ability to choose is present because the Holy Spirit is present. On days I struggle with depression, my depression doesn’t repel God. On days that confidence reigns, my confidence, contentment, cheeriness doesn’t draw God. He is present because of what Jesus did on my behalf. He has chosen me and because of that I have a choice.

My choice is not between depression and delight. There are events in life that the human response is delight or depression. Not to experience them is to live in denial of reality. In the midst of all things I can learn to live in His choiceful presence. He has chosen to be present in me, even in the doubting depression that disturbs me so deeply. I can learn to live in His love every moment of every day irrespective of the state of my emotions.

“I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.” The Message (Ro 8:38)

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year's 2007

The expression is Happy New Year’s. It is our verbal blessing that we give to one another wishing each other a coming year of happiness.

Estela and I went to see The Pursuit of Happyness on Saturday afternoon. As the movie points out, happiness is a pursuit—maybe that’s why Mr. Jefferson wrote it that way in the Constitution because happiness is something to be pursued and not attained but for brief moments. Those moments, ever how brief, give us not only the reward for the pursuit but a taste of a delicacy that creates a hunger that encourages us to continue the pursuit.

Happiness is our blessing to one another at the beginning of a New Year. It is our encouragement to one another to pursue. It is our desire for one another to experience the reward of that pursuit, ever how brief it may be. It is our exhortation to one another to hunger for that happiness and continue the pursuit no matter how hard the pursuit may be. It is our hope that if we continue this pursuit we will be rewarded with that brief encounter with happiness and that it will be worth it all when we do attain that happiness, ever how brief it may be.

The difference that Christ makes in our lives is that we don’t have to live in unhappiness in between those brief encounters of happiness. In Christ, hope is the state of our being. Joy is our choice between the earthly rewards of happiness. So, . . .

Happy New Year’s and may it be filled with joy.