Category Archives: Family

A Season of Thanksgiving

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The holiday season is upon us, and that means that my favorite holiday is just around the corner. I love Thanksgiving because it takes me back in my memory to a very happy time in my life when all of my family would gather on the fourth Thursday in November and enjoy a feast of food and fellowship. 

I can still recall the smells and tastes of some of those wonderful dishes we enjoyed. I can still recall my grandmother’s kitchen where my mother and aunts, along with my grandmother, worked beside each other to prepare a feast. There was laughter, conversation, instruction, and often a reprimand when those of us who were younger got in the way.

After my grandmother and grandfather had passed from this life, our day of thanksgiving moved to my childhood home. My mother, along with whoever was available to help, could provide a feast equal to those of my younger days.

Now that my parents are gone, I love Thanksgiving because my children and their families still gather with us for a time of wonderful fellowship and food. My daughter and daughter-in-law work beside me in the kitchen to provide a feast for our family.

At this time of year, many people pause and reflect upon the things for which they are thankful in this life. I am often challenged on Facebook to “list for ten consecutive days a blessing for which I am thankful.” Since I don’t accept challenges on FB, this often goes by the wayside. I am, however, thankful for many things.

I hope you will not only read the following list of things for which I am thankful, but also will be challenged to make your own list –at least mentally – of all of the things for which you have to be thankful on a daily basis.

I am thankful for:

…God, my Father, who loves me and provides a way for me to live with Him one day.  (John 3:16)

…Jesus, my Brother, who set that perfect example for my life.  (1 Peter 2:21)

…the inspiration of the Holy Spirit which allowed men to write the Bible – my guide through this life on my way to Heaven.  (Psalm 119:105)

…family members in the past who led me and helped me to develop my faith. (Deut. 6: 7)

…my husband – the spiritual leader in our home and a man whom I love and respect. (Eph. 5:33)

…the self-sacrificing love that my husband gives me on a daily basis. (Eph. 5:25)

…my children and their mates. (Psalm 127: 3)

…my grandchildren who are being reared in Christian homes. (3 John: 4)

…time spent with my children and grandchildren singing praises to God. (Psalm 100:1-2)

…the congregation with which I am privileged to worship and serve God. (Phil. 1: 3-5)

…the men who selflessly serve as elders and deacons in my congregation.  (1 Tim. 5:17)

…the ministers who faithfully teach and preach the word every week.  (Romans 10:14-15)

…the women who nurture and lovingly care for so many who are in need.  (Prov. 31)

…the challenges in life which build character within me.  (James 1:2)

…the beauty of nature around me and the changing of the seasons. (Psalm 8:3-4)

…the promises of God, and the fact that I never have to doubt them. (Hebrews 10:23)

…the fact that this list could go on forever.

“give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 

1 Thessalonians 5:18


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“We Have Met the Enemy, and He Is Us!”

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Satan is our enemy. There is just no question about it. He is a deceiver and liar from the beginning. He is the father of all lies (John 8:44). Sin came into the world and death through sin because of the works of the devil. But let’s not be mistaken. We are ultimately guilty of every sin we commit. We are the ones who are enticed, who are tempted, and who give in (James 1:13-15). Pogo was right. “We have met the enemy, and he is us” (see cartoon above).

We are our own worst enemy because we are so self-absorbed. We are so inwardly driven. We are not in tune with what is going on in the lives of others. We worship our own personal experiences. These days especially I see people who have kids for the first time and it is as if they are the only people who have ever had a baby before. It’s called children worship and it is real. If we accomplish something we have to tell the world about it. If we are doing any particular thing, it is as if everybody else is inferior because they are not doing it, too.

We are our own worst enemy because we are accumulating stuff! We fight and war and work for stuff! (James 4:1-3). Materialism is at an all-time high in our culture. It seems there are only two classes of people in America: Those who are trying to accumulate possessions and those who are trying to get rid of all of the junk they can’t do anything with. Either way it is a lot of work with little momentary satisfaction. This was the rich young ruler’s problem. This was the problem for the rich fool of Luke 12. They were too enamored with material things. When we are rich toward ourselves and not rich toward God we are simply spiritually bankrupt altogether.

We are our own worst enemy because we will not tell ourselves, “No!” If I want it, I am going to have it and I am going to have it right now. That is, of course, until the next thing I want right now – I’ll have it, too. A new tech device – give it to me now! A relationship that is forbidden – well I won’t be happy unless I can have it. There are too many adults on the floor kicking and screaming because they can’t have it their way in life. When I was a child I was told, “No!” If I didn’t like it, too bad. I needed to hear it. “No” is universally practical and necessary. It provides the proper boundaries that will lead us in the everlasting way.

We are our own worst enemy because we are stubborn. It is not that we don’t know to do right, we simply won’t do it (James 4:17). It is not that we don’t know we are doing wrong, we simply won’t stop. The man in the mirror is just killing us. He knows who he is for a moment but then he leaves and immediately forgets what kind of man he was (James 1:23-24). Most of the injuries we experience happen not because we didn’t know of existing dangers, but rather, we just plow headlong into the fire. We need to realize that we are not strong individually, we are strong with God and in Him alone.

So stop being your own worst enemy. Stop being a spoiled rotten brat. It is time to grow up! It is time to stop thinking about what you want. It is time to start thinking about what God wants and what others need. Then you will stop be the enemy and start being a friend.

“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself…” – Luke 9:23


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Others Who Have No Hope

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Please read the following words found in the English Standard Version of 1 Thessalonians 4:13 very carefully:

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others who do not have hope.

I believe that most of us readily understand that the “sleep” being referred to here is the “sleep” of death. I believe it is also fairly obvious that the use of the word “brothers” means that these words are addressed to Christians. 

Does this verse teach us that Christians are not to grieve (mourn, sorrow, etc.) at all when a loved one passes from this life? 

Are Christians supposed to just act as though nothing had ever happened and go on with their lives? 

Does a Christian’s confidence in an eternal home make him or her immune to feelings of loss?

If you did, in fact, read that verse carefully, you should realize that the answer to those questions is, “NO.” The sorrow of a Christian is not to be “…as others who have no hope.” (In reality, it did not take a very careful reading to notice that, did it?)

More often than I really care to remember, I’ve been in more homes, hospital rooms, nursing home rooms, etc. when death has taken a loved one from family members and friends. Sometimes death has occurred after a long and serious illness. Sometimes the death is sudden and unexpected. In all reality, no two deaths and no two families are ever exactly the same.

However, I’ve noticed that many of the situations in which I’ve found myself can broadly fit in one of two categories. Both of these categories are linked to the fact that I’m a preacher (and an elder) and that I often get called on during trying times like this.

I’ve been in situations when people just want a preacher around. Any “brand” will do. Often, these people are confused. In fact “panic” might not be too strong a word. These people want somebody–anybody–that has some sort of religious credentials to calm them and assure them in some way. They may not even be aware of what way they have in mind. They just want a preacher around. His presence seems to have some sort of calming effect on them (sometimes).

The other people I’ve been with are just as sad and feel their loss just as much as the first group. Depending on the circumstances, they may even be as confused as the people in the first group. Through tears, they express words that convey their grief to the preacher and to one another.

While they also appreciate a preacher being with them, their actions and words convey a quiet confidence that the other group does not have. Their confidence is not dependent upon the presence of a preacher. Their confidence is in God and His promises. 

It is my prayer that all of us could be a part of this second group of people. It is also my prayer that each of us will live our lives in such a way that those who are left behind can have that quiet confidence that is needed so much during very trying times.


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The Necessary Thing (and a Basket That Will Help Teach It)

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As a mother, there are many things I want to teach my children. My head swirls with all the responsibility. They are my gift from God, and I desperately want to train, educate, equip, discipline, and lead them so that when they leave my house they are ready. I want to them to be ready to face this world.

Every day, there is another item added to the list of “crucial information my children need to know before they leave my home.” That list is long and varied. I want my children to know how to be polite. I want them to know how to clean and how to finally learn how to put something back in its place! (Can I get an “amen”?) I want them to know about their country, and I want them to see that this country is indeed exceptional. I want them to be able to write and read in cursive, and I want them to be able to read a clock that isn’t digital! I want them to be familiar with the parts of an orchestra and to know what the inside of a real theater looks like – and could someone please teach at least one of my children how to play the piano?

Then, because I am a homeschooler, the list seems to grow exponentially. Even now, we are learning to identify types of verbs, we are memorizing a long list of prepositions, and we are learning when to double a consonant. We are locating countries on a map and learning about latitude and longitude. We are learning about sea life, and this week we learned the difference between a sea lion and a seal. Our heads are full of line segments and rays and diameters and regrouping and the constant drilling of addition, subtraction, and multiplication.

Then there are the books I want them to read. I want them to read good books and even the great books. There is just so much, and the task is daunting. I feel the weight of the responsibility. I wonder if I’ll be able to do it.

Just then, when I am about to crumble under the pressure, I will think of the words of Jesus to Martha.

In Luke chapter 10, Martha herself was crumbling under the pressure of preparing a meal for Jesus and His many followers. Martha, I’m sure, wanted to be certain she didn’t leave anything undone. This pressure made her come undone! She was so undone that she complained to her friend and Lord that Mary had left her to serve alone.

Then, Jesus said the words that chastise me and sooth me at the same time. He said the words that give me hope. Jesus said, “Martha, Martha you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” The question that we should ask, then, is, “What is the one thing that is necessary?” The answer can be found in verse 39: “[Martha] had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to His teaching.”

You see, it is very easy for me to spend all my time teaching my kids the things I think they “need” to know. Sometimes I am anxious and troubled about it, just like Martha, and I need the reminder that the one necessary thing is that I teach them about God and His Word. If I neglect that, I have, quite literally, neglected it all.

Children who grow up with a top-notch education and children who star on baseball and softball teams will have nothing when they stand before God on the Day of Judgment if they don’t have the necessary thing. I don’t want to be among the parents who have given their children the whole world and nothing else. The world will pass away and be taken from us, but God’s Word cannot be taken from us.

With that in mind, I have made it a goal to teach my kids to stop every day and “sit at the feet of Jesus.” On our hearth, there is a basket. It is our Bible time basket. It is filled with Bible story books, charts, prayer reminders and prayers to memorize, books of the Bible cards, Bible games, and–who knows–I might even squeeze a writing assignment in there every so often. The point is, I want them to see that, above everything else we are learning, God’s word is far more important, because it is the only thing that will last. We have Family Bible time. Our kids memorize verses, they are reading through the book of Matthew this year, and they have a daily Bible reading schedule that goes along with their Bible class at church, but I want the Bible time basket to be more about their individual time with God.

Here are some pictures of this simple basket. I hope it encourages you to put something before your children daily to help them “sit at the feet of Jesus.”





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AUTHOR: Leah Faughn

The One Word that Gives Children Authority Over Parents

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Parenting is hard. Communication is hard. Put them together and you have something that can feel virtually impossible. At best, it can feel like a completely uphill task.

One reason communicating with children is so difficult is because every word means something, and we often say things that we don’t think much about, but that can communicate so much.

Today, I want to share one word that I am striving to reduce in my vocabulary with my children. At the very least, I am trying to change one specific way in which I catch myself using it. The reason is simple: whether I mean it this way or not, this one word gives my children authority over me, instead of the way it is supposed to be.

What is the word?


Now, it’s not that “okay” is a bad word. It is how I have found myself using it so often that makes all the difference. See if some of these sentences sound like what you say to your kids:

“You need to clean your room, okay?”

“Your mommy needs help with the dishes, okay?”

“Finish your math work, okay?”

Do you see how that one little word at the end of the sentence changes them dramatically? Instead of stating what is expected, and then knowing it will get done, we have put the child in charge of the situation. Rather than saying, “Clean your room,” what you are doing is giving your child the option to clean his/her room…if it’s okay with them.

I am not suggesting a parenting style where we just give out orders like a drill sergeant. There are times to put the ball in the court of our children and let them decide certain things.

That said, when we give a direction, we should expect for it to be followed. Parents, we must remember that part of our work is to build within our children an understanding of authority. God, being the ultimate authority, does not tell us, “believe in me, okay?” Instead, He simply states what is expected and we are to obey.

We may not think too much about adding “okay” to the end of our sentences, and we may think it is nothing more than just a “filler” word that does not really mean anything (sort of like “um”). But to a kid, “okay,” when phrased as a question, puts the authority with them. While that is fine sometimes, it is not fine all the time.

Instead, we need to build the type of relationship where we can state an expectation and know it will be completed. That’s not cruel parenting. It is teaching children to respect authority, which is something our society desperately needs.


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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn

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Who Are the Real Heroes?

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Ask a young person who they consider to be a hero. What do you think they will say? Chances are, they will pick a well-known individual from the past or present who made a name for themselves because of something they achieved. It may have been they excelled in politics, athletics, music, or some other interest. People who are recognized as heroes are usually extraordinary people who became popular because of something they did or something that happened that was largely due to their influence.

With that in mind, I met a real hero just the other day. I met him in the place where I have learned most of our living heroes still reside. I met him while I was going to visit two of our elderly ladies who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. These ladies currently live in a nursing home not far from our town. To protect privacy and to not call attention to the facility I am not going to mention any names. But as I was there in the hall with one of the ladies I had intended to see, I met a man who immediately got my attention. He was wearing a very interesting hat.

He was sitting in a chair, not speaking but seemingly looking to start a conversation with his eyes. So I spoke to him, “I really like your hat.” He took it off and looked at it. “Yep,” he said, “That was a long time ago.” The cap he had on simply stated, “World War II Veteran.” I asked him if he had been in the war. He told me he had fought in Germany and had also spent part of his time afterward in Russia. He stayed in the military for most of his life after the war. He had survived the front lines of an ugly and bloody battle.

But now, in his 90’s, he is just living out his days quietly. I don’t know if he has a lot of visitors. I don’t know about his family and friends. We exchanged names, had a nice conversation, and I thanked him for everything he had done for me. I thanked him for everything he had done for us! He seemed at peace with himself about it. I recall him saying, “Well I hoped what we tried to do over there made a difference, made things better.” I assured him so. I let him know he was a hero.

The real heroes in our world do not wear capes and masks. They do not swim in money. They are not on television or in the movies. They will not be known in history by name. Many of them never even came home. Real heroes are people who sacrificed everything for a cause that was bigger than themselves. They believed in something worth giving their lives for, and that’s exactly what they gave.

At the end of time, every history book will be destroyed, every trophy demolished, and every museum brought to ruin. But there are people, who by faith are building a residence yet unseen that will stand forever inside the gates of heaven. These are the people we should follow. These are the people who will rest from the labors, and whose works follow them.

“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” – Heb. 11:13


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The Pasta Plan

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Before an athletic contest starts, there is a game plan.

Leaders of corporations who want the corporation to be successful have a business plan.

Construction companies have a site plan.

Before one travels, there is usually a travel plan.

Teachers are encouraged (or required) to have a lesson plan.

People who hope to retire with sufficient funds to live somewhat comfortably are encouraged to have a financial plan.

However, all too often in families, churches, and our individual lives, there is something I’ve chosen to call the pasta plan. You may have been in meetings and/or in family conversations where the pasta plan has been employed. 

Here is a test. 

Have you ever heard (or said), “Let’s just throw something against the wall and see what sticks?” If so, you’ve been introduced to what I’m calling the pasta plan.

I am told that one way to check to see if pasta is adequately prepared is to actually throw it against a wall. If it sticks, it is ready.

What works for pasta may not work too well in other areas of our lives. In fact, I am convinced that it is a long way from being the best way to live our lives.

I am well aware of James 4:13-16. Contrary to what some might think about that passage, it does not forbid any planning whatsoever. These verses warn against leaving God out of our plans.

Please consider the following who definitely did not follow the pasta plan:

Read the book of Nehemiah carefully. When you do, you will find that this great leader was successful due to the blessings of God. He was also successful because of his “prayer-peration” and his preparation. He did not merely throw something against a wall to see what would stick.

Our Lord did not “throw something against a wall” when it came to carrying out what we often call “The Great Commission.” Luke 24:47 informs us that the plan was to have it “…beginning at Jerusalem.”

As Luke continues his inspired writing in the book of Acts, we learn that Jesus told His apostles, “…you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Those who are unfamiliar with geography may not be aware of the fact that the plan involved the gospel “emanating” from Jerusalem. 

The Lord had a plan. It was definitely not the pasta plan.

Our last example is pretty comprehensive. We will close this discussion with one passage of scripture and a prayer that all will see that God has a plan for all of mankind and for each of us as individuals.

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons (Gal. 4:4-5)


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Two Professors; Two Education Models; (Possibly) Two Destinies

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I have no idea how many different professors and instructors I had during my four years at Southern Illinois University, but I can only recall the names of two of them. Both of them taught in my major field of study (government) and both had me in more than one class (three for one and two for the other). 

I can still remember making an appointment with one of them to ask if I could use him as a reference in order to get into graduate school. I figured that he would be a good reference since he was reputed to be one of the (if not the) most difficult professor(s) in the department and since I had received an “A” in both of his classes. 

He did not even remember who I was!   

After he looked up my grades, he wrote a perfunctory letter of recommendation. I am sure he did that for many other faceless, nameless people who had occupied a seat in one of his classes.

Years after their college years, our two children have no trouble recalling the names those who taught them at Freed-Hardeman University. It is interesting that, in their conversations, they do not talk about Dr. ________ and Dr. ________.  They were talking about Gary, Billy, Ralph, Sam, Janine, Bobby, John, Karen, Sharon, Earl, David, Roy, and a host of others. They were, to be sure, talking about people who have earned a terminal degree and who had been some of their professors and instructors at FHU. 

At the same time, they were talking about more than instructors. They were talking about people who were, and continue to be in many ways, a part of their lives. While they may have instructed them in different fields of academic studies, they also guided them in their lives and in their goal of honoring our Lord and spending eternity with Him.

During a conversation a few years ago, our children were surprised to learn that I could only think of the two professors I have already mentioned. They reacted as if I was talking about a world entirely foreign to them. 

I was!

I was talking about a world where the Bible was ridiculed, morals meant nothing, partying was the norm for the majority, and faith was all too often destroyed. I am grateful that our children had a much different experience than the one I had. 

As young people and their parents make choices concerning higher education, I pray that they realize that there are things more important than dollars and/or how close an institution is to home. I pray that they think of memories they will have for a lifetime and relationships they will have in eternity.


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Do We Really Understand Commitment

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She had waited for this day for several months. They had been dating for a couple of years and had a serious relationship that they both knew would end in marriage. On this particular night, her months of waiting finally came to an end. After a wonderful dinner, and a walk by the river, he got down on one knee and asked her to be his wife.  She accepted the beautiful ring and answered with a “yes.”  Did she really know the commitment she was making?

This young man loved the game of basketball. As a freshmen in high school, he tried out for the team and was selected to be one of the ten members of that team. He attended every practice and worked as hard as everyone else on the team, but the coach didn’t use him much in any of the games. It seemed as though the coach just didn’t like this young man, and seemed to take every opportunity to ridicule and poke fun at him. He often rode the bench during the game, even though his team might be many points ahead on the scoreboard. After observing this abuse for several weeks, his parents urged him to quit the team. That young man asked his parents a question: “Aren’t you the people who taught me that once you sign up for something you finish it?” Did he really understand what commitment was all about?

That dream job was finally open. The one he had applied for and had been waiting for–the opportunity of his dreams. He interviewed well and was told the job was his. He had signed his name to a contract at his current job, and the contract still had six more months to go. What would he do with this commitment he had made?

They were close to forty years old and had never had children. Their names had been on adoption lists for several years, but nothing had materialized for them and they were being told that their names were being removed from the lists because of their age. Their preacher was contacted by a member of the church who needed a set of parents for a child being born out of wedlock. Arrangements were made and when that child was born, it went to the home of this couple. After a couple of months of caring for a newborn, the preacher’s wife received a call. The adoptive mother was complaining about how difficult it was to care for a newborn. Their home wasn’t quiet and organized like it had been before. Had they not thought about the commitment they were making?

These and many other scenarios like them all have something to do with commitment.

Commitment. It’s a word we all would say we understand and a word for which we could probably give a definition. But do we truly understand what commitment is all about? More importantly, does our definition of commitment, and our will to be committed to the right things, measure up to what God would have us do?

When I look, even briefly, at some of the people in the Bible I see an understanding of commitment that far exceeds the understanding of commitment today.

Noah committed to the building of a vessel he had had no need for up to this point in his life.

Abraham and Sarai committed to travel to a land they knew nothing about.

Abraham committed to the sacrifice of his son of promise; something he most definitely could not understand.

Ruth, the young Moabite woman, committed to living in a land that was foreign to her because she had committed to the family of her husband.

Esther committed to going before the King on a mission in an effort to save the Jews from annihilation.

Jesus committed to living on this earth to set an example for all of mankind.

Jesus committed to death on the cross, so that I might have a home in heaven.

In all of these brief examples, the commitment was carried out because they were based upon trust. 

How much better would our marriages, our homes, our congregations, our work places, and our lives be if we just truly understood commitment to God and His Word?

Are you committed to your spouse?

Are you committed to rearing godly children?

Are you committed to the church; in particular, your local congregation?

Are you committed to doing your best at work?

Are you committed to letting your light shine before others?

Are you committed to God for life?

“Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will act.”  Psalm 37:5


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The late comedian Victor Borge once said that “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.” People need to enjoy life. I have often said that one of the greatest lessons having cancer teaches a person is that it is important to rejoice more. Life is a wonderful gift. Too many people are wasting it being negative or unhappy.

Researchers have noted that the average child laughs 150 times a day. The average adult only laughs 15 times a day. We are losing our smiles, and a laugh is really nothing more than a smile that finally bursts.

The presence of laughter improves virtually every situation. I recently read a suggestion from a marriage and family therapist who said that we should tell jokes at the dinner table to our family members. First, of course, we need to sit down long enough to actually enjoy being with our family. Once we do that, some night allow each family member to bring 5 jokes with them to the table on a piece of paper. Then take turns telling them. See if you enjoy your supper time more.

Laughter also blesses mankind with inner peace. Actor Alan Alda once said that “When people are laughing, they’re generally not killing each other.” It takes a willing heart to open up enough with another person so as to laugh with them. Laughter builds relationships. It rewards with memories. It is positive reinforcement. It reminds us that life is great!

The Bible pictures the Son of God as one who was full of joy. Children do not flock to grumpy people. As Jesus took the young people into his arms, I believe there were wonderful smiles and amazing laughter. It was the most natural thing for our Savior to rejoice. He loved people. He enjoyed being with them. He experienced every emotion a man could experience. The people who are the closest to God are those who are the happiest. How close was Jesus to the Father? His closeness must have made him a man who usually wore a smile.

The promise Jesus gives the faithful servant at the end of time is “…enter thou into the joy of thy Lord” (Matt. 25:21, 23). Heaven is going to be a place where laughter abounds. There will be nothing to prohibit eternal rejoicing there. Laughter, then, is a momentary taste of divine blessings. It is a prelude to a greater time when we will all be in the presence of God.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” ~ Philippians 4:4


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