God’s Strength and Comfort

Scripture Reading: 2 Chronicles 16:9: For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.

I am going to be completely honest; this has been a difficult week for me. There have been very few moments that I have been able to stop, and be still, over the last five days. My day job is difficult as always, that will never change. The first few days of the week were very hectic and it seemed that my list of things to get accomplished was growing at a faster rate than I could keep up with. You could say that the worries and stress of this world was pulling me down.

On Wednesday morning, my oldest daughter called me as she was driving down the street in Rome, Ga. She was going to the computer store to see what they could do with her laptop that she has accidentally spilled water on the night before. She is nearing the end of her college career at Berry and the pressures that she was feeling were very evident. As Beth Anne was driving down the street she started talking about how the wind was really blowing hard. I told her that it was the early winds from the storm that was due to arrive later that day. Little did I know that a tornado was about to hit Rome and Berry College.

A few seconds later Beth Anne started getting scared and she was describing to me trees falling in the road, signs being ripped off and tossed about, and power lines that were falling down. I told her to get off the phone and try to find a safe place. She called me a few minutes later and told me that both of the entrances to Berry College were blocked by trees that had fallen across the road.

Around lunch time, Beth Anne called me and told me that she was going to spend the night at the house of a friend that lived about an hour away. Knowing that she would be at her friend’s house, with her parents there, was very comforting to me, because another dangerous storm was headed her way. Beth Anne called me just before supper and told me that they were headed to the basement because a tornado warning had been issued for the town of Ringgold, Ga. She told me that her cell phone was just about to die but she would call me from her friend’s cell phone to update us on the weather situation.

We were watching the local news and we soon began to realize that the town of Ringgold was directly in the path of this massive tornado. I thought about Beth Anne already being in one tornado today and now another one was headed her way. She kept us updated throughout the storm so we were able to remain fairly calm despite the news reports of the disaster that had struck that small town. I am very happy to report that she and her friends came through the storm without any injuries, but that was not the case for many others across the Southeast that day.

I am so thankful that my daughter made it safely through that day. But I am deeply saddened by the tremendous loss of life that many other families had to endure and are just now coming to terms with. Life throws many challenges at us and some are more difficult to handle than others. When I think that my life is difficult and challenging, I don’t have to look far to realize that I have a lot to be thankful for.

Our verse today reminds us that God’s strength is there for us as we encounter the many difficult moments in our lives. The strength that God offers is more comforting than anything that this world could ever offer. By being fully committed to God, I know that He will give me the strength to face any challenge that comes my way. I have so much to be thankful for and absolutely nothing that I should complain about. The grace of God is sufficient for me.

Christ is Risen!

Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 16:55-58
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

The Easter season is here. No, Easter is not just a day, but a season that the church celebrates. The Easter season runs from Resurrection Sunday to Pentecost Sunday, when the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples and the church was born. Today, this first day of Easter, we are reminded that Christ has defeated death and the grave. As believers, we can now experience a new life in Christ, one that keeps Easter all year long.

Easter, the resurrection, is the one event of the Christian faith that the church remembered and celebrated since Christ first rose from the dead. In contrast, Christians did not officially celebrate Christmas Day until the 4th century.

Only two of the Gospels (Matthew and Luke) give accounts of the birth of Jesus. However, all four Gospels give accounts of the resurrection. The Gospels devote a significant number of verses to Jesus death and resurrection because this constitutes the foundation of our Christian faith. Telling about Jesus requires a look back at his life and ministry through eyes that have seen the resurrection.

By celebrating the resurrection of Christ we are also reminded that we are a resurrected people as well. In 1 Corinthians 15:8, Paul reminds us that as a resurrected people we are to “devote ourselves fully to the work of the Lord”. We are to keep Easter in our hearts and to practice being an Easter people all year long.

Even though death has been defeated, we still struggle with the finality of life here on earth. For now, we can only see this side of death but Christ reminds us that this death only involves the body. Paul teaches us that there are heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies and that the splendor of the heavenly body is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly body is another.

In our own church family, we have had to contend with death a lot over the last ten days. We have lost church members, parents of church members, and a dear brother in Christ, in Africa. It is always difficult when we lose family, when we lose brothers and sisters in Christ, and when we lose people that spread the Good News that Christ commanded us to do. Words cannot express the deep pain and anguish that we feel, because those people will be greatly missed in this life.

Paul gives us hope and encouragement as he writes further in his letter to the Corinthians. Paul tells us that the resurrection body will be raised imperishable, it will be raised in glory and in power. This new body in Christ will not be an earthly body that will be subjected to sickness and decay. Paul says that it will be raised a spiritual body that will last into eternity.

So during this upcoming week, remind yourselves and those that you encounter, that it is still Easter. Easter is not just a one day event that is forgotten come Monday morning. And although the Easter season lasts until Pentecost Sunday, Easter must still be at the forefront of our thoughts all year long. As believers in Christ, we are an Easter people and we believe and know that Christ has defeated death and the grave forever. Christ is Risen! Christ is Risen indeed!

Source Used: For Everything, A Season. A Study of the Liturgical Calendar, Kathleen Long Bostrom

Amazing Love

Scripture Readings:John 3:16: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

There is a song called, You Are My King (Amazing Love) that I have been enjoying for some time. The song is performed by many different artists but what gets my attention is the simple, yet powerful words of this song.

I’m forgiven because You were forsaken
I’m accepted, You were condemned
I’m alive and well, Your Spirit is within me
Because You died and rose again

Amazing love, how can it be
That You, my King, should die for me?
Amazing love, I know it’s true
It’s my joy to honor You
In all I do, to honor You

You are my King
You are my King
Jesus, You are my King

My mind cannot comprehend the sacrifice that Jesus made for me on the cross. Jesus died a brutal death and he did so because His love for us was an amazing love. As we approach Easter Sunday, we must remember the love that Christ has for each and every one of us. If we are so bold as to call ourselves followers of Christ, then we must live a life that honors our risen Lord. The Good News is that Jesus arose from the grave and he defeated death for all of those that believe in him.

Since Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice on the cross for me, I am more determined that ever, to live my life in honor of my risen Lord and Savior. Jesus had compassion on those who were shunned by society, and he took the time to listen and to share a meal with those that needed to hear the message of the kingdom of God. Throughout the Gospels we read that Jesus associated with “sinners.” Our Savior deeply cared for and loved everyone, and that is what we are commanded to do, as we live out our lives in a fallen world.

We are forgiven and accepted because Jesus was forsaken and condemned. Our pastor likes to say that we are an Easter people, and not just at Easter but throughout the year. And I believe that’s the way that we should remember the sacrifice that Jesus made for all of us on that cross at Golgotha. We are alive and well and forgiven because of the amazing love of Christ. How will you honor Jesus with your life?

Amazing love, how can it be?
That you, my King, should die for me?
Amen.

The Good Earth

Scripture Reading: Genesis 1:9-13: And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear. And it was so. God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that is was good. And there was evening, and there was morning – the third day.

As I am preparing to go out and work in my yard on this beautiful Saturday morning, I was thinking about my grandfather, Paul, who was always out working in his yard or in his garden. Paul lived in Banks County about a mile from where I grew up. I vividly remember Paul and the beautiful flowers that he grew and the impressive garden that he had every year. Paul loved the earth, the soil and the beautiful plants and vegetation that it produced. He believed it to be a blessing from God, a gift spoken from God. Paul also believed that it was our duty to take good care of the earth and to also share in its abundance, as he often did with everyone in the community from his garden.

Paul was a “character,” he had a witty sense of humor and he was a very friendly man. I remember him sitting in his usual pew on the left side of Harmony Baptist Church beside one of the windows. Paul always arrived about thirty minutes early to church, driving his powder blue Ford Fairlane. Many times Paul would be sitting under a shade tree at the edge of the parking lot where it was cooler.That was his time to sit outside and have a conversation with God before the service began. Paul, I believe, felt closer to God when he was outside.

Paul always had lots of stories to tell and I would like to share one of those with you today. Paul tells the story of being a young boy (about 10 years old) sitting in church one Sunday. The preacher was one of those preachers, according to Paul, that would pound his fist on the pulpit and would really get worked up when preaching a sermon.

Paul said that he was sort of afraid of the preacher and he usually sat near the back row. On this particular Sunday, Paul’s mother was sick and he went to church alone. He was sitting in the back row and the preacher was in rare form on this hot summer Sunday morning.

The pastor was preaching on the Apostle Paul and one of his missionary journeys. Paul, my grandfather, wasn’t paying much attention until the preacher started preaching on how God told Paul to go and spread the gospel. The preacher started yelling, “Paul, Paul, go and spread the gospel, go to where I tell you to go – Paul, go, go, get up and go!”

My grandfather Paul said he jumped up out of his seat; he ran out the church door, ran home and got under his bed. His mother, scared, not knowing what had happened to Paul got down on the floor and looked under the bed and said, “Paul, what is wrong with you!” Paul said, “The preacher saw that I had fallen asleep and when I woke up he was yelling, Paul, Paul, get up and go!” And so I got up and left, and ran as fast as I could home.”

Paul’s garden was beautiful each and every year. The corn that he grew was magnificent, his tomatoes were unbelievable, and the beans and peas that he grew were out of this world. Paul had a “green thumb”, a gift of taking the good earth and growing vegetables, flowers, anything. And Paul always acknowledged that it was a gift from God and that it was his duty to take good care of the good earth that God had so richly blessed him with.

When Paul passed away, the preacher at his funeral told the story of a time when he went to visit Paul and saw him down in the garden. The preacher said that he heard Paul talking but he didn’t see anyone else around. As he approached Paul, he saw him holding up a big, fine potato in one hand and he realized that Paul was talking to the other potatoes that were still in the ground. He was holding up this big, healthy looking potato and saying to the other ones, “now boys, this is what you all are supposed to look like.”

Genesis 1: 27-31a: So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground – everything that has the breath of life in it – I give every green plant for food. And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.

It’s a Good Friday World

In November of 2006, myself and Dr. Edward Bolen visited Commission Baptist Church, located just outside the city of Monrovia, Liberia. Pastor Bolen visited Commission Baptist Church again in 2009. The following was written by Pastor Bolen this past Thursday and I wanted to share it with my friends and family outside of Athens.

Late this evening, I received word from Rev. Augstine S. Weah, Sr., the Pastor of Commission Baptist Church in Gardnersville, Liberia (on the out-skirts of Monrovia) that their beloved associate pastor, Rev. Mangoe Baye, died suddenly this afternoon as he taught a middle school class. 36 years old, Rev. Baye has served Commission Baptist for almost a dozen years, since he graduated from the Liberian Baptist Seminary. He leaves behind a beautiful wife–Selina G. Baye–and two young sons: Whonselea Baye (age 10) and Yarlee Baye (age 7).

Rev. Baye works as a middle school teacher at two schools (to make ends-meet) and serves the congregation of Commission Baptist Church–the sister church of my parish (Milledge Avenue Baptist Church in Athens, GA.)

From early reports, he collapsed today (Thursday) while teaching and died before reaching the hospital. The only details available to me at this time are that doctors reported that he was extremely anemic. I can’t begin to imagine the medical problems he faced from malaria, malnutrition and lack of basic medical care. He leaves behind a beautiful wife, two amazing young boys and a grieving congregation.

I remember a story reported of President James Garfield, an itinerant Disciples of Christ preacher in Ohio before being elected President of the United States. At one of his earliest interviews in the White House, a reporter asked: “It must be some change to move from small congregations in Ohio to the White House!” President Garfield responded: “Any step down from the Pulpit of Christ is a demotion.”

Rev. Baye was a faithful servant of Christ, who completed his seminary training during Liberia’s “First Civil War.” During the Second Civil War,” which lasted through the early 2000’s, he hid in the bush with his wife and children to escape marauding gangs of “boy soldiers” and armed insurgents. He was a good teacher, a faithful minister of Christ and a loving father to his children.

My last conversation with him, in his small one-bedroom Mangoe Family apartment (in 2009) ended with this request: “Would you and your wife be willing to adopt our two sons and bring them to the US so that they can have a future?” I didn’t then, nor do I now, know how to respond to such a request. It was the most humbling experience in my life.

On this Friday before Good Friday, we remember that the world is full of pain, anguish, death and sorrow. Across our globe today, suffering and pain immeasurable inserts itself into thousands–maybe millions of lives. Across our congregations, our brothers and sister struggle with depression, deep grief, fear of losing their jobs or their house, caring for aging parents, the demise of their bodies. The list is exhaustive.

But this evening, my heart breaks for Rev. Mangoe Baye, a minister called by God, schooled in the midst of civil war, never living in anything more than a one-room rented room. And now dead. Words escape me.

Ours is a Good Friday world.

And yet we are an Easter people, a resurrection people, living Mangoe’s wife and youngest son by faith and believing that our lives are God-filled, God-purposed, God-saturated. Believing that the power of the resurrected Lord is greater than our pain of Good Friday: I believe it. Yet my faith wavers.

This Friday, I covet your prayers for Selina and her handsome young sons. I covet your prayers for Commission Baptist Church of Monrovia. To God be the glory, for this courageous man who lived, taught, preached and believed the Good News of Jesus Christ.

“And Jesus wept.”

Remembering Rawdon Akins

Scripture Reading: Philippians 3:20-21: But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

My father-in-law, Rawdon Akins, would have been 80 years old today, April 10, 2011. This devotion is in memory of a wonderful man who was not ashamed to tell everyone about his relationship with God.

Rawdon Akins was married to Carolyn Akins for almost 48 years. They had five daughters and helped raise 12 grandchildren. Rawdon was a family man and his love for his family will always be remembered. He loved his 5 daughters and he was so proud of each of them; Sharon, Donna, Carla, Lynn, and Paula. One of their most precious memories was that every day when he came home from work – the first thing he would do is kiss each girl on the forehead and say, “Hey Gal”. I have been able to witness first hand the deep love, devotion, and respect that each of his children had for their father. He was a loving and caring father and he wasn’t afraid to tell his children that he loved them. Anyone who knew Rawdon knew how much he loved his daughters.

He loved his wife Carolyn, who he called “sugar.” In many conversations with Rawdon, he told me how much he depended on Carolyn and how much he appreciated the way she looked out for him and took care of him. Carolyn stood beside him through the good times and the difficult times – especially when his health was failing him. In the final two weeks while Rawdon was in the hospital, she rarely left his side.

Rawdon also loved very dearly, his grandchildren, and his grandchildren loved him. There was just something about Grandpa’s lap that all the Akins grandbabies loved. Looking through photo albums we are constantly reminded of this as we see countless photos of all the grandchildren sitting in grandpa’s lap. Rawdon would always volunteer to rock the grandkids to sleep – and part of that was because – he could take that opportunity to sneak in a good nap himself. The grandchildren were drawn to him and they found safety, comfort and love sitting in grandpa’s lap.

I never sat down at a meal with Rawdon where a prayer was not said. Many of us, we get busy; we sometimes forget to pray at every meal – not Rawdon. He knew that God was his provider and he wasn’t going to eat his meal until he thanked God for what he had. What a wonderful legacy he passed on to his family.

In his younger days at Register High School, Rawdon was quite an athlete who played many sports. In looking through his 1950 senior yearbook, I read where the basketball team had won its tenth game of the season. There was a footnote added that said – “this was also the game in which Rawdon Akins lost his tooth.”

One of Rawdon’s greatest joys in life was bowling. He was a member of a bowling league for almost 40 years until he was forced to quit because of health problems. To his bowling buddies he was known as Rowdy. He won many trophies over the years and went to several state tournaments.

Rawdon also learned to play golf later on in his life. Brad, his grandson, remembers Rawdon taking him to the golf course for the first time. Brad said that on the first swing he took, the golf club flew out of his hands and landed several yards away. Brad said that most of the balls he hit were in the woods or in the water, but his grandfather was always patient with him, he would just laugh.

Mark, his son-in-law was remembering the many rounds of golf that he and Rawdon played. Mark said that there was a certain hole at Southern Links that challenged Rawdon every time he played there. There was a large water hazard that you had to deal with before you reached the green. Mark said that most times Rawdon would either, lay up short, hit the ball in the water, or hit the ball way over the green.

But one day, Rawdon hit a shot that bounced off a large rock- and a tree limb- and maybe something else – and somehow – the ball landed on the green. Mark said that it was the ugliest shot that you would ever see, but the ball was on the green. Rawdon got so excited that Mark said he thinks that it still took him about four putts before he got the ball in the hole. But that shot was all that Rawdon talked about for a long time.

One of my favorite stories about Rawdon was when he was a teenager and had been running in a state track meet in high school. It was supposed to be an overnight trip and his mother looked out late that evening and saw him walking up the road. Rawdon had been eliminated early from the competition. When he got to the house, his mother asked him what he was doing back home so early. Rawdon replied that he had been illuminated. Whenever she would tell this story she would laugh and say, “We thought – well that’s ok – because at least we knew that they could see him.”

Remembering the words of the Apostle Paul at the beginning of the devotion, I know that Rawdon Akins is a citizen of heaven. His life was a powerful witness of a wonderful Christian man who loved and acknowledged God as his creator, redeemer, and sustainer. I believe that when Rawdon arrived in heaven, he was told: you have fought the good fight, you have finished the race, you have kept the faith. Well done my good and faithful servant. Amen.

Grace, Grace, and more Grace

Scripture Reading: Romans 5: 1-11
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

The following devotion was written by Dr. Edward Bolen, Sr. Pastor of Milledge Avenue Baptist Church, Athens, Ga.

Linda Petracelli, a United Church of Christ minister, tells the story about growing up in a strict Catholic school. One day, Sister Mary Roberts Cecellia preached to the children at school, telling them that everybody, everyone including and especially Lutherans and Episcopalians who were not Catholics, were going to hell.
That afternoon, when Linda returned home, her mother asked her a usual question, “What are you thankful for today, dear?” Linda answered, “Today I am thankful that Sister Mary Roberts Cecellia is not God.”
I recently heard a preacher comment that the principal problem with American Christianity is that we have a Loving Father Gospel in an Elder Brother Church. I convinced that one of the greatest gifts our church community has to offer to Athens is to present an authentic witness to the grace and reconciliation that Paul tells us about in today’s text from Romans. I am also convinced that Athens and Watkinsville are full of adults who have had an “Elder Brother” theology of gloom and doom crammed down their throat and they have turned off to God. I recently passed a church, equipped with a plastic sign with movable letters, gleefully stating: “Hell Has No Thermostat.”
This world is no friend to grace.
Tony Campolo, an American Baptist evangelist and retired professor of sociology, loves to tell the story of a conversation between Peter and Paul. Over coffee one morning, Paul discovers an accounting discrepancy. Peter, who’s in charge of letting folks in the Pearly Gates, has fewer names on his list than does Paul, who’s in charge of keeping a census of heaven’s citizens. Paul, full of zeal and vigor, promises to talk with Jesus about this and figure out the inconsistency of why there are more folks in heaven than have passed through the front gates!
Weeks later, St. Peter remembers their conversation and asks St. Paul about his investigation. Hanging his head in embarrassment, St. Paul said, “It’s Jesus. He keeps slipping folks in over the back fence.”
Grace, grace, grace. Thanks be to God that His story is finally our story!

Be joyful always!

Scripture Reading: 1 Thessalonians 5:15-19: Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not put out the Spirit’s fire.

This past week, I was talking with a truck driver that was delivering to my store. I could sense that this man was different; there was something about him that led me to believe that he was a Christian. It wasn’t anything that he said as much as the way he approached his job and the way he carried himself.

About four months earlier this same man came to my store at 7am on a Friday morning. As we were preparing to unload the merchandise, we saw a dog running loose with a leash attached, across the street at a busy intersection. This man asked me if I would allow him to go and try to retrieve the dog so that a car would not hit it. I told him to go ahead because I was also worried that the dog would run out into the busy street. About this time, three police cars came by with their lights and sirens on and that seemed to frighten the dog even more.

The man went across the street and after about two or three minutes, convinced the dog to let him get close enough in order to take dog’s leash. The man brought the dog back across the street to the truck and you could tell that the dog was very afraid, he was shaking. The driver tied the dog’s leash to the truck and we saw a collar on the dog with a name and phone number. Another co-worked got out her cell phone and called the number but there was no answer. About this time two more police cars came by with their lights and sirens on and we really began to worry that somehow this dog was connected with whatever was going on. We all began to get worried, fearing that something had happened to the owner.

A few minutes passed and we saw a police cruiser drive by on the road behind our store. The truck driver yelled and whistled loudly and the officer heard him and got out of the car and approached us. The first thing the officer asked was if we had seen a dog running loose. The driver told him that we had the dog and it was safe. The officer told us that the dog’s owner, a college student, was hit by a car at the next intersection down the street while jogging and that she was worried and asking about her dog. The officer said that the young student would be very relieved to know that her dog was safe. The truck driver was very happy and joyful and he had the biggest smile on his face as he worked hard, unloading the merchandise from the truck.

This past week as we were talking, this same truck driver was telling me about how he deals with job difficulties. He said, “I just try to maintain a positive attitude and not let the devil take away my joy.”

At first I wasn’t sure about what he meant about letting the devil take away his joy, it’s not everyday that you hear someone make a reference to the devil taking away your joy. I must admit that the first thought that came to mind was that he was one of those prosperity gospel Christians that refuse to believe that Christians can and will be faced with difficulties. However, as he continued talking, I allowed my mind to be open about what he was saying.

This man was referring more to a joyful state of mind or an attitude that says no matter what difficulties life sends his way, he has an inner joy that no one, including the devil, can take away. I believe that it was that same joy that the apostle Paul was speaking of when he told the Thessalonians to “be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” So this week, tell the devil that he cannot take away the joy that you have in Christ Jesus. Have a joyful and peace filled week no matter what comes your way.

Here are some verses from the Bible that can remind you of the joy that you have in Christ Jesus as you go throughout your week:
Habakkuk 3:18: Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.

John 15:10-11: If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed 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.

Romans 12:12: Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.