FROM THE DESK OF CHARLES ANDERSON It was good to be back with you this past Sunday after having to miss the past three weeks. Laurel Avenue is extremely fortunate to have Ralph Burris in our family. Being “retired” is just a technicality for him. He stays as busy as ever, maybe even busier! It was a relief to know he was there to preach and teach in my absence. Appreciation also goes to Wayne Fonville for making sure The Chosen videos were presented on Wednesday evenings. I hope you’ve been enjoying them as much as I have. At this point now, Season 2 has now been completed. You can view all eight episodes on The Chosen app, as well as Season 1. If you haven’t done so, I encourage you to check it out. As I write this (July 20), Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man, completed a ride into space this morning. Amazon’s founder flew to the fringes of space on his own company’s Blue Origin New Shepherd rocket. The flight lasted about 11 minutes and provided several minutes of weightlessness. But over 185,000 people wanted his trip to last much longer. That many signatures went on a petition titled, “Do not allow Jeff Bezos to return to Earth.” Even a lot of money can’t guarantee popularity. Jeff Bezos may be the richest man in the world, and his riches have allowed him to “ascend to the heavens” (Isaiah 14:13), but God remains on His throne IN HEAVEN. And it’s only through Jesus Christ that we can ascend to the Father in heaven.
Stake Your Claim to Joy – Joe Barnett “Rejoice in the Lord always.” (Phil. 4:4)
If you’ve been around for a while, you’ve learned that you’re not going to get through life without encountering some storms. Jesus shoots straight with you, saying, “In this world you will have trouble” (Jn 16:33). So, when Paul writes, “Be joyful always . . . give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thes 5:16), you may balk. And then he comes up with this: “We also rejoice in our sufferings” (Rom 5:3). What?! He doesn’t deny our sufferings. Neither does he define them. Why? Probably because your suffering is different from mine, and mine from yours, and ours from others. Your suffering is uniquely yours. Jesus gives you a heads-up that you will cross paths with trouble—but then says, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” So, stake your claim to joy. “Our joy is in direct proportion to how connected we are to Jesus.”