For the devotion, she read Psalm 63:1-3, “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee.”
She talked about happiness saying, “You know these days we’re just searching — we’re searching for more, we’re searching for more — and we really don’t know what we’re searching for. It’s really awful when you get to thinking, we’re out here and we’re searching for love, happiness and just about anything we’re searching for, but we’re not finding what we’re wanting.”
In concluding her talk, Bostic said, “If we’re honest, we don’t always hunger for the Lord or long for his presence even though our souls are crying out for Him. So let’s always seek him, talk to Him in prayer and read the Bible.”
Bostic introduced the speaker, Joyce Fox, author of “Slave To Grace.” Fox asked the group, “How many times have you been betrayed?” She illustrated her point by saying, “You tell a friend something and you say, ‘Now this is just between us,’ and they’ll say, ‘Oh we yeah, just between us,’ and the next thing you know it’s on Facebook or it’s all over the world. It’s very hard to forgive something like that,” she said.
Then she asked the group, “How many of you have been betrayed by a family member?” She said that’s so hard to forgive and that’s what her book is about. It tells about a young man who was betrayed by his father and his brother sold into slavery to pay debts that he didn’t even owe and how he finally comes to the end of his rope and he runs. He can’t forgive and the bitterness grows and he tries to run away from the pain — bitterness and the unforgiveness. But from that betrayal, he starts a new life.”
She said the story is based on the book of Philemon (a short book of only one chapter in the New Testament). The book of Philemon was a letter written by the apostle Paul to a man named Philemon, a wealthy slave owner and a Christian too. “And what that letter says is,” Fox said, “‘I’m sending you back your slave (Onesimus), the one that was useless to you, but is now useful.’” She said the word Onesimus means useful. “‘And now he is going to be a great help to you, because he has come to know Christ, so greet him as a brother.’”
Fox said she began thinking about Onesimus — How must he have felt? How did he become a slave? What brought him to that state? Was he a captive from another country? Was he born into slavery? How did he become a slave? What ever made him run from a Christian master? Why would he run from a Christian master? Where did he go and what kind of adventures did he have? How did he come to meet with Paul and how did Paul persuade him the gospel was true?”
Fox said during the time she was married they had lived in several states and in 50 different houses until finally she said, “my roots are starting to ache — I want to put down some roots.” While living in Murfreesboro, she attended college and earned her degree in journalism, working several years in the newspaper business. After reading the book of Philemon many times, she said it made an impression on her to develop a story to put in her book, “Slaved The Grace.”
“I had struggled with it for a while,” she said. “I was about halfway done with it when my computer crashed and took everything with it and then I got discouraged and I didn’t write anything for about three years.”
While living in Illinois and working at a newspaper, she decided it was time to get back to the story and she rebuilt it from the ground up and “this time it was better than the first time,” she said “During the time I was writing it, I moved from the newspaper to a radio station, where I assisted the director of the station, helped volunteers, put together their schedules, wrote copy for appeal letters and things of that sort and in my spare time, wrote on the book. It was finally done and published,” she said.
When the Foxes decided to move back to Tennessee, she went online looking for a Bible study course to take and contacted the Pentecostal Theological Seminary in Cleveland. The next day, she received notice she was given a scholarship to cover half of her tuition costs for the first year, with the option of taking the course online or on campus. “We have no intentions of moving anywhere else,” she confided. “I feel my roots growing and that’s basically why we are here and why we’re going to stay.”
Fox said her book, “Slave To Grace,” deals mostly with the idea of forgiveness. More important than the story,” Fox said, “more important than all of the stories in all of the world is the idea that forgiveness is a must. You can’t say, ‘I’m never going to forgive you,’ it doesn’t matter what they’ve done, it doesn’t matter how much you hurt. If he can’t forgive them in yourself, you forgive them in Christ,” she said.
Fox suggested to the group they should take a moment in silence, ask God to search their hearts and pray “if there’s unforgiveness for anybody in our lives, show it to us and help us to forgive them.”
Lily Cunningham won the door prize, compliments of Steve Robinson and Cleveland Plywood. Alexander Delk offered the closing prayer.
To obtain a copy of “Slave To Grace” contact Fox by email at WordWorker@GMX.com.
Others present at the meeting were club recorder Shawn Markie, Barbara Tucker, Juanita Poteet, Kent Gunderson, Martha Ledford and Joe Ben Chase.
The next meeting will be held at Golden Corral restaurant in Cleveland at 11:30 a.m. July 30. Next month’s guest speaker will be Bettie Marlowe from the Cleveland Daily Banner. For more information on the United Club, contact Bostic at 479-9207; Charles or Joanie Lupo at 478-5766; or Markie at 476-5426.