- 2016Nov 22
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
- Philippians 4:4-7 (NIV)
As I read these words during the week of Thanksgiving, it reminds me that this is a perfect time to take a deep breath, both literally and figuratively. It is a good time for a 'reset', to turn our eyes away for just a moment from social media, from current events, from all the ills with which our society is afflicted, and simply pause to give thanks.
I love this letter to the Philippian church for many reasons: the church was started by Paul and Lydia; the first documented Christ follower in Europe, who also happened to be a woman. It has a theme of joy even though it was written by Paul when he was in prison. The entire letter serves as strong encouragement for whatever we are facing, but this passage in particular is a remedy for trying times.
Rejoice always! No matter how bad things seem. No matter what the future may or may not hold. No matter if things are going the way you think they should. Rejoice because you are loved by a God who is real and who cares for you more deeply than you can ask or imagine. And He has things well under control.
Let your gentleness be evident. Isn't gentleness a sign of weakness? Not at all! In a world where so many are shouting, gentleness is sign of strength, wisdom, and a fruit of the spirit. It no doubt takes the spirit of God living actively in us to allow that gentleness to be evident to all! But what blessing can come from it.
Do not be anxious about anything: The political environment, your income, your life situation, your car that isn't working right, your relationships that are faltering fast, your future possibilities even as they appear bleak. Do not be anxious about them. There is a better way.
Present your requests to God WITH THANKSGIVING! If we decide against anxiety, what are we to do with our worries? Present them to God. Lay our burdens at the feet of Jesus. Admit that our anxious worry won't accomplish anything, but through Him we can accomplish all things. He is our joy, our strength, our wisdom and our hope. He is also our only true peace.
That transcends all understanding. When I look at the troubles I face even today, I can not see a way out of them, and I can not understand how I could possibly find peace in my situation. There is nothing in my line of sight that suggests peace is even a possibility. Maybe that;s why Paul, sitting in a jail cell, reminds us that the peace God gives is beyond anything we can even understand. Which is a positive thing.
I wish you and yours a VERY HAPPY THANKSGIVING! May we turn our eyes towards the one who made us and give thanks for the breath we breathe, and for every blessing He has shown us over the past year. “Reflect upon your present blessings — of which every man has many — not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” - Charles Dickens
- 2016Nov 14
For the last several years it has felt to me that Thanksgiving has become a bit of an afterthought to Christmas. And trust me, I love Christmas. My favorite movie is "It's a Wonderful Life", and I have been listening to Christmas music since....well...I never really stopped.
Here we are in Mid-November and Christmas movies are already on TV, Christmas music is already hitting the airwaves, Christmas lights adorn our neighborhoods and Christmas displays are up and buzzing in every store we visit. As a Christmas kinda guy, I love all that.
For as long as I can remember, Christmas sand Thanksgiving have been bundled together, and that is a good thing! Any kid in school can explain why Thanksgiving means that the teachers lighten up just a bit, and Christmas break is all that much closer. But what I don't enjoy is when Thanksgiving simply gets lost in the Christmas hustle and bustle, becoming a mere gateway to "the Holiday Season".
Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on the blessings we have been given in this turbulent world we call home, to give praise to God for all He has carried us through. It is a day to remember those who are less fortunate than we, and to consider ways to be light and a helping hand to those in need.
From the Pilgrims who first joined in peace, cooperation and celebration with Squanto and the Native Americans, to George Washington who appointed a day of thanks to "the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation" to John Adams who asked that we give thanks and pray to God "that He would smile on our colleges, academies, schools, and seminaries of learning, and make them nurseries of sound science, morals, and religion", to Abraham Lincoln, who solidified the last Thursday of November "as a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens... and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to to heal the wounds of the nation..."
Thanksgiving is and should be a special and unique time to give thanks for what we are blessed with, confess our sins to a loving God who is faithful to forgive our sins, ask Him to heal the wounds of our nation, and ask His peace and favor to be upon us as we seek to do His will in the coming year.
Thanksgiving is a special time, and much much more than just pre-Christmas.
- 2016Nov 09
In the late 1700's, We The People got the idea that we were tired of being ruled by the British Monarchy and wanted a different option, and in the 18th century the only way to go about that kind of thing was to wage a war.
Throughout much of the world today there is no transition of power without bloodshed. Opposing voices are routinely silenced, and power is held indefinitely by the few while the masses have no say or influence.
Regardless of how we vote, we must admit that we find ourselves in a unique and enviable situation in world history. In 1980 I watched Jimmy Carter peacefully hand power to Ronald Reagan. In 1988 Bush 41 handed power to Bill Clinton, Clinton to Bush 43 in 2000, and George W. Bush handed the reins of power to Barack Obama in 2008. During the inauguration, these leaders literally sit on the platform and participate while the other leader assumes power they once held.
Men with strongly opposing opinions, agendas, and philosophies who have respected the will of the people and handed over power peacefully, shook hands, and then simply walked away.
Last night we watched as Donald J. Trump wrapped up the necessary electoral votes, and in the morning this was the news, "President Obama called President-elect Donald Trump Wednesday morning to congratulate him on his election victory and invite him to the White House on Thursday to discuss "the smooth transition of power," the White House said.
Obama will discuss the election results in a statement to the press Wednesday from the White House, including "what steps we can take as a country to come together after this hard-fought election season" .
From a philosophical standpoint, President Obama has little in common with President-Elect Trump. Most of Trump's campaign was built on opposition to policies Obama has implemented. But without a second thought, our President is prepared to continue the American tradition of a smooth transition of power, and ask the people to unite. Regardless of party affiliation, this is what American leaders do. He was graciously treated this way by an opponent in 2008, and he now extends that same tradition.
As our nation continues to be strongly divided, I still believe we are not as divided as we think we are or the networks tell us we are. We all yearn for unity and understanding, and we do well to follow the example of the smooth transition of power. Do not fall into the trap of speaking constant ill of President Obama, President-elect Trump, Secretary Clinton or any of those who have chosen a position different from yours. The election is over, and while we will certainly continue passionately debating our differences, we must seek to do so in civility.
For what does continued anger towards one another accomplish? Nothing at all but a further circling of the wagons and further isolations against those 'other' people, who in truth generally seek the same results you do, they just believe that a different approach will get them there.
Instead let us choose to be guided by this truth, "A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of." - Luke 6:45. Let us pray for all our leaders and ask God to guide their decisions, regardless of party. Let us pray for one another to move forward from this campaign season.
Keep your words pure and right by keeping your heart pure and right. There was division in 2000, there was division in 2008, there is division today and this divisive election will be followed soon enough by another, but the words we say and the way we choose to interact with those around us will leave lasting impressions, quite possibly for generations to come. Don't forever alienate Clinton supporters or Trump supporters or third party supporters. It's simply not worth it, as the smooth transition of power is going to occur one way or the other and will occur again in the future. That has always been and will always continue to be a very very good thing.