Category Archives: November 2015

A Gift of Thanks

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horn-of-plenty-575628_640While I have always loved Christmas, I’m beginning to believe that Thanksgiving might just trump it in my book. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love, love, love Christmas with all that it means to me as a Christ follower. It is the day we collectively celebrate, among fellow believers, the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I, too, love all the warm fuzzies of Christmas: the beautiful lights & memorable decorations, Christmas caroling, purchasing just the right gifts for loved ones, the long-planned surprises and carefully guarded secrets, the yummy celebratory food and travels to Grandma’s house….so many years of treasured memories for sure! However, what knocks this special holiday down a peg for me is the over-commercialization of it all. It has become absolutely absurd to me that the Christmas season begins in “retail-world” well before Halloween, leaving Thanksgiving in the dust. Christmas has sadly become all about the almighty dollar….and the “stuff” it buys. Stores opening at ridiculous hours with their clerks working beyond what is reasonable and fair, boasting super-competitive sales to convince even the most tight-fisted of spenders. I won’t even get into the fights that ensue throughout the busy buying season with people battling it out over merchandise, for heavens’ sake! At the risk of being considered the next ‘Grinch,’ I resent what this special day has become.

Enter: Thanksgiving. What I have come to love about this sometimes dubbed, ‘pre-Christmas, obligatory family holiday leading up to the biggest celebratory day of the year,’ is that it is subdued, quiet, simple, reflective, humble, and most importantly, all about giving thanks for what we already have been given. We as believers, are so abundantly blessed (Ephesians 1). We should feel incredibly humbled and grateful for God’s provision on this day and every day. For we are not guaranteed or entitled anything.

As we countdown to this Thanksgiving holiday, while much of our focus turns to food and its preparation, as well as (for some) the enjoyment of watching football, I challenge you to quiet your mind and consider the bounty of blessings God has richly bestowed upon you. Rather than reflecting upon years past with loved ones absent from our table, focus on the people who are present at your table and the love that abounds. Most importantly, don’t just rush through your blessing this year; instead, prepare a mental list of 3 things you can truly give thanks for in your family’s time of saying grace. These don’t have to big or monumental things; they can be simple offerings of thanks such as: health and healing, protection from a near accident, receiving an “A” on a report card, having the money to pay for your groceries, or the provision of a long sought-after job. My point: rather than offering generic/blanket prayers of thanks such as “family,” “friends,” or “food,” consider being specific as a testament of God’s goodness and faithfulness. Truthfully, if you take just a moment to examine the past year of your life, you are sure to easily recall specific moments of God’s goodness and favor. Nothing is too small or too great; everything we have is due to God’s grace, favor, mercy and provision.

He is worthy of our gift of thanks….and so much more!

Happy Thanksgiving!

What in the World?

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What in the World?

Watching the news is so depressing and anxiety riddling. You need only to listen to the morning’s headlines before you can feel emotionally paralyzed. While the answer can not be found in burying our heads in the sand and unplugging from all things news, we need to be grounded. We need to find our hope in something, or Someone greater than ourselves. What is the answer then when all we hear is news of gloom and doom, disaster, destruction, murder, terrorist attacks and disease?

The world needs Jesus. There, I said it. We are lost, living in a fallen world. The Bible speaks of days like this. Hard, difficult, ungodly acts that we experience today and every day. Just read God’s Word; it’s full of heartache, heartbreak and difficulty. We are not immune from anything in this life. Depressing as it sounds, this life we live here is not all there is. Thank goodness! It is not and never will be our paradise. Entitlement is not reality. Whoever has the most toys in the end does not win. Obtaining the best education, securing the best job and earning the most money doesn’t guarantee us squat. Having millions of dollars will never be enough and will never buy us what is lasting or satisfy our deepest longings. Doing A + B does not always = C.

Before you decide to throw up your hands in despair and hopelessness, or worse, read on…..

What is the answer then? Rather than “What to do?” it’s “Who to follow?” The answer is found in Jesus Christ. He is our only Hope.  By choosing to follow Christ, we are promised eternal life with no more pain, no more tears, no more death or disease. While life this side of heaven can be good, fulfilling even, exciting and happy sometimes, it is fleeting and certainly not a guarantee or constant. It all boils down to this one truth: em tuoba ton s’ti, translated “it’s not about me.” Plain and simple, when we exchange our life for His, we begin to see our lives through a whole new lens. No longer is it me in the driver’s seat, but Him. While this may seem like living a life out of control, it is about Him being in control because He knows all things and His ways are higher than ours. If this seems like a huge revelation, we were never really in control of anything anyway.

Allowing Christ to  order the steps of your life and direct your path is quite freeing actually. He changes our “want to,” exchanging our thoughts, desires, plans and control for His. Remember the old TV show, “Father Knows Best”? Well, our heavenly Father really does know best. He has written your story and mine. He has great plans for your life. He loves you infinitely more than you could ever dream of loving yourself. When we see our lives through His lens, we begin to see that this life we’re living is just temporal. It’s a short, brief blip on the screen. Don’t put all your stock in this life. Invest in your future which is hidden with Christ. He gives us hope, peace, joy untold despite how we are feeling, or even what we see on the news. Don’t miss another minute worrying or stewing about tomorrow. Twila Paris’ song, “God is in Control” is true. I’m glad I don’t have to depend on my limited resources to be in control….of anything. I have and would make a complete mess of my life. Decide to let Jesus “take the wheel” of your life and choose to follow Him every day that He has given you. After all, the end of this life is only the beginning of life forever with Him.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son. Whoever puts his trust in God’s Son will not be lost but will have life that lasts forever.” (John 3:16)

If you do not know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, do not delay one. more. minute. Decide today to choose Him. He is our Hope, our Anchor, our Creator, our Savior, our Redeemer, our Healer, our Great Physician. He does all things well.

Blessings on your day!