Kindness to the Unthankful

www.bible.com/1713/luk.6.35.csb

It really grinds my gears to give to someone and they are not only unthankful, but they ask, “Is that the best you can do?” Unthankfulness is on full display in our nation daily. People in other cultures would gladly receive the scraps we leave behind. They would love a cell phone from ten years ago. They wouldn’t need the latest and greatest. They would be content with not starving, or not having a draft in their home. Our casual tents are more of a shelter than in most third world countries.

So consider this the next time you don’t think God has been good enough to you. When He didn’t bless you as much today. Can we be thankful simply for our salvation? Can we be thankful alone that He sent His own Son for us? Remember that when we were unthankful, God was gracious. And we are instructed to have this same mind to others. We are to be kind to the ungrateful. Maybe it’s time we practiced.

May God bless you today.

Happy Thanksgiving! Or at least as best you can manage…

www.bible.com/1713/1ch.16.34.csb

I hope you get to spend yours with family and friends today that love and care about you. Living with family isn’t always easy. Sometimes for the sake of family we won’t let ourselves out too much. Family has a way though of getting under our skin and rooting out old anxieties and issues. That’s why family get-togethers are both welcome and shunned. It’s tough being who you are since you left your home of origin. Sometimes there are bad memories of who you were, or who they were.

But fear not. The God of yesterday is the same as the God of today. If you need a moment to center yourself, find a quiet space, gather your thoughts, and meditate on the goodness of God. This day is about thankfulness. Even if your own family is a mess, we know God is not. Don’t retreat into your phone or whatever’s on TV. Retreat into God, for there is your only sure stronghold.

I hope and pray you won’t need it, but if so, may the peace of God be with you today. May His peace fill and infuse your gathering. Fear not. God is with you.

Credit where Credit is Due

www.bible.com/1713/psa.100.4.csb

Do you give God enough credit for the goings on in your life? Many years ago the movie Shenandoah put this into words. As Jimmy Stewart is gathered with his family around the table, he began his prayer for the blessing. His prayer, however, was more about his own work than God’s. ”Thank you for this food, though we are the ones who cultivated the ground, planted the seed, harvested the grain by the sweat of our brow,” and so on. By the end of his prayer, he was essentially telling God “Thanks for nothing.”

You may feel the same way today. You had to get up this morning, go to work, pay your bills, get your groceries, and prepare your own dinner. What did God do?

Working as I do with the sick and infirm, I learn a few things about thankfulness. Some people are in so much pain, they cannot work, let alone pay rent or buy food. Some have debilitating conditions where they ask God for a pain-free day. Some wish they could work, just to be normal again. I have discovered that I have much to be thankful for.

What Jimmy failed to acknowledge is that they were given strength of body every day, sunshine, good weather for their crops to grow, sufficient storage and ability to put up crops once they were harvested, the ability to sit with your family when the work was done. Some families can’t even speak to each other on the phone. While Jimmy could account for a he had done, he failed to thank God for all those things he could not control.

We ought to give credit where credit is due. And Thanksgiving is one day where we do exactly that. Are you thankful that you had a job to go to today? Thankful that you had money to pay bills? Are you thankful for the roof over to head, or shoes on your feet? A car that started today? There are so many ways in which life can go wrong, let us be thankful when it goes right.

Bless God today with your thankfulness!

Comforting

www.bible.com/72/2co.1.3-4.hcsb

As a Chaplain, this is one of my go to verses, especially when I don’t know what to pray for. Any kind of discomfort is an affliction to someone. So this verse says exactly what needs to be said, God is the God of all comfort in the midst of affliction.

But as I’ve heard many times, our job is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

I feel like many take this verse as their life verse because they want to be comfortable all the time. And then they complain when life becomes uncomfortable. I believe some people protest too much when they find their usual comforts not up to par. Their Starbucks isn’t just right. Their server just didn’t smile enough. Their automated car wash missed a spot. They can’t get a decent signal on their cell phone to stream the latest episode. We call these first world problems. I think we’ve become accustomed to having our cake and eating it too. We are the envy of the rest of the world, which is why they are swarming the borders. They see the good life we enjoy and they want it. I’ve never seen an immigrant complain about cell service.

Perhaps we are too comfortable. Perhaps we need the reminders that life is still dangerous, still needs careful attention paid to its boundaries. We can too easily become complacent, because we have become used to comfort.

May I challenge you to probe the edges of your comfort zone? Skip a meal. Walk instead of drive. Go outside. Be thankful for the comforts you have been given. Be aware of the life you have and be grateful for the blessings you have been given today.

God bless you and have thankful day!

Praise or Thanksgiving

www.bible.com/72/rom.4.7.hcsb

Talked to a gentleman yesterday who offered me a different perspective on thanksgiving. He said he had talked to many people who expressed thankfulness for their salvation. He said this was the wrong attitude, since they did nothing to earn it. God is the one who has committed all of the effort and heavy lifting to make salvation possible. We should not thank Him for it. We ought to praise Him.

While I don’t agree with his assessment, it did make me think. Our salvation ought to call from us thanksgiving and praise. But shouldn’t it also call sorrow from us? We ought to be sorrowful, to a degree, that we could not please God in all of our effort. Maybe our pride ought to take a beating knowing that despite all we can do, it is not enough. Second, that because of all we have done, God sent His own perfect Son to die in our place. We have no say about salvation. We cannot effect it. We cannot earn it. It is entirely on God’s terms. So I may sorrow a bit, in my own inadequacy, but then let me rejoice, let me exult that God Himself paid the ransom for me. He is the Redeemer, and He lives! Let me praise a God like that. Let me rejoice and thank my God who say me in my fallenness and loved me enough to save me.

Praise be to the Lord!

God bless you today.

Devastated but Hopeful

www.bible.com/72/hab.3.17-18.hcsb

My life is in shambles, like a tornado ripped through and left me with debris. In 2012, a powerful tornado whipped through our sister community of West Liberty and many echoed this statement. A church was completely destroyed, along with several downtown businesses. The town was leveled.

Habakkuk reflects upon the devastation that results from agricultural failure. The olive trees, the crops, even the stalls for livestock are all empty. For someone living in sixth century BC Israel, this was a fate akin to death. When the crops don’t come in and there is nothing on the trees, you are done. Habakkuk knew this well and cried out to God. But in the midst of the cry was a note of hope. That despite all of the physical evidence that as a nation, we are finished, God is still a God of salvation.

It’s hard to praise when there is no blessing. It requires a perspective that acknowledges the now, but anticipates eternity. While we suffer in the present, this isn’t all there is. Though the world around us is destroyed, He is not. It is the ability to see past our circumstances.

The people of West Liberty rebuilt their town, but even today you can see the scars. You too can be rebuilt, but there will be scars. If you are suffering today, know that you are not alone. Perhaps God is using this time to draw you closer to Himself. The rich young ruler was told to sell all of his possessions and follow Jesus. Will your faith be in jeopardy if you lose a few things? I would like to say, “Absolutely Not!” But I can’t tell I wouldn’t be shaken either.

We all need a note from Habakkuk today, both to be grateful for the blessings we have (knowing they can be taken away at any moment) and for praying that we don’t follow Jesus for the blessings themselves. God help us.

And may God bless you today. Thanks for reading.

Happy Thanksgiving

bible.com/72/psa.100.4.hcsb

Just a note of thanks today. Thank you to everyone who has liked the blog and followed me this year. I know it’s quirky and odd, and sometimes what I have to say comes out of left field, but you are a great group of people that made this blog part of your life. Thank you all!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone today. May you also take some time today to thank the Lord God for His blessing, even they are simply life and breath. Praise Lord wherever He may be found!

Looking for a Reason?

bible.com/72/psa.9.1.hcsb

Just take a look around if you are looking for a reason to thank God. God has given to you in abundance. He has given you life and health enough to read this blog today. I thank God For my wife and children, that He raised me in a good family? And gave me the privilege to raise one of my own. I know the things of this life are fleeting, and that I could lose it all in a moment, but I am grateful I have been able to enjoy God’s blessings up to this point. God has been good. I have no reason not to trust Him.

Make today another day to praise and worship Him in thankfulness. Thank you God for all your marvelous works. Praise Your Holy and Righteous Name!

Incomparable

bible.com/72/isa.25.1.hcsb

Who else could do the things our God can do? Who else can rightly be called “God” than the One who made the heavens and the earth by his mighty power and outstretched hand? There is no one else, and thus we have no One else to thank but Him. God is the proper object of our worship and praise today. We were made to praise Him and without Him as our object, our praise feels hollow and worthless. Praising men for their great deeds is good, but praising God is better. Praising a child is good, but praising God, Who gives us all from the liberality of His hands in abundance is far better.

Worship is a natural part of our being, whether we choose to acknowledge God. We will naturally praise someone or something. We will give our allegiance to sports teams, athletes, great thinkers and minds, family, friends, those whom we admire. And we will do it without even thinking about it, because it is an instinctual as breathing. Giving your time and attention to any object or person can be moved into the realm of worship.

We worship an invisible God, whose worship and praise must be intentional. He is made evident by the creation we see around us. We are witness to His majesty through His creative acts, and He draws us to Himself by the awe we feel in His works. Worship of God is deliberate. It is something we may fall into, but to worship a God we cannot see requires our intention and concentration. It is so much easier to worship things we can see. God forces us to engage both heart and mind in worshipping Him, our spirit and our will.

So let us engage the Lord with thankfulness for His marvelous works, His blessings innumerable, and the joys He has graced us with in this life. If you have family, be thankful for that. If you have a home, food on the table, children who say “I love you”, a wife who is still a woman worthy of the descriptor “beautiful”, a good job that pays for your needs, you already have numerous reasons to be thankful.

Celebrate and enjoy this holiday in thankfulness and worship. God bless you today.

Of God and Country

Mom, baseball, and apple pie. November is going to bring all of these home. The World Series is wrapping up, and both teams will go home, one a world champion, the other, next year’s contender. November we also go home. Moms become important again, because we go home for Thanksgiving, and Mom will work tirelessly again to prepare yet another expansive feast, including apple pie. We turn our focus this month to these basic American values, and how we find them reflected in the Scriptures.
America is first a Christian nation. From the puritan pilgrims who landed on her shores with their Protestant Geneva Bibles, to the Founding Fathers Washington, Jefferson, Adams and Franklin who sought to form a nation with Christianity at its center. Those we call the pilgrims were all members of the same church. It was a massive church relocation project, from the friendly confines of Europe, to the hostile American coast. Yet they believed that God had something greater in store for them and their descendants. 100 years later, they were proven correct. Their descendants became the backbone of a nation determined to serve God above King. In God our nation found its stalwart defender. And her fathers made God and His Word the core of our nation’s heritage and government. Our country was founded on the assumption that everyone would be engaged as citizens with strong moral cores. And of all the safeguards in our government to keep it from becoming tyranny, this was one they did not foresee.

They never thought the moral core of the citizen would become so corrupt, that the system would be in danger. They never thought that prayer would be removed from school, or that Jesus Christ would cease be a part of popular culture. They never thought that the perversion that is homosexuality would become the gold standard of tolerance. Or that the slaughter of innocents in the womb, the safest place in all the world for a child to grow, would become commonplace. They never thought that the people would become so desperately corrupt in their own lusts that less than half of the country would attend church. For the standards and ethics of Christianity are what form the basis for a people governed by God, and a government formed by those people. For a people who will not be governed by God will be governed by any man strong enough to take the crown. Pray that our country will not go the way of Cuba, Venezuela, or the old Soviet Union. There are strong men waiting in the wings if we do not assert that God indeed is King, and all of us are His subjects. Are you ready to defend our nation before the throne of the Lord of hosts? Please pray for our nation today.