The danger of presuming on God

In Luke 17 there is the story of the ten lepers healed by Jesus. Only one came back to give thanks.

11 Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.

15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.

17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?”19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:11-17, NIV)

Too often we ask God for something, then we walk away with the answer like we’re ungrateful! It’s like we expected to get the answer and we deserved that answer.

We need to live in gratitude. He gives all things. He gives good things to his people.

Don’t walk away God with some blessing he just handed you without saying thanks!

The World in Upheaval at a Time of Thanksgiving

It is a world at boiling point… again.

The Middle East is erupting. The job market is threatening to teeter once again with huge layoffs and company closings.

The U.S. faces the “fiscal cliff.”

There is no better time to pause… take a breath… and give thanks.

We give thanks for the One who holds the world in his hands. He is the One who knows the beginning from the end. We serve the One who is the Alpha and Omega.

Our hope is in him.

And for that we can truly give thanks.

 

Thanks for Incredible Partners in Ministry

This week I was able to take part in two meetings that continually bless my life.

Every month during the school year we have our local pastors get together for lunch. That was yesterday. Not everyone can make it, but over the years we have built solid friendship in spite of our perceived theological differences. We love serving our churches, our community, and doing it all in the name of Jesus. It’s a blessing to have these friends in my life.

Today I had lunch with my fellow pastors in my own denomination. It’s a group that has held “court” at Qdoba (a burrito place) for the last several years, and we have a great time together. It is a safe place to talk about life, laugh, hear each other’s triumphs and tragedies.

I am thankful for both of these groups. We know we don’t minister alone. We know the Body of Christ is much broader than our own ideological constructs. We actually ENJOY each others’ company!

They all help me keep moving forward.

The Broken Promises of Humanity and the Majesty of Our God

Today’s reading was once again out of the Deuterocanonical Books. I have found the Common English Bible to be a great help in reading a portion of text I am unfamiliar with in my tradition. It keeps me aware of the importance of good translations that are easier to read.

Sirach 43 is a tribute to the incredible majesty of God. And it should be a sobering reminder to our frailty as humans.

While we are called to “creation care” in our world, nothing is more full of human pride than to have some politician, or even scientist, stand in some place like New Orleans or New Jersey after a hurricane and declare something foolish like, “We need to make sure something like this (wait for it)… never happens again.”

Oh… really? So you’re going to move the city of New Orleans to above sea level finally?

I am not denying the effects of climate change and I make no claims in that particular argument as to exactly what should be done. But this I know: our actions are important, but they are not the final authority. And we need to stop acting like we’re the be all and end all of this planet.

Climate change, economic change, healthcare change… whatever it is… we need to work hard to do what is best as we see it, but let’s get over ourselves!

Hurricanes will come again. If New Orleans insists on staying below sea level, there will still be threats and more empty promises from foolish politicians as to how this will never happen again.

YES, we need to be responsible.

NO, we do not get to ultimately have the final say in what nature does as the Creator calls for its actions. And Sirach 43 is a powerful reminder.

19 He pours frost, like salt, upon the earth,
and when it freezes it has pointy thorns.
20 A cold north wind will blow,
and ice will freeze on the water;
it will settle on every pool of water,
and the water will put it on like armor.
21 He will consume mountains,
burn up the wilderness,
and extinguish grass like a fire.
22 A mist hastens the healing of all things;
the dew that appears
will give relief from the heat. (Sir. 43:19-22, CEB)

And this:

27 We could say many things
and never say enough.
The final word is: The Lord is “the All.” (CEB)

The final word belongs to the Lord. Not to us.

We can try and promise new things. We should indeed work to make things better. But we are not the final word.

That’s not to say we give up. It is a call to say, “Worship the One who does make the call when it comes to his creation.”

Our eyes need not be on humanity for final solutions. Our eyes need to be UP… and our lives need to be worshiping.

The Best of Holidays

Thanksgiving is just a great holiday. Retail is trying like mad to make it as insignificant as possible, but Thanksgiving is still a great holiday.

It is about food, fun, conversation, family, and friends. No gifts. No big music tied to the holiday. Just joy.

Stop.

Pause.

Breathe.

Take a nap.

Enjoy the conversation.

And give thanks. Our God is great. All we have needed his hand has provided. Great is his faithfulness.

Happy Thanksgiving.

A Proclamation

WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLICK THANKSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and assign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is 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; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed;– for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish Constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted;– for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge;– and, in general, for all the great and various favours which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also, that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions;– to enable us all, whether in publick or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us); and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.

(signed) G. Washington

 

Thankful

This has been one amazing year. I have faced financial ruin, watched things go to the very brink of disaster in many ways, yet I find myself more thankful this year than ever. The presence of Jesus is real. In the midst of turmoil I have found his steady hand. In the midst of darkness I have held close to him. This has been a year of growing faith. It’s not a time to give up.

For what I am truly grateful for this year, please read my post from earlier this week on “Carl and Ellie.”

I am thankful for the nation in which I live. While it is obvious I have deep concerns about the issues, I remain grateful for our nation. More than that, I remain grateful for the Church. Back in 2001, after 9/11, I felt the Lord was going to teach the Church in America how to truly be the Church. We have not learned that lesson very well. The days ahead will teach us more lessons. Yet, we will find our way as the TRUE body of Christ. We need this time to understand who we truly are in Christ. For that, I am grateful.

Giving thanks on this day… and truly every day… Many Blessings!

Thanksgiving

I couldn’t resist putting this yummy link somewhere!

Also, fitting for this week is an annual reflection I like to do. Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation is a good piece for reflection in our country and in our lives as believers.

This is a year where thankful reflection is needed. The economy stinks, the world is in upheaval, and there are a myriad of reasons to think about anything OTHER than Thanksgiving. I happen to think this is the BEST time to think about Thanksgiving.

I am so grateful to God for my family. Joshua is heading off to college in a couple of months and I am so incredibly proud of him. Josiah and Jared are doing well, they love God and I am so proud of what they do day in and day out. Terri is home a little more and I am so thankful for 20 years of marriage. Her love and patience are monumental!

This is a year where I find myself still on a journey. What started out as a year where I thought I was headed in one direction for a “career” has ended with me back mostly full time at my church. The lesson is wonderful: Just do what you love. Watch God take care of the rest.

I am grateful for my church. This fall has been incredible. Our Wednesday night programs are doing extremely well, we are seeing families touched, and our worship services are powerful. The people of Columbia Heights Assembly of God are the best. I am blessed.

So, if my 401k is now so small it could be called a 201k, and if the economy is in the tank, and if my guy didn’t win the election…so what? I am blessed! I know in whom I believe and am fully persuaded he is able!