family

A Fallen Brother-in-Arms

Some of you may already know that I write a devotional on weekdays.  I normally leave it to its own blog, but this one is being brought over here with a few additional thoughts and some formatting changes.

I got word Tuesday morning that a dear friend of mine, a fellow brother in Christ and a warrior for the faith had fallen in battle.  No, not on the fields of physical warfare in some foreign land.  This was a spiritual battle that claimed the highest toll.  I spent much of the day alternating between tears and disbelief.  There are all the questions that come in times of grief and loss, especially a loss such as this.  As ministers, we are not immune to the stress of life and the pressures of ministry can often add a dimension that few are aware of unless they experience it firsthand.  Yet, there are still the promises of God and His Word.  I found this promise appropriate to where I am today:

On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,
of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.
And he will swallow up on this mountain
the covering that is cast over all peoples,
the veil that is spread over all nations.
     He will swallow up death forever;
and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,
and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the Lord has spoken.
It will be said on that day,
“Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.
This is the Lord; we have waited for him;
let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”  – Isaiah 25:6-9

Death will be done away with someday.  Jesus Christ has proved that this is true by His own resurrection from the dead.  The tears will be wiped away someday, just not today, at least not yet anyway.  But we wait for Him and the day we can rejoice with no tears to dim the celebration.  Please pray for my fallen brother-in-arms and for his family during this time of sorrow.

That was the basic content of the devotional post I wrote to post on Wednesday morning, but I felt the desire to expand further and so I carry on over here.  As I write this, it has been over 12 hours since I first got word of Bill’s death.  The shock and dismay and hurt and grief have been so raw at times that I have been able to do nothing but weep.  The Scripture about mourning with those who mourn has been in my head most of the day.  Bill was one of the first guys that I really got to know well after we moved to South Dakota almost 9 years ago now.  I spent many hours driving across the state with him and two other pastors just a month or so after we first arrived.  By the time we had spent a couple of days in Sioux Falls together, he felt comfortable letting me drive his Durango most of the way back to Rapid City (either that or it was due to the fact that I was the one who offered to drive through the wee hours of the night rather than sleep another night in the hotel).  It certainly might have been the fact that he needed to give his knees a rest after driving all the way there a couple of days earlier.  Either way, he showed a lot of trust in a 20-something kid he had only known for a couple of days.

I am not sure that I can think of anyone I know who was more giving and selflessly so than Bill.  It was my honor to spend so much time hanging out with one of his sons and mentoring him in youth ministry for a while(at least he says that he learned something from me, sometimes I had to wonder what I had to teach).  It might have been the only thing I could have done that could in any small way repay the ways that Bill had an impact on my life.  He was a big encouragement to me and his church was faithful to support us during our stint in the hills as MSC missionaries.  In my mind, I have replayed some of the many happy memories he has been a part of over these years.  I still remember him coming up to my kids at an annual meeting a couple of years ago and commending them for their good behavior before he handed them each a $2 bill.  His giving heart and kind spirit will be greatly missed on this side of eternity.  His funny impressions and cut-up nature will also be missed.  He touched many, many lives along the way in his ministry and his life.  I cannot adequately express with words all that I want to say.  All I know is that I have all the more reason to look forward to that day that Isaiah spoke of and the apostles affirmed was true because of the hope we have in Jesus Christ, when death is swallowed up and the Lord wipes away our tears and takes away our reproach and gives us the full joy of our salvation.

Maranatha!  Come quickly Lord Jesus!

 

Categories: devotional, Faith, family, friends, ministry, personal | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

One Word 2011 – Growth – A Wrap Up Post

Growth.

It was just a word at the start of the year that stuck out to me.

Could have been more about change – but it wasn’t

Could have been about just maturity – but it wasn’t that either.

So much has played into this idea that I am not sure where to start.  Do I feel like I have grown in the last year?

Yes.

And I will continue to grow as the years pass on, but I will spend this post looking at some things that I can see specific growth in in the past year.

Growth as a father: Being a dad is one of the biggest challenges of my life.  Being an example is not an option, it is a given.  I am keenly aware of the ways in which my life will shape the lives of three young people that God has blessed me to look after.  It has been a growth process this year as I have tried to be more intentional in the ways that I raise up my children to love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind and strength.  I have found great encouragement and purpose in learning to lead by example more.  I have grown as a father and I will continue to walk this path with humility and God’s grace and grow year by year as my children grow into men and women of faith and character.

Growth in ministry: Opportunities to minister were abundant and I found myself growing and stretching in this area more than I would have expected.  Having finished work to be certified as a Disaster Relief chaplain through the SBC, I figured it would be a while before I could put most of this training and skill set into real world practice in a disaster.  Family and church commitments were certain to keep me from going too far from home for disaster situations and yet I got the chance all the same.  Flooding on a historic scale in Minot brought me face to face with keeping a commitment I had made – to go and serve as a DR chaplain if it was nearby.

There are so many ways that I have grown as a result of the experiences in Minot this summer that it would be impossible to catalog them all.  A passion for DR work that I didn’t even know existed has been found and I am now considered the “point man” for our DR response in the North Dakota side of the DBC.  This included a trip to Alpharetta for training so that I can train others to be a DR chaplain as well.  I am excited to see how God will use this in the future.

I also continued to have the opportunity to fill the pulpit and minister to another church here in town.  I was asked to stretch and grow in this area as well.  It was a privilege to preach and minister in a wholly different context than what I am normally used to being in and it has been a growing experience for me.

Growth as a blogger:  I set several goals for myself this year as a blogger and some of them were directly related to this particular thing.  In doing so, I learned something about myself along the way.  I have a strong tendency to “jump in with both feet” before I stop and consider the cost or the ramifications.  This is kind of a dangerous thing is some places and it is something that Jesus cautioned about as well.  Blogging is not my life.  In a way, my journey through this year has helped me to grow in such a way as to put blogging in perspective.  I no longer come by and check the stats everyday here or at my other two blogsites.  I have actually missed the occasional comment for a day or two before noticing it was there.  I plan to be a little more intentional in my blogging in the coming year to be sure, but I am already a lot less obsessive about it.  And as for arguments on the comments of this blog and others: well, I really have better thing to do with my time.  This isn’t to say that I am not up for a good discussion.  Discussions and even disagreements keep life interesting and keep me learning, and that is enough for me.

Growth in my personal health: I mentioned this area more than once and as the year comes to a close, I figure I am at a standstill in this one.  I took up some efforts to run, but those met with setbacks due to physical issues (there are my flat feet getting in the way).  I haven’t given up on that quite yet, but running isn’t a realistic thing around here this time of year either.  I eat better overall and I am still making adjustments in my diet.  My weight is stable, but I still want to take it to a little lower number in the coming year.  If there is one area where I didn’t see “growth” in the way that I expected and hoped to, this is the one.

Growth – the final word:  There is probably more that I could write and might even want to write.  Growth doesn’t get confined to a season and never return, even though it is often seasonal.  Growth isn’t always realized in ways we expect or even want it sometimes.  It does come hand in hand with living.  Living things grow.  Often in ways that are easy to see as well as ways that are imperceptible.  That which ceases to grow, dies.  So may we all continue to grow and may God bless you to grow in the likeness of His Son above all other growth.

Categories: Christianity, devotional, Discipleship, Faith, family, Fun, Growth, Love, ministry, One Word, personal | 3 Comments

One Word 2011 Update

Regular readers are aware that there has been a break in regular posting for the last couple of weeks. As a way of getting back into the groove, I wanted to give an update on what’s going on lately. My last post was the day before my anniversary. My wife and I were excited to celebrate 15 wonderful years of marriage together and had the benefit of visiting grandparents (my mom and dad) to watch the kids for a night so we could get away and really celebrate. And since my parents were here for a couple of weeks, I took some time off from blogging as much as I could. I still helped out some at SBC Voices, but the rest of blogging got put on hold.

I figured I would jump back into the swing of things with an update on the OneWord2011 as it touches most other areas as well.  I am currently writing the post while watching over our garage sale out front.  It is amazing to watch how people interact at a garage/yard sale.  Some folks drive by and slow down to see if something catches their eye from the road but don’t want to invest the time to stop.  Others get out and do a quick once over everything and then head almost sheepishly back to their car.  Some get out and look things over and chat for a few minutes and might even buy a little thing or two.  Others come in and go over every little thing and buy nothing.  It runs the gamut to be sure.

By way of updating on growth, which is my OneWord for 2011, I am excited to be back on track for some of my fitness/health goals.  I have started a running jogging program called C25K, which is supposed to help you go from couch potato to 5K runner in 9 weeks.  There should be enough good weather to get that in before it turns back to cold and winter.  I had to start and then restart after allergies kicked in and parents came to visit, but I am pleased that I have been able to stick with it so far.  I feel better already and even found myself able to walk 9 holes of golf this past week, which was a struggle just a couple of years ago.

I am obviously still working on my writing habits as well.  I am going to use some advice that I saw at Jon Acuff’s site, Stuff Christians Like, especially one about writing a little bit to start and not publishing things on the first draft as much.  It does help my writing style, but there will certainly be posts that come much more off the cuff still.  But I will scale back the ambitious 3 posts a day goal and make that something to “grow” into as I go forward.

I am continuing to grow in so many ways.  Some of them are just between me and God or me and my wife or me and my kids, but all of them are amazing to watch as God continues to work in my life.  Like the old song says, He’s still working on me.

Categories: family, Fun, Growth, Health, Humor, Love, Marriage, One Word, personal, summer | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Preparing for an Encounter

Tonight we are going to do a Passover Seder dinner at the church with our church family.  I am using a new Haggadah from FFOZ this year and combining an element or two from the older one that we used the last two years.  We have more people planning to come this year and I am looking forward to an exciting night as we relive the last meal our Master shared with His disciples before His crucifixion.

I expect posting to be a little sparse (I didn’t get anything yesterday) as we make final preparations for the meal and fellowship tonight.  Tomorrow I plan to post a couple of videos that are part funny and part thoughtful.  May the blessings of this season be yours in abundance through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Categories: Christianity, church, devotional, Discipleship, family, Feasts, Fun, Gospel, Grace, Hebrew, Messiah, ministry, Yeshua | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It Isn’t the Money You Spend

As education scores have gone down in this country you hear more and more people decrying the need to spend more on school to help our youngsters.  The problem isn’t a money problem though.  Anyone who home schools and has heard the per pupil expenditures of a typical school district knows this to be the case.  While I am sure there are gaps in this study (I don’t know that they factored in the cost of feeding your students at home everyday for instance), I still am willing to be that the numbers show the truth about spending and education performance.

Our greatest expenditure in home schooling is usually the curriculum.  We use computer based software for our kids from grade 3 and beyond and other materials for the younger student.  It isn’t cheap at roughly $350 per student per year, but we can also reuse it as the next student comes to that grade if we wish which cuts down the cost over time.  Compare that to a per pupil spending that can be as high as $23,000 or so in a public school.

To put public school spending in perspective, we compare it to estimated total expenditures in local private schools. We find that, in the areas studied, public schools are spending 93 percent more than the estimated median private school.

And if you want to whine about underpaid school teachers go right ahead, but no one pays us to teach our kids.  No one cares as much about teaching them as we do either, so I know we wouldn’t find another teacher wiling to put in the kind of hours we do for the kind of pay we receive.  Our pay is seeing our kids learn and grow and “get it” as they study and learn, and that is enough for us.  You aren’t going to see us walking out of the house on strike or any of that either.  For us it really is all about the kids and their education.  That isn’t just some platitude or empty sentiment.

Education isn’t about the money you spend.  You can keep throwing money at the public schools until we are bankrupt, and it looks some days like we just might do it.  The truth is that more money will never overcome the one thing that a home school has that a public school can never replicate.  The caring, tenacious work of a parent teaching their own child.

Categories: Culture, family, Parenting, personal, School, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Father’s Eyes

I got a new toy this week.  It is a standalone DVD recorder from Sony.  It was a refurbished unit on clearance from one of my favorite tech sites, so we decided to grab it in hopes of dubbing off a bunch of our old home movies.  So today, I pulled it out of the box and after struggling with some cabling problems (I keep tons of old cables but can’t find the one for our camcorder.  I dug an older camcorder out of the box and managed to get something going to try this thing out.

As I write this post, I am watching the video of my first son digging into his first birthday cake after earlier seeing the video of my other two children doing the same thing.  I have sort of seen these in reverse order, but it is precious to walk back down the memory lane of these events.

As an obsessive dad, I filmed non-stop action of each of my kids tearing their cakes apart and stuffing them in their mouths.  In the background you hear the voices of those at the party, but you never see most of them.  The focus is on the kid at the center of the spotlight and it stays there.  The reason I did this is because I didn’t want to risk missing a moment of the excitement for anything.  Of course the whole thing isn’t exciting for most who watch it, but I have the eyes of a father.

I admit that as an earthly father, I have  my moments of distraction.  It isn’t like I always stare at my kids nonstop, but there are times when I zero in a give them complete focus.  It lets them know that I love them.  Scripture talks about this aspect of God’s love for us.  Jesus says that if we as earthly fathers know how to give good things, how much more does our Heavenly Father give good things for us.  The Bible also talks about Him “singing over us.”  One of my favorite “modern hymns” is called How Deep the Father’s Love for Us, because it is so powerful in its expression of this love.  In the first verse it says this:

How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

You may feel wretched or unloved, but let me assure you that nothing is further from the truth.  The Father is not without compassion.  John 3:16 isn’t just some sappy sentiment.  He loves you and gave His only Son for you.  See yourself through His eyes.

Categories: Christianity, devotional, family, Gospel, Grace, Love, Parenting, personal, Salvation, Thanksgiving | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

King for a Day, Thanks to My Little Princess!

Sunday morning as I was getting ready for church, I realized that I didn’t have the shirt or even the pants that I wanted upstairs; so I put on the bathrobe, that I rarely ever wear, and trudged down the stairs to collect the desired attire.  Upon seeing me, my daughter shrieked with glee and said “Daddy is wearing his royal robe.  He needs his crown!”

Suddenly, there was a paper crown, which she had made for me to wear a while back, waiting to be placed on my head.  It is one of those moments as a dad that is too precious to pass up.  Even though I was in a hurry, I bent down to accept my crown and tried not to knock it off my head as I gathered my things.  My daughter said, “You are the king and mommy is the queen and I am your princess!”

Just try and hear those words without smiling.  I wore my crown upstairs and Amelia got a good laugh out of the sight as well.  These are the moments that parents remember for a lifetime.  Today, my little princess is turning seven, and I know that the days of paper crowns and our “royal family” are growing shorter.

Hard to believe that seven years ago today we had our “Dakota baby” in the hospital just down the street from our home.  I won’t lie that I was relieved to be living so close to the hospital after some close calls with the boys deliveries back in the days we lived in Arkansas.  Of course, my daughter was the one child that didn’t come early.  Instead, she was fashionably late by a couple of days and came on the one day of the week that I had hoped she wouldn’t pick (because of my work schedule at the time); but that is the way it often seems to be in my experience.  Daughters have a way of wrapping themselves close to a dad’s heart, and she got an early start on the process.  I shared yesterday that I would be unapologetically overprotective of her and I mean to be.  She is our only girl and remains the only granddaughter on both sides of the family, so she may get spoiled just a little from time to time as well.

Even still, there are so many things that a dad cannot prevent.  I couldn’t keep her from banging her head against the door and needing stitches last summer and there have been other adventures that I would have rather avoided.  I know that I won’t be able to stop every bad thing from happening either.  In my heart, I know that such a thing wouldn’t even be healthy anyway.  She will grow and learn and take some bumps and bruises along the way, but daddy will always be there to pick her up and help her out.

Just as important, I am planning to make sure she knows how a true gentleman should treat a princess.  We are going out for lunch today, and Amelia told me last night that AllieRose asked to wear a dress for the occasion.  I suppose that I might have to dress up just a little bit (nothing real formal) to make sure that she knows how special it is to me as well.

Today, I just wanted to take a break from all of the other posts and wish my beautiful princess a very happy birthday.

Categories: family, friends, Fun, Humor, Love, Parenting, personal, Thanksgiving | 2 Comments

Unapologetic Overprotective Dad on the Loose

Maybe it is because my little girl turns 7 tomorrow, or maybe it is the fact that my oldest boy is less than a year shy of teenager status; either way, I am putting up fences in the best sense of the word with a lot more intentionality and speed than I ever did before.

There is nothing new underneath the sun indeed.  The Bible says this without any qualifiers and it was stated nearly 3000 years ago.  This isn’t to say that there isn’t new technology or discoveries or the like.  The thing that simply does not change is the nature of man and our behavior.

I have been stockpiling the links for just a day or so as they run across my path.  I could include a dozen more links than what I will bother to post here, because there is nothing new about this at all.  In fact, I just wrote something similar last week, based on another article.

The world has seemingly gone mad about sex.  Between the stories about a clothing company that sells “push up” tops to kids my daughter’s age(which I won’t even bother to link to), and the continuing stories about kids who are “sexting” at younger and younger ages, I am about ready to throw up.  There are “well-meaning” pastors who attempt to talk frankly about the subject but can’t avoid either sensationalism (a la marketing ploys) or outright vulgarity.  Yet the church needs to address the issue.  We need to invite parents back into the mix to take responsibility for bringing up their children in the knowledge of the Lord and His Ways.  God has plenty to say about sex and sexuality and how to get it right.  Let’s not punt the ball on this issue and leave it up to a world that should know better, just from sheer failure of bad experiences, yet will never learn from their mistakes.

My little girl knows what modesty is and she can recognize immodesty for that reason.  My boys are going to be brought up to “keep their hands to themselves” until the time that God provides the other half to complete them, flesh of their flesh and bone of their bones.  Which means they will still be keeping their hands to “themselves” when you think about it.

It may make them weird in this culture and it will certainly mean that they won’t be like everyone else, but that is the meaning of being “set apart.”  It is what we are called to be as believers and it is what we are taught to pass on to our kids as parents who love the Lord.  Plus it will save them from a lifetime of regret and unneeded hurt and trouble.  I will guarantee you that the folks in this article wish they had done the same.

Let us not be afraid to point to God’s ways and His design for sex, which is to be safely confined within a marriage relationship with a man and a wife.  Outside of that context, you are simply playing with fire (Proverbs 6:27) and you will get burned.

As a father, I take my job seriously.  Am I being overprotective?  Maybe.

But I will take that risk, and believe me, I am not sugarcoating or hiding the truth from my kids.  I am just trying to make sure that they learn the truth from me and from God’s Word before they hear the distortions that have been cooked up by society and pop culture.  Those are lies from the pit of hell itself and I want my kids to be able to recognize them for the forgeries they are, by showing them the genuine article.  Real love.  God’s Love – God’s Way.

Categories: Apologetics, Christianity, church, Commandments, Culture, Discipleship, family, Freedom, friends, Love, Parenting, personal, Prayer Needs, School, Signs of the Times, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Who’s Got Your Back?

There have been several things that I have read and seen recently that have caused me to reflect on the importance having people you can count on.  In the world that we live in today, we have lots of technology that is able to simultaneously connect us to more people in many ways, yet which leaves most of those connections still remarkably tenuous in nature.  That is OK for some things in its own way.

Recently, I have been having a little fun with the Blog Madness competition over at SBC Voices.  So far, I have garnered 19 votes as of the typing of this sentence.  This is despite the fact that I have posted links asking people to vote on this blog and on facebook several times, however I have 375 facebook friends according to the count on my profile and numerous blog views over any given day.  This means that most of those who potentially see the messages have chosen not to do anything about it.  It is a trivial matter and they don’t “have my back” on this one.  It doesn’t bother me either.

You may be saying, “if it doesn’t bother you, why bring it up at all?”  That is a valid question and I am glad you asked.

Even though this contest is certainly trivial in the scope of things, this caused me to appreciate something that I don’t take the time to express often enough, which is the support I do have from those who truly know me and love me anyway.

At the top of that list is my wife, Amelia.  She has been a steady and faithful presence in my life for over 16 years now and we will mark our 15th wedding anniversary with much joy in May.  My wife has been in my corner through thick and thin, which is how it is supposed to be in all marriages to be sure; but in modern society, this is a rare and wonderful gift I have been given from God.  I may have never told the story online before, but it brings tears to my eyes most every time I retell it in person.

When we were in Rapid City before our move in 2003, we went before the church that was voting on whether or not to call us to serve in ministry and were asked many questions.  At that time, I was thrilled to relate the story of how God had called us to the Dakotas and the series of events that had confirmed that call right up to that present time in the summer of 2003.  Looking back through the archives it seems that story never has been told on my blogs, I think I put it together for a newsletter years ago, but that will have to wait for another time.  Suffice it to say, that when I had finished this somewhat long and involved story about God’s work in our lives to move us to uproot the family and relocate to minister in South Dakota everyone was speechless.  Well, almost everyone anyway as the next question was directed to my wife.  Someone asked her, “how did God call you to come to South Dakota?”  Imagine my surprise, and there may have been a gasp or two, when the first words she spoke were, “God didn’t call me to South Dakota.”

I think my heart may have skipped a beat at that moment.  I could see the look of surprise on the face of the person who asked the question and the uncertainty on the faces of all those others who had not five seconds before been in awe and near tears at the amazing things God had done to let me know we were destined to be in South Dakota as soon as they voted yes for us to come.  It was the words that followed that moment of shock that will forever stay with me; and I honestly pray that if you are a husband, you will one day know this same joy if you don’t already.

My wife said, “God didn’t call me to South Dakota, He called me to be with him (me, Jeff); and wherever God calls Him to go is where He has called me to go!  I know that He has called my husband to be here and I am going where he goes.”

Even when I write that out now, there is a moment that is too heavy to take it in.  These aren’t just words.  My wife has lived this sentiment and statement every day now for almost as long as we have known one another.  We fell madly in love very quickly and even through an engagement that was far too drawn out for my tastes and hers, we have persevered in all things together.  That means far more to me than votes in a contest or friends on a facebook.  There is no one on this earth that has my back more than my wife, and that means the world to me.  God has blessed me beyond measure.

So, I am not worried about the outcome of an online competition.  Although I am not above making one last plea here at the blog for your vote, if you haven’t already done so (just vote for me only in the West regional :)).  I just wanted to take the opportunity to share my feelings heart to heart and electron to electron.

If we are friends here in the world of ones and zeros and don’t know each other face to face in flesh and blood, it is my prayer that if we never manage to meet this side of heaven; I will meet you on that beautiful shore.  God bless and shalom to you all.  And know this, if no one on earth has got your back, God will always have it.  He knows the hairs on your head and He knows everything about you and He loves you anyway.  That is the greatest blessing of all.

Categories: devotional, family, friends, Fun, Grace, Love, ministry, personal, SBC Blog Madness, Thanksgiving, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

In All Things

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

This is the day that has been given over for many years in this country to stop and give thanks to God for all that He has done.  It has a longstanding tradition in our country.  A quick perusal of the history of this celebration reminds us that our country has not always been what it is now.  If you have never seen it before, take a look at George Washington’s Thanksgiving Day proclamation in 1789:

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 favor — 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 public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many 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 26th 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 which we experienced in the tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed — for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled 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 favors which He hath 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 public 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 [sic] kindness onto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord — To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease [sic] 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 1789.

We have nothing that is not given to us by God.  This may offend some who think there is no God, but I am not going to apologize for it or waver on it at all.  There is a lot of turmoil in our country and in our world, but it is not shocking or unexpected.  Some of the turmoil is a direct result of the fact that we have neglected to recognize or give appreciation (dare I say thanks) to God for all that we have in this nation.  It is axiomatic that when you forget the source of ALL that is good, you will lose that which is good.  We have forgotten our Source in this country for the most part.  We talk about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but all of these are meaningless apart from God.  Life itself is a gift and ALL that we have is a gift, not of chance or happenstance, but of Providence i.e. the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Liberty is given through His Son, Jesus Christ, and it isn’t the kind of liberty that turns to anarchy where each does what is right in his own eyes.  It is the kind of liberty that recognizes the boundaries of true freedom lies within God’s Kingdom and His reign.  Only then can true happiness be found.  Happiness that doesn’t consist of what we have or can get, but rather in is found in relationship with the One who truly loves us as we are and works within us to make us even more than we realize we could be.

We had an incredible day today.  Even though we were far from our family of flesh and blood, we were together with some of our family in the Lord and it was a great thing.  I count it a privilege every time I consider what God has blessed us with, both the people and the things that we have in our life.  We are blessed beyond measure or the capacity of words to convey.  I am blessed with a wife who loves to serve and show compassion to others and who can also manage to juggle so many things at once that it makes my head spin.  My kids are also a blessing and gift from the Lord and touch my heart in so many ways, more than I can name or number.  My church family is so special to me and we had a couple of them in our home today.  Men who would have otherwise spent the day alone in all likelihood, instead came and spent time with us and brightened our day.  The meal was good too and I didn’t overdo it.

In all these things, I have only scratched the surface.  I pray that you would remember today to be thankful and more importantly to give thanks to God for all things.

Categories: Culture, devotional, Faith, family, Freedom, friends, Fun, Giving, Grace, Kingdom, Love, ministry, politics, Thanksgiving | 1 Comment

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