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Archive for November, 2010

In a few hours, I will be headed to the valley in a van full of gift boxes for the children in the shelter at Cuidad Miguel Alemán.  There are many children living in this shelter so our church staff, along with some donations from others,  have put together a gift box for each child.  Yesterday, a group of college students came to the church and assembled the boxes and loaded them on our old church van, and now I have the privilege of driving these gifts to the valley to be given to the children.  It is great to be involved with such a wonderful group of people working together for such an important mission.

Here is my request of you today.  Please pray for the children who will receive these boxes.  Pray for their safety.  Pray that God will use these simple gifts to work in each of their lives.  Most importantly, pray that each child will experience God’s love and presence through this effort in ways they have never known before.

Thanks for your support!

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Last week we celebrated Thanksgiving.  I trust you had a time of fellowship with family and friends and that you ate your fair share of turkey, ham, dressing and all the other things that follow this tradition.  I also hope you had time to think on those things for which you are thankful.

Each day, I receive an email from The Writer’s Almanac which contains a daily poem.  The poems aren’t normally religious in nature but I just like poetry.  Last Thursday the email was a copy of Psalm 100.  I was impressed that The Writer’s Almanac would send out something from the Bible as the poem of the day.  As I read on through the email, they also included several Thanksgiving Day stories.  This one really caused me to think.

On November 30, 1905, Thanksgiving Day, Mark Twain turned 70. He wrote: “Every year every person in America concentrates all his thought upon one thing, the cataloguing of his reasons for being thankful to the Deity for the blessings conferred upon him and upon the human race during the expiring twelve months. This is well and as it should be; but it is too one-sided. No one ever seems to think of the Deity’s side of it; apparently no one concerns himself to inquire how much or how little He has had to be thankful for during the same period; apparently no one has had good feeling enough to wish He might have a Thanksgiving day too. There is nothing right about this. Do you suppose everything has gone to His satisfaction during the year? Do you believe He is as sweepingly thankful as our nation is going to be, as indicated by the enthusiasms which will appear in the papers on the 30th of this month from the pens of the distinguished persons appointed to phrase its thankfulness on that day?”

I have two questions for us today.  The first is this:  What have you done this past year that would give God a reason to be thankful?

The second question is this:  What will you do this next year to make God thankful?

Be a blessing today!

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Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day here in America.  A day when family comes together to eat too much and spend a wonderful time reliving memories and making new ones.

My prayer for each of you this Thanksgiving season is that God grants you clarity in seeing all the ways you are blessed.  Give thanks this week.

I have one favor to ask of you.  Holidays are a wonderful time but they can also be very difficult, particularly for those who have recently lost someone close to them.  For some, tomorrow will be a big reminder of who is no longer at the gathering.  If you know someone who has experienced a loss this past year, reach out to them and let them know you care.  That will go a long way to making their holiday a bit brighter and I have a sneaking suspicion it will brighten yours as well.

Count your blessings!

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Thankful In The Midst

Yesterday, I talked about the instructions in James chapter 1 that tells us we should be joyful when we encounter trials (you can link to that post here).  We talked about the difference between joy and happiness.

This morning as I sat down to have my prayer time, I read a blog post from Jim Dennison.  I ran across his blog, God Issues, a couple of weeks ago and have been reading it pretty regularly since.  Today, his post goes right along with this idea of joyfulness in the midst of struggle (you can link to his full post here).

Jim makes a very interesting and helpful point in his discussion of 1 Thessalonians 5:18.  He points out that Paul did not say, “Give thanks for all circumstances.”  What Paul said was, “Give thanks in all circumstances.”  Isn’t it amazing what a difference one little preposition can make!  We don’t have to be thankful for the trials and struggles that will come our way.  But we do need to remain thankful for God’s provision even in the midst of them.

Regardless of what life throws our way, God is still in control.  Psalm 11:4 says, “The LORD is in his holy temple;
the LORD is on his heavenly throne.”

So today, no matter where you are or what you find yourself dealing with, give thanks for there is a bigger picture being created and God is the one holding the brush!

 

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Trials Will Come

Several weeks ago, I began a small group for young adults, 25 and younger.  It has been a true blessing to get to know each of the folks more deeply.  Yesterday, we started a new study – on the book of James.  We made it all the way through verse 3 (this may take a while).

The reason for the amount of time spent in those first three verses comes in verse 2.  It says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.”

Let that verse sink in for a minute – the writer says we should think about it as joy when we have to endure difficult things.  Our first reaction is to think, “What was the writer of this book on when he wrote this?”  I mean, how am I supposed to be pleased when my water heater goes out and I have to spend half of a day replacing it – or when the heater goes out on my car and it spends two days in the shop and is still not fixed (yes, that was a picture of last week in my life).  How are we to be happy when things like this occur?

One of the first things to understand is that there is a difference between happiness and joy.  The author of James does not say we should be happy and bubbly when things go wrong, he says we should have joy.  Happiness is an emotion that comes when things are going our way.  While joy incorporates an element of happiness, it is much deeper.  Joy involves an inner peace that comes when we have a glimpse of the bigger picture.  Joy, for a Jesus follower, is the result of knowing to whom you belong.  It is the liberation that we have in knowing that we don’t have to worry about tomorrow because God is in control.

This verse is evidence in scripture that we must realize that trials will come.  When we commit our lives to Christ, we are not suddenly and mysteriously protected from bad things.  Bad things happen to good people – that is life.  But what the verse does say is that we should have joy when they do come because come they will.

The reason for the joy can be found in the next two verses.  We are told that these trials will produce perseverance (patience and endurance – true experience) and this perseverance will result in maturity.

So here is the question for you today?  Are you experiencing a trial that seems overwhelming?  If not, stop and thank God and then realize a trial will come.  But if you are, remember that God is in control.  God has a plan.  And if you focus on the big picture – maturity and experience – you can have joy even in the midst of it.

Be blessed today!

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Fast Thoughts

The response from the day of fasting for Mexico has been great!  I had a friend tell me on Wednesday that she participated in the fast and prayer for Mexico on Tuesday.  She shared that she had never fasted in her life.  It was a good experience for her reminding her of just how much God has blessed her.

I have fasted before (not regularly as is pretty obvious by my physique) but this time was different.  With the added component of scheduled prayer times and  ideas for prayer, my day and my thoughts were more focused.  My primary experience was mixed.  It was a combination of gratitude for the way God has blessed my family and me and a deep and profound brokenness for the people living in continual fear just across the border from my state.  I came away from the day even more committed to continue to pray for our neighbors along the border.

My request is that you continue to pray for them as well.

As we enter into the Thanksgiving season, my challenge for each of us is this:  spend time thinking about how truly blessed you are and take a moment or two to stop and thank God for those blessings.  As you walk through this exercise, remember that there are people along our border not nearly as blessed and offer a prayer for them.  Ask that each individual – man, woman and child – feel God’s presence in an overwhelming way.  Pray that God’s peace would envelope each person and that they might find rest in knowing that no matter how bad their situation may be, God is in the midst of it with them.

Thank you for your continued concern for our brothers and sisters!

Be blessed today!

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For those of you who have been following my thoughts over the last several days, you know that today is the day that I have called for a fast for Mexico – particularly for the people along the border between Mexico and Texas.

I appreciate all of you who have left comments here or on Face Book or sent emails voicing your support.  Even if you can’t fast today, I have put some thought into some intentional prayer needs with some suggested times to pray.  Follow if you like or simply pray for these folks in a manner that best fits your journey.

 

8:30 am  –  Pray For The Refugees In Miguel Alemán And All Living In Daily Fear (For protection and peace)

 

10:00 am  –  Pray For The Pastors And Ministers (Men and women who could leave but choose to stay)

 

12:00 pm  –  Pray For The Mexican Government And Relief Efforts

 

2:00 pm  –  Pray For Softening Of Hearts Within The Members Of The Cartels

 

5:00 pm  –  Pray For God To Intervene In The Situation And Work A Miracle

 

Thank you for your prayers today.  I would love to have feedback as to how God works in your life throughout today!

Be Blessed!

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