I was reflecting a little bit about thankfulness. Usually when you go around the table telling each otherÂ what you are thankful for people say “family, food, God, a job”, and those are all great things to be thankful for, but they are kind of surface level things. Then you dig a little deeper, and say you are thankful that you don’t have <disease X> like <person Y> has, or thankful you haven’t gone through <disaster Z>. Â Er, no zombies involved. The deeper you think about thankfulness the more it really changes your perspective.
Thankfulness isn’t the same thing as happiness. You can look back on things and be thankful to have gone through them, even when they did not cause you any happiness at the time. Gratitude is such a healthy thing; a thing I need more of. I’m so caught up in complaining! How can I really show joy and complain at the same time? I can’t.
Happy Thanksgiving to all!Â I am truly blessed to have so many friends, and a God who has promised to never give you more than you are able to handle, but always provide a way to make it through and do the right thing. (I Cor 10:13)
If you need some thoughtful encouragement in your life, I highly recommend reading Dr. Michael Peck’s Daily Prescriptions. They are always worthwhile.
Two weekends ago my associate pastor and his wife, myself, and two other leaders, took a group of 14 senior-high teens down to Mohican State Park in Loudonville, Ohio, from Friday evening until Sunday morning (returning in time to attend Sunday School – I teach the preschool kids, and I sure was tired!). As a group we hiked Hog’s Hollow, and (most of us) climbed the all the stairs of the 80-foot-high Mohican State Park Firetower. Even I managed to finish the climb this year (last year I couldn’t make it to the top)! Maybe next year I’ll actually remember to take photos.
During this time of food, fellowship, training, and fun, the teens learned something we all need to beÂ reminded of: the importance of setting a good example. It was a leadership retreat, because no matter who we are, to someone else we are a leader. These senior high teens are the ones that the junior high (and younger) children look up to. We reminded them that you may never know how much you are influencing someone else’s actions, and that you must make good decisions because others are watching you for guidance.
While there were plenty of study sessions and free time, the teens also learned the importance of solitude. Each teen had a span of 45 minutes out, alone, away from others, disconnected from phones and ipods, and a questionnaire with hard questions about the future, and what motivates them, and what changes they need to make. These are precious things to do that we rarely take time for in our frenetically connected world.
All in all it was a wonderful trip, and I am excited to see how it impacts these teens in the future as they become the leaders and examples to the other young people in our church youth group – and at home and school.
You’re a leader too. Set a good example.
Crocus and Snowdrop in my grandparents’ yard.
Happy Resurrection Sunday! He is risen! He is risen, indeed!
I live in Ohio, which is the land of four, distinct, beautiful seasons. Granted, I think Summer is far too short, and Winter is far too long (because I’m always so cold, bleh), but I wouldn’t give any of them up! So this year, watching the leaves fall and die without much of the brilliant color we usually have, was unfulfilling. We had a lack of rain this Summer and it stressed the poor things out.
But even so, I’m so glad that you can see the Creator’s hand in the turn of the hours, and seasons, and years. Sometimes the season you are in (like disgusting, cold winter) feels like it will last forever, and you hate it. But joy comes in the morning (or the Spring), and season does follow season – even if some are seasons of drought, and some are seasons of refreshment.
So take heart, tomorrow may not be a perfect warm Summer day, but it will be new, and different, and was given to you as a gift – glorify God with it, and abide in Him as you watch for the seasons to change.
Once in awhile I look at my life and say “Wow I’m not a success”
And I wonder if I should go back and get another degree, or change jobs, or move or all of the above.
Or become a missionary.Â That’s often in my “list of things”.Â Missionaries have been with me and around me for my whole life – at my parents home we have kept missionaries at almost every opportunity.
Listening to them talk about their lives and trials and successes is wonderful! I work with the kids & teens in my church, and I am sure that having missionaries stay in your family, when you are aÂ familyÂ with kids, helps them realize what missionaries really are. Anyway this is the time of year where I help to work with the Missions Committee at church, figuring out a theme for the conference, and making a banner. And certainly in the past I have gone forward to tell God I would be willing to go where He leads.
But I don’t think I need to go anywhere today: Today God is impressing on my heart what a bad missionary I am even in my office.
I need to shine as a light for Him, to be different, to have integrity, to tell people I will pray for them and actually do it.
To witness. To have a heart for the eternal welfare of the people around me right here.Â My friends and relatives.
The only thing the lost get to keep after this life are their memories.Â Do you really want them to remember you as the Christian who never told them about Christ?
Let me just pray for the wisdom and courage to be a better witness where I am. To pray each day for this missionfield, along with all the foreign ones.
Wherever we are, we are on the missionfield.
Over the weekend, I cut and served cake at a wedding.
I saw these Glads and was reminded of this song.
Spirit of God, descend upon my heart;
wean it from earth; through all its pulses move;
stoop to my weakness, mighty as thou art,
and make me love thee as I ought to love.
Teach me to feel that thou art always nigh;
teach me the struggles of the soul to bear.
To check the rising doubt, the rebel sigh,
teach me the patience of unanswered prayer.
Words by George Croly
I have to say that I frequently deal with “the rebel sigh” – the bit on the inside of you that whines and protests Why are they asking me to do this? Why do I have to do this? Why am I supposed to do this? I do enough already.
It’s a very, very human emotion. And it leads to a strangling thorn of bitterness in the soul, that will overtake your soul’s garden, and worm its root deep until it is the only thing you can find there.
The way to overcome this emotion is to go back, with Isaac Watts, to Survey the Wondrous Cross, where your journey began. To see what Christ did for me, through His death. And to realize that,
Were the whole realm of nature mine
That were a present far too small
Love so amazing, so divine
Demands my soul, my life, my all
We are only here for a short while.Â I want to echo Josh Wilson and say
Oh, I refuse to Sit around and wait for someone else
To do what God has called me to do myself.
And go, do the work I have been called to do.
- We need people to inspire us to demonstrate a passion for a God-sized vision.
- We need people to inspire us to listen more, talk less, and pray without ceasing.
- We need people to inspire us to discover amazing things about God’s Word.
- We need people to inspire us to depend on God continually.
- We need people to inspire us to go beyond averaging and merely existing.
- We need people to inspire us to be personal and relevant.
- We need people to inspire us to be an authentic leader.
Who are you inspiring?
(Someone gave me this quote, but I don’t know the author.)
I teach the 4 & 5 year olds in Sunday School. Recently we were going over the events around the Christmas story, and spoke of Joseph, Mary & Jesus escaping to Egypt. This conversation took place because 5 year olds are pretty cool:
Child: “Did King Herod’s army have tanks?”
Me: No, he had horses and swords.
Child: Why didn’t he have tanks?
Me: They weren’t invented yet.
Child: When were they invented?
Me: Um, around 1918 I think.
Child: How many people were in his army?
Me: I don’t know.
Me: Probably more; they went through the whole country.
Me: The Bible doesn’t say how many.
Child: I want to be like King Herod!
Me: No you don’t he’s really mean.. !
Child: But I want a crown.
Me: Oh ok, you could have a crown like Herod.
Hunter: I could be King of my room!!
Me: Yes, you could be King of your Room.