Thanksgiving Reflections

Thanksgiving is just a day away and I’m looking forward to it!  I love what it means, the gathering of family and friends and of course the opportunity to eat!  Today I wanted to share some verses of thanksgiving, verses that speak to what we have to be thankful for, and even verses to challenge us and keep us humble.

“Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night.”  Psalm 1:1-2

“”These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.””  John 16:33

“”For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”” Jeremiah 29:11

“But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  1 Corinthians 15:57

“Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as the one who is over all things.” 1 Chronicles 29:11

Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for all we have, for the very gift of life, and for the gift of God in our lives.  Things could have gone so much differently for us, we could not have a God who’s so involved in and invested in our lives.  We could have fewer blessings and promises that we can depend on.  We could not be able to see the workings of God in big and little ways in our lives and the world.  We could be less individual and more similar.  We could all face significant challenges and threats on our lives.  And most of all we could be without hope in the future and in a permanent home in Heaven some day with God.  And those are just a few of the things we can think about this Thanksgiving as we gather around the table.

The Pilgrims created Thanksgiving because they were thankful for the most simple of things: being alive.  They were thankful to have found friends in the Native Americans and in their own ability to survive and work on thriving in a new world.  They weren’t celebrating billion dollar successes, curing serious diseases or finally helping world peace happen.  No, the were just thankful to be alive.  This Thanksgiving I encourage you to take time to be thankful for the big and little things in your life.  Everyone has something to be thankful for, even if it’s as simple as being alive.

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We the United Nations

Yesterday was United Nations Day. Today I want to share a few verses from the Bible about the nations and a short reflection on what it means to be part of the united nations.

Psalm 67:3: “May the nations praise you O God. Yes may all the nations praise you.”

Deuteronomy 7:7:  “The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples..”

1 Chronicles 16:31: “Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!””

Psalm 9:8: “He will judge the world with justice and rule the nations with fairness.”

Psalm 9:20: “Make them tremble in fear, O Lord.  Let the nations know they are merely human.”

Each and every nation has their own people, culture and history.  No nation is exactly the same as any other, and even the nations who are similar have differences.  Those differences are one of the reasons why it’s so important to have an organization like the United Nations, so that we can all come together in a safe environment and support each other.  Because what may be seen as differences could be the solutions or insights that other nations are in need of and could benefit from.  The United Nations should also be a safe place for us to talk about our challenges and and concerns that we have with other parts of the world.  The United Nations is also a reminder that we all share this same planet and should be considerate of what we’re doing and how it could be affecting the future of our world.

The verses above also remind that all nations should give honor to God and that God is aware of all nations from the largest to the smallest.  God doesn’t care about size or military might, but cares for all nations. We should remember that we’re visitors on this planet that He has created and that if we want to keep living here we should do better with working together to care for it.

Reality Reflection: Shine Like a Star

The adventure in Rio has begun.  Whether you enjoy watching events like the Olympics or others like the World Series or Oscars (as well as local events of the same types), or not, there’s something awesome about people coming together and showing what they’ve got.  These special or culminating events include people from a specific group or from around the world who are the best of the best at the time.  It’s a way of showing what they can do as well as an opportunity for the rest of us to celebrate what they can do.  I think these types of events are important because it’s important to celebrate the good, cool, and/or interesting things we can each do.  It’s a healthy way of pointing out and celebrating our differences and what makes each of us unique.

I believe that God has given each of us special gifts and talents, and that it hurts Him when we don’t use what He has given us.  You don’t go to the store and buy stuff you don’t like or use, you only buy what you want and need.  The same is true with the gifts and talents we have: we should use them.  Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about purpose and what I’m doing with my life and what I want to do with my life.  It’s always good to take time to reflect on your life and what you’re doing because it means you can stop the derailments that may be happening and curb unhappiness before it becomes full blown depression or causes more problems than it needs to.

Take time to do a reality check on your life this week.  Are you unhappy?  If so, why?  Life is way too short to be stuck and unhappy.  Don’t be afraid of letting your gifts and talents shine.  Don’t worry too much about the criticisms you get for having and using your gifts and talents.  Don’t bury your gifts and talents because you don’t think you can make a living using them or that they’re not useful gifts.  Everyone has valuable gifts, it’s up to you to find out how best to use yours.

“I always thank my God for you and for the gracious gifts he has given you, now that you belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Corinthians 1:4

“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”  Matthew 5:14, 16

A Patriotic Celebration

I’m in a patriotic mood with July 4th, Independence Day, being today in the US.  So it’s got me thinking about the nation we live in, the other nations around the world, the nation of Israel and nations of Jesus’ day, and about the nation that is yet to come when we get to Heaven/when Christ comes back.  With the exception of the nation yet to come, within every nation there are times of unrest and change. I don’t know about you but I’ve been following the news about the UK vote to leave the EU last month and you can’t help but hear about the presidential election we’re gearing up for in November here in the US.  Both are of interest to me because they indicate that people have a desire for something different, that they’re telling the world with their votes that they aren’t happy with how things currently are.  Maybe the changes that follow won’t be great or what people are really expecting, but not only is it important for us to stand up to what we think is wrong, if we can do something about improving our lives and the lives of others, we should!

What does Independence Day mean to you?  Does it remind you of the history lessons you heard years ago about the founding of the nation? Does it make you say prayers of thanksgiving for the brave people who chose to leave their homes and travel by boat to this new land?  Does it make you think about what the nation could become?  Does it make you think about and pray for the leaders that are in charge?  Are you flying a flag at your house, putting a poppy in your car or otherwise visibly displaying your patriotism?  We have this holiday for a reason: to remind us of where we’ve come from and to motivate us to make a better future.

What does Independence Day mean to us as people of faith?  It’s also a call to remember the spiritual leaders who have come before us and have made an impact on our lives.  Throughout the Bible God reminds us to celebrate Him, the good things He does for us, the great world He created for us, and each other and the good things we do.  He didn’t create us to be alone, nor to ignore each other.  Instead we’re to work together, live together, partner together and celebrate together.  What will you celebrate today?

“Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done.”  1 Chronicles 16:8

Who’s Responsible for Team Victories?

Today I want to share some encouragement with you because the world can be a very challenging, and sometimes draining experience. This is one reason we’ve been talking about teamwork this month: because we’re part of a bigger team as people of faith as well as people on earth. There’s no reason for us to do everything on our own, absolutely none. It’s not a pride thing, it’s a common sense thing: why do it all when you don’t have to? Unless you can provide a serious advantage or gain significant benefits from doing it all on your own there’s no shame in saying “no”, in passing things off to others and in taking advantage of the wisdom and experience other people have to offer or contribute.

That’s not to say that you have no responsibility. The thing about a team is that you’re part of it and not only do you have people to support you, you’re there to support them too; it’s not all on them. You’re there to encourage each other and help everyone get to the finish line by putting in your own effort and contribution. If you’re not putting in your own effort you’re risking the work of the rest of the team and potentially compromising the victory you’re working towards.

So what’s my encouragement for you this week? First, don’t give up on life, your dreams or what God has called you to. Work hard to accomplish them and enjoy them when you do. Second, I believe that you are capable of just about anything you would want to work towards. We’re incredibly gifted people and with the help of the internet it seems like almost anything is possible. I believe you’re able to do more than you could ever dream, especially if you’ve got a solid team and the support and power of God behind you as you work through your journey. God hasn’t given up on you, don’t give up on yourself.

“Be strong and brave and finish this work. Don’t be afraid, because the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will help you until all the work is finished. He will not leave you.'”  I Chronicles 28:20

Seeking God

“Now seek the Lord your God with all your heart and soul.”  1 Chronicles 22:19

Sounds so simple, doesn’t it!?  Sometimes we read things in the Bible that make us wonder if life was really different back then or if we’re doing something wrong or if they knew something back then and didn’t include that along with verses like these, like how to get in touch with God, like his direct phone number or real Twitter profile.  There have been times in my life too when I’ve prayed really hard and spent lots of time meditating on God’s world and felt like I wasn’t getting it or wasn’t listening hard enough.

The whole “sounds simple but doesn’t seem to be” concept is something we see in life too.  Think about the jobs you’ve applied for or relationships that looked so promising from the start but once you got into them, the more bad stuff you uncovered or found yourself surrounded by sharks and sheer cliffs.

However, I think that it is as simple as Chronicles presents: our relationship with God starts with us seeking God.  He may seek us out, but in order for it to be a relationship, and for Him to be able to declare us His, we have to respond to his invitation.  The mis-connect occurs when we start believing that God will always respond to our seeking in the same way, or when we believe that we will get exactly what we ask for.

When we choose to seek out God, we have to remember that we’re seeking God out, not God’s response to our big crisis, not inspiration from God for a project, not guidance on a decision we need to make, but just God. Don’t get me wrong, God wants us to share the little things that bother us and we’re concerned about with Him.  But when you seek out specifics less, and God more, you’ll be more open to the ways God wants to work in your life.  And trust me, He can’t wait to get to work in your life.  You’ve got amazing potential, a beautiful heart and a precious soul that God loves very much.

Just like you probably wanted a beautiful Valentine’s Day a few weeks ago, God wants you to seek Him out.  Look for God in your life, but also be open for the other ways and places God wants to show up in your life.  You’ll begin to see more results and responses from God, and be encouraged to participate in the relationship more too.

Grateful for Blessings

September 21st is World Gratitude Day.  This week we’ll be talking about gratitude a couple different ways, both here and on my Family, Business & Life blog.   Let’s start our gratitude talk with thoughts from Jabez, a rather mysterious man from the Old Testament in the Bible.  In 1 Chronicles 4:10 he prays:

“Oh, that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!”

We’ve talked about this verse before, and we’ll be talking in depth about it in the Fresh Perspectives newsletter.  It’s pretty clear that Jabez died a very grateful man. God helped him transform his life from being named about suffering to being so blessed that the blessing was recorded in the Bible.   Jabez didn’t just deal with his life the way it was, he chose to ask for more.

Why did Jabez get his request and so many others don’t get their requests answered?  I think he asked the right questions.  Jabez didn’t ask to be a millionaire, he didn’t ask for all his bills to be paid, he didn’t ask for a complaint-free marriage, Jabez asked to be blessed-but only if God was with him.

So why was Jabez so grateful?  Because God was with him and blessed him.  What about you?  Are you asking for God’s blessings, whatever He deems them to be, in your life?  Are you looking for things to be thankful for each day?  Try it this week-look for one or more things each day you can be grateful for.  I think you’ll be surprised what turns up in your life.