Thankfulness Continued…..

20191027_190339

Like any good movie, scenes transition from location to location intermixed with character after character.   As scenes and people change, the plot line continues to be shared.  We are given the plot puzzle one piece at a time in hopes we solve it before any additional clues are shared.  When the plot plays out like we expect, we probably think it’s a great movie!

The “movie” of our life continues to play out as we go from day to day.  We in America tend to like the compartmentalizing of everything, and we even dedicate one day for Thanksgiving.  One day to shop at the mall.  One day for small business.  One day for shopping online.  Even one day dedicated to giving.  With each day given over to the special events of the day, we see just over this weekend how far we have come since the focus was on thanksgiving.  Perhaps we need to reconsider being thankful again.

It is amazing that people need a day to be giving things to people.  After all, is not generosity part of the human script that we share what we have with others as we would like to be shared with ourselves?  Is this not something that should be happening regularly without external prompt?  Why are we dependent on the “wisdom” of others who want things specifically in one cubby versus the next?  What if we were giving every day of the week?  What if we were thankful every hour to minute each day?  It would be amazing……if not completely able to blow you away!

Being thankful is an orientation.  We are thankful to God when we acknowledge His creative power in our midst. We are thankful to God when we acknowledge His guidance in our daily events.  We are thankful to God when we acknowledge the “little things” around us are not some happenstance or chance, but until His careful eye.  If we haven’t picked up on it yet, we are thankful, when we acknowledge….

We do not have to be the ones who are in charge.  We are not the ones who have to have a strong hand guiding the events in our lives we would ordinarily expect God to cover.  We are not fooling ourselves into some sort of false reality here.  We give God the credit and when the thanks are truly given to whom and where they belong, we are able to realize that it is in every event that we can be thankful.

More than a day filled with more food than we should ever considering eating in one sitting, to me being thankful means a constant orientation to living life under God’s protective grace.  That means we are not the one who deserve the credit, but we should be the ones who point others to the one who truly deserves the “thank-you.”  Again, we need to realize that it is more a way of living than it is a single day event.   Living out lives to God’s purpose, we can show others it is truly more blessed to say thanks than take the credit ourselves.

 

 

Gratitude and Thanksgiving

EFFECTS

The concept of gratitude seemingly surfaces once a year at or around Thanksgiving time.  Not always successfully done, it surfaces because we are invited to eat a festive meal and give God thanks for what we have been given from the past year.

I think it goes beyond all that.  The Pilgrim Fathers recognized that all they celebrated was the sum total of God’s daily benevolence.  They recognized their very existence was completely dependent upon a God who would choose to be journeying with them daily.  And at the happy feast to which all were invited, they broke bread and gave thanks to God…. together.

In this style of giving thanks, we see the model from which the annual celebration which we celebrate each year.  I would draw more attention to the daily walking, talking with, and thanking God than reserving it for a celebration amidst turkey and football.  It is that daily journeying with God that provides the most passionate understanding of how gratitude can work in your life.

Think a moment about your Thanksgiving dinner plate.  What makes it onto your plate each Thanksgiving day?  Is it the turkey?  Pumpkin or pecan pie?  Maybe those silly little crescent rolls you could eat 100 of at a single siting?  If all we can do is enjoy them on that single day, we would.  And we would recall how wonderful a treat was awaiting us at the end of the tip of our fork.

Why would we just eat it on one day?  More and more restaurants are serving a sufficiently decent “thanksgiving dinner” with all the “fixins” on a seasonal basis as opposed to a single day journey into food bliss.

I guess the point that comes to mind is our gratitude needs to expand if it doesn’t move much beyond the Thanksgiving Day model.  Is it possible to think of gratitude as a daily result of the journey with God?   Could it be seen as a subculture of what God has already got in the works throughout his creation?  Why then would we relegate it to a single day?

Look around you.  No matter what you might be facing, be it difficulty, ugly circumstance, fair news, or good fortune, God has been, is, and will be  journeying  with you.  God’s promise is to those who believe that He will bless them and keep them.  He will shower His blessings upon them in all they do.  They will be able to walk with Him sharing sunrises and sunsets daily blessed with the knowledge God is still in control.

No sense keeping that to just a single day.  It isa blessing to be shared daily in our prayer life and in our daily life.  God with us.  Blessing us, keeping us close, and watching over us in all we do.  In our recognition of all God is doing, recognizing His presence and His guidance in our lives, we most certainly can give thanks to God with attitudes that reflect the goodness and gratitude.

 

Just Like Jesus

It was just like yesterday, when the world was filled with despots struggling with each other for power, when economic classes typified the struggles between the “haves” and the “have nots,” and the walls of racial and religious prejudice were flagrantly making themselves known.  Now unless you accidentally are thinking this was yesterday or last week, these all describe the time long ago that were active when Jesus entered the scene.

It was exactly the same as it is today, or at least it certainly feels that way.  There are gross economic disparities, there is great divisions between races and skin colors, and there are still difficulties between the sexes in our day today.  It seems that almost nothing is any different, and it forces us to have it called to our attention that the world Jesus was literally born into is the same as the world we see all around us.  It is not an unusual effect of the times “back then” but more a continuing picture of what the human race looks like.

I think it safe to assume the same Jesus who came and spoke to the disciples of the day back then speaks as well to us today.  The parable stories that Jesus made famous, still are applicable today.  That also means the words and messages that those words brought with them are still in play today.  Jesus continues to bring the will of God to bear upon His people despite the fact that the people are most likely going to reject it.

Jesus heals the untouchable.  He speaks to the Samaritan woman, who was the “wrong” person to be dealing with at the well from a variety of factors.  He sided with the poor at almost every opportunity, despite accusations that they were all unclean.  Jesus made unpopular decisions at almost every turn, because His task was the annunciation of the Kingdom’s coming into existence with His presence.  We know the history lesson here-Jesus was rejected much as He probably would be today, if the circumstances would find themselves recreated.

If the situations have not really changed, then I would begin to want to argue that the message of Jesus is spot on for today.  What He said then, applies to us today.  His words establishing a new reign of God’s love into and throughout the entire known world are exactly appropriate for the moment.  This moment as well as every moment the from the past.

The words of Jesus, as well as the actions He demonstrated those words by each and every day He walked this earth, model God’s Will and God’s intent for His creation.  Our task might best be served once again by clearing our “theological decks” and getting back to the words and deeds of Jesus.  They are to be the model for living our lives.  To allow a broad faith descriptor like “Christian” might not even be pointed enough.  For those who would be followers of Jesus and “do-ers of the Word” as James tells us in his letter, we must get back to the basics.

To that end, we need to walk as Jesus walked.  Slow to anger, quick to show pity and mercy, suspending our human need to be judgmental, and actively showing love to one another- all these might best describe what we need to be concerned about accomplishing.

Being just like Jesus.

 

The Left Side of the Boat

Waterside gets its name from the place where it seems Jesus spent the most time teaching His disciples, at the Water’s edge, or as today will indicate, on a boat on the water. Jesus’ ministry was based around going to where the people were and interacting with them right where they were, and encountering them at that location. While at their familiar venue, Jesus engaged many of them into the process of becoming a disciple, and ultimately they left what they were doing and followed Him.

In John’s Gospel we see the disciples in a boat fishing all night. They obviously were hard working types but as all fishermen know, sometimes, things just are not happening, and the fish just don’t show up. On this, the third appearance to the disciples after the Resurrection, here’s what Jesus says to the disciples-

He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.    John 21:6 NIV

The story continues as Jesus invites them to come and share a shore lunch and the restoration of Peter into the discipleship process. Amidst all of the fear that is present in the hearts of the disciples, they knew it was Jesus and that He was the reason for the catch of 153 fish.

We pause a moment not to dwell in the story by going further into it, but to consider the “right” side of the boat. Does it mean they have been fishing off of the left side of the boat and it proved fruitless? Does it imply a pun off of the “right” side of the boat as the “correct” side of the boat? Does it lead us to the understanding of doing things “His way” verses “our way?” No matter how the question gets asked, it always come back looking awkward for us. No matter how you chose to define things, it would appear we can only come up with an inefficient process when we are left to do things on our own.

A good friend blessed me with the thought that Jesus is suggesting here to follow His lead. We can strive all night long with our way of doing things and all we have to show is the lost sleep. Or, as the text might suggest, we simply yield to the direction of Jesus and then watch what happens!

I do not know about you, but I know I spend too much time fishing off of the “left side” of the boat. Who does not want to be in charge of their own destiny? Who does not want to be “driving the bus” even when we are clueless as to the destination? So for our efforts we are left with empty nets. When will we learn?

Notice Jesus does not berate the disciples, but simply suggests doing it a different way. That invitation is given to you and I as well. Imagine what life would be like if we followed His way first, not after fruitless bouts of all night fishing that we find ourselves conducting more than we even want to admit. His way, not ours!

If we were to adopt that methodology in the first place, our work as disciples would be incredibly easier. No longer would we spend time and energy trying to do things the hard way. Instead, following the lead of Jesus, the sheer simplicity of discipleship in our lives would be almost too powerful to understand. Follow Him, and we turn into fishers of men.

IMG_0625.JPGI don’t know about you, but I’m not fishing on the same side of the boat as I used to! It is simply time to follow!