Thankfulness Continued…..

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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.

 

 

God Is Amazing!

Tomorrow we head out for our 3rd mission trip to Cuba. We’ll be working with about 15 churches throughout the country, some that we’ve worked with before but most of them newly formed house churches. We love this time together with the people as they bless us and continue to show us in what it means to be a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ. In the midst of so many challenges to their everyday living they never waver, their faith grows stronger and they continue to make disciples, who make disciples, who make disciples!

God Is Amazing!

Want to Make a Disciple? Then Be One!

Often I am perplexed by the amount of rhetoric that is given over to people, especially church people, who love to claim about their religious affiliation as though it is better than anyone else’s understanding.  Their claim on the things that make them distinctive will quickly lead an observer to the understanding that maybe their focus is not necessarily where it ought to be.

Let me illustrate my point.  My own denomination, Lutheran, has people totally infatuated if not completely stuck on the role of Martin Luther in any number of different settings.  I have no qualms with this methodology or belief, as Luther indeed brought fundamental change to the world view on Christianity in his day, which I treasure as a gift from God.  What I do have a problem with is when these so called advocates of Lutheranism start to defend a position that becomes exclusionary and starts to make claims it cannot necessarily back up.   I’m not going to make an attempt to historically trace all the reasons, since it has had a long and varied tradition over almost 500 years.

Lutherans for the untrained eye or ear have a long history of classical liturgical foundations.  Those same foundations have found new manifestations in more contemporary worship songs, written for and performed upon different instruments to a more contemporary crowd.  Loyalties of style as to which is the more “authentic” have produced numerous “worship wars” both within and without of Lutheranism in general.  It does not take long to see the forces divide on the issue and we quickly see the battle being more about the struggle than the point that was trying to be made in the first place.

Would not the church of today be better served if we shifted focus away from the 1600’s and let it fall back to about 33 AD or so?  Would we not be better served if we focused our attention on Jesus as opposed to fighting about worship music written either 16 centuries following Jesus or yesterday?  Good grief, how did all those believers survive the 15 centuries before Luther?  Now to be fair, this little controversy spans denominations, so no one ought to think I am being unfair to just Lutherans.

I believe one of the difficulties that possesses churches of today is misplaced focus.  They are more worried about almost everything else other than the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.  IF we are at all serious about being the Body of Christ in this time and place, people are going to have to notice it.  If all we do is spew philosophy or act out poorly to one another, we do little to lift up what it means to walk in the Way Jesus gave to us.

If we were to be able to slide our focus back to the days immediately following Pentecost, we might see things happening in a completely different way than they do now.  I fear we have allowed the sum total of all things historical to carry more weight than the Words of Jesus himself, and as such, we lose focus on what truly matters.  It is not the way words are arranged upon a musical scale that matters at all.  I think it otherwise.

Perhaps it is the spark of the Holy Spirit given to the  new believer when they finally “get” the truth of Jesus as it is lived out in the life of the person right in front of them.  Perhaps the Spirit gives us all the ability to model what it means to be a disciple of Jesus as we simply follow Him.  Maybe others will be impressed by the genuine, heartfelt response of one who hears the Master’s voice and gladly follows, just not asserting their ability to direct things in their individualistic way.  Perhaps the Spirit leads us to be Kingdom oriented by showing others how it means to live out the Kingdom daily.  Perhaps others will be able to see in our lifestyle the excitement of living in the Kingdom without so much as a word exchanged, simply by the way we live.

 

Try This

This was posted on Facebook this morning by Luis Palau.  Thank you Luis!

Try this over the weekend: The next time you go out for dinner and your server brings your food, say” We are going to pray before our meal. How can we pray for you?” This opens the door for a candid response. Let the conversation go where it may. And before you leave the restaurant, give your waitperson your contact information. Say, “When God answers our prayer for you, call me. I want to hear about it.”

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We’d love to have you share any of your responses.