A Day for Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving-HD-Desktop-Thanksgiving Day, USA (November 27, 2014)

  • First reading and Psalm
    • Deuteronomy 8:7-18
    • Psalm 65
  • Second reading
    • 2 Corinthians 9:6-15
  • Gospel
    • Luke 17:11-19

What mighty praise, O God,
    belongs to you in Zion.
We will fulfill our vows to you,
    for you answer our prayers.
    All of us must come to you.
Though we are overwhelmed by our sins,
    you forgive them all.
What joy for those you choose to bring near,
    those who live in your holy courts.
What festivities await us
    inside your holy Temple.

You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds,
    O God our savior.
You are the hope of everyone on earth,
    even those who sail on distant seas.
You formed the mountains by your power
    and armed yourself with mighty strength.
You quieted the raging oceans
    with their pounding waves
    and silenced the shouting of the nations.
Those who live at the ends of the earth
    stand in awe of your wonders.
From where the sun rises to where it sets,
    you inspire shouts of joy.

You take care of the earth and water it,
    making it rich and fertile.
The river of God has plenty of water;
    it provides a bountiful harvest of grain,
    for you have ordered it so.
10 You drench the plowed ground with rain,
    melting the clods and leveling the ridges.
You soften the earth with showers
    and bless its abundant crops.
11 You crown the year with a bountiful harvest;
    even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.
12 The grasslands of the wilderness become a lush pasture,
    and the hillsides blossom with joy.
13 The meadows are clothed with flocks of sheep,
    and the valleys are carpeted with grain.
    They all shout and sing for joy!

While Thanksgiving Day shouldn’t be the only day we give thanks – it is great to take a break and give God the praise for what He has done for us and who He is.

Here in the US, Thanksgiving has traditionally been celebrated in November, but has a varied history as you can see by the following paragraph:

Thanksgiving in the United States was observed on various dates throughout history. From the time of the Founding Fathers until the time of Lincoln, the date Thanksgiving was observed varied from state to state. The final Thursday in November had become the customary date in most U.S. states by the beginning of the 19th century. Thanksgiving was first celebrated on the same date by all states in 1863 by a presidential proclamation of Abraham Lincoln. Influenced by the campaigning of author Sarah Josepha Hale, who wrote letters to politicians for around 40 years trying to make it an official holiday, Lincoln proclaimed the date to be the final Thursday in November in an attempt to foster a sense of American unity between the Northern and Southern states.[28] Because of the ongoing Civil War and the Confederate States of America‘s refusal to recognize Lincoln’s authority, a nationwide Thanksgiving date was not realized until Reconstruction was completed in the 1870s.

On December 26, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a joint resolution of Congress changing the national Thanksgiving Day from the last Thursday in November to the fourth Thursday. Two years earlier, Roosevelt had used a presidential proclamation to try to achieve this change, reasoning that earlier celebration of the holiday would give the country an economic boost.

Lately, the way we go about starting our Christmas shopping on Thanksgiving Day has made me doubt Roosevelt’s motivations.  I encourage you to read through the above Psalm – perhaps right before your dinner tomorrow – and give God the thanks that he deserves.  Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Local Church Success

EvaluatingTheLocalChurch600Local Church Success – via David Santistevan

David writes a longer article – click on his name above to see the whole article.  All worship leaders from time to time get discouraged and he address that, but also he reminds us of what it takes to be successful in the local church context and here is what he shares.

Our ministry is to people, one at a time. We are worship leaders. We worship God, love God, pursue God. We also lead – effectively lead our congregations, not the inflation of our egos or simply the pursuit of more creativity.

We lead – pulling people by the hand, guiding, directing, spotlighting a glory outside ourselves.

I know it can be discouraging. Where you live not much encouragement, fame, or praise resides. You feel like the furthest thing from a superstar.

But what you’re doing week in and week out is changing lives. You’re creating an environment for people’s unanswered questions, unrelenting pain, and distracted hearts to find purpose.

You haven’t been called to make a difference from a distance. You’ve been summoned up close and personal – to lead God’s people, His children to pursue Him.

When you feel discouraged, know that influencing stadiums isn’t the only successful ministry. Influencing one life is just as celebrated in the halls of Heaven.

You, my friend, are a superstar in God’s eyes.

Keep loving. Keep serving. Keep doing the next right thing.

A Linchpin Parable

Today I received an education.  This city boy has never really been around farm equipment much.  My idea of power tools are a lawnmower, leafblower, and weed wacker.  I’ve spent some time around a drill and saw as well.  Last year our church acquired a snowblower to help clear the sidewalks and some of the long driveways and to help us get out when we had more than a few inches.  (Our van does not like the long hill coming up to the church.)  Last year I ran into some trouble with the snowblower.  As I was snowblowing, all of a sudden I lost traction.  I had power to one wheel but not the other.  I could also see that one of the wheels was trying to com off.  I tried to put a nail in the hole that was left, but to no avail, that nail broke with the pressure of the powered snowblower.  Some one else tried another tactic, but that is where we remained until today.

Staunton is currently under a Winter Storm Warning for tomorrow.  Depending on what weather site or channel you listen to we could have 1 to 3″ or 5 to 8″.  That’s a huge variable.  Needless to say, I want to make sure the snowblower is working.  I went out to the kitchen in our pavilion (where the snowblower is stored,) took the pin out (that was still working) and tried to figure out where to find a replacement.  I had looked around Lowe’s several times but couldn’t find what I was looking for in the snowblower parts.

pipe-linchpin-7993-2518467

Here is what a linchpin looks like.

I decided to try something else – we went to Tractor Supply Company.  It was a great little field trip.  We saw some great farm toys for our grandson.  We wandered around the store, not knowing where to look to find what we were looking for.  Finally there was someone in Customer Service.  I showed them the pin and they pointed me in the general direction.  Immediately I saw what I was looking for and it turns out what I had been looking for was a linchpin.  Apparently they are very common in the farming world.  It did turn out that they were out of stock of the particular size that I needed but were very helpful in suggesting that I go to the Augusta Farm Co-op.  That made two trips in one day to stores that I had never been in, but it was a fun adventure.  When we got to the co-op, we looked around and then a gentleman asked what we were looking for.  At least now I could answer with confidence, “I’m looking for a 1/4″ linchpin.”  He took us right to the spot.  Instead of buying just one, I bought three – two for spares.  The brass linchpin I believe will do the trick.

After purchasing the linchpins, we had to go to the bank, so while Pam was in the bank, I decided to Google what a linchpin was.

noun
  1. a pin passed through the end of an axle to keep a wheel in position.
  2. a person or thing vital to an enterprise or organization.

I had always heard the term linchpin, but never understood what it meant.  I knew it was important and now that I have two new linchpins installed on the church snowblower, I have a better understanding.  Several weeks ago, we sang the song God of the Ages, which is based on an early hymn of the church that we find in Colossians 1:15-20

15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
    He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,
16 for through him God created everything
    in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
    and the things we can’t see—
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
    Everything was created through him and for him.
17 He existed before anything else,
    and he holds all creation together.
18 Christ is also the head of the church,
    which is his body.
He is the beginning,
    supreme over all who rise from the dead.[b]
    So he is first in everything.
19 For God in all his fullness
    was pleased to live in Christ,
20 and through him God reconciled
    everything to himself.
He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth
    by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

Check out verse 17 – 17 He existed before anything else,
    and he holds all creation together.

It came to me during our little adventure this morning that Jesus is the linchpin of creation, of humankind, and our lives.  This even got me to thinking a little more.  I though about the various jury-rigging, cobb jobs that we tried to fix the snowblower.  They didn’t fix it because they were not linchpins.  Only a linchpin could fix the problem and hold the wheel on the axle.

I think about how we as humans will look to everything but Jesus – we will try anything but Jesus, but it just doesn’t work.  Our lives are out of balance – just like the snowblower was when it didn’t have the linchpin in the axle.  I wasn’t able to get the job done.  The substitutes just kept on breaking.  It wasn’t until we got the real thing that the snowblower performed the way it should.

The same goes for our spiritual lives.  We try all kinds of things to “fix” our lives when really we need to look to the linchpin of Jesus.  He is the only one that can truly hold our lives together.

Sunday Night Thoughts

Sunday Night Thoughts

 

Well, our first little bout with winter is over.  There will be more to come I’m sure, but for the next two days the weather will get a little warmer with a chance for snow flurries the day before Thanksgiving.  The early part of the Thanksgiving weekend will be cool, but the last part will warm up again.  The last couple of days have been downright frigid, especially for the Shenandoah Valley in November.   This is probably my longest non-injury, non-running streak in quite some time.  Hopefully I can get back to normal tomorrow and the rest of the week.

Tomorrow we are planning on heading to Roanoke to return some stuff to the District Office and clean out some of the stuff in one of the church’s storage areas.  We will probably go out for breakfast so that I can go running in the afternoon.  I am really looking forward to this week, because I only work two days and we don’t have to take James to work any day this week.  We will still have to take Anna, but that makes it less complicated and as an added bonus, three of us have off on Thursday – Anna has to work.  The last week has left me exhausted.

We had a wonderful weekend as we celebrated the marriage of a beautiful new couple at church yesterday.  Tonight we had a good youth meeting as we took a trip to Dairy Queen and took a look at Psalm 34, “I will bless the Lord at all times…” We found out some of their favorite Thanksgiving foods as well.  This morning we had a really good service.  The worship team was a paired down version – just flute, guitar, and piano with only three vocals.  I really liked the way it sounded, we even took a couple of shots at acapella singing and I ended up finger picking at least three or four of the songs which was a change-of-pace.  It’s hard to believe that we are at the end of the church year and that we will start with Advent this next Sunday.  Pam and I are preaching this coming Sunday as we keep watch for the Lord’s return.  Waiting and watching are two of the themes for Advent.

Following worship, we had a hot dog/baked spaghetti dinner for our teens as we continue to raise funds for our trip to Hephzibah Ministries in December.

That’s about all I have tonight.  Have an awesome week!