The “Heart” of Thanksgiving

It’s time to join the millions of Americans engaging in another annual reflection on things we’re thankful for, and this year I find myself feeling grateful for things I haven’t thought about before. That’s not to say that I am ignoring the usual categories of benefits, blessings, and privileges, but sometimes, focusing on the things that are comfortably familiar can rob us of Continue reading

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A Thanksgiving Primer ~ Dancing in the Hard Times

As we approach the Thanksgiving season, I’ve been going through some medical challenges recently that have reminded me that there’s an extensive list of things that I’ve taken for granted and never thanked God for because they seemed insignificant and ordinary. For instance, last night my sweet wife, who has doubled lately as my wonderful nurse and caretaker, leaned over and kissed me goodnight. It occurred to me that one the many things I’ve never really thanked God for is that He not only gave us lips, but He also gave us the capacity to pucker. If we couldn’t pucker, the whole kissing thing would be Continue reading

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Your Vote ~ The “Amen” That Really Matters

I was sitting in a Baptist church–not a place I was accustomed to be at that point, to say the least. I was a new follower of Jesus, but my moment of surrender and commitment to Him didn’t take place in the context of a church service, and it was largely unfamiliar territory to me. It wasn’t my first visit to a Baptist church, but it was the first time that I felt like I was somehow a part of who they were and what they did. It was a great feeling, and I relished in the sense of connectedness to these people sitting all around me. Then, someone leading a prayer closed it out by declaring, “And all God’s people said…” and just left it. I thought, “OK, I’m one of ‘God’s people’ now, and apparently all of us have something we’re supposed to say, but I have no idea what it is.” In that brief moment I felt left out somehow, because I desperately wanted to be included, and to say whatever it was “all God’s people” were supposed to say. My dilemma was short-lived, of course, because the answer reverberated around the room pretty quickly as a loud chorus of “Amen” filled the room.

A Wonderful Church Word ~
In spite of my minimal exposure to church in my early years, “amen” was a word I recognized. I learned about “amen” during those awful hours trapped on torturous wooden seats between adults who seemed to derive some strange pleasure from inflicting pain on helpless kids. I discovered that just when the inescapable barrage of other church words being hurled at us was about to squeeze the last gasp of air right out of my lungs and alert the death angel to Continue reading

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Halloween 2018 ~ The Fear Monger’s “Perfect Storm”

Apparently a large segment of our population craves being scared half to death, and another large segment lives to make merchandise of them in some way. For both groups, October 2018 must be a really exciting time because a set of conditions is unfolding in America that equates to a “perfect storm” for the fear merchants and those who consume their wares. And like it or not, followers of Jesus aren’t offered a different set of conditions to live through, so taking a look at the fear options made available at this unique time would be beneficial for all of us.

The Usual Suspects ~
Folks who have become accustomed to a late-October dose of adrenaline can anticipate the usual annual parade of horror-related Halloween offerings. Every year, mad fashion designers join ranks with demented make-up artists to produce a fresh wave of costumes depicting a multi-faceted view of death. There’s near-death, post-death, and sort-of (but not quite) dead, plus death that comes and goes. And lest we seem insensitive, efforts are made to acknowledge that monsters have nutritional needs, too. Therefore, among the undead, mostly dead, and occasionally dead, we have Continue reading

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Finding Happiness

Life is full of little things that just torpedo happy moments. For instance, you’re out on a peaceful little family road trip. You’re feeling good, life is going pretty well, and you’re relatively happy. And then you hear an impassioned declaration from the back seat of the car that goes something like this, “Mom (possibly Dad, but usually Mom), he (or she) is lookin’ at me!” You sigh deeply as you recognize that a change in mood has just been initiated and wonder if there’s a government assistance program for parents whose kids are born with a Continue reading

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Passion ~ With a “Bit” of Guidance

The thought of having to wait for a slushie to be made appears to have been just too much to endure recently, so a McDonald’s customer physically assaulted the fast food worker. In another culinary conflict, an employee started punching a customer who had allegedly thrown a milkshake on her. We’re living in a day when passions are running roughshod over reason, where tantrums erupt over trivia, and where thoughtful debate has been tossed aside in favor of blaring out intractable demands with bullhorns. It seems as though qualities like social courtesy have slipped into the category of whimsical nostalgia, joining the list of things we enjoyed back in the “good ole’ days.”

Overworked Emotions ~
With so many issues from politics to the plastic straw crisis pulling at our emotional apparatus, exploring how to deal with passion from God’s point of view is worthwhile, and some admonitions from the book of James are especially helpful. On the one hand, God offers positive approval for passion with James’ affirmation that the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much (James 5:16, NKJV). But He also discourages yielding to Continue reading

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