Happy Thanksgiving! Don’t worry, it’s not November already. It’s only May. Yet, we are told to give thanks 24/7, even when times are tough. 1 Thessalonians 5:8 says, “in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” It’s hard to be find reasons to give thanks right now, but we are blessed so much, even when the world seems to be falling apart. For me, I am blessed to have a job, security, etc. Yet, some strange things have happened to me during the Corona quarantine:
- A tree fell and hit my storage building, damaging it and part of my back fence
- My bike was stolen out of my carport
- I was having car trouble the other day, thinking it was a brake issues, turns out it was a bad wheel bearing
Yet, in all of these situations, I have reasons to be thankful:
- I am thankful my family was safe and away from the tree when it fell
- I am thankful I was able to repair the building and fence
- I am thankful the police actually recovered my bike. It was a bit roughed up, but I can restore it
- I am thankful the wheel on my car didn’t fall off while I was driving, it could have
- I am thankful a new wheel bearing is coming in today, and I can hopefully repair it and be back on the road
I am sure you have your own Corona crazies! You can find a reason to give thanks. You may have to look hard, but it’s there. God is good even when things seem bad.
Have you heard the birds? The birds are enjoying life, singing and celebrating. At church yesterday I left my office door open, allowing me to get some fresh, outdoor air. All I could hear was the song of a bird. This morning, while at my desk at home, I heard another bird. I opened the door and saw it perched on top of my basketball goal, singing with great gusto. The birds don’t seem too worried about the Corona virus, or anything for that matter. It reminds of me of Matthew 6:26 when Jesus told us to, “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” If the birds can sing with joy, we can too. Don’t worry. God’s watching over you. You are worth far more than our feathered friends!
“I love waiting rooms,” said no one. Waiting stinks. You go to the doctor and wait. You are stuck in traffic and wait. You order pizza and have to wait. In light of the Corona Virus, the entire world is waiting, a waiting room full of 7 billion people. We are waiting for life to get back to normal. We are waiting to see our families. We are waiting to get back in church. We are waiting to get back to work. It reminds me of a verse in Isaiah 40:31, “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” If you are tired of waiting, like I am, wait upon the Lord. Seek His face. Ask Him for patience. Admit to Him you are anxious and weary. He will respond and fill you with peace and joy.
Are you tired of social distancing? Social distancing is not a new thing. In the Old Testament, God required social distancing, if you will. The people were not allowed to approach His presence. When God spoke to Moses on Mt. Sinai, the people were warned not to get too close or they would die. The Holy of Holies, in both the tabernacle and temple, was a special place of God’s presence. No one was allowed in, except one priest on one special day of the year, the Day of Atonement. A heavy curtain barricaded the most holy place, and to enter unauthorized would mean death. When Jesus died on the cross, the curtain was literally torn in two, meaning that now the Holy of Holies is accessible to all. In Jesus, we can boldly enter God’s presence wherever we are and whoever we are. Social distance from others right now, but don’t be socially distanced from God. You can be in His presence at any time.
What crazy times we live in! I cannot help but think of one of my favorite songs, The Heart of Worship. One part of the song especially has my attention, “When the music fades and all is stripped away.” Doesn’t that sound like what’s happening? All is being stripped away from our lives. Sports? Gone. Church? Gone. Stock market stability? Gone. School? Gone. When all is stripped away we realize that it’s Jesus that really matters. I remember a saying from one of my pastors from long ago, “If God is all you have then you realize God is all you need.” Let this be the desire and song of our heart:
I’m coming back to the heart of worship
And it’s all about you,
It’s all about you, Jesus
I’m sorry, Lord, for the thing I’ve made it
When it’s all about you,
It’s all about you, Jesus
Bro. Bill Robertson recently passed away. I surrendered to the ministry under his pastoral leadership. It’s caused me to consider all the men God’s used to influence my life and ministry. Here are a few:
- Pastors: My pastors before I became a pastor
- Professors: From the seminaries I attended
- Laymen: Deacons, SS Teachers, godly men in the churches I have served
- Friends: Those who serve God in the ministry. In addition, friends who are not in the ministry, but who also love the Lord and serve Him faithfully.
- My dad: He was not a preacher or pastor, but he showed me how to honor God in the business world, and more importantly, at home
Who has influenced you? Make a list, and thank God for it! Here’s another thought: Is your name on someone else’s list? Are you pouring your life into others? We live in a day and age when men need to step up and live for Jesus. Men, live for Jesus. Set an example for others to follow. You don’t have to be a preacher or pastor. Be a godly dad. Encourage young men in the church. Live in a way that inspires us to not settle for a life of just video games, cell phones, and YouTube. Ladies, pray for the men in your life, and encourage them to fight the good fight, finish the race, and keep the faith.
I love basketball. My three favorite players are Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, and LeBron James. I never was a fan of Kobe, but I do appreciate his game. He’s dead now. 41 years of age, three years younger than me. It’s shocking. To make matters worse, his 13 year old daughter died, too. It hits home because I have a 13 year old daughter. How are we to respond to a death like Kobe’s?
- We can admire his gifts and legacy, but we are not to worship him. Kobe is no god, he was a basketball player. Nor was he perfect, no one is.
- Pray for his family, and pray that God uses this to draw people to Christ as they contemplate death.
- Remember that life is temporary. Death comes to all regardless of age, status, wealth, etc.
- Love your family, you never know what day will be their last.
- Never forget the most important death of all, Jesus’ death on the cross, who died so that we may have eternal life in Him.
Happy New Year! Did you make any resolutions? Time management is key to making the most of the New Year. To make the most of 2020, make the most of your time, and use it for what really matters. You want to lose weight, but are worried there isn’t time in the day to exercise or eat healthy. You want to read the Bible more, but you’re not sure when you can do it. Of course you want to spend more time with your family, but when? Someone once said, “Time flies, but you’re the pilot.” We all have more than enough time for what really matters. If you really want this year to be special, do this: Put your phone down for a little while, pause Netflix, step away from the news and Facebook. Spend that time on what really matters. Just imagine if you did this for an hour a day, how that would radically change your year, your life! Just redeeming an hour each day will give you 15 “extra” days in 2020, time to work on you, your family, and your walk with God. If you were even more radical, put aside two hours a day, and a solid month would magically appear in 2020. Remember, “Time flies, but you’re the pilot.” Get in the cockpit, take the wheel, and soar to new heights in 2020!
A thief was in my car Sunday night. It’s not uncommon in the small, somewhat peaceful town I call home. When night falls, thieves canvass the area for money and items of value. A friend and neighbor’s car was broken in just a few weeks ago. I started leaving the carport light on at night hoping it would steer the vandals away. I also made sure our vehicles were locked and secured. Then came Sunday night. It was our annual Pastor’s Open House. My wife and I opened our home up Sunday afternoon, enjoying food and fellowship with our church family. It was such a chaotic day, we forgot to lock the doors on our vehicles. My daughter noticed it Monday morning. Both cars had been pilfered through. Nothing was taken thankfully. Lori’s purse was in the house. My wallet was in my car, but the thieves didn’t find it.
I am reminded of a warning in the Bible. Jesus said this of Satan, “The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy.” Just as thieves scour my town, Satan scours our lives, looking for an easy target, a mind that is unlocked, a heart that is not secure in prayer, a family that has neglected the Word. “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. “Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”
I just turned 44 years of age. It’s strange to say I am 44, especially since I feel more like 34. Since Thanksgiving is next week, and since I just celebrated a birthday, I want to reflect on 44 things I am thankful for:
- Good health
- Lori, my wonderful wife
- My three precious daughters
- Good friends
- Eternal life through Jesus Christ
- Maci, my dog (man’s best friend!)
- A church that loves and supports me
- My mom
- The godly legacy my father left
- Heat for when it’s cold
- AC for when its’s hot
- A cozy bed to sleep in
- The Bible
- Hot Tea
- Jan and Lisa, my two sisters
- Jenny, my mother-in-law
- My friendships/partnerships in Belarus
- God is using my story/book on depression
- The staff members I get to work with
- My children go to a good school
- My wife is healthy
- My children are healthy
- The gift of adoption
- My daughters’ birth parents
- My daughters’ birth families
- A reliable vehicle
- Jason, my brother-in-law
- Ways to communicate with others: Phone, e-mail, etc.
- The calling God has has placed upon my life
- The godly legacy my father-in-law left behind
- Hope through Jesus, no matter what
- Love through Jesus, no matter what
I have many more reasons to be thankful, but I often fail to stop and consider how blessed I am. I want to encourage you to take a few moments this week and list reasons you are thankful. List 44, 94, or just 4. The point is this – you are blessed. Reflect on it and thank God for it!