Nov 242010
 

Moms have a whole day for it. Even Dads have one! Tomorrow is a whole day devoted to it, even though it is already commercially overshadowed by Christmas. Nevertheless, we ignore it so often every day.

Coffee. I don’t drink it a lot, but a good cup on a cold day in a cozy restaurant really hits the spot. I have noticed that wait staff vary quite a bit in their technique for filling and refilling a cup. I’ve chosen this as a litmus test for determining the level of care a person takes in serving me. Often, there is a drop running down the side of the cup and several more across the table as the carafe is slowly brought to an upright position after leaving the cup. Some professionals however, have mastered the art of uprighting the carafe while it is still hovering over the cup, leaving not one drop anywhere outside the cup! For that reason, and other specific acts of quality service, I choose to regularly request the presence of the shift manager for a short moment on my way out the door. I compliment the staff member who served me and include specific reasons for my appreciation of their service. I ask that the manager share my comments with them directly. That way, they not only get a compliment, but they know that their boss knows! It’s fun!

 So, what does this coffee focus have to do with Thanksgiving?  OK. Everybody loves on and thanks mothers on Mother’s day. We may even do it on Father’s day. We may even use the words “thank you” more than once on Thanksgiving. Why? Well, because we kindof have to. It’s expected!

 And be thankful. Colossians 3:15 NIV

For may of us, you’d think the text reads a little more like this-“and be thankful, in a regulated and periodic fashion”. I don’t think that’s what God had in mind when He had Paul write that short sentence, do you? I think He wants us to live days that are full of thanks! It’s one way we show love for each other.  Have you ever seen someone look less happy when you thank them?  Not usually. Their faces usually light up like a Christmas tree! By the way, what did you say to the person who took the trash out of your office this morning? What about the person who bagged your groceries?

Being thankful is what God asks of us. And when we are obedient to Him, He changes us from the inside out. One word of thanks at a time. One day at a time. Making us look more and more like His Son.

Here’s the challenge for the rest of the week.  Worry less about getting your fair share of tryptophan-laced turkey, dressing,a nd pumpking pie and focus more on those around you. Find at least ten people to thank. Find people you don’t usually thank. Find actions for which you don’t usually show appreciation. Be creative. Be specific. Be direct. Look them right in the eye, tell them what you are thankful for and tell them why. They may be surprised. They may even look shocked! That’s a hint that you may not be thanking them enough! 

Starting……….NOW!

Nov 182010
 

Do you ever get into the middle of your day and realize that you have had unkind words with more than one person? How about a grouchy comeback to your spouse? An impatient response to a plea from your daughter? Where do those things come from? They just seem to slip out of my mouth without conscious thought, like some kind of automated response. It’s like drinking fountain with the handle stuck on- spewing forth and out of control. I’ve counseled employee colleagues about this. I’ve counseled myself about this while on my long commute home. I hate it, but it seems so natural. Yuck! Blech! (Yes, that’s spelled b-l-e-<phlegm>)

Rachel Lampa figured it out in one of my favorite songs entitled, My Father’s Heart:

Let everything that breathes
Praise You
The earth, the sky, the sea
Praise You
Just as nature shows to us
Your blessing
Soon I find my heart
Confessing

My love is not my own
It all belongs to You
And after all You’ve done the least that I
Can do
Is live my life
In every part
Only to please my Father’s heart

Did you catch it? The secret is right in the middle. We can’t control all our nasties. Can’t help it. Nothing we can do about it. Until-Until we admit that what controls our interactions with others is love, a love that comes from only one Source, my Father’s heart. My only hope is to get as close to Him as I can, letting His love spill all over me and flow out to others. So, do you have those moments when you realize that your words and actions are totally out of control? Or am I the only one?

Father, I can’t treat others the way You want me to unless You fill me. I can’t speak words of kindness and caring unless You give them to me. If I do it right today, it’s only because my love is not my own, it all belongs to You!

Listen to the entire song if you wish-

Nov 092010
 

One day a couple of years ago, I got a call from one of my daughters at school saying that she was feeling very sick. I drove quickly to the school and found her laying on a couch in the chaplain’s office, surrounded by concerned friends. I helped her to her feet and she walked unsteadily out into the hallway with my arm around her for support. She soon slumped against me, too dizzy and weak to stand. I swept her into my arms and carried her through the hall and out to the car. Teenager or not, sometimes the right place to be is in daddy’s arms!

A few days ago, something was different in the pattern of my days and I spent most of the time on my feet for part of a week. That and some time spent barefoot at home on hard floors made the soles of my feet sore and tired. I just wanted to be able to keep my feet up.

Do you ever feel like the pressure on your feet is just too much? By the end of the day, do you feel more like melted jello than a mighty oak?

he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.

If you feel like that, you are carrying something you were never meant to carry. What is that something? It’s you! Just like me, ready and willing to lift my daughter when she’s down, God is even more ready to do that for you. He’ll lift you and carry you as long as you let Him.

I will tell of the kindnesses of the LORD, the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the LORD has done for us— yes, the many good things he has done for the house of Israel, according to his compassion and many kindnesses. He said, “Surely they are my people, sons who will not be false to me”; and so he became their Savior. In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old. Isaiah 63:7-9 NIV

Father, give me the strength to be weak today. Remind me not to try to do by myself what only You can do for me. Pick me up, hold me close, never let me go. You promised. I’m asking. Let others around me  see me floating today and wonder why!

Nov 032010
 

Redeem.  What comes to mind when you hear that word? I asked my family abut that this last weekend. My dad reminded us of something that only the more seasoned of you might recall: Green Stamps! Wayhahayyy back when, in the time before cellular, even before faxes and pushbutton phones, certain stores would give out these stamps along with your purchase. They would get carefully saved by licking and sticking them in a book. When the book [or books] were full, they could be redeemed either through the mail or at a redemption center for cool stuff like a portable AM radio or a set of curlers. Wow!

Dictionary definitions for the word redeem include to buy, to buy back, to make up for.

Let’s try a different word. Ransom. What images come to mind? Our family could only think of negative and scary ones. Images involving kidnapping and slavery.  Images of losing precious loved ones.Ransom. In the 1990’s Mel Gibson movie by that title, he is a father driven to go to any length to get his kidnapped son back.  Ransom. Dictionary says the redemption of a prisoner, slave, or kidnapped person. It’s a noun. It’s a verb. Ransom. Redeem.

What I make is mine. What I create, I own. God created us. He lovingly designed us, breathed His life into us so that we could freely return His love. But, we freely chose to move away from Him, choosing a life of selfishness and following a sinister imposter who enslaved us.

 In his love and mercy he redeemed them;

When someone is kidnapped, stolen from the ones who loved them, a price, the ransom, is extorted from them. They are asked to pay for something that they originally owned! In the Old Testament, law allowed for a family member to redeem, or buy back, property that had been lost through debt in order to keep it in the family.

It wasn’t enough for God that we belonged to Him in the first place. When we strayed from Him, He loved us so much that He bought us back with a price so high, so horrible, so bloody, that it is hard to understand. The price was His Son. The price was willingly and freely paid with no guarantee of getting us back! The price was paid, knowing that some would actually choose to remain enslaved!

I will tell of the kindnesses of the LORD, the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the LORD has done for us— yes, the many good things he has done for the house of Israel, according to his compassion and many kindnesses. He said, “Surely they are my people, sons who will not be false to me”; and so he became their Savior. In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old. Isaiah 63:7-9 NIV

Oh Father, You loved us first. You loved us best. You love us still. Even when we don’t love you back! How can You do that! Am I that important to You?

Amazing love,
How can it be
That You, my King, should die for me?
-Chris Tomlin

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