Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Do You Need a "Rescue List?"

Dear Friends,

There’s a story of an old country parson who was always filled with the joy of the Lord and unrelentingly thankful even during the worst of circumstances. That Saturday an unexpectedly huge snow storm swept over their town and they awoke Sunday morning to downed trees, no electrical power and collapsed roofs. As a few hardy parishioners gathered in the church for Sunday services they grumbled out loud that there was certainly nothing for the good reverend to be thankful about that morning. “MERCIFUL FATHER!” bellowed the parson, “WE COME INTO THY PRESENCE AND THANK THEE THAT NOT ALL DAYS ARE LIKE THIS ONE..!!”

Ephesians 5:20 tells us to “..give thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” How do we remain thankful for all things in the middle of our own life-storms? When our circumstances have plunged us into the pit of despair, we can’t even remember anything to be thankful about!  And, that’s why we need a list.

When things are going well, we easily recall all our blessings that we so easily forget when times are tough. In challenging times, we might even find ourselves desperately searching for something good to hang on to but positive thoughts are elusive and gratitude is beyond our grasp. That’s why I wanted to share my list with you even though it’s really very personal. I keep it in my Bible. These are just some of the things for which I am most thankful. Some may sound spiritual to you and some you may think are just silly but they bring a smile to my face when I read these.

If my computer crashes, I have a “rescue disk” that will bring it back to life. If my day crashes, my “rescue list” will bring it back to life. A positive  perspective will be restored, my thankfulness will be re-booted and I will once again be operating in the joy of the Lord. I’m sharing my list with you in the hope you will be inspired to make your own list that will rescue you from the storms of life and fill your heart with gratitude to a gracious God.

What are those things that you are most thankful for right now? What brings a smile to your face? Write those down, tuck the list in your Bible and read it often. You might even want to obtain a small notebook and begin to journal all the things for which you are thankful.

Tomorrow is the day of Thanksgiving when the citizens of the United States of America have designated one day out of the year to be thankful. But the citizens of the Kingdom of God have 365 days out of the year to give thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Election is Over. God is in Control.

Dear Friends,

Unless a “chad” got hung-up someplace, today we may have a new president with a new vision for America or the same president with a renewed sense of purpose for our country. Only one thing’s for certain. Nothing has changed. Today America is in crisis. Billy Graham recently said, “When America’s leaders actively promote and legislate immorality, restrict the religious freedoms that our country was founded on, and are openly hostile to men and women of faith, then I believe we are ripe for God’s judgement.” 

Today there are forces of evil that are stalking us domestically and internationally, we are in a moral free-fall and we have just gone through the most divisive presidential campaign in memory. Foreign countries that once recognized the United States as the world’s super power are beginning to see us as the “Disunited States of America.” 

Last night I was reading a book on spiritual formation written by a Catholic priest. (Nearly all books on spiritual formation are written by priests or monastics which should give us Evangelicals some pause for thought...) And I came across a sentence that just stunned me in its directness, succinctness, simplicity and truth. The author wrote: “Our modern prophets begin to tell us that we cannot be fully American and fully Christian much longer.” Take a moment and digest that. Think about where we are today and how close to the truth that is.

I couldn’t help but to think that this prophecy should not be a discouraged acquiescence to the morally and spiritually bankrupt state of our nation but a call to action. If we American Christians love our nation, then we need to start acting like Christians. If our nation is to become the Reunited States of America, Christians need to first be united in prayer. We need to engage in deep intercessory prayer on our knees: “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.” (1 Timothy 2:1-2) 

Too many of the men and women who are politically positioned to make decisions for our country have arrogantly refused to acknowledge God, and have rejected any dependency on His guidance and security for America. We must ask God for His forgiveness for this nation’s transgressions. If Billy Graham is correct, we need to pray that God will stay His hand of judgement. We need to ask for God’s mercy and grace. We need to pray that this country turns back to the God of our fathers.

This is a crucial hour in America and Christians of every tradition and denomination need to be joined in prayer. We have elected new leaders or reelected those who will either continue the nation’s moral and spiritual free-fall, or who will return to this country’s founding Christian principles where we can once again be a nation that stands together and proclaims, “In God We Trust.”

The election is over and if you find yourself either ecstatically happy or deeply discouraged with America’s choice for president, then you may have placed too much faith in a political “savior”. We need to realize that no matter who we place on the throne in the White House, God is still in control. And He’s listening to your prayers.  Amen?