Friday, November 28, 2008

Post Thanksgiving Ponderings

Happy Thanksgiving! Yes, the day we call "Thanksgiving" in America is over for this year, but thanksgiving itself needs to abound within us every day of our lives. This should be a reminder for us to show an attitude of gratitude to all with whom we come in contact. God has stirred me to thank my children more when I ask them to do something. Even though they are to obey me, because I'm their mother, it is much more pleasant for all of us if I ask them pleasantly and respond with a loving "thank you." When we stop thanking people we start taking them for granted. I certainly don't want to take them for granted! (I learned that before they ever got here when I experienced years of infertility.)

It is important to thank people in our lives, but it is even more important to thank God. He is the source of our very existence! As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:57, "Thanks be to God, who gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." When we spend that time with God in close communion, thanksgiving will automatically flow to others out of the overflow God gives us. It is a cycle: thanksgiving to God leads to thanksgiving to people which leads to thanking God for people which brings us back to God!

Focus on God keeps this thanksgiving cylce going and keeps the motives of our hearts pure. Focus on people will stop the process and choke out gratitude from our hearts. Why? Because God is pure and people are not. God is the only One who will never let us down. Even our closest friends and relatives will let us down even if they don't intend to. When we focus on people, we start dwelling on their weaknesses and how they let us down. That's when seeds of offense start to take root and bitterness begins to fester.

I received a Thanksgiving e-card that had the following scripture passage on it: Colossians 3:12-17, "Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him."

Notice verse 13 says that we must forgive. We have to if we want that cycle of thanksgiving, that brings peace and joy, to keep going. Hopefully Thanksgiving was a time that reminded us to do a gratitude check. This passage tells us a list of things to "put on" that will encourage gratitude. If while we do our post-Thanksgiving check we find more offense than thanksgiving, we may need to go up a few verses and find out what we have to "put off" before we can "put on" all the good stuff! I'll let you do that for yourself. The whole chapter of Colossians 3 is rich with awesome nuggets of gold! Happy mining!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Emmaus: The Wow Factor!

"Wow!" That's the word I kept finding myself saying while I was on my Walk to Emmaus journey in the beautiful NC mountains. It is one of those things that you cannot truly grasp until you experience it yourself. Before I went, I was asked what I hoped to get from my time at Mountain Top Emmaus. My response: "I pour out in ministry so much, I just want to be poured into!" That is exactly what happened!

What a joy to gather together with women from across the denomination lines to be set apart for 72 hours with our Lord! He certainly met us there! My two longings (being in His presence and seeing the body of Christ laying aside differences to come together) were more than fulfilled.

And my first day back (the 4th day, as they call it)...well, let's just say I certainly knew I wasn't on the mountain top anymore! Oh, yes, mountains of laundry and situations in ministry welcomed me home! Beside that, my body is tired. As one fellow pilgrim on the journey called it, I have "exhausted exhilaration!" That's OK, though, because I now know that I can operate on the overflow. When I get alone with my God, His Agape Love flows through me, cleaning me out and filling me up to overflowing. I now know that I need that overflow to keep going in ministry and everyday life without burning out.

I used to say that every Christian needs to do 2 things in their life time: 1. help start a church or ministry from the ground and 2. go on a short-term missions trip. Now I am adding a third thing: Go on a Walk To Emmaus journey! I recommend the Mountain Top Emmaus serving Western NC and North Georgia. To all those readers from Mountain Top, THANK YOU!! The love and service lavished on all the participants was such a physical example of Christ's grace to His beloved. We all come back renewed and ready to show that same love of Christ to weary believers and lost souls. Forward march!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Pause for Walk to Emmaus

I'm going to a Walk to Emmaus retreat tomorrow through Sunday night. I've never been on one but have heard so many awesome reports about them from others. I'm ready! No phone, no computer, no tv. Believe it or not, that sounds good to me! As I was just sitting here waiting for my computer to boot up so I could post a blog, I picked up a New Testament and opened it up. The very first page I saw said, "Jesus Appears to Disciples on the Road to Emmaus!" No lie! God's so good!

You may want to read the passage for yourself. It is found in Luke 24:12-32. I noticed something interesting in verses 28-29: "As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, "Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over." So he went in to stay with them." Noticed how it said that Jesus "acted" like He was leaving. Then they "urged him strongly" to stay with them and He did. Do you ever feel like God is going away? Maybe He "acts" like that so that you will bid Him to stay.

I know I will have quite a bit to blog about when I get home. For now I want to leave you with the last verses of the passage that are my favorite: "(30) When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. (31) Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. (32) They asked each other, 'Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?' "

I look forward to revelation and burning in my heart as He talks to me on my Road to Emmaus this weekend!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Pray for our new president.

I came across another blog by Lee Grady of Charisma Magazine that is a great prayer guide for our newly elected US President. I urge you to go to it and read, "10 Ways to Pray for Barak Obama" by simply clicking on the title to this post. I am also stirred to pray for unity within the church after the effects of this campaign has left scars in many. Let's all remember who is in ultimately in charge. God is! He is the only One who sees the whole picture of what's going on with the economy, the presidential office, congress, supreme court, etc. As I said in the last post, we must seek His face! Then we will start seeing others with different views as He sees them.

I leave you with a praise report about the elections that you may not have heard. In all three states (California, Arizona, and Florida) that had propositions on the ballet about marriage, the vote was to protect the constitutional amendment protecting the definition of marriage to be a union between one man and one woman!