Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Lesson of the Fig Tree

Wednesday, November 30, 2016
“Now learn a lesson from the fig tree.  When its branches bud and its leaves begin to sprout, you know that summer is near.  In the same way, when you see all these things, you can know his return is very near, right at the door.  I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass from the scene until all these things take place.  Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear.  However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself.  Only the Father knows.  “When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day.  In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat.  People didn’t realize what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away.  That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes.  
Matthew 24:32-39(NLT)
Parables, or stories, were told by Jesus to teach one central truth.  They are like signposts, pointing to something much greater than their own reality.  When I want to go somewhere I check the road signs against my GPS.  The sign that says Thomasville 19 miles out on Interstate 85 is just a bit of metal.  The reality comes later. 
Teaching the reality of the coming destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, Jesus uses the fig tree’s flowering to tell us to stay alert, look at the signs, and be prepared.  There’s a somewhat confusing, but specific reference to the generation that would still be alive.  But that is the way people of Jesus' day measured segments of time; a generation consisting of 40 years.  The coming event was only a generation away.  But the later event, His Second Advent (v.36) would be sudden and unexpected by many. 
Jesus illustrates with the example of Noah.  Noah took the abuse of his neighbors as he built an ark in the sunshine for 120 years.  But one day, when God was ready, the ark door closed...the laughing subsided...Don't misunderstand the parable that tells you God will someday take care of business.
The lesson from this bit of practical advice is simply to accept the fact that God has set the time; and Jesus will be back when He is back!  You will know about it.  As a believer, He has promised to come back for you.  The event will be very open, with Jesus coming in clouds and glory.  It will be a little like the elephants at the circus; you never have to ask, have the elephants come in?  You KNOW when they've arrived!  What you do while waiting for His coming is prepare to meet the Lord at His arrival. 
Martha Snell Nicholson was a poet who spoke from her invalid’s bed of pain in the 1950’s.  Listen to her beautiful words as she spoke words of truth we should all heed:
The best part is the blessed hope of his soon coming.  How I ever lived before I grasped that wonderful truth, I do not know.  How anyone lives without it these trying days I cannot imagine.  
Each morning I think, with a leap of the heart, He may come today.  
And each evening, When I awake I may be in glory.  
Each day must be lived as though it were to be my last, and there is so much to be done to purify myself and to set my house in order.  
I am on tiptoe with expectancy.  
There are no more grey days – for they're all touched with color;
no more dark days – for the radiance of His coming is on the horizon;
no more dull days, with glory just around the corner;
and no more lonely days, with His footsteps coming ever nearer, and the thought that soon, soon, I shall see His blessed face and be forever through with pain and tears is the joy that awaits.[ii]

For You Today

Whatever you do today, keep the house of your relationship with God…in order!
You chew on that as you hit the Rocky Road…have a blessed day!

[i] Title image: By കാക്കര (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons
[ii] From a poem by Martha Snell Nicholson

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

After the Storm - Part 2

Tuesday, November 29, 2016
Then God told Noah and his sons, “I hereby confirm my covenant with you and your descendants, and with all the animals that were on the boat with you—the birds, the livestock, and all the wild animals—every living creature on earth.  Yes, I am confirming my covenant with you. Never again will floodwaters kill all living creatures; never again will a flood destroy the earth.”  Then God said, “I am giving you a sign of my covenant with you and with all living creatures, for all generations to come.  I have placed my rainbow in the clouds.  It is the sign of my covenant with you and with all the earth.                Genesis 9:8-13(NLT)
I watched a movie last night about the USS Indianapolis.  In 1945 the ship carried the atomic bomb to its staging area in the Philippines, later to be dropped on Hiroshima.  On its return voyage to the states it was torpedoed and sunk.  The crew numbered nearly twelve hundred, 300 of which immediately went down with the ship.  Another nearly 500 either drowned or were eaten by sharks in the 5 days it took before rescue ships arrived.  The movie was graphic, and the violence portrayals were more than disturbing.
Rewind to Noah on the ark.  Having just seen the worst destruction ever in the history of mankind I think it is safe to say Noah was probably a little hesitant about leaving the ark. 
That floating warehouse and zoo had been the place of safety for over a year.  Inside was dark, smelly and safe; outside had been the scary, violent unknown.   If I had been Noah, when God said:  OK, it’s time to leave your little boat, I believe I would have tried to pull the covers back over my head, and meekly whine:  That’s OK, I’m good here; I’ll just stay inside a little longer, if you don’t mind.
It’s scary to venture where you’ve never been, or where you’ve been hurt before.  Noah and family had probably been scared half to death by what they’d seen and experienced in the storm that howled and pitched their boat like a twig in a tornado. 
The men of the USS Indianapolis were adrift for 5 days, and more than a few of them became delusional in the face of little hope being rescued.  Noah and family had little hope that there was going to be anything in their future but water and this rocking barge that stank from a year’s worth of life with animals in a small place.  I can imagine Noah’s sons asking:  Dad, are we there yet?
But eventually the waters receded, the land dried-up, and the Lord made a covenant with Noah’s family, which even included the animals:  Never AgainTo seal the deal, God signed this covenant with His multi-colored signature across the entire sky – the rainbow of God’s promise. 
God said this would be a forever reality, and even though we see floods sporadically, with loss of life and property, God’s promise has been true that there has never been another flood to wipe all humans off the face of this earth.
The storms come and go; God’s promise stands.

For You Today

Listen once again:
Then God told Noah and his sons, “I hereby confirm my covenant with you and your descendants…. Genesis 9:8
Are you one of Noah’s descendants?  Well, unless you’re a chimpanzee or a platypus, the answer is “yes”.  So you’re included as a beneficiary of God’s promise to never again destroy the earth. 
What other of God’s promises can you think of that have your name written on them?
You chew on that as you hit the Rocky Road…have a blessed day!

[i] Title image: Erik Christensen, via Wikimedia Commons

Monday, November 28, 2016

After the Storm

Monday, November 28, 2016
But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and livestock with him in the boat.  He sent a wind to blow across the earth, and the floodwaters began to recede.  The underground waters stopped flowing, and the torrential rains from the sky were stopped.  So the floodwaters gradually receded from the earth.  After 150 days, exactly five months from the time the flood began, the boat came to rest on the mountains of Ararat.  Two and a half months later, as the waters continued to go down, other mountain peaks became visible.    After another forty days, Noah opened the window he had made in the boat and released a raven.  The bird flew back and forth until the floodwaters on the earth had dried up.  He also released a dove to see if the water had receded and it could find dry ground.  But the dove could find no place to land because the water still covered the ground.  So it returned to the boat, and Noah held out his hand and drew the dove back inside.  After waiting another seven days, Noah released the dove again.  This time the dove returned to him in the evening with a fresh olive leaf in its beak.  Then Noah knew that the floodwaters were almost gone.  He waited another seven days and then released the dove again.  This time it did not come back.  Noah was now 601 years old.  On the first day of the new year, ten and a half months after the flood began, the floodwaters had almost dried up from the earth.  Noah lifted back the covering of the boat and saw that the surface of the ground was drying.  Two more months went by, and at last the earth was dry!  Then God said to Noah, “Leave the boat, all of you—you and your wife, and your sons and their wives.  Release all the animals—the birds, the livestock, and the small animals that scurry along the ground—so they can be fruitful and multiply throughout the earth.”  So Noah, his wife, and his sons and their wives left the boat.  And all of the large and small animals and birds came out of the boat, pair by pair.  Genesis 8:1-19(NLT)
Most pictures I’ve ever seen depicting Noah and his family leaving the ark show them stepping back into Eden.  There’s always a beautiful rainbow in the sky and the earth is covered with flowers and beautiful trees and grass; it’s perfectly lovely, even the animals have smiles on their faces.
How naïve!  This had been the mother of all storms!  The earth had been wrecked, and the evidence of death and debris must have been overwhelming.  The damage from the 2005 Indonesian tsunami would be mild compared to what Noah’s family was facing.
In Genesis 7 we learn that the storm was relatively short – just 40 days of torrential rain, and the waters bursting up from the ground destroying everything.  But it took Noah 7½ more months to open the window and peek-out!  Even then he could only see mountain peaks sticking out of the water.  It took nearly 5 more months for the ground to dry-up.  Finally God told Noah to leave the ark and begin this new beginning.
There is a pattern here that is useful for us when we face our storms of loss.  God gave Noah and his family many months of darkness to remember the cost of how his generation had forsaken God and made the culture a stench in God’s nostrils.
He also gave them months after the storm, and before the floodwaters receded, to contemplate what they would do when, and if, they could return to a more normal existence.
The pattern is evident:  the bigger the storm, the longer the process of recovery.
When we experience loss the recovery process is somewhat different for each person, because we see things differently, and react according to our personality and culture.  But the mainframe of recovery operates on the scale of time for everybody.  All the losses of life include a time for reflection on what (or who) has been lost, and a time of contemplation about how life will make sense after the storm has passed.  And then there is that time when, if you are listening, you will hear God say… now leave this behind – go and be fruitful.

For You Today

If you’re not going through the storm, or plodding through the aftermath’s destruction, just tuck these little thoughts away.  You’ll need them someday. 
If you are dealing with a loss, keep trucking…keep releasing ravens and doves…keep listening…the storm happened…but the waters aren’t forever. 
You chew on that as you hit the Rocky Road…have a blessed day!

[i] Title image: AusAID [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Time to Awaken

Even though earlier in the Romans passage Paul touches on debt, what we owe isn’t Paul’s main thrust; rather it is love. 
But, coming up on Christmas, most of us could stand to think a little harder about using credit wisely.  Especially if we are like the man who was speaking to his coworker:  I'm proud to say that I have worked for 30 years, saved, scrimped, budgeted, invested - just so I could give my kids what I never had; a father up to his eyeballs in debt.  That guy was probably worth his weight in plastic. 
Well, here we are in Advent, the very beginning of the Christian year.  And the question could be asked:  Well, then, if we’re at the start, why are we thinking about what Paul wrote way after the cross about living like a Christian? 
I’m glad you asked. 
Advent is all about preparation, getting ready for the arrival of our Lord.  This passage is all about getting us ready to live as Jesus people.  This is a decision that you cannot pass off to any other person in the universe.
…you know how late it is; time is running out.  Romans 13:11-14(NLT)
In verse 11 the meaning of the word time is very close to the word crisis.  It is also sometimes translated as decision in the Scriptures.  Why decision?  Why do we invite folks to make a public confession of Christ?  Why public decision?  Because Jesus is coming back!  And as Paul says, the darkness for a believer is passed away.  We should walk in the light.
The Sunshine Law for a believer is that we publicly acknowledge our decision to love Him and follow Him.  Jesus said we are the salt and light this world needs.   
And so, to the main thrust of Paul’s teaching:  How to prepare in Advent to live like a Christian after Pentecost:

1.        Rise

This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out.  Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.  The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here.  Romans 13:11-12a(NLT)
Paul had elsewhere[ii] stated that the decision to accept God’s salvation was too important to let the moment slip by.  We cannot afford to sleep through our opportunity to seek God while He may be found.
It is that way also with serving the King.  When you are a believer your whole purpose is to find God’s leading in every day of your life.  The life of a Christian from beginning to the final breath is of alertness to the call of the Spirit.  Awaken now; Arise, says our Lord!

2.        Repent

So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living.  Romans 13:12b(NLT)
Repentance is a matter of turning.  Too often there is much made of the emotional moment of decision without an understanding that that moment is just that…a momentary change of heart and mind about the previous life.  Paul points to the shining armor of right living as the other side of this coin of salvation.
To repent means to turn away from sin and selfish decisions.  But it also follows that when you turn from one thing, it is without question you’re facing something else.  You have found a new direction and you’re now headed that way. 
Well, that WAY is THE WAY!  It’s the way of Christ.  You have repented, turned away from the way of self, and are now walking with Jesus in the Christian life of serving and loving others.  Rise, Repent, and…

3.        Repeat

Because we belong to the day, we must live decent lives for all to see.  Romans 13:13a(NLT)
To repeat means emulate or imitate the life of Christ.  Jesus said that we are children of light.  As such, what place does light have exhibiting darkness?  Paul interprets this for us, saying we must live decent lives for all to see
A decision to follow Jesus Christ means a lifestyle change.  Otherwise the decision is false.  When you become a believer there is a change in your conduct that others can easily see.  The word picture here means to be properly clothed.  It means to present to the world a lifestyle properly dressed in goodness. 
Friends, this includes the way we dress physically, which should be modest and not an attempt to be front page on the tabloids.  But it also includes every other visible and invisible part of our being:  attitude, kindness, compassion; all of this is part of the proper clothing of a Christian.
This is not optional.  It is also not easy. 
Rise and make a decision, Repent and turn away from sin, Repeat the witness of a life dedicated to God, and then…

4.        Reject

Don’t participate in the darkness of wild parties and drunkenness, or in sexual promiscuity and immoral living, or in quarreling and jealousy.   Romans 13:13b(NLT)
Reject the way the world lives in action, attitude, and thinking.  Choose the opposite of what the world chooses.
You really have to work at putting off the old man, the old habits and ways.  Paul gave as part of his witness that there were two natures warring inside him all the time (Ro 7).  Paul said this old nature was fighting against his mind.  His mind wanted to obey Christ and be an exemplary witness for the Kingdom.  The old Adam-nature gave him fits at every turn.
On the one hand Paul had sinful desires and weaknesses like you and I; on the other hand there was the Spirit of God who had come to reside in Paul, empowering him to fight all the ungodliness that wanted to continually enslave him. 
Beloved, take heart if this describes your daily struggle; Paul knew it was a fight, and so has every Christian who has ever drawn breath. 
But it is a winnable fight.  John Wesley called it going on to perfection in love

And that is the life of Christ:
·       choosing the attitude that lifts over the harshness that destroys
·       choosing giving to bless others over taking that divides
·       choosing to extend the hand of friendship instead of the fear that rots the soul
Rise, Repent, Repeat the witness, Reject the world, and…

5.        Relate

Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.  And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires. 
Romans 13:11-14(NLT)
Paul says Put on Christ and the implied word is:  YOU – YOU standing right there…put Him on like a garment.  It is very definitely a personal choice to be in the family of Christ…to be related!
Why is that so?  It is because it goes against our nature to let someone else be in charge of us.  But we need that to change our nature.
For those who choose to put Jesus on the throne, life is different....and that difference is love. 
Billy Graham tells of the mountain folks in our state, and how they would take a slatted crate[iii], place their laundry in it and tie it crossways to the rushing water of the creek.  The agitation of the moving water would clean the clothes.  He told of a bootlegger who got saved.  The difference in the man was startling.  When it came time for his baptism he said:  "Put me under crossways, so's I'll be all the cleaner."
CROSS-ways, There's no other way to be transformed so you can do what Advent calls for – to be ready for the coming of Christ.
Paul says:  HEY...WAKE UP!  Smell the coffee; you've got a decision to make.  This is no time to go to sleep on me. 
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Amen

[i] Title image:  By Eric Kilby from Somerville, MA, USA (Napping Jaguar), via Wikimedia Commons
[ii] 2 Corinthians 6:2
[iii] Boris Orel [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons & By deguonis from Lithuania, via Wikimedia Commons

Friday, November 25, 2016

The Thin Line Between Black Friday and Good Friday

Friday, November 25, 2016
The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil.  So the Lord was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth.  It broke his heart.  And the Lord said, “I will wipe this human race I have created from the face of the earth.  Yes, and I will destroy every living thing—all the people, the large animals, the small animals that scurry along the ground, and even the birds of the sky.  I am sorry I ever made them.”  But Noah found favor with the Lord.  Genesis 6:5-8(NLT)
I’m always thankful for Thanksgiving.  The atmosphere of family gatherings and a pause from the rat race to catch up with loved ones and take intentional moments to offer thanks to God for blessings…well, it just seems to put me in a good frame of mind. 
Of late that frame has had some of the shine rubbed off its edges.  I have been besieged with an inbox full of Black Friday deals.  Amazon, Cokesbury, Macys, Sears, J.C.Penney, and anyone who ever got my email address want to offer me pre-Black Friday discounts and special, big-time-you-are-special-to-us-our-personal-friend-and-lifelong-buddy, Mr. R. Brownworth, customer #988979734572…shipping and handling separate, of course!
I now know how God felt when he decided to wipe humans off the face of the earth; enough is enough!
But I cannot read Genesis 6 without being caught up by that hopeful tag line:  But Noah found favor with the Lord. 
Noah’s day was not all that different from our Black Friday mentality.  The mood of the day was party, party, and…well, party!  But Noah kept his focus on the calling God had laid on his life.  Frankly that’s hard to do when the noise of a culture says:  Turn up the volume, this party’s just getting started!  The focus of Noah’s life was to get ready for the event that would be a new beginning for the human race.
And so was the other Friday – Good Friday
If ever there was a moment of new beginning, the moment that itinerant insurrectionist of love spoke while hanging on a cross, Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing…it opened the flood gates of grace.
It’s a thin line between Black Friday and Good Friday. 
On Black Friday the store floodgates open at Midnight and it’s all heels and elbows running like would-be matadors ahead of the bulls at Pamplona, crashing through the Apple Store entrance to snatch up the merchandise monster’s grace discounts. 
On Good Friday the world stood silent while God died.
It’s somewhat schizophrenic to gather on Thursday, offer humble prayers of Thanksgiving around the table of God’s bountiful blessings, and then spend the afternoon watching football while searching your I-Phone for the best midnight specials.
But that is the picture of Noah’s day and our day; it is the picture of humans-in-need-of-forgiveness-day!  It’s our human-race family picture.
It is the picture of who we are…walking a thin line between the different Fridays.

For You Today

I saw a report on the news of a survey that asked if you were going to participate in the wee-hours shopping craze known as Black Friday.  The report predicted a sharp decrease this year. 
I had two immediate thoughts:  Wall Street must be shaking in their boots, and perhaps God has more Noah-like people than I ever imagined. 
Maybe Black Friday will turn out to be a Good Friday.
You chew on that as you hit the Rocky Road…have a blessed day!

[i] Title image: By Powhusku from Laramie, WY, via Wikimedia Commons & By Ambrozd (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Today We Are Thankful

Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 24, 2016
“When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you as a special possession and you have conquered it and settled there, put some of the first produce from each crop you harvest into a basket and bring it to the designated place of worship—the place the Lord your God chooses for his name to be honored.  Go to the priest in charge at that time and say to him, ‘With this gift I acknowledge to the Lord your God that I have entered the land he swore to our ancestors he would give us.’  The priest will then take the basket from your hand and set it before the altar of the Lord your God.  “You must then say in the presence of the Lord your God, ‘My ancestor Jacob was a wandering Aramean who went to live as a foreigner in Egypt.  His family arrived few in number, but in Egypt they became a large and mighty nation.  When the Egyptians oppressed and humiliated us by making us their slaves, we cried out to the Lord, the God of our ancestors.  He heard our cries and saw our hardship, toil, and oppression.  So the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a strong hand and powerful arm, with overwhelming terror, and with miraculous signs and wonders.  He brought us to this place and gave us this land flowing with milk and honey!  And now, O Lord, I have brought you the first portion of the harvest you have given me from the ground.’  Then place the produce before the Lord your God, and bow to the ground in worship before him.  Afterward you may go and celebrate because of all the good things the Lord your God has given to you and your household.  Remember to include the Levites and the foreigners living among you in the celebration.  Deuteronomy 26:1-11(NLT)
A psalm of thanksgiving.  Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!  Worship the Lord with gladness.  Come before him, singing with joy.  Acknowledge that the Lord is God!  He made us, and we are his.  We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.  Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise.  Give thanks to him and praise his name.  For the Lord is good.  His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.                       Psalm 100(NLT)
Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!  Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do.  Remember, the Lord is coming soon.  Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.  And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing.  Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.  Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.  Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing.  Then the God of peace will be with you.  Philippians 4:4-9(NLT)
They found him on the other side of the lake and asked, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”  Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs.  But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food.  Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you.  For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval.”  They replied, “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?”  Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”  They answered, “Show us a miraculous sign if you want us to believe in you.  What can you do?  After all, our ancestors ate manna while they journeyed through the wilderness!  The Scriptures say, ‘Moses gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”  Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven.  My Father did.  And now he offers you the true bread from heaven.  The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”  “Sir,” they said, “give us that bread every day.”  Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life.  Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again.  Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.                                   John 6:25-35(NLT)

For You Today

You chew on that as you hit the Rocky Road…have a blessed day!

[i] Title image: By U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Cheng S. Yang [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Giving Thanks

Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Praise the Lord, all you nations.  Praise him, all you people of the earth.  For his unfailing love for us is powerful; the Lord’s faithfulness endures forever.  Praise the Lord!  Psalm 117:1-2(NLT)
“In that day,” says the Lord, “I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they will be my people.  This is what the Lord says:  “Those who survive the coming destruction will find blessings even in the barren land, for I will give rest to the people of Israel.”  Long ago the Lord said to Israel:  “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love.  With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.  I will rebuild you, my virgin Israel.  You will again be happy and dance merrily with your tambourines.  Again you will plant your vineyards on the mountains of Samaria and eat from your own gardens there.  The day will come when watchmen will shout from the hill country of Ephraim, ‘Come, let us go up to Jerusalem to worship the Lord our God.’”   Jeremiah 31:1-6(NLT)
Jeremiah’s Israel was decimated by conquering enemies.  His prophetic message was one of looking forward to the future with hope that God would once again bring blessing to His covenant people.  The Psalmist hits this hopefulness in the center of the target by encouraging the whole earth to thank God for his unfailing love.  That love is powerful and never-ending. 
How different are these two thoughts than a Thursday off so you can gather for a killer-meal with friends so you’ll have stamina to last through the Black Friday sales.
I have enough love for America that I want to pray for our country like Jeremiah and praise God for his goodness like the Psalmist. 
But sometimes, as we make comparisons of ancient Israel with current-day America, we come dangerously close to reading-into Scripture’s metaphors and analogies our American pessimism or pride; either one shows our arrogance, assuming we are the center of the universe, and, yes, even the center of God’s attention. 
We take for ourselves too much.
And, taking too much for us is truly the rub.
A gluttonous day of feasting without so much as a nod in the direction of heaven serves as a stark reminder how we miss the mark when it comes to giving thanks to God.  I’ve been warned before to keep the prayer short because everyone’s hungry.
But here, on the verge of Advent, when we celebrate how God brought the centerpiece of his lovingkindness to earth, isn’t it rather fitting (in a Bohemian sort of style) to satisfy every appetite at the table while keeping the giving of thanks to God Spartan and short? 
That’s sort of what happens around the Christmas tree next month, isn’t it?  Got a baby Jesus in the manger to keep Christ in Christmas, but the real deal is how high the presents pile is piled.
But, now on Thanksgiving Eve, allow me a moment of preacher-madness.  What if, while the turkey, veggies and stuffing are being consumed the conversation around the table this year is a little less on which team will win the Super bowl, and more around how God’s goodness and everlasting kindness have made the feast we enjoy a reality.  What if we turned our hearts towards God instead of the stores?
Just a little madness from the back of my mind.

For You Today

I wouldn’t spring all that on the family just as you’re sitting down to the table tomorrow.  That would only bring indigestion and a possible lynching – yours! 
Talk about it tonight.  Prepare to give thanks.
You chew on that as you hit the Rocky Road…have a blessed day!

[i] Title image: By Ben+Sam (The famous Macy's Turkey), via Wikimedia Commons