It will go down in history as perhaps mankind’s most bizarre year. Never has the entire globe in unison shut down because of a virus. Restrictions in travel, work, recreation, size of gatherings etc., have ruined businesses, increased the number of suicides and deaths for those with other ailments who cannot be hospitalized, amped fear to unprecedented levels, and created a huge divide in opinion over what should or should not be done. Meanwhile political unrest, rolling waves of violence, storms and disasters add to the cacophony of 2020.
Colossians 3:16--Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God.
Psalm 20:4—May He give you what your heart desires and fulfill your whole purpose.
Whenever a new year approaches there is for many people a sense of optimism. Yes, now I can start afresh. Yes, perhaps this next year will be a better year. Yes, finally the hardships or struggles of this past season may come to an end. But beginning afresh requires finishing the old year well. Very rarely, if ever, can you have one without the other.
For ten days I underwent training to be an assessor as part of my responsibilities for a new job I will be taking with the military. By Friday night of the second week I was exhausted. This job is intense because it requires me (when I am on call) to make a final recommendation to senior U.S. or Canadian leaders at the critical point of what appears to be an enemy attack. Because I have no experience in aviation, I have to learn new terminology and methodologies in order to make key decisions for terrible contingencies that can occur rapidly.
Psalm 108:3-5—I will praise You, LORD, among the people; I will sing praises to You among the nations. For Your faithful love is higher than the heavens, and Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. God, be exalted above the heavens, and let Your glory be over the whole earth.
1 Thessalonians 1:2—We always thank God for all of you, remembering you constantly in our prayers.
Friday I drove with Normi for five hours to Spokane unsure of Aunt B.J.’s condition. At the age of 83, it would be bad enough to have one intestinal surgery, but she was now recovering from a second operation within a week with no food in her system and a weak heart. Her second surgery removed a blockage the size of a football. It was not surprising that she was very tired when we finally arrived on the 10thfloor of Deaconess Hospital and walked into her room.
There is a Kenyan proverb that states “A satisfied man does not know another one is hungry.” Imagine spending seventy years of life under the oppressive hand of communism. The shackles of tyranny were so severe that today in the nation of Georgia the majority of those who hold leadership positions are under the age of forty. Those who are over forty were so impacted by Soviet rule that the ability to think freely or take decisive actions is just too difficult.
I Timothy 4:4-6—For everything created by God is good, and nothing should be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, since it is sanctified by the word of God and by prayer. If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, nourished by the words of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed.
Riding from Abuja to Jos, Nigeria, David Joel, pastor of Agape Communion Church, shared with me an amazing story. There was a military coup in Nigeria in February 1976. Jurbe, a Captain in the Nigerian Army, was implicated in the coup. Despite his innocence, the authorities tried and executed him. Paul Wakkies, his younger brother, took his death hard. But on November 5, 1976, his wife, Kurnyang, bore him a daughter. They named her Lengkat, which means, “Don’t Worry!” Paul took solace in the fact that although God allowed the death of his brother, He provided new life.
1 Chronicles 16:8--Give thanks to Yahweh; call on His name; proclaim His deeds among the peoples.
Psalm 28:7--The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. Therefore my heart rejoices, and I praise Him with my song.
Psa.30:12b--Lord my God, I will praise You forever.
All around the planet somewhere, someplace, someone is worshiping God—24/7! Heaven is the final destination of praise, prayers, confession, thanksgiving and the place where songs, dance, shouting, offerings and communion unfold before an adored Father. If you asked me to pick the single most important thing I could do in life I would unhesitatingly answer, WORSHIP!
Kaching, kachingcan you hearthe sound of cash registers ringing up sales like there was no tomorrow? Personally, I’m in the market for two sliding glass doors. Our doors have broken seals, a locking mechanism that no longer works and twenty plus years of wear and abuse. It doesn’t help that Bear and Dusty, our two big dogs, think that jumping against and scratching the glass will earn them a trip inside. I wish you could see Bear working his pink and black-splotched tongue up and down the rubber edging trying to lick his way in. The pools outside the door aren’t from rain!
Outside it fell but until Tom called, I was oblivious. My children cheer at the rare sight of large white flakes gracefully tumbling earthward. Gone are the raindrops plopping their melancholic adagios. Silence. New measures of rest bring dramatic change.
Perhaps it's an age thing. Perhaps I'm in what seems like a mellow moment in life. Whatever, I feel a need to go deeper in analyzing what it really means to be thankful. One thought continues to cascade through my mind and pour over my heart. Thankfulness is not based on what I have but on who I am.
At 2:47 a.m. the house shuddered. I looked over at my sleeping wife and asked if she had noticed anything. Since the dogs were not barking and I felt no sense of urgency, I drifted back to sleep. About a half an hour later, the doorbell rang and our two canines erupted. I opened the door to two policemen, bright flashing lights and the reality that an abandoned car sat atop the berm in front of our home.
Colossians 4:2--Devote yourselves to prayer; stay alert in it with thanksgiving.
I have neverencountered a mature Christian who is not strongly devoted to prayer. Certainly I know talented believers. There is a great abundance of disciples who are full of knowledge of the Bible and equipped with great people skills. I know many Christians who possess a solid business savvy and a knack for administrating. There is no shortage of believers who were raised in Christian homes and have faithfully attended church all their lives. But I have never encountered a mature Christian who is not devoted to prayer.