Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  I love the concept and reason for thanksgiving, but  mainly because it has been a consistent thing in my life.  We always enjoy Thanksgiving with my parents.  Sometimes it has been at my home, sometimes at theirs, but always with them.  Our meal is always the same, and when it's not ... well, it's back to the same the next year.  Of course we have the usual foods like everyone else, the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes.  We also have green beans that my mom canned from the summer.  She typically saves back a jar or 2 of the smaller beans, because those are my favorite.  We also have frosted cranberry salad, which is a jello full of stuff!  Makes me hungry just thinking about it!  We use the good dishes and glasses.  We set around the table, some at a card table, some on the couch, but we're all together and that is something worth being thankful for.  After the meal has been cleared away and the dishwasher loaded, we pull out the dominoes for a lively (seriously) game of Mexican Train. 

Well, this year is different.  Our daughter is a freshman in college, 12 hours from our home.  She came home by plane, and only has a few days with us until she flies out again leaving us no real time to make the trip to my parents.  They're also unable to make the trip this year, so it leaves us with being in different places.  We knew this was coming, but the reality makes it a little hard to swallow, much like cold, lumpy mashed potatoes. 

Well, this year may be different, but I am thankful just the same, perhaps even more so.  I am especially thankful for my family.  Of course the ones far away that I'm related to by blood, but also the ones I assemble with each week to worship God who I am related to by the blood of Christ.  I'm thankful for the hospitality and friendship as we, along with others, are welcomed into a loving home to share a meal together.  I'm thankful for the fellowship we enjoy every time we get together to worship, but also the periods of fellowship that occur via texts, email, Facebook, or in homes.  What a wonderful blessing it is to have a loving family!

I actually started this blog post to include some of my favorite Bible verses on thanksgiving, and to mention how many times it's in the Bible, etc.  but once I started thinking about the holiday of Thanksgiving, my thoughts turned of family.  I'm blessed in so many ways.  I am thankful for my Christian walk - Colossians 2:6-7 "As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving."  I'm also thankful for the opportunities past, present and future to serve Him.  I'm thankful for my heritage in the faith as I've been taught. 

Psalm 100
A Psalm of Thanksgiving.
1 Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands!
2 Serve the LORD with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing.
3 Know that the LORD, He is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
5 For the LORD is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Great Mixing Bowl

Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of baking.  Don’t get me wrong, I love to cook and to bake, but my mixer has been working overtime.  I’ve been making cakes and cookies and pies, in fact one day I had to stop my mixer because it was making that “hot” smell they might make before it bursts into flames!  Luckily, the mixer cooled down and I was able to continue. 

While I’m using my mixer, I often think back to a passage in Judy Miller’s book Seasons of the Heart.  I’m not going to quote it verbatim, but want us to think about an analogy she made.  When I am mixing up a cake, I can’t just run my mixer in the middle.  If I do, some ingredients get tossed up on the sides of the mixing bowl and not incorporated into the cake.  If I would just pour this mixture into my pan and bake it, perhaps it would not rise properly or taste good.  There would definitely be pieces of dry mix or other ingredients and it wouldn’t be the cake I had intended to make.  When I use my mixer, I often have to stop or slow it down and scrape the sides of my bowl, getting all of the ingredients into the path of the beaters.  Judy Miller makes the point that it is the same in the church, the family of God.  She states that:  “it is needed for all of us to work together with God, so that the unity of faith and the bond of peace may be seen by all men in the one body of Christ”.   

Have you ever done a study of the “one another” passages in the New Testament?  In preparing this article, I did a quick search on a computer program and found 113 references!  Let me list just a few that I found.  Romans 12:16 says to “Be of the same mind toward one another.”  Romans 14:19 “Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.”    I Corinthians 12:25 “that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.”  Galatians 5:13 “through love serve one another.”  And finally, Hebrews 10:25 “but exhorting one another.” 

 Can we be the one body of Christ if we stay away from the mixture of Christians who are down in the mixing bowl?  How else can we be of the same mind, edify, care, serve and exhort if we’re not together? 

We need the “mixing together” of each member’s faith and love, strengths and abilities, experiences and sufferings to fortify the whole.   Don’t allow yourself to be stuck to the side of the mixing bowl.  Get involved in the work of the church.  Get involved in the lives of other members.  We are here to make the body of Christ strong, and when we allow ourselves to be mixed with each other and work together using our different talents and different seasons of life, we will be the church Christ wants. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Practicing Hospitality

Hebrews 13:1-2  “Let brotherly love continue.  Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.”

Picture this.  Your congregation is getting ready to host a gospel meeting with a visiting preacher.  Someone posts a “meal sign-up” list.  You mean to go by and sign up, but you haven’t had much time to clean the house, and you really don’t have time to plan and to cook an elaborate dinner, so you let it slide.  Or, you remember you haven’t even looked at the list since it was posted, and it’s the first day of the meeting.  When you do look at it, you realize only one slot has been filled.

 Is hospitality a dying art?  Sometimes I wonder.  God wants us to show hospitality (Romans 12:13).  I think that many women in today’s society need to remember that hospitality is not only a Biblical commandment, but is a necessity to build a stronger, more unified church.  Why don’t Christians serve each other this way?  Maybe it’s just the way society has evolved over time.  We do things that the world has to offer.  Things like football games, soccer practice, piano or swimming lessons, or band practice.  There is nothing wrong with those things, but our focus and time is spent more on things instead of God.   Have we become a selfish people?  Perhaps we don’t want to spend the time or effort to do what God would have us to do.  I John 3:17 says “But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?   If we are spending our time and efforts on attaining worldly things and not opening our homes and hearts to our Christian family, can God’s love abide in us?

 Opening up your home is a wonderful way to show hospitality.  So many of us are concerned over the condition of our carpet and upholstery, and we allow that to stand in our way of showing hospitality.  It doesn’t matter if your silverware matches, or if you’re not a talented chef.  You can eat pizza on paper plates.  What matters are the relationships being formed.  Sure, we want our home to be at its best when we have company, but trivial things should not stand in our way of being hospitable. 

 Here are a few ideas for showing hospitality in our homes.  Host a game night with popcorn and sodas.  If your finances are low, fix a spaghetti dinner.  Host a potluck.  Invite 2 or 3 families in for dinner and have them bring a dish to share.  Fix a dessert to serve after evening worship services.  Invite new members or visitors over to share and discuss the sermons or Bible class lessons from the day.  Open your Bibles as visit.  Open your home at the holidays.  There are often members who are unable to return home for the holidays due to work or distance, and would enjoy spending the day with a family instead of alone.  Invite the visiting or located preacher for a meal.  Set a goal for yourself.  Plan to have one family a month for an entire year.  Maybe you can only schedule four to six times a year, or maybe you can entertain more frequently.  Pinpoint some members of your congregation that could benefit from your hospitality.  Young people, teenagers, college students, singles, widows, young parents, empty nesters, retirees, any of these groups would benefit by your hospitality. 

 Hospitality demonstrates our faithfulness to God.  There are many examples of hospitality sprinkled throughout the Bible.  Abraham, Lot, Job, Lydia, Mary and Martha, even Jesus showed hospitality.  If these individuals were able to provide hospitality, how much easier it should be for us with our modern conveniences.  Let’s all make a resolve to be more hospitable, and put it into practice!  You never know, you may be entertaining some angels?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Dealing with a Betrayal

Have you ever been betrayed?  Has someone you trusted, believed in, loved, just turn around and behave in a way totally opposite of anything you had ever expected?  Stab you in the back?  Say things to others about you that were untrue?  Lied?  Showed their true colors and show no remorse?

I've had that happen.  Have you? 

How did you react?

I went to my bed and cried.   I talked to my husband, who was ready and willing to jump in and fix things.  I mourned the loss of a friendship, and grew a little thicker skin.  How about you? 

Do we turn the other cheek?  Do we pray for the individual, not just to heap coals of fire upon their heads (Romans 12:20), but to turn their soul back from hell?  (James 5:19-20)

Do we think of Jesus?  Do we remember how Jesus with his 12 closest friends, who traveled for 3 years together must have felt over the betrayal by Judas?  Do we remember how Jesus reacted during the garden scene, His trial, and His crucifixion?  Can we see the love in His eyes towards His friend, who became His betrayer? 

Did you forgive your betrayer? 

Jesus did.

I've had a comment that perhaps Jesus did not forgive Judas, and I will have to do some more study on this before I can comment any further.  The point I was trying to make is that we need to have a forgiving attitude towards someone even if they betray us.  Perhaps we don't have to forgive them unless they ask us, I'm not sure.
However, I know if we keep anger, disappointment and that betrayal close in our hearts & minds, then we will suffer.  Sometimes that person who betrayed us doesn't even care and isn't suffering at all.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Take a Chance or Have Confidence In a Promise?

If I were to ask you the question - would you like to take a chance?  Most likely, you would say no thank you.  Taking a chance indicates a gamble, an accident or a slim possibility of something happening.  So many times I have heard people thank God for the "chance of eternal life".  It's one of those things that just makes me cringe and wish that I could take the person aside, like Priscilla & Aquilla did with Apollo in Acts 18:26 to more accurately explain the way of God.  We do not have a chance of eternal life.  The joys of heaven are not to be experienced by only the few chosen ones from a lottery, but are there for the taking of anyone who is willing to submit to the will of God and obey His commandments.  Heaven is not an accident, it is being prepared for us.  John 14:1-4.  There is not a possibility of it happening, it is a sure thing - Jesus said "if it were not so, I would have told you."  There is no "chance" at all.

A better word to use would be hope, or promise.  Hope is an expectation, trust or promise, to have confidence of a strong & confident expectation.  We can be confident in so many things regarding our salvation - God promised it before time began (Titus 1:2)  Hope is a confident expression.  The knowing that something great is real and obtainable. 

We can know that there is a heaven, and we can know that we have eternal life (I John 5:13) We have the hope of heaven.  A promise made by God.  Not a chance, not an opportunity, not a random destiny or the luck of the draw.  Hope.