An Attitude of Gratitude

Although Thanksgiving Day dates back to the Pilgrims, it didn’t become a national holiday until 1863 when America was in the midst of a bloody Civil War.  Abraham Lincoln thought it might help to unify the country and it has been celebrated annually ever since.

An attitude of gratitude can do much to heal the country, but it also can heal the hurts that one inevitably suffers in this life and can make us healthier, happier and more successful.  These are scientifically proven facts.

Most of you are familiar with the song “Count Your Blessings (Instead of Sheep)” from the 1954 movie classic “White Christmas.”  It begins,

“When, I’m worried and I can’t sleep, I count my blessings instead of sheep and I fall asleep counting my blessings.”

These are not simply pretty lyrics.  A 2011 study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being found that spending just 15 minutes jotting down grateful sentiments before bed, helps one sleep better and longer.  Better sleeps leads to better overall health and well being and more productivity.   Continue reading “An Attitude of Gratitude”

Thanksgiving 2017: Where is God?

These last few months have been filled with a series of tragedies too horrible to have been imagined: hurricanes, one after another, brought death and devastation in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean.  Nature’s wrath was accompanied by man-made tragedies in Las Vegas and Sutherland, Texas.  The loss of life and property brought pain and suffering that will continue for years to come and, for some, may never be overcome.

This Thanksgiving will be celebrated by many in shelters or bleak circumstances without running water or electricity.  For others there will be empty spots around the table.  Some may not feel like giving thanks at all and may be asking, “Where is God?” Continue reading “Thanksgiving 2017: Where is God?”

We Need the Peace of Christmas (But It Is Conditional)

We have entered Christmas week, the most joyous holiday of the year as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ, the one who is called the “Prince of Peace.”

The trees have been trimmed.  Cards have been sent. Presents are being bought and wrapped and familiar carols are being sung like “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.”

And mild and sweet their songs repeat

of peace on earth good will to men.

Peace is something we all want — freedom from worry, a quiet and calm state of mind, agreement and harmony among people.  It’s a word that has become synonymous with Christmastime. Continue reading “We Need the Peace of Christmas (But It Is Conditional)”

Why Christmas Matters

Last week, I went into the Gap to buy a gift card for a young friend of ours.  I asked for one that said “Merry Christmas” and the clerk said, “Oh, you won’t find anything like that in here.”  I was stunned.  Then I remembered an email I received from the American Family Association on its “Naughty or Nice” list listing retailers who were friendly or openly hostile to this annual opportunity to celebrate the birth of Christ.

I made a mental note to go back and check that “Naughty or Nice” list  as I thanked the clerk, but told here that I would go elsewhere.

Why would any company that does business in the United States go out of its way to insult 90 percent of the population?  Could it be that we are so busy “celebrating” that we have forgotten the reason for the season or that we no longer care?   Continue reading “Why Christmas Matters”

The Easter Battle

My soul was troubled as I entered the sanctuary last Sunday.  My country has turned its back on Israel.  Our president is working on a deal that will leave Iran just two weeks from having the deadliest weapon the world has ever known.  Meanwhile, that pariah nation is carving up the Middle East, along with other Islamic extremists while we do virtually nothing.  A regional war  seems inevitable, a war that could turn into WWIII.

It was if our pastor had read my mind.  His sermon was on war, more specifically, the most important battle ever fought.  It help me get things back into their proper perspective.

This battle was not between soldiers of opposing armies.  It occurred in a garden outside of Jerusalem.  It was a battle from within. Continue reading “The Easter Battle”

How to be Thankful when Your World is falling apart

The world appears to be spinning out of control.  This once great country of ours is no longer trusted.  We are in debt up to our eyeballs.  Our friends cannot count on us.   In fact, we often bully them.

Our president has become a source of ridicule.  Russian President Vladimir Putin taunts him.  Terrorists execute our citizens and dare him to do something about it.

Closer to home, we call right, “wrong” and wrong, “right.”  Marriage is denigrated.  Having children out of wedlock is rewarded.  Personal responsibility is out.  Government benefits are in. Continue reading “How to be Thankful when Your World is falling apart”

The Joy of Christmas

“Joy” is one of the most overused words of the holiday season. It’s on our Christmas cards, gift tags and more. It is the subject of our songs and carols.

Christmas is the time to celebrate the birth of Christ. It should be a time of rejoicing and good cheer. But what if you don’t feel joyful? Many fake it, which leaves them feeling empty inside.

Others quickly lose their joy when the feasting is over, the presents are unwrapped and guests go to their respective homes.

Where did all this joy go? Did it simply vanish into thin air? Did it go into the attic with the tinsel and lights? Did it disappear with that huge pile of crumbled paper and ribbon? Is it in the box with the crèche perhaps?

No, it’s not there.

Many confuse joy with happiness, but the two are not the same. Happiness depends on circumstance, while joy does not.

Many Christians use this time to rededicate their lives. They vow to do all the right things, even if it kills them and it often does, if not physically, mentally. They end up exhausted and joyless.

Let’s face it. Living the Christian life is hard work. In fact, it is impossible on our own.

But wait! Christ told us, “My yoke is easy. My burden is light.”

It is possible to leave Christ the baby in the manger and miss the real meaning of Christmas, the reason He came to earth and lived among us.

Maybe there was a time when you had the joy, so you know what I’m talking about. However, somewhere in your zeal to “work out your salvation,” the work part took over.

Bob George analyzed this problem in a little book called “Classic Christianity.” He points out that it is a human tendency to turn what should be a vibrant, personal relationship with Christ into a religion. We stray away from the basics and often substitute the good things for the real thing.

It is so easy to get caught up in the activity of the “shoulds” of the world and the church that we forget that the Christian life is Christ, not just a change in lifestyle.

When you become a Christian, you die to yourself. In other words, you leave your old self behind and invite the resurrected Christ to live through you. But our human nature dies hard. We must ask the Holy Spirit to indwell us each and every day. We must renew our minds with His word. We also need daily two-way conversations with our Lord through prayer.Prayer involves a lot more than simply thanking God for His blessings, asking for forgiveness when we stumble (and we all do) and giving God our wish lists. The most important part is asking, “Lord, what would You have me to do today?” In other words, we need to use our prayer time to substitute His wish list for ours. When you do that, amazing things begin to happen.

Jesus will be there to guide you and to help you carry out His will every step of the way. It’s like jumping off to “light speed.” And when you come up against a seemingly impossible task, He makes a way, where there is no way. Living in this knowledge is where the real joy comes in.

It puts the little things that can trip us up – things like cleaning up from this big holiday celebration – in perspective.

The Bible says, ”Ask whatsoever you will and it will be given unto you, if (and this is a mighty big if) you abide in Me and My words abide in you.”

Don’t miss the real thing this Christmas. Don’t leave Christ the baby in the manger. If you have never invited Him to come into your life, why not do so today?

Perhaps you think you are not good enough. No one is. The Bible says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” That is why God sent His Son, Jesus, into the world, not only to teach us how to live, but to pay the price for our sins. When we accept Christ as our Savior and Lord, we are washed white as snow.

So now that the presents are unwrapped, you can look forward, not only to a new year, but a new beginning.

Wishing you the peace and true joy that only comes through following Him.