Good morning! This is our 5th year in Summer Buddies and it has been fun. Each year we have a different Christian focus where we teach kids to read, write, and to fall in love with our God. This year we have been focusing on prayer. Each week has a different memory verse which reminds our kids about the importance of prayer. During our first week we learned Phil. 4:6-7. The week after that was 1 Thess. 5:16-18. Last week was Jeremiah 33:3 and next week we will be learning Luke 18:1. For today though, I want to focus our attention on 1 Thess. 5:16-18.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thess. 5:16-18).
Fifteen years ago my mom had a health scare that landed her in ICU. We honestly didn’t know what the future held for her. She was diagnosed with COPD, a respiratory disease that is progressive and incurable. She had to make some radical lifestyle changes: she gave up smoking, had to change her diet, and was told that she needed to exercise regularly. Mom never smoked again. Her diet…well, I come from a long line of folks who like food. Great cooks make for some great meals. Mom exercised with my dad for awhile, but once her COPD progressed she found it more and more difficult to maintain the discipline that is necessary to exercise on a regular basis. Every now and then I would pull out some of the best motivational speeches that I had heard from my coaches through the years. You know, things like, “If it’s hurting it’s helping! When the going gets tough, the tough get going!” They weren’t so effective. The disease progressed and mom became more and more sedentary. Continue reading “One More Memory… 1 Thessalonians 4:13”
Ten months ago my family got word that my grandmother had been diagnosed with leukemia. She had options, but the truth was that the prognosis was grim and that she would not overcome the leukemia. If I remember right, she was given somewhere around three months to live. God has been more than gracious. Three months turned to four, Mother’s Day came and we celebrated, then August rolled around and we were able to celebrate her 85th birthday. My whole family made a trip to Wynnewood to gather in her apartment and relish another opportunity to hug her neck, take pictures, kiss her cheeks again and again, and praise God for another memory.
Her health had been declining, but she was doing remarkably well as long as she took her “booster” shots of a couple of units of blood and platelets each week. Then I got the call on Monday that she had fallen. She didn’t break anything, but she was acting strange. Late Monday afternoon she was taken to the hospital in Pauls Valley and a CAT Scan determined that she had suffered a stroke. My sister called about midnight and said that the doctors didn’t give her much of a chance to make it through the night. I couldn’t go back to sleep so I drove to Pauls Valley and arrived at 2 or 2:30 am. I sat with my dad and sister through the night and her breathing was strained to say the least. Finally, about 5:15 am, her breathing slowed almost to a standstill. I told my dad and sister that we needed to pray so we gathered around her bed and I asked the Lord to take her breath and take her into His gracious arms. He did. Continue reading “Just One More Memory… 1 Thessalonians 4:13”
????????? Thanksgiving is just a few days away and yet for many among us today ?giving thanks? seems like a distant prospect. There are so many folks among us who are in the midst of trials and heartache. Some of you have lost loved ones during the past year, others have lost marriages during the past year, and many of you have lost hope for anything better than you are presently experiencing. You?re aware that Thanksgiving is upon us and you?ve been asking yourself, ?How can I give thanks when my heart has been broken and my hopes have been shattered?? That?s a great question and I want us to spend some time this morning trying to understand how we can give thanks this Thanksgiving ?in all circumstances.? Before we do that I want to give you a little background on the day that has been set aside as a ?day of thanks? in our nation. I want to take the time to do this because many in our society today view Thanksgiving as purely a secular holiday, a day set aside strictly for getting together with friends and family, watching football, and eating some great food.
????????? Continue reading “In All Circumstances… 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18”
A pale Indian wobbled down the gangplank from a lurching deck onto firm land. For the next three years, he and other Indian youths were taught English after being kidnapped from their native America. At first he found the new tongue awkward, but eventually he surprised himself: “My name is Squanto. I have come from America.” Squanto and the other youths were then sent back to America as expedition guides. But after returning to the home he loved, he was shortly seized again by Spanish slave traders. Amazingly, while on the auction block, a gentle monk bought him, fed and nourished him, and gave him back his freedom. Though Squanto knew no Spanish, he understood. This man of God’s love for Jesus had prompted him to buy Indian slaves and teach them the Christian faith. He began to love this Jesus, too. After returning to America once again, he found his entire family gone, killed by a strange sickness. His grief was overwhelming. A few months later, he saw more ships approaching the shores. They appeared friendly, and had women and children with them. Though the men were fearful when they saw Squanto, the minute he spoke to them in perfect English they were amazed and friendly. From that time, Squanto adopted these Pilgrims as his new family. He taught them how to survive in their new home. His knowledge was invaluable to them, and he shared it freely. They were thankful as they saw how the hand of God had provided Squanto’s help in establishing their new colony. When Squanto lay dying, he turned over in his mind the events of his strange life. It almost seemed that a plan had led him. The first time he was captured he learned English. The second time, he was freed by gentle Christians who taught him to trust in Jesus. And though his own people had died of sickness, God had sent him to a new people who built their colony where his old village once stood. He asked the governor of the colony to pray for him as he breathed his last breath. He died in November 1622, gone from the New World, but entering a heavenly one.
The Sunday before Thanksgiving is a time when we normally stop to focus our attention on the multiplied millions of blessings that Almighty God has showered upon us during the past year. We are supposed to continually remind ourselves how blessed we are simply by being called “God’s people,” but I find that mindset often escaping me during the day-to-day grind of life. So often I find myself entangled in lists, appointments, duties, and chores that drain energy and life from me. I have come to realize that the problem is not inherent in the lists and duties, but in me.