Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Thoughts 2009

Oh, give thanks to the LORD! Call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples! Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; Talk of all His wondrous works! Glory in His holy name; Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the LORD! Seek the LORD and His strength; Seek His face evermore! Remember His marvelous works which He has done, His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth. (1 Chronicles 16:7-12)

By the time you read this, you will either be getting ready for Thanksgiving, or getting over it. My prayer for you is that you remember the many blessings that God has given you in the past year. Those who know Jesus Christ have more to be thankful for than any, because regardless of our circumstances, we know we have a Heavenly Father who loves us.

As so many of you have heard me say before, Thanksgiving has become my favorite holiday. There are no presents to give or receive, family and friends is the most important element, and most of all, it is deliberately designed to give thanks to God for His goodness.

Just as with all the other holidays, Thanksgiving has been commercialized with more focus on turkeys, football, and going through store ads in anticipation of after Thanksgiving sales, than on truly being grateful for God’s goodness. Some even view the traditional family gathering as a hassle and interruption to routine and schedules. Johnny Carson once said, “Thanksgiving is an emotional holiday. People travel thousands of miles to be with people they only see once a year. And then discover once a year is way too often.”

The reality of the holiday is that it really doesn’t matter if you sit down to a great feast or have many family members and friends to celebrate with. For many people, Thanksgiving can be meaningful by truly being grateful for the ham sandwich that you are eating alone. In fact, Thanksgiving should be something we celebrate each day as we spend time with God.

As I have taken time to ponder God’s blessings to my family this year, I came upon some questions I put forth in a column from several years ago. I thought it would be a good idea to remind everyone, including myself, of these questions to help us all get a great picture of how God has moved in our lives in the past year.

  • What were the major events that took place in your family this year?
    • Thank God for the milestones that bring us out of routine days.
  • Did your family grow in number, through weddings or births?
    • Express your gratitude to our Heavenly Father for new additions and pray for guidance in being a role model for them in your Christian walk.
  • Did you experience the loss of a loved one?
    • If not, give thanks to God for allowing you another year to be together. Don’t miss the opportunity to tell them how much you love and appreciate them.
    • If so, thank God for the time you had together, the memories of times you shared, and the promise of a great day when you will all be together forever.
  • Did your family experience hard times?
    • If so, consider what you learned from each situation and thank God for His instruction and guidance.
  • Who are the members of your family?
    • Name one quality that you’re thankful for in each person.

If you will take the time to answer these questions, it may change the way you view your blessings and give you a structured way to truly give thanks to God in whatever your circumstances are.

From my family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving!

I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. My God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Philippians 4:11-13, 19-20 NIV)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I love watching the weather. I enjoy sitting on my front porch during a storm. I would watch The Weather Channel for hours if my family would let me.

In all of this weather watching, I have become a pretty good weather predictor. If there is a chance of snow, call me and I’ll tell you if we will get it here. I know that if the snow is coming from the west, we won’t see any. If it is coming from the southwest, up through Atlanta; get ready for long lines for bread and milk.

I get a kick out of weather predictions on the news. Today in Edgefield, the weather forecast is a high temperature of 68 degrees, with a 40% chance of rain tonight. I can understand how they can predict the temperature, but how do they decide that there is a 40% chance of rain.

In my estimation, there is always a 50/50 chance that it will rain. Think about that for a minute. On any given day, either it will rain or it won’t. That’s a perpetual 50% chance of rain.

I was making another 50/50 observation during the Clemson football game against Florida State last week. Clemson’s kicker missed several extra-point kicks and two field goals during that game. I remarked to a friend that the kicker has the hardest job on the team. I said, “Unlike the offense, the kicker always has no better than a 50/50 chance of scoring. They only have once chance per attempt. If they make it, they are a hero. If they don’t, they’re a goat.” Just like rainfall, either they’ll make it or they won’t. There is no second chance.

I heard Mike Glenn, who is pastor at Brentwood Baptist Church in Nashville, TN, (and a former pastor at EFBC), speak at Anderson University a couple of weeks ago. He was preaching to the student body during chapel. One of the things he said was that life on earth is like studying for a final exam in a pass/fail course. You will either pass the final exam, or you won’t. There is no second chance.

The great thing about this final exam is that we have been given the answer. I said answer in the singular, because there is only one question. At the end of this life, God will administer the test. He will ask us if we knew, trusted, and believed in Jesus Christ. If indeed we did, then we pass. If we have not, then we fail. Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 NIV)

What a tragedy to fail a class where all of the actual questions and correct answers are given ahead of time. You have been made aware through the scriptures you have read, the Sunday School lessons you have attended, and the preaching you have heard.

This is our study time for that final exam. It is a pass/fail exam. You have a 50/50 chance of passing. You either have the correct answer in your heart, because you have truly accepted Jesus into your life, or you have rejected the calling of the Holy Spirit and thus, you fail the test. There is no middle ground. There is no riding the fence. You are either for God, or against Him.

I don’t really have any idea if it will rain or not. I have no way to predict if the football will leave the kicker’s foot and make it through the goalposts. Those are true 50/50 chances. I do know, however, that if you have given your life to Christ, you have a 100% chance of passing God’s final exam.

My prayer is that you have already passed that exam in your heart. If you haven’t or are not sure, please find a Christian friend and talk with them about it. Also, I and any of the EFBC staff will be happy to speak with you about how you can know for sure where you will spend eternity.

"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' (Matthew 7:13-14, 21-13 NIV)