Posted tagged ‘Thanksgiving’

Thankless Living

November 23, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                             November 23, 2017

                                            

I was talking to a friend of mine recently and an acquaintance of both of us came up as a subject. My facial expression must have given me away because he asked me what the problem was? I had to explain.

The person he was referring to always seemed to come at life in a negative, pessimistic way, and I explained to my friend that I tried to minimize my contact with this other person. I feel a bit guilty about that, but it’s the reality of the situation.

Everyone of us probably knows someone, or a few someones, who fall in this category: people who lead thankless lives that see nothing positive happening. They would complain if Jesus turned water into white wine instead of red. They are the type of persons who Chick-Fil-A would never hire simply because of how people perceive them.

Thankless living people find it close to impossible to give thanks to the Lord, because they believe they have nothing to be thankful for. Thanksgiving Day is torture for them. Three football games become an escape from all the thankful people around them. They count down the hours until Black Friday where they will complain about the lines and the lack of good deals as they trudge from store to store with downcast faces.

Some thankless people have gradually taken on the cloak of despair as a result of the lives they’ve had to lead. They’ve been on the receiving end of verbal abuse for years, and now they can’t see any light. Some have been disappointed too many times and now see disappointment as the norm.

I wonder if that was a factor with the ten lepers that Jesus healed in Luke 17. Only one of the ten ever bothered to say thank you. The other nine who had stood by the side of the road and shouted to Jesus to have pity on them were healed, and now headed to the priests to show them that they were now clean. It would have been too much of a transition to go immediately from thankless lives to thankful living…at least for 90%!

Today I’ll look for the many reasons to be thankful, to give praise for the blessings of God, for his lovingkindness and mercy. Hopefully you’ll do the same!

Rethinking About The Little Thankings

November 18, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                             November 18, 2016

                        

As Thanksgiving Day descends upon us it has caused me to think about the little things I’m thankful for. Perhaps you have your own list that resonates within you. Here’s a few things that cause me to stop, ponder, and be continually thankful for:

1) Sitting on the couch with my three grandkids watching TV, especially if one or two of them are leaned up against me. It causes me to remember when I was growing up and sitting beside my mom and dad in church, leaning into their warmth and presence. Now Reagan and Rennie lean into me and warm my soul!

2) Sunday early evening phone conversations with my dad. Since we’re two time zones apart it usually happens right after I’ve eaten dinner and he’s getting ready for bed. My dad is 88! His pleasant Eastern Kentucky accent carries a flood of family memories with it. As I talk with him I’m thinking of many of those things that he has brought to my life. He taught me how to drive, using our ’66’ Chrysler Newport as the guinea pig. In fact, the first time I drove it in the Ironton Junior High School parking lot I was trying to turn it so hard that I broke the power steering. Although he thought about killing me, patience won out!

3) Being married to a woman with a heart for kids who have needs. Carol is sensitive to those who have limitations as she works with special needs students in middle school. Although she retired at the end of the last school year she gets called EVERY SCHOOL DAY…Trust me! EVERY SCHOOL DAY!…to substitute! She comes alongside students who sometimes are ostracized in the midst of the middle school culture. At the end of the school day she is one tired puppy!

4) The ability to reflect and write. God has gifted me with an unusual talent. Most days as I sit on my Starbucks stool and peck out my blog post I have no idea what I’m about to write until I start writing it. Sometimes it comes as I put the Half and Half in my first cup of coffee; sometimes it comes as I sit and stare at Pike’s Peak for a couple of minutes…but it always seems to come! Most of the time it even makes sense!

5) A renewed passion for the church! As I help First Baptist Church in Simla, Colorado navigate the future it excites me. My excitement is definitely not based on compensation, but rather on “mission and purpose.” I love this congregation of twenty, who are anxious about their future. Thirty-seven years of pastoring has prepared me to offer advice and lead them to the questions that they need to be asking themselves.

6) The memories that pain me! That probably sounds strange, and yet I’m thankful for the wounds of my soul! In the past two months I’ve presided over the funerals of two dear people- a 95 year old saint named Rex and a 41 year old friend and father named Greg. I cried at both of them, and I am thankful that my life was blessed by them to the point that I was deeply impacted. Even now as I write these words the grief once again is like a wave that rushes over me.

We often think about the big reasons to be thankful, but the lake of thanksgiving is held together by small pebbles of gratitude!

Thanks-Living

November 26, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                   November 26, 2014

                                                      

It is the day before Thanksgiving. Hump Day in out-of-sorts week.

What do we make out of this week? A grand jury verdict that split the nation, protest marches in numerous cities across the land, looting and accusations. It’s been a week!!! And it’s only Wednesday!

Tomorrow we gather around dinner tables to…give thanks! It will seem weird, like a mystery movie suddenly becoming a chick flick, or Rambo turning into Bambi. Many of us will look at what has transpired the past few days and ponder what it was we were to give thanks for.

I do not have any Solomonic sayings to impress you with about justice and injustice, right and wrong. There is nothing I can write that will suddenly bring the world back into balance, but I do believe that the way we live needs to be a reflection of hearts that have been changed.

Thanks-living takes thanksgiving to a deeper incision. Thanks-living is not grasped by nearly as many people as those who demonstrate thankless living.

Thanks-living is pastoring a church that is echoed with baby cries and laughter. Thankless living is counting down the minutes of the worship service so you can get to lunch.

Thanks-living is knowing that this day, and then the next day, are beautiful creations of our God who loves his art. Thankless living is a sense of entitlement to have every day be warm and sunny.

Thanks-living is firmly believing that I have been blessed in so many ways. Thankless living is always asking the question “why isn’t me life better?”

Thanks-living is a grateful heart that we live in a country that believes in freedom. Thankless living complains that everything isn’t free.

Thanks-living is appreciative of the platter of mashed potatoes. Thankless living complains about the price of potatoes.

In essence thanks-living is about having an attitude of gratitude. A lot of people these days need attitude adjustments.

In a week where things have seemed out of control, and each of us is trying to figure out answers while still confused about what all the questions are, perhaps a step towards solution, towards a better place and a better world…is to live each day with a commitment to being thankful.

Thanks-living!

Thanksgiving, Move Over!

November 16, 2012

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                      November 16, 2012

 

Thanksgiving is less than a week away and a lot of people can’t wait!

Correction! Can’t wait to get it over with!

A number of business chains have upped the opening to Black Friday to being Black Thursday.      “Hurry up with the blessing! We’ve got a line at Walmart to go get our place in!”

The gathering to give thanks has been shortened in order to get that cheap game system sooner. Seeing the grandparents will not be shortened in order to get to Target ahead of the crowd.

I’m not against financial profits, mind you, it’s just that I think they could have waited for a few more hours. Kind of like a truce in the midst of war to observe Christmas.

What it signals to me is our tendency to give lip service to giving thanks while our heart is really focused on the ads that will arrive in next Wednesday and Thursday’s newspaper.

However, no one asked my opinion. J.C. Penney’s didn’t leave me a voice mail asking for a call back. Target didn’t target me. Walmart didn’t inquire about my feelings, perhaps because they know I have a hard time going there on ANY day.

But millions of Americans will face a decision about when the family will gather on Thanksgiving, and a vast number of them will plan dinner on the basis of the time a store is opening.

Church Partnerships

November 7, 2012

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                    November 6, 2012

 

I’ve always believed…well, at least since I had Tom Finger as a professor in seminary…that the church should be involved in helping make the community a better place. Involved may be too limiting a word. Perhaps “essential assisting” is closer to the truth.

The church should constantly seek that delicate balance between prophetic and peacemaking. Peacemaking includes that community involvement that searches for health and unity. The recent election visibly shows the polarization in our nation. People don’t agree, and sad as it is, it seems that there is not a desire to find agreement. Compromise is seen as a weak alternative.

What if each church sought to bring together communities? What if a church extended it’s serving hands to everyone around it? What if a community was networked by a church that intentionally saw the importance of “essential assisting.”

Last Saturday about forty people from three of our neighborhood churches spent the morning serving our neighbors- raking leaves and bagging them, cleaning out gutters, weeding gardens, repairing ripped screens. It was a good day!

The morning began with Baptists, Mennonites, and Presbyterians sharing a meal together before heading out “interdenominationally” in eight work teams. Neighbors were appreciative and delighted. It’s about the seventh “Community Hands” work day that we’ve worked together on. Some of our neighbors have become “regulars.” They include a 90 year old widow, a mother with health problems and her 30 year old mentally challenged son, and some other elderly folks who just can’t do yardwork anymore. They see us as three churches that care about them. There is a connection there.

Yesterday I met with the principal and school social worker at the grade school down the street from our church to talk about…partnership! This will be the fourth year that we have partnered with the school’s student council in providing Thanksgiving baskets for families in need who include children enrolled at the school. The students do a canned goods drive, and our congregation collects frozen turkeys and bags of potatoes. Together we assemble the baskets for the families who will receive them.

Essential assisting. The school has a wonderful faculty that does some amazing things for students in need. And now, they eagerly join with us in the ministry of serving.

The hang-up with many congregations is that they want to see community involvement translate into “butts in the seats.” They envision a dividend of more people coming through the doors on Sunday morning. When that doesn’t happen there is often the closing of the drawbridge and the church retreats to a “fortress mentality.”

That mentality is a short-sighted view of the Kingdom of God. Perhaps it is also a cultural view, that I’ll go along with it as long as there is a tangible reward soon enough. Bringing peace into the midst of a troubled life isn’t seen as being enough. Meanwhile our communities struggle…and churches struggle!

Communities struggle because of the chaos in people’s lives, and churches struggle because they choose to be blind to the chaos.

Last Saturday’s day of service won’t suddenly make our neighborhood a new utopia, but it is a step towards healing and establishing that sense of community.