Tag Archives: Holidays

The Key to a Peaceful New Year

Read Philippians 4:11-13

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE

“And my God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

diceWell, it is officially a New Year. The holidays are past, the festivities are over and the beginning of another twelve month period has officially began. This year it seems that we will be visited by a monster snow storm to kick us off for the new year. Uh oh! Is this an omen? Is this a sign of an ominous and troubled year?

Have you ever noticed that each New Year’s Eve and, subsequently, each New Year people celebrate the waning of the previous year and the dawning of the new year as if the last year was the absolute worst year ever? This year was certainly no different. “Good riddance 2013” I saw signs and people exclaiming on television during the new year celebrations going on. “Hello 2014! You’re going to rock!”

But did 2013 stink and will 2014 rock? Or will we, by this time next year, be exclaiming “Good riddance 2014!”, while completely forgetting how excited we were to usher it in. Are we ever satisfied with anything, or is every year absolutely the worst year EVER? Have you ever stopped to notice how negative we are of where we are, and absolutely how giddy we are at the prospect of getting what we want in the future.

But the reality is that, more than likely, we will not get everything we WANT. The reality is that there will be things that WILL go wrong and against what we planned. The reality is that life will continue to be challenging and that growth will continue to have its moments of pain. That is just life. If you’ve ever watched the first five minutes of up, then you’ve seen the summary of life in a nutshell. Things happen, time keeps moving, we age and then, no matter what year it is, at some point we will end up dying. That is the cycle of life and we all go through it.

The question is, just as it was in the movie UP, what are you going to while your time is still here on this earth. Are you going to lock yourself up in your house and sulk over time gone by. Are you going to relentlessly wish the coming of every new year only to hastily usher in that year’s end when things aren’t going your way? Are you you going to be childish in your approach to life, throwing temper tantrums and conniption fits when you don’t get your way? Or are you going to take a deep breath, realize that you DO NOT NEED all of the things you REALLY WANT and be content with what you have.

The apostle Paul knew what contentment was. He stated that whether he was sick or healthy, beaten or loved, imprisoned or free, hungry or full, he was content in all situations. Paul was a person who was filled with the PEACE that God has to offer us. I am sure he would have rather not been in prison, and starving, and poor, and beaten; however, many of those things were outside of his control and he trusted that, no matter what, God would provide for him what he NEEDED. And that trust…that faith…gave him PEACE.

The challenge for you today, and for every day, is to be content. If a bad situation occurs, certainly try to work your way out of it…even seeking help if need be…so that you can move forward and grow; however, don’t lament and sulk over your situation. That does absolutely no good. Don’t be selfish and shallow like the people on New Year’s Eve wishing for the new year to bring them THEIR WAY. Rather, EXPECT the new year to bring you GOD’s WAY and you will NEVER be disappointed; rather, you will be content and will have God’s PEACE.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“[People fall] from the pursuit of the ideal of plan living and high thinking the moment [they] want to multiply [their] daily wants. [People’s] happiness really lies in contentment.” – Mahatma Gandhi

PRAYER
Lord, help me to be content in all things, this year and all of the years to come. Amen.

 

A Carpenters Christmas

Read Romans 12:12-21

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE

“Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you.” (Psalms 33:22)

Karen-Carpenter-Feet-830773One of my favorite bands to listen to during the Christmas season is The Carpenters. There is something to be said about Karen’s warm and inviting voice reminding us that “There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays” or her wishing everyone have themselves “a Merry Little Christmas”. To me, it just isn’t Christmas without the Carpenters Christmas collection.

Part of my love for the Carpenters comes from my mom, who was a huge fan. I can remember back when 8-tracks and records were still the major mediums for listening to music.  My mom had several Carpenter’s albums on both record and on 8-track cassette. I grew up listening to them all and, when it was Christmastime, out came The Carpenter’s Christmas Collection.

Of course, the Karen Carpenter story is not as warm and inviting as her voice. As many people know, Karen Carpenter suffered from a serious and devastating illness called Anorexia Nervosa. This illness is both a psychological and a physical illness in which the sufferer avoids eating and uses other means to lose weight. Though she was a thin person, Karen did not see herself that way and she starved herself with crash diets, and also took laxatives in order to keep her “weight” down.

Unfortunately, the anorexia took a devastatingly damaging toll on her body. The crash dieting had put a huge strain on her heart and, overtime, she started to suffer from irregular heartbeats. On February 4, 1983, only nine days before my 5th birthday (yes…I know I am “young” or “old” depending on who’s reading this), Karen Carpenter passed away from heart failure, which was the result of her years of struggling with anorexia.

Though nothing can ever take away from the tragedy of her untimely death, it was her death that sparked a nationwide movement to educate young people, women in particular, about anorexia. Karen, through her shocking death, inspired people to not only learn about anorexia, but to also work toward helping diagnose the disease in others as well as developing ways to help people overcome it.

The fact of the matter is that through Karen (despite her death), others found hope, healing and wholeness. It is sad that she died and did not find that for herself; however, her death was not in vain as it brought that terrible disease to light in a country that had otherwise paid it no mind. And in that, I see the hope of Christmas. It is Christmastime that reminds us that hope exists even in the worst of circumstances. It is Christmastime that reminds us that, even though our bodies die, HOPE never dies.

No matter who you are, no matter what you’ve been through, no matter what circumstances currently surround you, know that you always have HOPE. Our Hope is Emmanuel…Our Hope is “God with us” in our lives. Through thick and thin, through ups and downs, through the good times and the bad times, HOPE is with you because GOD is with you. Today’s challenge is to recognize the HOPE in your life and cling to it. If there is one thing the Karen Carpenter story teaches us, it is that HOPE never dies. Be a person of HOPE, a person who is hopeful, and a person who gives hope to others.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

“Everything that is done in the world is done by hope.” – Martin Luther

PRAYER

Lord, help me to see the hope in all things so that I may bear witness to the hope in all things. Amen.

 

A Thanksgiving That Counts

Read Luke 12:1-48; James 2

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE

“Those who bring thanksgiving as their sacrifice honor me; to those who go the right way I will show the salvation of God.”
(Psalms 50:23)

A Thanksgiving That CountsAs we approach Thanksgiving Day, it is easy for us to get warm and fuzzy about the festivities that are about to occur. The smell of turkey roasting in the oven, stuffed to its brim with stuffing. Mashed wax turnips, candied yams, and other sides being cooked on the stove.  All of these scents filling the air and blending with the wafting scent of warm apple and pumpkin pie sitting on the cooling racks.

Well, it is no secret to most people that I am vegan. This will be the first year I have not eaten turkey and stuffing and all of the stuff that I mentioned above; however, I am still getting excited about Thanksgiving as well. I just bought a vegan Thanksgiving feast that is complete with all sorts of goodies, plus I am getting excited to make Rosemary-Roasted Winter Vegetables as well.  While my diet has changed dramatically since last Thanksgiving, I am certainly still going to be having a feast to be reckoned with.

But as we sit down for dinner on Thanksgiving and prepare ourselves for the feast of all feasts, as we sit down and say our prayers of thanksgiving to God for the abundance we have, let us not forget that a good many people in this world do not have the abundance, or excess (depending on how you look at it), that we have.  A majority of people in the world are lacking the very necessities that they need to survive.

God gives each and every one of us what we need, but we often end up taking more than what we need in order to supply ourselves with what we want.  In the process, billions of other people are lacking what they need. Is this because God has failed to give them what they need? No. This is because what God has given to all people has been horded by some. The majority of the world suffers as a result of the excessive abundance of a minority.

This is not being brought up to guilt anyone over the disparities of others; rather, it is being brought up as a reminder that praying our prayers of thanksgiving is not enough. God is calling us to something more than empty prayers, God is calling us to act out of our thanksgiving for what God has given us.  Instead of praying and eating our fill, God wants us to take our fill and share it with those in need.

In James 2:16, the author is warning his readers of just that.  It is not enough to tell someone in need that you are “praying” for them without actively seeking to help fill their needs.  That is not to say that prayer is useless, but that empty prayer is no prayer at all…just like empty faith, without deeds, is dead.  We are not a people of a dead faith, nor should we be people who pray dead prayers.

So, with all of that said, enjoy your Thanksgiving festivities tomorrow!  Enjoy your time spent with family and all of the good food and fun that God has given you.  As you pray your prayers of thanksgiving, also pray for God to guide you to fill a need of someone who is in need, just as God has filled you.  If you do, God will surely not let you down!  Remember that to whom much as been given, much is required .  Go and bear the hope, healing and wholeness that God wants you to bring to those who need it! God bless and Happy Thanksgiving! May your Thanksgiving be a thanksgiving that counts!

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

A truly thankful person gives out of what there is to be thankful for.

PRAYER

Lord, thank you for all you have given me. Guide me to fill the needs of those around me who are in need. Amen.