Thursday, November 24, 2011

Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation

Thanksgiving Proclamation

[New York, 3 October 1789]

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor-- and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be-- That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks--for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation--for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war--for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed--for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted--for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions-- to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually--to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed--to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord--To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us--and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go: Washington

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Self-Giving Worship

What follows is taken entirely from, "Self-Giving Worship", Don Williams, Jesus and Addiction.

In the addictive church, people come to worship in order to get rather than to give. As users, their preoccupation is, "What's in it for me? Do I enjoy the aesthetics? Are people friendly to me? Do I like the music? Am I inspired by the choir? Does the preaching feed me? Is the pastor friendly? Does the pastor know my name?" Such pious expectations about our spiritual growth barely hide our full-blown narcissism. Often I hear people say, "I'm going to another church. My needs aren't being met here." Whatever the merits of this complaint, it has nothing to do with worship. The reason is simple.

Worship is not getting; worship is giving. The word worship in Hebrew means "to fall down, to surrender, to submit," as in a slave or subject bowing low before a mighty king. The word in Greek means "to come toward to kiss." This kiss is not an act of intimacy, it is an act of submission, as in kissing the ground before a sovereign, or kissing his feet.

Worship is the basis for a life of self-giving; it is surrendering ourselves to God. Consider Psalm 95:6: "Come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker," or Psalm 99:5: "Exalt the Lord our God, And worship at His footstool; Holy is He."

In the New Testament we are called to worship as priests. There is no clergy class. (See 1 Pet. 2:5) All believers belong to this priesthood. Like Israel, we are not to come to God empty-handed. Slaughtered sheep, goats, or bulls, however, are no longer acceptable sacrifice. The last bloody sacrifice was made on the cross by Jesus. What then are we to bring?

1. First, as priests, we are to give God our bodies (Romans 12:1).
2. Second, we are to bring God our praise (Psalm 100:4; Hebrews 13:15).
3. Third, we are to give our prayers in intercession (Hebrews 4:16).
4. Fourth, we are to bring our tithes and offerings to God (Malachi 3:8-10).
5. Fifth, as priests we are to bring God our acts of mercy as a part of our worship (Hebrews 13:16; 1 John 3:17; Matthew 25:40).
6. Sixth, self-giving worship includes evangelism (Romans 15:15-16).

David Crowder*Band - How He Loves

This is one of the songs that saved my life when I was going through a deep deep darkness a few years back. "I don't have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way..."

Monday, November 21, 2011

Steve Ramsey

I'm in a bit of a funk today.  I'm in the process of saying "goodbye" to a dear friend who has been with me through some deep waters.  There was a time when my heart was immune to such emotion and I could leave friends or see them leave and I would just suppress the emptiness that is a part of the separating process.  I'm much healthier now and I feel the full impact of the loss.  I don't like it much but I'm learning to see the painful feelings as legitimate.  Better to feel loss, then to never feel at all.  One of the lines that I often share with those who are grieving is that the pain that it is felt is simply a measure of their love.  That being said, I love this friend a bunch!

I'm saying goodbye to a good friend, a coworker, and a pastor, who has helped me carry the burden of our new church plant--Grace River.  Steve Ramsey is the friend who has talked me out of quitting multiple times.  He is the guy that I shared lunches with once a week for almost two years.  He has helped to clarify my weaknesses and he has encouraged my strengths.  I have laughed with him until I've cried, and I have cried with him until...I didn't need to cry anymore.  Steve is, what must be the definition of, a good friend.  And I will miss him greatly.

 Steve is headed back home to Arkansas where his parents are in need of his care and assistance as they face the challenges of growing older and weaker.  It appears that in God's timing, they now need him more than I do.  I am so very grateful for the times that we shared together.  I've been blessed!  I love you Steve!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Case of the Missing Wallet

I am trying to be more discerning of the Holy Spirit's voice.  My motive is simple: #1--I want to help people.  #2--I want to see the miraculous.  With that in mind, I am taking more risks when it comes to acting out on what I think the Spirit may be saying.  It's sad to say--but I'm still a rookie when it comes to the work of God--I'm just starting to learn.

About eight months ago, I was visiting in the home of some friends who are part of the foundation of Grace River.  As we talked about church, health, and life, Mrs J brought up that she could not find Mr. J's wallet and that she feared that she had accidentally thrown it away in the trash.  Anyone who has ever lost a wallet knows the crisis that this is.  A wallet contains numerous important items that cannot easily be replaced: drivers license, credit cards, medical cards, etc.  Since I'm practicing hearing from God, I took this as a great opportunity.  I love Mr. and Mrs. J dearly and I've found that love is a really good platform from which to hear from God.  I could empathize with the loss of the wallet and the distress that Mrs. J was feeling.  And so, with love in my heart and love in my head, I simply asked the father quietly under my breath to let us know where the wallet was.  I assured God of my love for the J's and my love for Him and that it would simply be wonderful if He would release Mrs. J from her worry by allowing the wallet to be found.  The first thing that came into my mind as I was praying was, "look in the drawer".  I spoke kind of cautiously, and suggested that I thought that maybe God was telling me to tell Mrs. J to go and look in a drawer and that she would find the wallet.  As I recall, I said it a few times--really trying to encourage Mrs. J to go and look--but she wouldn't.  She had already looked everywhere and she was unwilling to look anymore.  Listen, I understand that completely.  In fact, I was not offended at all that she wouldn't look--maybe I was relieved that she wouldn't look since that would save me the embarrassment of the wallet not being where I said it was.

Move the clock forward eight months.  Mrs. J stood in church a few weeks ago and testified that some months ago she and Mr. J could not find his wallet.  She shared that recently she had been doing some in depth house cleaning and that she came across the a drawer. 

By the time of her testimony, I had forgotten all about it.  But Mrs. J had not and she shared with the church that I had told her where it was eight months ago but that she didn't look.  Isn't that awesome?  I love our God and I love the way that He expresses His love--sometimes through the miraculous!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

What to Expect at Church

What follows is mostly a summary of direct quotations with an occasional paraphrase on my part.  The work belongs to Don Williams and is shared from his book, Jesus and Addiction - A Prescription to Transform the Dysfunctional Church and Recover Authentic Christianity, Recovery Publications, San Diego, 1993.  On pages 170-174, Williams describes the "Freedom in Community" that we should expect in a fellowship of Christ-followers.

I intend to share these eight values tomorrow morning in my message from John 1:1-5 that I've titled, "REBEGINNING - It's not to late to start over..."

"The values that form the core of God's family are liberating values"

1. We enjoy the authority of being adopted into God's family.  We belong and can never be alienated.

2. We find a new identify.  We are identified by our new Father and by our new brothers and sisters.  We are accepted and can never be rejected.

3. We have a new security.  As members of God's family, we have been given the keys to the entire kingdom.  We can never be locked out.  We can risk sharing our thoughts, our feelings, our stuff, and our lives because we are finally secure.

4.  We can live honestly by respecting each others thoughts and feelings.  We are free to know ourselves and each other.  There is no abusive control--no party line to parrot.

5.  We live together in a nurturing environment that is determined by love.  Love builds up!  It is emotional support under girded by tender-hearted kindness that seeks our benefit.

6.  God's family life includes discipline.  We are free from the old self-destructive chaos.  We are free to live responsibly.  We can and must speak the truth in love to each other while owning the impact of our words.

7.  We care for each others physical needs.  We are free to give.

8.  Rather than sick dependency, our family goal is to grow up into maturity.  This means achieving a healthy interdependency.

Church is Healthy!

If you are feeling down or if you are feeling somewhat cranky--Go to church!

CNN reports, "A new study shows that attending religious services regularly can mean a more optimistic, less depressed, and less cynical outlook on life".

"According to the report, to be published this week in the Journal of Religion and Health, those who attend services frequently were 56% more likely to have an optimistic life outlook than those who don't and were 27% less likely to be depressed. Those who attended weekly were less likely to be characterized by cynical hostility, compared with those who did not report any religious service attendance".

"'We looked at a number of psychological factors; optimism, depression, cynical hostility, and a number of subcategories and subscales involving social support and social strain,' said Eliezer Schnall an associate professor of psychology at Yeshiva University in Manhattan, who headed the initiative."

Read the entire article at the CNN Belief Blog found here.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Happy Veteran's Day!

I am proud to have served my country in the very small way that I did. I have never felt as much pride as I did when I wore the uniform of the United States Navy. There are some things that cannot be experienced outside of the military.  I am so glad that I know what it feels like to salute the flag of the United States.  I'm glad that I know what it feels like to march with a unit, to share the Navy tradition, and to be included with nation's finest. I'll spend my Veteran's Day seeking out those who have protected our freedoms and letting them know how very grateful I am.  Happy Veteran's Day!