It’s Thanksgiving day and the aroma of roast turkey fills Charlie Brown’s house. Snoopy, who is outside lying on top of his dog house, smells that aroma, and he is thinking, “It’s Thanksgiving Day. Everybody eats turkey on Thanksgiving Day!”
So he lies there, watching the back door, eagerly awaiting his Thanksgiving feast. Finally, the door opens and here comes Charlie Brown with a bowl of dog food, and he puts it on the ground in front of his faithful pet. Snoopy gets off his house and stares at the dog food with a disappointed look on his face. He thinks, “Just because I’m a dog, I have to eat dog food on Thanksgiving Day.”
Then the next square of the comic strips shows him looking at the dog food more intently, and he is thinking, “It could be worse. I could be the turkey!”
Indeed. Even in the difficult times many of us have faced the past few years, we all have much to be thankful for, even when we don’t think things are going our way. I received an email last year about this time that reminded me how blessed we are, and encourages us to keep an “attitude of gratitude” all the year, but especially in this season of giving thanks. It said….
If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of this world. If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish someplace, you are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthy. If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than the million who will not survive this week. If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation, you are ahead of 500 million people in the world. If you can attend church meetings without fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death, you are more blessed than three billion in the world.
And, I will add, if you have heard the gospel, have been introduced to God’s grace, and have experienced a personal relationship with His Son Jesus, you are blessed for time and eternity! Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, His love endures forever. (Psalm 107:1)
In this final ePistle before Thanksgiving, let me also express my thanks to God (and to you my church family) for the blessed privilege of serving as your pastor. I do count it such a joy to serve you, and serve with you, and, and I’m so grateful that the Lord has sovereignly led us together in this fellowship we call Shelby Crossings.
Have a blessed Thanksgiving!
It’s beginning to look a lot like…flu season. Or something to that effect. I’ve heard from several folks the past few days who are struggling with everything from stomach bugs to bad colds to pneumonia. I hope this is not a sign of things to come for this winter, and especially for the upcoming holidays.
I don’t know about you, but usually when I get sick, my natural tendency is to throw a big pity party. But I’m reminded of the Scripture verse that says, “A merry heart does good like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.” (Prov. 17:22) In other words, the Bible tells us that our attitude affects our physical health–and I have a choice about how I’m going to respond to difficulties.
Many years ago, Norman Cousins was diagnosed as “terminally ill.” He was given six months to live and told that his chance of recovery was 1 in 500. Instead of rolling over and quitting, however, Cousins decided to make an experiment of himself. He would try to have as positive an attitude as possible, no matter how sick he felt. And laughter was one of the most positive activities he knew.
So he rented all the funny movies he could find. He read funny stories. He asked his friends to call him whenever they said, heard or did something funny. His pain was so great he could not sleep. But laughing for ten solid minutes, he found, relieved the pain for several hours so he could sleep.
He fully recovered from his illness and lived another twenty happy, healthy and productive years. His journey is detailed in his book, “Anatomy of an Illness.” He credits laughter, as well as the love of his family and friends, for his recovery. It was “good like medicine.”
I’m not saying that it’s that easy, all the time, and I surely wouldn’t want to discount the effect of faith in our physical healing–or sometimes the lack of healing as being part of God’s will. But I am saying that maybe there’s more to life than just how we feel. Maybe, just maybe, we do have some choices about how merry our heart will be, even if our circumstances–and our health–aren’t so merry.
By the way, since Cousins’ ground-breaking subjective work, scientific studies have shown that laughter has a curative effect on the body, the mind and the emotions. So, you might want to consider it sound medical advice to indulge in it as often as you can. Even if you don’t like laughter, then take your medicine–laugh anyway! You’ll be glad you did.
Here’s hoping you have a merry weekend, and that we’ll see you Sunday at Shelby Crossings.
It’s a Dad thing, actually. Sometimes I can’t help myself.
When you have a minimum of four teenagers at a time, as I have had for the past four years, you just can’t help yourself sometimes. You do whatever you have to do to earn that embarrassed groan from your offspring, to get the gift of the rolling of the eyes. It’s what dads do.
Often, the method of my dadness is a particularly corny joke–which pretty much describes most of my jokes, I guess. My kids rarely think my jokes are funny, and don’t much like it when other people do. Usually, a little laughter by others will elicit the obligatory eye rolling, followed by my kids telling the other person: “Don’t encourage him!”
I hope you won’t listen to them when they make such requests. Because no matter how corny the jokes may be, we all need a little encouragement sometimes. So go ahead; make my day! Encourage me!
Actually, there aren’t many of us who don’t need encouragement. How many of you would say that you just get too much encouragement? Do people tell you how wonderful you are wherever you go? When you get to work does everyone stop and clap for you? When you arrive home do you get a standing ovation? Do your kids carry around pictures of you in their wallets and show them to everyone saying, “These are my parents, aren’t they wonderful?”
Okay, that may be a stretch. But I’m guessing, either way, that your life is probably not much like that. As a matter of fact, all of us do need encouragement–it’s the way God wired us. Charles Lowery says a good rule to remember is that if people are breathing, they need some encouragement.
There are plenty of Biblical admonitions for us to “encourage one another.” In some ways, it’s what the life in Biblical community is all about. The much-quoted passage of Hebrews 10:25 about “forsaking not the assembling of ourselves together” really focuses more on the call to “encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” In other words, if we’ll spend more time encouraging one another, we’ll not have to worry about people “forsaking not” coming to church.
The Bible is full of stories of encouragers as well. One of my favorite accounts comes from the Old Testament, when David, who was called “a man after God’s own heart,” had to “encourage himself” in the Lord, as the King James Version described it (1 Sam. 30:6). He en-couraged himself; that is, he found strength and courage for the task at hand.
I think my favorite New Testament character was one who was mentioned only a few times. His given name was Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus. But you probably know him by the name his friends, the disciples, called him: Barnabas, which means “son of encouragement” (Acts 4:36). What a nickname! Not “Lumpy” of “Big Foot” or “Grinner” or even “Bubba,” but “Encourager!”
Now let me ask you one question. Do your friends at work, at school, in your neighborhood or at church ever call you Encourager? Or let me ask it another way. Wouldn’t you just love to hang out with a guy whose nickname is the Encourager? Of course you would–you wouldn’t have to be like David and encourage yourself!
So why don’t you make it your goal to be one of those en-couragers like Barnabas this week. Just look around you until you find someone who is breathing, and go to work on them. You might be surprised the difference you make for God’s kingdom.
Be encouraged, and be blessed. I’m praying for you, and I can’t wait to see you Sunday!