Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Secret of Thanksgiving

I love Thanksgiving. It has so many of the things that I enjoy: family, food and football (in no particular order). I love Thanksgiving. That is, I love the holiday we call Thanksgiving. But removed from the context as the gateway of the Christmas season what about the word Thanksgiving.

These past couple of weeks I have been thinking about that word, about what it means and about what it would look like to possess a heart of thanksgiving that is not dependent upon the things that are going well in your life -- or the things that are going bad. I love what the apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the church in Philippi. He wrote to them from prison and said:

I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things dthrough him who strengthens me.

I want to be content in all circumstances -- don't you? Wouldn't that be the secret of thanksgiving -- in all circumstances. And Paul had what we'd call street cred. I mean what is the worst thing that has happened to you? Paul lived with a physical disability, was shipwrecked not once, but 3 times -- floating in the open ocean for who knows how long, beaten with whips embedded with bone, glass and rock on multiple occasions, and thrown into jail. And he was content. How? Because he did not depend on the many good things and good times in his life for his sense of contentment, and he didn't let the many bad things in his life rob his contentment.

Instead, Jesus was his contentment.

Jesus as your contentment. That is the secret of thanksgiving -- in all circumstances.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

The Hope You Can Believe In

Maybe I'm being too critical, maybe I'm just getting old.

Maybe I'm right.

I stopped listening to Christian Talk Radio on November 9, 2000. I remember the moment, driving home from work listening to caller after caller talking about George Bush's election the day before and how their hope for America -- and even a deeper hope -- had been restored. There was hope again in Christian America.

Fast forward almost 8 years. I have Christian friends who believe that if Obama wins, all hope for the Church, our faith, our nation -- and you'd think our very lives is at stake. I have other Christian friends who believe that if McCain wins, all hope for the Church, our faith, our nation -- and you'd think our very lives is at stake. Someone has to be right, someone has to be wrong. Or, just maybe, both are wrong.

I stopped listening to Christian Radio 8 years ago not because I was happy or sad that W had won, but because so many Christians seemed to be saying their hope was based -- at least to some degree on the outcome. Now, I see that again -- with both candidates.

I think it is important to vote. It is important to get involved in issues, to work for whichever candidate you favor. I think it is ok to believe that one candidate is a fool or a liar, dangerous or disconnected -- and that the guy you want win is none of those things. But, and here is my point: He is not your hope. If he is, take a hard, hard look in the mirror, because he shouldn't be.

Get involved, make a difference, vote. Regardless of the outcome, stay involved. But, remember that your hope -- and the hope for the world -- is found only real hope if it is placed in a guy who isn't even on the ballot, and would in fact, decline if asked, to run.