Thursday, November 19, 2015

And the Eleventh Reason is π

What would Thanksgiving be without____________? What did you put in the blank? Turkey? Football? Carbocoma? desserts? How about actually giving thanks. Oh, yeah, that too.

Have you ever studied Thanksgiving? You probably have, you know Pilgrims, Plymouth Rock (a little milder than hard rock), Detroit vs. Green Bay, and all the history associated with the holiday. That's a fine thing but have you studied giving thanks? Have you looked at who or why or when or how? If not, how did you not? Why have you not? Who has been your pastor? When are you going to look into it? Having taken care of those questions, or at least asked them, let me help you with your study of giving thanks. Since nobody really likes p's, except maybe black-eyed or purple hulls, I'll use ten p's for giving thanks to point out the reasons we have to be thankful. No one will ever miss them. You can thank me later.

                                         Ten P's For Giving Thanks

1. People- don't lose this one. You miss this one you will miss the best of the rest. Even people you don't like keep you sharp, humble ( you might be wrong), and appreciative of the ones you do. These people things are all over the place. Many do good, nice, helpful, joy-creating things for you. Thank them and be thankful for them.
2. Provision- if you're reading this you have a lot. It may or not be a lot of money or a lot of the world's stuff. But you have a roof, food, a computer, probably a car, clothes and some  #1s  in your life. Be thankful. You may need more stuff like health or wealth but you've been provided for on some many levels and if you are reading this, you are still breathing which brings me to ...
3. Potential- your life has potential and not just for more of #2. Giving thanks for potential always opens up more potential. You can change. Life can get better. But even if it gets worse, you have the potential to grow in strength and character to handle the tough times. Potential is another word for opportunities. They exist. Be thankful. Be looking to seize them.
4. Power- yes, you! You have power. Be thankful. Jesus said to as many as received him he gave them power to become the children of God. Wow! Your Daddy is loaded. You have, therefore, the power to live; to love; to change; to pray; to forgive; and to offer hope. You, if you are in Christ, are one of the most powerful forces on the planet. But be careful, powerful person, this kind of power is best wielded with humility and in harmony. Be thankful but remember God gives us the the power to bless, not to curse or destroy.  Use it wisely.
5. Progress-along with potential and power comes progress. Be thankful that progress can be made. Another word for it is change. It is hard. This takes potential and moves it down the road of maturity and joy. Our world focuses on the bad, hard, tough things in life. It is hard not to. Thankfulness for progress steps back and helps us gain perspective (look, another "p"). Progress is being made on many levels-technological, scientific, medical research, and many disciplines. You have to look harder but life is not all doom and gloom. Even if the world sees little progress, that doesn't stop you. Grow! Change! Reach! Enjoy! Seeing progress needs thankful hearts.
6. Plans-A lot of folks never see progress, use their power, or realize their potential because they don't see or make plans to do so. The reason for that is they are not thankful. Thankfulness is like a can opener. If you only turn the can opener part way around the rim it will be harder, slower, and maybe impossible to get everything out of the can. Try it with the the jellied cranberry sauce. Move the opener one-quarter way around and then get the stuff out. Have a plan and build in thankfulness into and for the plan. God has a plan for you. Don't get stuck in the can, turn the thankfulness handle and let God get everything out of you. Follow his plan and let him help you make some of your own.
7. Patterns- make giving thanks a pattern that shows up in your life. If you get this one down right, you will discover God has put other patterns and routines that help not only in the living of life but in the enjoying of it. Patterns are plans we can follow that help us make progress toward using the power we have to realize our potential, to bless others and to help others reach theirs. Jesus established patters of study, prayer, worship, time alone, time with people, time to celebrate, time to mourn, among others. Be thankful for the Pattern-Maker who goes before us.
8. Purpose- as we continue with a life marked with giving thanks, more and more purpose emerges. In, through, and by thankfulness we discover more and more of the purpose of life, especially our own life. We may live paycheck to paycheck but we live with meaning. We have a purpose in using that paycheck. We have a purpose in attending that meeting. We sense a calling to those people for mutual building up. We gladly sacrifice for those kids to instill Godly values. Giving thanks yields some of its greatest fruit--the peace (ha, another "p") and steadfastness of purpose.
9. Promises- now we begin to see, all because of gratitude, thankfulness, more and more of God's promises. What is more, we see more and more of them being true in our lives. Hope resides in the grateful heart. Peace reigns in the thankful soul. Plans for blessing others are blessed through the openness that thanks-giving brings. The promises aren't wishes flung to a star, they are words, desires, longings that God has had all along for his children that are kept, fulfilled, enjoyed. There, all along, to hold us close to Him and for us to see through the lens of thanksgiving
10. Presence- this is the Who, Person,  the direction, the reason, the object of our thanks giving. Behind all the power, plans, potential, and everything-- is God. It is his presence with us that gives, sustains, redeems, and flavors life with his grace and his love. It is for his presence, that we must first, last, and foremost give thanks.

                The Christian life may indeed be more than this, but surely it can be nothing less. Nat Tracy
                           Have a Blessed Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Blue Bell is Back

Texans love things Texan: wide open spaces, longhorn cattle, colorful history, barbecue (it ain't pig, Georgia), the slow look at nature, and Blue Bell. Our ice cream is back. It left back in April after some horrible bacterial spread throughout the factories.  That episode devastated families sickened or killed by the affected cream and devastated the company having to close the little creamery in Brenham. Another Texas icon from the Bass family bailed them out with a loan. They cleaned up their joints and the ice cream began hitting the stores in staggered stockings across the great state.

We got our delivery in Whitney on November 2. Stores were out of homemade vanilla by two in the afternoon. I bought buttered pecan. It's not my favorite but it is Blue Bell so I made the investment. There seems to be some balance back in the universe. I even feel like writing a little again. I'm not sure if there is a connection between the lack of Blue Bell and the lack of blogs over the past six months. I didn't eat that much of the stuff before they had to close down. I wanted to but I didn't. So I'm not sure if the lack of even the possibility messed up my desire to write or not. It is a curious timing however.

Much has happened in our world since the self-imposed sabbatical of writing began. Newsmen, politicians, celebrities, preachers, and bloggers filled the media, electronic and paper, with all the news, opinions, spins, regrets, and proposals to keep us going. They didn't seem to miss the ole WizardofCos. Truth is, they won't notice that I am writing again either.

So why now, other than Blue Bell is back, have I put keystrokes to computer screen. Is it for God? for me? for the chapel I serve? Yes, for all but more no. After not writing anything but sermons and lessons for six months, I guess I do it because I want to. God doesn't need it, he might not even like some of it but I hope he gets a kick out of some of the offerings. I don't need it like I think I may have needed it at one time. The chapel and the larger kingdom does fine without it. So why do it? I just kinda like doing it. Maybe it helps someone sometime but there is really no way to tell and I can surely find folks better help than a blog if they asked.

So I stuck a spoon in a bowl of Blue Bell and struck a few keys on the computer. We will see in time if the endeavor is wasted or waisted. I read in a devotional this morning a quote from Arlo Guthrie, "you can't have light without a dark to stick it into."  I have a bowl, a spoon and now access to Blue Bell to stick it into. I have a Light and darkness aplenty to stick it into. Lord willing, I'll try to stick it to the darkness with words.  

Blue Bell is back, so am I.