I heard on the news about a few days ago that over
100,000 people in Texas have signed a petition to secede from the United
States.I read a column a week ago that
said more than 375,000 people from 47 different states have signed petitions of
secession.These figures tell us with
certainty that we are a nation divided (as if the previous week’s election were
not enough evidence of that).
In the past few weeks, we have also been
bombarded with “Black Friday” promotions from what seems like every retailer on
Earth (and perhaps a few from other planets).And for too many of us, our sorrows will be drowned in excessive retail
therapy as we are looking to fill the holes in our hearts with “stuff”.
In the middle of all that, a virtually neglected
holiday whispers, “Give thanks.”
Thanksgiving is so hard to commercialize, so
we cover it with overindulgence in food and football.And then, after a nap and a big belch, we are
ready for shopping so we can have all the things that will make us happy.
So, we go buy-buy.And then we have to tell some of our older
stuff—the stuff that failed to make our lives complete—to go bye-bye so we have
room for this year’s stuff.
In the middle of all that, there is a
whisper, “Give thanks.”
In response to all the uncertainties and
frustrations of the days in which we live, will we respond with the paralysis
of anxiety?Or with the self-imposed
isolation of secession?Or with the
intoxicating rush of buy-buy?
Many of us grew up going to church singing an
old hymn, “When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed; when you are
discouraged thinking all is lost; count your many blessings, name them one by
one; and it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.”
Can you hear the whisper, “Give thanks.”?
How might our lives be different if we simply
sat down in a comfortable chair in our home and began naming one by one the
things for which we are thankful?Maybe
we could begin with the actual things we see in the room and the unseen people
and blessings that those visible things represent.From where I am sitting at this moment, I see
a family photo, a handcrafted table made by my father-in-law, a grandfather
clock that was a gift to our family from a dear friend, an American flag … I
could go on and on.These all remind me
of the blessings of God.
Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious
about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all
understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Our lives matter so much to God that He does
not want us to settle for the temporary anesthesia of buy-buy.
It has finally happened!Last Saturday we spent our first night in our
new Sweetie Suite.I wrote the final
check to the general contractor on Thursday.Now, only 238 more payments to the mortgage company and we will be debt free
From the groundbreaking the third week of
August until completion the second week of November, it has been really cool to
come home each day and see what the various contractors have accomplished.Now they have all gone and I come home each
day and see what all I need to get done before I can enjoy my bed.
When it was finally time to start moving in,
we decided that the first item to go in should be something significant and
meaningful.After tossing around a few
ideas, we decided to go with a lamp; not just any lamp, but an antique 6-way
lamp that resided in my grandparents’ living room in Abilene from the time my
dad was a boy.It has been in storage in
Dad’s barn since Granny died in 1990.Earlier
this year, we brought it to our house and Mrs. Sweetie went to work polishing,
restoring, finding a replacement diffuser, and painting a custom designed lamp
This old lamp is a symbol of what matters
most to us. First of all, it represents family and heritage.I don’t know how old it is, but 80-100 years
is not out of the question.Many of my
childhood memories happened in the illumination of that lamp. When I think of
Granny and Grandpa Lewis, I think of how blessed I am.Perhaps one day, we will make memories with
our own grandchildren in the light of that same lamp.
This lamp also represents restoration.If you could see the “before and after”
photos, you would be amazed at how much work and love went into restoring this
old neglected piece to its original glory.We want our home to be a place where the restoring power of love is the
rule rather than the exception.
This lamp represents light.When we carried it into our empty room, we
brought the Bible that belonged to my precious mother-in-law and I read from Matthew
"You are the light of the world. A city
set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do men light a lamp, and put it under the
peck-measure, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the
house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your
good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
Then we prayed that every person who comes
into our home would experience the light of Jesus Christ and that we would live
always for His glory.That old lamp
reminds us again that our lives matter to God.
Now, if I could just figure out where to put
the rest of this furniture ...
It’s Sunday evening as I compose this.It seems like something important is supposed
to happen in a couple of days.Oh, now I
remember.We are electing a president.
I can’t wait for Wednesday!Certainly the outcome of the elections will
be important.But I think I may be most
excited about television with no campaign ads.Have you seen the viral video with the little girl crying because she is
tired of Bronco Bama and Mitt Romney?I’m with her.By the time you are
reading this in the newspaper or online, the decision will have been made
unless we have a repeat of 2000.Boy,
I’ll bet anyone named Chad is really hoping to avoid those hanging jokes.
So how much will our lives change now that we
know who will be our president for the next four years?I suspect life will change much less than we
imagine.While there are vast
differences between the candidates, neither brings to the Oval Office a magic
wand that will solve unemployment, health care, the national debt, or what’s
wrong with the Dallas Cowboys.Certainly
many of us are praying for a renewal of the Judeo-Christian values on which our
country was founded, but real change requires more than election cycle promises.It is easy to change personnel, but unless
the system changes, the best personnel can hope for is to have a measure of
So, here’s a deeper question for those of us
who are Christ-followers.If our lives
really do matter to God, what do we do now that the presidential election is
"Teacher, which is the greatest
commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with
all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'This is the first and greatest commandment.
And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'All the Law and the Prophets hang on these
two commandments." (Matthew 22:36-40)
No election loopholes here.
Jesus came and told his disciples, "I
have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make
disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the
Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I
have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of
the age."(Matthew 28:18-20)
Don't copy the behavior and customs of this
world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you
think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and
pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:2)
a pattern yet?
Neither a change in personnel nor a change in
system changes our mission.So let’s
pray for our president and our nation and get back to the business of living
lives that make God proud.
His office is, after all, permanently and
If God had a wife, it would be my
Grandmother.At least that’s what I
thought when I was a kid.She probably
did more ministry than any preacher in the little community of Grandfalls,
TX.Her skills as a Registered Nurse
were pretty valuable in that west Texas community.She visited the sick and also visited on behalf of the little Baptist
church there.Rumor has it that folks
were afraid to miss church on Sunday because Mrs. Pollard would be at their
house on Monday to check on them.
She was a saint in the Biblical sense of the
word.What that means is that she was a
follower of Christ and understood that God had selected her for a purpose.That’s what the word means: “One who has been
set apart for God’s purpose.”And just
like those other Biblical saints, she wasn’t perfect.
When my mom was in college, she went through
a rough patch.Grandmother was worried
about her and went out to where Granddaddy was working out in the west Texas
oilfields.As Granddaddy told it, she
expressed her concern to him and he had an answer for her.“The only thing wrong with that girl is that
she inherited your temper and my temper and the combination of those two is
pure hell.” (His words, not mine).According to his recollection, Grandmother stuck out her chin and said,
“I’ll have you know I don’t have a temper!” And then she stomped over to her
car, got in and slammed the door, and sped off throwing gravel all the way down
that oil patch road.
Grandmother has been gone for 36 years and
Granddaddy has been gone for 12, but that is one of the many stories that get
repeated, and laughed about, when Mom and I start reminiscing, as we did last
weekend. I think I enjoy hearing about the funny predicaments and foibles of my
ancestors more than I enjoy hearing about their successes; partly because they
are funny and partly because it reminds me that God shows up in ordinary,
imperfect people who follow Him.
The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 11:1,
“Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”As one who wrote more than two-thirds of the
New Testament and who evangelized most of his known world, he might have been
tempted to just say, “Follow my example.”But his focus was pointing people to Christ.
Grandmother pointed me to Jesus.An occasional temper flare up can never
negate that.I hope that when my future
grandchildren remember the quirks of their ordinary and imperfect grandfather,
they remember someone who loved them, pointed them to Jesus, and helped them understand how much their lives matter to God.
I once commented that my kids got their
temper from their mother.She said that
must be true because I still have mine.Oops!
I guess if it works that way, they must have
gotten their good looks from me.After
all, she still has hers.
I missed church a couple of Sundays ago.It happens occasionally due to travel, but
this was a miss due to illness.I think
it was only the second one of those missed Sundays in the past 25 years of
ministry.Because I was scheduled to
pinch hit for a vacationing pastor, I had to find a pinch hitter for the pinch
hitter.During my couple of hours of text
messaging for that purpose, one of my preacher friends gave me a new term for
the ailment that I was experiencing: “intestinal uncertainty”.
Now you know why I was afraid to leave the
If you have been reading my blog for more
than a week or two, you know that my mind sometimes goes in unexpected
directions.I started thinking about
other “uncertainties” that might make you want to just stay home in bed.
First, there is “educational uncertainty”.This happens when you choose to hang out with
friends instead of studying on the night before mid-terms.
Then there is “vocational uncertainty”. This happens
when you have a difference of opinion with your employer.And you realize that only one of those
There might be “relational uncertainty”.This happens when you suspect that your
in-laws might be coming for an extended visit.
That could result in “matrimonial uncertainty”.
This could happen when you make too many in-law jokes.
Finally, and mercifully, there is “compositional
uncertainty”.This happens when you
think you may have exhausted the patience of your readers.
Life is full of uncertainties.Sometimes we are keenly aware of them. I have
had conversations recently with people who are not making any significant
decisions until after the presidential election.They are almost paralyzed with uncertainty
over the future.For those who suffer
uncertainty paralysis, I am reminded of a passage of Scripture that I have
often used as an anchor.Psalm 20:7-8
says, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of
the Lord our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and
The upcoming election is important and there
will certainly be consequences that accompany either candidate’s election.But neither of these candidates holds the
world together.God does that.
There are also uncertainties that are not so
obvious.James 4:13-15 says,“Now
listen, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city,
spend a year there, carry on business and make money.' Why, you do not
even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that
appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, 'If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that.'"
There is nothing wrong with making
plans.But what do you do when the life
you planned doesn’t happen?The answer
is the same.Trust God.Your life matters to Him.