Posts Tagged 'Thanksgiving'

Sharing Our Thankfulness

Last night we had our community Thanksgiving Service. It’s not terribly well attended, but we had three churches represented, so that’s a good thing. My sermon/meditation was on 1 Thes. 5:16-18, and I thought I would share the basic outline here.

From Alicia Lee's Heaven and Soul Connection

The stained glass ceiling of Thanks-giving chapel, downtown Dallas.

vs. 16: Be joyful always;
Being joyful is easy – we often get it confused with being happy, which is our pleased response to random (HAP) events. But JOY is deeper; joy is the recognition that God has your best interests at heart in the long run. Therefore, joy is an act of trust; trust that God knows what is best, and therefore, we don’t have to worry about what the Lord is doing.

Being joyful is easy, but being joyful ALWAYS is much more difficult. Choosing to trust God when we can’t see the outcome can be tough, but worth it.

vs. 17: pray continually;
Praying is easy – people of every religion pray. But praying continually, and maintaining an ongoing, two-way connection to God in prayer is much more difficult. When we pray, we often launch our desires into the air, and hope that God pays attention to them. But prayer also includes listening, and developing the discipline of listening for the Lord to speak back to us can be tough, but is also worth it.

vs. 18: give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Giving thanks is easy – we are taught as children to say “thank you”. But to do so IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES is much more difficult. It is hard to thank God for a cancer diagnoisis, for news of another terrorist attack, for a child’s broken heart. But when we recognize that we are giving thanks to Someone greater than ourselves, we are forced to recognize that we do not run the universe! We are not God; we do not have sovereign power to make everything come out the way we want.

Therefore, when we thank God, we are practicing a spiritual discipline of humility, of admitting to both God and ourselves that we are not on the Throne. And when we do so in all circumstances, we are reminded once again that God has perspective which we do not – and is uniquely qualified to run the universe for the benefit of ALL its citizens, not just our individual selves.

So, this Thanksgiving, we will do more than pause over a hot shared meal; we will admit that we are receivers of blessings beyond our ability to orchestrate… and we will thank the Conductor of all harmony, our great God.

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Psalm-Prompted Prayer

adoration Here is a prayer based on C.A.S.T.L.E. – Confession, Adoration, Supplication, Thanksgiving, Listening, and Experience, prompted by various Psalms.

Lord of All, You are our hiding place. You protect us from trouble. You surround us with joyous songs of salvation. But there are times when our lives are discordant to You, when our hearts get so out of tune with You that we decide we’re going to play our own song instead of following your direction. When we make our sins known to you, and do not cover up our guilt, that is the sweetest music to Your hears, God. When we decide to confess them to you, O LORD, then you forgive all our sins. Let’s pause for just a moment and do that now: if there is anything on our heart that needs to be confessed, let’s give it to God.

Hear these promises from Scripture: Blessed is the person whose disobedience is forgiven and whose sin is pardoned. Blessed is the person whom the LORD no longer accuses of sin and who has no deceitful thoughts.

Thank you, God, for your mercy to us. We want to give to You the glory Your name deserves; to worship You in Your awe-inspiring presence. Even though You have given us eternity in which to praise You, we’ll never even get close to fully describing just how amazing You are. To praise God to our fullest ability is a task worthy of eternity, and we thank You for the honor of getting started on it even this morning.

O God, hear our prayer, and open your ears to the words from our hearts. You are Yahweh Ezer, God our helper! You are Jehovah Jireh, The Lord our Provider for our lives. We will give thanks to your good name, O LORD. Your name rescues us from every trouble; and so we lift up the names and situations that trouble us, and we trust that You, Yahweh Uzam, the Lord our Strength in Trouble, will be strong where we are weak, and be powerfully known in our times of trouble.

Who You are is shown in Your Name, Lord – you are the I AM, the One who is always with us, even right now. Because of who You are, You prompt us to become like Your Son, Jesus. Hear us as we pray as He taught us to pray, saying Our Father…

Familia (from archive)

(NOTE: I’m trying to consolidate my different blog postings all at one place. These entries from other blogs will be posted here with the dates of their original posting.)

(DATE: Nov. 27, 2007)

I got a phone call today.

My wife’s aunt, who she’s barely ever seen (and I don’t think I’ve met), was put on life support today.

And just like that, everything stops.

If I wanted to be melodramatic, I’d end the blog here, but I think that’s a bit emotionally manipulative, so I won’t do that. But it would get the point across.

Family is IMPORTANT. Way more important than I ever understood growing up. You know, it’s odd… I was complaining to Jami about the Thanksgiving I spent with my family.

Why? Too many people I don’t know, that’s why.

You see, I have four older sisters, all married. They all have their own kids. Now, when I was younger, a family Thanksgiving might have 20 people, and while it would be crowded, it would be fun, because I knew everyone, and there was a lot of catching up to do.

Now, however, my nieces and nephews are getting older. Some of them are married… some are dating. And the ones who are dating don’t always date the same people.

This year, for Thanksgiving, I think there were between 45 and 50 people at dinner. We had to rent a hall. And the frustrating thing to me is that I didn’t know everyone. There were brand new people to meet. And for those of you who know me… I’m pretty driven to meet new people in situations like this… I don’t want anyone to feel unwelcome when they come to visit my family. Who knows… they might become a part of it!

Which is exactly what happens. A dating relationship becomes serious enough so that the significant other gets invited to the extended family Thanksgiving… and just so that “other” person doesn’t feel too uncomfortable, they invite THEIR family as well.

My head was spinning, trying to keep track of who was who, and who belonged with whom, and what were the relational ties between everyone. (next year, I’m volunteering to write a database, and make everyone color-coded badges so it’s easier to keep track of everyone.)

So, why was I frustrated? Because I wasn’t *expecting* to be “on”. I wasn’t expecting to go into “WOO” mode (Winning Others Over – it’s a StrengthsFinder thing) at my own family’s get-together.

But now with that phone call, it kind of puts things back into perspective. It’s precisely that accepting nature, that “hey, sure, bring ’em along, we’ll find a spot at the table” that I’m so glad has become a part of my family.

God’s family is supposed to be like that. Is that where the Backell clan gets it? Could be… my parent’s weren’t devout that I ever recall, but all of my sisters and I are very active followers of Christ.

So… the phone call. I took the kids to school, so Jami could be with her parents as they went to visit Dad’s sister in the hospital. Apparently, it was touch-and-go for a while, but she’s doing better.

So… if you’re reading this, would you toss up a simple prayer for Carol Joyce and her health – and her family… which, as I was reminded today, includes Jami and I.

Oh, and go hug your kids/parents/brothers/sisters/whoever. You never know.

And no, I’m not being morose, or emotionally manipulative with that statement. I’m just sayin’.


Pastor Ed Backell

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