Talking Politics … To Be Continued?

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By Jeff Foerster

With the election over and family arriving for Thanksgiving dinner, is it time to lay aside all conversation relating to politics? I mean, we are told there are two things that should not be given voice at polite dinner conversation: religion and politics. Will I suggest to you the same? Well, no. However, neither will I prompt you to throw all caution (and common sense) to the wind and incite a verbal “throw-down” at the table or recommend requiring a political affiliation litmus test at the entry door of your holiday gathering.

In all candor, this piece isn’t really about Thanksgiving or dinner conversations, nor is it even limited to politics in particular. Now add to the mix that I don’t relish a world filled with “polite” conversation, two inches deep — chatting about the weather, “My, we have had a lot of rain over the last two months!” “Yes, that will certainly help us come next summer.” “I’d like to see the sun again.” “Yes, I like the sun too. Let’s be friends!” — Ugh, I don’t think I can take that kind of banter for very long.

So how do we engage in dialogue over passionately held beliefs? It’s relatively easy when you stumble upon those with whom you find a sense of simpatico. What becomes difficult is when you are face-to-face with a being not embracing the depth of your wisdom. Oh, what to do? I am tempted to reach outside my expertise and suggest conversational techniques that may win you friends and make you the life of the party and the envy of neighbors on both sides of the block. Instead, I’ll submit for your consideration a moment of reflection.

Check your heart before you enter the conversation. Ask yourself, “What is my motivation? Am I asking the opinion of another so that I can get to know that person at a deeper level? Am I wanting to refine my political argument with someone who is like-minded? Am I curious about a differing perspective? Am I engaging in conversation with the intent of ‘winning’ a political debate or argument?”

Here’s what needs to happen. We need hearts aligned with Jesus. We need to be filled with the love of God that He demonstrated in the cross of Christ — and then, and only then, should we speak, knowing we represent Jesus in His physical absence and engaging others at a deep level of conversation that first seeks to understand.

Politics and religion, as well as other topics that might fill our conversation, can help us understand someone’s story a bit better, if we have ears to hear. Don’t get me wrong — I enjoy a good policy debate, when it’s healthy and not attached to one’s identity, but I don’t want to miss the greater opportunity to know someone at a deeper level, sharing the love Jesus has for us, right here, right now.

May the Lord of all glory bless your Thanksgiving and all your days!

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Giving Thanks

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By Jeff Foerster

Have you ever been around thankful people? Do you notice the effect it has upon you? Listening to their positive talk and glass-half-full attitude makes one feel just a little bit better, just a little warmer, as if the sunshine of possibility is rising up inside of you. Rodgers and Hammerstein is flowing through your noggin and out through your whistler: “Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day, I’ve got a wonderful feeling, everything’s going my way.” When those folks are around there ain’t nothin’ that can get you down! That is, unless you’re not feelin’ it.

Sometimes I ain’t feeling it. Sometimes I can’t relate to what they say. While they are zip-a-dee-doo-dah-ing along their yellow brick road, I find myself looking for a bucket, just in case, and trying to cleanse my figurative palate of a generic plastic taste. I am not feeling like giving thanks. And that’s when I start to get it. I look around and realize that many of those giving thanks are not doing so because “sunshine” is always on their doorstep each morning. There are many in our congregation that could make “dour” a lifestyle choice; they bear circumstances and are confronted with feelings that would make such a decision quite easy, even somewhat justifiable.

And there we go … it’s a decision. Giving thanks is a choice. It is not birthed of circumstance and emotion; rather, thanksgiving is an attitude which blossoms in praise, like a plant well-watered by truth about who we are, who God is, and what He has and is doing for us. More than that, I believe its roots go deeper into the soil of trusted, experienced relationship with Jesus.

So I don’t have to wait for emotion to come over me and usher me into thankfulness. I don’t have to sit and wonder why some people “get to” be thankful. I don’t have to be “feelin’ it.” Instead, I can choose first thankfulness and place circumstance and emotion in the able and loving hands of my Creator.

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PREPARING TO GIVE PRAISE

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By Martin Schlomer

Give thanks to the LORD, call on His name; make known among the nations what He has done. Sing to Him, sing praise to Him; tell of all His wonderful acts. Glory in His holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice. Look to the LORD and His strength; seek His face always. Remember the wonders He has done, His miracles, and the judgments He pronounced. Psalm 105:1-5

This week we enter the holiday season! On Sunday, we will celebrate Thanksgiving as a community. The Miles family will begin by sharing how God has grown them through Jacoby’s accident. Following this, you will be given the same opportunity.

As you celebrate this Thursday and as we prepare to come together this Sunday, consider the following questions:

  • How are you thankful for how God has grown you as a disciple this past year?
  • Whom has God used to encourage and/or challenge you this past year, and for whom you are thankful?

“Gratitude is an offering precious in the sight of God, and it is one that the poorest of us can make and be not poorer but richer for having made it.” A.W. Tozer

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“Oh, Happy Day”

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last wordBy Nate Champneys

On October 26, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday. George Washington, during his presidency, asked for “a day of public thanksgiving and prayer,” although at that time it did not become an official national holiday. Nevertheless, the idea of a day to focus on thankfulness has been a part of our history in the United States of America since our nation was founded. Now yet another Thanksgiving is around the corner with another Christmas almost upon us, and I feel it thus appropriate to focus this week’s Last Word on the idea of thanksgiving.

“Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor, and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint committee requested me ‘to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.” George Washington, October 3, 1789

The above statement is the opening paragraph of a “Thanksgiving Proclamation” given by President Washington. It’s hard to imagine our government making such a statement today. We hear the term, “Separation of Church and State” so often nowadays, but I don’t think people understand what the intent of our nation’s founders was when it came to religion. Obviously if Congress gave such a request to President Washington, they were not opposed to recognizing “Almighty God” as the source of all things good, nor were they opposed to prayer. They were, however, according to our Constitution, opposed to the government making laws “respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” They were opposed to government messing with the free practice of worshiping God, not to the worship itself. Thus it was actually the government itself that requested George Washington “to recommend to the people” to have a day of thanksgiving. It wasn’t an order forcing people to thank God, but a recommendation.

Thanksgiving by definition is, “the act of giving thanks.” And “thanks” is defined as, “a good feeling you have towards someone who has helped you, given something to you, etc.” So being that it is a “good feeling,” thanks is an emotion and something that cannot be forced upon someone, but can only be recommended, as Congress did.

But going deeper, thanksgiving by definition has to have an object. You can’t have thanks without a person to whom you are giving thanks. Are you getting it? Without an object, this definition of “thanks” turns into simply “a good feeling.” Without God as the focus of thanksgiving, we are simply happy that we are lucky. We are not thankful.

So to those who do not acknowledge God as the source of every good thing, Thanksgiving is reduced to being simply “Happy Day,” when they are essentially saying, “I’m so happy that I have so much stuff!” This is not meant to be a put-down, but it is the logical conclusion that you must come to if you do not give God the acknowledgment for what He has given you.

For those who recognize the reality that every good and perfect thing comes to us from our Father in Heaven, Thanksgiving Day is just that — a day of Thanksgiving. A day to remember and thank God for His faithfulness. And being that Thursday was instituted by our government, I think it is good to follow the recommendation of George Washington and to also acknowledge the “favors of Almighty God, especially by affording [us] an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for [our] safety and happiness.” So as you sit down around the table with your family and friends on Thursday, ask yourself, “Am I just happy … or am I thankful?”

“So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He chose to give birth to us by giving us His true word. And we, out of all creation, became His prized possession.” (James 1:16-18 NLT)

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‘Tis the Season

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By Gordy McCoy

‘Tis the season to be giving. There are so many opportunities to give this year. So many needs. Deuteronomy 15:7-8 says, “But if there are any poor in your towns when you arrive in the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward them. Instead, be generous and lend them whatever they need.” It’s a good reminder for me to pay attention to the needs of others around me.

What do you do when you see a homeless man in our local library? Imagine if you will, you are taking a lunch break. After you have finished the first half of a ham and cheese sandwich, that homeless man’s face comes to mind. You offer him the other half of your sandwich, and he accepts it. This short encounter helps me realize that God has richly blessed me and I need to do more to help those less fortunate than I.

Linda remembers when she was out painting at Point Defiance early in the morning and a homeless woman came out of the woods. She went over to the garbage can and was looking for something to eat. She then went over to a park bench and sat down quite a ways from Linda. Linda had brought two apples with her that day because she had planned on being there for quite awhile. She walked over to the lady, who looked more uncomfortable the closer Linda got to her. Without making eye contact (on purpose), Linda offered her an apple.

The woman said, “Do I have to eat it now … in front of you?” Linda replied, “No, of course not.” The lady snatched it out of her hand and Linda walked away …but she kept thinking about her, and how blessed we are, and how hard life must be for the woman who lived out in the woods at Point Defiance.

It also says in Deuteronomy that an open hand symbolizes the way God wanted His people to provide for the poor – willingly and freely. When we offer up to the poor, even though this isn’t our motivation, God blesses us for our kindness.

Psalm 41:1-3 says, “Oh, the joys of those who are kind to the poor. The Lord rescues them when they are in trouble. The Lord protects them and keeps them alive. He gives them prosperity in the land and rescues them from their enemies. The Lord cares for them when they are sick and restores them to health.”

Proverbs 19:17 says, “If you help the poor, you are lending to the Lord – and He will repay you.”

In this season of giving, think about what you can do to help those less fortunate. Perhaps you can look back and see the many ways the Lord has helped you. Seek him and He will lead you to those who could use a little help, if you are able.

One way to help is our “Feed the Homeless” program, and another is “Freezing Nights.” If you haven’t already, come up some Monday evening to Freezing Nights and see this powerful ministry in action. It is a beautiful thing to see the tender way our people take care of those who are cold, hungry and needing a safe place to stay. We can always use your help, and you WILL be blessed!

In closing, I would like to thank all of you for allowing me to serve on the Elders Board. It has been a privilege.

Respectfully submitted,

Gordon McCoy

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Thanksgiving … Giving thanks for what?

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by Pastor Martin Schlomer

As we enter into preparations for Thanksgiving, I want to prepare you to take a different approach from what you may have taken in the past. Regardless of your circumstances, God has met all of us in various ways this past year. How he meets us reflects His character. For example, He met Hagar at the lowest and most desperate point in her life (Genesis 16.13). As she wept, God met her and revealed Himself to her. She responded, “You are the God who sees me.”

How has God met you this past year? Please … give serious consideration and reflection to this question. He has met every one of us in various ways. Sometimes, we don’t see it because we don’t make time to reflect and remember.

I have listed below some of the many names of God revealed in Scripture. Each name illustrates one way God meets us. This Sunday, we will have our annual Thanksgiving celebration service. During the service, I will give you the opportunity to answer the question, “Which name(s) represent the way(s) God has met you this past year?” Together, we will remember and celebrate the manifold glory of our Father through your stories.

May you and your family experience the presence of our Father as you celebrate His manifold grace!

God says: “I Am Your …

1. Abba

2. Advocate

3. Almighty

4. Alpha

5. Author of our Faith

6. Bread of Life

7. Bridegroom

8. Comforter

9. Consuming Fire

10. Cornerstone

11. Counselor

12. Creator

13. Emmanuel

14. Eternal God

15. Everlasting

16. Father

17. Faithful and True

18. Glory of the Lord

19. God Almighty

20. God Most High

21. God Who Sees

22. Guide

23. Healer

24. High Priest

25. Holy One

26. Hope

27. I Am

28. Jesus

29. Judge

30. King of Kings

31. Lamb of God

32. Life

33. Light of the World

34. Lily of the Valley

35. Lion of Judah

36. Living Water

37. Lord

38. Lord of All

39. Lord of Glory

40. Lord of Lords

41. Love

42. Master

43. Mediator

44. Merciful God

45. Messiah

46. Omega

47. Potter

48. Prince of Peace

49. Provider

50. Purifier

51. Redeemer

52. Refiner’s Fire

53. Resurrection

54. Righteous One

55. Rock

56. Ruler

57. Savior

58. Servant

59. Shepherd

60. Shield

61. Source

62. Sovereign Lord

63. Spirit of God

64. Teacher

65. Truth

66. Vine

67. Way

68. Wisdom

69. Witness

70. Wonderful

71. Word

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