Friday, November 20, 2009


So how will you spend Thanksgiving? Our family usually had a big meal with turkey and all the trimmings. We watched football and played games. We put some money in a pot which paid off every quarter of the football game to the one who had bought the right square that corresponded to the score at the end of that quarter. It mildly troubled my mother that we were betting and she thought her family which was comprised of a youth pastor, a senior pastor and assorted church officials had been raised better than that. Some of us went hunting in the morning; all of us went for walks. We ate a late night snack of turkey sandwiches and a second piece of pie and went to bed. On Friday, we hit the malls to shop or see a new holiday movie release. A church service was not in the picture although my sister would always have everyone share what they were thankful for and my father would lead in prayer. All in all, it was a satisfying way to spend a holiday.

I felt some guilt, perhaps due to my mother's influence, that our Thanksgiving celebration was too secular. Maybe an hour or so at church would have helped me get over it. Somehow we have the idea that in order to enjoy ourselves we should pay our dues and spend some time in church first. It is interesting to view our Thanksgiving celebrations in light of the first one. The Pilgrims who lived at Plymouth in 1620 were not big on holidays. The big three were the weekly Sabbath, the Day of Humiliation and Fasting and the Day of Thanksgiving and Praise. The two "Days" were floating holidays depending on the growing cycle. The Thanksgiving Day we call the First Thanksgiving was not an official holiday at all.

Edward Winslow, who was present, wrote, " our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men fowling... the four killed as much fowl as needed to serve our company almost a week. At which time our other recreations were exercising our arms (not in the sense of going to the gym but firing their weapons). Many of the Indians (90 Wampanoags joined 50 colonists in this time of feasting) along with their greatest, Massasoit, with whom we entertained and feasted for three days went out and killed five deer which they gave to our governor, and the captain, and others. And although it had not always been so plentiful as it was at that time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty."

In the Puritan worldveiw, Leland Ryken wrote, "all of life is God's. The Puritans lived simultaneously in two worlds - the invisible spiritual world and the physical world of earthly existence. For the Puritans, both worlds were equally real, and there was no cleavage of life into sacred and secular. All of life was sacred." (from Worldly Saints: The Puritans As They Really Were)

However you spend Thanksgiving, enjoy the day the Lord has given to you.

The Earth is the Lord's and Everything in it. Ps 24:1 and 1 Cor 10:26

Spiritual Counsel

If there is major ongoing sin in your life, cut it out... at least want to cut it out... cultivate repentance by thinking on the glory and compassion of God and your squandering of that love.

Look for a spiritual mother or father. For some Christians this is their pastor or priest. To talk with someone about one's spiritual life is a good antidote to spiritual pride.

Attend worship. Confess your sins... there is great solace in speaking your sins out loud and hearing the words of forgiveness.

Pray, fast, give alms. Give a tenth of your income if you can. If not, work up to that. Give wisely.

Serve those in sorrow and need. In person, if possible, personal contact will affect you in ways not gained through writing a check. The scriptures presume all charity is taking place in the context of personal relationships.

Practice Agape (long suffering, self giving love) in every context ( and it does take a lot of practice). Every person you meet gives you a God appointed opportunity to die to self. The six or ten people you deal with today are meant to furnish your own personal "Roman Coliseum" where you can battle against self-will till your last breath.

Avoid excessive sleeping and leave the table before you feel full. Overeating undermines the ability to maintain constant prayer. Continually stretch yourself with small challenges in all areas of your preferences and desires, cutting away little pleasures that you think you cannot live without. But don't go overboard with a sudden, possibly prideful, attempt at excessive asceticism. One needs to get used to moderation gradually.

Expect that you will have sorrow and that you will suffer injustice. Expect this and it won't shatter your faith. Believe firmly that all your joy is with Christ and you will be able to bear it if other resources of joy prove temporary or are never found at all. Pain may be inevitable but it also temporary; pain is mandatory but misery is optional.

Humility is of more value than the greatest asceticism. Pride can be hard to detect because it disguises itself in innumerable ways. It appears most often in relationships because pride springs up when comparing yourself to other people. Instead compare yourself with God and with what God is calling you and enabling you to be, then humility is not so hard to feel.

Avoid anger at all costs. It shows up when pride has been dealt a wound. Anger poisons the soul; it is an acid that destroys its container. Consider yourself too immature to handle so-called "righteous anger". Most often it turns out to be self-righteous anger. Jesus was righteously angry but he had certain spiritual advantages that we don't.

This is a long list and no one will do it perfectly. But we should keep pressing onward. Every failure can be turned to gold, if it increases your humility.

From The Jesus Prayer by Frederica Matthewes - Green, pages 52-54

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


The pigeons are back. Or, at least, they made a guest appearance on the roof of our church this past Sunday. They are a distraction. When they land and take off, it sounds like the roof is caving in on us. Not too subtle, those pigeons. They have been away for almost a year. I don't know why they came back now or why they like to roost on our roof. Maybe they were asked to leave their previous church. There is a rumor they are following around one or two of our members who have been known to feed them. Maybe it's a warm place to sit for awhile now that the weather is getting colder. Have I said they are a distraction? I guess we need to remind ourselves going in to service, turn off your cell phones, and prepare yourself for our roof top visitors when they come. There are many distractions in the life of discipleship. This is but a reminder. Anyone for squab?

World Series, game 6

The world series is coming down to its final games. One, maybe two more. Andy Petitte will pitch for NY. He's a gamer but will his older arm (he has not thrown on only three days rest for several years) hold up. Burnett discovered last night that no matter how much your heart is in it you still have to throw strikes. His control was not there and his breaking ball was not breaking.It gave the Phillies a chance to get back into it although they almost gave it up at the end. Charlie Manuel does not have a good choice for closer. So, I still give NY the edge in 6. Howard, the Phillies big threat is not hitting lefties at all. If NY can get to the 8th or 9th with a lead, Rivera is as sure a bet as there is. It will be interesting to see who Manuel goes to in game 6. Does Martinez have another big game in him? I doubt it. NY will figure him out this time. Once NY gets back to the Bronx they will have Posada and Matsui back in the lineup. I would like it to go 7 but I think NY takes game 6.