The last week of my life has been consumed by one thing and one thing only. Vomit. On my floor. In my bed. In my car, and even on my head. It was everywhere! I know that sounds like a line out of Dr. Seuss book, but I can assure you there were was nothing Seussical about this week. Night after night involved scrubbing, bathing little people, and myself for that matter. My Dad heart was challenged more than it ever had been before with patience, compassion, and care. One of my favorite Bible verses kept coming to mind. Deuteronomy 31:6, “he will never leave you nor forsake you.” I have read that verse a thousand times for myself in tough times, but that is not why this verse came to mind. Sure, I was up to my eye balls in other people’s dinner from the previous night, and I needed inner strength that rivaled Incredible Hulk’s. This verse was coming to me for a different reason.
As I kept scrubbing, I kept asking God to reveal to me why He kept bringing this verse to me from this unrecognizable perspective. That is when I asked myself that question about my own sick babies. Sure they had me against the ropes with their repeated poor puking aim and their late night dinosaur calls. Would I ever leave them or forsake them because of it? Not in a million years. As difficult as it was, there was no greater privileged than to care for my babies in their worst moments. Not to mention how it would kill me if they turned to another person to care for them. Maybe not “kill me” considering the circumstances, but I would be peeved from afar. God was trying to show me something. When I read that verse, I need to read it from the perspective of a perfect father. We may give God a heck of a lot of mess with our sin, but He wants to care for us in those moments as any good Dad would. If you have ever thought your mess was too much and that God wouldn’t want it, you’re wrong. If I, an imperfect father, would not leave or forsake his kids in a messy time in their lives, can you imagine what your perfect father would do with you in yours. He wants you. The good, the bad, the ugly, and even the “pukey” stuff.
I am thankful for my family. I am thankful for my health. I am thankful for my friends. These are pretty standard items of thanks for those with family, health, and friends. They are are all great things and worthy of our thanks. However, I propose a new perspective this year. Stop being thankful! Let me explain myself before you prepare your rebuttal. First, I am not talking about the meal. You will never hear Jarrod Albergaria suggest that a good meal of any kind be canceled. I still think that you need to be eating turkey (fried in my opinion), stuffing, pie and the rest of the fixings next Thursday. Second, I still think that you should go turkey comatose on the couch watching football when the meal is over. Maybe that is just for the men, but whatever the case, I still think it should be a part of the day. Lastly, I still think that you should be thankful.
So what am I proposing? We have gotten great at being thankful. There is even a Facebook campaign where you can take every day of the month and tell everyone what exactly we are thankful for. Thanksgiving is not the challenge anymore. The challenge is giving thanks. I am thankful for my, insert noun here. It is about you. What if Thanksgiving was not about you, but rather the practical, tangible act of giving thanks to God and others. Psalm 91 gives us a great blueprint of what giving thanks should look like.
I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
- Give: Thanks is not meant for us to withhold within ourselves. It is not for our warm and fuzzy enjoyment. It is a great feeling to have, but it is even better to be given away.
- Heart: Thanks comes from the heart. A heart that cares for others first. A heart that loves God. A heart that despite our circumstances chooses to give thanks.
- Tell: Do something with it. This is the part where I believe we get stuck. We are thankful and it comes from the heart but then it stops there. When you are thankful, the giving part completes the puzzle. It is where the full journey of our thankfulness reaches its destination.
How can you turn what you are thankful for this year into a practical act of giving? Who in your life have you overlooked? Do you need to have a word with the good Lord tonight? Don’t let this season be about what’s in it for you, but make it about what you can give to others.
I have never seen Game of Thrones. I have heard some things about it though. Like, how great the character development is and the special effects. I have also heard the artistry of the sets and costumes are on another level. Oh, and that there is tons of sex and nudity. That last one is why I have never, nor will I ever watch the show. As I see people around me enthralled in the show it had me asking myself the question: Is Game of Thrones porn? WARNING! DO NOT GOOGLE THAT QUESTION! It will answer the question quite quickly and clearly, and it will bring you to website after website that highlight the provocative nature of the show. How have we gotten to a place where Game of Thrones, 50 Shades of whatever, and Magic Mike XXXXXL are not called what it is. Porn?
If we go back to the worldly definition of pornography it is simple. Pornography is printed or visual material containing the explicit description or display of sexual organs or activity, intended to stimulate erotic feelings. Before you come at me and tell me how this is art, or just an entertaining TV show and not porn, I welcome you to come and hang out with me a few Wednesdays a month. Come talk to the countless students who I spend time with that have been sucked into the trappings of porn. Whose lives are in torment because they have gotten so far into the muck of pornography that they cannot stand themselves. You will find very quickly that what you perceive as “art” or “entertainment” is being used to rob our kids of what a healthy sexual relationship in the context of marriage looks like. Furthermore, it is robbing them of a self image that resembles anything of how God sees them. Instead we have gyrating male strippers, domination of women in the bedroom, and medieval rape scenes forming the pictures in its place. Forming, destroying and distorting reality.
It’s not funny, art, or entertaining. It’s porn.
On the Oscar red carpet, the female star of Fifty Shades of Grey did an interview with her mother. In the interview they shared how her mother had not seen the movie nor would she. Why? Because the movie is so graphic and explicit that it was too much for her watch. Think about what you are watching. Would you watch your baby star in the shows and movies that you watch? If not, then why is it okay for you to watch someone else’s? Set a new standard today that says, “I can and will do better than this.” Look at what you are allowing in your home, on your TV, and in your heart. Does it honor people, your family, your spouse or God? If the answer is no, get rid of it.
A little over a week from today we will have a new President of the United States of America. The votes will be counted, polling will be done and talk radio will find other things to talk about. We will have our President. Have you thought about what your November 9th will look like? I am not talking about the country or even politics. What will your relationships look like on November 9th?
I am afraid that for many the answer to that question is not a good one. For many you have lost your voice of influence for the Kingdom in favor of a voice to influence the election. For a season you have been fighting and attacking “the other side” and when the battle is over the real casualty will be your voice and your relationships where God meant for you to make an impact for Him. Now I want to be clear this is not political. This is about how we as a church have lost our place and have abandoned the instruction that Paul gave us on how to reach people for Jesus. Paul made it clear in his first letter to the church of Corinth that we are to be all things to all people. In 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 Paul calls for us to serve all men, not just the ones that agree with our choice for President. He tells the church of Corinth to become as a Jew to the Jews, to be weak to those who are weak. He tells them to be all things to all people. Now at first sight this may sound a bit hypocritical. How could being one thing to one person, and another to another person be an example of an authentic follower of Jesus Christ? Paul is not really telling us to choose but more to prioritize. In every scenario, Paul instructs us to be a follower of Jesus first. Everything else falls a very far second to that. Rarely do I see people fighting for Jesus as hard as I see them fighting for Donald or Hillary. We have lost the eternal priority for who we are to be to people and the effects will be long felt after inauguration day in January.
Have you been all things to all people on the political battlefront that we have faced over the past several years? Paul’s real motivation can be found in verse 22. The goal is that he would become all things to all men, so that he might by all means save some. What will that look with your “opponents” on November 9th?