Today I am thankful

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I live in a cynical and sarcastic world.  It is easy for me to complain about life.  I can look outside at the beautiful world and complain about the cold temperature.  I turn on the news and grow frustrated at the depressing accounts.  It is a short week thus I wake up irritated at how much I have to do in a few short days.  Without thinking twice I can tear another person down in my mind if not verbally to someone else.  Standing in line at the store I grow impatient because the clerk is taking a little too long helping a person at the register.  Yes, it is easy to complain about life.  So, this week I am going to choose to be thankful.

I am thankful for the beautiful fall that reminds me of God’s beauty.  I am thankful that I have a nice warm house to enjoy a Carmel Macchiato.  I am thankful I have a car to visit family this week.  I am thankful that God is creative in providing some incredible sunrises the past few mornings.  I am thankful at the artistic display of yellow leaves clutching to tree branches as if they are outlined by a painter.

I am thankful for work.  I wake up with numerous possibilities each day.  I have the opportunity to make a difference in someone else’s life.  I can be productive in life.  I can come home tonight and feel I have accomplished something.  And this job helps me provide for my family.  I am thankful for hands to work and a mind to think.  I am thankful that I have gifts, abilities, and experiences that are useful in life.

I am thankful for family.  I am surrounded by people who genuinely love me.  I have shared experiences that frame beautiful memories for me.  I walk through the door knowing that I am loved and supported.  I can laugh, debate, discuss, and console those close to me.  I always have someone I can embrace in the midst of a painful moment.  Yes, I am thankful for my family.  And, most of all, I am thankful for my wife with whom I have shared life with for the past twenty years!

I am thankful for rest.  It is a short week; however, I have the chance to sit back, enjoy some food, play games with my family, and take a snooze on the couch.  Rest is good.  I am thankful that I have a couple of days to do just that. I am certainly going to be thankful for time to do nothing, and maybe even take in a football game.

I am thankful for Christ.  He promises to always be with me regardless of the pain or difficulty.  I have the peace that transcends all understanding – not a fleeting high but something durable.  God’s abundant grace sustains me, especially when I mess up.  I have the hope of everlasting life.  There is something beyond this world.  I am truly thankful for Jesus.

I have a choice.  And this week I choose to be thankful!

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances;  for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

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Fake News and Our Christian Responsibility

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Ok, I am not into conspiracy theories.  Nor, do I tend to quickly discredit news organizations.  I do believe however that news programming tends to intentionally create hype.  There is a specific emotional appeal that producers are attempting to create.  If you listen closely to the language, there is a lot of superlatives such as “worst storm ever” or “the country is terrified.”  It annoys me that they are attempting to frame the news story by manipulating my emotions.

Since the election, there has been a new twist to news programming that has surfaced.  Apparently, there are numerous groups that are producing “fake news” with the clear intent to deceive its readers.  These organizations appear to be legitimate; however, the substance is pure fiction (or least primarily fiction with a few factual bits to make it seem credible).  This past week Facebook has come under intense scrutiny for allowing fake news to be shared through its site.  In fact, there are questions being raised how much it impacted the election results.

I have seen numerous fake news postings whenever I log into Facebook.  I had seen these posting in the run up to the election from people I know and respect including believers.  I concluded that the sites originated from fringe groups with specific opinions.  However, it is now evident that these groups intentionally and knowingly strive to manipulate opinions with falsehoods.  Unfortunately, numerous people believed these stories as certifiable facts.

As a believer, I am thinking through some implications…

  • Is not sharing fake news a form of gossip and potential slander? By definition, gossip is “casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true.”  Scripture very clearly states that gossip is a sin.  Therefore, are we not sinning when we share news reports that are knowingly and intentionally deceitful?
  • God calls us to promote things that are true. “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”  (Philippians 4:8)  Ok, since this is true, should we not verify whether or not a particular news feed is true before we share it?  Should we not be responsible in our intellect not careless?
  • Wisdom should prevail. Social media is a wonderful place to connect with friends.  It is a great gathering place for conversation.  However, it is also a place where our thoughts and emotions are formed, knowingly or unknowingly, by other people’s posts.  Therefore, we should be wise as believer in what we endorse.  I recently overheard someone apologize for a video they shared on Face book.  The response, “I did not know it contained that offensive comment.”   Lesson learned – we should evaluate the post prior to sharing it.

All life is spiritual thus requires a spiritual perspective including technology.

I awoke today…

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I woke up this morning.  God gave me life.  He sustained my lungs and my heart.  I did not question His care for me as I crawled out of bed.  I have confidence because He has been completely reliable in giving me breathe and strength every day of my life.  God is trustworthy.  He proved it again to me today.

The markets are chaotic today as there is uncertainty due to the elections.  The markets had anticipated a different result.  Therefore, they are reacting to the uncertainty.  Investors are concerned as to the future.  Will interest rates be raised?  How will the global markets respond to the election?  The markets are confused.  They are uncertain.

I looked out the window this morning.  The sun came up.  The earth continued to turn on its axis.  The birds chirped in the background.  The squirrels scurried across the yard.  It is a normal day similar to any other day.  God providentially maintains His created order.  It is orderly.  It is peaceful.  It is good.

Foreign countries are anxious about the future direction of the United States.  Its leadership is important.  It charts the course for many global decisions.  There is worry over the state of trade agreements and treaties.  Will the United States be interventionist or protectionist?  What will the relationship look like with our allies?

I read the bible this morning.  I was reminded again of His grace for me.  I have been redeemed.  I am adopted.  I am a child of God.  I am certain as to my eternal state.  I am not dependent on global anxiety but secure in God’s love for me.  I am part of a greater purpose called to serve God.  This is not questioned; it is affirmed.

Our country is polarized.  Half the population is not happy today.  Many are in shock; others are delighted.  Celebrations erupted in one ballroom while tears flowed in another.  Clearly there is a divide in our nation.  Anger persists.  Frustration is evident.  The future is promising for some; for others it is dire.

Joy continues to reside in my heart.  It comes not from a political result but from my knowledge that God died for me.  I have hope not grounded in campaign promises but in the knowledge that eternal life awaits me.  I am forgiven.  I am cherished.  I am adored just as I was yesterday.  That has not changed.

God is King!

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The election is one week away.  Needless to say the nation is anxious about the results.  Tuesday evening has massive implications for our country.  It determines the philosophy of government for years to come.  Our approach to international crises will be framed based on who is commander in chief.  The make-up of the Supreme Court will be influenced by who sits in the oval office.  Regardless of where you live in the country you will be impacted by the results.

This reality is why most Americans are anxious.  Neither candidate has good favorable ratings.  In fact, they are both viewed with suspicion and disdain.  In conversations, most people would prefer a different option for president.  There is legitimate concern over the future of our country regardless who wins the election.  Anxiety is high.  Concern is palpable.

I too share these concerns.

Yet, I am reminded as a believer that our nation is not dependent upon the voting booth.  The future of our country is not in the hands of a particular candidate.  At the end of the day, our God continues to reign.  He is still in control.  God is sovereign.  He knows the future.  It gives me tremendous comfort knowing that not only does God know who will be elected president when we wake up on Wednesday morning; He also knows how this will impact our nation.

Our hope is not man-centered.  Our jobs, healthcare, and national security are not ultimately determined by the president; they are governed by our Heavenly King, the one who holds the stars in Hand.  He is the one who has stood the test of time, from beginning to end, not someone serving a four-year position.  God has seen every leader in history and specifically the United States, come and go.  He is not fazed by it.  He is not surprised by it.  In fact, God orchestrates them to accomplish His purposes.

The church prospered under Emperor Nero who persecuted the church.  The church will continue to do so on November 9 because it is not a human institution, it is an eternal one.  Yes, our hope lies not in a democratic process but in the One who continues to advance the Kingdom towards the glorious hope of a new heaven and a new earth.  This hope should squelch fear and anxiety.  This hope should inspire a glorious future.  This hope is one worthy of placing our trust.