Sleep peacefully, Christian…

Civilian airliners disappear from radar not to be found or shot from the sky by missiles. Ebola virus spreads to such an extent that it looks like it will be coming across the Atlantic soon. Violent gang members cross the border into the United States. Terrorists strategize to bring biological or chemical attacks to an American city. H1N1. Drought. Floods. Mad Cow Disease. Parents divorce. Chikungunya. Hurricanes. Coffee gives you cancer (this week).

…and don’t you worry a bit, dear brothers and sisters in Christ. God knows, and He is still sovereign. His throne is still in heaven. Hamas rages, Israel rages back, and God laughs. The deadly pestilence touches only the body; the soul is the Lord’s.

All of the things I’ve listed up above (with the help of the alarmists at Drudge and CNN) aren’t worth an ounce of worry. We needn’t fear, even as the reports come in that Ebola has made it to Atlanta, and Greenville, and Spartanburg, and…our neighbor’s house. Our souls are safe if in Christ. Nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Will missiles, or viruses, or the deaths of children to viruses, or murder, or terrorist attacks, or vomiting, or wildfires, or pagan parents, or gluten, or butter, or cancer, or bacteria?

Nope.

Don’t panic.

Share your fearlessness-faith (Heb. 10:39).

Welcome poverty and persecution and hunger and friendlessness and suffering (Luke 6:20-26).

Sleep peacefully, Christian (Psalm 127:2).

Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, for my soul takes refuge in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge until destruction passes by (Psalm 57:1).

For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3).

 

Wifely Wednesday: Thanksgiving

DSC_0003Today when Andrew came home from work, he immediately settled down to the business at hand: annoying his children. Now just wait! Before you judge him for being one of those wicked fathers who exasperates his children, or chastise me for disrespecting my husband on a public blog, read on. You see, if Andrew did the sorts of things to me that he was doing to the children, I would be GREATLY annoyed. I do not enjoy tickling. Hate it, in fact. Andrew, however, seems to have a pathological need to tickle somebody every day. And before we had children, I was, unfortunately, his only prey. Andrew’s children, on the other hand, love nothing better than having their father annoy, er, I mean tickle them until they have tears streaming down their faces and they about wet their pants.

So here is my simple thanksgiving for the day. I am thankful that my children take my place during the daily rough house routine. I am thankful that the boys love to watch Detroit Tigers games with Andrew so that I don’t have to feign interest. I am thankful that Zeke drinks coffee with Andrew, because I think it’s gross and Andrew loves to have a coffee buddy. I am thankful that Anna likes to scratch backs for hours on end, because Andrew loves to have his back scratched for hours on end.

And I’m sure if Andrew were writing this post, he would probably say something like, “My wife is sitting happily in the den playing board games with her children. I would rather get a root canal than play a board game, but my wife loves them. I have sorely neglected her desire in this area for the better part of our marriage, so I am thankful that her children fill this need of hers. They love to sit and throw dice while they move little pieces around colored squares. That’s weird, but I’m just glad somebody else in the house will play with poor, neglected Sarah!”

Well, ok, maybe he wouldn’t word it quite like that, but you get the point! One of those funny little blessings of large families is that, eventually, somebody in the house is interested in what you are interested in. And that’s just something to be thankful for.

Thanksgiving is revolutionary…

The unbelieving world is distinguished by hostility toward God (Col. 1:21, Rom. 8:7). Devotion to hating God requires an unyielding commitment to Two Laws, both of which refuse to be overruled by what the mind and heart inexorably teach when the eyes look upon the glory of the mountains and stars and waves and the human body, male and female (Rom. 1:20):

Law 1: You shall not honor God (Rom. 1:21).

Law 2: You shall not give thanks to God (Rom. 1:21).

Then along comes a day in November when our big box stores, poultry-processing plants, politicians, and celebrities encourage everyone to come together for the giving of thanks. Regardless of the jollity of the sales pitch, there will be no moratorium; the Two Laws are beloved and precious. The Thanksgiving celebration has no room for God and for that absence, let us give thanks. Let us admire the Tower of Babel.

The redeemed of the Lord, those with functioning eyes and ears, give honor and thanks to God. Law-breakers, each of us. Giving thanks to God is an act of war, a revolution against the unyielding and beloved Two Laws and her people (Psalm 149:5-9). Voices are given to God’s children for such combative celebration. Thanksgiving day is one of 365 when we sing songs of victory, filled with honor and thanksgiving to God whose throne is in Heaven.

8 Oh give thanks to the LORD, call upon His name;
Make known His deeds among the peoples.
9 Sing to Him, sing praises to Him;
Speak of all His wonders.
10 Glory in His holy name;
Let the heart of those who seek the LORD be glad.
11 Seek the LORD and His strength;
Seek His face continually.
12 Remember His wonderful deeds which He has done,
His marvels and the judgments from His mouth,
13 O seed of Israel His servant,
Sons of Jacob, His chosen ones!
14 He is the LORD our God;
His judgments are in all the earth.
15 Remember His covenant forever,
The word which He commanded to a thousand generations,
16 The covenant which He made with Abraham,
And His oath to Isaac.
17 He also confirmed it to Jacob for a statute,
To Israel as an everlasting covenant,
18 Saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan,
As the portion of your inheritance.”
19 When they were only a few in number,
Very few, and strangers in it,
20 And they wandered about from nation to nation,
And from one kingdom to another people,
21 He permitted no man to oppress them,
And He reproved kings for their sakes, saying,
22 “Do not touch My anointed ones,
And do My prophets no harm.”
23 Sing to the LORD, all the earth;
Proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day.
24 Tell of His glory among the nations,
His wonderful deeds among all the peoples.
25 For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised;
He also is to be feared above all gods.
26 For all the gods of the peoples are idols,
But the LORD made the heavens.
27 Splendor and majesty are before Him,
Strength and joy are in His place.
28 Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples,
Ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
29 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due His name;
Bring an offering, and come before Him;
Worship the LORD in holy array.
30 Tremble before Him, all the earth;
Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved.
31 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
And let them say among the nations, “The LORD reigns.”
32 Let the sea roar, and all it contains;
Let the field exult, and all that is in it.
33 Then the trees of the forest will sing for joy before the LORD;
For He is coming to judge the earth.
34 O give thanks to the LORD, for He is good;
For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
35 Then say, “Save us, O God of our salvation,
And gather us and deliver us from the nations,
To give thanks to Your holy name,
And glory in Your praise” (1 Chron. 16:8-35).

A psalm for November and every other month…

Psalm 100   

A Psalm for Thanksgiving.

Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth. 2 Serve the LORD with gladness; come before Him with joyful singing. 3 Know that the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

4   Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. 5 For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations.

"'I have commanded the ravens to provide for you there.'"

Now Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the settlers of Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the LORD, the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, surely there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.” The word of the LORD came to him, saying, “Go away from here and turn eastward, and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. It shall be that you will drink of the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to provide for you there.” So he went and did according to the word of the LORD, for he went and lived by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he would drink from the brook. It happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land (1 Kings 17:1-7).

Like a scene from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, birds fly provisions to a man on a dangerous mission. But what we have in Scripture is no fairy tale, unless we take Chesterton’s definition (“Fairyland,” he said, “is nothing but the sunny country of common sense. It is not earth that judges heaven, but heaven that judges earth…”.) which, like much of Chesterton’s writing, I don’t understand and, yet, know it is right…

Ravens, by God’s command, delivered provisions to Elijah the prophet. King Ahab was deepening Israel’s idolatry (1 Kings 16:31-34), so Elijah’s first work was to announce God’s punishment for that wickedness: “As the LORD, the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, surely there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.” After speaking God’s Word to King Ahab, God tells Elijah to hide himself. Twice each day while he is exiled to the banks of the brook Cherith, the ravens—an unclean beast (Lev. 11:13-19)—arrived with meat and bread for the exiled prophet.

As you worked through your Scripture reading, did this wonderful demonstration of the power and kindness of God stand out to you? Perhaps because of magnitude of the works of Elijah (raising the widow’s son from the dead; mocking, dominating, and finally killing the prophets of Baal) that follow, we overlook the miracle of the ravens. Or perhaps we are conditioned to be dismissive of Scripture’s miracles. Let this one sink in…

I imagine Elijah laughing with joy the first time these skittish, awkward black birds landed close by and hopped toward him with beaks full of fresh bread and cooked meat. He’d never experienced anything like this, and he probably got all mixed up and thanked the birds for their delivery. Thanksgivings probably dribbled out of the sides of his mouth as he laughed and chewed and swallowed and sang. What a powerful confirmation of God’s fatherly care!

How many lessons can we learn from such a miracle? Well, here are a number from Matthew Henry, who has no trouble giving attention to this overlooked passage… Continue reading

Wifely Wednesday: Wars and the Men Who Fought Them…

We are counting down on our fingers now the remaining days of school as required by the state of South Carolina. We finished our textbooks (every last page of them) last week, so we have been doing lessons on various topics that might otherwise not be covered. Rather than take a day of vacation on Memorial Day and delay the end of school a little more into the summer, we focused on topics that were appropriate to the holiday. One of the most poignant exercises of the day was making a bar graph depicting the number of American casualties in the major wars we have fought. In comparison to all the others, the Civil War exploded right off our graph paper and required us to tape on a few more inches (a whopping 625,000 casualties as compared to its closest competitor, WWII at about 405,000).

Along the subject of wars and the men who fought them, this is a great blog post from one of my favorite bloggers, Anne. Anne is a friend from long ago, who has wisely raised a brood of children and whose words can be trusted. One of the reasons I trust her is that she doesn’t blog too frequently. Whenever a mother with children still in the home has time to educate the rest of the world via a steady stream of blogging activity, I question how much of her own words she is actually taking the time to put into practice. Not so with Anne. While I would dearly love to read multiple blog posts from her every day, I am happy to know that she is too busy being the keeper of her own home. I hope you enjoy her post, especially if you have sons.

 

Shout and sing joyfully today…

Psalm 100

A Psalm for Thanksgiving. 

1 Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth.

Serve the LORD with gladness; come before Him with joyful singing.

Know that the LORD Himself is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

4 Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name.

5 For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations.

I'm thankful for the fam…

Delivered after we enjoyed our rosemary, apricot, cranberry, garlic stuffed pork loin (I know, I know…it’s un-American not to eat Turkey…but Pig be better), buttery mashed potatoes, cranberry relish, dutch apple pie, and pumpkin pie:

I give thanks to God for Maggie and that He made her excited about the “meow,” loud enough to be heard above the other four, and capable of many facial expressions (but few words).

I give thanks to God for Esther and that He made her indefatigable in her optimism, sweet as pumpkin pie, and strong as a 2 x 4.

I give thanks to God for Thomas and that He gave him a wonderful ability to memorize His Word, a strange sense of humor, and an astonishing ability to concentrate (when challenged to).

I give thanks to God for Ezekiel and that He made him a boy who has all the potential to be a godly man who will take the kingdom by violence, who loves to be involved, and who likes to work.

I give thanks to God for Anna and that He made her a young woman who starts every day in His Word, who is industrious and imaginative, and who will one day be a blessing to her husband.

I give thanks to God for my dearest love, Sarah, and that He made her to love me well, who is unceasing in her work for me, her children, and the church, who is patient with my demands, and who lives for the world to come.

God’s blessings are rich and deep and wide.

Psalm 100

A Psalm for Thanksgiving.

(1) Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth.

(2) Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing.

(3) Know that the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

(4) Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name.

(5) For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting And His faithfulness to all generations.

Abraham Lincoln's 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation

October 3, 1863

The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful years and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the Source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict, while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the field of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than theretofore. Population has steadily increased notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.

In testimony wherof I have herunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

A. Lincoln

John Adams's 1799 Thanksgiving Proclamation

7 March 1799

As no truth is more clearly taught in the Volume of Inspiration, nor any more fully demonstrated by the experience of all ages, than that a deep sense and a due acknowledgment of the governing providence of a Supreme Being and of the accountableness of men to Him as the searcher of hearts and righteous distributor of rewards and punishments are conducive equally to the happiness and rectitude of individuals and to the well-being of communities; as it is also most reasonable in itself that men who are made capable of social acts and relations, who owe their improvements to the social state, and who derive their enjoyments from it, should, as a society, make their acknowledgments of dependence and obligation to Him who hath endowed them with these capacities and elevated them in the scale of existence by these distinctions; as it is likewise a plain dictate of duty and a strong sentiment of nature that in circumstances of great urgency and seasons of imminent danger earnest and particular supplications should be made to Him who is able to defend or to destroy; as, moreover, the most precious interests of the people of the United States are still held in jeopardy by the hostile designs and insidious acts of a foreign nation, as well as by the dissemination among them of those principles, subversive of the foundations of all religious, moral, and social obligations, that have produced incalculable mischief and misery in other countries; and as, in fine, the observance of special seasons for public religious solemnities is happily calculated to avert the evils which we ought to deprecate and to excite to the performance of the duties which we ought to discharge by calling and fixing the attention of the people at large to the momentous truths already recited, by affording opportunity to teach and inculcate them by animating devotion and giving to it the character of a national act:

For these reasons I have thought proper to recommend, and I do hereby recommend accordingly, that Thursday, the 25th day of April next, be observed throughout the United States of America as a day of solemn humiliation, fasting, and prayer; that the citizens on that day abstain as far as may be from their secular occupations, devote the time to the sacred duties of religion in public and in private; that they call to mind our numerous offenses against the Most High God, confess them before Him with the sincerest penitence, implore His pardoning mercy, through the Great Mediator and Redeemer, for our past transgressions, and that through the grace of His Holy Spirit we may be disposed and enabled to yield a more suitable obedience to His righteous requisitions in time to come; that He would interpose to arrest the progress of that impiety and licentiousness in principle and practice so offensive to Himself and so ruinous to mankind; that He would make us deeply sensible that “righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people;” that He would turn us from our transgressions and turn His displeasure from us; that He would withhold us from unreasonable discontent, from disunion, faction, sedition, and insurrection; that He would preserve our country from the desolating sword; that He would save our cities and towns from a repetition of those awful pestilential visitations under which they have lately suffered so severely, and that the health of our inhabitants generally may be precious in His sight; that He would favor us with fruitful seasons and so bless the labors of the husbandman as that there may be food in abundance for man and beast; that He would prosper our commerce, manufactures, and fisheries, and give success to the people in all their lawful industry and enterprise; that He would smile on our colleges, academies, schools, and seminaries of learning, and make them nurseries of sound science, morals, and religion; that He wold bless all magistrates, from the highest to the lowest, give them the true spirit of their station, make them a terror to evil doers and a praise to them that do well, that He would preside over the councils of the nation at this critical period, enlighten them to a just discernment of the public interest, and save them from mistake, division, and discord; that He would make succeed our preparations for defense and bless our armaments by land and by sea; that He would put an end to the effusion of human blood and the accumulation of human misery among the contending nations of the earth by disposing them to justice, to equity, to benevolence, and to peace; and that he would extend the blessings of knowledge, of true liberty, and of pure and undefiled religion throughout the world.

And I do also recommend that with these acts of humiliation, penitence, and prayer fervent thanksgiving to the Author of All Good be united for the countless favors which He is still continuing to the people of the United States, and which render their condition as a nation eminently happy when compared with the lot of others.

Given, etc.

John Adams