Archive for November, 2008
“Over the river and through the woods to ‘Aunt Patty’s’ house we go.” Well, that’s how it would be sung at my house. For 38 years they ALL have come to Aunt Patty’s house for Thanksgiving, not Aunt Patty and Uncle Bill’s house, just Aunt Patty’s house.
There have always been three generations who gather, including in-laws and out-laws. I’m not sure some of the attendees would know how to cook turkey, prepare stuffing or get enough ice unless my wife, the aforementioned Aunt Patty, didn’t do it.
Thanksgiving dinner takes place around 1 pm with the adult table and the kid’s table. Then the late afternoon has football games or my nap. Leftovers are available from 6 pm to bedtime with the evening centered around some games that most of the family participates in while coordinating the strategy for who is to be at which store before the sun rises and the world starts to turn the next morning.
Each year the faces change, depending on whose family gets the kids for the holiday this year, but even for an old codger like me, what I enjoy most is simply having my family close enough to hear their laughter, see their smile, feel their warmth.
I envision heaven being something like Thanksgiving at Aunt Patty’s house.
All of the “relatives” gathering in one place, telling stories of the way things used to be, new faces each year, hearing the laughter, seeing the smiles, feeling the warmth. ALL of us in the presence of God- Almighty, His Son- Emanuel, His Spirit- the Comforter. But no one goes home, Thanksgiving never stops.
Yep, just like at Aunt Patty’s house, because they’ll all be back for Christmas!
Who will be at your Thanksgiving dinner this year or what is keeping you from having that dinner? If you get to heaven, for some don’t think they will get there, who would be at your gathering there?
When we began to work on the website HopeForLife.org, we sat down and talked about what we believe about hope. We decided that we could best communicate our thoughts about hope with the idea of four stages of hope, four steps along the road of having a life with meaning in purpose.
I believe that the first thing we must accept is that hope exists. There is hope. Before we can decide what to believe in, we need to understand that there is something to believe in. Some people look at the world and dismiss hope, choosing to focus on chance and coincidence, chaos and disorder. I’ve seen enough to know that they are wrong. There is hope. It exists. It can be found. It can be embraced.
I believe that hope is in God. Many of those who have given up on finding hope have done so because they spent their time looking to the wrong things. People place their hope in other people, only to be let down. They place their faith in wealth and possessions, only to have that faith shaken by economic turmoil. Others look to science, but find that the hope science offers is short-term, not reaching beyond the limits of this world. Only God can offer hope for this life by offering a promise of another life to come.
I believe that God offers hope through his son Jesus. There aren’t multiple paths to God; there is only Jesus who proclaimed himself to be “[i]the way, the truth and the life[/i]” (John 14:6). Jesus offers us the way to overcome the things in our life that separate us from God. He doesn’t just ask us to live right; he makes it possible for us to do just that. He brings us the hope of mercy and forgiveness, rather than judgment.
I believe that each of us can share in that life of hope. We can come to God in obedient faith, placing our hope in him and becoming part of a large community of people who have chosen his way of life.
Grace and peace,
I am so sore I can hardly move. It sounded so good when I first heard about it. I could lose weight, feel good, and look better. All I had to do was show up a couple of times a week for a new class at the gym. My wife had gone a few times and loved it. And if my sweet wife could do it, just how tough could this class be. They gave me a bar with such small weights on it that I could hold it with one hand. I should have suspected something when the instructor began to scream “no pain, no gain”.
After the first class, my wife had to help me to the car. By the next day, I was so sore I could hardly move. What happened? I heard all about how good it was, but I don’t remember hearing about the cost. Actually, to be fair, I do remember my wife mentioning that it was a real workout, and that I would have to commit to sticking with it. I just ignored the part about effort, pain, sacrifice, and endurance. All I heard was feel good, look good, and lose weight.
That is exactly how some people try to convince you to follow Jesus. They talk so much about the blessings of Christianity that we do not hear the real message. It is as if becoming a Christian will make you healthy, wealthy, and wise. That is not what Jesus ever said. He spoke of narrow, hard roads. He spoke of denying oneself, of being crucified with him, and of following him. He owned nothing, most people rejected him, and then they executed him like a common criminal.
Yet he lived a life of contentment, purpose, and peace. Then he rose from the dead. And he lives forever. He promises me the same. My life has peace, purpose, joy, and hope. It is not easy, but it is worth it. Even the pain of my life finds meaning and purpose in following Jesus. It takes a real commitment to follow Jesus. Sharing in his pain really does become my gain.
So is it worth it to you? Is it realistic to ask people to embrace the hard road and the difficult path? What keeps us from the life of true discipleship?
Do you ever feel out of place? Like you just don’t belong? Maybe when you’re visiting with a group of acquaintances, and you just can’t seem to relate to them. Or in the midst of an evening out with some of your best friends, and you just can’t help but wonder if there’s something more. You might have even felt it in the company of your own family during a holiday gathering.
Have you been there? You don’t have to be a black sheep to feel this way. In fact, I imagine most sheep, despite their color, feel this way from time to time. A good deal of this experience can be accredited to the fact that we simply aren’t at home in this world. We just don’t belong.
Peter, a follower of Jesus Christ, wrote “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1:3-5).
You see, followers of Christ are anticipating something more, something wonderful. We’re aching for a better life! We press on in this world even though we feel out of place. We have every thing to live for because Jesus gives us hope, life in him and a future in heaven!
Jesus has changed my life, and I have found community with others who are living changed lives with hope and purpose.