Category Archives: Bible

When Circumstances Eclipse Our View of God

 MAIN THOUGHT:  We should not allow the circumstances of life to obscure our view of God’s power and goodness.

The Old Astronomer, by the British poet Sarah Williams: “Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light; I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.”

Monday, August 21, 2017 will mark an event that most of us will never again experience in our lifetime, a total eclipse of the sun – even though it will only be about a 90% eclipse in our viewing range. This has not occurred across such a large part of the USA in more than 100 years. And it will not happen again on our planet until 2020 in South America.

A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon is in the correct daytime position to completely block our view of the sun, leaving us in a shadow of darkness. Here’s the deal – the moon is not very big, in comparison to earth. In fact, the earth dwarfs the moon in size, as it would take more than 80 objects the size of our moon to fill the mass of planet earth. So compared to the size of our sun, the moon is tiny, almost like comparing the head of a pin to a mountain. Our sun is so large, that it could easily contain a million planets the size of earth.  Thus, it could contain 80 million objects the size of our moon.

Yet tomorrow morning around 9 a.m., our moon, that comparatively tiny object, will completely eclipse the light of the sun, an object 80 million times larger than itself. It will do so because of perspective. From where we stand, it will appear to be dark, but that is only because we will be in the shadow of the moon, and it will only last about 2.5 minutes at its longest duration in the USA.

Many stories exist in history of people panicking in terror when a solar eclipse suddenly brought darkness upon their part of the world. Ancient people thought that perhaps a dragon was eating the sun and they made loud noises to try and scare it away. Eclipse events became fodder for legends and myths sparking fear and panic about disaster and death.

One time in history when we know the exact date of a solar eclipse was May 28, 585 BC, when two Greek armies, the Medes and the Lydians, were fighting a battle. Suddenly a complete solar eclipse turned day into night, and the stars appeared. The armies immediately stopped fighting, and taking it as a sign that the gods wanted them to lay down their arms, they declared a truce. Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone took the eclipse tomorrow as a sign that we should stop fighting each other on planet earth, and we did?

What we will all experience tomorrow is a metaphor for what often happens in life, when circumstances suddenly remove the light, causing us to lose vision and clarity that robs us of courage and plunges us into a pit of darkness and fear. How do we respond when the lights go out and shadows eclipse our vision of God and rob us of hope?

2 Kings 6:8-23 tells a story about the prophet Elisha and a time when circumstances seemed to block the vision of God’s providence and protection.

8  Now the king of Aram was at war with Israel. After conferring with his officers, he said, “I will set up my camp in such and such a place.”
9 The man of God sent word to the king of Israel: “Beware of passing that place, because the Arameans are going down there.”
10 So the king of Israel checked on the place indicated by the man of God. Time and again Elisha warned the king, so that he was on his guard in such places.
11 This enraged the king of Aram. He summoned his officers and demanded of them, “Tell me! Which of us is on the side of the king of Israel?”
12 “None of us, my lord the king,” said one of his officers, “but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom.”
13 “Go, find out where he is,” the king ordered, “so I can send men and capture him.” The report came back: “He is in Dothan.”
14 Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city.
15 When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked.
16 “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
17 And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, LORD, so that he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
18 As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the LORD, “Strike this army with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked.
19 Elisha told them, “This is not the road and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will lead you to the man you are looking for.” And he led them to Samaria.
20 After they entered the city, Elisha said, “LORD, open the eyes of these men so they can see.” Then the LORD opened their eyes and they looked, and there they were, inside Samaria.
21 When the king of Israel saw them, he asked Elisha, “Shall I kill them, my father? Shall I kill them?”
22 “Do not kill them,” he answered. “Would you kill those you have captured with your own sword or bow? Set food and water before them so that they may eat and drink and then go back to their master.”
6:23 So he prepared a great feast for them, and after they had finished eating and drinking, he sent them away, and they returned to their master. So the bands from Aram stopped raiding Israel’s territory.

What do we learn from this story?

  1. God knows the plans of the enemy and regardless, He can provide for us and protect us.
  2. We do not always see everything – the eyes of faith are required to see how God is working on our behalf behind the scenes.
  3. When we have opportunity, we should show mercy to those who mean to harm us.
  4. When we choose to believe, God can change our circumstances.

Never doubt in the darkness what God has told you in the light. Even if your circumstances seem to eclipse your vision of God’s provision or protection, keep believing in the light and choosing the path of light until you break free of the darkness. God has a bigger plan to thwart the works of darkness to accomplish His will and purposes. So don’t allow unbelief or circumstances to eclipse your vision of God.

Darkness is always temporary. The solar eclipse will result in less than 3 minutes of total darkness. Remember, He is working through your dark circumstances and the light is still shining somewhere, ready to burst through the shadows into a bright future.

Dealing With Life’s Most Persistent Question: Part 10

Highway to sunset Farm Road Springfield MO 5-2-15On the road to Emmaus, Jesus took the time to offer an explanation to his two questioning friends who were searching for an explanation, for a reason behind all the events they had experienced. He understood the sorrow and disappointment they felt, the loss that had blinded their eyes with tears and dampened their hearts with grief.

“Jesus quoted passages from the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining what all the Scriptures said about himself” (Luke 24:27, nlt).

Jesus is a gentleman. He patiently listened and explained. They had an engaging conversation. As they walked, they approached their destination. He did not invite himself in for dinner. He will not force himself on anyone. He will respond to an invitation, though. He waits patiently for each of us to invite him into our heart. He says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock,” (Revelation 3:20, nkjv).

Cleopas and his friend invited Jesus in and he joined them for a meal. Jesus wants fellowship with us. He wasn’t angry with them. He loved them and was concerned for them. As Jesus blessed the dinner bread, they suddenly understood. Their eyes were opened and they immediately knew who he was.

Along with that revelation came something unexpected. God is always doing things we don’t expect. He vanished out of their sight. But even though they couldn’t see him with their physical sight, their spiritual eyes were opened. That is what happens when we journey with Jesus; we walk by faith, not by sight.

An encounter with Jesus changes everything. They had seen the Lord and their emotions went from confused sadness to elated gladness. Excitedly, they told each other how their hearts had felt strangely warm as he explained the Scriptures to them as they walked down the road.

When we can’t clearly see the road ahead because our vision is blocked by tears or by the tangled web of weedy circumstances, we must focus on Jesus. Once we see him, he gives us vision for the road ahead and shows us the way. He can turn our “Why?” into “Why not!”

I don’t know which lonely Emmaus Road you may be traveling. But I am sure that Jesus is with you, even if you don’t see him or recognize his presence. And when Jesus accompanies us on the road less traveled, it makes all the difference.

 

Dealing With Life’s Most Persistent Question – Part 4

Sunset Snoqualmie River looking west from Meadowbrook Way SE BridgeJesus is the master teacher. He often taught by asking questions, and sometimes answered a question with a question. So what was Jesus teaching us when he asked the ultimate question of suffering?

Jesus’ final words on the cross reflect the over-arching question of the human race, “My God, My God, Why hast thou forsaken me?” If Jesus could ask God such a persistent question, I think we can honestly do so as well.

The answer may not be what we expect—but silence is an answer. Silence does not mean God is hard of hearing. It often does mean that we are not prepared to listen, or hear the real answer. Or it means that we will understand later.

Someone said, “Life must be understood backwards; but it must be lived forward.” So we search for answers and keep moving forward. Often, the understanding does come later as we gain more clarity to the sequence of events. As the picture becomes clearer, the meaning of our pain, suffering, or questions becomes evident. Or not–either way we must learn to wait and trust and learn.

In the 13th chapter of John, Jesus is in the process of washing the disciples feet. Peter does not understand why Jesus would do such an undignified and servile task. He asks, “Lord are you going to wash my feet?”

We can be sure Jesus was not just doing this because he didn’t like the disciples’ dirty, stinky feet and wanted them cleaned up. There was a deeper reason, and the Bible tells us the sequence of events, even details like the timing of the last supper, a basin of water, and a towel.

Peter’s question was a plea for understanding mixed with a bit of embarrassment and indignity that Jesus would do such a thing. This scenario remains a good reminder for us when we question God’s dealings in our lives, wonder if He cares, and ponder the big “Why?”

Jesus responded to Peter’s question with this very important principle – one that we would all do well to remember:  Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” (John 13:7 NIV)

Now. Do not understand. Later. Will understand. This sequence applies to learning about almost everything. Foreign concepts at first seem incomprehensible to us. Later they make perfect sense once we understand. Good teachers know there are no “dumb” questions, especially at first. And Jesus is the best teacher.

Jesus did not scold Peter, and he did not embarrass him. He also did not fully explain or answer all of Peter’s persistent questions. But Jesus did establish this principle that applies in so many situations of our lives:  Life can be understood backwards, but must be lived forward.”  In other words, our perplexing questions about today may well give way to understanding later when more of the picture is revealed to us.

Until later becomes now, we have to keep believing and exercise our faith when we do not see or understand, and wonder, “why?” After all, that is what faith consists of, “The substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)

Some Thoughts on Passion Week: Disappointment, Detours, and Destiny – Part 8 Easter Sunday

empty tomb easter = hopeEaster is all about hope. Hope when things seem hopeless. Hope when life’s challenges hit you like an avalanche of trouble that freezes your ability to move forward by its icy grip. Hope when your dreams are shattered. Hope when your confidence is shaken. Hope when your faith is hanging on by an invisible thread to the only life preserver keeping you from drowning in a sea of despair. Hope that does not deny reality, but sees beyond the current circumstances to a time when your shattered dreams and shaken confidence will be resurrected with fresh vision and vitality.

Hope will sustain you during moments of crisis and seasons of suffering. It will provide you with determination to overcome disappointment. It will instill courage to keep you talking that next step on your detoured pathway. And it will inspire perseverance to keep believing in your destiny despite the persistent questions that troubling circumstances throw your way.

Above all, hope in the resurrection of Christ provides a narrative and context for every situation of life. It provides an over-arching and eternal perspective on every puzzling picture we view and try to interpret this side of heaven.  Faith in a risen Savior makes all the difference. “Because I live, you shall live also” Jesus said (John 14:19).

Paul put it this way:  “And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world. But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died” (1 Corinthians 15:18-19 NLT).

Maybe you have watched the television series, Resurrection. In it, people in a small Missouri town are amazed to discover people walking around who had died years ago, looking just like they did before they died. One of the main characters was a pastor, but there isn’t much theological or biblical truth in the show. In typical Hollywood fashion, the resurrected people will probably turn out to be aliens.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a fable about aliens, and it is not just a story that history forgot. It is as relevant today as it was 2,000 years ago because Jesus rose from the dead and lives today. Peter was an eyewitness to those events, and his testimony provides encouragement and hope to us, despite our circumstances, to keep believing:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.  (1 Peter 1:3-9 NKJV)

HAPPY EASTER!

Some Thoughts on Passion Week: Disappointment, Detours, and Destiny – Part 5 Maundy Thursday

LastSupperRestored DaVinci“What would you like for your last supper?” Persons slated for execution are customarily asked this question, thus selecting the menu for their final meal.

Faced with that circumstance, I think I’d respond, “I really don’t have much of an appetite tonight, but how about how about another fifty years of meals, starting tomorrow morning?”

Today is Maundy Thursday, the day we remember Jesus’ last supper, although Maundy actually means, “washing of the feet”—another component of the last supper. “Why is this night different from all other nights?”  That is the question asked by the youngest son, or male, present during the Passover meal (or Seder, meaning an order of service). The events in the life of Christ and His disciples that night truly distinguish it from all other nights.

The Passover signified Israel’s redemption from Israel.  For New Testament believers in Jesus Christ, it signifies that we are redeemed from the bondage of slavery to sin through the sacrifice of Jesus, “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”  (John 1:29 NKJV)  More than 30 times Jesus is referred to as a lamb, or the “Lamb of God” in the New Testament. What can we learn about disappointments, detours, and destiny from the events that took place on that night 2,000 years ago?

  • Friends are important in times of celebration and times of suffering.

Passover was meant to be celebrated with friends and family.  If a person was too poor afford a Passover lamb, he was to join with friends.  If a family was too small to eat the entire meal, they were to invite friends or needy people to join with them.  It is significant that Jesus chose to be with His disciples during His last supper.

Not only do we need friends during times of celebration, but we especially need them during times of suffering.  By the time they were sitting down for the Passover meal, Jesus was already suffering.  He suffered when He revealed that Judas Iscariot would be the one to betray Him.  In ancient times, if you dipped your food along with a friend, you signified absolute allegiance to him.  Judas’s deceit and betrayal must have shocked the rest of the disciples.  But it didn’t shock Jesus, it merely hurt Him and further illustrated the beginning of the Passover meal, when a vegetable (often a piece of lettuce), is dipped into water mixed with bitter herbs.  This represented the bitterness of slavery – and no doubt it reminded Jesus and His disciples of the bitterness of unfaithfulness.

I’m sure Peter must have listened very carefully that night when Jesus identified Judas as His betrayer.  And I’m equally sure Peter had very good intentions to never do anything to betray the Lord.  But Peter underestimated the power of intimidation and overestimated the strength of his resolve.  Before the night was over, Peter abandoned the Lord Jesus and even swore that he didn’t know him.

Jesus Christ alone can promise to never leave us and fulfill that promise. He is a faithful and forgiving friend.  This is a remarkable fact when you consider that Jesus never made a mistake, committed a sin, or did anything to hurt another individual.  A real friend is one who is able to overlook the faults of another and can bring out the best in that person.

  • Jesus modeled servant leadership.

It is interesting that John (13:1-16) is the only Gospel writer that mentions how Jesus washed the disciple’s feet during the ceremonial meal.  This probably took place right after the Kiddush (blessing)  and the dipping of bitter herbs in salt water.  Jesus rose from the table and took a towel and began to wash the disciple’s feet, much to their absolute shock.  Traditionally, a master or rabbi would never do such a thing – it was work for a slave or servant.  In fact, during the first ceremonial washing of the Passover meal, the host washed first, to signify that he was the head of the house, the undisputed leader.  But Jesus insisted on showing that true leaders serve.

Matthew was Jewish and wrote to the Jews, so they would understand everything associated with the Passover meal.  Matthew presented Jesus Christ as the King.  His Gospel is known as the Gospel of the King.  Even though Jesus was the King of the Jews, He didn’t act like an earthly King.  He modeled servant leadership and encouraged us to follow His example.

John tells us that Jesus “laid aside His garments,” which symbolized the need to lay aside our own righteousness and pride before the Lord.  Jesus willingly bared Himself before His disciples in order to serve them, just as He would soon have His robes torn from Him in order to suffer for all mankind.

Matthew tells us that Jesus took the unleavened bread and broke it.  The bread is called matzo in Hebrew, and it means “unleavened, sweet without sourness.”  The unleavened bread symbolized the sweetness of life without sin. Every time we celebrate the last supper we remember that Jesus is the bread of life. He was willing to serve and give His life for others. The broken bread was also symbolic of humility as the poor could only afford a small amount of bread and Jesus identified with those who were unprivileged and underserved by others.

  • Jesus conveyed unconditional love.

Jesus methodically and systematically prepared Himself to be the Passover Lamb.  He was the spotless Lamb, slain before the foundation of the world.  And although He showed sorrow, He did not indicate anger, or frustration, or resentment, or any of the typical human responses to what He was facing. What He did show was unconditional love, in giving His life for all human beings.

Jesus faced absolute injustice, punishment for sins He did not commit.  The Bible tells us that we are to emulate Jesus in showing grace and mercy to others.  Jesus loved and loves unconditionally.  His blood covers our sins, just as the blood of the Passover Lamb protected the ancient Jewish people from death.

Because He gave His life for us, we can experience eternal life.  We should never forget.  That’s why Jesus said what He said and did what He did that night.  The Apostle Paul described it:

“For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’   In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’  For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes” (1 Corinthians 11:23-26)

Some suggestions for application:

What if you really were planning your last supper?  What would you want for the meal?  Who would you want to be there?  What would you want to say and do?

Disappointments and detours come in many forms. Have you ever felt betrayed by a friend?  How did you respond?

Could Judas Iscariot have been forgiven if He had asked for it?  Is there any limit to God’s mercy and forgiveness?

How important are friendships to you?  Why do allow our busy schedules to interfere with building relationships?

On the Verge: Finding Your Tipping Point – Part 2 “The Verge”

Grandpa Detrick's ca 1890 Seth Thomas Clock

Grandpa Detrick’s ca 1890 Seth Thomas Clock

We often live our lives on the verge. On the verge of success. On the verge of getting out of debt. On the verge of finding a rewarding relationship. On the verge of achieving that sought after promotion at work. On the verge of obtaining the scholarship. On the verge of finishing that degree. On the verge of fulfilling our dream.

The verge is a nice stop on the way to our destination. It is a terrible place to live permanently. If we camp there long enough, it becomes difficult to move on. While camped there we may analyze a million and one reasons why we got stuck in the first place, and another million and one reasons how we might move on, but we tend to be weighted down by the analysis to the point of paralysis, convincing ourselves that it is safer to just stay where we are at. Like I said earlier, passivity is the opposite of courage.

Wait a minute!  Stop the clock! Do not lose courage. Passivity is the inactive response to lost hopes and dreams. It is time for a change. You don’t have to live your life always “on the verge.” You can move past the verge.

Unlike the Apple Watch which I plan to never buy, I do have an affinity for old clocks. Not old clocks from the 1980’s with digital readouts, but really old clocks. Most in my collection are well over a century old, American made, and still working. And I work on them—have for years, both as a hobby and in a practical way to keep my collection running. Working on old clocks has taught me some lessons about systems, and mechanics, and maintenance, and life. They have also taught me about time, and how I use it, how I respond to it, how I measure it. After all, they have a lot to tell by listening to the tick-tock of the pendulum.

Verge - clockworksHow many mechanical items from a century ago are still functioning with their original purpose today? Not many! You probably don’t know that the term verge is a clock word. The verge is that part of a mechanical clock that keeps the pendulum moving back and forth – and keeps the rest of the clock ticking. The actual tick-tock is sound of the verge rocking back and forth, connecting with a toothed wheel that connects to other gears and wheels that eventually move the hour and minute hands, ever so slowly. When it is all synchronized, it is a beautiful thing. It keeps on moving, and keeping perfect time.

A verge is a lot like a tipping point. Malcom Gladwell states in his book, The Tipping Point:   “The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.”

What if you could find the tipping point that would move you past the verge? What if you could stop listening to the melancholy melody that keeps you stuck? What if you could re-discover your courage? You can. Listen to another melody—a happier tune that will actually help you redeem the time:

“Wake up from your sleep, Climb out of your coffins; Christ will show you the light! So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times!”   Ephesians 5:14-16 The Message

“Make the most of every chance you get.”  The old King James Version actually instructs us, “redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” What if you struggled with financial problems, but had forgotten about an old savings bond your uncle gave you years ago? It may be worth $50,000 but if you never redeemed it, you would just be holding on to an old piece of paper while continuing to struggle with finances. Time is as old as “in the beginning.” To fully take advantage of it, we must redeem it.  My old clocks may be more than a century old, but they have taught me some redeeming contemporary lessons, and I look forward to sharing some of them with you.

Thanksgiving Table Set 11-26-14I love the Thanksgiving holiday that we celebrate in America on the last Thursday in November. Jodi sets a magnificent table and our children gather with their children. Food, family, and football are the usual American components to celebrate the day.

In addition, it marks a time to reflect on our blessings over the past year which includes giving thanks for the good things provided, and giving thanks for the bad things that we have been spared from. It is also a time to consider ways to help our neighbors and share with those less fortunate in our community and around the world.

I love Thanksgiving, but  sad to say, I am not always thankful. It seems like a cliché, yet pausing to count our blessings and reflect on the gifts provided is one of our greatest privileges as humans in a life well lived. The author G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936) said, “When it comes to life, the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.”

The Bible has a lot to say about thanksgiving, mentioning it nearly 140 times.  In the book of Psalms alone, we are told over 30 times to “be thankful” and “give thanks unto the Lord.”  Psalm 92:1 says, “It is good to give thanks to the LORD, And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High.”  Nineteen out of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament mention the need for thanksgiving.   1 Thessalonians 5:18 says “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

Regardless of the hardships we may face in life, we can be thankful for the good things God provides. And it is always helpful for me to consider the circumstances of the Pilgrims when they celebrated the event we now call “Thanksgiving.” When we think of that first thanksgiving celebrated by the Pilgrims, we might assume it occurred during the first year of their residency here after their arrival in 1620. In fact, we know they did have a 3-day feast in the fall of 1621 where wild fowl and venison were served.  A letter by Edward Winslow is the only surviving description of the event itself.[1]  The hard winter months that followed brought extraordinary suffering and even more deaths to the small band of Pilgrims.

But the first real extended thanksgiving celebration took place a full three years after their arrival in 1620.  Those three years were filled with much hardship, toil and suffering.  Their days were spent combating sickness, drought, inner conflicts, and the elements.  But it wasn’t all bad news.  The Native Americans had taught the settlers how to plant corn, fish for cod, hunt for game, and skin beavers for coats.   They had planted gardens, built a blockhouse for their protection, houses for their own comfort, and a meetinghouse to worship God.

Just when things seemed to take a turn for the better, they again got worse.  In the summer of 1623, a drought threatened to destroy their vital crops.  So the colonists prayed and fasted for relief.  When the rains came a few days later, disaster was averted, and their crops were saved. Not long after, Captain Miles Standish arrived with staples and news that a Dutch supply ship was on its way.  Because of all these blessings and answered prayers, the Pilgrims held a day of thanksgiving and praise.  This 1623 event appears to have been the origin of our Thanksgiving Day because it combined a religious and social celebration.[2]  It was a time for expressing gratitude to God and sharing with their Indian neighbors.  Governor Bradford made the following proclamation:

“Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, peas, beans, squashes, and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as He has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience.

 Now I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and ye little ones, do gather at ye meetinghouse, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the day time, on Thursday, November 29th, of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty three and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim Rock, there to listen to ye pastor and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings.”[3]

The provisions for that thanksgiving feast included:  “twelve tasty venisons, besides others, pieces of roasted venison, fruit pies, roasted wild turkeys, plums, nuts, grapes, corn, popcorn, vegetables of all types, fish, roast pork, etc.  But before all this, the first course was served:  on an empty plate in front of each person were five kernels of corn. . .lest anyone should forget” (the hardship of the previous winters.)[4]

“Lest anyone should forget.” Like Chesterton said, “the critical thing in life is whether we take things for granted, or with gratitude.” Happy Thanksgiving!

[1] http://www.plimoth.org/Library/Thanksgiving/afirst.htm

[2] http://www.si.edu/resource/faq/nmah/thanks.htm

[3]Federer, William J.  “America’s God and Country Encyclopedia of Quotations.”  Coppell, TX:  Fame Publishing, 1994, p. 66-67.

[4]Marshall, Peter and Manuel, David “The Light and the Glory.”  Old Tappan, NJ:  Revell, 1977, p. 144.

Bible photoHow are you at memorization? Our minds have more capacity than we realize, by some estimations we only use a fraction of our brain’s storage space. A mind is a terrible thing to waste, and yet some people wonder, “Why bother?” when information is accessible instantly in your pocket or purse at the touch of a button these days.

But we tend to remember things we care about or are useful to us. Whether sports trivia, or a website address, we intentionally remember things that we deem important. So how are you at memorizing Scripture? As a child, I memorized hundreds of verses, using the King James Version in those days. Okay, I admit I did so to win prizes in Sunday School or some other church program of the day. But those verses have proven valuable to me, like Psalm 119:11, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.”

So how would you like to memorize half of a chapter of the Bible—one that contains 26 verses. It is easier than you think once you realize the chapter is Psalm 136. Every other verse of the chapter goes like this, “For His mercy endures forever.” Technically, that equals 13 verses that you can commit to memory by memorizing five simple words:

FOR:  To be in agreement with, a positive influence, on your side.

HIS: Possessive pronoun – spoken about God – you are His most valuable possession.

MERCY: The opposite of condemnation. To receive mercy is an unexpected and undeserved pardon or blessing.

ENDURES:  Patient, ongoing, alert and compensating for the faults and shortcomings of others.

FOREVER: Eternity, unlimited time with no end in sight, beyond our human capacity to understand.

So if you could learn 13 verses, five words, in five minutes, what could you remember if you really put your heart and mind to it? Don’t give up, “For His mercy endures forever.”