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Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Today, I'll just be thankful for ordinary things. My life isn't made of the spectacular anyway. Big days give me tension headaches and lots of stress. But I can handle the common, everyday stuff. And it's there that I find the most extraordinary reasons for thankfulness.

I'm glad for a body and brain that work well (most of the time), for senses that let me experience my world and for the sound of appliances that help me keep up with the cooking, washing and cleaning of my home. I'm thankful for the voices of children and my husband's presence. I'm happy to have a vehicle that can take me many miles in one day and allows me to live this fast-paced life I have. I'm glad for a bed that is soft and warm, for heavy quilts and clean clothing. I'm thankful for pianos and kids playing Christmas songs and Scrabble and studying for tests. I'm happy to have soap and shampoo and toothpaste and Saran wrap and sandwich baggies. I'm thankful for family being together for Thanksgiving - even sitting slumped in the living room after stuffing ourselves and being a bit miserable - just those of us connected by blood and name being together in one place is a blessing I never want to take for granted.

I'm happy for the steady line of God's providence and grace. When all the philosophizing and debating and struggling have come to an end, all I know for sure is that He is what makes sense in this life, and without Him, there is no hope in the next. I don't understand His ways, but I'm learning to rest in His uncertainly certain faithfulness. After all, He is not a "tame Lion" says C. S. Lewis, but He is a Lion all the same - strong on our behalf, ever constant, ever loyal, ever love.

I'm going to relish the dishes set out on the family Thanksgiving table, and I'm going to enjoy every fantastic thing that happens on this holiday weekend. But I hope I'll remember to be most thankful for the ordinary things which turn out to be the most wonderful of all.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

a belief in the future

Being a Christ-follower means that I recognize His sovereignty and trust His faithfulness - my future is safe with Him; being an American citizen means that I love my country and grieve the seriousness of our national condition - spiritually, most of all. I will bring the two worlds together as best I can for as long as I can, but when the final analysis is made, my status as a Christian is the truly solid standing.

God and country have been connected for so long in the American mind that dissolving that union is unthinkable to most of us. And I, for one, hope that it may never be so. But history reminds me that great Christians of other times have seen their nations depart from godly moorings  - this is not a new thing. And they faced the increasing darkness with solid faith and unrelenting optimism.
 I'm reminded of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, one of my Christian heroes, who believed firmly in "the future" all the while Nazism swept his beloved Germany. He refused to give in to despair and commit mental suicide. He believed even in the possibility of his future marriage to his young fiancee, Maria. He wrote to her that their marriage must be a "'yes'" to God's earth'" - in other words, an affirmation that God expects us to live the lives He has granted us at this time. The future is His domain, not ours.
"Our marriage must be a "yes" to God's earth. It must strengthen our resolve to do and accomplish something on earth. I fear that Christians who venture to stand on earth on only one leg will stand in Heaven on only one leg too."  (Love Letters from Cell 92, Abingdon Press, 1995)
Bonhoeffer didn't marry Maria. He was executed on April 9, 1945, just a few days before the fall of the Third Reich. God's plan and purpose took a different route than what he hoped. But he was not wrong in his approach to life, even from a cell in Berlin. He was right to believe in the future. He was right to stand up for the oppressed. He was right to champion truth. He was right to commit his efforts to affect change in his country. And he did that, through his preaching, writing and resistance work, down to his last hour. And when his hope in his country was finally extinguished, his trust in the sovereignty of God took over and carried him into the next world where all is right and just.
It might do us well to to embrace his philosophy - love life, believe in the future, fight for the real values of your country and above it all, trust in the overarching supremecy of God who is a mighty Fortress. That means we can look at today and tomorrow with a positive lift to the countenance and a song in the soul. And that's what I intend to do. I hope my fellow citizens will do the same.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

voting rage or righteous fervor

As a conservative, I hold firmly to my convictions and as a Unites States citizen, this affects how I vote. I have very decided opinions about my country and how I feel it should be governed. If you're an American, I hope you do as well. For patriots to be without strong conviction is frightening; our nation cannot exist if her people are casual or worse, apathetic.

My patriotism is strengthened and balanced by my status as a follower of Christ. When Jesus walked on earth, His contemporaries were patriots too. They were Jews who loathed their Roman rulers. Who could blame them, these people who have been violated and oppressed down through history? I'm convinced that Christ was not in favor of Roman cruelty; God created humanity with inherent freedom - His freedom, the gift of personal choice. Yet, Jesus did not advocate slander and violance.  He promoted truth.

Those who believe strongly and see the dangers ahead many times become frantic in their attempts to persuade others of the threat. You could liken it to a signalman trying to stop a car racing toward a train crossing. And unfortunately, it seems that emotion and momentum must reach a fevered pitch before the base gets motivated to act. Oh, that we were inspired to be good citizens even when the stakes were not as high!

Still, it remains that anger and fear are great motivators. And in this election cycle we have seen them both up close. I have felt them both; you probably have as well.

But, let's make an effort to vote righteously, fearlessly and freely but not angrily. I must temper my emotions when the outcome is announced - whichever way it goes. I must stand for truth and right without rancor. I must adopt the mindset of other patriots of other times who fought hard and retained dignity while doing it.

It's easy for conservatives to be angry - angry in church, angry in the public square, angry in the voting booth, angry everywhere at the audacity of those on the other side. And often it is difficult to distinguish between righteous indignation over the rampant evil in our culture and what we Southerners call having an "ugly attitude" toward others. It takes the grace of God to be a conservative citizen who can have strong feeling and Christlikeness at work all the while. There is no room for backing down or neglecting truth or having a spine like a jellyfish as my grandfather termed it. It's strength under control; it's Christian patriotism. And after all, that's what our nation was founded on.

So, today as I cast my vote, Lord, help me to proudly and firmly do my duty, let me use all my persuasive powers and winsomeness in talking to others who are genuinely seeking answers, give me the conviction to follow through on my conscience and let me do this with Your grace and strength and love. In Jesus' name, Amen.
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