Sunday, November 30, 2008

Attitude of Gratitude

John Maxwell spoke on the subject of having an "Attitude of Gratitude" ( He used the story, from Luke, of the ten lepers. Jesus healed ten, yet only one returned to express his gratitude.

None of use would be where we are today, if it were not for somebody else (in some way). However, we rarely forget or simply neglect to express gratitude for the people who got us here.

There are so many people in my life that were influential in my personal developement, and helping me achieve goals, and molding me into the person I am today, and still becoming. I would like to take a minute to express that gratitude here.

Obviously, I am thankful to my parents. Without whom no others could be thanked. Most of all, I am thankful for the Christian heritage, and values that they have instilled into my life. Without this strong Godly foundation, I shudder to think of where my life may have gone. So, thanks Mom and Dad!

I also want to thank my friend, Jarm Turner (whom I have worked with in ministry). The education I received from him, in regards to ministry, and the heart of a minister, is more valuable than any amount of money or years of formal education. He placed me in positions, and gave me responsibilities that stretched me. Without these opportunities my growth would have been stunted. My 4 years of serving under his ministry are years that I consider to be most valuable of my life and ministry. The principles I've learned from watching him minister will remain with me forever. His pastors heart is one that I strive to emulate. He is still a friend today, a person whom I feel confident in receiving advice from. Thanks, Jarm!

See also, the post, Granny's Faith (Nov. 10, 2008).

There are many others in my life who are deserving of my gratitude. Gratitude that they will receive in due time.

Who in your life is deserving of gratitude? To whom do you need to express thanks?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

This article is taken from Relevant Magazine.

Thanksgiving For Real

Thanksgiving is upon us once again. The time of year when we get together with family and friends, eat ourselves into a mild coma and fall asleep on the couch watching plasticine announcers make asinine comments about enormous cartoon-character balloons, or look on in horror as John Madden greedily devours this year’s turducken. Without a doubt, it is the pinnacle of the American experience. Certainly, though, the time-honored holiday has to signify more than an excuse to gorge ourselves on pies and various starches. After the hectic madness of each year, and before the brutal onslaught of the Christmas rush, Thanksgiving at least offers us the opportunity to sit back and consider the things in our lives for which we have to be grateful.

But thankfulness isn’t easy for a lot of us these days. With the economy spiraling out of control, many people are more worried about their jobs and houses than finding the perfect place-setting for their family gathering. Some of us have had a downright horrible year. Thankfulness can be a very difficult attitude when we’ve faced a lot of life’s trials. Health issues, relationship troubles, family dramas—all of these things can make it hard to put ourselves in a very thankful mood, and Thanksgiving day becomes nothing more than another salute to gastronomical excess. The very moniker of the holiday is ignored.

Sometimes, in the midst of a complicated world, we can be tempted to cast a wistful eye to the origins of the holiday. Modern society seems so much more complicated than the idyllic days of the first Thanksgiving. The celebrants of the first Thanksgiving had none of the woes forced upon us by industrialization and the information age. Their woes were, of course, far worse. Though there is dispute about where the first Thanksgiving was celebrated (most scholars say it was St. Augustine, Fla., in 1565 rather than Plymouth, Mass., in 1621) one thing is certain: Disease, hunger and a grueling physical environment were all realities in the days of the first Thanksgiving celebrations. They gave thanks in the midst of circumstances it is hard for us to imagine in modern day America. Fully half of the settlers in Plymouth died the first winter. Governor William Bradford’s young wife died before the ship even landed, by falling overboard. We give thanks because we got our turkey on special at Safeway, and Uncle Carl miraculously didn’t embarrass us this year. They gave thanks for not dying in the previous calendar year. Pretty heavy stuff.

It puts a lot of things in perspective to think of those few, first brave pioneers from Europe. While their motives and methods of colonizing North America are often questionable in the light of history, their courage and fortitude are not. Certainly, they knew hardships few of us could comprehend. Yet, in the midst of it all, they set aside time to honor and thank God for His provision.

It is hard to give thanks to God when we don’t see His goodness. Sometimes the providence of the Almighty seems much more an abstract concept than a reality. Yet, thankfulness should be a part of the very fabric of our beings, in spite of circumstance. The apostle Paul was an absolute model of this attitude. Few people had the laundry list of grievances that Paul did: shipwrecked, stoned, beaten, imprisoned. Yet his attitude throughout his writings is one of constant thanksgiving, even while in chains. He tells the church at Thessalonica:

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

Thankfulness in all circumstances is not intended to massage God’s ego. Rather, thankfulness is an attitude that ultimately benefits us. When we give thanks to God in the midst of hardships, we are reminded of certain incontrovertible truths: God is good, God is gracious and God has our best interests at heart. By keeping these truths in mind, our faith becomes stronger. We begin to have the resolve to trust God, and the outgrowth of that is a new sense of peace when trouble arrives. Moreover, it’s a tremendous example to the rest of the world. To give thanks and praise to God when things are going tremendously well in our lives doesn’t prove a lot to people outside the community of faith. But to show that same thankfulness when our world is falling apart, that’s an attitude that speaks multiplied volumes.

Thanksgiving should not be limited to one day a year, but let’s start there. Let’s resolve to spend this holiday in a true condition of thankfulness. Perhaps this year hasn’t lived up to your expectations. Perhaps it’s been your worst year. Maybe Thanksgiving is actually going to be a tremendously lonely time for you. In spite of all this, give thanks. Thank God for the fact that He gave you life, and that He intends to give it to you more abundantly. That may not always resemble what we have in mind, but it will always be what’s best.

Author: Fred Burrows

Monday, November 24, 2008

Divine Work (part 3)

I used to think that people worked to retire. I used to think that work was a horrible thing, a consequence of sin. However, I was wrong. Now, I look forward to opportunities to work. I enjoy being able to work.

God created us to create. Work is in the first chapter of the first book of the Bible (long before Adam and Eve sinned). The Bible says, in Genesis that God worked and saw that it was good, as people created in His image work is good for us too. "God has given us the priveleges of being his creative steward" (Dr. Del Tackett).

There are 7 ecenomic principles related to work:

1.) All things belong to God.

2.) God appointed man to be a creative steward of His goods with ownership rights.

-we are called to manage God's goods.
-as Christians we should be the best, most creative, most desired employee/er. We should be a joy to work with, however, this is often times just the opposite.

3.) Theft and coveting of another's goods is wrong.

4.) Skills and abilities to work come from God.

5.) Work is profitable, good, and to be pursued; laziness is not.

6.) Love God, not your goods.

7.) Be compassionate and generous with your goods to those in need.

We never really read about retirement in the Bible. We never get the idea that we work to quit working. If we are doing something that is characteristic of Christ, that brings glory to God, that enables us to better serve others, why would we want to quit?

If our culture had a Biblical view of work, retirements would not be necessary. As people become elderly there would always be some kind of work for them. However, our culture is too profit, production, efficiency driven.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Divine Work (pt. 2)

I have been involvled with a Focus on the Family Bible Study known as, "The Truth Project". The last lesson we studied was on the topic of Labor/work. It is very interesting, it brought to light a lot of things I had never known, or considered. The main point was that work is a gift from, and created by, God (not a negative "curse").

Below is an article (on labor) from the "Truth Project" leader, Dr. Del Tackett. I encourage your responses. My personal reflections will soon follow this post.

At the end is a brief video preveiw of the "Truth Project".

Why is Labor a Social Sphere?

Download a printer-friendly PDF of this page.

In all my years of teaching, it was not until recently that I was asked this question. It may have something to do with the climate of our culture where work is increasingly viewed as a necessary evil. If that is the attitude, then how could one view it as being instituted by God? I will attempt to answer that question here.

First, we must ask ourselves "what constitutes a social system?" If we are going to argue one way or the other, that is, the sphere of work is or is not a valid social system designed by God, then we better have clear in our mind what a social system is. Only then will be able to determine if "labor" meets that criteria. When my friend was arguing that labor was not a valid social institution, I asked him to give me his criteria for what constituted a valid social institution. His halting response made it clear that he really hadn't given it much thought. That's not a personal criticism. I've yet to meet anyone who has given this much thought.

However, we must walk carefully here because the truth of the matter is, we have no biblical text that directly answers this question. Indirectly, yes, but directly, no.
So, with that caveat, let me give you my criteria and why.

First, and most obviously, it must fit the category of a social system. And what is a social system? Well, since it is "social" we will say that it includes people, and since it is a "system", we will say that the members are in some ordered relationship for a greater purpose. Second, we must have clear evidence that God created and instituted this system and it therefore has a divine purpose. Third, we must find the Scripture defining the roles and responsibilities within the system. If these are met, then we will assume we have found a valid biblical social institution that God has created and He is concerned enough about it to give is clear, objective directions as to how that social system should work.

Given that, let's test it.

Has God created anything like this? Well, yes, the family comes to mind. Does it meet our criteria? I believe so. Let's look at it.

The creation and institution of the family happens early. In Genesis, we find God's command that a man should leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife and the two were to become one flesh. Jesus restates this in Matthew 19:5-6 and states that God had brought them together, so therefore no man should separate them. Does the Scripture lay forth any directions for the roles and relationships within this system? Sure, not only in the Old Testament, but we find directions given to the husband, the wife and children in several of the New Testament epistles: Ephesians 5, Colossians 3, Titus 2, 1 Peter 3, for example. Is there a clear purpose? Yes, several. Malachi 2:15 says that God created it because He wanted godly offspring.

We could do the same thing with the other social spheres, showing the structure, the roles, and the member responsibilities within each system. But our task is to examine the sphere of labor. Is it a valid sphere?

Well, I think so. First, let's answer the question of my friend, who didn't think that work was a "social" system. Is it? The Scripture lays out clear guidelines for both the employee and the employer, describing their roles and responsibilities, the authority and submission required. It should be of great interest to us that these social requirements are addressed in Ephesians 6 immediately after Paul had been dealing with the roles and responsibilities within the sphere of the church and within the sphere of the family. In Colossians, Paul deals with the social responsibilities of the family in chapter 3 and then immediately deals with the sphere of labor. In Titus 2 Paul deals with the responsibilities that young women have to their husbands, then he immediately deals with the workers responsibility to the employer. In 1 Timothy, Paul does not deal with the family, but he does deal with the sphere of the state (chapter 2), the sphere of the church (chapters 3 and 4) and then the sphere of labor (chapter 6). In Peter's first epistle, he deals with the family in chapter 3, but in chapter 2, where he states that we are to submit to every authority instituted among men, he then lists, in verse 17, our responsibilities to submit to the brotherhood of believers (church), fear God (God & man), honor the king (state) and then in all of verse 18 he addresses the worker's responsibility to his employer (labor).

Even before God had created Eve, He commanded that Adam was to work the garden. In the Ten Commandments, we are told "thou shalt labor six days". The Old Testament is filled with references to our responsibilities in this sphere and the consequences if we do not.
I am not interested in splitting hairs over this, nor am I interested in making this a deep doctrinal issue. But our consistent ignoring of this critical social sphere has resulted in vile movies, vile music, vile art, vile literature and pornography, oppression of workers, cheating on employers, vast poverty, and on and on, not to mention the terrible witness that modern Christians are in the workforce, both as the employer and the employee.

Let's change it.

Friday, November 14, 2008

New Booklet!

I just finished publishing a booklet titled, "Christian Scents". It is available for sale ($5.97 print, $1.99 download) from (click on 'store' in links to the right), or if you contact me I will send you a free copy.

You can contact me by filling out the form to the right or at ''.

Would love to get feedback/reviews.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Granny's Faith

I had lunch with my grandpa yesterday. The conversation turned to Christianity, and his mom (my great grandma). Great grandma died when I was around 12 years old, but the mark she left on my life will live on forever.

Granny was the closest person to God that I have ever known (even after 25 years of being in "the church"). She would tell stories of visions that God had given her, and she would tell stories of witnessing God's presence in various church meetings. She would tell of campmeetings in which people would be laid out all over the church (without tongues or touching) under the power of God and the Holy Spirit. She told of evangelist Billy Sunday walking up to the platform to preach, and people passing out as he passed them, because he was so covered with the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.

What an awesome experience! I wonder what has happened in the 3 generations since this time? Why don't we experience this power today?

This is what I long for. To be close to God. To be completely surrounded by, and living in the midst of the presence of God.

Why don't we have this? Maybe we don't want it bad enough. Maybe we're happy with just a little bit of God. Maybe we aren't willing to put in the time and effort to build a relationship of this magnitude with God.

This is my hearts continually dwell in the complete presence of God and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

ALL things

Romans 8:28 -

"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. "

Growing up in the church, certain scriptures and advice are heard so much that they become somewhat of a cliche...until you need to apply them.

Through out the course of our lives situations will occur. Situations that cause us to ask questions like, why did this happen? how could this happen to me? what should I do? what is the Christian response?

In my not too distant past I had one of these situations. It was a big deal. A lot of questions and wondering, and instability. Eventually, through Christ, the situation worked out, was resolved, and life was good!

I have a close friend who is going through the same situation that I had gone through. Through my experience I was able to share what God had done in my life through this situation.

God truly does work all things out according to His will. God loves to receive our praise, adoration, and reliance. This is one way that He works things out, and creates opportunities for us to give Him this praise and adoration that He longs for from His people!

What experiences have you gone through? How did God bring you through? In what ways can you help others through the choices, situations, experiences that you have encountered?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A Christian's Perspective

In these political times, let us, as Christians, not for get this command...

Romans 13:1-14
1 Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. 3 For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; 4 for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. 5 Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience' sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Day Statistics

Just in case you didn’t make it to the polling place to cast your ballot, don’t get too anxious--there’s a good chance your one vote won’t be the one that decides the election. Unless you live in New Mexico.According to a statistical study reported by AP on Nov. 2, the odds of voting for president and having your ballot be the deciding one cast are 60 million to 1.

In some states, the odds of being the vote that tips the election to your candidate are much better. In others they are astronomically worse. In fact, you are far more likely to be hit by lightning. Twice.For some people, though, the odds approach fathomable numbers. Residents of swing states have the best odds of swinging the election, based not on the size of the state but the likelihood the race will be close and their state will make the difference in the Electoral College.

In New Mexico, the odds are 1 in 6.1 million of a voter casting the ultimate deciding vote. “If you’re in New Mexico, you have a better chance of having your vote matter than winning the New York Lottery,” said study co-author Aaron Edlin, a professor of economics and law at the University of California, Berkeley.

In Virginia, the odds are 1 in 7.9 million. New Hampshire residents have 1 in 8 million chance of being the key vote. In Colorado, the odds are 1 in 9.9 million. In those states, voters are more likely to decide the election than to die by dog bite this year.For everyone else after those four states, fat chance.

The next lowest odds--for Nevada--are 1 in 28.2 million. Thirty-four states have odds greater than 1 in 100 million; 20 states have odds worse than 1 in 1 billion. Alabama’s odds are 1 in 12.2 billion. Oklahoma’s odds are 1 in 20.5 billion. But the nation’s capital has it the worst. The odds of a District of Columbia resident casting the vote that decides the election are 1 in 490 billion.

That’s essentially zero, but one of the study’s authors notes: “We never like to say zero in statistics.”

Monday, November 03, 2008


I saw this headline on my Facebook, about this guy getting arrested for preaching.

Watch the video... Tell me what the "Christian" thing was to do.... All he had to do was follow the proper procedure for a permit, and no problem...but he refuses?

Is this the best way to show Christian love?

By not being properly informed and prepared, this man compromised the message of Jesus Christ. If he would have jumped through the proper hoops, he could have freely shared Jesus Christ. Instead, he shared with no one and was unnecessarily arrested.

You can read his story on

Sunday, November 02, 2008

An American Creed

An American Creed
I Do Not Choose to Be a Common ManIt is my right to be uncommon—if I can.I seek opportunity—not security. I do not wish to be a kept citizen, humbled and dulled by having the state look after me.I want to take the calculated risk; to dream and to build, to fail and to succeed.I refuse to barter incentive for a dole. I prefer the challenges of life to the guaranteed existence; the thrill of fulfillment to the stale calm of utopia.I will not trade freedom for beneficence nor my dignity for a handout. I will never cower before any master nor bend to any threat.It is my heritage to stand erect, proud and unafraid; to think and act for myself, enjoy the benefit of my creations and to face the world boldly and say, “This I have done.”

By Dean Alfange

*Originally published in This Week Magazine.Later printed in The Reader’s Digest, October 1952 and January 1954.The Honorable Dean Alfange was an American statesman born December 2, 1899, in Constantinople (now Istanbul). He was raised in upstate New York. He served in the U.S. Army during World War I and attended Hamilton College, graduating in the class of 1922.

Bailout Response What it takes for us all to overcome the crazy economy.