Un-Thanksgiving

Since this is Thanksgiving Week I thought writing about the holiday and some things I am thankful for would be appropriate. I expect this will be the only blog post on that subject this week so it should really stand out…NOT.

Anyway, I talked it over with all three of us (me, myself and I) and that that is what we decided to do.

The reason I distinguish between the Thanksgiving holiday and giving thanks I see those as two uniquely different events that intersect at this time of the year. It is really nothing other than my peculiar perspective at work again I suspect.

Thanksgiving – The Holiday

I don’t expect and have really never seen, except on TV or in the movies, everyone or really any one giving a grand Thanksgiving speech on what they are thankful for over the past year. It just hasn’t happened that way in my experience.

I do enjoy the holiday, getting together with family that we don’t get to see as much as we would like and eating turkey and dumplings and sweet potato (not pumpkin) pie. I have many fond memories of Thanksgiving and expect will have more after this week.

If you are expecting secret family recipes here then you will be disappointed. I know of none. My role has always been the consumer in this situation, not the manufacturer. Someone has to do it and it is a role I have practiced for many years. I believe I am pretty good at it. It is one of my callings. How would it make all the cooks feel if there was no one there to eat what they had prepared?

The First Thanksgiving…and a few more

I remember our first Thanksgiving together on my side of the family at Aunt Edna’s. Sharin and I were dating at the time. When it was time to eat I got up to go eat as I had always done. I had not mentioned to Sharin that it was our tradition for all the men to eat first, then the women because I had not given it a second thought. It was how we had always done it so I assumed everyone did it that way. Well, Sharin explained to me later that was not true. We did survive that Thanksgiving and 30+ since that one as we will celebrate 30 years of marriage next August. It is one we often talk about at this time of year though.

I have many good memories of Thanksgiving with Sharin’s family. Her mother would be cooking cakes and pies for days and it was always a fun time getting together with the entire Clark family. I miss those a lot. She enjoyed getting ready for Thanksgiving, probably only second to Christmas. We had turkey & dumplings, lemon pie, and later sweet potato pie when she learned that was my favorite. I was, after all, her favorite son-in-law (for those who might not know I was also her only son-in-law).

They were differences in the way our extended families celebrated Thanksgiving but there were also many similarities. Both had turkey, dumplings and lots of desserts. Both included getting together with family and catching up as well as naps in the afternoon before we would go back for leftovers. We had to rest up to get ready to eat again.

I Miss the People

I miss those times because of the people that are no longer with us. We can and will eat regardless of what day it is but it is the people that I miss the most, my parents and grandparents, Sharin’s parents and grandparents. We will see them all again one day but I wish we could see them here this Thursday.

Now, we are at the stage of life where we are excited to have our children who are not living with us come home and spending time with them. That is the highlight of the holidays now for us. The eating is necessary and still very enjoyable but it is secondary. It probably always was but we are now wise enough to realize that truth. We get together with brothers and sisters and their families as we continue to grow. We are expecting to add at least a couple new members next year.

Thanksgiving – Giving Thanks

The giving thanks part of Thanksgiving is done and having the holiday itself provides an emphasis for all to give thanks. I believe that is a good thing. However, giving thanks should be something we do on the 364 Un-Thanksgiving days every year as well.

Here are some of the things and people I am thankful for

* My Salvation – I thank God for the gift of salvation, sending His only son, Jesus Christ, to this earth to live and to die in my place and then to rise again and is now seated at the right hand of God in heaven and lives in my heart.

* My family that I have been blessed with – Sharin, Sarah, Amy, Rachel, Thomas and Tyler. To borrow a phrase from Dave Ramsey, I am doing much “better than I deserve.” I am thankful for that.

My Family
My family on a recent trip to the Magic Kingdom

* Salvation for my family – I know that when we are done passing through this place call planet earth we will see each other again in Heaven. I look forward to seeing parents, grandparents, aunt, uncles and others who are already there and then those that will follow after I am gone. This is the hope and promise we have as Christians.

* My extended family – Brothers, Sisters, Aunts, Uncles, In-laws, Out-laws, Cousins, Nieces and Nephews – too many to try to name but I am thankful for having them all in my life.

* Friends – I am also blessed by many more friends than I deserve both old and new friendships that have just begun this year. Thanks to all of you for being part of my life and allowing me to call you friend.

* Health – I have been blessed so far on this journey called life with good health.

* Job – I am thankful for a job that helps provide for my family that I actually enjoy. I know many do not have jobs in today’s economy and many that do don’t enjoy the jobs they do have.

* Freedom of expression to be able to live, worship, and express our thoughts, ideas, and opinions. This is something we, as Americans, often do take for granted. If we continue to do that we might wake up one day and realize they no longer exist.

* YOU – If you are reading this I am thankful for YOU for taking the time to stop by here and read the thoughts I assemble here from time to time.

I could go on for quite some time but I think you get the point. I am blessed far beyond anything I could ever earn or deserve. I am thankful for these blessings on Thanksgiving but also on every other day of the year as well.

I am reminded of the old hymn Count Your Blessings written by Johnson Oatman, Jr., Count your many blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you, what the Lord has done! If you are not familiar with this hymn or if you just want to here it now you can click Guy Penrod and he will sing it for you.

One of Zig Ziglar’s quotes also fits here I think, 

and by far, the most life changing.

Zig Ziglar_Attitude of Gratitude
Zig Ziglar – Attitude of Gratitude ~Ziglar.com

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Un-Thanksgiving too!

Until next time…

If you like what you read here or just want to see what comes out of my warped mind enter your email address in the sidebar on the left and subscribe. This is the only way to ensure you will be notified immediately whenever a new post is published.

Feedback Is Always Welcome

Happy, Happy, HappyI love getting feedback from the words I post here on this blog. This has been a learning experience for me as expected and as my tagline says, “There is always more to be learned.”

I am writing today to say thank you for all those who have read any of my musings here and commented whether that be online here, on Facebook, or in person. They do mean a lot to me and are appreciated. As is mentioned in my About information,  I hope something might resonate with you and be worth thinking about, commenting on, agreeing with, disagreeing with, or sharing, or all of the above. That certainly has been the case for many of the posts I have made here and, did I say I appreciate that? Well I do.

Bad Information – Misconceptions

I received what I believe is my first phone call directly related to a post last Wednesday after my Two Questions post which was also published as a letter to the editor in the Southeast Sun as Two questions to ask of the superintendent candidatesI am not sure if the caller read the post here or there but, he did not specify. In any case, it did generate a phone call. I enjoy all kinds of feedback because that is the only way I will learn if what I write is being interpreted as I intended when I wrote it. This feedback was certainly interesting. Continue reading Feedback Is Always Welcome

Two Questions

We Are EnterpriseWith the interviews for the new Superintendent of Enterprise City Schools upcoming I wanted to pose two questions to the candidates. From my perspective they are important questions but will likely never be asked. It really doesn’t matter as the actions taken after being hired are the only answers that will matter in the long run.

(Q1) I am sure you are aware the reason you are being interviewed is the former superintendent was allegedly forced out, in his opinion and that of many others familiar with the situation, due to micro-management and intimidation by the current President of the School Board. If you need a refresher on this A City Divided provides a pretty good summary.

Knowing the potential for this to continue with any superintendent hired, since the President of the School Board has not changed nor indicated his behavior will change, are you committed and prepared to stand up to this when it occurs and make your decisions based on what is best for the students of Enterprise City Schools and not necessarily for the political or personal benefit of any school board member or city government official? Continue reading Two Questions

Do You Like the Bible?

Do you like the Bible?

I didn’t ask if you read the Bible or if you believe what the Bible says. I asked if you like the Bible. Think about that for a few seconds.

I recently discovered an author and speaker, Keith Ferrin, who suggests that many of us don’t really like the Bible. We read it out of an obligation or habit but we don’t really like it, not really. If that doesn’t apply to you or if you are completely satisfied with your relationship with Jesus Christ through his love letter to you, the Bible, then there is no reason for you to read any further.

However, if you would like to see maybe a different perspective on this subject that might revolutionize your regular reading of God’s Word and your relationship with Jesus then you might just want to read a little further. It will only take a few minutes and it might just change your life.

I think I know what you are thinking, “Not another book about how to read or study the Bible!” I was skeptical myself as I do believe God’s Word will teach you what you need to know if you will spend time with it. If you were thinking that, just stay with me a few minutes and hear me out. By reading this far you did say you are not completely satisfied with your relationship with Jesus and your study of His word, the Bible.

10 Tips for Liking the Bible (Because Believing It’s True Is Not Enough)  was the original name of the book when this post was published in 2013.

Since I wrote this post the book title has changes but the content is still the same. It is now called How To Enjoy Reading Your Bible. It is a short book. I read it in one evening. However don’t let the length fool you. There are ideas – tips – in this book that make a lot of sense to me and I plan on trying some of them myself.

I fall into that second category I described above. I do regularly read the Bible. This year I have been following a plan from YouVersion Bible App and it has helped me to regularly read the Bible. I know I have benefitted from this. However, I don’t believe I am where I should be in really liking the Bible as Keith describes in this book and in my relationship with my Savior, Jesus Christ. I definitely do think there is room for improvement.

I have often thought about memorizing scripture but have used any number of excuses to not really act on that thought. What translation do I use being one of the questions/excuses I use. The Watch The Whole Movie chapter will help me with this. In this chapter, he says,

 He suggests reading whole books of the Bible instead of one chapter as many of us do. Once you have read the whole book a number of times you will understand what the book is about, the big picture, then you can go back and dive deeper on a chapter or verse or passage. You will also have memorized some scripture by following this tip.

I am not going to go through all of the tips here but will list them to give you an idea of what you will see in the book. I will show you a couple of ways you can get your own copy below.

Here are the chapter titles:

1 Remember Why You Are Doing This

2 Set Your Expectations Really High

3 Have a Strategy

4 Watch the Whole Movie

5 Learn from Your Shampoo Bottle

6 Raise Your Voice

7 Read Alone

8 Don’t Read Alone

9 Go on a 60-Day Adventure

10 Take Two 4-Month Challenges

I do want to highlight one more chapter here. In Chapter 1 Keith builds his case for the purpose of and hope for this book. Here is an excerpt quoted in blue.

If our time in God’s Word was primarily relational, instead of informational, then it would have a significantly higher probability of being transformational!

Is there information in Bible? Yes. Do we learn some things about God in His Word? Yes. Does spending time in the Bible lead to a better understanding of God, His will, and His ways? Yes, yes, and yes. 

But the context of that information is the relationship. The umbrella under which all that information sits is the relationship.

So…how do we keep the focus on that relationship?

And so begins the journey.

Let’s review. If you have read this far then you have admitted to yourself that your reading and study of God’s Word is not what it should be or what you want it to be and there is room for improvement. So is it worth an evening reading to see if there is a tip contained in this book to see if there is something here that will help you? I cannot answer that for you but can and do suggest it is worth a couple of hours to find out.

I would love to see your comments either now or after you have had a chance to read How to Enjoy Reading Your Bible.

Until next time…

Originally published on Peculiar Perspective on 11/09/2013

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Emotions

I was recently given the opportunity to receive a PDF copy of Emotions by Charles Stanley if I would be willing to read it and write an honest review. I thought about it for about 3 seconds and jumped at that opportunity.  As my tagline says, “I believe there is always more to be learned.” My review is what appears below.

emotions-product

For those who know me you know you would not describe me as being emotional. You would likely describe me as wearing my emotions up my sleeve as I generally don’t express them outwardly very often.

For that reason a book with a title of Emotions is probably not one that I would have thought would be very interesting  based on the title or have caught my eye on the bookshelf of my local book store. This book is not about the “Rah! Rah! Go Team!” expression of emotions but the emotions we all feel and experience but seldom discuss with anyone else because we think we are the only ones experiencing them.

The fact that it was written by Charles Stanley of course did catch my eye and does give it credibility for me as I have listened to hundreds of his sermons on his In Touch radio program and podcasts over the years. I am glad I decided to accept the opportunity to read it as I have once again learned some things or been reminded of some things I needed to be reminded of which is the benefit I expect to receive when reading any book.

Summary

Dr. Stanley first builds a case for what emotions really are and where they originate and makes two very important points at the outset.

1) Trusting Jesus Comes First – If you cannot trust Jesus enough to save you, then nothing I write here will do you any good.

2) Saving Faith Models Trust In God – The second reason I am talking about salvation at the beginning of a book about emotions is because your saving faith is a model for the kind of trust in God you’ll need for healing.

Once that foundation – that for any of this to apply you must be a believer – is established, he describes several types of emotions including rejection, bitterness, guilt and despair and how we can deal with each using God’s word as the basis for his discussion.

 

The format he uses at the end of each chapter includes 5-10 questions for personal reflection or group study. It has been my experience when there are questions such as these provided if you read these before you read the chapter you will get more out of the reading since you have clues as to what the author is trying to communicate in that chapter. That does hold true for this book as well.

 

Many of the chapters also have a “The Enemy’s Lie — God’s Truth – Our Defense” table with an issue or situation we often face and discussed in that chapter on the left and the truth from God’s word on the right we can lean on to face that situation. For example in the Guilt chapter:

God’s Truth – Our Defense – 

There is also a prayer at the end of each chapter that is an example you can use to pray yourself through that situation when you are dealing with it yourself. These end of chapter conventions alone would be worth the cost of the book.

I did learn much from this book and now have a reference to reach for when these emotions arise in my life or in the lives of those I care about. I think anyone who invests the cost of this book and time it takes to read it will find something they identify with that can help them whether that is a revelation or reminder. We all need both.

You can learn more here about In Touch Ministries and read many more reviews at Amazon.com at Emotions.

Deeper Dive

Taking a closer look at Emotions, here are some highlights that stood out to me. Quotes from the book are in blue.

Chapter 1 – Choosing to Triumph

He begins by asking the questions, Can we heal and harness our emotions — taking control of this powerful influence within us? And can we choose to express the positive, life-enhancing emotions rather than the destructive ones?

His supposition that is supported and defended throughout the book is stated as: Only the Father can pinpoint where we’ve been injured and what destructive coping mechanisms we’ve developed to protect ourselves. Only He recognizes what lies we believe about ourselves and which attitudes keep us in bondage.

Chapter 2 – What’s Going On Here?

God will work through your emotions to help you understand His purpose for your life.

Many people try to manage their feelings in unhealthy ways that are not at all helpful.

  1. The belief that emotion is a weakness
  2. The inclination to suppress or stifle emotion
  3. The drive to drown out emotions
  4. The need to express all emotions without a filter

Chapter 3 – The Root of All Painful Emotions

“Starting With Fear – …I believe that the origin of every other negative response we face is some kind of anxiety.”

Chapter 4 – Reviewing the Evidence

…if you ever find yourself driven by the thought, If I don’t act now, I’ll miss the opportunity and may never have another chance–rather than whether or not that choice is God’s will for you–then it is likely that you’re acting out of anxiety and you will not come to a wise conclusion.

…fear generally causes us to be pessimistic, self-focused, and unwilling to take risks. We ask, Why me? instead of Father what is it You are teaching me?

Freedom Through Change

Do you experience any of the symptoms of anxiety? Does a persistent lack of peace plague you? Are you tormented by a divided mind–your life characterized by a lack of focus, progress, and wisdom in making decisions? Do you constantly second-guess yourself because of the fear that you’ll be rejected, deemed unworthy, or found to be inadequate? Are you relationships strained, unfulfilling, and, at times, even alienating? Is your body deteriorating as a result of undue stress? Have you found yourself unable to grow spiritually as you hoped you would?

If you answered yes to any or all of these, then there is evidence that some form of anxiety is driving you…you need to deal with your fears in God’s strength and wisdom in order to enjoy the freedom He created you to experience.

Chapter 5 – The Courage to Stand

It is exceedingly important to find the origins of your fears so that you can then deal with them–and the thoughts they generate in you–effectively. Otherwise, you are only addressing the surface symptoms of you anxiety, rather than the profound issues that make you feel helpless and out of control.

…I would still fret about the sermon right up until the moment I reached the pulpit. I didn’t have freedom from the fear until I pinpointed the true reason it bothered me.

Origins of Fear

  1. Attitudes we’re taught as children
  2. Our imaginations
  3. Lack of information
  4. Wrong view of God’s nature

 

Triumphing Over Abiding Fear

Isaiah 41:10 “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

  1.  Acknowledge your anxiety to God
  2. Identify the root causes of your fears and confront them – The spirit of God working through the Word of God in a heart dedicated to Him will always succeed.
  3. Change your focus from fears to God
  4. Give the Lord praise and thanks

Chapter 6 – Rejection

Rejection strikes at the foundation of our identity, distorting what we think is true about who we are and what we are worth.

And the truth of the matter is, if we fail to recognize the presence of rejection in our lives and deal with it, it will continue to cause us pain and corrupt every relationship we have. Therefore, we must root out every false message of being unloved, unwanted, and unworthy that has been implanted in our lives and replace it with the truth of Scripture (Ps. 107:20)

Chapter 7 – Bitterness

At the outset of bitterness we must recognize two truths.

  1. Denying that your bitterness exists doesn’t work, so acknowledge it.
  2. Bitterness continues to wound as long as it persists–so root it out.

What bitterness and unforgiveness produce spiritually

  1. Bitterness hinders our prayer life
  2. Bitterness impedes our worship
  3. Bitterness prevents peace in a church body
  4. Bitterness damages a person’s ability to represent Christ

Reasons People Choose Not to Forgive Others

You cannot live a happy, healthy, effective, fruitful life if you are harboring unresolved resentment.

Gaining Victory Over Unforgiveness

  1. Ask God to reveal any bitterness in you
  2. Assume full responsibility and ask God for forgiveness
  3. Ask God to help you forgive the offender
  4. Pray, with thanksgiving, for the person who wounded you

Chapter 8 – Guilt

In this world, there is most likely no one who is as critical of you as you are. In fact, you have the potential to pick yourself apart with greater intensity and cruelty than anyone else ever could or would think to. No one else can torment you with negative thoughts every waking minute as you can.

He knows the pain, insecurities, and fears you face, and He wants to help you break free from them and from the unforgiveness you feel toward yourself. You don’t have to live under a terrible cloud of shame that suffocates your soul.

So, in summary, we must understand these two things:

  1. Legitimate guilt comes from violating God’s standard
  2. False guilt comes from wrong thinking

…it is not pardon they struggle with, but self-condemnation. They have not let the sin go, even though the Lord has.

Friend, you only have to turn your iniquity over to the Father once for it to be forgiven. Psalm 103:12 promises, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” You may repeatedly recall what you have done, but God does not. In His mind, it is absolutely forgotten. He promises, “I…will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again” (Isa. 43:25, NLT).

The Consequences of Guilt

  1. Guilt stops you from achieving your goals
  2. Self-reproach drains your energy and destroys your peace
  3. Guilt makes you feel insecure
  4. Persistent shame can cause physical and mental illness
  5. Self-condemnation can cause compulsive behavior
  6. Guilt can make us vulnerable to manipulation

Chapter 9 – Despair

The Challenge of Choice

  1. A Negative Inward Focus
  2. A Poor Testimony
  3. Self-Destructive Actions
  4. A Desire to Quit – Permanently

John 10:27-29, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand”

So the Lord reminded Elijah of one of the most important principles any of us will ever learn: Whenever problems arise, get alone and listen quietly for God. Take time to intentionally kneel in silence before His holy presence. He will speak to you. Dwelling on your problem will never make it go away, but focusing on the Father is always the pathway to success.

Like Elijah, you can hold on to God no matter what happens or how discouraging your situation may become — knowing that your greatest moments of victory are often preceded by moments of seemingly insurmountable defeat.

Zephaniah 3:17 affirms, “The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.”

Chapter 10 – All The Way To Victory

He taught me that I was so occupied doing His work that I was actually missing His voice. I was not taking time to listen to Him.

So make the most of the opportunity God has given you. Share His love with others verbally, physically, patiently, gratefully, generously, tenderly, forgiving, devotedly, cheerfully, and honorably.

Conclusion

The preceding highlight are just that, highlights. There is no way I can convey to you the full depth of this book in this review. There is too much there. What I have attempted to do is give you some examples of the subjects Dr. Stanley discusses in this book. If you see some that do resonate with you then you will likely receive some benefit from this book. If you don’t then you might need to re-read them. I think most people will see something that reminds them of themselves.

Will Emotions by Charles Stanley resolve every emotional issue you are experiencing right now or in the future? No

Will Emotions by Charles Stanley teach you something new or remind you of something that you once knew that will help you face and walk through many of the emotional issues you are facing right now or will face in the future? Yes

For that reason I believe it is worth the investment of a few dollars and your time to purchase and read Emotions by Charles Stanley. It will be a worthwhile investment.

Until next time…

If you like what you read here or just want to see what comes out of my warped mind enter your email address in the sidebar on the left and subscribe. This is the only way to ensure you will be notified immediately whenever a new post is published.

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