Friday, November 23, 2007

Being Thanksful For A Race and a Lunch!

I hope everyone had a meaningful thanksgiving! Two events this week made my thanksgiving week more memorable.

Tuesday night, our Royal Ambassadors (plus, for the first time ever...two of our Girls in Action) competed in our annual RA Race for Meals on Wheels.

It was a fierce and fun (mostly fun) evening of racing, laughter and anticipation. The real winner was our Meals on Wheels program! Grace Hardy opened the race with Charles Barnes, our RA leader. Grace was instrumental in starting the Denmark Meals on Wheels years ago, and has only been home a couple of weeks after two months of recuperation from cancer surgery (and treatments) in Charleston. It was a great boost to see her attend. Don't tell her I told you so, but she'll turn 90 next year!

Sixteen children with their little wooden cars, the help of their parents, teachers and sponsors earned $5,700.68..a new record!


It takes around $750 to feed one person for the year. I know that those new Meals on Wheels recipients will be thankful for an added reason in 2008, and for our fantastic young race drivers! (Don't forget: you can click on pictures to enlarge them!)


Our First Community Wide
Thanksgiving Lunch!

The other unexpected event that gave yet another reason to be thankful was my church's first Thanksgiving Day Community-Wide lunch. Several area churches joined us in preparing lunch for local shut-ins, college students who couldn't get home for the holiday, and anyone else in Denmark needing some holiday fellowship.



The kitchen was filled with laughing, thankful, happy people, showing their gratitude by sharing with others...that's the kind of thanksgiving our Lord loves! Over 250 meals were served! I pray that this kind of generosity will permeate our advent season, too.

By the way, when was the last time you met an unhappy generous person, or a really happy stingy one??


Oh, and one more thing....I'm thankful for all my blog readers, too! Don't forget to make some comments!!!!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Don't Whine - Be Thankful

Stuck in the back of our Baptist Hymnal is this thanksgiving hymn. It's melody is not peppy or particularly celebratory. It is a hymn you might be tempted to overlook if you favor a more contemporary flavor to your praise music. Afterall, what does a hymn written in Germany in the early 1600's have to say to us now? First, here are the lyrics, THEN comes the story behind the hymn...

Now Thank We All Our God Lyrics:

Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and bless├Ęd peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed;
And free us from all ills, in this world and the next!

All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given;
The Son and Him Who reigns with Them in highest Heaven;
The one eternal God, Whom earth and Heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.

At first glance, it sounds like a "nice" poem of thanks. It is, however, much more than that. To me, it's more of an expression of a life perspective I want, particularly as a minister. The author, Martin Rinkart, was a pastor in the town of Eilenburg. His timing for entering the ministry could not have been worse. He began his minstry around 1617, when the Thirty Year War was beginning. (See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thirty_Year_War)

I'm often tempted to complain about all I have to do. This year I have participated in more funerals (17) than any other year of my ministry. God is good at providing opportunities to humble me when I need it, and the story of Martin Rinkart does that. His town suffered during this horrible time of war (a lot of which was fueled by religious conflict between the Protestants and the Catholics), millions in Germany died...as did many of Rinkarts' fellow citizens, including ALL of the other clergy in the town. In 1637, when the plague was added to the death caused by war and famine, he conducted over 4,000 funerals, up to 50 a day, including the funeral of his wife. Later he would write this hymn as a poem for his children.

That he could survive his ministry of suffering and heartache which a perspective of faith and gratitude is nothing short of the miracle of God’s grace. So don’t dismiss old hymns too quickly. They just might rekindle your hope and gratitude in the midst of struggle. Someone once said, that “The pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts … nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving.” For more on Rinkart go to: https://www.songsandhymns.org/people/detail/martin-rinkart


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Fan of "Drive-By" Sermons (Church signs!)


Want to make your own church sign? You can right now! Go to:
http://www.churchsigngenerator.com

Want to read real ones? Go here:
http://www.churchsigngenerator.com/churchsigns.php

Want to generate your own tombstone? Go here:
http://www.jjchandler.com/tombstone/

God's Billboards - All of Them!

For all of you who like those "God said..." billboards, here is the website where you can read them all!
http://www.godspeaks.com/AboutTheBillboards.asp

Friday, November 09, 2007

This Ticks Me Off!!! It Better Tick You Off, Too!

I saw a story on Good Morning America this morning about how some (13 out of 27)charities seeking contributions to help America's veterans received an "F" from the American Instititue of Philanthropy, a watchdog group that rates charities in terms of how much money is spent on administrative needs, fund raising, and actual programs. Over the past two years almost half a BILLION dollars have been received by the sorriest of the sorry in this category of people using disabled veterans to give themselves six-figure salaries!

What qualifies as an "F" charity? One which gives less than 35% of collected funds to actual programs. Read the full story here:
http://blogs.abcnews.com/theblotter/2007/11/failing-to-serv.html

Does this mean you shouldn't give? Of course not! Just give wisely. Here is the website that rates charitable organizations: http://www.charitywatch.org/

Here is a great article on how to determine whether or not to give including a charity checklist:
http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/tmarkg/charity.shtm

Remember, in the past two years just under 500,000,000.00 did NOT go to deserving veterans just because good-hearted donors did not check out a charity. And that's just for veterans; the same thing is occurring in other types of charities as well.

Also, Christians need to be just as careful when giving to Christian ministries. The EVANGELICAL COUNCIL FOR FINANCIAL ACCOUNTABILITY is one way you can be more sure about the integrity of a ministry. Look for this logo at websites for added security in your giving. Detailed information can be found at: http://www.ecfa.org/Default.aspx

WARNING: Don't get cynical, get smart. Give generously to those who really need it, just make sure whoever you are giving your money to is giving it to the needy!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Oh To Be Like "Otters in Love!"

WARNING: The "CUTE" factor of this video may be detrimental to those of you suffering from chronic cynicism!

So don't forget to take time out of your busy schedule to follow the otters' example and to fulfill 1 Peter 4:8,9: Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.

A Husky Impersonating Me Watching Television

This is one smart dog...or at least a dog trying to understand how to become smarter. Kaiser has a better attention span than some people I know (like me!). This clip reminded me of how I probably looked Friday night when I was watching the local news....the subject of the post below this one!

When Is Hating Something Good?

This past weekend at my mom's, I was watching the local news, and was saddened by the usual "clutter" of one sad and/or scary story after another. The lead story was about how a lady's cat had been trapped by a neighbor and sent to be put down without the lady's knowledge...THAT WAS THE LEAD STORY!!! Surely in a metropolitan area of over 250,000 people, there was something happening that was a bit more significant or uplifting than that. For our cat lovers out there, I PROMISE that I would make the same comment if the pet had been a dog.

After that came stories about the danger we face eating frozen pizza with e.coli, children at risk in daycares with no insurance, the continuing drought threatening Atlanta, and coverage of the worst auto accident of the day, always with pictures! It would be easy to say the station is totally at fault, but why do they show an obviously unbalanced collection of sad, tragic, and/or fear filled stories? Why do the 20/20 type shows so often show tales of murder, deception or violence? Could it be that they are giving the public what we want? After all, how many of us slow down when we pass an accident? How many of us pass on tragic news more quickly than good news? Why is it so much easier to whine and complain about things instead of trying to make things better?

My point? PLEASE generate some good, uplifting news this week! When was the last time you gossiped about something good someone has done? When was the last time you tried to make the world a better place for someone? For some inspiration, click on this video of a foreign Honda commercial about HATE! The objects of hate are old, noisy diesel engines, which are creatively removed from the story as it progresses, only to be replaced by a better idea! The animation is great, and the song is to the point, catchy, and hopefully will inspire you to hate in a more productive way.