#BeLikeThumper

“If you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nothin’ at all” – Thumper (Bambi, 1942)

This line from Bambi has likely become one of the most well known movie lines in history, and honestly, as the days of my life have passed, I have had it run through my mind many times.  But why?  What could it possibly mean?

Well, we could recap why Thumper was saying it in the first place…that is, to share that it’s not nice to say hateful and hurtful things to others.  We could go on and on about things we learn growing up, but the reality is that I am starting to realize the power of this statement.  What does it mean to say something nice, or not say anything at all?

As I have thought about this recently, the thing that has continued to come to mind with this is the Golden Rule…”Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  This is based in the words of Christ we find in Matthew 7:12, “Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” But how do those go together? How does that work?

It all goes back to love…simple love.  The scripture reminds us that God is love…it reminds us to love God and love people…it reminds us of God’s love for each of us.  In fact, the central theme of the story called life is LOVE.  So how does all this work together? Let me explain:

If we love each other the way that Christ loves us, we will choose service over self; we will deny ourselves and love so much it hurts….this will include our actions and our speech.  One of the things that I think we can remember is that we should taste our words before we spit them out….we should think about what we are about to say and think of how that same statement might feel if it were directed at us.

But this can reach farther….maybe even into our Social Media age as essentially the statement, “Think before you post.”  Think about the things you are saying and how you are saying it….but also who you are attacking publically, because what if you were on the other end? What if you were the one being publically shamed because of what might turn out to be a small misunderstanding? Once things are said and out there, they cannot be taken back…. And I won’t even begin to talk about political posts…that is for another time, place, and author to tackle.

But what about the times that Jesus called out the Pharisees? Or when Paul called out the religious leaders? They said things that were not exactly considered nice.  Let me remind you that those statements that they made were rooted in Love and not from a voice of hatred…the truth told in love is the nice way of saying things.  The truth over a lie will always be the nice way, because lies destroy trust.

Love one another as Christ has loved you today….show that love in everything you do…in fact, one of the simplest ways to start is simply this: “Be Like Thumper.”

If you can’t say something nice, loving, up-building, respectful….really, don’t say anything at all.

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Addictions

“A glowing sort of witness, to know and to become;
reflections of true meanings of a life to come undone.
Which to see lost purpose in darkness of the heart;
caught in downward spirals of addictions to impart.
A glowing sort of witness, in lostness of to so tend;
reflections of true meanings as a life to seek an end.
Which to see lost purpose in darkness of the soul;
Caught in the downward spirals of never meant to know…”

— “Addictions,” J.D. Diller, 8:04 am, 12/21/2018

Sometimes blessings come in just the right moment for us to realize workings of God in others that we come across.  One such working that I have recently seen is the poetry of J.D. Diller, a local resident who strives to give as God leads. He supplies poetry to many folks who cross his path; including Law Enforcement and EMS workers.  I have been blessed to also have him bring many of his poetic verse, in no effort to be published, but many of them have struck a chord in such a way that I feel they need to be shared.

This is one of those poems.

It sparked thought within me about how many in our area face the battles of addiction – be it drugs, alcohol, or other destructive patterns of life…

Addiction can cause the life that we know to completely come undone at the seams, tearing us apart from the inside out. Addiction leads us to destroy ourselves silently – alone and broken.  This poem brought to mind the scripture in Romans 7, in which Paul states, “For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate. (v. 15)”

Sure, the things we are addicted to were “fun” and offered a release from the troubles of life when we began them; but as time passes by and dependency builds up, it can become a struggle that is complete with the conversation that we do not want to live the life we are living.  Unfortunately, we feel that there is no choice because we have become a slave to the thing we are addicted to…it controls us…it has taken the reins…

Paul goes on to say in verse 20, “Now if I do what I do not want, I am no longer the one that does it, but it is the sin that lives in me.”

What can we do to break this pattern of addiction?

We are sinners and we all need saving!  There is not a one of us who is immune to the addiction of sin, whatever that sin may be. Once sin takes hold in our lives, it begins to grow as a cancer…it starts to dictate our nature, and unless we remedy the sin, we will remain captive to it.  Whether it be addiction to drugs and alcohol, or something we may consider as minor as telling a little lie in a moment of weakness; remember, that lie can become 1,000 in a moment…the only true redemption we can find is through the blood of Christ.

I challenge you today – recognize the addictions in your life! If you do not realize it is an addiction that is separating you from the love of God, take inventory of the things you turn to and the battle it brings; then ask the Savior for the freedom from those chains. Ask for HIS amazing grace to take hold and free you!  There is only one answer…that answer is Jesus Christ!

New Every Day

“So, teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days!” – Psalm 90:12, 14

If you are looking for a great scripture to bring in the new year, I would recommend Psalm 90.  This is the perfect Psalm for ending a year because of the themes it encompasses. The implication as it opens of God being our dwelling place for “generations” since before creations leads us to a moment of realization that life is quite covered by the Creator of the Universe.

It leaves us with the realization that we have the ear of the One who created all life, the One who Is, Was, and Will Be.  But at first glance it can leave you misunderstanding the depression that sets in by focusing and dwelling on the past…The past has gone…just as the year has passed, so have the sins and struggles that we have been facing.

As we move into a new year, there is promise for us in that what happened last year has been left there, it no longer matters as we move forward.  We can learn from the past and we can focus on the days ahead….but how?

How do we move forward when so much is bringing us down and holding us back?

By applying the concepts of the Psalmist in verses 12 and 14….verses that remind us how brief life is…the literal translation of the Hebrew text translates as “teach us to count our days”. What does it mean to count our days? It means that we should understand the brevity of life….understand that life is not promised.

How does this inspire and not drag us down? By understanding that our focus on counting the days ahead encourages us to live in the moment we are in…not to worry about what will come or focus on what has passed….we have the opportunity to see things the way that Christ reminds us when he tells us not to worry about tomorrow because it has worries of its own…

I encourage you in the coming year, wake up each day focused on a new day….forget the new year and the desire to better yourself over a period of time….take the time, in this moment, to make today better moment by moment…learn to “number your days” because in that view there is a heart of wisdom that allows us to learn from the one who is teaching us to number them.

Wake up each day with the prayer for satisfaction from God in the morning…so that you may rejoice in what He is doing and accomplishing in you.

One translation words verse 14 in this way, “Satisfy us each morning with Your unfailing love, so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives.” What better way to end a year and begin a new one? If we can live each day satisfied with the unfailing love that God gives, pour that love out for our neighbors, and live empowered by His Spirit in the moments He gives we will find joy…true joy.

We won’t worry about the passing years, but will accept the gift of each day and a new opportunity to share His love with those around us.  Live your remaining days in the fullness of God’s mercy and grace…be open to the joy that only He can give!

O Holy Night

No song, in my opinion, captures the essence of the night of Christ’s birth better than ‘O, Holy Night!’. In fact, I feel this hymn captures the Christian heart and takes us to a moment of worship that is pure and simple. We can worship God with awe and wonder, and the lyrics lead you into a moment of inspired worship that is central to the Christian faith.

This hymn includes instruction, description, and praise all included in a beautiful lyric that is well placed with a tune that has become one of the most well known and awe-inspiring songs of the Christmas season. Let’s look at a few of the lyrics to see what I mean:

The Chorus opens with, “Fall on your knees, Oh hear the angel voices, Oh night divine, Oh night when Christ was born, Oh night divine, Oh night divine.”

Instructions to fall to your knees, listen for the angelic song, and worship the King. A divine night and beautiful night that changed history. A night when a Savior was born, a night when our souls were given a way to spend eternity with God because that night set in motion a divine plan that would wash us in the Blood.

The chorus is not the only lines that tell of a divine night, look with me at some more lines from the hymn:

“Long lay the world in sin and error pining, Till he appear’d and the soul felt its worth. A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!”

A world with no hope and a future that is in clear, and then we see the true meaning of Christmas in likely one of the most beautiful stanzas ever penned. A story that tells of no hope until the Lord appeared and ‘the soul felt its worth.’ As I said, a soul with no hope, a soul that felt alone and deserted, but because of this birth the hopeless soul felt its worth. Jesus is hope for the hopeless, He is peace for the broken and torn heart. It is a hope that inspires a rejoicing spirit to find hope in the dawning of a new day.

Hope that was born in a small Judean town, and a hope that inspires the soul and brings peace in a time of desolation, joy in adversity, and love to the broken heart.

The hymn continues talking of the teachings of Jesus. Teachings that show us how to love one another, teachings that show us how to find hope in times of hurt, and teaches us that peace comes when we praise him and apply these teachings to our everyday lives. This Christmas season, remember the hope found in that Holy night that divinely touched our lives and gives us continued hope and peace in a dark and unforgiving world.

“Truly He taught us to love one another, his law is love and His gospel is peace; Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother and in His name all oppression shall cease. Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, let all within us praise His holy name.”

Fall on your knees, lift praise with all your might, and worship the Savior of the world, the baby who came on that holy, divine night.

What Child is This?

Put yourself in Joseph’s shoes, what do you do when the woman you are promised to marry comes to you and says she is pregnant? Joseph did what he knew could be done and began to seek a way to drop Mary with little to no fuss and quietly end things with her. What would you do in that situation? He was visited by an angel that encouraged him to stay and raise the Son of God.

Many of us would likely have trouble being faithful through something like this, we would struggle with the knowledge that the child that Mary is carrying is not my child. I know what she said but I can’t marry her like this. Joseph exemplified true faith in trusting God to provide.

Who was this child and exactly how important is He to us as Christians? It brings us back the the lyrics of the traditional Christmas hymn, “What Child is This?”. Take aloof at the lyrics:

“What child is this, Who lay to rest On Mary’s lap is sleeping Whom angels greet with anthems sweet While shepherds watch are keeping.

So bring him incense, gold and myrrh Come peasant king to own him The King of Kings salvation brings Let loving hearts enthrone him.”

Who is this child of Christmas? What can he do for us? Come bring, gifts and bow down to worship Him.

“This, this is Christ the King Whom shepherds guard and angels sing Haste, haste to bring him laud The Babe, the Son of Mary”

This child came to the earth for many reasons and we can answer the question of what Child this is by looking at four things:

No person has had more impact on history than Jesus Christ. It is undeniable that He lived and walked in the land of Judea and Israel almost 2000 years ago.

–He is the visible image of the invisible God. He is God in a person. You want to know what God is like? Look to Jesus. The fullness of God dwells in Him.

–He is also the Creator of all creation. He holds all creation together. It is His masterpiece. Creation reveals the greatness of God.

–He is the Savior who saves us from our sins. He came to reconcile us with God.

–He is the head of the church. He is to the church what the head is to the body.

Once you know who He is, you have a choice–a decision to make. It’s the biggest one ever–to trust Him as your Savior and Lord or to reject Him. Who is Jesus? The Bible is clear, but the important thing for you is, do you believe it?

Away in a Manger

As we approach the Christmas season I want to look at some songs of the season and truly look into the meaning of Christmas for us all. First I’d like to look at the hymn ‘Away in a Manger’. This is such a simple song, but the message is one that is deeper than many may realize.

“Away in a manger, no crib for His bed; the little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head. The stars in the sky looked down where He lay, the little Lord Jesus, asleep on the hay.

“The cattle are lowing, the poor babe awakes; but little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes. I love Thee Lord Jesus, look down from the sky, and stay by my cradle ’til morning is nigh.

“Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay, close by me forever and love me I pray. Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care; and take us to heaven to live with Thee there.”

The words are simple, and like ‘Jesus Loves Me,’ is a song that is taught to children, this around the Christmas season. The beauty of this hymn is that it lets us in on the true meaning of Christmas, a baby, born in a stable, laid in a manger because there was no room for Him. It embraces our story today as well…because too many times we fail to make room for him in our hearts. We find ourselves in a situation where we push him out to the parts of our lives that seem dirty and unworthy of the King of kings to be.

The lyrics paint a picture of peace that comes through a Savior that was born in the humblest of circumstances. A Savior who came to save the world and make a way for His people to achieve salvation. If we can begin to look at it in this way we will see the scriptures come to life right before our eyes. This song speaks of more than a baby in a feeding trough, it speaks of ‘A Way’ in a Manger.

A way for us to achieve salvation, a way for us to come to God, a way for us to feel happy about life, a way for us to find peace and fulfillment. Jesus even said later, ‘I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6),” and we are the ones who receive the gift that was given that first Christmas morning.

This Christmas, take the time to focus on the Way that came in a manger on that day. The way to eternal life came in a Bethlehem stable. Jesus is THE WAY in a Manger.

What are YOU Thankful For?

There are many things in our lives that we find ourselves thanking God daily for…the question is, what are you thankful for?

According to Paul when we look back over our lives and we think about everything that we face, we are to be in constant prayer and thankfulness about everything that we find ourselves facing.  Paul addressed this in his letter to the Thessalonians when he said, “be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess. 5:16-18 NIV)

Paul is telling us here the will of God for our lives…to be centered around Him.  The will He has for our lives is fur us to live a life that is worthy of the calling that God has placed on us from the moment we were known to Him.  Give Thanks in all circumstances…pray continually…Be Joyful…that is what God wants from you; in other words, don’t let life get you down…don’t let the World dictate how you view life.  If something gets you down, turn it into joy!  Don’t let the bad out last the good in a life that is lived to serve the Lord.

God’s will is that each of us step up and say to the world, “I am a servant of God…and no matter what you throw my way today – I will not falter.  I am joyful in the fact that I have been given more than I could have ever asked for…the world won’t win as long as God’s in charge of me…thank you Lord for thinking enough of me to put me in this situation, thank you for trusting me to be your servant.”

With Thanksgiving just past us, please take the time to reflect on the good and the bad in your life.  Take the time to thank God in ALL circumstances for the things that have come your way.  It may not seem like things are all that great, but God is in control…Thank Him for the things that He has trusted you with.