Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Thoughts

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday for a variety of reasons and this year is no different. As I normally do, I took the entire week off from work and have had time to just enjoy my family and reflect on all the things I have to be thankful for, and there are many. I realize the economy is in bad shape and there are many things going wrong in our country and around the world, but God's grace and mercy are always present in good times and bad. So with that in mind here are just a few of the things I am thankful for.

First, I thank God for the precious gift of my salvation and that I, a hopeless sinner, can have a personal relationship with the God of the universe. Though I certainly did nothing to deserve it.

I am extremely thankful for my wonderful and beautiful wife. She is my best friend and soul mate and has been my greatest supporter over the years. She has put up with my impulsiveness and endless rambling about politics, work, and sports for over 15 years now. I am thankful that she is now healthy again after a difficult year and praise God for bringing us through it and making us even closer than we were before. I am thankful for her wonderful and silly sense of humor and her tenderness and compassion for others.

I am grateful to God for the gift of our 3 precious children. It still amazes me to watch them grow more and more each year and to witness them becoming the person God created them to be. They are each unique individuals with their own talents, tastes, and passions and I look forward to see where God is taking them in their lives. It's interesting how God teaches us about ourselves through our children.

I am thankful for my church and the community of believers that we worship with. They are an incredible source of strength to me and my family. Our small group bible study in particular has been a place where we have cried and laughed together over the years and I appreciate their prayers and encouragement.

I am grateful for my parents and grandparents from whom I have gained much wisdom. I am also grateful for my wife's parents and grandparents who have always made me feel like I was a part of their family since day one.

I am thankful for my job, my house, my health and that even when we have struggled financially, we have always had food on the table and a roof over our heads. I am thankful I live in a country where I am free to worship and live how I choose. I am thankful that I have had the opportunity to travel both in the US and internationally.

Finally, I am thankful that God continues to work on my heart beyond just my salvation and that He continues to help me grow as a person, husband, and father. I am thankful that the work He began in me He will see through to completion and that He is not done with me yet. I am thankful for God's grace when I stumble into sin or even when I charge in head first. His grace continues to overwhelm me everyday.

Happy Thanksgiving and may God's grace overwhelm you today as you reflect on all that you are thankful for.

God Bless.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Random Thoughts Since the Election

I've been too busy to post anything over the last 2 weeks, so here are some of the things that have been on my mind since my last post. It's somewhat random, but that's how my mind works sometimes.

The results of the election have finally sunk in. It's taken awhile, but I think I've come to accept the fact that our country is going to make a big leap to the left over the next few years and there is very little I can do about it. I've actually taken a break from politics for the most part since the election, but I think I'm now ready to get back into the fray.

I find it interesting that the economy has continued to decline since the election. I was actually expecting a little bit of a rebound once the election was decided, regardless of who won. I guess Wall Street isn't jumping on the "hope" bandwagon just yet. I wonder how quickly others will jump off once they realize they aren't likely to get a tax cut, but instead see government spending continue to go out of control. With an unchecked liberal Congress and President, you better hold on to your wallets. Although the Republicans haven't been any better in recent years.

I also wonder which industry will be the next to go begging for a hand out from the government once the US auto industry gets theirs. You know they won't be the last.

I've also been thinking a lot about my responsibility as a Christian to help the poor. I've posted on this topic several times as it is a very important issue to me and it continues to weigh heavy on my heart. With all the suffering around the world, people dying of starvation and preventable disease, children being sold into slavery, etc., it just seems like there is more that we in this country can do. Even with the difficult economic situation we are in, we are still better off than the majority of the world. How many of us live in an 6x6 shack with mud floors and don't have access to clean water?

Organizations like Compassion and Food for the Hungry are great places to start, but I can't help but feel like there is more I'd like to do. I continue to pray that God would reveal to me how I can be more involved and how I can encourage others to get involved.

I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving next week as well. I certainly have a lot to be thankful for and this has always been one of my favorite holidays. I get the joy of spending time with family and reflecting on all that God has blessed me with, but none of the stress of Christmas shopping, endless holiday parties, etc. As I usually do, I'm taking the entire week off and am looking forward to some quiet time to reflect on the last year. Don't get me wrong I love Christmas as well and my wife and I really try to make an effort to focus on the real reason we celebrate, but Thanksgiving is just a more peaceful time for me and because my job is rather high stress, I look forward to it every year.

This year has gone by way too fast and there have been many great times and some very difficult times. But God has really infused me with a new joy this year that I've not had in a long time. In spite of some very difficult circumstances, I can truly say that God is good and faithful.

I warned you that it was kind of random, but this is how most days are for me, a dozen things going through my mind at the same time. So today you get a glimpse inside my head. (Scary!) Hopefully, my next post will be a little more focused and I'll try to stay on one topic.

God Bless.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Results

Well, I guess the American people made their decision. I am extremely disappointed and concerned, but from a purely historic standpoint, it is an amazing thing that an African American would be elected president, considering the civil rights movement was only 40 years ago. From that perspective, I am proud that we have come so far as a nation to so overwhelmingly elect an African American. I do hope that his election provides hope to people of all races that they can achieve their dreams no matter the obstacles. I only wish that the first African American president would have been a conservative.

Obama has promised to be a "uniter". I can only hope this is true as he has never been a "uniter" before in either the Illinois State Senate of the US Senate. I can only hope that he will moderate some of his positions and will be willing to listen to and work with those of us that disagree with his vision for the country. However, with a majority in the House and Senate, I'm not holding my breath. I hope the American people are prepared for a large shift to the left in this country because that's what is coming.

I do hope that I'm wrong and that Obama is an extremely successful president who is able to turn the economy around, protect us from terrorism, and provide strong leadership to move us forward as a nation. In the end my faith and hope are not in our president or any government leaders anyway, but in Christ. I believe God is sovereign and has placed Obama in this position for a purpose, even though I may not understand that purpose; and it is now our duty to pray for him and ask God to give him wisdom. I pray that he will put his trust in God above all else and look to Him for guidance. It is also our duty, however, to stand up and make our voice heard. It is imperative that we not let our ideals be shoved into the background and marginalized any further than they already have been. Just because we lost this election, we cannot give up fighting for our beliefs.

Tonight the American people got what they asked for. Now I only hope we can all live with it. May God have mercy on us.

God Bless.

Monday, November 3, 2008

A few thoughts the day before the election

It's been awhile since I have posted anything. Not because I haven't had anything to say, I've just been so incredibly busy with other things. But, with the election tomorrow, I felt it was time to make a little time. I am very concerned with what I believe is going to happen tomorrow. As those of you who have read my blog before know I am a McCain supporter. Not so much because I love McCain, but more because I'm afraid of the direction Obama wants to take the country.

(To be quite honest, I'm not sure who I really would like to see be president. I wasn't particularly thrilled with any of the options from either party in the primaries. This country is in such a financial and moral mess, I'm not sure anyone can fix it at this point. And president Bush sure hasn't been the conservative leader we thought he was going to be. His bailout plan was just the latest evidence that he is not a conservative. By the way, McCain's support of the bailout concerns me as well.)

However, while I think that McCain's economic plan has some flaws, I'm willing to live with those flaws compared to Obama's plan, which I am fairly certain will only make matter worse. The money is simply not available to do all that he wants to do, unless he raises taxes or drives us further into debt. He has been very upfront about his socialist leanings, though he doesn't use that term. I don't know about you, but I really don't want the government involved in every aspect of my life and I certainly don't think it's the government's responsibility to redistribute my money that I have worked very hard for to others that they deem are more worthy. I believe that it is my responsibility as a steward of what God has blessed me with to give to those people and causes that He leads me to give, not the Federal government. If I fail in that mandate, I have to answer to God. The first century church is the perfect model. They did not give money to some governmental authority to give to the poor. They gave directly to those that were in need.

So the American people have a fundamental choice to make on Tuesday. Do we want to further move our nation in a socialist direction or uphold the economic principals of our Founding Fathers and what made this nation an economic power in the world? I know the economy is a mess at the moment, but it will rebound if we hold steady and don't panic. Now is not the time to abandon ship and completely change the structure of our economy.

I would encourage everyone who supports Obama to please think about the type of country you want to live in. If you really think socialism is the way to go, then by all means vote your conscience and we'll have to agree to disagree. If Obama is elected, then I suppose those of us who disagree with him will have to live with it and find a way to make our voices heard at a local level. I just hope we can live with the consequences.

God Bless.