The Unending Joy of Friends

For many years it has been our family’s tradition to recite Psalm 100 before we eat our Thanksgiving meal. Now with our children grown, our grandchildren grown and establishing family traditions, we are thrilled to hear that they also have adopted for the fourth generation, the reciting of this Psalm.

This morning our phone rang. We knew who it was. He is always the first one to call. And when we reminded him to read Psalm 100 today, he said “Already have.”

Whatever your family traditions are, my prayer today is that you will make it something that your children and grandchildren can pass down and in this small way keep the memory of this close thread of family tradition continuing.

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.
Serve the Lord with gladness:
come before His presence with singing.
Know ye that the Lord He is God;
It is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise;
Be thankful unto Him, and bless His name.
For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting;
and His truth endureth to all generations.

Thanks Day!

As I was getting my chemo treatment recently, I asked my infusion nurse how she was going to celebrate Thanksgiving.

She immediately replied, “We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving Day, for we believe every day is a day for giving thanks.” I thought about what she said and I agreed with her.

Yet I think it’s beneficial for our family and as a nation to celebrate a special day to give thanks. Our country has so much. Two thirds of the world lives on $2.00 a day, the price of a coke for us Americans. Noel Piper comments in Treasuring God in our Traditions, “God is the reason we have anything to celebrate. He is the ultimate source of any of our celebrations.” p 65.

It’s a perfect time to take inventory of God’s abundant goodness to us. As the family gathers around the table loaded with all kinds of goodies (I love candied sweet potatoes and pecan pie) and as we feast and then gather around TVs for football, we need reminders of our origin and our purpose for living. And the blessings we review ought to be full of spiritual ones, such as an answer to prayer about a person who gossiped about you and you put into practice Matt 18. And God reconciled you.

As we prepare to thank the Lord for the bountiful feast before us, our family custom is to read Psalm 100 together (Psalm 95;1-7 is good, too), and during dinner, we share with one another God’s goodness to us through the year. An Asian family that had just moved to our city knew little or no English and no family to celebrate with. So we invited them to spend Thanksgiving Day with us and our two families transcended the language barrier as we laughed and talked, with the father of the family translating. It was a joyous occasion and after many years, we still keep in touch.

This Thanksgiving Day join us as we say in our hearts and on our lips, “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving and into his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name” (Psalm 100:4).

Haiku Images

I thought you might appreciate reading through the Haiku Cluster that the judges thought were worthy of first place winner in the competition. All of the haiku spring from the Scriptures related as listed.

Appropriate for the Easter season is “To say ‘I love you’ God sent a cross.” The truth that we are co-heirs with the eternal Godhead is incomprehensible, but the Scriptures certainly remind us how rich we are in Christ.

If a haiku or two moves you and you would like to share your thoughts, I would love to meditate on them with you.
I bequeath to you,                                                                   Romans 8:17a
every sunrise I’ve painted,
all originals. -God

Adam, while you slept,                                                           Genesis 2:21-22
God slipped Eve into your bed,
then he left, smiling.

To say “I love you,”                                                                  John 19:17-18
we send flowers or a card,
but God sent a cross.

Five little fingers                                                                       Luke 2:7
squeeze young Mary’s nose and face
as God lies on straw.

Often mothers ’ prayers                                                         I Samuel 1:27
mend the broken jars of clay
they molded from birth.

Silent, by a grave,                                                                   II Corinthians 1:4
arm around a friend, healing
a hole in the heart.

Before life’s bookends                                                         Amos 4:12b
squeeze away your last-held breath,
prepare for closure.

A Conference to Remember Part 2

Here’s the followup to last week’s conference message.

The Keynote Address for the FCW Conference was given by Brian Bird, a 30-year veteran of the Hollywood film and televison business. Brian’s writing and producing work comprises nearly 250 episodes of network television, including Touched by an Angel, and his own original series currently airing on the Hallmark Channel, When Calls the Heart. Through him, the Lord challenged me to keep writing to keep his truth alive and to inspire others to write to praise him.

Torry Martin, an award-winning actor, screenwriter, and comedian, has written feature length scripts. He taught a continuing class, “Writing Screenplays for Everything, but the Big Screen.” He is an enthusiastic, humorous, very creative catalyst. We had great fellowship and in our conversations, I was humbled when he asked me to collaborate with him on a coming project.

Three publishers expressed an interest in my Biblical studies on Prayers of the Bible and my devotionals.

The conference climaxed with the Awards Banquet Dinner and I was humbled again when I received second-place winner in non-fiction for my Memoir, Naked With Clothes On, and completely overwhelmed with first-place winner in poetry for my Haiku Cluster.

I came away from the conference inspired, encouraged, challenged, and full of new ideas and directions. I am thankful for God’s confirmation that he wants me to continue writing my devotional blog Guarded Hearts and devotional articles for Christian Broadcasting Network.

There are other conferences that we as Christians have attended and been blessed and encouraged by. How about sharing your challenging and encouraging ones with me?

Remember, the new name for my blog is GUARDED HEARTS.