241 years ago the course of world history changed, for on July 4th, 1776, the 13 colonies adopted “The Declaration of Independence” and proclaimed themselves to be The United States of America. Since then these United States have risen to become a world power and have been the source of many amazing world innovations. One innovation that seems to never be talked about or even noticed is this country's profound contribution to recognizing, appreciating and preserving the wonders of the natural landscape. Nature. It covers the world with its intricate complexity, its unfathomable beauty and its breathtaking majesty. For most of us, our park system doesn’t feel like an innovation; rather it feels like a common, scarcely noticed commodity – yeah, we have National Parks – cool! Today we stop for a moment and ask how did these National Parks come to be, what was the motivation for their existence and what does all of this have to do with Almighty God?
Here’s a question...what do the 4th of July and Thanksgiving have in common? The most obvious answer is these two celebrations are uniquely American in that their very founding was undeniably linked to the founding of the United States. The less obvious answer is that these two holidays were also founded in humble recognition of God Almighty. Just read the first and last parts of the Declaration of Independence and the first declarations for Thanksgiving and you will see that God was first and foremost. Here we are about 240 years later and God is no longer first and he certainly is no longer "for most." So, as we approach the Thanksgiving holiday this Thursday what can we do to relight our own fire of gratitude towards God and towards one another? Let’s start by talking about it!
So, what is Halloween about anyway? Is it all about the costumes, the candy and the parties? Is it all about the social connections of people actually seeing and talking to other people or the excited grade school kid who gets to dress up like a video game hero? Or is Halloween all about the dead? Is it all about communication with the spirit world, fire festivals and the dark arts? Can dead souls really “cross-over” the boundary of our physical world on this unique night? What is real and what is not? Where did this all start and what has it become? There is a lot more to this than you might think!
We are blessed. We live in a country where freedom of speech and assembly are a given – a country where we can choose who to worship and how we accomplish that worship. We live in a country where we can apply ourselves, work hard and attain levels of success that are not only rare, they are unheard of in many other places. We live in America and we have the freedoms we currently enjoy because of the wisdom and sacrifice of the countless patriots who founded our country long ago. As we pause over the 4th of July weekend to celebrate their efforts and succes, we also want to pause to look long and hard at our present interpretation of freedom. Have we lost our way when it comes to the privilege of living in freedom and assuming the necessary responsibilities that are inherent to it? Is our freedom here in America on borrowed time?
There was once a time (and it seems that it was long ago), that the whole idea of Thanksgiving as a holiday held deep and profound meaning. Seems kinda funny to say that, because when we think of Thanksgiving now, what do we think of? Family, turkey, football, stuffing, days off, pumpkin pie. Eating too much and thinking too little. Thanksgiving – the concept can change your life – it can take you from a crying heart to a contented spirit. It can alter what you see and how you see it. It can find hope and strength where there seemed only to be despair and weakness. Thanksgiving...how do we live it?
There have been many world changing events in human history. The printing press made knowledge accessible to the masses. The light bulb literally illuminated man’s course and fed an industrial revolution which brought previously unthinkable invention and convenience to many. Penicillin protected life in a new way. These and many other events changed man’s course and were breathtaking in their scope, yet limited and even restricted in their reach throughout history, for each of these events could only touch those then living or yet to be born. There was only one event at any time in all of history that would alter man’s DESTINY – all of man’s destiny, from Adam and on through all of the civilizations ever experienced, on an eternal scale. That event was the life death and resurrection of Jesus Christ! It is that event that we celebrate today.
Happy New Year! It is 2011 and it is a new beginning – at least for the calendar anyway. What is your year going to look like? Do you have any changes planned? Is this the year that you will finally – well, you know, is this the year that you will finally – (now fill in the blank...) With a new year usually comes a review of what has been and a preview of what we would like to have happen. My question to you is this – along with your thinking about changes with your job, your home, your car, your weight, your habits etc., are you thinking about changes in your Godliness – are you thinking about how you can finally really make your faith be stronger and healthier? Stay with us as we talk about our thinking - how it works and how to elevate it to a higher spiritual level!
There are some things that most everyone has in common. One of those things is our collective desire to celebrate. Granted, what we celebrate and the ways that we choose to celebrate are as varied as the seasons, but the desire to celebrate is a common thread. Today is one of those days where lots of people celebrate. It is Halloween and, believe it or not, it is not only the second most commercialized holiday in America, only being outspent by Christmas, half of all homes in America are decorated for the occasion. What is Halloween anyway? Where did it come from and what is the secret of its popularity? Stay with us as we examine some history, some tradition and the Bible!