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I’m Albert Mohler and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.

Egypt’s Mosque Attack Theology, Robert Mugabe & Secularizing Thanksgiving

​We’ll see theology work back into the headlines, but this time it’s Islamic theology; we’ll see incomplete justice or incomprehensible crimes; we’ll see the fall of yet another tyrant and understand why Western academics support those tyrants; then we’ll see the New York Times try to secularize Thanksgiving.

THEOLOGY ROARS BACK INTO THE HEADLINES AFTER MOSQUE ATTACK IN EGYPT

Theology roared back into the headlines over the weekend but in this case it wasn’t Christian theology but Islamic theology. This has to do with the tragic attack that took place at a mosque in the Sinai Peninsula, where Egyptian officials report that over 300 persons were killed in a mass attack and over 100 persons seriously wounded. What makes this a particularly ominous development is that this was an attack believed to have been undertaken by forces loyal to the Islamic state. Indeed the attackers arrived in a caravan of armed vehicles that were flying the flag of the Islamic state, and we’re looking here at something that has surprised many Western observers, we’re looking at the attack by the Islamic state on a mosque. That requires some kind of explanation. The first explanation is that this represents yet another departure of the Islamic state from the already murderous ideology of Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda had a basic rule, and that was attacked non-Muslims not Muslims. The Islamic state has not followed that rule, and the current state of violence in both Pakistan and now in Egypt indicates an escalation of Muslim on Muslim attacks in the name of the Islamic state. But why this particular mosque? Immediately after the attack was announced it was also mentioned that this was a mosque that was associated with Sufism, with the Sufi movement within Islam. That immediately informs us that theology is very much front and center in this story, that’s because Sufism is considered by most Orthodox Muslims to be not only heterodox but actually not even a legitimate form of Islam.

Immediate reports in the international media after the attack did often mention the fact that the attacked mosque was associated with the Sufi movement, but it’s also interesting to note that many in the international media failed to recognize the fact that since at least 2016 there has been an expanding pattern of attacks by the Islamic state upon Sufis. This attack took place in Egypt but specifically in the Sinai Peninsula; Christians hearing that geographical designation will certainly remember that this is where for 40 years the children of Israel wandered. It’s a desolate Peninsula and it is sparsely populated, but this attack took place in one of the regions few population centers.

After the attack I had to wonder how long it would be before major media began to ask the question: Does theology have anything to do with this? Almost right on time the Washington Post ran an article dated Nov. 25 with the headline, “Why Muslim Extremists Attacked This Mosque in Egypt.”

Similarly, the New York Times ran a headline on Sunday, “Why Does ISIS Kill Sufi Muslims? Because It Sees Them as Heretics.”

All that in a headline. Of course one of the most interesting aspects of all this is that the word heretic would appear in a contemporary headline in the New York Times under any circumstance, but as we remind ourselves over and over again theology matters, it always matters, it’s always lurking fairly closely under the headlines, it rarely, in this age, gets to the very headline itself, and that’s a part of the story here. But it’s also important to recognize that Western media trying to interpret this Islamic conflict have to recognize that there are two major branches of Islam: the Sunnis and the Shia. And it’s true that the Sufis can be members of either the Sunni or the Shia, and they are for the most part mutually hated by both.

The New York Times report gets it exactly right when it identifies the hatred of both the Sunnis and the Shia, but the Sunnis in particular, toward the Sufis by saying that the hatred is rooted in:

 “the tradition of visiting the graves of holy figures. The act,” says the report, “of praying to saints and worshiping at their tombs is an example of what extremists refer to as ‘shirk,’ or polytheism, [that] according to [a source identified as] Brill’s Encyclopedia of Islam.”

But at this point, we simply have to note another problem with the Western media. It’s not just those who could fairly be described as Islamic fundamentalists who hold to this suspicion of Sufis; this would be a mainstream Muslim response. Alexander Knysh, identified as the author of two studies of Sufism, he’s also a professor of Islamic studies at the University of Michigan, spoke of the Sunni opposition to the Sufis saying,

“They believe Sufi shrines are the most egregious expression of that shirk. … You are turning to a mediator, who is inserting himself between the believer and God, and in this way it becomes a kind of idol.”

So now you have a specifically Islamic term, shirk, referring to this kind of polytheism or idolatry, and you also have the word heretic that appears in the New York Times headline. In this secular age and particularly with the kind of secular worldview that marks a newspaper like the New York Times, the word heresy or heretic is not an expected word in any headline. When it appears we also have to answer the question: Why this word; why now? The answer is very straightforward: You cannot possibly interpret or understand this horrible news coming out of Egypt without acknowledging the reality of the theological. The problem is according to that secular worldview that might be true in Egypt, in this case in the Sinai Peninsula, but it certainly wouldn’t be true here. Those behind the secular worldview are absolutely certain, or at least they say they are certain, that theology will virtually disappear, everywhere, but a news story like this reminds us that it hasn’t happened everywhere, yet. And it hasn’t happened even very close to the home of the New York Times, they just think it has.

FLAWED JUSTICE IN GENOCIDE CONVICTION OF RATKO MLADIC

Another major story on the international scene broke last week as the New York Times reported, “It was the closing of one of Europe’s most shameful chapters of atrocity and bloodletting since World War II.”

They say, “With applause inside and outside the courtroom at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, General Ratko Mladic, the former Bosnian Serb commander, was convicted [last] Wednesday of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. He was sentenced to life in prison.”

The Times went on to tell us, “It was the last major item of business for the tribunal in The Hague before it wound down, a full quarter-century after many of the crimes on its docket were committed.”

Speaking of the crimes of Ratko Mladic, we are told that from 1992 to 1995 it was determined that he “was the chief military organizer of the campaign to drive Muslims, Croats and other non-Serbs” in order to create an ethnically cleansed society. In 1992 about 45,000 persons were driven from their homes as Drew Hinshaw and Lawrence Norman report for the Wall Street Journal.

In the year 1995, Mladic and his troops lined up and then executed about 8,000 men and boys, and they did so in what became known as the Srebrenica massacre, identified as “the worst killing on European soil since World War II.”

The numbers themselves are absolutely shocking, we’re talking about just one year, just one village, 8,000 men and boys executed in a straightforward attempt to try to exterminate the entire Muslim and Croats population.

From a Christian worldview perspective there are some very important issues to understand in this new story. The first is we are talking about justice very long denied. We’re talking about crimes that took place, in some cases, 25 years ago. We also have to face the fact that Ratko Mladic was not convicted of his crimes to a jury of his peers there in the former Yugoslavia; instead, this had to come at the hands of an international tribunal set up specifically to address the crimes including genocide undertaken in the Yugoslavian Civil War.

Janine di Giovanni, the Edward R. Murrow press fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, reminds us of the fact that sometimes wars end but justice is never really served. From a Christian perspective we simply have to say that that sometimes actually needs to be restated as a usually. Di Giovanni also reminds us of the fact that justice, in this case a criminal conviction and a life sentence came, a quarter century after the crimes, means that it is very unlikely that this particular conviction or sentence is going to be a deterrent to those who would undertake similar kinds of atrocities.

Di Giovanni asked, “what kind of message does the process send to victims of current conflicts? For those living in conflict in Syria, in Zimbabwe, in Yemen? Will,” she asked, “Mr. Mladic’s verdict, 22 years in the making, inspire hope that justice can be delivered fairly and without delay? I think not,” she concludes. Di Giovanni notes, “Justice sometimes comes slow. But 22 years is too long for people to wait. The Nuremberg trials, in which 12 Nazis were sentenced to death, took place shortly after World War II ended. Tribunals,” she underlines, “should begin while the crimes and the evidence are fresh.”

Getting to an even deeper level, she writes, “The message we should send to those who continue to act with impunity is that they will be hunted down, that they will not escape justice. The mechanisms,”  she says, “that ensure international justice need to be given more teeth and not appear exhausted, cynical and misguided, as the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia all too often did.”

The Christian, the biblical worldview, emphatically affirms the imperative of justice, but at the same time it makes very clear that this kind of justice is never actually going to be adequately addressed by any human court. That doesn’t mean that a human court should not, it simply means that no court can actually come up with any punishment that corresponds to the gravity of the genocide. We also have to note the fact that she uses the phrase, “the mechanisms that ensure international justice.”

Here we simply have to note, there are no mechanisms that ensure international justice, and if anything this particular verdict and even the conviction affirms that very point, coming so long after the crimes and coming in a court that was set up on a temporary basis just to adjudicate these cases. One of the sad but real lessons of history is that when a people will not hold their own leaders accountable, it’s very hard, if not impossible, for any other authority to do so.

It’s also important to recognize that even though there is no question about the guilt of General Ratko Mladic, the reality is that he had hundreds and thousands of co-conspirators involved in this genocide. At this point, 22 years later, to call this justice served is a slander to justice.

WHY ROBERT MUGABE IS BUT ONE IN A LONG LINE OF THE LEFT’S TYRANNICAL HEROES

Next, also in the international scene, we have to observe the passing, at least from power, of one of the most notorious dictators of the 20th and now the 21st centuries. We’re talking about Robert Mugabe, for 37 years the strongman of Zimbabwe. It was Robert Mugabe who led a guerrilla effort over against the government of Rhodesia, effectively in 1980 toppling the regime and becoming the de facto dictator of a new nation that was renamed Zimbabwe. For the first several years he was the prime minister but from 1987 forward he was the president of the nation, and yet it was not in any sense a legitimate democracy. The elections that produced massive victories for Robert Mugabe were understood both internally and externally to be shams. And speaking of genocide, it is now very well documented and was known even at the time that in 1983 Mugabe and his party, known as the Zanu-PF, had also engaged in genocide, killing about 20,000 members of an opposing tribe. Mugabe, age 93, was toppled in a coup that he didn’t believe would actually come, he had good reason to believe that it would never come after 37 years of tyrannical rule. It’s also instructed us that when it did come, it came largely because of the fact that he’d announced a succession plan that involved the power going to his young wife, Grace Mugabe, who, if anything united the nation in terms of hatred of the idea that she might become president.

We’re talking here about the fall of yet another tyrant in the case of Robert Mugabe, one who repeatedly compared himself to Jesus declaring himself to be more important, even in his words, better. But there’s a particular angle to the fall of Robert Mugabe that should have our attention, it has to do with the fact that several major Western universities representing the intellectual elites and the liberal impulse in this country, had celebrated Mugabe as a liberator when he came to power, and had even awarded him honorary degrees. This was true the University of Massachusetts, it was true of Michigan State University, it was true in Scotland at the University of Edinburgh. What makes those three universities most significant is that all three of them later, but much later, rescinded those honorary degrees. The University of Massachusetts gave the degree in 1986, rescinded it in 2008; the University of Edinburgh also gave the degree in 1986, rescinded in 2007; Michigan State University awarded the honorary degree to Mugabe in 1990, rescinded it once again in 2008.

Bret Stephens gets it exactly right as a columnist in the New York Times when he says,

“When the University of Massachusetts decided in 2008 to rescind the honorary degree it had awarded Robert Mugabe 22 years earlier, it noted that Zimbabwe’s dictator had once been seen ‘as a force for democracy and reform.’” 

But then Stephens says, “Even then the self-deception was breathtaking.”

Later Stevens writes, “The scale of Mugabe’s killing, estimated as high as 20,000, might not have been known to the good people of Amherst in 1986: Mass graves,” he says, “would continue to be unearthed for years afterward. But,” he says, “there was no mystery about his methods. The real mystery”, he says, “is why Western liberals and progressives so often fall for the Mugabes of the world, and why they seem to learn so little from successive and inevitable disenchantments.”

It’s really interesting that Bret Stephens points to the left in the United States, and very specifically to academics, we are here talking about universities awarding and then rescinding these degrees, and he says that it’s because it appears that Western academics have a particular vulnerability to offering a form of worship to dictators who take power, supposedly in the name of the people. The most glaring of these by no surprise was Fidel Castro, the dictator of Cuba, and yet it also has to be noted that many of these academics also become apologists. Bret Stephens goes on to say there might be another explanation, and that is the fact that,

“Ever since Jean-Jacques Rousseau tried to write a constitution for Corsica in 1765, Western thinkers have been tempted by the prospect of influence abroad, along with the power that comes with it, particularly when both are denied to them at home.”

Another way to put this would be to say that many on the left, particularly the academic left, see these revolutions as great and grand social laboratories. But by now we know that every single one of them turns out to be murderous, and every one of them, as Bret Stephens recognizes, fails and disappoints. And, of course, we’re not just talking about mass murder in the case Robert Mugabe, we’re also talking about spectacular, almost undefinable incompetence.

The headline in the Economist of London got straight to the point, and I quote, “The Man Who Wrecked a Country.”

The final words of Bret Stephens’ column deserve full citation. He says this:

“But Mugabe also had his apologists and admirers, and Zimbabwe’s tragedy is just a fuller version of a post-colonial story of disastrous ideological experiments accompanied by foreigners who cheered those experiments and then looked the other way when they failed. There needs,” he says, “to be a reckoning with them, too. The world’s poorest countries,” he concludes,“deserve better than to be the petri dish for Western experts who know too little and a field of fantasy for Western progressives who dream too much.”

On that story, Bret Stephens deserves to have the last word.

HOW THE NEW YORK TIMES WANTS TO SECULARIZE THANKSGIVING

Finally, we observe the fact that the Thanksgiving holiday is now over are yet another opportunity for secular confusion. Just consider an editorial that appeared in the New York Times, timed for Thanksgiving Day. It states,

“In these days of anxiety and alienation, Thanksgiving offers the warm embrace of inclusiveness. Particularly for many people with families and faiths rooted in other lands, no other holiday, not even the Fourth of July, has so great a capacity to make them feel American.”

The editors, again, we’re talking here about the New York Times, then go on to write, and I quote,

“Thanksgiving’s origins are also Christian. But it has evolved into something both secular and spiritual, a day devoted to family and amity. Perhaps,” say the editors, “that explains its unwavering appeal for believers and nonbelievers. … Thanksgiving,” they say, “is at heart more than parades, or football or even country; there’s no flag-waving or chest-thumping. It is about shared bounty and shared humanity.”

From a worldview perspective, the interesting thing to note here is that the New York Times seems to believe that Thanksgiving is only worthy of commemoration and national celebration if indeed it has successfully been turned into a secular holiday. You can read that editorial over and over again but that’s the inescapable conclusion.

Again, the editors say that Thanksgiving, “has evolved into something both secular and spiritual.”

They see that evolution, of course, as a cause of celebration in itself.

Finally, in terms of worldview analysis, let’s just remind ourselves of the end of that paragraph, “Thanksgiving is at its heart more than parades or football or even country; there’s no flag-waving or chest-thumping.”

The final sentence, “It is about shared bounty and shared humanity.”

Notice what’s absent. What’s absent, of course, in this secular redefinition and celebration of Thanksgiving, is, well, Thanksgiving, but then it’s virtually impossible to pull off anything you could actually call Thanksgiving from a secular worldview.

Thanks for listening to The Briefing. For more information, go to my website AlbertMohler.com. You can follow me on Twitter by going to @albertmohler.For information on The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary go to sbts.edu. For information on Boyce College just go to boycecollege.com.

(This podcast is by R. Albert Mohler, Jr. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

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Unorthodox Thankfulness

You ever have a moment when you know that God is trying to get your attention?

The past few weeks God has gotten my attention many different ways. The first time was when I sat down to interview Erik Shwarz for the podcast. Erik had an amazing story of how an accident changed his life permanently. Erik was hit by a car at 45 mph and he was thrown 30 feet on to the concrete. The accident left Erik with a destroyed shoulder, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). After Erik shared his story I asked him “What advice can you give other guys in your situation?” His response surprised me. Erik said, “Have gratitude for everything you have. I am thankful to be a live, to be here talking with you, to drive here today.”

Of everything Erik could have said about his accident and injury he simply wanted others to be thankful for what they are blessed to have.

The second attention getter was when I said nighttime prayers with my daughter. I asked what she wanted to pray for and she told me “I don’t need to pray, I don’t need anything.” I told her that when you don’t need anything it’s good to pray and say thank you for everything you do have.  And at that moment I realized I was not living what I told my daughter to do.

How often do we go to God simply when we need something?

How often do we not see what we have because we only focus on what we want?

Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

This verse is a great reminder that we need to go to God to say thank you as well as ask for help. But it also shows us that the only way we can be content and not focus on all the things we don’t have is through Jesus.

I know this post is short but I want to stay on point here and say “If we focus on being grateful for what we have then we won’t get so disappointed by what we don’t have.”

This week lets be men who practice Unorthodox Thankfulness.

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What is God’s will for your life? Well the Bible says:

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Not the answer you were looking for?

That’s probably because what you actually want is to have your fortune told.how to know God's perfect will for your life

Many ask about the will of God as though it’s the Christian equivalent of ”wishing upon a star”. When they talk about God’s will for their life, what they’re probably talking about is the hopes and dreams they have and it’s God’s will for them to have him.

But the Bible isn’t going to tell you:

  • What career you should pursue
  • Where to go to school
  • Where you will live
  • What tax bracket you should be in
  • What church to attend
  • Whether you should get married or not get married
  • How many kids you will have
  • Where you should be buried

For those kinds of questions, the Bible says wisdom is found in an abundance of counselors.

Where there’s no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety. (Proverbs 11:14)

Ephesians 5:15-17 says this:

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish but understand what the will of the Lord is.

Now understanding the will of the Lord doesn’t mean what He’s going to reveal to you in a vision or a dream or some false prophet trying to con you. It’s understanding what He’s already revealed in His Word.

Know what the Word of God says and how to apply it, and it will make you wise.

The Bible also says:

For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor. (1 Thessalonians 4:3)

So what is God’s will for your life?

That you praise Him in all circumstances and that you live holy lives in Christ Jesus according to His Word, the Bible…

when we understand the text. 

(This video is by WWUTT. Discovered by e2 media network and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not emedia network.)

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dscs-banner

It’s good manners to be thankful, so we have this holiday once a year to remember to be thankful. But, why not have other “manner-related” holidays?

Pleasegiving.

We could have it the day before Thanksgiving, and if you don’t do Pleasegiving, you don’t get to eat Thanksgiving.

Other potential holidays: OpenTheDoorForStrangersGiving, NoInteruptingConversationsGiving, ForkOnTheLeftOfThePlatesGiving, CoverYourNoseWhenYouSneezeGermsNonGiving, NoBelchingInElevatorsGiving… just a few ideas.

Now, we used to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV when we were kids. I loved seeing the large, looming inflatable cartoon characters that glided across our 13-inch black-and-white TV. Oddly enough, the characters often looked smaller than they did on their own cartoon shows. Come to think of it, it was kind of disappointing. But we’d hold out til the end each year, because Santa was supposed to be at the end of the parade. This was exciting, but it also felt kinda out of context. Sorta like seeing Spock at the end of a Star Wars movie.

It’s not like they let the giant turkey make an appearance in the Christmas Parade. (Then again, the turkey would be eaten by then).Sam Beman Family

A good friend of mine who exemplifies Thanksgiving EVERY day is comedian / impressionist Sam Beman. He’s a living and breathing icon of how to be thankful, even in the midst of life’s trials.

Sam has had quite a year! Going back a little bit, he rounded out 2014 by proposing to the love of his life at Disney Word’s Magic Kingdom. Even while planning this life-altering trip, Sam was thinking of others. He realized that his mom needed a little more joy in her life, so he invited her to go with him and his girlfriend to Orlando, so that she could see her son get engaged!

Then after a quick engagement, Sam and Sarah were married, ready to spend a life in marital bliss! That is, until the doctors report came in one month later. For the past few years, Sam had been dealing with swollen lymph node glands. There were times when they would get quite painful. But each time he got them checked out, they said there was nothing to worry about. Leading up to his wedding date, he avoided the doctor, until he was hit with a debilitating sciatic pain in his leg. This resulted in his honeymoon, back at the Magic Kingdom, being anything but magical. The pain was excruciating.

By the time they had been home for a couple of weeks, Sam looked terrible. Sarah had even confided in some people at church that she thought her new husband may be dying. He didn’t even have the strength to open a door. The pain kept him from working, or just about anything else in life. And he didn’t have medical insurance. Luckily, the wife of their church choir director worked at a free medical clinic and he stopped by to have some labs drawn.

Within just a couple hours of having his blood drawn, Sam received a call from the doctor telling him that he was in critical condition with an extremely low hemoglobin count and he needed to get to a hospital immediately. They learned that his kidneys were actually shutting down, landing him right on death’s doorstep.

After putting all the pieces of the puzzle together, the doctor diagnosed him with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

Sam then had the opportunity to endure the “best bone marrow biopsy” his medical team had ever performed! He started out with some Disney impressions while they were beginning the procedure, but quickly realized that it probably wasn’t a great idea to make the guy who is drilling into him laugh out loud. The tests confirmed that he had stage four Hodgkin’s Disease Lymphoma, resulting in several months of chemotherapy, radiation, and a whole lot of yuck!

At first, he lost the ability to taste foods and everything was awful.

So, to keep his own spirits up and make the most out of a terrible situation, Sam would try to entertain the patients and staff every time he went in for treatment, regardless of how he felt, himself. And there were A LOT of REALLY painful days!

But, thanks to Sarah, Sam has kept his head held high throughout it all. As Sam puts it, “Next to Jesus, she has been my rock!”

Through it all, he has learned to be thankful for life – it’s more fragile than we realize. He’s thankful for second chances. Getting that close to dying has given him a whole new perspective on how precious living is. He’s thankful for his family. He’s thankful that God has sustained him every step of the way. And, he’s extremely thankful for Sarah and his four step-children.

It blew Sam’s mind when a giant group of comics rallied around him and put on a concert to raise money to help with their medical costs. Even more humbling was their attitudes toward doing it. As Tim Hawkins put it, “You’re our friend. Of course we’re going to do this and help you out!”

Sam actually has a fundraiser going at gofundme.com. All you have to do is type in “Keep Sam Laughing” in order to donate, learn more about his story, and join in Sam’s comeback!kristin weber

Finally, I’m so thankful to have my dear friend Kristin Weber join the show. Now, Kristin has been a little slower than most when it comes to adopting the latest in technology. She just recently traded in her flip phone and finally got an iPhone. However, she only got the 5c, in an effort to avoid any eternal problems by getting the 666 model. She knew she needed to upgrade when she was walking along and a homeless man called her out for having a flip phone. When people living on the streets are making fun of your material possessions, it’s time to make a change.

Now, after just a few weeks of owning her iPhone, she has partaken of the kool aid and is completely dependant on it.

Yet, oddly enough, she hardly ever makes any phone calls anymore. But it’s not like she has given up any emotion filled communication, using her actual, intimate voice to speak with someone… not when there are emojis for everything!

But, what she has found confoundingly frustrating are Group Texts! As Kristin puts it, since we’ve gotten rid of water-boarding, why don’t we just include suspected terrorists in a group text in order to get information out of them?! Then again, that might violate the Geneva Convention.

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Welcome to episode two of Parent Like You Mean It – I’m Jefferson Drexler and this is the podcast where we talk about what it means to parent intentionally, instead of just letting life happen to you and your kids.  Too often, we get bogged down by life’s circumstances: work, school, meetings, little league games, dance recitals, picking up the house, folding the laundry, re-folding the laundry, feeding the dog… there is perpetually 25 hours worth of things to take care of each and every day.  So, how on earth are we parents supposed to be purposeful and intentional in how we raise our kids?

I don’t know.  I have a few ideas, but I don’t know. 

But, one – I do know what it means to “mean it” – to have so much conviction about something that you couldn’t name a price that would make me waver from it; to hold something as so valuable that you would give your very life to protect it.  So when I say “Parent Like You Mean It”, that’s what I mean… parent with not just purpose, but conviction! 

That’s one… two:  while I may not know exactly how to intentionally raise our kids to be filled with unwaivering values and character, I know a few people who know a lot more than I do.

One such person is a guy who I’ve become a huge fan of, as a speaker, author and thinker… and as a fellow dad who pours himself, and the pearls of wisdom that God has given him, into his kids.  He’s a fellow homeschool dad, as well as a fellow survivor of 80’s hair band fandom, and as he puts it, he spends a lot of time “Thinking about intersections: faith and culture, truth and life, the already and not yet.”

But enough of my gushing, here’s my interview with John Stonestreet:

JEFFERSON: John Stonestreet’s bio says that he is Executive Director of the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview. He is the co-host with Eric Metaxas of BreakPoint, the Christian worldview radio program founded by the late Chuck Colson, and the voice of The Point, a daily national radio feature on worldview, apologetics and cultural issues.  He also serves as a Senior Content Advisor for Summit Ministries… and apparently John never, ever, ever sleeps.

John, when we talk about “Parenting Like You Mean It”, we’re talking about intentionality, and not just letting parenting “happen” day-to-day, but actually setting out with a purpose.  I know that you’ve got three daughters, but could you sort of set the stage and describe what the Stonestreet house is like.

JOHN:  Well, it’s like any other house with three little girls these days.  Which means there’s a whole lot of the song “Let It Go” playing over and over and over again; and there’s a whole lot of Disney princesses decorating everything.  So, it’s a pretty normal place.

But it is a place where we try to seek as much advice and counsel – my wife is particularly good at this – from older parents: parents who are just down the road from us.  We are blessed to have in our lives my grandparents who were married for 63 years before my grandfather died just this past year; my parents have been married for nearly 50 years; and my wife’s parents have been married for a long time as well.  So, we’ve got some great examples around us.  We’re also part of a solid church, and all of this is indispensible for us – to have that sort of support and network. 

We actually have several friends who don’t have that kind of support system around them and they feel very alone.  I’ve even seen it amongst homeschool parents who may find themselves within communities where others aren’t homeschooling, or maybe their church isn’t as supportive of it, and they’re trying to do it all alone – while at the same time comparing themselves to the “All-Star Homeschool Parents” that get on the cover of Homeschool Digest and speak at the homeschool events.  This can be a pretty oppressive environment for them.

And so, we’re just really blessed to have so many healthy examples.

JEFFERSON:  You mention homeschooling, and as you go around the world imploring people to hold fast to a Christian worldview, where we view all people as if everyone is made in God’s image as a foundation for our lives, how do you and  your wife instill this in your daughters?  I mean, to speak on these terms to high schoolers or college students is fairly easy, but how do you address this with your girls?

JOHN:  Well, I don’t think that it’s unique to homeschooling parents.  I think that, as parents, it’s the first thing that we want to teach our kids – Who is God and how has He made Himself known to us?  How do we know what we know?  That’s probably one of the most disputed ideas in our society.  And so, when children see their parents under the submission to the Word of God, to historic teaching and from the Church, and to a local congregation, when they see mom and dad submitting to authority, I think that communicates an awful lot about how we know what we know and what is true.

On the flipside, teaching them that people are made in the image of God, is talked through in various means of catechism.  Some people use things like the Heidelberg or the Westminster Confession or something like that, but even just – one of the things that we try to repeat over and over and over again – and we’ve had some very interesting conversation this year in particular in our house.  I’ve just finished a book with my good friend Sean McDowell on same-sex marriage, which of course is not a topic you would typically teach your young daughters about (my daughters are nine, seven and five-years-old).  My oldest daughter asked, “Hey, Daddy, could I read your book?” and I was like, “Absolutely not.”  But, you know, they did ask about what it was.  We live in Colorado, so this is something that they’ve at least noticed and so they’re aware that there are those in our country and community who are two men or two women who essentially act like they are married.  So, we don’t go into the technical details of the sexuality, but we do describe to them that this is a very bad decision and that there is a difference between men and women and so on. 

And that’s part of the image of God, right?  First and foremost: “God created them male and female…” (Genesis 1:27).  And when the Pharisees asked Jesus about marriage in Matthew 19, He points back to the image of God and He talks about “male and female”.  And so our “maleness” and “femaleness” is not incidental as to what it means to be made in God’s image.  We image God, specifically the way we do, partly because of our sexual identities.

On the flipside, we’ve also had to talk about how everyone is made in the image and likeness of God and are therefore worthy of dignity and respect.  So if we see our daughters being selfish with stuff, or fighting with their sisters – we ask, “What’s more important: people or things?”

That’s a line that my wife came up with, which is just extremely important.  It obviously addresses materialism and “wanting stuff”.  I mean, our kids have more things than they know what to do with, so it’s easy to start to think that things are more important than people.  So, this becomes a more tangible way that we discuss the image of God.

So this all is really just part of our day, from the beginning to the end.

JEFFERSON:  I find it amazing – how much our parents learn from just observing their parents and what we do.  You mentioned that you have the standards of your parents, grandparents and in-laws as examples of keeping your marriage together.  And, obviously, when it comes to the big picture, we all have Christ’s example to follow.

But, when it comes to this time of year – you mentioned the role Disney’s Frozen plays in your home – how do you change your pace of your home, as we near Christmas and go through the Advent Season preparing for Christmas?  How do you switch gears and teach your girls, “I know that there is a lot of stuff going on in the world around us, but in our house, this is how we’re doing things differently”?

JOHN:  You know, that’s where intentionality really comes in.  I’ll just say what we do in our house.  I mean, we only know what we know because of people that we have learned from, and our church has been extremely helpful.

You see, I’ve always been super hesitant – and I’ll just go ahead and admit this – to give any sort of parenting talk.  I speak at a lot of homeschool conferences and I pretty much talk about philosophy and theological and philosophical framework for marriage, and what is culture and how do we understand it.  But when somebody asks me to do a parenting seminar, I pretty much always say, “I’m not old enough to do that.”  And I really believe that.

I also believe that (and I don’t know if I should really say this out loud but…) there are far too many young homeschool moms and dads that are willing to jump up front and give parenting seminars – and some have become “All-Stars” of the homeschool movement – and it’s really a bad idea.  We didn’t respect the clear Scriptural teaching of respecting our elders who have gone before us.  So, I’m really hesitant to do something like that.  That being said, I can just tell you what we’ve learned.

There are two things that have been incredibly helpful in our home on that front.  Now, there’s the approach out there that you stay away from all the “stuff”:  Santa Claus, Disney, Frozen, etc. – and there are days where I would really like to do that!  But, my theology is one that is deeply influenced by guys like Dietrich Bonhoeffer and others that were incarnational.  Chuck Colson, obviously, was a huge influence on me, especially his idea that every square inch of culture belongs to Jesus Christ, as Chuck would quote from Abraham Kuyper.  So, if we believe that this world belongs to God, that the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, then it is true that every square inch is claimed by Christ and counter-claimed by the enemy.  And so, hiding from culture is not a real Christian option.

We’re actually called to be deeply engaged – proclaiming the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  So one is “How do we engage this stuff?”  So, between not engaging it at all or hiding from it and engaging it as a passive consumer, I think that there are a lot of other options. 

One is:  Always asking questions.

Take “Let It Go” as an example.  There is a lot that is redeemable in that movie.  There were a lot of good lessons taught.  It was very different than other Disney films.  But the song that became so popular, “Let It Go”, has a really bad idea in the middle of it:  “…No right, no wrong, no rules for me.  I’m free!”  So, what we do in our house, when we’re watching a movie or talking or singing, we stop in the middle of it.  We ask about what just happened.  We ask what would happen if they actually lived that out.  We then were able to discuss how Elsa was being very selfish, and ended up hurting her sister, her town and so on.  There were very clear consequences to a really bad decision.

So, having these types of conversations – where you stop in the middle – this is the Jesus form of teaching.  When we walk around, point things out and talk about it.  He did it with His disciples, you see it in the Sermon on the Mount, you can see it in his parables and illustrations.  Jesus was kinda looking at the culture of the day and pointing things out.  It’s kind of a “Walk Around” form of learning.  We’ve found that to be very helpful, and I owe that to a couple mentors of mine who I have learned from.

And the other thing that I think is super helpful for this particular time of year is this:  You can’t let it become the “Shopping Season”.  I mean, the day after we give thanks as a nation, we trample security guards for flat screen TV’s… and that is the start of the Christmas Season.  It’s insane!

So, what happens is that Christmas becomes a “Shopping Season, decorated with Jesus Talk on the weekends”.  And one of the things that the Church realized – WAY BEFORE our materialistic consumerist culture, though it’s probably never been more helpful than right now – is that we need a time of preparation and expectation.  If you look at the Biblical story – you talk about expectation – take a look at Zechariah’s song in Luke 1 or look at Anna and Simeon when they see the Christ Child in the Temple.  There’s an expectation that’s part of Israel’s story – a longing, waiting and anticipation.  And we’ve gotten rid of all that in our culture.

But the Season of Advent helps bring it back.

So to recognize that after Thanksgiving, each day we’re going to stop and intentionally go through some sort of disciplined practice to recognize and honor the Season of Advent, so that we’re anticipating and talking about Jesus coming. It helps reclaim the calendar.  The calendar has been hijacked by Black Friday and weekend sales.  We can reclaim that calendar through observing Advent, which I think is extremely helpful.

JEFFERSON:  So, is observing Advent something you do in your home as a morning devotion, or is it something that you drip in throughout the day’s activities?  How does it, practically, play itself out?

JOHN:  Well, we are part of a church community that does this really well and that’s extremely helpful.  What we do would not be nearly as effective if not for our church community, and that’s something that we have become very reliant upon.  And I think that’s good.

Sometimes I get a little concerned by some homeschool parents that I talk to that are “anti-church”.  I don’t think that we have a choice of whether or not to be in the Church.  We shouldn’t let the school or the government or the Church replace the home, but we also shouldn’t let the home replace the Church.  The Church has a very important role.

We also have a nightly discipline:  we do an Advent Candle, or we have friends that have a calendar or an Advent Tree… there are all sorts of ways to do it.  And we also sprinkle it throughout each day.

The other thing is this:  My kids would listen to Christmas music every day starting October 1st if we let them.  And I’m a big fan of Christmas music as well, but there is a little bit of a difference between Christmas music and Advent music.  Advent music includes songs of expectation and songs of longing.  Some of them are very familiar Christmas songs like “O Come O Come, Emmanuel”.  It’s important to take time and talk about these things, and being intentional and playing some Advent songs in the days that prepare for Christ’s coming.

Another thing is that I don’t want to get away from the celebration.  There’s some sort of false spirituality out there that says, “If we’re having too much fun, then it can’t be really Christian”.  Actually, if you look at gift giving in the extreme, this is what God did!  So, we also have a lot of fun during this time.  Now, part of it is due to the fact that I’m not traveling as much, so I’m home more than usual.  But, we put the lights out, we have people over, and it’s a holiday… and that’s a good thing.  There’s a time to celebrate and a time to recognize and I think it’s possible to do all of that during this time of year.  There’s a great article, by the way, written about two years ago in Christianity Today by Doug Wilson that spoke about being merry at Christmas.  You know, Jesus was invited to weddings and had fun, so, He set an example – Jesus really liked a good party!  And I think that Christians should, too.  You see this in the classic story A Christmas Carol – there’s a time to celebrate and rejoice.  So all of that is how Advent plays out at our house.

JEFFERSON:  Earlier, you mentioned the “dilemma” of discussing the content of your book with your daughters.  How do you bridge the gap between protecting your kids and engaging the world that is right outside our doors?  A lot of parents feel as though, especially in light of the headline news items of the day, we need to build up a hedge around our homes to protect our children from these dangers out there.  But then, there’s the approach that we should expose our children to the world around us and begin a dialog with them about what’s going on.  So, what’s your approach to all of this?

JOHN:  You know, I think that safety has become an idol in the homeschooling community, frankly.  First of all, I think that it’s an illusion that we can protect our kids.  Scripture says that it’s only in God that we can find true safety.  I think that we’re about to receive a really rude awakening in American culture from our illusions of safety.  And it grieves me – I don’t want to throw my kids out into the lion’s den.  But, historically, Christians have not found the world to be a very safe place.  We’ve been able to in the U.S. and we want to cling to that, but I don’t know if that will last. 

And there’s also the illusion that safety somehow equals morality.  If we keep our kids safe from being exposed to these questions then they will make good decisions later.  That’s certainly not true.  Scripture says that it’s out of the heart – it’s what comes out of a man that defiles him, not what goes in (Matthew 15:11). 

So, in our house, we certainly are very careful with age appropriate things.  We’re careful regarding things of innocence.  But, if they ask the questions, and if it’s asked the right way – respectfully and kindly, we answer them.  Sometimes, and I know that I experienced this when I was a boy, they ask questions out of mere curiosity.  And when they do this, we sometimes look at this as a moral failure that they even know this stuff.  We’ve been very careful to guard our kids’ innocence in regards to the things they watch and see and hear and so on, but we don’t always get to choose what our kids talk about.

Just the other night, my oldest daughter came downstairs and asked about same-sex couples.  So, we got into In Vitro Fertilization and how they have babies, and we just talk about it.

At the same time, our kids are very used to us saying, “You know what, that’s a little too old for you right now.  But we will talk about it later.”  It’s become normal for us to say that to them, so they accept that.

Something that we have to realize is that somebody is going to have a conversation with our kids about all this stuff.  It’s either going to be us, or the culture.  So, it becomes a choice of either we send our kids out into the culture eventually or we bring the culture into our homes and we analyze it, we talk about it and we help them learn to think about it.  Now, there’s no doubt about it, it’s a moving target.  There are things that we’re going to find attract and titillate our kids in different ways, as James talks about in the Bible – certain temptations that are going to pull them.  But they’re either going to encounter these with awareness or with unawareness.  And I think that we need to do it together.

Another thing that we find important – and my wife has been doing a lot of reading up on this, which I really appreciate – you don’t just learn to handle sin, evil and temptation by avoiding it.  The season of Lent on the Church calendar teaches us this.  We all know that you’re supposed to quit something for Lent: chocolate, dessert, etc.  But actually when you truly want to break a habit, you typically need to pick something up as you put the something you want to quit down.  So, as Augustine and Jonathan Edwards wrote, if we look at “cultivating affections”, as we walk our kids into the world and say “no… no… no” without having helped them cultivate proper affections by addressing them what they should love, then we set them up for failure. 

And that speaks to intentionality as well.

So this is another thing that helps kids deal with culture – helping them foster good habits of watching.  Not just saying, “don’t’ watch this… don’t watch that…” but examining how we are watching it.  What are the habits that we are using when we engage with entertainment or shopping or the news or whatever?  What are the right habits to have?  These are important questions to ask and to foster.

JEFFERSON:  And it seems that when it comes to the long run, if this is your practice, then your kids will have a strong grasp as to why they make the decisions they do as young adults, right?

JOHN:  Right.  And another key part to this is very clearly holding up the Gospel.  I struggle with this deeply.  You see, I grew up in somewhat of a moralistic environment where “you do the right thing and you don’t do the wrong thing” and that’s just it.  As parents, it’s very tempting to fall into that.  I mean, we want to proclaim virtue and what is good and true and beautiful.  But the heart of the Gospel is that we’re sinners.  So always remembering that we have that gift of redemption sometimes seems like we’re offering a mixed message:  God loves you… God loves you… God loves you.  He loves you just the way you are.  He’s willing to forgive you… BUT DON’T DO THIS BECAUSE YOU’LL DISPLEASE GOD!

Now, while all this is true, it’s important to walk our kids through that and not treating a child’s failure as if it’s the end of the world.  All of us have made huge mistakes, and our kids will, too.  So it’s important to walk alongside them through their failures and help them find redemption and grace is key.  And the way you do this is by always keeping the Gospel in front of them.

JEFFERSON:  Speaking of our own failures, while we do the best we can as parents, sometimes we just make mistakes.  What would be some “dumb taxes” that you and Sarah have paid that you can help other parents avoid?  By “dumb taxes”, I mean something that you did that you went in with the best of intentions, but as things played out you realized that wasn’t the right course to sail on (pardon the mixed metaphors).

JOHN:  Gosh, there are so many, it’s hard to narrow it down.  I know that I struggle, as I said, with that balance between moralism and grace.  So, a lot of what is running through my mind right now has to do with discipline.  I need to be better at disciplining my girls towards grace, forgiveness and redemption.  My wife is really good at that and I’m really bad at that.  So, that’s easily one of them.

Another is that we don’t do very well at that consistent, day in and day out, family devotion time.  And I always feel really guilty because I read about all these families that do.  But I travel a ton and we’re always doing stuff with our church late at night, so we try to create a habit of being faithful with it, but without beating ourselves up if it doesn’t happen for three or four days in a row.  So, what we do is take advantage of those everyday moments.

And then the biggest thing, and this is obvious to everyone who has more than one kid, but our three kids are so different from one another.  They respond so differently to different types of teaching and different types of relational interactions.  So, that’s a real challenge for us.  You know, my oldest daughter is the first born, so we joke about how God loves us and Abigail has a wonderful plan for our lives.  She’s dutiful and all that, and we can reason with her.  But trying to reason with our middle daughter – who is very, very emotional – in the midst of her emotions just isn’t very wise.  We’ve learned how to take a break and calm things down and then have a conversation afterwards.

So, all these things are just normal parenting stuff that we all run into.  I mean, we have human kids, right?  And we’re human parents.  So, we’ve been so blessed by being able to share our struggles with parents who are older and further down the road from us.  Mentorship is just so incredibly important.

JEFFERSON:  Well, John, thank you so much.  I just have one last question and it’s the hardest of them all:  You and I are about the same age and products of the ‘80s, so what is your greatest guilty pleasure from the ‘80s? Was it something like knowing all the lyrics to Tiffany or Debbie Gibson’s songs, or wishing that you went to Bayside High with the cast of Saved By the Bell, or were you one of those “good Christian boys” who hoped that Amy Grant would wait until you were old enough to get married?

JOHN:  Oh, man.  That would be none of the above.  I was far more edgy than any of that.  But here’s a funny story:  I was speaking at a homeschool convention, and I walked into this big convention center, then as I entered into the room that I thought I was supposed to be in, I see all these pool tables and a bar set up.  I thought, “Wow.  This doesn’t look like a homeschool conference.”  It was actually the Billiards and Darts Championships!  The homeschool conference was on the other side of the center.  So, that night, I got up to give the keynote address – and whoever planned this did not think this through – but the room we were in backed up to the Billiards and Darts Championships, where they were playing all the great ‘80s and ‘90s big hair bands:  Def Leppard, Van Halen, and all those lyrics that I really shouldn’t know.  But I wasn’t a great kid in the 80’s and 90’s, I’ll just admit that.  So, I was trying to give my talk, but all the lyrics to all these party rock songs are playing in the room next door and in my head.  You know, James 1:8 says “a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways” and I personified that man that evening.  I was trying so hard to be spiritual as I delivered my talk while Def Leppard lyrics were running through my head and I couldn’t do anything about it.  So, yeah… those sins of the 80’s and 90’s came back to bite me.

JEFFERSON:  Well, John, thank you so much for your pearls of wisdom and your transparency.  It’s a real treat to glean from somebody who has gleaned from some of the greats.  Thanks!

You can tweet John at @JBStonestreet, read and hear from him at breakpoint.org, and pick up his books: Making Sense of Your World and Same-Sex Marriage, A Thoughtful Approach to God’s Design for Marriage on Amazon.com.

But, before you start tweeting, clicking and buying… start commenting.  Let us know your thoughts about what John has to say about instilling a Christian worldview in our kids, or how to engage our culture without it governing over us and our families.  You can do that, as well as find so many other amazing podcasts and videos at the e-squared media network at www.e2medianetwork.com.

With that, I’m going to get to work on next week’s podcast.  So, until then, I’m Jefferson Drexler encouraging you to Parent Like You Mean It!

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When I hear the word “Thanksgiving,” of course I think of turkey and mashed potatoes.  Maybe a little Black Friday shopping.  Maybe some pilgrims and some corn.  It’s easy to associate the holiday with football games and Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.  I even think of the National Dog Show sponsored by Purina that my family inevitably watches as we leave the TV on after the parade and begin to cook.

When I think of thanksgiving in the Bible, my Sunday school memory drums up the Psalm based song:

“I will enter his gates with thanksgiving in my heart.  I will enter his courts with praise.  I will say this is the day that the Lord has made.  I will rejoice for He has made me glad.”

Thanksgiving is easily connected with praise.  When we enter God’s presence, when we rest there, and when we gaze at what He did for us through His Son, how could we not praise Him with the utmost gratitude?  How could we not thank Him with everlasting praise?

It’s a strong reminder to take time and rest in the peace of God’s presence and marvel at the beauty of who He is.  In that praise, there’s pause for reflection, remembrance, gratitude and prayer.

Thanksgiving is also associated with prayer.

Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church put it well when he said we need to thank God for the outcome of our prayers – whatever it may be – whether we like it or not – we are to thank Him for what He is about to do, because in thanking Him for the outcome, we surrender our prayers to God to do with what He will.

And that’s when the peace we can’t wrap our heads around enters in to guard our hearts.

It’s through thanksgiving that we’re able to pray, receive peace, and offer praise.  It’s through thankful reflection that we’re able to commune intimately and connect with God.

And when we don’t feel grateful, when we don’t know what to be thankful for, we can look at Christ and remember what He did.

Jean Baptiste Massieu said “Gratitude is the memory of the heart.”  When we’re at a loss, we can remember Christ’s actions with thankfulness.  We can experience the peace that comes from of His redemptive sacrifice and the hope that comes in His joyful victory.  We can shout with praise at the memory and promise of His unfailing love because by His grace we will enter His gates with thanksgiving.  We can rejoice for He has made us glad!

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The “Know It All Guy” tackles the age-old question:  When it comes to Thanksgiving, why do we have the tradition of serving cranberries?

Well, first off, their origins stem from New England Vikings, Girl Scouts, pomegranates and cod fish. Over the centuries, with contributions from the Fenway family amongst he Wade Boggs, the tradition of stooping down to eat nasty berries set the table for our annual celebratory gelatin.

The Know It All Guy amplifies and embellishes the details in this week’s podcast.

For more hilarity, hijinks and good clean fun, check out www.DarenStreblowComedyShow.com

 

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David Pendleton and Riley Armstrong join Daren in celebrating Thanksgiving and Riley expresses his things for the funding he recently received for his upcoming comedy project.

But two things that cannot be overlooked on Thanksgiving are:  How to prepare the turkey and how to avoid post-turkey lethargy.  Daren recommends the adrenaline rush inducing and high risk factor of deep frying your turkey.

The guys also take a historical perspective on Thanksgiving – especially pertaining to the origins of bread stuffing.

For more family friendly laughs, check out www.DarenStreblowComedyShow.com

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When I hear the word “Thanksgiving,” of course I think of turkey and mashed potatoes.  Maybe a little Black Friday shopping.  Maybe some pilgrims and some corn.  It’s easy to associate the holiday with football games and Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.  I even think of the National Dog Show sponsored by Purina that my family inevitably watches as we leave the TV on after the parade and begin to cook.

When I think of thanksgiving in the Bible, my Sunday school memory drums up the Psalm based song.  “I will enter his gates with thanksgiving in my heart.  I will enter his courts with praise.  I will say this is the day that the Lord has made.  I will rejoice for He has made me glad.”

Thanksgiving is easily connected with praise.  When we enter God’s presence, when we rest there, and when we gaze at what He did for us through His Son, how could we not praise Him with the utmost gratitude?  How could we not thank Him with everlasting praise?

It’s a strong reminder to take time and rest in the peace of God’s presence and marvel at the beauty of who He is.  In that praise, there’s pause for reflection, remembrance, gratitude and prayer.

Thanksgiving is also associated with prayer.

Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church put it well when he said we need to thank God for the outcome of our prayers – whatever it may be – whether we like it or not – we are to thank Him for what He is about to do, because in thanking Him for the outcome, we surrender our prayers to God to do with what He will.

And that’s when the peace we can’t wrap our heads around enters in to guard our hearts.

It’s through thanksgiving that we’re able to pray, receive peace, and offer praise.  It’s through thankful reflection that we’re able to commune intimately and connect with God.

And when we don’t feel grateful, when we don’t know what to be thankful for, we can look at Christ and remember what He did.
Jean Baptiste Massieu said “Gratitude is the memory of the heart.”  When we’re at a loss, we can remember Christ’s actions with thankfulness.  We can experience the peace that comes from of His redemptive sacrifice and the hope that comes in His joyful victory.  We can shout with praise at the memory and promise of His unfailing love because by His grace we will enter His gates with thanksgiving.  We can rejoice for He has made us glad.

You can follow Jana on Twitter: @Jana_Stambaugh

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  •  Good News, Etc