Archives For November 2012

Give thanks

Tim Jackson —  November 21, 2012 — 2 Comments

Consumerism and commercialism have come to dominate the landscape of the most uniquely American of all our holidays–Thanksgiving. Sales which once were put off till the “day after” Thanksgiving are creeping into the weekend prior to Thanksgiving and even are intruding into Thanksgiving day itself, threatening to consume every scrap of thankfulness from our tables.

Why? Because we let it.

Many of us have slipped into the habit of sitting down to overindulge in a gluttonous feast, only to get up and indulge ourselves in obsessive shopping for more things that we don’t really need with money we don’t really have because we believe we can’t really live without “more.”

And are we really thankful for “the more?” Sure doesn’t seem like it to me.

More doesn’t breed thankfulness necessarily. Usually, it breeds more pressure. Pressure to get more and pressure to keep it once I get it. And lot’s of pressure to pay for it. There’s no gratitude there.

So what are you really thankful for? Or maybe better said, who are you thankful for?

Look at those sitting around your table this Thanksgiving. Can you say something that you’re truly grateful for about each person who sits around your table? When was the last time you thanked God for them? Have you ever thanked them face-to-face? Maybe it’s time.

We are all too often quick to criticize one another. We’re good at that. But that’s not good. Maybe it’s time for a change.

So, here’s a suggestion. Take the time prior to your meal time celebration (maybe the day or evening before Thanksgiving) and write a brief note to each person who will be seated around your table. Just a couple lines are all that’s needed. No long letters. Maybe just a few words simply stated. Write just one thing that you are thankful for that you see in them.

Some examples like:

“Thank you for sharing your tears with me when we lost Dad this year.”

“Thank you for bringing laughter into our home.”

“Thank you for consistently loving me even when I’m moody.”

“Thank you for your patience with the children.”

Those are just some examples. You can take it from here.

The wisdom of the Proverbs reminds us: Better a meal of vegetables where there is love than a fattened calf with hatred (Prov. 15:17). So, even if you don’t have an elaborate spread at your Thanksgiving table, take time to spoon out some loving words of encouragement that will make this Thanksgiving one to remember. And who knows, maybe you’ll start a new tradition that will remind you of what’s most important to be thankful for every day of the year.

Maybe you have some “thankful” traditions you share around your holiday together with friends and family. Please feel free to share your stories here. You’re story may be just the spark that ignites a new tradition of thankfulness in others. And God knows we all can use a lot more of His thankfulness in our lives.

By the way, if I haven’t said it before, let me say it now. Thank You for listening, responding and participating at the HFML family table. May God richly bless you this Thanksgiving.

Seeing & Still Loving

Tim Jackson —  November 20, 2012 — 5 Comments

Recently, while revisiting and revising some material on grief and loss that I wrote over 20 years ago, I ran across this amazing quote from C. S. Lewis that deeply encouraged me and thought I’d share it so that maybe it will do the same for you:

“He sees because He loves, and therefore loves although He sees” (A Grief Observed, p.84)

What do those words stir inside of you as you read them?

Fear? Disbelief? Hope? Or maybe some feeling altogether different.

For me, all three emotions were provoked.

Fear. Being “seen” can often be an unnerving experience because it’s so revealing. Think about it: When was the last time you were seen, I mean really seen for being who you really are? For most of us, that exposure comes at the worst possible time–after we’ve messed up and got caught. How did that go? Totally exposed? Feeling naked with no where to hide?

Just ask the woman entrapped in adultery and thrown in front of Jesus to be judged (John 8:3-11). She expected condemnation, knowing that even death was a real possibility at the hands of her accusers. She knew what she’d been doing was wrong. Nevertheless, being seen and exposed to all (in an open public courtyard) had to leave her feeling ashamed, vulnerable and terrified of what was coming next.

Disbelief. Could it be true? Really? Could I be totally exposed, my flaws revealed and still be loved? My friend, Larry Crabb once shared that for the vast majority of us it was a rare thing to experience “being seen at our worst in the presence of love.” But that’s what grace is all about.

Total exposure usually brings only shame, ridicule, disdain and judgment. But what Jesus offered this vulnerable woman (and us) was radically unexpected: The eyes of truth and a heart of gracious love. He turned the tables on her accusers who weren’t concerned about her at all and then refused to condemn her, even though he clearly saw her sins. Instead, He invited her to leave her sinful lifestyle and step up into a new kind of life that only He could offer.

Hope. Being exposed and not wiped out because of our sin is the scandalous gift of love that God offers to everyone of us without exception, no matter where we’ve been or what we’ve done. That’s what Jesus offered this woman entrapped by accusers and enslaved by her sin. He looked, He saw, and He fully loved her (John 8:11).

And that’s what Jesus offers to each of us–The Hope of being completely seen–warts and all–and  being deeply embraced with the lavish love of God (1 John 3:1). That’s the transformational love of God that is beyond even our wildest dreams.

And the best part about it . . . it’s really true! And it has the power to change us, starting on the inside and working it’s way out.

So, what was it like the last time you were really seen? How did it end? Has there been a time in your life when you’ve tasted the lavishness of God’s loving embrace after you were seen in a not-so-flattering light? Your stories are encouraging to others who fear being seen and loved.

Thanks for sharing.