#092: Can We Be Thankful Today?

This week we celebrate Thanksgiving Day here in America. The first American Thanksgiving Day was celebrated in 1621 when the Pilgrims gave thanks for the harvest and God’s provision.

Thankfulness, Brownscomb

Today, the holiday seems to be more about having a party and watching several football games, rather than being thankful to God for His provision in our life.

There are several thanksgiving day celebrations recorded in the Bible. Typically they were days of feasting and celebration, but all centered on being thankful for God’s presence, provision, or protection.

Psalm 118 describes just such a celebration of thanks to God. Many scholars believe David wrote the Psalm, perhaps marking the restoration of the walls and gates of Jerusalem during the Feast of Tabernacles in 444 B.C. That would certainly be cause for celebration!

The first four verses of Psalm 118 begin David’s prayer of thanks.

1  Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!
2  Let Israel say, “His steadfast love endures forever.”
3  Let the house of Aaron say, “His steadfast love endures forever.”
4  Let those who fear the LORD say, “His steadfast love endures forever.”
Psalm 118:1-4 (ESV)

 Let’s dig a little deeper into these verses to see when we should give thanks, why we should give thanks, and who should give thanks.

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#091: What To Do When You Are Stuck Cleaning Up Someone Else’s Mess!

Sooner or later you will likely be in the position of needing to clean up someone else’s mess.

Cleanup, Mess

If that call hasn’t come yet it could happen anytime. As a leader, cleaning up someone else’s mess can be a particularly difficult and challenging time in your career, but it can also be an extremely rewarding time.

Cleaning up someone else’s mess may require restructuring the organization, changing its direction, or changing processes that have been in place for years. Often, the sense of urgency is intense—clean up the mess, make the needed changes, and do it quick!

Asa, was the third king of Judah, and the great grandson of Solomon. The Bible describes Asa as a good king, a man “who did what was right in the eyes of the Lord” (1 Kings 15:11, 2 Chronicles 14:2). We can learn a lot about leadership and how to clean up a mess from him.

Asa became king of Judah when he was only 18-22 years old after his father, Abijah, died. The people of Judah had lived for 20 years under two bad kings, Asa’s father and grandfather. They allowed the people to build altars to foreign gods and worship them as they forsook the God of their fathers, David and Solomon. Asa inherited quite a mess!

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#090: Are you Peter on Monday Morning?

Jesus is brought before the Sanhedrin for a trial, and Peter takes up a vantage point in the courtyard to watch. First, a servant girl accuses Peter of being with Jesus the Galilean and Peter denies it saying, “I don’t know what you’re talking about!” (Matthew 26:70).

Fear, Peter's Denial

Then another woman approaches Peter and accuses him of being with Jesus the Nazarene and Peter denies it with an oath saying, “I don’t know the man!” (Matthew 26:72).

Finally, a group standing nearby confronts Peter and accuses him of being one of the disciples with Jesus because his accent gives him away. Peter curses and swears another oath saying, “I do not know the man!” (Matthew 26:74).

This is the same Peter who just a few hours before picked up a sword, and despite being surround by over 600 Roman soldiers, cut off the ear of Malchus, the High Priest’s servant (John 18:10).

One minute Peter is bravely defending Jesus against all odds, and a little while later, he denies knowing Jesus, swears an oath that he doesn’t know Jesus, and ultimately, he even curses at those who suggest he knows Jesus!

Wow, we would never do that, would we?!

Recently, an acquaintance told me that trying to start bible studies in the workplace was a challenge because people didn’t want to “come out of the closet.” These are folks who are perfectly comfortable going to church on the weekend and even serve those in need in the community. But they draw the line at being identified as a Christian in the workplace.

Why is that? Why do people shrink away from being known for their beliefs in the workplace?

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#089: Lookin’ For Esteem in All the Wrong Places

Country western singer Johnny Lee recorded the song “Lookin’ For Love.” The lyrics go “Lookin’ for love in all the wrong places, lookin’ for love in too many faces.” The same is true for many of us as we go “lookin’ for esteem in all the wrong places.”

Submit, Man Praying, James 4

To esteem something is to set a high value on it, to regard it highly, and to prize it accordingly. So self-esteem is to set a high value on ourselves, to regard ourselves highly, and to prize ourselves. We see this focus on “self” all around us; the self-awareness books and seminars, and the self-improvement industry all teach us to get in touch with our “inner selves” to find happiness, confidence, and self-esteem.

The self-esteem crusade is rampant with its insidious tentacles reaching into the classrooms of our own children. In my daughter’s first grade class the school offered an hour long self-esteem class three times a week. Parents were told attendance was not mandatory, but no alternative was given for parents who didn’t want their 5-year old children to get “self-esteem” training. In a school of nearly 500 children, my daughter was the only one not in attendance. She spent this hour in the library reading her favorite books.

Why not let her attend you may ask? First, because on close examination the course material was thinly disguised Eastern religion complete with relaxation exercises, visualization, centering, developing spirit guides, etc. Of course, the material didn’t use those exact words but the techniques they were professing were unmistakably similar. Second, self-esteem is the wrong focus for our children, and for us.

The “me” generation of the 60’s spawned most of the self-esteem culture. There was “free love,” marijuana, incense, transactional analysis, and a host of cultural changes that encouraged people to focus on themselves; their needs and their wants. Perhaps the closest Biblical parallel would be life in Sodom or Gomorrah.

Our business culture is not immune to the “self-esteem” advocates. There are dozens of seminars and consultants who in the name of increasing employee morale, sensitivity, or improved productivity teach us to get in touch with our “inner selves.” They tell us that if “I’m OK, You’re OK.” They say that we can’t value others until we value ourselves. The key to self-esteem they say is to focus on liking yourself. The humanist psychologists made popular the concepts of personal identity, positive self-image, self-actualization, self-esteem, and self-worth.

What psychobabble! We would all be a lot better off if we valued ourselves less, and God more. Can you imagine Jesus saying that he was greater than the Father? Can you imagine Jesus trying to find value in others by liking himself more? Or can you imagine Jesus becoming “self-actualized” by visualizing himself dying on the cross? If you have a hard time bringing these pictures up in your mind then you know that “self-esteem” as proffered by the world is not the Biblical solution.

The one thing that humanistic psychology and Biblical Christianity agree on is that we need to get to know ourselves. Humanist psychologists say we need to get to know ourselves so that we can feel good about ourselves. Whereas Biblical Christianity teaches us to know ourselves so that we might turn away from ourselves, and towards Jesus Christ.

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