“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of the year. It is always such a sweet time of family gathering together to enjoy great food, fellowship, and making lasting memories. One of our traditions as a family is to go around the table and let everyone tell of what they are thankful for. I am so blessed each year to hear of how each one is so thankful for so many things.
As grateful as I am for that tradition of sharing our thankfulness, I really believe that God meant for us to live with that attitude every day and not just on Thanksgiving Day. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us above that we are to be thankful “in all circumstances.” Let that command for living sink in for just a moment.
The word for “all” in that verse in Greek means “all”. All circumstances would include both good and bad circumstances. I do not know about you but being thankful in tough circumstances is not something that comes naturally for me. However, the Apostle Paul tells us in this verse that to do so is “God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”
The great preacher of the past Charles Spurgeon understood this idea that thankfulness should be a lifestyle and daily mindset not an occasional activity. I came across how he viewed the idea of thanksgiving. He said that: “I think that is a better thing than thanksgiving: thanks-living. How is this to be done? By a general cheerfulness of manner, by an obedience to the command of Him by whose mercy we live, by a perpetual, constant delighting of ourselves in the Lord, and by a submission of our desires to His will.”
What would it look like for us to begin to practice “thanks-living” this Thanksgiving season? First, we must recommit ourselves to making our relationship with the Lord the top priority of our lives. By doing so, we can as Spurgeon said “constantly delight ourselves in the Lord.” Making the Lord the preeminent relationship of our lives will also result in submission to His desires rather than ours.
Finally, I believe that we need to be obedient to the command in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 to be “thankful in all circumstances.” I do not have to think long to be reminded of just how much the Lord has blessed me. I am grateful that God saved me and provided for my eternal home. Also, He has blessed me with an incredible wife and family and to be part of an incredible ministry like MCA. What about you? What has God done for you?
I pray that every family of Metrolina would have a blessed Thanksgiving and enjoy this time as a family. I pray even more that we would all allow God to use this season to speak to our hearts so that we might begin to practice “thanks-living”. I am convinced that the blessings of “thanks-living” will far exceed that of just one day! Happy Thanksgiving!
“Never before had there been a king like Josiah, who turned to the Lord with all his heart and soul and strength, obeying all the laws of Moses. And there has never been a king like him since.” 2 Kings 23:25
This is a monumental year for MCA as we are celebrating our 25th anniversary this year as a school. As I look back over my almost 20 years here, we have seen not only incredible growth in students and programs but more importantly we have been witness to God moving so powerfully in our midst. I would never have dreamed in 1998 that our school would grow to what it is today.
I remember in the early days as we were planning that we continually prayed and asked God to make us a distinctive Christian school that would bring honor and glory to His name. Our heart was not only to provide a top-quality education but also to be a place that would lead students into a deep relationship with God. After 25 years, I would say that we are more passionate than ever about being the school that God would have us to be.
I love what 2 Kings 23:25 says about who King Josiah was in the Lord. This was a man who had turned “to the Lord with all his heart and soul and strength” and thus 2 Kings tells us that there has “never before or never since” been a king like him.
My heart and prayer for Metrolina is that it would be said of us as a school that “never before has there been a school like MCA” because of our total commitment to the Lord in all we do. Our school is committed to following the Lord’s plan for us and making a difference in our community for His Kingdom.
One of the most important ways in which the MCA community can fulfill this commitment is for each of us to commit our lives to the Lord as never before. God has impressed on my heart the need daily to grow closer to God in my role as the leader of this great school. A wise man once told me as a pastor and as a leader that the folks around me will never rise up above where I am at spiritually. Therefore, I want to know Him more deeply, love Him more completely, and serve Him more passionately.
What could God do with us as individuals and us as a school if we would give ourselves to Him completely? The great evangelist Dwight L. Moody answered that question years ago when he said: “The world has yet to see what God can do with a man fully consecrated to Him. By God’s help, I aim to be that man.”
I pray that we will aim to be the person and the school that God would have us to be! A “never before people and school!”
“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
Throughout history, God has chosen to use the most unlikely of people to accomplish great things. For example, God used a 13-year-old boy named David to take down a 9-foot-tall giant named Goliath. He used a man who committed murder named Moses to lead His people out of Egypt. This type of story is repeated throughout the Word of God. Have you ever wondered why He chose the relatively weak people to accomplish such great tasks?
I believe God chose the weak so that He and He alone would get the glory for what was accomplished. Imagine if God had chosen a strong and mighty warrior instead of David to take down Goliath. Many would have credited the warrior instead of God for this accomplishment.
I would dare say that many reading this today are dealing with some type of struggle in their lives. In these struggles of life, we can feel very weak and defeated. Not knowing where to find answers. There may be many of you today who are so discouraged by the struggles you face and the feelings of weakness that result.
I want you to know that God has provided another way for us and never intended for us to live defeated Christian lives. 2 Corinthians 12:9 tells us that we must learn that God’s grace is sufficient for every circumstance of life. Paul reminds us in this verse that God’s power shows itself so strong in our lives when we are at our weakest points.
Paul goes on to say that our attitude about our weaknesses can change from despair to joy when we allow God’s power to rest on us. In Ephesians 1:19, Paul describes God’s power when he says: “I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe Him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.”
What a powerful reminder that can help us to understand the greatness of God’s power that is available to those who follow Him. Paul tells us that we have access to the same power that raised Jesus from the grave to help us with any weakness or struggle we may encounter in this life.
Paul understood that his weaknesses were opportunities for God to show Himself strong. I pray that each of us will see that truth as well today. Dr. Charles Stanley encouraged me greatly years ago, in a message when he said: “We can be tired, weary, and emotionally distraught, but after spending time alone with God, we find that He injects into our bodies energy, power, and strength.” May we all move forward understanding how God would have us to overcome weakness!
“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Proverbs 4:23
The words of Solomon in Proverbs 4:23 are such a powerful statement to all of us as believers. He told us to “guard your heart above all else.” I believe that this advice is not only for us as individuals but I have also always believed that as a parent it was my job to protect the hearts of my children until they were of age.
I also believe these days of the internet and social media that the job of protecting our children’s hearts has never been harder. What do we need to do to protect our children’s heart in this age of technology? One of the areas that our kids need help and accountability with is that of social media. Social media has created a secret world in which our children will leave a digital footprint that could follow them the rest of their life.
Social media allows our children to create connections and interactions that are not altogether healthy. One thing that is evident about social media is that people are more likely to say things online that they would never say in person. For example, one late night show host has a regular segment entitled “Mean Tweets” in which being mean to others in a Tweet is celebrated. Not a great model for our kids.
Also, students do not often realize the consequences of what they are posting in what they believe is their own private world. This spring, 10 students who were previously accepted to Harvard University had their acceptances rescinded because of their online social media behavior. Colleges are indeed looking at students’ social media footprints and most students do not realize it.
In addition, the idea of being secret and not accountable has also exploded inside the social media app called Snapchat. This is the app where teenagers know that their content is not available for all their “Friends” or “Followers” to see. You choose who you send messages to, and once it’s viewed, it’s gone forever… Or at least, it’s supposed to be. However, it is all able to be recovered as some teens have found out the hard way.
The Pew Research group has found Snapchat to be a primary venue for sexting and cyberbullying amongst teenagers. Parents need to understand that kids enjoy Snapchat, because “it is one of the only apps that is relatively private.” Even parents who do have access to their children’s Snapchat are unlikely to see the messages sent and received through the app.
So, how do we guard their hearts in these areas of social media?
Make sure that your student is old enough and mature enough to handle a social media presence.
Make sure as a parent that you have access to all their accounts and can see all that they post and who posts to them.
Finally, do not allow them to have apps such as Snapchat where they can be involved in things you cannot see.
Josh McDowell once stated that: “I would rather put a fence at the top of a hill than an ambulance at the bottom.” I pray that we would all put some barriers up in the areas of social media to guard the hearts of our children.
“I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return.” Philippians 1:9-10
We live in the most digitally connected culture of all time. We have access to more information and knowledge than at any other time in history. However, I am afraid that we spend more time with technology screens than with anyone else. Research tells us that the average American spends anywhere from 7 to 10 hours a day in front of a screen of some sort.
It seems as if there is no place in our lives that is void of a technological device. Our culture spends more time engaging with technology, social media, and entertainment than with each other.
In Philippians 1:9-10, Paul is admonishing us to grow “in knowledge and understanding” so that we will understand what matters. We all need to stop and ask ourselves what is most important to us. Is it all that important that we keep up with the latest on what is happening on social media or engage our children in conversation at dinner? Do we spend more time on Facebook and Twitter than we do in God’s Word?
Paul says above that the goal is “to understand what really matters, so that you can live pure and blameless lives.” I believe that most Christians desire to have this kind of life for themselves and their children. So, how do we go about putting some controls back in our lives in this technological age so that we can accomplish this goal?
To begin with, we must establish some hard and fast priorities for our families that cannot be compromised. Below are some examples of these type priorities:
Set aside time with your family each day to discuss the things of God - If we are going to grow in understanding, we must spend time in God’s Word each day ourselves and spend time discussing it with our children.
Set the priority that Sunday is the day you go to church - “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord.” Psalm 122:1 There is no better way to disconnect from this world and grow together in knowledge and understanding than to go to church as a family. Are you glad when it is church time or have we given the priority of that day away to things that really do not matter?
Set aside times and places where we do not use devices - A great way to focus on what matters and build relationships within the family is to have time and places where you put away devices. The dinner table is a great place to start as it is time where we can engage our families and has been shown by research to be an effective way to build a healthy family. Another great place to forbid devices is in the bedrooms of our houses. Children do not need unfettered access to the internet in an unprotected area. Another great place to forbid devices is in the car as you can have great conversations on the way to places with a captive audience.
God desires to enrich our lives with the things that matter! I pray that the truth of Philippians 1:9-10 will remind us to seek those things and not what this world offers!