Happy Thanksgiving, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving friends and readers!

I know we have all experieced the averageness of 2015. There is much to bemoan in the world, and probably in your personal life, too. I’m sure.

In the world, I am concerned about the state of race relations in America, and terrorism in the world, and the dissolution of ethics that people of many philosophies used to agree on: kindness, honestly, faithfulness, loyalty to one’s commitments, loyalty to one’s spouse.

For myself, I am not thankful for my back condition, that I’ve been out of work on disability leave for two months, and that I can’t excercise, or spend time with my running buddies, or work on my wife’s kitchen remodeling project.


On the other hand, since giving thanks—the expression of gratitude—is so frequently accompanied by genuine joy and the motivation to serve others in need, then I sincerely wish you find reason to give thanks today and every day.

Saying Happy Thanksgiving is just another way of wishing you joy.

For myself, I’m thankful for the dozens of people who have cared for me, comforted and encouraged me during the last few months. I’m thankful for an employer that pays me even when I can’t work. I’m thankful for colleagues who send me care packages and tell me I’m still needed, as well as missed. I’m thankful for the neighbor who raked my leaves, and the church group that provided weeks of meals. I’m thankful for friends who have visited me in my home and in the hospital. I’m thankful for the friend who helped me re-hookup my television and sound system. I’m thankful for a heavenly Father who has helped me process my fears of surgery and worries about the aftermath.

I could go on, but you get the idea. We choose thanksgiving for something, or someone, and we feel the soul-warming joy of it. We choose thanksgiving and it motivates us to serve someone in their need, and more easily forgive others’ their faults.

Imagine a Black Friday with less road rage, and fewer Wal-Mart fights over the lastest video game. Imagine smiling and waving on the offending driver. Imagine gladly letting the other person have the last game.

That’s just for starters, but even just that would make this a better, just a very tiny bit better, world.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all. I wish you joy.



Surprised by Joy (of Church Membership??)

Sunday morning a few weeks ago, as Dawn and I stood before the congregation of Ivy Creek Church declaring our vows of membership, something unexpected happened…

A surprising joy washed over me.

Joy doormat

[handmade project photo courtesy of Lisa Leonard Online]

It was sudden and strong, unlooked for and unhoped for. It was the sort of arresting moment that said, “Pay attention! A pearl of wisdom lies hidden nearby.” I shared my experience with Dawn later, and she confirmed that she had felt the same surprising joy. But as we talked it over, we realized that we shouldn’t have been surprised.

I know what you’re thinking.

Continue reading

Easter: Imagine Sorrow Changed

Hello Everyone,

We all know that tomorrow is Easter. We all have our family traditions for celebrating it. May the warmth of your celebration be everything you hope.

Sunrise over three crosses

But, I’d like to ask that you join me today and tomorrow in imagining what it must have been like for Jesus’ followers early that Sunday morning, before the sun had risen, before they knew He had risen.

Imagine walking to the tomb with with several women, mourning, sobs in their throats, to prepare His body for burial.

Imagine hiding with His disciples in a darkened, barricaded room for fear of arrest.

Imagine Mary, weeping at the empty tomb, frantic, begging the gardner to tell her where he had laid (hidden? stolen? desecrated?) the body.

And only after you begin to imagine that dark frame of mind—the most utter despair—only then…

Try to imagine their joy.

How it must have changed everything they believed about Him, about themselves, about life in the world.

Strange that we so seldom remember it.

Strange that we are so little changed by it.

Dawn and I pray that joy will find you tomorrow in congregational worship as you imagine, and hear the announcement,


and proclaim,