Black Thursday?!

Look around to those at dinner—

To the saint and to the sinner.

Each one has a unique fable

Sitting by you at the table.

Take a moment just to listen,

And watch as their eyes all glisten.

Yesterday I saw a commercial for a phone company that depicted a family at the dinner table with a Thanksgiving Neal before them. The various members had unique techniques, but they were all trying to eat as quickly as possible. The ad made it clear they were rushing to a Black Friday sale that started on Thursday and offered good deals on new phones.

While the commercial was meant to bring laughter, I was saddened by it. I am not against Black Friday or even against the company who put out the commercial. I will take advantage of the sales just like everyone else. However, I think we need to realize the meaning of Thanksgiving.

It started as a way to thank God for His provision and blessing. Now it sometimes seems like nothing more than a precursor to Black Friday. We need to slow down and not just focus on what we can get but on what we already have. Let’s put the ads and phones down and take joy in what is happening around us; let’s take joy in what we already have.

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Oh Yeah! I Remember!

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Like a picture of the past—

A frame from what has been—

A memory that will last

Is on your mind carved in.

A picture’s worth a thousand!

What’s a memory worth?

Is it worth all the pains and

Hurt that life brings from birth?

Is it worth the relationship

That brings sorrow and joy?

Is it worth burning your lip

To drink the joe girl, boy?

Is it worth the climb it takes

To see the final peek?

Is it worth the choppy wakes

To see where rivers leak?

Is it worth the silent time

That comes with grieving loss?

Is it worth the tiring prime

To see the water’s gloss?

If it brings a memory,

I think it’s quite worth it!

For it takes a past story

To freeze time just a bit.

Everyone loves those mems these days. Social media is full of people documenting moments of joy, fun, disappointment, sadness, stupidity, brilliance, honor and an endless number of more things. These memories each represent so much more than just the moment you see or remember. They represent seasons of life, friendships, family, situations, emotions, and accomplishments. 

In a world where time seems to fly and you can’t go back to a time that has already passed, it can sometimes be depressing to think of memories. However, I think memories should be what we hold on to. They are what allow us to time travel. They help us remember things we can no longer live out. They teach us. They remind us. 

They should be a source of joy about the things that have already happened and a reminder that memories are made constantly, and they last a lifetime. Going on a trip and getting a souvenir is great, but the best souvenirs are the memories you bring back. They are the things that last a lifetime. They are the stories that you will tell your children.

So yes, let’s live in the moment. But, let’s also remember the past and enjoy the things we have done and experienced—the people we have known and the places we’ve seen. Then, let’s also echo the words of Psalm 90:12 that prays for the ability to number our days. For we will one day be done making memories. We will go to the ultimate reality, and this life will be but a memory. However, the new life will be better than anything we will have experienced and well worth the wait, I believe.

Spoiler Alert: He Wins

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I love movies. But, I hate spoilers.

I love movies. But, I hate when people talk during them.

If I’m watching a movie, I want to be all into the story, especially if I have never seen it. I want to know what’s happening and who is doing it.

There is one spoiler that I don’t mind though. There is one spoiler that was spoiled before I was even born. God’s story, the story humans are the supporting cast of, has already been finished. The end has been written, and God has given us a sneak peak. Nothing we do will ever change the ending. God wins in the end. 

The intense battle scenes where humans fight and struggle with sin and temptation are all just formalities. The real war, the one that matters most, has already been won. Jesus already defeated Hell and the devil. While we are fighting it out, we are also looking ahead with the assurance that God already fought it out on the cross and won!

Everyone has those movies that they know the ending of, they know all the spoilers, they’ve seen it countless times. Yet, they still go back and watch it again and again and enjoy it just the same. They still laugh at the humor and cry at the drama. They are their favorite stories. 

Just because we know the ending to God’s story doesn’t mean we can’t get pleasure out of hearing it. We may know the spoilers, but it should be our favorite story. It is the most real story there is, and we are privileged to be a part of it. 

What Gives?

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If you are Christian, more than likely you have heard the song “Reckless Love”. More than likely you have heard it countless times. It has taken the Church by storm, frequently filling countless auditoriums with words of God’s love that we do not deserve. Whether you like the song or not, it has become extremely popular.

A few days ago, I was in Chapel at Oral Roberts University and they played the song “Reckless Love”. I know most of the song’s lyrics due to how many time’s I have heard them. However, when the song got to a certain line I was somewhat surprised I hadn’t noticed the words before. 

Speaking of God’s love it says:

“I couldn’t earn it

I don’t deserve it

Still you give yourself away.”

I want to just focus on that one word GIVE. I am glad the writers of the song chose to say give instead of gave. Jesus GAVE his life away indeed. However, Jesus truly does GIVE His life away. He is above the constraints of time; He is eternal. He is omnipotent and could, at any moment, take back his sacrifice on the cross. We still mess up. We still break His heart. We still disappoint Him. We still sin. And, He still gives His life up for us everyday.

Jeremiahs words echo this thought in Lamentations 3:22-23. He says,

“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

So let that serve as a reminder to us of how unconditional God’s love is—so unconditional that He continually GIVES His life away when He could take back His sacrifice at any point. He could choose not to GIVE away His life.

Heaven and Health

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Today I have been down with a major fever, headaches, and aches over my body. Doc told me I have a summer virus that must “run its course.” I halfway expected to get the virus since two people in my family had already contracted it, one of which was my twin brother and roommate. However, when I woke up in discomfort, knowing I was not well, I was still very disappointed. 

I missed a few things at school today, and I’ll likely miss more tomorrow. Despite all of the negative aspects of my sickness though, I have been reminded of a truly beautiful thing. Health.

When I am in full health I do not think about it. I am healthy so I forget what it is like to be unhealthy. 

Every day we wake up with energy, appetite, without a fever or a headache is a divine blessing. 

No amount of our own efforts can ensure we never get sick, but we can be thankful for when we are healthy. 

In a few days, I will be back to normal and feeling healthy again. My prayer is that I would not even take my health for granted, but that I would thank God for it every day. Let’s not merely complain when we are sick and pray for healing, but let’s rejoice when we are healthy and pray, giving thanks for our blessing.

 

You can also find me on Instagram @wordnerd_blog!

Bless You!

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A sophomore in college walks into a campus security office to buy a new parking permit. Upon entering the office, he sees several students standing near a counter with various requests and several security guards trying to fulfill the requests if possible. One guard is obviously doing the bulk of the work with students while the other two are gazing at surveillance monitors.

Overhearing bits of the other conversations, the sophomore infers that one student is reporting a missing bike. The other two are seeking permits like himself. The sophomore waits until he is acknowledged by the mustached supervisor behind the desk. He proceeds to tell the security guard that he needs a parking permit and begins filling out the form he is directed to use.

Throughout the process of putting the needed information on the form, the student observes the supervisor as he handles all the other people requesting assistance both in the office and by phone. It is obvious to the sophomore that the man is a bit overwhelmed, but not to the point of neglecting the use of kindness. When the man answers a phone call he tells the person on the other line that he is just, “Trying to put a smile on your face while trying to keep a smile on my own.” He ended the greeting with a grin.

The student was not in the office long, surely not long enough to say he knew the man who helped him get a parking permit. However, when he gathered his stuff and left the office, the supervisor took a break from helping another individual to say one last thing to the sophomore: “Blessings.”

That student in the office was me today, and I couldn’t help but notice how the supervisor lived his life, however busy or discouraging it may have been today, to bless others. I wanted to share this and to help you and I remember to bless others with the way we live. It can be as simple as trying to bless others with a smile.

 

You can also find me on Instagram @wordnerd_blog!!!

Open the Pouch

I was in Waco Texas this weekend, exploring the kingdom that Chip and Joanna Gaines have built from shiplap and subway tile. One of the stops was the Gaines’s fairly new restaurant, Magnolia Table. The restaurant is a must-see for Fixer Upper tourists. Evidently, it is extremely busy. It Is only open from 6:00 A. M. To 3:00 P. M., so I was in line with my family, waiting for a table around 7:30.

After a sizable wait, we were seated at a community table (in other words, we shared a table with other parties). Periodically hung on the walls over the tables were these small leather pouches.

I noticed them immediately, but I did not notice how many there were throughout the restaurant. They seemed to be yet another piece of the Joanna-esque decor that permeated every part of the restaurant. I paid little attention to them and began perusing the menu.

Then, I noticed something. Towards the top right corner of the menu was a little blue box printed with text inside.

They were not demanding you put away your phones. They were simply asking you to consider putting them away. It was just a thought, a small effort to bring back the relational conversations and experiences that have taken place around tables in many years passed.

They were making a small effort to get people to look at those around them and remember why they care about each person they came with, or to see those around them they did not know and perhaps strike up a friendly conversation with the stranger at the end of the table. They were making a small effort to give couples the opportunity to see, once again, why they fell in love in the first place. They were making an effort to remove the technological walls that humans constantly place in front of there eyes, sometimes blocking relationship. They were making a small effort to help parents interact with their kids and maybe tell them a story or two, or relay some piece of wisdom. And for that, I admire the Gaines’s.

In a situation like they are in, they could easily only think of what they can do to increase profit or efficiency, but they took the time to help others live life and enjoy their “good company.”

There was nothing special about those leather pouches. They were not magic; they were just trendy pockets on the wall. But, your pocket can be the pouch just as well. Leaving your phone out of sight during a meal could be the difference between a memorable moment and a monotonous meal. Take the time to consider leaving your phone in a pouch at your next meal or at your next million meals. You will realize just how great people are. And, you may even learn a thing or two that your smart phone is too stupid to teach you.

You can also find me on Instagram @wordnerd_blog!

You’re a Cab

Stand up and stand out.

Don’t just sit there.

Don’t just whisper; shout

Now if you dare!

Do what you’re made to;

Dare to dream more.

Be one of the few.

Go up a floor!

Camouflage is death

For the changer.

Neon can be breath

For the stranger.

So show yourself now,

And break silence.

What? You don’t know how?

You I’ll convince.

You are so different.

You’re not the same.

You aren’t an accident.

He knows your name.

You are colorful,

Not all so drab.

It’s so wonderful

To be a cab.

They are all just grey,

But you are not.

You’re yellow, I say,

Easy to spot.

Don’t change your color

Just to fit in.

They are much duller

Than what you’ve been.

Go full speed ahead.

Don’t you look back.

Your color will spread

All through the pack.

I recently watched a movie called Wonder. It was about a child with a facial deformity. Although he had undergone many surgeries (27 to be exact) he still looked much different than what some would consider “normal” children.

The film follows his struggles in the fifth grade due to his physical appearance and the challenges it poses for him and his family. He just wants to be like everyone else. He wants to fit in. He doesn’t understand why he has to be so “ugly” and even asks his mom why he does at one point.

While the movie was a great one overall with many quotable lines, one of the best parts was when his family is taking him to his first day of public school. His sister leans down as they part and says, “Don’t try to blend in when you were born to stand out.”

This line really hit me. Every human is unique. Some would say that means no one truly is. But, I think the truly unique ones are those who use their uniqueness to stand out. They embrace it and use it to lead others, spread joy, show compassion, give laughter.

I am a Christian. And, if you are too, there is even more power to these statements for you. We were born to stand out when we were born again. We were meant to be the light of the world (Matthew 5:14-16). We were not meant to try to blend in. We are meant to embrace our differences from the world and use those to live lives that please God and give Him glory.

So, don’t try to blend in. Stand out. Be the light. Be the yellow cab in the midst of drab sedans.

You can also find me on Instagram @wordnerd_blog!