Panic! Perhaps you’re feeling it. The countdown is on. Holidays are quickly approaching. Family and friends are coming! There might be decorating to finish, food to prepare, tables to set, plus dusting and dog fur to vacuum. If you’re hosting at your house this year, you’re likely feeling some pressure. If a gaggle of family is invading, you’re likely thinking, “How will I get it all done?”
While our American tradition of observing Thanksgiving is not a holy holiday, it is an opportune time to pause and be thankful. A heart filled with gratitude makes all the difference. It soothes the soul when loneliness or hurt or depression rule the day. A spirit of thankfulness promotes humility and joy and selflessness, while at the same time consuming the sin that misshapes our hearts. All of these move us closer to holiness and into greater communion with our Heavenly Father.
We are in for a treat today. Dave Strunk, senior pastor—Church of the Redeemer in Blount County Tennessee—graciously agreed to share a couple of his poems with us. I can already sense the eye-rolling that may be going on by some of you, but please keep reading. If poetry is not your thing, that is okay, but it does not mean there is not value in dabbling in it occasionally. Poems have a way of looking at life that sometimes is missed. This genre has a way of speaking to the heart, which is one of the reasons the Psalms are such favorites.
It is October and while some are excited for the changing colors of leaves, there are hordes of baseball fans that are cheering their teams on in hopes of winning a pennant. Even the casual baseball observer pays a little more attention to the reporting of scores and may even turn on their television mid afternoon to catch a playoff game. I used to work with a guy who always left his office door open until the tenth month of the year read on the calendar. As September ended, his office door would close so the cracking of bats and the roar of the crowds would not draw attention to his obsession with baseball. (For the record he was kidding no one.)
As we are constantly trying to emphasize the integration of faith and work, we want to do so at multiple levels—theological, philosophical, economical and practical. The things we discuss here are not only about us thinking rightly, but more importantly it’s about doing rightly. Otherwise, this is all just an academic exercise.
Jeffrey Bilbro, a professor and multi book author, has written an article that offers words of caution to some ideas that are just generally accepted. Our current landscape applauds scalability and metrics, but does not account for how overwhelming these ideas and the problems we seek to solve can become. Bilbro makes some great distinctions while checking our perspectives. All the while defining hope and our responsibilities in the present, which again reminds me that the habits and disciplines of my life matter.
In today’s blog post, I want to encourage you to hit the refresh and restart button this summer. After the past fifteen months, this might be more important this year than any other time in recent years because of covid. Some of us have returned to post covid activity while the rest of us are still transitioning back to normalcy. In case you have not heard it, let me remind you of the quote that made the rounds at the beginning of the lockdown, “In our desire and urgency to return to a normal life, make sure that we are rushing back to things worth returning to.”