Day late…but not a penny short!

A Thanksgiving Poem

Paul Laurence Dunbar – 1872-1906

The sun hath shed its kindly light,
   Our harvesting is gladly o’er
Our fields have felt no killing blight,
   Our bins are filled with goodly store.

From pestilence, fire, flood, and sword
   We have been spared by thy decree,
And now with humble hearts, O Lord,
   We come to pay our thanks to thee.

We feel that had our merits been
   The measure of thy gifts to us,
We erring children, born of sin,
   Might not now be rejoicing thus.

No deed of our hath brought us grace;
   When thou were nigh our sight was dull,
We hid in trembling from thy face,
   But thou, O God, wert merciful.

Thy mighty hand o’er all the land
   Hath still been open to bestow
Those blessings which our wants demand
   From heaven, whence all blessings flow.

Thou hast, with ever watchful eye,
   Looked down on us with holy care,
And from thy storehouse in the sky
   Hast scattered plenty everywhere.

Then lift we up our songs of praise
   To thee, O Father, good and kind;
To thee we consecrate our days;
   Be thine the temple of each mind.

With incense sweet our thanks ascend;
   Before thy works our powers pall;
Though we should strive years without end,
   We could not thank thee for them all.

This poem is in the public domain.

Paul Laurence Dunbar

Paul Laurence Dunbar, born in 1872 and the author of numerous collections of poetry and prose, was one of the first African American poets to gain national recognition.

Thanksgiving 2021

I was born at the tail end of the baby-boom.  We were a cheerful bunch.  I grew up hearing expressions like “If life hands you lemons, make lemonade” and “Every dark cloud has a silver lining.”  The Vietnam war, the civil unrest of the 60’s (which gave way to the unrest in the Middle East), and the gas shortages here in the 70’s, caused life to seem a little grimmer. Each decade has had its crisis (space shuttles and twin towers) and with each crisis we’ve come to realize that lemonade is harder to come by. 

Christians in America had to grow up from thinking like Pollyanna to thinking like Job; “though He slay me yet will I trust Him.” As a result the herd thinned a bit.  We were warned.  Abraham Lincoln, in his 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation, quoted Moses from Deuteronomy 8, reminding Americans that if they took for granted their blessings, they would stop thanking God, and He would stop blessing.

Beloved, life IS hard.  Bad things ARE happening.  But we are STILL blessed and STILL have much to be thankful for.  Let’s never be parsimonious in our praise or thrifty in our thanksgiving.  
He is Worthy!

Happy Thanks Giving Week

Pastor Scott

Wise Men Know Where to Build  – Nov 12, 2021

The subject line of an email I received yesterday grabbed my attention.  Not because I hadn’t thought of it before, or maybe even preached it before, but because I had, perhaps, allowed myself to be fooled again…  The subject line of this “inside baseball” email was “Why Sermon Preparation Time is Not the Same as Devotional TIme”

The thesis of the article is that sermon preparation is all about how the text applies to others and, by extension, how said presentation puts our skills as a presenter on display.   While that’s not always true in my case – God’s grace is manifold as is His toe-stepping – but it did make me remember one of the sermon illustrations from William Craig Lane’s book that I think applies, at least at times, to all of us!  

When you think of someone buying a luxury home with a price tag of more than $1,000,000.00, you expect the new home to be of high quality. Such is not always the case, writes Julie Lovine in the Chicago Tribune. The preliminary designs for the new home of Michael Eisner, the head of Disney, included one wall that was so thin it would have buckled under its own weight. The $40 million new home of one billionaire software developer had pine siding so vulnerable to decay it started to rot before the home was even completed. It is easy for buyers to mistake luxury for quality. Experts in the home building industry say that “most buyers agonize over the wrong things.” 

Tom Kligerman, a Manhattan architect, says many buyers “find it boring to spend money on foundations and stud walls. They’d rather spend it on what they can see.” 

A builder of luxury homes said, “It appears that what sells houses depends on having a tub large enough for at least two people, and probably more; flashy stairs… and other glitzy, totally unnecessary elements, as opposed to spatial or constructional quality.”

As it is with homes, so it is with people. Too many people put all their effort into image and appearance and pay no attention to the quality of their character.  

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

1 Samuel 16:7

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart

Be acceptable in Your sight,

O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer. 

Psalm 19:14

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.  Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.  The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”

Jesus in Matthew 7:24-27

To have “Character” is essentially to have “Integrity”  meaning “Oneness”  So I’m the same inside and out.  Publicly and privately.  In the light and in the dark.  If you’ve ever cut down a rotten tree, or an old shed, you’ve seen first hand that integrity starts within.

How much time did God get with my heart this morning?  

Pastor Scott 

Quarantines & Prayer – 11/5/21

My, Pastor Scott’s, quarantine, due to exposure NOT a positive test, was supposed to be complete today (11/5); but there was a positive test of another member of our household, who is relatively (mostly) asymptomatic on 11/1; so now I’m on quarantine through 11/10 (see top of Ven Diagram) and none too happy about it (see bottom right).

As I was sitting here in my home office, grumbling, God reminded me that it’s not unlike the wilderness experiences He took many of His people through (mine’s just a lot more cushy).

As I was reading various wilderness writings, I came across Psalm 63, which David writes as he’s in the wilderness hiding out from Saul (or Absalom). It’s a mostly a song of praise and affirmation of his faith in God. In the middle of it he writes:

Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips will praise You.
So I will bless You as long as I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.
My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
And my mouth offers praises with joyful lips.

When I remember You on my bed,
I meditate on You in the night watches

As I “keep watch” here in this office – I can read, and write, but I will have lots of time to pray!!

Please let me know how I can pray to be praying for you!!