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Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving

you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with

plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.

Acts 14:17 (NIV)

I found this hymn in our hymnbook, We Plow the Fields and Scatter, which is one we don't often sing at Thanksgiving. It seems appropriate as the American Thanksgiving holiday is most often centered around food.

This is an English translation by Jane M. Campbel of the German hymn, "Wir Pflügen und Wir Streuen" written by Matthias Claudius in 1782. This performance is by The London Fox Choir.

I selected CeCe Winan's song, Goodness of God, as today's contemporary selection. This was the theme song for Memorial Holiness Camp this past summer. It's a good reminder that we ought to be thankful for God's gifts and blessings "with every breath that I am able, oh I will sing of the goodness of God."

No matter what we focus on this Thursday, we should be remembering the Apostle Paul's admonition in I Thessalonians to "Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." (I Thess. 5:16-18 NIV)

Every day should be "Thanksgiving Day!"


Opening photo credit: Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

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I love quilts. I love seeing them at the county fair or in gift shops where they are usually incorporated into a beautiful display. I love the intricate patterns and beautiful colors. I can imagine the time, patience, and love that are required to put a quilt together. I can imagine the comfort that quilts bring when they are used to soothe a baby, help a child fall asleep, or bring back memories to the mind of an aging loved one.

As you may know, there are many different kinds of quilts. There are names of different patterns and styles, some of which harken back to a particular era of history. But there is one type of quilt that is very unique and doesn’t seem to fit any pattern, style, or era: the CRAZY QUILT!

Crazy quilts are made up of patches of random sizes, shapes, colors, and fabrics. I’ve seen some crazy quilts that are very beautiful; even though they appear to be random, there seems to be some thought that has gone into their design. I’ve also seen some others that, well, I don’t think would bring much comfort to the one who may have to use it. The colors may be dark and almost depressing; some are almost garish … a mismatch of colors and threads that certainly wouldn’t bring me any comfort.

However, there is another definition of “crazy quilt” that I thought was interesting: a crazy quilt can be used to describe a “disorganized collection of things.”

Couldn’t the term “crazy quilt” be used to describe the Church, or some churches we know, or maybe even your church? I mean, what was God thinking, bringing people of all different colors, backgrounds, upbringing, and temperaments—varying sizes, shapes, colors, and fabrics—together into one body?

And there’s Paul, exhorting us to love one another Colossians 2:2 (NLT): “I want them to be encouraged and knit together (or united) by strong ties of love.” Is this even possible?

Yes, yes, it IS! We are called as followers of Christ to live in unity, even though, as a body, we have many parts. We probably all know the I Corinthians 12 passage where Paul talks about the body of Christ—the Church. Just as our individual physical bodies are made up of different parts—the hand, the eyes, the feet, etc.—God has placed each part in the body just where he wants them. He has placed us as individuals, unique in age, size and shape, background, and talents, just as He wants us in the Body of Christ.

And best of all … the pieces/parts do not have to be perfect. God uses us just as we are!

No matter what type of imperfection we have—brokenness, sinfulness, or even “craziness”—God can stitch us together in this “crazy quilt” of His love. The thread that ties us together—quilts—is the love of Christ. As we accept and learn to love each other, this is a testimony to the world around us, that all have purpose and meaning in God’s quilt of love.

Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness, no one will see the Lord. (Hebrews 12:14)

(This was originally written as a submission to the clergy column of our local newspaper in 2019.)


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Updated: Apr 12

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.

Hebrews 12:2 (NIV)

I must confess, as I was thinking (and praying) about a hymn selection about peace, I just randomly opened the hymnal and looked at the song on the right (Satisfied), which I didn't know. But on the left was My Faith Looks Up to Thee. This is a beautiful arrangement by the Vagle Brothers quartet. The above Scripture reference was listed under the hymn in our hymnal, which would've been a good one to include in the message I preached this last Sunday on How Then Shall We Live? which was about how to live a Christ-followers in the trouble and turmoil that's around us at the moment.

The contemporary selection I picked was posted to YouTube right before the pandemic (Feb. 7, 2020). How appropriate! Peace Be Still by Hope Darst, is a wonderful expression of how God can still the storms around (and in) us.

Just a few points from my case you're interested...

The main scripture reference was I Corinthians 16:13-14 (World English Bible):

Watch! Stand firm in the faith! Be courageous! Be strong! Let all that you do be done in love.

Here is one verse that I used to describe what Watch means; I Peter 5:8 (MSG)

Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does.

I just love how Petersen interprets this verse!

Stand firm in the faith! Part of this means standing firm in God's Word. Sometimes I think we spend too much time looking to others to see what they think something means in Scripture. I think we need to read (and read aloud) and ask God what He wants us to glean from a particular passage. I mean, He essentially "wrote" it, right?

Psalm 119:89-91 (NIV)

Your word, LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. Your faithfulness continues through all generations; you established the earth, and it endures. Your laws endure to this day, for all things serve you.

Be courageous!

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9 (NIV)

Be strong!

Psalm 27:14 (NLV)

Wait for the Lord. Be strong. Let your heart be strong. Yes, wait for the Lord.

Ephesians 6:10 (NIV)

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.

Let all that you do be done in love.

I spent some time during the message describing some things about the political/cultural climate and how showing love and respect to our "neighbor" goes further than trying to wage war against them.

I Peter 3:15-16 (NIV)

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

Philippians 2:14-16 a (NIV)

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.

One night during our spring quarter of LIfeGroup someone said we should be more about what we’re for, rather than what we’re against. Yes, we should be firm in what we know to be sin. But the admonition to love tenderly – let all that you do be done in love – with respect – carries more weight and influence than we can ever imagine. That is the power of God’s love in us.

If you haven't watched the webinar posted under the Politics tab on The Seed, I would urge you to do so. One of the speakers described politics as “being able to leverage our unique power and responsibilities as citizens to love our neighbor by guiding the government towards human flourishing.” Food for thought, right?

I wrapped up my talk by pointing out some verses about how God is in control and that we should be carrying His peace with us. Which of course prompted the song selections and reflection above.

Isaiah 41:10

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

John 14:7 (WEB)

Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, I give to you. Don’t let your heart be troubled, neither let it be fearful.

Let us take to heart – deep in our hearts – God’s voice, His Word, His strength, His Spirit, His peace. And most of all, His love!

Each of us has our role to play in living out our lives here on earth, but God has the ultimate control and we should want God’s voice to be the loudest in our lives right now. Not the voices of this world, the news, or social media.


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