"I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith." 2 Timothy 4:7
- We all know that building on Interstate 4: "the eyesore on I-4." We know it because it has been sitting there for years, unfinished. It is the perfect analogy for our human tendency to start things, but not finish them. God, on the other hand, is complete in His nature. He has never started anything which He did not finish, which is why Jesus said from the cross, "it is finished." The work of salvation is complete. It is why Paul wrote in Philippians 1:6, "He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." One day, we will be "finished" beings in Christ. Therefore, as God lives in us, we should reflect His nature by the manner in which we finish the commitments He calls us to make. In Nehemiah 6, he made a commitment to complete the rebuilding of the wall, but he faced many distractions and heavy opposition. Nonetheless, by depending on God's strength, he completed the project in 52 days. What's more, the surrounding community knew that GOD had done it. What has God called you to do that remains undone? And why? Are you afraid of what is next, perhaps afraid that God will not provide in the next season as He has in this one? Trust God as Nehemiah did, and glorify Him by learning to be a finisher – a closer. Take the steps necessary in whatever commitment you have made – personal, financial, physical, spiritual – and finish for the glory of God!
- GIVING TUESDAY: As many of you have seen or heard, the non-profit world created "Giving Tuesday" in response to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It's a generous way to put the focus of our spending on how we might serve and benefit others instead of always being about ourselves. This community has numerous non-profits worthy of your time and your gifts, so I encourage you to take part. As always, in the process, don't forget your local church – and if you need suggestions, I have plenty!
- Now that we have cleared Thanksgiving, we feel as if we have just been thrown down a steep slide, hurtling inexorably towards Christmas. Don't succumb to that. Take charge of your own time, and endeavor to recapture the wonder. I'll be preaching for the next four weeks on THE WONDER OF CHRISTMAS, a series I hope will move you to consider some of the oft-forgotten gifts of this season. I'll start with the star…one that kings from a faraway land followed, but why in the world were they the only ones? It was available for all to see, but somehow its wonder escaped the sight of many. Let's not let it escape us this Advent.
- As I walked my dog on Thanksgiving evening trying in vain to burn off ten of the 2,567 calories I had ingested that day, I passed a lot of houses. Many were filled with people gathered around tables, the sound of laughter often spilling out. Those houses made me smile, but there were just as many homes that were dark and lifeless. Perhaps the occupants were gone filling the spaces at other tables, or perhaps they simply had no place to go. I am reminded that this season is as lonely and painful for some as it is joyous and celebratory for others. Don't forget that as you move about your days…be the season for someone else.
- The greatest Christmas carol of all time is actually a tie between Silent Night, What Child Is This? and Joy to the World. This is indisputable fact. Really.
- Happy 75th anniversary to Casablanca. For you, youngsters, google it and watch it. It's a movie made the way a movie should be made. Love, hurt, pain, struggle, joy, music, intrigue, heartbreak – life – all in less than 120 minutes. You'll thank me later.
- As our family sat around the table having enjoyed our Thanksgiving meal, we talked about everything that had happened in the past year. I love "family meals" like that because it allows us time to step back and reflect on what has transpired in our lives. We forget – at least I do – the incredible number of things that happen to us in one short year. Some are good, some are painful - but that's life. The beauty is when we step back long enough to consider the road we have just traveled and to give thanks to God for seeing us through it.
- This week, uber University of Georgia fan, Brad Staton and I will be making a (somewhat?) friendly wager on the SEC Championship game after the Auburn Tigers took care of Alabama, beating a #1 team for the second time in the three weeks. Meanwhile, fans of Tennessee, Florida, Mississippi State, Nebraska, Arkansas, and possibly UCF will be losing their minds over who they did or did not hire as coach. I plead for perspective. This is fun. It's not life. When your team wins, it's a great feeling, but if that's what you're depending on to make you feel good, you've missed the point. (I did my best to write that just the way Leigh Bywaters Swanson said it, but I agree – mostly.
- FUNNIEST MOMENT: The kicker who, while warming up on the sideline, completely misses the kicking net, shanking it into the stands, then turns to the coach and gives the "thumbs up" sign that he's ready.