Throwing Up Thanks

I have had a string of unfortunate events connected to layovers in Chicago. The latest hit me hard Saturday night in the form of food poisoning compliments of one of those famous deep-dish pizza joints. As I lay awake all night nauseously awaiting my next episode of puking my brains out, I got to thinking about 1 Thessalonians 5:18. Eventually I realized my life was not in jeopardy (there were moments where I wondered), so as I lay in bed I decided to come up with ten things I was thankful for. Here is what my sleep deprived mind came up with:

1. I believe I’ll have more empathy toward others who are suffering with sickness. Many people deal with this as an ongoing trial instead of an isolated incident.

2. I am humbled to consider the weeks of nausea my wife suffered during each of her pregnancies. Four times she spent months like this and never complained. She always fulfilled her responsibilities with grace, class, flare, and general awesomeness she is known for.

3. I am humbled by the weakness of my flesh. As tough as I think I am, I was utterly reduced by this stupid bacteria or whatever causes food poisoning. Laying on the tile floor at 3am makes you laugh at your pathetic self with no mercy.

4. I am thankful that this was temporary, and that my resurrection body will never have to endure it. Within 24 hours I was fine and learned my lesson regarding layovers in Chicago.

5. I am thankful that I live in a day and age were it is more convenient to be sick. It was about -25 outside and if I had to run to an outhouse in the snow every time I needed to hurl, that would really stink in a huge way.

6. I am thankful that food is in such abundance, and so affordable, that I can buy it in an airport between flights…even if it almost kills me.

7. I am thankful that this is the extremely rare exception and not the rule when it comes to daily life. I know in many countries the poor suffer like this regularly.

8. I am thankful that of all the Saturday nights this could have happened, it happened on one of the very few in 2013 where I didn’t need to preach the next morning.

9. I am thankful that I can’t pass this on to anyone else in the family. Of all the people who could have gotten it, I am glad it was me an no one else.

10. I am thankful that the sovereignty of God rules over bacteria and their effects. He uses sickness to correct his children sometimes, and all trials work together for good, so in the end this is exactly what I needed. That said, hopefully I won’t need something like this again for a long time.

New Years Resolutions:

1. Never, ever, under any circumstances eat at Reggio’s Pizza in Chicago O’Hare.

What Is The Value Of Saying Grace?

NORMAN ROCKWELL AUCTION

$46 million. That’s what the famous Norman Rockwell painting from 1951 fetched at a Sotheby’s auction earlier this month. I’ve always liked his paintings, perhaps because they were present during some very happy memories growing up. I began most summer days with breakfast at a place called “Rockwell’s” where the walls were lined with his prints.

In “Saying Grace” the old lady and little boy in the picture are obviously being view with mild condescension by the young men who are sharing their table and a smoke. Now remember, this is 1951. It would six years before Leave it to Beaver even came to television. If it was weird to thank God for your food back then, what is it today? Should we maintain or even make the practice of it?

I think we should for three reasons. First, the very strangeness of it distinguishes us from others and reminds us we are not of this thankless world. Since no one else in the restaurant, plane, cafeteria, or staff lunchroom is doing it, you become visibly different. Secondly it maintains what should be the regular practice in our homes. It brings steadiness to our walk with God. Our private and public devotion should be the consistent, especially in the eyes of our kids. Third, it may provide an opening for another Christian to be encouraged that they are not alone (I always take note when I see a family pray in public), or better yet, a reason for an unbeliever to ask you why you do that (this has happened to me, especially when I am in other countries).

Say grace. Don’t underestimate what it might be worth. Be serious though, you’re talking to God. A flippant thanks while bending down to pick up the fork you shoved off the table is no better than using his name in vain.

Subpoena

TC-01_full

A subpoena is a notice from the court that they are going to exercise their authority to compel you to testify or produce evidence. Failure to do so will result in a penalty of some kind. In Mark 8:11 a coalition of Pharisees (and Matthew adds Sadducees as well) stood off against Jesus. They tried to subpoena him to produce evidence that he was really God.

They marched up to him and began to argue with him. Typically an argument has two sides. This case is no different. They demand a sign from heaven. They demand a grand cosmic affirmation that Jesus really is God’s Son. He responds by saying no. He simply dismisses the demand and further undermines their authority.

The scene is dramatic. The most influential fundamentalists link up with the most elite religious power-brokers in an effort to test a common enemy. The word “test” in Mark 8:11 is the same one used to describe the confrontation with Satan in the wilderness temptation. They put it all on the line because if Jesus doesn’t do what they demand, it proves he has no fear of them. Just like Satan in the wilderness they pulled out all the stops. The compromised every conviction they held in order to present a united front against Jesus to make him cave in. He doesn’t. He just says no. He just walks away. The encounter started as a trial for Jesus but ends in a verdict against his enemies.