One of my Christmas card pictures- kinda love it
Today was our first day back from Thanksgiving break. It went well all things considering. Highlight- I let my kids share 1 thing they did over the break if they so desired. One of my little friends went on and on about his girlfriend from Sherman. Um he's 7. Literally referred to her as his girlfriend 4 times. Giggle. Sigh. Love them.
Also, I am currently excited about the cold front moving in. I had to stay late today to finish up a 2 hr course on how to use time out and restraint (yes you read that right) so it was getting dark on my ride home. I just was amazed by the darkening clouds rolling in with the cold air, the trees with just a few yellow and red leaves hanging on. So much beauty y'all. Who would have thought my drive to the country would bring such blessings? I mean daily.
Anyway, this morning I finished 1 Thessalonians. Amazing. Convicting. Inspiring. One of the things that stuck out to me at the beginning of the book was just how often faith is driving these churches reputation. This is pretty much all of chapter 1, but I think verse 8 clinches it for me, "your faith in God has become known everywhere." As in all those countries on the mediterranean. They know about this one church's faith. How profound! How humbling! It seems like American churches are known for two things: 1) the preacher and 2) the size. But the faith of the people attending- not as much. Are you defining your church or is your church defining you? I'm pretty sure that I have a lot of room to grow in order to have a reputation based on my faith.
In general, I just found this book really encouraging. It kind of reoriented me as to my focus, my goal as far as daily life as a Christian. I'm supposed to be keeping my eyes on Jesus, trying to make choices that bring him glory, loving and encouraging those around me, and just making my life my ministry, my voice. I really found 4:11-12 interesting. It talks about making your ambition to live a quiet life, working with your hands, earning respect of others, and not being dependent on anyone. It's so countercultural to all things American. Who's goals consist of a quiet, hardworking, respectable life? Not really a lot of people. But that should be a focus for the Christian, according to this verse. And really, how gracious is our God to not expect us to drive ourselves to exhaustion. He expects us to be average in our worldly pursuits, but strive hard for holiness and knowing him more. I don't know, maybe I'm weird, but I find such comfort in knowing the "American dream" doesn't need to be my dream. At least not in an over the top materialistic way. Maybe it's the hippie in me :)
And finally, a controversial call to thought: vs 19-20 Do not put out the Spirit's fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. I have an issue with the whole denominations of the church thing. Why are there two 'Holy Spirit' alternatives (basically)? You either have to go to one extreme where you only focus on the Holy Spirit or you go to the other extreme where you rarely acknowledge the Holy Spirit. By mathematical logic, I'm going to assume each part of the Trinity has equal daily relevance. Which means the Holy Spirit should receive 33% of the focus, Christ 33%, and the Father 33%. Rough estimate. I personally don't think any extreme has the answers. I just think that there should be some convergence on this issue. There should be fire. The question is what proportion. And for that, I don't have the answer.
And to close on my favorite note. 5:16-18 are beautiful reminders as always of just what this daily life looks like as it's played out. The joy in the simple everyday gifts of a quiet life and hard work. The joy of praying and being in God's presence continually. Just being thankful always for everything. Literally everything. So much simple joy in the Christian life, and isn't that what everyone is craving? It's right here in Christ.