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Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving

 

This week is known as a big week for food. Thanksgiving. When you think of Thanksgiving, do you think of turkey, Pilgrims in funny hats, Christmas shopping and football games? The true spirit of Thanksgiving can get lost among everything else.  

A lot of us were taught that the first Thanksgiving in the new world was celebrated by the Pilgrims that came over on the Mayflower and landed in what they called Plymouth Harbor.

The truth is: more than half of the Pilgrims did not survive that first winter 1620-21, due to the harsh weather and lack of nutrition.  They were not the first to struggle.  

The local natives, encouraged by an English speaker named Tisquantum, or “Squanto,” taught the colony how to plant and grow corn, how to fish and how to trap Beaver. The harvest of 1621 that came just before winter was much more bountiful than they had hoped for that year. They decided to have a feast that would last three days to celebrate. They invited the Pokanokets, a local tribe to join them.  There were ninety Pokanokets, fifty-three  Pilgrims in attendance at the the Thanksgiving of 1621.  

It was not the first Thanksgiving in the new world. There were other colonies and settlements that had celebrated the fall harvest with a festival for many years before the Mayflower arrived.  They also had them every year in Europe to celebrate the harvest.

The first national proclamation in the United States for Thanksgiving was given by the Continental Congress in 1777. Later, in December of 1777, General George Washington also declared a day of Thanksgiving after defeating the British at Saratoga.

President Lincoln in 1863 during the Civil War proclaimed a national day of Thanksgiving to be held on the last Thursday in November.

Finally, in 1942, the US Congress declared Thanksgiving to be held on the fourth Thursday in November and they made it a holiday.

Thanksgiving is not about turkey, pie and football.  It is a time to give thanks for everything that we were blessed with during the past year.  

It is a celebration of all that we have been blessed with in this country and in our lives.  It is a time to spend with family and those close to us.

What do you have to be thankful for?  Even if you had some rough times or just plain bad times, you are still here and you have things to be thankful for.

This Thanksgiving I have a lot more to be thankful for than I ever thought possible.  Even the bad times this year I can say helped me grow.

I am healthy, I have the gift of words and freedom to express my feelings.  I live in a beautiful country.  

I am blessed with opportunities to encourage many people that I meet to live a healthy lifestyle.  I have the love of my wife.

I thank God, for being both creator and provider.

People may want to rewrite history, but the real truth is that this is a holiday where we thank the Lord. And make no mistake, our Founding Fathers believed it too!

The Continental congress wrote.

“Commanding the observation of THURSDAY the TWENTY-EIGHTH DAY OF NOVEMBER next as a day of SOLEMN THANKSGIVING to GOD for all His mercies; and they do further recommend to all ranks to testify their gratitude to God for His goodness by a cheerful obedience to His laws and by promoting, each in his station, and by his influence, the practice of true and undefiled religion, which is the great foundation of public prosperity and national happiness.”

President Lincoln wrote.

Set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”

Psalm 136:1-26

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever; to him who alone does great wonders, for his steadfast love endures forever; to him who by understanding made the heavens, for his steadfast love endures forever;

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In Weakness

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The Robot Surgeon

Last week started the same as any other week.  On Tuesday, after I trained my clients, I headed to wrestling and Jiu-Jitsu practice for two long hours.  I came home exhausted.  I rehydrated, showered and tried to sleep. I didn’t eat any food because early the next morning I was going to have an operation to fix a hernia.

After many years of uninterrupted mixed martial arts training, I was going to have to slow down.

There were so many things going through my mind. As I laid in bed I watched an educational video about general anesthesia, since I’d never had any surgery before.  I was worried about it.  What if I didn’t wake up?  What if I was allergic to the medications they gave me? What if…?  

Then I started thinking about the recovery.  How long would it be before I could exercise again? Spar? Lift kettlebells? Walk my dogs?

Sleep came hard with all these thoughts going through my mind.  I was up early to head to the hospital, and saw that in the night I had gotten emails and texts from people wishing me well.  Friends from my small group at church said they were praying for me.  People reaching out helped to ease my mind.

My head was pounding from dehydration, hunger and lack of caffeine.  Every morning I drink at least one huge cup of the strongest, thickest coffee to start my day.  Once I tried to give up coffee, and I lasted eighteen hours before I broke down and drank a cup.

My wife drove me towards the hospital, down a quiet country road alongside the recently harvested and now very barren fields.  She said a prayer, and I began to relax and let the anxiety go.

Once in the hospital, everything moved pretty quickly.  We filled out some papers and then I was given a gown, a bed and wheeled toward pre-op where they started my IV.  When the resident who was helping with my anesthesia came in, I was reading a book.  I looked up and noticed she looked just like a friend of mine from Los Angeles named Shannon.  That was the last thing I remember until I woke up several hours later and asked the nurses when the surgery would start.

When they told me it was over, I was a little disappointed because I had wanted to see the robot that was performing the laparoscopic surgery on me.  

The rest of the day was a blur.  The next morning I felt better, good enough to walk around the farm a couple of times.  I thought, “Wow, this is going to be easy, I’ll be training in no time.”

When evening came, so did the pain.  It hurt deep down in my abdomen all night, even the ice and the prescription pain meds (which I hadn’t intended to take) weren’t taking the edge off.  That night and the following day were the worst. There were times that I didn’t know how I could deal with it.   

And then it was over.  Saturday my pain was almost gone and I stopped taking any pain pills.  

Sunday was a busy day at church, and I had no problem being up and about.  I felt good, but was pretty tired by the end of the day.

By Monday morning I was back to my normal routine, up before dawn walking the dogs, heading to the gym to train clients, and then home to write.

For my whole life, I have found my identity in my physical strength.  Other things about my life changed, but I always had my martial arts and my fitness.  Surgery stripped that from me temporarily, and I had to rely on others to help me in things I had always been able to do for myself.  It made me question where I get my strength from when I have none of my own.  God is the ultimate source of both strength and peace in any situation.  

It was a great experience for me.  Not only is my hernia fixed, but I have a new appreciation for all the small things that make up each day that I took for granted, and for God being my strength when I am weak.

Isaiah 41:10

Fear not, for I am with you;

be not dismayed, for I am your God;

I will strengthen you, I will help you,

I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Hebrews 4:16

Let us approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

1 Thessalonians 5:18

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Inner Strength

G0010193.JPGThe strength to overcome what you know is not right.  The strength to face powerful opposition without giving up.  This is not physical strength, it is inner strength.

Like physical strength, we must exercise our inner strength it if we want to improve it.  We use our inner strength in both good and bad experiences throughout our lives. Most of our victories in life are the result of putting our inner strength to work, and it is tested in tragedies and turmoils that are never far from those times of triumph.  There is no escape from pain, so we must use the hard times to grow our inner strength.

When it comes time to develop our inner strength, it is easier to be more like water than steel.  We find the path of least resistance and head that way. I’m here to encourage you to take the difficult path instead.

It is often said that life is what we make it. I have come to learn that there is a lot of truth in that statement.  If we wake up and believe that this day will be bad, it very likely will be.  On the other hand, if you think of all the positive that will happen during your day, even a bad day can turn out pretty good.

Your inner strength has the possibility to change both your circumstances and your attitude.

Can you fight on after being dropped flat on your back? Can you not only stand back up, but finish strong? Can you decide to change and then follow through with it?  If you can, you have great inner strength.

If you feel your inner strength needs work, start by realizing and admitting your weaknesses.  Own your weaknesses, and work on them.  With dedication, you can turn them around into strengths.

I thought I had great inner strength, but it turns out I was fooling myself.  I realized just how weak I was in many ways once I surrendered my will to God’s.  I had viewed religion as a waste of time, and I had viewed myself as “in charge.”  Today I look forward to the quiet time when I can pray and connect with God.  My relationship with God gives me the inner strength to make the right choices, because he provides strength when I am weak. The best part of this? His strength is available to anyone who believes.

John 1:1-51

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

2 Peter 1:5-8

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Titus 2:12

Training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,

Freedom is not Free

 

 

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Freedom

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness… often attributed incorrectly to the Constitution, they are the famous words found in the Declaration of Independence.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

You are free to choose how you spend your time, where you live, what you read, the words you speak, and the future you work towards.  There are no hordes of barbarians at your gates, no wild beasts hunting you, you don’t have to spend your days gathering and hunting for your meals.  If you believe you are being held down by some force, then you are – you will be holding yourself back.

So where is your time spent?  This is where the small steps and freedom of choice come into play daily our lives. Will you watch a tv drama, a sports game, or go to the gym?  We can spend our time on distractions or we can better ourselves and those around us. Exercise will make you feel better physically and mentally.  If you feel better, those around you will notice and be inspired.  Lead by example.  Will you spend an hour on Facebook or pick up a book and feed your mind?

Liberty, wrote Thomas Jefferson, is “unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others.”  We are all given the right to do as we choose, as long as it does not infringe on others.   

Many people confuse unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as the right to be cared for and have our needs met for us.  Our needs being met is not something we are owed by being born.  We have the freedom to choose how we meet them through our decisions and how we spend our time.

Government was never intended to take care of our needs – that is what we are intended to use our freedom to accomplish.  That and so much more! The beauty of life in our day is that meeting needs is just the beginning, the limit is the limit of your dreams and your hard work.

Very few people living in the United States understand this concept. Many people would prefer for the government to be our surrogate parents, taking care of us from the cradle to the grave.  That has become a big pattern of this world.  Paul writes in Romans that as Christians we are not to be conformed to the patterns of our world, but instead we should renew our minds, take care of our bodies, and seek God’s will.  Are you renewing your mind? Taking care of your Body?  Is your goal, as Paul instructs, to find and follow God’s will for your life?

ROMANS 12
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.