Tuesday, November 24, 2009


"Thanks Living"

Psalm 100:1-5, Matthew 6:19-24, 1Thessalonians 5:16-18

Pastor Tom

SpiritSong Worship Center

November 22, 2009



One day a farmer was sitting in the local diner waiting to be served the breakfast he'd ordered. In the booth across from him sat four teenagers being loud and boisterous. When the farmer's meal arrived he gently bowed his head and clasped his hands together as he silently uttered a prayer of thanks for the meal he was about to consume. The teenagers were giggling amongst themselves about the old man praying over his meal. When the man was finished one of the kids turned to him and said; "hey old man, does everyone on the farm pray before they eat?" The man paused thoughtfully and then responded: "The pigs don't!


What has been recorded as being a celebration of the Pilgrims and their Native American neighbors in the seventeenth century was declared a National Holiday by Abraham Lincoln in the 1800's – The annual observance of THANKSGIVING! One day – the opportunity for a nation to stop and give thanks for the gifts that have been given over the past year. For some, it's the opportunity to indulge in gluttonous behaviors; for others to feed the poor, to fellowship with other friends or family. For some it's the opportunity to get away for a long weekend and relax from the rigors of the workplace. For still others it's a reminder of what they don't have, what they haven't received; jobs lost, illnesses endured, relationships broken, loneliness engulfing, changes not made; addictions not defeated. Each of these is an experience steeped with deep feelings. One day set aside for thanksgiving – but Christ gave His life for us to experience an eternity of THANKS-LIVING! Thanksgiving is a day in our life; Thanks-living is His way in our life!


"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."


So, what does THANKS-LIVING look like?    


  1. Trust God for the outcome each day. Psalms 100 tells us: "Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the LORD is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations." From your waking up till your going to sleep – do everything you can to remind yourself that the God of all creation; the redeemer of our souls; the "hound" of heaven that gave His life for you is the one that is with you every moment of every day. This does not mean to act stupidly, make foolish decisions and choices and then expect to receive positive results. That's not trust, that's insanity! Trusting God means that even in the face of stupid decisions on my part or on the part of others that impact me, God is still in control of the outcome to His glory! Romans 8:28 tells us "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose." Trusting Him in all circumstances is Thanks-living! THE TRIP TO INDIA STORY… Trusting God is Thanks-living.
  2. Handing your life over to Him! Anyone here have plans for the rest of the day? How about for this week? Sure we do…without some sense of direction, we tend to travel in a circle, literally losing our way. We tend however to think that these plans are up to us…MY decision, My direction, My schedule, MY, MY, MY… In our reading from Matthew 6 today we hear; "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Handing our life over to Him is living in the knowledge that "thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven," is a surrender of self will to God's will. In so doing, I need not be anxious that the service is going on a little longer, or someone is taking too much of MY time! A young man told his partner who was preparing a loving meal for the two of them after a particularly trying day that he was going to quickly run to the post office to collect the mail. Two hours later he returned to a somewhat frustrated partner who asked; "well what on earth happened to you? I had dinner ready an hour ago!?" The man responded; "I ran into Mrs. Johnson, our former neighbor at the Post Office." "That was two hours ago," said the partner; "what took you so long?" The man replied; "I asked her how she was doing!" Funny … but the man was an act of love to Mrs. Johnson! Handing your life over to Him is Thanks-Living.
  3. Allow God to show you the blessing! We're always so focused on the way we want to see things – believing that things should go/happen/be a particular way that we miss the sight of the blessing that God has to reveal to us. The problem with living that way is that more often than not, we are disappointed with the outcome. Proverbs 14:12 states: "There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death." Each of us, if we search our hearts can find the blessings He has hidden there. A fellow from Coastal North Carolina recounted a short mission trip he participated in to the Island of Tobago. He was leading worship at the leper colony where they had gone to minister. There was time for one more song, so he asked for any special request. A woman who had been sitting in the back with her head turned away from the front of the room turned around to face the worship leader. It was the most hideous face the man had ever seen. The woman's nose and ears had been eaten away by leprosy. It was all he could do not to flinch. The woman raised her fingerless right had as she said; "Pastor, can we sing my favorite song…Count Your Many Blessings?" The man's life could never be the same after that! You see the woman looked beyond her circumstance into the blessing God was in her life! Allowing Him to show the blessing is Thanks-living.
  4. Navigate each day in His light. Jesus said, as recorded in John 8:12; "…I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." When we trust God to be competent to be in control, hand our lives over to him and allow Him to show us His blessing, we're better able to navigate each day in His light. Having things our way often puts us in the dark. The Israelites had just been freed from centuries of bondage in Egypt. They had witnessed the plagues, the Passover of their homes and families after following the lead of the Lord; they had witnessed the parting of the Red Sea and the destruction of the Egyptian army in hot pursuit; they had received manna from heaven to meet their needs…yet all they could see was hardship in the desert and the same old same old on the table. They even lamented leaving slavery. Think there was any blindness going on there? We're not much different most of the time. We forget what life was like before Christ delivered us and want to lay on Him the burden to "Have it my way." There was a grandmother who took her grandson to the beach for a fun sharing day together. They were frolicking merrily in the edge of the surf when suddenly a huge wave came crashing in and swept the boy from the grandmother's grip. Startled and amazed, the stunned and frightened grandmother looked to the heavens and cried; "O Lord, please bring my precious boy back to me." Another unexpected huge wave came crashing to shore and deposited the young tyke at his grandmother's feet, chocking but otherwise unscathed. The grandmother grabbed to boy, examined him well and lifted her eyes to heaven. "He had a cap on before!"… Sometimes we miss the point! Navigating in His light is Thanks-living.
  5. Keep the bucket off the lamp. Anyone here glad to be alive? Anyone here appreciative of the seat you're sitting on? Anyone here thankful for the breath you just took? If you're not, you should be…each of them is a gift, not a right! Jesus told us in Matthew 5:14-15 "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a [bucket]. Instead they put it on a stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house." When you let your light shine, others can see Him better! 1 Peter 2:12 says; "Live such good lives among the pagans that though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us." It's His light…why buck it? Letting the light shine is Thanks-living!
  6. Share the joy! We often miss the joy to share from our own lives as well as missing out on the joy that is happening in the lives of others. We're so absorbed in our own ways that we miss true opportunities of sharing in and with others. A preacher was walking down a country road when he happened upon a young boy who was struggling with a load of hay that had fallen off his wagon. The boy was hot and sweaty and seemed upset. "You look hot, young man" said the preacher. "Why don't you rest a while and then I'll give you a hand." "No thanks," he said – "my Daddy wouldn't like it." "Don't be silly," said the preacher, "everybody's entitled to a break! Sit down and have a drink of water." Again the young man refused stating that his daddy would be upset. By this time, the preacher had lost his patience… "Your Daddy must be a real slave driver…tell me where he's at so I can have a word with him!" "Well," said the boy, "he's under this load of hay." Sharing another's or our own joy is Thanks-living.



Trust His control

Hand your life to Him

Allow the blessing to be seen

Navigate the day in His light

Keep the bucket off the lamp

Share the joy














Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Finding the Gold

"Finding the Gold"

Proverbs 3:13-18, John 8:31-32,36, Romans 12:9-21

Pastor Tom Millner

November 1, 2009


"Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, the one who gains understanding – for it is more precious than silver or gold… more than rubies, even, and nothing we desire can compare to it… If you hold to the teachings of Jesus – you are His true disciples – who will know the truth that will set you free – and if He sets you free, you shall be free indeed." (Loosely translated – Proverbs 3:13-18 and John 8:31-32,36)


Human nature is so very interesting, don't you think? For those who believe that God is who he says he is we've received the greatest gift that we could ever receive – the gift of an everlasting kinship to the creator of the universe – and a position of living with His bounty eternally. Yet that fact we relegate to some obscure position as we cling to the snub we got this morning from this, that, or the other person. Isn't it odd that we would let another's preoccupation with themselves and their duties or obligations (about which we have no clue) cloud our whole demeanor to the point of giving up the joy of our worship experience here this morning? That doesn't describe you? Well, maybe it was the argument you had this morning with your significant other – how about the person who cut you off in traffic? Could it be too much month left at the end of the money – or concern over the illness you or a loved one is battling? I'm not trying to minimize true loss or grief – just getting your attention to the fact that He has your back covered! These are the shadow lands, folks – what is to come is the full light of His kingdom where all is clear to us! (Amen?) Grief, shame, and sorrow at our own self-destructive bent are good for our souls as they turn us toward Him who forgives and wipes those transgressions away. What is destructive is to continue to live as though nothing has changed! Satan has a field day with that! What can be just as destructive is to expect that GOD is going to change every event in our lives without our having to make a single effort to see the world through redeemed eyes.


There was once a woman who testified to the transformation that had taken place in her after her acceptance of Christ in her life. "I'm so glad I got religion!" she declared; "I have an uncle I used to hate so much I vowed I'd never go to his funeral! But now – why, I'd be happy to go to it ANY TIME!" (From Greg Cooper)


Research tells us that it takes three to five positives to counteract one negative! No wonder we have to keep hearing the Good News over and over again! So many of us have the victim mentality, as though we're just waiting for the next shoe to drop! I'm reminded of Poo's friend Eeyore… "If it's going to happen, it'll happen to me!"


2 Corinthians 12:10 states: "Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then I am strong."


As gold is being refined, the cauldron is heated to a temperature high enough to melt the ore. The impurities float to the top where they can be skimmed away, ever enhancing the gold that remains. Once refined, the gold does not need further refining… it's ready to shine for its owner. The next time you feel like something burns the hell out of you – rejoice – you're being refined to shine for your Master! Only YOU can let go of the impurities – that's a choice you can make, even in the HEAT of the moment! After all, you know the outcome! Romans 8:37-39 "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."


A Sunday school teacher was finishing up her lesson on all things being possible with God. She asked the rhetorical question; "Is there anything God can't do?" Little Timmy, the Pastor's son raised his hand. The teacher knew he must have misunderstood the question, but indulgently she asked for his response. "Well," said Timmy, "my Daddy says even God can't make everybody in this church happy."


Even in the face of death there can be reason found to rejoice! John 15:13 states; "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." This week our Sister Carol Watson lost her God-brother to a senseless war In Afghanistan. He and another UN guard from Africa held off Taliban intruders to a "safe house" in Kabul. We're told that Jay Maxwell (Jay as the family knows him) literally threw himself on a suicide bomber, saving the lives of 17 others in the area. Twenty seven year old Jay lost his life – 17 others regained theirs. Jay knew the Lord and is now rejoicing with the Savior who gave His life for all mankind. The family will miss and mourn Jay's passing. The Kingdom rejoices that this man was obedient unto death to lay down his life for his brothers … no greater love has any man than that!


Are you willing to lay down your old life… the one that sees only the darkness and not the light?


Are you willing to see the joy that comes after the sorrow? Are you willing to look for the gold beneath the sludge that always seems to rise to the top? After the storm comes the rainbow. How often are you looking for it? Not to shame you here, but rather to remind you that God provides the positives to outweigh the negative – if only we look up to see them! That's our choice! AND…His grace is always sufficient!