Beliefnet
Safe Place with Ruth Graham

With family arriving, laundry to be done, meals planned and fixed, loose ends tied together, children under foot, good smells emanating from the kitchen, noise and messes it must be a family gathering.

For some it is time of dread. Family relationships are strained, quarrels have never been settled. Jealousy arises. Fighting breaks out. Or someone is holed up in another room drinking too much. This, too, can be family gathering.

For some it is tinged with sadness. There is an empty place at the table. By death. Or a move. Or divorce. Or sickness. Or any number of losses. This Thanksgiving will be different.

Different is different. We can’t try to make it look like it used to be, because it isn’t. It is different and we adapt.

One good way to adapt is to be grateful for everyday. Even on the bleakest days, there is something we can be grateful for. Like breathing – being able to breathe is a blessing.

There used to be an old hymn, “Count Your Blessings”. The chorus went like this: “Count your blessings, name them one by one; Count your blessings, see what God hath done.”

What blessings will you count?

I know, after my surgeries last year, it is a blessing to be able to get out of bed on my own. Simple but very true. And again, since my surgeries, my good health is a blessing. My children and their children are blessings. They now bring me joy! It wasn’t always the case but, as I told someone the other day, I have lived long enough to like my children! That is a HUGE blessing! But the best blessing of all is knowing I have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus!

I encourage you take time to count your blessings this Thanksgiving and every day. Perhaps start a gratitude list.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

Back in the 70s many on college campuses were asking the critical questions we all must answer: Why am I here? What is my  purpose? Is there a purpose bigger than just to eat, live and die? They looked for self-fulfillment. Many young people were asking the right questions but looking in the wrong direction for answers. They turned to sex, drugs and Transcendental Meditation.

That’s when the sexual revolution and women’s lib started. The answers folks came up with didn’t seem to satisfy. They pursued all sorts of things going farther and farther from the truth. We cannot satisfy our quest apart from God.

Blaise Pascal said,

“What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace?

 

This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself”

[This is from page 75 of Blaise Pascal’s Pensees (New York; Penguin Books, 1966).]

Basically, he is saying there is a God-shaped vacuum in all of us that can only be satisfied by a personal relationship with God.

In my Bible reading this week I was reading I Corinthians 8 verse 5 through 6. “For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords, yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we live: and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom all things were created, and through whom we live.”

Those two little verses pack a lot of existential truth. It tells us where we came from and why we are here. We are here because God placed us here. God is the Creator and Jesus is the Keeper. We exist for Him. So we do not live for ourselves but for Him.

If that is true, does my life reflect it?

Today is my father’s 99th birthday! We will be celebrating his 100th year all year with memories of all God did in those 100 years. It is an amazing story of God’s faithfulness and grace.

It is such a blessing to be his daughter. I am reminded so often by those that come up to speak with me. This morning I went to the grocery store and many came to tell me how much they loved him. Usually it is followed by how they came to a personal relationship with Christ through his ministry – whether in person in a vast arena or on television, or in a movie, or by way of radio – so many lives touched and changed by the Gospel.

Yes, it is a blessing. And I feel loved by virtue of their love for him.

Like being in Ireland last month – everyone I met had a Billy Graham story. They remembered the historic meetings in London and Belfast. Their grandparents parents took them or made them listen on the “telly”. I felt like was wrapped in a warm blanket of love.

What a precious legacy I have!

Just wait till we all get to heaven. What a day that will be!

We’ll all be wrapped in God our Father’s

1950s with my parents

1950s with my parents

great love.

 

This coming Sunday is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.

Persecution of Christians is on the rise – 250,000,000  (250 million) Christians experience some form of persecution. Did you know that in 2016, 90,000 people were killed because of their faith in Christ? That doesn’t include beatings, rapes, house burnings or intimidation.

Open Doors is an organization that has the World Watch List that ranks the top 50 countries where the most severe persecution takes place. It is not a surprise that North Korea is the #1 place that targets Christians – Somalia is #2.

This Sunday, please ask your pastor to emphasize the persecuted in his morning prayer. We cannot sit idly by as our brothers and sisters in Christ are suffering in unimaginable ways simply because they profess faith is Jesus. We are all of the same body of Christ. We have to do something!  We can all pray.

I pray for God’s mercy to reign and His grace to enable. And I pray for those who are doing the persecuting that through the witness of those they target, they will see Christ in a powerful way and come out of the darkness.

Join me on Sunday as we praying for our brothers and sisters.