Thursday, November 29, 2012

What's At The Top Of Your List?

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you — Philippians 1:3 (NASB95)

Pride slays thanksgiving, but an humble mind is the soil out of which thanks naturally grow. A proud man is seldom a grateful man, for he never thinks he gets as much as he deserves. – Henry Ward Beecher

We’re about to celebrate one of best holidays. Thanksgiving will happen this week. I don’t think I know anybody who doesn't like Thanksgiving. Even if it’s just the food and football, this is one nice holiday.

Folks will travel to visit family and friends. Some people will cook for days. They will put on a spread that would feed three times more people than will gather around the table. There will be special recipes. At our house, we’ll have my mother’s cranberry salad, just as an example. It works sort of like a garnish for the turkey and dressing. Then again, it’s a special side like the veggies. You could eat it for dessert. Mid afternoon, it works just fine as a snack. I don’t know why we don’t eat this stuff all year long because it is flat good.

Add to all that turkey (smoked, roasted, grilled, fried, stuffed - just to name a few), the ham, and the brisket. I know, I’m making you hungry. See, I told you everybody likes this holiday, even if just for the food.

The sad part of Thanksgiving is that it gets short-changed. Right between Halloween and Christmas is not a good location. The stores tend to overlook it. You can’t find good Thanksgiving celebration decorations. That’s because we go right from ghosts and goblins to Santa Claus. Too bad we don’t slow down just a bit so we can take in Thanksgiving in a way that promotes real gratitude.

I always like to encourage people to be thankful on Thanksgiving. I don’t mean in some theoretical way. I mean be thankful in a specific, practical way. Take the time to be thankful. If you have to make a list, then get out the pencil and paper. It wouldn't hurt to make a few phone calls just to tell people you’re grateful for them. If you do that, it might surprise a few folks, but believe me, they won’t forget it. Neither will you.

Of course, somebody will always say, “We should be thankful every day!” Of course we should. But there’s nothing wrong with making a special effort, on a special day, to be especially thankful for God’s blessings. If you can’t do that one day, I suspect you won’t do it on other days either. Let’s start. What’s at the top of your list?

Are You Beautiful?

Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. — Proverbs 31:30 (NASB95)

Over a five-year period, photographer Zed Nelson visited seventeen countries as he documented the global craze for beauty. In his book, Love Me, Nelson writes, "Beauty is a $160 billion-a-year global industry. Body improvement has become a new religion."– Joseph Stromberg, "The Distressing Worldwide Boom in Cosmetic Surgery," Smithsonian magazine, October 2012

Let’s face it. There is something to be said for beauty. Few of us are attracted to “ugly” nearly like we’re attracted to “beautiful.” It’s understandable that people want to modify their physical imperfections, even if it’s just temporary. Many are going for a more permanent solution. Plastic surgeons cater to an ever-growing number of people who want to be snipped, tucked, lifted, or modified in some way that will enhance the natural limitations of the body they’ve got.

There are popular TV shows about little children who are entered into “beauty contests” where they are dressed and painted to achieve results that are anything but “normal.”

In the South, there are many small towns that still have “beauty reviews,” or pageants meant to give budding beauties the opportunity to have everybody applaud the fresh face of youth.

Of course, this also means that many, many more people without the financial means to pay for surgery, or even to participate in the pageants, must sit at home and develop the sad idea that they’re somehow not “worth” as much because their looks can’t compete.

I’m not going to bother getting into a discussion about the merits or demerits of all this emphasis on physical beauty, or the potential damage it does to so many people. You can sort that out however you please. I will suggest, that while the Bible acknowledges beauty, and even uses the concept of beauty to describe wonderfully marvelous things, the Bible also cautions us that there is another kind of beauty that often goes unnoticed and undeveloped.

It’s what some call “inner beauty.” No, it’s not nearly as visually appealing, at least most of the time, and it can certainly be overwhelmed and clouded by all the emphasis on outward or physical beauty. Still, inner beauty is more important in the long run for one simple reason. Physical beauty always fades. Inner beauty never does. One beauty grows weak, the other grows stronger. One is temporary, the other really is permanent. Are you beautiful? How?