Happy Thanksgiving!

thanksgiving  Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. (Psalm 95:1-2)

It’s Thanksgiving time in America. That annual time when we gather as families and friends, feast on turkey and potatoes and pies of various kinds, and celebrate all that we are thankful for. In our country, most of us have more to be thankful for than we can even begin to list. The Bible tells us to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1Thessalonians 5:18) so in honor of this splendid holiday I wanted to share with you some of the things I am grateful for. Since an exhaustive list is beyond the allowable space, I’m going with my top five (in no particular order!).

My wife. I have discovered that Donna isn’t just an extraordinary wife, she’s an extraordinary human being. Her kindness, elegance, grace, and consideration know no limits and she’s well-read, intelligent, thoughtful, engaging, and fun. We have so much in common that we easily find things to do together and spend as much time with one another as we can. On many occasions she has demonstrated her outstanding character and her loving demeanor, not just with me but with everyone she encounters. She is accepting of others, finds the best in people, and is always there when I need her. She isn’t just my wife, she’s my best friend.

My parents. My mother and father are both still alive and have been married for more than 65 years. I learned so much from my parents. I actually have good manners and can hold my own in virtually any social situation – thanks, Mom! She taught me all kinds of social graces and the kind of respect for others that most of us want our children to have. My dad loves my mom and loves our family and is the finest example of a man I will ever know. As a teen I freely admit I was a difficult child, and I really didn’t get much better until about age 30, but my mom and dad never gave up on me and were always there for me. My mom and dad are amazing people!

My job. Four and a half years ago I was feeling dejected and wondering if I had outlived my time. Then I got this job. It is the perfect job for me as I have the privilege of being a mentor to several younger coworkers and I have influence at all levels of the company. Rather than being at the end of my usefulness, I find myself working on what I think may be the signature accomplishments of my career. I work with very talented people that help me learn and grow and make each workday as enjoyable as a work day can be. Many of them are more than coworkers, they are friends.

My sobriety. There was a time where I was a rebellious, self-centered, obnoxious man who was rarely sober and not much good to anyone. I had an ego as big as the moon yet I was a coward to my very core. Without alcohol coursing through my veins, I couldn’t face the world and with alcohol I didn’t want to. That was my life at one time. It’s now been more than 26 years since I last took a drink. A quarter century. So many people have helped me along the way it would be impossible to name them all. And God truly has done for me what I could not do for myself. My sobriety isn’t just important….it’s everything!

This blog. When Donna and I started Reign Drops, it was certainly a simple beginning. I’m not sure more than a few people, mostly friends, ever read those first few posts. As much as we tried to promote our writing, growth in our audience seemed to come slowly. My how things change. According to the statistics on our host site, we have now been read in 98 countries around the world including: Brazil, Italy, India, Canada, Spain, Australia, Portugal, Malaysia, France, Germany, Jamaica, Hong Kong, Peru, Ireland, England, Algeria, Russia, Greece, Argentina, Philippines, Serbia, South Africa, and Pakistan. We prayed God would use our writing to help advance His kingdom, and it seems we now have a worldwide reach! Donna and I love to write and we’re able to use that love to serve God so I am very thankful to have this blog and for those who read it.

It is written in 1Chronicles 16:34, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” Without a doubt, my list could go on and on. I am blessed beyond anything I could ever have a right to hope for and I praise God for all my blessings. How about you? Have you been working on a gratitude list this year? Is now the right time to tell God how thankful you are?

Donna and I would like to wish you and your family a blessed and happy Thanksgiving from the bottom of our hearts. And we thank you for reading Reign Drops Blog. We’re grateful for each and every one of you! God bless.

We’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or drop us an email at: ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com

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Where Does Truth Come From?

child-945422_960_720  One thing has become very clear, across our society we have very differing views on morality. There are even moments where it seems as if our differences might tear us apart (though American society is far more resilient than our political squabbles might make it seem). Serious moral concerns fuel activism on all sides of the spectrum, but it seems few can agree on any absolutes.

This is not surprising, actually, given the decline in Biblical literacy in our country. According to a 2014 report by the Barna Group and the American Bible Society, a majority of adults in the US said they consider themselves highly, moderately or somewhat knowledgeable about the Bible, yet less than half were able to name the first five books of the Bible. In a 2013 study, only half the adults surveyed knew that John the Baptist was not one of the twelve apostles.

Yet it is the Bible that provides the framework for right and wrong for all people. Without a solid foundation rooted in the knowledge of our Creator and the book He wrote to us, we soon find that no one is right and everyone is right, all at the same time. Without a foundation in Biblical truth, right and wrong are merely abstracts that vary to suit the individual as he or she might decide based on their immediate needs or circumstance.

Certainly most societies have developed laws and norms that are meant to apply as the rule of law, but without a bedrock of Biblical belief, those rules and laws are subject to change based on the whims of various people groups and their immediate felt needs. Morality becomes a flexible band that is stretched and relaxed to suit the impulses of any specific group that makes the most noise at a given moment. And each individual is compelled to obey only as it suits his or her fancy. Individual circumstances always pose the potential for a particular person to decide the risk of disobedience outweighs the pain of compliance.

The Bible, on the other hand, offers us the truth of our Creator. It is His revealed Word to guide us on our journey through life and it is the promise of the eternity that comes after we leave Earth. Through the Apostle Paul we are instructed: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” (2Timothy 3:16) And the book of Psalms opens with this promise: “Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night.” (Psalm 1:1-2)

It seems today that the idea of moral absolutes is distasteful to many and, indeed, we find this is a fulfillment of Scriptural prophecy: “For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths.” (2Timothy 4:3-4) But I want to encourage you to rise above the din of modern society and make your personal choice to pursue Biblical literacy.

I am not asking you to take my word for it because I am confident that the Bible stands on its own and that if you would only commit yourself to improving your personal Biblical literacy, you will soon recognize that the Bible is God’s inspired Word and his Holy Truth. You will discover that when God says “don’t” he means “don’t hurt yourself” and you will find the reality that Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, gave his life so that your sins would be forgiven.  I am confident you will come to know that God’s Word is “a lamp to guide your feet and a light for your path” (Psalm 119:105).

Becoming Biblically literate starts with reading the Bible, of course, but the following resources can help you in your journey.

A good study Bible is essential and you can find one here: Zondervan Study Bibles

A Bible dictionary is also very useful: Compact Bible Dictionary

A Bible commentary will help you, especially if some passages seem difficult: Bible Commentary

A good Bible atlas is also invaluable:  Bible Atlas

Of course, all the above cost money to buy, and if money is an issue for you now, Angel Ministries provides free on-line Bible study resources, and here is a handy link to click: Free Bible Studies

We wish you the best of luck in your quest for Biblical literacy. We’d love to hear how your journey is going, please feel free to write us at: ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com

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Cross Training

exercise-1244925_960_720  Almost everywhere we turn these days, we are bombarded with advertising about our health. Fitness centers offer us easy, 24 hour access, state-of-the-art exercise equipment, personal trainers, and the latest yoga-zumba-crossfit super workout routines. Or we can buy our own exercise machines for just a few unbelievably low monthly payments and workout in the privacy of our own homes. Elaborate infomercials feature perfectly fit, hard-bodied men and women who assure us we can look just like them if we follow their simple 20 minute per day formula.

The food industry isn’t absent from this concern for our physical well-being, either. Advertisements for the latest diet plan, health food alternative, or miracle weight-loss supplements are constantly beaming into our living rooms. Spokesmen and women are kind enough to teach us about the healthier food choices; assuring us of longer, happier lives where we will simultaneously be more popular and content. With just the right fitness routine and diet plan we can be better parents, more productive workers, smarter and better citizens, and live longer lives. And social media provides the tools we need to share our progress with the world.

The fitness business in the United States is booming. According to IBISWorld, gyms and fitness centers alone take in about thirty billion dollars annually. When you add in the additional business of providing the proper gear, attire, equipment, food, supplements, media, and consulting, the revenue of the fitness industry as a whole is staggering. With so much money in play, it is no wonder there are so many options vying for our attention – all of them trying very hard to convince us our lives could be better and longer if we just spend our hard-earned money with them.

The fitness industry has become a benevolent monster; a seemingly unstoppable force for our own good. Concerned only with making us healthier, happier, and longer-lived; few seem to question the sincerity or integrity of the movement. And while exercise is not a bad thing in and of itself, today’s fitness industry has worked hard to create a sense of insecurity in the general public; in essence it thrives on our deepest fears by convincing us we are not good enough the way we are and we’re not going to live as long as we could. With so much money at stake, is it any wonder that the industry is working so hard to earn more of our cash?

Now I want to be clear that I do believe we should get our exercise. Donna and I try to get in a walk every evening, we hike when we can on weekends, and we try to be reasonably active working in the yard, gardening, and other similar activities around the house. It’s a given that a reasonable amount of physical activity does indeed do us some good. The Bible agrees on this point in 1 Timothy, we’ll get to that verse in a bit. But if we are standing in front of a mirror with our shirt off marveling at our own bodies while we lift weights, if we post endless pictures of ourselves on social media so everyone can see how toned our bodies are, if working out or running the next 5k has become the highest priority in our lives, it’s quite probable we’ve crossed into a form of idolatry.

I hate to bore you with math, but a little discussion of statistics is in order here, so please bear with me. As most of us know, statisticians can twist numbers to make them support whatever argument they wish to make. But there is one statistic that cannot be twisted, misrepresented, or argued. It is a statistical fact that ten out of every ten people will die. Perhaps we should pause just to let that reality sink in for a moment; every single one of us is dying. And no amount of exercise or careful dieting can change that fact.

Pondering this statistical truth isn’t something we should fear, rather, it is a sign of wisdom: Psalm 39:4-5 states: “Show me, Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure.” And in Psalm 90:12, we read: “Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” So instead of buying into the constant fitness industry advertising onslaught trying to convince us how to live better and longer, we are wise to consider the finite length of our lives

But here is the good news, a truth that perhaps the fitness industry would rather ignore: death is not the end! And while the fitness industry would have us fear our physical mortality, Scripture tells us: “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell. What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.” (Matthew 10:28-31)

I hope you are seeing these truths in those verses:

1) Your physical body and your soul are two things; one mortal and one immortal
2) The people or things that can kill our physical body cannot kill our soul
3) Sparrows are not as valuable as we are yet God knows the precise details of every sparrow that has ever lived
4) You are so valuable to God that He knows every detail of your life down to the number of hairs on your head (a detail that, in my case, is getting easier for God to remember with every passing day!)

Scripture has the best guidance for our fitness that we will ever receive, let’s call it the ultimate “cross training” advice: “Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance.” (1Timothy 4:7-9) In other words, we should get some exercise, it is clearly beneficial for us in the here and now. But it should not be our primary concern or obsession, rather we should apply ourselves to rigorously working out spiritually.

And here’s how we can do that: first, read God’s Word daily and do what is says (i.e. James 1:22). Pray regularly and give thanks in all circumstances (i.e. 1Thessalonians 5:16-18). Love others (i.e. Romans 13:8). Attend church and have fellowship with other Christians. (i.e. Hebrews 10:24-25). Tell others the Good News about Jesus Christ (i.e. Matthew 28:19). Make these things your spiritual fitness routine and you will store up treasure for eternity. And remember – life is short but eternity is long.

To summarize, and I want to be perfectly clear, be active when you can, follow your doctor’s orders, and take care of yourself physically. But don’t make physical exercise your number one priority. Rather, recognize that you are fearfully and wonderfully made, you are beautiful just as you are, and God loves you dearly. Pour your heart, mind, and soul into your spiritual fitness and reap the benefits of a personal relationship with the God who cared enough to send His one and only Son so that you may have everlasting life. And feel free to post your spiritual progress on social media!

If you have questions about how to improve your spiritual fitness regimen, please write us at ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com. We’d love to help and we won’t charge you a dime!

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Safe Harbor

img_0960-crop-2 Taking road trips with my husband is perhaps my favorite thing to do these days. We both work a lot of hours and combined with our long commutes, our work weeks tend to be exhausting. So getting away together and exploring is a way for us to refresh and come back to the tasks of our daily life with a renewed energy. We sometimes take turns planning our destinations; on our most recent trip it was Tim’s turn to pick the destination. We had 5 days off and he decided on the upper peninsula of Michigan, a popular fall getaway for many.

Specifically, we chose Copper Harbor, Michigan as our destination. Copper Harbor is a small community tucked in a picturesque harbor on the Keweenaw peninsula, which juts out into the southern part of Lake Superior. The mesmerizing sound of the waves, a shoreline landscape filled with bronze and copper leaves in brilliant golden hues interspersed with rich green pines covering vast rolling hills entices me to an imagined life of writing on cold days with a warm fire in the hearth. With dark clouds overhead and waves crashing along a rocky shore, I indulge in my writer’s fantasy immersed in the beauty and wonder of God’s creation. I feel his promise of renewal surrounding me and I am reminded that spiritual renewal is vital to my journey through the destinations of daily life.

Just off the shore of Copper Harbor is the wreck of the John Jacob Astor. Claimed to be the oldest wreck in Lake Superior, it was in 1844 that she became stranded on the rocks in severe winter weather that battered the hull until she broke apart along the rocky shoreline. Like this ship we, too, can become stranded and desperate, floundering on the rocks and finding ourselves feeling we are in great peril.  But God’s word reminds us that the light within us, God’s light, can save us. “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed but not driven to despair.” (2 Corinthians 4:8)

A literal definition of renewal is the replacing or repair of something that is worn out, run-down, or broken. Who hasn’t felt “worn out, run-down, or broken? In times like these we need to be refreshed from the craziness and the turmoil of this world. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, as I do at times, especially in the midst of the political craziness that we are all experiencing, we can look to God’s word to illuminate how we may be renewed in our spirit.

Through the prophet, Isaiah, God reveals how he can lift us up out of the angry seas, strengthen us, and guide us in our journey. “But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40: 31) No troubled sea and no treacherous water’s edge can pierce the protective shelter of our soul when we are aligned with, and trusting in, the Lord.

“The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul.” (Psalm 19:7.) God understands the weariness that we can all experience living in a fallen world. He wants us to spend time in His word so that we can get the vital refreshing of spirit that we need to endure in the world. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” (Romans 12:2) If you feel overwhelmed and drained by your present circumstances and feel like you are drowning in negative thoughts, or that you will perish on the rocky shoreline of your life, then it is time for a renewed perspective. By spending time in the Bible, we can grow in our discernment and restore our mind to His vantage point.

When I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders, or feel depressed by my circumstances, or just drained by the daily grind of life, that’s a signal to me that I need to immerse myself in God’s Word. By returning to the source of my strength, I can find that spirit-lifting energy and shelter that I need. Renewing my spirit puts me back in safe waters and I can take in all that I see around me knowing that the Spirit of God keeps me protected and strengthened in an ever-changing sea of life’s circumstances. You, too, can experience the comfort that only comes from God, just say a prayer and open your Bible and you will find your safe harbor.

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