The Year of the King

Between a Sunday whose emphasis is giving thanks and a Sunday when we rejoice in a baby born in Bethlehem, we get a Sunday packed with both cosmic joy and…Judgment! And if we are not intentional, all of the above can get lost on something called Black Friday! Shop till you drop?! It’s a wonder the church can get anybody’s attention this weekend! But we do because there is a loud Truth about both joy and judgment held together in one Person both a Shepherd and a King; Christ the King Sunday; it is the last Sunday in the cycle of the Christian Year.

Next Sunday, the first Sunday of Advent, we begin anticipating 2018 and the 12 month cycle of retelling the old, old story from the cradle to the grave to the glory! If there is a beginning to the story of Jesus there is also an ending followed by…..the whole mystery of an Eternal Kingdom “not made by human hands.” An arrival of Cosmic Joy and Judgment; thus we celebrate the texts in Ezekiel, Ephesians, and Matthew all focused on a “wrapping up” of All Things! But, since we are living in between the Times we still need to hear “what saith the Lord” for our current day. We still have to shop (!), make decisions, tend to the relationships at hand, and find ways to enjoy what good things are given to us! God is not finished with us yet! Let us “jump for joy” and “flee from the wrath to come (Wesley)!” We CAN do two things at once!

See you this Sunday, Christ the King Sunday!

Pastor Barry

Demonstrations of Love

“[Gratitude] turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie

May your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant. – Psalm 119:76

Right before Thanksgiving, an elderly man in Phoenix called his son in New York and said, ‘Your mother and I are divorcing, 45 years of misery is enough. But I’m sick of talking about this, so please call your sister and tell her the news.’

The son called his sister in Chicago and she immediately called her father. ‘You’re not getting divorced!’ she said, ‘We’ll be there tomorrow. Until then, don’t do a thing.’

The old man hung up the phone and turned with a wry smile to his wife. ‘They’re coming for Thanksgiving and paying their own fares!’

If you’re a parent, you can appreciate the humor of this story. Yet I must say I’m glad we never have to worry about God using deception to get us to spend time with him. Instead, he demonstrates his great love through his Son, Jesus.

To think of God’s unfailing love for us is a reason to be thankful.

During this season of food, football, and family remember to stop and to say thank you. Remember to thank God for life, for health, and for family.

Remember to say Thank you!

It is in spending oneself that one becomes rich and it is in being thankful that a life is lived well. – Sarah Bernhardt

Have a Happy Thanksgiving,

Rob Dunbar, Chaplain, Maj, TN ANG

You’ve Got Talent!

It’s that time in the year when individual talents, giftedness, and strengths really begin to be noticed and appreciated. In school work, Fall sports, and election years! Gifted people get noticed! Talent in people, at whatever level, is applauded.

The scriptures, no less, speak to the talents each person has. Deborah is recognized as a leader in the early years of Israel’s becoming a nation of united tribes. Jesus tells his disciples and followers a parable about the faithful use of what each person has been entrusted with. Paul in First Thessalonians encourages us to “build each up and encourage one another.” People of faith have the “talents” to do just that! Young and old all have gifts to share with the community, eg, wisdom, knowledge, strengths, creativity, attributes of all of us being “made in the image of God!”

Imagine also that just being “loved by God our Creator” will bring out the best in each of us for the benefit of each of us! Quite a different way of viewing ourselves with less of an emphasis on competition as our culture tends to glorify.
Be the best that God has in store for you whatever your gifts and talents! Play as though unto the Lord!

Run hard, serve in the elected office, aim for the A+, go long, plant the seeds, be….all you can be while you can be!
Thanks be to God!

Pastor Barry

Cultivate a Heart of Gratitude Part 3

Part 3 of 5.

Sing praise to the Lord, you saints of His, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name . . . Psalm 30:4

For the next few days, learn how to Cultivate a Heart of Gratitude Within Your Home this Thanksgiving Season 7 simple ways

•Journal.

•Tell Stories.

•Serve… together as a family. Collect canned goods, rake leaves for your neighbors, volunteer in a soup kitchen, or invite an outsider (maybe a college student, a single person from church, or someone who is new to the area) to celebrate Thanksgiving with you. Ask your kids to think of someone from their school whom they might like to bless with a basketful of goodies. Start a “giving jar” where you put spare change or extra dollars with the goal of giving to someone in need. Ask your kids if they have any ideas regarding service. Get creative. The possibilities are endless.

•Create. Have your kids make creative place cards for Thanksgiving dinner. Instead of just cards with names, have them write, ‘I’m thankful for Grandma.’ Or be even more specific, ‘I’m thankful for Grandma’s chocolate chip cookies.’ ‘I’m thankful for Dad’s funny stories.’ ‘I’m thankful for trips to the fire station with Uncle Joe.’ This will cultivate a thankful heart in your children and bless the people who are sharing the meal with you. (Even if you’re not hosting Thanksgiving dinner, volunteer to bring place cards even if you don’t normally use them).

•Personal: Take a moment today to do a gratitude list. Write down 10 things you are grateful for today. Try doing it every day to remember that you are blessed with so many things.

Tomorrow, part 4.

Blessings,

Ch Dunbar

Cultivate a Heart of Gratitude Part 2

A grateful heart is one that finds the countless blessings of God in the seemingly mundane everyday life.

For the next few days, learn how to Cultivate a Heart of Gratitude Within Your Home this Thanksgiving Season—7 simple ways

Part 2 of 5.

1.Journal.
2.Tell Stories. Share the story of Pastor Martin Rinkart with your family.

In 1636 the Thirty Years’ War was raging. Death, disease, and economic collapse enveloped Europe in a fog of terror. One German pastor, Martin Rinkart, is said to have buried five thousand of his parishioners in one year, an average of fifteen people daily! Yet under the shadow of death and amidst a crucible of chaos, Rinkart penned this beautiful table grace for his children:

Now thank we all our God

With heart and hands and voices

Who wondrous things had done

In whom His world rejoices.

Who, from our mother’s arms

Hath led us on our way

With countless gifts of love

And still is ours today.

Talk about this with your family. Was this man in denial? Out of touch? Hardly. Rinkart was a person of audacious faith. He knew thanksgiving flows from love of God, not outward circumstance. Share this story and sing the table grace he wrote for his children.

Remember you can be thankful no matter what the circumstance you are going through.

Blessings,

Tomorrow, part 3.

Rob Dunbar, Chaplain, Maj, TN ANG

Cultivate a Heart of Gratitude Part 1

Courtesies of a small and trivial character are the ones which strike deepest in the grateful and appreciating heart. – Henry Clay

Every year as I approach thanksgiving I try to take a few moments to reflect on all the things I am thankful for. I was taught a number of years ago to do certain things to cultivate a thankful heart. So, for the next few days, I wanted to share ways and activities that may teach you and your family how to cultivate a Heart of Gratitude Within Your Home this Thanksgiving Season—7 simple ways

Part 1 of 5.

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. – William Arthur Ward

Thanksgiving is too wonderful a holiday to let slip by without some intentional, active gratitude. But unless we’re deliberate, that’s exactly what will happen. Already busy lives seem to be compounded this time of year, right? By the time Thanksgiving Day arrives, we can be so emotionally and physically tired from all the prep or travel that the actual “giving thanks” gets lost.

But the Christian heart is a heart of gratitude. And to the extent that we express gratitude, we reflect the heart of our Savior and brother, Jesus Christ. God’s word implores us:

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! (Psalm 100).

We were made to worship and enjoy the triune God who has set his love upon us and lavished us with good gifts. Yet where or how do we begin this journey into the very heart of Christ? Here are some thoughts to assist you in cultivating a thankful spirit within your family this season!

1.Journal. In the beginning of November or a few weeks prior to Thanksgiving Day, place a journal on your kitchen counter (or a highly trafficked area) or attach a paper to your refrigerator. At the top of the page you can write or print, I’m thankful for… Then encourage your family to fill out the journal as things come to mind during this season. Include anything and everything that comes to mind from the simple pleasures of life, I’m thankful for hot coffee! To the profound, I’m thankful that God’s mercies are new every morning. Have the thankful person be sure to include his or her name next to the line of gratitude. Tell little ones who cannot write to simply share with someone in your home who can record it for him/her. On Thanksgiving Day, select a person to read the list or pass it around the table giving each person a chance to read.

Tomorrow, part 2.

Blessings,

Chaplain Dunbar

Come on….End!

Well, the news lately has not been so good. Local, national or international events….not so good. O, there are still many good days and moments with joy and laughter, work and leisure, but they seem dulled by violence, tragedy, and death. Innocence seems to come to a close a lot earlier in life than in The Good Old Days (which is what we all, of a certain age, look back to and then realize….really didn’t exist!). Since we live in a Super Information Age, we find out quickly about all the misery and suffering from the East to the West.

With this in mind, we get scripture this Sunday which points to both the bad and the good in the Day of the Lord (Amos), the “Rapture” (First Thessalonians), and The Wise and Foolish at The Final Wedding Feast (Matthew). The bible is both realistic in how it sees the suffering and evil in the world, and the wonderful hope that God will end that suffering and evil. The bible is about us staying alert, waiting, and participating in what God is doing and God will do. We can sleep…or stay alert. We can be Wise….or we can be Foolish. We can grow in faith….or we can be “content” to stay the same, but miss out on God’s call to be an ongoing New Creation in Christ!

I admit that having lived long enough to have gone through probably over ten predictions of the End of the World; I am weary of End Time “prophets.” I am NOT weary of seeing God continue to bring forth faithful people in spite of gloom and doom. People who “persevere to the end,” people who “are not just hearers of the Word, but are doers of the Word” as well!

This is the greatness of faith: we believe and experience God Now, to the End, and Beyond.

Praise be to God on Sunday and beyond! See you Sunday and beyond!

Pastor Barry

Survival

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it (1 Corinthians 10:13, ESV).

When you’re overwhelmed by a problem that isn’t going to get better in a couple days or even weeks, you might begin to falter. The pressure to falter is great—to slip down, go under, give in, lose the battle—and at times we would falter without an exceedingly great and precious promise from God. You need something larger and stronger than your problems. Serious days call for a serious promise: God is always watching; I will not falter.

God is watching, and He wants you to succeed at the Christian life. Considering His great love for you, do you honestly think He would let you go through more than you can handle? No. He won’t let the waters drown you. He will keep the fires from burning you (Isaiah 43:1–2). He won’t allow the temptation to become so strong it knocks you off your feet.

“God actively controls the severity of everything we face.”

In the original Greek of the New Testament, there is just one word for “temptation” and “trial.” It’s used interchangeably, based on the intent of the passage. A trial refers to an adversity allowed by God to transform your character. A temptation is a solicitation to do evil, which could never originate with God (see James 1:13).

In 1 Corinthians 10:13, both meanings are in view. God won’t allow a temptation or a trial into your life that you won’t be able to handle. Neither one will overtake your life or last forever. “God is faithful.”

Every trial and temptation you face is “common to man.” You might feel as if nobody has ever gone through what you’re going through, but that’s false. The enemy tries to paint your difficulties as unique in order to make you falter. Don’t fall for that! In the past, many people have gone through a trial just like yours, and more will in the future. You don’t get singled out for a customized set of temptations. You’re probably getting about average. God will not allow you to be tried beyond your ability to withstand.

He’s watching closely. God actively controls the severity of everything we face. He says, “This far—no further. That’s all. That’s My daughter; I know what she can handle.” God protects His own. He will not allow you to be tested beyond what you are able to handle.

You might argue, “I’m already being tried beyond what I can bear!” But the truth is that God knows you better than you know yourself. You’re not going to lose it. You will survive. You don’t know what you are capable of in God’s strength. You will get through this. The trial won’t last forever.

When the time comes that you really can’t take it anymore, 1 Corinthians 10:13 promises, “He will also provide the way of escape.” With practice you can learn to recognize exit ramps when you see them. “The way of escape” might look like . . .
•An instant end to the trial. When God moves, the mountains get leveled, the floods get lowered, and the sun suddenly breaks through. In my experience, trials end as quickly as they start.
•Encouragement to endure. Out of the blue, God may send another Christian to encourage you and remind you that you’re not alone.
•Wisdom and direction. God may show you a new angle on the problem. So many trials in life hinge for the good on one, simple, God-given piece of wisdom.
•Strength to persevere. There may be days when you don’t think you can face that difficult circumstance or person one more time. God may energize you for a new season of faithfulness.
•A friend to share the burden. Sometimes God dispels the darkness through the comforting assurance of friendship. The way of escape may be someone who has walked the same road before.
•A few days of relief. Sometimes God gives an oasis in the middle of the desert to replenish your reserves. Perhaps those tough circumstances will return for a season, but that temporary relief enables you to endure.

Of course, the variety of exit ramps is as endless as God’s creativity, but you can be confident He won’t let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. He doesn’t promise you eight options, or six, or even three—but you will find at least one exit ramp. When you see it, take it. Sometimes He gives us extra strength to endure our trials, but whether you’re enduring or exiting, you will not falter; God is always watching.

Blessings,

Chaplain Rob Dunbar

Growing in Christ

That I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all Your wondrous works. – Psalm 26:7

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. – Isaiah 55:8

People today are striving for personal improvement, self-empowerment, and inner strength. Yet, Christianity has a completely opposite way of thinking; it’s full of paradoxes. We die to live; we lose to find; we surrender to gain strength.

When Jesus overcame death, he defeated the worst enemy of all. Today we’re left to battle with far lesser foes, knowing that He’s already won the war.

When we stop trying to control the outcome of every situation and stop demanding that God resolves our problems according to our dictates, we unlock the door for God to show us his redemptive purpose.

Praying, ‘Your will be done’ gets us out of God’s way and removes our ideas as to how things are supposed to work out in our lives, and allows God’s ideas to take control.

Are you struggling to be a better follower of Jesus? Are you worried about the future? Spiritual growth results from trusting Jesus. A life of faith will enable you to trust God increasingly without knowing what’s around the corner.

The trust comes from realizing that no matter what may come God will be there right beside you every step of the way!

Every tomorrow has two handles. We can take hold of it with the handle of anxiety or the handle of faith. – Henry Ward Beecher

Blessings,

Ch. Dunbar

Rob Dunbar, Chaplain, Maj, TN ANG

Cultivating a Thankful Heart

I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers. – Philemon 1:4

The great English writer G. K. Chesterton once wrote, “You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing, and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.”

Wow! What a reminder! There’s no doubt in my mind that I could give thanks more often. We set aside meal time, Sunday mornings, and my favorite holiday; Thanksgiving. But, don’t let an hour go by without giving thanks . . . for your work, school, kids, health, your spouse, your blessings and your challenges.

When you have a God-awareness about life and when you see and sense Him in your day (in the big things and the little things), it’s hard not to be thankful

Blessings,

Rob Dunbar, Chaplain, Maj, TN ANG