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An Easter Funeral

April 18, 2017
 Tuckers Grove United Congregational Holiness Church

 NASHVILLE—Late last night, we arrived home from the funeral of Deborah’s grandmother, Sara Nell McAfee, known to her grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great great grandchildren as Mama Mac. In sermons and at parenting conferences, I have often talked about Mama Mac and the godly heritage she left behind for her four children, nine grandchildren, sixteen great grandchildren, and two great great grandchildren (Jo and Liam).

The funeral service was held at Tucker’s Grove United Congregational Holiness Church (see picture above)—the Pentecostal church where Deborah’s great grandfather was the pastor for fifty years and where Deborah’s grandmother attended all her life. As a pastor, I normally speak at the funerals I attend, but at this one, I sat in the pew with my wife, adult sons, daughter-in-law, and my granddaughter, Josephine.

The funeral service was led by the new pastor of Tucker’s Grove, a young preacher who had only been in this church for five years. He was brief, but he said a few words that I’ll never forget. Standing in this rural Pentecostal church that was founded in 1923, the pastor said of Mama Mac and her generation: “Today, people go to the house of God. But in the past, people had an encounter with the God of the house. Lord, we need an encounter with the GOD OF THE HOUSE!!!”

As he said this, I began to think about all that Mama Mac had seen and experienced in this small brick church building during her ninety-four years on this earth. Weddings. Baptisms. Funerals. Communion. Prayer. Foot washings. Baby dedications. Healings. Signs and wonders. Church plants. Church splits. Church growth. Church decline. Church renewal.Since 1923, each generation of believers has had to have their own encounter with the God of the house. I thought about this as I looked at Deborah and reflected on the profound spiritual influence that Mama Mac had on her life. I thought about this as I looked at my adult sons, whose own spiritual lives owe much to their mother’s example of fervent prayer and unwavering faith. And I thought about this as I looked at my granddaughter, Josephine, who at three is now beginning to ask questions about Jesus (she even recognized him somehow on the stained glass windows at Tucker’s Grove).

As I thought about my own family, I also thought about my Every Nation church family around the world. My prayer is that after our founder generation is gone, subsequent generations will have their own encounters with God in some of the very churches we are planting and in the buildings we are building. My prayer is that my generation will not make it hard for future generations to meet Jesus and join His mission. My prayer is that, like Deborah’s grandmother, we will model a vibrant faith and love for God’s word and mission that inspires future generations to take the gospel to every nation in their generation.

Blog / Family

Christmas Trees, Tangled Lights, and Great Joy

November 29, 2016

josephine-christmas-2
NASHVILLE –
Last night, I begrudgingly embarked on the annual tradition of setting up our family Christmas tree.

I say begrudgingly because our massive pre-lit tree never seems to work how it’s supposed to. After wrestling the branches into place and hooking up all of the pre-wired strings of lights, it always seems like at least one section of lights doesn’t work. Over the years, instead of figuring out why certain sections don’t light up, I have resorted to buying additional strands of lights and stringing them on top of the dead sections.

Once the tree is decorated, no one can tell the difference. But my quick-fixes sure make set-up and tear-down a nightmare, as I attempt to untangle the added light strands from the original ones.

Last night, my irritation was contrasted with the overwhelming excitement of my three-year-old granddaughter, Josephine. Though this was her third Christmas, it was her first time to help us decorate the tree. The same plastic tree—that for me was an object of frustration and futility—was for Josephine an object of joy and wonder.

Whether she was carefully hanging a shiny glass ball, or telling her uncle where exactly to lay a strand of silver beads, Josephine acted as though this Christmas tree was her masterpiece. Our annual decorating time was punctuated by the soundtrack of Josephine’s gasps and outbursts of “Beautiful!” and “This is so amazing!”

What best characterizes your approach to the Christmas season?

Are you filled with joy and excitement, like Josephine—or are you (like me) filled with irritation and dread at the increased traffic, the proliferation of parties and events, and the tangle of Christmas lights?

While you might say that our different perspectives merely reflect a difference in age (3 vs 57) or maturity, I would argue that Josephine’s approach to the Christmas season is closer to the Kingdom than you might realize.

When the angels appeared to the shepherds near Bethlehem they said, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” What was the “good news of great joy”? “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11).

How did the shepherds respond to this news?

Kind of like Josephine.

It was right for them to be filled with joy and excitement. Not only were they told that the Messiah had come, but they were told where they could find Him. And when they found the baby and His parents, they were filled with a joy and wonder that they could not keep to themselves.

So as we enter another Christmas season, whether it’s your 3rd or your 30th or your 93rd, remember that this is a time check our hearts to see if we are responding rightly to the “good news of great joy.” If you are anything other than overjoyed at the thought of God’s salvation in Christ, then maybe you are focusing too much on the traffic and the tangled lights and not enough on the baby in the manger.

If you have young children (or grandchildren), allow their joy and excitement this season to convict you and hopefully, to rub off on you. Remember it was Jesus who said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)

Blog / Family / Leadership

Parenting Lessons from the World’s Busiest Father

September 26, 2016

President Barack Obama and his daughters, Malia, left, and Sasha, watch on television as First Lady Michelle Obama takes the stage to deliver her speech at the Democratic National Convention, in the Treaty Room of the White House, Tuesday night, Sept. 4, 2012.  (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

DETROIT, MICHIGAN, USA. This weekend I was in Detroit ministering with Bishop Marvin Winans  at Perfecting Church, a great church in a great city. I’ll probably write more about that in a future blog. My last blog was about parenting lessons from a funeral. This week’s blog offers tips for the ultra-busy parent.

One of the main reasons why it is often so difficult to engage our children is that intentional engagement takes time. There are no short cuts. There is no outsourcing. You can only engage your children if you spend time with them.

It’s so easy to make excuses and point to our busy schedules. You probably are busy—but probably not as busy as the President of the United States.

Here’s what he said in an essay on balancing work and family:

Even with our jam-packed days, Michelle and I work hard to carve out certain blocks of family time that are sacrosanct. For example, at 6:30 p.m., no matter how busy I am, I leave work to go upstairs and have dinner with my family. That’s inviolable. My staff knows that it pretty much takes a national emergency to keep me away from that dinner table…

So for an hour or so at dinner, my focus is not on my day, but on theirs… The highlight of my day is just listening to their thoughts about the world and seeing what smart, funny, kind young women they’ve become. That hour recharges me and gives me perspective…

And like many parents of high school juniors who are excitedly touring college campuses, I’m already dreading that empty seat at the table when Malia goes off to school next fall. I can feel myself lingering at the table a little longer, trying to stave off the passage of time. But for as long as possible, I’m going to enjoy every minute of finally having us all together under one roof.

These are the words of a father who is engaged in the lives of his two daughters.

Despite the fact that he has the busiest and most demanding schedule on the planet and despite the fact that he himself grew up without a father, President Obama has decided to prioritize time with children.

Do you?

Blog / Discipleship / Family

Parenting Lessons from a Funeral

September 19, 2016
Me with the Fabregas family after the funeral

Me with the Fabregas family at the funeral

NASHVILLE, TN, USA. This past weekend Deborah, William (my oldest son), and I spoke at a parenting seminar at Bethel Brentwood. During the half-day seminar, we talked about the four E’s of parenting (sound familiar?) and tackled four big questions that every parent should ask themselves:

  • How can we engage our children’s world?
  • How can we establish strong biblical foundations?
  • How can we equip our children for life?
  • How can we empower them to pursue God’s calling?

I opened the first session with a story about a good friend of mine who recently passed away at the age of 77.

Salvador “Bomboy” Fabregas was a pillar of our church for many years. He and his wife became Christians in their late 40’s. One by one his adult children came to faith, and most of his eighteen grandchildren have grown up in our church in Manila.

When we found out about his passing, I was in Nashville, so I quickly booked a flight to Manila so I could be there for the funeral.

One thing I will never forget about the funeral was hearing his grandchildren talk about their grandfather.

One grandson talked about his memories playing chess with (and always losing to) his grandfather. Another referred to his grandfather as one of his biggest fans on the soccer field. One granddaughter talked about how her grandfather was such a good listener and was always making sure he was up to date on what was going on in her life. For me, the most poignant story of all was hearing a teenage grandson tearfully explain that while all his friends complained about their obligatory visits to their aged grandparents, he absolutely looked forward to and thoroughly enjoyed every visit with his grandfather.

Pretty soon a clear pattern emerged.

This grandfather was deeply engaged in the lives of his grandchildren—all of them, individually. He didn’t necessarily care about chess or soccer or high school drama—he cared about Carlos, Bea, and Daniel, and the other fifteen.

As a grandfather of two, I was blown away by the fact that my friend had eighteen grandchildren—ranging from their mid-thirties to their pre-teens—and every single one of them felt like the favorite. (Favoritism is destructive when one child or grandchild feels favored and the others feel rejected, however when all feel equally favored, favoritism is a thing of beauty.)

As parents, one of our most important jobs is to engage our children. Love what they love. Care about what they care about. Listen to what is on their minds.

It seems simple enough, but at certain stages, it can be really difficult for parents to engage their children. Maybe your son’s or daughter’s interests have changed to things that you know nothing about. Maybe your teenager is intentionally pushing you away. Maybe you a have a new baby in the family that is taking a lot of your time and attention. Or maybe you are simply too busy at work.

Whatever season of parenting we find ourselves in, let’s learn from my good friend Bomboy. Let’s stay engaged with our children (and eventually our grandchildren) all the way to the end.

Blog / Family

Thoughts on Thirty-four Years

August 22, 2016

unnamedNASHVILLE, TENNESSEE, USA. Yesterday, Deborah and I celebrated our 34th wedding anniversary.

A lot has happened since we were married on August 21st, 1982.

In 1982, Ferdinand Marcos was the longtime leader of the Philippines, Ronald Reagan was the new president of the United States, and Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” (featured in Rocky III) was the number one song on the radio.    
In 1982, I lived in Starkville, Mississippi, pastoring a small church near the campus of Mississippi State University, and I had no intention of leaving.

Fast forward thirty-four years, one accidental mission trip, three children, and two grandchildren later — nearly everything about my life has changed.

I am no longer in my 20’s; I’m in my 50’s. I no longer call Mississippi home; Manila and Nashville are now home. I no longer pastor a small campus church; I work with a global church-planting movement that didn’t exist in 1982.

Two things have not changed in the past thirty-four years: who I serve (God) and who I serve with (Deborah).

Deborah was there in 1984 when God called us on a one-month summer mission trip to the Philippines that never ended. She was there (obviously) when our three sons were born. She was there in 1994 when Every Nation was birthed in our living room in Manila. She was there in the early days when we didn’t have enough money for cab and jeepney fares. (We did a lot of walking in those days.) She was there when we finally bought our first home — in a high rise apartment building. She was there when my mom and dad died. She was there when our two grandchildren were born.

I thank God every day for my wife. She’s an amazing mother, grandmother, and mother-in-law. She’s been the perfect pastor’s wife, disciple-maker, and spiritual leader. I would not be half the man I am today without her, and I would not have accomplish half as much without her.

Those who know Deborah know she’s deeply spiritual — and normal. Some people are so “spiritual” they’re weird. Not her. She’s naturally spiritual.

Besides asking Jesus to forgive me, my second best ask ever was asking Deborah to marry me. I’m forever grateful to her and to God that she said yes.


PS: If you’re single and want to get married one day, I suggest you find someone smarter and and more spiritual than you. That formula has worked out wonderfully for me 

Blog / Family

The Realities (and Truths) of Parenthood

August 1, 2016
My grandson and newest member of the Murrell family, William Stephen Murrell III.

My grandson and newest member of the Murrell family, William Stephen Murrell III.

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE, USA. Last Saturday (July 23rd), we welcomed into the world the newest member of the Murrell family, William Stephen Murrell III—named after his dad, his grandfather (me), and William Wilberforce.

The presence of a new baby in the house reminds me of when our sons were that age, but the wonderful thing about being a grandparent is that you can enjoy all the benefits of a newborn without any of the responsibilities. Seeing my son, William, and his wife, Rachel, take care of little William has reminded me that alongside the new baby clothes, the cute Instagram photos, and the precious moments (often during naps), are dirty diapers, hospital bills, and sleepless nights.

Here’s the unavoidable reality about parenting: children are expensive, children are hard work, and children are unpredictable.

But if we go into parenthood with only these realities in mind, we will miss out on the bigger truths we find in Scripture—Kingdom truths that put these earthly realities in proper perspective.

In Psalm 127:3-4, we read: “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.”

In this passage, we see God’s perspective on parenting: children are a heritage, children are a reward, and children are like arrows.

  • HERITAGE: From the moment they are born to the time they move to college, you will spend more money than you can possibly imagine on your children. And yet, God tells us that children are a heritage—or inheritance. How can children be an inheritance (something of great value) when it seems like they cost us so much? Inheritances are gifts from parents to children. And they are valuable not only because of their intrinsic value but because of who they come from. In the same way, our children have great value not only because of their potential benefit to us—but because they are gifts from God.
  • REWARD: Whether you have an eighteen-month-old or an eighteen-year-old, children require a great deal of time, energy, and patience. It’s true that becoming a parent requires a lot of hard work and personal sacrifice. But if we learn to see children as God sees them—as rewards—then all of the expense, time, and lifestyle changes will pale in comparison to the rewards of parenthood.
  • ARROWS: As parents, there are many things about our children that are totally out of our control. When they are newborns, we have no idea what their personality will be like. We have no idea what hobbies they will gravitate towards as children. And we have no idea what they will study when they go to college. And yet Scripture tells us to see our children as arrows—young men and women who we are called to shape, equip, and send out from our homes filled with purpose and direction. We may not know what specific target God has prepared for our children, but we do know that it is our role as parents to prepare them to be launched out of our homes and into God’s purposes.

As a grandparent whose diaper days are behind me, it’s easy for me to put the realities of parenting in proper perspective (with the truths of scripture). But when you are a parent of young children (or even teenagers!), it can sometimes be difficult to see beyond the challenging realities of parenthood and believe that your children are truly a heritage and a reward.

My advice for all young parents is to memorize and meditate on Psalm 127. Preach it to yourself until you believe it. Return to this verse over the years and through the ups and downs of parenthood and allow the Holy Spirit to help you see your children as God sees them.

 

Blog / Book / Family / Leadership

To Empower or Not to Empower? That is the Leadership Question

April 20, 2016

Arrows in Quiver

MANILA, PHILIPPINES.  Because of my latest book, My First, Second & Third Attempts at Parenting, Deborah and I have been doing our “Heart of Parenting” seminars more than ever. During the Q&A portion of the seminars, we are often asked questions about adult children. Our answer is always the same. Using the language of Psalm 127 that refers to children as arrows, we encourage parents of adults to intentionally empty their quivers.

Arrows are made for the target, not for the quiver, therefore we tell parents of adults, “take your adult kids out of the safety of the quiver, take your hands off, let go, and let them fly toward their God-ordained target.”

The same idea applies to leadership development in your church and campus ministry. Just like parents with adult children permanently hiding in the quiver, many pastors have quivers full of potential leaders who rarely get an opportunity to actually lead. These keepers of the quiver boast of having a “deep bench,” but no one is actually in the game.

Like all strong leaders, Elisha the prophet attracted scores of potential leaders. They were called his spiritual sons. Like real sons and daughters, Elisha’s spiritual sons knew they were not destined to stay in the safety of the quiver forever, so they spoke up.

Now the sons of the prophets said to Elisha, ‘See, the place where we dwell under your charge is too small for us.’ (2 Kings 6:1)

Of course it was too small. They were called to lead, not to wait forever to be allowed to do something significant. Because real leaders want to lead, and because real leaders think big, it’s only matter of time before they tell their leader that the quiver “where we dwell under your charge is too small for us.”

At some point, everyone who equips leaders will hear this sentiment from next-generation leaders. What you do next will determine whether you multiply or collect leaders and whether you build a leadership multiplication culture or a one-man-show culture.

Notice Elisha’s response.

Go. (2 Kings 6:2)

I am sure Elisha could have responded with a list of character flaws and unfinished leadership tasks. But instead, he allowed them to get out of the quiver and let them fly through the air toward their bullseye.

Releasing leaders is risky for them and for us, but if we want a multiplying leadership culture, we must take our hands off and let them go.

If you are a leader today, at some point someone took their hands off and empowered you to fly toward your target. I am sure you were not totally ready, but you were released anyway.

Potential leaders will only become productive leaders if they are empowered, and it is up to us to empower them…and to let them GO!

Blog / Family / Leadership

Great Leaders Put Family First

January 3, 2016

CANTON, MISSISSIPPI. While visiting our Mississippi friends and relatives during the holidays, we stopped by the Murrell family farm/lake house. Has it really been four years since I was last here? Many of my best childhood memories are connected to that land and lake just north of where I grew up. While on the family farm, I took a moment to visit Dad and Mom’s grave sites (photo above). They both wanted to be buried between the cabin and the lake.

I am thankful that I was raised by parents who put family first.

Like most years, I plan to read through the whole Bible in 2016, so as usual, I started in Genesis where I always encounter old friends like Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, plus many lesser known but equally fascinating men and women.

Thoughts of my parents and my childhood in Mississippi were flooding my mind as I read about Enoch in Genesis 5. I have always been intrigued by Enoch, the father of Methuselah. Anyone with even a cursory knowledge of Bible characters knows that Methuselah was the oldest man to ever live, dying at the ripe old age of 969. We know almost nothing about Enoch except that, “Enoch walked with God” and that “he fathered Methuselah and other sons and daughters.” (Genesis 5:22-14)

So basically we know two facts about Enoch, but those two facts are really all we need to know about anyone.

1. He was a spiritual man. “Enoch walked with God.”

2. He was a family man. “He fathered Methuselah and other sons and daughters.”

That’s about all I ever wanted to be, a spiritual man and a family man.

I am in the middle of writing a leadership book that will be released at the Every Nation World Conference in Cape Town, South Africa later this year, so I have leadership on the brain. Everything I see, hear, and read is filtered through my leadership grid as potential material for my book. So, here’s a leadership lesson from our two Enoch facts.

When I am looking for a potential leader or working with a current leader, I need to know about the person’s spiritual life and family life. If those are in order, then everything else tends to take care of itself. But if either of the big two are out of wack, then no matter what a leader has going for him or her, the potential for disaster is always looming.

I have added a number three to Enoch’s big two to frame how I want to live all of 2016. If at the end of this year I have done the following, it will have been a good year.

1. Walk with God

2. Be a good husband

3. Be a good father (and father-in-law and grandfather)

What do you want to accomplish in 2016?

 

 

Blog / Family

A CHRISTMAS EVE DISASTER

December 1, 2015
 This was originally written for Evangelicals Today mag, many years ago. I like to pull it deep from my archives around Christmas. I thought some of you, especially those with small children, might find it helpful this time of the year. 

————–

’Twas the night before Christmas, and the scene of the crime was Savannah, Georgia. The year was 1989. Our oldest son was almost four. Our second son was eighteen months. The third was still inside trying to kick his way out.

This was the first year that William, our first son, realized that Christmas meant gifts. He knew that according to the “youngest-first rule” at my in-laws’ house, he would be the second in line to open his gifts. At my in-laws’ house, the gifts were divided into piles. All gifts that said “To William” were put in a pile. All “To James” gifts were put in another pile. Once all the gifts were put in the right pile, they were opened one at a time beginning with the youngest and continuing to the oldest. This meant that James was first, then William, then older cousins, uncles and aunts, then Mom, Dad, and finally, grandparents.

As good Christian parents, we had attempted to teach our young boys the true meaning of Christmas. We didn’t expect much from James, but we assumed that William understood that it was better to give than to receive. After all, Jesus was born because God so loved the world that He gave… . . That’s what Christmas is all about—giving. What happened that night let us know that our children had completely missed the point, and that we had to adjust the way we would celebrate Christmas in the future.

All William wanted for Christmas that year was a bow and arrow. His little mind was made up. He knew what he wanted and he would not be denied. He prayed to God for it, and just in case that would not work, he constantly reminded us.

One day, just to make sure I understood his request, he said, “Daddy, I want REAL arrows.”

“Real arrows?” I asked, wondering what kind of damage a three-year old could do with real arrows.

“Yeah, you know the kind with the rubber things on the end. Real ones, not just toys.” He was serious about this. “You mean the arrows that stick to walls and windows if you lick ’em before shooting?” I responded, hoping I knew what he meant by real arrows.

“Yeah! Like in Toys-R-Us.”

Back to the Christmas Eve crime scene in Georgia.  Here’s what happened. James, the youngest, was first to open his gifts. Like all eighteen-month olds, he was more impressed with the colorful boxes and ribbons than with the contents. He hadn’t caught on to the materialistic spirit of Christmas yet.

Then came William’s turn. As James continued to play with his wrapping paper and boxes, William anxiously ripped through his first gift in world-record time. He completely ignored the contents and immediately tore into the next one. (At least James played with the boxes.) He only got the wrapping paper half way off this one before tossing it aside and grabbing the next one.

Deborah and I discerned that something was wrong here. “William, maybe you should say thanks and at least act like you appreciate these gifts.”

On the verge of tears, he said, “I thought I would get a bow and arrow, with REAL arrows. That’s all I wanted, and I didn’t get it. I got all this other stuff instead.”

Well, he did get a bow with real (rubber-tipped) arrows. He just hadn’t gotten to that gift yet because it was buried under a mountain of shredded green and red paper.

That was quite a memorable and frustrating Christmas for us. We knew something was wrong, but we weren’t sure just how to fix it.

A few months later, I read a book that described the scene you just read about, only it was happening in another city to another family with small kids. It was sure comforting to know that our experience was not unique. Right now, I can’t seem to remember the name of the book or the author. Anyway, this guy in the book not only had the same problem, but he had identified the root of the problem and had come up with the solution. It was so simple. It opened our eyes and changed the way we have approached Christmas since the disaster of ’89.

On that fateful Christmas Eve I described above, William was upset and ungrateful because he thought he didn’t get a bow with real arrows. The root of the problem is in the word “GET.” His focus was on what he would GET. We will always have a problem when we focus on what we get. Christmas (and life) is all about giving, not getting. The greatest joy and fulfillment comes as we give.

We decided that from then on, we would do our best to focus on what each child wanted to GIVE, not on what they wanted to GET.
In 1989, we asked William what he wanted to GET for Christmas. He wanted to get a bow with real arrows. Christmas Eve came around. It was William’s turn to open gifts. All he could think about was what he would get. He was totally oblivious to what others were getting and to what others had given. We had helped him miss the whole point.
After that, rather than asking our children what they wanted to GET from us, we would ask them what they wanted to GIVE us, their brothers, their relatives, and friends. For the weeks building up to Christmas, our children were taught to focus on what they would GIVE rather than what they would GET.

When gift-opening time would come around at the Murrell house, we put all William’s gifts in a pile, all James’s in a pile, and all Jonathan’s in a pile. We separated Mom’s and Dad’s into piles of their own.

All the gifts in William’s pile would say “FROM William” on the tag. All the gifts in James’ pile that say “FROM James.” The “FROM Jonathan” presents are in another pile, as are the “FROM Mom” and the “FROM Dad.” Once all the gifts were in the piles, each person would take his turn to GIVE all his gifts. This way, the focus is on giving rather than getting. Over the years, our boys learned to be just as excited about giving as getting.

They discovered that it really can be more blessed to give than to receive.
Blog / Family / Miscellaneous

Dick Dastardly, Turkey, and the Remedy for Entitlement

November 23, 2015

NASHVILLE. Yesterday at church my good friend, Rice Broocks preached a powerful sermon that included brilliant exegesis, solid theology, practical application, and a reference to two of the greatest cartoon characters ever – Dick Dastardly and his canine sidekick Muttley. Only Rice would attempt to connect the dots from the Apostle Paul to Timothy to Dick Dastardly and Muttley. (“Rashin frashin Rick Rastardly!”)

In his sermon, “Gratefulness is Our Greatest Weapon,” Rice talked about how gratefulness protects our minds, our relationships, and our hearts. He said that unexpressed gratefulness is actually ungratefulness. This sermon was both inspiring and convicting. And it also took me back in time.

When our now adult sons were young, Deborah and I decided that we would not tolerate an entitlement attitude in our home. Our remedy? Teach our kids to be thankful. I am not sure how successful we were, but we sure tried to raise grateful sons.

Yesterday Rice reminded me of the main point that we tried to teach our kids, that entitlement cannot coexist with gratitude.

Entitlement says that parents, businesses, siblings, government, church, life, God, and Santa owe me something. And since I am owed, there is no reason to say thanks.

Thankfulness is like kryptonite to entitlement. Kills it on contact.

And that brings us to that American holiday, Thanksgiving Day. After a hundred years of American cities and communities declaring their own thanksgiving celebrations, in 1789 President George Washington proclaimed November 26 “as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favours of ALMIGHTY GOD.

Notice that the original official Thanksgiving Day was not about being generally thankful, but about specifically thanking ALMIGHTY GOD.

Recently Americans have become obsessed with removing all God references from the conversation lest we offend Bill Maher. With Thanksgiving we have taken that obsession to an absurd level, not only removing God but also removing the idea of thanks from Thanksgiving Day.

Increasingly Americans are calling the 4th Thursday of November, “Turkey Day” rather than Thanksgiving Day. Are we afraid that if we call it Thanksgiving, someone might accidentally thank God?

So now, rather than thanking God once a year for His gracious provision, we eat turkey and watch football.