This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

A few weeks ago, we celebrated the beginning of the new year visiting with some friends, grilling steaks, and watching some fireworks.  It was a nice beginning to this already strange year.  My youngest daughter and our friends’ dog sat comfortably in their prime spots on the back porch to watch the fireworks.  Here they sit, staring into the darkness, awaiting the next burst of light.

I cannot speak for all, but for a great many of our friends, family members, and neighbors, the past two years have seen some very difficult days indeed.  In fact, you may have felt as if each new day was simply another attack from the darkness that often times surrounds us.  You’ve waited and you’ve watched, and here you are in 2022 experiencing the very same difficulties.

Let me offer this very simple little thought.  If you don’t take the time to sit quietly and stare into the darkness, you might miss those beautiful bursts of color that light up the dark sky.

The Lord tells us to “be still and know that I am God.”  The world is a dark place.  But our God is very much alive and well.  He is love.  He is light.  And He will show up and show out, if you will only believe and watch.

May I encourage you to sit in anticipation this week of the next big burst of colorful light the Lord has in store for you?  Take a deep breath.  Ignore, if possible, the loud noises, and focus on the beauty only He can provide.
Just a thought.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

Our road trip last summer included an overnight stay on Hershey Avenue in, you guessed it, the chocolate-themed town of Hershey, Pennsylvania.  We visited the Hershey Story museum downtown, saw the many Hershey’s Kiss-shaped street lamps, and took a tour of the Hershey factory and grounds.  And, of course, we left there loaded down with various kinds of chocolate candy.  Hershey is definitely a tourist-based town.

My family and I have visited several such places over the years.  If it wasn’t for the tourists roaming the streets or riding around on a tour bus or trolley such as this one, there wouldn’t be much activity going on.  They cater to the tourists.

That isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  The town makes its money from the tourists who keep visiting.  The town thrives because of the visitors, and the visitors feel special because of the town.  It becomes a win-win situation for all involved.

We were created by a loving God Who wants to see us happy.  He wants to meet our needs.  He loves to hear us call upon His name.  And yet, one of the most wonderful things about the Lord is that He never forces us to come to Him for any reason.  He leaves that decision up to us.

No one forced us to go to Hershey.  As a matter of fact, we traveled several miles off of our planned route in order to make that visit.  We did it on purpose.

It does take an effort to go to the Lord – to do it on purpose.  But, I promise you that it’s all worth it.  The presence of the Lord is definitely a place you want to be.  He is pleased when we are there.  We are blessed when we are there.  It’s a win-win.  Now, it certainly is not my purpose to compare the presence of God to something as trivial as chocolate.  But, hey, they’re both sweet in their own way!
Just a thought.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

The new year of 2022 is upon us.  For most of us, it has been a tumultuous transition, weather-wise, to say the least.  Where I live, we went from a very muggy 82 degrees on Friday and Saturday to beautiful large snowflakes and 28 degrees by Sunday evening.  Some of you even experienced tornadoes through the weather changes.  Simply put, we can’t tell what’s coming from one day to the next.

This photo is one I took this past summer as we walked the Riverwalk area of Wilmington, Delaware, one warm morning.  The water was calm, the birds were singing, and the view was very nice.  Oh, but all of that is “blurred” by the tall grasses in the picture, isn’t it?  You correctly assume (trust / believe) that what is beyond those dry reeds is truly a beautiful day.  And it was!

As we head directly into this new year, we should do the same with the picture the Lord is allowing us to glimpse so far.  Look beyond the fuzziness of it all.  Trust and believe that the One Who sought fit to give you another year will certainly guide you, guard you, protect and lead you through it — one day at a time.
I could focus on the grasses (distractions / uncertainty) in that picture and toss it into the trash.  Or I can remember the good times beyond the distractions.  It’s my choice.  My attitude.  It’s my focus that makes the difference.

Let’s do our best to enjoy those seeming distractions in our days ahead.  They might simply be the only thing blocking our view of a beautiful day.  And all we have to do is step over them!Praying your view of 2022 is a beautiful one!

Just a thought.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

We did a little exploring on foot in downtown Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on our summer road trip.  The historical significance of some of what we saw rivals that of what we’ve visited in Washington, D.C. on several occasions.  And what you see here is Independence Hall.

We’ve just celebrated the Christmas season.  We are heading into a new year of 2022, completely unaware of what all it may hold.  And yet, this new year’s dawn will not be unlike all the others we have experienced in our lifetimes.  They all come with uncertainties, with plans and resolutions, and with hearts full of wonder (sometimes called anxiety!), too.  We don’t know what we face.

But isn’t that the whole point?  If we knew what tomorrow held, there would be no wonder.  There would be no planning and preparations.  There would be only complacency and dullness if we knew all there is to know.

In NOT knowing, we are fully, completely, wholly dependent upon the One Who guides, guards, and delivers us one day at a time!  

Philadelphia’s Independence Hall is representative of the work that went into the great freedoms our country enjoys.  My dependence upon the Lord is representative of the work that went into the great freedom I enjoy as a child of the King!

What do the days ahead promise us?  They promise that if we will be dependent upon Him, He will show us the way.

Just a thought.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

I’ve mentioned to you about the multi-state road trip that my wife and I took this past summer.  We made it a point to stop at every state’s welcome center, if they had one, or at least at a sign that represented that particular state.  As we entered Virginia and made one such stop, we spotted this sign — L – O – V – E.  In much smaller letters, it also says, “Virginia is for Lovers.”

We use that word “Love” entirely too loosely in our world.  We love fried chicken, we love our dog, we love sunny weather, we love it when our ball team wins, and we love our spouses and children.  True love was born many, many years ago.  His name is Jesus.  Emmanuel.  God with us.  He came as a tiny helpless baby, was laid in a dirty cattle feeding trough, and became our Savior of this world.
I realize that with the way things work, you may read this before Christmas, you may not see it until New Year’s, or even after that.  But my “thought” and the message of the season remains the same no matter when you read it.  God is Love.  The Scripture says so!

God is Love.  God is Jesus Christ.  You can’t spell “Christmas” without “Christ,” and if He is Love, then you can’t have Christmas without Love.

So from me and mine to you and yours, I love you and wish you the absolute most blessed CHRISTmas you could possibly have.  Share His love like you share the other gifts of Christmas!  There’s more than enough to go around as we end this year and begin a new one.

Just a thought.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

As my wife and I gathered with nearly 500 others on a boat that carried us through part of New York Harbor this summer, we were all amazed.  Amazed at the awesomeness of the moment.  Amazed at the thoughts of countless others who had come into our great country with this as their first vision of freedom.  We were heading toward the Statue of Liberty.

It’s true.  It isn’t nearly as large as we were led to believe by those old black and white photos in our history books years ago.  But it looms on the horizon, a statement of the freedoms anyone can enjoy by simply coming into the United States of America.

This Christmas season and into the new year would be an especially good time to focus on the Christ Child.  God our Heavenly Father descended to this earth in the form of the tiny baby Jesus.  He lived, He died, and He was resurrected for you and for me.  And all of this was done so that we could know the free gift of salvation and the freedom of being a Child of God ourselves.

I snapped picture after picture after picture that afternoon in New York.  I’d never seen that great statue before, and I may never again.  I wonder about the mental pictures that the shepherds and others took as they stood at the foot of that cattle trough turned bed and gazed upon the King of Kings.  Seeing Him for the first time was the only time it took for a changed lifetime and eternity ahead.  You see, they met the Master that day.  They were introduced to the Gospel Himself.  And they were forever changed!
Have you looked for Him?  Have you seen Him?  Have you met Him?  It only takes once, and you will never ever be the same again.

From one voyager to another in this boat we call life, may your holidays be truly blessed in His presence.
Just a thought.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

I remember many Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings from my half-century-plus of gathering.  And every one of those included some of my family members.  My family is probably no different than yours.  There were the great cooks and the not-so-great ones.  There were the loud, keep-the-fun-going relatives, and there were those who preferred to simply sit and watch the nonsense.  There were those who got to sit in a privileged spot at the “grown-up” table, and there were those of us who had to wait several years to gain that honor.

Christmas gatherings included older relatives and friends that became like relatives.  The men and women swapped presents by drawing numbers.  Inevitably a number would get lost, and one of the ladies would end up with a men’s shaving kit or some such oddity.  We kids looked forward to the gadgets and things that a particular uncle passed around from his tote sack.  Then, slowly but surely, the dynamics changed.  Older ones passed on, younger ones moved on, and our memories became precious indeed.

This little sign I spotted somewhere this past summer sums it up for me, and probably for many of you as well.  “Remember as far as everyone knows, we are a nice normal family.”  I can’t help but laugh.  My crazy family might not seem nice or normal to you, and vice versa.  But if we were all alike, oh how dull this world would be!

As you gather with your “normal” (or not) family members this season, be thankful.  Thankful for the time God has provided for you to be together.  Thankful for the love that those loved ones share.  I’m personally thankful that this crazy one gets to now sit at the grown-up table — the very same grown-up table that once sat in my Grandmother’s dining room with many a person gathered around it and so many more of us waiting our turn!  And certainly I’m thankful to the Lord above for His goodness and grace upon me and my crazy family this past year.  I’m praying you experience the same blessings as you gather.

Oh, and another word.  Think about your family members.  If you can’t figure out which one is the crazy one, it’s probably you!  Thank God He loves crazy too!

Just a thought.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

This is a picture of two of my favorite people in one of my favorite places.  Without knowing anything else about them or the location, you would simply have to take my word that what I’ve said is true.  But I won’t leave you wondering.  Those are my parents, and they are sitting in the middle of a lavender farm at Hood River, Oregon, not far from the base of Mount Hood.

My parents are just that – mine.  Your parents, relatives, family, and friends are your favorites because they hold special meaning to you.  This place, Hood River, holds special meaning to us, as it is where my Dad was born, and it is a most beautiful place to visit.

As you think back (farther back for some of us!), especially to the holiday seasons, you perhaps remember all the family members who once gathered in droves to celebrate.  Many of these have long since inherited their eternal reward.  You remember the places, grandparents’ homes, special trips together, or family recipes that need to once again be brought out and dusted off for use!  You remember just a few of your favorite things (cue the music here with Julie Andrews singing).  And your heart smiles.
Our trips back to Oregon have been blessed ones.  My parents are still with us and continue to take one day at a time through health difficulties and those other ‘benefits’ of aging.  The majority of our crew was able to gather for this Thanksgiving – another of my favorite things – and we plan to do it again for Christmas.

Favorites.  Blessings.  God’s goodness, granted to us to through those we love and hold dear and through precious memories of days gone by.  My Dad’s mother, in particular, would be especially pleased that we’ve visited their old stomping grounds in the beautiful northwest U.S.  She would be thrilled at the family gatherings, and she would be right in the middle of the kids’ games herself.  But I believe she would be most proud knowing that her “favorites” love the Lord and continue to rely on Him daily.
God doesn’t have favorites among His children.  — Oh, but maybe He does.  Maybe we are all His favorites.

You are one of mine.

Just a thought.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

It’s all the same.  We just use different words to describe it.  Some say it’s a momento,  Some might call it a treasure.  Some would say it’s an artifact.  And still others might call it junk.  Whatever the word, the fact remains that whatever it is to them, we might have other ideas.

A few years ago, a cousin who has now recently passed on to her Heavenly reward sent me a package.  The first thing I noticed was her name and return address, of course, but immediately also noticed that the box seemed to weigh nothing at all.  I ripped into it as soon as could, and I found this old hat along with a handwritten note.

It seems that her father, my great uncle, found the hat in the barn on the family property one day many years ago and brought it home with him because it belonged to his father, my great grandfather.  He held onto the hat for years, then my cousin wound up with it.  And then, because she called me the “family historian,” she thought I might like to have it.  I was thrilled, and the hat is high on a perch in my home today.  I never knew this particular great grandfather.  He died five years before I was born.  But this old broken well-worn hat became for me a connection to my family and my past.  I have many other momentos (or pieces of junk, depending on your view) from other various family members, and each have their own connection for me.

Interesting, isn’t it, that we hang onto things that remind us of our past?  And yet, our future is so much more important!  One thing the holiday season helps to do is remind us of what is most important in our lives — faith, family, and yes, good memories.

It’s okay to look back on the past.  Just don’t set up camp and dwell there.  I look to hand off some things to my kids one day.  Whether they keep them or chunk them will be their prerogative.  What I most want them to look back and remember is that their old Dad tried his best to teach them about those most important things.

Enjoy your holidays.  Make new memories.  And share the old ones as you do.  Introduce the new generations to stories of faithfulness and God’s goodness in your family!
Just a thought.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

Even if you’ve never been around any pigs long enough to pay attention to their behavior and habits, you probably have seen pictures, like mine here, of pigs playing in the mud.  It seems that when we think of pigs, we think of mud and messes.  At some point, most of our mothers even accused us of keeping our rooms in a mess like a pig sty.

Pigs wallow in the dirt and muddy mire.  They seem to enjoy getting nasty, and they enjoy it very much.  As a matter of fact, these pigs are playing in the one lone mud hole in a several acre pasture.  They sought it out and spent quite a while in it.  But why?  Pigs wallow in the mud, not necessarily because they love the look, but because it makes them feel good, and they don’t care what anyone else thinks.

Too many times, we wallow in our sin.  We seek out opportunities to play in the mud and mire of the world.  And why?  For the same reasons as the pigs.  It feels good, and we don’t care what anyone else thinks.  But sin makes us dirty, it makes us stink, and it very often makes us unpresentable — all because we simply want to feel good!

Pigs are great animals.  They’re smart.  They can even make good pets.  So, don’t look down on them because they wallow in the mud.  Don’t judge them, or any one else around you, simply based on where and how they wallow.  Remember the dirt in your own life.

The grace we can all receive from God Almighty will clean us up from our muddy filth, though!  God knows I can’t get cleaned up on my own.  But praise His Name, He loved me anyway, called me to Himself, and cleaned me up.

Pigs will always be pigs.  Humans will always be sinners.  But as Christians, we answer to the One Who loves us anyway, and will forgive us of our sin every single time we choose to go wallowing in it.  Let me encourage you to bring your nastiness to Jesus today!  Wallowing in the sin of the world may look like fun, but all it will do is remind you of what a pig you are without Jesus!
Just a thought.