Thanksgiving Day, 2016
Earlier this month, we began our nineteenth year of writing and sending out these devotionals. For those new to us, I thought I'd share the story of how this all began in November, 1998. For those with us awhile, you've likely read this before, although it's been awhile since we told the story.
Back in those days, Frances received as a gift a devotional book she enjoyed. She decided to send excerpts to a few family and friends, and did so for several weeks. During a Bible study, however, I shared a message about the role of believers concerning our responsibility to obey not only God's authority, but also human government and laws.
"Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme, or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by Him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men, as free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king" (I Peter 2:13-17).
The message gave Frances pause about sending the excerpts, not being sure about copyright laws. Again, she only sent the messages to a few people, but the Apostle Peter's mandate regarding our God-ordained respect for authority concerned her. She shared her thoughts with me, and I agreed with her hesitation. Then a thought occurred to me. "Hey, why don't we write and send our own messages?" The more I thought about the matter, the more it seemed like the thing to do. Moreover, we had a ready made name for the devotionals, or so it seemed to me. "We'll call it The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe!" Seems obvious, doesn't it? Well, it did to us because a year or two before, Frances and I had a notion to open a Christian coffeeshop called the Orange Moon Cafe. We prayed about this, which led a friend to invite me to breakfast one morning. "Glen", he said, "this is not a good idea. You and Frances have no business experience, your lives are already full, and operating a coffeeshop would detract from the ministries God has called you to perform." Our friend was right, of course, and we shelved the notion of an Orange Moon Cafe until the idea of sending out devotionals occurred to us. So, the Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe came to fruition, albeit electronically rather than in brick and mortar. Oh yes, the Orange Moon part originates in a song I wrote for Frances many years ago on her birthday as I witnessed a beautiful moonrise. We've done a lot of things under that moon as sort of a theme of our life and ministry, which reminds me to thank all of you who through the years have called or written to let me know you've seen an orange moon rising.
So, here we are after eighteen years, and I have to say that I would never have expected to still be writing and sending the messages after such a time. I don't know what I expected, actually. But here's what's happened, in Biblical terms:
"Now unto Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end, Amen" (Ephesians 3:20-21).
I literally cannot imagine the years gone by without the Orange Moon. Writing the messages has been and remains one of the most sanctifying experiences of my life. I hope that you and others benefit from them, of course. But I know that I do. In fact, I consider that your reading the devotionals involves your peeking over my shoulder to look at the product of my own devotional time with our Lord each day. Most of the messages are written very early in the morning, and sent out on the same day I compose them (this is my excuse for typos, and for those days when you doubtless wish I had written the words in English! :):) ). I look forward to writing the messages each day, and rarely know the theme I'll consider until sitting down with my laptop computer. The devotionals originate in three main sources, namely, the Bible, thoughts that occur to me in prayer, and the fellowship and prayers of like-hearted believers like yourself. Regarding that last point, your example, encouragement, and insight have inspired so many of the words I have written over the years. Indeed, I feel like a lot of folks actually write the messages. I just have the pleasure and privilege of being the one who sits down to tap out the words on the keyboard. For that, I cannot begin to adequately thank the Lord or you. I will be grateful forever.
Finally, when thinking of the Orange Moon devotionals, I constantly ponder the people I would never have known if this endeavor had not existed. I cannot imagine that, and don't want to! I have no words to thank our Lord on this day in the United States devoted to offering gratitude. Simply know this: as soon as I send this message, I will descend to my knees to give thanks for all of you. I would not have wanted to have lived without knowing you, whether face to face, or heart to heart. You have been bright lights of the Lord Jesus Christ to me, and again, I will have no words as I pray to express my gratitude for the gift of your fellowship and friendship. Yes, "exceeding abundantly above…"
"I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now."
Weekly Memory Verse
"Not unto us, o Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory, for Thy mercy and truth's sake!"