th(i)nkful Exercises

Happy Thanksgiving from the US!

Although for me the idea of cultivating thinking thanks is not just limited to a “Thanksgiving” holiday, I am still so grateful that there is a focus on gratitude this week!  In order to celebrate that, I have compiled some cool examples of how to implement being th(i)nkful.

Examples of Being th(i)nkful

  1. Every day Elisa and Nicole text back and forth things they are #thinkful for.  They have developed a pattern to spur each other on to look for things that they are thinking thanks about that day.  Both of these ladies live in a climate where a long winter is approaching and it becomes harder to feel thankful and more necessary to think thanks.  I welled up with tears to read that they were doing this. How cool! Having an accountability partner to keep you on track helps incredibly.th(i)nkful exercises

  2. Last Tuesday evening I was speaking to a ladies’ group about being th(i)nkful and at the end of our time together, the leader suggested that we play an icebreaker game.
    Everyone got a 3×5 piece of paper and we wrote down one thing that we were thankful for.  It could be anything: a breeze in the air, beauty of nature, clean white sheets, laughter. We then folded the papers in half and placed them in a basket. When all the papers were completed, Allyson, the leader, opened and read each paper.  She did this two times.  The game consisted of trying to figure out who wrote each one of the papers. The first person made a guess. If she was wrong, the next person got to guess, moving clockwise around the room. When a person guessed correctly, the person, whose thankful item had been discovered, moved to sit by the one who guessed correctly. They now formed a team and were given a bonus turn. The game continued in this manner until all the peoples’ thankful items were revealed. If a person guessed someone’s item correctly, and that person was part of a team, the whole team moved by the one who guessed correctly.                                          IMG_3576

  3. My friend Marni sent me this picture. She had been given a small journal.  It was to inspire one to write down one thing every day that your were th(i)nkful for. Our brains develop neural pathways by doing something over and over again.  At first it feels like you are carving a difficult path through the woods, but as you do it over and over, it starts to happen automatically.

  4. Another idea is to have a big jar with little papers and pens nearby. As you or your family go through the week, each person writes down something or someone that they are th(i)nkful for. At a time where all are present, somebody opens the jar and reads all the papers. On a bigger scale this could even be a year long project.

  5. If you are having a Thanksgiving dinner this week, maybe around the table each person could give one thing they are thinking thanks about this year.

  6. “th(i)nkful volley” is passing an imaginary “ball” back and forth where the person receiving the ball gives one thing they are thinking thanks about. David and I often will engage in th(i)nkful volley while driving on a trip. It has helped us get a better perspective on how we should view life!th(i)nkful volley 1

  7. WARNING! POWERFUL!  The “th(i)nkful list.” In a group of people, give each person several strips of paper correlating with the number of other people in the group. Write one person’s name on each of the papers.  Then write down one thing you are thankful for about that person. Collect the papers and then have a narrator group each person’s strips of papers.  Then, have the narrator read all the things people were thankful for about each person.  This has the potential to be life-changingly powerful. 🙂

th(i)nkful for Mary’s Worship

Gratitude and worship are closely connected.  We worship God by thinking and expressing our thanks. He is the recipient of our wrapped up gifts of thanks.

Today, I want to focus on being th(i)nkful to God for people, not just things. It is easy to focus on being thankful for health or comforts or gifts or recent events that brought joy, but people are more important than things. For one, people will live somewhere forever; events will fade from memory and the things we can see will all burn one day. Let’s focus on thanking God for the people who have affected us.

One of my favorite people in the Bible is Mary of Bethany.  In the three settings we find her, there is much to learn, but my favorite is when she pours out the precious perfume on the Lord Jesus a few days before He was to die on the cross. There are three truths that stand out to me in the way she gratefully worships.

Mary Gave Extravagantly

Mary of Bethany gave an extraordinary gift to Jesus in Mark 14:3. She brokIMG_3193e an alabaster box filled with precious spikenard perfume and poured the ointment on Jesus. Jesus was visiting Bethany six days before his crucifixion and had been invited to a meal at Simon’s house. Resurrected Lazarus was seated at the table, and Martha was serving.  Mary took a costly treasure, worth a person’s yearly wage (about $50,000.00 today), and poured it out on Jesus.  Her act was taken by Jesus as preparation for His upcoming burial (Mark 14:8). John tells us the house was filled with the odor of the ointment (John 12:3). Imagine spending $50,000 for something that would disappear in a few minutes! She was obviously convinced of who Jesus really was, and must have strongly sensed that his death was close.

Mary Grabbed an Opportunity

Mary with her siblings, Martha and Lazarus, were friends of Jesus.  John 11:5 records that Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus.  He had visited their home earlier and taught lessons about choosing the “better part” of sittingMary of Bethany 3 and listening at His feet (Luke 10:18-42).  He had also come to them in Bethany four days after Lazarus had died and raised him from the dead (John 11).  Now, He was again with them in Bethany, and Mary grabbed the opportunity of worshipping Him with probably her greatest treasure, the alabaster flask containing costly spikenard perfume. She didn’t hold back.  She poured out her treasure on her even greater Treasure, the Lord Jesus, in preparation for his death and burial.  She knew from experience that He had the power to raise people from the dead.  Although she may not have known all the details of how Christ would die and rise again, her faith, garbed with devotion, was strong and committed.

Mary Was Given Honor

Mary’s act was shamed and ridiculed by people around her.  They were indignant about the supposed waste that she had done – so expensive, no special event, and now it was all just gone.  Jesus defends her.  I love this part.  He accepts her work of worship and commends her to the point of saying that wherever the gospel is preached throughout the whole world, this story will be mentioned as a memorial to her. I am doing that right here in 2017.  Mary’s act of costly worship is an intense example for us and she was given honor for her act.

So How Does That Affect Me

What would be my extravagant gift of worship that I could pour out on my Savior?

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Do I take advantage of opportunities for sacrifice or expressing my thanks as I move through my day? Am I feverishly gathering the wood, hay, and stubble of the here and now, or am I giving up current enjoyments to invest in gold, silver, and precious stones for the crowning day of my King, the Lord Jesus?

judgment fireI Corinthians 3:12-14 states that at the Evaluation Seat of Christ all our works will be tested by fire.  We’re not sure how our works will materialize into fuel nor what this fire will look like, but we are left to ponder the “burn-down factor” – what are we doing here and how that will survive the fire? Jesus said we can actually “lay up treasure in heaven” – pass our time, energies, and finances through an unseen membrane out of this life and into heaven.

I am certainly th(i)nkful for the hope I have in Jesus.  Because He came and died, and rose again, I have been reconciled to God. I can completely rely on Jesus’ promise in John 3:16 – if I believe in Him, I will not perish.

BUT, then there is also the issue of what I am doing with my life.  I do wonder if, when I get to the great Evaluation Seat, I will wish that I had lived my life differently, taken more risks, given more extravagantly, and walked away from more comforts for the cause of the gospel.  Am I entranced by time, or do I have eternity stamped on the back of my eyelids?

As you cultivate the thinking of thanks this week, who is a person, living or dead, that you admire and for whom you are thankful to God?  I would love to hear who and why.

Mary 1

She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial.  And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.

Mark 14:8-9

 

 

 

 

 

What’s Your Grid?

worldviewglasses.jpgThe overall perspective from which you see and interpret the world is called your worldview. Whether you realize it or not, everything you observe filters through your worldview grid for interpretation. Your beliefs about God, the universe, mankind’s history, science, theology, and moral values will shape and color your impressions of people, possessions, and events.

For a believer in Christ, God’s Word should be the foundation for how we interpret life. In fact, most of the adult life of a committed Jesus-follower is spent trying to overwrite wrong ideas about God, myself, others and creation with correct ideas from God’s Word. But such commitment is exceptional.  Barna reported this year that only 17% of professing Christians in America have a biblical worldview.

Looking glass 3My View of the Beginning and the End

Hebrews 11:3 says that through faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. If there is no God, all things are permissible. But if there is a Creator, we belong to Him. If He created us as moral beings, we are answerable to Him. If He created us as relational beings, He desires a relationship with us.

If a believer is convinced of the mystery in Col.1:27 – Christ in you, the hope of glory – convinced that the Spirit of the Creator-God and of His Redeemer-Son is inside him or her, and is the down-payment on a perfect and deathless existence with Him, his or her grid is going to look immensely different from a person that is not at all viewing life with that value.  Speaking with someone from a very different worldview is almost like going to a foreign country and using your own currency.

What is your worldview? Do you really believe that God made the heavens and the earth and that one day there will be a reckoning of all we do here on earth?  Do I really need to be reconciled to my Creator God?  Does the way I live my life really matter? Am I living as though the here and now is all that matters?

A Word-Saturated Worldview

Grid 4Hebrews 4:12 describes the Word of God as living, powerful, and sharp.  It has the ability to discern thoughts and intents of the heart. Do I even know my own heart’s thoughts and intents?  No. Jeremiah said we struggle with clouded and distorted self-perceptions (Jer. 17:9). We need a light, an objective perspective!  Psalm 119:105 volunteers God’s Word as a lamp for our feet and a light for our path.

This morning I received an email from a former student of mine that I taught in 8th grade back in the 80’s. He remembered that in my class we had memorized James chapter 1 together. He went on to say that years later when he “turned control of his life over to Christ” (his words), he began to actively memorize not just verses, but passages, psalms, and whole chapters.  He wrote me today because he had just memorized his tenth book of the New Testament!  I was flabbergasted!  Yes, I did just use that word. 🙂  I am seeking to memorize Ephesians, but it is taking me a long time. I was inspired to work harder at filling my thoughts with the living word.

So what does this have to do with being th(i)nkful?  Quite simply, because God has commands throughout the whole of scripture to be thankful.  That thankfulness is not to be merely sporadic, but pursued obsessively (Eph. 5:4, 20; I Thess. 5:18). When we pursue thinking thanks in every situation that we are in, we filter what we are experiencing through the grid that God is worthy of our worship in this specific situation.  He has created us and given us the air to breathe. He has provided for the complete removal of our sins. He has reconciled the rebels to Himself, not just for a quick hug, but adopting us into His forever family. He has made a home within our earthly bodies making them temples. He has marked us for reward and inheritance and glory. To fix my thinking is to fix my thanking.

Grid 5

  • Thank You, God, for this day that I get to live.
  • Thank You for fruit that you give along the way.
  • Thank You that we have a grid in Your Word of how to interpret our world, our circumstances, and life.
  • Thank You for grace that You pour out as we cry out to You.

More Joy

The Difference Between Joy and Happiness

Having a life goal to make other people happy is awesome indeed. Who doesn’t want to be happy and have others join in that happiness? But what about joy? Is there any difference between happiness and joy? While some writers make happiness and joy far too different, I want to point out one key distinction: the sources of the two seem to be different. Even the secular world recognizes this:

“Joy is more consistent and is cultivated internally. It comes when you make peace with who you are, why you are, and how you are, whereas happiness tends to be externally triggered and is based on other people, things, places, thoughts and events.”

Rachel Fearnley, secular UK psychologist

The root word in happiness is “hap” – which is often defined as coming about by chance or accident or luck. We hap-pen to be hap-py because of hap-penings! External events suddenly give me an emotional lift.

In the Bible, words translated happy, happiness, or gladness are used 30 times, while the word joy or rejoice is used over 300 times.  The two are used together at times (Jer. 31:13), so they have some common elements. You can’t be filled with joy and not experience happiness. They are intricately connected, but somewhat different in source.

th(i)nkful Behavior Brings Joy

Cristiana Witt, a dear friend of mine (pictured with my Elly below), brought this to my attention recently.  When we become th(i)nkful – choose to download grace from the Lord to think thanks and express that thanks – there is a wonderful side benefit that happens. We have more joy!!

Being th(i)nkful spots the golden thread of God’s purposes and design weaving through the thicket of even unhappy circumstances and gives us joy (James 1:2). In fact, the Greek word for joy is related to the Greek words for grace and thanks!

 

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Finding My Inward from the Upward

We need to shape our inward identity and emotions by an upward orientation, not outward. If our focus is on people and things outside of us, then that is where we will look for happiness, and we’ll work in never-ending frustration to achieve a succession of happy moments. We need to look up instead.

My husband says, “Every time I look at God, He is smiling and saying ‘just perfect.'” No matter my past, He has reconciled me to Himself. No matter my sins, He loves me and is using even those failures in His plan. No matter my faithlessness, He is faithfully making me into the form of “Jesus in my earthsuit.” No matter my brokenness, He can use all the pieces. No matter my unworthiness, He considers me righteous, calls me His child, a holy one and a priest, and has prepared an inheritance for me. The foundation under my circumstances is just perfect.

But what about my circumstances? Choosing to be th(i)nkful is really about allowing God to have His way with me. No matter my circumstances, it’s orchestrated for my greater good. When I cry “deliver me from these circumstances,” He replies that He sent those circumstance to deliver me from myself.

When I let Him choose my flowers and my fires from the complexities of His infinite mind and unbelievable love, there is a humble acceptance that enables me to think thanks and express that thanks to Him, confidently trusting in His sovereignty. He wouldn’t have my life any other way right now. Living in His presence this way brings me the fullness of joy that He described in Psalm 16:11.

 

Sputter and Bubble

So as you go through this day, why not set aside some time for thinking and expressing thanks. Finding His fingerprints all over your life will produce joy. All of life’s challenges and sorrows wiljumping_for_joy_183292l be over one day and we will finally be with the Lord. Live life full of thanks and joy will bubble up. It may sputter up slowly, but slowly it WILL come. Start now.

It’s not happy people that are thankful. It is thankful people that are happy!

 

Encourage ~ To Pour Courage Into

 

Encourage ~ Pour Courage Into

Have you ever looked for ways to encourage others, maybe your own children, to be thankful? I love these definitions of encourage: to give support, confidence, or hope to; to help or stimulate (an activity, state, or view) to develop; to infuse courage; to pour courage into.

In 2 Corinthians 4, Paul is sharing about the great suffering that he faced on a continual basis.  He comes to the last few verses of that chapter and pours courage into his readers by reminding them of the purpose of his difficulties and their difficulties.

  • Those trials were causing the progressive death of the Self and allowed Jesus to live through the shell of Paul’s body (v. 11);
  • Those difficulties created a “fellowship of the resurrection;” we do not call this earth “home” but look forward the coming better life (v. 14)
  • Those hardships provided an opportunity for God’s grace to sustain us during suffering, which will increase our thanksgiving to the glory of God (v. 15).
  • Those afflictions will eventually result in rewards that are ridiculously disproportionate to the suffering (v. 17)

2 Cor. 4:15-17.  All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.

Grace Turned On

There is a grace (supernatural help) that God releases when His people give thanks.  When we purposefully choose to think thanks and express that thanks orally or in a written form, we create a space where God loves to dwell, where He delights to touch us.  Psalm 22:3 says that God “inhabits the praises of His people.”

Have you ever noticed at mealtimes that Christians sometimes call giving thanks for the food “saying grace?” It is intriguing to think of the connection that grace has to giving thanks. Strong’s Concordance gives an interesting definition for the Greek word charis, normally translated grace: “the divine influence upon the heart and its refpouring 3lection in life; including gratitude and thanks; benefit, favor, gift, grace, liberality, joy, pleasure.”

Amazing! The Greek word for grace can also be translated “thanks!” What if our charis to God turns on His charis to us? What if we turn on the faucet of grace every time we are th(i)nkful?! What if our whining and complaining spirit, or just saying nothing, turns down or turns off the flow of God’s grace to us?

Being Spirit-Filled Is A Choice

We know that God’s Spirit dwells within us from the moment of salvation – we have all of the Spirit we will ever get or need.  We choose, however, how much His Spirit has of us. When Paul commands us to be filled with the Spirit instead of wine, he is telling us that there is a choice we can make in pursuing the Spirit’s filling.  The description of a person filled with the Spirit is that they speak to themselves with psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in their hearts to the Lord and they give thanks always and for everything (Eph. 5:18-20).

I am seeking to encourage you to be th(i)nkful in this blogpost. I am seeking to pour courage into you to begin to purposely cultivate thinking thanks. I am seeking to inspire you with obedience to the commands of I Thess. 5:18 and Eph. 5:20, but also trying to motivate you to dream of the grace that is released when we follow hard after God and seek to do His will.  He blesses righteousness.

Could you think of one other person in your life that might need to have some courage poured into them to become th(i)nkful?

Dan Has Poured Courage Into My Life

Josh and Dan HainesDan Haines, a dear friend of ours, has encouraged David and me so many times. This photo is from his wedding in which our oldest son Joshua was a ring-bearer.

Many years have passed since that day.  Many trials have come along the way, such as the trial of Dan falling from a tree-stand while deer hunting and losing all feeling from the waist down. He pushed through the despair, extreme life-change, and loss of dreams by God’s grace alone, and continues to praise the Lord.  He has chosen to think thanks and reflect Christ even in the severe testing ordained by our sovereign God.  Outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

I dedicate this post to you, Dan. Thank you for your example of thinking thanks and thirsting after our God who never disappoints.  How I long to see your body restored one day when we stand side by side and see our Master and King. Proud of you.

Playing Chess Against “King Self”

Chess

How could playing chess help cultivate thinking thanks?

A lot actually. Chess is a thinking game. You have to try to protect your king against assaults and instead seek to pin down the opposing king.  Most inexperienced players only look to respond after each move (I may or may not fall into this category), but experienced players realize that victory comes from a planned approach, thinking many moves in advance.

History of Chess

Chess started in India back in the 1500’s.  It spread to Persia and later on with the Moors into Spain and southern Europe.  In the mid-1800’s chess tournaments began.  In 1886, the first World Chess Championship was held.  Online chess games became popular in the 1990’s. Magnus Carlsen

A 2012 survey found that chess players now make up one of the largest communities in the world: 605 million adults play chess regularly.  Chess is played at least once a year by 12% of British people, 15% of Americans, 23% of Germans, 43% of Russians, and 70% of Indian people. Magnus Carlsen (at right) is the reigning world chess champion presently, and I might add that he is a Norwegian.

How do you play chess with ungratefulness?

Playing chess defensively is planning to lose; you must play offensively.  You must evaluate threats, look for clever ways to dodge those threats, and keep on the offensive.  “King Self” is the enemy when it comes to cultivating gratitude. The Self is self-ruling, self-serving, self-exalting, and wants to totally rule our bodies, our minds, our circumstances, and other people around us for its own benefit.

Our selfish desires are powerful and demanding, wanting heaven and utopia for ourselves right now. The standard is absolute perfection – “I want a perfect day, a perfect job, perfect children, a perfect car, a perfect phone, a perfect spouse,” and so on.  King Self does not want to look for things to think thanks about. It spots the imperfections and short-comings right away and responds with grumpy murmuring, complaining, anger, arguments, and even despair. We have to change the way we think in order to defeat King Self.

Let’s imagine that the opposing chess pieces represent key enemies of thankfulness: doubt, laziness, lust, envy, anxiety, and selfishness. We move our pawn to block an obvious fallacy – this isn’t heaven, there is no perfection in this life, and things could be much worse. We move our rook into position by meditating on the fact that our God is a strong tower – the sovereign, wise, trustworthy, and good controller of all things. We slide up the bishop of contentment to threaten the queen of jealousy and envy. The knight jumps into position by choosing to think thanks even when we don’t feel like it.  The queen of power and peace moves across the entire board to take down anxiety.  Finally, the egocentric King Self is held in checkmate.

This chess battle is between your ears.  The battle is won in your thoughts.

chess 2

In Europe and in South Africa we often saw large chess sets in parks.  It is cool to try to play one of those games.  It may be a little difficult to get a good perspective because it is so large, nevertheless, it is inspiring.

As a young girl I learned to play chess.  My Swedish uncle Arne Håkansson was a very good chess player.  My older brother, Jan, is still an excellent chess player and I feel I have really accomplished something if I can beat him. I have played chess online with both my sons-in-law … and right now Justin has me in a precarious situation. Online playing has great flexibility.

“Gratitude is a decision of the will, and if a decision of the will, the choice resides squarely with us. Deciding to be thankful is no easy task. It takes work.” –Chuck Swindoll

I challenge you to a game of th(i)nkful chess.  Plan out your moves in order to win and checkmate the king of Self. It is sweet to win that game, not only for your personal benefit, but most of all, to obey our Maker who said it is His will for us to give thanks in all circumstances (I Thess. 5:18).

Queen of Katwe (2016) is a movie about a true story of a young African girl who learned to play chess at a mission outreach and became an international chess champion.Queen of Katwe

Here’s a link to basic skills in playing chess How to Win a Chess Game

 

 

 

 

Remarkable Tool

The Tool of th(i)nkful

The concept of th(i)nkful is not designed to be just more written material on thankfulness that logs in the corridors of your mind. There are loads of books out there on gratitude and the benefits of being thankful. Rather, th(i)nkful is a tool that shows you how you can think thanks and express that thanks orally or in a written form, thereby obeying the Lord when He says that you are to give thanks in every circumstance.

The job that needs to be done is to carve a thought pattern that is quick to analyze things for which we can be thankful.

Tools2There are ways to build thought patterns within our minds to always be on the lookout for what we can think thanks about in every situation – I’ll call them “carving tools.”  Carving a groove – creating a mental preoccupation with thankfulness – is a safeguard that can keep our hearts and souls from destruction. There are times when it is easy to identify what to be thankful for, and there are times when being thankful is the last thing you want to be. A cool side benefit of this groove is that as you carve out the brain pattern, it becomes easier and easier to “get in the groove” – to spontaneously recognize the things to be thankful for.

Decide, Carve, and Express

The active parts of the definition of th(i)nkful are: choose, think, and express.

th(i)nkful is a determined choice to download grace/strength from the Lord to think thanks about every circumstance that comes my way and express that thanks orally or in a written form.

My trust in the Lord enables me to choose to think thanks, but it is not enough to just think it, but I must express it either orally or in a written form.  The expressing part is the observable part that God and others appreciate. That expression of thanks is to someone and not just for something.

God has issued a command: “Give thanks in all circumstances.”  We have to figure out how we can implement that command.  As with most good things in life, it begins with a choice in the heart. This initial commitment then is followed with a hundred small decisions reminding me to search for the good elements in the circumstance, or the greater good that will come from it. Each time I do this, I carve the rut of holiness deeper, and the more I get in the habit of doing this, the easier it will come for me.  But as a necessary next step, these gems of truth can’t just stay in my thoughts, but must radiate their way out of me by either something I speak or write.

Get in the Habit

Although there is some speculation as to how long it takes to formulate a new habit, most research says that 30 days is a good start for setting a new pattern.  I tend to be like a turtle and set little goals at a time.  How about choosing to begin forming a pattern in your mind that you will be th(i)nkful to God for one thing every day and express that to someone or write it down?

I had a reader recently write that in their family they have started a habit that before they pray with their children at bedtime, everyone says one thing they are thankful for from that day. That is a great start!

Changing Perspective without Changing Circumstances

I have to utool5se the tool of choosing to think thanks and then express that thanks orally or in a written form. I put on the “glasses of gratitude” and look at everything around me and in me through those lenses.  God has promised that He is sovereign and is going to give me all I need to do His will if I will appropriate that grace (I Cor.10:13).

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 

I Thess. 5:18

Write it down

 

The Slide of Ingratitude

The Mechanics of the Slide

The physics of sliding down a playground slide has to do with gravity, friction, inertia, and kinetic and potential energy. Your speed will be affected by your weight, the condition of the slide and the temperature.   For a child, there is little that compares with the exhilaration of a good slide.  In Lone Hill, South Africa there was a playground within walking distance of our home that contained a huge slide.  The children were hesitant to climb the step ladder to that slide purely because of its height.

Longest Slide in NYC picture by Tod Seelie Governors Island   

The picture above is “Slide Hill,” the longest slide in New York City, on Governors Island.  Children exude anticipation as they climb up and slide down the famous slide in this new park. A couple of lessons: 1) It takes effort to climb to the top of a slide; and 2) you slide downward quickly.

A Sinister Slide

There is another infamous slide that is recorded in the Scriptures.  This slide is ugly.  It is harsh.  It is fatal and destructive.  It starts out at the top in Romans 1:18 and continues rapidly downward, through twists and turns, to verse 32.  There is a baleful initial description of the ones sitting at the top of that slide.  The people who start down this slide are not thankful.  Ungrateful people suppress the truth of who God is and exchange it for a lie.

1:21 “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

Thankfulness is an antidote to temptation.  The inverse is also true. Ingratitude seems to invite every form of temptation and sin.  I have often mused over how ingratitude seems to create the fertile conditions of sin prospering. My daughter Elly once said that “it is hard for a selfish person to be thankful.” The essence of sin is self – self-absorption, self-preoccupation, self-rule and self-worship. You see all of your blessings as coming from your dreams and your hard work. And yet you are not fully a god just yet, so you are chronically competitive, discontent, and unthankful.

There are two things that sin does not love to do; to honor and glorify God as the source of every good thing, and to thank God for every good thing and for every bad thing He is working together for our good.  Sin wants to replace God with self and with alternate loves that supposedly will bring happiness to self and awkwardly try to fill our God-shaped void.

If you sense that you are not a very thankful person, perhaps it would be good to do some introspection. Why do I not want to be thankful? Do I want to count my many hardships? Is it just that I don’t think about being thankful?  Or do I disregard it?

Cultivating thinking thanks keeps us from beginning down the long and winding slide that is smooth and breezy at the top but becomes indulgent, brutal, empty, and destructive toward the bottom.

“Genuine thankfulness is an act of the heart’s affections, not an act of the lips’ muscles.” –John Piper

 

metal slide

th(i)nkful Laundry List

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Laundry list: a long or exhaustive list of people or things.

Have you ever crafted a laundry list of things you are th(i)nkful for? Don’t just brainstorm; write them down.

Here is a sampling of mine:

  • hearing rain falling
  • the smell of mown grass
  • the laundry of Hobbits drying in the sun (pic above)
  • the sound of eating a crisp chip
  • a child’s face of anticipation
  • the feeling I get when I do something I really didn’t want to do, but knew I should
  • smelling coffee brewing
  • seeing someone’s face after telling them how much you appreciate him/her
  • the threshold when I overcome a fear
  • Isaiah 41:10
  • chai tea prepared perfectly with sprinkled cinnamon on top
  • hope created in a difficult challenge
  • when someone is kind to a check-out teller
  • peace that permeates a space that was previously occupied by stress
  • deep joy that comes from my Creator
  • clean paper and sharp pencils
  • a good story with deep characters that inspire
  • answers to seemingly unsurmountable complications
  • a hot bath with bath oil
  • trusting in something trustworthy
  • truth
  • when thinking about truth causes fear to subside
  • David’s hands and forearms
  • sleep coming over me
  • clean fresh water
  • colors…especially green
  • love that sacrifices
  • touch of leather
  • a car that works well
  • sin confessed
  • cello music
  • Ephesians
  • Jesus
  • My Momma’s sweet face
  • birches
  • dyna mi (my feather comforter)
  • Grapetizer
  • Yankee Candles burning
  • giraffes
  • relief after pain
  • a clean conscience
  • a word of encouragement
  • singing a memorized spiritual song to myself
  • the smell and feel of fresh European bread
  • paying off a debt
  • a pleasant surprise
  • graduation
  • victory over plaguing sin
  • a commendation
  • kind thoughtfulness and thoughtful kindness
  • Joshua’s steadfastness
  • Stephanie’s thoughtful cards and gifts
  • Nicolas’ encouragement
  • Elly’s selfless kindness
  • an older woman in the Lord (not necessarily older age-wise) sharing wisdom and encouragement with me, especially how her life was changed because of scriptural truth
  • playing chess
  • my grandchildren’s faces
  • getting Zulu words down
  • when a friend finishes their life well for the Lord

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings

lyrics from Sound of Music

How about composing your own list and sending the 10 best to me?

above picture taken in Hobbiton, Matamata, New Zealand

th(i)nkful for Jeff Buckman

Our Deepest Drive

What would you do with a million dollars? What would you do with a multi-million dollar company? The answer to those types of questions tells a lot about us. What do we value? What do we prioritize? Do we think of spending or saving or investing? Jesus said that your heart and your money occupy the same place (Matthew 6:21).

“My” Money – From God and Back to Him

Jeff Buckman is the owner of Buckman’s Inc., a smaller family business that God has privileged him to develop over three decades into a major provider of pool and ski products in the greater Philadelphia area. We first got to know Jeff and Nancy in our young marrieds’ group at Limerick Chapel.  My husband actually worked for Jeff a couple of summers while we were teaching.Buckmans

Jeff is a devoted follower of Jesus Christ and a promoter of His mission around the world.  Through his close friendship with missionaries, his leading teams on multiple short-term mission trips each year, and his service on the board of the mission agency we serve with, Jeff has experienced cultures, engaged in gospel outreach, and assisted in church plants on every habitable continent on earth. He knows business. He knows missions.

Ingenuity

Our General Director, Paul Seger (right in pic below), loves coffee and in a chat with Jeff one day said, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could figure out a way to finance missions by drinking coffee.” There was a chuckle, but Jeff’s gears started turning. Working with Christian importers and a Christian roaster (Twin Valley Coffee), he cleverly created CoffeeHelpingMissions, a coffee company that gives 100% of its profits to support mission activity around the world.

Imagine! Capitalizing on something as simple as coffee, that people drink worldwide, to benefit missions. Although Starbucks’ claim that coffee is the second-most traded commodity after oil is not true, coffee is still a very hot item on the market and it would be difficult to find a country where it is not available in some form.

Jeff

Check out this YouTube video: Buckman explaining how CoffeeHelpingMissions.com worksJeff 3

th(i)nkful

There are two lessons about being th(i)nkful here:

  1. We need to be th(i)nkful for blessings, but even more importantly, we need to be th(i)nkful to those who are the sources of those blessings, the immediate source being the people around us, and the ultimate source being the God who is the source of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17).
  2. We need to express our thankfulness to that person, and to others about that person. Hence, this post!

I am th(i)nkful for Jeff and his desire to promote the gospel and encourage missions and missionaries. Here is a man that exemplifies I Timothy 6:17-19. Through his  generous, cautious, and resourceful ingenuity, he seeks to use the gifts God has given him to invest back into God’s causes.

It is amazing how inspiring it can be to observe a real-life person that lives out what he believes. I am eager to see his reward one day at the Bema Seat.

IMG_3804_100_1Eternity Glasses

Being a MK (missionary kid) myself, and now an adult missionary, it strengthens my heart when a person eagerly and intelligently sacrifices to push forward such a cause. He is living out his regular ordinary life with eternity glasses on.

David and I have been greatly edified by this man.  In our family, Jeff Buckman is a man that is admired for his gift of giving and his clever handling of resources.

th(i)nkful ~ thinking thanks