Leaving a Legacy

What Will You Leave Behind?

“A new study of the world’s population revealed that the expected mortality rate among humans is still 100%, researchers at Harvard University confirmed Tuesday.  The surprising study found that given enough time, every single person on this planet will pass away, completely irrespective of wealth, class, gender, race, nationality, or creed.”  This fake news from the The Babylon Bee last year is nonetheless profound!

estateHave you ever thought about what someone would find among your things after you died?

I recently did a Th(i)nkful seminar at a church in Indiana.  So fun to inspire these hard working ladies in cultivating gratitude in their lives.  Heather did a great job organizing the event.  Afterwards she mentioned to me that one thing that hit her was how being th(i)nkful affected your legacy – that when your children, grandchildren and others went through your things after you were gone, they would discover your journals with page after page listing things that you were thankful for.  What a gift to pass on to future generations!

You invest in things that you feel strongly about, whether that is staying forever attractive, a favorite hobby or activity, your family, a luxurious retirement, or eternal rewards. The physical evidence of those values and decisions will be detected as people make a final evaluation of your estate. When all is said and done, the stark truth of what you really cared about, what you loved, and what you worshiped will remain loud and clear in the things you leave behind.

A Legacy That Multiplies

Leaving a legacy

Authentic Christian living cannot be compartmentalized.  What you do publicly and what you do privately have to agree, otherwise there is discrepancy and hypocrisy.  Choosing to practice th(i)nkfulness on a regular basis is privately living out what many claim publicly.

Choosing to download grace and strength from the Lord to think thanks about every circumstance that comes my way, and then to express that thanks orally or in written form is like planting seeds of righteousness.  Those seeds may find good soil in the broken hearts of those we’ve left behind, germinate, and in time bring forth a harvest of righteousness. The simple obedient act of giving thanks in all circumstances multiplies. God gets the glory.

We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.

Psalm 78:4

 

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!

 

Antidote For Temptation

Gratitude pictureRecently I was listening to a lecture by Heath Lambert in preparation for my ACBC certification exam.  Lambert said something that grabbed my attention.  He said that gratitude is the opposite to every sin we commit.

James 1:14 shows how every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Lust is wanting what we don’t have, promising you happiness if you follow its promptings.  It is a lie because when you obey the lust, you are not satisfied, but want more.  It is degenerative, spiraling downward.

Practically every sin we commit is a result of a lack of thankfulness

Gratitude, on the other hand, is headed totally in the other direction.  It wants what it already has, and meditates on what it can be th(i)nkful for in its present circumstance.  Thankfulness is the antidote for temptation.

In Ephesians 5 Paul gives two strong verses on being thankful.  In verse 4, giving thanks is the biblical replacement to wrong behavior. The second mention of being thankful comes later in verse 20 as a description of a person filled with the Spirit.

Lambert continued in the lecture to encourage counselors to sit down with people they are working with and help them write out a list of things to be grateful for.  He said to ask the person to put that list in his/her pocket for easy reference.

If you only ever and always would be thankful, you would never sin. Sin struggles to take root and germinate in soil where thankfulness is pervasive. Do you find it motivating that the more thankful you are, the less prone to sin you will be?

When is the last time you made a list of things that you were thankful for?

Heath Lambert. ACBC Foundations Track. Denver, 2015.

Th(i)nkful

Relating Think and Thank

Did you know that the English root word of “thank” comes from think or feel?

In order to be thankful, you have to first think, to formulate in your mind the things you are thankful for.  It doesn’t seem like such a grand new discovery, but it was to me.  I could not just muster up a general spirit of thankfulness.  I had to think of specific things in my mind.  I had to ponder what I was thankful for.

So … Th(i)nkful

th(i)nkful is a blending of thinking and thanking, and is designed to cultivate thinking thanks.

It is estimated that a person may have up to 50,000 thoughts a day.  Many of these thoughts are automatic thoughts because you have conditioned your mind to do something over and over again.  My desire is to inspire you to develop a brain pattern that makes you automatically look for the things that you can think thanks for in every circumstance that you encounter.

Connecting Good With A Giver

Being th(i)nkful is not just being thankful for; it is being thankful to.  It is delivering that beautiful present of your thanks to whom it is due.  God, first and foremost.  He has given you the air you breathe at this second.  He is ultimately the One worthy to receive our th(i)nkful gift.

What if we just harnessed 5 of those 50,000 thoughts each day to focus on numerating 5 things that we are thankful for and wrap that gift up and present it to the Lord. Let me give you an example:

I am thankful that:

  1. I am able to breathe well right now.  No coughing or wheezing.
  2. My eyes work great.  I can see color and even focus with my glasses on.
  3. My incredible husband helped me get this blog started even though I feel such fear and trepidation.
  4. This afternoon I got to WeChat with our youngest child in China and her face made me rejoice.
  5. I can speak a foreign language. God let me learn that as a child growing up in Norway.  That is just so cool!

Thank You, God.

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