Thankful in vs. Thankful for

004853F9-94D8-4CB3-B1D5-D78D2CB97AF8Difference Between In and For

The difference between giving thanks in and giving thanks for is worth pondering.

Recently while discussing this topic with some friends, the question arose on how a person could give thanks for horrific things that had happened to them. It seems totally absurd to give thanks for trauma and abuse.

We rehearsed the verses from I Thessalonians 5:18 and Ephesians 5:20 where we are instructed to give thanks in all circumstances as well as giving thanks always for all things. How do we make sense of giving thanks for all things?

I want to compare the concept of giving thanks in the circumstance compared to giving thanks for the circumstance.

Begin with Giving Thanks IN

“Giving thanks in” is giving thanks for the good things all around your dark reality, points of light in the middle of the storm, though it feels so uncomfortable to do so. Perhaps you can only focus on Scripture’s promise that God will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5b). Maybe you can think thanks that this circumstance is helping you remember that life is a vapor and soon it will be gone. There is a purpose for you right now and in your immediate circumstance – you are to please God (2 Cor.5:9).

We trust in the sovereignty of our God. He has promised to not test us above what we are able. He has promised to never leave nor forsake us. We cry out to our Creator God to hold us and comfort us in our distress. He knows all we have gone through and are going through. It’s hard to trust Him though when my heart is so crushed, but we must. And we must begin to think thanks.

Rise to Giving Thanks FOR

“Giving thanks for” is actually thanking God for the dark thing itself, because by it God achieved a greater good. As time passes and you get a better view of how God is shaping things, you often recognize the great void and terrible loss of gospel opportunity there would have been without the trial.  You would have been happier and busy somewhere else, and God’s profound work would have been undone. That’s when you learn to embrace the trial itself.

But that is deep blue hero stuff.  It took a long journey for Joni Eareckson Tada to come to the place where she gave thanks for her horrific accident that changed her life completely. Joni became a quadriplegic as a result of a diving accident and by it has had the chance to minister to hundreds of thousands around the world. The friend that helped her through the early days of that trial, Steve Estes, said:

“God permits what he hates to accomplish what he loves.”                

871F7942-D49B-4514-957B-F793D354E7AF

“I have learned to kiss the waves that throw me up against the Rock of ages.” Charles Spurgeon

Th(i)nkful Repels Grumpy

Natural Forces

Don’t you love how fast little round wheels can make you go on a skateboard?

There is another natural force that also interests me.  When you put two magnets together, one side attracts and one repels.  That is just the way it is.  I love being able to take advantage of something that just is because God put it into nature.

One of the advantages of being th(i)nkful is that it naturally repels complaining.  When grumpy meets th(i)nkful, they repel each other.  repelling 3In other words they are not good bedfellows. One has to leave.

When you choose to think thanks about every circumstance in your life, whether those circumstances are positive, neutral, or negative, you are creating a natural repellent to ingratitude and complaining.

When our kids were little, I would teach them the ABC’s of Scripture memory.  We had a verse for every letter of the alphabet.  I can still quote those verses as we drilled them often into our minds.  RepellingThe ‘D’ verse was “Do all things without murmuring and disputings.” (Phil. 2:14).

Complaining and murmuring seemed to come very easily to young children, and well, for that matter, to not so young children. In fact, even as adults, most of our problems seem to be rich people problems. “I lost my iPad, or our dryer just died, or we muddied our really good track shoes, or I didn’t get to the sale on time.” We are blessed to even having such problems.

Choosing to think thanks about whatever it was that initiated the complaining had a way of expelling the ingratitude.

Choose to be Thankful

Really, it is not that hard.  Just choose to be thankful! Repelling 1You refuse to think the grumpy thoughts of complaining and instead exercise your will to think thanks about whatever is in front of you.

The beautiful natural thing that happens is that you begin to repel the negative force of murmuring and you experience grace to embrace prickly things that God has ordained in your life to make you more like His Son.

My Own Choice

I am writing this to stimulate you to think thanks, but I’ll let you in on a secret.  I need to be reminded of these principles myself.  David and I have had the unique privilege of doing extensive traveling this past year and it is not over yet.  Our journeys have taken us from New Zealand to China; Seattle to Philadelphia; Kansas to Wisconsin.  Later this year we are moving to Amanzimtoti, South Africa.  Yes, it is amazing.  I really do love it.  BUT…it is exhausting and I struggle to choose gratitude at times.

So, let me make a th(i)nkful list in regards to travel:

  1. We get to experience and learn so many new things
  2. Our own view of life is challenged when we observe how others live
  3. Seeing how big the world is makes us realize how big our God is
  4. We get to taste different foods
  5. Connection with the Body of Christ all over the world is extremely encouraging
  6. We get a vast amount of exposure to illustrate lessons of life
  7. We may be a connection point for other people
  8. God gives us enough strength to do His will

So here’s to future trips coming up! I choose to think thanks and get on my roller blade.  David, I am right behind you! 🙂

Repelling 2

Simple Travel Tips

There are tricks you can put into use that ease the difficulties.

  • Plan out a clothes package that mix and matches
  • Drink lots of water to help with air travel
  • Perhaps take an aspirin the day before air-travel to thin your blood
  • When flying, get up and move from time to time to avoid bloodclots
  • Have a checklist to go over so you don’t forget important things like charging cords, brush or comb, makeup, toothbrush and toothpaste, inflatable neck pillow, headphones, reading material
  • Have a toiletry bag with things just for travel if possible
  • Keep thank you cards in your suitcase

 

Pathway through the Woods

Brain Neural Pathwaywooded debris 1

Cultivating  th(i)nkfulness can be compared to carving a path through the woods.  It  seems overwhelming at first with debris and obstructions.  It takes great effort to remove fallen logs and roots.  You may need some tools like a spade and a chainsaw, or good sharp clippers.

Our brains are similar in that forging a new brain pattern or neural pathway in order to create a new life habit is daunting at first but gets easier with time. God has created our brains to be able to do this.

Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to form and reorganize synaptic connections, especially in response to learning or experience or following injury.

How Do I Do It?

The first practical step you do when beginning to carve a brain path, is to deliberately lay out a plan. Your goal is to have your thoughts automatically head towards what to think thanks about in any given situation. You begin to search in your thoughts for things that you can be thankful for.

If you are in an unusually happy situation, it’s not very hard to find things to be thankful for. Even in normal, day-to-day times it’s not hard to begin to discover th(i)nkful items.

However, when hard times come, the difficulty  level rises to delineate thankful items. Let me illustrate with this example from my friend Dawn:

“My heart was tempted to complain about the mounds of laundry today. The Holy Spirit reminded me, “Be thankful. Think thanks.”

So as I’m folding I start saying in my mind…
Thank You, God for these clothes.
Thank You for your provision of new and used hand-me-downs.
Thank You that they are clothes we got to choose and that we like them. 😊
Thank You for the little (and big) legs that move to make these pants dirty.
Thank You for the soap to wash them.
Thank You for the washing machine that washes and I don’t have to do it by hand.
Thank You for the tumble dryer that works in my basement, and that I don’t have to air dry them in the cold.
Thank You for the dryer that gets the wrinkles out so I don’t have to iron.
Thank You that I am able to be at home and squeeze this chore in between schooling.
Thank You for the energy and wellness to do this. I’m not sick in bed.
The list could go on…
Be th(i)nkful. Think thanks when you’re tempted to complain in your heart.

She chose to download grace and begin carving the neural brain pathway of thinking thanks about the situation.  She then expressed it.  Engaging in the discipline of being th(i)nkful ended up not only helping her mindset, but encouraging others to do likewise.

Patiently Conquer Step by Step

The habit of cultivatipath through woodsng thinking thanks takes time.  You have to see progress in little steps at a time.  Think about that path through the woods. As you step by step conquer the mess, soon the path becomes apparent.

In time you will be able to run that path.  How cool!!

This exercise is much more that just creating a better mindset for us.  Practicing th(i)nkfulness is an act of worship to our Redeemer who has given us a command.  Give thanks in all circumstances.  He knows that being grateful is a key to our sanctification and maturity in Him.

So… I just wanted to get you started this year on developing that brain pathway through the ‘woods.’

Who doesn’t enjoy a walk in the woods anyway?? 🙂

wooded-path-e1513099191945.jpg

Th(i)nkful Laundry List

IMG_9059

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 – My Needs Are Met

Redefining “Needs”

Do you ever feel like you need something else to really do the will of God?  If just something was changed a little bit, or if I was able to have access to that, or if I didn’t have this, then I could be free to really be thankful and do God’s will. I Timothy 6:6-8 says:

“But godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.  And having food and raiment, let us be content.”

The Greek word for raiment is skepasma and it means covering. Most people think that is referring to clothing, but it also means any kind of shelter from the elements – a roof over my head, even just for a night.  When I start evaluating my “needs” from the perspective of having food to eat today and clothes to put on my body – like two-thirds of the world struggles to have every day – there is SO much to be th(i)nkful for. Most of our “needs” are just wants, and we must never use them as an excuse to say without them we can’t really do God’s will.

Psalm 136:25-26 states, “He gives food to every living thing. His faithful love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of heaven. His faithful love endures forever.”

IMG_2561.JPG

The picture above is from a market in China.  The colors burst forth.  I love just looking at the varied shapes and textures represented. Our God is amazing.

God has provided all I need to do His will

That thought hit me the other day.  My goal in life is to please God, and I have access to everything I need to do that. 2 Corinthians 5:9 says that Paul made it his ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to God.  I want to be like that, too.  I know that God’s goal for me is to be conformed to Jesus (Romans 8:28-29).  He also mentions in that passage that every single thing in my life will work towards the good of making me like Christ.

My job is to discover what His will looks like for me. In some ways that can be a bit tricky, but what I have found over the years is that it usually is not so much that I don’t know what His will is, as that I really don’t want to do what His will is. I want to do my will.  I feel like I know what is best, and if God would just answer my prayers and let me have my will, things would turn out great.

I know one thing that is definitely part of the Lord’s will for my life. I have NO doubt about it.  I Thess. 5:18 states, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” I am to express thankfulness all the time.  It is to bubble out of me non-stop.

Water Pouring into BottleHow are you doing at that?  Does it come out of you non-stop throughout your day?  Start with just being thankful that you could take that last breath. You ate today. You are wearing clothes.  You can see with your eyes to read these words.  You have access to the internet and this blog and whatever device you are using.  You have just been able to read truths that will never lose their potency. One of those truths being that godliness with contentment is great gain.

“God has promised to supply our needs. What we don’t have now we don’t need now.” Elisabeth Elliot

Let your eyes peruse the following truths and be th(i)nkful.

  • Luke 12:31 – Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.
  • Philippians 4:19 – And my God will fully supply your every need according to his glorious riches in the Messiah Jesus.
  • Psalm 34:10 – The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.
  • Psalm 84:11-12 – For the LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD gives grace and glory; no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly. O LORD of hosts, How blessed is the man who trusts in You!
  • Matthew 7:11 – So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.
  • Luke 12:24 – Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest, they don’t have storerooms or barns, but God feeds them. And you are worth much more than birds.
  • Psalm 104:21 – The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God.
  • Psalm 145:15-16 – The eyes of all look to you in hope; you give them their food as they need it. When you open your hand, you satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing.
  • Psalm 36:6 – Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the ocean depths. You care for people and animals alike, O LORD.
  • Psalm 136:25-26 – He gives food to every living thing. His faithful love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of heaven. His faithful love endures forever.

 

Overcome Evil with Good

CourtroomChoosing to Forgive

Last week, a friend of mine, a precious older godly lady, attended the trial of the man who killed her husband. Four years ago, her beloved’s life was snuffed out by this drunk driver.

Finally, she would have the chance to speak with him face to face.  She had come to peace with God’s sovereign choice to take her husband home when He did. She just wanted to tell the man that she forgave him. At the end of the trial, he was sentenced to 15 years without parole … and she got the opportunity to let him know that he was forgiven.

After prayer meeting, she wanted to tell David and me some things that she was thankful for in the middle of this trial. I just had to relate these to you!

  • She was so very thankful that her husband died instantaneously;
  • She was thankful that he knew the Lord as his personal Savior; he was ready for death and ready to meet the Lord;
  • The morning of his accident, he had forgotten his car keys, so he rang the front doorbell and my friend quickly grabbed the keys on the counter knowing exactly what was going on. She handed him the keys, and while he normally would have grabbed them and hurried off, for some reason, he stopped and gave her a sweet kiss. She didn’t know it was their last one, but later she saw that it was a gift from God.

th(i)nkful – Overcoming Evil with Good

light shining onLife (and the sovereign God behind it) will bring opportunities for us to choose to overcome evil with good, darkness with light. Romans 12:17-21 talks about what to do when we are served evil. Verse 21 says to not be overcome by evil, but to overcome evil with good.

Joseph told his brothers who sold him into slavery, “you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20). When we can see a sovereign God weaving His perfect purposes behind all of the damage others may do to us, we feel compelled to join Him in the good He is accomplishing through it.

One of the ways we can overcome evil with good is to exercise being th(i)nkful.  Just like what my friend was doing during the trial.  The facts of what happened in the accident were hard to hear again, but she saw God’s fingerprints and mentally searched for things to be thankful for.

This is not easy to do.  It is difficult, but it is possible.  Perhaps in the beginning it will only be tiny baby steps of expressing th(i)nkfulness. Little by little, discovering things to think thanks about will surface, and as we express those things, we overcome the darkness with light.

Spiritual Truth in the Eclipse

The solar eclipse coming across the U.S. on August 21, 2017 illustrates this perfectly. Believing scientists tell us (watch the video “Privileged Planet” – at 27 minutes in) that although the sun is 400x larger than the moon, God placed the moon at the perfect distance (400x closer) so that, during the totality when they examine the corona, they can detect the types of gases burning in the sun and learn about solar winds – things only possible in a total eclipse.

The spiritual truth is that when God’s face is eclipsed by the harshness of life, 1) the darkness is temporary and the light will return, and 2) if we study the situation, we will find that there are things about God we can only learn during the darkness of such an eclipse.

  1. “The first thing that you have to do if you’re going to forgive a person is to receive the grace of God.  Until you receive grace from God, and His forgiveness of you, you will not be in a position to forgive somebody else. 
  2. The second thing?  Acknowledge the wrong. Name it, whatever it was.  Name it in the presence of Christ.  Be straightforward with Him. 
  3. Number three, lay down all your rights.  Forgiveness is the unconditional laying down of the self. 
  4. And now, number four? . . .If that person asks forgiveness, forgive. . . if he does not. . .forgive him anyway in a private transaction with God.  Ask for grace to treat that person as if nothing had ever happened. Stand with Christ for him.”

Elisabeth Elliot (after her husband was killed by Auca Indians)

Th(i)nkful in Anxiety

1 Lofoten D

This is a real place. I know it looks magical, but this place exists. It is located in Reine, Norway. The rock pinnacle rises out of the sea and extends high into the sky.  The quaint village nestles around the bottom of the peak. What an idyllic scene among the Lofoten islands on Norway’s west coast.

Joy from a rock

When David, and the kids and I first left for South Africa in 1995, I had composed a little chorus from Ps. 62:2. “He alone is my Rock and my salvation. He is my defense; I shall not greatly be moved.” I sang that over and over again and it comforted my heart in those days of transition and ambiguity. When we got settled into our first home there, a precious gift from the Lord was that, from my kitchen window in the house that our co-workers had selected for us, I could see a huge lone rock on top of a little hill.

IMG_2536The Lord IS our Rock, and He wants us to meditate and give thanks for that.

Beating anxiety

When we feel the lure of anxiety and worry, the Lord has told us how we should process that temptation. In Philippians 4:6-8 He gives us a guideline to follow when those anxious thoughts spin relentlessly in our minds.

  1. Firstly, without any question of confusion, we are NOT to be anxious.
  2. Secondly, we are to pray and pour out our heart to Him in supplication (the action of asking or begging for something earnestly, humbly, and specifically).
  3. Thirdly, that plea is to be surrounded and immersed with thanksgiving. We are to be th(i)nkful in our anxiety test. We are to trust God to be our Rock, and Provider, and Deliverer.

Worry is self-oriented and inward focused.  Love and trust in God is outward focused.  When I dare, through the power of the Spirit, to trust fully that God is in control and rest in His sovereignty, even in the smallest detail, the peace of God will flow within me in a supernatural manner. He promises to keep (guard) my emotions and my mind through Christ Jesus. He continues to urge me to meditate on things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy.

Write it down

Why not write down 5 things right now that you can be th(i)nkful for when tempted with worry!

  1. God takes care of the birds of the field and He promises to take care of me (Matt. 6:26).
  2. God will give me enough strength to reach out to others to do His will for my life and for the advancing of His kingdom.
  3. God IS my Rock (Ps. 18:2). I can trust Him to show me the next step.
  4. God is ultimately going to take me home to Himself, which is really the best thing that could happen to me.
  5. God cares so much for me that He has even counted all the hairs on my head (Matt. 10:30-31).

The Rock stays firm and as my eyes are fixed on Him, His peace, like water fills up my being.

img_1590.jpg

He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just

Deuteronomy 32:4

Th(i)nkful – Producing Grace

A Gratitude Journal

Nick and Julia 1This is a picture of our son, Nicolas, and his beautiful Julia.   They gave me a special present this year for my birthday –  a Daily Gratitude Journal! In this journal there are only blank pages divided by a line in the middle and a space on which to put the date. You could use really any kind of notebook to do the same thing. The idea behind it is to get into a pattern of writing down your th(i)nkful list. At the end of the day you take a moment to reflect on what you were thankful   for that day.

IMG_2253I started doing that after getting this book from Nick and Julia. Some entries are not so full. Some entries can barely fit all that I want to record. But the beautiful thing that I find happening to me is that, as I go through my days, I make mental notes of the things I need to remember to record that evening. This goes for easy days, as well has hard days.

In the Valley of Shadows

Recently, I have been hit with a lot of opportunities for wisdom. So many people I know personally have been ushered into a valley of shadows – getting better acquainted with cancer. I see in my own behavior that, although I know what the truth is and know my responsibility to act in accordance with it, I still can be overwhelmed with sadness and heaviness in my heart. I chide myself for not being stronger. The truth is, when I cannot understand God’s ways, I must hold on to His character. I must simply “hold on to Jesus.” Let me illustrate.

Song of the Orphans

A few years back, David and I had the privilege of interacting with some precious people in Shongwe Mission, South Africa.  This neighborhood was filled with orphan-led households.  In other words, both parents were gone and there were children caring for each other.  One home with 6 children was led by a 12-year-old named Lalif. I remember being struck with such admiration and yet sadness and hopelessness.

IHold on to Jesus learned a gem that afternoon. Our group sang songs for them and in return they wanted to sing for us. They did a much better job. 🙂 One of the songs they sang was “Hold on to Jesus, Hold on, Hold on, Hold on.” I thought to myself that wow, that doctrine was so shallow.  They should have been taught deeper truths.  However, the gem I discovered was that the most important thing to do when going through horrendous difficulties and challenges is to “Hold on to Jesus.”

“Trust in Him at all times, you people, pour out your heart before Him: God is a refuge for us. Selah” (Psalm 62:8).

I just can’t give way to the temptation to begin to doubt the Lord’s goodness and purposes.  Trust.  He is writing a bigger story that I could even imagine.  He asks me to be filled with the Spirit in Eph. 5:18. A description of what that filling looks like comes in verses 19-20.  I am to speak to myself in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.  I am to sing and make melody in my heart to the Lord.  I am to give thanks always for all things to God in the name of Jesus Christ.

“I will recount the steadfast love of the Lord” Isaiah 63:7

When faced with difficulties, these are the things I can recount:

  1. God is God and I am not
  2. This life is a vapor and we are headed to a much better place if we have trusted in Jesus alone for our salvation
  3. God’s promises hold fast
  4. The Lord will never leave, nor forsake
  5. Somehow good will come out of pain and suffering
  6. My job is to respond to hardship with thinking thanks; like for example,  just yesterday a music therapist came into the hospital room of my loved one and played her guitar and sang “Amazing Grace”
  7. God is trustworthy; He can deftly handle all my trust
  8. God will not test me above what I am able and will answer my cry to be Spirit-filled right in the trial
  9. God hears our cries for healing and will do what is best; teaching a myriad of lessons along the way
  10. I can be edified by singing; some good selections are Chris Anderson’s song, “I Run to Christ,” or Getty’s, “Still, My Soul Be Still, or Matthew Decker’s “Fullness of Joy” (Psalm 16)
  11. I can look for God’s fingerprints of grace and kindness along the way; they are there

When I choose to be th(i)nkful – 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 – grace starts to spring up in my heart. It may just be a little trickle at first, but as my thoughts begin to meditate on all the Lord has done and is doing, it bubbles more and more.  Being thinkful produces grace.

 

Emotions – Not The Bad Guys

IMG_2089I am so glad that God made us with emotions. When He created us in His image, that image included emotions. The Scriptures tell us that God laughs, grieves, has compassion, sings, and has righteous anger. We can often get confused by our emotions.  They feel strong, like they are controlling us, but actually they are fueled by another source – the mind. Emotions are a window into what we’ve been thinking about.

It is interesting to note that we can’t really have the emotion of anger unless we first think thoughts that trigger anger. Emotions are flames that burn in different colors depending on the fuel we’re burning. If we chose to think thoughts of thankfulness, it produces the emotion of gratitude; even tears can come at times. Emotion is only reflecting the thoughts that we are thinking.

Elanor Roosevelt

Would it not be amazing to control our emotions by controlling our thoughts? In Romans 12:2, Paul pushes us to be transformed by the “renewing of our minds.” When a person exercises the ability to think thoughts that are true, healthy, and godly, the outcome of that exercise will be reflected in that person’s emotions. Much happens in our thoughts that eventually work its way out in our emotions and in our actions.

Let it be known that emotions can be affected by physical conditions such as adrenal dysfunction or even something as common as illness, pain, or fatigue. Most arguments happen in the evening. Why? We are tired, weary, frazzled from events of the day; the mind is weak and often focuses on the wrong fuel – ideas and values that serve self.  The ultimate test of godliness is when we are tested by people or circumstances in moments when we are already worn out. Will we have the strength to choose the right thoughts?!

Being th(i)nkful is using your will to push your mind to search for and ponder the right thoughts. As we choose to think thanks, our troubled thoughts are wrestled back to what is good, and ultimately Who is the giver of good things. To the extent we push our minds on this journey, our emotions will tag along.

“My emotions are the fruit, not the root of my thoughts”

Nicolas Ellen, ACBC

Handling Emotions Biblically , Nicolas Ellen ACBC  

 

Thankful?

Hope in Knysna

On the southern tip of Africa there lies a beautiful bowl-shaped lagoon with the city of Knysna nestled around it.  It is one of the top dream holiday destinations for the country of South Africa.  On June 7, 2017, a fire began to sweep throughout the beautiful dry winter landscape around Knysna. A family died. Thousands of people were evacuated and displaced.  Homes and schools were burned to the ground. People lost all their earthly belongings and even livelihoods.  Life will never be quite the same for those that went through this tragedy. Knysna, South Africa, has gone through a horrendous ordeal.

How can a person begin to think thanks in these kind of circumstances?

At first you feel so numb.  You have to stop the bleeding. People need food and water. Everything seems to take forever.  Things that seemed so important before, somehow have lost their urgency. What really matters?

Coming face to face with tragedies is often the source of people turning their backs on the Lord.  How could a loving God allow it?

Our friends, Dave and Julie Rudolph, are missionaries in Knysna and are forging their way through this devastating time and looking for ways to share the love of Christ in the midst of trial. Here is an update.

Dave Rudolph’s Update from Knysna

You may have your own fire, a hard thing that you have gone through that is difficult to process. It seems impossible to find any sense in it all.  I know I have experienced hard things like that.  I wrote down these 10 things following a talk on why God allows sufferings.  They have been immensely helpful for me personally.  Why does God allow evil and suffering?

  1. God is justly allowing sin’s curse on the earth to take its natural course; the earth is broken and longing for redemption. Romans 8:22
  2. God is jolting me to get me really searching for Him in prayer and in the Bible. Jeremiah 29:13-14.
  3. God is refining me, freeing me from some vice and building virtue in me (the greater good). I Pet. 4:3-4; Job 23
  4. God is equipping me to be a compassionate comfort and strength to others. 2 Cor. 1:4.
  5. God is equipping me for greater service; changing the scope of my influence.
  6. God is freeing me from trust/dependence on things, teaching me that He is the only thing I hold on to.
  7. God is opening a door for me to share my faith and show God’s love.
  8. God wants me to long for a better place. 2 Cor. 4:16-18.
  9. God is privileging us to share in His suffering – reward comes with this.
  10. God is demonstrating that He can sustain and keep His children faithful.

Searching for the things for which we can be th(i)nkful sometimes feels almost irreverent of the incredible pain that we are experiencing.  Formulating thanks through our tears is an act of worship to the Sovereign One that He does not take lightly.  He knows. He sees.  He rewards our effort to download His grace in order to gain His perspective in every circumstance.

purposefully thinking thanks in the midst of tragedy is like beginning to climb a rope out of the hole of despair that you find yourself in.