Th(i)nkful for ABCD

Not All Poverty Is Created Equal

We learned some great lessons last week in “community health evangelism” training (CHE). One principle we learned was that helping the needy in Majority (3rd) World countries can be divided in two categories:

  • One category is called Relief – stopping the bleeding in emergency situations such as after an earthquake, hurricane or tsunami where people are completely helpless and needing gifts of food, water, and healthcare just to survive. Think of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:30-37.
  • ABCD8The second category is known as Development – helping the needy by working with them to improve their general living conditions, developing their skills, giving them a hand up and not a hand out. Think of Israel leaving part of the harvest for widows like Ruth in Deuteronomy 24:19-22.

This second category is what I want to highlight. A central part of development is refusing to answer every problem with outside money, and refusing to do for people what they can and should do for themselves.

What is ABCD?

In the world of development, ABCD – ABCD4Asset-Based Community Development – is helping a struggling community improve itself by sitting down with residents and inquiring about what they already have.😊 When Moses resisted getting involved with God’s plan, God asked him, “What is that in your hand?” (Exodus 4:2). That’s where we begin. We look at what is, not at what is missing.

“What skills, gifts, abilities, tools, supplies, and time do we already have here in our community?” At first, many reply “nothing,” and you might agree at times.  But as the moments go by, people start to mention things, and in time, you end up with a list.  The CHE team does this in “neighborhood surveys” and then brings people together to discover how their combined skills and abilities can begin to make changes.

Gratitude turns what we have into enough.

ABCD7This approach promotes a philosophy of thankfulness and a “can do” spirit.  In other words, a community looks to its own members to identify what assets are already present around them.

CHE teams share preventive health tips along with moral teaching and gospel truth.  Having a good and meaningful life is not just physical well-being, but also emotional, relational, spiritual, and financial health that only the transforming gospel of Jesus Christ can bring. Even an atheist said so!

How are ABCD and Th(i)nkful similar?

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By focusing on assets, we search for things that perhaps we had overlooked before that we can think thanks for.  That is just what th(i)nkful is about – looking for things to think thanks about in every situation and expressing that thanks orally or in a written form.

God’s thanksgiving commands are not just for the rich and wealthy, but even for the majority of people in the world who are poor.  And it is humbling, tear-jerking, and convicting to watch someone with nothing discover that they have enough to help someone else.

Emotions are real but they are not reality, and a dose of th(i)nkfulness can turn a pity party into non-stop praise for God’s provision. Th(i)nkfulness focuses on what God has provided and sees His meticulous Providence in keeping us from what is missing.

I ASKED GOD

I asked God for strength, that I might achieve.
I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked for health, that I might do greater things.
I was given infirmity, that I might do better things.

I asked for riches, that I might be happy.
I was given poverty, that I might be wise.
I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men.
I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God.

I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life.
I was given life, that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing that I asked for, but everything that I hoped for.
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
I am among all men most richly blessed.

Anonymous Civil War Soldier

 

Ministering Thoughtfully

The Power of Compassion

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Family Visit To Grandmother In The Hospital

Have you ever had someone come visit you in the hospital when you were sick?  Isn’t it amazing how you remember that so well?  The morning my mom died, our pastor’s wife, a dear personal friend, came to our house.  She didn’t say much, she went into the kitchen and started to do my dishes.  She was just there.  Wow!  I can hardly think back on that without tears.

What makes those visits stand out so much in our memories?  The answer is “connection,” a bond formed simply through a quiet presence and a listening heart.

Consider the difference between empathy and sympathy.  Recently I watched a 2.53 minute YouTube video by Dr. Brené Brown on that topic.  Although I may not agree with all she said, she gave me food for thought. Empathy connects a person who is going through something hard with someone who cares and listens.  When a person is going through a challenging time, the last thing they may want to hear is: “Just write down things you are thankful for.” You first have to have the connection.

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“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

― Theodore Roosevelt

How Do You Inspire Others

Come. You need to be there. Two of the greatest promises the Lord has given us are, “I am with you always,” and “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Being there for someone is being like Him.  We worry about what to say, but that’s not our main role. A cat or a dog can be a comfort, and they say nothing – they are just there.

Listen.  Maybe the person does want to talk about what is troubling them. Good.  Just listen.  Tell them that you are thankful they shared with you, that you can imagine it is so hard.  In time, if connection is made and the person feels safe, they may be open for solutions, but don’t rush that.  Let them become thirsty for options and ready to hear.

Pray.  Pray for them specifically, and pray for you to have wisdom. Pray for grace for them to pass this test. God is the One that untangles the mess. We cannot help everyone, but need to do the will of the Father – like Jesus did.  Discover what that is through the Word and the Spirit’s guidance.

Serve.  Look for practical things you could do for them that would be helpful. Make a meal.  Take care of their kids.  Bring a present.  Send a personal note or text.  Visit them in the hospital.

Recall. One of the most powerful ways to inspire others is to share your own story, how you came through a struggle.  No one can argue with that.  It is yours.  If you personally have been helped by cultivating gratitude in your thoughts, you can share that.

Own. Being th(i)nkful works, but you must own it yourself before you can do it well. To own something you have to believe in it. You have to be convinced that God actually means what He says in I Thessalonians 5:18. “In every circumstances give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”  When sharing the concept of thinking thanks, give the other person time to own it themselves before trying it.

Share. Tuck in your pocket I Corinthians 10:13 in case you get the chance to share the promises located there. God says that He will “with the testing make a way of escape.” Notice that it is with the testing, not from the testing.  God helps give us escape while the testing is ongoing. Could a possible ‘way of escape be thinking thanks?

Three Lessons from Having Received Ministry

  1. Thank the Lord for motivating the person who did the compassionate thing and reached out.
  2. Express to that person how incredibly helpful it was to receive their ministry.
  3. Be inspired to BE that to someone else.

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

 

Th(i)nkful in Shungnak, Alaska

Do you know where Shungnak, Alaska is?

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I did not.  I knew that it was very far north and that the pictures reminded me of Brumunddal, Norway, where I grew up.  I know where it is now.  Carl Boley writes a blog from his adventures these days as a first year teacher in Shungnak (he’s also on Facebook). He shares fascinating insights of how life functions in this remote Alaskan village that you can get to only by plane or sled.

His last two posts really caught my attention.  When the dark time settles in up in the very far north, it is easy for “emotional darkness” to reflect the physical conditions.  People really battle depression.  Alcoholism and suicides are common.  In Carl’s November 24 post, although the deep darkness and cold were still intensifying, he chose to list things that he was thankful for.  What a post!  He skillfully picked seven things for which he expressed gratitude.

Listing Things You are Thankful for

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After reading Carl’s post, I was so encouraged and challenged!  I could feel hope and warmth even though I know that circumstances are getting even more difficult – the high tomorrow is -28F!

This was such a good reminder.  My circumstances can have two reads: I can read the cold darkness and be as accurate as a thermometer, or I can choose to think thanks in the same situation, finding the warmth and light, and by finding it, magnifying it.

Although the simple, childlike activity of listing things I am thankful for doesn’t seem earth-shattering, it can actually shatter my earthly perspective and reveal God’s treasures amidst the ghostly shadows and acrid dust. The God who is sovereign in every detail of my situation has provided a way of escape for me to handle difficult things.  I can choose to think thanks, and then I can choose to express it to Him and to others.

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

 Check out Carl’s Blog at: Boley in the Bush Blog.

 

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?? 🙂

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Cutting Produces Thirst

Cutting the Christmas Tree

David and I just picked out our Christmas tree.  The fresh scent of Fraser fir filled our senses as we browsed through the trees available.  We finally settled on a lovely tree that looked full and balanced.

After we paid, the attendant cut off the lower branches to make it manageable to put into the Christmas tree stand, and he cut a fresh piece off the trunk.  The purpose of cutting the main trunk was to open up the pores and allow the tree to drink in a lot of water, thereby allowing it to stay fresher longer.cutting a fir tree 1

The pores had begun to close after the initial cut a while back when it was brought from the farm in North Carolina. Without water, those exposed fibers were dead now. The trunk needed a fresh cut to open those pores again and satiate the thirst of the poor thing. This cut was for the good of the tree, to enable it to fulfill its purpose well. Now the tree could stay hydrated longer to keep its needles, and grace a family’s living room.

A Fresh Cut Will Make Me Thirsty

I thought about how this compares with our lives.  Our spiritual “pores” will often close or grow calloused over time; I don’t feel the need for God, and I don’t talk with Him, like ever.  It is when I receive a fresh “cut” – the pang of a trial – that the pores are wide open and thirsty again. My life is a Psalm again – crying out to the Lord and taking hope and courage in my Rock, my Fortress, and my Deliverer.

Familiarity and sameness is lovely and predictable, but they can make me grow apathetic.  I especially am a person that loves to cling to schedule and expectations.  I have found over time though, that what I need to cling to is the Lord and rest in His values and expectations, His schedule.  He often will allow a fresh cut to make me more thirsty for Him and not get too comfortable in my routine in this world.

When I have developed the habit of being th(i)nkful, there is a coping mechanism that is engaged when the cut happens. I know what to do. I begin to draw up the character and purposes of the Water of Life, and brainstorm things that I can think thanks about in the difficult situation.  Stress, anger, fear, or sadness may try to get me off track, but if I download the grace the Lord offers, and engage my thoughts to think thanks and express that thanks, there is a peace that begins to flow.

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Let the fresh cuts of the Lord in your life open you wide to drink deeply from the One who offers living water that satisfies your soul.

“It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes”
Psalm 119:71

 

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.”

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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)

Mystery in Trees

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I want to give you an amazing illustration of how thankfulness can affect your life. Trees. Crazy, you say? Just read on!

The machine within a tree

Trees have three main divisions: roots, trunk, and crown. The root system is not visible usually, but instead does its work underground, diligently absorbing and storing water and nutrients, and anchoring the tree as it grows.

The trunk is a place of navigation up and down.  Water and nutrients from the roots are brought up to the crown for photosynthesis and afterwards, sugar (glucose) is brought down to the roots for storage and growth. Hang on – don’t give up yet!Tree

The crown of the tree is where the mystery happens.  Leaves gather carbon dioxide from the air. As water combines with the carbon in the chlorophyll, and sunlight shines through, photosynthesis takes place, mysteriously changing carbon and water to glucose (energy sugar!) and oxygen (fresh air!). The glucose is transported down the trunk to the roots to help strengthen and grow the tree. The oxygen is released into the air.

All trees practice photosynthesis. Photo is the Greek word for “light” and synthesis is the Greek word for “putting together”.

Now that was a very quick, simplistic explanation of how a tree functions and lives.  Unless photosynthesis takes place, the tree will wither up and die.

Trees and being th(i)nkful

Let’s see how this illustrates the life-skill of being th(i)nkful. We begin at the bottom. Let the roots represent what you trust in.  If you are in Christ, you have been connected to the living water that was described in John 4:14. There is a good water source bubbling up from within.  Roots also anchor. When you are rooted in the Scriptures, through meditating on the promises of God and exercising personal trust in those promises, you are held fast in storms and gales of wind.

The trunk represents our thinking.  Our thoughts, navigation routes in our minds, run at incredible speed.  Unless the water and nutrients from the roots get connected to the crown, no life or growth will happen.  Therefore, the trunk is vital in moving spiritual water and nutrients from the roots to the crown.

The crown of the tree is our interaction with circumstances.  Intense heat and carbon are the hard things that happen to us.  But if we have been drawing up God’s truth and promises, the chlorophyll of thinking thanks turns those hard things into “grace things” – fresh air for other people and nutrients for our own soul!  The crown is where being th(i)nkful takes place, where we can turn around hard news and difficult days into spoken thanks and written praise.

There is a mystery that happens every time a tree engages in photosynthesis. Carbon dioxide and water change to sugar (glucose) and oxygen. When we connect thinking thanks with things that happen to us and express those things orally or in a written form, the Lord  changes the essence of those things to “food” that makes us stronger and “oxygen” to be released for others to benefit from.

Living out this truth

Let’s give an example. You are told that you have developed cancer (carbon dioxide).  In your thoughts you pull up from your spiritual roots promises that enable you to think thanks about this new challenge.  You begin to list things that you can be th(i)nkful for.

  1. My God is the blessed controller of all things
  2. I still have some time to fight hard this disease
  3. This news makes me long for heaven and the new body that Christ has promised
  4. I get the opportunity to be a testimony to others who are going through similar tests
  5. The Lord has promised to never leave me, nor forsake me ever
  6. I realize how valuable every day is and can live more on purpose without regrets

As I think thanks about this carbon dioxide in my life, the mysterious transformation takes place. God changes the carbon dioxide and water to become things that actually help me grow and also provide air for others to breathe. I am better for having gone through the hard things, if I am th(i)nkful, and others are made better as well.

VW with treesBy the way, I love trees. I also love VW bugs; it was the first car I ever owned.  As I cruise down the road of life, may I choose to be th(i)nkful about all the carbon that comes my way today. It makes the journey so much more enjoyable.

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  

 

Th(i)nkful About The Cross

The Cross

The longer I live and grow in understanding of things around me, the more I realize that I have only scratched the surface of what happened at the cross.  It is the climax of all of human history.  It brings freedom from guilt and the wrenching problem of sins for which we could not pay.  It infuses hope to all who trust in what Christ did to reconcile us to God.  It is the means of saving little children who have only a simple understanding, and yet it continually baffles theologians and philosophers.

The cross exemplifies how humans should live and die in pursuit of doing the Father’s will.  The cross is the means by which Christians come to life, and yet the cross is what Jesus demanded we take up daily in dying to self.  One day, the entire physical earth will be healed because of what happened on that hill outside Jerusalem.

Thinking about the cross creates such varied responses from mankind.  Some scorn it as immoral.  Some are filled with disbelief that anything of supernatural value happened there.  Some believe that it indeed happened, but will not submit to any claim that Jesus is God or that we are somehow answerable to Him. Some see it as symbol of sincere devotion to God, and that by somehow relishing that symbol on a wall or around the neck, they will somehow gain a better relationship with the Almighty.

Some begin to get the full realization that we are completely indebted to the Father and the Son for what happened on that cross.  Without the gospel of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, there is no hope for salvation for judgment, healing, growth, or a future with Him in heaven.

Grasping fully what Christ did on the cross for me that day will cause my heart to always, and forever, be filled with thinkfulness. Because of Jesus, I can live the moments I have left in this life, full of thinking thanks that I was written into the story of humankind and of the redeemed.

What an incredibly awesome story God is writing! From eternity past to eternity future, everything points to the cross.  Thank you, God, for Who You are and that You have provided a way for us to return to You!  You made the story simple enough for a child to understand, but embedded in its simplicity is a complexity that I can never hope to really grasp.