Regarding Home

The Problem with “Home”

Screen Shot 2019-07-13 at 10.11.09 AMMy life in the will of God right now is a bit crazy. We have two “homes” – an apartment in Amanzimtoti, South Africa, and a mission-owned house in Atlanta to which we return twice a year while we train new missionaries.  It is bizarre to leave home … to go back home!

There are three key elements that help me feel at home: the presence of my husband, music that we play in the house, and a Yankee Candle called Home Sweet Home.  We light this candle, its fragrance fills the place, and my nose tells me I am home.

When God’s Word Finds A Home

My mind and heart are also homes, and many things live in them; some residents bring peace and others cause conflict. This morning I was meditating on Colossians 3, and came to verse 16:

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

a blog on the bibleThe Apostle Paul writes that the message about Jesus should be at home in us profusely, filling every room, like that Yankee Candle.  His Word should fill and flavor our thinking, influencing what we want, what we mediate on, and eventually what we say and do.

As we are changed, we end up sharing this potpourri of the soul with each other, exchanging insights, singing deep truths captured in new songs and golden oldies, with heart-compelled thankfulness to the Lord. In True Spirituality, Francis Schaeffer wrote:

“A quiet disposition and a heart giving thanks at any given moment is the real test of the extent to which we love God at that moment.”

Can God’s Mission Be Home?

I want you to know that home can be somewhere else from where you have always known it to be. Because of the great love of our Savior, we can choose to make home where He wants us to go. Yes, it may feel a bit awkward at first, and that we somehow are turning our back on our incredibly loved extended family members, but God pours out grace for us to create home in a new place, embrace His will and, in time, even love it.

a blog on BMW

David and I are presently in the midst of helping out with missionary training at our mission headquarters outside of Atlanta, GA.Our days are full of serving in different capacities from teaching, counseling new and older missionaries, helping with the youth sessions, serving in the nursery, recording videos for the mission … and the list goes on.

There are so many conversations with people getting ready to take their “home” around the world. At times, I feel I get a little glimpse of just how important these days are to our Savior, the Lord Jesus.

As an MK (missionary kid) I am very aware of the costs of missionary life. My family first crossed the Atlantic by boat to make a home in Norway in 1964, when I was 4 years old.  Since then we have always taken flights. 🙂a blogpost about oceanliners

David and I took our four children and made a home in South Africa over twenty years ago. In the group currently going through missionary training here at HQ, there are three people headed for South Africa, all aware of the coming cost of serving cross-culturally.

The idiom “Home is where the heart is” actually means one’s home is made up of the places and people one loves or cherishes most. As we grow to love and cherish our Lord God, we can find home anywhere He chooses for us to be, but in reality and in the long haul, heaven is our home.

I hate to break it to you, but your life will be over soon. Live in such a manner that when you finish, you will be filled with thankfulness and not regrets.Muizenberg Beach huts, South Africa edit #2

Gratis

What Is Gratis in Your Life?

Gratis: given or done for free

Don’t you love when you get something for free?  a blog on gratis 1You feel like you got such a good deal.  You received a benefit, but did not have to pay for it. In Norwegian and a number of other languages, the word gratis is actually used for the word free. You did not pay for it. It was gratis.

Have you thought about all the things that you were given gratis just today?

  1. Your body’s involuntary functions (autonomic nervous system) are working gratis – your brain is firing signals, your heart is beating, your organs are filtering, your digestive system is moving! Oh, those who have dysfunction in these areas will tell you to be so thankful!
  2. Your body’s voluntary functions (somatic nervous system) are working gratis – your fingers and eyes are moving without great effort, and your amazing lungs are breathing involuntarily until you consciously take over their function. The aged and disabled will tell us to be so very thankful!
  3. The air you are breathing in – extremely unusual in the universe – is gratis.
  4. Reading the Bible in your own language is gratis to you, though others paid dearly so that you could. Unreached people groups today weep when they first see God’s words in their own heart language!
  5. You have been offered the gift of forgiveness, reconciliation and salvation by your Creator – gratis.

Gratis, Grateful, Gratitude

It is easy to see how these three words are related. From the Latin root word, “gratia,” meaning grace or kindness, come the ideas of “received freely as a gift” (gratis), and “full of grace received and thankful” (grateful), and “returning good will, expressing pleasure, thankfulness” (gratitude). Grace, gift, free, and thankfulness are all related ideas.

We have been given so much every moment of every day, and that strongly calls for an appropriate response from us just as frequently.

Ingratitude’s Curse

“If I did not praise and bless Christ my Lord, I should deserve to have my tongue torn out by its roots from my mouth. If I did not bless and magnify his name, I should deserve that every stone I tread on in the streets should rise up to curse my ingratitude, for I am a drowned debtor to the mercy of God – over head and ears.  To infinite love and boundless compassion I am a debtor. Are you not the same? Then I charge you by the love of Christ, awake, awake your hearts now to magnify his glorious name.” (C. H. Spurgeon)

The way Spurgeon described ingratitude is striking.  He viewed it quite seriously.  He sternly warned himself that he deserved punishment if he did not express his gratitude to the Lord.

I don’t know that we in the 21st century look at ingratitude with such seriousness.  Maybe we should. Instead, our focus is often on what is missing, what lacks perfect appearance or function, what we do not like in our lives … and we highlight the shortcomings by complaining.

Although humans are programmed as problem-solvers and thus prone to focus on what yet needs fixing, wisdom reminds us to frequently step back and remember that this fallen world will never be perfect, that we have it far better than we should, and that we have received so much from the Creator and others (1 Corinthians 4:7).

Choose Th(i)nkfulness

My passion in writing this blog is to inspire you to choose to think thanks.  Yes, it requires a choice. You must choose what you think about. The ruts in your brain may run you automatically into the depths of ingratitude, or may take you simply to the next thing in your day. BUT you can start right now, with God’s grace, to fill in that negative rut and – can I actually say it? – forge a new rut of gratefulness!  I am not sure I have ever met a person in such a rut!

The harvest that comes from choosing to plant seeds of thankfulness is beautiful indeed. a blog on gratis 3.jpgIn Namaqualand, South Africa, there is a beautiful burst of glorious flowers that come gratis with the first rains that end the dry season. An otherwise parched desert produces this kaleidoscopic carpet. What a great metaphor for a dry heart, full of ingratitude, experiencing the spring rains of God’s grace resulting in a variegated burst of th(i)nkfulness.

a blog on gratis 2

What free gifts of grace have you enjoyed today?

 

Your Platform

Your Platform

If God were to use your life as a platform, what would He be saying to the world?

blog on platform 1

A platform is a raised level surface that allows others to see someone or something better. Most of us live typical lives, moving about in our daily routine like the millions around us. We are the audience. Oh, now and then we post something on social media to highlight our lives; heads turn as we show our pictures and garner comments.

But there are also times when your circumstances lift you up above the crowd, whether you like it or not, and your life becomes a platform to proclaim more intensely God’s faithfulness and power.  Usually it is not of your own choosing.  He chooses for you.  He wants to display His glory through your achievement, your promotion, your trending product, or your job loss, your cancer, your auto accident.

Of course, if your respond in a self-oriented, smugly self-glorifying way to your achievements and successes, that’s not very noteworthy and your platform grinds to a halt at a low level.  If you respond to your suffering with fear, anger, panic or falling apart, that is certainly natural and therefore not very noteworthy, and likewise your platform grinds to a halt just above the crowd.

So, here is a check-up phrase to ask yourself repeatedly throughout your days:

I am created for His glory – how am I doing right now?
(Isaiah 43:7, 2 Corinthians 5:9)

The Battleground of Memories

Let me back up for a second.  Have you ever noticed how fleeting the present is?  Some say it doesn’t even exist.  It changes extremely quickly from future to past. Just like that! When things happen in your life, the actual occurrence is often very fast. But the remembering and processing of that happening can be long, repeated, and detailed, dotted with conjecture about other ways it may have all turned out.  When we counsel trauma victims, healing is often found in helping them change the way they process their memories.

When you choose to pour the oil of gratitude into the gears of your huge achievements or your terrible struggles, your platform doesn’t grind to a halt but keeps rising.  Heads turn as they hear you throw the praise to God and others for your achievements, or highlight the virtues and lessons your are learning through your struggles.

Sunday, I had a conversation with a lady whose mother is going through some medical difficulties connected with aging.  I was pleasantly surprised when my friend proceeded to share how God was blessing them even in the middle of their hardships. She shared specific things that she was thankful for even when you could look at the same circumstances with great frustration.  That was awesome!  She chose to process her challenges with th(i)nkfulness, and therefore she had my undivided attention.

blog on platforms 3A few years ago Dr. John Piper, a leading pastor in the States, was diagnosed with cancer. He published an interesting article on how to handle your cancer.  He encouraged the reader to draw near to God and use this new platform to share with more people about the truths found in Christ.  Joni Eareckson Tada, Ron Hamilton, and Bethany Hamilton would all say the same.

blog on platformThe Power of a Speaker

Have you ever been riveted by a speaker? I have. You forget your circumstances and focus intently on what the speaker is saying.

There may be something that this person has studied or experienced that qualifies them to deserve that kind of attention. Maybe they are an expert on their topic.  Maybe they speak with compelling enthusiasm.  Maybe they are super funny. Something is holding you captive to what they are saying.

Jesus Speaking To and Through

Jesus, through His Spirit, is constantly speaking to you (Romans 8:16, 1 John 2:27). Hebrews 4:15 says that Jesus, our High Priest, was one who went through temptations and difficulties as we do, yet without sin. Because of that, we can listen to His counsel and receive mercy and grace (help) in our need.

blog on platforms 2But Jesus also wants to speak through you.  Lack of gratitude is common; it leaves you at the audience level and gives you no platform from which to speak. Similarly, drawing attention to yourself, your courage, and your virtues in your triumphs and trials also falls flat with most people.

But if you listen to what Jesus has been telling you about your successes and your suffering – that they are all measured and guided by His meticulous Providence, and given to you as a platform so that He can speak to people through you – then you will realize the importance of being th(i)nkful.  When you properly process your circumstances by thanking God, you will rise above the crowd and be given a microphone for His glory (uncomfortable as that might be).

So, take a piece of paper and begin to record things that you can think thanks about in your present situation. Let the Lord adjust your eyes to begin to notice these things more and more. Express your gratitude. Your platform is being developed. Don’t push to share, but willingly obey if the Lord asks this of you. He uses us as humans to testify and witness of His work in our lives.

Give thanks in everything

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Worry

Musa Ukukhathazeka!blog about not worrying

The Zulu words for Don’t Worry! look daunting indeed. 🙂  Actually they are not really that hard.  Just sound it out (but the “h” is silent).

At age 58, my husband and I began learning the Zulu language.  For a while, I struggled with being th(i)nkful about it.  Seriously.  But now it is exhilarating to feel more and more comfortable with Zulu words. I find that some Zulu words come to mind that capture an idea better than English words do. Haha!

Worries of the Rich

Matthew 6:30-33 describes a lesson that we are to learn from the grass of the field with its beautiful wildflowers.

blaaklokkerBut if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.  But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

We are not to be anxious. The God who clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, is going to clothe us. He is going to take care of us. We do not need to worry.  In fact, He says DON’T do it.

Basic food, basic clothing, and basic shelter are pretty easy to come by, but because most of us have much more, we worry more.  We have what we call “rich-people problems.”  Think about it. We worry about the car accident, the air conditioner’s broken condenser, the college bills, the alarm system going on the blink again, the app on my cell phone not working.  We don’t stop to think that we actually have cars, air conditioners, higher education, properties to guard, and cell phones … when most of the world does not.  Perspective.

Norwegian Blåklokker

Screen Shot 2019-05-20 at 1.20.47 PMZooming up from Zululand, where we live now at the bottom of the earth … to Norway at the top of the earth, let me take you on a short trip.  I grew up in a little town called Brumunddal, Norway.  My father built a house that we called ‘Solheim’ on the hillside of Bjørgeberget.

I sometimes would walk in the forests around our home and one day came across these beautiful blåklokker – flowers we call “blue bells.”  20190516_220628They happened to bloom close to my birthday in July.  I was so thrilled to find such beauties in the meadow on my birthday.  I loved them. These wildflowers were so very delicate … frail … exquisite.

Th(i)nkfulness Attacks Worry

My heavenly Father, who created the blåklokker, also created me and you. He has got this!  He is completely in control.  You do not need to worry.  You can substitute the worry with trust and thankfulness.a blog on bluebells 2

Instead of focusing on your item of worry, focus on the character of your Creator God. He has made promises to you that He will make all things come together for your Christlike good if you have trusted in him as your Savior (Romans 8:28).  He is sovereign and completely trustworthy.  He is within you and with you; obviously you can’t escape His notice.  He is using what you are going through to shape you into “Jesus in your skin.”  He has to keep His promises.

Engaging in th(i)nkfulness drives worry away.

What are you th(i)nkful for today? My list is:

  • The sound of the waves of the Indian Ocean
  • We had Zulu class with Ignatia yesterday
  • This past weekend we gathered with believers from Grace-Toti for a family camp
  • Romans 15:13
  • The Lord tenderly cares for me like a father does for his beloved child
  • When things that are difficult happen in my life, I can be assured that He has a purpose and a plan to use it to make me more like Jesus if I respond biblically
  • This life is a vapor
  • My Savior has removed my sin and reconciled me with my Creator God
  • Our precious daughter-in-law’s pregnancy is going so well even though it had a rough beginning
  • I Corinthians 10:13 promises that He will not test me above what I am ablea blog on bluebells

Ikke bekymre deg (Norwegian)

Musa ukukhathazeka (Zulu)

Don’t worry (English)

The Logo of Your Life

The Th(i)nkful Logo

It’s here!!!

My Th(i)nkful logo has been up and running for a few weeks. It is so fun to see it in different styles. My desire was to have it look like an olive tree, representing Psalm 52:8-9a where it says: “But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God; I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever. I will thank you forever.”

The three parts of a tree – roots, trunk, and crown – are perfect to represent the process of being th(i)nkful.

  • I have to have roots in the Word of God and the Person of God in order to trust His character when heat and storms come, and I cannot figure out His ways;
  • Through the trunk, I pull up that trust from the roots and connect it with what is going on up in the crown. That pulling-up process occurs in my thinking and meditation.
  • Then, as a result of the trust developed in the roots, and the renewed thinking pulling up that trust, I am able to give thanks in the crown, having branches, leaves, and fruit that thrive, no matter the heat or storm.

Icons_3

Trust. Think. Thank.

What Organizations Do

When I wanted the logo, the graphic artist asked me probing questions about what my purpose and values were in starting th(i)nkful. I had to really sit down and think about it. Organizations come up with logos and purpose statements to encapsulate their identity, and doing this takes time and thought.

  • A logo is a mark, emblem, image or symbol used to aid and promote public identification and recognition.  When a person sees that design, it is supposed to trigger a connection and help them remember what it represents.
  • A purpose statement is a succinct statement answering the question why an organization exists. It gives direction to employees and customers alike, and normally does not change over time.

Th(i)nkful is not an organization; it’s just a personal ministry – nothing fancy. But the exercise of encapsulating something big into a small space is challenging, and can be rewarding. Here’s a thought! Let’s apply these two tools to you, to your life.

You As A Logo

If you were represented in a logo, what it would look like? Stop laughing. Be serious. What’s a little image that would identify you as a person? Would you use hands, or a plant, or wood, or rock, or a river, or a feather, or the sun in your life-logo? Maybe fog? What colors would you use? Would your logo be complex or simple?

Maybe take a few minutes and sketch something.

Your Life Purpose Statement

In the Biblical Womanhood course that I taught at a Christian university, I required each learner to come up with an LPS – a Life Purpose Statement.  It needed to be short enough to remember but also encapsulate what their life was all about.

Why do you exist? Why did a sovereign and meticulously planning God who is infinite Mind place you on earth in your time and place?

Icons_d.jpg

For Jesus-followers, there are two basic purposes that should flavor everything we do – to love God and love others (Luke 10:27), and to glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:31) – but don’t just copy-paste those phrases into your purpose statement, since they apply to every Christian.

What is your unique purpose? Can you word-smith your statement to blend in ways in which you are individually wired or gifted to glorify God in your life? Take time with this. Try a first draft and come back to it in a day or two.  The journey is more important than the destination.

  • My LPS is : “To maintain an intimate walk with the Lord that will enable me to develop relationships with believers and unbelievers to create thirst for righteousness.”
  • My husband’s LPS is: “To walk, work, and worship in such a way as to bring about life-change towards Christlikeness in the life of every person and organization I come in contact with.”

To craft my LPS was an exercise that has left a profound impact on me. When I go to bed at night, I can do a quick check on my day to evaluate if I am accomplishing my purpose. Every day, I should be able to relate everything back to that purpose.

I challenge you to prayerfully come up with your own LPS and a logo that represents your LPS. Maybe post your LPS in the comments below.

A good way to come to the end of your life without regrets is to live on purpose.

 

 

 

Paul Giving Thanks

Our Brother Paul

Welcome to a gathering of the Church in Aquila and Prisca’s home.a blogpost on Paul's thankfulness to believers

We are excited to hear from our brother Paul as he is here and going to share about his recent journeys.  We are tantalized by the odors coming from the baking
a post on brother Paulkhubz (Jewish pita bread) that we will enjoy after the teaching and sharing time. 

I look around the group of believers gathered in my imagination, and am filled with gratitude to God for their courage and love for the Messiah.  Many of them have suffered greatly for their faith.  Many know of some that have given in and burnt the worship incense to the Roman gods. Some from this group have been martyred, finishing their earthly journey.

As we listen to our brother share, it is interesting to notice that Paul uses the words for gratitude ~thanks, thank, thanksgiving, thanksgivings, thankful, thanked~ 49 times in his letters. He valued gratitude.

Take the Resurrection Chapter of I Corinthians 15 where Paul shows that without the Lord Jesus rising from the dead, we are of all men most miserable. Here, Paul gives thanks to God who gives us the victory over death through our Lord Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 15:57). Or how about Romans 7:25 where Paul has been describing the struggle over who will deliver us from this body of death and cries out the solution: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Expressing Thanks

Paul was thankful for people, and told them so.  He was careful to express his thanks to God for these individuals and clusters of believers in the letters he wrote:

  • Romans 1:8 – First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world.
  • I Corinthians 1:4 – I always thank my God for you because of the grace He has given you in Christ Jesus.
  • Ephesians 1:16 – I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers
  • Philippians 1:3 – I thank my God every time I remember you.
  • Colossians 1:3 – We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you,
  • 1 Thessalonians 1:2 – We always thank God for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers
  • Thessalonians 1:3 – We are obligated to thank God for you all the time, brothers, as is fitting, because your faith is growing more and more, and your love for one another is increasing.
  • Philemon 1:4 – I always thank my God, making mention of you in my prayers

He showed by example how we are to not only think the thanks, but also express the thanks – first to God and then to other people.

Am I Th(i)nkful Like Paul?

a post about brother Paul 1.jpg

Not so sure how I am doing on this issue.  I need to be more intentional.  I want to think and express my thanks to God first, and then to others for their faithful walk in the Lord.  What an encouragement it is to remember the godly examples of others who have gone before us or even others walking life right beside us here and now.  Paul’s example is a guide.

Paul’s Prayer for the Colossians

a post about brother paul 3.jpg

Way back in 2010 our family got together in a cabin in PA. Our youngest daughter had not even started university yet.  We were meeting ‘significant others’ and the grand-babies were starting to arrive.

The Sunday morning that we were there, we studied together one of Paul’s prayers.  A few months earlier David had gotten all the guys to volunteer to give a talk about a portion of Colossians 1:9-14. They each taught us a piece of this important prayer that Paul offered up for the believers at Colossae. That is a very precious memory to me.

Here is Colossians 1:9-14:

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;11 being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Paul is challenging the readers by sharing his prayer for them. He is praying for their maturity and growth in the Lord, and for fruitfulness and long-suffering. He ends by praying for them to give thanks to the Father who has delivered them and qualified them for an amazing inheritance.

Thanks, Brother Paul

So as we leave Aquila’s home in our imagination and head out into the world, whether it be Africa, Asia, Europe, America, Australia, or New Zealand … or wherever you go, let’s follow Paul’s admonition.  Let’s think thanks and give thanks to our Father first, and then be a bit more intentional in expressing our thanks to others for who they are and what they’ve done. a blogpost on Paul's thankfulness to believers

Who comes to mind that you give thanks to God for in your life? What about them are you thankful for?

Have you shared that with them lately?

Change

Change

Have you observed when night changes to day?change 4

Darkness fills everywhere and then ever-so-slowly there begins a hint of difference. A little light begins to seep in driving back the much larger but helpless wings of darkness. Inexorable exchange.  Shapes become visible but are colorless. When night actually ends is hard to pinpoint, but sure and steady, comes the dawn.

If you were to define ‘change,’ what would you say?  The exchange of one thing for another?  To make or become different?  Change is a massive field of study in leadership, business, education, technology, counseling, and the list goes on.  That is simply because due to the constant motion in our minds, bodies, lives, societies, and the cosmos, nothing is ever the same.

Attitudes Toward Change

Youth tend to love change; that’s why they often start revolutions, movements, and new paradigms. Older folks tend to fear and avoid change because it requires so much energy to remember the changes, adjust to new people, and learn new patterns.

The old timers know much better what the old creature called “time” does – when an event or conversation passes from the present into the past, time freezes it so that it can’t change. This causes many people to regret the past, and just as many to have anxiety about the future.

Change blog

But, is it really true that time freezes the past? Or is thankfulness a tool that transcends time to change memories, change the present, and even influence my future?

Gratitude Changes the Present

Myriad things in this life promise to change things for the better – that’s what advertisements are all about.  But those products can only change possessions and circumstances that surround you; they are expensive and they grow old.

Gratitude doesn’t take money, family connections, or a fancy education to use it.  It is put into play one little choice at a time, and it can change your past, your present, and your future.

“No amount of regret changes the past.

No amount of anxiety changes the future.

Any amount of gratitude changes the present.”

http://www.becomingminimalist.com

There is so much hope in the thought that gratitude changes things.  It changes the way we view our present circumstances.  We can jump the track of anxiety and just start down the track of gratitude.  We can give thanks right now for what we have right now.

Gratitude Changes the Past

Our Creator, Who knows us better that we know ourselves, has shown us how we are to handle regrets of the past.  “Every saint has a past; every sinner has a future.”  If we need to ask forgiveness, He can help us through that process.  The 7 A’s of Confession is a fantastic resource to work through things.

Be thankful that your past is exactly that – your past. Be thankful that you feel regret instead of glorying in your past darkness.  Be thankful for grace that pulled you out of the miry clay.  You have changed with God’s help, and you can be thankful that He who began that work in you will not stop (Phil. 1:6).  You may be wounded and damaged … and therefore fully usable because our God specializes in broken things.  There is nothing too hard for the Lord, including helping you put your past in its proper place.

Gratitude Changes The Future

If you are consumed with anxiety about your future, come to Him who engineered it and holds it and says it’s a perfect part of a much bigger story.  Philippians 4:6-7 shows how we can pour out our anxieties before Him and immerse them with thanksgiving, leaving Him to work as He wills, and He promises this supernatural peace to come and guard us emotionally and intellectually.

Gratitude doesn’t just change the present, it changes the way we view the past and the future. Engage change! change 1 Download grace and strength from the Lord to think thanks about every circumstance in your life and express that thankfulness orally or in a written form.

David taught our family a chorus that he had learned when growing up called: “From glory to glory He’s changing me.” It takes 2 Corinthians 3:18 and puts it to music. As I engage gratitude, God changes me.  He changes my view of the present, He changes the way I process my past, He changes the way I look to the future.  He changes ME to be more like His precious Son, the Lord Jesus.

Let gratitude change you!

 

I Will Be God

 Perfection and Pride

The Story of Hope is a 40-lesson walk through the Bible that has beautiful new illustrations. My coworker and I are moving through this study with three Zulu women.  It is going great. 🙂 Today we did the lesson on the Fall of Lucifer. Fall of Lucifer Lucifer is given an incredible description in Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14.  He was created by God, perfect in beauty and wisdom, had a covering of precious stones and worshipped God in God’s holy presence.  He was originally blameless in his ways and even had access to Eden, the Garden of God on the earth.

But Lucifer became inflated with pride and started down the road of self-exaltation.  He ended up not just wanting to be like God, but he wanted to be the Most High.

Th(i)nkful and Humility

In reflecting on the fall of Lucifer, I was hit with how often I personally try to be God.  I want to control things in my life.  Instead of humbly bowing before God, and deferring to His choices and wisdom in all my circumstances, I start to evaluate what I think is best, and what should have been done, and what would have been done if I was in control. I go on a little self-worshipping Lucifer-rant.

Being th(i)nkful is really about letting God be God and in humility accepting that fact.  It is saying, “God, because you say it’s perfect, it is perfect, and I will thank you for it.”  Hope, grace, and joy begin to surround my thinking as I download help from the Lord to think thanks in every circumstance in my life and express that thanks.

That choice is hard.  Let’s be honest!  For most of us, it is difficult to not control things.  Our hands must go up in surrender and open in praise.  We have to trust that God knows what He is doing.  Of course, how can you trust someone if you don’t know them well?  And this is a big key to life: know, love, trust.  We can only build trust by getting to know that person, and then coming to love them.

Fall of Lucifer 1

Results of “Being” God

In our study this morning we read about the consequences of Lucifer exalting himself to being God.  After some serious self-evaluation, he concluded that he should assume the position of the Creator instead of being second best, merely a created spirit.  He caused the beginning of evil.

In philosophy, my husband tells me, there is no such thing as evil. Like darkness, cold, and falsity, evil is a term describing the lack of something that does exist, and all four of those things find their source in God’s character. God is Light. He is Fire. He is Truth. He is Goodness. In the beginning, God created choice. Lucifer had two options: the Creator or something other than the Creator.  He chose something other than the Creator; he chose himself, and gave birth to the un-Good of evil, becoming known throughout all ages as Satan – “the adversary.”

If anyone had cause for over-the-top thankfulness, it was Lucifer, the anointed, powerful, and musical cherub who stood next to God’s Throne.  But pride inflates our thoughts and ideas to become “the optimal standard of what is true and right.”  He focused on what he thought was wrong and lacking.  Satan did it.  We do it.

Only God is God; We are Not

Psalm 52:8-9a gives a beautiful contrast to Lucifer’s debacle.  “But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God.  I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever.  I will thank you forever.”

Instead of trying to critique God, and instruct God, and be the God of your own circumstances … why not trust in the steadfast love of God forever and thank Him? Exercise your trust in God and revel in His steadfast love.  His Word will stand the test of time and His promises will never fail.  He is completely trustworthy.  As we lean in trust on Him who holds all things together, we can yield control and express our thanks to Him who is the true God, the right God, the only one fit to be God, our great Jehovah.

God is God. God is good. God is good at being God.

Logoth(i)nkful (adj) describing people who choose to download grace/strength from the Lord to think thanks about every circumstance in their life and to express that thanks orally or in written form.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

So, Where Did That Song Come from?

There is hardly a person that has not heard the hit song from the 80’s, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” One feels inspired to sing along with a smirk, embracing and promoting a stress-free approach to life.  Bobby McFerrin wrote the a cappella ditty back in 1988 after he kept noticing inspirational cards and posters with the slogan. So, where did the slogan come from?

The “Don’t Worry Be Happy” slogan was coined by Meher Baba (1894-1969), an Indian mystic who believed that he was God in human form – the Avatar.  He was silent – as in, he didn’t speak at all! – from 1925 till his death 44 years later, using other means of communication instead. Seems a paradox that the man who coined the slogan would have such a self-exalted view of himself and bring such confusion to his followers about the origin of true joy.

In an interview by Bruce Fessier for USA Weekend magazine in 1988, McFerrin said, “Whenever you see a poster of Meher Baba, it usually says ‘Don’t worry, be happy,’ which is a pretty neat philosophy in four words, I think.”

Smiley

smileyemojiClosely connected to the ‘Don’t Worry Be Happy’ philosophy is the famous Smiley sticker, the inspiration for many of today’s emojis.  Harvey Ball (not Forrest Gump) in 1963 is recognized as the original creator of the famous icon.

a blog on no worries 2I remember growing up in the 1970’s (that’s me with the camera) and buying smiley stickers with my allowance in the Brumunddal Bokhandle. This was a bookstore in the little Norwegian town of Brumunddal where I spent my childhood.  So exciting to spread joy and happiness all over my school books or backpack, really anywhere it would stick! 🙂

Don’t Worry, Rejoice Evermore

There is an interesting connection between “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” and Philippians 4.  Profound actually!  It is a biblical command to not be worried and to rejoice in the Lord.

“Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-7 (NLT)

Unlike trusting in the words of a Hindu mystic, or just bursting out in a self-help mantra, we can engage in anxiety-free joy because God is in control, and He says that if we take the trials He sends us right back to Him on our knees, He will give us help to cope with the difficulty.

Thankful Even Though …

The letter to the Philippians, written from jail, is about joy (odd, eh?) – joy in God, joy in His people, joy because of what He has done for us, and persistent joy even though times are tough. When times are tough, what does this passage say for us to do?a blog about no worries 4

  • Rejoice in the Lord, because other things and people disappoint us; because He lives; because He is the blessed controller of all my circumstances; because He is working out an amazing plan even though I can’t see it; because He will take me home; because He is coming back to fix this mess down here on earth; because He will make all things new.
  • Let people see you being considerate, because we typically close off and become self-focused when we are hurting; because people will be amazed at the power that causes a suffering person to serve others cheerfully; because when Jesus returns, we should be “caught” serving.
  • Don’t worry about anything, because it wastes energy, time, and sleep, and causes me to eat too much; because it poisons my soul and still doesn’t change the circumstances, because it indicts God for messing things up; because it pushes me to “help God” and to be the savior in the situation.
  • Pray and ask for specific supplies, because He often sends trials just so that we’ll talk to Him and get used to it; because He alone can do miracles, change hearts, heal bodies, heal relationships, bring job offers and business deals, give us great ideas, reveal the real problem, and do it at the perfect time; because at times He holds back until we call out to Him.
  • Make sure you are th(i)nkful, because He designed your trial for you at this time; because He will never leave you nor forsake you; because His Word (especially the Psalms) comes alive during hard times; because He is using the hammer, the rasp, and the furnace to make you into an original masterpiece, the first time in human history Jesus has been manifested in your form, and in your time and place.

One of the keys of not worrying and being happy is being th(i)nkful.  As we give thanks, even for our challenges, we obey the exhortation of Philippians 4:6.  He promises to fill us with His peace that is supernatural and is the guardian of our emotions and minds.

Our confidence and trust in the One who has everything in control is what enables us to be able to say “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”

What about using the bridge of this popular song and the Smiley sticker to transition your conversation today to spiritual things with a nonbeliever with whom you interact?

 

 

 

 

Window to Gratitude

A post on perceptions

My View

Looking out the window of our flat here in South Africa I can see the Indian Ocean. This mighty huge body of water is third in the world after the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans.  What a glorious sight on most days, always different and always the same in its shades of azure blue, sapphire green, and stormy gray.

I could focus on that the sea-mist coats our car and windows and corrodes anything metal in our apartment, that we have to be on guard for monkeys that would raid looking for food, but I choose to think on the joys.

I can hear the distant waves incessantly crashing upon the shore, and I treasure the sight of it when we have been working hard in different places and return home.  It is like a balm to see the water again. Always different and always the same.

My Worldview

My worldview is my set of core beliefs that clarify and color everything else. If I don’t really believe there is a God, that will shape my moral reasoning, my politics, my view of authority, my ideals in economics, my value of human life and the environment, the use of technology, and so on.

But even if I am a believer in God and a follower of Jesus Christ, I can harbor some deep error inside my soul where, despite what I and others say I formally believe, I really believe 1) that God is far away, 2) that He doesn’t listen and doesn’t care, 3) that He is busy with more valuable people, and 4) that He is committed to punish me ten-fold for my past.

Choice of Perspective

a post on perspectiveA right perspective of my circumstances begins with a right perspective of how close, loving, and committed my God is to me.  If I go through a hardship and I look up and see God focused on me with two thumbs up and a smile, I may wonder what He is up to … but there is no doubt that I have His full attention and that He has some purposeful design in my circumstances.

If my perspective about God’s presence, love and commitment to me is wrong, it is like rubbing limburger cheese under my nose – the whole world smells awful!  I may say “I’m just being a realist.  I’m just saying the way things are.”  But I am only looking at reality on one level – the physical, earthly level.  My perspective is “under the circumstances,” highlighting a low-level reality that totally misses heaven’s perspective.

“Some people could be given an entire field of roses and only see the thorns in it.  Others could be given a single weeda post on perception 2 and only see the wildflower in it.  Perception is a key component to gratitude.  And gratitude is a key component to joy.”

Amy Weatherly

Self-Programming

Ever hear two people describe the same event in very different ways?  People focus on different things, and see the same things differently.  Negative people see all the faults. Positive people see the bad but search for and focus on the good and profitable things. Many notice a mixture of both. The way you perceive the view out the window of your life is more of a choice than you think.

You can program your brain what to look for.  When a “search for good” pattern has been forged, it begins to happen automatically.  Isn’t it interesting that you can meet a person who has gone through extraordinary difficulties and is still cheerful and radiating hope?  If in your occupation your job is to find errors, it may be hard for you to disengage that pattern and instead find joys. Keep trying!

What Do You See?

a blogpost on perception 1

So….did you see the duck or the rabbit first?  Our brains are amazing.  We can look at the exact same picture and see two different things!!!  The same is true for you and me when viewing our circumstances. We can live “under the circumstances” or we can use the wings of God’s promises to soar up above the storm for a few moments to get heaven’s perspective.  Sifting through the pain, trauma, and pressure, we can find so many things to think thanks about.

Th(i)nkful Challenge

So here comes a challenge to you.  What is a hard thing in your life right now?  Could you think of three things that you could think thanks about concerning that hard thing? I would love to hear from you if you are so inclined.

a blogpost on perception 3

Think thanks about the view out your window today.