Giving Thanks through Barbed Wire

Giving Thanks through Barbed Wire

I love this photo taken recently by a friend in Scotland.  30411957_2490386290987266_4279298344771125248_nThe rainbow of God’s promise is clearly seen through the barbed wire.  The wire was put there for a reason you can be sure, and most probably served its purpose.

Life is full of ‘barbed wire’ that looks ugly and threatening, but has a useful purpose.  The concept that I take away from this picture is that I can see such beauty through the barbed wire. When we are able to focus on the promises of God, exemplified by the rainbow, and be thankful through the difficulties we are facing, there is hope. How do we “focus on the promises of God and be thankful?”

Pastoral Advice on the How-To of Thankfulness.

Dick Hester is our “pastor to missionaries” at Biblical Ministries Worldwide.Hester's  He and his dear wife, Carol, have many years of pastoral experience and have chosen to minister in the twilight of their years to missionaries all over the world.  They get on flights and fly to the uttermost parts to serve and encourage.

One of the things that Dick does is send out prayer prompters to edify and inspire us to think and live godly lives.  I was reading one that he sent out on the topic of thanksgiving and found his comments quite profound:

“Saying “Thank You” to God is an area that’s hard to measure. If I’d ask you how thankful you are in your day to day life you’d probably say “OK”. There are a lot of sins in the Bible which you know are sins: Adultery. It’s pretty black and white. Stealing. You don’t walk out of a store with something you didn’t pay for and say, “I  think I might have stolen something.” You know you did it. But this whole area of giving thanks or not giving thanks to God, or being a thankful person or not, is a hard one to measure and we may not know exactly where we are. But it is very, very important and needs to be a fundamental part of our life.

Colossians 2:6,7 tells us that,  “…as we have received Christ Jesus as Lord, we are to walk in Him…” As born again believers, we are to live like a Christian, according to the Word of God. We are  “…rooted and built up in Him, established in the faith as we have been taught; abounding—overflowing— with thanksgiving.” We are to keep growing when we become His child and here’s how: do things we ought to do (obey) and thank God, profusely.

Overflowing with gratitude is foundational to our Christian life. Study the Word of God and you will find that you communicate that you love God by simply saying, “Thank You, Lord”. The more we say that to Him, the more we’re saying, “I love You” and the more we bring glory to Him. We’re to love God with all of our heart, might, mind, and strength, and one of the major ways we do that is to say, “Thank You, Thank You!” for what He’s done for you. Our goal ought to be to have an attitude of gratitude all the time about everything.

Ephesians 5:20:  “Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father…” What is God’s will for us?”  “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (I Thessalonians 5:18) God tremendously blesses the ones who develop this basic discipline. One of my greatest joys in life is giving things to my kids. Do you know when I don’t like it? When they take it for granted; when they just assume. Nothing makes me warmer inside for people to say, “Thank you; I love you”, and the more grateful they are, the more I want to give.

Think about it: God created us, blessed us with spiritual blessings, sent His Son to die for us to pay the penalty for our sin. We do not have to do anything—no strings attached. We simply receive Him, believe Him, and God says, “I’ll adopt you into My family, bless you with every spiritual blessing, give you the gift of the Holy Spirit, and you get to go to heaven forever.” We don’t have to do anything if we don’t want to, because it’s a free gift. When we thank God and thank Him for everything, we bring glory to Him and He loves it. He blesses even more, those who thank Him.

Gratefulness is a character quality. I think the ultimate thanks will be for the gift of heaven. We should thank Him for that every day. If I died today I’m going to heaven. My prayer as a kid was, “Now I lay me down to sleep; I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray my Lord, my soul to take. Amen!” Every day say, “Thank You, Lord, for giving me the gift of eternal life. Thank you that I am saved, and I’m going to heaven and live with You forever.”

We thank God for our food before our meals. Have you ever turned the key to start your car and thanked the Lord for your car? Not everybody has a car! Do you thank God for your house when you walk in? For your clothes, shoes, job, ministry? I know I am blessed more than 90% of the world. We take so much for granted. God says we should thank Him always, continuously, for everything. Make that your goal, for all things in your life.   First We Pray!  Give thanks!”

God delights to bless His children. I wonder how much we hold back further blessing by simply failing to say “thank you so much.” I wonder how much longer we stay tangled in the barbed wire because we haven’t pushed through and thanked Him for it. Expressing thanks benefits how we process all of life, and is done in obedience to His commands, but it is also a trigger for His sustaining grace, delivering power, and further blessing.

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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.

 

Leaving a Legacy

What Will You Leave Behind?

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

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

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

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

A Legacy That Multiplies

Leaving a legacy

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

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

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

Psalm 78:4

 

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 for Mary’s Worship

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

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

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

Mary Gave Extravagantly

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

Mary Grabbed an Opportunity

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

Mary Was Given Honor

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

So How Does That Affect Me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial.  And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”  Mark 14:8-9

 

 

 

 

 

More Joy

The Difference Between Joy and Happiness

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

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

Rachel Fearnley, secular UK psychologist

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

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

th(i)nkful Behavior Brings Joy

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

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

 

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Finding My Inward from the Upward

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

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

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

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

 

Sputter and Bubble

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

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

 

Encourage ~ To Pour Courage Into

 

Encourage ~ Pour Courage Into

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

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

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

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

Grace Turned On

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

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

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

Being Spirit-Filled Is A Choice

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

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

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

Dan Has Poured Courage Into My Life

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

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

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

Th(i)nkful Laundry List

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

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

Here is a sampling of mine:

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

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

Lyrics from Sound of Music

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

above picture taken in Hobbiton, Matamata, New Zealand

Th(i)nkful for Jeff Buckman

Our Deepest Drive

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

“My” Money – From God and Back to Him

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

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

Ingenuity

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

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

Jeff

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

Th(i)nkful Lessons

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

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

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

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

IMG_3804_100_1Eternity Glasses

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

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

th(i)nkful ~ thinking thanks