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

 

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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Revealer of our Heart

Season of Opening Boxes

opening box 2

Not sure how things are at your house, but I know for many, these weeks are so busy with boxes.  There are small boxes, and large boxes, fat boxes, and thin boxes.  Secrets and presents are busily being purchased, baked, built or developed to be revealed at the perfect time.

opening box 1The outside appearance of a box can hide a multitude of things.  It is often quite difficult to imagine what is inside.  The actual item may be a lot smaller than the box, but the box is filled with tissue paper as a playful deception. That’s part of the giddiness of Christmas giving – concealing the contents, avoiding the predictable. At the appropriate time, however, the lid comes off and what is inside becomes visible.

Pulling the Lid Off My Heart

The same is true with the human heart – you don’t know what’s inside until the lid comes off. Some of us put more stock, investment, and armor in our façade than others. But with the right amount of pressure or intoxication, the box opens up and … wow!

Surely the righteous shall give thanks to your name; the upright shall dwell in your presence.”  Psalm 140:13

opening box 4The Psalmist makes a revealing statement about the righteous person in Ps. 140:13.  Someone who loves God and is cleansed by the Lamb, will surely give thanks. They will have a bent towards wanting to be th(i)nkful.  It will fit for them and not feel out of place.

I Thessalonians 5:18 says that even when the box is suddenly ripped open, one of the first things people should see inside is the giving of thanks.  Yes, there may be hurt, pain, sorrow, expectations in ashes, and a thousand tears, but they will be intertwined with this unbelievable ribbon of thanks. That is God’s will.  It may not be easy all the time.  It is hard work to develop the mindset of thinking thanks about every situation, but it is profitable and fitting because God has designed it that way.

So How Is Your Box?

Opening the box of a righteous person’s heart should expose gratitude and a desire to express thanks.  I don’t know about you, but this was convicting for me.  My heart should be full of giving thanks.

When my thoughts are conflicted with frustrations and disappointments, I should take a reality check.  What is really important here?  Am I getting all bent out of shape because of a trivial thing?  May the peace of God rule in my heart and filter my thoughts so that I can quickly give thanks for His name, His character, and the plan He is working out.

Merry Christmas!

May you and yours have a lovely season of concealing and revealing boxes. However, let it be a reminder of your own heart box and what is in it.  Let the Lord pour His grace and strength into you so that you, in turn, can choose to think thanks about every circumstance in your life and express that thanks, first to God, and then to others.

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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.

Cutting a fir tree 4

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 Exercises

Happy Thanksgiving from the US!

Although for me the idea of cultivating thinking thanks is not just limited to a “Thanksgiving” holiday, I am still so grateful that there is a focus on gratitude this week!  In order to celebrate that, I have compiled some cool examples of how to implement being th(i)nkful.

Examples of Being Th(i)nkful

th(i)nkful exercisesTHE DAILY EXCHANGE. Every day Elisa and Nicole text back and forth things they are #thinkful for.  They have developed a pattern to spur each other on to look for things that they are thinking thanks about that day.  Both of these ladies live in a climate where a long winter is approaching and it becomes harder to feel thankful and more necessary to think thanks.  I welled up with tears to read that they were doing this. How cool! Having an accountability partner to keep you on track helps incredibly.

THE ICEBREAKER. Last Tuesday evening I was speaking to a ladies’ group about being th(i)nkful and at the end of our time together, the leader suggested that we play an icebreaker game.

Everyone got a 3×5 piece of paper and we wrote down one thing that we were thankful for.  It could be anything: a breeze in the air, beauty of nature, clean white sheets, laughter. We then folded the papers in half and placed them in a basket. When all the papers were completed, Allyson, the leader, opened and read each paper.  She did this two times.  The game consisted of trying to figure out who wrote each one of the papers. The first person made a guess. If she was wrong, the next person got to guess, moving clockwise around the room. When a person guessed correctly, the person, whose thankful item had been discovered, moved to sit by the one who guessed correctly. They now formed a team and were given a bonus turn. The game continued in this manner until all the peoples’ thankful items were revealed. If a person guessed someone’s item correctly, and that person was part of a team, the whole team moved by the one who guessed correctly.

 

IMG_3576TH(I)NKFUL JOURNAL. My friend Marni sent me this picture. She had been given a small journal.  It was to inspire one to write down one thing every day that your were th(i)nkful for. Our brains develop neural pathways by doing something over and over again.  At first it feels like you are carving a difficult path through the woods, but as you do it over and over, it starts to happen automatically.

 

TH(I)NKFUL JAR. Another idea is to have a big jar with little papers and pens nearby. As you or your family go through the week, each person writes down something or someone that they are th(i)nkful for. At a time where all are present, somebody opens the jar and reads all the papers. On a bigger scale this could even be a year long project.

 

AT THANKSGIVING. If you are having a Thanksgiving dinner this week, maybe around the table each person could give one thing they are thinking thanks about this year.

 

TH(I)NKFUL VOLLEY. “th(i)nkful volley” is passing an imaginary “ball” back and forth where the person receiving the ball gives one thing they are thinking thanks about. David and I often will engage in th(i)nkful volley while driving on a trip. It has helped us get a better perspective on how we should view life!th(i)nkful volley 1

 

TH(I)NKFUL EDIFICATION. Warning! Powerful!  The “th(i)nkful list.” In a group of people, give each person several strips of paper correlating with the number of other people in the group. Write one person’s name on each of the papers.  Then write down one thing you are thankful for about that person. Collect the papers and then have a narrator group each person’s strips of papers.  Then, have the narrator read all the things people were thankful for about each person.  This has the potential to be life-changingly powerful. 🙂

 

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.

Mary 1

“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

 

 

 

 

 

What’s Your Grid?

worldviewglasses.jpgThe overall perspective from which you see and interpret the world is called your worldview. Whether you realize it or not, everything you observe filters through your worldview grid for interpretation. Your beliefs about God, the universe, mankind’s history, science, theology, and moral values will shape and color your impressions of people, possessions, and events.

For a believer in Christ, God’s Word should be the foundation for how we interpret life. In fact, most of the adult life of a committed Jesus-follower is spent trying to overwrite wrong ideas about God, myself, others and creation with correct ideas from God’s Word. But such commitment is exceptional.  Barna reported this year that only 17% of professing Christians in America have a biblical worldview.

Looking glass 3My View of the Beginning and the End

Hebrews 11:3 says that through faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. If there is no God, all things are permissible. But if there is a Creator, we belong to Him. If He created us as moral beings, we are answerable to Him. If He created us as relational beings, He desires a relationship with us.

If a believer is convinced of the mystery in Col.1:27 – Christ in you, the hope of glory – convinced that the Spirit of the Creator-God and of His Redeemer-Son is inside him or her, and is the down-payment on a perfect and deathless existence with Him, his or her grid is going to look immensely different from a person that is not at all viewing life with that value.  Speaking with someone from a very different worldview is almost like going to a foreign country and using your own currency.

What is your worldview? Do you really believe that God made the heavens and the earth and that one day there will be a reckoning of all we do here on earth?  Do I really need to be reconciled to my Creator God?  Does the way I live my life really matter? Am I living as though the here and now is all that matters?

A Word-Saturated Worldview

Grid 4Hebrews 4:12 describes the Word of God as living, powerful, and sharp.  It has the ability to discern thoughts and intents of the heart. Do I even know my own heart’s thoughts and intents?  No. Jeremiah said we struggle with clouded and distorted self-perceptions (Jer. 17:9). We need a light, an objective perspective!  Psalm 119:105 volunteers God’s Word as a lamp for our feet and a light for our path.

This morning I received an email from a former student of mine that I taught in 8th grade back in the 80’s. He remembered that in my class we had memorized James chapter 1 together. He went on to say that years later when he “turned control of his life over to Christ” (his words), he began to actively memorize not just verses, but passages, psalms, and whole chapters.  He wrote me today because he had just memorized his tenth book of the New Testament!  I was flabbergasted!  Yes, I did just use that word. 🙂  I am seeking to memorize Ephesians, but it is taking me a long time. I was inspired to work harder at filling my thoughts with the living word.

So what does this have to do with being th(i)nkful?  Quite simply, because God has commands throughout the whole of scripture to be thankful.  That thankfulness is not to be merely sporadic, but pursued obsessively (Eph. 5:4, 20; I Thess. 5:18). When we pursue thinking thanks in every situation that we are in, we filter what we are experiencing through the grid that God is worthy of our worship in this specific situation.  He has created us and given us the air to breathe. He has provided for the complete removal of our sins. He has reconciled the rebels to Himself, not just for a quick hug, but adopting us into His forever family. He has made a home within our earthly bodies making them temples. He has marked us for reward and inheritance and glory. To fix my thinking is to fix my thanking.

Grid 5

  • Thank You, God, for this day that I get to live.
  • Thank You for fruit that you give along the way.
  • Thank You that we have a grid in Your Word of how to interpret our world, our circumstances, and life.
  • Thank You for grace that You pour out as we cry out to You.

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.