Thankful for the Assurance of Heaven

In honor of Thanksgiving, I considered writing a post about all the things for which I’m thankful. Then I considered writing a post about all the things for which others should be thankful.

But I decided to get ultra-personal.

Those who know me personally know my husband graduated to heaven this past summer. What you may not know is that his last 2 years of life were spent radically different from the decades that preceded them…both physically and spiritually.

This is a bittersweet holiday for me. My first without Russ. Yet I’m incredibly thankful to know he is now with his Savior.

How can I have such assurance? The Bible tells us of heaven. Still, it’s one thing to read about heaven, but it’s another to know it’s true in the face of a terminal illness.

Here’s a link to the testimony Russ shared last May – a testimony shared with the knowledge that his death was a month or two away.

Listen for yourself and then you decide whether my assurance is justified.

Russell Pennington Testimony

 

After you hear it, you’ll know what I know…heaven is real and as the Bible promises, we can, indeed, have the assurance of that destination if we know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

And there’s nothing better to be thankful for than that.


How Current is Your Thankfulness?

current thankfulness

Thankfulness is good for the soul. And it’s especially fashionable to be thankful during the month of November.

But how far back do you have to go to find something to thank God for?

Do you find yourself casting back on old memories? Searching experiences from your childhood? From years ago? Or months or even weeks ago?

I love the practice some families have of filling a thanksgiving jar throughout the year. Family members add slips to the jar and then take turns reading the slips on Thanksgiving Day. It’s a wonderful way to rehearse God’s faithfulness and nurture thankfulness in both children and adults.

Although family members read slips written up to a year earlier, each recollection was current when it was written.

But what if we go days, weeks, or even months without recognizing something to be thankful for? What does this say about us?

It proclaims that we can’t see beyond our immediate physical circumstances. Negative events limit and shape our perspective. For example, a flat tire can be a disaster…or it can be the impetus for thankfulness I wasn’t injured, I had a spare tire in the trunk, or even thankfulness I have a car at all!

Additionally, in the absence of a current spirit of gratitude, I will become a bitter, resentful person who cultivates an overarching sense of entitlement. I’ll focus on my rights, my benefits, my priorities. I’ll fall into the trap of thinking anything good that happens to me is dependent solely on my own efforts. And if my rights, benefits, and priorities are shortchanged in any way, I’ll make sure the world hears about it.

Finally, the absence of a current spirit of thankfulness proclaims I am unaware of God’s active presence in my life moment by moment and day by day. Nurturing an awareness of God’s presence helps me be alert to the ways He is working in each day, providing me multiple reasons to be grateful.

If I have to think back weeks or months for something to thank God for, then something is terribly wrong. I want to be diligent to practice His presence now for a heightened awareness of His hand at work every day!

As the pages of our calendars and planners turn, the thankful themes of November will give way to the excitement and animation of December Christmas celebrations. Will you and I purpose to bring a current spirit of thanksgiving with us into the new month, the new year, and each new day of our life?

Do you have to cast back on old memories for reminders of how God has worked in your life?

How will you develop a current spirit of thanksgiving that will last far beyond the month of November?


Punctuality and the Tyranny of the Clock

punctuality and clocks

I have a love-hate relationship with clocks.

When I was a child, my parents always set our clocks five minutes fast, supposedly to help prevent us from being late to appointments.

It never worked. We were always late…to everything.

Despite the ineffectiveness of the practice, I carried it over into my marriage. For forty years, all our clocks were five minutes faster than the actual time.

It didn’t work for us, either. We were usually late to most appointments, much to my husband’s chagrin…which should tell you whose fault it was. Punctuality was my nemesis.

Daylight Savings Time (DST) ended this past Sunday. A day on which we were all required to turn our clocks back one hour.

punctuality and clockSince I’ve begun a new season of life and I was changing all my clocks anyway, I decided it was time for a fresh start. So I set all my timepieces to the accurate time…and in the process, broke a sixty-year-old habit.

Then I posted about it on social media.

The response floored me. It seems I’m not the only one to set clocks faster to help me be on time.

And I’m not the only one for whom the practice has failed.

So what’s causing all these punctuality failures?

Is it because we’ve been conditioned to fill—or overfill—every minute with activity? For many of us, down time is a rare and foreign experience. We feel guilty if we’re not constantly on the go. If I have an open hour, my first question is, “What am I forgetting to do?”

Or perhaps we’ve become so self-centered that we think the world revolves around us and our convenience? One friend commented on my social media post, recalling a poem that changed her perspective…and her habits:

To be early is to be on time,
To be on time is to be late,
To be late is to be selfish.

Her little poem is not only painfully convicting, it’s also biblical. Philippians 2:3-4 says, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (ESV). When I’m late, I’m guilty of putting my own interests above others.

Maybe our tardiness is because, as another friend noted, “Optimists are usually the late ones. We anticipate everything going perfectly door to door.” Guilty as charged. Of course, we all know it’s a rare day when everything goes perfectly!

One cousin noted being tardy is in our family’s genes. While history supports her conclusion, I’m determined to change our family’s reputation.

It’s only been five days, but so far, so good!

What tips do you have for being punctual?


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