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?

Just Because I Can Doesn’t Mean I Should

Another uproar. Another point of division in a divided country. Another debate about free speech.

The gifted, diverse cast of a Broadway play exercised their right to free speech by making a political appeal to a VIP in the audience.

Supporters of the cast affirmed their right of free speech. Supporters of the VIP expressed outrage that his right to enjoy purchased entertainment had been violated. Both are partially right and partially wrong.

There’s a larger issue here than that of defending our rights.

We’re big on rights in this country. We demand that the government protect those rights. And it seems our society is in the process of identifying new rights on an almost daily basis.

But just because we have the right to do something doesn’t mean we ought do it.

Legal isn’t always the same as moral.

And just because I can doesn’t mean I should.Just because I can doesn't mean I should

The New Testament speaks little about our rights, except to say Christians are to sacrifice them. One of the marks of a Christian is to put others’ rights ahead of our own. To prioritize their needs above ours. To extend forgiveness when it’s undeserved and to withhold criticism and condemnation even when it is deserved.

This perspective doesn’t fit our culture’s obsession with having rights and being right. And it certainly doesn’t seem appropriate in the dog-eat-dog world of politics.

Yet, for 2,000 years, to be a Christian usually meant being out of step with the prevailing culture. We cannot simultaneously reflect Christ and fit into the world. Jesus said His followers are in the world, but not of the world (John 17:16). There’s a difference. And when we fail to live out that difference, we fail to reflect Christ.

So the next time you and I are furious because our rights have been trampled, consider whether fighting for our rights results in failing to live for Christ. Do we need to say everything we have a right to say? Do we need to do everything we have a right to do?

What about extending forgiveness and grace?

How does humility and mercy fit in?

Might it be the very moment we give up demanding our right to something is the moment people actually see Christ in us?

Now that would be something to be truly thankful for this Thanksgiving.

Too Early for Christmas?

Ahhh…the beginning of a new month. This is usually the time when I’m asking if anyone knows where the previous month went…and wondering how we can get it back.

Not this month. And that’s because Christmas is in 52 days!

Yes, I know, most people don’t want to hear about Christmas yet. After all, Halloween just passed and November should be devoted to Thanksgiving. Can’t Christmas just wait its turn?Never too early for ChristmasReminders of Christmas have proliferated for weeks. Retailers display yuletide merchandise earlier and earlier every year. Hallmark has even institutionalized “Christmas in July” with an annual celebration of holiday movies—then and now.

Of course, the commercialism of Christmas is nothing new. A quote from the 1947 movie version of Miracle on 34th Street describes our frustration rather accurately:

“Yeah, there’s a lot of bad ‘isms’ floatin’ around this world, but one of the worst is commercialism. Make a buck, make a buck. Even in Brooklyn it’s the same—don’t care what Christmas stands for, just make a buck, make a buck.”

Still, not all these early manifestations of Christmas are commercialized. Some result from the necessity of advanced planning. Our church distributed Samaritan’s Purse shoe boxes in October for filling and return by October 30. Too early for Christmas? Not if we want those boxes delivered around the world in time to celebrate the birth of Jesus!

Or how about the many Christmas concerts scheduled for December? Rehearsals have already begun, and I’m looking forward to attending several local productions.

Of course, I’m already enjoying the Hallmark holiday movie schedule that began this past weekend. Too early? Not for me.

Is Thanksgiving getting lost in the holiday shuffle? I don’t think so. An attitude of gratitude can be prevalent every day. If anything, the joy of Christmas is the foundation of all our Thanksgiving celebrations. There’s nothing more important to be thankful for than the gift of salvation…brought to us by Jesus, the One whose birth we will soon celebrate.

Thanksgiving and Christmas are not mutually exclusive. Which is why I joyfully say:

Too early for Christmas? Never!

A Month of Thanksgiving

Each year, during the month of November, I post a daily declaration of something I’m thankful for. In honor of this Thanksgiving Day, here’s my list for this month:

ThanksgivingA month of thanksgiving:

Day 1 – Thankful for God’s sovereignty in the world…and in my life.
Day 2 – Thankful that God is faithful even when I am not (not proud of that last part!).
Day 3 – Thankful for Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice that redeemed my life. He did what I could not do for myself!
Day 4 – Thankful that the Lord is my shepherd, because this sheep definitely needs her shepherd!
Day 5 – Thankful for this great nation and for the privilege of voting. We may not be perfect, but whatever her problems, it’s still a blessing to live in the USA!
Day 6 – Thankful for the privilege of teaching God’s Word.
Day 7 – Thankful for encouraging words, smiles, and hugs!
Day 8 – Thankful that our salvation is not found in any political party. Regardless of who is in the White House, God is on His throne!
Day 9 – Thankful for food in the pantry, clothes in the closet, and a roof over my head. Jesus taught us to pray for our daily needs, but I have more than what I need just for today!
Day 10 – Thankful for God’s promise of the rainbow. Now we see it in part – someday we’ll see the whole glorious circle around the throne!
Day 11 – Thankful for those who fought and died to protect my liberty. Freedom is never free.
Day 12 – Thankful for the privilege of serving with women who love the Lord. Hearts with a shared purpose are hearts that bring joy!
Day 13 – Thankful for the gift of health. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!
Day 14 – Thankful for the gift of friendship – a gift to give and to cherish.
Day 15 – Thankful for the convenience of technology…even though it doesn’t always work and I don’t always understand it.
Day 16 – Thankful for the peace that passes all understanding in a world filled with anxiety and strife.
Day 17 – Thankful to be part of a church that preaches the gospel, encourages God’s people, and reaches out to the hurting. Also thankful for past pastors and churches who have blessed me with discipleship!
Day 18 – Thankful for the joy that comes from knowing I belong to the Lord. I can call God my heavenly Father because Jesus is my Savior.
Day 19 – Thankful for the gift of fellowship. Hearts knit together, minds of one accord, spirits united. It truly is a gift!
Day 20 – Thankful that Christmas is only five weeks away…and for the anticipation of celebrating the birth of the Savior!
Day 21 – Thankful for the freedom we have to worship the One from whom all blessings flow!
Day 22 – Thankful for my heavenly Father who knows my needs before I do and meets them with His abundant provision!
Day 23 – Thankful for the gift of forgiveness – a gift to give and receive.

Day 24 – Thankful my heavenly Father has more patience with me than I have with others. (Not proud of that one!)
Day 25 – Thankful for the power of a smile. No matter what language we speak, it’s something we all understand.
Day 26 – Thankful for my wonderful husband – whose birthday just happens to be today! God has used him in my life to demonstrate the reality of unconditional love.
Day 27 – Thankful that Christmas is only four weeks away. Four weeks to enjoy the music and decorations that commemorate the incredible Gift sent to us by the Father.
Day 28 – Thankful for the gift of sight…physical AND spiritual!
Day 29 – Thankful for the written Word…and the Living Word!
Day 30 – Thankful for grace – oceans of undeserved blessings!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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