something to be thankful for

Category : 2 Corinthians, Paul, bible

This is going to be my first thanksgiving with my own family meaning my wife and step-daughter.  Because of that we’ve been talking a lot about family traditions, what holiday’s should look like, etc…  In the midst of all of those conversations I find myself thinking a lot about “what do I have to be thankful for.”

And let me tell you, God has been over-the-top generous with us this year.  After being unemployed for a year, I was able to buy a house, pay for a wedding, buy an engagement ring, and pay for a honeymoon.  And replenish all of my savings.

How you ask?

I have no idea.  The only thing I can say is that it’s a true “fish and loaves” miracle.  For me it’s easy to be thankful this year.  But for a lot of us, 2010 has been a brutal year.  Unemployment.  Foreclosure.  Medical issues.  Family problems.  The list can go on.

So how in the middle of a year like that can you be thankful?

Paul’s answer was, “That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.  For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!  So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” (2 Corinthians 4: 16-18)

Paul recognized that we need to focus on something other than our immediate, Earth-bound troubles.  And that “something” was God.

Now before you think, “well that’s easy for Paul to say.”  Listen to what he had said only moments before, “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair.  We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.  Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.  Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies.  So we live in the face of death” (2 Corinthians 4: 8-12)

Paul was someone who knew a thing or two about being beaten, hated, punished, shipwrecked, jailed, and flogged.  But he was also someone who knew a thing or two about God’s redeeming power, and the good news of the cross.

So this thanksgiving, as you’re looking at what you have to be thankful for, don’t forget that we have a loving God, who wants to be involved in your life.  And that’s the best thing we could possibly ask for.

thanks giving: a redux

Category : God, different, faith, sharing faith

 

It seems that I can’t quite escape the sickness bug.  Which means once more I am not feeling well.  Sadly I have a sneaking suspicion that my remarkably sick-free stretch of 5 years is coming to a close.  That said, I find that in a strange way, I am actually thankful for my sickness. 

Last week I focused on being thankful.  And I think it’s really changed my outlook on my life.  Normally I would be annoyed that I was sick, especially over a holiday.  But now, I find I’m profoundly grateful that I’m not sick and sitting in the cold, rainy weather!  I am so grateful that I live in a country that when I get sick I can sit on the couch and watch cable TV instead of wondering if the harsh weather will kill me. 

So many things can be taken for granted – indoor plumbing, a warm blanket, and a nice cup of soup.  How many people in the history of the world would have given anything for those basic comforts when they were sick and in pain? 

No matter where we are in our lives, we always have things to be grateful for.   God is generous, even when we are hurting. 

Maybe especially so.

prayer thursday: thanksgiving

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Category : God, different, faith, hope, miracles, worship

 

Today is Thanksgiving.  A day we Americans typically eat a ton of food, spend time with friends and family, and watch the Lions lose.  And it’s also the conclusion to R3’s series on thanks giving.  I’ve found that just writing and thinking about these posts has really impacted my perspective.  I find I’m a lot more thankful for just the random stuff in my life.  I hope you find the same.

Thankfulness

God – Thank you for everything you do in my life.  Most days I simply don’t take enough time to thank you for all the miracles I experience.  If I’m honest, I almost never thank you for anything.  In fact, my attitude tends to be one of ungratefulness, rather than gratitude.  I am sorry for that.

As I sit here thinking about how complex life is, I am amazed that my body can breathe air, type words, and hold a conversation with you all at the same time.  Even though I usually take it for granted, I am grateful for a working body. 

Mostly though, I find today I am very thankful for you.  You’ve completely changed my life.  You’ve completely changed me!  And you did it for no other reason than you love me.  Not because I deserved it.  Not because I earned it.  Simply because you are love.  For that I am thankful. 

As I enjoy thanksgiving with friends and family, I ask that you watch over them, and everyone else.  Perform miracles, heal the sick, and do amazing things – and I am thankful even when you aren’t doing those things in my life. 

You are a loving God.  For that I am thankful!  Amen.

<comments are open, feel free to add your own prayer of thanks>

thanks giving: suffering

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Category : CS Lewis, God, Jesus, Paul, barbarian, faith, fear, hope

 

As I alluded to in the post yesterday, I am thankful for suffering.  I know it sounds strange to say that.  Frankly it seems weird to type it.  But almost everything I treasure has come through suffering, including R3. 

We all want our lives to be easy and convenient.  I think this is especially true in America, where we are used to having everything within minutes, if not seconds.  But no one escapes suffering.  Not even God.  Which leads me to believe that maybe suffering isn’t something to be avoided, it’s something to learn from.

God has a way of taking what the world means for evil and flipping it on it’s head.  In the Chronicles of Narnia, the White Witch thinks she wins by killing Aslan, the Lion.  But she couldn’t be further from the truth.  The suffering, and death of Aslan (a stand in for Jesus) was the exact thing that ends up destroying the evil of the White Witch.  In the book, CS Lewis describes Aslan’s return like this,

“…though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know.  Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of Time.  But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there ad different incantation.  She would have known that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards.” (Chronicles of Narnia, p.160)

Without suffering the White Witch never would have been defeated.  Without suffering you and I never would have been saved.  Without suffering countless miracles never could have occurred.

Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t look forward to it.  I am not happy about it.  I wouldn’t want to give up a Friday at the movies for malaria.  But I’m learning that sometimes the best teacher is suffering.  And I am willing to do anything that draws me closer to God. 

Because of all of that, I am thankful for suffering

thanks giving: the little things

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Category : God, faith, fear, hope, miracles

 

Looking back at the list of things I am thankful for, I can’t help but notice how many “small things” are on it.  To be honest that surprises me.  Before I sat down, I fully expected my list to have a lot of “big ticket” items.  For instance, my car, my apartment, or even the Steelers. 

But most of what I’m truly thankful for are the so-called “simple pleasures” in my life.  Instead of being excited about the material possessions I have, what matters most to me are the basics – like being able to eat Sour Patch Kids

I’m not sure I would have recognized that without this exercise. 

It sounds cliché, but the small things really do matter.  So often we think that in order to be thankful and happy the big things must fall into place.  We tell ourselves, “if we just get this promotion I’ll be happy.”  Or “if only she likes me, then everything would be okay.”  But I’m finding that’s just the opposite.  My life has never been more “up in the air”.  And it’s the little things in my life that keep me excited and motivated. 

Funny how it takes hardship and struggling to realize that…

thanks giving: being thankful

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Category : God, choice, different, faith

 

I’m not a big into celebrating holidays.  I don’t have anything against them; I just don’t get really excited.  But holidays can serve an important function.  They help us remember the significance of events, and serve as a way to remind us of where we’ve come from.  In that spirit I’ve decided to do something a bit differently here at R3 for Thanksgiving.  I want to actually take time to think about the things I’m thankful for instead of looking at it as a big dinner with some football on the side. 

There’s no question this year has been hard on many of us economically.  But we still live in the most blessed country in the history of the world.  We also live in a day and age where most of our needs are met.  When we get hungry we don’t have to go hunt and kill our food, or pick some berries.  We just drive up to McDonald’s roll down our window and in less than 5 minutes we’re clogging our arteries. 

It’s easy to forget just how much we have. 

So that’s why, for the next few days I want to focus on things to be thankful for.  Such as…

  • being alive
  • having friends for both the good and bad times
  • Sour Patch Kids
  • a heated apartment
  • cell phones
  • thanksgiving with my family
  • a home cooked meal!  (no microwavable burritos here!)

 

(ed note:  This was supposed to post yesterday.  Does it make a difference that it went up a day late?  Only in my obsessive, compulsive mind I suppose!  Maybe I should be more thankful for my memory!)