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    The Thanks Giving Key

    A few years ago I was invited to go on an overseas mission trip. This journey was to a country on the other side of the world with a foreign culture and language, and would take almost 24 hours to get there. No doubt many of you readers have done the same, and know the planning, anticipation and excitement of such a trip. Still, it’s not unusual to have a little nagging insecurity regarding the unknowns, and that was how I was feeling. I would be traveling alone on a long leg of the trip, navigating an unfamiliar airport with a tight connection and felt a little uneasy about it.…

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    Practicing Gratitude—A Challenge

    A recent leadership conference I attended focused on gratitude. The Chief Executive Officer of the company thought correction in how some members were running their businesses was needed, and therefore spent at least twenty to thirty minutes discussing: How to get gratitude, How to practice it, and How to extend it.  When a CEO of a multi-million dollar company spends that amount of time on any subject, it’s evident that it’s important and is an issue in today’s world, or in that company at least. As it turns out, expressing gratitude (i.e. giving thanks) was an issue in the ancient world, too. The Psalmist and the Apostle Paul spent considerable…

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    Thanksgiving: How the Practice of Gratitude leads to the Presence of Contentment

    “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content…I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need” (Eph 4:11-12). I used to read those verses and think, “Good for you, Paul…I wish.” Contentment and I have a troubled history. Many reasons: chronic illness, physical limitations, and especially the propensity to live in the future ( I think I will be content when I get married…have a baby…accomplish this career or ministry vision…) As a future oriented person who has always lived with chronic, holy frustration, reading Ann Voskamp's book, 1000 Gifts seven years ago changed me. Her close-to-the-heart chronicle of her journey into thanksgiving and…

  • Sue in a hospital bed
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    Lessons From a Hospital Bed

    In the last several months, both of my severely arthritic hips were replaced. In addition to the wonderful blessing that I am out of pain, the surgeries and recoveries were full of lessons pointing me to spiritual truths I am so very thankful for: For a long time, I needed help getting in and out of my car. To be blunt, it was always noisy with involuntary gasps and screams of pain. And while my family and friends were so very glad to be of assistance, it was hard on them to witness me hurting so badly. Now that the pain is behind me, I keep hearing comments like, “Wow!…

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    Life Interrupted: Lessons from a Teen Pregnancy

    Mary’s story has always fascinated me, but never more-so than a few years ago in a darkened theater. I went to the movies with a friend, and we watched as a young woman portrayed the confused teen who found favor with God. My own life had been freshly interrupted by God. Mary’s confusion echoed my heart’s response. The friend sitting next to me gasped as she saw Mary’s surrender: “Oh God. I can’t believe she said yes.” That’s the rub. A young Jewish girl agreed to have her life forever altered to be part of God’s purposed story. The account we read in Luke is short and yet so much…

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    TAKING TIME TO WORSHIP

    How is it possible that the day of the year set aside as a Holy Day to celebrate the greatest gift ever given usually finds us exhausted, stressed, and even at times depressed? Our children wake up all excited in anticipation of presents that in the end may or may not be what they expected. Spirits tend to dwindle as we move through the day ending up tired, over sugared, and overwhelmed ready to fall into bed exhausted.   We all have a desire to focus on the Lord. As believers. we usually plan to do our best to make the season one that is about worship and gratitude. Honestly, how…

  • Keeping a Gratitude Journal
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    Keeping A Gratitude Journal

    Some years ago Dr. Billy Graham was a guest on Oprah. I will never forget his answer to her question, “What are you most thankful for?” He said, “Salvation given to us in Jesus Christ . . . and the way you have made people all over this country aware of the power of being grateful.” I loved that he took advantage of the platform to share the core of the gospel message, but also that he honored Oprah for making a difference in the culture by stressing gratitude the way she has. Millions of people have discovered the power of keeping a gratitude journal because of Oprah’s testimony of…

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    It Was a Black Friday but It Was a Good Friday

    Jesus taught in parables. He used every day ordinary objects and events to teach amazing spiritual truths. I can’t help but wonder what He would say if He chose the American Black Friday as the event to highlight a spiritual lesson. “Forty-five of Jesus’ fifty-two recorded parables had a market place setting.” —Jim  Harris I think there is an interesting parallel between the religious Black Friday that we call Good Friday and the American Black Friday. They both are represented by a relentless and ruthless suffering that results in savings. The lesson learned would be like that of the shrewd business manager. He was an employee which means he received…

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    Feast on God’s Goodness

    I recently read post-election family feuds continue due to tensions and discord after the divisive and challenging campaigns that occurred here in our nation. Add a dash of protesting, a side of expectations, and the one sibling who won’t let you graduate from your fifteen-year-old self and voila! You now have a feast of dread! Happy Thanksgiving?   How should we approach this day of giving thanks? Gratitude seldom comes easy when hurt feelings, stress, and exhaustion demand our focus. The sleepless nights of uncertainty and hopelessness don’t help either. What about “the renewing of our minds?” Okay sure, but how?   Stay diligent and strive to continue to pray against…

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    Shoe Box Christians

    Am I rushing things to ask you to think about Thanksgiving in September? Maybe. But, please hear me out. What characterizes the Christian life more than that of giving thanks? We do a lot of activities ahead of time during advent and lent to prepare for Christmas and Easter. What do we do ahead to prepare for Thanksgiving Day? What is a Thanksgiving Day without giving of thanks? It can easily be forgotten in the midst of the food and fun. Be intentional this year, Take advantage of the next nine weeks to prepare. If you are home schooling, teaching Sunday School, or just plain parenting this will be an activity…