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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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    Thankfulness and God’s Sovereignty

    Whoa! Started my day with a little conviction today–ouch. God laid it on me that I have not had a thankful, grateful heart lately! So I spent some time in the Word today looking at thankfulness. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 summed up a lot of what God desires in me: “Always rejoice, constantly pray, in everything give thanks. For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (NET) The last part of that brief verse is at least as important as the first part. When I give thanks, I embrace what God wants for my life. I recognize He places in my life both the people I naturally love and the ones…

  • 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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    My First Romanian Orthodox Christmas

    I grew up attending a traditional black Baptist church so Sunday school, tambourines and good ol' hymns were a norm for me. I also grew up surrounded by my friends' bar and bat mitzvahs. I went to a Catholic high school, and college landed me in a more charismatic self-proclaimed "Jesus Freak" church. (No, really–they sold bumper stickers that said that :-). When it came time to answer the call to the ministry God led me to a more conservative Evangelical home here in Dallas.   All of this to say, I've had a mixed bag of ministry experiences which have helped me learn to look for beauty among denominations…

  • 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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    Spiritual Plagiarism: How We Steal God’s Glory

    I never cheated in school. I was always too afraid. Afraid of a big scarlet "F" on top my paper. Afraid of an ominous visit to the principal’s office. Afraid of the terrible consequences listed in the class syllabus. But lately I'm learning that plagiarism isn't confined to the English classroom or the inventor’s office—it threatens our spiritual life too. In his book Prayer, Tim Keller summarizes the essence of sin as failing to glorify and thank God (Romans 1:18-21). He explains: Think about plagiarism for a moment. Why is plagiarism taken so seriously? It is claiming that you came up with an idea yourself when you did not. It…

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    5 Ways to Encourage Gratitude in Your Family

    Johnny Henry Jowett, a well-known pastor from the late 1800’s, said: “Life without thankfulness is devoid of love and passion. Hope without thankfulness is lacking in fine perception. Faith without thankfulness lacks strength and fortitude. Every virtue divorced from thankfulness is maimed and limps along the spiritual road.” I’ve never doubted the importance of gratitude. Many studies done in recent years back this up. Wall Street Journal, for example, referenced a study done among teens showing that those with higher amounts of gratitude also had higher grades, less depression, less envy, and a healthier outlook on life. Yet, sometimes I’ve failed to see the full value. Even worse are those…

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    Looking for Happiness today?

    Just yesterday I learned that science now affirms two key ingredients that lead to greater happiness: gratitude and kindness.  My granddaughter shared these insights with me from her current college studies in psychology.  Interestingly the class reviewed scientific experiments that demonstrate the accuracy of those contentions. Additionally, it has been demonstrated as well that verbal expressions of gratitude, actually saying the words aloud, multiply the impact of thankfulness. Our conversation leads me to reflect as we celebrate today, Memorial Day. Established following the brutal Civil War, Memorial Day honors the lives sacrificed for our freedom. Since the Civil War, Americans have given their lives serving in the Spanish-American War, World…

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    5 Things to be Thankful for in 2014

    Have you read the news lately?  The United States is in big trouble and everything from the economy to our schools to our healthcare is falling apart and within in the next couple of years we are basically going to turn in to a ravaged 3rd world country.  I hear and read a lot of doom and gloom in the news and if I let it I would live an unhappy, paranoid and worried life.  Instead I’m making a choice to take an inventory of the blessings in my life and instead of focusing on the world and its problems; I’m focusing on God’s faithfulness that often appears to be…

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    A Thanksgiving Dare

    Did you know that thanksgiving is another definition for the word Eucharist.  The meal we consume this Thursday can be a gathering that reflects Eucharist living.  Ann Voscamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts, explores in poetic prose the power of this simple and biblical concept, gratitude.  Ann discovered the pattern of thanksgiving that runs throughout the scripture.  Not just the challenge to “in everything give thanks” (I Thess. 5:18) but how thanksgiving to God is exampled by so many biblical characters as well by the Jesus himself.  Then a friend challenged Ann with a dare, “Could I write a list of 1000 things that I love. To name 1000 blessings—1000 gifts,…