Tag Archives: thanksgiving

His Steadfast Love Endures Forever

The blue doors in the picture are at the funeral home where our church meets. We’ve been there over a year now. Before that we gathered at two different schools, and in our living room. Each location has met our general need of a place to worship, but our congregation is more than ready to throw open the doors to our own church building.

To this end we’ve started a building campaign called “Healing Hearts.” We’ve named it this for a couple of reasons:

  1. People all around us are struggling, and in need of a safe community to have their hearts gently restored by the transformational truth of the gospel. To be a hospital for the broken is a mission of our church.
  2. Without a “home,” Redeemer is limited in the ways we can serve. A building would encourage and renew our own hearts, and enable us have a greater impact in the community.

Nine years of not having our own place though and riding the ups and downs of church planting has made it hard to get our hopes up that anything will ever change. We wrestle  with “why,” and wonder if and when he will build his church.  “How long, O Lord,? Will you forget me forever? (Psalm 13:1)”

It’s easy to shake our heads at the  Israelites’ impatient grumbling and lack of faith, until we realize we’re no different. Forty years of sojourning for them, and I’m just talking nine! But we want the instant, don’t we?

Nobody likes to wait for anything, and in our culture we often don’t have to. How quickly then we become disappointed, discontent and depressed when things don’t go as we want- when we want. We blame God for withholding goodness because we think our ways are better than his. Adam and Eve thought so too.

What’s amazing is though we try (as did they) to usurp God’s control, his loving-kindness never ceases. In fact, it is in the trials, suffering and sin we see more of God’s goodness displayed.

Exactly where God is going in Deuteronomy 8:2 when we learn why the Israelites were led into the wilderness…

And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart…”

The testing was to expose their sin, weakness and need to depend on him every step of the way. And with the purpose of showing them how deep his love. Despite their sin, God never left them or went back on his promises, but held them tight and delivered them at his appointed time into the Promised Land.

Had they not seen their tendency to grumble and complain, try to take control, and turn to false gods, surely what he did for them would not have been so great.

So it makes me think, had we gotten a church building and grown exponentially right off the bat, would we see our need of dependence? Would we look to the gospel alone to heal hearts? Or, would we think more highly of ourselves, thinking we are strong? Would we have taken for granted his goodness? Would we turn to him in prayer?

I still don’t like waiting. But if the Christian life is about falling more in love with Jesus, and doing so requires seeing our need, God’s goodness to us surely comes in the waiting. So, Lord, help me wait in light of the promises of your Word so discontent would give way and the doors of thanksgiving be flung wide.

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever! Let Israel say, ‘His steadfast love endures forever.’ Let the house of Aaron (and of Redeemer) say, ‘His steadfast love endures forever.’ Let those who fear the Lord say, ‘His steadfast love endures forever.” Psalm 118:1-4

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When It Seems our Country is Going to Hell in a Handbasket: Thanksgiving and Peace

Enough of the political banter! Aren’t you ready for a break from all the bickering back and forth? Don’t you wish we could call a truce and everybody just get along?

I don’t care what side of the fence you are on, the more any of us feed on what we think is wrong with the world and specifically our country, the more divisive we become, the more hate is spread and the more the frenzy of fear can consume us.

Alot has been swirling around in my head about loving our neighbors who are different than us, and what being a “safe” person really should be. I still need to flesh these out further before I post, but since it’s Thanksgiving week what better time than now to redirect our thoughts off of what’s wrong and who’s wrong and onto what is good. For whatever we fix our thoughts on will influence our heart’s bent.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Phil. 4:8

Therefore, to move from being filled with anxiety, frustration, anger, judgement and condemnation toward our fellow Americans, leadership and country, and to be joy-filled, compassionate and loving we need a little Thanksgiving!

So this is my challenge: Take one day every day this week to focus on each of these:

  • Whatever is TRUE
  • Whatever is HONORABLE
  • Whatever is JUST
  • Whatever is PURE
  • Whatever is LOVELY
  • Whatever is COMMENDABLE
  • Whatever is EXCELLENT

Make it a table conversation with your kids. Or, turn it into a prayer thanking God for whatever is… true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable and excellent. I’ld love to know what you find; to hear how it shapes your thoughts.

My prayer though for each of us is it will not only lead us to a more thankful heart this week, but we would be directed to the only One who is TRUTH. Who was completely honorable. Was just and is our justifier because he became the pure and perfect sacrifice – lovely to all those who know their need. Commendable, most excellent and worthy of all our praise!

May we rejoice in the Lord because above all he gave up everything in order to bring what we really need: Salvation. For only when we know our desperate need of a Savior and who he is for us will we ever find the perfect peace we long for.

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Phil. 4:7 

“For he himself is our peace…” Ephesians 2:14

Thanks be to God; he is on his throne ruling over all and one day all things will be made right once again.

 

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A Journey to Thankfulness

May you be encouraged today by the Thanksgiving perspective from my very special guest blogger – my own teenage daughter.  She has been on a journey to get to where she is now and the story I see God writing in and through her life overwhelms me completely with thanksgiving!  To God be the Glory!

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This time of year we hear a lot about giving thanks and counting our blessings. I would venture to say for most people the holidays bring out a spirit of thankfulness, but what happens when the holidays end and life goes back to mundane? What happens when things aren’t going so well and God doesn’t seem so good? What happens when things don’t go your way? Do you still give thanks in those moments?

In the winter/spring of last year, giving thanks was not a common practice for me. Instead, I complained and had pity on myself for all the things going wrong in my life. I had a running mental list of all the “bad” things happening to me every day. And every negative thought I believed to be true.

I had become so blinded by negativity and serious depression that I saw no purpose in my life or reason to thank God for anything. I was spiraling out of control. Fast forward to now – November 26, 2015. I am a joyous ball of energy. I see life as precious. And I am without a doubt 100% a different person than I was almost a year ago.

So what changed? Did things start going my way? Was it that big and exciting things are happening  to me because I am now a senior about to go to college?

No, no. It’s not that. Nothing in my surroundings have changed. But I have undergone some extreme heart and mindset changes. Second to simply the grace of God, the biggest tangible factor in this change in me has been my “Gifts” journal.

In the midst of my depression, I was encouraged by several people to begin writing down the things I am thankful for each day to help me look at life in a more positive light. I thought those people we crazy. I had nothing to give thanks for (or so I thought). But I reluctantly began trying to record in my journal any  “gift” or blessings I found in a given day.  At first, it was really hard and it would take me forever just to think and force out a few things to give thanks for.  But as this year has progressed and I continue to write my gifts, it has become easier.

This practice of writing down my blessings has shaped me into the person I am today.  By writing down every positive thing each day that I can think of, I have become so much more joyous. I look for the blessings in the little things now rather than looking at all the things going wrong in my life. I look at what is going right, or what God might be protecting me from by not giving me what I want. I find joy in the simple things such as family dinners, the colors in the leaves on the trees, or even how my coffee tastes in my favorite mug.

Not every day has been good or easy by any means, but every single day, no matter how bad, has held blessings in it.  So here I am looking through my journal with 786 gifts already written from this year and only a few pages left to fill.  I am overwhelmed with thanksgiving for seeing what the Lord has done in my life over the past year. I am flooded with gratitude for all of the people and simple joys written down that have touched my life in some way.

No matter where you find yourself right now, I encourage you to begin looking for gifts in each day and discovering the joy in every moment. “Give thanks in all seasons” means something to me now, that a year ago I could never comprehend.

A final thing to leave you with: God gives gifts + we give thanks = Pure Joy! Thank you for reading my post.

xoxo, Rebecca

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Rebecca is a high school senior ready to soar at the University of Arkansas next fall. She plans to either study nutrition or pursue a path toward a  counseling degree. Along with her involvement in Student Council and a couple teen nonprofit boards she loves her job as a part-time nanny and serving on the music team at church and with FCA.