Giving Thanks

“Whatever happens, give thanks, because it is God’s will in Christ Jesus that you do this” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Sometimes it’s hard.  Sometimes we fail.  Sometimes we really (seemingly) don’t know what to be thankful for.

But it’s our fault – and only our fault – when we reason, feel, and act this way.  The Word tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).

In her classic autobiography, “The Hiding Place,” Corrie ten Boom tells of her experience at a Nazi Death Camp.  She and her sister, along with many others, were forced to suffer incredibly.  Often, this included the humiliation of taking off all clothing.  Corrie stood in line feeling totally forsaken, abused, cheap, dirty, and desperate.

She recalls that almost immediately, she remembered Jesus on the Cross and what He had suffered and endured.  His suffering, humiliation, persecution, and rejection – even in spite of her own real experience – was far worse.

During the degrading and exceedingly dehumanizing moments in the Death Camp, Corrie was struck with a powerful sense of awe and worship to God.  Amazing, is it not?  Incredible to say the least!  I only submit that we have much to learn from Corrie ten Boom and so many others, in history and in the present, who have remained steadfast in relationship to God, even amidst horrific experiences.

Thanksgiving requires no repayment.  Yet, it necessitates a recognition of what God, in Christ Jesus, has already done and accomplished for us.  You see, thanfulness is the opposite of selfishness.  Giving our gratitude to God reveals something about Who we see (and know to be) the One Who is in control and able to do all things.  He has done so very much!

Thursday, November 22, 2012, is the day we recognize Thanksgiving.  It is a “holiday” on the general calendar, but how about making it a “holy” day in your heart?  What are you thankful for?  Life?  Breath?  Family?  Friends?  Your church community?  Faith?  Food?  Shelter?  Health?  Work?  Opportunity?  Freedom?  All the above and then some?

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, His love endures forever!

Have a blessed Thanksgiving!


His Take

The count seems to be on.  It’s 5 days until Election 2012.  What seems like a tremendously long duration of campaigning, debates, and news topics is nearing an end.  At least for a while.  So given the calendar and the reality that we are coming to the home stretch – I believe this topic is timely and God-ordered.

But let me begin here:  As a parent (a father to 4 boys), I can testify to the fact that when your children go through periods where they don’t show or demonstrate respect, it is difficult to not want to ground them for a year, or two – at least.  I imagine that every parent reading this blog has tried (is trying) to instill the importance of honoring authority into their children.  From school teachers to coaches, from police officers to spiritual mentors, from next door neighbors to adults in general – it’s what parents do and aspire to do.  Yet, it is amazing how many adults struggle themselves in putting this into practice.  Question we need to ask ourselves, in front of the mirror:  “Do I demonstrate, in my own life, respecting those in authority?”

Everyone wants it.  Many expect it.  Yet, we want others to earn it from us.  How is that supposed to work?

The truth is, God has placed an entire network of people in this world into positions of authority – whether we like it or not; whether we like them or not.  I’m not only referring to our government leaders but also the leaders in our workplaces, in our communities, and in our families.  Perhaps it’s time to take a look at just how God views authority and how he links “respect” to it.

Coming under authority and showing respect isn’t generally easy.  Nobody wants to be told what to do or how to do it.  We criticize anybody that makes a decision we don’t like.  It’s not right.  It’s not fair.  It’s not good for me.  I don’t like it.

In our nation today, we’ve taken our right to free speech to an unbelievable level.  I’ve seen some of the national presidential election commercials and spots – and I must confess:  I am dismayed.  In other circles, some openly criticize and literally bash anyone and anything doesn’t line up with what we want.  Isn’t there something seriously wrong with complaining, whining, gossiping, slandering, and showing disgust to anybody who will listen?  I believe the Word of God advises against these things, at all levels and in all situations.

When we are in “right” relationship with God, He will make provision for us and for our needs.  But as we belittle and criticize people He Himself has placed in authority over us, I see from a scriptural standpoint where His provision and favor can be lifted.  The bottom line is that God expects you to respect Him – for Who He is.  He also expects us to respect the people He’s placed in authority.

That doesn’t mean you have to agree with every one of their decisions, but it does mean you still need to show respect for the position, and through extension, the person(s) He has appointed, anointed, or decreed would be in that position.

Romans 13:1-3 says, “Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished. For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you.” (NLT)

Now, do you want to respect authority?  Probably not.  In reality, would you rather just tell them what you think?  Sure.  So how do we go about this seemingly impossible task?  How do we submit to and show respect for the authority God has placed over us, when we don’t always agree?  Furthermore, how do we keep a Christlike attitude while we’re doing it?  Here are a couple of practical suggestions:

  1. Start by reading and gleaning what God says about respecting authority.  Find out His take and how much importance He places on our willingness and attitude concerning it.  When we discover that God will only give us authority (or place us in those positions) when we show that we can come under authority ourselves, things will look different and be different.
  2. Pray for those in authority over you.  Ask God to guide them as they fulfill their tasks and responsibilities.  Pray that their hearts would seek God as they make decisions that affect, impact, and touch many others.  Even ask God to show you how you can be a blessing to those in authority so that you can be an encouragement, an example, and a minister of God’s love.
  3. Set the example for the people around you, who are watching.  Show them what submitting to authority for the right reasons is supposed to look like.  Don’t participate in back-biting, gossiping, or criticizing – even if it seems warranted.  There is nothing wrong with having constructive conversations, but there is a fine line between offering your opinion and becoming disrespectful. and distasteful.  Remember, others are watching (even if it seems they are not).
  4. Understand and know ahead of time that you are not going to like every decision.  If you look at the responsibility and accountability that exists within the role of leaders, it should become clear that the scope of their authority affects more than just limited situations and personal conditions.  There are times when decisions will negatively impact you, and me, and others.  But just remember that how you react to these times will determine how, and when, God gives you and/or increases your authority and reach.  We do well to recall this often.

As someone one said, “There is no magic pill that can make you feel good about having to submit to authority—any authority.”  But know when you make the conscious effort to do what God desires, regardless of how it feels emotionally, you are planting a seed that will produce a harvest in your life.  God will honor it.

No one can expect a harvest of blessings from people who will respect and honor you, if you haven’t first planted the seed.

God is Sovereign and He is Providential.  He has our best interests at heart.  That won’t change on Tuesday when the ballots are counted and tallied.  No government or entity will ever be able to strip that away, no matter who is in office or what party is seemingly in control.  God loves us with an everlasting love:  He is a friend Who sticks closer than a brother.  He has The Plan and has made The Plan known, and real, and available to all of us.  In short, let us be seekers and builders of God’s Kingdom, realizing that His way reigns supreme, always!

Blessings, joy, and hope to you and yours…