Seeing True Thanksgiving

Seeing True Thanksgiving

“Be joyful always, pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I Thessalonians 5:16 NIV   Last week I saw what it truly looks like to give thanks in all circumstances. We visited my niece in the physical rehab facility where she has been for many weeks following an extensive hospital stay. Her legs will not hold up her body and she was continuing to get weaker and weaker. The doctors finally diagnosed her with Gillian Barre Disease. It is a rare and unusual disease causing weakness and paralysis. As we visited, I was amazed at her sweet and positive attitude. Just before we left, I prayed for her. Immediately following the Amen, she said; “Can I tell you something. The way I am able to cope with this is by being thankful. I just tell the Lord all day long how thankful I am for everything that happens, and I know this experience will simply strengthen my testimony for ministry.” I was speechless. This is a young woman in her 30’s, married with three children. She has a busy life and certainly doesn’t have time for this illness. She lives in West Texas and was brought to a Dallas hospital, then transferred to Fort Worth closer to her Mother. She has been away from her young family for at least two months and is unable to walk. But she is thankful. What a testimony of faith to others she already has, beginning with her Aunt Virginia in that humble moment of sharing. And I was not only speechless, but deeply humbled to realize how much complaining I have done in my life. I learned a very important lesson in seeing the scripture lived out in my sweet niece. When God said to be thankful in all circumstances, He knew it was not an impossibility. He did not give a task we would not be able to accomplish. Audrae is living proof of it. Today I want to wish each of you a very Happy Thanksgiving filled with an attitude of gratitude. May we all be thankful in all circumstances for that is God’s will for us in Christ Jesus. And if you would please remember Audrae in your prayers and give thanks for her testimony of faith as God does His work of healing in her life, I know she would appreciate it. I am thankful for you. Have a blessed weekend....

Read More

For Faith and Freedom

For Faith and Freedom

In 1620, the Mayflower arrived at Plymouth, Massachusetts after a difficult voyage from England. Following a winter filled with hardships, the native Indians helped the pilgrims learn how to plant corn and produce crops. At the first harvest, in November 1621, pilgrims and native Indians joined together for a meal to give thanks for the harvest. And so, we in America have followed this tradition of our forefathers in celebration each year on the day that was designated as Thanksgiving. But have we lost sight of what we are celebrating? Do we look at it as just another holiday when we don’t have to work? The pilgrims sacrificed lives and property in order to come to this new land to have the freedom to worship and practice their Christian faith. Thanksgiving was the day to give thanks to God for His freedom and provision. This faith was passed from generation to generation, but somewhere along the way, the Christian faith has lost national momentum. In Second Timothy, as Paul gave thanks to God for Timothy, he was thankful for the faith of that young man. He stated it was a faith that had been passed down for two generations that Paul was aware of. This faith was lived out by Timothy’s mother and grandmother before him. Paul’s personal purpose in writing the letter to Timothy was to give him encouragement for carrying on the ministry in Paul’s absence. Apparently Timothy was timid in doing so, therefore, Paul’s words were given to empower him to overcome his fear. “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” (II Timothy 1:7) He was thankful for Timothy. His prayer of thanksgiving was personal, powerful and affirming. Paul was pouring into the life of the next generation for the purpose of growing others in faith for generations to come. As we approach our designated national day of Thanksgiving next week, let us remember the purpose of our forefathers’ arrival in this land. Let us be thankful for the sacrifice they made for a country of freedom and for our current day military serving to keep our country safe and free. Let us not forget the purpose of this holiday. And then, may we make our thanksgiving personal, giving thanks and encouragement for those close to us who need an extra boost of affirmation for their life’s work and calling of God as we pass along the faith of those who have gone before us. Pour into the next generation the faith made possible for us by the sacrifice of Jesus. Pour into the next generation the history of our country and the...

Read More

Beyond the Pain

Beyond the Pain

It has often been said that hurting people hurt people. Perhaps not intentionally, but it happens anyway. That is why it is so important for those in any kind of leadership to be healed from their own personal pain; so we don’t keep hurting others and so we have a testimony of healing for the purpose of giving hope to those who hurt. As we have worked with hurting people through our ministry, it seems that most negative emotions can be traced back to unresolved past painful experiences. Those experiences may be carried over as far back as childhood. It is that pain I am addressing today, pain which has been buried and hidden for a very long time. I am addressing it, not from the standpoint of a person’s public exposure, but rather to encourage personal exposure between the one wounded and God for the purpose of healing. Because unless we allow God to expose the reason for the negative emotions to us personally, we will just keep on simmering on the inside without understanding why those emotions control our lives. We will continue to ride the merry-go-round of negativity, too afraid to jump off and too wounded to keep going – stuck in the sameness of emotions we can’t seem to shake. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to spend my life on that merry-go-round. I would rather ride the playground swing higher and higher to a deeper relationship with my Lord Jesus knowing He is the great physician who can take away the pain. He can and will heal us as we take our pain to Him in prayer, confession and forgiveness toward the one who inflicted the pain. The best Biblical example of this response is Joseph. Out of jealously, his brothers threw him in a pit and left him to die. Then, at the objection of one brother, they took him from the pit and sold him into slavery. He was a slave in Egypt for at least 20 years before he saw his brothers again. The story takes place from Genesis 37 to 50. After all those years, when Joseph’s brothers  went to Egypt for famine relief and realized the one who saved them was Joseph, they threw themselves down before him and committed to be his slaves. But here is the best part of the story. “Joseph said to them, ‘don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:18-20 NIV) What an amazing response! Can you imagine the pain experienced by that 17...

Read More

All of You

All of You

November has arrived with a chill in the air and turning back the clocks one hour. It feels like we have gone from one extreme to another related to seasons and weather. And while we are to be thankful each day of the year for the goodness of God, November is known as the month of Thanksgiving in America. As I was reading my Bible this morning, the study notes reminded me that the Apostle Paul is credited with writing 13 letters (or books) of the 27 in the Bible’s New Testament. In every one of those books, with the exception of Galatians, Paul began his letter with thanksgiving to God. In the first chapter of Romans, verse 8, Paul said, “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world.” Who was Paul thanking God for – all of you! As you begin your November, think about who is the “all of you” in your life. Who are you thankful for and why? Paul was thankful for those in Rome whose faith was so strong as to be known all over the world. Do you know anyone with a faith that strong? If so, pray for them and give thanks to God for their testimony of faith. As I thought about this question, the names that came to my mind are Mike and Laura Fechner. Their story is truly a testimony of a faith known around the world. We have known Mike and Laura since they were 25 years old and today they have young adult children and a daughter-in-law. Mike and his sweet family are the “all of you” I am thankful for today. Please take a moment to read their amazing story in A Step of Faith and say a prayer of thanksgiving for them. Be challenged and encouraged this week to be thankful for the “all of you” that have influenced your life and made an impact for Christ in the world.   To Grow Your Faith, click on All of You and...

Read More