Lessons in Gratitude

Who would have guessed there would be lessons in gratitude—and the consequences of ingratitude—from the president of the United States and the father of a college basketball player accused of shoplifting in China. If you don’t know the story, here’s a brief recap.

Donald Trump, who was in China a few weeks ago at the time the incident took place, evidently persuaded the president of China to go easy on three players who took some expensive sunglasses from a high-end store without paying for them.

After the three players were arrested, questioned, detained, and then released and sent home, they expressed their gratitude to president Trump. But the father of one of the players refused to offer thanks. His omission might have gone unnoticed, but the dad was vocal about his refusal.

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Paul Can't Keep a Secret and Neither Can I

John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.

I Am Thankful For....

It’s the season of giving thanks.

A couple years back, some friends of mine began what is now called The Thanksgiving Challenge. Beginning November 1st, we use our Facebook status to give thanks for something or someone or anything we are thankful for. We’ll do this everyday throughout the month.

Here are a few reasons why I think it’s a good thing to be not only be thankful but to also express our thanksgiving.

  • Being thankful keeps me from fretting over what I do not have. My eyes are opened to all that I do have. Its crystal clear then that not only are all my needs met, I see just how abundantly blessed I am beyond what I need. I’m not so easily suckered into thinking I ‘have-to-have’ all that I see because I recognize all that I already have. The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. Ps. 23:1
  • Being thankful helps me to recognize and be mindful that every good and perfect gift is from God. All that I have and all that I am is his. My ego stays in check. James 1:17
  • Being thankful allows me to have a spirit of gratitude which leads to joy and contentment in all circumstance in life, especially the painful and difficult ones. All of which are evidence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Gal. 5:22
  • Being thankful keeps me humble and ultimately draws me closer to my Heavenly Father. Phil. 2:1-11.

So far during this thanksgiving season, I am thankful for getting the giggles with friends. I'm thankful for my family who serve me daily with joy in doing so. I'm thankful that I get to be an aunt to some pretty rad nieces and nephews and I’m thankful that as a woman I can wear blue jeans and even reveal my ankles without shame.  I have many more days to express all that I am grateful for. My hope is that I become a person in who a spirit of thanks is an attribute that reflects the goodness of a good God!

Having a heart of thanks is contagious. I hope you’ve caught it bad this season!

Why is it important to you to give thanks publically and what are you thankful for?

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.  Col. 2:6-7

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Quotable Thanks

"Giving thanks to God for both His temporal and spiritual blessings in our lives
is not just a nice thing to do - it is the moral will of God.
Failure to give Him the thanks due Him is sin."
[Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins]

"O Lord, who lends me life, lend me a heart replete with thankfulness."

"He who remembers the benefits of his parents is too much occupied with his recollections to remember their faults."

"We never approach God without cause for gratitude.
Thankfulness, a duty and delight greatly prominent in the Bible, is the declarative mood of gratitude - a bright fire in the world's frigid zone,
the memory and homage of the heart, a master force in soul-building, the greatest tonic faith has. Be ye thankful."

The Spiritual Discipline of Giving Thanks

When you think about it, saying "Thank you," is one of the first manners we encourage small children to adopt. This simple practice of remembering to thank the people around us is so basic to positive human interactions that, when absent, it is a glaring rudeness that paints the withholding party as arrogant.

Somewhere along the line, then, we've learned that gratitude for services rendered or a job well done is an appropriate and meaningful human to human response in life.

But what about thankfulness as a spiritual practice and a way of life?

In Psalm 50, the poet is speaking for God when he says--

"I don't need bulls from your farms or goats from your herds. All the animals in the forest are mine and the cattle on thousands of hills. All the wild birds are mine and all living thingsin the land... Let the GIVING OF THANKS be your sacrifice to God..."

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Why do I always forget how blessed and lucky I am? Why do I always have a hard time recognizing the many things I should be thankful for? How every little thing in my life—both easy and hard, painful and pleasurable—has been orchestrated by God to form a purpose far grander than my own ambitions?

I think part of it is that I’ve grown up in a world of entitlement. Ours is a world of debilitating entitlement. We are raised to assume that we have the inalienable right to be happy and healthy, that we are entitled to money and security and insurance and freedom to do and say whatever we want. We think it’s our prerogative, our destiny, our right. And so when good things happen to us we’re liable to shrug it off as “our due” instead of being humbled to a place of deep gratitude.

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Finish Line

The day before our 70.3 mile triathlon in Boise,Idaho, my friends and I walked past the official finish line. A great white arch with a digital timer and spotlights was to be the ending point for 1200 athletes brave or insane enough to attempt the race. Glimpsing the official finish line sent chills up my spine and caused my stomach to rise immediately into my throat. The finish line symbolizes success. And before a race, no athlete really knows for sure if they'll cross it. No one knows if they, hands raised in victory, will get their photo op. No ones knows what will happen. There are simply no guarantees. Months of hopes and dreams could easily be destroyed. Any number of things can go wrong: cramps, dehydration, inadequate nutrition, a bike crash, hypothermia, random collapse....

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