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Thanksgiving week

1 Chronicles 16:8,9 – “Give thanks unto the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people. Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him, talk ye of all his wondrous works.”

It is the week of Thanksgiving. I agree with the statement that we should be thankful more often than once a year. I try very hard to live a life of thankfulness. As you can see here, I wear a bracelet to remind me to be grateful and thankful.

What does it mean to give thanks? 

I think that being thankful can take many forms. 

Prayer – Reaching out to God in prayer just to tell Him how appreciative you are for Him being active in your life.                    Songs – Singing praises to God with a heart in a position of humbleness and gratitude.                                                         Conversation – Have you ever taken the opportunity to turn the spotlight off yourself and turn it on God? Giving Him the glory for an achievement in your life is a great way to show thankfulness. All too often, we are so focused on ourself that we take away the opportunity to praise Him and give Him glory.                                                                                                                                      Giving –  I think that when we take the time to give to someone else out of the abundance that we have, we are, in a way, giving thanks. When we give with the heart of humbleness and the desire to help someone else along, we are telling God thank you for supplying my needs and giving me the opportunity to help someone else.

Just like anything else, all of these acts of thankfulness can be corrupted by our heart-itude. If our heart is focused on ourself, if our motive is promoting self, then each act is torn to pieces in front of the throne of Christ. Our acts of thankfulness becomes acts of pride and selfishness, neither of which is honoring or glorifying to God. 

So, as you enter this week of busyness – planning, traveling, buying, cooking, cleaning, preparing and all the other craziness that I know goes on at my house – check your heart. Make sure that you determine in your spirit that you will choose to plan, travel, buy, cook, clean and prepare with thankfulness in your heart because all of these actions require prayer, singing (to keep from going crazy), talking with others and giving of yourself and what you have out of your abundance. Thanksgiving is a time for giving thanks. Make sure THAT is your primary priority.

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Listening for the What

Philippians 4:19 – “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

We have been a shoebox packing church these last few weeks. It all started when we had a youth rally and invited other churches in the area to bring items that we could collectively use to pack shoeboxes for children in foreign countries (or possibly our own country). It is called Operation Christmas Child. It was a great time and a huge blessing. We were able to pack 100 shoeboxes on that day. 100! That’s a lot for a group of little congregations! 

However, the cost for shipping each box is $9. That’s $900! How in the world could we possibly gather that much money?! We shouldn’t have even let that thought cross our mind. We asked the people to give and did they ever! We were able to gather enough money to ship those boxes, plus some!

That brings us to yesterday. 

My son is going on a mission trip to Haiti in January. His school is collecting a little bit different type of shoebox for that trip. We took our youth group (and young adults 😉 yesterday and filled shoeboxes for this cause as well. We invaded the local Dollar Tree after a pizza lunch and packed until our boxes overflowed. It was so much fun! And the super thing about it is that my son may have the opportunity to hand out some of the very boxes that we packed. Some little child will be able to play and appreciate what we chose to pack into that plain brown box. Those boxes cost $7 to ship. And you know what, that is covered already – before we even packed the boxes.

My point is this – God is ready to supply all we need and more each and every time we choose to serve Him with our words, thoughts and actions. All He is asking us to do is go. Go and do. Go and try. Just Go! We don’t need to worry about the why or the how. We just need to listen for the what that He wants us to do.  

Back to the grocery store

Hebrews 10:23-25 – “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is ; but exhorting one another : and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”

It is my goal to only go to the grocery store one time a week. That rarely happens. Despite my diligence in making out a grocery list, checking to see who needs what and then following that list to the “t”, I usually end up back at the grocery store for something during the week. Right now, my fridge is empty and my teenage son is starting to panic. The apple juice is gone. The milk is gone. Life might just end if the child doesn’t have apple juice and milk! 

But going back the the grocery store isn’t such a bad thing – it means that I sufficient funds available to supply the needs of my family in a spontaneous moment. It means that all the good stuff that I have purchased has been gobbled up by 2 growing teenagers. Good stuff in, good stuff out.

So, I know you have to be wondering what in the world going to the grocery store has to do with going to church. Hold on and see how my crazy brain works.

The assembling of ourselves together was not meant to be a one time a week event. We need the support and love and encouragement of one another often. When I don’t see my church family more than one time a week, I feel left out and sad and empty inside. I love vacations, but I miss being with my brothers and sisters at church. I need to share life with them. I need to hear their encouraging words. I need to laugh with them. I need to cry with them. I need to serve with them. I can’t do that one time a week. 

This life is challenging. We all face hurdles that have to be jumped. We all face knots that need to be untied. We all face obstacles that have to be figured out. How can we do all that alone? We can’t. We need help. We need words of encouragement and guidance. What better place to find all that than among people who love the Lord. 

Wrapping all this up, if I can’t make it through the week with only one trip to the grocery store, how do I think that I can make it through the week with only one interaction with my church family? God used the writer of Hebrews to encourage us to go and be with our church family frequently. He doesn’t want us to feel alone. He doesn’t want us to feel weak and neglected. He wants us around people who love Him so that we can grow and help one another out. Things that the grocery store have to offer us are life sustaining and needful. The things that our church family and serving God have to offer us are life sustaining and needful. So, get out there. Get involved in your church. See what you have really been missing by staying home when the church doors are open.

Friends

Proverbs 18:24 – “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”

Yesterday, our youth group completed our annual pizza date and collection of items for Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes. We had several teenagers join us on this excursion. And man, did they ever have fun!

I loved looking down the table at lunch and seeing all those glasses of soda hovering around plates of pizza. I enjoyed listening to them laugh and poke each other. I was grateful for their kindness and respect to those around them.

And then when we got to the store to collect our items, I was touched by their heart in gathering so many different items for their individual shoebox. They were concerned about this child’s hygiene, eating utensils, toys/entertainment items and other things that they could use around their home. 

And after the needs of the shoebox were met, that is when the laughing started. I could hear my son and several other boys just giggling and having a grand ole time. I went to search them out and what did I find? They had found the masks and was trying several on. It didn’t matter that the masks were too small. It didn’t matter that they were being stared at. All that mattered is that they were having a great time.

Then they went to the church house. After practicing for a puppet show and working on some music, they began playing spoons. It’s a card game that can get very intense, but they love it. It is a tradition for them. They laughed. They yelled. They were reaching over one another and knocking down chairs. They were having a great time. It was spectacular!

I tell you all of this to remind you of this – friends are important. Godly friends are even more important. It is needful for you to have fun with your friends. It is needful for you to serve with your friends. God has given us the opportunity for friendship and He wants us to enjoy it. Schedules are busy and life gets hectic, I know. I am right there with you. I wish I had more time for friends. I miss girls night out. It seems like I am so caught up with all the activities my kids are involved in that I forget to make time for my friends. 

So this week, let’s do something about it. Even if it is just sending a text or an email, reach out to a friend. Let them know that you are thinking of them. Let them know you are praying for them. 

Baby Believer

1 Peter 2:2 – “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.”

My daughter has a good friend that accepted Jesus as her Savior this school year. Since that time, she and my daughter have been reading and discussing the Bible together. It’s really cute, if one forgets to read a chapter, they have to give the other one a dollar.  If they neglect to read more than one chapter, they have to buy a spirit ribbon on Friday and the other one gets to decide where they wear it, like on their forehead. Not something I would do, but it is the way they hold one another accountable.

Last night, they were face timing and discussing what they had read the night before. My daughter’s friend had made a list of questions to talk to her about. She is a new Believer who is hungry and thirsty for the Word. She has been taught so many different things from so many different people that she just wants to know what Jesus says about everything. And what better place to find it than the Bible.

When was the last time you and some close friend of yours had that sort of discussion? When was the last time you were hungry for the Word of God? When was the last time you made a list of questions to discuss with someone about what you read in the Bible?

Heart pricking, isn’t it?

The older we get, the less likely we are to ask questions. We don’t want to look foolish. But this young lady doesn’t care what she looks like to others. She wants to know God more and more. And her questions are thought provoking. They make you stop and consider what was going on, who Jesus was talking to and why. It’s a great way to learn. 

I also think that we ebb and flow when it comes to reading God’s word. We have times when we are really diligent about it and other times when “stuff” gets in the way. Maybe we all need some sort of accountability partner to keep us reading. I think it would be good for us. Maybe it would get us to sincerely desire the Word of God in a whole new way. 

So this week, I want to challenge you to read His Word diligently. Let His words so seep into you that you are contemplating long after you close the Book. And ask questions. Teachers always tell their students at the beginning of the year that there is no such thing as a stupid question. And it is so true. More than likely, someone else is thinking the same thing. Go, learn and grow.

Gray head

Proverbs 20:29 – “The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the gray head.”

Yesterday, I had a patient that was a young teenager in Munich during World War II. I had a million questions to ask her, but since it was our initial meeting, I kept them to a minimum. 

As I was laying in bed last night thinking and praying about my day, many of the people I have treated in the past came back to my memory. I saw their faces. I remembered their story. I remembered our story. It made me smile. 

I have been so blessed to have had so many truly amazing and history filled people in my life. I treated a man who survived the beaches of Normandy. I have treated people who have overcome significant medical incidents. I have treated many completely ordinary people with extraordinary personalities – beautiful souls with hearts to share. I have treated people who have challenged me physically, emotionally and spiritually. I have cried in the bathroom because they passed away. I have listened to them cry and have laughed profusely with them. I have been there when they did something they never thought they could do. 

So as I was thinking about all of this, this verse came to my mind. The thing that I have right here and right now is my strength. Oh, I’m not ready to compete in any competitions but I can hold my own, so to speak. But I try to be strong emotionally and spiritually too. Sometimes people need that just as much as they need my physical strength. I do this because one day, I will be the gray head. I will be the one telling stories and crying with some poor soul that has to try and teach me how to get in and out of bed. Truly, I hope the Lord comes back before then. But if He delays, I know He will send me someone like me to laugh and cry with. 

My point is this, our aging population is vitally important. They have so much to offer. We can’t neglect or forget about them. They need love and compassion and respect. God has them here to teach us and nurture us and love us in a way that we don’t yet comprehend. So reach out to that person that is struggling to get their groceries in the car. Reach out to that neighbor who can’t easily bring in their garbage cans. Take some time to listen to their stories and hear the desires of their heart. God has them here for you. Love them. Happy Friday. 

Extra Icing

John 10:27,28 – “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”

I had an amazing experience yesterday.

I was seeing a client and this client told me, out of the blue, that they thought their death was close. This client has multiple medical issues but seems to be functioning fairly well. I probed a bit and found out more information but nothing that would necessarily substantiate the fears that were expressed. 

Yet, I felt the Holy Spirit impress upon my heart that I needed to confirm and/or present the plan of salvation to this person. And I did. It was amazing. I told my client very bluntly and candidly about what it takes to KNOW that death is not the end. And my client confirmed that they had the free gift of salvation in their heart. 

I’m a nobody. I love what I do. I love being in contact with people and helping them and walking through all sorts of situations and problems with them. But when I get the opportunity to speak to someone I have grown close to about Jesus and His free gift of salvation- well, that’s just extra icing on the cupcake. I don’t push it but I don’t hide it. And when God was speaking to my heart yesterday, for once, I listened. And it was beautiful!

So I want to encourage you to live it out. We never know how long we have or how long the person across from us has. Yesterday, I heard His voice and I followed and it was truly a blessing in my life. I encourage you to do the same. Happy Wednesday.