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Archive for the ‘Thanksgiving.’ Category

How to be Thankful When You Don’t Feel Like It.


Cliff Young

As we approach another Thanksgiving Day, I’m reminded of some of the Thanksgiving-related articles I’ve written over the years for Crosswalk.com and was having a difficult time trying to discover a “new perspective” on what I naively thought was one of the only politically undisturbed celebrations we still had.

Most of us probably remember making paper turkeys and pilgrim hats in grade school to commemorate the three-day feast when the Native Americans and Pilgrims joined together in the fall of 1621. The colonies continued to celebrate a day of Thanksgiving concurrently until President George Washington proclaimed November 26th as the national day of public thanksgiving and prayer in 1789.

President Lincoln issued a Thanksgiving Proclamation declaring the last Thursday in November as the day of “thanksgiving and praise” which stood seventy-six years until retailers complained to the President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to move Thanksgiving up a week in order to give shoppers an extra week of Christmas shopping after Thanksgiving.

For the next couple of years, states celebrated on different days until Congress finally passed a law in 1941 declaring Thanksgiving would officially take place on the fourth Thursday of November.

As I think about the progression of Thanksgiving in our country, I wonder how many of us have had our own personal evolution. In other words, “What has thanksgiving become to you?” Is it only something you do when you’re supposed to, reminded of or “feel like”? Does it take place at one meal a year or has it become a way of life?

In this season of thankfulness (or any season for that matter), have you ever wanted to not be thankful? Was there a time you questioned God and His ways? Has your heart ever been so broken you cried out to God for an answer “why” before you would even consider giving “thanks”?

The reason I ask is thatI don’t feel like being thankful right now.

Before you delete this article or give up your Crosswalk.com Singles alerts, I ask you to hear me out.

At the time of this writing, my older brother, Steve, is in a battle for his life with an aggressive cancer.  In order for him to maintain the greatest level of comfort at this point, the doctors, along with him and his spouse, have decided not to treat it anymore. This will quite likely be his last Thanksgiving.

My heart breaks for his wife, four children and my mother. How do I help to make sense of this to my eleven year old nephew? How do I comfort a family during this (supposedly) festive time of year? What words can I say to ease the heart of my mother who is about to lose her oldest son? How do I encourage others (and myself) to continue to believe when it seems as if all of my answers are gone and prayers go unanswered? Why do I have to go through this all alone?

Even though Congress enacted a law to celebrate a day of “thanksgiving” for a specific twenty-four hour period, I am having difficulty with the thought of it.

I have studied the Bible and memorized Scripture enough to hear those verses reverberate in my head about “God not giving us more than we can handle,” “His ways are not our ways,” “He will comfort you in times of trouble”….etcetera, etcetera.

Those kinds of passages all seem good and fine when you’re on the giving end rattling them off to others in times of need, but when you’re the recipient (even if in your own head), it just doesn’t seem sufficient.

Over the three months of tears and prayer since learning of my brother’s diagnosis, our family and I have been encouraged, prayed for and supported by a number of close friends. It is through these relationships have I begun to recognize and understand how thankfulness can be grasped despite the feelings and circumstances we experience.

It may be the “new perspective” I was in search of.

Longtime relationships, whether personal, romantic or ones with the Lord, are not just based upon feelings, but rather built over many years of walking together in a variety of situations.

Many friendships falter when each gets angry at the other, marriages fail because one or both partners don’t “feel” the same for one another and relationships with God fall away because it was based on emotion alone.

My brother and I probably didn’t “like” each other at times as brothers do, but we love one another and are committed to our relationship. We would do anything for each other. I could honestly say without hesitation, if I could trade places with him right now, I would.

I am coming to grips I may never receive the answers in this lifetime to “Why now? Why so soon? Why when his children need him so much?” and many others, but this can’t be a reason to run from God nor an excuse to not be thankful for the blessings I have received.

Through the anger, frustration, and tears, I am slowly finding peace and resolve.

I am thankful for enough maturity and wisdom to “get over myself” (most of the time) to appreciate the more important things in life.

I am thankful for the amazing relationships God has allowed me to have with His people.

I have come to find thankfulness in my singleness which has given me the opportunity to visit and spend more time with my brother and his family over the years, even though I haven’t always been the most appreciative of my non-married status or the time I felt I “had” to spend with them.

I am thankful for the relationship I have built with my nephews and niece (and extended nephews and nieces) which could have only happened as a result of my singleness.

I am thankful for the relationship my brother and I built and the memories we have made, even though I feel they are being cut short.

I am thankful for the lessons about life, sports and relationships he taught me amidst the disagreements.

I am thankful for him and his wife for raising a godly family whom they should and are very proud of.

I am eternally grateful for my brother’s relentless prodding of me to go to church and his supportiveness of my endeavors and writings.

I love you Steve and will always miss you.

What will you be thankful for this coming twenty-four hours….and beyond?

Author’s note: Stephen Young went to be with Jesus on Friday, November 22nd 2013.

Cliff Young is a contributing writer to Sandlot Stories (ARose Books), as well as the monthly column, “He Said-She Said,” in Crosswalk.com’s Singles Channel. An architect and former youth worker, he now works with Christian musicians and consults for a number of Christian ministries. Got feedback? Send your comments and questions to cydmg@yahoo.com. Find him on facebook and twitter.

Publication date: November 26, 2013

How Gratitude Is the Key to a Healthier Life.


Thanksgiving prayer
An attitude of gratefulness is important to all areas of your life. (Paul Armstrong/Flickr/Creative Commons)

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. Simply saying the word fills the air with the comforting aroma of my mom’s homemade stuffing and floods my mind with images of orange-yellow leaves drifting down from treetops and forming crunchy piles underfoot. I can envision the gigantic Turkey Float making its way through Manhattan during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and hear the men of my family cheering on the Dallas Cowboys in the TV room.

But what if Thanksgiving was more than just a holiday revolving around festive parades, football games and the daylong activity I like to call “Gobble ‘til you wobble”? What if it was more than an elaborate meal around which we say grace and thank God for the blessings of friends, family and freedom? What if we made Thanksgiving—or, in verb form, “giving thanks”—a daily exercise?

As it turns out, showing gratitude is more like exercise than we might expect. It offers a cornucopia of health benefits that can radically improve our mental, emotional and physical states. Here are a few reasons you should consider making “Thank you” a favorite phrase:

1. You’ll Exercise More
In an experimental comparison, psychologists Robert Emmons and Michael McCollough found that those who kept weekly gratitude journals exercised more regularly and felt better about their lives as a whole. They were even more optimistic about the upcoming week compared to the non-journaling group.

Being optimistic, as many of you may know, is a biblical principle that teaches us to seek the good in life and to focus on it. Making a concerted effort to think on our blessings and give thanks for them automatically places our hearts and minds in a position poised to exude life-altering positivity.

“Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (Phil. 4:8, NLT).

2. You’ll Have a Greater Sense of Well-Being
Emmons and McCollough also noted that grateful people experience higher levels of positive emotions, life satisfaction and vitality and lower levels of depression and stress. It’s pointed out that grateful people don’t deny or ignore the dreary aspects of life, but their thankful attitude overpowers unpleasant emotions and enhances positive ones.

Job was a righteous man who lost everything: all of his possessions, his health, even his 10 children and the faith of his wife who told him to “curse God and die.” But somehow, despite his physical suffering and spiritual affliction, Job lifted up his shaven, sore-covered head and steadfastly praised God. Even though his faith was challenged, it was never destroyed. After everything had been stripped away, he chose to say, “Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).

Because we’re told in chapter 1 that Job was upright and blameless when he had much, it’s safe to assume he was probably also a thankful man. Being grateful in the good times gave him faith to endure the hard times and place his hope—his very life—in God’s hands. We can likewise equip ourselves to weather life’s storms when we show gratitude while sailing on smooth seas, when we look up at the clear night sky and thank our Captain for His guidance, protection and provision.

3. You’ll Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
What is also interesting about Emmons and McCollough’s research is the striking evidence that grateful individuals place less importance on material goods. The participants’ weekly records of gratitudeshifted their focus from possessions to personal goals and from anxiety to appreciation. The result was that they became less envious of others. They were even more likely to be more generous with their own possessions than their “less grateful” counterparts.

In 1 Corinthians, Paul began comparing himself to the other apostles, calling himself the least among them. He said he was not even worthy to be called an apostle because of his shameful past as a persecutor of the church. This unhealthy comparison swiftly comes to a halt when Paul’s thoughts return to thankfulness:

“But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace” (1 Cor. 15:10).

Paul remembered how blessed he’d been by the grace of God, and the burden of condemnation that had crept onto his shoulders quickly evaporated. When we replace words of self-pity with songs of praise and rebuke toxic thoughts of comparison with reminders of our righteousness through Christ, the roots of envy are suffocated and the fruits of the Spirit begin to blossom once again.

“A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones” (Prov. 14:30, NIV).

This Thanksgiving, when you’re gathered around the family and friends (and food!) you hold dearest, I challenge you to commit to carrying the spirit of gratitude and gratefulness with you, long after the holiday season has faded into the dawn of the new year. I challenge you to make thanksgiving a daily celebration of God’s grace, an endless feast upon His eternal promises, and a constant chorus of thanks for the finished work of His Son.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever” (Ps. 118:1, NLT).

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

DIANA ANDERSON

Diana Anderson-Tyler is the author of Creation House’s Fit for Faith: A Christian Woman’s Guide to Total Fitness. Her popular website can be found at fit4faith.com, and she is the owner and a coach at CrossFit 925. Diana can be reached on Twitter. This article was originally posted to her blog.

Thanksgiving: Why I Am Thankful By Rudolf Ogoo Okonkwo.


 

For those in America and those who embrace its sensibilities, today is Thanksgiving.   I am thankful that the people’s servants are throwing away their umbrellas for the brooms. Let the rain fall on the kings and the queens, I guess. Now is the time to sweep, I suppose. Or are they just itching for somewhere to sit, cross their legs and pick their teeth?

I am thankful that I know why the fallen lizard nods its head.

I am thankful that the circle is almost complete. A president has gone to Mecca. A president has visited Jerusalem.  What’s left is a president that will visit Okija Shrine.

I am thankful that I don’t say “nothing spoil.” When something is spoiled, I say it is spoiled.

I am thankful that Nigeria’s economy is growing at over 6%. So are the strikes, the unemployment, the crime and the remuneration of political office holders.

I am thankful that I am a stakeholder. So is the beggar, the truck pusher and the market woman. We are all entitled to an equal part of the stake.

I am thankful that subjugated ghosts of our past are creeping out of the graveyard. They deserve salvation, too.

I am thankful that I know that if those with the knives all chop small small, nothing will be left for the children yet unborn to chop.

I am thankful that we know that power comes from the guts of those who want it so badly. It doesn’t drop like Manna from heaven.

I am thankful that I am true to myself. That is the ultimate commandment.

I am thankful that we know that we cannot move the nation forward without touching the so-called untouchables- the so-called anointed. They are the ones whose roots are holding the nation back.

I am thankful that I am relatively happy in spite of all the madness around me.

I am thankful that we dey – the same way God dey, Sun dey, moon dey. Each one must do its own thing to keep the circle of life going.

I am thankful that I express myself without the fear of being wrong, even when I am the only voice.

I am thankful that we work hard and still find the time to pause and laugh. Laughter rejuvenates the worn out muscles.

I am thankful that my friends still consider me their friend even when I do not keep in touch as I used to.

I am thankful that we have all agreed that we cannot worship people and still hold them accountable.

I am thankful that my flaws do not eat up my self-esteem. They should not eat up yours. Everyone counts, including you.

I am thankful that those who can bend their knees down enough allow the blanket of life to cover their whole body.

I am thankful that I know how much I need to know before I know how little I know.

I am thankful that the mountains and valleys of our lives are just flyovers and subways to the city in the sun.

I am thankful that my marriage was not made in heaven but in the heart of a special woman, Edna, who I can reach with smiles, tears and fears.   I am thankful for the impression of me as an all-knowing, all-powerful, wealthy man that my kids, Ijeamaka and Ogonna, have.   I am thankful for my parents, J. C. and Madam J. C for teaching me how to think for myself.   I am thankful for my siblings who pick up the slack as I strive to pick up the flak.   I am thankful I am able to make sacrifices in spite of the embarrassing moral authority they try to confer on me.   I am thankful for my annoying habits. Otherwise, I would think I am perfect.   I am thankful for those who curse me out. They love me. Even though neither them nor I often believe it.   I am thankful I am good at something. I just have to find out what the hell that thing is.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

What Should We Be Most Grateful For This Thanksgiving?.


Carey Kinsolving

In reading Thanksgiving poems, I came across this clever writing by Edgar A. Guest“When turkey’s on the table lain, / And good things I may scan, / I’m thankful that I wasn’t made / A vegetarian.”

Vegetarians and carnivores alike should be grateful for this Thanksgiving prayer written by Steve, 10: “Dear Lord, thank you for my dear family and that none of them have been hurt physically. Thank you for my food, clothes and house. Lord, I especially pray for our police officers, our country and president. Give him wisdom to make the right choices.

“Thank you for sending your son to die for us. Thank you for all my blessings. Amen!”

The Apostle Paul called for all Christians to pray for “kings and all who are in authority” (I Timothy 2:1). All Christians, regardless of your political persuasion, should pray for the president, his cabinet, the Congress, governors, military leaders, fire fighters, police officers and other government authorities.

I confess that I often take for granted the peaceful conditions in which I live in South Texas. All I have to do is travel about 30 miles to the Mexican border to realize why I should be giving thanks. If you ever have an opportunity to befriend a police officer, you’ll learn about the challenges the police face every day so that we can live in peace.

Even if you don’t patrol the streets with a gun in your holster, you can pull the trigger in the spiritual realm by praying for those in authority. The Bible tells us there’s a realm where demonic rulers war against God‘s angels and God’s people for the control of nations (Daniel 10:4-14). The battle is hot, the casualties are real and the consequences eternal.

Let’s be thankful for victory in the greatest battle, says Karla, 11: “This Thanksgiving, we should be grateful for what the Lord has done for us, and what he let his wonderful, loving son do for us. Jesus Christ gave his life for our sins without complaining or even worrying what would happen to him. Even though Jesus Christ died at 33, he still lives inside of all of us, if you let him in.”

I’m glad you made it clear, Karla, that Jesus lives today.

Be grateful that Jesus looked evil in the eye and didn’t blink. When falsely accused at his trials, he didn’t answer. When mocked and spit upon, he refused to retaliate. When nailed to a cross, he asked his Father to forgive his tormentors. But when placed in a tomb after his murderers thought they had won, he burst the bonds of death to give eternal life to all who believe in him.

“This Thanksgiving, I am most thankful for being safe,” says Shelby, 11. “I am part of a great American body and under God’s control. I am thankful that God is a part of me, and I can trust he will take care of me. I will keep trusting God.”

We’re glad to be Americans, but we must remember that America is not unshakeable or eternal. Everyone who belongs to Jesus, however, is part of an everlasting kingdom. As the Bible says, “So let us be thankful because we have a kingdom that cannot be shaken,” (Hebrews 12:28 NCV).

Happy Thanksgiving!

Listen to a talking book, download the “Kids Color Me Bible” for free, watch Kid TV Interviews and the Mission Explorers Documentary at http://www.KidsTalkAboutGod.org. Bible quotations are from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

COPYRIGHT 2013 CAREY KINSOLVING

Publication date: November 15, 2013

Thankful for every day…


By Bobby Schuller, Crystal Cathedral Pastor

“The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” 
-Job 1:21

We place unreasonable expectations on our friends and loved ones. We expect them to drop everything they’re doing, answer the phone, and come hang out with us, or go out to dinner, or go see a ballgame. And all of these things that we do diminish happiness and gratitude in our lives, and that’s not what the kingdom of God is about. It’s not about entitlement, it’s not about assumption, it’s not about having all outcomes the way we want them all the time.

What about reasonable expectations? Can we give up believing that “I will wake up healthy tomorrow”? Or, “My spouse will always be with me”? Or, “I’ll always have this house”? What if we were to give up those expectations?

Instead, we could wake up and say, “God, another day? Another gift from you that, today, I can live?” Imagine what our lives would look like. We would be people thankful for every day we’re given, experiencing each one as a gift from God.

Prayer: Creator God, thank you for today’s reminder to diminish my expectations. I know that if I do this, I will grow closer to you and experience the blessings I now overlook. Amen.

Reflection: What positive growth can you imagine you will experience in your life as you lower you expectations and raise your gratefulness to God?

Voluntary Thanksgiving.


Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!
Psalm 107:21

Recommended Reading
Psalm 107:8, 15, 31 ( http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm%20107:8,%2015,%2031&version=NKJV)

The American Pilgrims weren’t the first to give thanks with a meal: “The meat of their fellowship offering of thanksgiving must be eaten on the day it is offered; they must leave none of it till morning” (Leviticus 7:15, NIV 1984). Due to the lack of refrigeration, the “fellowship offering of thanksgiving” had to be offered and eaten on the same day. Today we enjoy leftovers for several days after!

Listen to Today’s Radio Message ( http://www.davidjeremiah.org/site/radio.aspx?tid=email_listenedevo )

The Israelites did not restrict their expressions of thanksgiving to one day. “Thank offerings” could be offered at any time as a type of “fellowship offering” (Leviticus 3; 7:11-34), one of the five categories of Old Testament sacrifices (the others were burnt offerings, grain offerings, sin offerings, and guilt offerings). A fellowship offering was a voluntary offering. When offered for the purpose of thanksgiving, it included not only an animal sacrifice but various breads to be consumed as a meal.

Voluntary  is the key word. We are free at any time to thank God for His goodness and wonderful works: “Let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name” (Hebrews 13:15).

God’s giving deserves our thanksgiving.
Unknown

Read-Thru-the-Bible
Romans 15-16

By David Jeremiah.

Giving Thanks to God: Losing a National Tradition.


 

As we, once again, approach this national day of “thanksgiving” I thought it necessary to reflect upon our nation’s long history of acknowledging and giving thanks to the Almighty God.

On October 3, 1789 George Washington issued the nation’s first presidential proclamation in which he called the nation to set aside a day for giving thanks to that “great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be….”

President Washington gave under his official hand the following words:

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor…

Furthermore President Washington acknowledged that he was joined by the Congress in his appeal to the nation:

Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness…

This presidential proclamation represented—in unequivocal terms—the government’s call upon the people of this nation to acknowledge and give thanks to God. These were not benign religious platitudes but unambiguous statements reflecting the consensus view of life and reality, which acknowledged that there is one God; the God who has revealed Himself in Scripture, in nature and in the person of Jesus Christ. Sadly much has changed; today our government institutions panic at the slightest reference to God and crumble in the face of every challenge to remove religious perspectives from the public square.

This weak-kneed posture stands in stark contrast to the ideals set forth by our Founding Fathers. Consider President Washington’s concluding appeal in his momentous proclamation:

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best (emphasis mine).

Seventy-four years later, in the midst of the great Civil War, President Lincoln would issue a similar call to the nation acknowledging the nation’s many blessings from the Lord, “…who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.” President Lincoln, like our first president, would once again call the nation to national thanksgiving and repentance with these words:

And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience…and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

America, in its folly, has been in the process of reordering its national identity and severing dependence from the God who has given it birth and blessed it for so long. Therefore, it seems that we might be well served to recall the proclamation of these great men set aside for this Thanksgiving holiday and once again give thanks to Almighty God for His longsuffering patience and mercy toward this nation and humbly repent of our national rebellion and wanton disregard for all that is holy and just.

This national repentance begins in the Church, which has seemingly lost its way—abandoned (practically speaking) its first love and so often conformed to the world. May we on this Thanksgiving Day acknowledge the many and abundant blessings of Almighty God accompanied by a deep and sorrowful repentance for our individual, corporate and national sins. This, my dear brothers and sisters is our only hope and it is for this real hope and the promise of forgiveness that we can give thanks indeed!

May the Lord, in His great mercy, pour out his Spirit upon you, your families, His Church and this nation this Thanksgiving Day!

© 2013 by S. Michael Craven

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Michael Craven

Center for Christ & Culture

S. Michael Craven is the president of Battle for Truth and the author of Uncompromised Faith: Overcoming Our Culturalized Christianity (Navpress, 2009). Michael’s ministry is dedicated to equipping the church to engage the culture with the redemptive mission of Christ. For more information on Battle for Truth and the teaching ministry of S. Michael Craven, visit www.battlefortruth.org.

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