Living by Gratitude

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them” (John F Kennedy).

Today is the 54th anniversary of the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States. Nearly all of you who were alive on that day back in 1963 remember exactly where you were and what you were doing when you first heard the news.

He may be gone, but his legacy and his words live on.

Anyone can talk a good game, but living it is something entirely different. When it comes to gratitude, anyone can say thanks. Words are cheap. But living out your thanks is much rarer and more precious.

How do you live by gratitude? You pay it forward. You take the good done to you and do something good for someone else. You thank God best by living out His message of reconciliation and hope in a world that desperately needs that message.

In 27 minutes, it’s Thanksgiving Day. Let’s not just live out thanksgiving on this one day of the year but on each and every day of 2017 and 2018 and every year to follow, for as many years that God gives us.

As a reminder, I urge you to look for one small thing every day to be thankful for and see if that doesn’t change your entire outlook on life.

Oh, and happy Thanksgiving Eve, everyone!

 

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Do You Do Well to Be Angry?

“Do you do well to be angry?” (Jonah 4:4, ESV).

That’s the question God asked Jonah. Jonah didn’t want to go to Ninevah in the first place. He knew what kind of people they were, what they did to their enemies, how they showed them no mercy. He knew if he went and preached repentance to them, they might actually repent.

It’s easy to look down on an attitude like that and be self-righteous in condemning Jonah. But do we do the same?

Is there a person or a people group that you don’t think deserves God’s mercy? For some, it might be Muslims, especially the radical element. For others, it might be the LGBTQ community. Maybe it’s those pointy-headed fundamentalists who are always talking hellfire and hatred. Or maybe it’s those ivory tower liberals who have a very laissez-faire “anything goes” kind of morality.

I read today how someone was glad that Charles Manson had died. While I certainly don’t condone what he did by any means, I do think it’s wrong to celebrate the death of any human being created in the image of God, for whom Jesus died.

I firmly believe that when you qualify who is worthy of hearing and receiving the gospel of Jesus Christ, it ceases to be a gospel of grace and becomes a gospel of works and deserving.

Remember that no one deserves God’s grace. No one is exempt from that same grace. as Dr. Adrian Rogers once put it, salvation is not a reward for the righteous but a gift for the guilty.

The gospel of grace in Jesus Christ is for everyone. That goes for all the Donald Trumps out there. That goes for all the Charles Mansons, too. Just ask the Apostle Paul, who was a terrorist against the early Church and called himself the chief of sinners.

It is God’s desire that none should perish but that all should repent and come to saving faith in Jesus. There are no qualifiers. God wants no one to perish. God wants all to be saved. Even your enemies. Even mine. Even people like you and me.

 

If You Don’t Live It, You Don’t Believe It

I was struck by something in the sermon today.

Basically, the gist of what I heard is that people are hungry and yearning for God. What they’re wanting to see is an authentic witness by a Christian whose walk matches his or her talk.

Often, when people reject Christianity, what they’re put off by isn’t so much God as those who give Him a bad name by talking a good game of faith but living in a way that denies what they profess to believe.

Brennan Manning said that what the world can’t stand is people who profess Jesus but who deny Him with their lifestyle. That’s what an unbelieving world finds so unbelievable.

The key isn’t perfection. It’s authenticity.

I still say the best way to gain someone’s trust in order to share the gospel is to listen. Not listen to respond or to pass judgment. Simply listen to hear their stories and find out who they are.

I still remember the words that Pastor Mike said about having your testimony validated by your lifestyle– if you don’t live it, you don’t believe it.

That’s the simplest (and best) way to put it. If you don’t live it, you don’t believe it.

 

All of Me

“Give me all of you!!! I don’t want so much of your time, so much of your talents and money, and so much of your work. I want YOU!!! ALL OF YOU!! I have not come to torment or frustrate the natural man or woman, but to KILL IT! No half measures will do. I don’t want to only prune a branch here and a branch there; rather I want the whole tree out! Hand it over to me, the whole outfit, all of your desires, all of your wants and wishes and dreams. Turn them ALL over to me, give yourself to me and I will make of you a new self—in my image. Give me yourself and in exchange I will give you Myself. My will, shall become your will. My heart, shall become your heart” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity).

That’s it.

God wants all of me so that all of me can become like Jesus.

God doesn’t just give me a part of Himself. God gives all of Himself to me.

Why should I not do the same?

It’s a Good Kind of Tired

Throughout the day, I had all these grandiose plans about what I was going to write about for tonight’s blog post, but here I am at 10:34 pm, completely pooped and having forgotten every single one of those wonderful ideas.

I know, I know. Write those ideas down. But for me, I always think of things when I’m in the car or some other place where I don’t have access to a pen and paper. I can’t exactly write stuff down when I’m in the middle of rush hour traffic on I-65, can I?

Anyway, I’m tired. It’s not the kind of tired I experienced when I was out pounding the pavement, looking for a job. That was a defeating, soul-weary kind of tired. I was tired when I felt like I hadn’t done anything all day. That’s the worst.

This is a good kind of tired. The kind that comes from putting in a full day’s work and knowing that I accomplished some good today. I made money, but I also made a difference.

The better kind of tired is the one where I get to turn off the alarm and sleep in tomorrow. It may be sad, but I actually fantasize about sleeping these days.

So, it was a good day, and I’m still living the dream.

Living the Dream

There’s nothing that’s more disappointing on a Friday than to realize it’s only Thursday. At least it’s not Wednesday.

I jest about wanting it to be Friday, but I really believe that there has to be more to life than merely existing from Monday to Friday and then really living on the weekend.

When you finally grasp how much of a gift each day is, then you stop merely existing during the weekdays and start living 24/7.

At least that’s the idea.

There are still some days when it’s all you can do not to count the minutes to 4 pm.

The real secret to living the dream is to not take any of your days for granted but to find ways to make each day matter by living out of the overflow of gratitude and thanksgiving.

So Happy Thursday. Tomorrow is Friday. Really and truly it is.