Tag Archives: thanksgiving

An Incomplete List

Thanksgiving Day is past. But thoughts of gratitude still linger. As part of our celebration some of our family jotted down what they were thankful for. My list was easy – my top three are Jesus and Salvation, a godly loving wife, and a precious family. In some ways it’s hard to argue with my list. Yet today I read an old story I once used to challenge others to consider what gratitude and blessing are all about – and I’m wondering if my list is incomplete. The story goes like this:

An old man showed up at the back door of the house we were renting. Opening the door a few cautious inches, we saw his eyes were glassy and his furrowed face glistened with silver stubble. He clutched a wicker basket holding a few unappealing vegetables. He bade us good morning and offered his produce for sale. We were uneasy enough that we made a quick purchase to alleviate both our pity and our fear. To our chagrin, he returned the next week, introducing himself as Mr. Roth, the man who lived in the shack down the road. As our fears subsided, we got close enough to realize it wasn’t alcohol but cataracts that “marbleized” his eyes. On subsequent visits, he would shuffle in, wearing two mismatched right shoes, and pull out a harmonica. With glazed eyes set on a future glory, he’d puff out old gospel tunes between conversations about vegetables and religion. On one visit he exclaimed, ‘The Lord is so good! I came out of my shack this morning and found a bag full of shoes and clothing on my porch.’ ‘That’s wonderful, Mr. Roth!’ we said. ‘We’re happy for you.’ ‘You know what’s even more wonderful?’ he asked. ‘Just yesterday I met some people who could use them.’

When the Lord is our treasure, when our heart has been given over to Him and filled by Him, thankfulness and gratitude should never be an end in themselves. Rather, they should lead to sharing our wealth of blessings, no matter how much or little they are. That’s where I sense some incompleteness in my list. Shouldn’t the joy of giving be somewhere near the top? Yes – it should. And once again I am challenged to see what more, and in what other ways I can give – not as a duty but joyfully because of what God has given me in His Son. Surely – what I have is something someone else can use! Surely the blessing I have received is one someone else needs.

I need to embrace again the worlds of the Apostle Paul.

And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us. So we urged Titus, just as he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you—see that you also excel in this grace of giving. I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. (2 Corinthians 8:1-9)
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:6-8)

That pretty much says it all. May my blessings and your blessings find their way into the life and heart of someone who needs them. May the heart of Christ find it’s way through us into their hearts. Then my list will be complete.

A Thankful Heart

Elderly, old, mature man close up portrait

The following story seems appropriate for this week of Thanksgiving.

An old man showed up at the back door of the house we were renting. Opening the door a few cautious inches, we saw his eyes were glassy and his furrowed face glistened with silver stubble. He clutched a wicker basket holding a few unappealing vegetables. He bade us good morning and offered his produce for sale.  We were uneasy enough that we made a quick purchase to alleviate both our pity and our fear. To our chagrin, he returned the next week, introducing himself as Mr. Roth, the man who lived in the shack down the road. As our fears subsided, we got close enough to realize it wasn’t alcohol but cataracts that “marbleized” his eyes. On subsequent visits, he would shuffle in, wearing two mismatched right shoes, and pull out a harmonica. With glazed eyes set on a future glory, he’d puff out old gospel tunes between conversations about vegetables and religion. On one visit he exclaimed, ‘The Lord is so good! I came out of my shack this morning and found a bag full of shoes and clothing on my porch.’ ‘That’s wonderful, Mr. Roth!’ we said. ‘We’re happy for you.’ ‘You know what’s even more wonderful?’ he asked. ‘Just yesterday I met some people who could use them.’

So what are you thankful for? And what are you doing with it?

(This story – author unknown – can be found in Stories for the Heart, compiled by Alice Gray, Multnomah Books, 2001, p. 53)

Time Out

The Thanksgiving, Advent and Christmas seasons have the potential to be exciting and  beautiful. I said, “have the potential” because research shows that for many it is depressing – loneliness increases, broken relationships are magnified, families get unusually stressed, and indebtedness grows. These are some of the reasons the suicide rate increases at this time of year.  I’m not trying to be morbid – just trying to make a point. For all its glory and grace, this time of has become a struggle to survive. And even if none of the above is true for you, there is a common ground for all of us – we dread Thanksgiving to year-end because we know we’ll be way too busy.

With that in mind, this anonymous piece from a daily clergy email devotional I received makes an important point. May it be both a challenge and a blessing.

“Satan called a worldwide convention.  In his opening address to his evil angels, he said “We can’t keep the Christians from going to church.  We can’t keep them from reading their Bibles and knowing the truth.  We can’t even keep them from conservative values.  But we can do something else.  We can keep them from forming an intimate, abiding relationship in Christ.  If they gain that connection with Jesus, our power over them is broken.  So let them go to church, let them have their conservative lifestyles, but steal their time so they can’t gain that experience in Jesus Christ.  This is what I want you to do, angels.  Distract them from gaining hold of their Savior and maintaining that vital connection throughout their day!”

“How shall we do this?” shouted his angels.

“Keep them busy in the non-essentials of life and invent unnumbered schemes to occupy their minds,” he answered.  “Tempt them to spend, spend, spend, then borrow, borrow, borrow.  Convince the wives to go to work for long hours and the husbands to work 6 or 7 days a week, 10 to 12 hours a day, so they can afford their lifestyles.  Keep them from spending time with their children.  As their family fragments, soon their homes will offer no escape from the pressures of work. Over-stimulate their minds so that they cannot hear that small still voice. Entice them to play the radio or cassette player whenever they drive, to keep the TV, VCR, DVDs, CDs and their PCs going constantly in their homes.  And see to it that every store and restaurant in the world plays non-biblical, contradictory music constantly.  This will jam their minds and break that union with Christ.  Fill coffee-tables with magazines and newspapers.  Pound their minds with the news 24 hours a day.  Invade their driving moments with billboards. Flood their mailboxes with junk-mail, sweepstakes, mail-order catalogues and every kind of newsletter and offering products, services and false hopes.”

“Even in their recreation let them be excessive.  Have them return from the recreation exhausted, disquieted and unprepared for the coming week.  Don’t let them go nature to reflect on God’s wonders.  Send them to amusement parks, sporting events, concerts and movies instead. And when they meet for spiritual fellowship, involve them in gossip and small talk so that they leave with troubled consciences and unsettled emotions. Let them be involved in soul-winning, but crowd their lives with so many causes they have no time to seek power from Christ.  Soon they will be working in their own strength, sacrificing their health and family for the good of the cause.”

It was quite a convention in the end.  The evil angels went to their assignments causing Christians everywhere to get busy, busy, busy and rush here and there.

Has the devil been successful in his scheme?  You be the judge.

How about this definition of BUSY:

Being Under Satan’s Yoke

Satan’s goal is to take our minds away from Christ and steer us towards the cares of the world.  God wants us to enjoy life, but He must be first.  If we are too busy for God, then we are too busy!”

Take Time Clock Meaning Rest And Relax

Slow down – and Have a peaceful, blessed holiday season!