Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Week of Thanksgiving -- Thanksgiving Edition

“When the blessings of life are seen as a result of God’s grace, it makes us into gentler, more grateful people. Such an attitude prevents us from assessing life in terms of what we are owed, an attitude that can sow seeds of anger and bitterness ” (Darrell Bock).

It's simply profound, this perspective where all of life takes on a hue of increasing gratitude when seen against the backdrop of God's grace. James says, "every good and perfect gift is from above." On Thanksgiving Day, we as a people intentionally pause from our routine to count our blessings, all sent from the storehouse of God's grace.

Today, I am thankful for thanksgiving! No, not the holiday; I am thankful for the value of thanksgiving. Can you imagine life without gratitude? Can you conceive of the emptiness and the hollowness of life where thanksgiving was non-existent?

I am thankful for my immediate family. Mandy, Trae and Tori make my life full of excitement. I dare not say more lest I gush more than I already have this week. Suffice it to say, I'm smitten with the gift of my wife and daughters! I am truly completed and balanced by the blessing of their presence.

I am thankful for my mom and dad. My mom taught me compassion and sensitivity to others. My dad taught me wisdom and the value of hard work. Together, they instilled in me a passion to study the Bible and to share what I learn from it with others. I think today of the deep, abiding love and respect I have to my parents that only grows with each passing day.

I am thankful for my little sis. I had the honor of baptizing my sister and performing her wedding, two events locked into the treasure of memories that birth gratitude in my heart. I am grateful God has given to Ryan and Melissa two beautiful children, with all the energy and enthusiasm of their older cousins.

I am thankful for my extended family and the heritage of faith its given me. My family's faith heritage and the history of the Northside Church of Christ in Benton, Arkansas are inseparably linked. It was there both of my grandfathers served as Elders (only my sister can match that claim). It was there my dad served as an Elder. It was there I cut my spiritual teeth. It was there from cradle roll to high school my faith was formed alongside my entire family. My family and my home church have been very good to me and I owe them an eternal debt which I've tried to pay forward in my ministry to others.

I am thankful for the churches in Sheridan, AR; Hurricane, WV; Lake City, FL; Hot Springs Village, AR; Marble Falls, TX; and now, Fresno, CA who've given me an opportunity to minister. Each stop along the road of ministry has made an eternal difference and I can only hope I left an impact half as great as the one these unique assemblies of God's people left on me.

Most of all, I am thankful for Jesus who makes all my thanksgiving possible. My life is meaningless without the cross and the resurrection. The cross allows me to look back with gratitude at the event that makes my faith real. The resurrection allows me to look forward with gratitude at the future promise that makes my hope real. Together, faith and hope allow me to look around with gratitude, living out the real love of Jesus for real people he loves.

For what are you thankful? What fills your heart with gratitude? Find a quiet moment alone today and count your many blessings. Then, dare to share what you're thankful for with your family. Share it with your mate, your children. Consider God's grace in your life and express it to another. Gratitude for God's grace makes us gentler, more grateful people.