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God’s Word…Life and Truth

“Give Thanks”

 “Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever” (Psalm 106:1).

Thanksgiving is a time to remember all the blessings in our lives.

Let’s begin now…and continue all year long.

Our daughter started a new Thanksgiving tradition last year. Their family makes a Thankful Tree. The children find a tree branch and place it in a homemade container and then cut out leaves made from construction paper. Each day the children and their parents write something they want to thank God for on a leaf and then hang the leaves on the tree branch.  — Adapted from Changing Seasons In Me, article originally written Nov. 13, 2014.

 

Jack and Julia

I’m not fond of the winter months. In fact, my wardrobe is indicative of this, having many more summer clothes than winter. My hands shiver when walking down the freezer aisle at the grocery store…in the summer!

A thankful spirit often requires a different or new perspective on life’s familiarities. Otherwise, we may find ourselves taking for granted the blessings right in front of us….our family, the changing colors of autumn, a red bird perched on a snow-covered branch, and so on. While driving home from work the other day, my husband called and told me to look outside at the beautiful sunset. I ran out on our deck, only to be disappointed I had missed the window of opportunity.

To keep our children from missing the windows of opportunity, we (parents and grandparents) have the awesome responsibility to train our children to have watchful eyes, for the many blessings we receive each day. This takes intentionality! Children and adults not fully surrendered to Christ, are naturally self-absorbed and can easily miss the joy God intends. Looking at the world through eternal lenses portrays true and lasting blessings. The following story depicts two diverse perspectives from ten men who received the same blessing.

Jesus Heals Ten Men with Leprosy – Luke 17:11-19

11 Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy[b] met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.

15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.

17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

After reading and contemplating the two varying responses to the lepers’ healing, ask yourself how you may have responded? Would it be more like the nine, or the one?  I’d like to propose two diverse perspectives—the temporal and the eternal.

The temporal perspective:

“The nine” cleansed lepers missed their window of opportunity to receive an even greater blessing, far beyond their physical healing. Here are a few possible reasons “the nine” didn’t go back to thank Jesus.

  • Being in isolation for so long, their minds were solely focused on returning to their former lifestyle.

  • They may have thought Jesus was simply doing what He was “supposed” to do…heal people. Therefore, they took their healing for granted.

  • Some may have said something like, “I’m sure God wants me to get busy fulfilling the plans He purposed for my life.”

The eternal perspective:

“The one” leper who came back to thank Jesus not only recognized the miraculous healing in his life, he experienced the greater blessing—the presence of a loving and merciful Savior. His perspective was filled with overflowing gratefulness, a direct result of being Christ-focused rather than self-absorbed.

The following quotes are from the book, Love Made Perfect—Foundations for the Holy Life (1997), authored by Dr. William M. Greathouse (April 29, 1919 – March 24, 2011), minister and emeritus general superintendent in the Church of the Nazarene.

“Self-love is the disease of original sin.”  “Idolatrous self-love is our sickness, but it is a sickness God wants to cure.”

To help our children develop a grateful heart like the “one leper,” I believe we must first explain that everyone is born with a sinful nature. The sinful nature will naturally dispose every human heart toward being self-absorbed. The only cure for a self-absorbed life is full surrender to Christ. I recommend reading Dr. Greathouse’s book, Love Made Perfect, for a fuller understanding of loving God with one’s whole heart, strength, and mind—a love perfected in us through Christ alone.

Secondly, we need to stop and “smell the roses.” I love this definition for the idiom “smell the roses.”

To take time out of one’s busy schedule to enjoy or appreciate the beauty of life.

Parent Challenge

Take time to thank God throughout your day. Don’t let the busyness of your schedule or life’s distractions keep you from missing out on the blessings of life. Begin by thanking God for your precious children, spouse, friends, church family, co-workers, neighbors, etc. Practice pointing out the blessings of life to your children, as you drive along the road. The changing seasons exude with God’s blessings.

My new perspective of winter:  I love sitting by a fire on a cold wintry day with my husband. Building snowmen with our grandchildren imparts cherished memories of innocent smiles and silly giggles into my heart. Christmas brings the greatest blessing of all, as our family gathers together to sing happy birthday to Jesus. God warms my heart throughout the winter.

More Traditions

Thanksgiving tablecloth. Using the same tablecloth every year, each family member writes what they are thankful for on the tablecloth. The little ones love to make turkeys as they trace around their hands. Use permanent fabric markers or pens.

Indian Corn: Our grandchildren help me place several kernels of Indian corn by each table setting. Before eating our meal everyone shares something they are thankful for and then they place a kernel of corn into a decorative basket. Our basket goes around the table several times because the children have such thankful hearts.

 wreathThe first Sunday of Advent is November 29 this year (2015). There are limitless resources available to help families prepare their hearts to celebrate Christ’s birth. The Advent wreath is one of my favorites.

Check out Christian Book.com at:

http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/easy_find?Ntt=Advent+devotionals+for+families&N=0&Ntk=keywords&action=Search&Ne=0&event=ESRCG&nav_search=1&cms=1

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Building a Legacy of Faith ~ Boots…Am I in Style?

Boots…Am I in Style?

“3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others”  Philippians 2:3-4.

boot picPersonal Reflection:  Boots…..Everyone seems to have a stylish pair of boots, but me. Who doesn’t want to stay in style? Why have I even noticed that so many women are wearing fashionable boots? Is it because I am feeling a little envious of what others have, or is it because I just don’t want to be considered unfashionable? I’ve been searching my heart lately as these thoughts popped into my mind. I’ve come to the realization that I must not be alone in these thoughts. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be so many women wearing boots, right?  Then I think about the recent disaster that hit the Philippines, leaving potentially thousands dead and so many more missing and homeless. Why am I not much more concerned for those who are going through such horrific pain and suffering, than simply wasting my thoughts on boots, of all things!

*Note: About a year after writing this, my husband (Pappy) gave me a pair of brown boots for Christmas. My first internal thought,”Oh, I had hoped to go without getting a fashionable pair of boots.” Then I quickly felt delighted that Jeff had given me such a thoughtful gift. The following Christmas I bought myself a black pair.

While making a few edits of my original Covenant Heirs blog (to prepare for publishing a legacy book for my family), I re-read this blog. Personal conviction once again resonated. “Help me Lord, to set aside those things that deter me from pleasing you and make me look more like the world rather than my Jesus.” I don’t intend to be legalistic, but desire God’s wisdom in making eternal choices that reflect Jesus.

This brief personal reflection is a good place to contemplate what type of messages we are sending to our kids and grandkids. Consider these options.

Messages that reflect Christ and His love for others:

–   Praying for those who are hurting.

–   Donating nice or even better yet, new clothing to the Salvation Army or other compassionate ministry/organization.

–   Volunteering time serving those who are less fortunate.

–    Praising God and giving Him thanks for all the “things” we do have.

–    Sacrificially giving up something that I want, so that I can provide a need for someone else.

–    Spending time with someone who may be overlooked by others.

–     Inviting someone who is going through a difficult time over for a meal and conversation.

–     Replacing TV/computer time with family projects that will bless others.  Suggestions:

       + Call someone who you haven’t talked to for a while, just to let them know you care about them.  And, or: Write notes of encouragement and mail them to that special someone.

       + Bake some goodies for someone who needs cheering up.

       + Invite a neighbor(s) over to play table games.

        + Mow, rake, shovel snow, for someone who is physically unable to accomplish these tasks.

        + Visit an elderly care facility, and provide conversation, prayer, Bible reading, or whatever else, to brighten the hearts of those who are often overlooked. (I am reminded of a family who enjoys playing their instruments and singing for the elderly who are in nursing homes.)

So whether I choose to conform to the stylish pattern of this world and purchase a pair of fashionable boots or not is really not the real question.  The truer question I must answer: Am I willing to love others by giving up something that I “want” just because I wish to be in style? This isn’t even much of a sacrifice, is it? I really need to give up things that cost me something, such as my time. See below for a list of organizations where you and your family can volunteer time and resources.

Fill-a-Boot with Love  (Family Care Project)

Take an empty boot and begin filling it with loose change. Sacrifice money that would have been spent on a family pizza or family activity like bowling, and instead, add it to the boot collection.

In advance, designate a family care project such as: Purchase a new winter coat to donate to a homeless shelter, or purchase food for a Thanksgiving meal, to be given to a person or family who would not be able to purchase their own meal. When the boot is full, use this money to accomplish your family care project. Repeat the Fill-a-Boot with Love by designating a new family care project.

Organizations to donate time and resources to:

–  Salvation Army: https://donate.salvationarmyusa.org

–  Compassion International:  http://www.compassion.com/

–  Samaritans Purse: http://www.samaritanspurse.org/

–  Nazserve (Church of the Nazarene organization): https://serve.nazarene.org/serve/secure/Index.xhtml

Kansas City:

–  Kansas City Rescue Mission:  http://www.kcrm.org/

–  City Union Mission:  http://www.cityunionmission.org/

– Hope Faith Ministries:  http://www.hopefaithministries.org/

 

 

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2013 10: 51 am - in Building a Legacy of Faith, Serving Jesus

 

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Building a Legacy of Faith ~ A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

It is unclear (at least to me), who first coined the phrase, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” however, this is what comes to my mind while writing this journal entry.

In The Wilderness

In The Wilderness

Seven years ago my husband received a gift, of sorts, enabling him to purchase a beautiful canvas reproduction of In the Wilderness painting, by artist Ron DiCianni.

The large framed painting of Jesus hangs on the hallway wall leading to an upstairs bedroom and office. The “picture” of Jesus can actually be seen from our front entryway, but it draws the most attention when I carry my grandchildren upstairs for their naps.

Each time I walk up the steps holding one of my grandchildren, I stop and point to Jesus and say something like, “Jesus loves you and He is always watching over you.”

Our two and half year-old grandson, Max, recently exclaimed to me and to his cousins: “Jesus is here!” as he joyfully ran around our house pointing to the picture of Jesus.

Yes, a picture is worth a thousand words…and so much more, when it depicts the love and truth of Christ.

“Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone.[a] And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. 7 Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” Deuteronomy 6:4-9

I believe it is very beneficial for Christian parents/grandparents to display images (décor items) in their homes, symbolizimg their faith in Christ. In doing so, it opens the door to share one’s faith with children, grandchildren, friends, and neighbors.

Parent Challenge:  Purchase a picture of Jesus and hang it in your child’s room or in another visible location in your home. There are so many nice ones to choose from. Visit your local Christian bookstore, or shop online. For more paintings/prints from Ron DiCianni, go to this website: http://www.rondicianni.com/

Faith Forward: Talk with your children about what Jesus may have looked like (as a child, a teen, and a young adult). I’ve always thought it interesting that most of the pictures we see of Jesus are very similar. Maybe this was God’s plan, to help us connect with Jesus on a human level. Watch the following film about the life of Jesus, as told through the eyes of children.  http://jesusfilmmedia.org/video/1_529-cl-0-0/english/the-story-of-jesus-for-children (Resource from The Jesus Film Project)

Ideas from Others:  (Thanksgiving — “Our Thankful Tree”)

I love the idea of cultivating praise and thanksgiving with our children. One month before Thanksgiving, which is about now, we began to decorate our “thankful tree.” With our young children, we roamed the woods until we found a good sized evergreen limb we called our thankful tree. Each day, the children would think of 1 thing they were thankful for. I or they would write it down on a leaf…leaf design cut out on colored construction paper. I’d punch a hole through it, pull a piece of yarn through the hole and hang it. By Thanksgiving the tree was full of thankful leaves. We’d take turns reading our leaves on Thanksgiving Day.  (Submitted by Pam Enderby) To meet my friend and author, please visit Pam’s blog site at: http://www.pamenderby.blogspot.com

 
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Posted by on November 5, 2013 8: 25 am - in Building a Legacy of Faith, Grandparenting, Seasonal Celebrations

 

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Thanksgiving and Communion

 

The word “Communion” signifies the binding together or the unity desired as part of this sacrament. The root of this word is the Greek word koinonia meaning, “fellowship.” Christ-followers live in community with God and others. The word “Eucharist” signifies the celebratory and thanksgiving aspects of the sacrament. The root word eucharistein meaning, “to be thankful.” The time of Eucharist was not sober and somber, but rather joyous and celebratory. Communion is also a time of commemoration. We call it the “Lord’s Supper” because Jesus started this meal shortly before His crucifixion. As the body of believers partake in the sacrament of communion, we remember the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Thanksgiving — Just as Jesus broke bread and gave thanks with His first disciples, and as the pilgrims offered their praise in 1621, we also celebrate and give thanks to God, our Father, for His gracious and sufficient provisions.

Family Time — Read stories of the first Thanksgiving with your family. Talk about how life can be difficult at times, as it was with the first Pilgrim settlers and with the Israelites during their bondage in Egypt. Allow time for children to express difficult times in their own lives, and then remind them of God’s unfailing love and provisions in their lives. Read together the song of Thanksgiving that was sung by the Israelites as they were delivered from Pharaoh’s army after crossing the Red Sea. (Exodus 15)  As a family, write a song of Thanksgiving to the Lord and read it together on Thanksgiving Day.

Recommended Resource for Teaching Children the Sacrament of Communion:  So…You Want to Take Communion?  Published by:  Word Action (Nazarene Publishing House)

Fletcher Family Thanksgiving Traditions:  We place several kernels of corn by each table setting and then everyone takes turns placing a kernel in a basket while giving God thanks for something/someone in their life. Last year, our daughter Jennifer made a table cloth for the Thanksgiving meal. After finishing our feast, every family member from the youngest to the oldest wrote their names and something they were thankful for, along with the date. We now pass the table cloth to the host home each Thanksgiving and continue the tradition. Jennifer traced the hands of our little ones. There are so many great ways to celebrate Thanksgiving as a family, but the most important by far, is to simply spend quality time in prayer and praise to our Creator and Heavenly Father.

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2012 2: 47 pm - in Faith At Home

 

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