Monday, November 29, 2010

Let Us Give Thanks

            “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His faithful love endures forever.” Psalm 107:1

            What better time to be reminded of thankfulness than right around Thanksgiving?  I started reading a new book at the end of October. It’s called “Preparing to be a Help Meet.” It was supposed to give me tips about attracting men…no, not really, it was about how single woman can serve God and prepare themselves to become wives someday. What I wasn’t ready for was the chapter on gratefulness I read a couple weeks ago. Since it is November, of course I was already surrounded by messages of being thankful for what I have and the blessings God gives. But that chapter pointed something out in way that finally got my full attention. I realized that just stating what you’re thankful for is not true gratefulness. True gratefulness involves taking in all the blessings God has given and thanking Him for what He has done. A few days after reading that, my pastor preached on Thanksgiving. He repeated a phrase he has used before, but I never really took it to heart until then. He basically said that if God never blessed you with anything else beyond your salvation, you still have reason to give thanks to Him. Believe me, God has blessed me with so much since the day I was saved; I probably could not count them all. After that sermon, I thought some more about the message of that chapter. It talked about negative thinking, which I had never equated to ungratefulness before. I figured my negative thoughts were just triggered by depression and the way I was raised. I blamed my family; they were usually pessimistic, so naturally, I would be too. I blamed my circumstances. It seemed everyone in my life was moving on, getting married, having kids, finding fulfilling jobs, etc. Since nothing was happening for me, I had a right to be depressed and self-pitying, or so I thought. God has something else in mind.

            Instead of trying to reword the author, Debi Pearl’s words, I’m just going to quote a section of that chapter I read: “Most women say they can’t help how they feel. This is a lie which will keep you bound to a wretched life…It is not that one woman has a wonderful life and the other has nothing but misery; it is that one sees life through the eyes of thankfulness and the other through a heart of discontentment. A downcast attitude is a dishonor to God and your husband-to-be.” Ouch! I was talking to my friend, Cynthia a couple months ago about this subject. We decided we needed to stop focusing on the negative in our conversations and thoughts. I have not kept up my end of the bargain. I remember one day in church when 2 different people at 2 separate times told me I need to smile, things aren’t that bad. I’m sad to say that that almost made me feel even more sorry for myself. It’s not easy, but a thankful attitude is a choice, not a condition. So, this is a proclamation to my readers that I need to have a more grateful spirit. No more moping around in self-pity. God has done great things for me, and I should be filled with joy and thanksgiving. As Madam Blueberry said: “A thankful heart is a happy heart, I’m glad for what I have, that’s an easy way to start.” When I get into that state of discontent again, I just need to remember to count my blessings. Let’s all take Philippians 4:11 to heart: “…for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”

Monday, November 15, 2010

Fasten Seatbelts, Please

 “Be still and know that I am God.” Those words from Psalm 46:10 have always made an impact in my life, and most of the time I never realized it. I can’t remember when I first learned that verse, but it has come back to me at many of the toughest points of my life. Over the past few years, the impact of those words and their meaning has impressed itself upon me. It usually happens when I start getting worked up and worried. I over-think everything going on in my life and start asking all those “why,” “how,” and “what if” questions. I finally drive myself to a state of total confusion and frustration, and that’s when God reminds me of His Word. He said, “Be still.” Calm down, breathe, let go of those anxious thoughts. And here’s the best part: “Know that I am God.” No matter what I’m going through, whatever is troubling me, God is there. He knows everything that is going on, and He is in control. Knowing that really does bring me back to a sense of peace and comfort. Here’s another way I look at it: I have no idea how to fly a plane. I could sit in the cockpit and mess with all the buttons and knobs, but I doubt I’d get anywhere without a real pilot in control. Life can be the same way sometimes. It’s better to sit back and enjoy the ride instead of trying to rush to the front of the plane and fly it myself at the first sign of turbulence. I just got to trust that my pilot (God) knows what He’s doing and I could really crash and burn if I try to take matters into my own hands.

            There are times when we become overwhelmed or fed up with the circumstances we’re in and frustration and worry begin to overthrow our emotional state. If we remain in this state of imbalance, where anger or depression rules, we can end up making rash decisions, saying things we don’t mean, or worse, becoming apathetic toward God. I’ve been there, and believe me, it is much better to capture these thoughts before they lead you down the road of depression and self-pity. So, with God’s help, I remind myself of the words He gave us to comfort us and bring us peace in the midst of trials. There are many verses in the Bible that talk about dealing with trials because the authors of those words had trials, fears, and worries just like us. Here are some other verses that have been particularly meaningful to me in times of trouble:

*"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." (Isaiah 41:10)
*"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6)
*“Cast all your cares (anxiety) on Him because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)
*“But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.” (James 1:6)
*“In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

God Bless America!

Since we are coming into November, right between Election Day and Veteran’s Day, I thought this would be a good time to post this poem I wrote a while ago. I would like to dedicate it to the soldiers and veterans who have defended this country and protected the freedoms that we hold so dearly.

Poem for US
Oh say can you see, by the dawn’s early light
Oh Lord, may this country not forget all its night
Night of toils and hardships and sorrows we bared
Oh Lord, may this country not forget how it cared
It cared for the wounded, those that had fought
Oh Lord, may this country not forget what it sought
It sought freedom and liberty and Biblical laws
Oh Lord, may this country not forget all its flaws
Flaws that threaten to break us, to tear us apart
Oh Lord, may this country not forget to take heart
Take heart that you’re with us as long as we fight
For Your truth, the foundations that gave us this right
Oh Lord, may this country not forget there’s a light.

            Over the past few weeks, I have started about 3 or 4 entries; I just haven’t gotten around to finding a good way to end them. So, hopefully, I will get back to my original plan of posting an entry once a week. The ideas are all there, it’s just a matter of putting them into words. Don’t forget our veterans and soldiers this Thursday, November 11! Thank them for the sacrifices they have made and pray for their protection and strength.
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