This week has caused me to re-evaluate my view of thankfulness. So often, there is a constant challenge to be thankful. We can be so distracted by what is going on around us that we take things for granted.
The idea of not being thankful really begins to expose the idea of our selfishness. I don't like to admit that I am selfish. My heart consistently shows just how much I tend to push away from the Lord and believe that I have reached a point of "deserving." Ultimately, that is what selfishness is all about. We believe that we are "deserving" (or better defined as entitlement). Both of these terms cause so much demise in our daily lives.
So, I would like to start a list of things that I am thankful for. If you would like to add to this list for yourself, just add a comment.
Things that I am thankful for:
1- My God and Savior: for all that He has done to show and share with me His love for me. He has so graciously blessed me beyond what I should have ever expected!
2) My wife: as they say, "I married up!" :-) She definitely completes me as my other half. I appreciate how the Lord has brought us together that we can challenge each other in all aspects of each other's life.
3) My children: they inspire me to be a better father and husband. They each are used by God in my sanctification. As others have said, "They constantly reflect my inadequacies." But they bring joy into my life above everything. They are the first to challenge my faith in my ability to communicate in a way that a child can grasp.
4) My local church: it is like any true relationship (filled with many joys along with frustrations). I have been challenged in many different ways in my faith and knowledge in the Lord to which I am very thankful!
5) My extended family: they are a great foundation for my family. Without them, we can experience loneliness. Knowing that they are there, we have a confidence of people that love us and we know that we can rely on them.
6) My International Friends- God has created a warm spot in our hearts for our international friends. They are constantly teaching us about God's creativity in mankind. To learn about different cultures shows us how God reveals Himself. Although is shows us God's diversity, it shows us just as well mankind's common problems no matter their culture.
7) ??? (Your turn)
The past two weeks has been a blast! Last week was the first time, but I got to do it again! God has been providing a source of free food and allowing me to get it to those who need it. The amount of food has been overwhelming! It has turned out to be several hundred dollars worth of food.
So, I have been able to connect to some of our international friends at UNCC (as well as some of our other church members who have needs). It is in an "infantile" stage, and we are hoping that it will only grow! The international student minister at UNCC wants to come along as well as one of my pastors. The awesome thing is to be able to say to someone, "Please take as much as you want!"
I don't know what the Lord has in store for this opportunity, but just the joy of giving it away will keep me going. My girls are begging to go as well! We are working on those details with their schooling and choir responsibilities.
We hope that this might be something that we can do up at Purdue!
Please pray that God will open doors with the international students and their families through this ministry! That is my heart's desire! They are just precious to me and my family!
Is there a difference between a joy and a trial? James 1 tells us to consider a trial a joy. I know, I know, what could be joyful about a trial.
Well, our lives are meant to bring glory to God. Trials tend to produce one of two different responses: anger or joy. Anger can turn into bitterness and kill us from the inside out. Joy brings about peace beyond our understanding, because our joy comes from the Lord. To be honest, anger tends to be the easiest response because we do it naturally. Joy is a supernatural response (Galatians 5).
Our daily life this past week has been a trial. Our well that supplies water to our house has been "down." As a family, we have had to learn to be flexible and appreciate the modern conveniences that we can so easily take for granted. Well, we did not know what it was going to take to fix it. Diagnoses over the phone led us to believe that it was the submerged pump motor. After having someone come out, it was confirmed that was what it was.
During this time, we were given a "ballpark" figure of what it would take to get it fixed. Needless to say, we had not saved up monies for this emergency. So, we prayed, our family prayed, our extended family prayed, as well as others. "God showed up, and showed off!" Within 2 days, God provided exactly what we needed!!! There was no other thing we could do but give God the praise! He provided $1575 in that short amount of time through a variety of miraculous ways exactly what the bill ended up being! We continue to give God the glory!!! Please feel free to join in.
During this time, we have been going through other trials that have not ended up as glorious as we would like. But as we have seen through the miracle of the well, it's not WHAT we get out of the trial, but HOW we respond. That is the distinction between happiness and joy.
As a former pastor said one time, "You are either getting ready to go into a trial, coming out of one, or in the midst of one; how will you respond?"
The trials we face should only continue to point our faces to our Father in utter dependence on Him.
Dennis Runner- a witness, a follower, a student, and a lump of clay in the hands of my God and Savior.