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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thankful for What?

Have you ever been thankful for your shortcomings? The areas in which you struggle? Strange questions, I know, especially when tomorrow is Thanksgiving and we're focused on all the good things we have to be thankful for.

One of our church members asked the questions I'm asking you and it stopped me in my pre-holiday tracks. Be thankful for financial struggles, selfishness, immaturity? I battle every day not to give into what I know will destroy me.

I've never thought about being thankful for those things.

But I never struggled with anything, how would I know the goodness of the only One who seeks after a prodigal child and runs to him or her?

If I never struggled, how would I experience the grace and forgiveness of God? The compassion that I can do nothing to deserve, the forgiveness that can't be earned, the grace that is poured out when we've done nothing to merit it?

How do we intimately know God rescues us out of the darkest pits unless we've been in one?

I don't know about you, but I don't have to invent pits or problems. I can name my weaknesses, my sins, my failures.

I can't say I'm thankful for them either. I'd rather be mature, responsible, gentle and, well... better.

I am thankful those sins and weaknesses were all nailed to the cross and I don't have to atone for them.

I'm thankful those deep pits and black problems have forced me to my knees to experience God in ways I would have missed unless they were all I had.

I'm thankful these things I struggle with here on earth won't follow me to heaven.

I'm thankful that God has delivered me from sins that easily entangled me decades, months, days ago. And He promises to continue the good work in me and in you until the day we're face to face with Him forever.

I'm thankful I've had to struggle. It's made me human. It's made me face how desperately I need God. It's made me see how small I am and how infinitely big and powerful God is.

He is our reason for thanks giving. He knows we are but dust. He knows every sin, every thought, every dark pit we've faced....

And He loves us still.

"Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever." 1 Chronicles 16:34

Psalm 107

1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;

his love endures forever.

2 Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story—

those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,

3 those he gathered from the lands,

from east and west, from north and south.

4 Some wandered in desert wastelands,

finding no way to a city where they could settle.

5 They were hungry and thirsty,

and their lives ebbed away.

6 Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble,

and he delivered them from their distress.

7 He led them by a straight way

to a city where they could settle.

8 Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love

and his wonderful deeds for mankind,

9 for he satisfies the thirsty

and fills the hungry with good things.

In all things, whoever you are and whatever you've done or not done...give thanks to the Lord. He is good. His love endures forever.

Giving thanks... for the good, the struggles, and everything in between,


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Early Christmas Coincidence

Ever wondered if the little decisions you make in a day's time matter?

I have some days. Other days I've known without a doubt one decision made all the difference.

Today was one of those days.

It started normally enough... the alarm went off. I groaned. Then I stayed in bed wondering what today would hold, praying some, organizing what I knew had to be done.

We'd planned to go shopping for our yearly Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes earlier this week. But lots of ordinary things prevented us. So we went today.

All pretty ordinary. Shopping commenced with candy, toys, toothbrushes, and conversation about the child who would receive the box we were packing.

We hurried home, wrapped and packed our shoebox, then hurried to make it to a processing center to drop off our gift.

This was the first time we haven't dropped our shoebox off at church with a prayer and a hope it would brighten a child's Christmas.

This time we stumbled into a moment in time that had God's handiwork written all over it.

We thought we were late, that we were skirting into the processing center right before it closed. Instead we landed smack dab in the middle of a family day event we hadn't signed up for, hadn't planned to attend, but were invited into anyway.

There we saw a shoebox's journey from a child's hands in the US to a child's hands in another country.

We saw what a difference little choices make. The toothbrushes we pack every year could be a first time gift of better health. A sewing kit prayed over by my child could help another child earn money to keep her family alive.

Little things to us, little toys or a bag of candy, might mean our child hears the Good News of Jesus for the first time in her life. The love we packed into that small box could open up a child's heart to hearing that someone who doesn't even know her cared enough to send a shoebox so that the One who knows every hair on her head could be shared with her forever.

Little "coincidences" got us to this moment in time today. A moment when my little girl who wants to be a doctor saw doctors with Samaritan's Purse helping children and adults in Haiti. Something flamed in her eyes as she looked up at me and said, "I'm going to do that someday."

Something flamed in all of us today. A desire to be part of something much bigger than any one of its human parts. A longing to do something to bring joy and the love of Christ to many.

An understanding that packing a shoebox was so much more than a holiday tradition. It was hope disguised as a simple cardboard box. A simple gift that could change a life.

I have no idea what God is up to with all He organized today. But I'm convinced today wasn't about coincidences. It was all about God- incidences.

I can't wait to see what He's up to next.

To learn more about Operation Christmas Child, check out the Samaritan's Purse website.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Do You Know Him?

During a recent devotion with my children, we watched this video and were reminded of the greatness of our God and why we should stand in awe of Him.


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