Thanksgiving: Renewing The Lost Art Of Giving Thanks

thanksgiving cornucopia

As I sat down to have my morning devotions, ‘Feliz Navidad’ played faintly on the radio upstairs.  Jose Feliciano wanted ‘to wish me a Merry Christmas’.

I was happy to accept, but we hadn’t even reached Thanksgiving yet.

I don’t want to be overly dramatic, but early Christmas music and store displays illustrate our culture’s tendency to look right past Thanksgiving as we anticipate Christmas.  And our own tendency to neglect not just the holiday, but the life-giving practice of being thankful.

Let’s take a quick look at the importance God places on being thankful, then talk about a few practical ways we can grow in gratitude.

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3 Ways Jesus Transforms Our Holiday Stress

 

The holidays are great, but (at least for me) always seem to bring extra stress.  Although we can’t control everything, we don’t have to let the holidays just happen to us, either.

Jesus and the gospel really begin to transform us – and the way we respond to stress – so that we can enjoy the holidays with more peace.

You can read more in my guest post for Gospel Relevance.  Many blessings to you during this holiday season!

Jesus Shows Us How To Stay Engaged

man praying in pew

Not sure about you, but daylight savings time just ended where I live.  Winter is on the way, bringing chilly weather and shorter days.

As I write, a lot of people are feeling a little down or depleted.  Students are getting worn down from a long semester and dreaming of holiday breaks.  Parents are weary under the weight of helping with homework assignments and serving as personal chauffeur for the kids.  (Not to mention those of you who homeschool: serious gold star.)  And holiday shopping is about to become a full-time job.

Personally, I’ve been feeling a little sloggy.  Not awful, just kind of weary, and having to fight a little harder to stay engaged with God and others.

Wherever you are, it’s easy to go on autopilot and check out as the year starts to wind down.  To just get through these last few weeks before Thanksgiving.  (Not that the holidays are free of their own challenges!)

In this post, I want to encourage you – and myself – to stay engaged: with God, with others and the calling he’s given you.  However slow or tiring it may be at the moment.

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Pursue God With Passion, Find A Godly Wife

In this short series, we’re talking about the top two reasons women wouldn’t date an otherwise godly man.  Or, to put it more positively, we’re looking at areas guys should cultivate (and might overlook) as they get ready for a marriage that blesses their wives and tells the truth about Christ and his church.

Based on a survey I conducted, 55% of godly women wouldn’t consider dating a guy who doesn’t take care of himself physically.  Nearly 80% of women, though, wouldn’t date a man who lacks ambition and passion.  (I’m using those two terms similarly.)

But men, this isn’t just about getting a date and getting married so you can live a nice Christian life.  If you want to live into the great things God has planned for you (see Ephesians 2:10), you’re going to need some serious, godly ambition.

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6 Reasons Godly Men Lack Ambition (And Won’t Get A Date)

Last time, we took a look at the second most common reason Christian women won’t date a godly man. Over half of the women I surveyed said that a guy who doesn’t take care of himself physically is unattractive.  You can learn more about why that matters to them (and God) in the first article.

This time, we’re going to take a look at something nearly 80% of women find distasteful in a potential date.  In fact, nothing else even came close.

Any guesses?

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Men, Godly Women (Rightly) Expect This From You

Part One Of Two

 

Guys, when godly women think about godly men they might date, what do you think turns them off more than anything else?

That’s the question I (essentially) asked them in a recent survey I conducted.  I asked women to respond honestly – not how they think they ‘should’ respond, but how they probably would.  In addition, I personally emailed about ten women I respect for more input.  

Two responses received far more attention than any other.  Any guesses as to what topped the list?

(For a related post, check out ‘Should I Date A Godly Woman I’m Not Attracted To?‘)

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5 Signs You’ve Lost Sight Of Jesus

It’s so easy to lose our focus on Jesus in the middle of a busy day.  (And the beginning and end, too.) Learning to recognize the warning signs can help us get back on track.  Here are 5 from Jesus’s interaction with Martha and Mary in Luke 10:38-42.

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Don’t Waste Your Jury Duty

gavel photo

Photo by martinbowling

‘Juror #6, Emily Johnson.  Yes. Juror #5, Michael Smith…’  Phew.  After three hours in our local courthouse, I was just thirty seconds – and four jurors – from being home free.

In 26 years of eligibility, I had never actually been tapped to serve.  With just four jurors left, it looked like my good fortune was about to continue.

‘Juror #4, Bryan Stoudt…’  Shoot.  Seriously?!  Let’s just say I’m not going to base any devotionals off of my initial reaction.

Moments later, the other potential jurors scattered like birds, exiting the courtroom with ‘I just won the lottery’ looks on their faces.  Not me.  I was now simply ‘Juror #4’, and the judge informed us that our trial was going to consume the next three days of our lives.

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Should I Date A Godly Woman I’m Not Attracted To?

It was the weirdest dating advice I had ever received.

One of my friends was telling me about a recently-married, mutual acquaintance who had just two criteria.  I figured simple = good, especially coming from this acquaintance, someone in ministry I respected.

‘He wanted a godly woman, obviously’ my friend said, ‘and she had to look good in a little black dress.’

As a single guy in my early twenties, I found his comment confusing.  On the one hand, putting so much emphasis on appearance seemed really worldly.  But our mutual acquaintance was a pastor I looked up to, and we’re supposed to be attracted to someone we’re dating… right?

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On Labor Day, Rest From Work, Rest In Christ

Restful beach scene, Labor Day weekend.

Quicker post today, on Labor Day.

Most of us are taking the day off from our jobs and enjoying time with family and friends.  (Thanks to those of you who are working, so we can rest.)

Labor Day isn’t exactly a major holiday, but it’s a good chance not only to relax, but to reflect on the deeper rest God invites us into through Christ.

On the most obvious level, Labor Day celebrates the contributions normal workers make to the wellbeing of our country.  And acknowledges that we all need a little rest and time off.  The country will go on just fine even when things shut down for a day.

God’s Invitation To Rest

The bible has a lot to say about our need for rest.  The Old Testament commanded regular rhythms of rest, including a weekly day off (Sabbath; see Exodus 20; Deuteronomy 5) and seven significant feasts (see Leviticus 23).  This was one way God helped his people avoid exhaustion and burnout.

But physical rest points to our need for a much deeper rest.  A rest from trying to find our meaning and value from constant achievement and accomplishment.  From the unrest that comes with trying to keep every little corner of our lives under order and control.  (Honestly, I’m trying not to make today about getting to all the stuff I feel like I have to, all the ‘shoulds’ in my head.)

Hebrews 4 shows us how we can find a rest that’s way more important than a day off from work.

So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10 for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.  

It’s a complicated passage, but the writer is saying Christians have already entered ‘God’s rest’.  So, we don’t need to exhaust ourselves, trying to earn that on our own (‘has also rested from his works’). Instead, we can relax, ‘as God did’ on the seventh day.

Most importantly, all this is possible because of Jesus’ work for us.  The writer goes on to say that Jesus was ‘tempted as we are, yet without sin’, so we can ‘with confidence draw near to the throne of grace’, to God.  (Hebrew 4:15,16).  Even our worst sins and failures can’t keep us from God.  Because of what Jesus did, he loves being close to us now, and he’ll bring that to completion when Jesus returns.

Rest In Your Life, Even When Life Isn’t Restful

That can give us a deep peace and rest even when life remains crazy.  When our job is stressful.  When we’re feeling insecure.  When we’re raising young kids who constantly need our attention.  When our marriage is challenging.  And when our health isn’t what it used to be.

So, I hope you’re slowing down today to rest.  Taking a nap, hanging out with friends, whatever you like to do.  But even better, I hope you’ll take a few moments to pause on the deeper rest, calm and peace that Jesus has won for you through his life and death.  Because it doesn’t depend on you, that’s a rest you can’t mess up.

For reflection:

  1. Where are you experiencing a lack of peace and rest in your life right now?
  2. How would that begin to change as you reflect on Jesus’ work for you?