Giving Thanks – Day 11

Sing praise to the Lord, you saints of His, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name . . .– Psalm 30:4

For the next few days, learn how to Cultivate a Heart of Gratitude Within Your Home this Thanksgiving Season—7 simple ways

Part 3 of 5.

  • Journal.
  • Tell Stories.
  • Serve… together as a family. Collect canned goods, rake leaves for your neighbors, volunteer in a soup kitchen, or invite an outsider (maybe a college student, a single person from church, or someone who is new to the area) to celebrate Thanksgiving with you. Ask your kids to think of someone from their school whom they might like to bless with a basketful of goodies. Start a “giving jar” where you put spare change or extra dollars with the goal of giving to someone in need. Ask your kids if they have any ideas regarding service. Get creative. The possibilities are endless.
  • Create. Have your kids make creative place cards for Thanksgiving dinner. Instead of just cards with names, have them write, ‘I’m thankful for Grandma.’ Or be even more specific, ‘I’m thankful for Grandma’s chocolate chip cookies.’ ‘I’m thankful for Dad’s funny stories.’ ‘I’m thankful for trips to the fire station with Uncle Joe.’ This will cultivate a thankful heart in your children and bless the people who are sharing the meal with you. (Even if you’re not hosting Thanksgiving dinner, volunteer to bring place cards even if you don’t normally use them).

Monday, part 4.

Relinquishing Prejudice

Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. – 1 Peter 3:8

Relinquishing Prejudice

Have you allowed your upbringing or experiences to prejudice you against a particular group of people? Women? Men? The poor? The rich? Asians? Jews? Black or White?

Prejudice leads to hatred and a lack of compassion toward others.  To the contrary, God’s people are to be known for their love and compassion. Surrendering your life to God means recognizing and relinquishing your prejudices.

Take a look at the Old Testament figure, Jonah. He hated the people of Nineveh for their cruelty toward his people, the Israelites. He would’ve loved to have gone to Nineveh and declare God’s judgment against them. But God told Jonah to go and warn them of destruction so they might avert God’s wrath. Jonah wanted no part in this mission of mercy. He tried to run away, but God placed him in difficult circumstances. When he reluctantly obeyed and preached to the Ninevites, they changed their ways. And not surprisingly, Jonah was upset at God’s mercy on the Ninevites.

God practically had to force Jonah to let go of his prejudice and hatred. This was necessary so he could share God’s mercy with the people he hated. Your spiritual transformation will be stunted until you let go of your prejudices toward any people group. Seeing your own prejudices doesn’t come easy. You need to ask God and those close to you to help you see areas of prejudice in your life. Once you see them, confess them and ask God to change your heart.

– Steve Arterburn

“We allow our ignorance to prevail upon us and make us think we can survive alone, alone in patches, alone in groups, alone in races, even alone in genders.” – Maya Angelo

“Prejudice is a product of ignorance that hides behind barriers of tradition.” – Jasper Fforde

Love-Hate Relationships

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.  Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. – Ephesians 4:1-3

Love-Hate Relationships

Almost every person has at least one—a person you love, but also deeply resent or hate.  It could be a parent, spouse, sibling, boss, a rebellious child, neighbor, friend or even God.

Living in a love-hate relationship isn’t easy.  It requires some very complicated and refined coping skills.  The problem, however, is that too many people go on, day after day, merely coping with the situation.  Either they’re unaware that they can do more than cope, or they are unwilling to do it.

Those resigned to merely cope with the situation are not happy people.  Whether they stay in the relationship or leave, they render themselves powerless to change. They lose faith in the power of God to change the situation.  They give up on prayer as a means to facilitate change.

But our challenge goes beyond prayer.  The beginning of a solution rests in your decisions—your decision to do something—to take action.  Set boundaries.  See a counselor.  Join a group.  Confront in love.

Remember, “no decision” is a decision.

– Steve Arterburn

“The man who rolls up his sleeves seldom loses his shirt.”Stephen Covey

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

James and John – Two Changed Men

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. – 1 Peter 1:22

James and John - Two Changed Men

What words would your friends or family use to describe you? Jesus referred to two brothers, James and John, as Sons of Thunder.  Why? We’re given a glimpse of their fiery personalities in the book of Luke. After the Samaritan people rejected them, James and John asked Jesus if they should call down fire from heaven to consume the village. Jesus rebuked them for their impulse to retaliate.

Yet that’s not the end of their story. Jesus worked in these brothers’ lives so that they became known not for anger and revenge, but for love and forgiveness. James was the first of the twelve disciples to give his life for his faith. He was killed in Jerusalem by the order of Herod Agrippa. John is referred to as the “disciple Jesus loved.” He went on to write powerful words on the importance of love and became an important leader of the church.

Though the two brothers had once been ambitious for their own personal gain, they ended up ambitiously sharing God’s love with others for their spiritual gain. The brothers discovered that when you understand and experience God’s love, you are free to live and grow. And as you grow and share with others, you will be used by God to touch the lives of many in need of God’s healing help.

Can you relate to the anger and selfish ambition of these men? If so, be encouraged by God’s work in their lives. He wants to do the same in you!

– Steve Arterburn

“We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.” – C.S. Lewis

The Greatest Love Story . . .

But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8

The Greatest Love Story . . .

If you have seen the documentary, March of the Penguins, you’d probably agree that it was a riveting tale of survival. But as Morgan Freeman’s introductory narrative made clear, it was more a story of the struggle between life and death. He said, “This is a story about love. Like most love stories it begins with an act of utter foolishness.” What a great line!

When you love someone, you’ll go to great lengths to secure or res­cue the object of your love. You will—in the eyes of many—behave foolishly.

Just think about things you’ve done or seen done in the name of love. People risk embarrassment, they risk safety, they risk wealth, they risk all sorts of things for someone they love.

The greatest love story that I have ever heard is the one told many years ago on an old rugged cross. History is His Story—the story of how God the Father gave his Son to rescue us from a life of sorrow and void of hope.

Did you know that God is crazy in love with you? This love however is not an act of folly, it is the kind of love that is all redeeming and all encompassing . . . and He’s wanting you to fall in love with Him.

– Steve Arterburn

“The true measure of loving . . . is to love without measure.” – St. Bernard of Clairvaux

A Disconnected Life

And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. – Hebrews 13:16

Disconnected Life

I don’t have any problems relating to people. Really. It’s true. I don’t ever get irritated or upset with anyone: as long as I’m alone. It’s amazing just how easy life is when I’m alone and isolated. The worst in me can lie dormant for years as long as there’s no one around to awaken the sleeping giants inside of me.

It may be true that a life of isolation is easier, but it’s also emptier.  When you don’t have to face who you really are, you grow comfortable and stop developing into what God wants for you.

Are you going to take your place alongside the millions of others who’ve decided to abandon life by disconnecting? You may think this is the way life’s meant to be. But it’s not. Life is about relationship, relationship with God and with one another.

– Steve Arterburn

Be slow in choosing a friend, slower in changing.“- Ben Franklin

“We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community” – Dorothy Day

“Men are free when they belong to a living, organic, believing community, active in fulfilling some unfulfilled, perhaps unrealized purpose. Not when they are escaping to some wild west. The most unfree souls go west, and shout of freedom.”– D.H. Lawrence

Helping Others Grieve

Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints. – Philemon 1:7

Helping Others Grieve

When someone you know is grieving, you want to express your love and concern. But, how do you know what to say? Sometimes there just aren’t words. But it’s important that you spend time with your friend or family member. What’s as important as anything is just showing up.

What do you say to someone who is suffering? Some people are gifted with words of wisdom. For such, one is profoundly grateful. But not all are gifted in that way. Some blurt out things that don’t really make sense. That’s okay too. Your words don’t have to be wise. The heart that speaks is heard more than the words spoken. And if you can’t think of anything to say, just say, “I can’t think of anything to say. But I want you to know that I am with you in your grief.

Or even just embrace. Not even the best of words can take away the pain. What words can do is testify that there is more than pain in our journey on earth to a new day. Of those things that are more, the greatest is love. Express your love. How appallingly grim must be the death of a child in the absence of love.

Sharing in someone’s grief is no time to worry about your own discomfort and uncertainty about what to show. Believe that God will give you the words, the touch, the hug that will comfort. And you’ll be glad you shared in the moment and gave strength to a hurting soul.

– Steve Arterburn

“Grief and sadness knits two hearts in closer bonds than happiness ever can; and common sufferings are far stronger than common joys.”  – Alphonse de Lamartine

Letting Go of Hatred

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear. . . If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this com­mand: Whoever loves God must also love his brother. – 1 John 4:18-21

Letting Go of Hatred

It’s easy to say you love God. But it’s not always so easy to love other people, is it? And what is it that God wants from us? He wants us to love Him and love others. And, God has so intertwined your love for Him with love for others that when you really start loving others with His love, you’ll give up your hatred and prejudice.

If you truly love God and you truly love others, you’ll find that you don’t have the option of hating our brothers and sisters. In fact, He doesn’t even give you the option of hating your enemies. Jesus said, “But if you are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Pray for the happiness of those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you” (Luke 6:27-28).

The bottom line is this: surrendering to God means surrendering your hatred as well. Loving people you like is easy. But God calls us to exhibit His love—which was a love that drove Jesus to the cross. That means loving people you don’t necessarily like. That means loving your enemy. You can’t do it on your own. You need to draw from God’s endless supply of His love. Draw from his well, and drink.

– Steve Arterburn

There is only one way of not hating those who do us wrong, and that is by doing them good.” – Henri Amiel

I will permit no man to narrow and degrade my soul by making me hate him.” – Booker T. Washington

The Differences Between Men and Women

The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor. – 1 Corinthians 15:41

The Differences Between Men and Women

Consider these gender differences I found on a humorous website:

  • If Laura, Suzanne, and Debra go out for lunch, they’ll call each other Laura, Suzanne, and Debra. But if Mike, Charlie, and Bob go out they’ll refer to each other as Godzilla, Champ, and Grubby.
  • A man will pay $2 for a $1 item he wants. A woman will pay $1 for a $2 item she doesn’t want.
  • A woman has the last word in any argument. Anything a man says after that is the beginning of a new argument.
  • A man has six items in his bathroom: a toothbrush, toothpaste, shaving cream, razor, soap, and a towel. The average woman has 377 items. A man wouldn’t be able to identify most of them.

Recognizing differences is especially important when it comes to how we love. Understanding that everyone doesn’t share my experiences, nor do they think like me, are important steps in not being threatened; and they are important so you don’t feel anger at differences you note in how someone you love behaves or reacts.

Steve Arterburn

Nobody will ever win the battle of the sexes. There’s too much fraternizing with the enemy.” – Henry Kissinger (1923– )


Relationship Addiction

We who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. – Hebrews 6:18b–19

Relationship Addiction

Have you ever thought about being addicted to love? It sounds like a good thing to be addicted to, but clinically speaking, it’s a problem.

Relationship addicts live in a world of paradoxes that leaves them feeling they have no way out. They desperately want to get close to someone, but end up with a person whose problems make closeness impossible. They seek security, but end up with someone who always leaves the back door open for a quick get-away.

Relationship addicts crave unconditional love, but live in constant fear of abandonment if they don’t live up to their own impossible standards. They want to be free to love, but often trap themselves in a relationship by becoming pregnant or by weaving some other type of emotional spider web. Drowning in the whirlpool of their own emotions, they turn to a rescuer who cannot swim.

When all is said and done, for healing to occur, if you’re a relationship addict, you’ll need to come to the end of your own strength and seek God’s help to resolve the hurts of the past and move toward a genuine focus on others. Without this, relationship addicts are doomed to a cycle of misery and futility. Remember, you can never fix what only God can fix.

Steve Arterburn

God is more interested in your future and your relationships than you are.” – Billy Graham (1918– )