Thursday, December 31, 2020

Grateful People Have Selective Memories

PHILIPPIANS 1:3
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you,

Paul's time in Philippi wasn't exactly a vacation at the beach or a walk in the park. You can read all the details in Acts 16, but among other things, he had to deal with a heckler, he and his friends got beaten up, and he was even thrown in jail.


Yet, in Philippians 1:3, Paul wrote that he was thankful every time he remembered the people who lived in Philippi. Was he thankful for all the bad times? (not that he shouldn't be as God helps us grown in difficult circumstances) Actually, verses 4-5 clue us in as to why he was grateful.

PHILIPPIANS 1:4-5
always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.

Paul was grateful for the good times. He had warm memories of partnering with the Philippians to see the Gospel spread throughout their time. He was thankful for the support they had given as He proclaimed the truth.

GRATEFUL PEOPLE HAVE SELECTIVE MEMORIES.

You can choose which memories you dwell on. Only you can decide which story from the past you will play on repeat in your mind. If you choose to focus on the worst of times and the worst of people, you'll be depressed, bitter, and tough to live with.

If you choose to focus on the blessings and the blessed people, you'll be grateful, hopeful, and a joy to be around.

What will you put on your memory playlist today?

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Wednesday, December 30, 2020

My Drawer Runneth Over

I like t-shirts. I especially like shirts with logos of my favorite sports teams. I also have a problem getting rid of old t-shirts. Earlier this week, I put on a shirt that I calculated to be at least 10 years old. As a result of my inability to let go, my shirt drawer is overflowing with Spartan, Tiger, Red Wing, Lions, Liverpool, Warrior, Trojan, and Bruin shirts.

Let me be clear. My drawer is not overflowing because of any one shirt. It is overflowing because I have SO MANY shirts.

Ephesians 5:20 says, "giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ"

The keywords here are "everything" and "always".

Colossians 2:7 is a parallel passage. Here Paul is encouraging a group of Christians to live consistently with their roots in Jesus' example and teaching. This is accomplished, according to Paul, by "overflowing with thankfulness." Saying, "thank you" every so often is nice, but a quick prayer of thanksgiving once a day is hardly "overflowing."


Causing anything to overflow requires filling it with more than it can handle. If you want to overflow with thanksgiving, you must FILL your life with more gratitude than you can handle. This means being thankful even when you don't feel like it.

  • Begin your day by giving thanks (you can start by thanking God that He woke you up). 
  • At various points throughout the day (meals), give thanks. 
  • At the conclusion of your day, give thanks. 
  • When things go well, give thanks. 
  • When others treat you with kindness, give thanks. 
  • When things go poorly, give thanks that they aren't worse. 
  • When others treat you with malice, give thanks that you are being treated like Jesus was. 

You can always find something for which to be grateful. The more you thank God, the more you'll be rooted in His Son.





Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Use the 10 Commandments as a Template for Gratitude

Gratitude is a powerful tool for fighting anxiety, fear, and selfishness. It also promotes contentment, generosity, peace, and trust. I am always looking for new methods to develop more gratitude in my life. Here is an idea I have to use the 10 commandments as a jumping-off point for gratitude. Consider praying through these commands and using each one to express thanksgiving to God.



1. Have no other gods before Me.

Thank you for being all-powerful, all-present, always in control, and still caring about me.

2. Make no false idols.

Thank you for being everything I need so that I never need to look elsewhere for provision.

3. Do not take the name of the LORD in vain.

Thank you for the privilege of calling on your name through prayer. Thank you for hearing my prayers.

4. Remember the Sabbath.

Thank you for all of creation and for building healthy rhythms into creation as an example for how to live my life.

5. Honor your father and mother.

Thank you for my family and for the people in my life who are like family to me.

6. You shall not kill.

Thank you for life and all you do to sustain me.

7. You shall not commit adultery.

Thank you for relationships and for love and for the gift of marriage. Thank you for your faithfulness to me.

8. You shall not steal.

Thank you for entrusting me with so many gifts. Thank you for giving me far more than I ever needed.

9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

Thank you for truth. Thank you that Jesus is the truth and the life. Thank you for you Word which is truth for life.

10. You shall not covet.

Thank you for providing all my needs. Thank you for your promise to always give me everything I need.




Monday, December 28, 2020

13 Leftovers From A Sermon on Gratitude

And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
(LUKE 1:46-49)




13 THOUGHTS ON GRATITUDE

1. Gratitude is the result of who you are, not what happens to you.

2. Gratitude is an internal commitment to not be controlled by external circumstances.

3. What happens TO me can never change what has been done FOR me.

4. Gratitude focuses on God's provision instead of my problems.

5. We all have problems, and it is good to tell God about our problems, but they should never be our primary focus.

6. God's provisions far outnumber your problems.

7. Gratitude grows from past deliverance not present darkness.

8. Mercy is only needed by those who have made mistakes.

9. Mercy is something we don't always see, even though it is there.
We don't always like to give it, even though we should.
We rarely think we need it, even though we all do.

10. God is rich in mercy: He has more to give than you have mistakes to make.

11. Grow your gratitude by praying for a positive perspective.

12. Become more grateful by setting aside time to practice gratitude.

13. Multiply your gratitude by sharing it with others.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

5 steps our church is taking to prepare for our restart

This may or may not be helpful. For those who are interested, here are five things we've done to prepare our church to restart. These aren't inspired and they may or may not work. We'll know soon!


1) We started using the word "restart" very early. The week after Easter, "restart" became an important element of our leaders' shared vocabulary. We wanted to hit the ground running when the time came.

2) We talked about "change" and "growth" as critical pieces of our restart. From the very beginning, we discussed this "stay-at-home" time as a sort of sabbath. We asked people to spend time considering three questions:

- What have you learned about what is really important in life?
- What would you like to change about your life's rhythm when you restart?
- How are you going to do that?

3) Once we set a target date, we repeatedly used four words to communicate the important details of the plan:

- MAY 31
- RESERVATIONS
- MASKS
- FLEXIBILITY

4) We claimed Philippians 2:3 as our key verse during the restart. In particular, we focused on the last four words of the NIV's rendering, "value others above yourselves." This is becoming more and more important as this issue becomes unnecessarily politicized.

5) We have over-communicated. I normally send one email per week to the church. In the weeks leading up to the restart, I am sending at least three per week. Additionally, we have been very intentional with our Facebook strategy during the two weeks prior to our restart.

If these thoughts are beneficial for you than I am happy. Perhaps they will inspire even better ideas for your restart. If I've been of no help, I apologize for wasting your times. Unfortunately, I don't offer refunds.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

10 Inspirational Verses To Launch Your Day

Whatever your day may hold, you can boldly charge forward knowing that you may not be able to control everything, but you know Who can.

Read these verses aloud to yourself. Choose one and carry it with you today. At the very least, let these verses inspire to action.



Isaiah 40:31
But those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

1 Corinthians 15:58
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Psalm 31:24
Be strong and take heart,
all you who hope in the Lord.

Romans 8:31
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

Hebrews 12:1-2
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

Psalm 37:23-24
The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.

1 Timothy 6:12
Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

1 John 4:4
You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

Monday, May 4, 2020

4 Bible Passages That Speak To The Coronavirus Debates

I'm not settled. But here are some of the Bible passages I'm chewing on as I consider my position on the myriad of issues surrounding COVID19 and my response as a Christian and a pastor.

What does the Bible say about COVID-19?

The Tower of Babel in Genesis 11.

All the people of earth were unified in their pursuit of a common goal. Driven by scientific and technological advancements, they planned to make a name for themself. At the core of their efforts was their assertion that they could solve anything on their own. They no longer needed God. Is COVID19 reminding us that even if we all unite, we are still not omnipotent and we are still vulnerable?

The Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25.

Everything God gives us is to be used for His kingdom and His agenda. Are we, as God's stewards, rising up the challenge of COVID19 and using this opportunity to double our kingdom influence? Or, are we in fear hiding the talent we have been given?

Jesus Calms The Storm in Mark 4.

My favorite piece of this story is that Jesus knowingly brought the disciples into the storm specifically so that they could see Him bring them through the storm. No storm (or virus) is beyond His control. "Peace, be still" is all He needs to say. He has brought us into this storm. He will bring us through it.

Paul Asserting His Rights As A Citizen in Acts 16 & 22.

On two different occasions, Paul used his status as a Roman citizen to more efficiently accomplish his mission. On one occasion, he avoided further imprisonment and on the other occasion, he utilized an appeal process to get to Rome. Certainly these passages are primarily descriptive, however, should we consider whether or not they speak to how we use the privilege of American citizenship? Is it ever okay for an American Christian to assert their constitutional rights (when they are being impinged)?