How has Martin Luther King’s life motivated you?

On this day do you remember? There is a reason that Dion’s song, “Does anyone here” https://youtu.be/a5hFMy4pTrs remains one of my favorites. When we fret about where our world is today, look back. I was 11 when JFK was killed and 16 when Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King were also assassinated. It was a very divisive and scary time. My question on this MLK Day is not do we remember these men, but in our remembrance, how does it motivate us to be better men and women?

I had the privilege of helping our local newspaper find people to share their thoughts on what Martin Luther King’s life meant to them. Here is the link should be interested in what was written https://dailyprogress.com/specialty_publications/page-s01/page_ae2d0e53-5094-53ca-9d82-7d42579185d9.html Dr. King lived a life that left a legacy for all to follow. It causes us as Jeff Burton writes, to “ask ourselves, how is it today that I can act; what can I do to leave this place better than I found it; to do our small part to inspire others for good” Nathan Walton, in the publication noted above, asks, “What story are we telling?…..This day gives us an opportunity to tell a new story for our own moment” As we look back this MLK quote should help to move us forward.  “We have come a long, long way but we still have a long, long way to go.”

City of Promise ED, Mary Coleman writes that our story needs to be one where we have learned from the past so we can be exhorted to help make a brighter future. She asks, “Where do we go from here? Will we choose chaos or community in a unified manner that King describes as persevering togetherness.” Yes! There is my 2022 Word. Unity. Uncompromised Never-ending Intensity Toward YES! We can be motivated by others to make our story one that sets an example for those around us. It can be a story line that causes Breakthrough by lifting up others and like MLK, motivating them to pursue peace while making a positive difference in the world versus creating divisiveness and selfishly ignoring those who need our help. Dr King was in no way a perfect man. But he was a man who believed he was redeemed by His Creator and called into a work that would ultimately cost him his life. This gives me hope as I hope it will you. It teaches nothing is impossible for those who love God. Luke 1:37 promises us “that we have the privilege of serving a God who can literally do anything, and there is nothing that is impossible for him.

Therefore let us strive to live out the beatitudes noted in Matthew 5:1-12

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
 Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
 Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you like Dr King.

When we live our life this way, we will leave our personal legacy that others will continue because of the way you motivated them.

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It’s 2022…What will you do from Now On?

I will be speaking this coming Saturday during the Faith Forward Summit. The summit coordinator, Angeline Moore, asked me to provide two songs to use as part of my introduction. I did not have to think about which ones. The first comes from the movie, The Greatest Showman. I encourage you to watch this video before reading the rest of the blog

Brian Buffini says, “Great things happen when you get fired up!”  This song fires me up every time I watch it because it teaches us to :

Not be afraid to get out of your comfort zone ( step away from your music stand)

Ask others to encourage you as you strive to be who you were meant to be

Others will be encouraged to be a better them when you show them

Your life will make a difference to those around you.

Amazing things will happen when we cross the T off I Can’t making it I Can because others have encouraged you to Believe!

I wrote last week about My Word for 2022 being Unity. It stands for Uncompromised Never-ending Intensity Toward Yes! We all have hopes and have made resolutions for this coming year. Are you aware that the majority of us give up within one to six weeks of starting, and many of these resolutions are repeated year after year. There are many reasons why most New Year resolutions don’t stick. The one reason I want to focus on is we don’t have others (like in the This is Me song) believing and cheering us on. Astalented as Keela is, she didn’t step out and really sing until she looked around the room and realized everyone was for her and needed her to sing as she ultimately did.

We see scripture differently depending on what we are experiencing. Two of my favorite passages in John are when Jesus heals the paralyzed man (John 2) who has been lowered through a roof and when he raises Lazurus from the dead (John 11) in front of Lazurus’ family and friends. In both cases, it was the support of others that was needed. In john 2:5 Jesue says to the four friends, “Because of your faith, this man will be healed”. In John 11, Jesus says to those around Lazurus, ” Now take off his grave clothes so he can go home with you”. Both stories show we need others to help us move our faith forward. We need friends who will bring us to Jesus and we need friends to help remove things in our lives that keep us from living the life God created us to live. I will be speaking on this topic this Saturday during the Faith Forward Summit I mentioned earlier. Register here https://bit.ly/faithforwardsummit

So what can we do from now on in 2022? We can in Unity experience real breakthrough in our lives. We can help bring breakthrough into our relationships and in our community. We can if, with God’s help, Together cross the T off I Can’t making it I CAN so we can all move forward with an Uncompromised Never-ending Intensity Toward Yes !!

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If you focused on One Word in 2022, which would you choose?

Undeniable, Never Ending, Intensity, Toward Yes!

The One Word several years ago by Dan Britton, Jon Gordon, and Jimmy Page. . https://www.onewordchallenge.com/
I am not sure they have ever thought about how cool it is that we choose our Word after Advent and Christmas right before the manifestation of Christ in what is called the Season of Epiphany. Epiphany also means “a moment in which you suddenly see or understand something in a new or very clear way” I..E. Allowing your word for the year coming into focus 😀

I had no idea that I would need so much PRAYER in 2019 until I was diagnosed with Guillain Barre Syndrome. (Link to the story here (https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/michaelguthrie ) In 2020 I chose GENEROSITY because of how folks cared for Dottie and me in 2019. Little did I know how many folks would need help because of Covid. EMBRACE has been my One Word in 2021 because I wanted to embrace whatever came my way personally or professionally. Our company merged with a larger one in March.

I may not have known why the last three years, but it is clear what I will concentrate in 2022. I really thought it would be BREAKTHROUGH. It is defined by Merriam-Webster this way. “A sudden increase in knowledge, understanding, etc. an important discovery that happens after trying for a long time to understand or explain something” The world we live in is desperately seeking understanding and explanations to the many challenges we face these days. However, for us to experience true breakthrough, we must have a desire to enact change and to make that happen we need my 2022 word UNITY.

Why? If we are to have UNITY there needs to be an UNCOMPROMISED NEVER ending INTENSITY TOWARD YES! If we can come together and proceed in this effort, we can allow God to use us in forming community (committing to Unity) that brings breakthrough. Together we can help Him release this bound up world. 
Let me be clear. Being Unified does not mean uniformity. We are not and do not have to all be or look the same. In fact Unity is more powerful when it is made up of people who don’t think and look alike and come from different places. I wrote a few weeks back about how the different colors of the leaves make trees more beautiful in the fall. http://thankfulinallthings.com/beauty-can-be-created-by-one-or-in-many/ An orchestra or a choir make beautiful music when they are unified in their harmony and when they know their time to sing or play an instrument

This can not be an individual effort because we will grow tired and weary. No. As John Tillman writes, “rather than attempt to sweep our own house clean and empty, may WE invite Jesus into our mess (Revelation 3.20) so we can be UNITED with Him. He promises to do a renewing, revealing work within and through not you and and therefore, US. He has work of renewal for US to join Him in now. And He who begins a good work in US will see it through to completion (Philippians 1.6). When he is finished, we will have revealed Him to the world.” Like a light shining in the darkest of places.

Light always defeats the darkness!

Yes friends……………Christmas is over. The waiting for Jesus is over. The fun and celebration is behind us.

Howard Thurman’s poem so beautifully reminds us the hard work is now to be done.
When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among brothers [and sisters],
To make music in the heart.

“Lord, may we glorify You this coming year by letting go, embracing and rejoicing in Your reign over all things. May we trust Your word never to return void, but in UNITY may we strive to accomplish all You marvelously intend” https://astherainandsnow.com/author/astherainandsnow/

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Were your Christmas expectations met?

Did you get the present you really wanted? Did people’s faces light up your gift to them? Unfortunately, many times we are disappointed by what we receive or see that what you gave wasn’t what they wanted. I am not sure why but this has been a struggle for me since I was a little boy. I can remember the sadness I felt when the gifts were all unwrapped and I hadn’t gotten what I wanted. Even then, I knew it was selfish and that made me feel worse. It was like my identity or how I was loved was measured in what had been given to me. As a parent, I tried to make sure my kids got exactly what they wanted because I remembered how I felt as a child. It bummed me out when I could see that I had missed the mark with my gift. Again, I realized the unmet expectation feelings that arose were selfish. Yes, I wanted the kids or my wife to be happy but I also wanted to feel the happiness too. Maybe that is why I love Thanksgiving because you don’t have the pressure of presents. 😀

As I have journeyed through Advent with you, I wrote what the four candles in the wreath represent. If you are new to my blog, you can scroll back to the previous posts on Hope, Joy, Peace, and Love. Yesterday the tallest candle placed appropriately in the in the middle of the wreath shined brightly. It represents what Christmas is all about. The true present, the Light of the world, yes, Jesus Christ.

I read in a devotion this week that “One must understand the larger storyline of Scripture—Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration to identify this baby in Bethlehem as the Christ child. Jesus is the eternal Son of God who was born, lived, died, and praise God was resurrected so that we might have eternal life. Without Jesus dying on a Cross and coming back to life there would be no reason to celebrate Christmas. And yet………………..

Like me at Christmas, many people in Jesus’ day, were disappointed with the gift God gave them. There expectations were not meant. They thought His description in Isaiah 9:6 (“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder. And His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” meant something very different.

It is still true today isn’t it? As the song says, “we continue to look for love in all the wrong places” We wallow in the world of “if only” (fill in the blank) If only I had_____, If only I could____, If only this would____,If only this hadn’t____ and therefore our expectations are never met and we continually find ourselves disappointed and discontent. If that is you or someone you know, the greatest Christmas present I can share is that God loves you and through His Son, has made it possible for you to be in a relationship with Him. He created you and therefore knows how your life is meant to be lived. When we live it His way, He promises to dry every tear, care for every sorrow, and meet our every expectation. That is why they say “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present.” Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you can find your identity in the One who created you and wants us to Remain Thankful in all Things! When we do, like Mercy me sings, We can only imagine! https://youtu.be/N_lrrq_opng

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God promises Peace on Earth but what about for you?

A friend asked me the other day how he could pray for me over the Christmas holiday. I asked for a peaceful mindset. So many things are swirling around creating uncertainty. I desire the peace that comes from trusting Him for the outcomes I can’t control. Timely that the 4th Sunday in Advent represents peace :). It also means the wait for Christmas is almost over. Over the last three Sundays, we have been reminded to have HOPE https://www.bible.com/bible/111/JER.29.11.NIV feel LOVED https://biblehub.com/niv/john/3.htm share JOY https://biblehub.com/john/15-11.htm You can read my thoughts on these by looking back at most recenthttp://www.thankfulinallthings.com blog posts. As shared above, the 4th candle represents the PEACE God wishes for us as well as expressing Good Will toward all mankind. Whether you are a child waiting for Santa Claus or someone who truly desires Advent to be a time of spiritual renewal, busyness gets in the way. The need to buy presents, attend holiday functions, prepare for house guests and closing out your business for the year all make it difficult to intentionally stop and check in on yourself. Asking, are you ready to experience what Advent and the birth of a Savior truly means? Acknowledging that you and me need that peace these days. The peace that Paul writes about in Philippians is beyond our human understanding and is only found through faith. . https://biblehub.com/esv/philippians/4.htm

Take a moment from reading this blog close your eyes and focus on where your mind takes you. For many of us we will feel anxiety and if so, ask yourself, what is making you anxious and unable to find peace.” You see, anxiety is defined as “a common feeling linked with worried thoughts and can be associated with physical changes like increased heart rate. When we allow ourselves to be consumed by the thoughts that bring us stress, we aren’t much good to anyone else, including God. During this Advent week of Peace, God wants you to take the time to lean on Him in prayer. Even In the midst of what is stressing you out, find things for which to be thankful. Remove yourself from the busyness of the season and go to God saying you need his help. Lay your burdens down trusting Him when He says, “People of God, Come to Me and lay down the burdens you have carried for too long in your secret place.” I promise to all who labor and are heavy laden, I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Here you will find the genuine blessing ( click the link below) of PEACE the angels promised to the shepherds in the field and to all of us on that 1st Silent Night. https://youtu.be/Zp6aygmvzM4

Merry Christmas everyone!

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Are you experiencing Joy during the Advent Season

The third candle lit on the Advent wreath recognizes the virtue Joy. I have already written the last couple of weeks about Hope and Love. I look forward to sharing my thoughts on the fourth, Peace next week. Charles Stanley says “True Joy is found when our hearts are awakened and therefore our lives transformed by the riches of God’s love. Psalm 16:11 says, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. God longs to make you a joyful person from the inside out. He does not want our joy based on circumstances or the fleeting whims of the world. He desires us to wait on Him to fill us up so we can go out and spread that Joy. Allowing yourself to be filled with His Holy Spirit allows your mindset to overflow with satisfaction and hope. That spill over can’t help but positively impact those paths we cross.

Unfortunately, many are asking the question, why don’t I have that Joy or where is the Joy in my life? Paul in His letter to the Romans answers those questions. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Why is this the answer? Because we need to look to God for the four virtues of Advent and not what the temporal things the world offers. Many people make the mistake of thinking Joy means being happy. Instead, experiencing Joy means being content and at peace no matter what the experience. Pastor E.V. Hill preached a message on this saying, “We think of ourselves all packed up and ready for God to move us to a happier place. Instead, when God’s moving truck pulls up, we realize He is is not moving us out, He is moving in and has lots to unpack.” For our Joy to be made full, https://biblehub.com/john/16-24.htm we need to get rid of our worries and anxieties so the Lord can bring in Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace into our lives. The more we can get rid of stuff that is keeping God from entering in to our lives, the more He can be present and teach us His ways.

He wants and desires for us to bloom where we are planted bringing beauty to those who benefit from seeing your Joyful countenance.
So on this third Sunday of Advent as you wait on the Lord, ask yourself what is holding you back? What circumstances, fears, anxieties,doubts,etc are keeping you from allowing God to move into your life? Christmas reminds us that finding Joy is possible because :

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6 (one of 55 Old Testament prophesies fulfilled in Jesus’ birth, life, death and resurrection https://www.jesusfilm.org/blog-and-stories/old-testament-prophecies.html )

May this 3rd Sunday of Advent fill you with Joy. Please subscribe to this blog so you can receive email notifications when new content is posted. I can be reached by email at michael@mrg7175.com

Are you waiting and properly preparing for Christmas?

Today we light the Advent wreath’s 2nd of 4 candles as we wait on the coming of Jesus. Different denominations celebrate this season differently https://www.dailypress.com/life/faith/dp-fea-advent-christianity-20161126-story.html but there is one common principle shared. We are to spend this four week period waiting so that we might be renewed. This past summer I used my morning coffee to share how to be our best. It was about the need for emptying, cleaning, and refilling so that we could taste the newness of each day.http://thankfulinallthings.com/how-do-you-keep-yourself-energized/ I then wrote a few weeks later on how watching my grandchildren and my Bout with Guillain Barre taught me lessons on how to wait.http://thankfulinallthings.com/do-you-find-it-hard-to-wait/ The original season of Advent was arguably the most important season of waiting in all of history. We celebrate it over four weeks but it lasted much longer for those who waited for their Savior. Isaiah was written during the Babylonian period, about 580 to 520. So the supposed prophecy regarding Jesus was about 500 to 600 years before He was born. In fact, The Old Testament, written hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth, contains over 300 prophecies that Jesus fulfilled through His life, death and resurrection. The One who would free them from their master and establish a new kingdom. Little did they know what they were waiting for and in reality, many ended up very disappointed.

In this season of Advent for what are you waiting? Depending on what it is, you too could end up disappointed and experiencing the pain of unmet expectations. The gift you didn’t get. The relationship that continues to be side ways. You or your loved ones recovering from health issues. The job or promotion that didn’t occur. The discontentment you feel from not feeling like your life matters or even with achievement leaves you with the sense that there has to be more. Like the Jewish people you could be waiting on something that is not what God intended. If that is the case, you will end up disappointed and discouraged. The second candle represents love. God created you, loves you, and because of that baby being born in a manger, you can establish a relationship with Him that will not let you down. Your Joy will be made full
https://biblehub.com/john/15-11.htm and instead of the world beating you down you can experience the abundant life God promises. https://biblia.com/bible/esv/john/10/10

As we mark the Season of Advent, let’s take the time to wait on the Lord and examine our hearts. Like our cup of coffee, make it a time where stop, allow ourselves to be cleansed filled again so that we might be renewed. Enjoy the fun of preparing and decorating for Christmas but let us also not forget that we are to “prepare the the way of the Lord” , the Son of God, who became man to save the world and give each of us life now and for evermore. Hallelujah for He is the King of Kings! Enjoy this fun flash mob rendition.
https://youtu.be/SXh7JR9oKVE

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The importance of having an inner circle

When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other.” – Ecclesiastes 7:14

You might ask why I would begin this post with such a sober verse from the Bible? Last week I challenged everyone to make the word gratitude a verb. http://thankfulinallthings.com/make-the-word-gratitude-a-verb-this-week/ My goal was to have you see pouring out your gratitude on others not only encourages you, it makes the recipient experience gratitude as well. It is about giving to grow and growing to give. Here is an interesting family resource https://giveaswegrow.org/ So what does this have to do with who is in your inner circle?

It has been two years since I have been with my extended family. All but one of my brothers and sisters and their families came together for Thanksgiving. My son and his wife generously opened their home to make it happen. As I looked around the island before offering the blessing, I was touched by the magnitude of us being in the same room. Sure, Covid, but more than that, serious sickness, accidents, and yes, even disagreements, could have caused us not to be giving thanks together. The only family group missing was because the newest member of the Guthrie Clan entered the world a little over a week ago. Dad and Mom honored by Reiley Jane being both of their middle names.
That scene of 26 and the 8 from Richmond missing but present in our hearts filled my heart with gratitude. It made me realize once again, you need a tribe around you to remain thankful in all things whether “in good times or in bad.” I am grateful for my group of people but your tribe does not have to be as large or even family. It is about finding folks who you can truly trust. Who are going to love you no matter what. Life is not to be lived alone. Dr. Margaret Paul says it this way. “We are not meant to live alone. We are meant to live in caring communities with people to turn to for love and connection, and for help when we need it. Love, connection and support are vital for our health and wellbeing.” Even Jesus sent the disciples out into the world in pairs. Matthew 10.

The first step is yours. Choose who it is you want walking along side you. It may be starting a new relationship or repairing one that has gone astray. If you are side ways with someone, use this season of advent to reach out with a willingness to start anew. If you are alone, reach out to others. You will find people who will welcome you into their world. If you are blessed to have others in your life, take a look around and invite others in who are in need of friendship.

I will close with this example. A widow lamented on social media that she had no desire to put up her Christmas decorations. Another widow saw the post and offered to help because it gave her a distraction form her recent loss. What an amazing example of how serving others can indeed lift us up out of our own dismay. On this first Sunday of Advent, Prepare your heart answering this question from Mother Teresa. “At this Christmas when Christ comes, will He find a warm heart? Mark the season of Advent by finding, loving and serving others with God’s own love and concern.”

Make the word Gratitude a verb this week :)

My guess you aren’t surprised that a blog titled “Thankful in all Things” would be about moving us forward into this week of Thanksgiving. The word “intentionality” keeps rolling around in my mind. When I think about being intentional, it means there is a need for me taking action. Having an attitude of gratitude denotes the same.
My friend Marcus Ellis has a Facebook page titled “Hey! Guess What? I Love You!” It started with him making a decision to go out of his way to encourage others each and every day. His decision has resulted in a Facebook page with over 2500 followers. I am sitting in a hotel in Pittsburgh. I decided to let my server (Rutha May) know how she made everyone who came in feel special. Her face lit up and she now has a little bit bigger smile for those she serves. Maybe Marcus is in to something 😀

I recently found this quote by Veronica Neffinger -“There is value in going through the motions even if the feelings aren’t there. Choosing to thank God even when you don’t feel like it. Choose to do the same when circumstances cause you to be more stressed than thankful” It leads to that important first step of allowing having our hearts to be opened to true gratitude.” I call it failing forward.

My point is that being grateful is a choice. The Aspen Brain Institute says it this way. “The effect of gratitude on the brain is long lasting. Besides enhancing self-love and empathy, gratitude significantly impacts body functions and psychological conditions such as stress, anxiety, and depression. https://aspenbraininstitute.org/blog-posts/gratitudeandthebrain Scripture reminds us of the same. We are to in prayer and petition let our requests be made known to God (again, the action is going to God with our concerns). When we do, He promises a peace which is beyond our own understanding. Philippians 4 https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Philippians%204:6-8&version=NIV “Let that peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:15 As you gather with others this week for Thanksgiving be intentional about sharing your gratitude for them. Let them know why you appreciate them. Try what Marcus does and say, “Hey! Guess what? I love You! I bet you get loved right back and find yourself feeling blessed rather than discouraged.

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Beauty can be created by one or in many.

Leaving a grandchild’s soccer game yesterday, I heard one child yell out “good game” to a couple teammates. Those two then did the same to other team members. I over heard one child saying, “Dad, did you hear what Russell said? “He said I played a good match”. The dad replied, “and he was right, you did!” I was struck by how one little 6 year old saying “good game” became infectious and resulted in young boy feeling affirmed in how he had played.
This lesson is the perfect example of what I wanted to write about. As I was writing last week’s blog about the changing colors and the falling leaves http://thankfulinallthings.com/the-leaves-are-changing-and-dropping-from-the-trees/ another thought came to mind.

I noticed this tree all by itself in a yard while playing golf. Like the young boy saying good game, this sapling was already creating such beauty in the color of its leaves. Adjacent to the next tee box, was a forest of more mature and taller trees resplendent in their color. One little tree can impact us but the power comes when one tree becomes another and then another until we CAN actually “see the forest through the trees” Many different types of trees in all sizes, shapes, and colors providing a canopy for God’s painting that causes people to travel far and wide to see.

photo credit Mike Plecker

I want to challenge each of us as we move into this “Month of Thanksgiving” to be like the little tree or the young soccer player. Commit to an attitude of gratitude. Write it on a post it note and place it on your mirror. Something like what I wrote 40 years ago when I started in real estate. “Lord, let my life make a positive difference in this world.” Let’s all begin to create our own forest of people that were encouraged by us in a way that they started encouraging and empowering those around them. Like the old campfire song reminds us, “ It only takes a spark. That’s how it is with God’s love. Once you’ve experienced it, you want to pass it on” https://youtu.be/tadZ8nCLBsI Little did Russell know that he not only lifted up his friend with his encouraging words but impacted this now 69 year old as well. That is how it is with God’s love. As you experience His love, you will find yourself becoming “thankful in all things” 🙂

Please subscribe to this blog so you can receive email notifications when new content is written. You can reach me by email at michael@mrg7175.com. For more of my story click this link to listen to a podcast where I was recently a guest. https://youtu.be/fNx98WJ_WDM