John taught, “Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked” (1 John 2:6). We are to “be imitators of God, understanding we are all God’s beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us” (Ephesians 5:1–2).
I am saddened to see so many these days choosing to not walk in love. This past week I have heard friends calling others human scum and willfully ignorant. I have also spoken to people who say they will no longer be friends with people that believe or support a certain individual or cause. I am guessing these last two sentences have brought a certain person or belief to your mind. That is why I want to encourage all of us to step back and remind ourselves we are called to Love our neighbor. That does not mean we have to agree with them or condone certain actions. It does take a willingness to treat others respectfully so that we can be willing to understand different points of view. Miles McPherson, in his book The Third Option https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/The-Third-Option/Miles-McPherson/9781501172205, writes that we all have blind spots. His premise is you will only see people a certain way if you just engage with others who are like minded. He challenges his readers to get out of their comfort zone and spend time in places where they have never been and with people that think differently than them. How can that happen if our mindset is “ I won’t have anything to do with those kind of people”?
I know reaching out to people you don’t like will not be easy but if each of us won’t do it, who will? I believe we are to be men and women who are willing to give up our will to be used by God in extending and advancing His love and care here on earth. We need to become servant hearted so we can lift up others’ needs above our own interests. It can start with doing a random act of kindness to a neighbor across the street or a colleague at work who may not look like you or had the wrong election sign in their yard. Let me be the first to say it is hard to make it my first instinct and doing it can be challenging. It becomes even more powerful when you do it for no other reason than you want them to know someone cares and knows they live there. As a friend says, “doing awesome things for others, quietly” Romans 12:15 says, “we are to rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” Paul writes later in Ephesians 4:32 “Whatever wrong someone does to us, we are to be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” Hebrews 10:23-25 encourages us toward this honorable endeavor. “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Yes, even Inauguration Day.
How awesome would it be if we all made a New Year resolution to “Love our neighbor”? What does it look like for you? St Francis of Assisi in his prayer below, answers the question much better than I ever could. First, pray that God would give empower you take this on in your own life. After that, change the pronoun to plural and pray it for the community and the country in which we live. From our lips to God’s ears, please Lord, hear our prayer. Lord, Teach us your ways. https://youtu.be/_NRzrRok7Ds Let us love each other as God sees us. We are His Beloved.
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I have been doing the One Word challenge https://www.onewordchallenge.com/ for several years now. I wish I had written them all down. I do know that 2018 was Blessed because I realized how often I forgot how much I had for which to be thankful. Who would have guessed when I chose Prayer as my 2019 word, it would be so needed as I battled Guillain Barre Syndrome chronicled here. http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/michaelguthrie 2020’s word Generosity was an easy one to choose. I wanted to pay forward the generosity everyone shared with Dottie and me the previous year. Covid19 gave me lots of ways to practice generosity. Thinking of and stepping out to serve others kept me from self-isolation pity parties and spiraling into discouragement. If these last few years have taught me anything, it has been stuff happens that is totally out of my control. That is why my word this year is EMBRACE. My focus will be on two different meanings of the word. “an act of holding someone closely in one’s arms.” and “accept or support (a belief, theory, or change) willingly and enthusiastically.” Instead of trying to figure out why things happen, I want to trust God enough knowing “that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28. Therefore, I can be thankful in all things. Charles Stanley writes-“Signs of God’s blessing are all around us, but discerning them can be difficult. We tend to think God is moving and blessing us when things are going well—when marriages are thriving, we get the promotion, or sickness is healed. But He blesses us even in the wilderness of our lives—in the unknown, unpredictable, and uncomfortable. When things are difficult, it’s common to believe the solution is to move past our problems—to change our circumstances. But God doesn’t just pluck us out of the desert places. Usually, He comes alongside us, bringing life, water, and renewed hope as we journey onward.”
This is what I want to do with 2021. Embrace whatever comes my way. Over these last two years, I have experienced God’s presence in ways that have deepened my faith. I have learned the need to Abide in Christ to have the confidence I can trust Him no matter what the outcome. Jesus teaches in John 15 that we are to cling to the True Vine. John 15:7 says, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. I think we can all agree that clinging on to something during these stormy times sounds like a pretty good idea. It has certainly worked for me and I believe it will work for you as well. This passage communicates we are to be grafted into a place God has prepared for us as a result our faith in Him. The better that attachment the more our new life of faith can flourish. My hope is as I focus on clinging even tighter to my relationship with God, more of what He wants for my life will appear. The result will be the fruit https://www.biblica.com/bible/niv/galatians/5/ produced by my embracing Him no matter what 2021 brings with it.
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A CBS weekend show used my subject line as its topic for this past weekend’s show. https://art19.com/shows/america-changed-foreverI agree that our country has been changed but will we as a people come out of this pandemic positively changed or go back to the our old ways prior to the Coronavirus? If only it had been a year that we just dealt with Covid19. It started with the fires in Australia, then in the US out west, and then came word of what turned in to a pandemic. If that wasn’t enough, we had a record number of named hurricanes and then the senseless shootings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, Ahmad Arbery, and others rekindling an anger that spilled out into the streets of many cities in America. What have we learned? Will we allow it to make us better moving forward? I have a bit of a platform from which to speak as I now have lived through two straight years of living through unexpected challenges. *footnoted below
What I personally viewed and experienced over these last two years of adversity, makes me optimistic that because of what we have endured will commit to making things better moving forward. First, God will be with you no matter what the circumstance. My faith grew stronger as I felt His presence which gave me peace even when I was unable to move. Exodus 33:14 “And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
Second, when people come around you to care for every need, you become motivated to do the same for others who are in some sort of need. Matthew 25:40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” That is why I chose the word “Generosity” http://thankfulinallthings.com/my-one-word-for-2020-will-be/ as my One Word for 2020. Little did I know I was in for a 2nd transformative year in a row. 😀 A key component for not spiraling down in discouragement because of self-isolation was finding creative socially distanced ways to be generous. Finally, systems and acts of injustice in its many facets has sharply slapped us all in the face. I am encouraged by more and more people saying “enough is enough” and “What can I do to make a difference?” If it continues the world will be a better place for sure.
There is no doubt our world is in a very dark time but it is certainly not the first time adversity in its many shapes and sizes has wreaked its havoc. How we come out better having experienced it will depend on each of us. It will start with us understanding it all starts with us and yes, a belief that each of us has the power to impact our worlds. God chose people like Moses (Exodus 3:4-6), Esther (Esther chapters 5-10) and Nehemiah (chapters 40-48 of the book of Ezekiel) to lead others out of what were very tough times. He can use each one of us in the very same way. A 100 year old English gentleman in England decided he would start walking around his garden in support of health care workers. It resulted in him being Knighted after more than $40,000,000 was raised from his initiative. http://bit.ly/manknighted Thirty years ago Tom Powell got up in a cherry picker at his gas station to entice people to donate Christmas presents for kids in need. Thirty years later it is unimaginable how many children have had a Merry Christmas because of http://www.toylift.org
It is a New Year and with it come resolutions. Instead of the usual ones, may we will all resolve to make a daily effort to see and then do our part to meet whatever needs that come our way. We can then be assured that we have done our part to assure America, the world, and our own communities will indeed be changed forever.
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This week the stars aligned. Well actually, NASA described it this way. “Jupiter and Saturn aligned in the night sky on Dec. 21 in an event astronomers call the “great conjunction” — also referred to as the “Christmas Star” — marking the planets’ closest encounter in nearly 400 years. https://apple.news/AHBOEehUORSyRWvSNsB9wBQ There are many that say this is what the Three Wise Men followed when seeking to worship Jesus after He was born. I was struck by the fact that all around the world people were looking upward to catch this amazing phenomenon. What a wonderful picture analogy of the Advent season where we wait expectantly to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Like us seeing the great conjunction, the Israelites waited hundreds of years to welcome a Messiah who Isaiah prophesied about 700 years before his birth. The difference of course is in a matter of days Jupiter and Saturn are no longer visible whereas the world has never been the same since “unto us a child was born whose name is Jesus, Wonderful counselor, our Immanuel.” Isaiah 9:6
The second similarity that the great conjunction brought to mind is that we are all waiting for Covid19 to release its wretched grip on our lives making it so difficult to be with the ones we love. Like the planets, we look to the availability of the vaccine to be made so all we will be well and life as we imagine it will get back to normal. It certainly feels like the Christmas carol, “a star, a start dancing in the night” that provides us some glimmer of hope that this soon could be over. As I thought about this I happened upon the Season 3 The Crown episode where Prince Phillip watches every moment of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins landing on the moon.https://youtu.be/qLebb96VHJM It is again a picture of looking up at the moon and being amazed at the courage it took to achieve this heroic accomplishment. The Prince was astounded that the astronauts were more interested in Buckingham Castle and what his life of royalty was like than landing on the moon. So often, we think what others have done or are doing is much more important or significant than ours. It can lead to discouragement as we fall into the lie that our life doesn’t measure up to others.
Christmas speaks truth to that lie. Missionary, Doug Coppage, sums it up well in a recent letter to a friend. “My hope does not depend on other people, no matter how religious or corrupt they may be. My hope rests in Jesus alone, and he did a very, very good job of overcoming darkness, despair, death, and every other curse of human life. God did all this through Jesus for us – and for me! This is God’s Christmas lesson for me this year.”
This Christmas, may the eyes of your heart be enlightened, that you may have a deeper “Christmas star” understanding of what it means to love God and to love others. Only then can we receive the best gift God offers Us; His unique divinity, His grace and truth, His indescribable peace. May it make you “Thankful in all Things”
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I have written about the African proverb above before in this blog. On a Glenn Lundy podcast recently, I was introduced to Ubuntu. In the Bantu language, it means, “humanity”. Unpacked further, it says, I am because you are”. Once again the African culture teaches the importance of going together. “Their belief is in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity. It is often used in a more philosophical sense to mean “the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity”(Wikipedia). As we enter this Christmas week, practicing Ubuntu Would be a great gift to give each other. Treating one another with respect and honor.
Paul in Ephesians 4 wrote about it this way.
“I, therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
The Christmas angels sang about this peace when they announced the birth of a baby born in a manger, Jesus. They promised “Peace on earth and goodwill toward men.” There is no doubt in this season of uncertainty, we could all use some peace in our lives. I submit that it can happen with you doing two simple things. First, the simple act of showing goodwill to others makes us realize we are all connected. It is good to know and show others we are not going it alone. Secondly, Christ calls us to 1st “Come unto Him” As we “Abide in Him”, He promises to bring “rest to our souls”. This song reminds us to make your own trip to the manger and at His feet, may you lay your burdens down 😃 https://youtu.be/dK_azB1-HMU. Listen and then rise up knowing Jesus wants to take on whatever burdens your carrying around these days.
I pray you will have a blessed Christmas filled with great tidings of His Joy. Please subscribe to this blog post if you want to receive email notifications when new content is posted. I can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
I am not sure where or who taught Dottie and me to not wish away a current time in our lives. It could have been when our children were little and as her Mom shared with us “the hours of the day now crawl, but the years will fly by”. Or was it when we moved from the “physically tiring” stage of life into the “emotionally exhausting” time of having teenagers? 😀 We have all had them haven’t we? Think about time or times where you couldn’t help but say, “once we get through this or that trial or ideal, things will be much better?” If you are like me, several come immediately to mind; including my bout with Guillain Barre and now 9 months of Covid19. So, As we enter into the last couple weeks of Advent, remember the waiting is to be intentional. A time to reflect and prepare ourselves for what God wants to do with us through His son Jesus.
Christmas reminds us we have a loving Father and a wonderful counselor who wants the very best for us. It doesn’t start tomorrow or in the future, it starts right now. We have a choice, every day, to give him thanks. And with a heart of thanksgiving, we realize that no matter what we face, God doesn’t just work to change our situations and help us through our problems. He does more. He teaches us in those moments to prepare us for what lies ahead. He changes our hearts so that we might become better. This 3rd Sunday of #Advent2020, take time to stop, wait patiently, and expectantly to celebrate the tiny baby who God allowed to change the world. May we prepare our hearts so that we receive Him in love and then go out to serve with hearts full of compassion. This is a time to reflect on the fact that the Mighty God and Prince of Peace has that same compassion for us. How do we not miss out on what God wants for us right now? Try not waiting 364 days each year for Christmas or Thanksgiving to say thanks and give gifts. Instead, have a thankful heart and the Christmas spirit every day so that you have no regret on how you spent a season no matter what came your way. After all as Eleanor Roosevelt so aptly put it, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift..That is why it is called the Present.”
During this Advent Season, as you wait, work on Making your Present Perfect by keeping God in every moment of your day.
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2019 was a year of waiting to recover from Guillain Barre Syndrome (www.CaringBridge.org/visit/michaelguthrie. Little did I know that 2020 would bring a new kind of waiting; the all clear from Covid19. Although I am physically well and have accomplished my 180 goal stated in this link http://thankfulinallthings.com/tag/transformed/, the doctors have me self-isolating as much as possible. They say that is the best course of action given my compromised immune system because Covid19 can result in Guillain Barre as well. Singer Christopher Cross had that exact thing happen https://youtu.be/aeEe9W8wayw back in March. Along with all of you, we wait for a vaccine that will hopefully allow us to return to our normal lives again sometime in 2021.
Waiting for recovery in 2019 and Covid19 to be brought under control in 2020 has made the season of Advent more poignant for me. Why? Because it is also about waiting and waiting is never easy. I guess that is why they say “patience is a virtue.” 😀 God’s chosen people had been waiting for a Messiah for a lot longer than a couple of years. God’s son, Jesus, had been prophesied hundreds of years before in Isaiah 7:14. Here is a link to 44 prophesies in the Old Testament that were fulfilled in the New Testament. https://parish.rcdow.org.uk/swisscottage/wp-content/uploads/sites/52/2014/11/44-Prophecies-Jesus-Christ-Fulfilled.pdf
One such prophesy shares about the servant, the messiah for whom they were waiting.
Isaiah 42 goes on to say what the people could expect upon His arrival. “Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations. 2 He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. 3 A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; 4 he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his teaching the islands will put their hope.”
Ponder this question on this 2nd Sunday of Advent. For what or for whom are you waiting? Is it something temporal in nature like improved health or the end of Covid19? There is no doubt I have found both are worth waiting for with expectant anticipation. Yet this Christmas season, try waiting on God to show you how He wants to renew your life. There you will find the everlasting Hope that was promised in Isaiah. The hope that comes from God who loved us enough to send His Incarnate Son to live amongst us. Wait on Him friends and watch how he will bring justice to this broken and bruised world that feels like at any moment could be snuffed out like a smoldering wick. Joy to the world, The Lord has come. May we each receive Him personally as our King. When we do we can remain Thankful in All Things.
Thanks for reading my thoughts on what it means to wait during The Advent season. I can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org Please subscribe to the blog if you want to get email notifications when new content is posted.
It has taken me awhile to figure out what I wanted to post this week. I couldn’t figure out why I didn’t have the desire to sit down and write. Many thoughts and topics crossed my mind but for different reasons, I ruled them out. It finally dawned on me a couple days ago that I was having a hard time being thankful. How can one post on a blog about being thankful in all things when you don’t feel thankful? Gratefully, I came across this devotional thought from my friend Tom. “One of my “Thanks” this year is finding my Joy in God. ” The joy of the Lord is my strength,” Neh 8:10. This crisis makes me go deeper into my relationship with the Lord, and the deeper I go the more thankful I am for him. This trial has me seeking him constantly, where he becomes, “my joy and my delight.” Ps 43:4. My friend’s words stopped me from focusing on the sadness of knowing there would not be 35 family and friends (pictured below) packed around tables for Thanksgiving. It provided another lesson learned that adversity makes me lean in and go deeper in the trust I have for the One who created and wants only the best for me. Proverbs 23:18 reinforces this affirmation by saying, “Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.”
If that wasn’t enough, Facebook reminded me of a prayer I wrote last Thanksgiving. My Thanksgiving poem-
Gratitude for which I strive
Instead of stress eating me alive
The world wants us to never be content
Achieving much, asking what’s next.
So on this another Thanksgiving Day
Lord I ask that my heart does stay
Focused on you and all that You give
Abundance abounds and in that thought I’ll live
So my encouragement to you is this simple exercise. Stop focusing on what you don’t have, where you can’t go, or who you can’t visit. Instead, take the time to look around you and take in all the abundance you have in your life. Once you have gotten yourself refocused with an attitude of gratitude, find some ways to bring thankfulness into others’ lives knowing this season will indeed pass and another Thanksgiving will be here before we know it. I can’t wait to celebrate it with the folks pictured below 😀
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There is so much tension in the world these days. It comes from so many directions. Stop for a moment and think. Maybe even find a piece of paper. Write down from where the tension in your life is originating. I think you will be surprised by how many things come to mind. It may explain why you are feeling tired and discouraged. Think about your computer or smart phone. Throughout the day, you are opening different apps and websites. With each one that is opened, the battery starts to run down and the system starts to get sluggish. We need to regularly go in and clear the cache, close the apps and websites. We also need to plug it in so it can recharge. So it goes with our brain and nervous system. Look back at your list. So many things are flying through your brain that you forget or aren’t able to shut down. They unconsciously weigh you down and tire you out. The question is how do we acknowledge and deal with the tensions so that our mind can find time to relax? We also need to figure out the best ways to allow ourselves to recharge so that we can venture out with a mindset of wanting to make a positive difference in the world. It reminds me of an earlier blog post linked here. http://thankfulinallthings.com/to-what-are-you-tethered/ It is so important to venture out knowing we have a way to get back.
Why is acknowledging tension, fatigue, and discouragement important? There are many reasons but the one I want to focus on is how it impacts how we love our neighbor. I am generally a pretty even keeled, slow to anger person. When I look back at why I lash out or find myself being short with someone, I realize it is because I am tired or some other stress triggers it. Therefore, I have found setting reminders so I stop throughout the day to defrag and clear out the stress that has come my way, helps me in dealing with others. It also makes sure I get a good night sleep so I can be recharged for tomorrow. How do I know this will work?
I trust in the Lord and obey Him even if friends choose a different path or when suffering or discomfort is guaranteed. Seeing His will done is more important than my own comfort or personal ambition. I commit the consequences to God and cling to His promises: He will never leave us (Heb. 13:5), and He makes good out of every situation (Rom. 8:28). I can cling to these promises because I can look back and see where God was present in my adversity and His good was evident even when I didn’t see it at the time.
I read a book years ago called Travelling Light. With the Twenty-third Psalm as his guide, the author writes about burdens we were never intended to bear. Using these verses as a guide, Max Lucado walks us through a helpful inventory of our burdens. May God use this Psalm to remind you to release the burdens you were never meant to bear. Yes, fellow Weary travelers, we are called to rest and lay our burdens down. As Matthew 11:28-30 instructs, “ “Come to Jesus, all you who are weary and burdened, and He will give you rest. Take His yoke upon you and learn from Him. You will find Him gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls”
Take the time to Be still friends and know that God is with you and wants to replace all of your anxiety, fears, and stress with His peace that “surpasses all human understanding.” If you find these posts helpful, please subscribe to the blog so you can be notified when new content is posted. You can contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Affordable housing was the topic on my radio show a couple weeks ago. I had the opportunity to speak with two Realtors whose initiatives resulted in four families buying homes when they never thought it possible. I congratulated them saying, “you all can always look back and be thankful knowing your efforts has and will In the future, help others experience homeownership.” It reminded me that our individual decisions to go out and serve can and will make the world a better place. I saw a powerful video about Rick Rescorla that illustrated this very point. Very few know his name but his one act cost him his life but saved the lives of 2700 fellow employees. https://youtu.be/J8XfwZAKPMk As I wrote last week, he exemplifies choosing not to retreat but to strive forward on behalf of others.
Two scripture passages jump out at me when thinking about how knowing we have made a difference in the world allows us to be thankful. Colossians 3:17 “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” 2 Corinthians 9:11,12 “You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. 12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.”
The ultimate verse though is Matthew 25:40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” The greatest motivation to do good works is not so that we can be applauded or told how much someone appreciates you. It is that God exhibited the greatest act of love by allowing His son to die for us and therefore when we got out to serve others, It is like we are serving Jesus himself.
I read a book years ago with the title, The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom. It follows the life and death of a man named Eddie who is killed and sent to heaven, where he encounters five people who had a significant impact upon him while he was alive. Thinking about it reminds me of the opportunity each of us has to create positive or negative ripples out into the world. I think we would all agree, like Eddie in the book, we would rather have people smiling when they say to you “I remember when you…….” I bet the almost 2700 people who survived the tower collapse on 9/11 remember what Rick Rescorla did for them.
“Ever present Father, You are active in everything and everyone and every moment, moving the world toward the full manifestation of your loving reign. Help us to love ourselves wholly up to you; to be instruments of your will in this and every moment” Gregory Boyd
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