Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thanksgiving: A Lifestyle Choice

Thanksgiving Lifestyle

A beautiful table setting
 All the homey lifestyle magazines, blogs and websites are cranking out holiday posts, links and pages now at an alarming rate—trying to get you geared up for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  

There is no lack of ideas circulating!  Take your pick of themed holiday meals:  recipes for the most extravagant / easy-going / traditional / non-traditional / vegetarian / fat-free / preservative-free / free-range / brined / gluten-free / politically-correct / inexpensive . . .

And decorating ideas for the interior and exterior of your home using pinecones, garland, clippings from your own trees, acorns, gourds, pumpkins of every size/color/shape.    Don’t pass over the patterns for hand-made gifts and crafts and place-name holders and napkin rings and hostess gifts and guest favors and . . .

All of this (of course!) is meant to inspire you, so that you in turn can inspire your family and all your guests to a higher consciousness of holiday spirit.    Before it even starts, most of us are ready to pass out on the couch and eat leftovers!

Pulled in thirty-thousand different directions at once, rushing  here and there—all the while feeling out-of-sorts because somehow even though this is all good stuff to do, most of us don’t have the time or money or patience!    

Please join us in giving thanks!
And certainly since I am SUCH an awesome cook and have a slew of really good (five star) Thanksgiving recipes, I crank out a list of recipes you “simply must try.”    And with the holiday decorating tricks up my sleeve, I could load you up with those, too.  

But I’m not going to do that, dear Friend!   Nope!

You probably already have a really long To Do List staring you in the face.  You don’t need another project from me!    But I do have something you need and want (although you may not yet realize you want this—but trust me—you do!).

Instead I’m going to share something else with you that will remind you of the motivation for that big Thanksgiving feast—and hopefully put you in mind of the reason for the coming CHRISTmas season.

What is this awesome-ness that will make your holidays 
more full, rich, delightful and meaningful? 

Nothing more than some TRUE inspiration.   The spirit of thanksgiving …. a few quotes from my all-time favorite book and a couple of brief comments.  

Here’s a quote/passage that bears consideration:

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,
since as members of one body you were called to peace.
And be thankful.”
Colossians 3:15

Go ahead and read that again.   Try saying it out loud.   Pause at that comma and those periods. 

You’ve been called to peace.   THEN be thankful.  

And you probably are thankful, aren’t you?   

When dear hubby opens the door or the neighbor kid snow-blows 10-inches from the driveway.  

The colors are so inviting!
And you’re thankful because hubby has a job—maybe even a really good job!—and the children are healthy and how great is it to have electricity and drinking a cup of cappuccino in front of the fireplace and that Gutenberg invented the moveable font printing press and food to eat and family safely arrived through the bad snowstorm.   Yeah!  God really IS good!

You can probably name 25 more things for which you’re thankful.

You’ve probably even been thankful when a muddy-from-head-to-toe preschooler smiled sweetly, offered a hand-picked bouquet of flowers, and lisped “I love you Momma.” Or when you saw a worn-out soldier walk through an airport newly home from a tour of duty and his young wife and several small children rushed joyfully to hug him a welcome home.   Or when the wrapping paper revealed the most-wanted gift of all time.  

Thankfulness bubbles up, smiles break out, and appreciation flows from a heart truly touched.

“Devote yourselves to prayer,
being watchful and thankful.”   
Colossians 4:2

Do you WATCH for opportunities to give thanks?   Are you thankful when it rains on your picnic?   When your son smashes and totals your car?   When you’re staring at the ceiling feeling like you’re going to throw up?  

Are you thankful when the car gets a flat-tire on a frigid winter afternoon and you realize your gloves are laying on the counter back home along with your cellphone?    When your new job requires you to move hundreds of miles from family and home-so-dear?   

That's cranberries & grapefruit - total deliciousness!
Are you thankful when you wake up at 3 a.m. for the third night in a row and anxious thoughts pop into your head and the clock keeps track of every minute of wakefulness?    When your baby has a poopy diaper that schmushes up the back of her onesie?   When the dog meets a skunk and brings home memories of the lovely exchange?


Do you think during those rainy days “Thank you so much, God, for sending me this challenge and giving me a chance to show how much I trust in you.   And, Lord, thank you for reminding me how much you love me.”

Nowhere in all of Scripture are we told that things are going to be easy for us, like an “easy” button the office supply company commercials!   In fact, it’s just the opposite!

So, look at those situations again.   The skunk-fragrant dog?  The smashed car?   A new job far from loved ones?   A flat tire?   These are opportunities to sing God’s praises.   Really!  

Of course, our sinful nature resists seeing that God is—indeed—in control and knows exactly what is best for us at this moment in time.  

That darling baby in the poopy diaper—she sees you as the center of her little universe“It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”  (Colossians 3:24b)   

Relocating for that new job so far away from friends, perhaps there is a co-worker whose life will be touched by your willingness to speak about Jesus—and at Eternity you will hear Jesus say “Well done, good & faithful servant.”  

Those 3 a.m. wake-ups may turn out to be the perfect time to open your Bible and hear what God has to say to you for the day ahead.  Like the words of Psalm 77:12:  “I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds.”   

The flat tire on a cold winter eve—maybe God wants you to slow down?  I KNOW God has a plan—because He tells us so in the Old Testament:    in the book written by the prophet Jeremiah (chapter 29, verse 11-13):

“For I know the plans I have for you;
plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future. 
Then you will call upon me
and come and pray to me,
and I will listen to you. 
You will seek me and find me
when you seek me with all your heart.”
Jeremiah 29:11-13

Count the number of promises in there!   That’s amazing—that He will do all that for us!

And in the New Testament the apostle Paul writes:

“Let your conversation be always full of grace,
seasoned with salt,
so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
Colossians 4:6

Can we dig in now?
We live IN the world, but we should be different FROM the rest of the occupants here.   Our response—in good times and in bad should be the same.   Trust God.   Praise God.  Thank God.   Believe God.   Turn to God.   Seek God.  Walk with God.  

And when unbelievers or newbie Christians or young believers see you convey thankfulness in all situations (instead of anger, spite, animosity, fear or worry), they will may pause and ask what it is that makes you different from the rest of the world.    And there—you have an opportunity to share the Gospel with a new friend or your own children!

The response during good and bad times is the same: 

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart,
as working for the Lord.”  
Colossians 3:23

The way you live out the Gospel in your life—being thankful in all situations—will win more souls for the Lord.    It isn’t always easy, especially at first.  

"He that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast."
 Proverbs 15:15 KJV

Thanksgiving 2009
Yep.  Bad stuff happens.   Give thanks anyway!   At all times.  In all places.   In every circumstance.

You are a redeemed child of God.   Jesus died for you.   He took away every sin you’ve ever committed (past, present, future).  

Give thanks no matter what’s going on in your world.   You do—after all—have the greatest reason of all to live continually in a state of thanksgiving.  Day in.  Day out.  For the rest of your life.  

You have a peace that no one can take away—no matter what’s going on around you!

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