Things Given and Thanks Given

From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.  Luke 12:48
The more things you are given the more thanks that must be given. 
The problem is that psychology, the way our minds naturally work, works against this.  It is simple really.  The more we have the less we realize how much we have.  The less you have the more aware you are of what you have. 
How do we cause the things given and thanks given match?
Two Mindsets Necessary for Gratitude:
1.  See what you have, not what you do not have.
2.  See what others do not have, not what they do have.
Choose to see what you have.  We can all right a list of what we do not have, but can you write what you do have.  Choose to live focused on what you have been blessed with instead of what you are hoping to be blessed with.
Choose to see what others do not have.  Seeing what others have is basically coveting.  That is outlawed in the Big 10, so stop it. Quit looking at what they have and see what they do not have.  Instead of seeing some one’s financial provision, see their spiritual poverty.  Quit looking for what others have that you don’t.
Foster a gratitude attitude by making sure that things given lead to thanks given.

G Thanks Challenge Catch Up

My wife has been very helpful around the church recently with some things that were needed.  I have tried to express my gratitude to her by saying it and showing it.  I also did a project at the house.  It needed to be done but Wendy has been working on organizing and it was a closet that needed to some attention.  I hope she knows I appreciate her hard work to keep things organized and I want to help her with it.

A waitress at a restaurant.  A good tip and G Thanks card.  (No tip…no card…btw.  Don’t say thank you in ways that are not sincere.)

The man that loads trucks at Home Depot.  No tips allowed but a thank you can go along way.  A sincere one at least.

Keep finding people to say thank you to.  Share with them the love of Christ.

Growing a Gratitude Attitude

Are you grateful for all you have?  Even today in the midst of national and political turmoil, are you grateful? 
Gratitude is attitude. 
I have already written that Thanksgiving is thanks given.  Thanksgiving is action.  But that action has correlating attitude.  You will never have the action without the attitude nor the attitude without the action.  So how do you foster the attitude?
“Two things I ask of you, Lord;  do not refuse me before I die:  Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.  Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.  Proverbs 30:7-9
Have you ever asked such a thing?  God don’t let me have nothing but please don’t give me everything.  We live in a culture focused on getting everything.  But this mindset and heart passion is essential to the gratitude attitude.
Two Attitudes You must foster to have gratitude:
1.  It is how you see little that gives you much gratitude.
2.  It is how you see much that gives you little gratitude.
Your view of the little things causes you to have much gratitude. It is how you see one thing that defines how you see everything.  If you are grateful for the little things you are grateful for everything.
You view of everything causes you to have little gratitude.  It is how you see everything that defines how you one thing.  If you are consumed with everything you not grateful for anything.

My mom is best because…Part 2

As a second grader I won an essay contest titled, “My Mom is best because…”  Today on her 68thbirthday, I think I’ll try again.

Sue Young Jones was born into a large farming family in Lisbon, LA.  She grew up poor but says they did not know it because they had food to eat, clothes to wear, and a house to live in. Mom was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes when she was seven.  The diagnosis was difficult and the prognosis was grim.  Few diabetics lived beyond their twenties in that day.  Life expectancy was short and expectations of families and career were low.
So part of the reason I think my mom is the best is because of all the things that are that were not expected to be.
My mom decided to head off to college in spite of the fears it caused for those that loved her.  She majored in home economics on a scholarship she earned raising prize cows.  She supplemented the scholarship by selling those prize cows as she went. Mom graduated early….with honors.
One day during college, mom was in a group at a card game with a quiet shy guy that sat at the table for a couple of hours without saying a word.  Mom leaned over, put her finger over her lips, and said, “Shhh, you’re talking too much.”  Not sure what mom awakened in that young man but now it’s hard to get him to shut up.
Mom and Dad started a family that she was never supposed to expect and this past April they celebrated 46 years of marriage.  The woman that was told not to have children had three kids who have been married for 21 years, 19 years and 14 years and have given her 9 grandchildren. 
On the morning of the wedding day, Dad checked mom out of the hospital.  She had been in the hospital for a week after what was probably the worst diabetic episode of her life.  Dad was taking care of her that day just like he is today.  Their marriage is a beautiful picture of what God intended.  They bear each other’s burdens not as if they are burdens in their life, but the blessings of their life.
Mom became a middle school English teacher in Caddo Parish during the days of integration where she was the first and only white teacher in an all black school.  One of her students there was an over-aged tall young 8th grade boy that could not read.  He wanted to read so mom and he worked hard.  One day he found her in the hall, pulled out a first grade primer, and read it.  Then he grinned big and said, “Thanks, I can read.”
Mom believes in the power of reading and writing to change a person’s life.  She taught junior high English because she if a kid that grasped the importance of reading and writing it would change their future.   She started a Reading Enrichment program at Ruston Junior High.  It was a reading and writing elective that served to spur kids forward in this skill so integral to their future success.  Mom’s favorite student was always the kid from the illiterate or under-educated home that was working hard to get ahead.  She loved fanning the flame of such potential into a roaring fire through the power of written words.  Mom was told not expected to have a career, but she taught for 25 years and impacted for positive the lives of 1000’s.
She also loves teaching others about Jesus.  Mom has a great reputation as a teacher of Scripture.  She has a vast knowledge of the Bible and her Scripture memory is amazing.  She has taught Sunday School and Discipleship training and most recently did a mentoring program for younger ladies called Apples of Gold.  In this program she not only taught the Bible but she taught cooking and hosting.  The husbands of these women have always been grateful.  I am not sure if it was more for the spiritual or culinary, but they were grateful all the same.
Diabetes has indeed caused some difficulties.  She had to retire earlier than she planned after a heart attack.  She had to quit sewing and playing the piano because of arthritis.  She broke a leg that took a 1 ½ years to heal.  She lost her peripheral vision and had to quit driving many years ago.
The reality of what she was told about her future is not something she can stop.  Truth is she prayed many times for healing as a child.  She came to grips that this was the thorn in her flesh intended for the glory of the Lord.  So mom decided to live her life. 
The realities of a childhood disease formed in her a view of life few have.  Mom has always lived her life focused on what was instead of what was not.  She has enjoyed what she has instead of worrying about what she does not have. 
As I, and others, worry about what lies ahead.  She does not.  As Proverbs 31 says, “she laughs at the days ahead.”  She is so grateful for what is she cannot worry about what might not be, but most importantly she is certain in what is to come.
So that is why I think my mom is the best.
Thanks for loving Jesus and teaching others to love him.  Thanks for teaching kids not just reading but succeeding.  Thanks for being brave and not bitter.  Thanks for being grateful instead of fearful.
Thanks for loving Dad.  Thanks for loving Denise and Rachel.  Thanks for loving Wendy.  Thanks for loving Daniel, Melanie, Kara, and all your grandchildren.  And thanks for loving me.
I love you.  You’re the best.  And Happy Birthday!

The G Thanks Spouse Challenge

Unfortunately, marriage is where appreciation often goes to die.   As part of our G Thanks Challenge, I want to challenge you to work at appreciating your spouse in November and see what God does in your marriage.  (This is a challenge I gave Fellowship in my sermon last week.  It has drawn some comments and attention…I thought it might be worth sharing beyond that moment.)
You must remember though that men and women who live in the same latitude physically are not necessarily living in the same latitude emotionally. (Check out my earlier blog on gratitude and latitude if that statement is confusing.)
So here is the challenge.  Express gratitude in you spouse’s latitude.  (Minimally twice per week during the next month.)
Ladies, men are pretty simple creatures.  Gratitude has more to do with longitude than latitude.  It’s pretty simple. Physical affection and attention is appreciation.  For men that basically means sex although we all know that is not the sum total of physical affection.  There’s more to this reality than I will say now.  I will come back to it in just a moment.
Men, women are not simple creatures.  But appreciation is simple.  It is a big concept in little actions.  SAY it and SHOW it.  Speak up.  Be specific about what you appreciate and why.  Take her for a night out…and plan everything…even the babysitter.  Small moments with your spouse.  A dessert date after the kids are in bed.  A thank you note on the washing machine with a gift card in it.  SAY it and SHOW it.
Also, appreciation is initiation.  If your wife has to remind you to say and show appreciation…it does not count.  If you speak appreciation because she told you she got that big (or little) task around the house done instead of you noticing on your own…it does not count.  Your husband begging for physical attention does not count either, ladies.  It usually is the initiation of affection that means the most to your husband.  That is what causes him to feel respect, honor, value, and appreciation.  Husbands, it is you taking the time and giving the attention to acknowledge her that makes her feel appreciation.  Take a hint from Proverbs 31 and stand at the city gate and speak her praise.  When you appreciate her and others know it…she knows it.  Initiation goes along way in appreciation.
So that is the G Thanks Spouse Challenge…take it and see what God will do in your marriage this month!

The Latitude of Gratitude

To express gratitude you must put yourself in someone else’s latitude.
On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee.  And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, GIVING him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine?  Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”   Luke 17:11-19  (emphasis added)
10 were healed.  1 was thankful. 
Thanksgiving is thanks given.
The expression of gratitude requires us to change what we are doing and what we are saying.  Thanksgiving is a word of action yet it is not a verb.  It is a noun that describes a verb.  It is a word that describes not a thing but an action.  There is no thanksgiving until that thanks is given.   Thanksgiving is a comment before it is sentiment.
To properly show gratitude we have to change latitude.  We have to put ourselves in the place of the person we appreciate.  This means physical latitude, spiritual latitude, and emotional latitude.  Think like they think.  Express your appreciation in their style of communication…their love language as Dr. Chapman has named it.  Gratitude is best given in the language of the one receiving instead of the one giving.
So change your latitude and show your gratitude.

G Thanks Days 2 and 3

Got a little busy.  One thing I find is that being grateful toward others on days you are really busy and do not go out into the world at large as much are more difficult.  But here were my attempts the last couple of days.

The election workers…I did not bring them anything as I thought that might would be inappropriate and maybe not even allowed for them to take a “gift,” but I tried to express my gratitude for them providing a great service.

The pizza guy.  He makes the best pizza and is a great guy to visit with.  So glad this New Yorker brought New York style pizza to south Louisiana.  Love me some Omar at Roma’s Pizza.

Got to get busy on the thanks in the home front.  Some times its the small things.  Wendy “fixed” a ready made chicken from the super market yesterday.  Gave herself a negative comment on that in jest. I simply said, “Thanks for supper. It doesn’t matter who cooked it, you made sure we had it to eat.”  Something like that.  Try to appreciate the little things.  A yummy supper served hot did not fix it self.  I followed the meal up by cleaning the kitchen which is a normal nightly activity for me, but I hope it says thanks for supper every time I do it.