Tag Archives: gratitude

Thanksgiving 2016

This year I am grateful for

My family which continues to grow

Trinity Lutheran Church in Lindstrom, where I serve as Interim Pastor.

My running buddies who also like to drink coffee

For hiking trails and  hiking friends

For the gifts of worship and centering prayer

For the simple joy of being alive in Christ.

The joy of the Lord is our strength.  Nehemiah 8:10

For what are you grateful?

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Create in Me a Right Spirit of Gratitude

A favorite prayer of mine is a simple request: Create in me a clean heart, oh God, and renew a right spirit within me.

Based on Psalm 51:10-12, the sentence starts a piece of the Lutheran liturgy which continues to echo in my soul. The short hymn was sung as the offering was presented.

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore unto me the joy of your salvation
and uphold me with your free Spirit.

A key way for the Lord to renew a right spirit within me is through gratitude. I confess that I can slip into periods of fear and distrust, when I am closed to God’s Spirit. The right Spirit of God is one of thanksgiving for many, many, many blessings that shower around me. A practice for me at Thanksgiving is to start a list of gratitude.

The_Risen_Lord by artist He QiThe gift of Jesus and his eternal love and grace for me.

The gift of life in which I live, and breathe and have my being.

The gift of creation where beauty and wonder surrounds me each day.

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The gift of family who love, encourage and support me in my calling.

The gift of God’s family where we can experience God’s love and joy.

The gift of God’s Word that promises vibrant life in Christ.

The gifts of baptism and communion where God’s Word penetrates and enriches our world.

group Bible AdventureThe gift of Resurrection Lutheran Church where I am called to do what I love.

The gift of families who energetically enter into the life of Christ.

The gift of worship where I can sing God’s praise and enjoy being a child of God

The gift of many children in worship who love to share Jesus in special ways.

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The gift of friends who run beside me in the race of life, even on the craziest of winter days.

For what are you thankful?

Lord Jesus, thank you for being the Lord of my Life.

Five Things I Appreciate About Road Construction

Road Construction 2 20131001 croppedThe major intersection by our church is closed to construct a round-about. It closed about two months ago, forcing many people to find new and longer routes to Resurrection Lutheran Church. Though my first reaction is to complain about it, I have discovered five reasons to be grateful.

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1. Plan Ahead: I have learned that I need to plan ahead in my driving so as to make sure I arrive on time. Planning ahead is good in many areas of life.

Road Construction  1 201310012. Boys Like Toys: Like many boys in my generation I grew up playing with toy dump trucks and bulldozer. Now I am fascinated watching the process of constructing storm sewers and road curbs. There is even a time-elapsed video of the construction project here.

3. New Ministry: Since Resurrection is on the corner of the intersection, many people drive into our parking lot expecting to find an exit on the far side of our parking lot, thus avoiding a detour. They do this in spite of several signs that clearly state “No Outlet.” They drive in expecting that by some magical means that a new exit will appear just for them. It does not. So they stop to reconsider their options before they must drive back out the way they came in. In that pause, I pray that they notice they are sitting in a church parking lot and that Jesus promised, “I am the way, the truth and the life.”

130_Sign-ThankYou4. Road Thanks: Whenever I grumble about the road construction, I pause to give thanks for the literally thousands of miles of great roads I travel every year. Having visited countries where paved, well-maintained roads are a luxury, I appreciate each smooth mile I can drive. And soon our round-about will be added to that list.

5. Patience Building. Patience is like a muscle: the only real way to build patience as a personal characteristic is to practice it daily. Road construction has given me many opportunities to practice patience. Thanks be to God.

May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. Colossians 1:11-12

What would you add to the list?

Lord Jesus, teach me your ways.

Cultivating Gratitude

I have a grateful heart this morning. Yesterday retired Pastor Ken Rouf, a member of Resurrection, preached. He preached on gratitude and he gave me the gift of a Sunday free so that I could spend time with the family campers at Camp Wapogasset.

I am so grateful for the families who attended; their children gave me and others a workout during our evening “Olympic” games. We laughed as we tried to play field hockey with foam float tubes and as we raced to find our shoes. Each night at campfire, we sang with thankful hearts and joyful memories.

I am also grateful for the staff of Camp Wapo and for Sarah and Jon Storvick who helped to make this such a special week-end. Jon attended Camp Wapo as a camper a few decades ago and lead us in song each night. Sarah guided us in making family prayer boxes and in keeping the program fun and meaningful.

Gratitude is a Christian spiritual emotion that we can cultivate within our lives. An important aspect of such gratitude is not simply to be thankful for when things are going well, but also to be grateful during the challenging times as well. I confess that I struggle to be thankful when things are not going the way I want. I too easily see God as my “provider” and not as ALMIGHTY KING. Robert C. Roberts describe my problem this way,

A more suburbanite version of this resistance to Christian thanksgiving is the pattern of appreciating our prosperity, health, talents, and successes without being grateful to God for them. Perhaps we call them our “blessings,” but God remains to us a vague principle of their origin, rather than a Giver clear and present to our awareness. Or if God does seem to the individual a vivid personal presence, he is a sort of Super-Size Sugar-Daddy whose function in life is to provide the goodies in sufficient abundance. This kind of person may be a churchgoer, but the telltale mark of ingratitude is that when the “blessings” are reversed, when the hard times come, she tends to get angry at God and feel he has let her down. We might call this the Savage* syndrome, since the individual treats God as a convenient source of blessings, rather than as God. It is as though God owes her the blessings. If God fails to serve his essential purpose, he is guilty of the injustice of not doing his job. (Robert C. Roberts. Spiritual Emotions: A Psychology of Christian Virtues (Kindle Locations 1956-1962). Kindle Edition.)

God is the source of all joy and life. Perhaps our greatest thanksgiving each day could focus on the simple truth that God creates, redeems, and empowers us. Thanks be to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

How do you practice gratitude?

For what are you grateful today?

*Richard Savage, an eighteenth-century English poet of whom Samuel Johnson wrote a short biography in which he described Savage as a man who always expected people to assist and lend to him.