On My Mind and Heart: Practicing the “Presents” of God

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During a recent conversation with a friend, she mentioned that we often hear about practicing the “presence” of God (i.e., remembering that God is always close to us) but don’t hear as much about practicing the “presents” of God (i.e., recognizing the numerous blessings that He gives to us each day).  So, this morning as I was praying I started thanking God for the many, many “presents” He gives me all the time.  There are way too many to list here, but I wanted to share a few from my list with you:

My wife, Carrie.  She loves the Lord, is a great mom and friend, and always is trying to make my life better. I experience Christ’s love deeper through her love and forgiveness of me.

My daughters, Sara Beth and Rachel.  I thank God for them every day and am proud of the young women they have become.

My family (Dad, Jamie, Al, Judy, Mike, Kim, Madeline and many more).  God has put awesome people in my life who love me and support me no matter what.

My church family, Adventure Christian Church.  I know that as a pastor I am super blessed.  Our church reaches people for Christ, new families join our church regularly, people are involved in serving and helping one another, we have a wonderful group of staff members, elders and leaders.  It’s an honor to pastor the Adventure family.  Thank you, God!

My country and our freedom.  Too often we forget that we have been blessed by being born into a great country.  Our country guarantees the exercise of freedoms given to us by our Maker in a way never before experienced in history.  (I recognize that some of these guarantees are constantly being challenged, but I’m still very happy I live here rather than anywhere else in the world).

The Bible and the ability to read and understand it.  The Bible transformed my life.  I am grateful for this present from God.

My awesome friends.  God has blessed Carrie and I with many friends who love us not because we can do anything for them, but just because.  That’s pretty wonderful.

Food and Water.  This may sound silly, but I really don’t mean it too.  I am grateful that I always have food and water.  Not a day goes by that I don’t have access to clean, healthy food and clean water.  Many, many in this world do not.

Opportunities to Help Others.  I am grateful for opportunities to help others and the ability and resources to often help.  Sometimes it’s a physical need, sometimes emotional, sometimes professional, and often it is spiritual.  I’m grateful that God gives me the present of reaching other people for Him in practical ways.

The Ministry of the Word.  I am very grateful to be able to teach the Word and share the Gospel with others.  It’s really the most important gift He gives me because it has such a direct, eternal impact.

I could go on and on and on, but these are just a few of the things for which I am grateful to God.  How about you?  What’s on your list?

Keep “Thanking God” at the Forefront

April 30: George Washington becomes the first ...

The First Presidential Proclamation by George Washington, 1789

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to “recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God …

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people … and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us. …

The people of our nation will gather around tables this Thursday to eat turkey and stuffing, to tell stories and talk football, and, to devise strategies for Black Friday shopping excursions.

My hope and prayer is that we will not forget what Thanksgiving Day originally was meant to be – a day of acknowledging God and thanking Him for the blessings He has granted us.  It is because of God that we have food.  It is because of God that we have family.  It is because of God that we have leisure.  It is because of God that we have Christmas!

Here are some ways to keep “Thanking God” at the forefront of our holiday this Thursday:

  1. Pray a personal prayer of thanks for all that you have received this year.  Thank Him for family and friends, for responsibility and opportunities to serve, for church family and mentors, for days of joy and for days of trial.  We learn about God and ourselves in all circumstances and should be grateful for everything that draws us close to Him.
  2. Sign on to the blog:  The Thankfulness Experiment and share some of your specific “thanks”.
  3. At your Thanksgiving Table, have each person share one thing for which he or she is thankful.  Start with the youngest at the table sharing first, with the eldest sharing last.
  4. Pray together as family and friends.  Pray for our country, for freedom, for our President and government leaders.  Pray for your church, your pastors and leaders, and for your church family.  Pray for family.  Pray for friends.  Pray for those who do not have a table that even closely resembles your own.
  5. Send a personal note, an email, a text or a tweet of thanks to at least one person who has made a positive impact in your life this year, thanking him for the effort.

Giving thanks is personal.  It’s powerful.  It’s special.  And, it makes a difference.  Remember who is ultimately responsible for it all – the Lord God Almighty.

Happy Thanksgiving!