Week 32 of 2023 is almost in the books. I have a great week of learning and serving. I love what I get to do, and I’m honored to serve the folks that i serve with. I trust that you’ve had a great week and a fun weekend ahead! Thank you for joining me each week for the 4forFRIDAY.
It seems as though this world is mesmerized by superheroes and superpowers. Many blockbuster movies over the best decades have included numerous superhero films. I like them like we all do, but what if you could select a superpower that could change your life and the world around you? It’s one of my favorite questions at a dinner party. If you could pick a superpower, what would it be? Most folks select strength, flight, being invisible, or even speed.
Much too late in life, I’ve discovered that we each have a superpower
that lies dormant in many lives. FORGIVENESS.
In our revenge and anger-filled culture, forgiveness is often portrayed as weakness or meekness as weakness. As a result, we are often offended – far too often – and carry around the ball and chain of unforgiveness. It is a heavy weight to walk through life with. It is intended to be directed toward the one who has offended, but it eats away at our souls like a rapidly growing tumor that sucks the life out of us. I know it first hand. I have carried that ball and chain through many years. I’ve missed the blessed life and the joy of the journey by simply not offering forgiveness and moving from a victim of offendability to a free man that lives unoffendably.
The common sense understanding of forgiveness is that we release someone from some claim that they did us wrong. Like forgiving a debt, we relinquish our grievance to another person.
And the way we typically forgive, by saying “I forgive you,” suggests that it’s something you do to or
for the other person. You’re reaching a judgment that calls for benevolence rather than vengeance,
and you relinquish any claim or demand for justice.
But the truth is that forgiveness is primarily for ourselves. It is an act that allows us to let go of the anger, frustration, pain, sadness, bitterness, and grief that we carry around in our hearts, and that is directed at this other person. It isn’t in any possible way a weakness. It is the strongest and most powerful tool in your human arsenal.
We forgive because carrying around anger and resentment is like poison to our souls. You and the other person remain tethered by your feelings – bad feelings that etch weary hieroglyphics on the insides of our hearts. When you forgive, you free yourself and this other person from that emotional strife and baggage. I contend that unforgiveness is at the heart of much of our anxieties, sadness, depression, and emotional distress.
We have so glorified, by way of film, politics, music, and pop culture, the art of revenge that we have forgotten that the strongest, wisest, happiest, most contented people on the planet have activated this superpower of FORGIVENESS.
We should start to think of forgiveness as an authentic superpower. Yes, a superpower to heal yourself and others. To leave a mark of strength and peace on a planet in desperate need of both.
It’s important to say what forgiveness is not: It’s not saying what the person did was right. It’s not saying the person should be allowed to do it again. It’s not saying that you have to forget that it happened. Forgiveness is, ultimately, an act of love for yourself because it’s simply saying that you let go of the anger and despair that occurred.
In that way, forgiveness is also not a way to bypass our feelings. Feeling anger and grief is okay, especially if those feelings are fresh. Feelings and emotions are meant to be experienced fully.
It’s just that we don’t want to live in those places.
We don’t want to live from our wounds. So when you forgive, you are saying that you are a powerful, spiritually minded, and Christlike person who can take responsibility for your emotions; therefore, this event doesn’t have emotional power over your life. It is a refusal to live with a prisoner’s ball and chain attached to your soul.
The true power of forgiveness is that it resets the clock by rewriting the past.
That doesn’t mean the event goes away or didn’t happen. It means you are now creating a new meaning for that event, with a new emotional relationship to what transpired. The pain and interpretation you had for that moment in your life, which is what matters, is what you get to rewrite. As Paul says in Romans, you are renewing your mind and living the Jesus life…the very story of the Gospel.
In Matthew’s gospel story. In chapter 18, we find what Jesus says about this superpower of forgiveness.
“Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”  “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!  “Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him.  In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars.
 He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold along with his wife, children, and everything he owned to pay the debt.  “But the man fell before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’  Then his master felt pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt.  “But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment.  “His fellow servant fell before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded.
 But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and imprisoned until the debt could be paid in full.  “When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened.  Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me.  Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’  Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt.  “That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.”
Dwight Moody once said, “I believe that the sin causing Christians more difficulty than any other is the sin of an unforgiving spirit.” And he said he believed that unforgiveness, more than any other sin, was holding back the power of God in prayer in the hearts and lives of people.
Forgiveness is a problem that we all must learn to deal with sufficiently. Maybe your heart is hanging on to some heartache or hurt that somebody gave you, and you don’t know how to deal with it.
One of God’s greatest gifts to us is forgiveness. Thank God He has forgiven us. Thank God for His grace that forgives us. Now, to forgive means “to release a debt.”
Think of somebody who has wronged you. And, if you are hanging on to an offense in your heart—somebody who’s done you wrong—and you’ve not settled that in your heart, I want to give you some captivating reasons why you ought to forgive that individual right now.
Forgive Because God Has Forgiven Us
We need to give forgiveness to you because Jesus gave forgiveness to me.
If You Don’t Forgive, You Close the God’s Forgiveness
Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount, “If you don’t forgive men their trespasses against you, neither will your Heavenly Father forgive you your trespasses against Him.” As long as you have an unforgiving spirit, you cannot get the forgiveness of God. It’s a dangerous thing not to offer forgiveness.
Not Forgiving Will Destroy You Emotionally
Observational studies, and even some randomized trials, suggest that forgiveness is associated with lower levels of depression, anxiety, and hostility; reduced substance abuse; higher self-esteem; and greater life satisfaction.
A Johns Hopkins study suggests that forgiving people tend to be more satisfied with their lives and to have less depression, anxiety, stress, and anger.
The American Phycological Association states that their research has shown that forgiveness is linked to mental health outcomes such as reduced anxiety, depression, and major psychiatric disorders, as well as fewer physical health symptoms and lower mortality rates.
Come on, people! This is spiritually, emotionally, and physically necessary and greatly beneficial. Then why is this superpower left untapped in so many of our lives? Because we are not a naturally humble species. We require a dose of humility to forgive.
Forgiveness requires thought, intention, and action. Forgiveness, however, starts as an inside job. Stating it matters for nothing without the heart and mind in cooperation with the Spirit of God, creating a new and fresh thought (renewing of the mind) and fresh cleansing of the human heart (a blessed power of God at work in us).
Forgiveness has a few requirements:
Forgive Freely • Forgive Completely • Forgive With Finality
It costs you to forgive. You have to taste a little bit of Jesus’ Cross when you forgive, and the way to do that is to let the Spirit of Jesus be at work in you. He is not in me by nature. By nature, we want revenge. Only with the power of Jesus having free and total control of our life can we earnestly forgive.
Even if the offender doesn’t receive your forgiveness, you get it off your heart. And, even if they don’t say I’m sorry, you can refuse to carry that spirit of bitterness in your heart. You have that power! But only in the strength of Christ. Exercise that and watch how your joy radically increases, your emotional health improves, and your attitude grows more like Christ. It’s a total win!
We are fools when we drag these unforgiving balls and chains with us! There’s no reason for us to live in a prison of bitterness or a prison of resentment. Is there anyone that you’re harboring hate against, or carrying a grudge against? Is there bitterness, anger, or revenge in your heart? If you don’t, you will have an acid eating away your soul and it will destroy you.
Friend, this world is full of revenge mentality, and hate-filled speech. Much of it is grounded in unforgiveness. Can we not recognize that unforgiveness will produce bitterness? And bitterness can be directly traced to the failure to forgive. It makes you caustic, sarcastic, condemning, and nasty. Harassed by the memories of what you can’t forgive, your thoughts become malignant toward others, and your whole view of life becomes distorted.
Of all the things that we relinquish when we choose to be unforgiving, peace is at the top of the list. My life, and your life – this world and its inhabitants – are in desperate need of peace. It starts with a forgiving spirit.
Where should you start, today?
Go in Peace, Chuck
Week twelve of 2023 is almost in the books,
and it has been a challenging yet encouraging week.
I trust that yours has been great and that
YOUR WEEKEND AHEAD WILL BE AWESOME!
May the Lord Bless You this Weekend with Peace.
May He comfort you with His Presence and His Power.
Here are your 4forFRIDAY Reviews for March 24, 2023.
Four Lessons That I Learned This Week.
- While arguments happen, they typically solve nothing. Stop and collect your thoughts, then have an intelligent conversation.
- Needy people need someone to help meet their needs. Help them and watch God bless you.
- The inevitable challenge in relationships is to what degree you value the other person. It’s revealed in attitudes, actions, and communications.
- Slowing your life’s pace might actually make you far more productive at what really matters.
This Week’s 4forFRIDAY
A Travel Backpack that I Love:
ZINZ Slim & Expandable Laptop Backpack 15 15.6 16 Inch Sleeve with USB Port
A Really Good BLOG from Dwell Differently:
If We Aren’t Listening, How Can We Know We’re Doing God’s Will?
A Quote from Seth Godin :
“If you can’t state your position in eight words,
you don’t have a position.”
Go in Peace, Chuck
Prayer can be a powerful tool in helping improve children’s mental health. I want to explore how parents can use prayer to help children cope with life’s struggles and some of the benefits that come with it. Find out how you can unlock the power of prayer and use it to enhance your child’s mental health!
When you pray with and for your child, you open up a communication channel between you, your precious children, and the Creator of the Universe.
This connection can give your child (children) strength, hope, and greater inner peace. Having parented six daughters and now having seven grandchildren, I can confidently say that providing kids with a more profound sense of peace is a critical part of parenting!
Prayer can also help your kids develop a positive outlook on life. You teach them to rely on God for help and guidance as you pray for them. This dependency can lead to a greater sense of purpose and satisfaction in life. Every parent wants this for their kids. That is a great reason to become a prayer warrior! Children that see life through a half-full lens will have a far greater capacity to change the world as opposed to adapting to the world.
In addition, prayer can help reduce stress and anxiety in your kids. As you lift up your concerns to God, He will provide comfort and peace. This will allow your child to focus on the positive aspects of their life and find hope in difficult situations. Again, every kid needs this, and it is available to every parent!
What is the Power of Prayer?
Prayer is a powerful tool that can be used to enhance your
child’s mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
Prayer can also help to create a sense of community and support for your child. As you pray with and for your child, you invite others to do the same. This can create a loving support network to help your kids Children’sunded by love and care.
Prayer is also a way of connecting with your child on a deeper level. As you pray for your child, you send them love and light from the Divine. This can help to strengthen the bond between you and your family and promote healing in their life.
Benefits of Prayer for Children’s Mental Health
There are plenty of benefits of prayer for children’s mental health. Prayer can help children to develop a positive outlook on life, feel closer to God, and cope with difficult situations. Prayer can also help children to develop self-control and to be more patient. Additionally, prayer can help children to become more grateful and humble. One of the most extraordinary things you can give your child is the gift of gratitude. When we raise grateful children, we will see them develop into generous adults!
How to Introduce Prayer to Your Child
Like most parents, you want your child to grow up happy and healthy. And one of the best ways to help them do that is to introduce them to prayer. But it would help if you led the way. It all starts with YOUR MINDSET!
Here are some tips for introducing prayer to your child:
- Talk about why you pray. Explain to your child that prayer is a way to talk to God. Tell them it’s okay if they don’t understand everything about it, but that it’s important to you and something you enjoy doing. Don’t feel like you have to explain everything about God. Take the opposite approach and just be honest. Tell them that there are many things we will never be able to understand about God.
- Start slow. Don’t force your kids into long prayers or complicated concepts immediately. Keep it simple at first, and let them grow into prayer at their own pace.
- Encourage questions. Invite your child to ask you anything they want about prayer or faith. Be open and honest and encourage their curiosity. The key is to let them see you being curious and learning as well.
- Help them find their own way. There’s no one right way to pray, so encourage your child to find what works for them. Whether sitting quietly, kneeling, or using words or songs, let them explore and find what brings them comfort and peace. The Lord of all desires His kids to come to Him in honesty. Let your child’s vulnerability be present as they see yours.
- Pray together occasionally. You don’t have to pray together all the time. Don’t make prayer a rule, but rather a way of life.
Tips for Incorporating Prayer into Everyday Life
One of the best ways to incorporate prayer into your child’s life is to make it a part of your daily routine. For example, you can pray together before meals, bedtime, or even during the day when something special happens.
Prayer can also be incorporated into other aspects of your child’s life, such as schoolwork or extracurricular activities. For example, you can help them remember to pray before taking a test or participating in a sporting event. Also, teaching your child how to say grace before meals is another great way to help them learn how to incorporate prayer into their everyday lives.
I am often asked about the prayers like “God is great, God is good…” There is nothing wrong with those prayers because prayer is a matter of the heart. There is something wrong with remaining in that prayer when your heart can convey more than rote memorization to the God we are speaking with.
Common Challenges When Teaching Prayer to Children
One of the most common challenges when teaching prayer to children is getting them to actually pray. This can be a difficult task, especially if they are not used to praying or if they are resistant to it. Keep prayer in front of your children, in your life!
Another challenge is getting children to understand the concept of prayer. They may not fully grasp what it means to pray or why it is important. Combat that by talking about God. Awareness is typically part of consistent learning and experiencing.
Finally, another challenge when teaching children prayer is helping them find the time and space to pray. With busy schedules and so many distractions, it can be challenging for kids to find the time and space to truly focus on prayer.
Prayer is a powerful tool for enhancing mental health, especially in children. It can help them build resilience, increase self-esteem, and learn ways to cope with stress. When used regularly as part of a support system, prayer can be an invaluable resource that gives your child the strength they need to face whatever life throws their way. So if you’re looking for ways to help your child develop emotional intelligence and resilience, consider unlocking the power of prayer today!
Go In Peace, Chuck
Guarding Your Soul This Christmas. By Chuck Allen
I love this time of year, or at least I’ve convinced myself that I do.
I often think that I reminisce of how I’d like to remember Christmas more than I actually love this most wonderful time of the year. With the kids jingle-belling and everyone telling you be of good cheer, well that’s just a line of bull. I have yet to hear anyone jingle-belling, and no person I’ve been around over the past 3 weeks has been sharing good cheer. As a matter of fact, I’m busier than I’ve ever been and everyone I know is stressed to their limit.
But that shouldn’t make for a blue, blue Christmas. It just might need to remind us of what makes this the hap, happiest season of all.
For centuries, we have all basically agreed that what makes this season so wondrous is 1) Christ’s birth, 2) family, and 3) presents. But what if Christmas means a little bit more?
What if Christmas means freedom, peace, and hope?
- Christ has come to free us from the tyranny of sin and death. That’s true freedom!
- Jesus came to reign and rule as the Prince of Peace. We all need more peace in our lives.
- The Son of God came to offer hope for tomorrow and the reality of Heaven.
Okay, Chuck, that’s enough preaching. I need a little help here. Do you know how busy I am? I have no idea how I’m going to get everything done. I cannot be in three places at one time.
There isn’t enough of me to go around, and the expectations are through the stinking roof.
I hear ya! So, here are
FIVE WAYS TO GUARD YOUR SOUL THIS CHRISTMAS.
- STOP IN THE NAME OF LOVE! Create a prioritized list of tasks. Then assign days and times to them. Be sure you prioritize each day’s tasks. When you think of a new task, place it in a “parking lot.” A parking lot is a separate page that captures your must do’s to prioritize to a time and day. If you don’t learn this simple habit, your mind will run wild and your negativity bias will run amuck in your head. Make a list, then prioritize, update every evening for the next day. Capture those nagging reminders in your parking lot and move them to tasks as you plan each day. To create a good working list for December, plan for a 20 minute timeframe. To prioritize daily, plan for less than 10-minutes. Stop the merry-go-round and prioritize your tasks. It will change you life!
- LET IT GO, LET IT GO! It’s been determined that 90% of what we fear never actually happens and the remaining 10% is most often out of our control. To fear that which probably will not happen is a fool’s errand. To fret over that which you cannot control is to invite stress and anxiety upon you. Let it go! Take hold of what you can control, and that is your attitude and how you respond to adversity and fear. The single greatest way to confront fear is to invest in faith. That’s where the next three items come from.
- DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR? Engage in mindful quietude each morning. This might be the single best piece of advice that I’ve written for you. We are a people surrounded by noise, and most of it is our own doing! The rest is created by a world that is paid to grab our attention. Still your soul and use a solid meditation app, like SoulSpace or Glorify. Research has proven that just 5-minutes of mindful quietude can provide huge mental, emotional, and spiritual benefits. If you are running hard and chasing the dream, you’ll eventually hit the proverbial wall. STOP! Crawl out of bed, or finish your evening with 5-6 minutes of mindful quietude and watch how much more at peace you experience in your soul this Christmas.
- IN THE MEADOW YOU CAN BUILD A SNOWMAN! I live in Georgia, so it’s not a snowman, but I can build steps. I am living proof of a person that said for years, “I don’t have time to walk.” Well, I don’t have time to live in stress, anxiety, fear, or fret either. The science is in – walking, for most people is as good for you as running. FOR ME, IT CLEARS MY HEAD, AND GETS ME CENTERED WHERE GOD WANTS ME CENTERED FOR THE DAY!
Harvard Health said it this way:
- Walking counteracts the effects of weight-promoting genes. Harvard researchers looked at 32 obesity-promoting genes in over 12,000 people to determine how much these genes actually contribute to body weight. They then discovered that, among the study participants who walked briskly for about an hour a day, the effects of those genes were cut in half.
- Walking helps tame a sweet tooth. A pair of studies from the University of Exeter found that a 15-minute walk can curb cravings for chocolate and even reduce the amount of chocolate you eat in stressful situations. And the latest research confirms that walking can reduce cravings and intake of a variety of sugary snacks. This should help level out those holiday mood swings!
- Walking eases joint pain. Several studies have found that walking reduces arthritis-related pain, and that walking five to six miles a week can even prevent arthritis from forming in the first place. Walking protects the joints — especially the knees and hips, which are most susceptible to osteoarthritis — by lubricating them and strengthening the muscles that support them.
- Walking boosts immune function. Walking can help protect you during cold and flu season. A study of over 1,000 men and women found that those who walked at least 20 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week, had 43% fewer sick days than those who exercised once a week or less. And if they did get sick, it was for a shorter duration, and their symptoms were milder.
- MARY DID YOU NO! Okay, bad dad pun. But here’s the real deal. Using the overcommitted Christmas season to learn the fine art of saying NO will help you in so many ways. Most of us are people pleasers to varying degrees and learning to say no can save us from ourselves this holiday season. Much of the frustration in my life is created by me, and most of it is because my pride, and pleaser mechanisms are still learning to build healthy boundaries. Boundaries aren’t just fences to keep things out, they are also to keep the right things in. When I allow my ego, pride or desire to please run wild, I create an unsustainable life. At Christmastime, it is heightened to the breaking point. Save yourself a huge frustration and predetermine a few key boundaries which will set the pace for what you will say yes to, and some that you need to say offer a no to. You’ll be a much happier human for Christmastime!
It can still be the most wonderful time of the year, but you have to take control of your season for that to happen. I trust these simple steps will help you experience your greatest Christmas season ever.
Go in Peace, Chuck
“Gratitude is the ability to experience life as a gift.–John Ortberg
It liberates us from the prison of self–preoccupation.”
For years, I have been an evangelist of gratitude. Not because I live a Pollyanna, positive-thinking lifestyle, but because of what intentional gratitude did to change my very existence.
I’ve written extensively about my consistent struggle with depression and emotional health. That’s not my point today. It is, however, a reminder that in a world where recent polls show that, “Mental illnesses are among the most common health conditions in the United States. More than 50% will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their lifetime. 1 in 5 Americans will experience a mental illness in a given year,” we need a proactive reframing of our present conditions.
In a recent article entitled “Causes of Depression,” the following were the leading factors in a person experiencing the many varying degrees of this often debilitating emotion:
- Abuse. Physical, sexual, or emotional abuse can make you more vulnerable to depression later in life.
- Age. People who are elderly are at higher risk of depression. That can be made worse by other factors, such as living alone and having a lack of social support.
- Certain medications. Some drugs, such as isotretinoin (used to treat acne), the antiviral drug interferon-alpha, and corticosteroids, can increase your risk of depression.
- Conflict. Depression in someone who has the biological vulnerability to it may result from personal conflicts or disputes with family members or friends.
- Death or a loss. Sadness or grief after the death or loss of a loved one, though natural, can increase the risk of depression.
- Gender. Women are about twice as likely as men to become depressed. No one’s sure why. The hormonal changes that women go through at different times of their lives may play a role.
- Genes. A family history of depression may increase the risk. It’s thought that depression is a complex trait, meaning there are probably many different genes that each exert small effects, rather than a single gene that contributes to disease risk. The genetics of depression, like most psychiatric disorders, are not as simple or straightforward as in purely genetic diseases such as Huntington’s chorea or cystic fibrosis.
- Major events. Even good events such as starting a new job, graduating, or getting married can lead to depression. So can moving, losing a job or income, getting divorced, or retiring. However, the syndrome of clinical depression is never just a “normal” response to stressful life events.
- Other personal problems. Problems such as social isolation due to other mental illnesses or being cast out of a family or social group can contribute to the risk of developing clinical depression.
- Serious illnesses. Sometimes, depression happens along with a major illness or may be triggered by another medical condition.
- Substance misuse. Nearly 30% of people with substance misuse problems also have major or clinical depression. Even if drugs or alcohol temporarily make you feel better, they ultimately will aggravate depression.
Holy Cow! After reading through that list, you realize that we are all candidates for experiencing some measure of depression – especially during the holidays!
Let me be clear. Significant depression requires professional care. If you are in the state of Georgia and you are living the challenge of depression, please reach our to ClearPath Counseling. The team of therapists and counselors at ClearPath are the best in the business, and they desire to help you make finding and receiving assistance simple and affordable.
In the meantime, we all could benefit from the emotional, physical and spiritual benefits of creating a simple and sustainable system of INTENTIONAL GRATITUDE in our daily lives. here’s why:
Before I even touch on the spiritual benefits, read these quotes from the National Alliance for Mental Illness.
“…. many studies over the past decade have found that people who consciously count their blessings tend to be happier and less depressed….” Learn more from Gratitude Changes You And Your Brain (Berkeley’s Greater Good Magazine).
In a study, “one group wrote about things they were grateful for that had occurred during the week. A second group wrote about daily irritations or things that had displeased them, and the third wrote about events that had affected them (with no emphasis on them being positive or negative). After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than those who focused on sources of aggravation.” Learn more from Giving Thanks Can Make You Happier (Harvard Health)
“There’s a growing body of research on the benefits of gratitude. Studies have found that giving thanks and counting blessings can help people sleep better, lower stress and improve interpersonal relationships….” Learn more from If You Feel Thankful, Write It Down. It’s Good For Your Health (NPR)
“A large study conducted by Virginia Commonwealth University showed that thankfulness predicted a significantly lower risk of major depression, generalized anxiety disorder, phobia, nicotine dependence, alcohol dependence and drug abuse….” Learn more from When Looking for Happiness, Find Gratitude, Gratitude (NAMI)
“…. experiments have shown that people whole partake in the “three good things” exercise — which, as the name suggests, prompts people to think of three good moments or things that happened that day — see considerable improvements in depression and overall happiness, sometimes in as little as a couple weeks….” Learn more from 7 Surprising Health Benefits of Gratitude (Time)
Just a reminder that none of these quoted sources are exactly bastions of spiritual health.
Gratitude, my friends, is a significant theme in the Bible.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 in the NLT is pretty clear:
Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
Did you read that? Give thanks in all circumstances. Thankfulness should be a way of life for us, naturally flowing from our hearts and mouths. And when it is, it has the power to reshape our emotions and hearts each day.
It is pretty significant that Paul doesn’t tell us to give thanks for everything. The preposition used is the Greek en, which is translated by the English preposition in. Paul isn’t saying that we must be thankful for the difficulties we encounter; instead, he is challenging us to be grateful in any circumstance. Paul recognized that the secret of peace, joy, and contentment isn’t found in circumstances. Instead, there is peace, joy, and contentment is directly found in recognizing it is Christ who strengthens us for whatever we might face.
I once thought that this was simply a mindset issue. That I could simply try harder to think more thankfully, or positively. That is simple hogwash. A growing body of research shows that writing down (physically) what you are grateful for can lower stress, help you sleep better, and may even reduce the risk of heart disease. Write it down!
When I started writing down – every single day – the three things that I am grateful for, my life started to radically improve. I was far more engaged with God, and He was obvious in sharing with me, His pleasure. I was calmer, more contented, less stressful, and a far better human to live and work with – far better!
I use a simple, sustainable system. I write on a plain 3×5 card each day three things I am grateful for that morning. It takes less than one minute. Be real, not super-spiritual. My thre this morning were quite real;
1) I finally got my new iPhone – love it.
2) My 12 year-old car is super clean and filled with fuel – woo-hoo!
3) God answered a significant prayer this week and I am so stinking grateful!
It’s not hard – Just three things that come to the top of your mind – Do not overthink it!
I then capture 4-5 qualities (adjectives) that describe the person I think God is asking me to be or become today. My examples from this morning included, SIMPLE, TRUTH-FILLED, APPRECIATIVE, HELPFUL, QUIETER. Some change often and some stay around a week or more. Again, don’t overthink it!
I them write a short scripture that I am attempting to memorize during the week (Sun-Sat).
That’s it! In total, I spend less than 5-minutes on this exercise. I’ve been at this for years now. And here is the good news.
I’VE NEVER BEEN MORE CONTENT, FULFILLED, PEACEFUL, AND HAPPY in my entire life. I know for a fact that putting intentional gratitude into my daily routine changed everything. I have had the privilege of helping a lot of people do the same, and every one of us can give you the same story – IT JUST WORKS!
In a world and a season that id fraught with anxiety, stress, weariness, and depression, you have everything to gain with this sustainable practice is proven scientifically, psychologically, and spiritually to greatly improve your life.
GET AFTER GRATITUDE!
“The greatest source of happiness is the ability to be grateful at all times.”-ZIG ZIGLAR
Go in Peace & Gratitude, Chuck