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#Thankful

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Thanksgiving is a day set aside to thank God for the harvest and for all He has done to bless us. When we gather at Shirley’s brother’s house we always name something we are thankful for before we pray, giving thanks for the meal. Mostly, people name family and health and freedom. These deeply cherished blessings are worth giving thanks for!

But I’ve noticed something about my mind and heart. It is more difficult to give thanks when things are not going well than it is when I am feeling good. I had a head cold last week, including a mild fever for about 24 hours. My body felt achy and weak. My mind was not really focused on all that I am thankful for. I guess it’s human nature.

But Scripture gives us another possibility and another way. In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, the Apostle Paul says, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Give thanks in all circumstances. Hmmm. That’s not easy to do. Perhaps the thing that makes it difficult to give thanks in all circumstances is that we are so used to focusing on circumstances. And blessings. And happiness. And health.

But some things transcend circumstances and blessings and happiness and health. Like family. The relationships of love we share in our family are deep and real and stubbornly consistent, whatever the circumstances. So in any circumstances, I can give thanks for those I love and those who love me.

And then there is grace. When I did not deserve it, Jesus died for me. When I could not make myself better, Jesus forgave me. When I resist His transformation as an experienced believer, Jesus still loves me and continues to strive with my selfishness and sin. I can always give thanks for Jesus and His grace!

And there is hope. No matter how bleak the circumstances of this life, I have the hope of a better kingdom coming in eternity. Even death has to give way to resurrection when the King of kings says, “Come forth!” Whatever the hardships of life, Jesus is bigger and I have hope in Him. Maybe I can give thanks in all circumstances!

I hope you will be able to gather with your family on Thursday for Thanksgiving Day. I hope the day will mean more to you than a huge feast and three football games. I hope you will take a moment to give thanks to God for the things that are most important and can never be taken away from us—whatever the circumstances of your life right now. And I hope, if you cannot be with family on Thanksgiving Day, you will take a moment in the day and give thanks to God in spite of it.

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted by Mike Dominick with

Carry Each Other's Burdens

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Independence grows in us early. I remember when our twins were little, and we reached the stage where they did not want us to feed them or dress them. “No! I’ll do it myself.” We heard those words often. Sometimes it was a good thing and they would learn to fill their own milk glass or tie their own shoes. Sometimes we knew they simply could not handle what they were trying to do alone, and we would help them, anyway.

There is still something in me that instinctively wants to say, “No, I’ll do it myself.” It sometimes takes the form of refusing to ask for help in a project like trying to figure out how to get my wireless printer to connect to the network. Sometimes it takes the form of refusing the offer of help from my wife or a colleague at work because I don’t want to burden them—I want to pull my own weight.

But sometimes what life throws at us is too heavy to carry alone. Sometimes it is beyond my capabilities, and I need God’s help. He has proven Himself to be an amazing Burden Bearer, and I know I can cast all my cares on Him, because He cares for me! (1 Peter 5:7)

And here is an amazing and sometimes humbling thing: Sometimes the great Burden Bearer helps carry my burdens through others. Sometimes He helps carry others’ burdens through me. In Galatians 6:2, God says through Paul: “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

If I help carry your burden and you help carry mine, the load is lighter for both of us. That’s the way God has built community into humanity. We love one another. We care for one another. We carry one another’s burdens. And two deeply spiritual things happen. Together we carry burdens that none of us can carry alone. And in the midst of that burden bearing community, Jesus shows up to carry the load with us.

I find that two things prevent this burden bearing in my life. One is my pride, which does not want to ask for help and wants to prove I can do it myself—like my three-year-old twins! The other is my self-focus that keeps me from seeing the people around me who could use a hand in carrying their burdens. Both pride and self are broken by the love of Jesus. Both are crucified with Him on the cross. Both must be transformed by His Spirit so I am free to bear others’ burdens, and allow them to help bear mine. The love of Jesus moves us into loving, life-giving community.

So, the next time I find myself thinking, “No, I can do it myself,” or the next time I find myself thinking, “Why should I help—they can do it for themselves,” it would be a good time to remember God’s call to holy community. Jesus shows up in the carrying of burdens for one another. It is holy work, and it is a good thing to allow others to help carry my burdens, as well as helping them carry theirs.

Now, where are the instructions for how to connect that printer to the network? Maybe I should ask for help…

Posted by Mike Dominick with

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