3 More Things I’m [Really] Sorry For

If you’re like me, you like to reflect.

So much to say, so much to do…how can either happen when there’s so much to think.

Yet, as we journey another January, the heart behind this series, as made known last year, is still the same:

If we want to think right, then we must get right, if we want to get right, then we must get real…and if we want to get real, we must value cleanse before change.

Not to suggest such internal inventory is easy. Certainly putting all things on the table for examination requires courage, humility, vulnerability…among other things; however, since my goal with these posts is to help us embrace God’s ‘next’, it only makes sense to pray into the substitutions¹ God has for us.

That said, here are three things I’m owning as we turn the page to 2019…

1) Making sense of my surroundings

It’s remarkable the ways we justify our surroundings. I know for me, whenever I find myself in what I can’t explain, living in the moment can almost seem secondary to knowing why it has to exist. ‘If only I can solve the mystery, perhaps then I can find the satisfaction and peace I crave,’ I sometimes think.

But as we know, the journey of life is far from cut and dry. As much as we want to reconcile all our relationships and circumstances, we’ll never be able to given sin and free will’s response to it among other things.

Granted, God’s sovereignty isn’t confined by man’s weakness. But it’s also not restricted by our ability to ‘sherlock’ the past. And it’s this temptation I believe trips many of us up. We long to feel affirmed when we’re down. We yearn to feel validated when we smell injustice. We burn to make sense of our surroundings when they don’t make sense. Yet, in our quest to solve our voids, little do we realize the size of our ego and the numbing effect it has on our attitudes and heart postures.

It’s not always fun to accept, but the way I see it: Often the reason we are where we are is because God wants to help us find our kneel…to show us where our independencies have become idolatries…and to learn reliance within the unforced rhythms of grace. Perhaps you’ve struggled to grasp this feeling in seasons of idleness or stress…in settings where you felt more like a fish in an aquatic Pandora’s box.

If so, take a bite of my 2018 testimony. Our free will exists so we can choose Jesus to find freedom. No 12-step program full of striving. Just a simple decision to resist the fear of man and the impulse to make sense of our surroundings.

Accordingly, if you sense the temptation but not the exit, yield to surrender, voice the heartcry, and receive the serenity of stilled waters. God has not abandoned you, so don’t you abandon ship.

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2) The Nazareth complex

I suppose this could be a subset of point #1, but the nature of this conviction alone is worth emphasizing.

As alluded to in my 2018 Year in Review post, when last year started, going back to The Gate was far from an option. Having phased out of LEGACYouth weeks prior, my hope had clung to a sunset narrative where my last days of youth ministry would coincide with where it took place. While there were many reasons I emotionally did not want to return, the core of my withdrawal² centered on what I call the Nazareth complex.

The Nazareth complex is based out of Luke 4:14-30 when Jesus is driven out of his hometown (i.e. Nazareth) after revealing his true identity at the synagogue. While obviously I’m no Jesus, the person correlation was this: Among whom whose eyes I had been under for years, there was no way for me to be known as God knew me. As such, what Nazareth was to Jesus, The Gate/local church was to me. To move on with my life, I had to leave the church to find anyone who not only would listen, but see me sans past and last name.

Of course, it’s safe to say Jesus never employed such a self-absorbed attitude. Still, it’s not hard to see why my deception took months to dissipate with resentment rooted in deception and victimization fixed in misapplied Scripture. To justify my isolated ego, I had to constantly cite the past, church gossip, unsurrendered soul/spirit hurts…even assumed vain assumptions (sounds confusing, but that’s unholy fear for you).

Yet, as the story goes, I eventually woke up, realizing if I truly wanted to move on and take hold of the new, I couldn’t keep holding on the way I had been. Six months later, the exchange is still ongoing…however, the door to freedom is much wider, in large part, to having repented of this complex.

tumblr_nikl8pxddz1tq4of6o1_5003) Financial fitness

For many couples, one spouse is the buyer, the other is the saver. In my relationship with Lyssah, the contrast is evident. While I’m a buyer who lives well within his means, Lys is much better at budgeting and sticking to it.

Ironically, you would never know by where our financial anxieties lie. As co-bread winners, to make ends meet, we both must work…whatever the cost with whatever time we can give. Unfortunately, the drive for excellence doesn’t always extinguish the entitlements and justifiers we use to buy (or even save for) momentary contentment/peace.

I know for me, I can only afford to invest so much as I near the end of paying off student loans. The white lie, then, is if I can’t currently invest as much as I want for my family, I should be frugal in my giving and employ generosity through alternative means. Yet, as I’ve been convicted, often my lack of giving ties to a lack of trust manifest as leverage against God for not opening certain doors. And I think for some of us, we forget withdrawing doesn’t just apply to our presence and/or banking transactions. It’s applies to trusting God with our finances…our energy…our time…not just what to sow, but where to sow and how much.

All that said, if you feel financial weak starting 2019, you’re not alone. Yeah, I’m an ex-Ramsey spouse. I have content, lessons, and principles I can pass down to future generations. But I also know…

  • If I’m not maturing my stewardship, those values can only go so far.

  • If’ I’m not maturing my stewardship, my intentionality in inviting God into my budget will be compromised.

As for 2019, no longer will I reduce God to an on-call financial counselor and over-rely on my wife’s strengths to make up the difference. Rather, I’m going to pursue financial fitness, embrace frugality under the context of stewardship, and flex into shape accordingly.

Think of it this way: Even though money isn’t the end-all, be-all of extending God’s providence, in no way should we want God’s faithfulness to be restricted by what we’re not trusting Him in.

Besides if you’re reading this, chances are you have enough and know God as more than enough. Not do you have what it takes…but you can do this. Why not do it together?

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Selah.

Footnotes

  1. Where I’m letting go of a stronghold, sin, negative thought pattern, etc. to replace it with something better
  2. Albeit an indefinite sabbatical was necessary
Photo creds: https://buzzerg.com

Intentional to Be Intentional

Intentional.

We like to throw the word around, don’t we?

Granted, not intentionally¹, but enough we risk growing desensitized, even numb, to its mention.

Perhaps you’re like me wondering how to take not only your goal-setting, but your intentionality to the next level in 2019. If so, consider the following question:

How do we  become more intentional in our intentionality?’

For while most understand intentionality implies an upgrade in dedication…as being more mindful more often…not nearly as many see the term as anything more than the sum of its google definitions…
…which leads me to my first point.

Point 1: To embrace intentionality we must first see its core as covenantal commitment. For all you resolution setters out there, this is imperative to keep in mind. To achieve any goal with purpose, you must not only count the cost, but weigh it against an appointed strategy (more on this in a moment).

“For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?” ~ Luke 14:28 (ESV)

Furthermore, it’s worth noting whenever we appropriate a particular cost, we’re also considering the promises and blessings of God (see how God institutes his covenants with the patriachs in Genesis). As such, to be intentional is to examine the faithfulness of God in all three time dimensions (i.e. past, present, future).

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Point 2: To embrace intentionality, we must view it as a relational/communal experience as opposed to individual effort. Like point 1, this concept is necessary both for pursuing the dreams/visions God plants as well as the sustaining of them.

Note how the Psalmist discerns God as one who delegates and journeys with us through the obedience…

Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon those who fear Him [and worship Him with awe-inspired reverence and obedience], On those who hope [confidently] in His compassion and lovingkindness.” ~ Psalm 33:18 (AMP)

Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become restless and disturbed within me? Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall again praise Him For the help of His presence? Why are you in despair, O my soul? Why have you become restless and disquieted within me? Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.”” ~ Psalm 42:5,11 (AMP)

Put another way, whether God delegates an assignment or gives direction, He always offers the hope of experiencing Him in greater measure. Props to Webster, but unfortunately this something he missed in his dictionary.

Point 3: To embrace intentionality, we must understand our response to what God appoints and appropriates. For when God appoints, He is often granting fresh instruction and direction; however, when God appropriates, He is setting aside something for our possession that we already have.

Having said that, if you’re ever unsure what God is saying, always yield in surrender knowing God has anointed you to what He’s appointed you.

Ephesians 5:15-17 captures this beautifully in three simple words:  know His will.

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” ~ Ephesians 5:15-17 (ESV)

A couple key nuggets from this passage…

1) Note how the context leading up to this passage centers on living on children of light and knowing what’s worth participating in. This is important to grasp as knowing our true identity (i.e. children of light) enables us to perceive our function/calling as an overflow/extension of that identity.

2) In verse 16, the Greek wording for ‘making the best’ means “buy up at the marketplace”, to see the opportunity as a commodity used by believers. This may sound strange at first; however, in the context of God’s evangelical economy, recognizing opportunity is crucial to valuing/seizing the time He’s given us.

With that in mind, we can better comprehend Paul’s charge at Ephesus, particularly the  transactional effects of Matthew 6:33 (which I submit is an underrated definition of intentionality)…

“But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also.”

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Final Thoughts

  • While many of us like operating under the cover of ‘intentional’…in feeling secure in what we’re going after as opposed to being confident we’ll actually get there…true intentionality is never content on defining goals until it has established tactical strategies.
  • Intentionality is often received as a reactionary buzz word. If this truth resonates, we must re-evaluate our understanding of the term.
  • Often there’s a disconnect between what is good for us and what we want to be good for us. Accordingly, it should be no surprise if shallow convictions are met with shallow efforts. If we’re skeptical/indifferent concerning the sacrifice intentionality requires, we’ll be derailed by the facets of life that don’t cooperate amidst our pursuits.
  • Referencing the Lord with our intentions helps us know if God is in them. When we seek the Lord, not only must we seek with expectancy knowing He will answer, but also inquire how to integrate that answer into the priorities and commitments He’s already established/will continue to establish (see 2 Samuel 5 when David repeatedly references God in his tactical analysis). Remember in the realm of grace, there’s a natural rhythm embedded in the natural order of these priorities and commitments. Thus, by keeping God first, foremost, and center, we can know a higher level of intentionality with what He’s given us.

Selah.

Footnotes

  1. See what I did there? 😉
Cover photo creds: billiemakesahome.info

 

Year in Review: A Look Back at 2018

I’ll be honest…

…it’s hard to know how to process this year.

I mean…it’s not like things went according to plan…as if all my resolutions came to fruition; granted a lack of bucket list checks is nothing new in the history of late Decembers.

Still, as I look back on 2018, I can’t help but bask in awe. For while each year is its own journey, there are some more seismic, more catalytic in nature. To capture their magnitude? Nearly impossible. But to consecrate them into altars of gratitude? Now we’re talkin’.

Perhaps you’re wondering how you survived the year, hoping to find hidden truths between the lines months, or stressing about what next year will bring. If so, consider this simple year-in-review…a year that started in obscurity yet finished with a renewed embrace of it.

But where to begin. That is the question…

I suppose the best place to start is last Christmas when Everly Hope made her debut weeks after our last days in LEGACYouth and Ramsey Solutions.

While ushering in our new bundle of joy was certainly a lifetime highlight, it didn’t negate the fact going into 2018 was the meteorological equivalent of a clear, sunny day turned cold, freezing fog. So much of what we were used to was now lost in what we couldn’t see.

No more Wednesday morning devotions at work, no more co-workers and paycheck security (at least for Lys) no more sermon prepping, no more ministry on the go.

I remember a stretch in January I’d drive to work feeling all I had was daily bread and the world’s best family. I know, I know…this is [way] more than enough for the majority of the world’s population. I get that. I’m one blessed man; let the record stand.

However, as an exposed man realizing how much identity he had put in what he put out (i.e. how much personal worth he had assigned to ministry), no longer could I reconcile the sum of what I had versus what I didn’t have.

Lost in ego, it became quite clear the sabbatical God called Lys and I to when 2018 started was going to go much deeper than the average church break. I needed to find myself seek Jesus, embrace the words I’d been preaching for years, and let the tables turn.

And so it began, this foreign survey into various liturgies and doxologies, each Sunday a chance to learn something new about my local church. One step back, two steps forward. One step back, two steps forward. Never before has being a complete stranger, especially in church community, been so exciting yet awkward at the same time. Timely words pitted against uncertainty, a functioning compass that felt broken more often than not…this was my reality heading into late June.

Halftime Musings: https://hisgirlfryday.com/2018/06/28/halftime-a-musing-on-life-in-2018/

But to God’s credit, with assists from Jamie George and several Messenger colleagues, the heart, though bruised, kept rhythm. Yes, I missed LEGACYouth. Yes, I missed having a ministerial outlet where I could justify my day job by what I did outside it. But somehow, I was able to catch the bigger picture. God was not only after my heart, but my independence.

By time July arrived, the stage was set. All I had to do was keep my ears open.

Of course, you may know what happens next. If not, I’ll let this post do the talking:

Begin Again: https://hisgirlfryday.com/2018/09/06/begin-again/

In hindsight, it’s interesting to see the progression between late June and early September. As my harshest critic, accept my word when I say what God did during this time was nothing less than a minor miracle.

And yeah, I get a return to your home church isn’t exactly a $1,000 check in the mail or an ailment being instantly healed. At the same time, I think anytime a certain amount of pain, regardless its form, is supernaturally conquered, it must find anchor in testimony.

In my case, I went back to places of untended hurt, having previously hoped the end of LEGACYouth would be the end of them. After surrendering the ‘sail into sunset’ narrative for a ‘look what I will do in Act 2’ declaration, I finally did what I should have done years ago: I traded the vain imaginations, the depressive thoughts, the hopeless medications in for a buy-in into God’s plan of restoration. Whatever happened in ‘Act 1’ had to be released. Thanks to divine grace and that ever pestering still small voice, I was able to let go like never before.

And wouldn’t you know it…as all this was happening…ten years of on and off stomach ulcer-like symptoms vanished. It’s almost like God was giving me a head start into the fall (i.e. ‘You commit to this, I’ll heal you of your depression!’ And boom! It happened. Unexplainable, indescribable…yet unsurprising. A recipe for knowing where God is.

At any rate, while much happened this year behind closed doors, at times underground, no question there were many seeds planted that have taken root and will sprout in years to come.

As for what happened elsewhere, I’ll let the video and Q&A segment below take it from here.


When you think back on 2018, what immediately comes to mind?

CF: “Begin Again. The official battle-cry proclamation of 2018. Victory, repaved foundations, fresh trust in the Lord…quite a bit actually.

LF: “Change and transition. I felt the whole year was shifting sands. New baby, new career, new challenges. Concerning the latter, while we overcame and succeeded most of them, perhaps none was bigger than replacing my income as a stay-at-home virtual assistant with Everly in the fold. Despite all we’ve been tackling, we’ve been tackling them as a team. We’re ending the year on a totally different level.”

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What were some of the highlights/defining moments?

CF: “Conquering anxiety. The physical effects of my depression being healed. Our story in going back to The Gate. That late summer stretch was memorable on multiple fronts. Interesting to note in past Q&A’s, the answers to this question often featured events and travels, but this was a year that required a sabbatical and less mobility as part of its narrative.  As such, while our yieldedness felt more grounded at times, I think it ultimately helped establish the undercurrents that would go on to define the year. On a more secondary note, building the bridge between His Girl Fryday and Fry Freelance has been an exciting, though at times humbling, experience.”

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LF: “Landing my clients. Seeing God come through in this way was truly amazing. Knocking out the postpartum much quicker this go-around. Embracing the overall momentum that came with accepting the children’s pastoral role at The Gate. Learning a new rhythm without feeling I’m just surviving was defining in itself.”

How would you compare this year of marriage to the past years?

CF: “We have a more well-rounded idea of what intimacy is. In recent years, we’ve seen our communication tighten, but this year, I feel our desire to be on the same page is greater than ever. We’re not just picking and choosing how we want to be close. I suppose the type of troubleshooting and hurdle-clearing we’ve had to do this year is a major reason why.”

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LF: “This year has been more real. To end it on a high note, after so much transition…that says a lot. We’ve had some of our most intense discussions this year, but they brought us closer while pushing us towards growth and deeper connection. We’re getting better at being intentional. This was a ‘make or break’ year and while it wasn’t always pretty, we’re coming out stronger.” 

What lesson from 2018 are you eager to apply in 2019?

CF: “The relationship between dependence and satisfaction in the Lord. While we know we have every reason to trust God, He never stops pursuing our reliance and purifying our sense of worth. Furthermore, I better understand the connection between abiding in peace and not needing to make sense of my surroundings. I’m considerably more content in obeying without the entitlement of knowing why. In a way, I feel I have built-in relief for 2019 based on what God has taught me this year. One more lesson…sometimes, the dreams we think are dead are just dormant instead.”

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LF: “I’ve learned so much about grace, the kind that propels you to keep going. This year we’ve oscillated being being intentional and reactionary. Going into 2019, my heart and focus is on being more intentional as a function of overflow. That’s the word buzzing in my heart right now. I yearn to overflow as I surrender security and self-preservation and engage worship in all aspects of life. Given my belief in 2019 being more addition by multiplication, how we overflow is going to go a long way in how we mature as givers.”

What do you hope you’ll be saying at this time next year?

CF: “We’ve broadened our voice. We‘re working from home. We’re better stewards of what we’ve been given. We took the next steps of intentionality across the board…and are closer to God and each other because of it.”

LF: “#Livingourbestlife. We invested in what matters. We traveled more and were able to expose the kids to more outside of themselves. I reached my goal weight having hit the halfway point the year before.

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Peace to the journey that is 2019…

~ Cameron & Lyssah Fry

3 Underrated Life Lessons from ‘Home Alone 2’

As mentioned last December, when it comes to memorable Christmas movies, it’s hard to leave ‘Home Alone’ off the list. The charm, the music, the shenanigans, stir in some holiday vibes and family flavor, and it’s no surprise the film has stood the test of time.

Yet, while the success of Home Alone would ultimately inspire a carbon-copied cash cow sequel, having recently revisited Home Alone 2, it’s worth noting the life lessons embedded in its baggage (pun intended).

Thus, in the spirit of extending tradition and diving into yet another Chris Columbus movie, here are three underrated life lessons inspired by ‘Home Alone 2’…

  1. Keep your heart [pure]…

In this exchange, Kevin and the pigeon lady are in a loft above Carnegie Hall where she explains her mid-life crisis following her lover’s departure.

After admitting relational apprehensions, Kevin suggests she starts trusting people again. Having confided in her, Kevin then shares of past misbehaviors before accepting the pigeon lady’s advice to create good tidings in their place.

For a movie needing to convey a universal message yet remain politically correct, I’m not opposed to this moment of improbable dialogue. That said, if I’m in Kevin’s shoes, I’m not saying, ‘keep you heart open’; rather, I’m likely substituting something less vague like ‘clean’, ‘pure’, ‘vigilant’, etc.

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Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” ~ Psalm 51:10

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone* from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” ~ Ezekiel 36:26

Keep you heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” ~ Proverbs 4:23

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

To be fair, the way Kevin uses ‘open’ here is worth some benefit of the doubt. Generally, when we use the word in similar fashions, we’re encouraging someone not only to take inventory of fear, but to count the cost of courage. Still, while Kevin’s advice is admirable for a ten-year-old, I submit had he been more specific and defined certain truths she should be open to, he would have better helped the pigeon lady move on from her past…

…which brings me to my first point…

…if we’re going to employ goodness, why superficially deliver it fearing we may be wrong or intrusive? Not to suggest we disregard decency and modesty, which organically come as we’re led by the Spirit; however, if we’re content in preserving shallow forms of goodwill, are we not reflecting a subtle version  of what we long to see people free from?

As one can relate to the pigeon lady (i.e. the paralyzing effects of crushed dreams and unpruned fears), all I know is whatever love I give or receive…I want it to pierce something…be it pain, confusion, anxiety, whatever. After all, God will take care of my options, but as for you, I just want to see you be brave and, at least, consider telling me something I may not know and/or need to straight-up hear.

Bottom line: If you’re going to encourage someone to keep their heart open, don’t end the sentence with ‘open’. In this way, you’ll charge your encouragement as a springboard rather than a sugarcoated fortune cookie.

*Bonus points to Kevin for this line: “If you’re not going to use your heart, then what’s the difference if it gets broken?” A heart of stone, whether intact or shattered, is still stone.

  1. Know why you battle

It’s hard to ignore your favorite scene in a post like this. Even if it wasn’t, you got to admit the first 36 seconds of this clip, as ex machina they may be, pump the adrenaline.

Yet, before the movie’s climax can commence, consider how the scene starts…

Interesting, how the clip starts with the Star of David. Granted, this makes sense given the song’s lyrics…

Distant stars, at home up in the heavens.
Wonder what they see, are they watching me?
Christmas Star, you spin your strands of silver.
What a sight to see, are you there to guide me?

Star light, shine bright.
See me through the dark night.
Light my pathway;
Guide me home for Christmas Day.

Still, it’s refreshing to see how a symbol of Christ’s birth helped ignite this sequence.

First, you have a Star of David helping harness Kevin’s attention onto an ill peer. From there, Kevin is reminded while he’s still lost in the most populated city on earth, there are others less fortunate worth fighting as confirmed by his battle-cry…

“You can mess with a lot of things, but you can’t mess with kids on Christmas!”

To sum up this scene, if we stop and consider the broken around us, it’s not long until we’re reminded why we battle against evil schemes (Ephesians 6:11)…why what we protect is worth protecting. Kudos to Columbus for somehow capturing it all in only half a minute!

Bottom line: Perspective matures our vulnerability into mobility. If we want to fight the good fight and overcome evil with good, don’t just ponder the good, bask in it.

  1. Dove the one you love

For this one, I’m not so caught up in the actual clip as much as I’m reminded how much deeper turtle-dove significance is in the Bible. A quick systematic overview reveals turtle-doves are more than sentimental emblems. Rather they demonstrate the beauty of sacrificed innocence (Old Testament), passionate devotion (Song of Solomon), imminent healing/thanksgiving (Hezekiah), and prophetic divinity (Gospels).

If you ask me, turtle-doves are underrated when we reflect on the true meaning of Christmas. True, we sing of them frequently every time we come to the second day of the ‘Twelves Day of Christmas’ carol; however, if we zoom out and consider why turtle-doves have any Christmas connection at all, we find reason in their physical and symbolic splendor represented in Creation to Noah…all the way to the Cross. In essence, they are a genuine reminder that Jesus is the reason for the season and in Him, a) God is pleased and b) we can know true peace and goodwill.

Bottom line: Doves capture the sweet aroma of incarnational love.

Selah.

Cover photo creds: The Daily Edge

 

ThanksLiving Right

It’s easy to love this time of year.

The smoky smells of autumn, the traces of fall color, the countdown to Christmas…

…the thought of a better year beyond the horizon.

But perhaps you’re like me in the sense the third of week of November has become this pre-holiday rush pedestal, a calm before the storm we all know as ‘the most wonderful time of the year’.

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If so, consider this post a take among many seeking to re-establish Thanksgiving as its own sacred entity.

For while most grasp the importance of giving thanks, not all see it as an unconditional reality as the will of God in Christ Jesus for us (1 Thessalonians 5:18) where gratitude is contagious, sacrifice a cheerful obedience metric, and thanksgiving a light share as opposed to a light switch (see Isaiah 58:8, Matthew 5:15-16; more on this in a moment).

The question is: If thanksgiving is more than periodical expressions of vertical delight, what’s stopping us from employing it horizontally?

Consider the following verses…

And at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought the Levites in all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with gladness, with thanksgivings and with singing, with cymbals, harps, and lyres.” ~ Nehemiah 12:27 (ESV)

I wash my hands in innocence and go around your altar, O Lord, proclaiming thanksgiving aloud, and telling all your wondrous deeds. O Lord, I love the habitation of your house and the place where your glory dwells” Psalm 26:6-8 (ESV)

Mark this, then, you who forget God, lest I tear you apart, and there be none to deliver!The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!” ~ Psalm 50:22-23 (ESV)

But I am afflicted and in pain;let your salvation, O God, set me on high! I will praise the name of God with a song;I will magnify him with thanksgiving.” ~ Psalm 69:29-30 (ESV)

Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,for his wondrous works to the children of man! And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!” ~ Psalm 107:21-22 (ESV)

“Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, ‘I believed, and so I spoke,’ we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.” ~ 2 Corinthians 4:13-15 (ESV)

Note when we drill down systematically, we find thanksgiving to be far more than temporary appreciation, but a call to invite people to taste and see that the Lord and His provisions are good (Psalm 34:8, Psalm 107:9,  Philippians 4:19). Applicably, this has profound implications.

For starters, while thanksgiving is often confined to altar calls, staged responses, and special events, when we recognize its pre-Mayflower, pre-creation context, we find sanctified space celebrating what has always been…perpetual love in continuous offering…giving and receiving simultaneously.

Unfortunately, for many of us, when it comes to thanksgiving, it’s easy to compartmentalize giving and receiving. I know for me, ego, independence, entitlement, and agenda can compromise my benevolence and negotiate my generosity if I’m not careful; however, I also know by dying to these rights, I expand the room God has to reveal Himself1

…which brings me the reason I’m writing this.

If we desire the lost and broken to see Jesus, not only must we be intentional in declaring thanksgiving, but sharing it as well. For when we engage thanksgiving as celebratory and communal worship, we inevitably position ourselves to glorify God as fresh revelations of His providence abound. Granted, this doesn’t mean we dial up the decibels of our praise to prove the goodness within. Clearly, our hearts would be misaligned if the visibility of our virtue preceded the availability of God’s power to provide it.

That said, by understanding thanksgiving as an outpouring of interdependent love and vulnerable relationship, we ultimately discover how our loved-by-God identity can extend God’s Kingdom through perfect other-centeredness.

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Think of it this way: When I praise God for who He is and what He has done, while the point of my adoration is to love Jesus first and foremost, the posture of my adoration opens me to overflow the love I receive in return. Accordingly, to the extent I abide in this rhythm, to that extent God’s heart (i.e. His love, goodness, kindness, compassion, faithfulness, etc.) inundates the people and places I encounter. Perhaps this is what the author of Hebrews meant when he wrote, “Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name” (Hebrews 13:15).

Bottom line: Thanksgiving, at its core, celebrates the Trinitarian nature of God. While Pilgrims and Indians are worthy of mention, their actions in 1621 merely reflected a divine dance that has and will continue on into eternity.

As such, why not extend tomorrow (i.e. Thanksgiving) into each day? Why not [literally] give thanks as opposed to voicing it in isolation? Why not receive from the Lord as you inquire direction on what you have to offer?

After all, not only do you have something to offer, but a specific reason why. And that, my friends, is worth being thankfull for.

From my house to yours, have a Happy Thanks Giving…and don’t forget to look up as you reach out.

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Footnotes

  1. Also, the room is created for godly fear – not only loving what God loves and hating what God hates, but hearing what God says and seeing what He sees.
Cover photo creds: stmed.net