Dear pastors, missionaries, chaplains and friends,
Steve Jones here… This weekend we celebrate Thanksgiving. A few years back I pastored in Sarnia, a border town with Port Huron, Michigan. My wife, Marilyn, worked as a nurse at a hospital in Port Huron. We got a chuckle once in a while about how little our American friends knew about Canada, a country only one short bridge away from their shores.
Marilyn recalls one American nurse stating that Canada must not have a Navy because we don’t border an ocean. Really?
Or during the run up to “American Thanksgiving” (as big as Christmas as far as celebrations go in the US) one nurse stated that “Canada doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, does it?” Hmmmm…
A Christian from Canada arrived at the “Pearly Gates” and asked Peter what he must do to enter Heaven. Peter said, “You must gain peace with God.” The man asked, “How do I do that?” Peter replied, “You need to spell the word GRACE correctly.” He spelled it perfectly and remained at the pearly gates watching Peter welcome other folks. One day Peter had an appointment and left this believer in charge of the gate. This man’s American brother-in-law showed up. He did not like his brother-in-law much. He had teased his sister and mocked their faith throughout life.
The brother-in-law asked what he had to do to enter Heaven. The man declared, “You must gain peace with God.” His brother-in-law asked, “How do I do that?” The man replied, “You must correctly spell a word.” The brother-in-law retorted, “What’s the word?” The believer grinned ear-to-ear and said, “Saskatchewan!”
As disciples of Christ we are not always as gracious as we should or could be. In 2 Timothy 3:1-2 Paul writes, “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be… ungrateful.” Are we really grateful? Or are we more apt to complain than to give God thanks?
Gratitude is from the same root word as grace. A person who has begun to accept how gracious God is to us becomes a grateful person. Thanksgiving is from the same root word as think. So, to think about life accurately is to thank God for His graciousness in the midst of life!
The book of Philippians is known as the book about JOY. In fact, the word “joy” or “rejoice” is used 17 times throughout the book. Interestingly, the word “mind” is used 21 times in the same book. Cultivating a certain mindset, choosing to think a certain way, is the secret to maintaining joy, contentment and thankfulness.
Wrong thinking leads to wrong feeling. Our mind and heart are pulled apart and the result is fear and worry.
One of the most original thinkers of the early 20th century was G. K. Chesterton (pictured to the left), a follower of Christ. He was a novelist, poet, critic, essayist, writer of detective stories and a popular theologian. Towards the end of his life he began to write his autobiography. He searched for the most important lesson he had learned in life. After many false starts, he final concluded, “The critical factor in life is whether you take things for GRANTED or take things with GRATITUDE.”
A man writing at the post office desk was approached by an older fellow who had a postcard in hand. The old man said, “Sir, could you please address this postcard for me?” The man gladly did so, and he agreed to write a short message on the postcard – he even signed it for the man too. Finally the man doing the writing said to the older man, “Now, is there anything else I can do for you?” The old fellow thought for a moment and said, “Yes, at the end could you just put, ‘P.S. Please excuse the sloppy handwriting’”.
How often do you hear people express sincere gratitude? Try an experiment: keep track of the number of complaints you hear each day and compare that with the number of times you hear people express sincere words of gratitude.
John Henry Jowett, a British preacher of an earlier generation, said this about gratitude: “Gratitude is a vaccine, an antitoxin, and an antiseptic.” What did he mean? He meant that gratitude, like a vaccine, can prevent the invasion of a disgruntled, discouraged spirit. Like an antitoxin, gratitude can prevent the effects of the poisons of cynicism, criticalness, and grumbling. Like an antiseptic, a spirit of gratitude can sooth and heal the most troubled spirit.
Trust you experience a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend with family and friends. Let’s not forget to thank God for His goodness.
Have a blessed week,