Thank God

The following article was written for our monthly PSP newsletter. With permission from our principal, we are sharing this with you; praying you are blessed by the heart of his message. Enjoy!


School LogoBe anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7).

We have probably all heard those verses many times before. I know I definitely have; but as we approach the holiday season, two words stand out to me. The verses would flow together without the phrase, and so grammatically, it is not necessary to insert the phrase with thanksgiving; but if we really stop to think about it, the promise of peace found at the end would probably not be true without giving thanks.

The word thanks is found some 72 times throughout Scripture, not to mention variations like thankful, thankfulness, thanksgiving, and more. The sheer volume of times it is mentioned ought to give us an indication of the importance of being thankful.

Human nature is to always desire more, and, while tempered correctly, it can be a good thing, in the context of these verses, it is decidedly not. Striving to do more, to be better, to reach one’s full potential, within the confines of godly behavior, is far better than stagnation to be sure, but thankfulness becomes key in maintaining the right attitude, and a right heart before God.

I am reminded of a story I once read, in which one of the characters was struggling to achieve a level of study that was beyond his abilities. When it was mentioned repeatedly by another that he still had far to go, his response was profound, and true: “Please stop poisoning what I have already achieved by throwing up before me what may be forever beyond my grasp.” Though not a biblical story, the concept is quite true. Lack of thankfulness, because of a desire to have more, do better, or be recognized, can and will poison our hearts toward that which we do have.

Hello, Friend

When we look at the Philippians passage, it tells us to present our requests to God. Note that it does not say “needs” but “requests. “ There is nothing wrong with asking for the desires of our heart, provided, of course, that what we desire is not something which He could not, as a loving and responsible Father, give us in the first place. Thankfulness for what we do have will keep us from becoming bitter if His answer is “no.”  Remember, we are coming before the One who knows our needs and promises to provide for us.

Psalm 100 verses 4 and 5 read, “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.”

If we stop to consider all the blessings that He has provided for us, we have to stop in awe. He has given me salvation, a relationship with Him (and that on a far more personal and intimate basis than a servant has any right to hope for from his King), my wife, our kids, and so much more. I have been blessed with His truth, a barometer that does not change, and so I am able to chart my way through a world that is far too difficult to navigate on my own.

We have been granted access to His very throne, that our needs, pleas for mercy and grace, and petitions might reach the One who has everything, and can do anything, and He says to come boldly.

So as we approach Thanksgiving, take the time, personally, and even as a family, to sit down and actually list out the things that God has provided for you, done for you, and blessed you with, and as you do so, see how your hearts settle before Him. What is the biggest gift of all? He has given us…Himself.

Happy Thanksgiving


The Grass is Always Greener….

It’s well manicured, lush, green, and expands to all ends of their domain. Their seemingly perfect grass sits there mocking your scraggly, practically brown, over-grown, meager patch of yard. You jealously compare the two and thoughtful wish your space looked like theirs. Well, perhaps, my friend, there is a reason for this. The grass is always greener, where it is cultivated.

It is all too easy to look at the people who surround us and compare ourselves to them. Is our marriage as good? Are our children as well-behaved? Is our home as well-kept? Do we accomplish as much?

Dessert Scene - Vegas

I do NOT want my “grass” looking like this.

One truth I have discovered is that while I am looking at other peoples “green grass”, mine is beginning to whither. Instead of spending my time growing my “yard”, I’m slowly killing it off with bitterness and doubt. I need to refocus my gaze and start managing the space I can change. But how do we go about helping our “grass” to grow?

Get Rid of Pests – How many things are in my life that I just don’t need? Worse, how many of things are actually hurting me? First and foremost, I need to remove those items which are preventing me from further accomplishment. Be it television, certain music, friends, or responsibilities. All things which prevent me from accomplishing the goal of living a life pleasing to God, need to be removed if I am to progress.

Pull the Weeds – While “pests” are surface problems which need to be removed, “weeds” are a little harder; they often run deep and are a reflection of my inner heart. Is there bitterness in there? I need to uproot it and kill it off. Am I angry all the time? Yank it out and throw it away! Once the weeds are gone, I have a better ability to start growing. We accomplish this with tons of prayer, some good Bible reading, thankfulness, and proper application of what we’re learning.

Plant – Now that the damaging parts of my “grass” are removed, I want to start adding some good stuff. Prayer and Bible reading will definitely help, but now we need to add a few more good things. Quality family time, Bible study, and purposeful couple time are all good places to start.

Fertilize – No seed can grow without a little help! Surround yourself with as many like-minded friends as you can. People who will not fill your ears with flattery, but who will give you the truth; friends who encourage you to grow closer to Christ.

Water – Quench your Spiritual thirst with a good family church. Our minds and souls are like sieves, we leak! (laughing) We need to constantly be refreshing ourselves with the teaching of the Word and the encouragement of worship.

Silly Girls

Now, this is what my “grass” ought to look like; complete with happy kids.

Manicure – Once you start to get the process going, you will sometimes find you need to maintain your “grass”. If I am doing things according to God’s will, my life is going to start to flourish. My relationships are going to blossom and, while life will certainly never be perfect, life is certainly more “green”. This doesn’t mean, however, that every once in a while, I don’t need to do a quick status check. Has anything snuck in which shouldn’t be there; a stray weed or pest which thought it could find its way in? Perhaps I have left off planting those seeds and building? Is my grass getting withered or needing a little infusion of vitamins here and there? Failing to manicure my life can be very dangerous; left unchecked, my life could easily become the mess it was previously and be a hideous example for the world to see. There is very little which is sadder to observe; a once lovely life, now turned stale and ugly.

A Note of Caution –  This is not a guarantee that all of life will suddenly be “coming up roses”. We aren’t talking a quick-fix for getting everything you want. This is a heart check. If we focus on serving Christ and living lives for His glory, the size of our “yard” or the house which happens to be sitting on it, won’t matter. The purpose is not to magically convert our lives into exact replicas of our neighbor, but to be thankful for the one God granted to us and to make the most of what we’ve got. It’s not the size of the “yard”, it’s what you do with it that counts.

Wouldn’t it be great if all we had to do was wish our lives were perfect, in order to make it happen? Wow! People would dream up large homes, endless budgets, and gorgeous fillings for their estates. Our relationships would be just as well off; happy marriages, obedient children, and endless amounts of friends.

Unfortunately, life isn’t a long wish list. Often, you get out, what you put in. So, instead of me looking into other people’s yards, I want to spend more time cultivating my own.

How is your yard looking?

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” – Matthew 6:33