{re}fresh

Month: November, 2012

Why Is Saying “Thank-You” so Difficult?

by Dawn Aldrich

“Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?” Romans 8:32 (NLT)

Her petite frame bent low, worn from nearly a century of living. Small in stature but oh, her heart – full and generous and always giving – barely containable. One could never out-give her, never repay her. “Just say thank-you, that’s all,” she’d say.

Open hands to receive and a grateful heart is all she asked in return. She gave what we couldn’t earn. She gave more than we deserved. All because she loved – delighted in providing for others. And today, nearly eight years since her passing, my heart spills gratitude; not for the gifts but for the giver.

Sarah Young, in Jesus Calling reminds us, “Sometimes {God’s} children hesitate to receive {His} good gifts with open hands. Feelings of false guilt creep in, telling them they don’t deserve to be so richly blessed…When a child of {God} balks at accepting {His} gifts, {He} is deeply grieved. When you receive {His} abundant blessings with a grateful heart, {God} rejoices.”

Oh the love of the greatest Giver of this universe cannot be contained or out-given. We can do nothing to earn his love nor do we deserve it. But. He. Still. Loves. Us. He can’t help but love us because we are his children, made in his image. He gives generously – holds nothing back – not even his Son. All he asks is that we receive with open hands and a grateful heart. And when we do? He dances, sings, rejoices!

What gift is God holding out to you, today? Do you find it difficult to receive because you feel undeserving? Because you can’t repay him? Because you don’t believe it’s a “no strings attached” gift? Young makes a poigniant remark, “{God’s} kingdom is not about earning and deserving; it’s about believing and receiving.”

When we accept God’s gift with true gratitude our hearts overflow, spill out toward others. Receiving with gratitude and giving with heart-full love is stepping into God’s kingdom flow. This is the abundant life Jesus came to give – still gives. Will you receive it?

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,[a] that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17 (NIV)

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10b (NIV)

Prayer: Oh Lord, we stand here today with open hands and grateful hearts. Thank-you heavenly father, for holding nothing back from us; for freely giving us your Son so that we may come into your presence, live with you forever. Teach us to believe with open hearts, to receive with open hands, to live gratefully and love generously.

Vocation Envy

by Mike McKinniss

A few months ago, here at {re}fresh we explored a common misconception about the nature of Christian vocation, the notion that as believers we often sense that we are called by God to do specific works.  In that previous post we addressed the false notion that God is going to call me away to do something I’m going to despise.

There is another attendant falsehood that often sidles up alongside that one.  It is the notion that certain callings are “higher” than others.  Call it “vocation envy.”

I don’t know how often I’ve heard it, particularly as a student at a Christian college some years ago.  Many friends, all ardent in their faith, were studying for careers in engineering or education or nursing, say, but would at different times express a sense of inferiority because they were not pursuing some kind of pastoral career, as I was.

Since then, within the church itself, I’ve often heard a similar sentiment from folks in the pews.  They’ve got their jobs from Monday to Friday, but what they really want to do is to do ministry.  Their forty (or fifty or sixty) hours during the week just pay the bills so they can do God’s work on the weekends or on Wednesday nights.

Just as our desires and dreams are not necessarily contrary to the Lord’s hopes for our lives, so it is false to rank professional church work above other types of good occupations, as if building homes or keeping the company’s books clean were inferior to saying the Mass or preaching on a Sunday morning.  There are ample (and much needed) opportunities to serve the Lord in all arenas.

I’ve heard it said (I forget where) that pastoral work is really like being a coach.  We pump people up and spur them on so that they can have life-giving impact in their lives in the community.  We try to make clear the gospel message along with its vast implications for the entire creation.  We in the church are attempting to give people the tools necessary to escort the Kingdom of God on earth (including your cubicle) as it exists in God’s realm in heaven.

It is those who sit in the pews who are actually playing the game.  More often than I, those who work in the world encounter (more like, “smash into”) world views and mindsets that are completely contradictory to the good news of Jesus made Lord and Christ.  Nearly every day, regular believers have the opportunity and privilege to reveal a reality of hope and wholeness and peace to a world that didn’t think such things were possible.

Perhaps I should be jealous of them.

God’s in the Little Things

by Julie

“Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”  1 Peter 5:7

Have you ever had one of those days? You know, you overslept,  running late and you simply can’t find your keys.  The house is a mess and you’re expecting company but you burned the birthday cake. It’s just one wrong  thing after another until you throw your hands in the air and shout, “Where are you now, God?!”

It’s easy to see Him and connect with Him when big things are happening in our life. God’s presence is obvious when we are experiencing breakthrough or moving into a new season. But what about when nothing extraordinary is happening? Where is He in those moments?

Recently, I have learned that we can find Him in the little things. When things are going wrong and when things are going great, God cares.  In our day-to-day routine He is present. In the subtle changes from summer to fall we can see His beauty. We hear Him in the song  on the radio that speaks straight to our situation. He can turn the mundane into adventure. He offers refreshment and rest for the weary.

Sometimes I laugh at how God meets me in such small but meaningful ways.

I was driving once when the Lord began to speak to me through the street signs. Signs I drove by and obeyed almost daily. When it came to the yield sign I nearly burst into tears. There were places in my life that were not fully surrendered to Him and that’s what He was asking me to do. It seems so little but it was such a turning point in my life.

What is important to you is important to Him. He created you and knows every hair on your head. Before the foundation of the world He knew you and loved you. He has promised you that He will never leave or forsake you. He will be with you wherever you go! Every detail of your life, the Lord cares about! Bring even the little details before Him. You can be confident that He will show up and answer you.

Be encouraged to ask the Lord to open your eyes to see Him in the little things. You will love what happens in your life and begin to see how God has been pursuing you in the past! Be also encouraged to bring those details, big or small, to Him. Watch how God responds. Remember, what’s important to you is important to Him.

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