#MOWT

justice-mercy-graceLast week I blogged about justice, mercy, and grace. Justice is getting the penalty we deserve, mercy is not getting the penalty we deserve, and grace is getting blessings we don’t deserve.

If we are truly grace-full people, then we should be thank-full people as well. As we approach Thanksgiving Day, people are naturally thinking about things for which they can give thanks during this past year. But Christians should be the most full-of-thanks people on the planet, because we have been showered with so much grace! 

I’d like us to think about a word that I believe will increase our level of thankfulness: Appreciation. Appreciation goes beyond merely being thankful for blessings, as it sees the high value in those blessings, and then continually looks for ways to express even more gratitude for them. In other words, appreciation can begin a cycle of gratitude that grows and grows and GROWS!

Check out three parts to the definition of appreciation

[1] Gratitude; thankful recognition. Did you know that being grateful is actually good for you? Research has shown that increasing your gratitude levels increases your:

  • Physical health. “A state of gratitude, according to research by the Institute of HeartMath, also improves the heart’s rhythmic functioning, which helps us to reduce stress, think more clearly under pressure and heal physically. It’s actually physiologically impossible to be stressed and thankful at the same time” —Jon Gordon
  • Emotional health. Dr. Robert Emmons says gratitude decreases envy, resentment, and feelings of retaliation; and increases empathy, emotional resilience, and self-esteem.
  • Spiritual health. Notice how ingratitude is included in the list of a whole lot of ugliness (2 Timothy 3:1-4), but spiritual health is restored simply by being thankful (Ephesians 5:3-4).

[2] Estimating qualities and giving them their proper value. In order to determine value, we must have a standard of comparison. What’s your standard? Is it what your neighbor has? Is it what you don’t have? Or is it thankfulness for what God has given you? 

Max Lucado said, “To reflect on your blessings is to rehearse God’s accomplishments. To rehearse His accomplishments is to discover His heart. Gratitude always leaves us looking at God and away from dread.”

[3] Assessing the true worth of our blessings. Assessing leads to appreciation, and appreciation begins to give us a return on investment. I like how Jeff Anderson says it: “If you want to grow your faith, grow your gratitude. To grow your gratitude, take time to count your blessings.”

Remember: gratitude isn’t gratitude if it isn’t expressed. David made his gratitude known, and other afflicted people around him began to join with him in thanking God for His blessings (see Psalm 34:1-3). In other words, David’s thanksgiving went viral!

mowtHere’s how we can make our gratitude go viral: #MOWT. Let’s count our blessings every day, and let’s appreciate what God has done for us. Then let’s share our gratitude not only with God, but with others as well. Post it on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram with #MOWT: my one word thanks. Maybe include a photo and “family” #MOWT, or “protection” #MOWT, or even “paycheck” #MOWT.

Let’s give God so much glory for His grace gifts, that we tell the world about our appreciation!

Your Anti-Porn Plan

The Porn CircuitPerhaps a New Year’s resolution you made was to stop viewing pornography. That’s a great first step! I like these tips from CovenantEyes for helping you stick with your no-porn goal.

  1. Develop a game plan. Instead of retreating to porn, have a book to read or another activity planned.
  2. Get outside of yourself. When you focus on your circumstances, the temptation to escape comes calling. Serving others is the best antidote to a self-induced pity party. Ring a bell for the Salvation Army, visit a nursing home or work in a soup kitchen.
  3. Burn off steam and calories. Go for walks. Get some exercise in. Hit the gym with a friend.
  4. Reach out. Call a friend. Be open and honest about your feelings and temptations. (Keeping secrets breeds failure.)
  5. Avoid Facebook and social media. Comparing your life to the façade on Facebook only leads to more stress and loneliness.
  6. Don’t throw in the towel. If you have a setback, get back up and start over!

And I’ll add one more of my own:

7. Learn your triggers. Do you usually feel the urge to look at porn at night? when you’re tired? when you’re lonely? Know when your temptation is at its strongest, and be ready with one of the above strategies before the temptation flares up.

CovenantEyes has some great ebooks and other resources you can check out here. You also might want to add their accountability software to your devices.

YOU CAN DO THIS—YOU CAN BEAT YOUR PORN ADDICTION!

Links & Quotes

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“God has done astonishing and costly things to draw us near. He has sent His Son to suffer and to die so that through Him we might draw near. It’s all so that we might draw near. And all of this is for our joy and for His glory.” —John Piper

“The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation.” —C.S. Lewis

Detroit Tiger fans know that Alan Trammell should be in the MLB Hall of Fame.

Chilly Chilton has a deathwish, and you should read about it.

“Your business is to go and ‘tell to sinners round what a dear Savior you have found’, for that is God’s way of using you to complete the unity of His Church.” —Charles Spurgeon

“The most important thing a church can have going for it is strong, biblical preaching.  It can do with or without an app, a Facebook page, a glitzy web site, streaming sermons, online giving, a fancy building, free wi-fi, or a clearly defined brand.  But it cannot fulfill God’s purpose without power in the pulpit.” —Mark Atteberry

“Nothing fosters courage like a clear grasp of grace. And nothing fosters fear like an ignorance of mercy.” —Max Lucado

Links & Quotes

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Here are the links to some interesting reading I found today.

“A poll of hundred college students about their Facebook habits revealed that those who posted numerous status updates each day actually experienced positive mood swings that a control group did not experience. Those who posted more frequently felt less lonely and more connected to friends. The reason? While sitting behind a computer screen may seem isolating, updating your status keeps friends on the brain when you can’t see them in person. Researchers actually call it ‘social snacking.’” Read more of Tim Elmore’s post How Facebook Affects Your Mental Health.

Interesting: How Many Bible Passages Speak To Homosexuality?

[VIDEO] I liked this part of Kevin Durant’s MVP acceptance speech.

How scientists can see cancer cells in action.

Appalling! Planned Parenthood helps an accused serial rapist cover up his crimes!!

“The fetus, though enclosed in the womb of his mother, is already a human being, and it is a monstrous crime to rob it of life which it has not yet begun to enjoy. If it seems more horrible to kill a man in his own house then in a field, because a man’s house is his place of most secure refuge, it ought surely to be deemed more atrocious to destroy a fetus in the womb before it has come to light.” —John Calvin, commenting on Exodus 21:22-23

[VIDEO] John Maxwell and Nick Vujicic remind you that you are unique.

Spring (time) Cleaning

This is a reprint of an article I wrote for this week’s Cedar Springs Post.

Cedar Springs PostNow that it appears that—let’s cross our fingers—Spring has finally sprung, many people will be throwing open the windows, airing out the house, and cleaning up some things that have accumulated over the long, icy winter. Ah, yes, the annual rites of spring cleaning!

One place that lots of things accumulate is our schedule. Between sports schedules, church activities, music lessons, grocery store trips, making meals, parent-teacher conferences, birthday parties, and so many other things, our schedules are packed chockfull.

In our relationships love is typically spelled “t-i-m-e.” So if you don’t have enough t-i-m-e to express your love, perhaps some spring cleaning is needed.

A few things to remember:

(1) Time is finite. You cannot call a time-out, you cannot bank up some time for another day, you cannot slow down the clock. Once you commit to something, that time is gone forever.

(2) It’s okay to say “No.” A friend of mine recently shared this thought: Whenever you say “Yes” to anything, there is less of you and your time for something else. So make sure your “Yes” is worth the “less.” If the “less” is t-i-m-e with your loved ones, please say a guilt-free “No, thank you.”

(3) Make your “Yes” mean yes. If you do decide to commit to something, then honor your commitment. Jesus said, “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’” (Matthew 5:37). And wise King Solomon warned, “It is better not to make a vow than to make one and not fulfill it” (Ecclesiastes 5:5).

(4) Time is your servant, not the other way around. Make your time work for you; don’t be a slave to the clock. A good indication that you’re the slave and not the master is that feeling like you are always running late for everything. Cut out some non-essentials like TV time or countless Facebook hours so you can make t-i-m-e for what’s really important.

Happy Spring (time) Cleaning!

Thursdays With Oswald—Knowing God’s Thoughts

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Oswald Chambers

Knowing God’s Thoughts 

     As soon as we begin to examine the foundations of our salvation we are up against the thoughts of God, and as Christians we ought to be busy thinking God’s thoughts after Him. That is where we fall short…. It is because of the refusal to think on Christian lines that satan has come in as an angel of light and switched off numbers of God’s children in their head, with the result that there is a divorce between heart and head. 

From Conformed To His Image

I read a report recently that said in the United Kingdom, Facebook is read more each day than the Bible. My guess is that the same thing could be said for the United States of America. So if we’re not reading God’s Word, how in the world can we think God’s thoughts? If we don’t know what God is saying, we can’t know what He is thinking?!

So what are we left with? “I feel that God would want…” or “I don’t think God would…” and the like. WE, the biblically-illiterate, have become the final authority on what God thinks. No wonder satan has switched off so many people’s heads!

Don’t simply repeat what someone else says that God says. Read it for yourself! Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true (Acts 17:11).

If you want help getting started reading the Bible, check out some reading plans from BibleGateway.

Links & Quotes

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These are links to articles and quotes I found interesting today.

Good advice from Dr. Tim Elmore: Technology Etiquette For The Emerging Generation

And good advice from Dr. James Dobson: 10 Essentials For Your Marriage

“If you could increase the attendance of your church until there is no more room, if you could provide everything they have in churches that men want and love and value, and yet you didn’t have the Holy Spirit, you might as well have nothing at all. For it is ‘“Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,” says the Lord Almighty’ (Zechariah 4:6). Not by the eloquence of a man, not by good music, not by good preaching, but it is by the Spirit that God works His mighty works.” —A.W. Tozer

FINALLY!! Obama Pushes For Release Of Americans Held In North Korea, Iran

[VIDEO] Memorable Super Bowl moments

Uh oh! Facebook Is Now More Widely Read Than The Bible

[VIDEO] For all of those you posting your Facebook video: An Honest Facebook Movie

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