Daily Archives: 18th May 2015

Thankfulness as a Weapon

Several months ago, our Vicar spoke some key words into our lives. He told us that thankfulness is a powerful weapon; we decided that from then on we were going to live in Thankfulness. We are thankful for every day, every good thing; we can even find it in our spirits to thank God even for the horrible things, and to be honest, we wouldn’t be where we are today were it not for the horrible things that have happened.

1 Thess 5:18 says to “…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”. This does not mean that God commands it – that it’s His WILL that must be obeyed at all costs! – rather, it means that it’s His will that this is the way we live. To put it another way, this is how we were always supposed to live. This is how it’s supposed to be; how we were designed to operate. Everyone has trials in their lives, big or small. But for those for whom God is King, they trust that those trials are all part of God’s purpose; that He has a reason and a plan for those things. Romans 8:28 says that “…we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, and have been called according to his purpose.

We can thank God that He’s working in all things for our good…..and you see there, the natural response to all this which is of course Thankfulness. Thank You, Lord, that You know what You’re doing. Thank You, Lord, that my life is in Your Hands.

There’s little that I can do, personally, to change the really big things. My wife Fiona is fighting cancer. If I could make the cancer go away just by waving my hand, of course I would. But until God actually steps in and destroys the tumour (and of course He may well already have done just that!), we can choose to live either in despair, or to live life in fulness. To live it in misery, or to live it in thankfulness. Gratitude (another word for thankfulness) for every day, and the blessings it brings, or ingratitude and churlishness and the despair they engender. I know how I’d rather live!

And being negative has no positive benefits at all, so why not simply be positive? Granted, for an Aspergic like me, it’s pretty black-and-white, and I appreciate that it’s not always that easy. But surely, the desire to be positive can lead to the habit of positivitiy, and then it just becomes a normal part of your life. And you have been transformed. Such is the power of thankfulness. You don’t even need to be a believer to practice Thankfulness. You can be thankful without having to address that thankfulness to a deity or whatever. You can just ‘be grateful’ and call it at that! What I’m saying is that Thankfulness is a decision; and it’s your decision. Where your circumstances take away your power, you can re-empower yourself by making the decision to be thankful. And life will feel so much better!

Thankfulness concentrates on the Good, and brings that Good into the forefront of the consciousness, where it can work its magic. Having a positive attitude is not simply important for being happy, it can also have beneficial medical effects. Of cancer survivors, the vast majority are those who are positive. That’s not to say that having a positive attitude will always cure you of cancer; however the converse is almost certainly true: those who do not have a positive attitude will be more likely to succumb.

One way of ‘doing’ thankfulness is to sing out my thankfulness. Whenever I am feeling down, worship and thankfulness usually contribute towards making me feel uplifted again. Making me realise just what God has done, is doing, and will do in the future. Being a pianist, I am extremely blessed to be able simply to sit down and just let it all out at the keyboard. One of my favourite songs to play is ‘Thank You Lord’, by David Hadden, the lyrics of which are reproduced below with his permission:

When I consider all you mean to me
My heart responds in worship
The songs you’ve given me, O Lord to sing
They’re songs of worship
They’re songs of praise
They’re songs of gratitude

Thank you Lord
Thank you Lord
Thank you from the bottom of my heart
Thank you Lord
Thank you Lord
Thank you from the bottom of my heart

You mean so much to me my God and King
My heart is full of worship
I long to bless you and to build a throne
Through my songs of worship
Through my songs of praise
Through my songs of gratitude

Thank you Lord……….

Great is the Lord and worthy of your praise
His name endures for ever
People of Zion come and sing your songs
Sing your songs of worship
Sing your songs of praise
Sing your songs of gratitude

Thank you Lord……….

Singing that song, and occasionally spontaneously making up my own extra verses too in Holy Spirit, is my way of declaring my thankfulness to the One Who has it all in His control. And He’s good.

So, of course, it’s not all about me, nor about how I feel. You see, Thankfulness takes the focus away from our circumstances and places it on to the One Whom we can trust completely. Remember that when you thank someone, you are thanking them for something they have already done. Thank you for the lift, thank you for the flowers, thank you for the music. Thanking God for the circumstances, whether good or bad, is thanking Him for things He’s already done and for things He’s already doing. And because He has your future already in His hands, in some ways you are also thanking Him for what He’s going to do. Because you know it’s going to be good.

Remember that, for the Christian, it’s always a happy ending. The very worst that can ever happen does not compare to the amazing experience that Heaven is going to be! Romans 8:18 says that “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us”. How cool is that? Thankfulness, life, power over your circumstances here and now! This is not pie in the sky, this is real and it’s here and now!

Decide today to practice Thankfulness, or Gratitude if you prefer to call it that. This is a real life-changer!


[Edit] Nearly four years after writing this piece, I have actually managed to get my hands on an audio copy of David Hadden’s song ‘Thank You, Lord‘, and I have published it on my blog with David’s permission. Here is the link.

00

The definition of Sin??

Much of the definition of sin in the modern Church revolves around the passage in Romans 14:23*, “…. and whatsoever is not of faith is sin”. Most people entrenched in Conservative church finger-pointing and condemnational philosophy will point out that this means that unless you can ‘justify’ as coming from faith, usually to the satisfaction of the questioner, a particular action, habit, pastime, orientation or whatever, then it’s sin.

It’s SIN, do you hear me?!!

But that’s not what that passage in Romans is all about. It’s actually about freedom from rules and regulations. The verse does not define sin; it simply says that if a person does something [effectively] against his own conscience, then that’s the sin. It doesn’t mean that everything has to be from faith, else it’s a sin. Read in its context, and with the presumptions of a ‘nice’ God who wants us to live life in its fulness, that’s what it means. There is a certain irony in that this passage, which is meant to encourage freedom, has been hijacked by the legalism brigade and used to create yet more bondage! I’ve written about this freedom in some depth elsewhere in my blog here.

On a blog I frequent, a contributor wrote, “…men invented some interpretations of things they didn’t like and called it evil”.  And I agree. This is exactly what happens when people’s good feelings are perceived by them to be under threat by something they don’t like, be it rock music, dancing, smoking or some ‘false’ doctrine. The Christian musician, Don Francisco, once wrote this lyric, “I know that you don’t like it but just listen my friend | just ‘cuz you don’t like it doesn’t mean it’s a sin”.

Evil itself is obvious when it happens. The behaviour of ISIS, cancer, toothache 😉 I could go on. There’s certainly no need for religious people to invent more of it! 😀

So I really suspect that actually much of the modern definition of ‘sin’ is just that certain people don’t like something, so proclaim it a SIN so they get their own way about what’s allowed and what isn’t – and all backed up by an angry, almighty God etc. etc. It’s almost laughable, isn’t it?

——-

*Interestingly, I Googled that verse to find out the exact reference. And the fact that I only had to type in the words ‘whatsoever is’ before Google realised what I was trying to find, speaks volumes to me in that it must be searched for by lots of people, for that to happen! Hmm, I wonder why? People focusing on sin (usually others’ sin) instead of salvation, perhaps?

00