7 Ways to THANK Outside The Box

 

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Has another Thanksgiving rolled around to find you thankful of the same things as last year?  (Let me guess:  Friends, Family, God, and Good Health)

There’s nothing wrong with that, of course.  Those are are some darn fine things to be thankful for.

But this year, let’s think outside the box a little.  The following list is designed to help us stretch our thankfulness a bit, in some ways we might not always think of.  Ready to THANK outside the box?

7 Ways to THANK outside the box

  1.  THANK a soldier.

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Amillionthanks.org has been responsible for sending more than 7 million letters of thanks to our soldiers.  Check out the site for information about how to put your letter in a soldier’s hands.

 

2.  THANK a teacher.

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Remember how great your 5th grade teacher Mrs. Janezik was?  Let her know!  http://www.thank-a-teacher.org/ is an easy way to let a teacher know you appreciate them.  Put in your name, pick their school, write your thanks, and this site will get the thank-you to them.

 

THANK local.

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In the mad rush of post Thanksgiving shopping, the little guys can get overlooked.  Instead, be intentional about buying at least some of your gifts from local merchants.  It’s good for the economy and can be a needed boost for smaller stores.  In 2010 American Express created Small_Business_Saturday as a yearly reminder.

 

THANK a wrestling partner

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No, not actual wrestling (although, why not!).  Think of the person or people whom you’ve wrestled with intellectually or spiritually, and thank them for how you’ve grown from it.  That friend from college you always find yourself debating religion with?  Thank them for the wrestle.  That co-worker who always keeps you on your toes?  Thank them for the wrestle.   They just might thank you back.

 

THANK God for Tuesdays

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For some reason, TGIT has never caught on as much as TGIF.  Of course, it’s easy to thank God for Fridays — it’s the end of the week, time to let your hair down.  But why not try to thank God for all the other days, even the Tuesdays.   Your deliberate gratitude for a day in the middle of the week might just alter your own appreciation of it.

 

THANK a checkout clerk

 

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It’s gonna be busy in all the stores, so as you go through the check-out line, why not take a cold drink out of the cooler at the end of the aisle, pay for it with your groceries, and then tell your checkout clerk that you got it for them as a thank you for their hard work.

 

THANK a writer

 

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In the past year, did you read something that made an impact on your life?  A devotion book, a novel, maybe a passage of scripture?  I’ll bet the author would love to hear from you.  If they’re alive, you could write to them care of the publisher, or many authors have their own websites.  And if, as in the case of the scriptures, the author is long since gone, you could say a prayer of thanksgiving, or even write out a few sentences to share on your Facebook page.

 

There are obviously lots more than 7 ways to THANK outside the box this year.  Whichever new ways you choose to show your thanks, you’ll find yourself blessed as well.  Gratitude has a habit of filling lots of hearts, including the giver’s.

May you have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and THANK YOU for reading!

Mitch

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Purple Perfection?

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Welcome to the perfect world inside my head.

In my imaginary world, there are no terrorists, because everybody just loves each other.

In my perfect imaginary world, people make covenants and keep them.  People are quick to forgive, but since everyone loves so completely, there’s rarely anything worth forgiving.

In my  perfect world, everyone wants the same things: Peace, Love, and Hope.  And everyone knows that serving God is the best way to get them.

Ahhhh.  It’s a great place.  I like to visit there, especially when things in this world get so messed up.

But here’s the problem.

I went to visit my perfect world this morning, and there’s a new sheriff in town:

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BARNEY??? No!!!!!

What is Barney doing in my perfect world?

I started to object, but there is no objecting in my perfect world.  As it turns out, Barney with his safe, milquetoast song, is the best personification of my particular brand of perfection.

Not Jesus. Barney.

Want to sing with me?

As much as I can’t stand that song, I think I’m beginning to understand something.  Barney’s over-simplistic love fest style may be fine with little kids, but it is NOT the kind of perfect world I keep thinking I want.

When things get tough in this world, when I long for something better, I’m making a mistake to retreat from the here and now.  The mistake is thinking that Jesus would ever put on a Barney suit.

Heck no.

Sure, Jesus speaks of great, amazing love and forgiveness, but he’s not about to go all softie on us.

Did you ever notice?  Jesus is a fighter.

No, not in the sense of fists or guns or swords, but Jesus was willing to fight for us.  He fought worn-out traditions, and popular misconceptions.  He fought with his own disciples when they were foolish or arrogant.  He fought the powers of this world with the reality of the REAL Kingdom of God that is breaking into this world all the time.

Not a group-hug kind of Kingdom, but a Kingdom where the poor and disposessed are raised up with justice.  A kingdom where sinful and misguided mindsets are shown the light of day through the power of the spirit.

Jesus never tried to escape this whirled world for something more peaceful and simple.  No, the goal of Jesus’ life was not to reach perfection, but to reach the least and the lost.

I need to remember this, the next time the world seems shattered.

Instead of retreating to a “perfect” world where I can sing and dance with Jesus, I must remember that Jesus walks every hard road of this world with a purpose.  And he encourages us to do the same.

Truth is:  A little Barney goes a long way,

But Jesus goes much farther.

Have a great week,

Mitch

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The appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.

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What does God look like?

Good question.

I have an office full of Bible commentaries and theological texts, but to answer this question I went to the most reliable source I could think of:

Google Image Search.

So, here’s the first picture that came up:

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There you have it.  The stereotypical old white guy with the beard, looking down lovingly from heaven. A classic!

But then I noticed this guy:

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Umm, why is God bald here?  Moving on…

There’s this guy…

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And this guy…

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But, I’d be tempted to go with this one:

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(That’s the Monty Python version of God).

Now, not every picture of God on Google was of an aging bearded white guy.

There were lots of pictures of God depicted as…Jesus!

Like this…

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And this…

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and this…

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There are a lot of pictures like the ones above.  You can go see for yourself.

So is that it?  Is this what God looks like?

The title of this devotion comes from the book of Ezekiel.  Ezekiel had a dramatic, almost surrealistic experience of being in the presence of God.   What he describes looked something like this:

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Or this…

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Or this…

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Actually, they all look a little like the cover of a Boston album from the 70’s, if you ask me.

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Whatever Ezekiel was describing, this vision of God was ultimately beyond description.

Thus the words, “This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.”

The        appearance
of the     likeness
of the     glory
of the     Lord.

Did you catch that?  That’s at least 3 times removed from a definitive God sighting!   But even that was enough to send him bowing to the ground in awe.

I don’t know what comes into your mind when you try to picture God, but chances are it’s an incomplete picture.

That is as it should be.

Let Ezekiel be a reminder that we see only the appearance of the likeness of God’s glory.

And let Google remind us…

to keep on searching.

Have a great week,

Mitch

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