What to Do When You Don’t Feel Thankful on Thanksgiving

What to Do When You Don’t Feel Thankful on Thanksgiving

Today in the United States we celebrate Thanksgiving Day. Family and friends gather to enjoy each other and remember our blessings. (Well, maybe it’s to eat food and watch football, but do we want to talk about that?) Perhaps negative circumstances have left you feeling decidedly ungrateful this time around. What do you do when you don’t feel thankful on Thanksgiving?

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The End of the Story

The End of the Story

The Bible as a true story, an epic play, a blockbuster movie, should come with a warning; Spoiler Alert! We’re living in the middle of the drama, and sometimes it feels like a cruel joke. Has God dropped us in the middle of something without adequate stage directions? It is really supposed to be like this? But the truth is, we know the end of the story. And the end of the story is, Jesus wins!

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Getting God from your Head to your Heart

Getting God from your Head to your Heart

Some of us (me included) tend to approach life first from the head. (If you naturally approach life first from the heart, reading this may help you understand your spouse or friends better.) We studied hard in school, and when a problem comes up now we try to figure things out. All of that is fine except when your relationship with God stays only in the head. It’s important to move beyond a spirituality that is only intellectual, to move God from your head to your heart.

Some branches of Christianity tend to emphasize the intellectual aspects of faith almost exclusively. Biblical truth is preached. Your journey of faith is characterized by learning propositional truth and how much you know the Bible. Children are taught Bible memorization. When you have a problem, the “Christian” thing to do is look for a Biblical truth to counteract a wrong belief. Your heart is not very much involved because as Jeremiah said, it’s wicked.

Other branches of Christianity tend to place much greater emphasis on the emotional aspects of faith. Services focus time on music, emotional worship, and ministry. Preaching, while Biblically based, is more about dealing with the issues of life. Children are taught to experience God through prayer and music. When you have a problem, the “Christian” thing to do is ask someone to pray for you. Your head is not very much involved because you can’t trust reason anyway, so “they” say.

This is not a critique on various branches of Christianity. There are dangers on both “sides.” But if your relationship with God has been limited to propositional truth, beliefs, and cognitive intellectual “work,” you’re still missing out on so much. God needs and wants you to move beyond a spirituality that is limited to your intellect.

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Feeling God’s Love when Others Don’t Love You

Feeling God’s Love when Others Don’t Love You

You believe what the Bible says; “God is love.” But that can seem so intellectual, so “spiritual.” Your heart aches for something more tangible, something your senses can appreciate. You want to feel that unconditional love from the people closest to you. You long for God with skin on. How can you feel God’s love when others don’t love you?

Just this week Ann wrote to me; “I don’t know how to love a god I haven’t even seen.” And Elisha wrote, “I want a clearer and more visible picture of God’s love for me through the people I love.”

In the world God intended, you would experience God’s love through people. Parents would love their children unconditionally, and always provide them the guidance, acceptance, and support they needed as they launched into the world and beyond. Spouses would love each other unconditionally, always offer affection, understanding, trust, and intimacy, and support each other with forgiveness and encouragement. Believers would always provide a truly welcoming environment to those who struggle, eliminate gossip and destructive criticism, and offer guidance and support for continued growth and healing.

But our world is not that way. The majority of children grow up with less than they needed from their parents. Most marriages struggle with conflict, apathy, and/or unmet needs. Churches, small groups, and friendships are marred by inconsistency, superficiality, and human brokenness. Abuse and neglect happen on many levels.

So if the people who should demonstrate God’s love to you are not or cannot do so, how are you to experience God’s love? Are you doomed to painful lack forever?

Here are some practical ways to experience God’s love when others don’t love you, or love you very imperfectly.

These points focus on what you can do. You cannot change others, but you can take steps yourself to find healing, meaning, love, and joy.

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Why You Should Throw Away Your Christian Checklist

Why You Should Throw Away Your Christian Checklist

It’s well past time for you to throw away your Christian checklist. But first, quickly, what are the things you DO as a Christian?

If you’ve spent any time in church at all, you probably immediately list prayer, Bible study, and attending church services. And if you’re a relatively new believer you may find those activities incredibly meaningful and even exciting. If you’re really into spiritual disciplines you may also think of fasting, praying in the Spirit, giving, sharing your faith with others, and perhaps more.

But too often our spiritual lives can become all about doing certain things. As long as you pray, read your Bible, and go to church you somehow check off a list in your head and feel you’re at least a reasonably OK Christian. Don’t do those things and you have to start expending emotional energy to quiet the little imps of guilt building up in your soul.

But have you ever known someone to become a believer because they just couldn’t wait to do those certain behaviors? “I’ve just got to become a Christian so I can spend 30 minutes a day reading my Bible and sit in church an hour every Sunday.” Not a chance! Any time our spiritual life becomes about a list of behaviors it quickly becomes dry, empty, and potentially destructive.

And yet there are things Christians do. Our behaviors do make a difference.

So how are we to think about our Christian behaviors without letting them become dry, empty, or worse? Why do we do the things we do? What’s the point?

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