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Which Gates?

Proverbs 31:23 Her husband is known in the gates,
When he sits among the elders of the land.

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The bars of a cell in Alcatraz hopefully are not the gates that you speak of those in authority above you. To be known at the gates was to be respected. To be thought well of. This weeks challenge is to speak well of your boss, your husband or another authority figure of your choosing. Again, if you are married, please start with your husband. But the challenge has a twist. Speak well of them even when they aren’t around. Purpose to say something positive.

The difficultly lies in the fact that we are often very good about making a positive actually a negative. Hence the photo of Alcatraz above. Make sure the gates are not just bars on a cell! Make it a true positive. If you struggle finding something then purpose to look.

Leave a comment on how you are doing!

Appreciation

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Give her of the fruit of her hands,
And let her own works praise her in the gates.
Proverbs 31:31

‘Tis the season to be thankful. We spend this season remembering what is most important in our lives and so I have decided to dedicate this weeks posts to the above verse. Let her own works praise her in the gates. How do we practically do this? Brag on those women in your life who reflect proverbs 31 to you. Don’t worry about if they know you bragged about them or not, it’s not about that, its about their works being known at the gates.

So I am going to practice this today about my mother. She is quite the woman. She has struggled with health issues all my life. Growing up she was often sick and in bed. Now you would think this would mean that my childhood was sad and hard but it wasn’t. My childhood is filled with crazy fun family memories. Why? Because my mom made sure to still have adventures with us kids.

For example, she would let us give her directions home and we would sometimes get hopelessly lost (usually when I gave directions) and we thought it was the most fun ever!

Now looking back I am fairly certain that my parents struggled financially at times. Why do I think this? Logistics. When the world was becoming a duel income world my mom was a stay at home mom. But my mom was a good money manager because we always had food, we always had clothes, we always had all that we needed and we also had many of our wants as well. My parents didn’t spoil us at all but the house didn’t run as if we were hard off. Instead my parents taught us to see our blessings. And we were very blessed.

I could go on but you get the picture. My mom, (and my dad, but he is no where near being a proverbs 31 woman, thank God) is quite the woman who has always lived her life selflessly and been an example of what it means to be a wife and mother who loves God.

And Be Thankful

It is a little difficult updating how I am doing in this particular case as it has only been a short time since I wrote these posts, but it has been a blessing to remind myself of these habits that I pray I have created.

So review, keep coming back and remembering, and habitually be thankful!

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Be Thankful to Him

A Song of Praise for the Faithfulness to His People
A Psalm of Thanksgiving.
Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!
Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing.
Know that the Lord, He is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;*
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
For the Lord is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations.
Psalm 100:1-5

One of my most difficult struggles in my adult life was a time of insecurity I went through. It was a very dark time for me and I felt like my world was spinning out of control. I learned later that it was caused by food allergies and am now able to avoid sinking into that feeling of low desperation. However, while in the midst of this Jesus started working on my heart in this situation. There were a couple of big lessons I learned. The first was that whether you think too low of yourself or think too highly of yourself both are a form of pride. Humility is considering others first so therefore even my own constant worry of if I was good enough, if anyone cared about me, this was a form of pride. The second big lesson was the practical of how to combat this form of pride. And that was a thankful journal.

I stashed several small notebooks throughout my world. One in my office, one in my car, another in my purse another in my house. These notebooks were always within an arms reach. As soon as I felt those thoughts of insecurity creeping in on me I would grab the notebook and start writing. Now I had a couple of rules, the first was I was not allowed to write about the situation. Usually the insecurity stemmed from a specific situation where I felt left out or unloved or something along those lines, but I knew if I wrote out the situation it would just be dwelling on it more. The second rule was that I had to find something, anything at all, to be thankful for. So with those two rules in mind I would write a quick note of thanks to God.

Sometimes the note was for salvation, sometimes it was about the weather, other times it would be about something good that had happened earlier in the day. Regardless I wouldn’t stop writing until I had combated the insecure.

During my lowest point of that season I was writing in the journal quite frequently. And I am thankful I went through that time. I am thankful that God allowed me to work on the spiritual side of the issue before freeing me of the physiological side of it. Why? Because it taught me to be more thankful.

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And Be Thankful

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
Colossians 3:12-17

We hear it said every year, I have said it and perhaps you have too, “we should be thankful all year long, not just on Thanksgiving!” So this week we are going to take a break from our normal Proverbs 31 practical applications and look at practical ways to create a habit of a thankful heart.

One year for Christmas someone gave me a calendar set. It came with a regular full sized wall calendar, a small purse sized calendar and a mini wall calendar. Now the mini wall calendar is what I used for this but you could use a regular sized wall calendar. I put the calendar by my bed and every night before I went to sleep I took a couple of minutes to think back on my day and consider what I was thankful for. I wrote a few notes in the calendar.

That year we experienced several tragedies. I found that even on those days I had a moment which I could be grateful. It was the hug from a grandfatherly figure, the call from a friend, or simply the fact that Jesus had carried me through the day.

Now you don’t have to wait until next year to start this, start it today. Use your calendar app, grab a journal and simply date it every night, or find that wall calendar that you stuck in the drawer and never hung up this year…

And be thankful!

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For the Love of Music, and the Love of a Friend

He wanted so badly to play the guitar. I could see it in his face. I knew immediately when he requested to move from the recliner to a chair without arms that he was going to try. It took a good 10 minutes to get him moved. His left side was just not cooperating. Tom helped had his arm over his shoulders and Eric moved his dragging left foot to help stabilize him.

Once settled he let everyone know, he wanted to try to play. We got the guitar over to him, Tom holding the neck of the guitar so he could use his right hand solely for strumming, his glasses perched on his nose so he could see the music, and he tried…he strummed a little, his trembling hand only allowing some halting sounds to come out of the guitar. Then he decided he wanted to get his left hand up to the neck of the guitar to make the chords. Tom situated him and got his hand up there but he just couldn’t do it. That was when he broke down and cried.

It was heart breaking. This man who was once a musician, who led worship every week for his church, who had five guitars and knew every detail on each and every one of them. He couldn’t even hold the guitar without help. That’s when Tom suggested he make the chords so Randy could focus on strumming.

So Randy counted off, “one, two three four…” his toe started tapping, and he started to strum, and we sang. This was the most beautiful rendition of the song Amazing Love that I have ever heard. To see this beautiful man sitting there strumming with his trembling hand, Tom making the chords, and the rest of us singing. I will never forget that moment, when, with tears in my eyes I sang of God’s amazing love, listened to the halting guitar, heard Randy’s raspy voice, and thanked God for the honor of coming to visit Randy.

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