I'm thankful for my daughters Monica and EricaWhatever!
by Pastor Bill Geis (Thanksgiving 2010)

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)

As I write this, my daughter, Erica, is on her way home from her college studies in Oklahoma. Thanksgiving will be the first reunion for our family since her departure more than three months ago. Experienced parents have warned me that there are adjustments to make when college students return home. But right now, it’s impossible for me to even consider a negative thought. All I can think of is giving her the biggest hug of both of our lives.

As I reflect on God’s gifts in my life—my family, this congregation, the experiences and abundance that I often take for granted, I can’t help but swell up with gratitude. But honestly, not every day is like that. Daily we are assaulted with negativity from forces outside and within us. It is so easy to focus on the negative.

I thank God that he doesn’t focus on negatives. Time and time again, we exercise reckless disregard for the loving order that he has designed for those who live under his roof. He would have every right to turn away, but all he really cares about is giving us the biggest hug of our lives. Everything that would give us reason to feel guilty, ashamed or anxious, God took care of and covered with Jesus.

The practice of thanksgiving is divine medicine for the infectious virus of negativity. It promotes a healthy life of peace, joy and true fulfillment with God.  Studies show, however, that thanksgiving is neither natural nor easily learned. Thanksgiving needs to be practiced! The practice of thanksgiving is deeper than a word of gratitude. It is a lifestyle that drowns out the noise of criticism with the voice of praise. Thanksgiving meets Jesus!

Teenagers have the habit of drowning out things they don’t want to hear by saying, “whatever!” The Bible turns this around and urges us to “disrespect” the assault of negativity. It challenges us to say, “whatever” to disappointments, anxieties, insecurities and every evil. It calls us to practice the thanksgiving lifestyle by an immediate response of praise for “whatever” is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable or excellent!

As you give thanks on this holiday occasion, I’ve included seven creative ideas to practice the lifestyle. Whatever… you do, I pray you meet Jesus through the practice of thanksgiving.

Whatever is TRUE: Practice Thanksgiving with Your Stories.
Tell others about some of your best days with Jesus.

Whatever is NOBLE: Practice Thanksgiving with Charity.
        Give an offering that will bless someone less fortunate.

Whatever is RIGHT: Practice Thanksgiving by Making the First Move.
        Reach out to a friend you haven’t spoke to for a long time.

Whatever is PURE: Practice Thanksgiving with Inverse Gossip.
        Share a complimentary story about a person you are tempted to criticize.

 Whatever is Lovely: Practice Thanksgiving with a Surprise Act of Appreciation.
Surprise someone unlikely aware of your gratitude for them.

 Whatever is ADMIRABLE: Practice Thanksgiving with Secret Giving.
          Leave an anonymous gift in Jesus’ name instead of yours.

 Whatever is EXCELLENT: Practice Thanksgiving with Lots of Compliments.
        Be on the lookout for multiple opportunities to voice our praise for those among us.

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