Tag Archives: thankful heart

30 Days of Thankful: Day 28

Today’s guest post was written by my friend Ashley nearly three years ago.  I was impressed to post it again today as part of our 30 Days of Thankful.  First, because you will see Ashley’s beautiful and thankful heart.  And second, because looking back, we can now see that God was preparing Ashley for a special calling.  This calling included not only a fourth child (a biological child), but a missions assignment that took Ashley and Peter and their four children to Japan where they are sharing the love of Jesus with this largely unreached nation.  Ashley was open to what she thought was God’s call to adopt a child from Asia–instead, she is now loving many of God’s lost children in this part of the world.  In observing Ashley’s journey,  I’ve come to believe that a trusting and thankful heart is the open door through which God invites us to our destiny.   

GUEST POST:  Ashley McKenzie (February 13, 2013)

God is my Provider. He often reminds me that He can be trusted to meet my every need.  I am humbled that God speaks to me.  I am nothing special.  Many days I feel less than ordinary.  I have no credits to my name, no college degree, no extraordinary skills, no great power of speech or commanding leadership abilities.  All I have is the love of a beautiful Savior—a kind and gentle King who has captured my soul and filled it with life. 

A few months ago, right before Thanksgiving, I was packing up my car for a trip to my parent’s house.  With three children four years old and younger, this is no small feat.  Amazingly, all three kids were in the house napping so I was able to pack the car without distraction.  It was an ordinary day that turned holy in seconds.  I saw an eagle flying right above my head- so close that I could actually hear it soar.  Immediately, I felt The Lord asking me to sit and watch the bird.  My heart was beating out of my chest; I had no choice but to sit and watch this majestic creature.

I watched it for at least 15 minutes as it soared back and forth in front of me until it finally flew away.  Over the next two months, I had the oddest encounters with birds.  And every time God said, “Watch the birds, Ashley.  Watch the birds.”  I had vultures in the back of my yard, saw at least two more eagles, and every day had a whole flock of little black birds fly across the sky in front of me.  I have been asking God what is it with these birds.  And then he answers just as I need it.

 Blog photo-eagle

To back up a bit, God has asked some fairly big “faiths” of me for 2013.  Long ago he asked me to allow him to “grow” my family.  For whatever reason I feel a big growth this year. My heart aches more and more for orphans.  I yearn to adopt a child, and he has given me several verses and glimpses of hope and faith in this lifelong dream.  But with this dream comes a dependence on his provision, resting in the assurance that as we expand, he will meet every need as he always has.

And so, as I’ve prayed for faith in all these things, I continue to see birds.  God says quietly to my soul, “Watch the birds, watch the birds.” And I pray that he reveals what these crazy birds mean.  He gives me verses like Roman 12:12, asking me to be “joyful in my hope and faithful in my prayers,” and Isaiah 49:8, reminding me that he will “provide in His timing”.  He is my salvation and help in all things.

 And then in a moment of desperation, as worry and doubt set in over and over again, as I wonder if God will really provide and if I will ever be given this gift of an adopted child–is he really going to do what I feel in my heart he has said–during a sacred moment in his word, he whispers, “You are the bird.  I give you food.  I provide.  I watch over you.  you are mine.  That eagle?  He soars because of me.  I build his house.  I give him strength.  You are my bird and I will provide.  Trust in me.”

What do you say to this except thank you?  How do you respond to such kindness, such love except a complete surrender of worry and doubt?  Finally, I am drawn to John 15:16:

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last.  Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.

I am chosen, and because I am chosen I have a responsibility to bear lasting fruit.  I don’t think that I can remain a worrier and doubter and believe in John 15:16.  I am a bird, and whatever The Lord asks of me, he will provide.


30 Days of Thankful: Day 11

How not to say thank you. An unusual topic for Day 11 of 30 Days of Thankful.  Is it possible to offend God with the way we thank Him? Apparently so—if our “thank you” comes from a self-righteous heart. Jesus told this story to a group of religious leaders who were confident in their own “goodness” and scorned everyone else:

“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get. ’“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Luke 18:10-13).

The two men couldn’t have been more different. The Pharisee was well-bred, well-educated, and well-off. He had an impressive religious pedigree. He had arrived. The tax-collector, on the other hand, was a loser.  To the Jews, he was an object of scorn–a  pagan Gentile.   A sinner, and easy to despise. He had no social standing, no prestige, and probably not many friends. Then as now—nobody much likes a tax collector.

At first glance, it looks like the Pharisee is thanking God for his many blessings. But a closer look lets us in on the real truth.  His “prayer of thanks” was just a way to boast that he wasn’t like the “evildoers.”  He probably spoke loudly enough for the tax collector to hear him.   Then, his “thanks” to God was just an announcement of his own righteousness–a reminder to everyone in his hearing that he fasted and tithed.

The Greek translation of this passage sheds even more light on the true nature of this man’s prayer: “The Pharisee stood and prayed like this to himself” (Luke 18:11 MOUNCE).  To himself. Did you catch that? The Pharisee’s prayer went no further than himself.

But the tax collector was stricken at his own sinfulness. He stood at a distance—not even daring to look to heaven as he uttered, “God have mercy on me, a sinner” (v. 13).

Jesus spells it out plainly:  The tax collector, not the Pharisee, went home justified—righteous before God. His prayers were heard.

A few reminders as we develop a thankful heart:

  1. True thankfulness is always accompanied by humility.
  2. None of our acts of righteousness will ever make us righteous in God’s sight—we all need grace and mercy, just like the tax collector.
  3. The ground at the foot of the cross is level.