Flashback Friday: Thankful Beyond Compare

Originally published March 8, 2016:

Swan and Ducks

Throughout my life, I’ve fallen into the sin of ingratitude. For the most part, I succumbed to this sin as a result of comparing myself with able-bodied people. I can remember the envy I nurtured in my heart during my two years in Memphis, listening to my co-workers talk about their homes and marriages, and feeling resentful that I was single and living in a nursing home. When they encouraged me to be grateful for a roof over my head, food in  my belly and people to get me up each morning, you bet I felt like smacking them! But, as angry as I was that I couldn’t have the goodies that they had, I was even angrier that their comments exposed my sin of ingratitude.

Rather than comparing myself to my co-workers, I believe the Lord wanted me to compare myself to the blind, non-verbal quadriplegic two doors down from me whose mother wouldn’t even touch him when she visited. Or the woman who had been disabled when a drunk driver smashed into her car, killing her baby and damaging her mind and body so severely that her husband immediately  filed for divorce. Or all those with Cerebral Palsy that had spent their entire adult lives in that roach-infested place, with no hope of getting out. Had I contrasted my life to theirs, I think I would have been much more grateful for all the Lord had given me.

Scripture frequently has to tell us to thank the Lord for His blessings precisely because we naturally gravitate toward ingratitude. We convince ourselves that, compared to certain others, we don’t receive what life supposedly owes us. Or, to put it in terms we’d never admit, we don’t receive what God supposedly owes us.

Our real problem is that we have an inflated opinion of ourselves coupled with a deflated view of the Lord. Rather than recognizing that we actually owe Him everything, both because He created us and because He shed His precious blood to pay the penalty for our sin, we demand that He cater to our desires. I say “we” because I still allow myself to dabble in the sin of ingratitude. I’ll cast the first stone at myself, but I seriously doubt that I’m the only one guilty of taking His goodness for granted.

With that being the case, we all need the Bible’s reminders to praise and thank the Lord for His goodness to us. Psalm 100 is one of many passages of Scripture that directs me to praise and thank Him.

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
    Serve the Lord with gladness!
    Come into his presence with singing!

Know that the Lord, he is God!
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
    and his courts with praise!
    Give thanks to him; bless his name!

For the Lord is good;
    his steadfast love endures forever,
    and his faithfulness to all generations. ~~Psalm 100 (ESV)

It helps me to compare myself to that quadriplegic young man in the nursing home. But that might not be the most Biblical approach to cultivating gratitude, now that I think of it. Instead of comparing ourselves with people more fortunate or less fortunate than ourselves, perhaps we’d do better by focusing on Who God is and how graciously He cares for us.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

The Annoying, Acceptable Sin Of Complaining



As Mom’s car crossed the Richmond-San Rafael bridge that early afternoon in 1970, my sister and I knew were only minutes away from the train station. We also knew that Granny would probably stay for about a year, primarily to help care for us while Mom worked. We dreaded it, but not because we’d have to share my bedroom during the time Gran stayed. Okay, maybe bunking together bothered us a little — both of us had reached our teenage years by then, and had gotten used to our respective privacy. But we had a much greater concern. One that we hadn’t voiced to our mother until the car carried us across the bridge.

I can’t remember which one of us had the courage to address the proverbial elephant in the room, but one of us finally asked the question that had been consuming our thoughts for weeks: “Is Gran going to complain all the time again?”

Mom chuckled, more out of sympathy than amusement. “Honey,” she replied, “I don’t think Granny is happy unless she has something to complain about.”

We groaned, anticipating an unpleasant year. It never occurred to us that we were actually complaining about our grandmother.

Read More »

Blessing Or Cursing The Men In Our Lives

Driving me home from college every day, my mom would reach a particular on-ramp that indeed was dangerous. She firmly believed that one day someone would be killed there (to my knowledge, thankfully, her prediction hasn’t come true). I still remember her lips tightening in disdain as she muttered, “A man must have designed this!”

Actually, she muttered those words any time she encountered things that she deemed inconvenient or illogical, explaining to me and my sister that women would not make anything so complicated or dysfunctional. She taught us to degenerate men, as if the poor things simply didn’t possess the intellectual abilities that characterize women. Yes, men came in handy now and then, she conceded. But for the most part, women could manage just fine — and perhaps better — without them.

Definitely women would have designed that on-ramp better!

As we prepare for Father’s Day, and the many sermons pointing out the shortcomings of fathers, I find myself thinking about Mom’s disparaging remarks. Society pretty much echoes her sentiments. Television, movies and even comic strips routinely portray men as buffoons. At times, according to my husband (an authority on all things pertaining to Superman), even Clark Kent had occasional moments of ineptitude. I believe I can safely say that our current culture all but celebrates male bashing.

Ladies, I know we get frustrated with the men in our lives sometimes. But don’t you think that we frustrate them just as much as they frustrate us? Maybe more? And yet, our culture wastes no time in labeling them as misogynists if they dare say anything the least bit unflattering about us. This double standard has no place in Christian conversation!

James, the half-brother of the Lord, may not have written specifically about male bashing, but his passage on the tongue in Chapter 2 of his epistle definitely applies to the matter. Look at the passage with me as we consider what we say about our husbands, dads, brothers and male friends.

Read More »

We Can Provoke In Wrong Ways, But Also In Right Ways

25 If we live by the Spirit, let’s follow the Spirit as well. 26 Let’s not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another. ~~Galatians 5:25-26 (NASB)

We could blame social media for the increasing lack of civility in the past few years. Sadly, Christians have succumbed to the online savagely (myself included) far too often, dishonoring the Lord in our quest to win arguments. Of course, social media isn’t the true culprit here — we are! Social media just makes it easier to be nasty.

This weekend, I was in a Twitter conversation that very well could have turned ugly. By God’s grace, it didn’t. Neither of us minced words, but the Lord helped us find ways of respecting each other even as we passionately held firm to our respective positions. The Holy Spirit even helped me understand that the woman I debated was correct on an important point of her argument. My concession doesn’t mean I agree with her basic premise, mind you. But it does mean that I can treat her lovingly and with respect.

If we had allowed our conversation to degenerate into name calling and personal attacks, I don’t think I would have admitted any error on my part. I would have doubled down on efforts to vindicate myself and make her look foolish. Never mind that such efforts most likely would have only exposed an uncharitable attitude on my part. Twitter arguments usually thrive on incivility and caustic provocation.

When Christians provoke each other to anger, we demonstrate our unwillingness to follow the Spirit. Let’s look at the verses leading up to Galatians 5:25-26:

Read More »

Calling Out False Teachers: Finding Love In Discernment Ministry

In Revelation 2 and 3, the glorified Christ commissions the apostle John to write letters to the seven churches in Asia Minor. As I read these letters earlier this week, the letter to the church at Ephesus grabbed my attention because of its warning to people involved in discernment ministry. Look at the passage with me, and then we’ll talk about some of its application to discernment ministry.

“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:

The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands, says this:

‘I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent. Yet this you do have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.’ ~~Revelation 2:1-7 (NASB)

The letter starts by commending the Ephesian church for its discernment. This church was characterized by its doctrinal purity and faithfulness to test false teachers. Verses 2 and 3 describe a church that Christians should emulate. God’s Word repeatedly commands both leaders and laity to stand against those who pervert the Gospel. Consider, for example, Paul’s instructions to Titus:

Read More »

Weaned Children Aren’t Know It Alls

Let’s be honest: we look at all the insanity in the world, as well as the various trials in our personal lives, and try to figure out what the Lord is doing. As a matter of fact, Christians feel a sense of responsibility to understand His purposes in everything that happens. I suppose we think having a firm grip on perplexing circumstances will help us weather them.

A few days ago I read a psalm that gave me a perspective on facing difficulties that I’d never considered before.

O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty;
Nor do I involve myself in great matters,
Or in things too difficult for me.
Surely I have composed and quieted my soul;
Like a weaned child rests against his mother,
My soul is like a weaned child within me.
O Israel, hope in the Lord
From this time forth and forever. ~~Psalm 131 (NASB)

In the past, I’d isolated the verses from each other, so none of them really made much sense to me. Occasionally verse 1 reminded me to maintain a semblance of humility, and verse 2 encouraged me to trust the Lord, but I failed to see how those verses fit together. And I completely ignored verse 3.

When I read Psalm 131 a few days ago, however, I disciplined myself to think about their context. Suddenly the psalm took on a clarity that surprised me. In this psalm, David teaches that Israel can hope in the Lord by resting in Him instead of trying to figure out what He’s doing through the various situations in the world.

Read More »

I Can’t Get Away From Peter!

As before, John is typing at my dictation. We are still trying to get a morning Personal Care Attendant so that I can gradually work up to being in my chair all day, but so far our efforts aren’t yielding results. We would ask for your prayers as we continue looking. We also thank those of you who have sent gifts through Paypal — I had worried that you had given much more than we needed, but I have used some of your donations to pay for advertising. Please continue praying that the right person will answer our ads so that I can get up and start typing blog posts on a more regular basis.

Praise God that our DVD player accommodates Youtube! As I lie in bed I can watch sermons and teachings by such people as John MacArthur, Sinclair Ferguson, and the late R.C. Sproul. I appreciate the opportunity to listen to solid Bible teaching from great men. In addition, we can live stream Sunday services and Wednesday night Bible Study from our own church, keeping us connected with the fellowship there.

During these months, I’ve listened to teaching on a wide variety of topics ranging from eschatology to personal holiness to the assurance of salvation. Each teaching has been encouraging and convicting, increasing my understanding of the Bible and God’s calling on my life. But in all these teachings, one incident from the earthly life of Jesus pops up repeatedly: Peter’s great confession that Jesus is the Christ and Peter’s immediate attempt to dissuade Him from predicting His crucifixion.

Read More »

A Pillow, My Bright Idea And An Astounding Lesson On The Effects Of Pride

There is a way which seems right to a man,

But its end is the way of death. ~~Proverbs 14:12 (NASB)

Quite appropriately, I’ve always understood the above quoted verse as a warning that pursuing human religions over the truth of God’s Word leads to eternal destruction. And I still believe that’s the intended point Solomon had in mind. If you go through life stubbornly rejecting the Lord Jesus Christ, you will suffer eternal destruction.

But this past weekend I started seeing a secondary application for this verse as I realized why I’ve been so sick lately.

Read More »

When Righteous Anger Becomes Self-Righteous

Discernment ministry often gets maligned. Sometimes the criticisms overstate the problem, causing people to think discernment is intrinsically wrong. We can overreact to the abuses, allowing ourselves to disdain everyone who dares to call out a false teacher.

Notice the acknowledgment that abuses exist within discernment ministries. Several self-proclaimed discernment ministries have degenerated into portals of gossip and slander, dedicated to ruining the reputations of anyone they deem to be in error. As a result of their sin, some people have learned to view all discernment ministries and bloggers with suspicion.

Usually, the critics of discernment ministries conclude that discernment in and of itself is intrinsically bad. Although they started out rightly challenging discernment bloggers, they now categorically dismiss any blogger who speaks out against false teaching.

Read More »

Keys To Discernment: Reconciled And Immovable

Every December we sing “Hark, The Herald Angels Sing” with Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang. The familiar lines slide easily from our mouths — usually so easily that we barely give them serious thought.

“God and sinners reconciled” is one such line. How often do we reflect on the truth that Jesus, Who is God in human flesh, brought reconciliation between us and the Father? For that matter, how often do we reflect on the truth that we actually needed to be reconciled to the Father?

Colossians 1:21-23 helps us understand the necessity of reconciliation, as well as the wonderful effects of that reconciliation. In so doing, it also refutes errors that make people think they can accomplish reconciliation through their own efforts. As a cherry on top, it also assures believers that this reconciliation is permanent. Let’s look at this passage for a moment, and then talk about it.

Read More »