Posts Tagged blessings

Thank You

            Yesterday a close friend reminded me of how grateful I am for blessings that far exceed any expectations I ever had. Her simple but eloquent words of thanks and wonder brought a sweeping feeling of wholeness and amazement.

            We can never out give God. I have tried on many occasions to count my blessings. I cannot do it. They are far too numerous. At one of the darkest moments in my life, I heard Dr. Robert Schuller say when I was visiting the Crystal Cathedral,  “Don’t count what you have lost. Count what you have left.” I am sure that I had heard that same message before without its meaning sinking in, but this time it buried itself in my conscious. I literally started trying to make a list and kept with my efforts for several days. The list got longer and longer. One blessing mentioned would lead to remembering two more. It was a good but futile exercise. I finally gave up with the list.

            “Thank you,” is a powerful message. Spoken to God, a spouse, a family member, a friend, a stranger or even an adversary, its message can cut through almost any situation. Today I was up earlier than usual. When I brought up my e-mail that had arrived over night, there was a beautiful “Thank you” note. What a wonderful way to start a busy day! I was ready to face the world.

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Thankful Thursday: Thanksgiving 2010

 On this Thanksgiving Day my heart overflows with gratitude. I am thankful for my faith that sustains me whatever the circumstances of my life. I am thankful for my family immediate and extended. I am thankful for the church I attend that has guided people of faith for 328 years. I am thankful for the United States of America. I had no part in being born here and I have no disregard for any other country, but I am eternally grateful for my good fortune. I am thankful for my hometown of Woodruff, South Carolina and the values I learned growing up there. I am grateful for the people of Northside Baptist Church who encouraged me in all that I attempted to do. I am thankful for my teachers. All of them gave of themselves that I might have a better life. I am thankful for the influences of Mars Hill College, Furman University, the University of Alabama and Louisiana State University for their part in lifting my vision for what could be. I am thankful for my friends who are truly gifts from God to my life. I am thankful for those with whom I have disagreed over the years. They have helped to sharpen my thinking. I am thankful to the many that served on the Board of Directors of the Charleston Speech and Hearing Center. They allowed me to have a career that was fulfilling and meaningful. I am grateful to the many staff members over the years who helped me grow and forgave my failures. I am thankful for my colleagues and students at Webster University where I have taught for 30 years. I am grateful to the contributors to my book, Christian Civility in an Uncivil World. They are a remarkable group of extremely dedicated and talented brothers and sisters in Christ. I am thankful for all the committee members and speakers for the John A. Hamrick Lectureship for their devotion to a cause that honors the life and work of this great servant of God. I am grateful for all of those who have helped to make Say Something Nice Day and Say Something Nice Sunday successful movements that continue to gain support. I am thankful that at this point in my life that God has given me a new vision for helping people of different faiths, the same faith, and no faith talk with each other in a more productive way. I am thankful for my adopted city of Charleston, one of the most beautiful and hospitable cities in the world. I join with the psalmist in singing, “My cup runneth over.”

            On this Thanksgiving Day of 2010, I am more aware than ever and humbled by the realization that I cannot count my blessings. They are too numerous. As I recount one, ten more spring to mind. Join me as I strive to cultivate an attitude of gratitude.

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My Birthday Devotion

“Today is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalms 118:24 (NIV)

            Today is my birthday and it is a beautiful day. I have already received an overflow of well wishes and I can hear the birds singing outside as I write. Tonight I will teach my class of graduate students. To quote Norman Vincent Peale when he was ninety one, “I still have work to do.” God has blessed me beyond any measure that I could have ever imagined or hoped for. He has given me two wonderful, loving wives, two children and three grandchildren. He has brought so many wonderful mentors, associates and friends into my life. I live in one of the world’s most beautiful cities and worship with a congregation that loves and serves God.

            I was born to loving parents and grew up in a small town that instilled lifelong values and in a church that encouraged my growth in every way possible. I have a sister that would breathe for me if that were possible. I graduated from wonderful Christian colleges and found devoted Christians in my graduate programs in large state universities. I was privileged to work in a profession and in a work setting that were both challenging and rewarding. When life’s inevitable tragedies entered my life I was surrounded by a loving community of family and friends. As the years passed I have been made more and more aware of the need for encouraging those around me and for promoting a softer tone in our political and religious rhetoric. God keeps expanding my vision and giving me more meaningful work to do. The Bible never speaks of retirement.

Dear God, I am reminded day by day by your generosity to me and most of all by the grace given me through your son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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Be Thankful – Key 18

Be thankful

            Always acknowledge acts of kindness. Our blessings keep coming. Most of us live in a world of unimagined abundance and care. Friends and family surround us. Our community nurtures us. Our friends sustain us. Our loved ones lift us up. Whatever we think that we do not have, remember we have more than most. Thanksgiving lifts the heart and creates such an atmosphere of good will.

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