November 21, 2017

ACTION after THANKSGIVING – What do you do after this holiday of thanks that matters?

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Every year I hear hundreds, if not thousands, of people proclaim their most precious blessings to be grateful for at the Thanksgiving holidays. While I do not often doubt the given word of those who mention their personal thanks, the vocalization of these words become so much more powerful when followed by actions. In other words, it might be like meeting a person of quiet confidence and character. That specific individual does not need to speak of his confidence; rather, humbly, others notice it in his actions without his own urgency to remind everyone through spoken words. While professing thanks, words become magnified by action. It is often not just what we say that impacts people. It is what we do.

Naturally we give thanks to God for all we undeservedly have. Then after spoken those announcements of given thanks, we also remember to act with those convictions in our commitments. We recollect when our lives were not so easy and that, with our privileges, we serve empowered to assist those now is the shoes of a valley-depressed-like experience. We change lives through action now that our own perspective is changed. We show what a grateful and joyful attitude realistically means.

Like our personal beliefs and statements to vocally affirm our beliefs, it is not just enough to give thanks in an everyday prayer and conversational small talk. After Thanksgiving, as many influential leaders do, we must take action to sincerely illustrate how appreciative we truly are. That vivid representation of gratefulness then creates a compelling story to tell. Indebtedness is not just confessed by word of mouth. It is lived in our everyday routines and responsibilities.

Colossians 3:17, The Message (MSG)

Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.

The Significance of Community – My Thanksgiving Blessings, Make It Be Yours As Well!

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (KJV)

“In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

As many of you know or may not know, I am moving to Corpus Christi, Texas, for a new job in development with one of the United States’ largest nonprofit organizations. I am both nervous and excited about the move and growth opportunity. While everything typically works out for our betterment, I must admit I am stressed with packing and numerous wondering thoughts.

What I have come to realize and remain extremely grateful includes my faith communities, many mostly through Grace Midtown Church, located off Northside Drive, near a neighborhood known as English Avenue. I truly never experienced a relational congregation like this one. This Thanksgiving I realize the vital importance of friendship and the blessings I received from those friendships this past year.

I will miss Grace and my fellowship base of believers here in Atlanta! However I remain thankful for each of those I encountered there in the past year.

While I underestimate the power of living, socializing, and experiencing true life with others, Grace Midtown Church serves as a reminder of this breathing source of fresh air in people’s lives, especially in the midst of active adversity in life. To feel the Holy Spirit in communion with others still invigorates me to higher heights.

The following video illustrates the doldrums of a life journey alone. If missing out on the faith community experienced by others, I challenge you to rise out of your rut and come home to a faith family unlike anything you will ever witness before. As we simply say in the south, it will change your life!

Again, watch this video, and let it serve as a test to see where you lie in the spectrum of really living or just existing.

How do we give thanks in the midst of trials? We do The Jesus-Inspired Gratitude Dance!

Isn’t this dance hysterical? It represents all cultures dancing joyously for gratitude because one traveler visited the world to make a statement with this movement of thanks to all nations through a dance. Dancing makes me happy. If down, give it a try. Whether in a group or alone, dance until a smile comes across your face. Play this video, and give it a go!

I recently moved to a new city where a new full time job and another part time job awaited me. The two jobs line up perfectly so that one employment does not conflict with the other. Moving, picking up my life, and leaving my family was a big deal to me. Now while my relocation to Atlanta, Georgia seems trivial to what some experience in the Gratitude Dance video, some of those women, men, and children stricken by poverty that most Americans can and never will be able to conceive in their own minds….possibly with no food, no shelter, minimal clothing, and maybe even without the ability to choose their own elected leaders. Yet they dance with joy. They dance maybe just for the sake of dancing. These individuals strive to be on a camera dancing for joy with all the excitement to make this YouTube video a very special one for me and maybe others who watch it.

When you follow God in His Calling for your life obediently, it becomes inevitable that you will experience trials in the wake of your steps for faith-driven decisions, but the rewards become numerous in the obedience of moving forward once through the tunnel. I struggled about the first month I was in Atlanta, nervous and losing sleep with wonderment on whether I genuinely made the right decision to leave everything I grew comfortable with in the last two years, located in Birmingham, Alabama. One night at a Georgia Tech Bible study, students from Grace Midtown Church prayed over me with fervent passion, and since then, the ice, stress, and pressure melted off my shoulders onto the floor. The blessings of prayers even in the slightest of tribulations bring God’s reality to relax with felt peace to reality. I am still bewildered how obedience in showing up to a Bible study where I knew no one led to peace unlike anything I experienced in a long time.

So in the midst of very minor doubts and trials, I claimed in faith two jobs I wanted. I met some very special friends recently, including but certainly not limited to a wedding I photographed. I found an amazing place to live in the middle of midtown Atlanta that is surrounded by everything a young person wants to do. I am only a ten minute drive to work in good traffic and at the most twenty-five minutes in bad traffic. I work with great people. I got a cheap membership to a gym and then have access to two others randomly free to me. I continue to meet really cool people who love Jesus through Grace Midtown Church. These are only a few of the blessings that come to mind with what at first felt like a trial but appears to be launching a career of growth and stepping stones to bigger and better things for now and in the future.

It has always been difficult for me as an individual to praise and thank God in the midst of trials or what I consider negative circumstances. My natural inclination is to complain and seek better opportunities elsewhere rather than counting my blessings in the present. My family and friend support system often extend themselves beyond the call of duty for my happiness, and I take those efforts for granted almost every day. But today, this Thanksgiving and this coming year in 2013, I am stepping up to bring change in my life where it is necessary to better benefit those around me and myself in relationship to Christ.

Thanksgiving in trials becomes especially hard when obeying the Lord in His call to move forward in specific areas of our lives, but if we can get through that initial testing period, then the rewards will come. Look at my life as an example of God’s Grace and Testimony! Stay the course!

In reading the Bible verses related to this subject, we shall rejoice in trials because we still have Jesus. No matter what we live through or experience, Jesus is still ours in relationship, and that ultimately reminds us to give thanks in the midst of trials of adversity. I especially love the following verse with regards to this truth:

Psalm 62:6 (AMP)
“He only is my Rock and my Salvation; He is my Defense and my Fortress, I shall not be moved.”

As creatures of God, we are unmovable by every imaginable force in this world. It is time for each of to rise, step up, and live under the shoulders of God’s Grace! Happy Thanksgiving to my readers!

I encourage you to take part in the Gratitude Dance at the beginning of this blog entry and to watch these other videos that bring happy thoughts to mind when we realize just how blessed we are.