A Thanksgiving Parable

One can never pay in Gratitude, one can only pay ‘in kind”somewhere else in life Anne Morrow LindberghA Thanksgiving Parable by M. Stanley Bubien

I draw a distinction between a “story” and a “parable.” Stories should tell the tale, but it’s up to the reader to decipher any (or unintended) meaning. The author seldom explains the story.

A parable, on the other hand, tells a tale, certainly, but one that deserves (if not begs) an explanation—in some ways, the explanation itself is a part of the tale. In the Bible, for example, Jesus told parables, and their significance, their power, grew not just from the telling, but from the explanation and application.

Parables also have one particular meaning, while stories can live and breath meaning, changing with each reader, or with each reading.

There once was a very rich man. He was so rich, he could have owned many cars, but instead he chose to drive a Ford. He was so rich, he could have owned many computers, but instead he chose an Apple Macintosh. He was so rich, he could have owned many homes—even some in Beverly Hills—but instead he chose to live in East LA.

Because this man was rich, many people in his neighborhood knew him. And also because the man was rich, many people from outside of his neighborhood knew him too. Often, his doorbell would ring, and there on his threshold would stand someone who had come to ask for a donation.

Sometimes when the bell rang, it was a neighbor who had fallen into misfortune. The man would smile, embrace his neighbor, and place a generous sum into their hand.

Sometimes when the bell rang, it was a charity representing the starving children of Tijuana. The man would again smile, embrace the charity worker, and write a generous check.

Sometimes when the bell rang, it was a Jehovah’s Witness. Were he like many of us, the man’s first instinct would have been to promptly kick them in the butt and shove them back out onto the street. But instead, he once more smiled and embraced the Jehovah’s Witness as any other guest upon his threshold.

One evening, when his doorbell was particularly quiet, this man decided to take a stroll. He headed off, idling along wherever the road wound; amongst the quaint homes of his neighborhood, past the threadbare trees lining the park, along walls painted with an array of colorful graffiti tags (remember, this was East LA).

Every once in a while, a car passed, thumping out the latest rage in rap hit, and he soon found himself whistling one of these catchy tunes to himself.

Lost in the tune, he came suddenly upon a homeless bum lying in the midst of the sidewalk. The bum wore a tattered sweater and ripped pants. He had shoes, but they didn’t even match. And oh! The smell! I can’t even describe that to you here because it would ruin your Thanksgiving dinner.

Well, this unfortunate soul lying on the street saw the man and knew him. Certainly, the bum said to himself. This is the rich man who lives on the lane. Surely he can help me, for he has money at his disposal. But instead of reaching out his hand, the bum was overcome by a sudden bout of shame and hid his face.

The man stood over this tattered figure. He reached down and touched the bum’s cheek, but the bum shrank away from him even further. The man’s eyes clouded slightly and he cracked a weak smile. Forgetting the tune he once whistled, the man slowly turned and walked back to his home.

Upon hearing the man retreat beyond the corner, the bum opened his eyes and sat up. There at his feet lay a crisp $100.00 dollar bill.

The bum grabbed the money and made a beeline for the nearest 7/11. Like all bums, this one’s first thought was to go blow the money on vodka. What a bum!

But, before he entered the store, he remembered the compassion of the man’s touch. This inspired him, and the bum decided then and there to turn his life around. The bum promptly bummed two dimes off an old lady (pay phones don’t take hundreds). “Well.” the lady replied. “You ain’t gonna spend this on alcohol?” The bum shook his head and stuck the money into the slot of the nearest telephone.

His broker answered and the bum said, “Hundred dollars. Invest it all in that company with the nerdy looking CEO. Microsoft!”

Since this was, as it turns out, the late-1980s, it took only a short while before the stock skyrocketed. Yes, good can come of evil after all—especially when you’re working the stock market—and the bum found himself very well off indeed.

Back in East LA the years passed slowly. The generous man kept to life much as usual—taking evening strolls, whistling rap tunes, answering his door.

One day in particular, his doorbell rang, and there stood a finely dressed gentleman in a three piece suit. Uh oh, the man thought. Jehovah’s Witness. But before he could do anything, his guest spoke.

“You’re the rich man, aren’t you?” his guest asked.

“What can I do for you?” the man responded automatically, so accustomed to being asked for things.

“It is not what you can do for me,” answered his guest. “But what you have already done.”

“What have I done for you?” the man asked in surprise.

“You’ve given me a second chance at life. Why, with your generous gift, I was able to invest the money and pull myself out of my poverty. I no longer wallow in the grime and gutters, but I walk along crowded sidewalks with my head held high. I have you to thank for that.”

Suddenly, the man recognized his guest. It was the old bum who’d been lying in the street. The man replied, “What I gave you, you did not ask for. I gave it simply because I saw you there and loved you. I would have given it to anyone in your position.”

“All the more reason to come and thank you,” his guest said.

“But I am rich,” replied the man. “I have many gifts to give. I don’t expect anything in return.”

“Good,” his guest said with a nod. “Because I don’t have anything to offer in return—whatever I have, you gave to me. All I wanted to do was come and thank you.”

The man stared as his guest reached out and took him into an embrace. It was the same gesture the man had so often offered to those at his door, yet this was the first time someone had offered it back.

Tears filled the man’s eyes as his guest, a lowly bum off the street, held him in the most satisfying embrace he had ever received. 

The Rich Man is God, while the Poor Man is you or me. God has given us everything we have. He created us. He gave us life (and life again). He gave us love. He gave us talents to do things. All we have springs from what He’s given us.

What can we give God back to show our grattitude? What can we return to Him that he hasn’t given us already? There is only one thing. Our thanks. Our thanks is the only gift we can give to God that he hasn’t given us in the first place.

This parable was written by M. Stanley Bubien and is shared from the following website: http://www.storybytes.com/view-stories/1996/parable-thanks.html

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How To Be Thankful in All Things

He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has EpictetusAre you thankful no matter what? Perhaps you have lost your job recently, as the economy has continued to struggle. Or you may have lost your health, or a loved one. Such circumstances can be tremendously difficult. But even so, we all have much to be thankful for. Look with me at the story of a man who had every right to be bitter—but wasn’t.

The next footsteps in the corridor, he knew, might be those of the guards taking him away to his execution. His only bed was the hard, cold stone floor of the dank, cramped prison cell. Not an hour passed when he was free from the constant irritation of the chains and the pain of the iron manacles cutting into his wrists and legs.

Separated from friends, unjustly accused, brutally treated—if ever a person had a right to complain, it was this man, languishing almost forgotten in a harsh Roman prison. But instead of complaints, his lips rang with words of praise and thanksgiving!

The man was the Apostle Paul—a man who had learned the meaning of true thanksgiving, even in the midst of great adversity. Earlier, when he had been imprisoned in Rome, Paul wrote, “Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:19-20, NIV).

Think of it: Always giving thanks for everything—no matter the circumstances! Thanksgiving for the Apostle Paul was not a once-a-year celebration, but a daily reality that changed his life and made him a joyful person in every situation.

Thanksgiving—the giving of thanks—to God for all His blessings should be one of the most distinctive marks of the believer in Jesus Christ. We must not allow a spirit of ingratitude to harden our heart and chill our relationship with God and with others.

Nothing turns us into bitter, selfish, dissatisfied people more quickly than an ungrateful heart. And nothing will do more to restore contentment and the joy of our salvation than a true spirit of thankfulness.

In the ancient world, leprosy was a terrible disease. It hopelessly disfigured those who had it, and it permanently cut them off from normal society. Without exception, every leper yearned for one thing: To be healed.

One day 10 lepers approached Jesus outside a village, loudly pleading with Him to heal them. In an instant He restored them all to perfect health—but only one came back and thanked Him. All the rest left without a word of thanks, their minds preoccupied only with themselves, gripped with a spirit of ingratitude.

Today, too, ingratitude and thanklessness are far too common. Children forget to thank their parents for all that they do. Common courtesy is scorned. We take for granted the ways that others help us. Above all, we fail to thank God for His blessings.

Ingratitude is a sin, just as surely as is lying or stealing or immorality or any other sin condemned by the Bible. One of the Bible’s indictments against rebellious humanity is that “although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him” (Romans 1:21, NIV). An ungrateful heart is a heart that is cold toward God and indifferent to His mercy and love. It is a heart that has forgotten how dependent we are on God for everything.

From one end of the Bible to the other, we are commanded to be thankful. In fact, thankfulness is the natural outflowing of a heart that is attuned to God. The psalmist declared, “Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving” (Psalm 147:7, NIV). Paul wrote, “Be thankful” (Colossians 3:15, NIV). A spirit of thanksgiving is always the mark of a joyous Christian.

Why should we be thankful? Because God has blessed us, and we should be thankful for each blessing.

Thank God for the Material Blessings That He Gives You

We seem never to be satisfied with what we have—rich or poor, healthy or sick. But what a difference it makes when we realize that everything we have has been given to us by God! King David prayed, “Wealth and honor come from you … We give you thanks, and praise your glorious name … Everything comes from you” (1 Chronicles 29:12-14, NIV).

Some years ago I visited a man who was wealthy and successful. He was the envy of all his friends and business associates. But as we talked, he broke down in tears, confessing that he was miserable inside. Wealth had not been able to fill the empty place in his heart.

A few hours later I visited another man only a short distance away. His cottage was humble, and he had almost nothing in the way of this world’s possessions. And yet his face was radiant as he told me about the work he was doing for Christ and how Christ had filled his life with meaning and purpose. I am convinced that the second man was really the rich man. Although he didn’t have much, he had learned to be thankful for everything that God had given him. Paul declared, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” (Philippians 4:12, NIV). A spirit of thankfulness makes all the difference.

Are you constantly preoccupied with what you do not have? Or have you learned to thank God for what you do have?

Thank God for the People in Your Life

It is so easy to take people for granted, or even to complain and become angry because they do not meet our every wish. But we need to give thanks for those around us—our spouses, our children, our relatives, our friends and others who help us in some way.

I once received a letter from a woman who began by telling me how fortunate she was to have a kind, considerate husband. She then used four pages to list all his faults! How many marriages and other relationships grow cold and eventually are shattered because of the sin of ingratitude?

Do you let others know that you appreciate them and are thankful for them? The Christians in Corinth were far from perfect, but Paul began his first letter to them by saying, “I always thank God for you” (1 Corinthians 1:4, NIV). When a group of believers (whom Paul had never met) came out to greet him as he approached Rome, we read that “at the sight of these men Paul thanked God and was encouraged” (Acts 28:15, NIV). Thank God for those who touch your life.

Thank God in the Midst of Trials and Even Persecution

We draw back from difficulties, yet not one of us is exempt from some kind of trouble. In many parts of the world it is dangerous even to be a Christian because of persecution.

And yet in the midst of those trials we can thank God, because we know that He has promised to be with us and that He will help us. We know that He can use times of suffering to draw us closer to Himself: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance” (James 1:2-3, NIV).

When the prophet Daniel learned that evil men were plotting against him to destroy him, “he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before” (Daniel 6:10, NIV). The Bible commands, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18, NIV). Paul declared, “You will even be able to thank God in the midst of pain and distress because you are privileged to share the lot of those who are living in the light” (Colossians 1:12, Phillips).

I don’t know what trials you may be facing right now, but God does, and He loves you and is with you by His Holy Spirit. Cultivate a spirit of thankfulness even in the midst of trials and heartaches.

“God has given us the greatest Gift of all—His Son, who died on the cross and rose again so that we can know Him personally and spend eternity with Him in heaven.”

Thank God Especially for His Salvation in Jesus Christ

God has given us the greatest Gift of all—His Son, who died on the cross and rose again so that we can know Him personally and spend eternity with Him in heaven: “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15, NIV).

The Bible tells us that we are separated from God because we have sinned. But God loves us—He loves you, He loves me—and He wants us to be part of His family forever. He loves us so much that He sent His only Son into the world to die as a perfect sacrifice for our sins. All we need to do is reach out in faith and accept Christ as our Savior and Lord: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, NIV).

Have you opened your heart to Jesus Christ? If not, turn to Him with a simple prayer of repentance and faith, and thank Him for what He has done for you. And if you do know Christ, how long has it been since you thanked God for your salvation? We should not let a day go by without thanking God for His mercy and His grace to us in Jesus Christ.

Thank God for His Continued Presence and Power in Your Life

When we come to Christ, it is not the end but the beginning of a whole new life! He is with us, and He wants to help us follow Him and His Word.

In ourselves we do not have the strength that we need to live the way God wants us to live. But when we turn to Him, we discover that “it is God who works in [us] to will and to act according to his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13, NIV). Jesus promised His disciples, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18, 20, NIV).

In many countries a special day is set aside each year for thanksgiving. But for the Christian every day can be a day of thanksgiving, as we are “always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20, NIV).

Do you know the joy of a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ? If you’ll turn to God, He can take away your bitterness and give you the spirit of true thankfulness.

Today’s article is shared from the following website: https://billygraham.org/story/how-to-be-thankful-in-all-things/

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The Power of a Thankful Heart

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them John F. Kennedy

Thanksgiving: The Power of a Thankful Heart

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

It is not always easy to give thanks, but this is the very thing we must do in order to see God’s will accomplished in our lives. This is how we move into higher realms of faith for ourselves, for our city, and for our nation.

Thanksgiving has great power to bring joy and break the power of the enemy. Whenever you give thanks to God, despite the most difficult circumstances, the enemy loses a big battle in your life. When you give thanks in the midst of difficulty, you bring pleasure to God’s heart. He is looking for Christians who live in a realm of praise and thanksgiving where the enemy no longer has an ability to hold or manipulate that person. Satan is defeated when we have a thankful heart because thankfulness during difficulty is a sacrifice pleasing to God.

Are you thankful? Are you thankful for your present circumstances?  Are you thankful for your salvation, your friendships, and your job? Thankfulness is a key to your life. It is the key that turns your situation around because it changes you, your outlook, and your attitude. There is power in a thankful heart.

This story was written by Debbie Przybylski and is shared from the following website: https://www.crosswalk.com/special-coverage/thanksgiving/thanksgiving-the-power-of-a-thankful-heart-11616835.html

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Not The House (and what comes with it) But The Home

I am now an empty nester – one of those women who carry photos of her children and grandchildren to bore others with because she is no longer overwhelmed with noisy, energetic (and sometimes cranky) children underfoot.

I cannot claim to be new to the experience of being an empty nester – mainly because I believe that every time a child leaves home an empty nester experience occurs. Yet, all of those empty nester experiences and observations of my children as adults have taught me some invaluable lessons:

•    Cherish all of the teaching moments with your children – especially the ones that come at inconvenient times. And…make an effort to create as many of them as you can.
•    In order for our teaching moments to be effective they must be backed up with our example.
•    Take time to have fun as a family…and do it often. Laughter and giggles are important!
•    Teach children responsibility and how to work (even when it’s easier to do it yourself).
•    Teach children right from wrong, morality, the Golden Rule and the Ten Commandments. They do not automatically absorb it.
•    Dance lessons, music lessons and sports are all wonderful and have their place but they need to have their place and not rule schedules or a family. All too often families lose the connections they should have with each other because they are spending every spare moment effort funding the lessons, traveling to practices/games, and living life on the go.
•    A parent needs to be a parent and not relegate authority over the home to the children. The angriest and most emotionally unhealthy children I have ever seen are from families where those children were allowed control of their families.
•    Daily expressions of love are invaluable to building relationships and a loving family.
•    Skip the expensive toys and electronics and encourage children to play and use their imaginations. (The best toy in the world is an appliance box!)
•    A large fancy house does not have an increased ability to make a happy family.  Many shacks have been better homes to children than mansions have.
•    Children do not learn to be successful by being coddled and indulged. They learn to be successful by learning self discipline and how to work.
•    The most important things parents can do to provide security for their children is to make their marriage a priority. Date nights are important and the courtship that initiated the family should never…ever end.
•    Don’t wait to do things with your children until your children are older. It may seem like lots of activities would be easier if you just wait until they are older but the most critical time to build relationships with them is when they are young (and those activities take the most effort).
•    A house does not make a home.
•    Building a home is not done with walls, mortar or nails. A home is built by two parents who love each other – who are committed to each other and the work and effort it takes to build a family.  A home is built with hugs, teaching, tears, a few scraped knees, kissing boo boos better, discipline, work, trips for ice cream, chores, water fights, attending church together, family dinners and more. And somehow…even when we are so exhausted that lifting a finger seems a monumental task – we must do it all with love.

Building a home out of a house is tough demanding job. The hours are grueling and there is no monetary compensation. However, “the toughest job in the world” has amazing rewards. I feel and experience those rewards every time I walk through the door of my house and sense all of the laughter, love, and memories that have been created and shared there, spend time with my sweetheart (who is still my sweetheart because we have made each other a priority), share in the successes of my children, and gather together with my loving, energetic, and sometimes mischievous family!

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Gratitude – The Feasting Life Skill

Enough is a Feast Buddhist ProverbDo you work at be grateful?

Hopefully, you do and it has become a life habit. If not, it\s not too late to start!

I don’t know of a life skill that is more important. Gratitude is a positive influence on health, outlook, and virtually aspect of life. If you need a little bit of help with being grateful, be sure to read today’s article!:

5 Reasons Giving Thanks Can Improve Your Life

If you’re older than 9, it’s hard to resist the urge to roll your eyes when someone at the Thanksgiving table suggests, “Let’s all go around the room and share what we’re thankful for!” It’s a pretty corny holiday ritual you mostly do to keep your mom or your most momlike friends happy, but a robust body of psychological research actually links these sorts of gratitude exercises with increased happiness, health, and overall well-being.

In other words, there are some very practical reasons to get into the spirit of things tomorrow by taking a minute to remember the reasons you’re #blessed. These are lessons that can be applied year-round.

You’ll get some decent sleep for once. For a 2011 paper in Applied Psychology, researchers asked a group of study participants to keep a gratitude journal (something many of the studies on this subject have in common). These participants were all students who said they had trouble sleeping “because their minds are racing with stimulating thoughts and worries,” the researchers write.

You’ll be happier. Giving someone a long overdue thank-you will increase your own happiness, and the mood-boosting effects of that simple act of gratefulness could last as long as a month. That’s according to a study led by Martin Seligman, the pioneer of the modern positive-psychology movement. Seligman gave a series of six tasks to more than 400 people to test different ways of improving people’s moods: Some participants were instructed to reflect on and write about their personal strengths, for example, while others were told to think about their personal strengths and find new ways to use them every day for a week.

Just one of those six tasks involved gratitude: The participants were asked if there was someone in their lives who was once particularly kind to them, but whom they never properly thanked. They then were instructed to write and hand-deliver a thank-you letter to this person. In the end, the gratitude task had the biggest impact on the participants’ happiness, and the effects were still measurable when the researchers checked in a month later.

You might actually even exercise. Once a week for ten weeks, researchers instructed study participants to list five things that had happened over the previous seven days that they were grateful for; another group was told to write about the five things that had most annoyed them that week; and a third was instructed to simply write about things that had happened, with no emotion attached. Not surprising, by the end of the experiment, those who’d done the gratitude exercise were more likely to feel optimistic about their lives. But they also reported exercising more than the people who’d spent the past two and a half months making a weekly list of grievances.

You’ll appreciate your partner more, even if you’re imagining things. For two weeks, researchers told 65 cohabiting couples to keep nightly diaries, jotting down the nice things that they’d done for their partners and that their partners had done for them. As you’d expect, when the researchers checked in with their subjects after this little experiment, the couples reported feeling closer to their partners and more satisfied with the relationship than they had before the study started. (The researchers call the tactic a “booster shot” for romantic relationships.)

But what’s also interesting is this: When the researchers compared the diaries, they found the stories they told didn’t always match up; sometimes, one half of the couple reported being grateful for something the other half didn’t mention. It doesn’t matter if their partner actually did something kind for their sake, just that they perceived an action that way.

Your underlings will work a little harder. In a recent study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers visited a call center at a university, where employees call alumni to ask for donations. They observed one group of fund-raising employees on a regular day, noting how many calls they made. On a different day, the researchers observed a separate group of fund-raisers — but before they began working, the director of the department gave a little speech noting how thankful she was to the fund-raisers. That day, these employees made about 50 percent more calls than the previous group. Managers, never underestimate the power a simple thank-you has over your minions.

Today’s article is written by Melissa Dahl and is shared from the following website: http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2014/11/5-reasons-giving-thanks-can-improve-your-life.html

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