Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Instead of a Bunch of Resolutions, Try One Word for the Year

A helpful insight from my good friend, Dennis Jackson. . .

Monday, December 30, 2013

Kipling's Fatherly Advice Good for Entering a New Year

In a conversation about literature a while back, I asked, “Do you like Kipling?”  To that, my friend responded, “I don’t know.  I’ve never Kipled.”

The British author, Rudyard Kipling is best known for his classic piece, “The Jungle Book”, as well as his collection of short animal stories.  A few years ago, while digging in the archives of the British Museum, I was privileged to actually hold an aged letter Kipling had written with his own hand.  It was a surreal moment,spanning the centuries, and drawing kindred hearts together.

In my opinion, Kipling’s most inspiring work is a short poem entitled,“If”, which he penned for his son’s birthday:

If you can keep your head when all about they are losing theirs and
blaming it on you;

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, but make allowance
for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting.  Or being lied about,
don’t deal in lies.

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating.  And yet, don’t look too
good, nor talk too wise.

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;

If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;

If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two
imposters just the same.

If you can bear the truth you’ve spoken twisted by knaves to make a
trap for fools,

Of watch the things you gave your life to broken, and stoop to build
them up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings and risk it on one turn
of pitch and toss,

And lose and start again at your beginnings, and never breathe a word
about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerves and sinew to serve your turn
long after they are gone,

And so hold on when there is nothing in you except the will which says
to them, “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, or walk with kings –
nor lose the common touch;

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you; If all men count with
you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run;

Yours is the earth and everything that’s in it;

And – which is more – you’ll  be a man, my son!

Friday, December 27, 2013

John Wesley Covenant Renewal

This Sunday, in keeping with our annual tradition, Hayward Wesleyan Church is going to do the longer version of the Wesley Covenant Renewal Service, which was first published by John Wesley in 1780.  This is a rich and deeply meaningful experience, if we take these words to heart.

 I've taken the liberty to adapt and combine a few versions of the Covenant for the pattern we use.

The shorter version we've used for the past few years can be found here.   I drew heavily from the versions from George Lyons and Jeren Rowel.

Wesley Covenant Renewal Service
An Adaptation by Mark O. Wilson from versions of the Covenant by George Lyon and Jeren Rowel

Introduction:  Historical background of John Wesley, and the purpose for the covenant renewal.
Hymn:  “Come Let Us Use the Grace Divine” written by Charles Wesley especially for the covenant renewal.
LEADER: "Come, let us join ourselves to the Lord in an everlasting covenant which will never be forgotten" (Jer. 50:5, RSV).
LEADER: Almighty God, unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden; cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of Your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love You, and worthily magnify Your holy name through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Let us now pray together the Lord’s Prayer.
LEADER and PEOPLE: The Lord’s Prayer
LEADER: My dear friends, fix these three principles in your hearts: (1) that things eternal are more enduring and real than things temporal; (2) that things not seen are as certain as the things that are seen; (3) that upon your present choice depends your eternal destiny. Choose Christ and His ways, and you are blessed forever; refuse Him, and you are undone forever.
And then, my friends, make your choice. Turn either to the right hand or to the left; Christ with His yoke, His cross, and His crown; or the devil with his wealth, his pleasure, and his curse. Then ask yourselves, "Self, you see what is before you; what will you do? Which will you have, either the crown or the curse? If you choose the crown, remember that the day you take this, you must be content to submit to the cross and yoke, the service and sufferings of Christ, which are linked to it. What do you say? Would you rather take the gains and pleasures of sin and risk the curse? Or will you yield yourself a servant to Christ and so make sure the crown?"
Do not delay the matter. If you are unresolved, you are resolved. If you remain undetermined for Christ, you are determined for the devil. Therefore, follow your hearts from day to day. Do not rest until this matter is settled once and for all. And see to it that you make a good choice.
Next, begin your journey with Christ. Adventure with Him. Cast yourselves upon His righteousness. You are exiles from the presence of God and fallen into a land of robbers and murderers. Your sins are robbers, your pleasures are robbers, your companions in sin are robbers and thieves. If you stay where you are, you perish. Christ offers, if you will venture with Him, to bring you to God.
Will you say now to Him, "Lord Jesus, will You take me?
Will You bring me to God and bring me into the land of promise?   With You I will risk myself. I cast myself upon You, upon Your blood, upon Your righteousness."
This is coming to Christ as your Priest. And by this you now renounce your own righteousness. Do you deeply sense your need of God’s grace in Christ? Whether we are already forgiven sinners, or still far from God, let us confess together our total dependence on Him.
PEOPLE: We acknowledge a deep sense of our need. We see ourselves as sinners in need of a Savior. The Spirit of God has awakened us, for we have cried out, “Lord, where am I?”
Is there no hope of escaping from this wretched state? I am but dead, if I continue as I am. What can I do to be saved?"
LEADER: Being made aware of his sin and his danger, a sinner will look for help and deliverance, but he will look everywhere else before he looks unto Christ. Nothing will bring a sinner to Christ but absolute necessity. He will try to forsake his sins. He will go to prayers, and sermons, and sacraments and search out if there is salvation in them. But all these, though they be useful in their places, are of no help. His duties cannot help him; these may be numbered among his sins. Ordinances cannot help; these are but empty cisterns. They all tell him, "You knock at a wrong door; salvation is not in us."
Do you now utterly despair of your own goodness, or do you trust in anything but Christ?
PEOPLE: Lord, be merciful to me. What shall I do? I dare not remain as I am, and I cannot help myself. My praying will not help me. My hearing will not help me. If I give all my goods to the poor, if I should give my body to be burned, all this would not save my soul. Woe is me. What shall I do?
LEADER: You must let your sins go. You must let your righteousness go. Christ came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. He came to seek and to save those that are lost.
Friends, will you now risk yourselves for Christ? You have this threefold assurance:
First, God’s initiative. He has taken the first move. God the Father has appointed and sent Christ into the world to save sinners. Jesus Christ is the One whom God the Father has made our Savior. He is redeeming and reconciling the world to himself.
Second, God’s command. This is His commandment, that we should believe on the name of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Third, God’s promise. "Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious; and whoever believes on him shall not be disappointed.
Now, because we have this threefold assurance of God’s initiative, command, and promise, we may now be bold to risk everything for Christ and to make ourselves totally available to Him.
The leader and people shall pray together:
LEADER and PEOPLE: Lord Jesus, here I am, a lost creature, an enemy to God, under His wrath and curse.
Will You, Lord, take me as I am, reconcile me to God, and save my soul?
Do not refuse me, Lord, for if You refuse me, to whom then shall I go?
If I had come in my own name, You might well have ignored me; but since I come at the command of the Father, do not reject me.
Lord, help me. Lord, save me.
I come, Lord.
I believe, Lord.
I throw myself upon Your grace and mercy.
I trust Your saving death alone to save me. Do not refuse me.
I have nowhere else to go. Here I will stay. I will trust You, and rest in You, and risk myself for You.
On You I lay my hope for pardon, for life, for salvation.
If I perish, I perish on Your shoulders. If I sink, I sink in Your ship. If I die, I die at Your door.
Do not bid me to go away, for I will not go.

Commit yourselves to Christ as his servants. Give yourselves to him, that you may belong to him.

Christ has many services to be done. Some are more easy and honorable, others are more difficult and disgraceful. Some are suitable to our inclinations and interests, others are contrary to both.

In some we may please Christ and please ourselves. But then there are other works where we cannot please Christ except by denying ourselves.

It is necessary, therefore, that we consider what it means to be a servant of Christ. Let us, therefore, go to Christ, and pray:

Let me be your servant, under your command. I will no longer be my own. I will give up myself to your will in all things.
Be satisfied that Christ shall give you your place and work.

Lord, make me what you will. I put myself fully into your hands:

put me to doing, put me to suffering,
let me be employed for you, or laid aside for you,

let me be full, let me be empty,
let me have all things, let me have nothing.

I freely and with a willing heart
give it all to your pleasure and disposal.

Confirm this by a holy covenant.  To make this covenant a reality in your life, listen to these admonitions:

First, set apart some time, more than once, to be spent alone before the Lord; in seeking earnestly God’s special assistance and gracious acceptance of you; even if you have already given your life to Christ.

Consider what your sins are.

Consider the laws of Christ, how holy, strict and spiritual they are, and whether you, after having carefully considered them, are willing to choose them all.
Be sure you are clear in these matters; see that you do not lie to God.

Second, be serious and in a spirit of holy awe and reverence.

Third, claim God’s covenant, rely on God’s promise of giving grace and strength, so you can keep your promise.  Trust not your own strength and power.

Fourth, resolve to be faithful.  You have given to the Lord your heart.  You have opened your mouth to the Lord and you have dedicated yourself to God. 

With God’s power, never go back!

And last, be prepared to renew your covenant with the Lord.   Open your hearts, then, to the Lord as we pray:

Covenant Prayer:

O righteous God, for the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ, forgive my unfaithfulness in not having done your will, for you have promised mercy to me if I turn to you with my whole heart. 

I do here covenant with you, O Christ,
to take my lot with you as it may fall.

Through your grace I promise
that neither life nor death shall part me from you.

I make this covenant with you, O God,
without guile or reservation

If any falsehood should be in it, guide me
and help me to set it aright.

And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, you are mine, and I am yours.  So be it!

And Let this covenant I have made on earth be ratified in heaven.

The Lord’s Supper shall be served, as the congregation sings, “Jesus, All for Jesus

Congregation:  “O For a Thousand Tongues”

Jude 1:24-25, “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wide God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forevermore.  Amen.”

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Renewal of Christmas Evans

Christmas Evans, the tough, one-eyed Welsh revivalist, wrote in his diary of a spiritual dry spell. To rememdy this, he went into the woods and spent three hours before the Lord in prayer and brokenness.

He wrote:

“There stole over me a sweet sense of His forgiving love. As the sun was westering I went back to the road, found my horse, mounted it, and went to my appointment. On the following day I preached with such power to a vast concourse of people gathered on the hillside, that a revival broke out that day and spread through the whole Principality.”

-- Note: A few years ago I had the privilege of visiting Christmas Evans' grave in Swansea. I've been inspired by this godly man's faith and devotion to the Lord.

Pastor, if you're wondering how to revitalize your church, maybe you need to start with your own heart first!

The great evangelist, Gypsy Smith, said, "Draw a circle around yourself, get down on your knees and say, 'Lord, please send a revival, and start it inside this circle!'"

Monday, December 23, 2013

A Christmas Wagon Ride

A large Catholic Church in a big city put up a Manger Scene every year in front of its church for the month of December.
The congregation decided to purchase a new baby Jesus one Christmas season. Every Sunday before Christmas people going by would notice the Manger Scene and particularly the baby Jesus.

On Christmas Eve the Priest went outside to say a prayer before the evenings services. He noticed instantly that the baby Jesus was missing so he called the police.

The officers arrived shortly thereafter and began cruising the neighborhood hoping to find the infant Jesus. After a few blocks ride they noticed a little boy pulling a glimmering new red wagon and to their surpise they saw the baby Jesus placed carefully in that wagon. They stopped their car and asked the boy where he was going with his red wagon and what did he have inside.

The boy excitedly exclaimed that he had gone down to the front of the church every day and prayed to baby Jesus for a new wagon and promised him if he got it for Christmas Jesus would be the first one he would give a ride too.
(Thanks to Gary Exman for the story!)

Friday, December 20, 2013

Looking for Splendor in the Snow

Early in the morning last week, I stepped outside to a scene of diamond glinted snow, sparkling in the rising sun. The Northwoods is truly a winter wonderland. Of course, we must view it this way, as the white blanket is here to stay. You won’t survive well in Hayward if
you can’t take the winter.

Sigurd Olson, my favorite nature writer, in his classic text,The Singing Wilderness, shared the following thoughts regarding the snow blanket:

There is a new excitement in the air, a feeling of release. Life will now be lived in an established white world where conditions of food and shelter will not change for a long time.

Stability has come to the Northwoods, and to my own life as well.

The coming of the snow adds zest to my activities. Now, there will be time for a multitude of things that during the feverish moving about of summer and fall, were denied me, leisure after the long and constant busyness.

To me, that is the meaning of the first snowfall -- not a cessation of effort but a drawing of the curtain on so many of the warm-weather activities that consume so much time.

The snow means a return to a world of order, peace and simplicity. Those first drifting flakes are a benediction and the day on which 
they come is different from any other in the year." (pp. 192-193)

The snow blanket before Christmas reminds me of this beautiful prayer given by Peter Marshall, former Chaplain of the Senate in December of 1947:

We thank Thee, O God, for the return of the wondrous spell of this Christmas season that brings its own sweet joy into our jaded and troubled hearts.

Forbid us, Lord that we should celebrate without understanding what we celebrate, or like our counterparts so long ago, fail to see the star or to hear the song of glorious promise.

As our hearts yield to the spirits of Christmas, may we discover that it is Thy Holy Spirit who comes -- not a sentiment, but a power -- to remind us of the only way by which there may be peace on earth and good will among men.

May we not spend Christmas, but keep it, that we may be kept in its hope, through Him who emptied Himself in coming to us that we might be filled with peace and joy in returning to God."
-- Amen

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Bossing God Around

A nine year old boy was given a full grown St. Bernard for Christmas. Viewing his present with extreme delight and wonder, he exclaimed, “Wow!!! That’s great!!! But is he mine – or am I his?”

Now, that’s a great question for every Christian: Is Jesus mine – or am I His?

The answer ought to be “Yes!”

It is certainly a wonderful fact that Christ is a friend like no other. He meets our needs. He satisfies our deepest longings. He is a present help in the hour of trouble. He is the one who steps in when the rest of the world steps out.

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! He is my Savior, my Deliverer, my Joy, and my Strength!

We must never forget, however, who we are and who God is. We don’t “own” Him.

George Barna, conducting recent research of American evangelical churches concluded that there is a deep-rooted self centeredness at the core of our religious expressions. A “consumer mind set” prevails across the board – “I’m involved with church for what I get out of it.” What’s in it for me? No wonder religion seems so empty.

I’ve had well meaning friends tell me how they boss God around when they pray: “God, I need this and that. You really have to come through for me here. I’m counting on you and you had better not let me down!”

There’s something wrong with this picture.

We need God – but He doesn’t need us.
He is willing to help and strengthen us – but we don’t have the right to order Him around.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Strange Fire, Familar Ice

John MacArthur's new book, Strange Fire, is a 300 page attack on Pentecostals and Charismatics. He has nothing nice to say about them. As I plowed through the diatribe, Mother's sage advice rang in my mind, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything."  Well, John ignored Momma and said a lot.

 In some respects, MacArthur raises a valid concern. Many bizarre antics occur under Pentecostal circus tents. There is a disturbing lack of accountability in many of those circles, and thus, manipulation, heresy and abuse often go unchecked. Prosperity preachers, using this false theology, take advantage of gullible people, and that's wrong.

 Like MacArthur, I abhor charlatans who build personal empires by fleecing the flock, using false claims and empty promises. He is right in protesting self-proclaimed prophets who equate their own words as divine inspiration. Too many uncritical suckers swallow the bait hook, line, and sinker.

 However, Strange Fire tosses the baby out with the bathwater. It is grossly unfair to misrepresent all Pentecostals and Charismatics by lumping them into one camp. Doing that is the same as matching up John MacArthur with Fred Phelps.  Neither John nor Fred would appreciate being lumped in with each other.

Although I am neither a Pentecostal nor the son of a Pentecostal, I have a deep appreciation for the movement. Some of the most warmhearted, solidly biblical, deeply devoted servants of Christ I've ever met have been Charismatic brothers and sisters.

 Despite lunatics at the fringe, I believe God is powerfully at work in Pentecostal/Charismatic circles -- and I won't disparage them. MacArthur cites cases of immorality and extremism, as evidence that this movement is invalid. He should be careful in doing so. I can point to several similar cases from MacArthur's own fundamentalist circles.

Yes, wildfire can be dangerous -- but so can hypothermia.

 I received a complimentary copy of this book through Booksneeze for review on this blog.

Old Hymns for Our Day

Old Hymns for Our Day from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.

Friday, December 13, 2013

"Happy Holidays" and the Christmas War

I don't think warring over Christmas is such a great idea.  It makes Christians look like grinches.

A couple years ago, I observed the following conversation between a department store clerk and an irritated "Pro-Christmas" customer.

"Happy Holidays," the clerk smiled.

The customer glared at her and growled, "It's MERRY CHRISTMAS!", then stormed off in a huff.  I was tempted to fill in the last part, "you filthy animal!"

I grinned at the startled cashier, and said, "Don't let it bother you.  He's just looking for a fight."

Seems to me, the clerk expressed the Christmas spirit far better than the angry evangelical protester.

Come to think of it, the word "holidays" actually comes from "holy days."

When someone says "Happy Holidays", they are actually wishing me happiness and holiness -- expressing the peace and presence of Christ.  I'll take that, and say " happy, holy days to you also!"

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Fret Not Thyself

"Fret not thyself. . ."

That's the way the first verse of Psalm 37 begins (in the King James
Version) and it's a word aptly spoken.

It's easy to find ourselves fretting and stewing over circumstances
beyond our control. Without even realizing it, toxic, anxious thoughts
can seep into the mind, and poison the spirit. That's not the way it's
supposed to be. We were not created for inner discord, frets and

Instead, in the original design, we were made for faith. This quest
for faith is embedded deep in every human heart. People might try to
deny it, but it's still a reality! We're hard-wired to believe in The
One who is greater than ourselves.

God created us to worship and acknowledge Him -- and in a very
practical way, this means trusting Him with all our circumstances. ALL
of them!!

Now, that's easier to SAY than DO.

One day,  my beautiful wife, Cathy observed me fretting and fussing
over some financial difficulties. Gently, she reminded me that I ought
to practice what I preach and spend more time praying than worrying
about the situation. You know, she was absolutely right!

As I took my burdens to God in prayer, I felt a heavy weight lifted
from my shoulders. When I said "amen", I took a deep breath and found
myself lighthearted and free! There was no more anxious care churning
in my stomach. I gave the problem to the Lord, asked for divine wisdom
and peace, then left the results in His hands! What a joyous

The outward "circumstance" remained the same -- but my perspective
improved tremendously. I realized that somehow, someway everything was
going to work out alright. The best is yet to come!

"Hope springs eternal in the human breast" said the poet, Alexander
Pope. There's nothing coming your way that you and God can't handle

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Christmas is for Giving

Santa asks, “What do you want for Christmas?” Little kids write
letters with lists of things they want. Some of those cute letters
made their way to the Sawyer County Record last week.

That’s a precious thing, and I certainly don’t want to detract from
the wonder little children experience at Christmas.

But, at the essence, Christmas is not for getting – it’s for giving!

Tis the season of unselfishness.
Tis the season to share with those you love.
Tis the season to be compassionate for those less fortunate.

It’s not about spending money you don’t have on stuff they don’t need.
This year, especially, with financial squeeze we’re all feeling – how
about simplifying? How about being creative, spending a little less,
and giving a little more of yourself? How about shopping locally, so
you when you DO spend, it’s helping your neighbors put food on their

How about giving something homemade? How about giving your time?

How about remembering those who are in need? Did you know that
Americans spent $450 billion on Christmas spent year and that we could
provide safe, clean drinking water for every person in the world for
$10 billion? What if this Christmas, we were less consumeristic and
more compassionate? Consider joining the “Advent Conspiracy”

How about your neighbors who are suffering? As I was writing this
article a desperate mother called me for help. They had no money. Her
little girl has no winter boots, and a snow storm was approaching. We
got her some boots.  There are many little children, right here in our
own community, who go to bed hungry and don’t have adequate winter
clothing. What can you do to help them?

How about putting something in the kettle, when you pass the Salvation
Army bell ringer? Better yet, how about signing up for a stint of bell
ringing? How about getting a few friends together and caroling at the
home of someone who is sick?

Who knows? In the end, you might just say, “It was my best Christmas ever!”

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Things that Get God's Attention

*  The fall of a common, ordinary sparrow (see Matt. 10:29) 
*  A single strand of hair falling from someone's head (see Matt. 10:30) 
*  The hungry cry of a tiny baby (see Isa. 49:15)  
*  The sound of two coins falling from a widow's hand (see Mark 12:42)

HT:  Tommy Barnett

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

The Biographical Bible

The Bible, the greatest story ever told, and Ruth Tucker, one of the world's greatest storytellers, join together in The Biographical Bible: Exploring the Biblical Narrative from Adam and Eve to John of Patmos.

In her usual, engaging style, Tucker brings Bible characters to life, painting them in full color.  I love how she sees the human side of these individuals.

The entire Bible is covered, from Genesis to Revelation -- using biographies to tell the grand story of redemption.

This is so much more than a Bible story book.  It is a good piece of scholarly research, with lots of helpful insights sprinkled throughout.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

The Prodigal: A Ragamuffin Story

I've just finished the last book Brennan Manning wrote before passing away.  It's an engaging novel called The Prodigal: A Ragamuffin Story, co-written by Greg Garrett.

This is a modern day account of the prodigal son parable with a twist.

Jack Chisholm, celebrity senior pastor of Grace Cathedral, a thriving mega-church with global impact, is widely known  as "the people's pastor", and frequently uses the mantra, "we've got to do better."

Poor judgment in a compromising situation leads to Jack's immediate (and very public) fall from grace, landing him on the pages of national newspapers.  In one fell swoop, he loses his position, wife, friends, self-respect, and money.  He winds up in a Mexican resort town-- alone and penniless, wishing he would have done better himself.

Jack's estranged father, Tom, travels to Mexico, uninvited, to bring his wandering son home to the small Texas village he left years ago.

The prodigal pastor returns reluctantly, but then begins to see the beauty of the people he had left behind, and discovers truth that sets him free.

Manning shows up, himself, in a cameo appearance as Father Frank, with ragamuffin quotes and insights.

(A complimentary copy was provided to my by the publisher for review on this blog,.  I was not required to give a positive endorsement.)

Monday, December 02, 2013

Diamonds in the Rough

You are a jewel! A treasure! A priceless diamond! There's no one else
in this whole world quite like you. You're one of a kind.

You were designed and fashioned by God's hand -- and He doesn't make
mistakes. As the old saying goes, "God don't make junk!"

Yes, you're a diamond, and so am I. So is your spouse, your parents,
your children, your relatives, your co-workers, your friends. Now,
that's a genuine treasure trove!! Shiver me timbers!!

However, there's one little problem. We're still diamonds in the
rough: not yet smoothed and polished. Quite a bit of "coalish carbon"

Our rugged edges and odd shapes lead to conflicts, irritations, and
misunderstandings with the other "diamonds" around us.

This is why we must go through difficulties. The Master Jeweler knows
exactly what is needed to shape us according to the best design and
make us shine. He uses the hammer of hardship and the anvil of angst
to knock off the rough edges. He takes the file of frustration and
shaves off our impatience.

This is why certain people annoy us. It's by design! When sandpaper
people rub us the wrong way, it's a good reason to rejoice! We're
being buffed and polished!

This is why we have been placed under authority (parents, bosses,
teachers, law officers.) The Master Jeweler uses these authorities as
His helpers in the diamond polishing workshop.

When we run from trouble, hide from relationships, or angrily resist
the authority placed over us, we short-circuit the shining process,
and deprive ourselves of necessary character development. Mature
attitudes are developed only by learning how to respond to authority,
and grow from our grievances.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

You Say What You See

"What do you say?"

Parents often use this phrase to remind their children to say "Thank you."

We hope the practice of expressing thanks will  become ingrained in
our kids if we ask this question repeatedly.

Sometimes it works.  Sometimes it doesn't.

The longer I live, the more I'm convinced that "Thank you" is an
expression of the heart, not just the lips.  We can mouth the words,
but if the gratitude isn't deep within us, we have not properly
expressed thanks.

The secret to Thanksgiving is seeing things straight.  You say what you see.

If you see unfairness -- you speak words of protest.
If you see problems -- you will complain.
If you see shortcomings -- you will criticize.
If you see failure -- you will speak negative words.
If you see stupidity -- you will roll your eyes and judge.
If you see fearful outcomes -- you will fret out loud.

Yes, life is full of unfairness, problems, shortcomings, failures,
stupidity and fearful outcomes -- if you look for those things, you
will find them everywhere.

But look again.  There's something bigger and better than all those
things combined.  See it straight.

Look for blessings.
Look for beauty.
Look for good.
Look for inspiration.
Look for hope.
Look for God

You will find what you are looking for -- and when you see it
straight, you will say "Thank you."

So, what do you say?