Tag Archive: thanksgiving

i hope that you are enjoying our observance of Lent and if you have just joined us – as some have – it is good to have you along – never to late to jump on this train and see where it goes.

i read an excellent piece on Lent on Relevant Magazine today and if you have some time, give it a read.

Zachary Perkins gives a broader definition and picture of the idea of Lent that the early church held on to as opposed to simply giving something up:

When we talk about “giving something up for Lent,” let’s be honest: we usually mean “I’m going to throw God a bone.” But the time between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday is meant to be a time where we take ourselves out of time and out of the business of our world to spend time dying to ourselves. It’s not just our way of giving Jesus Christ a pat on the back, but it’s first about re-centering our will to His and secondly living that out in the world.

DAY 3 

Task: Make time to be grateful


This follows on directly from yesterday’s five minutes of stillness to just be:

Take time to know. To realise. To remember. To speak to. To think about. To listen to. To be awestruck by. To call on. To rage at. To praise. To invite.

You may want to consider adding another five minutes, or even a separate time every day for the rest of this observance, to make some space for Gratitude, for Thankfulness, for Appreciation, for Praise, for Worship…

What are you thankful for today?

i literally just this moment was interrupted with news from a friend from Philly who i said i would pray for yesterday who went into hospital for some tests and they came back clear so giving God thankx for that.

and there are so many things in my life to be thankful for, but instead of listing them all here, i want to help create a space for you, for us, to be able to slow down long enough to actually get to the place of giving thankx.


i encourage you to perhaps grab a pen and paper and physically start making a list of things you are thankful to God for, starting with something that happened today and then moving on to this week – what is one thing from this week you can say “Thank-you” to God about… then think back to the month and come up with another different thing – and onto this year – one thing in 2014 you can thank God for.

You should have a list of four things already and maybe you needed to write more than one for some of those times. That is amazing, don’t limit yourself. Let my invitation be a minimum, so force yourself to find at least one for each time period.

Once you are done with that, look back and pull one thing from last year that you can really give thankx for. And then another thing from the last decade. In the past ten years, what is the biggest thing that stands out in your life that you would like to reflect back to God.



How often do you take the time to say “Thank-you” to the important people in your life? If you want to get super involved in this, you could commit to one person a day for the rest of this Lent period – dropping an email, sending a text, calling up on the phone, arranging a Skype, writing a note or even a full on letter… but at least start with one today.

Why not take it up a notch and write a message to someone who may not expect to receive such a thing from you, but someone you have appreciated maybe even for the simplest of tasks that they do – perhaps a regular bus driver you often see, or a neighbour who has a garden you really appreciate, or even a checkout person at the store you frequent. That kind of thing can be gold.


Take a little time to focus on you. If your health is half decent. If you have a job or contribute in some way that pays the bills. If you’re a dad or a mom or a son or daughter or uncle or aunt or brother or sister or friend. If you’re a mentor or confidante or counsellor or tag team buddy. If you have gifts or skills or talents or hobbies or successes  or attempts or dreams or hopes. For your sense of humour or appreciation of small things or ability to raucously celebrate or athletic ability or skill with words or favourite cooked or baked dish or ability to listen or speak or rally or protect or assist. Stand in front of a mirror and smile at the person you see and give thanks for both the person you’ve been and the person you are becoming. I think Dr Seuss just may have gotten this one right.


Even if you choose not to do this as a regular practice for each day of the rest of this Lent observance, try to find times and spaces to work it in on different occasions and in different ways. This is a great time to remember that there is so much to be thankful for.

[To continue on to day 4, click here]

this week is Thanksgiving which is a fairly alien celebration to us as South Africans…

but as South Africans living in Americaland, this is now the third time we will be celebrating it and so it has begun to find a special place in our hearts…

and with a focus on giving thanks, who can go wrong? [don’t mention black friday or cyber monday and we may get out of this alive]

there is so much in my life i have to give thanks for [and that is even in the midst of a time that has been a little bit of a struggle for me in various ways] and it would take a hundred blog posts to even start denting that [don’t worry, this is not the start of a 100 part series]

but tonite i hung out with two guys who graciously invited me onto their most fun radio podcast and the show ended with my new friend Jacob asking Josiah [aka Tea-man] and myself one thing we were grateful for…

and i spoke a little bit about friends. and yes, there was an obvious side reference to the tv series and could we BE any more thankful [and how one day Matt Perry will respond to me on Twitter – how about it Matt? love your work!] but one of the things i am always most grateful for in my life is the many [and your mind would be blown if you had any idea how many] meaningful friends i have in and around my life.

the kind of friends i spoke about in particular are those whose friendship is so deep and powerful [through quality over quantity of time spent together] that you can see them once a year or even once every three years and it’s like you’ve been spending time with them daily for the last year – you just pick up exactly where you left off… you got anyone like that? take a moment and picture them. pick up your phone, open your Twitter, grab a pen and paper and LET THEM KNOW!!! those are such special friendships.

i spoke of my friends Debbie and Barry Autwick from KZN in South Africa who surprised us a week before flying over here with the news they were coming and we got to hang with them for two days and just laughed so much [it was him!] and learned great new bands to listen to [Bastille] and discovered addictive happiness-making videos [What the Fox says and other music videos by Ylvis – have you checked out their ‘Flight of the Conchords’esque ‘The Cabin’?] and spoke about life and God and truth and laughed some more [did i mention they topped up my supply of Nachtmusiek and Milo?] Oh man, such good times and i have seen them a maximum of one to three days per year or less over the last five to ten years…

i thought of our new friends Steve Graybill and Helene Scalliet who we met pretty much in passing during our time at the Simple Way but stayed in contact with online and so our friendship has largely grown as we’ve shared ideas and read each others blogs and followed the activity and thought and heart of the other online and just such quality people who planned a trip to come visit us a few weeks ago [and yes they had other friends in the neighborhood but after less than a week in total of relationship they chose to fly across the country and spend some days at our place] and we laughed and spoke and got to know each other and were challenged and prayer walked and it was amazing – and the other day when i was feeling particularly low i go online and there is a mail from Steve that was just so encouraging and real and loving that it lifted me right up.

and i could go on for a long, long time. but the point is realising [which i do often] and being grateful for [which i am all the time] and then trying to be more regular in the letting them know just how much they mean to you [which i try to do, but probably fail horribly at simply because there are so many of them in my life]

so many of those friends are the ones who pooled their resources together and gave generously [and are giving] so that we could be first at the Simple Way [in terms of flights] and now here [in terms of flights and monthly support] and they are not all people that have a lot, but what they have they share. we are blown away by the generosity constantly shown to us.

so this week [and beyond] i want to take the time to say thank you to my friends – i hope that they know – and i hope i will get better at telling them…

what about you? is there someone in your life you need to let know how much you care about them or appreciate them or what they meant to you? if anyone wants to share a story of a good friend like i’ve shared here, i would love to read those – one story of one friend you have who means a lot to you… and go.

Weekly Photo Challenge: (thankful)

i am thankful that i get to journey through the adventure of a life to the full life with this beautiful lady, my wife Valerie aka tbV [the beautiful Val] and as i always say, ‘Marriage to the right person is one of the most wonderful things in the world.’

hold my hand… walk with me…

[For the previous Photo Challenge on the theme of ‘Inspiration’ click here]

Excerpt from Erwin McManus ‘an unstoppable force’ (available from Loot – http://www.loot.co.za/refer.html?referrer=85894849355 – for R170)

Wow this last chapter of the EM book i’ve been reading resonated so hugely with my spirit i had to share (go and buy the book!):


On August 20, 1978, I walked to the altar at the first Baptist Church in Orlando, Florida and gave my life to Jesus Christ as my Lord. I remember standing there, looking up at Jim Henry, the pastor of the congregation, as he held his Bible and asked the question, “Do you confess Jesus as Lord, and will you obey His Word?”

I have to admit that, at that moment, I had virtually no idea what was inside the Bible other than what I had learned from Brother Jim’s preaching. It could have been a copy of ‘War and Peace.’ It could have been a leather-bound version of ‘Winnie-the-Pooh,’ but I figured if it was connected to Jesus and affirmed by this people I had come to trust, it was good enough for me. I was genuinely a blank slate to the whole process of what it meant to be a Christian. Soon I discovered that I had a terrible misconception of what I had done on that Sunday night.

After I left Orlando and returned to college, i ran head-on into a layered view of Christianity. I began learning that it was necessary to not only receive Jesus as your Saviour, but also to accept Him as your Lord. I learned this not only through osmosis, but also through listening carefully to Christian vernacular from people who claimed to be Christians, yet who somehow lived extraordinarily worldly lives. It was explained to me that these people had Jesus as Savious but not as Lord.

Another misconception I had was that every Christian was called to proclaim the Gospel. I remember coming home from college around Thanksgiving and sitting in a room with a bunch of guys. I pondered aloud about how amazing g it would be when all of us ended up all over the world, telling people about Jesus. Everyone else in the room proceeded to tell me that they did not feel called to “preach the Gospel.” They explained to me that required a “unique” calling.

So now I had discovered that there were at least three callings: a calling to be saved, a calling to Lordship, and a calling to ministry. Again, this concept was confirmed by simple observation. There were all kinds of Christians who were not involved in ministry. In fact, in most places only the pastor seemed to do ministry. Sometimes his wife would, but not always. Ministry was what pastors did in relationship to their congregations. If you were called to the ministry, then your focus was to care for and nurture the Christians in your congregation.

Later I discovered there was even a higher level of calling. At a missions conference the speaker began inviting people to give their lives to missions. I was somewhat confused since I was still a new Christian. I asked the person next to me what the invitation was specifically asking for. She said, “If you feel that God is calling you to missions, to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world, then you’re supposed to go forward.” I went forward again.

This was my third calling. I went forward for the purpose of salvation, I went forward to respond to a call to full-time ministry, and now I was going forward in response to a call to be a missionary. But this time I discovered that there were two levels of missionary calling. One was to be a home missionary and one was to be a foreign missionary.

So now I had discovered five levels of calling from God – a calling to be saved, a calling for Jesus to be Lord, a calling to ministry, a calling to home missions, and a calling to foreign missions. These five levels of calling don’t even take into consideration my conversation with someone from the Church of God of Prophesy in which I was told about my need to be sanctified. They don’t take into account my engagements in the charismatic community, where it was explained to me that I needed to receive a second baptism…

[to be continued]

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