Friday, November 20, 2015

Why Is It Good To Give Thanks?

Psalm 92:1-4 

We teach it to our kids.  We notice it when they don’t say it.  In fact we often time ourselves to see how long it might take them to recognize something we have done and see if they will say thank you.  We intrinsically know that it is good to say thank you.  Maybe that is the reason God says…“It is good to give thanks to the LORD…” Ps.92:1-2

1.   Giving thanks helps us recognize our dependence upon God

When we give thanks we are recognizing God’s life, His power, His love and how it affects us.  We are mindful all we have is due Him.  It is a way to affirm and strengthen our faith.  We are standing at the foot of the cross, or in front of the altar at the Jordan, we are circling Jericho.  Giving thanks to God causes us to remember His power, and affirm His love in our lives.

2.   Giving thanks matures our character 

-      It delights the inward soul

It centers our attention on our God which allows our anxiety to be replaced with faith.  Isaiah reminds us that when our hearts and minds are focused on the Lord we experience peace.  We focus on what is rather than what is not.  We celebrate what has been given versus being filled with fear and disappointment with what has been withheld.

-      It deepens our wisdom

Meditation on the great works and deep thoughts of God is the way to avoid sin and deepen wisdom ( Ps. 92:5–6).

3.   Giving thanks helps us establish a redemptive pattern

As we look back and give thanks we imprint on our memory a history of God’s work.  Psalm 107 repeats five times the call, “Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men.”  Don’t forget what God has done.  Can you see a pattern of His faithfulness?  Do you see how He has led your life?  His past works will change the way you look at your present situation and your future path. 

4.   Giving thanks inspires others to trust in God

One last direction we need to consider.  Our thanks has an outward benefit.  The psalmist speaks of a declaration.  When we declare God’s faithfulness it helps the senseless man or the stupid man who has up to this point simply taken credit for what he has. 

The Bible describes a stupid man as one who has no idea of God’s plans.  He has no awareness of God’s power, His providence or His grace.  Giving thanks helps to get rid of stupidity in your midst.  How incredible is that!!! 
It is good to give thanks to the Lord.  Like a healing balm, like a refreshing brook is a grateful heart.  Tweet your thanks, Facebook your thanks, speak your thanks and watch stupidity flee.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

When YES Means Everything

I never imagined I’d have a child with a disability. Yet on August 2, 2002, I was blessed with my daughter Lora Grace who happened to have Down syndrome. In the beginning I was so scared; I was afraid I wasn’t equipped to handle such high demands, though I found that the demands were not that high. In the beginning I found myself so afraid for her future; I was finally able to give that to God and it really helped me to move forward. Don’t get me wrong, there are still times that I try to look towards her future, but I’m better equipped now to handle those emotions.  
I was prepared by other moms of children with special needs for the reaction that I would receive from the general population. For example, I can’t remember the last time Lora was invited to a birthday party for a friend; she just seems to have been forgotten. I’ve grieved that loss, but I knew that I needed to expect that. The one thing I never thought about nor expected was the reaction I received from the Christian Church. There was a lack of knowledge and understanding of what to do with her; to me she was just Lora. I found myself having to leave churches because they felt as though they couldn’t help us. That is a hard experience to feel like the one place you should feel accepted just doesn’t know what to do. I do not fault any of the churches; we are all human, and we all make mistakes.
As time went on, eventually Lora and I were not attending church. It was so painful for me, especially since the rest of my family was able to attend the church we belonged to. It took me awhile to reach out to First Baptist; I was so afraid of rejection once again. I still remember that day when Patrick Frost called me to give me information about Fusion. I had explained to him that Lora had Down syndrome, and his reaction brought me to tears. I can’t remember exactly the conversation, but I can tell you how I felt as I talked with Patrick about  Lora starting in Fusion. I’ve never felt more loved on and accepted. Lora has been with Fusion for a year now and is fully included just like any other child. She’s gotten to go on retreat twice now, just like everyone else. I never dreamed that she would be able to go overnight somewhere with a church group. She is loved and accepted just as she is. Until you have a child that's been excluded you can't understand the pain that one feels. I'm so glad she will never be excluded again. Lora is so happy to be with her friends. She loves it, I love it.
Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows for Fusion staff; Lora has her moments, but the staff is incredible, they help her and just love on her. There is not anything more I could ever hope or wish for her here. We are so blessed by Fusion and First Baptist; I can’t begin to express my gratitude sufficiently.  
 -Cory Wingett
You are invited to the monthly S.E.E. meetings which is for parents and others involved in loving and supporting people with disabilities.  They meet each month on the second Tuesday of the month at 7:00 PM in the CLC Room 420.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Live Your Faith

At Thrive, we work with a large range of students and families. One type is “the-kid-who-grew-up-in-church”. Being a kid who grew up mostly in the church myself, I found it was harder for me to really take on my faith as my own and live it out. When you’ve known something your whole life, it’s easy to just fall into the motions. Our goal at Thrive is to challenge students out of that mindset; to live out their faith as their own, and to serve God and each other. For the last two years, we have implemented something at Thrive called our “Bringers”. These students, who are in any grade, are our students who want to go beyond the motions. Who not only want to come to Thrive, but want to own Thrive as their own ministry to lead their friends to Christ. Within the last two years, we have seen countless Thrive students invite non-believing friends, lead games, dress up as characters, lead worship etc… but none as much as our senior classes.

This year, I have been particularly impressed with our seniors. A lot of them have grown up in the church and, until now, have coasted along; coming to Thrive, but not really feeling the urgency of the Gospel. This year though, God is moving. I can see their growth, and our underclassmen notice it too. At our fall retreat, Ignite, one student has really stuck out to me. Ashley has gone to Salem First her whole life, and has been a part of Thrive for almost 4 years. Over the summer, she connected with some freshman girls, to get to know them and make them feel truly welcome at Thrive. This year she has been constantly welcoming students at Thrive, getting to know their names and where they go to school so they feel at home. She really has a heart for the underclassman girls, wanting to be a good role model for them. Last week on our retreat, she pulled aside some students, mostly freshman girls, to get to know them on a deeper level and to specifically pray for them. Usually, the leaders are the ones having 1 on 1’s with students, but Ashley devoted her whole free time to meeting with students! She’s been in church her whole life, and she is getting it. She blesses me and I see Christ moving through her so evidently. It’s so exciting to see students live out their faith! She has been a part of this ministry, but now she has made this ministry her own.

-Jessica Ivanitsky