Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Where Gratitude Begins

Matt and I recently got to attend a community Thanksgiving service. Usually, these services are centered around a message of being thankful - go figure. I've been to a few of these services before, and it always seems to fall a little short of life-changing. I mean, how much can you really do with a message about thankfulness? It seems cheesy and cliche; and as much as we'd all hate to admit it, Thanksgiving has become about the food... not necessarily "remembering our blessings" ... that's just what we feel obligated to tell people as we eagerly stuff our faces. Pastor Brandon Petty from Generation Church gave a message about gratitude at this service that really put perspective back into things for me. One thing he mentioned was that our culture grows up learning to say "please" and then "thank you" and very often, we approach God with that. We'll ask and ask and ask and then thank Him after He does what we want. But God is not a genie and He has given us more than we deserve. Psalm 100 verse 4 says to enter God's presence giving thanks - in other words, thank Him before you do anything else. Pastor Brandon went on to share some points about gratitude based on a message given by Pastor Steven Furtick of Elevation Church and I wanted to share them with you today. Gratitude is a bigger deal than slapping a thank you at the end of our prayers. It should be an essential part of our walk with God and our relationships with other people. Check it out, and have a wonderful holiday! :)
1. Gratitude is never invisible or silent.
There is no such thing as silent gratitude. If you’re really grateful for something, you’ll say it and show it. Unexpressed gratitude is a lost opportunity to give God praise.
2. Gratitude sustains joy and blessing.
In the same way that you can relive an offense through bitterness, you can relive a blessing of God through gratitude. It is possible to relive the joy of yesterday’s gifts with today’s thankfulness.
3. Gratitude begins where my sense of entitlement ends.
To keep a high sense of gratitude, you must keep a low sense of entitlement.You can’t be grateful for something you feel entitled to. And the truth is, you’re not entitled to anything. 
You woke up this morning. Someone else didn't.
You received a standard Christmas bonus. Someone else is still looking for a job.
If that wasn’t enough, for the Christian, anything short of hell is God’s miraculous, overwhelming, and sufficient grace. We’re not entitled to salvation. It’s a gracious gift that demands a grateful response.
4. Grateful people can find a blessing, enlarge a blessing, or create a blessing in almost any situation.
The opposite of this point is that negative people can find a burden, enlarge a burden, or create a burden in almost any situation. It might sound crass, but some people are crap factories. It doesn’t matter what you put in them, it just comes out crap. They’ll always find a reason to complain. They’ll always find the worst in every situation.
But then for other people, they find crap, put a seed in it, and let it grow.
Who do you think possesses more joy?
Your situation doesn’t need to improve for your gratitude to increase. Gratitude sees the best and the potential in every situation.
5. Gratitude increases favor and creates opportunity.
Gratitude will make you magnetic for miracles. Joseph preserved his gratitude even after unjustly spending over a decade in slavery and prison. And God used him to save a nation and preserve His people.
If you want the favor of God to flow through your life, keep a grateful heart.
From DANYA to you - thank you. Thank you so much for your support of our ministry, your friendship, and your encouragement. We are blessed to have great friends and fans like you. 
Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

In Constant Danger

Tonight we are staying at a beautiful church in Adairsville, GA, that has graciously offered to let us overtake their youth facility. North Pointe church always blesses us, and we are so encouraged every time we're here. It quickly became one of our favorite churches when we played here about 14 months ago, and we've been trying to get back ever since! We are so excited to share our new songs and new show with everyone tomorrow night! 

As I (Danya) sit on one of the extremely comfortable couches in a small group room, with my old but functional laptop, an instant coldpack at the ready for my oddly swollen knee, and my iPhone within arm's length, I began reading 2 Corinthians. I planned to begin preparing for tomorrow and praying for wisdom to know what to say and share... when I ran across where Paul describes what kind of situations he lived in. 

"We are pressed on every side... we are perplexed... we are hunted down... we get knocked down... we suffer...yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus." (2 Corinthians 4:8-11)

And here I am, sitting in a church building that will be full of people who will come and freely worship tomorrow. I'm on a couch when people in other countries are hiding in caves. I'm reading any book of the Bible I please when some countries have only a page of the Bible, or only stories of a God Who loves them that they can hold onto. Paul lived in constant danger of death because he served Jesus. I live in constant danger of people thinking I'm... weird?...

Here's the point of the blog post. 

Don't take what you have for granted. Don't let freedom to worship become a routine you get used to. We have the privilege to worship the living, breathing, almighty God; we live in a country that allows us to boldly express our beliefs. Why are we losing this generation to apathetic, mediocre faith? It's time to step up. It's time to realize that having freedom to believe is no excuse for laying down our swords. Tomorrow, we're going to be worshipers, we're going to step up as leaders, and I pray that we will in no way water-down or dance around the bold truth and passion found in being a follower of the living Savior. We see lives touched everywhere we go, and it's not because we're some great musicians! It's because we are willing to let God move in us. I pray He moves more powerfully than ever before... I pray that we are blown away and captivated by the great and glorious love He freely gives us. I pray that He starts a fire in the hearts of every person that we encounter tomorrow. 

We're about to take the world. 

"For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, no longer counting people's sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation." 2 Corinthians 5:19