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FAITH
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November, 2013 - Issue #109
courtesy of Shutterstock
courtesy of Shutterstock
Give Thanks for
those You Love

by Jeff Cole

Every time I walk into Trader Joe's, one of the first things I notice is the rack of greeting cards. They have the coolest cards there. Birthday cards, holiday cards... almost all are hilarious. And whatever time of year it is, there are always lots of thank-you cards. Those are the ones that get me thinking.

First, I think about all the people in my life I need to thank, but haven't. Then, I think about how I promised myself last time I was in Trader Joe's that I would thank them, but didn't.

Finally, the guilt gets so intense that I buy a bunch of junk food to cope. Confession time: I don't spend nearly enough time saying, "Thank you." It's not that I set out to be ungrateful on purpose, I just get busy and forget to pull out my box of Thank You cards. How can I remind myself to say, "Thank You" more often?

There's a story in the Bible about a man named Samuel who wanted to remind himself and his countrymen to thank God for saving them from their enemies. So he set up a giant rock next to the highway between two cities, and he gave it a quirky name: "Ebenezer."

On Ebenezer he wrote a note that read, "The Lord has helped us all the way." (1 Samuel 7:12). Every time people took the highway between the cities, they saw the monument that reminded them to be thankful.

Here's my challenge to you as we enter the Thanksgiving season. Do something to remind yourself to say, "Thank You," even if you have to do something monumental. Put a giant rock in your front yard if you need to (you'll probably get a "Thank You" note from your HOA). Thank You to God. Thank You to your family and friends. Thank You to your colleagues. It's going to be a busy fall. Let's plan ahead to say, "Thank You" along the way.
Jeff Cole is the Care Pastor of Real Life Church. 775-2041


A Community of Gratitude
by John Shaver

I thank my God every time I remember you. Philippians 1:3
It turns out my mom was right - but for more reasons than she knew. I'm referring to all those times in my childhood when she instructed me to say "thank you."

Mom was right, but not just because uttering those two little words was a matter of politeness. A recent study of 200,000 managers and employees revealed that when people are thanked for what they do, they are more motivated and their productivity improves.

But gratitude isn't just about politeness or business. In the 1930s, a religious scholar, Martin Buber, wrote a book in which he explained that our human interactions are of two kinds. The first he called the "I-it" relationship. This is when we have no vital concern for other people. You stop at a restaurant for lunch and a server takes your order. You don't take time for any conversation. They're primarily a person who provides you a service and gratitude is absent.

Buber says a better way to live is the "I-thou" relationship. This is when the other person ceases to be a "something" to us and becomes a "someone." I-thou is where I view you not in terms of what you can do for me, but in terms of who you are. And using gratitude by sincerely thanking someone forces us to see the other person as "thou" and not as "it," and that changes both the other person and us.

Paul, the writer of Philippians, had a practice of thanking God for those among whom he worked. It was not just a habit, but a genuine expression. It encouraged the people in the churches and made Paul a better person.

Using gratitude can help the Santa Clarita Valley to be more community focused by thanking God for those around us, and by thanking them directly as well. We can become better people ourselves by taking the time to express our gratitude.
I hope you'll join us this month at Valencia United Methodist (umcv.org) as we grow in our gratitude for God and others!
John Shaver is the lead pastor at Valencia United Methodist Church.
255-1301 #VUMChereforgood
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