Have Faith...
Gratitude and God
November, 2008 - Issue #49
"Counting your blessings" is often easier said than done. It's not hard to become discouraged; to imagine that our private pains are unconquerable; to believe that, in fact, we don't have much to be grateful for. In our first "Have Faith..." installment, local pastors share their thoughts about how we all are, in one way or another, truly blessed.

The Blessing of Personal Transformation
I recently read portions of a book by Michael Burlingame called The Inner World of Abraham Lincoln. It described a six-year period of Lincoln's life, during his early 40s, where he was struggling with a profound sadness. After failure upon failure, Lincoln entered into a long period of deep soul-searching and emerged from the previous self-centered mediocrity into the mature leadership figure he was for our country. It's time we took a similar journey, trusting God to lead us to new depths of significance - not through a band-aid fix of Americanized self-improvement, but through hard-won personal transformation. Pastor Jim Girdlestone of Centre Pointe Church

The Blessing of a Victorious Life
As rough as it has gotten, as tough as it has been, we are still here. We are still fighting. We are still pressing our way forward. We are still believing. We are still trying. Most importantly, we are still living. Despite the many negatives that we face, we have always overcome. If you did a simple comparison of all of your defeats versus all of your victories, you would see that you have been victorious far more than you have been defeated. Being victorious does not mean that every situation turned out as planned or the way that you wanted it to. Being victorious simply means that despite the trial, you made it through and you're still here. Pastor Marlon Saunders of Valencia Christian Center 977-4100

The Blessing of a Faithful God
How many of us have become so accustomed to seeing what is not going right, that we don't see all that is good? Have we lost our sense of wonder for all we have? Have we lost that wide-eyed excitement for a new day? We have become a "me" focused society. What I need. What I want. What about me? We are so focused on what we lack that we lose sight of all that we have. Stop and look around you - at your family, relationships, friendships and faith. No one can take these things from you. Life gets tough, but we can't lose perspective. We lose perspective when we lose sight of the promises of God. The economy can fail us, but God never will - He always remains faithful! Pastor Javier Labrador of Frontline Community Church 513-0240

The Blessing of Real AbundanceIt doesn't take more than 10 minutes of television to hear the lie that we need more and we are entitled to more. Instinctively, we do long for more in this life. But the things on television will never deliver the peace and joy our souls truly need. The world may tell us what we should expect, but God gives us a radically different message. He says we deserve nothing. And yet, with Jesus Christ, we can receive everything our souls need in abundance. And when we know every good thing is undeserved, yet given freely to us - we will see our families, our friends, our possessions and our very lives as abundant, joyous blessings. Pastor David White, PhD of NorthPark Community Church 296-6784

The Blessing of Enduring Love
"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever," 1 Chronicles 16:34. During whatever difficulties may come, we have a constant blessing in the love of God that endures forever. Let us thank the One who blesses us by looking up, looking around and looking within. Look up: Give thanks for God's commitment to love us even when we get lost along the way. Look around: Give thanks for the world around us, for family and friends, for teachers and mentors. Look within: Give thanks for the gift of life and for the ability God gives us to reach out and bless others. Pastor John Shaver of Valencia United Methodist Church 255-1301

The Blessing of God's Promises
In the Bible, there are countless stories of how God provided for his people regardless of economic challenges. Beginning with the call of Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3, God promises to bless Abraham and his descendants as long as they would completely serve him. King David left his testimony in Psalm 37:25 that he had never seen the righteous forsaken or begging. In Romans 8:28, the Bible tells us that "All Things" work together for our good. We can see that God is faithful and His word is true. Knowing this, how can we not worship and put our trust in Him? Patiently exercise your faith in God, thank God for the promises in His word and do not focus on headlines or financial reports. We walk by faith and not by sight. Pastor Les Robinson of Burning Bush Church 297-BUSH (2874)
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