Dear New Life in Christ Church Family,

As we enter November and head toward the Thanksgiving holiday, we have the chance to consider the gratitude in our lives.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18, ESV)

Gratitude is one of the major ways that we express our faith in God. In fact, as Romans 1:21 shows, the failure to give thanks is the failure to recognize God. The life without gratitude is a life of atheism.

“Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused.” (Romans 1:21, NLT)

I recently noticed that you can't be angry and thankful at the same time. One will crowd out the other. You can't be angry with your husband and be thankful for him at the same time. When we practice thankfulness we see the things people do, their contributions and why it is better to have them in our lives.

“The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” (Psalm 103:8, ESV)

It helps with road anger too. Maybe someone cuts you off in traffic and you want to be angry. What if you were thankful instead? "God, I'm thankful that I didn't get into a crash." "God, I'm thankful that I have some extra time so getting cut off isn't a big deal." "God, I'm thankful for a beautiful day today." "God, I'm thankful that I have time to get there." Thankfulness will push anger away.

I've also been thinking about self-respect and what people call "self-esteem". How much of our so-called lack of self-esteem comes from a lack of gratitude?

Many times a low self-esteem can simply start with discontentment with something in our lives. (By the way, this reminds us that while the term "self-esteem" may not be in the Bible, all the components of it might be. Thus, we need to look for biblical solutions, like contentment). Instead of being thankful for what we have, we see the places that we fail to measure up to others. Whether it is in our body, in our money, in our family, we see how we fall short of the accomplishments of others instead of seeing what God has given to us.

We may not be where we should be and we may not be where we want to be in any area of life. But we can still thank God for what we have.

It is especially important to be thankful for what Jesus Christ has done for you. If you believe in Jesus, He has forgiven you sins and brought you into His family. He has already begun to change you. You already have things to thank Him for. You know love. You also have every reason to have a higher self-esteem and a higher self-respect. If God has loved you, if Christ died for you, wouldn't you have a good reason to see your value to God?

The second thing of self-esteem is stewardship. Proper self-esteem comes when we take responsibility for our own actions, when we own our past as our own, when we accept our present as an opportunity to serve God, and when we work to honor God with that area of our life.

Many people have low self-esteem, but instead of trying to improve those areas of their lives, they don't make any changes. There is no repentance. There is no new discipline. There is no effort to serve God. Many have moved beyond healthy self-esteem to pride. They accept themselves, even loving themselves, but don't do anything to improve or serve God, or even recognize that they could do better. Instead of seeing how much they have been given and doing something to serve God or others, they get over-consumed with their own lives. And it drags them down.

Thanksgiving gets us outside of ourselves. It helps us see that God has already done so much for us, leading us to move forward with enjoying His gifts by using them in His service.

As we plan for Thanksgiving, let's give our Creator His due, seeing Him as the giver of every good gift and the source of the grace we live in (James 1:17).

Other matters:

November 8 is Election Day. Pray for our nation as we enter national elections again. Pray for the progress of national virtue, the protection of life, religious liberty, and Constitutional order. Elections have consequences and we pray for God's mercy and kindness to our nation.

November 19 is Youth Rake Day. Pray for our youth as they serve families in our church and community with this important service project.

November 20 is Operation Christmas Child Box Delivery Day - Pray for every box we send out to connect a child with the life-giving gospel of Jesus Christ.

November 24 is our Thanksgiving Day ministry. Please pray for us as we bring meals to over 500 people this year. Pray for our organizers: Christopher Dale and Kevin and Heather Benedict. Pray for the gospel to go out with power in every meal we deliver.

November 27 is the first Sunday of Advent. This starts off our Christmas celebrations at New Life in Christ Church. Ask the Lord to lead more people to faith in Jesus Christ just as those wise men went to visit Jesus that first Christmas.

Faithfully Yours,
Pastor Sean.