Pastor David

A few weeks ago we had visitors at our church, Pastor David and his wife.  Pastor David is an amazing Christian man.  His story is that he was born in Vietnam into a “very Buddhist” family.  I’m not entirely sure what happened but through a miracle of God’s grace one of the members of their family’s life was saved (I think) and so the entire family became Christians.

I don’t personally know but I imagine it was a hard life being a Christian in a “very Buddhist” society.  I’m pretty sure you would feel alone and at times find yourself in some tough situations.

Then, Pastor David and his family and friends were thrown in prison during the Vietnam war.  I don’t even want to think what atrocities they suffered at the hands of other men.  But eventually they were released and ended up in Canada a while later (praise God!).

I think we singles have a good idea of what it is like to be immersed in a society were we stick out, where we sometimes seem like we’re the only ones.  We might even feel alone and find ourselves in some tough situations sometimes…

I think, though, that we can learn from Pastor David who has been through so much in his life.

The pastor of my church later told me that he had asked Pastor David to say the closing prayer for our service that morning but Pastor David said no.

I was surprised (seriously!  What pastor turns down a chance to speak, let alone pray?).

So I asked my pastor why Pastor David turned him down.  I was expecting to hear that he was worried about his english but instead Pastor Ralph said that he didn’t want to pray amidst our congregation yet because he always cries when he prays.

This man, who has been through well more than we can even imagine, cries every time he talks to the Living God!  Our God of grace who has seen Pastor David through incredible times can still evoke in this man a intense feeling of gratitude to his Creator and sense of wonder at how such a great God can love one so undeserving.

Wow.  Perhaps this is one of the reasons for our heartache and pain, for our aloneness and sorrow–that we might learn to truly appreciate what God has done for us and to give us a chance for God to teach us true gratitude.

Bless you, Pastor David!

The Attitude of Gratitude

The idea for this post was shamelessly stolen from the message at church this past Sunday (Sorry Pastor Ralph, but good message!).

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.
Cicero, (106 BC – 43 BC)

Yes, it was Thanksgiving this weekend here in Canada, and, yes, I’ve already written a “Thanksgiving” post. I was thinking of holding on to this idea until the US Thanksgiving in the end of November but…well…I ‘m not good at keeping presents that I’ve purchased early either!

What is gratitude?  It’s being thankful for what we do have, rather than focusing on what we don’t have.

“It’s not having what you want.  It’s wanting what you’ve got.” 
–Sheryl Crow, Soak Up The Sun.

I am a single person.  This is what I have.  I need to focus on enjoying this gift God has given me.  God DOES NOT give bad gifts.

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
Matthew 7:11, NIV

“Those who have nothing are better at giving things away because they are used to having nothing.”  Pastor Ralph, Sunday 09 Oct 2012. 🙂

I was in Africa last year working on building an orphanage for a group of orphans.  We were way up in the mountains north of Nairobi, amongst some of the poorest people.  But let me tell you of the incredible generosity of these Kenyans–two families that we didn’t even know gave up their homes to us and moved out so that the “rich, white people” from Canada would have places to stay!  They didn’t have much, no electricity, no bathroom, no kitchen as we know it, no heat, no showers, no washing machines, but what they had they gave graciously, with no question.  And the women came to cook and clean up after us!  What they had they were grateful to God for–what beautiful spirits they had!  They relied on God for their day to day needs and He provided. They had little but they knew how to live with little so they gave what they had back to God for our benefit, with gratitude in their hearts.

It should be easy for me to be single, seeing as I am not “rich” in dating history–I don’t know what I am missing.  How can it be hard to live without something you’ve never really had? Why is it hard sometimes to rejoice in what I do have instead of focusing on what I don’t?

It likely is easier for me not really having ever dated before (I thank God for this!).  But having an Attitude of Gratitude to God is not always easy, especially in this world that seems to be obsessed with worldly love and relationships.

Pastor Ralph reminded me that we need to 1).  change our focus (from what I don’t have to what I do have), 2).  change our actions (I need to invest in the lives of others and then I will feel fulfilment from God), and 3).  change our way of thinking (from worldly things to “whatsoever is good…” Philippians 4:8 (NIV).  Out of my gratitude to God, ministry will flow.  If I can be thankful in whatever circumstances I find myself, not only will those circumstances be easier to bear, but God will be praised.

This doesn’t mean that things won’t happen in our lives that are terrible, or sad, or disheartening to us.  But we should not let these circumstances determine our attitude.

Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.
Charles R. Swindol

I guess my prayer for all of us is that we strive for a heart of gratitude, remembering that it is our attitude towards our situation and life experiences that can significantly impact our emotional and spiritual life.  We need to also remember that it is this attitude that will set us apart from those around us thereby allowing us to carry God’s healing and grace into their lives (and our lives as well).

(See, Pastor Ralph, I do pay attention in church on Sundays!)