Category Archives: Thankfulness

I Still Like the Biggest and Best Gift (Part II)

gift

As my post continues, open your heart to the circumstances that confronted my two young boys.  Perhaps something within you will be awakened as we approach the day that signifies the birth of love and great joy to all mankind, now let’s continue our story.

…We needed to make one additional stop.  One of our dear friends, a neighbor to my mother, whom we have known for many, many years was going through a trial and we wanted to pay a visit.  Her elderly husband was confined at home with hospice care and we thought he might like a visit from us and the “crazy kids”, they have loved our boys for as long as we have!

It is always a bit shocking to see the frailty of life thrust in your face.  Over a very short period of time this strong, joyful hardworking, spirit-filled man had become very sickly, gaunt, having great difficulty breathing.  Not the man I remember working in his garage, constantly building model planes that he loved to fly and gifting our children his latest woodwork toy.  He was dying.

The boys slowly moved closer to him, they had never seen anybody dying before, not like this.  My youngest shared with him that he had just been baptized.  As tired and sick as he was, the neighbors eyes lit up!  He was overjoyed, lifting his arms toward the heavens, thanking God for Derek’s decision.  The boys asked if they could pray with him.  He couldn’t have been more receptive!  The prayers were short, but sweet and most definitely heartfelt.  The boys went back to their grandmothers while everyone hugged out their goodbyes.  This was a visit much appreciated by these special friends.

Moments later, my wife and I walked next door, back to grandma’s house.  We were both very happy that we had decided to bring the boy’s with us.  I could feel the sadness hanging over the living room like a heavy, dark veil.  My oldest sat quietly, very quietly on the sofa.  This was most unusual for a boy that typically exuded energy.  My youngest was curled up in the over-sized easy chair, with great futility, trying to contain his tears.  Their Oma came out of the kitchen, wiping her eyes, trying to be strong for the boys but cracking under the atmosphere.

Those two spirit-sensitive, compassionate young boys were struggling with their emotions and struggling with the concept of life itself.  They were trying to make sense of the very thing that many grown adults battle, the question of, “Why?”  What followed were a series of marvelous conversations that took place then and throughout that day.

Just as in the baptism that Derek had undergone, it was a symbol of death to restored and resurrected life.  I was able to help young Derek understand in a very practical and age appropriate way, the meaning of being “born-again”.  There is no “born-again” state without death to our old self, death to our own selfishness nature.  Death is a cycle we all endure, however, as a believer, we hold the  promise; the gift, of everlasting life with our creator.  Death is not the final word, it is simply a transition, a new chapter, if you will.  Our precious friend was merely transitioning before us.  There is no need to fear death.

What shall we say, then?  Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?  By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?  Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead  through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.  For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.”           Romans 6:1-5

 There is also no need to fear the questions when you have the answer.  Thank you Lord that you have given us the answer and that answer comes in the gift that you have given all those who would accept you into their hearts, the gift of everlasting life.  Thank goodness life is not a “gift exchange”, I could never come close to matching that value.  But then again, none of us has too, just be thankful and show it to others!

The great thing is that there is plenty to go around.  My blessing for you this Christmastime is that you accept it and simply thank Him, whose birth we celebrate this time of year and whose sacrifice was the “biggest” and “best” gift of all.

If you feel the tugging on your heart, if you know that contentment has never been within your grasp, if you know that things can and must be different I would be remiss if I didn’t give you the opportunity to share in the gift that has been given me by asking Him into your life.  It begins as simply as a prayer:

Lord God, I thank you for your presence here today.  I come before you a flawed and weak person, undeserving of the gift you offer me.  Despite my sin, I ask you into my heart.  I do believe I can be saved through the blood and sacrifice on the cross of your son Jesus Christ who died for our sins.  I come to you for complete restoration as I begin this new life in you.  Cleanse me of my sins and reside in me.  I welcome you with open arms and seek to follow you all of my remaining days.  I thank you and in your Holy name I pray.  Amen.

Now get plugged into a local church and they will provide further guidance as you begin your new walk.  I pray that as we look forward to celebrating the birth of Jesus that today would be a day to celebrate your rebirth in Him.

God bless you and your family this holiday season and every day!

©2016 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.  It’s a thoughtful Christmas gift for any couple’s in your life.

 

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Filed under Baptism, Beliefs, Christmas, Love, Restoration, Salvation, Thankfulness

I Still Like the Biggest and Best Gift (Part I)

gift-box

It’s that time of year again when the incurably curious sift among the beautifully ornate boxes and bags littered under Christmas tree.  The gifts come in all shapes and sizes and we always envy the one with the biggest gift.  They say “Don’t be selfish, it’s the thought, not the size of the present!”  I suppose that’s human nature to want the best and the biggest, this is what society teaches us.  As a pastor, I probably shouldn’t say this, but, I concede.  Sometimes the biggest gift is the best!

Let’s step back a few months, weeks before we even ventured into this holiday season…

I came through the front door of my mother’s home. I could feel the sadness hanging over the living room like a heavy, dark veil.  My oldest of ten years sat quietly, very quietly on the sofa.  This was most unusual for a boy that typically exuded energy.  My youngest, age seven, was curled up in the over-sized easy chair, with great futility, trying to contain his tears.  Their Oma came out of the kitchen, wiping her eyes, trying to be strong for the boys but cracking under the atmosphere.  The image was in stark contrast to the joyous way the day began…

I was about to participate in an event that would fill my heart with joy!  I had the pleasure of experiencing the same excitement a scant year ago with my eldest son.  I helped him up the steps as I walked around to the side.  He found his position and sat down on the step, he looked out at all the people, there to celebrate this event with us, then he turned to me with that ever familiar smile.  In spite of occasional displays, shy he is not.  The senior pastor held the microphone out as I asked, “Is there anything that you would like to share?”  “I would like to thank everyone who came out today to see me get baptized.  I love all of you and most importantly, I love God.”  He smiled, my heart nearly burst from my chest with happiness.  The congregation was clapping, my boy was obviously pleased with their response.  “Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?”  “Yes, I have.”  “Then I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.”  I leaned him back, completely submerging him for a moment, then back to his upright position.  I bent down to his ear and whispered, “I love you.” He returned my words with a big kiss. “I love you too!”

Once he had decided that he was ready to be baptized, I had shared with him more specifically the purpose and symbolism of the event.  Baptism is an outward expression of your decision to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior, the lord of your life.  Although baptism does not save you, it is a testimony to others that you will strive to live your life for God and die to sin.  Your decision to accept Jesus is the key to eternity following our life here on earth.  The submersion in water represents our burial or death to self.  Coming up from the water is symbolic of resurrection into our new life with Christ.  The entire ceremony is symbolic of what Jesus did for us on the cross that most important day several hundred years ago.  Yes, even at the young age of seven, my boy understood the importance of baptism and the gift that was given to us, in spite of what we may have done.  As a believer and follower of Christ we are assured a glorious eternity with Him.  But, I digress.

After a wonderful celebratory lunch with family and friends, all were in high spirits.  At that moment, it hadn’t occurred to me that God would use the events of the day to make a practical, hard-hitting point to all.  We needed to make one additional stop.  One of our dear friends, a neighbor to my mother, whom we have known for many, many years was going through a trial and we wanted to pay a visit.  Her elderly husband was confined at home with hospice care and we thought he might like a visit from us and the “crazy kids”, they have loved our boys for as long as we have!

His wife welcomed the visit and was thrilled to see the boys, hugging us all as she took us to his room.  It is always a bit shocking to see the frailty of life thrust in your face…

This life lesson will conclude in my NEXT POST, “I Still Like the Biggest and Best Gift (Part II)

May you all be blessed as you ENJOY this Christmas Season!

©2016 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.  It’s a thoughtful Christmas gift for any couple’s in your life.

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Filed under Baptism, Beliefs, Christmas, Emotions, Love, Priorities, Restoration, Salvation, Thankfulness

Lest We Forget… (A Message of Thanksgiving)

Being Thankful

As we kick-off the beginning of the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.  As we run back and forth to the grocery store collecting all the traditional items for the feasts ahead.  As we calculate the budgets that we have allocated for Christmas shopping and get lost in all the hub-bub that lay straight away.  How often we get side tracked by all the agendas that compete for our attention.  It is not hard to forget WHAT is truly important and WHO has provided our needs.

I want to encourage you to take a moment to meditate and contemplate, if just for a moment.  The following Psalm, a prayer of thanksgiving during our season of Thanksgiving, lays a foundation for us all to frequent from time to time.  I pray that you let this prayer envelop your heart and penetrate the business that we are all susceptible too.  For in this brief set of scripture we are blessed with encouragement, hope and protection.

“It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High, proclaiming your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night, to the music of the ten-stringed lyre and the melody of the harp.  For you make me glad by your deeds, Lord; I sing for joy at what your hands have done.  How great are your works, Lord, how profound your thoughts!  Senseless people do not know, fools do not understand, that though the wicked spring up like grass and all evildoers flourish, they will be destroyed forever.  But you, Lord, are forever exalted.  For surely your enemies, Lord, surely your enemies will perish; all evildoers will be scattered.  You have exalted my horn like that of a wild ox; fine oils have been poured on me.  My eyes have seen the defeat of my adversaries; my ears have heard the rout of my wicked foes.  The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God.  They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”    -Psalm 92

Meditate on this “for a moment”?  No, Psalm 92 expresses the state that our heart and soul should reside in 365 days a year, not just at Thanksgiving.  Get out a sheet of paper and make a list of all the blessings that God has bestowed on you.  Take a deep breath, step out of the world and enter into His peace as you reflect on all of His graciousness.  Keep this list, share it with your family, ask them to contribute blessings that they may see that you may have overlooked.  Being aware of how God has worked in your lives will carry you through the trials that may lie ahead.  Let the time you spend with family and friends be grounded in an understanding that ALL we have is truly a gift.  A gift to be thankful for.

Be blessed this holiday season and every day!

©2016 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.

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Filed under Behavior, Giving, Meditation, Thankfulness, Thanksgiving

Keep Your Focus Upward!

Focus on God

I sit in my hospital room, contemplating the events that brought me here. What started as a freak accident, stepping on a screw head that was in the threshold between the master bedroom and the bathroom, has turned into a serious infection and hospitalization. The podiatrist entered my room with a choice of alternatives. “The infection is very serious and growing. The antibiotic IV’s will only hold it at bay. Our choice is one of two, send you home for six weeks with an antibiotic IV with no guarantee that we will kill the infection and very possibly be in a worse place than we are now, or remove the toe in a place past the infection site and eliminate the spread.”

I couldn’t believe it! Things were going so well. I had returned just two weeks before with a first-place gold medal honor for the first book I had ever authored. My wife and I were honored with a radio interview regarding our books, our ministry and our marriage. The Interview went so well that they slated us for a follow-up. Other interviews are on the horizon. Our ministry was growing and people were being healed. I was revved up and ready to teach my next marriage class in early January. To say nothing of the Christmas excitement flowing through the home. All seemed right with the world.

Why God? Why? This was where I chose to emotionally park myself.

As human beings this is our tendency. Forget all of the blessings that God has bestowed and focus ONLY on the one thing that we can’t make sense of. I don’t underestimate the importance of the grieving process and growing past those circumstances in which we can’t understand the loss. The problem is, too many times we don’t bother to put our car in reverse, back out of the parking space and move forward, working through the hurt and loss that only comes with God’s help.

Prayer before making my decision led me to Psalm 18:2, “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” I was not alone in my circumstances. I was never alone.

When Jesus walked the earth, knowing the pain and the agony he would have to endure at the crucifixion, he asked God to take this cup if it was His will. This was very human, Jesus experienced all of our emotions. Jesus also knew his father and trusted in His strength to do what was necessary. This is an example to us all. In spite of the trials we may face, lean into the one who will get us through, regardless whether we understand the outcome or not.

How did my trial end? I processed my situation (I concede, with a bit of pouting) then decided to back out of the parking slot that I had settled into. Three days later I left the hospital (well, all except one less toe on my right foot.) Confident in the decision that I made. I will be spending the Christmas holiday recuperating with family and friends, fully aware and most thankful for all He has done (and is doing) for me. I will be most eager to get up and running for 2016!

I encourage you who are struggling or dealing with trials this holiday season, you are not alone. Trust God to carry you through the darkness.

I wish you all a MERRRY CHRISTMAS and focus on the blessings that God has given you.

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Filed under Christmas, Emotions, Expectations, Grief, Thankfulness, Trials, Trust

Bless with your Blessings – A True Display of Thanksgiving

thanksgiving

A very important aspect of relationship is selflessness.  This may seem like an odd topic to discuss at this Thanksgiving holiday season.  It is a common thought that being thankful involves gratitude for the things that we have been given throughout the year.  Yes, this is true, but sometimes we forget that the best way to show our gratitude to the one who has given us the most is through giving back.

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.  Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.          -2 Corinthians 9:6-8

Often we too easily forget the warmth and satisfaction that comes to us when we have the opportunity to help someone that is truly in need.  Certainly our goal in helping others should not be motivated by what we can get out of it.  However, the natural occurring consequence of doing what is right produces a contentment that surpasses any emotional response.  Essentially we plant the seeds of joy in our soul.   Remember, we are called to be joyful even when facing trials.  This scriptural observation verifies for me that joy is not something as fleeting and inconsistent as an emotion.  Joy is something deeper, a foundational inner-contentment.  Such selfless action is truly a gift that we can be grateful for.

Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.  For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will.   -2 Corinthians 8:2-5

If we understand that all we have is a blessing from God, it does not seem unreasonable to give back to Him a measly 10 percent, known as our tithe, when he is allowing us to keep 90 percent. Tithing goes back to the church to support a wide variety of ministries and expenses that benefit others.  Remember, a very important aspect of relationship is selflessness.  It’s time to start investing in others if you are not doing so already.

Giving back to your church is only one way for you to bless and be blessed.  Not all of your giving has to go back to the church you attend.  I am sure that there are organizations that have instilled a passion in your heart and are worthy of your support.

I have yet to hear from anybody who is a consistent giver that they have not been able to make ends meet at the end of each month.  Quite the contrary, usually God meets their need far beyond their wildest expectations when they are good stewards of their money.  Keep in mind that blessings do not just come in the financial variety.  We serve a faithful and trustworthy God. Sometimes we just need to give him a chance. You will find that you can’t out-give God.

Final note, Giving is not just monetary.  Give love.  Fill your home with compliments, compassion, forgiveness and kindness unlimited.  In doing so, this will produce an abundance of things to be thankful for.

When we bless with our blessing, we will be blessed.  So remember, gratitude goes both directions!

Blessings to all of you and your families and God bring you peace and abundance.

Eric A. Disney

©2015 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.  It’s a thoughtful Christmas gift for any couple’s in your life.

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Filed under Behavior, Character, Finances, Giving, Selfishness, Thankfulness, Thanksgiving

Being Thankful – A Messy Business

Thankfulness

As Thanksgiving rapidly approaches many of us contemplate the blessings we have received. For some it’s a time to remember that in spite of the economy, they are still employed. Other are in peak physical shape, grateful to be healthy and strong. Some stare into the faces of their sleeping children, thankful for the blessings their little ones have brought to their lives. It’s also a time to thank all your dear friends for being such an influence in your life, for speaking truth and for investing in you their love and concern. Perhaps your current relationship has so grown and enriched you that you could never consider being with another, your mate has flown you to the pinnacle of happiness. You have been blessed with great financial gain allowing you to do things that you use to only dream about. Others are so incredibly blessed that they have been approved for the home that they have always wanted. So many blessings!

What about the rest? What about the father of the family of four that has been laid off? What about that middle-aged woman who just yesterday received a cancer diagnosis? How about those couples who have been trying to have children for years but live out their disappointment in silent misery? Perhaps the year has been littered with the passing of friends and relatives, who will fill the holes left in their hearts? The neighbor’s wife has filed for divorce leaving him devastated. A kindly store owner is going through the throes of bankruptcy, about to lose everything that she has devoted her life to, what about her? What do they have to be thankful for?

Why do we, who have been so blessed, take that momentary pause to reflect on what has been bestowed on us? Why do we take the blessings for granted? Take that moment and change your focus. If you have been blessed, thank God for what He has done for you. Focus outward, let God use you to bless someone else. Yes, as a Christian, we know that God works through the good and the bad in our lives. So many of the hardships we endure are a consequence of the state of our fallen world. Some don’t “feel” God’s presence, for others He is a complete stranger.

“We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” -Romans 8:28

Don’t lecture those in strife, help them. You know people right now who are suffering and experiencing trials. Are you ready to get messy…and not just today? Are you willing to invest your giftings, your money, your time, your love in blessing the rest of God’s creation? Are you ready to demonstrate God’s love whether they know Him or not. You can be that example. Let others see the difference in you that only God can make. Live it, don’t just talk it! I challenge you, look around, can YOU give others a reason to be thankful? I trust that you will not have to look far for that answer.

Yes, be thankful, not just Thanksgiving day, everyday!

Blessings to all of you and your families and God bring you peace.

Eric A. Disney

©2014 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.  It’s a great gift idea for those couple’s that are close to you.

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Filed under Character, Thankfulness, Thanksgiving