Aug 21, 2013 - Hearing From God    2 Comments

I APPRECIATION YOU! REALLY?

As I have been meditating on what God’s word teaches us about appreciation, I have given much thought to the meaning of the phrase “thank you.” Especially, when these words are being used in connection with, “I appreciate you.” Perhaps like me, you have had times when someone has told you how much he or she really appreciates you. And for whatever reason, when you parted ways the words left you feeling empty afterwards. Their words came across to you as just being lip-service. Ouch…image

In Matthew 15:8, Jesus says, these people honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me. What this┬ásays to me is that we can SAY things to The Lord and to others that can sometimes be disingenuous. I have been asking myself this question, “Do I SAY thank you to Jesus for all that He does for me but that’s as far as it goes?” My actions speak louder than my words because my actions say, Jesus don’t expect me to trust and obey you. A pastor and a friend of mine put it this way, we treat our relationship with Jesus as a “just gimme that thing – gimme gimme that thing” relationship. It’s really just all about you. When it’s all about us and not about the genuine relationship a key ingredient is missing.

Here’s an example of what I am talking about. My grandmother was famous for her pound cake. It was one of my favorite desserts. One of the key ingredients to grandma’s pound cake recipe was a stick of butter. That stick of butter not only gave the cake its rich golden color, it made the cake moist and tasty. The taste of grandma’s famous pound cake would linger on the palate leaving you fully satisfied. What do you think grandma’s famous pound cake would taste like if she took out that key ingredient, a stick of butter? I can’t imagine that that golden color and delicious lingering taste would still be there. What’s worse is when you lack the proper ingredients, you could be left with a bitter taste in your mouth.

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Aug 13, 2013 - Hearing From God    6 Comments

APPRECIATION IS YOUR’S INFLATED DEFLATED OR FLAT?

As you know from last week’s post, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking around the idea of appreciation. I shared a story about a bicycle ride along the canal with my family and friends in which my faith was challenged and my understanding of appreciation grew. What I didn’t share in the story of the “deflated tires” was how elated my wife was when riding on the fixed tires. She laughed and told me how out of shape she felt until she realized that it is way harder to ride on deflated tires. This got me thinking …

Could our levels of appreciation be like the amount of air in a bicycle tire?
Could our appreciation for God and others be inflated, deflated or just plain flat?

What I mean by this is appreciation that is lacking or non-existent is like a flat tire. Appreciation that is an empty expression, or just lip- service, is deflated. And, appreciation that is filled with gratitude is like a perfectly inflated tire.

I would like to give you a definition for appreciation, but before I do I want to share what I found appreciation not to be. Appreciation is not just empty words coming out of a person’s mouth or empty deeds and gestures. For example, the quick “thank you” you casually say to the person who holds the door for you or gives you your food at the take out window. These are polite manners but appreciation goes beyond manners.

APPRECIATION is when we recognize the quality, value, significance, or magnitude of the people and things in our lives. We take time to assess their true worth and value that they hold. And even more importantly, we are compelled to respond with action. This is what is referred to in the Hebrew language as Hakaras Tovah. It is the Hebrew term for gratitude meaning appreciation that goes beyond words only. It may include words of kindness, but the words are followed by deeds that convey genuine gratitude toward God and others. The heart of the person is to give and not take. The person is compelled to reciprocate the kindness that was shown. As Proverbs 27:19 says, “Just as water reflects a face, a heart replies to another person.”

So what might prevent a person from doing this? I’m glad you asked! A spirit of entitlement, a lack of love, being selfish, pride, not wanting to feel indebted or obligated, all these things will prevent a person from showing genuine appreciation.

WHEN IT COMES TO APPRECIATION IS YOURS FLAT, DEFLATED OR INFLATED?

Let’s look at the story of the Ten Lepers. Leprosy is a heinous disease that leaves the imageperson disfigured with lumps, bumps and sores. It was so highly contagious that those with the disease were cast out from the public. Whenever they walked, even in the vicinity of others, they had to yell, “Unclean” to warn people to stay away. At the time of this Biblical story, the only cure for leprosy was death. Can you imagine how much someone with this disease would want to be healed?

Luke 17:11-19
As Jesus continued on toward Jerusalem, he reached the border between Galilee and Samaria. As he entered a village there, ten lepers stood at a distance, crying out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” He looked at them and said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy. One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God!” He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. Jesus asked, “Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” And Jesus said to the man, “Stand up and go. Your faith has healed you.”

We clearly see that the Hebrew term for gratitude, Hakaras Tovah, is being brought forth in the life of this Samaritan. His appreciation went beyond just words. He could have just said, “Thanks so much. I really appreciate it,” and been on his way … not giving this miracle a second thought. How often do we do that? But, his appreciation went beyond words. He took action. First, after he realized he was cleansed, he came back. Then, he fell to ground to show his deepest appreciation. Finally, he used his words to give praise and to glorify God. The Samaritan’s actions were to give back not to take. He displayed genuine gratitude through his worship. He gave thanks to Jesus for what was done.

But, can we say the same things about the other nine lepers? This Samaritan, not even a Jew, returned to show his appreciation while the nine Jews went on their way as if they were entitled. History records that the Jewish people would have nothing to do with the Samaritan people. Is it a wonder why Jesus stated, “Didn’t I heal ten men. Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” Jesus was right to expect God’s chosen people to give glory to God and yet this foreigner with leprosy showed more appreciation for The Lord.

In researching appreciation, I am left with the this thought: How many times have I given an empty thank you or no thanks at all to Jesus? To others? Fact is, appreciation is a lot like a bicycle tire. You can go a lot farther on tires that are properly inflated than you can on ones that are deflated or flat. Inflated, or genuine, appreciation will not only take you far but it makes the ride a lot smoother.

An empty thank you doesn’t carry you very far … More on that next time!

APPRECIATION IS YOUR’S INFLATED, DEFLATED OR FLAT?

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Aug 7, 2013 - Hearing From God    2 Comments

APPRECIATION GOES BEYOND WORDS

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about “appreciation.” It seemed like every time I turned around, I was hearing things like …

“I so appreciate you.”
“I appreciate this so much.”
“Thanks for doing that, I really appreciate it.”
It started to seem like a buzzword; just a knee jerk reaction. Something we just say but do we really mean it? I began asking myself when someone says, “I appreciate you,” why does it sometimes leave an empty feeling? So I began researching this word, appreciation. I did a word search to see what the Hebrew word for appreciation was. To my surprise, I found that according to one Jewish rabbi, there is no such word in the Hebrew language. You’re probably wondering why? Well, it’s because the idea of trying to express how much you appreciate something or someone by mere words is too shallow and incomplete.

Here is another real life experience that conveys what I mean. Not too long ago friends invited my family to go on a bicycle ride along the canal and stop for ice cream. My wife rode to the meeting spot on her bike while I drove the girls and our bikes in the car to meet them.

When I arrived my wife was exhausted from the ride and a bit frustrated because she didn’t ask me to check imageher tires and she realized half way there that the tires were really low on air. I told her not to worry that we would find a gas station along the way and that this was just a minor set back. I realized, when we put Ella in the bicycle seat on back, that it was a major set back because now they were literally riding on the metal rims. As we approached a steep decline on the canal and I heard the “vroom vroom vroom” sound of the rear tire on the pavement, I began to get really nervous. When I saw Amy put one hand in the air and yell to Ella, “Put your hands up and pretend we’re on a roller coaster,” I shouted, “You need to slow down and be careful!!!” Amy yelled back to me, “Hey, I’m riding on faith, literally!” As we got to the bottom of the hill I said, “Amy, we are going to need to stop at a gas station to get air in your tires right away.”

But being a Sunday evening, we were concerned that we might not find a place to get air for the tires. So we broke away from the group, told the other families not to worry, and went in search of a gas station with an air hose. In order to get off the canal and up to the main road quickly, we had to trail blaze up a steep wooded hill along a make shift footpath. Ella was still seated in the bike seat and Amy was pulling the bike up and I was pushing on the back of Ella’s seat while dragging my own bike up the path. We were never so happy to see a main road. Unfortunately, all the nearby service stations were closed … not to mention that most stations don’t leave their air hose out for the public to freely use these days. By this time, we were both exhausted and all we could do was go back on the canal and catch up to the group. Hoping, that the tires would hold out and that one of the bike shops along the canal might have an outdoor air hose.

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