Mentoring Minutes


Over the past couple of weeks we’ve highlighted a brief history of Thanksgiving as a holiday and what we can do to make the holidays more enjoyable…or maybe just less stressful. 

Thanksgiving (and Holidays) Can Really Stink

Some folks see Thanksgiving as follows:

“For those of you who cannot be with family this Thanksgiving, please resist the urge to brag.”  Andy Borowitz

“Thanksgiving is a time to count your blessings, one by one, as each relative goes home.”   Melanie White

While these sentiments hit close to home for many, I’ve not met one single person who goes into the holidays saying, “Here comes another holiday season, I can’t wait to get completely stressed out, take it out on my family and friends then pack away the décor and pseudo-decorum for a year so we can miserably do it all again!” 

Thanksgiving: A Better Way

All of us desire to have wonderful holidays with pleasant memories that we can look forward to and pass on to our children and grandchildren.  So how do we do that?  I’m going to show you not only how you can do that but how you can continue with that same Spirit throughout each and every day, making your life much less stressed and your relationships much more fulfilling.

If you want to turn your life around, try thankfulness. It will change your life mightily.” Gerald Good

“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.”  Maya Angelou

As we’ve declared in previous posts, Thanksgiving is not just a day or season but for it to be real it must be a continual, daily “Attitude of Gratitude.”  In other words, if you want the peace and contentment day-to-day in the midst of all the hassles and frustrations, ups and downs, you must learn to choose thankfulness in all things. 

“Yeah, right!”  I can hear you now, “You have no idea what my life or my family is like, what I’m going through!”  Well I probably don’t but I know Someone Who does and He cares deeply for you. 

Actually it’s not about giving thanks specifically for the burdens, trials and pains that you endure…it’s about trusting and knowing that God cares for you and is at work in every situation, good and bad, to bring about His will first and foremost for His Glory and, in line with His Glory, for your good!  It’s much greater than just what you face in the moment.  He sees the whole picture, has a much bigger plan and wants you to fully embrace it.  It’s the only way to know the peace, joy and love that you desperately seek.  It begins with giving thanks in all things!

If you choose to do so, by faith, you can learn to always give thanks for His Presence and work in your life, relationships and circumstances – Romans 8:28 (don’t read this from a selfish perspective as it will only make you less grateful).

Thanksgiving as an “Attitude of Gratitude” and “lifestyle of giving thanks” makes a tremendous positive difference for you and in all your relationships.

Here’s some quotes from others that have found this really works…

“Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”                                                Charles Dickens

“When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.”  Willie Nelson

Thanksgiving for All of Life

I want to share with you one simple exercise that has helped me and many others develop a continually thankful heart.  It flows from all that you’ve read to this point.  You simply learn, and meditate on, the Names of God.  As you do so you will find that two things happen:  1) You begin to know and love Him much more intimately and; 2) You begin to recognize that your circumstances never change Him.  He’s always faithful and you can always give thanks for this Truth and for His work in your life. 

Following are just a few of the Names of God (some have detailed nearly 1000 names) showing His character and heart toward us as revealed in Scripture assuring us that no matter what was taking place, He remained constant and for that, above all else, we can choose to be grateful.  The following names are just a few from Scripture.  For these and more go to Bibliatodo:

Elohim – All-powerful, sovereign Creator in covenant relationship with us (Genesis 1:1-3; Deuteronomy 10:17; Psalms 68; Mark 13:19; Colossians 1:15-20)

El Elyon – Lord Most High (Genesis 14:17-22; Psalms 78:35; Daniel 4:34; Acts 16:17)

El Shaddai – Almighty God (Genesis 17:1-3; 35:11; 48:3; 49:25; Psalms 90:2)

I AM/Immanuel – Personal God in Covenant Relationship with us (Exodus 3:14; Isaiah 7:14; 8:8-10; Matthew 1:23; John 1:1, 14)

Jireh – Omniscient Provider, Deliverer, Savior (Genesis 22:8, 14; Psalms 23:1)

Rophe – Healer, Restorer, Sustainer (Exodus 15:25-27; Psalms 103:3; 147:3; 1 Peter 2:24)

Nissi – Banner of Strength, Conqueror, Victory (Exodus 17:15-16; Deuteronomy 20:3-4; Isaiah 11:10-12)

M’kaddesh – Holy God Who sanctifies you (Exodus 21:12-13; 1 Peter 1:15-16; Hebrews 13:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)

Shalom – The Lord is Wholeness, Peace (not dependent on circumstances) (Numbers 6:26; Judges 6:22-24; Isaiah 9:6; Hebrews 13:20)

Sabaoth – Lord/Commander of Hosts who battles for us (1 Samuel 1:3; 17:45; Psalms 46:7; Malachi 1:10-14; Romans 9:29)

Rohi – Shepherd who helps us – concern, care, provision, guidance (Psalms 23:1-3; Isaiah 53:6; John 10:14-18; Hebrews 13:20; Revelation 7:17)

Tsidkenu – Righteousness, Justice, Wisdom (Jeremiah 23:5-6; 33:16; 2 Corinthians 5:21)

Shammah – Promised and ever-present help, security, protection, fellowship (Ezekiel 48:35; Psalms 46; Matthew 28:20)

He never changes and I can always count on Him.  When I learned to trust in Him, no matter what, everything in my life began to change. 

Remember, “God’s love and grace are every bit as evident in what He withholds as in what He provides.”  (Tweet this).

This takes faith but that’s what grows as we continue to know Him more and more…His love and grace are every bit as present and powerful in the struggles and in what He withholds from us and brings us through as they are in what He provides and does for us…He knows best and He’s always with us even when we can’t sense Him!  For this we can always be thankful.

Giving thanks in all things?  It’s easy when things are going my way, fun is being had by all and everyone loves everyone else…but how do we do it when feelings are hurt and folks have been betrayed, when we reap consequences of bad decisions that we made or that others have made that hurt us, when jobs are lost and even worse, loved ones are gone?  How do you give thanks then? 

We give thanks because above all else, God is God (see Names above).  Thanksgiving is an attitude and a lifestyle according to God’s Word that will make all the difference in your life and relationships! 

Choose today and every day to be thankful and have a wonderful and Happy Thanksgiving in Christ!

Love and Lordship…Food for Thought – What do you tend to give thanks for?  When everything is going your way?  When you have all you desire…at least in the moment?  What if giving thanks for everything at all times could completely change your attitude and life? 

Love and Lordship…Action Item – Today (and every day following);  Choose 1 Name of God listed above or in links and prayerfully focus on how you can be thankful to Him as He reveals Who He Is in your life;  Choose 1 blessing He has given you and give Him thanks; Choose 1 trial, pain or loss that you’re dealing with and equate it to His Name that assures you that He’s with you and give Him thanks.


If you have not yet done so check out the first post in this series, “Thanksgiving – A Day or a Lifestyle? It contains a brief history of Thanksgiving from the Israelites to the early Church, showing the gratitude that was continually given to God…2 Corinthians 4:14-15; 2 Corinthians 9:10-12; 1 Timothy 2:1-3; 4:4-5.

An attitude of gratitude is what makes Thanksgiving, and all of life, special.   

Family time, great food and eating all you want, road trips, precious memories, warm hearts and hearths…. Or harried schedules, “burnt offerings,” and eating way too much, strained budgets, trying to please everyone, not-so-pleasant memories, broken homes and hearts and lost loved ones.  Which describes your Thanksgiving thoughts, memories and expectations?  Maybe it’s a bit of both.

Here are some quotes that represent both sides of Thanksgiving and the Holidays…

“He who thanks but with the lips thanks but in part; the full, the true Thanksgiving comes from the heart.”                                                       J.A. Shedd

“Sometimes memories sneak out of my eyes and roll down my cheeks.”  Anonymous

“You can never be really happy if you keep holding to those bad memories which make you sad.”                                                                                   Anurag Prakash Ray

One of my most memorable holidays was the Thanksgiving when I was 13 years old. I had a relapse of the flu and spent the entire holiday either on the couch or in bed while all my cousins played basketball, football, baseball and any other kind of “ball” that we knew. You can imagine how a 13-year-old loved being down the entire holiday and family time together!  I said memorable, not best! 

The other was an unseasonably warm CHRISTmas that we spent the entire time (except for the meal) playing outside in shorts and short sleeves!  It was AWESOME!

These were the best until I had my own family and began focusing on and finding ways to make Thanksgiving and holidays special for them.  It’s wonderful when we find out how much more satisfying it is to do all we can to make life good for others rather than just having others do so for us.

For me the holidays were all about extended family, fun, food, gifts, sports and generally good times counting our blessings and thanking The Lord for them!

Over the years I learned that things weren’t always as they seemed in our “perfect family” as financial struggles, health issues, divorce and broken homes became evident as well as the loss of loved ones.  Still, I’m so thankful for the efforts of my grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles to keep us coming together and sharing with each other. We still do to this day with over 60 in attendance last Thanksgiving!

These two questions will determine whether you can enjoy this Thanksgiving and all those yet to come.  What’s been your experience of the holiday?  How have you responded?  Pay special attention to the second one as it makes all the difference.

For those who don’t have pleasant memories or suffer the pain and sorrow of loss or brokenness that is magnified during the holidays, here are reminders from God in His Word to help you cope and find reasons for hope and to give thanks always to Him…Psalm 34:18; Isaiah 61:1-3; 2 Corinthians 1:3-4.

Attitude has everything to do with what you get out of life, including the holidays! God’s Word put it this way, Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God (Philippians 4:6).  Giving thanks not only gives us a better perspective but also reminds us that God is in control and we can count on Him no matter what.

Some things we can control and some we can’t.  Keep this in mind with the following Priorities and Tips to help you not just survive but thrive in the Holiday season…

Priorities in your life, marriage and relationships determine whether you follow through on tips or suggestion.  So here you go…

10 Priorities that make for a Happy Thanksgiving and Merry CHRISTmas

1) Seek The Lord first in your life, relationships and decisions

2) Choose an attitude of gratitude in all things

3) Forgiveness is mandatory for Christ followers

4) Take care of yourself

5) Put others above self and your marriage/immediate family above your extended/blended family

6) Honor your parents and extended/blended family

7) Budget within your income and stick with it

8) Plan your calendar/travel according to priorities with family and loved ones

9) Enjoy those you spend time with and don’t let others make you feel guilty

10) If you’re single consider what applies to you and be willing to honor your parents and family for their sake – remember others above self!

With these priorities guiding your decisions, here are ten tips that can make your Thanksgiving and CHRISTmas peaceful and enjoyable:

1) Spend a few minutes in God’s Word and take time to thank Him for at least one thing every day!

2) Pray for your family members and friends and forgive those who’ve wronged you – you’ll never be free to enjoy the holidays or life until you forgive others.  It’s hard to hold grudges against those you’re praying for.

3) Pray for your plans, budgets and schedules.  Placing all in God’s hands helps you make the best decisions and enjoy the season and those you share it with.

4) Be sure to maintain good exercise and rest – you need to be healthy in order to enjoy your family and for them to enjoy you. 

5) Don’t overdo it.  Schedule, prepare and travel so that you can enjoy the time and people you’ve planned for.  If you spread yourself too thin, everybody loses.

6) Budget for holiday spending and then stick with it.  Be sure to include food and travel costs in your budget, not just gifts.  Don’t try to impress or please others at the expense of your personal, financial and family well-being.   

7) Schedule and plan ahead of time and communicate with extended family the time you can spend with them.  Do your best, enjoy the time and don’t fret about what you can’t do.  Don’t add or let others add a “guilt trip” to your travel plans.

8) Alternate trips and time with families as needed between Thanksgiving and CHRISTmas and/or from year to year especially as miles and money are an issue.

9) Don’t COMPETE!  Your food, clothes, car and whatever else you’ve been blessed with are just that—a blessing through which you can bless others—not outdo them.

10) Enjoy those you spend time with!  Remember, people and relationships are most important.  You can’t please everyone so don’t try!

Our prayer at Love and Lordship is that we, individually and as spouses, families and Christ followers, would be able to show a hurting world that the Holidays and giving thanks are a reminder that no matter the circumstances, because of Christ, we can choose to “Rejoice always, give thanks in all things and pray without ceasing, for that is God’s will for us in Christ!” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Here are a couple of articles that I pray will help you “recalibrate” and find ways to enjoy the holidays and even more so those that make them special…Christ, family, loved ones and friends.  Be sure to let all of them know you are thankful for them!

Make it a great day and God bless in Christ!

Love and Lordship…Food for Thought – What dictates how you enjoy or avoid Thanksgiving?  What can you do to make these special times special again (or maybe for the first time)?  Prayer?  Priorities?  Planning?  Forgiveness?  Gratitude?

Love and Lordship…Action Item – Plan and budget what you can do this Thanksgiving and holiday season and follow through to bless your spouse and family without trying to please everyone or spreading yourself too thin.  Also, set yourself free by forgiving at least one person you need to forgive.  If you are willing, think of any and all you are holding grudges against and forgive them.


“Thanksgiving was never meant to be shut up in a single day.”   Author Robert Caspar

Thanksgiving – Let me just begin with full disclosure…I Love Thanksgiving and CHRISTmas!  I know that you purists want to keep these two holidays separate, but for me each of them enhances the other. If it weren’t for Thanksgiving we’d miss the history of so many people that have honored and given thanks to God for blessing us with all that we’ve been given.  And if it weren’t for CHRISTmas there would be little reason to truly give thanks, even for the struggles and tough times. It is because of Christ that we have all things and we should continually be offering our thanks to Him.  (Hebrews 13:15-16)

I have to say that my parents and family had a lot to do with my view of the holidays. It wasn’t until I was in my later teens that I even knew that these wonderful holidays filled with so many great times and memories for me could also hold sorrow, grief, pain and loss for many others.   

Holidays can also bring great stress, frustration, angst and anxiety, any or all of which can rob us of the peace and joy that we desire and see in the movies and hear in the songs!  Is that joy and peace real and attainable, or a pipe dream crafted in fairy tale media and cultural marketing?

Over the next three weeks leading up to Thanksgiving and then the four weeks heading into CHRISTmas, we’re going to take a look at the history, the reality and the reasons why these holidays should mean so much to us.  For those who love the holidays as I do, I pray that you grow to love them even more and know The One to whom we owe our thanks.  For those who struggle to make it through, my prayer is that you find The One to Whom we can and should give all thanks; the CHRIST of CHRISTmas and the joy, peace and love that He brings.

A Brief History: Thanksgiving Always Belongs to God—From Israel to Plymouth Rock; From Washington to Lincoln to Today

We have so much to be thankful for and yet there is also much that we wish to forget.  How do we celebrate a holiday? Even more importantly how do we give thanks in all things as we’re called to do as Christ’s followers?

Scripture is replete with God’s people giving thanks to Him continually.  The Old Testament includes numerous times and circumstances where God’s people were constantly giving thanks to Him in worship and praise (see Leviticus 7:11-15; Ezra 3:10-12; Nehemiah 11:16-18; 12: 7-9, 24, 46; Psalm 100) for many reasons.  This pointed to continual Thanksgiving, setting an example for us that is pleasing to God.  The New Testament sums it up by simply telling us to give thanks “in every situation” and “in all circumstances”  (Philippians 4:4-7; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).  Look for more on how we can do this as we continue through this series.

Fast-forward to the Pilgrims and Plymouth Rock: the Pilgrims celebrated what we commonly call the “First Thanksgiving” after their first harvest in the New World in October 1621. Ninety Native Americans and approximately 50 Pilgrims (the survivors of the 100 that had made the journey from the Old World) attended the feast, which lasted three days, according to attendee Edward Winslow.

Yet this was more of a continuance of what they had always known.  The New England colonists were accustomed to regularly celebrating “thanksgivings”—days of prayer thanking God for blessings, following the examples of God’s people found in Scripture.

Thanksgiving in general, and in particular to God, continued to be prevalent and emphasized in the founding of the USA.  Founding Father and our First President, George Washington proclaimed, “It is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favors.   (Thanksgiving Proclamation, 3 October 1789)

In the middle of our country’s darkest moment, President Lincoln echoed and magnified President Washington’s reminder: we must remember to give thanks, and, even more importantly, Who we must give our thanks to, acknowledging our many blessings, even in the most horrific circumstances. This officially instituted Thanksgiving as a Holiday in our country. (Take time to read all of this and remember the circumstances under which it was given and be encouraged to be thankful.)

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed… Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.

“It is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God; to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations are blessed whose God is the Lord.  “We know that by His divine law, nations, like individuals, are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world. May we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war which now desolates the land may be a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people?  “We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown.  “But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand, which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.  “It has seemed to me fit and proper that God should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father Who dwelleth in the heavens.”  — Abraham Lincoln, Thanksgiving proclamation, Oct. 3, 1863

One final reminder of our country’s history with Thanksgiving to God Almighty:  almost exactly one hundred years after Lincoln’s official proclamation President John F. Kennedy issued Proclamation 3560 on November 5, 1963, stating, “Over three centuries ago, our forefathers in Virginia and in Massachusetts, far from home in a lonely wilderness, set aside a time of thanksgiving. On the appointed day, they gave reverent thanks for their safety, for the health of their children, for the fertility of their fields, for the love which bound them together and for the faith which united them with their God.”

Our country is in a faith crisis…defining God in our image, promoting sexual immorality through media, education and government, and even in some of our churches, denying the religious freedoms without which any and every nation eventually crumbles.  But we have so much to be thankful for!  So let us give thanks to God for all He has blessed us with, seen us through and prepared us for.

Our prayer at Love and Lordship is that we as individuals, as families, as Christ’s Church, would remind those in our spheres of influence and be an example to our country of what His love, grace and mercy are as we offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name.  Hebrews 13:15

Here are two articles that can help further remind us of the importance of Thanksgiving as a holiday and as a lifestyle in praise to Him!

God is Good – Give Thanks!… 

30 Days of Thanksgiving –

Next week:  How to Survive and Thrive at Thanksgiving

Make it a great day and God bless in Christ!

Love and Lordship…Food for Thought – How have past Thanksgivings impacted your approach to this holiday?  How has your approach impacted you and those in your life when it comes to celebrating (or not) Thanksgiving?

Love and Lordship…Action Item – Seriously…take a few minutes to write down at least three people, three things and three trials you are thankful for.  Spend some time thanking God, and others, as applicable.  Think about how an attitude of gratitude impacts your Thanksgiving, your life, your family and others.