Gratiude Attitude

Happy Thanksgiving! Yes, I know we’re technically “past” Thanksgiving Day by now, but I pray your Thanksgiving was great. In my family, we have a Thanksgiving tradition of food (lots of it) and then a member of the family will lead worship and a devotional along with everyone would go around and share their highs and lows for the year. Then we will close out the day with a prayer for everyone or any prayer request made. It’s one of my favorite things about thanksgiving. Besides the food of course. The past couple of years, my oldest brother has been leading these devotionals consecutively. Each year he’s shared what God placed on his heart, and if I am being honest, it’s pretty spot on what each of us needed to hear. I’d vote he keeps leading these devotionals every year. So, Zebedee, if you’re reading this, you’re leading these devotionals every year okay? It’s a part of your birthright.

With his permission, I wanted to share with you this year’s devotional. Unlike other years, this year Zebedee shared on the topic of Thanksgiving. If I am honest I thought it would be generic because that’s what everyone else tends to do. He was on a pretty good trend of awesome devotionals that I thought, “man is he going to mess it up now!” But seriously, the topic was quite fitting. In my family alone, many of us are going through seasons of transition. I am newly married, my little brother recently engaged, my eldest brother and wife just had their second child together, and my second oldest brother is launching his business while being a dad and husband. My parents too are in a season of transition with caring for my grandmother. That’s just the highlights of transitions we’ve each been going through. There’s way more that would pretty much fill an entire book. I am sure for you too who’s reading this, you’re going through transitions (good and bad) of your own. In transitional periods, however, especially the bad ones, it’s easy to forget to remain thankful. I fall short of this all too often.

One of my brothers points in his devotional was,

Gratitude changes the lens through which we see the circumstances in our little slice of time.

Zebedee Pitterson, Jr.

The idea here is that when we learn to be thankful for the little things and the big things hit us pretty good or especially bad, we will see that even in the midst of our circumstances, there’s still something to be grateful for. Gratitude changes our posture and it changes how we see God. Rather than only seeing God in the good, we can find God even in the not-so-good.

It’s funny how life can be. When Jarrod and I left our family thanksgiving, we didn’t know we would need to apply Zebedee’s devotional pretty immediately. As life would have it, we got home to a messed-up septic and sewer system. It was honestly pretty crappy (pun intended). So as we speak, we cannot shower or use or toilets until a plumber comes out to fix things. We did our best along with my in-laws to see if it’s something we could fix ourselves but unfortunately, we ended the day defeated by our septic and sewer system. One point for the septic and sewer system; zero for the Pisors. But you know what, after my little meltdown I was reminded of Zebedee’s message. I reflected on all the good God has done for us. We had lots to be thankful for. Aside from provision, health and strength, Jarrod’s parents lives two doors down from us which they gladly opened their doors for us to take warm showers and relax after a crappy (pun intended) day. We’re grateful for the little things and even the chaos.

Being thankful changes our perspective despite broken dreams, broken relationships, chaotic circumstances, and unfulfilled longings.

Zebedee Pitterson

As chaotic as today was for us dealing with a messed up septic system, we learned to be thankful. We saw God’s hands even in the chaos. Thankfulness doesn’t remove the existence of brokenness, chaos, hurt and pain. Rather, thankfulness sees hope and God despite the existence of brokenness, chaos, hurt and pain.

So my challenge to you is simple and rather challenging…what can you be thankful for? Are you going through brokenness, chaos, hurt and pain? How has God showed up for you despite what you’re going through?

If you learn to be thankful in the little, when the big things come their way, both good and bad, it will be a lot easier to have an attitude of gratitude. BE thankful.


Pocket Blessings

What does a “blessing” look like to you? When someone asks, “How have you been blessed recently”, what is your initial thought? For many, blessings come in the form of monetary gifts. I call this, pocket blessings. Is it not interesting that money is valued as the highest form of blessing? Do not take this the wrong way. Having money is great, but is that really how we are ultimately blessed? Is it really the determining factor of a hashtag, “blessed life?”

I grew up pretty rich. No, not in finances. Looking back at the past, while we had some tough years, I would say they were rich years. Years we had in abundance and years where we lacked in many ways, yet richly filled in our hearts. I did not always have this outlook on life. For years, I thought having money is how I knew I was “blessed.” Whenever circumstances became difficult, and a check showed up in the mail or money “magically” appeared in my bank account, my attitude changed. My heart shifted from sadness to rejoicing in thanksgiving for God’s blessing. While they are indeed God’s faithfulness, I only looked forward to those types of blessings. Anything else was bonus.

In college, I went overseas to Ethiopia for two weeks on a mission trip with a team of nine. We had to fundraise for this trip. It was pricey. Fights, meals, living and emergency expenses were all in the budget. Before I started fundraising, I went to the Juma Prayer Room at the university I attended. Countless numbers of students and visitors has spent time in this prayer room. I was no stranger to this room. Praying over the trip and asking God to “bless” me with finances, an audible voice stopped me in prayer. Whether you believe God can speak to you or not, without a shadow of doubt, I heard a voice. I wept when these words resounded in my heart,

You have never lacked and never will lack. Open your eyes. Abundance surrounds you.

Humbled and overwhelmed, I looked up and took in what was surrounding me. They were faces on posters. Faces of people around the world who I longed to hear the gospel message. The blessing God talked to me about where people. Prior to that “aha” moment, people were simply people. Blessing? Maybe some were but for the most part, people where “just” people. My time spent in Ethiopia I took that heart shift with me. Every person I met was a touch point blessing. Pocket blessings can only go so far. While can do incredible things, the hashtag “blessed life” are greater than the ones we have in our pockets.

People are the blessing. Everything else is bonus. I learned to value life. Yours and my life on earth are numbered. No matter how we choose to live our life here on earth, one thing remains, we leave a mark. You choose if that mark is one that influences well or not. Loving people is valuing people. That is the heart of God. People say, “Love your neighbor.” That is not a modern day saying. That is a Biblical charge by Jesus himself.

The value in pocket blessings is not an issue that presented itself in this generation. We see this issue over many generations before this one. In 1 Timothy chapter 6:6-10 the writer, Paul, states in his letter:

“But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.”

Many a times, the reason so many of us wonder away from our faith is that we have placed pocket blessings before God. Either we are overwhelmed in wealth that we forget about God, or we lack in wealth that we neglect God completely. We blame God for our misery and we deny His goodness and faithfulness. We lose sight of what is important, God and people. If you are a Christ follower, you have probably read the New Testament gospels on how Jesus formed his disciples. In each account, we see that Jesus said to leave everything behind and follow. In following Jesus, the disciples gained understanding on what is important here on earth, people. It is making more disciples by sharing God’s love in how they live. Pocket blessings are great, but they can only go so far. Pocket blessings is the bonus. God and his people are priority.

For the person who needs to hear this today, “You have never lacked and never will lack. Open your eyes. Abundance surrounds you.”

Do you struggle with valuing pocket blessings? How can you trust God today with your finances? How can you shift your idea of blessing from money, to people?