Does Forced Thanksgiving Count?

I’ve set out on a quest to become a thankful man.

Now, that sounds spiritual, but I have to admit that it’s a bit selfish. I’ve noticed that I do better in life when I’m thankful. When I’m mad at someone or feel like they owe me something I’m entitled to, I don’t do well.

So, how do I get to be a man marked by a thankful attitude? I’m not 100% sure how to do it. But I know what will not work.

You remember how it was when you were six and your grandmother would give you a pair of socks for Christmas? You’d be standing there asking yourself, “What was that woman thinking? Socks! I wanted a model airplane.”

Your mama might say, “Tell Grandma thank you.”

And you would just stand there with your bottom lip stuck out. “Thank you? For a pair of socks? C’mon. Get real!”

Mamas are very persuasive, though, and suddenly you might feel a “whap!” landing on the back of your head.

“I said, ‘say thank you,’” your sweet mama might encourage you.

Your face would screw itself into a scowl as you tried to rub the pain out of the spot where Mad Mama had struck you. But between clinched teeth you managed to mutter, “Thank you for the socks.”

You did that because you were thankful, didn’t you? No, you did it because you imagined her hand poised behind your head, itching to deliver another blow.

That’s not thankfulness, that’s self-preservation. Continue reading

How To Stomp Out Depression and Anger

Our Coffee Stain this week begins with a little homework. I want you to stand in front of a mirror.

Now, make a sour face. Go ahead. I won’t laugh (much).

Now, smile. No, I mean really smile. How did that make you feel? Do you know how silly you look there, grinning in front of your mirror? Got you, didn’t I?

Actually this may be serious.

Joy isn’t optional for a Christian. It’s commanded. And grinning at your mirror doesn’t fulfill the command.

And it’s not a sour joy either–sometimes, our definition of “Christian joy” depresses or bores normal people.

It’s not that ephemeral thing those who don’t know the Lord call joy either, that mad pursuit to find delight in things, relationships, sports, pornography, shopping, and all kinds of “fun stuff.”

The shelf life of this kind of joy is a couple of hours, and then you find yourself back at the starting point. And, it’s dangerous to go too long without it because it often reveals a heart that’s not … hang on… Are you ready for it? …

Thankful. Continue reading

One Shade of Blah!

frownWhat do you do when someone tells you to be happy and you don’t feel happy? And what’s more, you don’t even want to be happy? Well, maybe you’d kind of like to be, but most of the time you’re not. You not really sad either as far as that goes.

You just are.

Your life isn’t characterized by brilliant blues, reds, yellows or greens. And not even shiny black. Color you grey and not several shades of it either.

I knew a guy one time that could take the color of life from me with the sound of his voice. I could be sitting at my desk, joyfully listening to the birds singing, basking in a soft sunshine streaming in my window. Suddenly the phone would ring and I heard his voice.

Instant depression. That guy could send Zig Ziglar into despair. Continue reading

“Secrets of Constant Thankfulness”

uganda-eastafrica-africa-2319951-lThe three children stood before their mom, like recruits in front of the drill sergeant. The fifteen-year old daughter towered over her ten year old sister and five year old brother.

“When I get back home this evening I want to see all your rooms cleaned and chores done,” she said sternly.

“Yes, mama.”

“Now, I’m not saying when you have to do it,” she continued. “When you feel led, you get up from your video games or from watching television and go clean your room.”

“Yes, mama.”

The five-year old held up his hand uncertainly, “What does ‘feeling led,’ mean mama?”

“When you get that feeling that you think comes from God and you have a deep desire to go wash the dishes and clean your room, well,  you’re being ‘led.’” Continue reading

Five Reasons You Ought To Be Thanking God

Mamas are very persuasive people. When you were a kid there were things that, if you didn’t do them, mama would make you wish you had done them.

For example, if mama told you to say “thanks” to someone who did something for you and you didn’t do it, she might give you a swat behind the head.

Maybe your mama wasn’t quite so violent, but she still had ways … and those ways weren’t pleasant.

Makes you wonder how such sweet ladies can be so … um … well, you know. Continue reading