We were helping a church near Detroit, Michigan. We were there to report our recommendations. The pastor asked me to preach for all three services. When I concluded the message, the crowd spontaneously applauded! In three decades of helping churches, that never happened before. It crossed my mind, but I was too timid to ask: do they always do that?
It wasn’t my best preaching, but it was better than average, for me. I wondered—and you may too: did they look at preaching as entertainment?
I don’t think so, honestly. I saw it as an act of thanksgiving. You may have seen it occasionally in church before—applause after a great worship song, or choir presentation. I really believe when people applaud, it is a gesture of thanks to God, not praise of people.
This month we celebrate Thanksgiving—a part of life from the beginning of this nation. Our forefathers and mothers chose to thank God for all the blessings. Thanksgiving is not just a four-day holiday with an opportunity to eat your way to an additional notch on your belt. It’s a great time to put life in perspective.
In our nation today, there is plenty to be concerned about. I appreciate the news media that balance the good with the troubling—don’t you? It is “news” when good occurs. It is also a reminder that God is good—an opportunity to worship and praise Him. Perhaps Thanksgiving ought to be a holiday every month. No, actually, a part of every day. I wonder if you and I would be healthier if we balanced the “count your blessings” with the “lists of challenges.”
I heard a pastor once remind church leaders, “Focus on the doughnut, not the hole.” You see, even church people get out of balance on this issue. We focus on all those who are sick, hospitalized, or mourning a loss. We should pray for them. However, perhaps we should also say more prayers of thanksgiving when they are healed of illness, or from the pain of loss, when babies are born, every time a couple celebrates an anniversary. It’s a big deal to be thankful.
In Scripture, Jesus healed ten people with leprosy. Only one returned to thank Him. I tell pastors, “You preach a great sermon, and about one in ten people will thank you.” Can you change that?
Let’s start a trend: think thanks. Every day. Stop and think about the blessings you have. The word “blessing” is loaded with meaning, but it can describe that which brings you joy or happiness. I wonder: if you consciously thank God more regularly, will you be a happier person? Would it lead you to thank others more often? Would that help them? Would that make our world a little better? Thank you…for thinking about this.
How do you give thanks to God? We welcome your comments below.
Kent Hunter, founder of Church Doctor Ministries, is known as the Church Doctor. His most recent e-books are The Future Is Now and The J-Dog Journey, available at no cost. Contact him at (800) 626-8515, by email, Twitter, Facebook, or visit www.churchdoctor.org.