Happy Thanksgiving Every Day

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Thankfulness is one of those things that shouldn’t just be one day a year! Don’t get me wrong, I love that we pick one day a year to gather the people we love the most to tell each other what we are thankful for, but imagine what life would be like if we shared what we are thankful for each day.

If your thanksgiving is anything like the ones I participate in, hearing what everyone is thankful for is so encouraging to me. I spend Thanksgiving Lunch with one of my mentors, and at the end of everyone sharing what they’re thankful for, she looks at each person at the table and explains why she is thankful for that person. This is radically encouraging to me, yet it’s so simple. Again, imagine what it would be like if we celebrated thanksgiving each day.

Scripture reminds us to be thankful each day in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 where Paul tells us to “give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Did you catch that? It’s the will of God for us to give thanks. I don’t know about you, but I want to walk in the will of the Lord. But let’s be honest, there are times where it is challenging to find something we are thankful for. Some of you, maybe even today are struggling to find something you’re thankful for. Paul reminds believers since we’ve “received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” Paul tells us that we have something to be thankful for–receiving Christ. Even if every circumstance has been challenging this year, remember that you have received Christ. Christ willingly gave up his luxurious life to come dwell in this broken. Thankfully (did you catch that), He didn’t come to be OF the world, but to SAVE the world from their sins, my sins, YOUR sins. If you believe this in your heart and declare Him as Savior and Lord, then you have a reason to be thankful! In fact, your thankfulness is abounding. There is no limit to all that you could possibly be thankful for.

Now here’s the thing, when we gather together and share all that we are thankful for, we actually are remembering all that God has graciously blessed us with; even if that’s a roof over your head and food in your belly. But we also remember what God has done. See remembrance and thankfulness go hand and hand. When we remember what God has done, we become thankful. In those moments, we are reminded of our human limitations and how much we need an infinite God who is limitless! Which is why Jesus is capable of living the perfect life, to die the death you and I deserve, and graciously gives us life.

That is something to remember and be thankful for!

This idea of remembering and being thankful is not a new concept. When the Israelites crossed the Red Sea, Moses told them to remember how God saved them from their old life in slavery; which led to a heart posture of thankfulness and turned into worship. Another example of this is when Jesus came, He told us to remember His sacrifice through the Lord’s supper; but then even while He called the disciples to remember, He told them to give thanks!

My challenge to you today as you’re eating your turkey, or spending time on your phones shopping; to remember, to be thankful, and then to worship.

We have an abundance to be thankful for, so let’s celebrate everyday and not just today! Let’s have a Happy Thanksgiving every day!!

Why? For Your Good and His Glory

Why?

The question we all want answered.

We start asking the question pretty much when we learn to talk and it grows into adulthood. We want to know: why the grass is green, why I can’t walk on the street, why I have to help set the table, why do I need to be quiet, why I have to clean, why I have to do homework, why It hurts, why bad things happen, why, why, why, why, why?

I think we can all agree that when we’ve been asked these questions, our responses can vary. There are those moments when we stop and actually give a genuine, thoughtful response; yet, other times we rush and give a short answer.

I think if someone asked me why the grass is green, I would say something like “I don’t know” but I definitely accept that it’s green. I just don’t put a lot of thought into knowing the answer simply because I’m not super worried about why the grass is green. It’s always green. Now, I may look it up eventually in order to answer that question, but it’s not something I care about, so I can accept that the grass is green. The answer to that why doesn’t change anything about my present, I just accept it.

But then there are those “growth” why questions: why I can’t walk on the street, why I have to help set the table, why do I need to be quiet, why I have to clean, why I have to do homework, etc. I know I asked these questions growing up, and there would be times where my parents would say, “because I said so,” and other times they would provide a reason. If it was about walking on the street, it was for my protection. If it was being quiet (this was usually in church), I was disturbing other people. If it was cleaning, I was told I was a member of the house and needed to do my share, and it was also preparing me for my future. If it was homework, it was to learn. In each instance, there was a definite reason as to why each circumstance took place. Each thing I begrudgingly did (walking on the sidewalk, being quiet, cleaning, or homework) was for my good and for my growth. These things were not to harm me or to make me miserable, but to shape me and prepare me for the next stage of life.

Then there are those questions from a state of pain: why does it hurt or why did this terrible thing happen? We want answers so there’s an explanation for the pain whether physical, emotional, or spiritual.

Quite honestly, I don’t have the answers. I rarely know the answers to my own “why” questions, but WHAT IF the painful why questions are just a different growth question? We’ve learned the answers to walking on the sidewalk, cleaning, and doing homework; but could it be that the new level of WHY is really just a new level of growth that we have yet to see come to be answered? Here’s the thing, I cannot tell you WHY anything happens, but I do know that God teaches us a very clear truth:

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28

Did you catch that?

God is working it all together for your good. You may not know your why answer, but think about the good that God has promised. Whatever circumstance you’re in the midst of, I can promise you because it’s a promise from God that he’s working it for your good.

Let’s take a moment and be real:

It hurts.

We can’t see the immediate answers to our questions which hurts. Often times the reasons we are asking why are based out of loss, grief, pain, suffering, or unexplained waiting.

I think the question becomes: what do we do when we hurt from unanswered questions?

RUN TO THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN GIVE YOU ANSWERS.

I think so often we run to things we think will provide answers like our friends and family, social media, news, ourselves, and so on. But don’t run to those because at some point they will let you down.

The only thing that promises to work for your good is God.

Run to him.

What happens if he doesn’t answer right away?

You’re in good company.

Job lost his whole family and begged God and pleaded with God for answers and it had absolutely nothing to do with Job, but rather the spiritual realm that Job couldn’t see. God blessed Job more than Job could imagine because of his faithfulness. God worked the loss for Job’s good and for God’s glory.

Abraham and Sarah waited 25 years before having Isaac. They took their unanswered questions into their own hands, but even with that choice, God grew their faithfulness. God demonstrated that He was faithful to fulfill His word. God worked it all for their good and His glory.

Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery. After many other things, he goes to jail for something he didn’t do. Yet God saw the whole thing. God didn’t give immediate answers to Josephs’s questions, but later Jospeh interprets a dream and is able to save Egypt from famine. It was through the famine that God brought Joseph’s family back together. God worked it out for everyone’s good and His glory.

These are just from Scripture…. but look at this….

Rachel Clark (yes this is me) didn’t get the job she wanted in Bowling Green. The plans she had set for herself and thought God wanted for her didn’t happen. Instead she moved home, got a job and started volunteering in the church. She met some pretty amazing girls and discipled one for a long time. That girl came to know Jesus and is now going on the mission field. Likewise, Rachel is still waiting for God to fulfill His word, but in the meantime she’s gotten to travel to Ecuador and be apart of the global church, intern at a church, and almost earn a masters degree in English that she still doesn’t know why she’s getting it. But through it all, God is working it for her good and His glory.

Run to God. Find your rest in Him. It’s only through Him can you continue on when it’s harder than you could have imagined!

Why is this happening? I don’t know, but remember God is working it to be for your good and for His glory!!

Walk in Love

I can still hear my principal from Castle High School saying, “If you are wearing a Castle shirt of any kind, you are a representation of a Castle Knight wherever you are. Be a good representative of us.”

Who or what do you represent?

My answers consist of my school, my church, my family, my friends in some sense; but most importantly, I represent Christ.

Back in November, our school put on a Veterans Day Program for our Veterans and community. It’s a school led program, so some students greet Veterans, play in the band, or sing in the choir; and the majority of our students sit with their homeroom classes. Now remember, I teach 8th graders (13-14 year olds) so it’s extremely important to go over rules and expectations especially for a community event like this. I found myself saying things to my homeroom like, “Be on your best behavior”, “We want to honor our Veterans”, or “Your behavior during this event represents me as your teacher, but also the school–don’t forget that.” Long story short, my kids were great!

Fast forward a few weeks, and the students who were awesome during the program are now doing the complete opposite. I remember talking to a couple of different students in the hall to just see what was going on with them. I told them I knew they could be awesome because I just saw it at the program. I hear them out, but then I remind them regardless of where they are–whether it’s as fancy as an official program or as mundane as walking in the hallways–they represent me, their teacher.

Then it hit me.

I. Represent. Christ.

I am no different than this kid I’m talking to in the hallway.

Quite the wake-up call if you ask me.

See I think it’s easy for us to be good representatives when we’ve just been reminded of the expectation, but what if a few days pass, or weeks pass? I know I forget, what about you?

The idea of representing Christ is so easily forgotten. It’s typical for me to go to church on Sunday and feel convicted to not gossip anymore, but as soon as the final “Amen” has been said, I’m back to talking about people in a way that’s not building up the kingdom.

In the middle of the church service (or in the midst of the “Veterans Day Program” for my students), it’s easy to represent Christ, especially when He’s at the forefront of my mind. But when the program has come to a close and reality sets in; just like my students forgot, I forget I still am representing Christ whether I’m at church or walking down the halls of my school.

We all represent something and we all imitate something.

Remember what my high school principal said? He said, “If you are wearing a Castle shirt of any kind, you are a representation of a Castle Knight wherever you are. Be a good representative of us.”

The same is true for believers, but it’s not just a shirt we get to throw into the laundry basket at the end of the day. Bur rather when we come to Christ, we are always representing who He is to the world around us.

In 3 John verse 11, it says, “Behold, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not see God.”

Change the shirt from a “Castle” shirt to a “God” shirt. You are wearing Him. Displaying His goodness wherever you go. God is good, and through the power of the Holy Spirit living inside of you, you can be good–whether you’re in church or walking down a hallway. But when we aren’t clothing ourselves in the goodness of God, we are representing evil, or the world.

I was talking to one of my friends about this, and she shared with me a quote (not sure where it’s from), but check this out: You are a visible representation of an invisible God.

I love that. We are called to represent Christ wherever and whenever. We don’t take the shirt off, it’s there. When we came to know Jesus as our Savior and Lord, we chose to take off our old self and put on a new self in Christ (Ephesians 4:22-24).

Even right now, as I’m writing this, it’s easy for me to remember I represent Christ. But how can I represent Him daily, whether I’m at church or at school? I imitate Him. What did Jesus do when He was here living on Earth?

Paul says in Ephesians 5:1-2, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.”

We see Jesus walking in love and giving himself up for others (that’s me and that’s you).

So right now, if you proclaim Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, you are wearing God’s goodness and the way you can demonstrate that to the world around you is doing what Jesus did–walk in love and give yourself up for others.

For me, when the final “Amen” is said at church, I don’t want to be gossiping, but rather I want to walk in love. I should filter everything I say and do through the lens of Jesus’ love. I can ask myself questions like: Is this conversation walking in love? Is doing (fill in the blank) walking in love? Am I thinking more about myself or others? Who is being lifted up: God or myself?

As much as I don’t want to admit it, I am just like my middle school students. They forget who they represent and so do I. But just like I’m there to remind my students who they represent, God is there for me. He takes me into the hallway (AKA my quiet time), and says, “Rachel, what’s going on? Remember whatever you’re doing or even saying, you’re representing me?

If a camera recorded your actions/words just for a day, what kind of a representation would be found? One that’s imitating what is good, or one that’s imitating what is evil?

A Tetelestai Life

When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 18:30

Over the past few months, my world has completely changed. Now for most people, change can be completely terrifying (I would be lying to say I wasn’t terrified); but because of the LOVE I have found in Jesus Christ and the LOVE he has for me–I am not afraid. The peace that surpasses all understanding has been so graciously given, so there is nothing left to fear in the midst of all the change.

What exactly changed?

Everything–that’s the easiest answer; from where I live to the things I’m involved in to the people I hang out with. Literally everything has changed, BUT God. He has stayed the same (Malachi 3:6).

The thing that I’m figuring out each day is that when I start to see God for everything He is, things may change in my life (like the things above), but the changes are supposed to change me. Do you see the change of perspective I’ve had? Initially, I had this mindset that is a little selfish. The changes that were happening to me effected my schedule, my social life, my church life, etc. However, the more I press into God and see who He is, I’m beginning to realize I need these changes to really become more like the Christ and less about my schedule, my social life, and even my church life.

In essence, God is teaching me to be still. I’ve lived my whole life trying be the best. I want to be the best at serving God. I want to be the best teacher. I want to be the best Small Group Leader. I want to be the best at everything. Not that those things are bad, but I was beginning to make those things my identity. I felt like I had to DO things to be right with the God.

BUT, that’s not the GOSPEL.

What is the GOSPEL?

The GOSPEL is simply recognizing that God created us. We failed at doing things He asked and could never do anything to be right with Him. Then, He sent His Son to do life perfectly only to die for everyone, so the people who believe in Him could have eternal life with God.

I’ve been a believer now for many years and have spent my whole life in a church, but some where along the way I started to believe a lie. I believed that I needed to DO things in order to gain love and acceptance from God. Through all these changes in my life, I’m only beginning to understand that everything is done. There’s nothing left to do. Christ did it all.

John 18:30 is listed above, and it’s become one of the most powerful verses right now in my life. Christ literally says, “It is finished.” In the Ancient Greek it’s translated as Tetelestai or τετελεσται.

When I think about the word finish, one of the first synonyms that pop into my mind is done. Often times, done or finish is used when the action (or the doing) is completed. For example, when you bake cookies, the oven is doing (or baking) the cookies and when the timer goes off, you know the cookies are done or finished. In the same way, Christ lived this perfect, sinless life and died on the cross for our sins. Just like the timer went off for us to know the cookies were “done” baking; the timer went off for us to know Christ has “done” or “finished” the work we were never capable of doing on our own to gain that love and acceptance from God.

It’s DONE! Everything is finished. I’m telling myself everyday to STOP doing and just BE. Be still and know that He is good (Psalm 46:10).

So in the midst of all this change that’s happening, my perspective has changed. I’ve started to see that I don’t have to do anything because Christ has already been the best small group leader, the best teacher, and literally the best at everything else. He’s already lived the perfect life for me, so I don’t have to do it, BUT I can live “An It is FinishedLife” or “A Tetelestai Life”