Dear Church family,
Prophets, by their very nature, come from the fringe of society. I heard a prophet preach a few months ago when singer-songwriter Ray Wylie Hubbard growled the lyrics,

“And the days that I keep my gratitude
Higher than my expectations
Well, I have really good days.” (Mother Blues)
This message was squeezed in between verses about drinkin’ and cussin’ and carousin’—as country songs are. In the middle of all that vice, this word from the Lord shone through.

This Sunday we begin a series on gratitude. As we prepare for these weeks in worship, here are three very practical ways you can strengthen your gratitude each day:

1. Before you go to sleep each night, write down three good things from the day. It is important to write them down and not just think them. You will soon realize 2 things: not only is your life filled with blessings but this habit will start to transform your behavior during the day. You might think, “Should I sit here and watch t.v. all night or should I go meet my friend who left a message earlier today?” If you know you need to write something down later that night, you are more likely to get off the couch!

2. Another habit to add to your nighttime routine is to stop counting sheep and start counting what you are thankful for. It is especially helpful list your blessings alphabetically (some of you may remember this idea from Max Lucado when he visited our congregation). Start with “a” and pray, “Thank you God for all-weather gear that has kept me warm during this cold snap (just guessing this has been helpful recently!). Then move to “b” and “c” and so on. Usually, you will be feeling grateful and peaceful before you get to “m.”

3. Finally, the adage is true that, to help yourself, help someone else. If you are struggling to have gratitude in your life, serve someone else for awhile. Sign up to read to a group of children who are struggling in some way. Or volunteer to help at Habitat’s Restore here in town. Or just call your brother (or niece or aunt or neighbor) who you know could use a listening ear. It is amazing how you will feel more grateful for your life once you have done this, AND you will feel more grateful for the person with whom you connected.

I look forward to worshiping with you this weekend as we strive to have our gratitude be higher than our expectations so that, resting in God’s grace, we have really good days.

Christ’s Peace be with you all,