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The other day I received this text message from Scott, one of our program graduates: “I forgot to mention that yesterday was my 6 years clean-and-sober day. I couldn’t have done it without the UGM and your hard work and dedication and seeing your fathers’ vision (both your earthly father and your heavenly Father). THANK YOU SO MUCH!”

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Gratitude has amazing power. You know that message made my day, but here’s the interesting thing, I’m pretty sure it made Scott’s day, as well. When we acknowledge God’s grace in our lives, it changes us. When we consider how good He has been to us in the past, we are confident that He will continue to bless us in the future. Our eyes are opened to all that is right and good around us, which causes us to be even more grateful, and the cycle continues.

wrapped in blanket.small-291420-edited-670135-editedThis month’s newsletter focuses on the following portion from Isaiah 61:3: “A garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” I like that word “garment.” Praise is like clothing; you choose to put it on. And, just like clothing, it can make a statement: I belong to a great God. He has been good to me. Let me tell you about it.

Sometimes that praise doesn’t even require words; it’s evident in a person’s countenance. Other times, it is as simple as saying, “God is so good.” Whatever the form, praise cannot be separated from gratitude. When we correctly see God for who He is – powerful, trustworthy, loving and good – and we ponder His relationship with us – how He forgives us, waits for us, guides and teaches us – we cannot help but be grateful. When we praise Him, we enter into His presence, and the close proximity changes us.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism summarizes the purpose of the Christian life like this: “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” Gratitude does both – glorifies God by acknowledging His goodness to us and creates joy in us by reminding us of how beautiful life really is.

You’re probably familiar with the words of the old hymn, “Count Your Blessings.”

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,

When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,

Count your many blessings, name them one by one,

And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Will you join me in counting our blessings?

1) a forgiving, patient God; 2) a community that gives generously to the poor; 3) volunteers who serve with joy; 4) the freedom to praise Him openly . . . Keep it going.

 

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