Three Simple Steps to a Better Day

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Want to make your day a better one? Any day can be at least a little better with a simple mind shift. All it takes is applying three simple, tried and true actions consistently throughout any 24 hour stretch of time.

Even the dreariest of days can be transformed by this simple shift in thinking and response. And it’s how you begin the day that sets the tone for the hours and events to follow. In short, the day you will lead is largely controlled by your attitude and approach to it.

Almost 2,000 years ago a Jew and Roman citizen named Saul of Tarsus (renamed Paul after he became a follower of The Way of Jesus), wrote to fellow believers in Thessaloniki and suggested three simple practices that are still applicable today: rejoice, pray, and give thanks. If practiced faithfully and lavishly, these practices will help make any day a good day–or at least improve a bad one significantly.

Before you get out of bed, offer a prayer of thanks and rejoice that you are alive, breathing, and gifted with another day of life. Continue this practice throughout the day–not just offering thanks around meals and before bedtime. Remember that everything, absolutely every good thing in your life is a gift from the One who spoke the cosmos into being.

Take time to marvel at the gifts of nature. Give thanks for the produce at the farmers market. Give thanks for clean water and the conveniences of electricity, phone service, and wireless communication. Rejoice in the company of family and friends. Pray for the needs of others often during that day. If a driver cuts you off in traffic, pray that his or her needs are met and that all is well. If you hear the sirens calling your local volunteer firefighters and emergency personnel, offer a prayer of safety and well-being on their behalf.

Finally, as you fall into bed at the end of the day, give thanks for the gifts of the day, thanks that you were able to meet any challenges, again pray for the needs of others and yourself, and trust that a good night’s holy rest will be yours.

Practice these three simple steps on a regular and frequent basis, and I guarantee your life will be changed for the better, and your outlook will improve. Come on…what do you have to lose?

Photos by david c. stone and hotflashes. Thanks!

Marvelously Made

I will thank you because I am marvelously made; your works are wonderful, and I know it well.  –Psalm 139:14

You, dear one, are marvelously made. You are unique. You have been gifted with talents and skills that only you, in concert with the Holy Spirit, can bring to  fullest expression.

In worship today, we focused today on the Baptism of Jesus and on his divine blessing. We gave thanks for the gift of baptism and for the gift of the Holy Spirit–the advocate, the gift that keeps on giving, the presence of God that never leaves us and that journeys with us. We also acknowledged that this is not a tame, calm gift. Our incorporation into God’s family and our the fact that we are blessed, named, and claimed sets us off on a life-long journey as wild and wonderful as any carnival ride. It’s a Holy Collision of grace, love, and mercy. Think of it as a combination of bumper cars and a wild, wet water ride.

Annie Dillard said it well in her 1982 book Teaching a Stone to Talk:

“Does any-one have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake some day and take offense, or the waking god may draw us out to where we can never return.”

The wonderful news about this wild, crazy ride through life is that we are very well-prepared because we are marvelously made. This week I invite you into a deeper exploration of what it means to be created in the image of God, to be intimately known and understood by the One who spoke the stars into the night sky and who breathed a wild and wonderful wind upon the waters.

Let us be thankful for the gift of humankind and for one another. Peace, blessing, and joy!

For Further Reflection

Click here for a beautiful visual reflection set to the hymn “Borning Cry” produced by Wolfie Productions. The lyrics and music are written by John Ylvisaker, #732 in Evangelical Lutheran Worship (ELW). Click here for the lyrics and a reflection on Susan Stabile’s blog. Relax, enjoy, and know the presence of God in your life both this day and always.

As the week progresses, assemble pictures of you at various stages in your life. You might also wish to gather pictures of family members. Keep these in the area you set aside for your prayer and devotional time. Give thanks for the gift of life and for all the stages of the journey.

Photos by sabianmaggy, Daily Organized Chaos, and ohitzanna used under Creative Commons License. Thanks!