Well, greetings once again friends. I’m Loren Fenton, and this is Episode 45 of the GoodlifeNews! Podcast and Blog.
The focus of this month’s episode is the spiritual attitude of “Gratitude.” I hope you enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving Day with your loved ones. If not, I pray that you will find encouragement and hope in fellowship with others—and most importantly, with the Lord himself through presence of the Holy Spirit in your life.
Every year, Thanksgiving Day brings forth a host of memories for me.
Tables overladen with traditional foods like turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, candied yams, green bean casserole, homemade bread and Mom’s special recipe of prune conserve jam.
Of course, then there were the people gathered around those tables—extended family members from near and far, plus our own immediate family, of course. There were uncles, aunties, and cousins. Family stories flowed like cranberry juice back and forth across the feast. The adults generally talked. The kids laughed and listened and learned some of the family lore and legends.
Thanksgiving Day was a gathering of the tribe around our communal campfire.
The elders told family fables of laughter and tragedy, joyful memories, and bitter tears for lost loved ones. Younger generations let these conversations swirl around them like wind in the walnut trees outside. They wouldn’t remember the details then, but decades later they would wish they’d paid closer attention. When the “old folks” are gone, the stories die with them.
But, today I’ve taken a look beyond the curtain to the greatest Thanksgiving Day of them all – the great Resurrection Day when Jesus returns.
Yes, I believe. And because I believe, I cherish the heritage of faith and hope delivered to me across the centuries through generations upon generations of Pilgrims in this world. So, yes, I am filled with gratitude for yesterday, today, and as many tomorrows the Lord sees fit to give me. I pray that I can live each day, every day, as a continuous Thanksgiving Day.
Heritage of Family, Friends, and Faith
As you can tell from these Thanksgiving Day memories from yesteryear, my family has always been extremely important to me. I truly am thankful for my family of origin, my wife, my children, and grandchildren.
And, of course, the extended family, branching back to generations long forgotten—all played a role in delivering customs, traditions, and various folkways that characterize our family culture.
My ancestors in every known generation past have been country folk—people of the land. They lived simple, often very rough lives scratching out a living from the soil, raising their children, burying their dead, fighting the wars of their time, and doing their best to survive. There were a few “black sheep” of course. Some murderers, a couple of suicides, but mostly decent people trying to live positively with their neighbors, and make a good contribution to their society.
I cherish the knowledge of their struggle. I am thankful—not that they had troubles, but that through it all they prevailed! They successfully delivered life and love to us in unbroken lines, generation to generation.
What more could we ask?
The New Testament has a word for friendship. It’s phileo—brotherly love. This doesn’t mean just love for our family siblings, but extends along the lines of comradery and belonging.
I am genuinely thankful for the phileo love I have experienced from life-long friends. I could name names here, but I don’t want to embarrass anybody! Nevertheless, just knowing that I have friends who love me enough that if I ever have a significant serious crisis, they will be there for me is gratifying beyond words.
I only pray that I can return that kind of love and loyalty to them if it is ever needed.
The Holy Scriptures
I am thankful for the Bible, the Holy Scriptures. I believe the maxim coined during the Protestant Reformation, that the Bible is “the only rule for faith and practice for Christians.”
My mother was my earliest teacher of Bible truth. She prayed over my siblings and me from our cradle days until she slipped into eternity at age 85. She received her faith from her own mother—my grandmother Pearl Wilson. Grandma Wilson was also a woman of great faith and integrity, who wanted nothing more than for her children and grandchildren to love and serve God faithfully.
In truth, I have been greatly blessed to receive an incredible education in religious studies. After graduating from high school, I enrolled at Walla Walla College (now University) in the School of Theology where I studied for my bachelor’s degree. Later I acquired an MDiv (Master of Divinity) and a DMin (Doctor of Ministry) from Andrews University. I could not possibly have reached these milestones without a heritage of godly people making it possible. My heart is filled with gratitude for choices made by earlier generations which—in time—brought their influence to me. I also pray that I may be a faithful carrier of God’s love and grace to my own children, grandchildren, and other subsequent generations.
Living in Our Time of World History
Never in the entire history of human civilization has there been a time such as ours.
Right now—at this very moment—our world population stands at roughly 8 billion people! Teeming cities exist on every continent except Antarctica. In past decades it could take days, weeks, or even months to communicate across the globe. Today, we have the technology to connect with nearly anyone, anywhere, at the touch of a few buttons on a device held in the palm of our hands!
Information technology can deliver nearly every scrap of trivial news or skills training instantly via the Internet.
Now we can travel in a few hours distances which previously might take months. We are probing deep space, as well as peering into the nano-world of tiny realities. Knowledge is increasing at record-setting, ever-increasing paces.
This is to say nothing about medical and scientific breakthroughs, and a host of other inventions, tools, insights, and discoveries.
The angel’s words to the prophet Daniel are truer now than ever before: “[At the time of the end] many will rush here and there, and knowledge will increase” (Daniel 12:4 NLT).
I glad to be alive right now!
The Healing Power of Gratitude
I want to finish this episode with a story I just recently read which speaks volumes about the power of gratitude and generosity.
John D. Rockefeller was once the richest man in the world. The first billionaire in the world. By age 25, he controlled one of the largest oil refineries in the US. By age 31, he had become the world’s largest oil refiner. By age 38, he commanded 90% of the oil refined in the U.S.
By 50, he was the richest man in the country. As a young man, every decision, attitude, and relationship was tailored to create his personal power and wealth.
But at the age of 53, he became ill. His entire body became racked with pain and he lost all of his hair. In complete agony, the world’s only billionaire could buy anything he wanted, but he could only digest soup and crackers. An associate wrote that he could not sleep, would not smile and nothing in life meant anything to him. His personal, highly skilled physicians predicted he would die within a year. That year passed agonizingly slowly.
As he approached death he awoke one morning with the vague realization of not being able to take any of his wealth with him into the next world. The man who could control the business world suddenly realized he was not in control of his own life. He was left with a choice.
He called his attorneys, accountants, and managers and announced that he wanted to channel his assets to hospitals, research, and charity work. John D. Rockefeller established his Foundation.
This new direction eventually led to the discovery of Penicillin, cures for malaria, tuberculosis and diphtheria.
But perhaps the most amazing part of Rockefeller’s story is that the moment he began to give back a portion of all that he had earned, his body’s chemistry was altered so significantly that he got better. It looked as if he would die at 53 but he lived to be 98.
Rockefeller learned gratitude and gave back the vast majority of his wealth. Doing so made him whole. It is one thing to be healed. It is another to be made whole.
Before his death, he wrote this in his diary…
Well, we’ve come to that time again.
Thank you so much for listening today! I pray you have been blessed.
I hope you can join me for next month’s episode. I’ll be sharing some thoughts on “Salvation.” Watch for it on December 26—just after Christmas Day!
Mark your calendar! Be sure to tune in, and invite someone else to listen with you!
If you enjoy these Podcasts and Blogposts, please do share the links with your friends, family, or whomever! And, my many thanks—in advance!