Have you ever gone on a God Hunt? A God Hunt begins when you teach yourself to look for God’s hand at work in the everyday occurrences of your life. Here’s one of my personal God Hunt Sightings:
This is an unusual year in that Advent does not follow hard on the heels of the Thanksgiving celebration. Usually the first week of Advent is the immediate weekend after Thanksgiving Thursday, giving us little time to absorb the thoughts about gratitude before we are breathlessly pushed along into efforts to resist the spirit of an aggressive consumer Christmas season.
Last week, I was asked to preach on the power of words, particularly the word “thank you” and its accompanying lifestyle of appreciation and gratitude.
So I have had an usually long stretch to consider the meaning of this huge scriptural concept. As usual, sermon preparation has done the most for me—the messenger.
For that unusual week on our calendar—the week before Advent began on December 2—let me take you along as I share some of my thoughts.
One of the recommendations of those in the scientific community who have been studying the impact of healthy choices (as opposed to only researching abnormal or unhealthy psychology and social environments) has been the remarkable discovery that the impact of many kinds of positive emotional attitudes actually can be measured in controlled study environments.
Gratitude, or a lifestyle of appreciation, comes right out on top in its impact. One of the discoveries of Dr. Dan Baker, Director of Behavioral Medicine at the National Center for Preventive and Stress Medicine, revealed in his book What Happy People Know, is this fact: “Your mind, when focused on appreciating, has an unparalleled power to trigger physical and emotional healing.”
If this is true—and I am convinced from the data as well as my own personal experience that it is true—then we need to be intentionally working on stretching and growing our capacity to be grateful (and to express that gratitude) to God and to the people around us.
Baker cites studies that show the brain cannot process both fear (one of mankind’s dominate negative emotions) and appreciation at the same time. He has developed the Appreciation Audit, which when practiced, is designed to crate a shield in the brain against fear, hate and anger. A fundamental form of the Audit is:
Reserve three to five minutes, preferably three times a day,
to think about something you appreciate.
Keep your mind focused until you feel the beauty of gratefulness rising.
Busyness often keeps me from deeply appreciating. I keep a section of my prayer journal for thanksgiving and I list my gratefulness daily, but “feeling the beauty of gratefulness rising”?—well, I may need to work on that a bit.
So I decided to set aside three to five minutes, preferably three times a day, during that unusual calendar week between the holiday and the beginning of Advent.
I’ll let you know what it did for me. You may want to consider experimenting with this as well. Let me know if you make any discoveries, won’t you?
I spy God!
Award-winning author Karen Mains has long had an interest in spiritual formation and the obedient Christian walk. She has written about the God Hunt in her book by the same name, The God Hunt: The Delightful Chase and the Wonder of Being Found. A hardback copy can be ordered from Mainstay Ministries for $10.00 plus $4.95 shipping and handling. Contact Karen at firstname.lastname@example.org and she will be happy to autograph a copy for you.
Karen continues to write content for her Christian blog, “Thoughts-by-Karen-Mains.” In so doing, she desires to touch the lives of Christian women and men and help them find ways to walk closer with the Lord Jesus Christ. In addition, through silent retreats, spiritual teaching, women’s retreats, Christian vacation opportunities, and other ministry activities, Karen helps each Christian woman and man receive vital spiritual food.
Through her Hungry Souls ministry, Karen serves as a spiritual coach to many Christian women and men, and teaches a mentor-writing class. And, through the Global Bag Project, she is working to develop a network of African women who sew exquisite cloth reusable shopping bags, Africa bags. This micro-finance women opportunity helps provide a much-needed sustainable income for struggling African families. For more information on this critically important project, please click here.
For decades, Karen and her husband, David, have served God through religious communications—radio, television, and print publication. They are the co-authors of the Kingdom Tales Trilogy: Tales of the Kingdom, Tales of the Resistance, and Tales of the Restoration. To find many valuable resources for pastors and congregations at the Mainstay Ministries main website, please click here.
Likewise, pastors will find special resources to help them prepare effective, life-transforming Sunday sermons by visiting David Mains’ website by clicking here.