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Hauser: The spirit of Thanksgiving is thankful living

Happy Thanksgiving, readers! I continue to receive encouraging words from you and I am so thankful and blessed by each of you. I started writing this column one year ago today and I had no idea the positive impact it would have, but God did. I pray it will continue to grow.

As a child I told people that Memorial Day was my favorite holiday and the Indy 500 was my favorite sporting event. The reason was they signaled the start of summer vacation; no school for three months! My favorite holiday, however, has always been Thanksgiving, by far. I love fall, football and all of the traditional Thanksgiving food (including the fact there are no fruit cakes at Thanksgiving). Add family to the mix and it becomes the perfect holiday.

Of course, Thanksgiving is a day and weekend to express thanks to God for all of our blessings. Every Thanksgiving I take time to think about or write out what I am thankful for. At our Thanksgiving meal we always express words of thanks for each other and name some blessings.

This is all good, and I am very glad we do these things, but I still have a gnawing question: what is the spirit of Thanksgiving? What does it look like to live with the spirit of Thanksgiving all year long? Having a grateful heart is a wonderful quality and brings joy to others, but is the spirit of Thanksgiving even more than that?

I think it is. I think the spirit of Thanksgiving is thankful living. And thankful living means serving others; expressing our thanks for all that God has done for us by seeing the needs around us and meeting them with no strings attached (we use the word "servilization" at Prairie Heights).

If we are truly going to be a servant there are several key decisions we must make. We read about these decisions in an incredible book and chapter of the Bible: Philippians chapter 2. I encourage all of you to pull out a Bible and read it. Paul wrote this letter from jail; arrested for starting churches and teaching about Christ. The Roman Empire wanted to snuff out this Jesus movement so Paul was being punished and the Philippian church members were facing great persecution. Yet, Paul writes the most positive faith-filled encouraging letter you will read. It really is incredible.

And Paul outlines a pattern for thankful living. To truly be a servant we must chose humility before ego, people before possessions, serving others before serving self, and obedience to Christ before conformity to popular practice. Each of these decisions must be intentional and ongoing. What a difference they will make in our life and legacy. We live in such turbulent days and yet the timeless wisdom taught in the Bible still holds the answers to the difficult issues of today.

God bless you! See you next Sunday.

Hauser is founding and senior pastor, Prairie Heights of Fargo Moorhead. Email jon@prairieheights.com

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