Thoughts of a Radical Pastor Ansell: We might be rich (or not) but are we thankful?

By Ken Ansell
Ken Ansell

Happy Thanksgiving or if you are reading this after Thursday, I hope you had a great holiday.

I like Thanksgiving. It gives us the opportunity to take an inventory. Those of us that grew up in the church used to sing, “Count your blessings, name them one by one, count your blessings, see what God has done!”

James told us that everything good comes from God (James 1:17) and his point was that if we would adopt that perspective we would see the good  in our lives and see God at work in our lives.

Dr. Robert Hill has written more than 40 books, traveled the world and met royalty. On one stop to Thailand his guide asked him where he lived. He told the young man, “Richmond, Virginia.” The young man mentioned how Dr. Hill was rich. Dr. Hill replied that he was not rich. The guide said, “Tell me about your house and family back in America.” “Well, we live in a 10-room house with 2 cars in the garage. We have four kids, two at home still and two away at college.” 

As Dr. Hill took inventory and realized he was rich — the question was: is he thankful?

The Apostle Paul told the Church at Thessalonica, “Give thanks in every situation because this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1st Thessalonians 5:18).” Did you hear that? It is God’s will for you to be a person of gratitude and this gratitude will be expressed as Psalm 86:12 says, “I will give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.”

Can we talk? Are you a thankful person? Do you have to have 100% of your way in order to be glad hearted and grateful? This Thanksgiving was your “whole heart” full of praise for what the Lord has done (or is doing) in your life?

In the devotional book titled "Springs in the Valley," the story is told of a man that found a barn where Satan kept seeds of discouragement. The man learned that those seeds of discouragement can grow almost anywhere — the church, in marriages, in the workplace, in communities, etc. The man also got Satan to admit the only place seeds of discouragement can’t grow are in a grateful heart.

Perspective matters doesn’t it? They asked the Sunday school class if anyone was not glad when the Prodigal Son returned home? One little girl said, “The fatted calf.” Perspective matters. We might be rich (or not) but are we thankful?

Finally, Philippians 4:8 reminds us to think about the things that are “true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and worthy of praise.” When I practice this spiritual discipline I understand what Job said in Job 42:5, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” 

The late great Adrian Rogers, longtime pastor of the Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee, used to question his salvation. Then one night walking home from a date he prayed, “Lord, I don’t know if I am a Christian or not. But I am driving the stake and I will be convinced by faith that from this day forward that I am a Christian. I will not ever again question my salvation.”

What’s your perspective this Thanksgiving season? Can I encourage you to “drive the stake” on gratitude and be a Psalm 86:12 Christ-follower — from this day forward choose to give the Lord thanks with all of your heart all the time, no matter what! He told me to tell you that. 

Ken Ansell currently serves as a pastor and local missionary in small, rural Texas community. He plays lots of tennis and fly fishes when he can. He can be reached at kenansell1@gmail.com.