Reflections
 

By Sharon van Arneman
 

Choose an

attitude of

gratitude

Part 2

October 23, 2020

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The Daily Hearld

TGIF – Thank God It’s Friday! The weekend is here. I am alive and well. I can see; I can hear. I can smell; I can taste. I can talk; I can touch. I can walk; I run. I can dance and I can move about, quickening my pace or slowing down my steps, as each given situation demands. And even if that were all, it’d already mean that I am blessed beyond measure; but the truth is that there’s still so much more – and I am thankful.

I am thankful for my personal spaces and for good relationships with the people who share these spaces with me. I’m especially thankful that home for me is not just the place where I live, but it’s also my sanctuary, my happy place, my safe place, my haven. I don’t know about you, but I am finding that with all the uncertainty and adverse situations brought on by the coronavirus, nothing helps me get through the difficult times as much as having an attitude of gratitude.

There’s just something about focusing my thoughts on the many reasons I have to be thankful that makes my complaints die on my lips. Just yesterday during a long-distance conversation, I was so touched by the attitude of my friend who recently lost her young sister to Covid-19. “I’m SO sorry to hear that,” I told my friend, as I desperately searched for the right words to offer some comfort. “I can only imagine your grief...” Her response amazed me: “In all things, we give God thanks.”

It made me reflect on the many people in our world today who are emotional infants – self- absorbed brats who are rarely thankful for anything. But like my friend, we can choose an attitude of gratitude, giving God thanks from the start of each new day. If you woke up well and in your right mind this morning, that’s cause for thanksgiving! So many reasons to give thanks! You need no assistance to use the restroom, take a shower or get dressed to face the day; you have the option of eating whatever you want for breakfast, lunch and dinner; you have a car to help you get around, etcetera-etcetera!

Surrounded by everyday blessings, we so often take things for granted until something is taken away from us and then we realize how good we had it. But the grateful at heart never has to look far for a reason to be thankful. I live on the third floor of an apartment building with no elevator; what this translates to is having to climb a whole lot of stairs back and forth, sometimes with heavy grocery bags – not to mention suitcases or other large items!!! If I want to complain, I can easily whine about this all day; or I can choose thankfulness and focus on the perks of living on the third floor.

For starters, there’s the impressive view. It truly is gorgeous at the top; but I also want to mention another plus! With my gym attendance in a free fall since the coming of the coronavirus, the one exercise routine that has remained a constant for me is my stair-climbing – well, that and the exercise I get from doing my household chores! But you get the idea; when we choose an attitude of gratitude, we keep finding there’s no end of reasons for which to be grateful!


Choose an attitude

of gratitude

October 16, 2020

Have you ever gone out of your way to help someone, only to discover how ungrateful they really are? Have you ever put another’s need before your own and never so much as got a thank you in return? Have you ever sacrificed to meet the need of someone who got upset because they felt you should have done more? Have you ever given your best to people who felt that your best was not good enough?

Of all the negative traits I don’t want in my life, ingratitude ranks right there among those that top the list. I just can’t stand the thought of being ungrateful. I am cognizant; however, that ungratefulness is something that rears its ugly head in the most thankful of us, far more often than we’d care to admit. Manifesting itself in a myriad of ways, it may show up in a bitter attitude, in a sense of entitlement, in a lack of appreciation or even in a show of pride. It may also come disguised as grumbling and complaining, jealousy and anger, immaturity and self- centeredness, but always at the root of it all is ingratitude – and none of us like to be on the receiving end of it. That’s why we constantly have to check in with ourselves to make sure we do not become complacent about expressing our gratitude to God for His immeasurable blessings, and saying thank you to those about us, who reach out to us in any number of ways.

Remember the story of the healing of the ten lepers as told in Luke’s gospel? After their miraculous healing, only one of the ten turned back to say thanks. Can you imagine how Jesus must have felt when He commented: “Weren’t ten men healed? Where are the other nine?” In response to this loaded question, someone offered the following explanation for the ingratitude of the nine lepers: “One waited to see if the cure was real. One waited to see if it would last. One said he would see Jesus later. One decided that he had never had leprosy. One said he would have gotten well anyway. One gave the glory to the priests. One said, ‘Oh, well, Jesus didn’t really do anything.’ One said, ‘Any rabbi could have done it.’ One said, ‘I was already much improved.’”

Whatever the reasons that only one out of ten stopped to say thanks, the good news is that we still have a chance to align our attitude with that of the one thankful leper, and choose to let gratitude characterize our life: Every day that we are allowed to see is an opportunity for us to be grateful. Think of our many needs that are met – sometimes before we even have a chance to ask. Recall the times of sickness and hurt and pain and suffering when we’ve experienced relief and healing. Remember the special gifts and acts of kindness we’ve received from family and friends; the blessings of God’s presence and of His comfort and guidance and protection, His bounteous provision; His goodness and mercies and faithfulness and love. That’s why we should make up our minds to choose an attitude of gratitude every single day.


View it as God's love

nudge to us - Conclusion
 

October 9, 2020

While the coronavirus has showed us how fragile and uncertain life is, and how quickly everything could change suddenly and without any warning; it is only a shadow of what lies ahead. That is why it is not a stretch of the imagination to suggest that we view the coronavirus as a love nudge from God, gently reminding us to ready ourselves for the Second Coming. It’s as if God is drawing near to us, whispering ever so lovingly that Jesus is coming again: A reminder to the believer to cheer up and take heart, because the best is yet to come; and an urgent warning to the unbeliever to get right with God, to take Him at His word, because the only safe place is in Him.

“Don’t be so surprised!” the Scriptures warn. “Indeed, the time is coming when all the dead in their graves will hear the voice of God’s Son, and they will rise again. Those who have done good will rise to experience eternal life, and those who have continued in evil will rise to experience judgment.” To clarify things further, Jesus declares, “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it. On judgment day, many will say to Me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in Your name and cast out demons in Your name and performed many miracles in Your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from Me, you who break God’s laws.’”

But isn’t this diametrically opposed to the popular view that all roads lead to Heaven; that it doesn’t matter what you believe in, or who you follow, just as long as you’re sincere in what you believe? The writer of Romans addresses this question with great care and thoroughness: “We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ,” he explains. “And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in His grace, freely makes us right in His sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when He freed us from the penalty for our sins. God did this to demonstrate His righteousness, for He Himself is fair and just, and He makes sinners right in His sight when they believe in Jesus.”

By Jesus’ own admission, everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life. “For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. There is no judgment against anyone who believes in Him. But anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.” That’s why Jesus gives us this love nudge: “Everyone who hears this should say, ‘Come,’” He says. If you are thirsty, come! If you want life-giving water, come and take it. It’s free!” His invitation has an urgent ring to it – and it’s easy to understand why: “I am coming soon,” He says. And those of us who get it echo: “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!”


View it as God's love

nudge to us - Part 2
 

October 2, 2020

With all that is happening in our world today, the last thing I want to do is to give you End Times anxiety, but I sure hope my article last week did something to rouse your thoughts and get you to view the coronavirus as a love nudge from God, gently reminding us to ready ourselves for the return of His Son.

It’s true that no one knows the day or the hour of Christ’s return. But to anyone who’s paying attention, it’s easy to see that the signs pointing to the Second Coming are literally everywhere: There will be an explosion of the preaching of the Gospel to all people groups. False christs and false prophets will be on the rise peddling their false teachings. Scoffers will abound, mocking at the truth that Jesus Christ is coming back again. The authenticity of the faith of those who profess to be believers will be severely tested, and many will abandon their Christian faith.

There will be an increased fierceness in storms and droughts and earthquakes and other natural disasters. There will be an escalation in wars and national tensions; in fearful events and calamities; in plagues and pestilences. There will be a surge in famines and environmental hazards. Society will see the continued rise of moral decadence, as good is hailed as evil and evil is hailed as good; as people substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; as bitter is called sweet and sweet is called bitter. And although this is by no means an exhaustive list, I’m sure you’ll agree with me that it describes what our culture is experiencing to a tee.

Also, seeing that the seven-year tribulation period will precede the Second Coming of Christ, to which all these signs point, I just can’t help thinking how close we must be to that auspicious event called the rapture, which I like to look at as Phase One of the Second Coming. That’s the moment when believers who have died will be raised up from the dead and will meet the Lord in the air along with believers who are still living on earth when Christ returns – and they will be with the Lord forever.

Following the rapture will be seven years of tribulation, which will culminate with Phase Two of the Second Coming – when Jesus Christ visibly returns with the hosts of heaven and His church, to establish His Messianic Kingdom on earth – but not before a severe unleashing of pain and sorrow and suffering and chaos, the likes of which this world has never seen. While the coronavirus has showed us how fragile and uncertain life is, and how quickly everything could change suddenly and without any warning; it is only a shadow of what lies ahead.

That’s why it is not a stretch of the imagination to suggest that we view the coronavirus as a love nudge from God, gently reminding us to ready ourselves for the Second Coming. It’s as if God is drawing near to us, whispering ever so lovingly that Jesus is coming again: A reminder to the believer to cheer up and take heart, because the best is yet to come; and an urgent warning to the unbeliever to get right with God, to take Him at His word, because the only safe place is in Him.


View it as God's love

nudge to us
 

September 25, 2020

What if we all decided to view the coronavirus as a love nudge from God to us; as His gentle reminder that we ready ourselves for His coming? You would think that with the death and devastation this virus has unleashed and continues to unleash globally, the minds of people everywhere would naturally turn to the coming of Christ. Surprisingly, though, what I have observed is that so few give any thought to the imminent return of Christ. But we all know that in life, it is often when we least expect that things happen.

You graduate from high school, full of hope and promise and big dreams, praying that you’ll be the recipient of a college scholarship, but the funds you need to pursue your studies never come. Instead, you watch as many of your friends get the opportunity to fulfill your dream. With a heavy heart, you do the only thing left for you to do – you take a job. Then one day when you least expect, the doors to college swing wide open, and you realize that the prayers you thought had gone unanswered were now being realized beyond your wildest dreams.

You get married and can hardly wait to start a family, but for some unfathomable reason, every pregnancy test comes out negative. In desperation, you try one method after another, but nothing works. The longing to have a baby seems to consume your whole existence – you cry, you pine, you whine, you grieve, then you decide it’s not going to happen so you might as well adopt. So you adopt first one kid and then another; then out of the blue when you least expect, you discover you’re pregnant. I believe it will be the same way with the return of Christ.

“Be ready,” Jesus warned, “because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him.” And although no one knows for sure just when He will return, what we do know is that He will come back. We don’t have to wait around for some compelling new prophecy, because the truth of the matter is that prophecies are being fulfilled in such quick succession we can hardly keep up. And because everything we need to know is already revealed to us in God’s word, we know not to be troubled or perplexed at the current state of affairs, with the coronavirus and everything else that’s happening in our world today.

We can rest in God and place our confidence and trust in the words of Jesus Himself who said: “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” That is why we can decide to view the coronavirus as a love nudge from God to us – His gentle reminder that we ready ourselves for His coming, because whether we expect it or not, the very next moment could herald His return.

It's A Family Affair!

Don't you see that children
are God’s best gift?
the fruit of the womb his generous legacy?
Like a warrior’s fistful of arrows
are the children of a vigorous youth.
Oh, how blessed are you parents,
with your quivers full of children!
Your enemies don’t stand
a chance against you;
you’ll sweep them right off your doorstep.
~Psalm 127:3-5 (The Message)



When it comes to church work and Christian service, it has always been a family affair for the van Arnemans. Forever grateful to God for their Christian heritage, Pastor Erick and Sharon have always felt divinely mandated to pass this Christian heritage on to their children, who will then hopefully pass it on to succeeding generations.

Today, they are overjoyed to not only have their daughters (both of whom got saved as tiny tots) serving right alongside them in the ministry, but also their son-in-law,             Denfield Jamaul Hastings, as the new Assistant Pastor of Grace International Baptist Church.

Read Pastor Denfield's testimony below:

As a recently ordained pastor to the work of the gospel ministry, I am so psyched to be the new Assistant Pastor of Grace International Baptist Church and to serve alongside Pastor Erick, who also happens to be my father-in-law. I still can’t believe I am married to his daughter Joy-Ann. My wife has beauty and brains and although I knew she was way out of my league, I couldn’t help falling in love with her. The day she agreed to marry me was the happiest day of my life. 

Born on April 22, 1992, on the island of Antigua, I grew up in a Christian home where I was exposed to the gospel of Christ at an early age. At the tender age of eight, I became aware of my sinful state and repented by faith, acknowledging Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I later got baptized as a teenager and served in the youth ministry as assistant youth leader.

I felt called to preach in my late teens, but it wasn’t until 2010, when I attended a youth conference where I was challenged to live more visibly for Christ, that I started to truly respond to the call. At this youth conference, I delivered my first message. Over the next few years, the desire to not only preach, but to also shepherd and disciple others as a pastor, grew stronger within me, and confirmed the initial call I had felt on my life.

To further my formal training and preparation for the ministry, I completed a number of online courses and attended classes at a local institute in my homeland Antigua. Most of my practical ministerial experience was done at All Saints Baptist Church – the church I grew up in, and also where I served as the formal aide to the pastor. I’m always glad to take up every opportunity afforded me to preach God’s word whatever the setting, and I give God thanks for the opportunity to serve at Grace International Baptist Church.