Los Alamos Church of Christ

Connections 2016

Thank You Sequence

 

Let’s begin by watching this short film entitled “Unsatisfying” …

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tn-Nb8SZQ8

 
There are so many things in the world that we could add to this list that it is easy to live on the edge of… annoyance… discouragement… exasperation… defeat…

 I saw a sign once that paraphrased said… “I am one irritating person away from losing it.”

We often feel that if one more person does something stupid we are going to explode all over them.  It is easy to live with this knot of frustration on the edge of explosion…

 

We are like the man who was lost in the desert…

 

After days in the desert the guy sees a house.  Tired and weak, he crawls up to the house and collapses on the doorstep. He finds out it is the home of a preacher. The preacher takes him in and nurses him back to health. Feeling better, the man asks the preacher for directions to the nearest town. The preacher tells him the directions, and offers to lend him his horse. The preacher says, "However, there is a special thing about this horse. You have to say ’Thank God’ to make it go and ’Amen’ to make it stop."

 

Anxious to get to town, the man says, "Sure, okay" and gets on the horse. He says, "Thank God" and, the horse starts walking. A bit later he says louder, "Thank God, thank God," and the horse starts trotting. Feeling really brave, the man says, "Thank God! Thank God! THANK GOD!" and the horse is soon up to a full run!

 

About then he realizes he’s heading for a huge cliff and yells "Whoa!" But the horse doesn’t even slow down! The edge is coming up and he’s doing everything he can to make the horse stop. "Whoa, stop, hold on!" Finally he remembers "AMEN!!!"

 

The horse stops a mere two inches from the cliff’s edge, almost throwing him over its head. The man, panting and heart racing, says out loud, “Thank God!”

 

We want to thank God but all the unsatisfying things of the world keep pushing us off the cliff.

 

Perhaps, I have a solution… 

--A solution that we can learn to handle the unsatisfying moments in life. 

--A solution that can keep us from losing it when we are confronted by the irritating actions of others.

--A solution that can keep us from jumping off too many cliffs…

--A solution which I call…

 

…The Thank You Sequence.

 

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 Watch this amazing sequence:

 

1) An offered gift opens a space

--Whether it is something someone offers to do for you…

--It could be a compliment

--Let me help you with that…

--It could be Snickers Bar

--Or better… a homemade Pecan Pie!

--A birthday present…

--A Hallmark card…

--An invite out to eat…

 

Whenever someone offers a gift, a clearing is created.  This is a metaphorical thought.  The offering of a gift is like a clearing in the woods.  You are hiking in the forest and suddenly there is a nice opening.  The offering of an authentic gift is this empty space which you are invited to enter.  It is empty but the offer is an invitation to join the other person in this clearing.

 

Step 2 of the Sequence enters the space…

 

2) “Thank you” enters the space. 

Saying, “Thank you” enters the space created by the gift. The acceptance of the gift steps into the clearing.  Speaking the magic words… “Thank you” moves you into the clearing to join the person who offered the gift. 

 

It is like offering a high five.  “Give me five…”  I have my hand out there waiting… There is an empty space hanging there… in the space until it is filled by a high five. 

 

The offering of a gift creates the void.  The “Thank you” fills the void.  There is the beginning of a connection. 

 

Because step 3…

 

3) Entering the space acknowledges the worth of the giver.

The clearing has been created by the gift.  “Thank you” enters the space.  Entering the space gives value to the gift.  I accept your gift says… I appreciated you.  Thank you says to the giver you are significant.  I will accept the kindness of your gift because I value you. 

 

One of the many things my Dad taught me was… If someone wants to help you… let them.  It allows them to do good.  It acknowledges them as valuable.  “I never take charity”, is an unchristian concept because it denies the worth of the one offering a gift. 

 

Step 4 works on us…

 

4) Entering the space is humbling.

Saying “thank you” enters the clearing and acknowledges the worth of the giver, but it also recognizes who we are.  It recognizes our submission to the giver.  “Thank you” says… I am humble enough to accept your gift.  It kills our pride.  “Thank you” is humbling.  This is a good thing.  It changes our thinking from always being self-sufficient, to understanding that can be the recipients of the kindness of others.

 

I need you.  I need the support of the body of Christ.  We are here for each other.  I am needy.  I am incomplete without you.  All of those humbling attitudes are important.  We often turn down help from another because of pride.  We like to be the one who gives, but it is sometimes harder to be the one who receives.  The Thank You Sequence is an exercise in humility.  That is a good thing. 

 

With this humility then step 5…

 

5) The Thank You Sequence leads to connection.

Throughout this year we have talked about connections.  In using our temperaments to offer gifts to each other we create connection.  “Thank you” acknowledges the value of the other’s temperament.  A connection is formed between the one who offered the gift and the one accepted a gift. 

 

Then, this is interesting the givers response of… You’re Welcome... completes the bond.  That is an amazing metaphor…

 

Gift—Thank you – You’re welcome – makes a bond. 

 

The Sequence continues…

 

6) Entering into the space curtails our whining.   

As we are humbled in connection to another, we back-off the criticism.  It is easy to be the aloof-cynic; the self-appointed critic, the pointer-outer-of-every-thing-wrong person. 

 

As long as we have not created the bond; as long as we are the other, we can critique the “they”. 

--They did that wrong…

--They are idiots…

--They will never succeed…

--They are the ones causing all the problems…

--They have an agenda…

--They will take us all to Yuma in a handbasket…

 

As long as it is they, we can be the critic.  But if it is “we”- if we have entered the clearing; if we have said “thank you’; if we have acknowledged their worth; if we have humbled ourselves to join in the bond of “you are welcome”… we learn to say we… that changes the whole nature of our criticism.

 

It is impossible to authentically say “thank you” and in the same breath whine.  Maybe, it is not impossible… sometimes we say thank you…

--but you shouldn’t have.

--Thank you but I will have to repay you…

--Thank you but only this once…

--Thank you but… The but breaks the sequence. 

 

Let me rephrase this… the genuine “Thank You”; the no “buts” thank you… should curtail our whining. 

 

And it does lead to Step 7….

 

7) Repetition forms fellowship. 

I want to return the favor.  There in the clearing a symbiotic relationship is created.  When I have humbly accepted your gift, a desire is created within me to return the favor.  Maybe, it is obligation.  Maybe, I don’t want to be in debt to you for helping me.  But I think there is a positive spin to this.  As we have shared the space of a gift with a “thank you” and a “you’re welcome” there is a bond created that acknowledges a shared willingness to help each other.  There becomes an openness to help.  There is a bond of mutual caring.  The two-way connection within the body of Christ is called fellowship. 

 

Especially if this process has happened both ways many times there becomes an understanding that you can ask me for help.  That is the next level.  A shared bond of willingness!  That is what the church can be.  That is what this church should be.  That is a powerful reason to be a part of the body of Christ.  We serve each other.

 

Fellowship is the continual creation of bonds through the Thank You Sequence. 

 

Listen to Romans 12 for the Thank You Sequence as underlying principle…

 

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ESV Romans 12:1-3 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.  For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

 

--Because of the mercy of God we are moved to offer ourselves as living sacrifices.

--It is in humility that we have learned because of the grace of God.

 

ESV Romans 12:4-8 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

 

--Each of us creating clearing by offering our gifts… received by the one body of Christ. 

--Fellowship is the interconnection of dependency created by offering our differing gifts.

 

ESV Romans 12:9-13 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.  Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.  Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.  Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.  Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

 

--Friendships… are formed by repeating the Thank You Sequence again and again. 

--Marriage… Is the intimate application of the Thank You Sequence.

--Churches, become one through this sequence.  Loyalty is formed.  When I have offered gifts; when I have received gifts… over and over… I form loyalty… fidelity… allegiance… commitment… fellowship. 

 

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The Oneness of the body of Christ meshes nicely with the Thank you Sequence.

1) A gift opens a space.

2) “Thank You” enters the space.

3) Entering the space acknowledges the worth of the giver.

4) Entering the space promotes humility.

5) “You’re Welcome” cements a bond of connection.

6) They becomes we... which limits our whining.

7) Repeated sequences forms fellowship!

 

Wow… all that can happen when we say… Thank You! 

 

The Thank You Sequence is amazing. Let’s see if it works… offer gift.  Who wants to play? Here is a Snickers Bar…

 

Let’s watch our Unsatisfying video again and plug in the Thank You Sequence …

 

Perhaps, there is a solution. 

--When we face the unsatisfying…

--When we are on the edge of irritation. 

--When we are about to jump off the cliff. 

Stop and create the Thank You Sequence. 

--Step into the space God has created with all his blessings.

--Pick one and say thank you

--This initiates the rest of the sequence…

 

Thank you for listening this morning…

 

Tim Stidham

November 20, 2016

Los Alamos Church of Christ