Five things I’m thankful for

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Today is Thanksgiving in Canada. Like in America, Thanksgiving weekend is accompanied by (arguably) excessive amounts of food, lots of family get-togethers, and a post-turkey coma. The major difference, aside from our Thanksgiving being on a Monday, is that the biggest shopping day of the year doesn’t immediately follow.

This past Sunday, we drove to Orangeville, Ontario, and enjoyed the day with our extended family on my wife’s side (specifically, my in-laws and my sister-in-law’s in-laws), with lots of great food and conversation. Thinking about the festivities on the way home and into the evening after putting the kids to bed made me consider what I’m thankful for this year. Here are five things:

1. My church: yesterday was the first time I’d actually sat in our weekend services in about a month. Prior to that, I’ve been preaching at another church, teaching in our children’s ministry, and (last week) teaching our baptism class in preparation for October 24th’s event. It was nice to just be there, for a change (even if the sleepy-time lighting makes it challenging to stay awake). Every time I hear them preach, I am grateful for our pastors’ commitment to the Word and desire to see people grow in their affection for Jesus. This is such a great gift.

2. My wife: She’s been working extra hard over the last few weeks, particularly as we’ve transitioned into homeschooling. What I’m really excited about for her is seeing how she’s taking to the task (which is to say, well). She especially gets little thrills when the kids randomly bring up things she’s taught them. For example, a couple of weeks ago, while doing a geography lesson, Abigail saw the word peninsula, and said, “Hey, I know what that means—’pen,’ is ‘almost,’ and ‘insula’ is ‘island.’ So, peninsula means ‘almost an island.'” You can understand why this was encouraging for her, I’m sure.

3. My kids: So far, my kids are thriving in homeschooling (as noted above). But school aside, these kids are just plain fun. I love being able to come home and have Hudson try to beat me up (he loves rough-housing so much). Making my girls squeal at a pitch only dogs can hear is also pretty amazing. And really, how can you not enjoy this:

My little Red Lantern

4. My work: I don’t talk about my day job very much here, mostly because I don’t have much to say about it that would be relevant for you to know. But lately, we’ve been having a pretty good season in our team. One of the things I’m most grateful for is a newfound willingness to take risks. Not foolish ones, but calculated risks where we can fail and learn or succeed and celebrate. One of the risks we took recently paid off, at the very least from a creative perspective, which to me is worth celebrating. I’ll share a bit more about that once the campaign it’s tied to officially launches.

5. My news: Friday, I learned something very cool—I got into school. Look for more details to come in the near future.

These are a few of the things I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving. What about you?


Photo credit: rustiqueart via photopin cc

See it. Hear Him. Thank Him. Ask for more.

Source: NASA

Source: NASA

As the earth screams through space, balanced exactly on the edge of everyone burning alive and everyone freezing solid, as we shriek through deadly obstacle courses of meteor showers and find them picturesque, as the nearest fiery star vomits eruptions hundreds of times bigger than our wee planet (giving chipper local weathermen northern lights to chatter about), as a giant reflective rock glides around us slopping the seas (and never falls down), and as we ride in our machines, darting past fools and drunks and texting teenagers, how many times do we thank God? We are always in His hands, but we often feel like we are in our own. We can’t thank Him for every breath and every heartbeat, but we can thank Him every day for not splatting us with the moon or letting us drop into the sun.…

In a bed or on the battlefield or on asphalt in shattered glass beneath a flashing light, we are God’s stories to end. How many drunks has He spared you from? Thank Him before you ask to be spared from another. How many breaths have you drawn? How many winter winds have tightened your skin? How many Christmases have you seen? How many times has the sky swirled glory above your head like a benediction?

See it. Hear Him. Thank Him. Ask for more.

Search for moments in your story for which you can be grateful.

N.D. Wilson, Death by Living, 139-140

Don't Be Guilted into Giving

Last year, I was sitting in a reasonably packed conference watching the host on the screen as he made a request for an offering to let the content of the conference be sent out to nations that couldn’t afford it.

A noble effort, to be sure.

But just before the collection was taken, he looks to the audience, points a finger and declares, “If you aren’t giving your full ten percent to your local church, don’t give to this. You are in sin and you are robbing God. Get right with God and then give to this.”

I’ve heard a lot of similar type comments before. But hearing it this time… honestly, it just made me angry and I’ve never been fully able to articulate why until recently.

I wasn’t angry because I was being convicted of sin in this area. I was angry because this attitude turns financial giving—something that should be a wonderful, worshipful act—into something ugly.

Why do you give?

Do you give out of a sense of obligation?

Do you give out of a sense of guilt?

Or do you give out of a heart of gratitude for all that God given you—in response to His saving you through faith in Jesus Christ?

What was most helpful for me was recently discovering the place of the tithe in the New Covenant community.

Tithing & Taxes

My pastor recently spent the last two weeks teaching on this, so it’s all still pretty fresh and I freely admit that I’m stealing from him. But here’s the big idea:

The term “tithe” is a mathematical term, referring literally to a tenth. It’s also a term that refers to taxation. [Read more...]

A Reason to Be Thankful

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, m passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.

And be thankful.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 3:1-17


Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends.

And to the rest of us, Happy Thursday.

Cultivating Thankfulness

thankfulness

When reading Trusting God on my flight to England this week, something Jerry Bridges wrote caught my attention:

Because God is sovereign, wise, and good, we can trust Him…. Paul said to “give thanks in all circumstances.” [1 Thes. 5:18] We are to be thankful in bad times and good times, for adversities as well as for blessings. All circumstances, whether favorable or unfavorable to our desires are to be occasions for thanksgiving.

Trusting God, pp. 221

Bridges goes on to remind readers that our problem with not cultivating an attitude of thankfulness is not tied to forgetfulness, it’s tied to our sinful nature. And therefore, we must recognize God’s sovereignty, wisdom and love as they work themselves out  through all the unexpected twists and turns of our lives. “It is,” Bridges writes, “the firm belief that God is at work in all things—all our circumstances—for our good” (p. 223).

To derive the fullest comfort and encouragement from Romans 8:28["And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose."]…we must realize that God is at work in a preactive, not reactive fashion. That is, God does not just respond to an adversity in our lives to make the best of a bad situation. He knows before He initiates or permits the adversity exactly how He will use if for our good. God knew exactly what He was doing before he allowed Joseph’s brothers to sell him into slavery. Joseph recognized this when he said to his brothers, “So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God….You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good” (Genesis 45:8, 50:20).

Trusting God, p. 223 (emphasis mine)

Did you catch that?

God doesn’t just use our bad circumstances for good—He intends them. [Read more...]

Blogging the Psalms: Psalm 50

If I were hungry, I would not tell you,
     for the world and its fullness are mine
— Psalm 50:12

Reading this verse reminded me of something very important that is easy to forget: God does not need us for anything. We do not provide Him with anything that He needs or wants. Truthfully, we cannot… because everything is His.

For the Christian, that includes our time, our money, all of it. It is all His.

Yet we have a strange idea that we “need” to do something for God—that we can somehow earn His favor, or pay Him back for the gift of grace we have received.

But there is one thing we can give Him. It seems like such a small thing, but it’s incredibly difficult for us to do sometimes: We can give Him thanks.

The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me;
    to one who orders his way rightly
    I will show the salvation of God!
— Psalm 50:23

[Read more...]