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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

CrossTalk: Thanksgiving Preparations

Across our native land, Thursday will be a time for gathering with family and friends to give thanks for our many blessings. As we prepare our homes and meals for this Thanksgiving Day, here are a few thoughts to help you prepare your hearts as well.

A good place to start is with a two column list. Put good things on one side and bad things on the other. You will quickly find that such a list is harder than it seems. At first, the list of “bad” things grows quickly. But with more careful thought, many of these things can be seen as “good.”

For instance, grown-ups routinely recognize that education, healthy food, and firm behavioral boundaries are precious gifts. But children rarely see this. Remember back when you were a kid and you grumbled or whined because you didn’t like something your parents wanted to give you?

Now, consider that we are all still children in relation to God and His gracious giving. As children, we are simply without the necessary perspective to see the blessings of what God is giving us.

Some things that God gives are more obviously good: food and clothing, home and family, body and life. But even these are often experienced as “bad” — especially when we are looking at the particulars of our life. We hear it said, “Sure, food is good; but this food is awful. Sure, family is good; but not my family. Sure, life is good; but my life is a mess.”

But for those who believe that God is good, you have a ready gauge to tell you what things go in what column: All that comes from God is good! It really is that simple. And for Christians to know that God is the Man who gives His very life for you, you need only ask what comes from Him in order to know what is good and what to give thanks for.

Let your Thanksgivings follow the maturity of Jesus and leave behind the childishness of unbelief. When you do, you will see more and more of your life’s circumstances move from the negative column to the positive side. Your reasons for thankfulness will overflow while your reasons for grumbling will dwindle to nothing.

As your list becomes more and more lop-sided, your love for God grows as well. Or, better said, as your faith in God’s graciousness grows, your list will become more lop-sided. You will soon find that an hour is not enough time to thank God. Next, you will see that the whole day is far too short a time for thanksgiving. In heaven, we will find that eternity is still not enough time to finish saying thanks.

When you have finished your list — or simply been overwhelmed by the sheer wonder of it all — it’s time to move on to the next step. Recognize that God has given you all of these things through the people and things around you. He has used these people and things because He wants to receive your thanks through them.

To thank God does not stop with a mental note of His goodness. Thanksgiving expresses itself towards the people that He has used to bless you. Thank God for your family by loving your wife, your husband, your children. Thank God for your employment by working hard and being faithful. Thank God for your health by listening to your doctor and other health-care professionals. Thank God for His Word by hearing it regularly and taking it to heart.

By such things, not only will your life be filled with love and faith towards God, but you will also grow more and more to love each and every one of the good people and the good things that He has placed in your life. And they will also thank God in you. Thanks be to God.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Being Thankful for Lutheranism

The Internet Monk has been blogging in the "Post-Evangelical Wilderness" for 11 years. Now, having become a Lutheran he has posted a series of articles titled: How Lutheran Tradition Answers Many Post-Evangelical Concerns"

Life-long Lutherans often cannot know the richness of their own tradition simply because they don't have anything else to compare with it. Non-Lutherans may not know of its richness for the simple reason that it appears irrelevant to the concerns of popular Evangelicalism.

Either way, Chaplain Mike's articles are a worthwhile read for anyone interested in God the Crucified.  He provides seven reasons to be thankful for the Lutheran tradition which are summed up as follows:

1. The Lutheran tradition provides a solid historic tradition with roots.

2. The Lutheran tradition gives priority to Word and Table liturgical worship.

3. The Lutheran tradition places a strong emphasis on pastoral ministry.

4. The Lutheran tradition has a healthy emphasis on the vocational callings of all believers.

5. The Lutheran tradition is centered on Christ and the Gospel.

6. The Lutheran tradition keeps proper distinctions between Law and Gospel.
7. The Lutheran tradition has a sacramental theology that corrects the inefficiencies of revivalism.
8. The Lutheran tradition teaches most clearly the biblical doctrine of the Theology of the Cross.
After these 8 points, Mike gives a bonus post called "10 Reasons to Love Luther." All five articles can be accessed by following this link.