Tag Archives: Bible

Who Are You Thanking on Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving Day by Bonnie White

Thanksgiving Day by Bonnie White

Ok so most of us are planning a family gathering Thanksgiving.  Some of you are most likely wondering if there is anyway to avoid the tension and stress as families unite, cooks pack the kitchen, and people arrive bearing side items and desserts.

I’m honestly not bothered by the chaos.  However there are some in my family who find getting the food ready on time, carving the turkey or getting the green beans just right as a stressor. (I just avoid the kitchen)

This year my family has experienced a faith building situation as my Dad is going through treatment for cancer.  Yuck.  That’s not something to look forward to during the Thanksgiving Holidays.  So Dad having to go thru radiation treatment over an 8 week period has changed some of this years family traditions.  Some of my family, not to name names but they are the only 2 nephews, will certainly miss the crockpot macaroni and cheese. But the thing that I’m considering is how a change in focus from all the food and preparation reminded me of what I am thankful for and Who I am Thanking.

Normally after a big meal and a few too many pieces of pie, we wipe our mouths and say, thanks to the cook or cooks.  “that was great, thanks.”  I’m thinking the change will be good and help us think about how precious it is to be together.

This year, we’re planning on having sandwiches, stuff all us children can bring in, so that Mom doesn’t have to do much more than make iced tea.  I’m hoping the lack of a table full of food helps us consider that it isn’t just about thanking the cooks but being thankful period.

Not only do we need to be grateful, we need to remember who we are Thanking.  America has a long tradition of thanksgiving.  As with many holidays, Thanksgiving has turned into another way to make us spend more on groceries or food channels to show 10 new ways to use left over turkey.  However, the whole point was that we would take time to stop and gather with the people we care about and talk about why we are thankful and to whom we are thankful.

George Washington proclaimed a day of thanksgiving on Oct 3, 1789 and pointed us to the fact that it is our duty to “acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor” 1

For it is not just the cooks and those who provided the food for our meal that we thank.  It’s not just the Thanksgiving Dinner or the family that is gathered, our focus as in all things to see that it is the hand of Almighty God, our Provider and Sustainer, the God of the Bible who has given us all things.

So this Thanksgiving – Remember who to Thank!

Both riches and honor come from You, And You reign over all. In Your hand is power and might; In Your hand it is to make great And to give strength to all. “Now therefore, our God, We thank You And praise Your glorious name ..” … 1 Chron 29:12-13.

Enjoy the good gifts of God!

1 Timothy 4:4-5

For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving,  because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.

Hobbits, Legends, Myths Echoes of Eden

Desolation of Smaug

I’m excited about the next installment in the Hobbit Movie trilogy by Peter Jackson.  Modern technology and filmmaking have enabled these creative people to make some amazing films.  I am sometimes taken back at the popularity of them. But I shouldn’t really.  For when we consider the great stories of our time, there is something about them that resonates with something bigger, something in the back of our minds, something that says Yes!  Jerram Barrs calls these the “echoes of eden.”

One foundational truth of Christianity is that we have descended from a historical Adam and Eve, who were created by a personal God. They were representing all humanity, and Adam as the first man was placed in a position where he and God lived under a promise. The contract was one with blessing and curse. “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” (Genesis 2:16-17)

We know the story, as it is handed down, Eve tempted by the serpent, who was Satan, believed the lie, that God was withholding something, freedom, and she also believed that she wouldn’t die. Adam, I believe, was standing there silently avoiding his responsibility to guard, love and provide for Eve. He took and ate as well.

Things changed. From the moment of Adam’s disobedience, they were no longer in a perfect relationship with God. The curse which follows sin, resulted in not only their physical death and decay of all creation, but also the spiritual death and alienation from God.

The agony of this alienation was brokenness in their relationship with God and also with one another. Hiding in the garden, Adam and Eve try to cover their shame and nakedness.

The story continues. God in the cool of the evening, arrives walking and seeking Adam.

In the midst of the shame God comes. He at once shows his holiness by casting them from the garden and at the same time shows mercy clothing them and showing them the promise of a redeemer.

These first chapters of Genesis, which some consider fairy tales, resonate in us today. Others have looked at the history of God’s plan in terms of Creation, Fall and Redemption. Throughout history mankind has told myths and stories that bring hope from tragedy. There are many stories where a hero from humble birth arrives to save his people, stories of the humble coming to bring restoration through sacrifice.

J.R.R. TolkienI am a great fan of Tolkien. J.R.R. Tolkien was a big proponent of telling stories. He believed that the myths and great stories of time echoed the truth. (Read On Fairy-Stories pdf) Humanity having come from the same parents, bring with them an awareness of truth. It is interesting how even those who are not very interested in spiritual things, love the the story of a Hobbit. We see an humble person part of a greater story. We see the values of courage in the face of fear. We see self sacrifice for the good of others. How many people long for the Return of the King, who defeats the evil Sauron, heals the sick and injured with his touch and brings peace throughout the kingdom?

I believe that the Christian who is a writer, musician, dancer, painter, photographer, designer, composer, director, or in any creative field, has the opportunity to communicate profound ideas from God’s word, communicating what Francis Schaeffer called True Truth.1 We can write great stories, sing great songs, paint wonderful works, that share the same echoes of eden.

We can enjoy the creativity and works that others make as well. We can look with discernment and see where others connect sometimes unknowingly to the very ideas we celebrate in the gospel. For we all long for wholeness and goodness. We all look for someone to help make things right. We ache and groan with all of creation for the moment the King returns to make all things right.

Where do you see the echoes of Eden in the creative work of others?

 

 

 

1. It is an important principle to remember, in the contemporary interest in communication and in language study, that the biblical presentation is that though we do not have exhaustive truth, we have from the Bible what I term true truth. In this way we know true truth about God, true truth about man, and something truly about nature. Thus on the basis of the Scriptures, while we do not have exhaustive knowledge, we have true and unified knowledge.
(Francis A. Schaeffer, Escape From Reason, Ch. 2)

Why bother creating today? Even Just a Little…

guitar and penWhen I woke this morning, I began to think about the things that have been weighing on my mind. Slowly I walk to the kitchen to make coffee, the family has already gone to work and school and I am wondering what today has in store for me.

Do I have time to create today? I resist the desire, then… I ask.

What does taking time to create do in my life?

The power of creative thinking is stirred but there is something more that happens.
As a Christian, when I create I usually try to make sense of my world, listen to God’s voice, meditate on his word, pray, ponder, consider….

This isn’t a bad thing to do.

So in some ways creativity for the Christian is a “spiritual discipline.”

Creativity a Spiritual Discipline?
Spiritual disciplines are those tasks and habits that help spur the follower of Jesus to a deeper relationship. We pray. We take time to read the bible and consider its application. We spend time trying to memorize verses of scripture that would be helpful.

These spiritual disciplines, are the like the pencil and sheet music, the piano and practice room the point where I listen and put something down.

I remember my time at Furman where in the midst of hours of study and practice, I would take a empty page and put melodies and words down. No these moments were not profound for the art that was created as much as for the heart work that was done.

Why bother creating today? Why bother slowing down and putting pen to paper? Why bother typing thoughts down in a blog post? Why pray and open the word? Because God is here! Because He wants to communicate to me and I need to communicate to Him.

Experiencing God’s presence by doing the work.
The ability to experience His presence as I create flows directly from my prayer, my worship, my time meditating in His word. There is a connection between writing a song and spiritual disciplines. Both require the tools, habits, time, commitment and perseverance to see fruit. Prayer that quickly passes without listening is like strumming a few chords only to put the guitar back down on the way out the door.

I don’t get as much out of time in God’s word by merely reading the daily passages in my YouVersion Bible app. Getting satisfaction from not missing a day! I want to be able to walk away from my creative disciplines, with the sense that I have done good work with God.

A little taste makes me hunger.
When I am done with my creative time I want to have experienced a glimpse of my purpose. I want to feel the hunger to continue, just as when I finish my “quiet time” with Jesus, and leave wishing I had time for more.

Creativity, just like spiritual disciplines, can be a place to see God at work.

Here are a few creative ideas that have helped stir both my desire for God and creativity.
Consider opening your Bible and your creative instrument at the same time.
As a musician it is very easy for me to see how God’s words connect to music however I also benefit from play music as I read which creates mood and tone. Can this happen as you do you art? Draw, Paint, Sculpt, Dance, Write a story. How could God’s word impact you today.
Don’t force it. Creativity for the Christian isn’t just making Christiany Art that merely parrots a Bible verse. Don’t force it. It’s ok to “play the music” without any words!
Read stories, biographies about other followers of Christ, use a prayer book, or devotion type book to get ideas flowing.
Take a walk.

Why create a little each day? It might just spur on your spiritual life too!