Tag Archives: Faith

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)

Holding on to Hope

Hope is sometimes hard to hold onto in this life.  It isn’t always an easy process.  There have been seasons where I have tried to write our my feelings in a song but have been at a loss for lyrics.  The situation I was in was so complex that it was hard to express in words.  At those times I have found that the music itself was a better medium for my heart than lyrics.  I think that my creativity is sometimes directly tied to hope.

Hope

So if my ability to create is so connected to hope what is my hope tied to? I’m realizing that my ability to look at the world with hope is directly related to how I view my relationship with God and His purposes for my life.  Many in my circles talk about “preaching the gospel to yourself.”

That might seem a strange place to begin when creating art (for me music and lyrics).  But the truth found in the “gospel” can provide clarity and perspective.

Understanding that God has chosen to pursue me in love is the beginning of hope. For when I was “dead” spiritually He loved me.  In Jesus death He has freed me from the penalty of sin and and given me freedom in Jesus’ resurrection. Not only that but as a Father he has adopted me as a son, and now I am no longer a  slave to sin.  This is the gospel message I have learned to preach to my heart.

A lack of hope in my life leads to self doubt, pessimism, and powerlessness. In the moment I forget the gospel these issues begin to surface.  It is actually the gospel that is the cure for these Hope killers!

The cure for Self Doubt

When I doubt if I have anything to offer and words on a blog like this seem to be lame, I remember that I am no longer a slave to sin but a “son” of God.  I am loved dearly because Jesus was willing to die for my selfish heart.  I no longer have to doubt my worth because it is no longer defined in what I think of me.  What matters is what God thinks of me!

The cure for Pessimism

When I begin to think that nothing matters, nothing will ever work out, I’m going no where, the gospel message brings me back to another truth, God saved me for a purpose!  He has brought me out of darkness to light.  He has revealed that I was re-created to serve and love Him. I have been re-created and am being renewed to be part of something bigger than me, that He is in charge of! I no longer have to worry and be a pessimist.  God is in control.

The Cure for Powerlessness

Instead of feeling powerless the gospel changes the way I pursue my work and calling.  For where I might have looked for strength in my ability and self will, I remember that once I was powerless.  I had power in my self but not the kind of power that comes from God’s Holy Spirit dwelling in me.

When I wonder what this looks like, I begin to think of the disciples hiding out after Jesus had died.  They were pessimistic, they were powerless and had plenty of self-doubt.  But Jesus appears in front of them having first risen from the dead and shown Himself to two women at the tomb.   Soon the Holy Spirit would come and fill them with power to do His will.  They would preach and see 1000s of people turn in faith to the true Messiah Jesus.

For the first time they have Hope and it came in the good news that Jesus has overcome and not has given them purpose and a calling.  What they would do as followers of Christ would have eternal impact.

So What?

So what does this mean for my creative work?  The gospel gives me perspective that changes the way I look at everything!  Hope doesn’t come from my experiences, but rather hope comes from understanding what Jesus has done for me and what Jesus is calling me to be for Him.

When I remind myself of the truths of the gospel, I have real hope.  I have a storehouse of resources for communicating about my life, the world, my relationship with God and others and taking these ideas and creating music and lyrics.

So how do you deal with a lack of Hope in your life? How does it hinder your creativity?  How might understanding the gospel help you have true Hope?

If you are interested in learning more about how the gospel changes everything, consider reading Putting Amazing Back into Grace by Dr. Michael Horton, (the first chapter is here in pdf and you can order the book online)http://www.whitehorseinn.org/putting-amazing-back-into-grace.html

This WDA Pocket Principle is also helpful in reminding us of our Security in Christ. http://www.disciplebuilding.org/2013/05/31/security-in-christ-wda-pocket-principle/