Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Give Thanks. Seriously.

Thanksgiving is not just a byproduct of good times; it is a crucial Christian discipline. I’ve been slowly learning this, particularly in the last year.

Over the past two weekends, formal thanksgiving has been front and centre here. We celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving (October 11-12) and then the 50th anniversary of Edson Baptist Church last weekend.

These formal times of giving thanks to God are right and good. Celebrations are good for the soul, and they train us to be thankful people when we come to them in humility and in a conscious attitude of dependence upon God for His grace.

It would be easy to blow off such events and say, “These are just days on a calendar.” This kind of nonchalance could even wear a mask of spirituality. However, God’s Word sets a pattern of formal thanksgiving and remembrance.

Formal thanksgiving is good, but it must not displace continual, heartfelt thanksgiving to God in our daily lives. Giving thanks is commanded by God in many places. This is one of those, “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called” things. Thanksgiving is not a work by which we are saved. Quite the contrary, it is a recognition that all good things – and particularly our redemption – come from God as gifts.

To fail to give thanks is to rob God of His glory and deprive ourselves of joy. If you think I’m overstating this, do a word search in a concordance (or your computer Bible program) for “thanksgiving” and “give thanks” and tell me that I’m wrong. If you’re not convinced yet, then read Psalm 50 carefully and work out the logic. We read Psalm 50 in church on Thanksgiving Sunday this year and I was freshly convicted by it.

If you’re still not convinced that giving thanks is that important, I heartily recommend John Piper’s message from New Attitude 2007 on the kind of obedience that pleases God (free download).

If you don’t feel like being thankful, repent! And then dig into God’s Word and look for Jesus there. Contemplate who He is and what He has done for you. Think about what you would have if God had not given you something (hint: nothing). What do we have that we have not received?

Give thanks. Seriously.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Upcoming Events

I've been promoting a couple of upcoming conferences at our church, so I thought that I'd mention them here as well.

First, there is one that I won't be able to attend, but some me from our church may make the trip. It's a Sola Scriptura Conference at Cloverdale Baptist Church on October 22-24 featuring Jerry Bridges, Donald Whitney and John Crotts.

I won't be able to make it because I've been asked to speak at the first annual Mayor's Breakfast in Sylvan Lake, AB. on the 23rd.

However, I do hope to make it to the ReFocus Canada conference at Willingdon Church in Burnaby B.C. April 7-9. John Piper is coming back, as is Bruce Ware. Preston Manning is also a speaker this year - seeing that name in the lineup today was a surprise! It looks like registration is open already.

Friday, October 02, 2009

With One Foot Raised

I recommend all the messages at the recent Desiring God Conference (even though I haven't heard them all yet), but one that really left an impression was Sam Storms talk, The Final Act in Theater of God.

My blog title is from this Calvin quote, cited from a letter to a suffering friend:

"They [our physical afflictions] should serve us as medicine to purge us from worldly affections and remove what is superfluous in us. And since they are to us the messengers of death, we ought to learn to have one foot raised to take our departure when it shall please God."

This morning, I read a similar exhortation in Spurgeon's Morning and Evening:

"The hope which is laid up for you in heaven." - Colossians 1:5

Our hope in Christ for the future is the mainspring and the mainstay of our joy here. It will animate our hearts to think often of heaven, for all that we can desire is promised there. Here we are weary and toilworn, but yonder is the land of rest where the sweat of labour shall no more bedew the worker’s brow, and fatigue shall be for ever banished. To those who are weary and spent, the word "rest" is full of heaven. We are always in the field of battle; we are so tempted within, and so molested by foes without, that we have little or no peace; but in heaven we shall enjoy the victory, when the banner shall be waved aloft in triumph, and the sword shall be sheathed, and we shall hear our Captain say, "Well done, good and faithful servant." We have suffered bereavement after bereavement, but we are going to the land of the immortal where graves are unknown things. Here sin is a constant grief to us, but there we shall be perfectly holy, for there shall by no means enter into that kingdom anything which defileth. Hemlock springs not up in the furrows of celestial fields. Oh! is it not joy, that you are not to be in banishment for ever, that you are not to dwell eternally in this wilderness, but shall soon inherit Canaan? Nevertheless let it never be said of us, that we are dreaming about the future and forgetting the present, let the future sanctify the present to highest uses. Through the Spirit of God the hope of heaven is the most potent force for the product of virtue; it is a fountain of joyous effort, it is the corner stone of cheerful holiness. The man who has this hope in him goes about his work with vigour, for the joy of the Lord is his strength. He fights against temptation with ardour, for the hope of the next world repels the fiery darts of the adversary. He can labour without present reward, for he looks for a reward in the world to come.