“The Real Meaning of Thank You”

Happy Thanksgiving, TD!

I hope you’ve been able to implement what I encouraged you to do in our last post; and I hope God has been enjoying you!

During this time of thanksgiving, have you stopped to think what “Thanks” or “Thank you” really means?  My wife, Sandra, has 🙂  As she often does, she goes to the root of giving thanks to help us honor God more thoughtfully.  Enjoy! – Arthur

“The Real Meaning of Thank You” by Sandra Hsieh (adapted from her talk at SPCH)

We are commanded in Scripture, “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  (I Thessalonians 5:18 ) What is the root word for the word “thank”?  Think (change one letter and you get “think”).  The reality is, a thankful person is a thoughtful person.  When you say “thank you”, you are basically saying, “I will remember what you did for me.”

How do you say thank you in Portuguese?  Obrigado – literally, “much obliged” or “I am in your debt.”

How do you say thank you in French? Merci (begging for mercy, placing yourself in your benefactor’s power — since a debtor is, after all, a criminal)

How do you say thank you in Spanish? Muchas gracias (much grace).  It leans heavily on the word “grace.”  Grace is undeserved favor.

Let’s look at the response.  What is someone saying when he responds, “You’re welcome”?  When you say “merci” in French, what is the response? “De rien.” Or, in Spanish, “Muchas gracias” is returned with, “De nada.”  In both languages, the giver is saying, “It is nothing, no worries, I am not going to inscribe a debt in your imaginary moral account book.”

In English, when you respond with, “My pleasure,” you are saying, “No, actually, it’s a credit, not a debit — you did me a favor because in asking me to do that favor, you gave me the opportunity to do something I found rewarding in itself!”

So, the next time you thank someone … you are saying “I stopped long enough to think about what you just did for me.  You didn’t have to do that for me, but since you did, I am in your debt.”

John Njoroge, a member of the Ravi Zacharias International Ministries team, writes in a “Slice of Infinity” entitled, The Indignity of Giving Thanks:

“But everything we know about ourselves and our world speaks loudly against this tendency to self-sufficiency. As human babies, we all begin our lives at the highest level of dependence, and none of us really outgrows all degrees of dependence. We depend on parents, teachers, peers, coaches, and others to open doors for us in life.  Dependence on others is a living reality whose attempted concealment is gradually unveiled by the onset of old age. From the inventions that give us comfort in this world to the young soldiers who give their lives in the battlefields to protect our livelihoods, an unobstructed view of our lives reveals the fact that we all owe debts that we can never repay.”

Our life is full of things that we do for others and things that others do for us.

But, what does it mean for us to give thanks to God?  God is self-existent.  He created all things and upholds this universe.  God is the Spring or Well in which everything originates.  The rest of us are just sharing with others what has been given to us.  We are not real owners ourselves; we are just stewards of what He has given to us to manage.

When we say “Thank you” to God, we are truly expressing the real meaning of the word, “we are indebted to you, we are at your mercy, we accept your grace and favor.  We are sinners and criminals.  We owe You a debt that we cannot pay back.”

Now, would it be right for God to say, “De nada” or “It’s nothing”?  If He said that, then we would be left in our condition to go to hell.  He cannot be the righteous and just One and say, “No worries” to our sin and transgression to Him.

When we show our indebtedness to Him, the truthful and proper response is, “You’re right.” You do owe Me, you do need My mercy, you do need My grace, you do need to THINK of the situation that you are in.

Then, He does only what He can do to pay for that debt; He extends His mercy and grace.  He comes in the form of a baby, lives a perfect life, and then dies a death that He did not deserve.

As John Njoroge continues to write, “We will never begin to worship God until we recognize that we are bankrupt debtors, for an attitude of gratitude is an indispensable impetus to worship.”

As Thanksgiving quickly gives way to Christmas, may we continually ponder and think about our debt to God and His priceless GIFT to us in His only begotten Son!

Let us proclaim as the apostle Paul did in II Corinthians 9:15:

“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”

Loving Jesus More Than Life This Thanksgiving

Hey TD,

During this Thanksgiving week, I would like to ask … no … I would like to urge and plea with you to take your normal Thanksgiving routine and up it, deepen it, transform it,  … whatever you want to call it; but in some way, shape, or form, I would like to challenge you to make a concerted effort to give your thanks to our Lord with more than words.  Let Him receive your effusive words of thanks, for sure, but let Him receive thanks that are so thankful, that it results in some action that you joyfully and whole-heartedly do that honors Him and helps Him feel closer to YOU.

“… have we ever given thought as to how close God feels to us?”


I know that we always gauge the level of our relationship with God by how close we feel to the Lord, but have we ever given thought as to how close He feels to us?  Let’s spend some extra effort this Thanksgiving drawing nearer to the Lord and giving Him the gift of time.

Some suggestions for this include:

  • Planning a time for a more special time with the Lord during your personal devotions/Bible study, preparing for and treating your time with Him like you do when you meet with someone special.  Perhaps dress up for the occasion or meet with Him at a special place.  Special things often happen at special places and events!
  • Write Him a letter of gratitude and appreciation (not the same as journaling)
  • Serve someone in a way you normally wouldn’t/don’t in Jesus’ Name – on His behalf, with His flavor, essence, generosity, and warmth.
  • Share of His goodness and beauty to friends/people who haven’t yet seen or beheld Him as good and beautiful yet.
  • Create something for Him that highlights and honors Him – poetry, music, art, crafts, etc.
  • Commit to extra diligent study and understanding of Him and His things – i.e. review TD material (messages, studies, blog essays/videos/podcasts), review SS material, read a book, listen to a message or teaching series, etc.

In this spirit, I offer you the 12-minute video above from one of my favorite Bible teachers, John Piper,  on “Loving Jesus More Than Life.”  Enjoy.


“Is Paris Burning?” (a must read by Ravi)

Hi TD’ers,

As I have been sharing at TD, we Christians cannot merely be purveyors of content anymore.  That may have been plausible in yesteryear, when certain assumptions about human life, morals, and dignity were unquestioned; but now we live in an age where those values once presumed must now be defended and proven.

That has sent many a Christian reeling, leaving them uncertain in what they believe anymore, and ineffective and unpersuasive with respect to contending for Truth.   One reason for this is the modern Christian’s inability to see, understand, and describe the core tenets and ideologies of issues, slogans, and movements in our world and culture.  We can handle gadgets and social media like nobody’s business, but we cannot handle real life.  Alas, it seems in reality that smarter phones are in the hands of dumber people.

This is one reason why I appreciate Ravi Zacharias so much.  He looks past the symptoms and heads to the source of the issues; and he does it biblically.  What happened in Paris last week may well occur on our shores very soon (at least that’s what ISIS is promising).  How are Christians to think upon this?  Ravi’s article isn’t comprehensive, but it’s a great start for us.  Please fight your urge to stop reading mid-way through, because you can no longer read more than 3 paragraphs without zoning out, and begin rebuilding the mind God entrusted to you; and do it biblically. – Arthur

Is Paris Burning? by Ravi Zacharias

The layers that obscure the truth are burying humanity in large numbers. Yes, Paris was burning again and those flames and the dead bodies may well be a grim foreshadowing of what the future holds. I was in neighboring England the night the massacre scattered across Paris took place, as people going out to enjoy a dinner or concert or a football game were the targets of hate-filled and ruthless killers. The newspapers the next day had similar words: “Carnage”; “massacre”; “assassination”; “murder”; “blood”; “death”; “screams”; “terror,” and so on. Television programming was preempted and viewers were cautioned that some of the scenes of the slaughter were graphic. It was real. A few hours later, names and pictures of the dead were shown. It was like we had heard this before. But it was new and real: the victims’ lives cut short in the peak of their careers. Children who weren’t going to come home. People looking for their loved ones. Marriages suddenly broken by death. A young graduate with life ahead of her. And so on. One doesn’t have to know the individuals to feel helplessness and pain. This is twenty-first century murderous man. War in small increments can be deadlier than large scale war because it doesn’t just desensitize the killers; it desensitizes all of humanity.

Killers who do not represent a country and whose belief is debated ad nauseam as to whether it is a version or a perversion are truly sinister and are the cancerous cells of our time. They are protected by having no roots either in country or belief. The West is being taken down in small portions till one day the lie of the murderers being protected by smooth-talking power brokers with a bodyguard of lies will be seen for the terrifying belief that it is. No contrary view will be allowed then. For now, the layers of distortion cover the graves of the murdered. The whole world has become a courtroom where clever lawyers make truth unattainable. Whether it be 9/11 or the carnage at the Boston Marathon or blown-up planes or Paris, we will not find answers because to ask the question is either to receive a lie from some politicians or many in the media, or to invoke the wrath of hate-filled killers.


So we ask! What is the belief behind all this that kills with such callousness? We do not get any answers. We are told by some that it’s a religion of peace. Others call it a political theory at its core covered with the garb of religion to give it maximum protection as it invokes the laws of blasphemy. What is the answer? We had dare not unpack the truth. In one sense, strangely, one feels almost pity for these murderers. The possessor of hate loses the essence of life much more than the victim does. Living with a heart so deceived breeds a decimating misery within and spreads the venom globally. There must be scores of young men within the belief who do not wish to inflict such pain but who now live with the pall of suspicion over them. Such is the contagion of a poisoned soul.

But the quest for answers still haunts. In one Middle Eastern country, an awful thing happened. Two young Muslims turned atheists were on a program. They argued for the reality that blood had been spilled across the centuries and that there was no denying that from its earliest days to the present, this was the same blood-letting in the name of the belief as originally given and carried out. Then one of them asked the cleric a question that was as pointed as could be. It was a powerful question with an irrefutable fact within the question. The question laid bare a reality that was deemed blasphemous. The next day that man and his family were murdered, just for asking a fact-laden question that was unanswerable without conceding the truth. For that, he and his family paid with their lives.

That’s the depravity of our age. It is death to ask the pointed question because the answer, if true, betrays the real truth. The masquerade is on and it is deadly. We watch hundreds die. We hear speeches full of distortions; we tolerate deceit and even reward it. Some in power and in the public eye whitewash the reality while the blood of the murdered cries out from the ground. Our children and grandchildren will inherit the whirlwind because our media pundits and misguided speech-makers have sown to the wind by trading in lives for their power.

It would be easy to lose heart and become cynical. But No! There is One who sees all things, knows all things, and will ultimately triumph over all things. There is only one message that addresses the truth as the truth. The Lord of glory, Jesus Christ, came to this earth and was also the victim of hate. Lies sent him to the cross. Power overruled reality, as politics and religious demagogues once again made the lie seem noble. But the Lord who sees the beginning from the end amazingly conquered not in spite of the dark mystery of evil, rather, He conquered through it. James Stewart of Scotland, pointing to the cross, said it in the most powerful terms I have read. Commenting on the verse from Psalm 68:18, “He led captivity captive,”‎ he said,

It is a glorious phrase—“He led captivity captive.” The very triumphs of his foes, it means, he used for their defeat. He compelled their dark achievements to subserve his ends not theirs. They nailed him to a tree, not knowing that by that very act they were bringing the world to his feet. They gave him a cross, not guessing that he would make it a throne. They flung him outside the city gates to die, not knowing that in that very moment they were lifting up the gates of the universe, to let the king come in. They thought to root out his doctrines, not understanding that they were implanting imperishably in the hearts of men the very name they intended to destroy. They thought they had God with his back to the wall, pinned helpless and defeated: they did not know that it was God himself who had tracked them down. He did not conquer in spite of the dark mystery of evil. He conqueredthrough it.

The lie has a shelf life. The truth abides forever. God can even conquer through our perversion.

One more thing. I would be remiss if I left the guilt and darkness out there. That is the seduction of a fake righteousness. We all have to look at our own hearts and see the evil that is within each one of us. Only then can we find the answer from which all other answers flow. Some time ago, I was in Romania. A sculptor had some of his works on display. One was a horrific, fierce-looking, long nail. When you picked it up, as rusty and jagged as the nail was, the head was polished and shiny. ‎And when you looked at that polished head, you saw a reflection of yourself. It is sobering. Very sobering.

You see, the nails that cause hurt and pain and death ultimately point to our own hearts. Only when we as individuals see the evil that is within will we find an answer for the evil that is around us. Maybe, just maybe, someday a carnage will take place that might cause everyone in power to see their own hearts as God sees them and tell us the truth of what these killings are all about. Only then will truth triumph and we find real answers. Until then, the flames will gain ground and not just Paris will burn, but the next story of scorched lives in another city will make us forget this one… or possibly, awaken us to the cost of a lie. More than ever we need the Savior. Lord have mercy! ‎

Posted on http://www.rzim.org on 11/18/15

Dating friendships, sexual ethics, and relationships

Hey TD,

We’ve spend a lot of time on this blog trying to help you think clearly, biblically, and truthfully about the LGBT issues that are so prevalent in our culture today.  But what about typical heterosexual friendships and dating relationships?  It’s vital that you go into those types of relationships with a strong and clear idea of what God’s thoughts and value systems are for you.  The result should be what we’ve called “pre-decisions” through the years, or what I call “unshakable unbreakables.”  Unfortunately, for many a Christian, more often than not, they have been shaken and have been broken; but not for all.  And it doesn’t have to be that way.

This 24 minute radio broadcast from Family Life Today, featuring Gerald Hiestad and Jay Thomas (authors of Sex, Dating, and Relationships) is a valuable discussion on the subject.  We hope that it will be stir up some thought and discussion between you and your parents, you and your counselors, you and your friends.

Dating Friendships (audio)

Psalm 139

Hey TD,

Before our TD meeting tomorrow, would you mind reading through Psalm 139 a couple of times through?  Please do so undistractedly, meditatively, thoughtfully, admiringly, enthusiastically, meaningfully, thankfully, prayerfully …

TD will be memorizing this psalm this year.  Tomorrow, we will be studying verses 1-6, so get yourself familiar with it.

Psalm 139 (NASB)

For the choir director. A Psalm of David.

1O LORD, You have searched me and known me.

2You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.

3You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.

4Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O LORD, You know it all.

5You have enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.

6Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high, I cannot attain to it.

7Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?

8If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.

9If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,

10Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.

11If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,”

12Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You.

13For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.

14I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.

15My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;

16Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.

17How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!

18If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.
When I awake, I am still with You.

19O that You would slay the wicked, O God;
Depart from me, therefore, men of bloodshed.

20For they speak against You wickedly,
And Your enemies take Your name in vain.

21Do I not hate those who hate You, O LORD?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against You?

22I hate them with the utmost hatred;
They have become my enemies.

23Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;

24And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.

TD This Friday – “Our All-Knowing God”


Hey TD!

It has been said, “To know me is to love me.”  Well, God knows us alright.  Boy, does He know us; far more than we’ve ever even thought of.  And not only does He know us, He knows everything there is to know about … well, everything!  He is an amazing, amazing, amazing God!

This Friday, we begin our journey through the beloved Psalm 139, as we embark on our year’s theme, “Reboot: Seeing God as God Again.”  It will also mark Rebecca’s speaking debut at TD!  I met with her this weekend, and she is chock full of insights, implications, and enthusiasm for the Lord.  I am excited to hear from her.  I know you will be blessed.

So, come on out and get ready to begin seeing God as God again!


TD Friday – “A Whole New World” – mp3 and study

“A Whole New World” (mp3) – Arthur

“A Whole New World” (sg study)

Hey TD!

As we embark on our year’s theme, “Reboot: Seeing God as God Again (Ps. 139),” and behold the beauty of God in Psalm 139, it’s vital for us to rightly assess our culture and THE culture, our world and THE world we live in; to clear the brush, as it were.  How and where is culture influencing us, and how and where are we influencing culture?  And in what ways is this mutual influence happening?  Are there small and/or large adjustments to be made?

We don’t want to just add God’s beautiful and transforming Word on top of our cluttered, distracted lives, leaving us thinking that we’ve done something holy and spiritual by including God in our lives.  God’s Word was NEVER meant for that.  Listen to 2 Timothy 3:16-17:

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

Through the work of the Holy Spirit, God’s Word is meant to TRANSFORM our lives from the inside out!  It isn’t meant just to garnish or accent our lives, giving us a little “spirituality” or spiritual flavor.  The truth is, you are either walking forward or backwards.  There is no neutral ground with Jesus:

“Anyone who isn’t with me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me” Matt. 12:30 (NLT)

Prepping for TD small groups on Friday

  • Review Arthur’s message above, “A Whole New World” (mp3) (it’s 1:43 mins, so you may want to split it up)
  • Review and consider the pre-small group study thoughts (above)

The better your review, the better our small groups!

See you Friday!