TD Sat. – Thanksgiving Weekend Fun For Family and Friends!

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Hey TD!

We have a weekend extravaganza of fun for the whole family! You, your family, and friends can come to one or both Saturday events:

10 a.m.  – It’s SOS Saturday!  Our Thanksgiving visit to the Care Center!

Come join us as we join our elderly, widowed, disabled, wonderful friends at the Care Center to bring fellowship, friendship, and God’s love and touch.  Meet at the Hsiehs’ at 9:30 a.m.

2 p.m. – “2018 TD Ultimate Frisbee Tournament”!

This is fun and healthy for the whole family. It’ll be a great time to work off all of that Thanksgiving feasting and get some exercise 🙂 Don’t know how to play? No worries! We’ll have games for beginners to advanced.  This will be a great way to spend healthy time with your family and friends, and will be an opportunity to bond and build community.

Please rsvp with your small group leaders as to which event(s) you’ll be participating in.

See you Saturday, TD!

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Thankful for Theology on Thanksgiving

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Happy Thanksgiving, TD!

I’ve read numerous Thanksgiving articles this week in an effort to make sure I don’t under-do this holiday (OK, and I watched, “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” last night too), and I have loved doing so.  It is always good to gain new insight, angles, and depth into this most important mandate to give thanks.  Some may feel that it takes the luster off of giving thanks to have it mandated by God.  But in reality it puts the luster on.  It displays our value and worth, as well as His deep fatherly love for us in caring enough for us to mandate what is best and right – for Him, for us, for the world.  It is best and right to give thanks continually, and to do so from a heart of gratitude.  How do we know this to be true?  Theology. Theology tells us this and keeps us straight.

On this Thanksgiving day, I’d encourage you to read the following article from Albert Mohler (president of Southern Seminary) on making the most of your Thanksgiving … by adding theology to it. – Arthur

Thanksgiving as Theological Act: What Does it Mean to Give Thanks?

Thanksgiving is a deeply theological act, rightly understood. As a matter of fact, thankfulness is a theology in microcosm — a key to understanding what we really believe about God, ourselves, and the world we experience.

A haunting question is this:  How do atheists observe Thanksgiving? I can easily understand what an atheist or agnostic would think of fellow human beings and feel led to express thankfulness and gratitude to all those who, both directly and indirectly, have contributed to their lives. But what about the blessings that cannot be ascribed to human agency? Those are both more numerous and more significant, ranging from the universe we experience to the gift of life itself.

Can one really be thankful without being thankful to someone? It makes no sense to express thankfulness to a purely naturalistic system. The late Stephen Jay Gould, an atheist and one of the foremost paleontologists and evolutionists of his day, described human life as “but a tiny, late-arising twig on life’s enormously arborescent bush.” Gould was a clear-headed evolutionist who took the theory of evolution to its ultimate conclusion — human life is merely an accident, though a very happy accident for us. Within that worldview, how does thankfulness work?

The Apostle Paul points to a central insight about thankfulness when he instructs the Christians in Rome about the reality and consequences of unbelief. After making clear that God has revealed himself to all humanity through the created order, Paul asserts that we are all without excuse when it comes to our responsibility to know and worship the Creator.

He wrote:

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. . .  [Romans 1:20-22].

This remarkable passage has at its center an indictment of thanklessness. They did not honor Him as God or give thanks. Paul wants us to understand that the refusal to honor God and give thanks is a raw form of the primal sin. Theologians have long debated the foundational sin — and answers have ranged from lust to pride. Nevertheless, it would seem that being unthankful, refusing to recognize God as the source of all good things, is very close to the essence of the primal sin. What explains the rebellion of Adam and Eve in the Garden? A lack of proper thankfulness was at the core of their sin. God gave them unspeakable riches and abundance, but forbade them the fruit of one tree. A proper thankfulness would have led our first parents to avoid that fruit at all costs, and to obey the Lord’s command. Taken further, this first sin was also a lack of thankfulness in that the decision to eat the forbidden fruit indicated a lack of thankfulness that took the form of an assertion that we creatures — not the Creator — know what is best for us and intend the best for us.

They did not honor Him as God or give thanks. Clearly, honoring God as God leads us naturally into thankfulness. To honor Him as God is to honor His limitless love, His benevolence and care, His provision and uncountable gifts. To fail in thankfulness is to fail to honor God — and this is the biblical description of fallen and sinful humanity. We are a thankless lot.

Sinners saved by the grace and mercy of God know a thankfulness that exceeds any merely human thankfulness. How do we express thankfulness for the provision the Father has made for us in Christ, the riches that are made ours in Him, and the unspeakable gift of the surpassing grace of God? As Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift” [2 Corinthians 9:15].

So, observe a wonderful Thanksgiving — but realize that a proper Christian Thanksgiving is a deeply theological act that requires an active mind as well as a thankful heart. We need to think deeply, widely, carefully, and faithfully about the countless reasons for our thankfulness to God.

It is humbling to see that Paul so explicitly links a lack of thankfulness to sin, foolishness, and idolatry. A lack of proper thankfulness to God is a clear sign of a basic godlessness. Millions of Americans will celebrate Thanksgiving with little consciousness of this truth. Their impulse to express gratitude is a sign of their spiritual need that can be met only in Christ.

So have a very Happy Thanksgiving — and remember that giving thanks is one of the most explicitly theological acts any human can contemplate. O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His lovingkindness is everlasting [1 Chronicles 16:34]. In all things, give thanks to God.

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Albert Mohler is a prolific author, speaker, daily radio host of The Briefing, and President of Southern Seminary.

“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.

Arthur

Touching God’s Heart This Thanksgiving

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Happy Thanksgiving, TD’ers!

I ask you to pause long enough today to give God one of the greatest gifts you can – the gift of time.  Please take the time to read and act on this Thanksgiving devotion.  You’ll be glad you did – and so will He! – Arthur

Let’s take advantage of this day instituted by President Lincoln, who during the civil war, proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens” and use it for the Lord’s honor!

How? The Bible tells us how:  “In everything, give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1Thessalonians 5:18

Did you catch the significance of that? There aren’t too many places in Scripture that explicitly state, “This is God’s will for you,” so when it does, we need to take notice.

And what is God asking of us? Simply, to give thanks to Him everywhere, all the time. To be a walking “thanks dispenser,” if you will. Notice that He’s not calling us to have a grateful heart, though that is implicitly necessary. He’s calling us to go further than that to actually express thanks. Friends, He’s telling us that it WILL bless His heart! Think about it! God is explicitly telling us that it will bless His heart!

Wow.  This was brought home to me several years ago as my own heart was blessed.  The lesson has never left me since.  Let me explain via some thoughts I penned then:

“We arrived home from DC late last night. Of the many things on my to-do list this morning, I wanted to update the TD website and write this devotion, which I am now doing. A few minutes ago, I went to take a “bathroom break” and there on my sink counter, to my surprise, were two hand-cut, hand-drawn, hand-made cards with pictures and drawings of Washington DC on them and the words, “Thank You So Much!” I opened them up and inscribed within were deep heart-felt expressions of thanks from my two youngest children, Daniel and Angela, for taking them and for caring for them on our trip.

Sandra and I had heard some activity down the hallway early this morning while we were still asleep but didn’t think much of it. Now, I get it. Those two woke up before anyone else did and the first thing they did was to get busy to find a creative way to give us thanks. Had they already expressed verbal thanks to us earlier? They sure did, but they wanted to take it further to express their gratitude and to bless our hearts. And they did. My heart melted with appreciation and love for them. I went downstairs and gave them big, big hugs and kisses. Sometimes, little ones teach us the biggest lessons.

I think of how God’s heart has been blessed when His children have taken the extra time to write poetry, hymns, and songs to say thank you to Him; when they’ve carved out larger amounts of time in their lives to harness their skills and talents to painstakingly produce offerings to Him (whether visually, audibly, or tangibly) as an expression of their thanks to Him. I’m sure, in His own providential yet personal way, He gave them His “hugs” and “kisses,” for our Father will not be outgiven.”

Here are a couple of suggestions for you to bless your Father’s heart this month (I’m sure you can think of more):

  • Count your blessings, name them one by one – make a list of everything God wants you to be thankful for. Then give Him thanks for each one. Be specific and make it heart-felt. Notice I didn’t ask you to list things and people you ARE thankful for. Of course, that’s important but sometimes there are things and people we really ought to be thankful for that we don’t feel thankful for.
  • Produce something extra special for Him as a way of saying thanks. Make Him a card, write Him a song or poem, paint or draw Him a picture, practice playing a song for Him on your instrument, etc. Whatever you’re gifted in or trained in, use your skill for His honor in an extra special way for Him this month.
  • Make it a special point to “acknowledge Him” (Prov. 3:6) ALL day, EVERY day – audibly, silently, through singing, journaling, etc. We need to realize that God is actually with us all day, everyday. So, make a special effort to develop your everyday relationship and conversation with Him. 1Thessalonians 5:17 says to “pray without ceasing.” This is what that means. Always be relating with Him, including Him in your activities and conversations, as well as in your rest. Relate with Him without ceasing. You’ll both be blessed.
  • Express actual thanks to those God has used to bless you. Expressions of thanks go a long way for those who receive them. Go ahead and surprise them with a simple thank you for being your friend, sibling, or parent. Even though it may not be your “style,” it’s God’s style, and we all represent Him much better when we’re thankful. “As I grew older God continued to prepare my heart and teach me to seek Him. One of the first lessons that I have learnt was not to take things for granted. I had that wake up call around the age of twelve and realized just how much I was blessed with. I take my foot for granted, my family and the fact that I wasn’t born in a third world country all blessings that God had freely given and I still complain?” – Nick Vujicic (born with no arms and legs)

The Irony of It

The actual giving of thanks to God and others forces us to realize how blessed we are and how so much of that blessing had nothing to do with us deserving it. That then leaves us humble, and humble people are the ones God uses and blesses most, for “Blessed are the (humble), for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5)

So, leave it to God to instruct us to do something that seems to be for His benefit, but in actuality it benefits us! That’s our Father. Thank you, God!

– Arthur