No Mercenaries of Thanks Ministry

In 1 Chronicles 16 King David chose and expressly named men to give thanks to the Lord. This is an interesting vocation at least, and a position which all believers are elected to fulfill today.

David did more than appoint others to give thanks, and he certainly didn’t hire others to do what he was unwilling to do. In addition to appointing thanksgivers, he himself blessed the people and his household.

When David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD, and distributed to all Israel, both men and women, to each a loaf of bread, a portion of meat, and a cake of raisins. (verses 2-3)

Then the final verse of the chapter,

Then all the people departed each to his house, and David went home to bless his household. (verse 43)

What does this work of blessing involve? It seems, from the chapter, to be theological, doxological, and practical.

Blessing others depends on God, and the greater the God the greater the model and motivation of blessing. The largest part of chapter 16, verses 8-36, is David’s song, lyrics he wrote and provided to the worship team to put to song and teach the people to sing. God is holy, strong, faithful, majestic. This is who God is.

God has done wondrous works, He makes covenants and keeps His covenants, He protects, He made and established the world. He reigns. This is what God has done.

So David knows it (theology) and sings about it (doxology) and then imitates it by sharing food with the people. In other words, he announced God’s greatness and goodness with gratitude, and then gave gifts.

We cannot appoint others to give thanks if we aren’t. People, such as pastors, can’t praise for us, though they must help lead it. Thanksgiving can be multiplied in a crowd, but we cannot buy our way out of it through mercenaries of thanks ministry. I was thinking especially about dads and our worship. We are to worship with the church family, and go home and bless our households also.

Thanksgiving and Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

I have more things to be thankful for than I realize. But I know I am #blessed, and it can’t hurt to count some of them.

I am thankful for my wife’s perseverance through daily pain that most people don’t realize. Mo takes pain medication so that she can get up to serve those around her not so that she can sit down and rest a few points lower on the pain scale. I’m thankful for how quickly she forgives me and does not treat me like my sins deserve. I am thankful for her curiosity that never hits snooze. I am thankful for her insight into each one of our kids and for how she mobilizes their force as a unit. I am thankful for her pumpkin whoopie pies.

I’m thankful for our who kids act like it’s normal to go to a school that their parents and parents’ friends started in a basement. I’m thankful for kids who are loyal to their family, but whose loyalty to family is rooted in their love for God. I’m thankful for kids that look forward to worship with the church on Sunday and who never complain about staying late because they are with their friends. I am thankful for kids who are unrelenting idea-machines for doing things better or bigger. I’m thankful for kids who get excited about spending money on other people.

I am thankful that my sister is in heaven, free from pains of all kinds.

I am thankful for all sorts of tools that most people in history could not have imagined. I’m thankful for reading on my iPad Baby Pro in the Kindle app or Logos app while I’m running on my treadmill. I’m thankful that whatever I highlight syncs to my MacBook Adorable. I’m thankful for text messaging. I’m thankful for the Apple Pencil, for the Internet, for Ulysses, Tweetbot, Things 3, nvALT, DEVONThink, PDFExpert, Goodnotes, Dropbox and iCloud Drive, Gmail and Google Calendar and Google Docs, Due, Overcast, Instapaper, Feedbin and Unread, Scanner Pro, and YNAB.

I’m thankful for the Reformation and Luther and Tyndale and Calvin and Bucer and Edwards and Spurgeon and The Master’s Seminary and Brothers, We Are Not Professionals and Douglas Wilson and Abraham Kuyper. I’m thankful for fiction (though not necessarily the Dispensational kind), for non-fiction, for the ability to read and the ubiquity of English reading material.

I am thankful for the three other pastors at our local church. I’m thankful for the flock who endure how often my mouth is open. I’m thankful for the teachers of our kids. I’m thankful for the worldview of Kuyperian Dispensationalism, even if I am not yet living in such a way that others would envy. I am thankful for God’s grace and new morning mercies and the Holy Spirit all working to bless me and make me a better Christian, husband, father, shepherd, friend, and image-bearer.

I am thankful for black coffee, for red wine, for white (turkey) meat, and for brown gravy. I’m thankful for how the gospel has influenced more feasts than those who feast recognize. I’m thankful I get to feast in Jesus’ name.

Without the Stickers

This is a week to kick up your #blessed game a couple turkey legs.

All lawful feasts are Christian feasts. That’s because unbelievers always feast for wrong or at best deficient reasons. They feast because they like food, which is fine, but Who made them to like food and Who provided it for them? They feast because they like family, or they like the nostalgic idea of family, but how can they know what a family is for?

Christians know the Father and His Son. Christians have God’s Spirit who turns the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers. Christians know that farmers do a lot of work and that no farmer has ever made a potato or a pumpkin or a turkey grow on his own. God gives growth. God gives us all these gifts, food and family and forks and plates and tables and chairs and wine and pie.

I am not exhorting you to post a picture with the appropriate hashtag for every gift; you don’t have the mental bandwidth (even if you have an unlimited data plan) and it would be annoying and it’s not a biblical, conscience-binding law. It is biblical law to “give thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20). Maybe you could imagine that you had a oversized roll of #blessed stickers, and you could put one on everything you see this week that reminds you of Your Father’s kindness. Would that cause others to see something different in your Thanksgiving feast? Can you act in such a way that they would see the same difference but without the stickers?

A Holiday Challenge

When we are tempted to lose heart we go back to the gospel. When we are afflicted, perplexed, persecuted, and struck down we know it is nothing new. We believe, we speak, and we know “that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us…into his presence.” This is an appropriate way to envision our future because it is based on His promise. Our future resurrection doesn’t depend on a dream, it depends on Easter.

So we spend our lives for others as representatives of the Lord who died so that we might live. As Paul said, “It is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving to the glory of God.”

Here is a challenge for this holiday season. Do not be only thankful, but extend grace (by dying) so that others are made more thankful. If we are growing up in Christ then not only will we see His blessings more clearly we will also be a blessing to others more consistently.

The grace we extend, the grace we slosh from our clay pots, is grace we have been given by God lavishly. Whoever believes in Jesus, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.

Gratitude Divas

The hardest part about Thanksgiving is actually being thankful. It is much easier to imagine ourselves being thankful than it is to be thankful. When we imagine sitting down to dinner on Thursday, we imagine that everyone got a good night of sleep, that everyone is getting along, that everyone fully appreciates all the work that everyone else is doing, and that the turkey is hot and moist and done just when Martha Stewart promised. Coordinating all of that to work together perfectly only works in the editing room of the Hallmark channel.

Future gratitude always hits the mark because it doesn’t require real work. We are all great visionaries when it comes to our behavior in certain circumstances, especially when we get to pretend the circumstances, too. We are rarely realists about circumstances and hardly ever realists about how stridently we demand that those around us get their lines right before we will step out of the dressing room. We are gratitude divas.

Today is the day of thankfulness, and Thursday is as well, even when the rolls won’t be finished for another ten minutes and the three year old fidgets with her silverware during your bumptious devotional about the pilgrims. Be thankful now for what God has given and those He has given and where He has you. If you cannot be thankful now, then a dream of your future thanks may be just that, a dream.