Here are lessons I’ve learned or reasons that I’ve got for giving thanks. Also, although I did recently turn 41, I don’t have a 41 point list. Instead, in the spirit of having recently read 1984 which was written in 1948, here are 14 things, numbered but not ordered by importance.
Learned: Line diagramming is great for meditating on God’s Word. It’s my favorite observation tool to beat the meaning out of a passage.
Learned: Christians need to read good fiction. “Good” is key. I’ve really profited from Peace Like a River, the 100 Cupboards series, and Lewis’ Space Trilogy.
Learned: Family is not an obstacle to what a man wants to accomplish, they are what a man is accomplishing. Maggie, Calvin, Hallie, and Keelah are how I’m changing the world. More importantly, they are God’s grace changing me.
Learned: Any doctor’s diagnosis that includes the word “cancer” will probably lead to a lot more conversations.
Thankful: Reading on the treadmill has saved my reading life.
Learned: You can read on the treadmill if you make the font big enough in the Kindle app on your iPad.
Learned: The fact that Christ created everything does more than reveal His wisdom and power, it also reveals His interests. So don’t be a dualist. Also, see anything written by Kuyper. The quote at the end of this post is from a fantastic book that syllogizes worship by way of the world.
Thankful: Dropbox. (As long as you don’t have to explain it to people older than you). You have hundreds of files, dozens of apps, and multiple devices. Have your stuff with you and backed up as an added benefit.
Learned: Scissor skills and penmanship are related. I don’t have either, but I do have hope for the next generation.
Thankful: Fountain pens. There’s one in particular that has written over 4000 pages for me, including the rough draft of this article. The scratch of the nib across the lines on a yellow pad makes me glad.
Thankful: IPAs. I like (intentionally) bitter beer. The New Belgium Ranger is my current favorite.
Thankful: Starbucks French Roast. I like my beer bitter and my coffee burnt. That’s what friends tell me, at least. I’m more than okay with it. There is hardly a more enjoyable aroma than opening a new bag of beans.
Learned: I have a wife who prefers beards. My dad had a beard the entire time I knew him. When I was a kid I never thought about growing-to-keep one for myself. After 15 years of marriage and a lazy week of not-shaving my cheeks, the beginnings of the bush-face became the beginning of being a beard guy.
Thankful: There is no human who I have sinned against more or who helps me so much as Mo. She is the crown I don’t deserve, the reason our kids are cute, and the one who makes me most want to live like the Trinity.
God’s love for God led him to create the world from nothing. Therefore, our love for God, if it is to be an accurate reflection of God’s love, must also lead us to a deep and profound and fitting love for creation. God’s love for God pushes him into creation. So should ours. (Joe Rigney, The Things of Earth: Treasuring God by Enjoying His Gifts, 62)
I value the Why? question. I think I’ve mostly lost the smart-alecky junior high attitude underneath the asking, but I still appreciate and utilize the interrogative shovel to dig for idealogical treasure.
The reason why God created the universe and the reason why God created marriage between one man and one woman and the reason why Christ came and died and rose again and the reason why we make disciples and the reason why every disciple belongs to the Church is the same reason. If we said that the reason is “for His glory,” we’d be correct but perhaps still clouded behind the Christian jargon. So again, why creation, marriage, salvation, and church?
It’s because the three Persons of God so loved one another and enjoyed their union together that He made other beings to know and enjoy that glory. The understanding and affection and joy between the Father, Son, and the Spirit is part of His magnificence. It’s what makes Him awesome. His incommunicable attributes such as omniscience and omnipotence and eternality are at work for spilling His communicable glory into us.
Therefore, the reason why God made the world, instituted family, forgives rebels, and knits His people together in one Body is so that we will have understanding and affection and joy with Him and between ourselves like Him.
We glorify God when we see His glory truly, when we say it accurately, and when we sing it wholeheartedly. We also glory God when we receive His gifts thankfully and then imitate Him through loving generosity/sacrifice for the joy of others and in order to increase fellowship between us. We glorify God vertically and horizontally, through praise and through practice, through communion with Him through Christ and communion with each other by the Spirit.
What did God want with us and for us? He wanted us to taste His love and joy in union with Him as well as in our relationships here, especially in family, both by blood and by Christ’s blood. Why? Because it’s truly glorious.
The Lord’s table is a communal meal. At His table we commune with Christ: “The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” (1 Corinthians 10:16). At this table we commune with each other: “We who are many are one body, for we all partake of one bread” (v.17). At this meal we share Trinitarian fellowship, it’s a Trinitarian table.
We eat and drink with many who are different than us, significantly so. We are male and female, rich and less rich, those educated by books and those educated by life, employers, employees, and unemployed, old and young. But we are one one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28). When we come together to eat, we wait for one another (1 Corinthians 11:33). At this table we look not only to our own interests but also to the interests of others (Philippians 2:4). Around this table we celebrate Trinitarian differences without division.
The Lord’s table has also been called a love feast (Jude 12). We sit down at this table and tell the story of the Father who sent His Son, the Son who laid down His life, and the Spirit who causes men to be born again to a living hope. We tell a Trinitarian story, a story where eternal love spills onto us and is shed abroad in our hearts. As we eat and drink these symbols of the cost of His love, we are strengthened to love the others around the table.
We who are baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, eat and drink with thanks.
Doug Wilson writes about a local church’s advantages “to support a hundred missionaries at $25 a month,” namely, to diversify and minimize risk. The entire article is worthwhile, but this is his summary.
I think it was Andrew Carnagie who said to put all your eggs in one basket, and then to watch that basket. But watching the basket involves work. We would rather put 25 eggs in 25 different baskets, and then not watch anything.
The mantras of “personal knowledge” and “investment in lives” sound really good, almost hip even. But there is no way to do it without the willingness of the elder board to say to someone that they want him to “stop that.” And it cannot be done without an acknowledgement on the part of those who are sent that they are submitted to personal and real authority.
And the final kick in the pants:
But because we love our independence, because we are soft in our doctrine of how the Trinity knits us together, we would rather diversify the risk. We love our mutual funds.
I’m passionate about discipleship. Because of that I wrote Making Disciples – The Series which later became Making Disciples – The Booklet. Now I’d like to introduce:
Making Disciples – The Seminar
From the details page on the seminar website:
[T]rue discipleship is absent in many churches. For all our progress, how did Christians get so busy that they forgot their most important work? Though exhausting, the assignment is clear: make disciples.
So where do we start and what do we do? That’s why we’ve scheduled an entire Saturday on the subject of discipleship.
Registration closes September 12 and can be completed online [now closed] or in person at GBC.