Th(i)nkful About The Cross

The Cross

The longer I live and grow in understanding of things around me, the more I realize that I have only scratched the surface of what happened at the cross.  It is the climax of all of human history.  It brings freedom from guilt and the wrenching problem of sins for which we could not pay.  It infuses hope to all who trust in what Christ did to reconcile us to God.  It is the means of saving little children who have only a simple understanding, and yet it continually baffles theologians and philosophers.

The cross exemplifies how humans should live and die in pursuit of doing the Father’s will.  The cross is the means by which Christians come to life, and yet the cross is what Jesus demanded we take up daily in dying to self.  One day, the entire physical earth will be healed because of what happened on that hill outside Jerusalem.

Thinking about the cross creates such varied responses from mankind.  Some scorn it as immoral.  Some are filled with disbelief that anything of supernatural value happened there.  Some believe that it indeed happened, but will not submit to any claim that Jesus is God or that we are somehow answerable to Him. Some see it as symbol of sincere devotion to God, and that by somehow relishing that symbol on a wall or around the neck, they will somehow gain a better relationship with the Almighty.

Some begin to get the full realization that we are completely indebted to the Father and the Son for what happened on that cross.  Without the gospel of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, there is no hope for salvation for judgment, healing, growth, or a future with Him in heaven.

Grasping fully what Christ did on the cross for me that day will cause my heart to always, and forever, be filled with thinkfulness. Because of Jesus, I can live the moments I have left in this life, full of thinking thanks that I was written into the story of humankind and of the redeemed.

What an incredibly awesome story God is writing! From eternity past to eternity future, everything points to the cross.  Thank you, God, for Who You are and that You have provided a way for us to return to You!  You made the story simple enough for a child to understand, but embedded in its simplicity is a complexity that I can never hope to really grasp.

Negative Th(i)nkful

Dennis

This is Pastor Dennis.  He was our co-worker in Johannesburg, SA.  He would often start our worship services at Sandton Bible with the question of: “Aren’t you thankful that you didn’t wake up in the hospital this morning?”

“A help toward personally fulfilling Eph. 5:20 & I Thess. 5:18 may be to continually thank God for all the things that could have gone wrong AND DID NOT; and, for all the things that went well BUT COULD HAVE GONE BADLY’!!! Examples- 1) how many things could have kept us from waking up this morning (countless)? 2) when driving on a 2 lane road and a car safely passes by in the opposing lane – it could have veered into our lane!” – Bob Meyers

There is no end to what we can think thanks about in our lives. When you think thanks about all the bad things that could have happened, but didn’t, you are practicing being negative th(i)nkful.  You could have been in a car wreck on your way to work this morning.  You could have a sore in your mouth that will not heal.  You could have severe abdominal pain right now.  You could have never heard about Jesus and the grace that He offers to anyone who wants to believe.  You could have nothing to live for and be looking for a way to die. You could not have access to the Word of God. You could have been born into extreme poverty.  The list goes on and on.

Think of five things that you are so thankful for that are not true in your life right now. Give that present of thanks to the One who deserves it.

Dennis Chapmon was the eternal optimist.  How inspiring he was to be around.  Yes, I am so thankful that I didn’t wake up in the hospital this morning.  Thank you God, that though Your ways are always good, you chose an easier path for me today in so many ways.

 

Thankful?

Hope in Knysna

On the southern tip of Africa there lies a beautiful bowl-shaped lagoon with the city of Knysna nestled around it.  It is one of the top dream holiday destinations for the country of South Africa.  On June 7, 2017, a fire began to sweep throughout the beautiful dry winter landscape around Knysna. A family died. Thousands of people were evacuated and displaced.  Homes and schools were burned to the ground. People lost all their earthly belongings and even livelihoods.  Life will never be quite the same for those that went through this tragedy. Knysna, South Africa, has gone through a horrendous ordeal.

How can a person begin to think thanks in these kind of circumstances?

At first you feel so numb.  You have to stop the bleeding. People need food and water. Everything seems to take forever.  Things that seemed so important before, somehow have lost their urgency. What really matters?

Coming face to face with tragedies is often the source of people turning their backs on the Lord.  How could a loving God allow it?

Our friends, Dave and Julie Rudolph, are missionaries in Knysna and are forging their way through this devastating time and looking for ways to share the love of Christ in the midst of trial. Here is an update.

Dave Rudolph’s Update from Knysna

You may have your own fire, a hard thing that you have gone through that is difficult to process. It seems impossible to find any sense in it all.  I know I have experienced hard things like that.  I wrote down these 10 things following a talk on why God allows sufferings.  They have been immensely helpful for me personally.  Why does God allow evil and suffering?

  1. God is justly allowing sin’s curse on the earth to take its natural course; the earth is broken and longing for redemption. Romans 8:22
  2. God is jolting me to get me really searching for Him in prayer and in the Bible. Jeremiah 29:13-14.
  3. God is refining me, freeing me from some vice and building virtue in me (the greater good). I Pet. 4:3-4; Job 23
  4. God is equipping me to be a compassionate comfort and strength to others. 2 Cor. 1:4.
  5. God is equipping me for greater service; changing the scope of my influence.
  6. God is freeing me from trust/dependence on things, teaching me that He is the only thing I hold on to.
  7. God is opening a door for me to share my faith and show God’s love.
  8. God wants me to long for a better place. 2 Cor. 4:16-18.
  9. God is privileging us to share in His suffering – reward comes with this.
  10. God is demonstrating that He can sustain and keep His children faithful.

Searching for the things for which we can be th(i)nkful sometimes feels almost irreverent of the incredible pain that we are experiencing.  Formulating thanks through our tears is an act of worship to the Sovereign One that He does not take lightly.  He knows. He sees.  He rewards our effort to download His grace in order to gain His perspective in every circumstance.

purposefully thinking thanks in the midst of tragedy is like beginning to climb a rope out of the hole of despair that you find yourself in.

Antidote For Temptation

Gratitude pictureRecently I was listening to a lecture by Heath Lambert in preparation for my ACBC certification exam.  Lambert said something that grabbed my attention.  He said that gratitude is the opposite to every sin we commit.

James 1:14 shows how every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Lust is wanting what we don’t have, promising you happiness if you follow its promptings.  It is a lie because when you obey the lust, you are not satisfied, but want more.  It is degenerative, spiraling downward.

Practically every sin we commit is a result of a lack of thankfulness

Gratitude, on the other hand, is headed totally in the other direction.  It wants what it already has, and meditates on what it can be th(i)nkful for in its present circumstance.  Thankfulness is the antidote for temptation.

In Ephesians 5 Paul gives two strong verses on being thankful.  In verse 4, giving thanks is the biblical replacement to wrong behavior. The second mention of being thankful comes later in verse 20 as a description of a person filled with the Spirit.

Lambert continued in the lecture to encourage counselors to sit down with people they are working with and help them write out a list of things to be grateful for.  He said to ask the person to put that list in his/her pocket for easy reference.

If you only ever and always would be thankful, you would never sin. Sin struggles to take root and germinate in soil where thankfulness is pervasive. Do you find it motivating that the more thankful you are, the less prone to sin you will be?

When is the last time you made a list of things that you were thankful for?

Heath Lambert. ACBC Foundations Track. Denver, 2015.

Simply Lavender

simply lavender

One reason I am doing this blog is to get people speaking about and writing down the things for which they are thankful. Most people wait for feelings of thankfulness, but we should live more purposefully. We can obviously be thankful for big things, but much of the joy in life is found in expressing thanks for little things. Lavender for example.

th(i)nkful list about lavender:

  1. the scent makes me feel expensive and classy
  2. lavender has a natural ability to sooth and relax
  3. lavender grows well on the hill around 7 Rivers Farm
  4. lavender is growing presently around our home in Atlanta, GA
  5. I love how God has created herbs to aid the well-being of humans
  6. lavender is the herb “spikenard” referred to in Song of Solomon 4:14
  7. Mary anointed Jesus’ feet in John 12:3 with costly spikenard (lavender oil)
  8. lavender can deter moths in stored clothing
  9. lavender grows usually in neat compact mounds
  10. lavender seems to have insect repellent properties, and maybe even repels snakes
  11. sprinkling lavender flower heads in bath water is such a treat to refresh