November 2019  
SMTWTFS
     12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
     
This Week's Events
NOV

20

WED
WORSHIP TEAM PRACTICE
6:00 PM
Wednesday at 6:00 p.m.
Celebration Choir Rehearsal
7:00 PM
Wednesdays 7:00 p.m.
CONFIRMATION CLASS
7:00 PM to 8:00 PM
NO CONFIRMATION CLASS ON NOV 27TH
NOV

21

THU
DORCAS QUILTING GROUP
9:30 AM
Dorcas Quilting Group meet the 3rd Thursday each month to tie quilts.
BELL CHOIR REHEARSAL
5:45 PM
BELL CHOIR WILL NOT MEET ON THE 28TH
NOV

23

SAT
Men's Breakfast & Bible Study
7:30 AM
GROUP MEETS THE 4TH SATURDAY OF EACH MONTH UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED. CHECK NEWSLETTER AND BULLETINS FOR DETAILS.
Bible Search
A Message from the Pastor
Pastor

Greg Kintzi

  Send Email


 

 

 

INDISCRIMINATE THANKS

“Be joyful always: pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

-I Thessalonians 5:16-18

        Thieves robbed Matthew Henry, the great eighteenth-century Bible Scholar. Afterward he wrote in his diary, “Let me be thankful first because I was never robbed before; second, although they took my purse, they did not take my life; third, because, although they took everything I had, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, and not someone else.” What an amazing response to circumstances many of us would have thought pretty terrible. What is going on here and what enabled him to offer-up such an unusual prayer?

          Matthew Henry’s perspective was actually shared by others of his contemporaries. William Law, another eighteenth century Christian thinker put the matter this way: “Would you know who is the greatest saint in the world? It is not he who prays most or fasts most, it is not he who gives most alms or is most eminent for temperance, chastity, or justice, but it is he who is always thankful to God... who receives everything as an instance of God’s goodness and has a heart always ready to praise God for it... Could you therefore work miracles, you could not do more for yourself than by this thankful spirit, for it turns all that it touches into happiness.”

          These claims seem extravagant, too good to be true. Yet that is the perspective of faith modeled for us by Jesus himself. When our Lord encountered obstacles and roadblocks to fulfilling the plan which his Father had laid out for him, you never hear him grumbling or complaining. Even when things looked darkest, Jesus’ primary way of responding to circumstances of crisis was to give thanks. When the masses by the Sea of Galilee were hungry and the disciples had no clue how to feed them, Jesus gave thanks for a little boys lunch of bread and fish and there was enough food for everyone. When Jesus encountered opposition and resistance from the religious leaders he thanked God “for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children (Luke 10:21). When his good friend Lazarus passed away and he was brought to the place where he was buried Jesus thanks his Father for hearing his prayers (John 11:41). In the Upper Room, with the awareness of his imminent death foremost on his mind, he took some bread, and “when he had given thanks shared it with his disciples” (Luke 22:19).

          Why is this attitude of continual thanksgiving so significant? Because it seems noticeably absent in today’s me-focused world. If we want to get back to the spiritual health which is modeled by Jesus and the early church we must adopt the perspective which they had toward life: that God is perfect in love, wisdom, and power. That God always wills what is best, always knows what is best and is powerful enough to always effect what is best for us his needy children.  The discipline of continual thanksgiving puts into practice this life giving perspective. It says, “Father, even though I can’t see your wisdom and power in my present circumstances, I believe you are bigger than what I can see. I will praise you that you are God, and that you are good in every circumstance of my life.”

          In his book Finding God in Unexpected Places, Philip Yancey tells of traveling to India with his good friends Dr. Paul & Dr. Margaret Brand to visit places where the Brands worked as missionary doctors. During their visit Philip had the opportunity to interview some of the Brands former patients. One of them was a slight looking man named Sadan. He looked like a miniature version of Gandhi: skinny, balding, perched cross-legged on the edge of a bed. In a high-pitched, singsong voice he told Philip wrenching stories of past rejection: the classmates who made fun of him in school; the driver who kicked him-literally, with his shoe – off a public bus; the many employers who refused to hire him despite his training and talent; the hospitals that turned him away out of unwarranted fear. Sadan then recounted the elaborate sequence of medical procedures – tendon transfers, nerve strippings, toe amputations and cataract removal-performed by Dr. Brand and his ophthalmologist wife. He spoke for half-an-hour recounting a life that was a catalog of human suffering. But as Philip and Sadan sipped their last cup of tea together, Sadan made this astonishing statement: “Still, I must say that I am now happy that I had the disease.”

          “Happy?” Philip responded, incredulous.

          “Yes,” replied Sadan, “for apart from leprosy, I would have been a normal man with a normal family, chasing wealth and a higher position in society. I would never have known such wonderful people as Dr. Paul and Dr. Margaret, and I would never have known the God who lives in them.”

          What an amazing example of indiscriminate thanks. Virginia Stein Owens makes this observation, “If you go poking about the world, intent on keeping the candle of consciousness blazing, you must be ready to give thanks at all times. Discrimination is not allowed. The flame cannot gutter and fail when a cold (or hot) wind whistles throughout the house. Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving. All must be thanksgiving... Thanksgiving is not the result of perception, thanksgiving is the access to perception.”

          This is why expressing our appreciation to God is so important. Thanksgiving and praise are among the most effective means of keeping open the channels of communication, the wellsprings of relationship between ourselves and God.

          Of course, the most effective way of expressing our gratitude to God is to pass His blessings on to someone else. A man was on vacation with his son’s family at a rented cottage on the New England seashore. On the first day of his vacation, he was out in the yard digging a hole. He was putting out a small plant. As his son observed this strenuous work, he asked his Dad why he was going to such effort to put out a plant when this was not even their cottage. They would not even be returning the next year. The father replied, “Somebody will be here.”

          “What kind of plant is it?” the son asked.

          “A century plant,” the father replied.

          “A century plant? You mean it won’t bloom for a hundred years?” the son asked.

          “Not that long,” the father explained, “Maybe twenty or thirty years.”

          The son was astonished. “Why in the world would you come out on this hot morning on your vacation in a rented cottage to put out a plant that won’t even bloom for twenty years?”

          The father paused and looked up at his son. “I saw one the other day, and realized that someone twenty or thirty years ago wanted to share it with me. And so he planted it for my enjoyment. Some day, I said to myself, I’m going to plant one so that people will enjoy it after I’m gone. And that’s what I’m doing this morning.”

                I can’t think of a better vocation in life – to express our thanks and praise by paying it forward to those we don’t even know indiscriminately, like God shares his grace & blessings with us on a regular basis. Giving thanks should be indiscriminate, and if it is, it will lead to joy. As William Law says, it “turns all that it touches into happiness.” So thank God, no matter what, and you will discover a world you never thought possible.

 

Your Fellow Pilgrim on the Journey,
Pastor Greg Kintzi