Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Thanksgiving is the life we a called to live as followers of Jesus.

A praise song that speaks deep into my heart is Blessed Be Your Name by Matt Redman:

Blessed be your name

In the land that is plentiful

Where the streams of abundance flow

Blessed be your name

Blessed be your name

When I'm found in the desert place

Though I walk through the wilderness

Blessed be your name

Every blessing you pour out,
I turn back to praise

When the darkness closes in,
Lord, still I will say...
Blessed be the name of the Lord

I love this song. It reminds me that the test of my faith is found in the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart. What comes out of me is evidence of what is inside me. Am I filled with thankfulness to God or bitterness and resentments? Every year Thanksgiving reminds me that the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart are to be a thankful response for the wonderful love that God has poured out to everyone of us in His Son, our Lord.

This song causes me to ponder two basic questions:
Can I appreciate and love God when life is hard?
Can I appreciate and love God when everything is going right?

You wouldn’t think praising God in times of abundance would be a challenge, but it can be. It is so easy to forget whom the goodness comes from and attribute it to circumstance or ourselves. In times of abundance we can quickly forget to thank the Lord from whom all blessings flow. When life is hard and things don’t go according to our plans we can slip into bitterness and lose faith and trust in the Lord. Faith is the assurance of the sure and certain hope we have in the goodness and love of God whether we have much or little; whether life is easy or hard.

The longest section of the Heidelberg Catechism is titled simply, Thankfulness. And teaches us that God has saved us at great expense so that “in our whole life we may show the ourselves grateful to God for his goodness”. For Christians, Thanksgiving is not just a day in November. Thanksgiving is the life we a called to live as followers of Jesus.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Solitude and Silence from Life Together

Solitude and Silence

Let him who cannot be alone beware of community. He will only do harm to himself and to the community. Alone you stood before God when he called you; alone you had to answer that call; alone you had to struggle and pray; and alone you will die and give an account to God. You cannot escape from yourself; for God has singled you out. If you refuse to be alone you are rejecting Christ’s call to you, and you can have no part in the community of those who are called. “The challenge of death comes to us all, and no one can die for another. Everyone must fight his own battle with death by himself, alone. . . . I will not be with you then, nor you with me” (Luther).

But the reverse is also true: Let him who is not in community beware of being alone. Into the community you were called, the call was not meant for you alone; in the community of the called you bear your cross, you struggle, you pray. You are not alone, even in death, and on the Last Day you will be only one member of the great congregation of Jesus Christ. If you scorn the fellowship of the brethren, you reject the call of Jesus Christ, and thus your solitude can only be hurtful to you. “If I die, then I am not alone in death; if I suffer they [the fellowship] suffer with me” (Luther).