Ex-Pastor Ham

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Tag: thanksgiving

Thanks and Giving

Philippians 4:17 implies that when we support the work of the Lord in this age, we receive a share of the rewards for the things the Lord accomplishes through that work. (And by the way, 2 John teaches us the opposite principle: when we encourage false teachers in their work, we buy shares of that mutual fund. We need to guard our support and encouragement jealously.)

Here, Paul tells the Philippians regarding their recent generous financial gift to his ministry,

“Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.”

I believe the New Testament demonstrates that the work of the Lord in this age is centered in the local church. So my primary giving is in and to and through my local church. I think it’s also appropriate to give something additional to the work of the church universal – in other words, supporting ministries that make an impact on other local churches around the world besides my own.

A biblically faithful seminary is one kind of ministry that meets that criteria. The seminary that I attend, Central Seminary of Plymouth, Minnesota, has trained hundreds of pastors and ministry leaders for faithful New Testament local church ministry since the mid-20th century. Each year Central takes part in a fundraiser hosted by an organization called GiveMN. This year’s event, “Give to the MAX Day” is November 17.

As we are able, Steph and I try to give something to this fundraiser each year to show our gratitude for the ways in which the Lord is using Central Seminary and its staff and supporters to shape our ministry, and ultimately, our hearts. The vast majority of our giving goes to our local church, as it should. But a little bit above and beyond our usual giving goes to Central Seminary. We want to show gratitude, and we also want a share in the good work that Central is doing for the Lord around the globe.

If you do not already have a category of giving to support the increase and strengthening of local churches other than your own, I’d ask you to consider a gift to Central Seminary this year. Of course, you are not obligated to give. It is purely a matter of your own judgment and giving priorities.

And for what it’s worth, I give wholehearted approval to Central Seminary as a biblically faithful New Testament ministry that is worthy of the support of the Lord’s people for the building of His church.

Central Seminary “Give to the MAX Day” link

Thankfulness

Thankfulness. What a boring topic to the modern mind. Merely by naming this wordular amalgamation after so ugly a stepchild, I’ve destined it to the wasteland of single digit readership.

And yet, I cannot help myself. It is to this topic of thankfulness that my mind and heart have been drawn back again and again recently. For years I have heard good Christian men and women point to thankfulness as a primary virtue — and to ungratefulness as a particularly heinous vice — and though I’ve given some sort of mealy milquetoast mental assent to the idea, I’ve never understood why it’s such a big deal. That is finally starting to change.

The first real percolations began as I pondered Romans 1 a few times this past year. Why does unthankfulness make the cut in this who’s who chapter of famous evils? It’s not even sprinkled in somewhere down the line. This sin is in the header list of vices that kick starts the three-fold downward spiral — a demise sovereignly orchestrated by the God who thrice “gives them over” to a lower circle of wickedness. Read for yourself:

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. (ESV)

These verses teach that unthankfulness is a desperately wicked act (or lack of action), for thankfulness is the expected response from every man to the God who created him. They know him. Oh, they know him. And yet, though he has made himself plainly known to them, they deny him. They do not honor him. They do not thank him. This is what pagans do. This is what atheists do. This is not what Christians do! No, nor can it be, for God expects a thankful response at minimum even from the heathen. How much more is expected of the redeemed ones when it comes to thankful hearts! The wicked have been given a great gift in the general revelation of the eternal God, and thankfulness is required. How much more we have been given in the special revelation of Jesus Christ our Lord through the holy Scriptures, and oh, how much more will be required of us!

1 Corinthians 10:13 is the famous text that tells us,  “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” This is not a passage we often think of in terms of thankfulness. But how in the world are we to meaningfully glorify God in such common tasks of life as eating and drinking? I wonder if at least a part of the answer to that question lies in thankfulness. When we are grateful for God’s faithful, daily provision of even the fuel that keeps us alive, he is glorified (and food and drink are far more glorious and “good” than mere fuel, see Gen 1).

A lack of thankfulness makes a damning case against Christian claims. Let us be thankful, and in this way prove ourselves to be sons and daughters of God.

“The worst moment for an atheist is when he is really thankful and has no one to thank.” —perhaps G.K. Chesterton, perhaps Dante Rossetti

“You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.”—G. K. Chesterton

“When we were children we were grateful to those who filled our stockings at Christmas time. Why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with legs?”—G. K. Chesterton

November 25, 2015 Resources: Give Thanks; Pragmatism; Doctrinal Triage; Rome; Advent Readings

Why is pragmatism off limits for biblical decision making? This article helps us to understand its massive dangers.

It is important to have the ability to recognize which Bible doctrines are centrally attached to the Gospel, and which are not. Which is to say, it is important to know the difference between true heresy, and “mere” bad doctrine.

Roman Catholicism is not just another denominational branch on the Christian tree. It is no church at all, for it denies the true Gospel and anathematizes true believers who Christ died for and loves.

Free book of Advent devotional readings

Finally, a couple of posts related to an important Christian priority: giving of thanks. Pause today to give thanks, while considering how central thankfulness is to the life of faith.

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