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Thanks-living: More Than Just a Holiday

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If I had a favorite holiday, Thanksgiving would be it. It’s less commercialized, a day off the normal grind, and a signal that the end of the year is near. It’s often best spent with others, and the sporting events are the whip cream on the pie (not to mention the mouth-watering menu defies the belt size)!

 Other than a holiday, let’s ask: is thanksgiving a feeling or wish? Can you say ‘thanks’ without directing the gratitude somewhere else? We tend to express thanks for something or someone. We’ve all heard the cliché “Thank God/goodness it’s Friday.” But I’ve never heard ‘Thank Friday for leading me into a two-day period wherein I don’t have to work’ or ‘Thank you, car, for getting me safely and warmly to my destination’. Whether realized or not, the point is that thanksgiving is always pointed at something.

 The expression of gratitude for some material or event is to acknowledge that there is a Source behind the object of thanks. Thus, thankfulness cannot be merely a feeling or a wish. Whether it’s a simple ‘thank you’, hand motion, song, poem, post, letter, etc., the act of thanking acknowledges that someONE has brokered a benefit for your good, and that someONE is God himself. Giving thanks is echoing to yourself and others one of the common yet majestic refrains of the Bible: “Oh give thanks to the LORD for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.”

 Yet, thanksgiving for the Christian is also a lifestyle. “No other religion in the world has emphasized so insistently and incessantly on thanksgiving as the normal posture of the Christian heart” (Pastor David Sunday). We don’t have to wait for a season to be more aware of our blessings. Remember that whether or not your national history has pilgrims, natives, cornucopia, cranberries and turkey in it, every day for the Christian  is “thanksgiving” because every single hour we have reason to thank God for how truly good he is.

 As a church, let’s resolve to be constantly on the lookout for signs of God’s grace in each other, in our homes, jobs and schools. It’ll get contagious. Mumbling and negativity will eventually shrivel and be gobbled up by sumptuous expressions of grace.

Happy ThanksLiving!

 P.S. For a historical reflection on what Thanksgiving is, check out Steve Nichols's blog post over at Ligonier!

 

Posted by Will Pareja with
in Church

Christian, Bring Your Bible to Church

Employees carry badges.

Students bring their protractors to geometry class.

Fans wearing the team gear to the big game.

The artist always carries a pad to doodle on. 

Powerlifters always have a big belt in their gym bags.

You get the picture: People prepare themselves for the right occasion. 

Now, this isn’t where I’m going to say that a certain dress code for Sunday worship should compete with a funeral or black-tie event. No. Nor am I going to codify a new statute for ASCC members. 

But I must say, the number of Bible-less church attenders is staggering— and disconcerting. One wonders if there’s a correlation between that and the rise of nominalism in American Christianity. It’s not that they don’t own a Bible. In the age of the printing press and digital content, we have access to multiple copies of the Bible. My guess is that there are probably about 10 copies in my house right now. That’s an average of two per person. So, need isn’t the problem. Is it that church attenders just want to be free of carrying anything on their commute? Have they gotten into the mentality that the church will provide everything when they arrive there?

“Old” churches used to be equipped with pews which had racks to hold Bibles or hymnals. Now, since many churches are projecting songs and sermon notes on big screens (not a sin), the participation factor seems to have significantly waned. You can come to church and just watch. You can just use a pew Bible. Don’t get me wrong: it’s a good thing to provide copies of Scripture around the seating in a church worship service. But those Bibles aren’t replacements for your own Bible, and they are more often there to help the unchurched who attend connect with what we’re doing and not feel more strange or left out than they already do. 

There is nothing magical or extra-spiritual in bringing a Bible to church. There’s no direct command about it in the Bible itself. In fact, there were periods in Judeo-Christian history when they didn’t have access to Scripture. Sometimes, a town’s only copy was locked up in a church. 

But, nor is there anything less spiritual in using a mobile device to read from at church. In fact, sometimes—yea, often— appearances can be deceiving. This isn’t about maintaining an appearance. Some who tote their Bibles to church hardly live by it, and some who don’t bring a physical copy to worship might be very studied in the Word, close to the Lord and loving others. 

My hunch is that Christians who really are growing in love with God’s Word and are in it during the week willingly or naturally carry their Bibles to church as they would an inhaler or a diaper bag. Bringing a Bible to church—and using it!— can be a visible sign that you are spiritually attentive. You want to have the copy that you spend time in during the week with you in Lord’s Day worship so that you can mark it up and make connections all in one place. There are multiple good reasons. But showing off or getting a monkey off your back isn’t one of them. There are no Bible “police” at ASCC, and you won’t be judged. 

What’s more important than bringing a Bible to church or even opening the pew Bible up to follow along with the preacher? It’s bringing God’s Word home, in your heart. 

This is exactly what Colossians 3:16 directs: “Let the word of Christ dwell richly among you…” So, whether it’s your copy, a church copy or a screen, Christian, bring the Bible home in your heart and let it have a comfortable residence. 

Posted by Will Pareja with
Tags: church, bible

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