Wednesday, November 22, 2006

40 Things to be Thankful For

My pastor gave us all an assignment: come up with 40 things we are thankful for between Sunday and Thanksgiving (American Thanksgiving Day, fourth Thursday in November, for my international readers). 40 is a number of testing and judgment in the Bible, isn't it? Hmmm.... Well, anyway, here goes:
  1. My salvation, the forgiveness of sins, given as a free gift of God's grace, on the basis of the sacrifice of His son Jesus.
  2. My wife, the greatest gift God ever gave me in this lifetime.
  3. My children. I don't talk about them much on this blog, because I want to preserve their privacy, but I cherish them beyond what words can say.
  4. My parents, who raised me to know Jesus and to know what that really means.
  5. My sister, an answer to prayer, whom I love deeply and was my best friend growing up.
  6. The salvation of my whole immediate family. I'm so grateful not to have to worry about their future.
  7. My health and the health of most of those near to me.
  8. A home to live in, and the kindness of those who helped us out when we were in transition.
  9. The ability to provide for my family.
  10. The written Word of God, God's gracious gift to reveal Himself to us.
  11. The work and sacrifice of many who copied the Bible and translated it, sometimes at the cost of their own lives, so that I might have a Bible to read in my own language.
  12. The witness of generations of Christians who kept the faith alive, often in the midst of persecution, so that the truth of my faith might be passed down to me.
  13. My friend Bob, who understands me better than most, and who has been generous, kind, and thoughtful toward me and my family in more ways than I can count.
  14. My friend Dave, who helped me hammer out what I believe and who I am, and helped me get through that time of being single and not very happy about that fact.
  15. My friend and pastor Bill, who went out on a limb to marry my wife and me, and proved to be a friend as well as a pastor.
  16. My friend Tom, who was my guitar buddy in seminary and my support in not following the crowd. I'm sorry that we lost touch. I hope you're doing well.
  17. My friend Scott, also from seminary, now a professor, and one of the most genuinely goodhearted and humble people I've ever known.
  18. My friend Ron, who was my best friend growing up in junior high, high school, and college. He was always a faithful friend, during my most introverted and shyest years.
  19. Shiloh, the band I was in in high school and early college - which is to say, Dave, Ron, Phil, and Melody. You were my social life during those crucial years, and I'm sure kept me doing the right thing.
  20. The privilege of living in a nation that is still, by world standards, pretty free, where I can believe and worship without fear of persecution.
  21. Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where I learned to order and shape and make coherent and self-consistent the truths of what I believe.
  22. My years at Wayne State, where I grew from a boy to a man, and my understanding of life was broadened and deepened immeasurably.
  23. C.S. Lewis, who could take the most mundane of commonplace truths and build it up through a logical sequence to a conclusion that would leave you breathless.
  24. The example of Corrie ten Boom, who did what was right in the most difficult circumstances, paid the price, lived to tell the tale, and became an inspiration.
  25. The example of Brother Andrew, who risked everything to bring the Word of God to those who couldn't obtain it, and who still seeks out the suffering church to reach out to those in greatest need.
  26. The example of my mother, who through debilitating health and personal circumstances, has persevered in her faith and convictions without wavering.
  27. Beautiful fall days with blue skies (today is one).
  28. Holidays. I think we forget how much of the world is in a day-to-day struggle for existence, with no special days off.
  29. Joyful days - those rare occasions when my generally melancholy self takes a rest and my soul sings.
  30. The ability to read - something else we take for granted, but how many people throughout history and even now don't hold this key to the pleasure and enrichment that the written word holds.
  31. Music - the ability to appreciate it and whatever small talent I have for making it, and especially being able to praise God through it.
  32. The hope of life eternal with our Lord.
  33. The assurance that nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  34. Truth. In a world which says there is no truth - or no truth that can be assuredly known - we are told, "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
  35. People who are faithful in ministry. It's much more difficult than most people imagine. God bless those who do it faithfully for the long haul.
  36. Food to eat, water to drink, air to breathe - the things we take for granted almost every moment of our lives.
  37. Prayer - the infinite honor of direct communion between us and the Sovereign Lord of all creation.
  38. The ability to cooperate with God in accomplishing His plan, through prayer and action, and to be rewarded for obedience as a result. As Pascal said, in prayer, God allows us the dignity of being causes.
  39. The way in which God redeems, changes, and restores lives; not scrapping them and starting over with others, but healing what is already there.
  40. God's infinite mercy, patience, and grace, without which I would have been lost ten thousand times over.

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