Thanksgiving Idols

I miss celebrating Thanksgiving twice a year! From 1995 to 2004 I helped and taught at the Venture Teams Training Camp in Alberta, Canada and almost every year managed to schedule those 10 day trips to include the second Monday of October – Canadian Thanksgiving. Then, the end of November, we had Thanksgiving American style. (Lois enjoyed that with me in 2001when Kari was a VTI team member.)

I’ve often wondered if, as Christ followers, we need to celebrate Thanksgiving more often. Not necessarily the way it’s done the end of November (or the second Monday of October) but at a different time and with more intent to move away from the idolatry of Thanksgiving. Consider the implications of the idols we celebrate now by looking at our priorities: Family, food, football, and shopping.

The way we spend our time, energy and money is very revealing and should cause us to stop and ask if we have allowed idols to creep in and spring up. Like you, I have already seen the blog and facebook posts about being thankful for our freedom, churches, homes, etc., and I agree we should give thanks for that. And, I also think we should be thankful for our families, the sagging tables of food, the relaxation of watching and/or playing football and maybe even for shopping. But let’s be careful to direct our most effusive and heartfelt thanksgiving for God. He is the object of our gratefulness. He alone is worthy of praise and honor and glory and power.

We are reminded that God has poured out on us His mercy –forgiveness we could never earn and which none of us ever deserves; His grace which knows no end and ultimately provides us with families and food and homes. James teaches us that God is the giver of every good and perfect gift. (James 1:17)

In Hebrews 12:28-29 we read, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29for our "God is a consuming fire.”” No New Testament writer refers to the Old Testament without purpose so we are compelled to look at Deuteronomy 4:23-24, “Be careful not to forget the covenant of the LORD your God that he made with you; do not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything the LORD your God has forbidden. 24 For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.”

In our Thanksgiving we must be careful to deal with the idols that so easily crowd out the supreme object of our worship: God.

I am grateful for all those who have sent greetings encouraging me. I’ve received text messages, emails, Facebook notes and phone calls from many who are rightfully concerned about this Thanksgiving as the first holiday without Lois. I’m certain her absence will be felt more acutely than I am prepared for. In the middle of family, food and football the greatest priority will be keeping the eyes of my heart and mind centered on the Worthy One.

God Told Me to Tell You

This post is not intended to offend anyone. It was written on Wednesday, September 9 – just two days prior to Lois’ death. Until now I really wasn’t comfortable posting it.

Tuesday I received an email from someone I know on a professional basis – or, to use churchy terminology, a “brother in the Lord.” We’ve really never had one of those heart-to-heart conversations that create true friendship – but we know each other. He is somewhat annoyed with me but after reading this agreed to let me post it.

The email opened with, “When I was in my prayer closet this morning, God revealed something just for you.” This is not a particularly bad thing. The writer establishes, up front, that what is about to be shared is from God just for me. That’s a claim that’s difficult to argue over. And no argument would be necessary if what came next was a quote from the Word of God. After all, everything in the Bible is from God and I believe it’s very possible for God to show one person something in the Word that is appropriate (or even life-saving) to be shared with someone else. Isn’t that what pastors are called to do week after week as we open the Word of God to “teach and admonish?”

I would have been grateful for a Psalm or Proverb or something of encouragement from one of the many promise filled passages of God’s Word. But that’s not what the writer shared. Instead “God told” this writer to tell me that I should take Lois to a clinic in another country that specializes in using an extract from horse urine to cure colon cancer. (Well, not exactly horse urine, but . . .)

To make sure everyone understands: Lois and I looked into numerous alternative medicine treatment options. We seriously considered some but in the end we made decisions based on a number of factors: 1) We prayed and waited on the Lord for direction. 2) The advice from our most trusted friends and advisors confirmed the direction we felt God provided us personally. 3) All of us, at different locations and a various times spread out over several days, arrived at the same Biblical narrative which we all felt confirmed the mutually agreed upon decisions.

So, what I am to think and how should I react when someone writes, “God told me to tell you?” Now that I’ve laid out the ground work, I have some questions. I’ve already asked the email writer to respond and now I’d appreciate your response to the following:

1. Why would God talk to you about me but not speak to me? Does this somehow suggest that something is wrong with my spiritual walk? (Of course, that’s very possible!)

2. Why would God choose to speak to you and not to my trusted friends whose advice and counsel has proven Biblical, insightful and correct for over 20 years? Would God leave these advisor/friends in the dark?

3. Of even greater concern, why would God tell you one thing and me and my advisor/friends something different? Does God bring confusion?

4. What is the Biblical basis for the right to be extra-Biblical?

5. Is there a point at which any of us “cross the line” when we claim “God revealed” something? If so, where is the line?

Please post your responses. I am open to reprimand, correction, criticism, or even agreement but would like some dialogue on this subject.