I just returned from an errand: Several weeks ago the laser-cut key for my car broke off the key fob and because of the design the key was useless. I had to order a new one and it arrived last week. The dealer called several times reminding me to pick it up and I finally got it done today. Just picking it up was quite a process and the Parts Manager was very patient as we walked through a number of steps. He was gracious to walk out to my vehicle to make sure the new key worked and to program the buttons on the new fob.
I thanked him and said I hoped he would have a great Thanksgiving.
As I drove back to church I wondered how he would celebrate. Even more specifically, how will you celebrate Thanksgiving? Family? Food? Football? Shopping?
In the middle of the all the activity, let’s take time to remember that God poured out on us His mercy – forgiveness we could never earn and which none of us deserves. God gives us grace – endless rivers of goodness – which we see and experience in love, family, places to live, food, etc. God is the object of our thanks; our praise; our gratefulness.
The writer of Hebrews instructs us: “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.”” (12:28-29). The phrase, “God is a consuming fire” is from Deuteronomy 4:23-24 and it almost sounds like a warning! Maybe it’s something we should take more seriously.
In the middle of family, food, football, and shopping make sure to set aside time to sincerely thank God for who He is; for His gift of Jesus Christ; for the presence of the Holy Spirit. God loves you with such passion that He is jealous when ignored. Be still. Be silent. Listen to Him.
Somehow I failed to get everyone to ignore my most recent birthday. As much as many of us would like to skip these annual events they happen – ready or not! Thanks to all who sent cards, left voicemails of singing, called, posted greetings and congrats on Facebook, and told me in person. I do appreciate each of you and thank God for such an amazing group of friends and family.
For me, this particular birthday is significant because it marks the beginning of my second year as pastor at Northgate! A year full of learning new names and faces; listening to the stories of scores of people; growing in an understanding of what God is already doing here; and praying, laughing, and crying with many as we do life together. There are three things I am taking with me from the past year and three things I am praying for in the year to come.
Lessons from the first year
- Northgate is a family not an address or a building. We are just a small part of the world-wide body of Christ but a major participant in all God is doing in our community.
- We are not the only lighthouse of truth but a sincere gathering of Christ-followers with moving, personal stories of forgiveness and restoration, mercy and grace.
- We are learning to connect with Jesus in communities that care. These core values are not just words; we are living them out together.
What I am trusting God to do in the year ahead
- Give us a vision for our community so big it will require outrageous faith and irrational generosity.
- Help us exploit our strengths both as individuals and as a household of faith.
- Give us an insatiable desire to see lives changed. The transforming work of Jesus is the only hope for this crazy, hurting, messed up world.
Heavenly Father, I pray as I begin another year of life and my second year at Northgate, that you would make me more and more like your Son, Jesus, who is everything! Amen.