Giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving from a Canuck away from home. This holiday is a great reminder to look at our lives and remember God’s faithfulness. In the busyness of life, giving thanks is one of the spiritual disciplines we tend to neglect. It’s much easier to focus on what we are still yet to receive.

Last week, I was treated to an unpleasant morning. I got in to start the car and found that our car battery had died. The setback- coupled with a stomach bug the night before and the prospect of a long staff meeting planned that day- hit me harder than it should have. In that moment, I was not a witness of Christ’s glory at work in me.

The solution was thankfulness. One of my teammates got us thinking about some of the ways God had blessed us, even in light of our setback.  We could at least be thankful that we had a car.

Philippians 4 teaches us to rejoice always and to pray with thanksgiving. So I want to take some time to reflect of God’s goodness and give thanks. I won’t have a day off to celebrate with a turkey dinner (at least not until American Thanksgiving) but I have much to be grateful for

Christ: I’m most grateful for my salvation. Almost six years ago, I had my eyes opened to see the glory of God in the face of Christ. Since then, I’ve come to see in clearer detail the depth of my sin and depravity. I’ve seen how often my heart responds to God’s grace with unyielding selfishness. Each day, I see my need for salvation.

In salvation, I also see God’s hand in my sanctification. I’m not the same person I was six years ago. I’ve grown up a lot. I’ve also become a better person. I’ve become less lazy, more loving, more patient and more giving. I rejoice in God’s promise that, just as He begun the work of salvation in me, He will be faithful to complete my sanctification until the day of Christ’s coming.

Purpose: In salvation, I received purpose from God. He is showing me the good works He prepared for me before the beginning of time. Looking back I can see how He’s been very deliberate in bringing me where I am today.

Looking forward, I can be confident that He is continuing to take me on a divinely sanctioned adventure through life. In a few months, I will be making some decisions about where to go from Uganda. I have no idea what doors will open and where those doors will lead. I have me hopes and certain things I would like to be true of my future. I trust God will meet or beat these ideals.

Mentors: I takes a village to raise a child and it takes a host to faithful disciplers to build a mature believer. I am indebted to many men and women whose influence in my life challenged, encouraged, inspired and forced me to grow. I spent some time this April thanking a few by name on this blog and there are more who have and will continue to be thanked in person.

This week I shared with a student who asked how I know so much about scripture. Answering his question, I gave much credit to every pastor and mentor who chose to bring me to God’s Word whenever they taught me. It’s my prayer that I never teach or give an answer without consulting scripture because this value has been modeled for me by the men I most look up to.

Platform: In less than two weeks, I will have an opportunity to exposit scripture before my largest audience to date. Over the last year, I’ve had quite a few invitations to teach students in different contexts. This is my biggest passion and I am excited to continue grow in the craft of presenting God’s Word to God’s people.

How many people really have a platform to do what they love? How many get to make a career of what they love to do? I thank God even for you, the readers of my blog, who continue to allow me the sacred privilege of sharing with you on a (mostly) regular basis. Handling God’s Word is an honor and a huge responsibility and I thank God that He has counted me worthy to serve in this way.

Church: I love the Church. I love my church, Westside Baptist Church, who in the past year was an avenue of experiencing God’s love as well as my primary discipler through scripture. I love my parents’ church, Calvary Worship Chapel, who welcomed me to their fellowship and supported me this summer. I love my church here in Uganda, Berea Baptist Church, whose unapologetic, unyielding and undeniable commitment to scripture-based teaching has been a breath of fresh air and a taste of the familiar in a new land.

I love the global community of Christians united in adoption into the family of God and reception of the love of Christ. I love when God’s people use their differences to build each other up in godliness, stirring each other up to love and good works. I love that the gospel transcends cultural differences and language barriers. I love that Christ did not leave us orphans, but sent us the Holy Spirit to be our comfort and counselor. I love that the Holy Spirit often chooses to work through the people in whom He dwells, fills and directs.

Friends: I have amazing friends. Being separated from most of them, I’ve come to appreciate their influence in my life even more. I appreciate the jokes, the good times, the late night foolishness. I love that I get to be myself with them and experience authenticity with them. It’s a process making new friends here in Kampala but I see God’s provision even in that.

I would one day love to work of a post about what the bible has to say about friendship. I spent some time with a couple of new believers who are finding it hard to break from their past sins because of friends who constantly draw them back in. It’s my prayer that, in introducing them to communities of believers, they too can enjoy the blessing of sanctifying friendships which God has lavished bountifully on me.

Family: I have the most amazing family, and occasionally I will use this space to brag on them. I spent 611 words on this space bragging on my father in April. He continues to be a role model and a picture of godly living in a professional, church and family context. My mother is one of my closest friends, a trusted source of wisdom and encouragement. She is a gifted writer and children’s church curriculum creator on her site. I have one sister who gets my humour, constantly exposes me to aspects of pop culture I would otherwise miss, and generally makes for great company.

My family was my biggest source of support during the decision to come and preparation for ministry in Uganda. My parents affirmed my decision to serve here for a year when I told them of my decision. They celebrated with me when I got accepted and helped me think through support raising. They gave incredibly generously and mobilized others to give as well. I very likely would not be here without them and I am eternally grateful for them. I miss them.

Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

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