A week of thankfulness: Thanksgiving Day

I like Thanksgiving. And I’m always thankful when I get to spend it with family. Hope you have a great day as well.

Happy Thanksgiving!

  “When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. He led you through the vast and dreadful desert, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. He gave you manna to eat in the desert, something your fathers had never known, to humble and to test you so that in the end it might go well with you. You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.” (Deuteronomy 8:10-18)

A week of thankfulness: Home

I’m thankful for my home. Not just this house. Not just my family. I’m thankful for all the things that go into making home home.

I’m blessed to have grown up in the United States. It’s a country that offers so many advantages, especially in terms of education, health care, etc. I’ve traveled enough to know that not every place offers the benefits that this country offers.

I’m blessed to have grown up in San Angelo. It’s a great city to grow up in. Small as cities go, but big enough to offer lots of opportunities for exploring and growing.

I’m blessed to have lived overseas. I’ve quoted Chesterton before, but it’s worth repeating: “The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” Living abroad changed forever the way I see my homeland and the way I see the world.

I’m blessed to have lived in Argentina. It’s a country rich in culture, with a people who value friendship and family. I learned values there that have served me well in my adult life.

I’m blessed to have lived in Stockdale. I learned much about how a church can be a community and a family. I also became a San Antonio Spurs fan! Stockdale offers little in terms of shopping, culture, etc., but is a place rich in the treasures of humanity.

I’m blessed to be living in Abilene. It’s an unusual city, shaped by the presence of three church-related universities. It’s a city that prides itself on morality, an excellent place to raise teenagers. I’m thankful that Abilene is my home.

When asked, “Where are you from?”, the answer is a long one. And I’m thankful for that.

photo by Kelly Piet

A week of thankfulness: Church heritage

I was raised in the church of Christ (big C, little C). And I’m thankful. I’ve gone from “Hebrew of Hebrews” to cynical college student to one who has made his faith his own. I’ve seen the good, I’ve seen the bad, and I’ve been a part of both. Today, I’m thankful.

I’ve written before about how growing up in the Johnson St. church shaped my faith. I was blessed to attend Abilene Christian University at a special time, studying under some amazing men. I’ve been a part of other congregations that have impacted me: the Highland church in Abilene, the 37th and Atlantic church in Long Beach (as we called it then), the University church in Abilene, the Alto Alberdi church in Córdoba, and the church in Stockdale, Texas. Each of them has contributed to making me who I am.

A few years ago, I wrote an article for Chris Gallagher’s blog. I posted it here, but it seems appropriate to post these thoughts again:

I love the church in her ideal state:

  • The unblemished, purified Bride of Christ, waiting to meet her Bridegroom
  • The new Jerusalem, descending from heaven as God’s dwelling in the midst of His people
  • The body of Christ, growing up into the very image of the One who bought her with His blood
  • The earthly manifestation of the Kingdom of God

I love the church in her flawed reality:

  • The congregation whose off-key singing makes a strong argument for instrumental music
  • The brothers who check off the five acts of worship on their scoresheet each week
  • The new Christian who discovers that word he’s always used isn’t as appropriate as he thought it was
  • The free spirits who launch into anything and everything without considering the ramifications

I love the church at her very best:

  • People opening their homes to strangers because they share the same Savior
  • Christians giving sacrificially so that others may learn about Jesus
  • Widows and teenagers and bank presidents dressing up as biblical characters to entertain and teach at Vacation Bible School
  • Believers gathering to praise and worship God even though that very thing could land them in jail

I love the church at her absolute worst:

  • Members fighting over personal issues, masking them behind alleged doctrinal differences
  • Christians falling into the very same sins that plague the people around them
  • Leaders giving into the human temptations of power and position, lording their authority over those around them
  • Longtime churchgoers who continue to feed on spiritual baby food, whining and crying when they don’t get their way

I love the church in the world today:

  • The family of God, loving one another as children of the same Father
  • Strangers and aliens, pilgriming together to the Promised Land on the other side of Jordan
  • Royal priests, heavenly ambassadors, holding out the Word of God to an unbelieving humanity
  • Faithful witnesses, enduring ridicule and shame for the sake of the Name

I love the church in all her manifestations, in all her glory and all her failings, because all of those things represent who I am as a Christian. I am a sinner, and I am forgiven. I am flawed, and I am perfection waiting to happen. I am human, and I am supernatural, a holy temple of God.

I am the church. My place in the Kingdom of God is an inseparable part of who I am. When I criticize her, I am really criticizing me, for her flaws are merely a reflection of the human condition of which she is made. When I praise her, I am praising my God, for her goodness is only a reflection of His.

I love the church. As it has been. As it is. As it someday will be.

*****

I am thankful for my church heritage.

A week of thankfulness: Family

I’m thankful. And need to learn to be more thankful. So let’s take a few days to talk about what I’m thankful for.

I’ll start with my family. I’m extremely thankful for my wife Carolina, who has put up with so much throughout our almost 24 years of marriage. I’m very proud of her as she nears completion of her master’s degree. And I’m well aware of which of us is the better preacher!

I’m thankful for my kids. I hear about all the problems people have as their children go through adolescence, and I can’t identify at all. Our kids always make us proud. Daniel is doing extremely well at ACU, while Andrea is having a stellar senior year in high school.

I’m thankful for the legacy I received from my parents and especially thankful to still be able to enjoy time with my mother. She has always been a model of dignity and grace and has surrounded her kids and grandkids with love.

I’m thankful for my mother-in-law. As I posted on Facebook yesterday (her birthday), the only thing I can complain about is not being able to tell mother-in-law jokes! She’s always made me feel more like a son than a son-in-law.

The family names in my past are ones that fill me with pride: Archer, Fulbright, Huff, Karr… they are names to live up to. As well as the families I married into: Tolosa, Rigotti… it’s quite a pedigree.

I am truly thankful.