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Pastor’s Note


Cultivating Thanksgiving

I love the cool weather we’ve had lately. Seeing the multi-colored leaves is one of my favorite seasonal changes each year. And now that we’ve enjoyed “HeyDay,” I consider fall to be in full swing.

During the time the Bible was written and all the way up to recent decades, much of the world also associated this time of year with the harvest. Months of labor and weather patterns culminated in the year’s produce of many key crops. One of the blessings of living in such a primarily agricultural economy is the constant reminder of one’s dependence on God and his daily provision of our basic needs.

Since I have never lived on a farm, I’ve never felt that particular aspect of autumn’s significance. Rain wasn’t primarily something that watered the earth and made our food grow; rather, it cancelled my ball games or rescheduled my family’s outdoor plans. Corn has never been something I’ve prayed to see grow so I could survive; rather, it’s something I’ve picked up as much of as I’ve wanted at the nearest grocery store.

One of the results of this (and other factors in my heart) is that it requires intentionality for me to cultivate thanksgiving. I easily take for granted having my basic needs met, and I don’t readily connect dinner with God’s faithful provision—even when I pray before I eat. In fact, as much as I love eating turkey and dressing, I can’t honestly say that I’ve always thought of a spirit of thanksgiving as a significant attitude to cultivate in my Christian life— humility, kindness, faith… yes, but not so much thanksgiving.

But God says it’s vital for our hearts. God even designed thank offerings for his people in the Old Testament to give them a tangible way to worship him in response to his provision. The New Testament says the Christian’s life is to be “abounding” in thankfulness to the point of our hearts being so full of gratitude that they are “overflowing.” In fact, we are to give thanks in all circumstances—right up there with prayer as an attitude of heart and shape of life we are always to have. I’m convinced it’s something I need to give attention to in my own heart and in my kids’ hearts as well. Here are a couple ideas we’re going to try to cultivate thanksgiving in our home this fall.

Count Your… Needs?
Sometimes counting my blessings, while profitable, allows me to skip over God’s provisions that I already take for granted. But try making a list of all the things you need to survive—physically and spiritually. This will help you appreciate the daily dependence on God felt by people tilling the earth for their sustenance. You don’t just need food. You need rain and sun and air to breathe, and none of these hold together apart from God’s providence in our world and in our lives. When we then begin to think of the ways God has blessed us far beyond our mere needs for survival, we can truly overflow with thanksgiving for the ways he has “lavished” his grace upon us.

A November to Remember
Growing up, I would always have to write on a “feather” something I was thankful for to put on “Tom Turkey” at Thanksgiving. We have so much to be thankful for that we are going to try to be particularly thankful for one thing every day of November this year as we prepare for Thanksgiving. I want to be able to think with and express to my kids God’s many blessings and my gratitude for them. So, consider it a November to remember reasons to give thanks to our Heavenly Father. It could be the beginning of cultivating an ongoing heart of thanksgiving in your own life and in your kids as well!