November 30, 2016
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
By Dr. Michael Morgan Today I woke up, knowing that I am supposed to be feeling thankful, but mostly feeling put out. It was quite early, everything was still dark, and so I laid in bed for a long time replaying in my mind why I am right and others are wrong, why I’m justified in my irritation, why pastoring is so tough. Those words that were said, they hurt. Besides, it’s my birthday, and I can cry if I want to – or something like that. We are only four days out from Thanksgiving, and I’m sure I should be thanking God for something. But this morning, I’m an Israelite. I’m a grumbler. It is cold outside, but warm under these covers, and just as I am cozying up to my own self-righteousness, Dietrich Bonhoeffer begins to intrude on my lonely, early birthday morning pity party:
“Dagnabbit, Bonhoeffer,” I mutter to myself. “Why does he always have to do that?” In the best sort of way, Dietrich Bonhoeffer has rained on my parade. The truth is, he’s right. These people about whom I complain, they are some of the greatest gifts that God has given me. It’s time to get out of bed. It’s time to see again. Everything that comes from our Father is a gift, including the gift of planting a small, fledgling church, with a group of flawed, fallen people. This small church is, first off, still kicking over a decade after we planted it. Although at times difficult, serving here has been humbling, making me more like Jesus. It has kept me from moral failure, which seems to happen so often from sudden overexposure. It has taught me to be gracious to other pastors, in their own places of ministry. This place and these people—this has been a wonderful training ground to grow me as a leader and preacher. How patient they’ve been with some terrible sermons along the way! This post has afforded me the opportunity to pursue advanced theological education, given me the joy of close relationships, has protected me from idolatry, offered me freedom from worldly pursuits, and has given me the gift of time with my dear family. Speaking of, here they are, parading in, single-file, singing “Happy Birthday,” bearing gifts, faces alighted with joy. The gruffness in my heart slowly melts away, and I see again just how good I’ve got it. Homemade cards: “I love you more than you can imagine, and I am so lucky to be your daughter.” “Thank you for always caring for me. Thank you for always being a good mentor. You are the best dad in the world. And thank you for disaplening me.” Did he just write that? These children, this thankfulness, point me back to the ultimate gift, Jesus Himself, and my heart is taught again to pray, “Father, You love me more than I can imagine, and I am so blessed to be your son. Thank you for always caring for me. You are the best Father in the world. Thank you for disciplining me. Thank you for my church. Thank you for this family. Thank you for your Son.” Dietrich is right. “To thankful people everything comes as a gift, because they know that for them there is nothing that is earned.”
Only those who are thankful for small things also receive great things. . . . We then complain . . . and we believe that our grievances are righteous. . . . But how can God entrust great things to one who will not thankfully receive small things from His hand? When we do not give thanks daily for the Christian community in which we are placed – even where there is much weakness, little faith, and much difficulty – when we are always complaining to God that everything is so measly, so small, so unlike what we expected, then we keep God from making our community grow according to the abundance and riches that await all of us in Jesus Christ.
Dr. Michael Morgan serves as Teaching Pastor at Wellspring Community Church (Aurora, CO) and teaches history and theology as an adjunct professor at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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