By Dr. Stan DeKoven
Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one anotherwith psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,
singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Col. 3: 16
Happy Thanksgiving! This holiday, which I will be celebrating on the flight to Malaysia, is filled with many significant and mostly happy memories for me. We have, in fact, so much to be thankful for. For me, I will miss this thanksgiving time of turkey and family, as it is more meaningful to me than even Christmas or Easter (and I love those times too). I suppose when you move into the last third of your life, it is normal to be a bit nostalgic, and often we can have selective memory. But my memories of Thanksgiving, with mom and dad, with Karen and my girls, and now with my daughters and grandchildren…well, they are precious to me.
The Bible reminds us to remember 168 times (in the New American Standard Version) …and yes, there are things we need to forget, but first we have to remember what we are to forget. Anyway, remembering just a few things this Thanksgiving that you are grateful for will no doubt make it a richer, fuller experience, with whomever you have the honor to break bread (and stuffing) with…especially if we remember to be thankful.
In this passage of scripture, Paul, addressing the church in Colossae, reminds the believers that there are many things to be thankful for; for the rich word of God that Vision is spreading all over the world, for wisdom that comes through the teaching ministry, for the fact that we have the ability to sing, even if it is in the shower, but most importantly, for the ability and privilege to give thanks in our heart for all the Lord has done for us. Having a heart of thankfulness makes it most difficult to experience hopelessness and despair, anger over real or perceived slights, fear of the past, present or future…thankfulness to God makes thankfulness for others possible.
As we, or more likely you, prepare for a Thanksgiving feast, hopefully with family and friends, you might consider the following as things to be thankful for…I know I am!
- Give thanks because God has chosen us. Really, when you think about it, why did God choose any of us? First and foremost, to save us from sin…and give us access to the Father. His grace, grace, grace and love, which is so overwhelming. I am grateful he has saved me, healed me, sanctified me and called me, and given me opportunity to serve him through Vision.
- Thanks for the Church. In all of its dysfunction, the church, the family of God, the Body of Christ, the Army of the Lord, is fantastic…really. In the local church we have friends, iron sharpening iron, people who actually pray for us, pastors and other spiritual leaders that instruct us. I am grateful for my local church, Heart of God, with Pastors (and former students) Mark and Pat McElwee for their faithfulness to their call, and I am grateful to all the local assemblies I get to preach and teach at, as they are all lead by servants of God who love the Lord and Me. Can’t get much better than that!
- Thanks for the Vision team. I am so blessed to have the best staff of friends on the planet. The work hard, not for a paycheck (though that is necessary for most) but out of Love for Jesus, Vision, Dr. Chant and his vision, and me…. I am blessed and highly favored. In fact, our staff is not just those in the offices here in Ramona, but we have co laborers around the world…one of which, brother Lucas, is featured below.
- Thanks for generous givers. As we move forward in our 2017 Matching Fund program (see below), I am grateful for everyone, whether a Gideon 300 giver or one time Matching fund supporter, for generous giving reflective of generous hearts. Our work cannot achieve its goal without generous men and women helping us with the tangible gift of giving.
This Thanksgiving, a uniquely American holiday, will be celebrated wherever Americans gather. Even if you are not from the United States, you might consider setting aside a day or days to focus on giving thanks. As you do, remind yourself of the many things you can be thankful to the Lord for. I will choose to remember:
- My salvation
- My calling
- My family (including my mom and grandparents and wives in heaven)
- My friends (including the dedicate Vision staff and Leaders around the world)
- My health
- My nation
- My many, many blessings, bestowed on me simply because I am in Christ, and he is in me…all spiritual blessings, now and for eternity…Thanks be to God!