Now Thank We All Our God

Note: This article was originally posted on November 23, 2006.

To All Ye Pilgrims: Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, beans, squashes, and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as He has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us thank_you.jpgfrom pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience; now, I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the day time, on Thursday, November ye 29th of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty-three, and third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim Rock, there to listen to ye pastor, and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings.

It’s been 383 years since Governor William Bradford called the Pilgrims to the first Thanksgiving celebration in the New World. 156 years later, after a long, hard war for independence, our first President, George Washington, called the United States of America to a day of thanksgiving:
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The Discipline of Pain in Parenting

by Pastor Dan Miller

Editor’s Note: This article was reprinted with permission from Dan Miller’s book Spiritual Reflections.
Playing with DaddyMy foibles as a father are numerous and varied. My intuitive responses to the rapid-fire ordeal of parental decision-making routinely unveil my native blockheadedness.

With this disclaimer firmly staked, I nonetheless testify to the remarkable benefit I gain from imitating my heavenly Father’s example as he nurtures his children. I am discovering that such imitation provides not only wisdom for parenting, but also becomes itself a means by which to better understand my Father.

For instance, by following God as parental exemplar, I am learning that skillful parenting occasionally commends the discipline of choosing our children’s pain over their pleasure. Living in an affluent, fun-at-any-cost culture, our default modus operandi as parents is to remove every pain as quickly as possible, or at least to reduce it as far as is feasible. But I find that God’s parental instincts flow much deeper and commend to us the capacity of permitting our children to suffer for their good (2 Cor. 1:3-9; 12:1-10; Heb. 12:4-13).
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EYXAPIΣTΩMEN: Let Us Give Thanks

In The Nick of Time
O Father of lights, with Whom is neither variableness nor shadow of turning, from Your hand receive we every gift, each one good and perfect. Naught have we of our own; nothing do we possess that we were not given. Our open hands know not for what they grasp, but discover themselves filled with goodness and blessing from Your bounty.

You are life; You have life in Yourself; You are the source of all living. Our being, frail and small, races ever toward dissolution. Our little existences, propped up moment-by-moment from without, depend incessantly upon You. Ceaselessly Your life-gift pours into us, else we would straight away unform, undo, and unbe. Without life from Your Life, we could neither stand, nor sense, nor say, nor even sin. Your Life is the light that ignites our own tiny sparks.

Made like beasts as to our bodies, we share their need for breath. Athirst, we cannot even weep without water. Hungered, we cannot thrive without food. Naked, we cannot abide without cover. Weary, we cannot mend without rest. Your eye, which sees the sparrow’s plight, perceives our want. Your bounty, which clothes the lilies, attends to our lack. From Your good hand receive we bread and breath, hearth and health.
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God Give Us Willing Hearts

Editor’s Note: This article was reprinted with permission from Warren Vanhetloo’s newsletter “Cogitation.”
HeartJesus strongly condemned religious teachers of His day for being concerned about legalistic trivia, such as tithing garden produce while ignoring serious teachings of the Old Testament (Matt. 23:23). He emphasized that difference already in His first extended public sermon, after which the people expressed astonishment at His teaching. “For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (Matt. 7:29 KJV). He vividly set forth in a few verses the important instruction of the Hebrew Scriptures, being ignored by the intelligentsia of the day. His hearers knew their Bibles well enough that they recognized that His summation came from their sacred book. He was not ignoring the Scriptures. He was not contradicting them. He was not adding to what God had earlier revealed. He was emphasizing the real meaning of the Old Testament.
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Who Is Our "Intelligent Designer"? Part 2

Read Part 1.

Twin PlanetsThe Intelligent Design Movement (IDM) has been widely popularized by Philip E. Johnson (professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley) in his books, beginning with Darwin on Trial in 1991.

Dr. Johnson, considered by many to be the chief architect of IDM, has clearly demonstrated that neo-Darwinian, materialistic evolutionism (which presupposes atheistic naturalism) simply cannot explain the nearly infinite complexity of living things. By inserting “the wedge” of Intelligent Design into the biological sciences, he is quite hopeful that materialistic naturalism will be uprooted in universities and public schools and that science and sociology textbooks will be purged of evolutionary distortions.

These are noble goals, and most of the argumentation of IDM books is, to this extent, on target. Every Christian should applaud legitimate efforts to restore sanity and reality to the study of ultimate origins in our public schools, in our universities, and even in many of our “Christian” colleges.

The tragedy of the IDM, however, it that it stops far short of honoring God’s written revelation, the Bible. In fact, the book of Genesis as literal history seems to be an embarrassment to most of these scholars. Read more about Who Is Our "Intelligent Designer"? Part 2

Book Review: Father, Son and Spirit: The Trinity and John's Gospel

Köstenberger, Andreas J. and Scott R. Swain. Father, Son and Spirit: The Trinity and John’s Gospel. New Studies in Biblical Theology 24. Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2008. 224 pages. Softcover. $22.00.

(Review copy courtesy of InterVarsity Press.)

Father, Son and SpiritPurchase: IVP | WTS | Amazon | CBD

ISBNs: 0830826254 / 9780830826254

Table of Contents
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A Tribute to the Warriors of the Little-People Wars

by Pastor Dan Miller

Editor’s Note: This article was reprinted with permission from Dan Miller’s book Spiritual Reflections.
BondingIt is high time tribute was given to a group of unsung heroes. It is time you were honored as the true warriors you are. You are the parents who faithfully transport little bodies with you to a house of worship week after grueling week.

By “little bodies” I do not refer to children capable of dressing, bathing, and wiping themselves. I do not refer to children whose eating habits resemble that of Homo sapiens. Parents of such “big kids” have it easy—at least the physical part.

I speak rather of those who face not only the daunting task of getting themselves to church on time, but who must also dress, change, feed, bathe, carry, and cajole young children to join them each week. For you, attending church is easy; getting to church comprises your own weekly episode of Mission Impossible.

You have come to realize the uncanny relationship between getting children to church on a Sunday morning and the world as you know it falling apart at the seams. Prior to parenthood, I used to scoff at those who applied the “devil-made-me-do-it” excuse to the actions of their children. I scoff no more!
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The Heart of Prayer

In The Nick of Time
The night before He was crucified, Jesus spent an extended period teaching His disciples. Apparently He began teaching His disciples while they were in the upper room, then continued to teach them as they left the room and walked toward Gethsemane. Part of what He taught them centers upon the image of the vine and branches, reported in John 15:1-8. Specifically, in the context of this image, Jesus uttered the command to “abide in me.”

Interpreters are about evenly divided on the significance of this command. Some understand abiding in Christ to refer to salvation; others take it to refer to some experience beyond salvation that Jesus wanted His disciples to enjoy. Of course, arguments can be advanced on both sides of this debate. I don’t intend to go into all of them here. In my opinion verse 3 is decisive: the disciples to whom Jesus addressed this command were all already believers whose sins had been cleansed by His Word. They were already saved, and they were not in any danger of losing the salvation that they had received. To me, it seems necessary that “abiding in Christ” must refer to some experience subsequent to the reception of Jesus as Savior. Read more about The Heart of Prayer