Avoid the Glitz and Give Thanks

Posted on Nov 23, 2022 by Mark Muehl

Barna’s book, Faith for Exiles, has been a driver for The Lutheran Schools Partnership’s as we look at the present and the future with our schools. As I reviewed the main points of the book, I was reminded of the number one way in which 19-29 year old Christians surveyed had strengthened their faith and had demonstrated what the writers call, “resilient discipleship”- they experienced Jesus.

To be sure, experiencing Jesus is best described in the recurring activity of God throughout the Bible, that is, His ongoing reaching out to us and sharing His gifts. Throughout the Bible we experience vivid examples of God seeking out the sinner, even while the folks in the stories were not seeking Him. In fact, many were hiding from Him and in bold defiance of God and His Will. Already in Eden, God searched out the first sinners, sinners who were hiding from Him. The narratives are many where fallen man is rescued by our compassionate God. For some of those stories, we see repentant life in the saved, followed by a life of thanks and discipleship. The great missionary Paul may be the greatest example of this repentant life as he went from being an enemy of the new Christian world to becoming a resilient disciple by God’s grace - withstanding shipwrecks, imprisonment and even threats to life.

In Faith for Exiles, Daniel is shared as an example of a disciple who is exiled in an antagonistic country but stayed firm in faith, demonstrating to the enemies of faith around him of a life that was starkly different to the self-serving world of Babylon. Daniel was told to follow the king’s evil decrees; Daniel obeyed God and demonstrated this allegiance through prayer to God, through words motivated by faith and sharing God’s wise counsel ...even to the evil king himself.

Daniel is a great example for us today. Daniel’s foreign world was filled with glitz and glamor. The country was rich and powerful. The way of life had plenty of pleasurable experiences. However the glitz was not God-pleasing as it hid from the eyes the One who is “the Giver of every Good and Perfect gift.”

The bright and shiny glitz of this world is not unlike the bright city lights’ ability to hide a star struck sky. The hundreds of stars that are shining are hidden by the lights of the city. You need to leave the city to enjoy the multitude of stars in the sky.

Thanksgiving is a great time to step away from the glitz of the world and reflect and give thanks for all the glorious things that we are given. As Thanksgiving celebrations occur, give thanks with your church family at worship Wednesday evening or Thursday morning. When gathering for the Thanksgiving feast, take a moment for everyone to chime in on people and things each person is thankful for. When the day is done, be sure to thank God for another day of life and for the grace He has shown.

Happy Thanksgiving to each of you from all of us at TLSP.