Category Archives: Thanksgiving

“By a way that we did not know” by Wilbur L. Cross

“Time out of mind at this turn of the seasons when the hardy oak leaves rustle in the wind and the frost gives a tang to the air and the dusk falls early and the friendly evenings lengthen under the heel of Orion, it has seemed good to our people to join together in praising the Creator and Preserver, who has brought us by a way that we did not know to the end of another year.”

–Wilbur L. Cross, “Thanksgiving Day Proclamation, 1936,” in Proclamations of His Excellency Wilbur L. Cross Governor of the State of Connecticut (Hartford: Lockwood and Brainerd Co., 1937), 16.

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“A Prayer to God Before A Meal” by Matthew Henry

“Gracious God,

You are the Protector and Preserver of the whole creation.

You have nourished us throughout our lives up to the present day with sufficient food, though we are evil and unthankful.

Forgive all our sins, for by them we have forfeited Your mercies.

Restore our right standing with you in Christ Jesus.

Enable us to taste covenant love in commonplace mercies.

Give us the grace to use these mercies and all the comforts of Your creation to the glory of Christ, our great Benefactor and Redeemer.

Amen.”

–Matthew Henry, A Way to Pray: A Biblical Method for Enriching Your Prayer Life and Language by Shaping Your Words with Scripture, Ed. O. Palmer Robertson (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1710/2015), 373.

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“Rejoice that your names are written heaven” by D.A. Carson

“The story is told of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, one of the most influential preachers of the twentieth century.

When he was dying of cancer, one of his friends and former associates asked him, in effect, ‘How are you managing to bear up? You have been accustomed to preaching several times a week. You have begun important Christian enterprises; your influence has extended through tapes and books to Christians on five continents. And now you have been put on the shelf. You are reduced to sitting quietly, sometimes managing a little editing. I am not so much asking therefore how you are coping with the disease itself. Rather, how are you coping with the stress of being out of the swim of things?’

Lloyd-Jones responded in the words of Luke 10: ‘[D]o not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven’ (10:20—though of course Lloyd-Jones would have cited the King James Version).

The quotation was remarkably apposite. The disciples have just returned from a trainee mission, and marvel that ‘even the demons submit to us in your name’ (10:17).

At one level, Jesus encourages them. He assures them that (in some visionary experience?) he has seen Satan fall like lightning from heaven (10:18). Apparently Jesus understands this trainee mission by his disciples as a sign, a way-stage, of Satan’s overthrow, accomplished in principle at the cross (cf. Rev. 12:9–12).

He tells his disciples that they will witness yet more astonishing things than these (Luke 10:18–19). ‘However,’ he adds (and then come the words quoted by Lloyd-Jones), ‘do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven’ (10:20).

It is so easy to rejoice in success. Our self-identity may become entangled with the fruitfulness of our ministry. Of course, that is dangerous when the success turns sour—but that is not the problem here.

Things could not be going better for Jesus’ disciples. And then the danger, of course, is that it is not God who is being worshiped. Our own wonderful acceptance by God himself no longer moves us, but only our apparent success.

This has been the sin of more than a few ‘successful’ pastors, and of no fewer ‘successful’ lay people. While proud of their orthodoxy and while entrusted with a valid mission, they have surreptitiously turned to idolizing something different: success.

Few false gods are so deceitful. When faced with such temptations, it is desperately important to rejoice for the best reasons—and there is none better than that our sins are forgiven, and that by God’s own gracious initiative our names have been written in heaven.”

–D.A. Carson, “February 24” in For the Love of God: a Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God’s Word (vol. 1; Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1998), 55.

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“Devastating desire” by C.S. Lewis

“I feel strongly, with you, that there was something more than a physical pleasure in those youthful activities. Even now, at my age, do we often have a purely physical pleasure?

Well, perhaps, a few of the more hopelessly prosaic ones: say, scratching or getting one’s shoes off when one’s feet are tired.

I’m sure my meals are not a purely physical pleasure. All the associations of every other time one has had the same food (every rasher of bacon is now 56 years thick with me) come in: and with the things like Bread, Wine, Honey, Apples, there are all the echoes of myth, fairy-tale, poetry, and Scripture.

So that the physical pleasure is also imaginative and even spiritual. Every meal can be a kind of lower sacrament.

‘Devastating gratitude’ is a good phrase: but my own experience is rather ‘devastating desire’– desire for that-of-which-the-present-joy-is-a-Reminder.

All my life nature and art have been reminding me of something I’ve never seen: saying ‘Look! What does this– and this– remind you of?’

I am so glad that you find (as I do too) that life, far from getting dull and empty as one grows older, opens out. It is like being in a house where one keeps on discovering new rooms.”

–C.S. Lewis, “To Mary Van Deusen” (March 3, 1955) in The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis: Narnia, Cambridge, and Joy 1950-1963, Volume 3 (Ed. Walter Hooper; New York: HarperCollins, 2007), 583-584.

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“Are you a thankful person?” by C.J. Mahaney

“What would happen if I crossed your path tomorrow morning? Would I encounter someone who was an alert and thankful observer of answered prayer, someone who in a pronounced way was grateful for God’s many mercies?

We want to continue throughout the day expressing gratefulness for the innumerable manifestations of God’s grace. It’s as if God is placing sticky-notes in our lives everywhere. How alert and perceptive of them are you?

Are you a thankful observer of the countless indications of His provision, His presence, His kindness, and His grace? An ungrateful person is a proud person. If I’m ungrateful, I’m arrogant.

And if I’m arrogant, I need to remember God doesn’t sympathize with me in that arrogance; He is opposed to the proud. Let each of us recognize every day that whatever grace we receive from God is so much more than we’re worthy of, and indescribably better than the hell we all deserve.”

–C.J. Mahaney, Humility: True Greatness (New York: Multnomah, 2005), 71.

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“Sweeter than temptation” by Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430)

“O Lord, let me not tire of thanking You for Your mercy in rescuing me from all my wicked ways, so that You may be sweeter to me than all the joys which used to tempt me, so that I may love You most intensely and clasp Your hand with all the power of my devotion, so that You may save me from all temptation until the end of my days.”

–Aurelius Augustine, Confessions, (1.15.24). Trans. R.S. Pine-Coffin (New York: Penguin, 1961), 35.

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