Making Thanksgiving An Authentic God Encounter This Year
Thanksgiving blog attempt
I look forward to it every year with uncontrollable anticipation.
That delightful, delicious, culinary celebration known as “Thanksgiving.”
If you know me I am sure you won’t be surprised if I say it is my favorite holiday of all.
I love to cook.
I love the company.
I love that chatter around the table.
But if you know me you may be surprised because of the “company” part. My wife says I don’t like crowds unless I’m on the platform.
Yes, I am a relational guy. Schmoozing is my spiritual gift.
But with all the travel that is a huge part of our ministry, holidays at home are usually very private and protected.
Except for Thanksgiving.
I start planning the menu months in advance. I live for that moment of going aisle by aisle, filling the shopping cart and checking things off the list on my iPad that requires 64 gigs of memory just to contain it.
My goal is simple: blow your momma’s meal out of the water. In love, of course.
Yep, I love Thanksgiving.
My family and friends may be like yours. Some believers, a few non-believers, and what leaders today might call “nominal believers” (whatever that means).
And because I am thankful first and foremost for the tremendous gift of eternal life that has changed my life, you can make sure that there is going to be a good helping of the gospel served up.
The gospel is one thing I don’t have to cook… but I am responsible to serve it up right.
So here are three things I will be doing this year to make sure the meal is secondary only to an encounter with the living God.
First, ask the blessing before you bless it.
One of the equipping events I do across the state is teaching believers how to pray for lost people by name. There are more testimonies than I can count coming our way from churches that are seeing the people they have prayed for come to Christ.
So months out I start praying over the event and in particular for the spiritual needs of those attending.
And it’s not hit and run. It is praying scripture promises for each person who will attend.
I pray before I cook. Preparing a meal for a crowd that is used to great southern cooking always puts the cook under pressure.
So start praying for God’s presence throughout the entire Thanksgiving celebration.
You can get some good ideas by watching “Prayer Evangelism” video from our 6E website.
Second, know what to say before you say it.
Perhaps the number one reason church folks don’t tell other folks about Jesus is because they don’t know what to say.
There are tons of personal evangelism tools out there. Indeed, “Legion” is their name.
But I strongly suggest that you become more and more familiar with the gospel itself. Learn the truth behind the outline. Make sure the gospel message is incarnate in you before you try to express it in words to others.
I have a three-part checklist for sharing the gospel.
Know the what, know the why, and know the way.
The “what” is the gospel message itself.
The “why” is John 3:36.
And the “way,” especially around the Thanksgiving celebration, is easy: be genuine, be loving and don’t force feed anyone the whole Bible.
As one friend wrote, “be salty and the thirsty will want to have a drink of what they see in your life.”
Third, be the servant before you serve it.
Perhaps the most important person on our team is Loretta Crow. She is our ministry support aficionado. She is the sticky in the glue that keeps our team together and on the right track.
When I seem a little tired or unenthused as I prepare for another road trip, she reminds me: “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
Words of gold.
Paul wrote to Timothy to “do the work of an evangelist.” This Thanksgiving, throw in a huge serving of hospitality as well.
Nothing prepares someone’s heart for hearing about God’s love than them seeing His live in action through our lives.
So go out of your way to be kind to everyone… even that grouchy uncle, that cynical brother-in-law, that nonreligious-and-mad-about-it cousin. Let them see the gospel in your life before they ever hear it. And pray they hear it full of the very love of God.
Thanksgiving. The least commercialized holiday with the most poignant focus left in America. A day set aside to express thankfulness.
Make sure every person around your table know the reality that “every good and perfect gift is from above,” and the greatest gift is the result of the greatest love ever demonstrated!