Thanksgiving Gratitude

Along with the joy of family get-togethers over Thanksgiving weekend, I’m so humbled and grateful for another new perspective in life and ministry. I was blessed with another opportunity to speak at a youth retreat last weekend. Bellingham Covenant Church, in Bellingham, Washington (duh!) gave me a forum for sharing the love of Jesus at the fall retreat this year. We met at Fort Casey, on Whidbey Island and shared only 40 hours together.
As the group began to gel together and we became closer in our friendship, laughter and joy began to spread through the retreat making for some remarkable memories. The first talk on Friday night was based on the love of God for our lives and God’s desire for us to be “set apart” from the world. 1 John 2:15-17 says, “15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If you love the world, love for the Father is not in you.16 For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful people, the lust of their eyes and their boasting about what they have and do—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”
We are called to live holy lives, and not love the world, but John can’t mean “don’t love the created world”, rather he must mean “don’t love the ways of the world that lead us away from God.” We discussed what it means to let the “flesh, coveting, and pride” of life fill us with cravings that pull away from the love of the Father. We concluded that when we fall in love with the cravings of this world, we are showing God that we don’t depend upon His love and grace to sustain us in this complicated world. Rather we begin to think we can manage life on our own. This is a bad mistake. Like driftwood that clutters the beaches of the North Pacific, our lives can become cluttered with an accumulation of ways we think we can satisfy our needs, rather than deeply depending on the love of Jesus to satisfy us. We talked about media saturation, friendship needs pulling us in various direction, material wealth and even ‘experiences’ that we attempt to fill our time, yet each of these leave us so void of a quenched love if they leave God out. We ended our weekend being reminded that God’s love for us is greater still. We were chosen (John 15:16) to bear fruit from God that will last for eternity. We are asked to participate in the things of God, presenting Jesus in this world, but not only with words. We are called to act out the love of the kingdom of heaven while here on earth, so that the boundless love of God finds those who are seeking after the broken things of this world and brings redemption, remedy and reconciliation in Christ.
I’m so grateful for time with youth who are walking on this journey of faith and seeking God’s best for their lives along the way. I am thankful for the Lord choosing to use me for His ways and working in this world. God chooses to use you as well. Your story is not just for you. As you walk with God, experiencing the abiding love of Jesus, may you come to find that your story is worth sharing. You are called to be “set apart” from this world’s desires and captivating traps, but you are to be salt and light for Christ as you present his grace to those around you.
Along the way at the retreat, I found myself clicking my camera to capture a few images of the pristine love of God in and through His creation. God sure does fine work. Thanks for making my journey more enjoyable Bellingham Youth. I enjoyed our time together. May God richly bless you this year as you let the light of Jesus shine through you everywhere you go. I look forward to hearing your stories to come.

Published by Reid Olson

I was a pastor who still knows a personal connection with God and I like to share thoughts and insights to make God's Kingdom a little more tangibly, while sharing conversations on leadership insights. Now I'm a funeral director, still seeking to share about Jesus.

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