I overheard this conversation recently: “What are you going to lose?” “About five. How about you?” “I’m going to lose 10. That way, when all of the roasted turkey, juicy dressing, and pumpkin pie is gone, I’ll still be the same.”
They were talking about weight loss! But it’s an interesting question: What are you going to lose for Thanksgiving? Let me suggest some losses that will benefit us. These come from an unexpected place — the prophetic book of Habakkuk.
I. Lose The Calculator Mentality
The normal notion for Thanksgiving seems to push us toward having a calculator mentality. We count up all our gains, weigh them against our losses, and see where we end up. The idea seems to be this: “If I have more than before, then I’ll be grateful.”
That seems to be a strange twist of thinking. What happens when you don’t have more, when you’re fighting for your very life?
The prophet lived this reality. Consider what he said in Habakkuk 1:2-4. The issue should not be, “Do I have more?” but, “Am I more?” Am I becoming a better person, more humane, more patient with others, more accepting of the necessary losses that come our way?
John Quincy Adams, the sixth President of the United States, understood this. On his 80th birthday, he said:
John Quincy Adams is well. The house in which he lives at present is becoming dilapidated. It is tottering upon its foundation. Time and the seasons have nearly destroyed it. Its roof is pretty well worn out. Its walls are much shattered and it trembles with every wind. I think John Quincy Adams will have to move out of it soon. But he himself is quite well.
Lose the calculator mentality.
II. Lose the Mercenary Mindset
A mercenary is a soldier who sells his services to the highest bidder. The temptation to do that has always been around, even in religious circles. The prophet Habakkuk spoke about that in Habakkuk 2:18-20.
The people were less interested in the reality of God than they were in making their own deities to get the most. That shows an amazing lack of conviction.
I learned about the mercenary mentality years ago when I was a young pastor in Louisville, Kentucky. I conducted a funeral service for an older woman who had been the widow of a veteran of the Civil War. When she was a young woman, she married an older man who was a veteran. It seems that when the Civil War broke out, the man had gone to join the army from the South — Louisville had recruiting offices for both armies!
Unfortunately, he had been sipping too much Kentucky bourbon and he wound up in the recruiting office of the North, so they signed him up. When he sobered up and realized what he had done, he discovered that the Union army paid better than the southern army and offered a pension, so he stayed in. That’s what I call real conviction! After his death, his widow had lived the rest of her life on a government pension from Washington.
Do we really want to sell ourselves to the highest bidder — to be mercenaries in our spirit, regardless of our conviction?
Lose the mercenary mindset.
III. Lose the Isolationist Attitude
There are forces at work around us that seem to pull us away from our relationships with each other and from our spiritual roots. Those forces are relentless, like a constant undertow at the beach, constantly drawing and pushing us. We seem to be pulled apart from our spiritual environment and shoved apart so that we are standing alone, apart from other people and apart from God.
The forces that do so are also ancient. But the prophet Habakkuk understood them, and he refused to be cut off from his spiritual roots. Consider what he said in Habakkuk 3:17-19.
“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines.
Though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food,
Though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls.
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”
Thanksgiving is about knowing what to lose. Lose the mercenary mindset that pushes us to sell out to the highest bidder. Lose the isolationist attitude that leaves us alone and empty.
… yet, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”
Now that is what to keep during Thanksgiving.

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About The Author

Dr. Don Aycock is a pastor, seminar leader, and author. He has written more than 20 books and speaks at national conferences on writing, prayer, men's issues, and ministry. A pastor for more than 20 years, he is a pastor of Liberty Baptist Church in Palatka, Florida. Don is adjunct professor of Public Speaking and World Religions at several colleges including Flagler College, St. Johns Rivers State College, The College of Central Florida, and Santa Fe College. Don has written and taught in the areas of prayer, preaching, writing, ministry, men's work, and biblical exposition.

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