Learning with Thanksgiving

by Anne Harlow November 21, 2018

This post was originally a letter sent to our pastors by a member. 


Here are some of the many things that I have learned at Tenth.

1. I learned that our minds and our intellects are gifts from God and are to be used to worship, glorify, and grow in love for him. One of the many aspects of Tenth Church that my husband, Rich, and I loved when we first came was that we did not have to park our minds outside on the curb to come inside and worship. Yes, there are some things that must be taken by faith. But there is so much that the Lord has revealed to us in his Word that we can learn, get to know, and love him better by using our minds. Even the quality of the music at Tenth enhances the use of the mind in worship. Bravo! “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”

2. At Tenth, I learned that God's truth is immutable. God is not threatened nor bothered by any ideas, schemes, or discoveries made by man and I don't need to be either. I heard a story at Tenth about philosophers and scientists climbing the mountain of knowledge and wisdom. As they worked their way up, they made discoveries along the way, each seeing only a part at a time. But when they got to the top, they saw that the theologians were there on the other side of the mountain all along. When our children were little, young families at Tenth were rightly counseled to provide the best education for our children that we could afford, and not to worry about whether the education was secular or not entirely aligned with our beliefs. The important part was to teach children to use their minds and not to worry because truth is truth and stands forever.  “On Christ the solid rock I stand.”

3. At Tenth, I learned that using our minds honors God. Pursuing excellence in any field honors him, and he is pleased when we use the gifts that he has bestowed on us to benefit others, to build his kingdom, or to make our world a better place.  This is pleasing to God. I remember hearing at Tenth about scholars looking at the biblical record trying to discredit it but being converted instead. The apostle Paul was highly educated and was certainly not looking for any revelation from the Lord on his way to Damascus. Who knows where the Spirit will go? (Is it necessary to be intellectual, learned, or successful to be saved? Absolutely not. God infinitely loves all His children. I learned that, too.)

4. At Tenth, I learned that there are two kinds of people in this world: Christians and potential Christians! What joy! I learned at Tenth to be like the apostle Andrew, who pointed to the Lord. I live with the knowledge that something that I do during the day, some act of kindness, something at work or on my way home just may point someone to the light or be a part of that person's turning to the Lord. (I've actually seen this happen.) What an amazingly encouraging thought! No deep division between me and others; I want and invite everyone to sing the praises of my Lord.  

5. At Tenth, I learned that redemption goes hand in hand with repentance. But pointing people to the Lord does not mean pointing out their sins or faults. My job is to point people to Jesus and let the Lord do his work. If someone is genuinely regenerate, then they will turn from their sinful ways. (I've seen this happen too.) I must be careful and always ask myself, “Am I really turning from sinful ways? Am I really following him?” 

Observing a change in myself or others can help a great deal with discernment. If someone says that they are saved and continues in particularly egregious sin without remorse, then there is a possibility that the person is not really saved. Sometimes a situation like this may necessitate a Christian gently and carefully intervening. While we can apply this principle to ourselves and others, we particularly need to apply this to public figures who claim to be Christian, who can lead many people astray, and who have the power to do a great deal of harm. This knowledge is not to be used to judge or to condemn people, but for God's children to be careful and wise. 

I think that the Church in America tends to gloss over the repentance part of redemption much to the detriment of our society. Christianity is not an “anything goes” religion, where we are free to do absolutely anything because Christ forgives all anyway. I hope that this omission in preaching in America is somehow corrected, and I am not thinking necessarily about outward or sexual sins but about the more comprehensive work of putting Christ first in everything. I would like to see more people understand that God's ways are for our own good, not for condemnation, and that God is a loving Father who knows and wants what is best for his creation.

6. At Tenth I learned never to doubt my salvation. I learned that anyone or anything that leads me to doubt my salvation is not from the Lord. Even though I am an utterly worthless sinner, Christ died in my place so that I am now adopted by the king, and I am a daughter of the living God. Nobody can snatch me out of his hand, and this means that I cannot jump out either. “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:28-30)

I have learned so much and am truly grateful for Tenth Church. I love Tenth, and this church will always be dear to my heart.

Wishing you many blessings,
Anne Harlow