Category Archives: Thanksgiving

Going to Africa!

Thanks!

zimbabwe mapI give praise to the Lord for all of your prayers and financial support! As of last week all the needed funds for my mission trip to Zimbabwe had come in. What a blessing! What an answer to prayer!

Yes, I needed between $2,500-$2,700 in a relatively short amount of time – right during the time when I my income was greatly reduced  – and you folks stepped up to the bat and hit a home run!

I can’t wait to send out “thank you” notes to all that I can.

Stress

Now, I have to admit that all is not fun and games, however. Even though I have received all the need funds to make the trip, I am still having to pinch pennies as I purchase the necessary items to take with me – and the luggage in which to carry it.

It has been a long time since I’ve flown, and back then things weren’t so strict. Also, back then I didn’t worry about taking all the stuff I’m having to take this time. Even more stressful has been the challenge of determining what size of suitcase and carry-on to buy. Believe it or not, I had to borrow a measuring tape from a store clerk so that I could make sure what I bought was under 62 inches, and still I was so confused I didn’t even get anything.

Buying luggage is worse than shoe shopping!

And there’s more… It’s less than a week from my departure and I’ve still got to find enough clothes, change the starter on my daughter’s car, paint, clean house (and garage), try to get registered for my next round of seminary (pursuing an M.Div.), prepare for Sunday’s sermons, do some visiting, drive a bus for a field trip, schedule guest posts on this blog, and do a LOT of praying!

It’ll Be OK

You know, the Lord has brought me thus far, why should I worry? I could really use a few more dollars to finish up getting a few supplies, but God will provide. I don’t yet understand all the luggage stuff, but I’ll get it sooner or later. Somehow I’ll get a good portion of my to-do list done before I leave – I hope.

I believe God has something great in store for me. I don’t know what it is, but it will be what’s needed and what’s best. My prayer is that it will include a safe trip to Zimbabwe and back to the States, back home. I also pray it will include personal revival, along with stories of many in Chinhoyi coming to Christ.

But whatever happens, God is in control, and it’ll be OK. Just keep praying for me, would you? And prayers for my family would be appreciated, too!

Thanks!

11 Comments

Filed under ministry, places, Thanksgiving

How Am I Doing?

The Question

It came from Africa.

No, it wasn’t an animal trying to eat me, or a disease for which no one has a cure (which is more scary). It was a question, one asked by a Facebook friend in Uganda.

Pastor Ndahayo Shine asked: “How are you?”

imageHow am I? How does an American answer that question? I mean, seriously? What do I have to complain about?

Honestly, at the very moment Pastor Shine’s question popped up on Facebook Messenger I was eating a warmed-up piece of apple pie (as American as it gets).

Pie, I tell you!

I’m eating pie, and I get a question regarding how I’m doing from a man in Uganda. Africa! The place where famines kill more people than the NRA is blamed for!

So, I replied with the following answer:

“I am alive, not hungry, and not hurting. I have a roof over my head, a car in the driveway, and children who love me. My wife is faithful, the police are not after me, and the dog hasn’t chewed anything important in a long, long time. I guess you could say I’m doing better than I deserve.”

Am I Blessed?

So many times we answer questions like “How are you doing?” with things like, “I’m fine,” or “I’m blessed.” However, to be honest – which I try to be most of the time – I’d rather admit to being “fine” than “blessed.”

Why is that? 

Saying that I’m blessed has a sneaky way of implying that those in other places – like Africa – are NOT blessed, at least not as much as me. I mean, what does it say about Christianity and the character of God when those who are “abundantly blessed” are the ones who rarely feel the need to trust God for their next meal? What I own or what’s parked in my driveway is not a mark of spirituality, nor should it insinuate I’ve lived a life more worthy of blessing than my brothers and sisters living in poverty.

If I am blessed at all, it’s not because of anything I’ve done or deserve; I am simply the recipient of God’s grace. I have been allowed, according to God’s sovereignty, to live in a country where leftover pie in a functioning refrigerator is commonplace.

Jesus made it pretty clear who the “blessed” really are. They are the poor in spirit, the meek, the merciful, the pure in heart, and the peacemakers (Matthew 5:3-9). And if that’s not enough, “…Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord…” (Revelation 14:13).

What I Don’t Deserve

While saying “fine,” I’d bet the temptation to answer the question “How are you doing?” with complaints is almost overwhelming for most. Oh, admit it – you say you’re “fine” because you don’t think the person asking is really that interested in hearing your list of ailments, worries, and irritations.

You probably answer with “fine” because you don’t want to sound like a cry baby or a hypochondriac, right? Because, admit it, you feel you deserve better than what you have; you don’t really feel “blessed,” do you?

Well, I don’t know about you, but I don’t deserve anything but hell. Yet, for some reason God has allowed me to be the recipient of many good things which I don’t deserve, even if I have worked for a lot of it.

I don’t deserve a faithful wife, loving children, and a devoted dog. I don’t deserve to be a pastor, have a regular job, or to be respected in my community.

I don’t deserve electric appliances that make life easier, or even the split-level brick home in which I live. I don’t deserve the freedom to come and go as I please, not having to rely on public transportation or worry about being stopped by thugs demanding to search my car.

How am I doing? What can I say? I just ate pie…because it was there…and I wasn’t even hungry! If I’m blessed, it’s above and beyond what I need.

God is good, but His grace is Amazing! 

 

3 Comments

Filed under America, Christian Living, Life Lessons, Thanksgiving

In Every Thing…

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Give Thanks

With regards to thanks, you have to give it for it to exist; being thankful is not the same thing as giving thanks. You can be thankful in your heart all day long, but you can easily offend someone by not saying “Thank you” at the appropriate time.

Thanks can be given in many different ways, but the fact is that it must be expressed in some way, not just felt. Say it with words, express it with a card, show it with a gift, or something. The whole concept of “giving” means it leaves you and goes somewhere else.

Every Thing

Note that it’s “every thing,” not everything. It may seem like an insignificant point, but it’s every little thing in particular – every situation, every circumstance, every joy, every pain – not an all-encompassing kind of thing we’re talking about.

You see, it’s easy for us to express a generic “Thank you, Lord, for everything,” but it’s much harder to be specific, especially when things are not going so great. Getting specific with our giving of thanks takes time, points out where we are not so grateful, and forces us to take stock of what we really have.

“In” 

We can focus on being thankful FOR every thing another time, but for now pay attention to that one little word “in.” It’s a simple preposition, nothing more. All it does is point out where you are. And it is “in” every thing that we are told to give thanks.

Are you going through a time of confusion? Give thanks to God for the wisdom and guidance He promises to those who ask!

Are you in pain? No, you don’t have to be thankful for the pain, per se, but certainly give thanks while you are IN pain. Thank God for His mercy and grace. Praise the Lord for His promise to never leave you or forsake you. Thank God for Jesus coming to this earth to suffer so that you could have a High Priest who knows how you feel. Thank Him for the reminder that one day there will be no more pain!

Are in a scary situation? Praise God and thank Jesus for being in your boat! Just think, you could be out on life’s troubled sea all alone, tossed by the waves, but you’re not! If the Master of the wind is the Captain of your vessel, you may get battered by the tempest, but you’ll never sink!  Give thanks for being able to witness the Voice of God speak peace IN your storm.

Remember, giving thanks IN every thing is the will of God IN Christ concerning YOU! Be obedient; give some thanks.

7 Comments

Filed under Faith, Thanksgiving, worship

Leftovers and Sermons

Sandwiches

What do you think of leftovers? Do you like them? Hate them? Some people never eat them, while others save every crumb to make meals for days to come. Personally, it really all depends on what is being saved, like turkey.

Believe it or not, I am planning to be enjoying Thanksgiving turkey well into the week before Christmas! I froze just enough of the leftover meat so that I could have leftover turkey sandwiches whenever I wanted for weeks to come! Brilliant!

Sermons

The Sunday morning after Thanksgiving I preached an unusual topical sermon about “Leftovers,” one even the most died-in-the-wool expositionalist should enjoy. I would love for you to listen to it, so I am including it in this post (and posting a link in the Sermon Archive page).

If you don’t want to listen to the whole thing (it is unedited and includes all my misspoken words, flubs, etc.), then at least fast forward till you get to the “Personal Context” part – that’s my favorite 🙂

Click on the photo to listen :-)

Click on the photo to listen 🙂

If you’d like, you can follow along while looking at the actual outline I used as I preached (it’s not much, but it was a guide – I don’t normally use outlines).


 

III. Personal Context – For those who feel like leftovers.

For those who may feel they’ve already given away the best & freshest, good news! God loves you! And if we’ve learned anything from the feeding of the thousands, the Lord hates letting things go to waste. As a matter of fact:

  • God loves to SAVE!
    • He will save YOU! 2 Peter 3:9 “…not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” In Luke 19:10 Jesus said the reason He came was to seek and to save the lost. I personally believe that if you were created, you’re not meant to be wasted.
    • He even saves your SORROWS! Psalm 56:8 NLT – “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.”
  • What God SAVES, He SEALS! 1:13; 4:30
  • God is a SPECIALIST in making new recipes out of leftovers!
    • God can’t use me… Really? “There are no leftovers with God. Adam plunged the human race into sin. Moses was a murderer. Jacob was a liar. Samson lusted after heathen women. Rahab was a harlot. Peter denied the Saviour. God used them all.” If He used these people, even Paul, then he can use us.
    • 21:5 “…I make all things new…”
    • 2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV – “Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

Remember, our God wastes nothing, including our tears! 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Depression, Food, God, Love of God, Preaching, self-worth, Thanksgiving

Serving Up Thanksgiving, Family-of-Faith Style

A Combined Service

Anthony Import 11 30 14 194Last week we welcomed the congregation of Tiftonia Church of God to our Riverside Baptist. It was the Tuesday night before Thanksgiving, the night many churches set aside a time for a community fellowship.

Being that it was a Tuesday night, there wasn’t a big crowd. However, enough showed up from both of our churches to, well, “have church.” And that we did.

Brother Michael Fugatt, the new pastor of Tiftonia Church of God, brought a great message from Psalm 100, blessing us all. And, for the record, he didn’t speak in tongues (just in case some of my Baptist brethren were wondering).

All in all, we had a wonderful, intimate time of godly fellowship. At the end of the sermon, Bro. Fugatt requested that all of us gather around the altar, hold hands, and pray. But when Pastor Fugatt prayed, he prayed that God would bless and encourage us (the Baptist church!!) and cause us to grow in number! It was truly a Kingdom prayer from a fellow believer and brother in Christ.

The Challenges

Now the sad part is that so many would have never allowed another denomination to worship with them. That’s very sad.

For the record, I am a Baptist, and for that I make no apology. But just because I am Baptist, that does not mean I may only worship with other Baptists. No, Baptists aren’t the only ones going to heaven, I can assure you; only those who have been born into the family of God through faith in Jesus Christ.

Many of my fellow Baptists would never come together in worship, even once a year, with those in the Church of God denomination because of our different takes on several ecclesiastical issues and certain doctrines, especially those regarding the gifts of the Spirit. However, as it is with Baptists, not every Church of God congregation is exactly like the next, nor is their pastor. It really pays to be more gracious than writing off every congregation just because of the name above the door.

Believe it or not, there is room withing the family of God to disagree on the interpretation of certain passages in First Corinthians. There is room withing the family of God to disagree on how to handle church finances, ordain and hire ministers, etc. There’s room for differences, just as long as what it takes to make us “family” is agreed upon.

The Family Table

On Thanksgiving most of you probably sat at a big table, surrounded by family, and had a meal. Some of you, if not most of you, sat across from other family units, like brothers and sisters-in-law, or a crazy aunt and uncle. Maybe you shared a meal with some cousins you see only once a year – for good reason. But here’s the thing: you did it because they were family.

My wife and I lead a family unit, and our unit does things a little differently than the rest. So, when we come together with other family units for Thanksgiving or Christmas, we rarely discuss the different ways we run our households; we just enjoy the fellowship and the food. Why can’t we do that more often as Christians?

Many in the world make excuses for their atheism by pointing at Christians and their denominations. They say things like, “See, your beliefs can’t be true; you can’t even agree!” What community services provide is the chance to show that real Christians, true believers in Christ, can have their different ways of doing things when at home, but still come together for a family reunion, a meal around a common table of faith.

Of course, there are times when fellowship with other churches must be avoided; heresy cannot be tolerated. But the fact is that there are more times than not when genuine believers should come together once in a while to break bread, if for no other reason than to show the world that we are children of the same Father, co-heirs with Jesus our brother, regardless how we run our individual homes.

Now, will someone pass the manna?

2 Comments

Filed under baptist, Christian Unity, Christmas, legalism, Relationships and Family, Thanksgiving, worship

The Undeniable Religious Underpinnings of an American Holiday

No Arguments

I don’t want to get into any arguments this Thanksgiving, believe me. I only look forward to meeting with family, eating turkey, along with every imaginable kind of casserole, then later flopping prostrate onto some flat surface to nap through the mythical effects of tryptophan and marshmallows. But just as with so many other things in this modern life, there are those who want to make a case against Thanksgiving, at least the religious underpinnings it brings to the dinner table.  Like as with Christmas, there will inevitably be those who want to keep God out of Thanksgiving.

There has been so much debate over the level of influence religion (specifically Christianity) had in the founding of our great nation, the United States of America. Many have argued that our forefathers wanted nothing more than a completely secular society void of anything sacred. Others have argued that our Founders, if anything, might have been tolerant of religion, but never had any propensity toward the public expression of Christianity, especially in governmental affairs.

Just Facts

Look, I know that some of you would like to argue with me about the Christian heritage of this country. I know that there are some atheists out there who would like nothing better than to remove every vestige of faith from public view, right Mr. Weinstein? But I’m not going to argue; I’m just going to present the facts.

The following excerpts are taken from early Thanksgiving proclamations made by our Continental Congress.

From the First National Thanksgiving Proclamation made by the Continental Congress, November 1, 1777

It is therefore recommended to the legislative or executive Powers of these UNITED STATES to
set apart THURSDAY, the eighteenth Day of December next, for SOLEMN THANKSGIVING and
PRAISE: That at one Time and with one Voice, the good People may express the grateful Feelings
of their Hearts, and consecrate themselves to the Service of their Divine Benefactor; and that,
together with their sincere Acknowledgments and Offerings, they may join the penitent Confession
of their manifold Sins, whereby they had forfeited every Favor; and their humble and earnest
Supplication that it may please GOD through the Merits of JESUS CHRIST, mercifully to forgive
and blot them out of Remembrance…

That it may please him, to prosper the Trade and Manufactures of the People, and the Labor of the Husbandman, that our Land may yield its Increase: To take Schools and Seminaries of Education,
so necessary for cultivating the Principles of true Liberty, Virtue and Piety, under his nurturing
Hand; and to prosper the Means of Religion, for the promotion and enlargement of that Kingdom,
which consisteth “in Righteousness, Peace and Joy in the Holy Ghost.”

May I ask a stupid question or two? What about the above quote sounds totally secular? What about the above quote gives the idea that the majority of Congressmen were nothing more than deists?

You see, we can argue all day long about the current state of our nation, but at its founding there were men in government who were not afraid to encourage our people to pray, praise, give thanks, and repent for our sins. I read nothing about thanking the Indians for corn.

As a matter of fact, what I read in these early documents was a call to be thankful, even in the midst of hard and difficult times. These early congressmen all agreed that even though we were at war, God was merciful and the gospel needed to be proclaimed throughout the world! Can you imagine that kind of thinking coming from Washington today?

United States Congress, October 20, 1779

Resolved, That it be recommended to the several states, to appoint Thursday, the 9th of
December next, to be a day of public and solemn thanksgiving to Almighty God for his mercies,
and of prayer for the continuance of his favor and protection to these United States; to beseech
him that he would be graciously pleased to influence our public councils, and bless them with
wisdom from on high, with unanimity, firmness, and success; that he would go forth with our hosts
and crown our arms with victory; that he would grant to his church the plentiful effusions of divine
grace, and pour out his holy spirit on all ministers of the gospel; that he would bless and prosper
the means of education, and spread the light of Christian knowledge through the remotest corners
of the earth; that he would smile upon the labors of his people and cause the earth to bring forth
her fruits in abundance; that we may with gratitude and gladness enjoy them; that he would take
into his holy protection our illustrious ally, give him victory over his enemies, and render him
signally great, as the father of his people and the protector of the rights of mankind; that he would
graciously be pleased to turn the hearts of our enemies, and to dispense the blessings of peace to
contending nations; that he would in mercy look down upon us, pardon our sins and receive us into
his favor, and finally, that he would establish the independence of these United States upon the
basis of religion and virtue, and support and protect them in the enjoyment of peace, liberty and
safety. as long as the sun and moon shall endure, until time shall be no more.

Notice the prayer that God would “graciously be pleased to turn the hearts of our enemies, and to dispense the blessings of peace to contending nations?” Therein lies the big difference between a Christian nation at war and a Muslim jihad.

United States Congress, October 31, 1780

Whereas it hath pleased Almighty God, the Father of all mercies, amidst the vicissitudes and
calamities of war, to bestow blessings on the people of these states, which call for their devout and
thankful acknowledgments… and, above all, in continuing to us the enjoyment of the gospel of peace…

…to cherish all schools and seminaries of education, build up his churches in their most holy faith and to cause
the knowledge of Christianity to spread over all the earth.

United States Congress, 1781

It is therefore recommended to the several states to set apart the 13th day of December next, to be
religiously observed as a Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer; that all the people may assemble on
that day, with grateful hearts, to celebrate the praises of our gracious Benefactor; to confess our
manifold sins; to offer up our most fervent supplications to the God of all grace, that it may please
Him to pardon our offenses, and incline our hearts for the future to keep all his laws; to comfort and
relieve all our brethren who are in distress or captivity; to prosper our husbandmen, and give
success to all engaged in lawful commerce; to impart wisdom and integrity to our counselors,
judgment and fortitude to our officers and soldiers; to protect and prosper our illustrious ally, and
favor our united exertions for the speedy establishment of a safe, honorable and lasting peace; to
bless all seminaries of learning; and cause the knowledge of God to cover the earth, as the waters
cover the seas.

And just one more, 1784

[May the Supreme Ruler of the universe]  bless all mankind, and inspire the
princes and nations of the earth with the love of peace, that the sound of war may be heard of no
more; that he may be pleased to smile upon us, and bless our husbandry, fishery, our commerce,
and especially our schools and seminaries of learning; and to raise up from among our youth, men
eminent for virtue, learning and piety, to his service in church and state; to cause virtue and true
religion to flourish, to give to all nations amity, peace and concord, and to fill the world with his
glory.

Argue all you want, but I consider Thanksgiving to be a religious holiday, one that should be encouraged by our government. At least that’s what it seems our Founding Fathers would have wanted.

 

1 Comment

Filed under America, Thanksgiving, worship

Blessings Will Stick

The following is from the book I co-wrote and edited, Proverbial Thought. Why not order a copy? Maybe some blessings will stick to your head! Ha!

“Blessings are upon the head of the just: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked.” – Proverbs 10:6

Nothing Stays

Have you ever heard the old adage, “Like water off a duck’s back?” The reason for that saying comes from the fact that ducks never get “wet,” just in the water ( now that will preach!). You see, because of the oil in a duck’s feathers, the duck can be in the water, have water poured over it, etc., but never actually get wet. The water doesn’t soak in, but runs off.

My head is similar to a duck’s back. There is nothing on my head to make anything stay put. Everything just runs off, down my neck, and under my shirt, especially when it rains. The upside is that I never have to dry my hair when I get out of the shower.

Except Blessings

But the awesome thing is that no matter how slick my bald head is, God is able to heap blessing after blessing on top of it. My glasses won’t stay put; hats get blown off; I cant wear flowers; but the Lord can pile blessings as high as He wants. How is that? Must be a God thing.

I don’t deserve blessings. I don’t deserve anything from God. If you only knew me like I know me, you’d wonder how any blessing would stay on my head. Yet, my Lord is merciful. He is able to do what man and water can’t.

The Wicked

The mouth of the wicked, on the other hand, is covered up with violence. What that means exactly is debatable, but the idea implied is that one usually gets what he deserves. The wicked can be compared to a swimmer in wool clothing and a wool coat. When he gets in the water, he’s sunk.

In General

Generally speaking, this Proverbs 10:6 tells us that there are consequences for our actions. The way we live will come back either to bless or haunt us. Right living brings peace, while wicked living never ends well.

Do you want to be thought well of? Live justly. Do you want to reap the rewards of righteousness? Live right. Otherwise, even though there may be some temporary benefits to living like the Devil, the end result of wickedness will have you covering your mouth in shame.

A Prayer

Jesus, even though I am not worthy, thank you for your blessings. My righteousness is in you. I am only “just” because “the just shall live by faith.”  Thank you for your mercy, for when I was yet wicked, you saved me, cleansed me, and put a crown on my head. You are my glory, and I will praise you for your immeasurable goodness to me.

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Living, Christian Maturity, Faith, God, Life Lessons, Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving in the Light of Judgment Day

Happy Lord’s day (that’s Sunday, in case you wondered)!

This week we will be celebrating Thanksgiving in America, so today is a day when most Thanksgiving-related sermons will be preached.

Today at 5 pm (eastern), on a local a.m. radio station, I will be preaching once again, but you are going to have a chance to here the sermon first. How cool is that? If you so desire, you can click the link at the bottom of the page and hear a pre-recorded sermon which is scheduled to air later today.

Unlike what I regularly do, however, my radio messages are a little more unscripted (I rarely use an outline). Not that I “script” my regular sermons, but I usually don’t ad-lib. My radio recordings are a little more off-the-cuff, so to speak.

By the way, I am going to try to get a Monday Monkey episode ready for Monday (or maybe Tuesday). It has been a while since I last did one, and Mr. Monkey has been wanting to know why I have been avoiding him.

Also, I think I am going to create a new tab on my blog that will have links to all my previous Monday Monkey episodes. That way it will be much easier for you to access them, which is really a really good thing considering there are many of you who have no idea how many of them I have made (some better than others). I think I may label the tab “Monkey Archives.”

Thanksgiving Sermon

4 Comments

Filed under America, Christian Living, Christian Unity, current events, Preaching, Thanksgiving

Making Us Thankful

Close Calls

I have three girls. I know what it is like to wonder if a child is going to live through a crisis. One nearly died twice from health issues, not to mention the time she ran from me while holding a steak knife. I know what it like to worry.

I also know what it is like to feel the relief of knowing everything would be OK. The time Katie ran from me after sneaking a steak knife out of the dishwasher, I couldn’t catch her before she darted around the corner on hardwood floors, only to fall face-forward. My heart stopped. When I got to her she was still laughing as she lay on the floor with the knife at her side – sticking straight up.

When Haley was barely a year old I saw her sitting in the living room staring straight ahead. She looked strange. That’s when I noticed she wasn’t breathing. I ran to her, picked her up, and when I did blood gushed from her mouth and nose. She had found a small funnel and had fallen on it in her mouth. The small end punctured her pallet. Fortunately, we got her to the ER in time and she healed up fine.

There have been many close calls, and each time I have been thankful it didn’t turn out worse.

“Oh, crap!”

Several years ago, when we still lived in Kentucky, the sky turned green as sirens started to wail. I had never seen a tornado in person, but I had heard one. This time there were no winds, no roaring, and no warning, just a green, darkening sky, and those sirens.

My wife and girls went to get into the shower, but on the way Haley, only 4, grabbed a white dress, her little purse, and her little Bible. Even in the confusion my wife asked her what all that was for, that’s when Haley answered, “If I die, I want to be in my pretty dress and have my Bible…but if we don’t don’t die we may need some money.” Spiritual and practical.

Like an idiot, I went outside. The first thing I saw were people in the cul-de-sac looking up at something behind me. When I stepped off the porch and turned around, that’s when I saw it, too. It was a huge, black, round cloud – much like the cloud that the first alien spacecraft came out of on the movie Independence Day – and it was passing directly over us. All I could say was, “Oh, crap!”

Nothing happened to us, but the next morning we found out that  a tornado touched down just two miles beyond us. Several homes and a church, along with a gymnasium, were completely destroyed. Again, we were thankful.

“We lost everything…”

I was watching the news about Moore City, Oklahoma. Several people being interviewed said, “We lost everything.” But I will never cease to be amazed that even in the midst of all that tragedy, so many who have lost everything go on to say, “but I am so thankful.”

One video showed a family exiting their storm shelter into a scene total destruction. A family member said, “The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away.”

One man I heard talked about losing everything but his wife and girls. For that he thanked God. I thanked God, too.

Be Thankful

Some families will not see their loved ones again. Many children died while seeking shelter in doomed elementary schools. But many more did not die. Many miraculously survived.

Did you wake up this morning? Did your children wake up and complain about going to school? Did your husband or wife roll over, give you a kiss, and say, “Good morning, dear?” Some were not as fortunate as you.

Be thankful.

“Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” – James 4:14 KJV

2 Comments

Filed under current events, Parenting, places, Relationships and Family, Thanksgiving, World View

Thanking and the Thankee

I’m Thankful For…

So many people will be celebrating today (Thanksgiving) by starting off sentences with the words, “I’m thankful for…” Traditionalists will say it before carving a turkey. Vegans will say it before carving a large piece of vegetable protein disguised as something they secretly wish they could eat. Children will even say it just to please their grandparents and to be assured an extra scoop of Cool Whip on their pumpkin pie.

But one thing’s for sure, being thankful implies the influence of an outside source and suggests things could have been different, despite a person’s will. And even though it might sound crazy, being thankful suggests there is someone to be thankful to.

Thankful to Whom?

Maybe you have never stopped to think about it, but being thankful for anything is pretty ridiculous when there is no one to be thankful to. The Concise Oxford English Dictionary* defines “thanks” as  a “plural noun…an expression of gratitude…another way of saying THANK YOU.” So, who is the “YOU” that you are thankful to?

According to many of the stories I have heard, especially in public schools, the original celebrants of Thanksgiving were thankful only to the Indians (Native Americans). According to many accounts, the Pilgrims were so happy that the Indians provided them with food and land that a party was necessary. So, in other words, the first “thanks” of Thanksgiving was given to Squanto and the Wampanoag people.

That’s not totally correct.

Thankful to God

Like those who celebrated in 1623, I am thankful to God. Unlike the common history lessons, the Pilgrims recognized the true Source of blessing.

“Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, peas, beans, squashes, and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as He has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience.

‎ Now I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and ye little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the day time, on Thursday, November 29th, of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty-three and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim Rock, there to listen to ye pastor and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings.”

‎—William Bradford, Ye Governor of Ye Colony

If I am going to be thankful, I am going to be thankful to the “great Father…who has granted us freedom to worship [Him] according to the dictates of our own conscience.” As a pastor, I will lead my congregants in praise to the “Almighty God for all His blessings.

What am I thankful for?

I am most thankful for those things which I could not have had if it were not for the grace of God. Among those things are mercy and forgiveness; a family; a peace that passes all understanding; joy unspeakable and full of glory; and even a love for my enemies.

I am also thankful for and to those who serve this great nation, putting their lives at risk for my (and others’) freedom.

I am thankful for and to those who enforce the laws and keep the peace here at home, and for those who brave dangers to rescue us from harm.

“O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.” – Psalm 107:1

And ultimately, I am thankful for all the blessings which I do not deserve, including all of you who read this blog, even those who do not believe a word of what I am saying.

One More Thing

One more thing…being that I have some Cherokee blood in me, I understand that Thanksgiving may not be a Native American’s favorite holiday, but the principle of thanksgiving remains. When we give thanks, whom do we give thanks to?

“All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, O Lord; and shall glorify thy name.” – Psalm 86:9 

“O praise the LORD, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people.” – Psalm 117:1 

“After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;” – Revelation 7:9 

One day, when all is said and done, we will all stand before God and give thanks, for He is the God of us all, despite what we have done to each other.

*Catherine Soanes and Angus Stevenson, Concise Oxford English Dictionary, 11th ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).

Leave a comment

Filed under America, Christian Living, Culture Wars, Faith, God, Thanksgiving, worship