Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

“Thankful” On My Mind

I woke up this morning

With “thankful” on my mind.

I opened my eyes to a dimly-lit room,

But I could see – I wasn’t blind.

The iPhone that awoke me

Cycled one or twice

Again I hit the snooze alarm

But I could hear it – that was nice.

Never enough sleep is common,

And getting out of bed is hard.

But I had a bed to get out of.

I slept in a bed, not the yard.

Pain in my foot as it hit the floor.

My aching body walked out the door.

But at least I was walking on my own two feet,

Out of a house – with a door – pretty sweet!

I woke up this morning

And I could be complaining

But even if I was only complaining

I should be thankful – I woke up this morning.

I just had “thankful” on my mind.

– A. Baker

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The Other Things I’m Thankful For

Now that the holiday is about over, I’m sure you’ve heard all the normal lists of things for which we all should be thankful.

Like many others, I led prayer before today’s over-the-top gastronomical celebration, directing all present to give thanks for grace, mercy, family, freedom, and a host of blessings we don’t deserve. I even led us to remember those less fortunate during this joyful time. 

Therefore, since you’ve already heard thanks for the usual blessings, let me close out this Thanksgiving holiday with a list of other things I’m thankful for. 

  1. Zip-lock baggies. 
  2. Cell phone service with no roaming fees. 
  3. Coffee. 
  4. Antibiotics. 
  5. DVR’s. 
  6. I’m not a vegetarian. 
  7. Modern dentistry. 
  8. Safe drinking water. 
  9. Bluetooth. 
  10. Inexpensive firing ranges. 
  11. Baby powder. 
  12. A wife that hasn’t give up on me. 
  13. New Star Wars movies. 
  14. Background noise apps on my phone. 
  15. Daughters who still believe in me. 

OK, so #12 and #15 are from the “normal” list, but I couldn’t help it. 

Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. – Psalm 106:1

My daughter Katie’s first apple pie. A work of art!

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It’s Not Even Thanksgiving! 

As many of you already know, I am now actively seeking a new pastorate, should it be God’s will to open that door. Therefore, Wednesday night (the 2nd of November) I found myself preaching in a small church in the north part of our county. A preacher preaches, right?

So, on my way home, alone in my vehicle, I decided to turn on the radio. What do you think was the first thing I heard? 

“Rockin’ around the Christmas tree at the Christmas party hop…” 

Seriously??? 

Aren’t there any Thanksgiving songs? Can’t we just be thankful for a little while before we start getting all worked up and materialistic? 

Can we please hold off on Santa stuff for a little longer? I mean, really, it’s barely time for Thanksgiving! 

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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! 

 

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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?

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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.

 

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Other Reasons to be Thankful

Normal Reasons

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody! Happy Thanksgiving to everyone, including all my friends and blog subscribers all over the world! For even though Thanksgiving is an American holiday, we all have reason to be thankful. After all, for most of us, things could be worse.

I am not going to go into detail and recount the history of the Pilgrims or the reasoning of George Washington’s proclamation. I am not going to talk turkey, Indians, or Sacajawea, either. If you want to read about all of those things, including the godly, religious heritage of our nation that the atheists and humanists are trying to sponge away, then take the time to visit other blogs which are carrying the torch of freedom.

Essentially, everyone should be thankful to God for his grace and mercy, no matter the country in which they live. Americans should be grateful for the rare freedoms we still have, despite the current administration’s attempt to presidentially-mandate them away. And on top of that, each of us should be thankful for health, shelter, food, and any family or friends we have.

But there are other reasons to be thankful…reasons you may have never thought of. Let me give you a few.

Other Reasons

DSC_0543First of all, you all should be thankful you don’t have to dress up like an elf in order to pose for Christmas card pictures for your oldest daughter. As you can see, even though Lily and Henry are the cutest grand-dogs any man could have, there is a slight sense of humiliation being experienced by all.

Secondly, you could be thankful you are not a dog, especially a dog that is forced to dress up like a little Santa Clause.

Third, you should be thankful you do not have green hair. Even though my little dogs know me, and even though Lily and Henry like me, they don’t like men in green wigs.

Fourth, be thankful you are not an elf. Their big, pointy ears are hot, and the bells they wear can be distracting while preaching on Sunday.

Other Reasons (cont.)

If you don’t have any other reasons to be thankful on this day, then at least be thankful for the following:

  • You don’t have to worry about being chased by dinosaurs, vampires, or creatures from the Black Lagoon (except in Wal-Mart).
  • Sharks are rarely found in swimming pools.
  • Miley Cyrus is not dating your son (and that you didn’t throw out your hip when you tried to “twerk” in the privacy of your own home).
  • Your eye doctor, dentist, etc. is not a unicorn.
  • You don’t taste with your hands (but you could tell who didn’t wash after going to the restroom).
  • You didn’t vote for “change.”
  • You are not a turkey or a cranberry.

Seriously, though

“O give thanks unto the LORD; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people.” – Psalms 105:1

“Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.” – Psalms 106:1

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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

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

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).

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The Season Begins

So, Thanksgiving is behind us. All the cooking and Pilgrim costumes are a thing of the past. Of course, there are still plenty of leftovers to have for breakfast, lunch, dinner, late visitors, desert, bedtime snacks, brunch, and dog treats.

Now, all we have to do is look forward to the holiday renowned for peace (clearing throat in a sarcastic way).

Black Friday

For the first time ever, I actually went shopping in the early-morning hours of Black Friday. I could not convince my wife to stay in bed until the crowds were finished assaulting each other after waiting hours in the cold for the stores to open. No, we had to get up and stand in line for something they had only 50 of, even though we were 150th in line.

Eventually, after whining enough, my wife agrees to drag us to the mall. There, the stores had already been open since 4am, so the stampedes were essentially over. Everyone had a pleasant, cheerful attitude. The rest were already being booked at the county jail.

I have an idea for next year. We need to go stand in line where the first 50 customers get a new iPad3 for $25 and do some witnessing. I bet if we do our best Ray Comfort/Kirk Cameron impressions for a few hours, we’d either have a whole new congregation of believers, or we would be martyred for our faith. If not that, we would be sure to move up in line.

Recording Friday

I heard on the news that yesterday actually set some records. How ironic is that? I made a record (well, I recorded something).

Yesterday, my daughter and I recorded a radio program to be broadcast this Sunday. It was unusual to have my daughter, Katie, on the program, since it is usually a time for me to preach. Nevertheless, it was pretty cool to interview her and talk about what God had showed her in His word.

While we were in the recording mood, Katie wanted to record a song. Actually, it was a medley – “This is My Father’s World / What a Wonderful World.” I am including it in today’s post. Hope you enjoy it.

This Is My Father’s World Medley

 

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