A collection of past contributions…
Ever notice how easily traditions get connected with this unique American holiday called Thanksgiving? Those who want to divide Americans probably hate this holiday the most because it unifies us in its appeal of kindness and sharing even with those outside our own family circle. That tradition will hopefully never be lost. Its foundations are set deep.
I remember youthful Philadelphia Thanksgivings, the parades, the football games (back when patriotism was a more shared value). And I remember Aunt Violet’s Pineapple upside-down cake.
Aunt Violet’s pineapple upside-down cake was always welcome at family Thanksgiving celebrations, whether we were at her house, with Uncle Johnnie’s pool table in the basement, or at Aunt Anna’s house, with Uncle Hody’s sewer-pipe stereo system in the basement, or at Aunt Marie’s house with Uncle Harry’s fields to run in – the pineapple upside-down cake was a tradition for me.
Another tradition was our elementary school assembly singing Thanksgiving songs (back when God was still allowed in school). One song we sang was “Come Ye Thankful People, Come”. Some churches still sing it today. It wasn’t until recently that I realized the core message of that song. It goes beyond traditions.
The core message is not about Native Americans sharing their popcorn with the Pilgrims, or even about plowing and harvesting crops, although that is mentioned in the first verse. The core message is that Thanksgiving is all about you and me, and how we personally respond to God’s working in our lives – how we are touched by God’s love. Our life is like a field with God Himself the Farmer, and with the angels the reapers. The seed planted is by God’s grace, and the harvest is our fulfilled lives, to our eternal benefit, and to His eternal honor and glory. Pretty cool song.
I recently heard a contemporary Christian song by TobyMac, “Love Broke Through”. That song expresses God’s goodness and kindness even when we are unaware of His attention. His love can “beak through” when we least expect it. He touches and changes our lives. That’s something for which to be thankful.
We are God’s own field. Jesus said that He came to give us abundant life (John 10:10). That’s a promise that also goes way beyond traditions. May our lives give an abundant return of love, praise and gratitude to the Heavenly Father whose kind blessings we continue to enjoy, and may we all be able to join in Thanksgiving’s “Song of Harvest Home”.
Image courtesy of my good friend, Joe LeFevre, from whom I learned to find “the picture within the picture”, in photography and in life.
Joe LeFevre Photography, e-mail:email@example.com
Where do we get the notion that religion is supposed to be all sweetness and harmless, passive and private? Jesus taught love, but when asked by soldiers of his day what they should do to prepare for God’s kingdom, John the Baptist (Jesus’ cousin and forerunner) didn’t tell them to quit the Marines (oh, my bad. Marines had to wait until November 10, 1775 to get their first orders), or to leave the army. He didn’t pick flowers so they could put them on the ends of their spears or lace them into their helmets. He just told them not to abuse their power and to be content – see Luke 3:14.
So what about the love part? Aren’t we supposed to love our enemies and do good to those who mistreat us? OK. We’re also supposed to defend the defenseless, and protect those who are unjustly threatened – including our families and communities. There’s a place for each response.
I think Marines make good real (vs. pretend) Christians. They understand some realities of life. Through grueling training and the shared Warrior Culture they understand that life is not all sweetness and harmless to evil. We are supposed to be a danger to evil – in word, lifestyle, and action. Most people don’t like conflict or difficulty. Marines accept both, do more with less, and prevail. The Bible calls that “Enduring hardship” – see 2 Timothy 2:4.
Another birthday celebration happened this week. On November 7, Billy Graham turned 99. Another warrior in his own right, he kept consistent to his mission as well, boldly sharing the gospel of personal peace through Jesus Christ for many years.
That message of life, forgiveness, and freedom from our own entanglements and wrongs is still available to all, and thanks to God’s blessing on the US Marines, we still have the freedom to declare it!
There is very little new in technique or trickery when it comes to questioning the truth of God’s Word. From earliest history until now Satan has used the same three steps to create doubt – the same steps that he will use until his time is up. Whether it be “higher criticism”, Da Vinci Code, or “Swoon Theory”, Alien invasions, another “gospel”, or the next flavor-of-the-month “replacement theology” (to use the term literally), Satan’s MO doesn’t change.
The three steps designed to destroy: 1. Did God really say that? 2. God is cheating you. What He said is not true. 3. Here, this is the truth instead.
We must remember, Satan has a vested interest in destroying God’s credibility (if that were even possible). Yet the lies he generates are meant to look so much like God’s truth that they could fool the unwary.
Jesus said that false Christ’s would come. Satan has stepped up for that. Jesus said that towards the end people would believe fables instead of the truth. Satan has stepped up for that too. Jesus once asked the question: “Will the Son of Man find faith on the earth when He returns?” (Luke 18:8) The context indicates it was a rhetorical question with the unfortunate answer of “No, not much”. Satan has stepped up to help make that happen as well. His lies have turned people more and more against the revealed, historic Word of God, thus undermining faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the only way to eternal life.
But don’t be intimidated. This is no surprise to the Lord Jesus Christ. He is still rightful King of Kings and Lord of Lords, though imposters and fables will continue to appear. He’ll sort it out in the end; the lies and liars will be revealed, so keep declaring the truth. And remember, it’s not just about winning arguments; it’s about winning people, people that have eternal value.