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Archive for the tag “Being thankful”

Traditions

Traditions for this day are varied. Thanksgiving holiday in the US has evolved into certain traditions for each family. Food, more food and family, friends, maybe someone significant meeting the family for the first time; but it’s all about tradition. Turkey or ham or both; cranberry sauce, yes, please; and few sides of casseroles, a green bean or two, corn pudding (not so much for me), then of course, dessert (which is “no thank you” for me this year since I didn’t bring my own – I am gluten-free forever more). The focus has been on the food and the relationships around the table for many of us for years. Of course, we give thanks to God above for all He has provided this year and all the blessings that we enjoy on a daily basis. That’s what we’re supposed to do, right?

After all, this isn’t a “religious” holiday in the traditional sense. It’s a holiday that Abraham Lincoln set aside in the middle of the civil war. It was a time of remembrance to give thanks to God. It began centuries ago when the settlers had a successful harvest for the very first time. Can you imagine the struggles they went through to live in such a land – a land where they actually had to prepare the ground, plant the seeds and harvest the crops? Many of them had no idea how to plant and harvest a crop. But they learned, thanks to the native people who helped them survive.

Our nation is far from the traditions laid down by our forefathers. We have evolved from agriculture, industrial to tech savvy people. No longer do we have to struggle to provide food for our families in the traditional sense. We don’t raise our food in a traditional way. We go to super stores and buy prepared food or plastic-wrapped produce shipped from hundreds of miles away. It’s just not the same as if we actually had to get our hands dirty and dig out those sweet potatoes from the earth.

We don’t have to do the hard labor the season before to get the food on the table today. It’s already done for us. We just go and pick out the best ingredients for a home cooked meal – or maybe head to the nearest Golden Corral for the buffet tradition that someone else prepared and will clean up. We just eat, pay and go. We’ve gotten so far away from the original thought of harvest blessing that the holiday has been lost to food, football and shopping. It’s the kickoff to the real holiday – Christmas and Santa Claus and ho, ho, ho to good girls and boys and lots of little toys.

I’m not saying that what we have today is bad. It’s just different from what it was intended so long ago. It has evolved into our own traditions. But hopefully somewhere along the way, we’ll remember to give thanks to God above for all the blessings of our own harvest season – whatever that hardship we are currently going through or have just come out of. God has seen us through many trials and tribulations through the years, and we have survived another year. God is good all the time! Even when it looks bad, and we don’t think we can survive; look how God has brought us through time and again.

Thanksgiving is about remembering. Remembering the past blessings and knowing God will see us through again. He is faithful. He is good. His love endures for us forever. We can look in the Bible to see how God sees His people through the tough times, but we could also see in our own lives those same things. We can look to the past in this country and see how God has seen this country through the dark times to bring us through. God’s love endures forever. He is faithful, and He is true to His nature.

Let’s remember today the ones who came before us so that we can have this time of food, family and football. We have it good. We have been blessed abundantly. Let’s remember it’s not by our hand that we have done these things. We were created as a people (the church), and as a nation to be a blessing to others because of what the Lord has done for us. It’s because of the forefathers’ forethought to put things in place by the hand of God to give us all that we have today. Let’s remember and give thanks. Celebrate with your traditions and remember to be a blessing to others today. Happy Thanksgiving!

Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation. Psalm 100:4-5 (NLT)

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Under God

It’s been two weeks since our country’s elections. People are still protesting the outcome. Even in our state, the governorship is still questionable. One would think we are a divided nation. We can’t even agree to disagree. We are called intolerant if we hold different viewpoints. We all hold up a banner of ideologies we are passionate about and will fight for them.

I grew up during the era of the Vietnam War. It was a very divisive time as well. People were protesting the war for whatever reasons; some felt it was not our war to fight; it had nothing to do with us as a nation, and many said we shouldn’t have been there endangering our young men. I don’t remember the protests, but I remember the bracelet I had with a man’s name on it who was a prisoner of war. During that time, my family lived close to an army base. I can remember the windows rattling when the base was practicing war games.

The great thing about our nation is that we have rights that we are allowed because of the forefathers’ forethought of what we needed as a nation to survive as a republic. At one time, there were only the select few who could vote. Protests happened, and women got the right to vote. Protests bring awareness to the problems that most of us would ignore. The sand looks pretty good when the world is falling apart. And if given the opportunity, we would bury our heads in it so we can ignore what others are going through.

As a follower of Jesus, though, we are told to carry our brothers and sisters burdens. We are to fight for the ones who are not able to fight for themselves. We are to carry the banner of God; not to lord it over them but to carry it into battle. We have our own war game that God is preparing us for battle. But that doesn’t mean we join the loud voices of protest; we get in the game. We get into the areas where we can make a difference. We join the political process; we join the military; we join the police force and be the change that everyone is crying out for. We can be the greatest change agent because we carry the banner of God. When we do His will, change happens.

The political climate doesn’t define us as a nation. The forefather’s put in checks and balances; and so far, those provisions have worked to keep a governmental order. God also put in His own checks and balances. God puts His plan in place. We may not see it right away, but God is always at work in the process. The outcome of the elections may not have thrilled half of the nation; however, God has chosen this man for this season (whatever comes of it).

We are defined as a nation by the rights we have. We can protest in an orderly manner. We can raise our voices to make change happen. We have the right to vote. We are allowed many freedoms in this nation, and people still come here for those freedoms. I ran into a woman yesterday whose second language is English. I don’t know her heart’s language. I have only spoken to her when I see her at a restaurant where she works. In our short conversation yesterday, she told me to have a Happy Thanksgiving. I gave her the same wish in return. She understands freedom; she came for it.

Maybe we aren’t so divided after all. We all have the hope of a better future. Some are a bit misguided about how that better future will come about – it’s not about an elected office. A better future involves God. He is the banner in which I will fight for the right to honor and worship openly – but also to be able to tell others about. As a follower of Jesus, I am being prepared for battle. God creates warriors to fight in His army. The fight though is not against other people; it’s against our common enemy – Satan. Satan is the one who is creating the division. As followers of Jesus, we need to see the difference and not fall prey to his snares. We are to be united as one under God – not as a nation, but as a people who live in a foreign place. This is not our home. Our hope is in a better home; home that is to come as promised by Jesus. We are to live as one because that’s what Jesus told His disciples to do. We will be known by His banner when we follow His lead.

Remember, we have much to be thankful for. Let’s live like it. Happy Thanksgiving!

Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation. Psalm 100:3-5 (NLT)

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