Is Thanksgiving a Christian Holiday?

Is Thanksgiving a Christian Holiday?

Yes and No. As with many traditions, secularism and consumerism have hijacked what had traditionally been a day for America to reflect on the blessings God had bestowed on Americans and their nation. In 1619, as a requirement of their charter, English settlers at Berkley Plantation in Virginia observed the first official Thanksgiving in the America.

Yes and No. As with many traditions, secularism and consumerism have hijacked what had traditionally been a day for America to reflect on the blessings God had bestowed on Americans and their nation. In 1619, as a requirement of their charter, English settlers at Berkley Plantation in Virginia observed the first official Thanksgiving in America.

Two years later, some 50 Pilgrims in Plymouth Massachusetts were joined by 100 natives in what is traditionally thought of as the first Thanksgiving. The multi-day feast was to celebrate God’s hand in their survival through the harsh first winter during which half of their number perished. That survival was aided by Squanto, an English-speaking native, who helped the Pilgrims fish and plant corn.

Much later, in 1789, President George Washington, floated the idea of a national day of thanksgiving, and, with the approval of Congress, asked the nation to set aside Thursday, November 26 as

“a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

Years later, in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln designated the last Thursday in November “as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father.” That tradition continued until Congress, in 1941, officially established the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day.

Today, many people associate Thanksgiving with family, food, and football and planning their Black Friday shopping. They often leave out the giving of thanks to God for everything they have. Regardless of how they celebrate it, Thanksgiving is much more than a Christian holiday, it is universal to all. It is a day when everyone can

“Give thanks to the LORD, because he is good. His faithful love continues forever”

(1 Chronicles 16:34)

Image by upsyacqs from Pixabay

In an age of gluttony and consumerism, is Thanksgiving still relevant?

In an age of gluttony and consumerism, is Thanksgiving still relevant?

We’re all thankful for something, but more often discontent with our day-to-day lives. Many of us take for granted so much about our lives and the world around us that we don’t stop and think about the source of all that we have, nor do we stop and thank that source, God.

Some people make food an idol. It is where they find contentment, at least temporarily. They may be thankful for the preparer of a meal, but only when they recognize that all food originates from God who is the provider of everything that goes into the meal can they redirect their gratefulness and begin to enjoy a level of contentment that outlasts the meal in front of them.

In the same way, Americans buy stuff in such prodigious quantities, that retailers can’t keep their shelves stocked. Many Americans, who already own more than 90% of the people in the rest of the world, stand in lines on Thanksgiving Day for Black Friday specials, hoping that the next purchase will satisfy a longing that can only be filled by a God who doesn’t disappoint, doesn’t break, doesn’t wear out and doesn’t become outdated.

We can be thankful for the abundance around us, especially when we remember the source of that abundance. Wherever we look we see God’s handiwork and can be thankful that he created us in his image. We can be thankful that God created a world filled with beauty and sent the sun, the rain and the seed that we might have food to eat.

More importantly, we can be thankful that he sent his Son, Jesus, to die on a cross, taking the sin of all mankind upon himself. We can be thankful for Jesus who rose again showing us that there is life after death for all who believe in Jesus, accept the sacrifice he made on our behalf, and choose to allow Jesus to become their savior and lord.  Then they may enjoy true peace and contentment for all eternity.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7
Why is life so unfair?

Why is life so unfair?

It’s natural to think that life is unfair, especially when we, or those we love are hurt in some way. We can also look around the world and look at the disparity of wealth, quality of healthcare, and availability of food and shelter. Why do some people live in relative peace and others in the midst of constant turmoil and war? One part of the answer is that we live in a fallen world. When Adam and Eve rebelled against God, all of creation was condemned.  Man’s basic instinct is to control the world around him and that often means trying to control other people and their property.

There is another reason for perceived unfairness. God is sovereign and everything, including weather and other natural disasters are under his control. From our point of view, we may see those disasters as an example of unfairness. It is possible that God sees it differently? In Bible we read this about God:

“…He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous”.

Matthew 5:45

God loves all of His creation equally and is not a “respecter of persons”. Life may not seem fair, but God is just. He gives us all equal amounts of grace and mercy to allow us to grow through the circumstances that this unfair life causes us to go through. Sometimes what we think of as unfairness is a result of bad decisions, by us or others.  However, God’s desire is for each one of us to be saved and live with Him forever, at peace, secure in His love for us. Jesus comforts us with these words:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

The circumstances of this world can get us down sometimes, but take heart and anticipate His return!

 
Photo by Brian Regrut

Can a Christian support Capital Punishment?

Can a Christian support Capital Punishment?

“Thou shalt not kill.” This verse from the book of Exodus in the Bible is sometimes quoted as why Christians should not support capital punishment–executing someone for committing terrible crimes like murder or rape. However, the Bible is far from clear on this subject. The Hebrew or Mosaic law (Given by God through Moses), also known as the Torah, identified numerous crimes that were punishable by death, including idolatry, taking God’s name in vain, murder, adultery, violation of the Sabbath, homosexuality, and even rebellion against parents.

As harsh as the penalty is for a range of offenses, the Mosaic Law, had a very high bar for conviction of these crimes:

One witness is not enough to convict anyone accused of any crime or offense they may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.

Deuteronomy 19:15

If anyone kills a person, the murderer is to be put to death on the testimony of multiple witnesses. But no one is to be put to death based on the testimony of a lone witness.

Numbers 35:30

When Jesus arrives, some 1300 years had passed since the Old Testament law was given to the Israelites in the wilderness after they left Egypt.

Jesus did not directly address the matter of capital punishment, but in his Sermon on the Mount he rejected the notion of “an eye for an eye”. In an instance where a woman accused of adultery was brought to him and he was asked to pass judgement, he said to the accusers,

Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.

John 8:7

When all turned and left, he dismissed the woman admonishing her to “sin no more.”

Paul, an apostle, missionary and prolific writer in the first century, seemed to support a governmental role in capital punishment when he wrote to the church in Rome:

…the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.

Romans 13:3-4

Through the ages, Christian scholars have wrestled with the capital punishment question and many concluded that a duly elected government, operating under the rule of law, could execute certain criminals.

In America, today, capital punishment is very rare. The Innocence Project has brought to light many wrongful convictions, giving pause to numerous executions as cases are reexamined.

So, Can a Christian support capital punishment? That’s a matter best left between an individual and God. But keep in mind that all men are made in the image of God. From the beginning of time God wanted to enjoy fellowship with man. But man chose to rebel against his maker and death entered the world. God allowed sinful men to kill other sinful men so even today, we need laws and punishments to address crime and protect society from evil people.

Ironically, God allowed his son, Jesus, to suffer the indignity of capital punishment—death on a cross—so that innocent Jesus could take on the sins of every man and woman who ever walked on earth. His death opened a door for new life for all who believe in him, repent of their sins and walk into this new life, following their Savior.