Sunday, November 30, 2008

Reasons for Thanks Abound

by Gary Schneeberger, CitizenLink editor

It can look pretty grim sometimes on the front lines of the culture war, but tough circumstances don't mean God's not with us and for us. Abraham Lincoln knew that.

Tradition tells us this is the time of year we're supposed to be thankful.

But what if we just don't feel like it? What if we woke up this morning thinking we have more to be frustrated with, hurt by, scared of and depressed about than we have to be thankful for?

Scripture certainly addresses that question. Paul exhorts the Colossians to "let the peace of Christ rule in your heart, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him" (Col. 3: 15-17).

Few of us can deny we've missed the mark in that regard from time to time. The first thought that entered my mind last week when the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court declared a constitutional right to homosexual "marriage" was not, I must confess, "Thank you, Lord." Neither is that response always easy to come by when we lose ground on other fronts the campaign for righteousness — whether it's Roy Moore getting fired for acknowledging God with his Ten Commandments monument or federal courts blocking enforcement of the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act.

Even if we think back to our grade-school studies, to the story of the first Thanksgiving, it can be tempting to feel less than thankful in the midst of trying times. You remember the story: The Pilgrims, their numbers cut nearly in half by a devastating winter, were so blessed by the subsequent harvest of 1621 that they gathered to give thanks for their bounty. But by then they'd survived their trials and had found happier, easier times. Months earlier, when their limbs were immobilized by the cold and their children were dying in their sleep, history doesn't record much dancing and feasting in the fields, does it?

No, it does not.

But history does record — two centuries, two score and two years after the Pilgrims' first feast — the words of a man who faced very different, yet no less devastating, trials. Abraham Lincoln, president of half a country engaged in bloody battle with the other half, somehow saw fit in the midst of the Civil War to declare that, yes, there was much in the no-longer-United States to be thankful for.

On Oct. 3, 1863 — just two weeks after more than 34,000 Americans were killed or wounded in the battle of Chickamauga — Lincoln issued a proclamation establishing a national day of Thanksgiving.

"The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies," he wrote. "To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God. . . .

"In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict . . .

"Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements . . . and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom . . .

"No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States . . . to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens."

If Lincoln could find such abundant reason to be thankful in the thick of the war he faced, shouldn't we be able to do the same in the thick of the war we face? It is a fierce battle, to be sure, and the casualties — in the form of liberal court decisions and the increasing secularization of our government and culture -- can pile up quickly. But none of it is a surprise to God — and that's why none of it should be a discouragement to us.

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom," those were Paul's instructions to the Colossians, but they apply to us, too, never more fittingly than at Thanksgiving. "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."

Maybe your life is a battlefield today. Maybe it's bountiful. Maybe it's a little of both. No matter the circumstances, though, we pray that as you reflect on what it is you have to be thankful for, you will permit yourself to expect a continuance of whatever blessings you find there.

And that you will remember, as Lincoln did, that we don't fight this battle alone, but as servants of our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

"Martha Stewart Will Not Be Coming For Thanksgiving Dinner"

"Martha Stewart will not be dining with us this Thanksgiving. I'm telling you in advance, so don't act surprised. Since Ms. Stewart won't be coming, I've made a few small changes:

Our sidewalk will not be lined with homemade, paper bag luminaries. After a trial run, it was decided that no matter how cleverly done, rows of flaming lunch sacks do not have the desired welcoming effect.

The dining table will not be covered with expensive linens, fancy china or crystal goblets. If possible, we will use dishes that match and everyone will get a fork. Since this IS Thanksgiving, we will refrain from using the plastic Peter Rabbit plate and the Santa napkins from last Christmas.

Our centerpiece will not be the tower of fresh fruit and flowers that I promised. Instead we will be displaying a hedgehog-like decoration that has been hand-crafted from the finest construction paper. The artist assures me it's a turkey.

We will be dining fashionably late. The children will entertain you while you wait. I'm sure they will be happy to share every choice comment I have made regarding Thanksgiving, pilgrims and the turkey hotline. Please remember that most of these comments were made at 5:00 a.m. upon discovering that the turkey was still hard enough to cut diamonds.

As accompaniment to the children's recital, I will play a recording of tribal drumming. If the children should mention that I don't own a recording of tribal drumming or that the tribal drumming sounds suspiciously like a frozen turkey in a clothes dryer, ignore them. They are lying.

We toyed with the idea of ringing a dainty silver bell to announce the start of our feast. In the end, we chose to keep our traditional method. We've also decided against a formal seating arrangement. When the smoke alarm sounds, please gather around the table and sit where you like. In the spirit of harmony, we will ask the children to sit at a separate table. In a separate room. Next door.

Now I know you have all seen pictures of one person carving a turkey in front of a crowd of appreciative onlookers. This will not be happening at our dinner. For safety reasons, the turkey will be carved in a private ceremony. I stress "private" meaning this: Do not, under any circumstances enter the kitchen to laugh at me. Do not send small, unsuspecting children to check on my progress. I have an electric knife. The turkey is unarmed. It stands to reason that I will eventually win. When I do, we will eat.

Oh before I forget, there is one last change. Instead of offering a choice between 12 different scrumptious desserts, we will be serving the traditional pumpkin pie. Garnished with whipped cream and small fingerprints. You will have a choice. Take it or leave it.

Martha Stewart will not be dining with us this Thanksgiving. Come to think of it, she probably won't make it next year either. I am thankful!

Happy Thanksgiving!"

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Harvest Giving

Remember to give unto others.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wonders Wednesday Photo: Log Formation

Copyright © 2008 "DJ" author of Sonbeam Corner. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Cell Phone vs. Bible

Ever wonder what would happen if we treated our Bible like we treat our cell phone?
What if we carried it around in our purses or pockets?
What if we flipped through it several time a day?
What if we turned back to go get it if we forgot it?
What if we used it to receive messages from the text?
What if we treated it like we couldn't live without it?
What if we gave it to kids as gifts?
What if we used it when we traveled?
What if we used it in case of emergency?
This is something to make you go....hmm...where is my Bible?
Oh, and one more thing. Unlike our cell phone, we don't have to worry about our Bible being disconnected, because Jesus already paid the bill.
Makes you stop and think 'where are my priorities?' (And no dropped calls!)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wonders Wednesday: Rain-Jeweled Web

Copyright © 2008 "DJ" author of Sonbeam Corner. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Monday, November 03, 2008

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Saturday, November 01, 2008