Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

What Would Jesus Do?

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What Would Jesus Do?

When someone asks you, or your ask yourself this question, consider that overturning tables, beating people with a whip of cords, and yelling at people is an option.

Seriously.

Do you remember the story of Jesus droving out the money-changers in the temple courts? Some scholars believe the stories recorded in the gospel represent not just one event, but two. Imagine that. Jesus, meek and mild, got so beside-himself-mad that he disrupted the church money-making schemes and people’s businesses.

This does not quite fit the idea of Jesus being the Lamb.  If He’s the Lamb, He’s the Lamb who roars like the Lion of Judah.

These religious leaders were allowing outright corruption in the temple courts.  People were having to be fleeced in order to worship according to the Law of Moses.  Church services were overshadowed by immorality of the greedy kind.

Greed is called idolatry in the scriptures, and yet, here it is in the temple courts.

Is this a place you would want to give generously to?  Imagine a church like this.  Would you want to contribute to the work going on there?

Now think of another story.

Jesus gathers his disciples to the side of the temple courts watching the passers-by. Many rich people are coming with buckets of money.  Jesus isn’t impressed.

Then a widow comes, and when Jesus sees her, he tells his disciples to watch.  She barely put anything in – two small coins. Yet, this was all the money she had.

This woman just contributed everything she had to a system filled with corruption which is in complete denial of the presence of the Messiah. If I were Jesus, I might have stepped up and encouraged her to make her donation to another god-fearing charity (if such existed). It’s a good thing I’m not Jesus.

No, Jesus didn’t stop her.  In fact, he praised her.  He loved her heart of generosity and dependence on the Lord.

Would the temple use this money appropriately? Did they believe and teach the right things? No! In many ways, no.  In fact, many of the leaders of this religious movement would crucify the very man praising the woman for donating to the corrupt system.

Does the integrity of the system give value to the intent of the giver?

Many people want to get a list of all the good things being done with the money in the church treasury before they feel comfortable giving.  If a church isn’t teaching to their liking or doesn’t include the program they deem necessary, they threaten to withdraw their tithe. This currently culture seems to have a strong sense of wanting to know what the money is going toward before the wallet is loosened for giving.

Giving with expectation is tyranny in the same way that love with expectation is tyranny.  Giving with expectation is a form of blackmail. Generosity is a form of love, and love is not self-seeking, so how can one justify not giving because they have no control over where the money goes?

You may not know everything the church does.  You may not even agree with everything the church does.  Are you giving to the church?

When the offering basket comes around, are you giving to people, or an idea, or a cause? Or are you giving to the Lord?

Give. Generously give.  Gratefully give.

You haven’t been perfect in the ways you’ve spent the blessings of God, and you have sinned in spite of the love He constantly showers on you. You then, though you are imperfect, will you expect an organization full of other imperfect people to be perfect?  Will you seek to be in control of “your” money?

The next time the plate or basket or bucket is passed, give according to how you’ve been for-give-n. He has truly blessed you, and you are giving in response to Him – not anyone else.

 

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A Tradition That Isn’t Just One Time a Year

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This is the first year we have really gotten into teaching our son about the history behind Thanksgiving. He’s hooked. He loves reading about the pilgrims and Indians. He has some appreciation for the need for religious freedom that the pilgrims felt. The suffering felt that first winter affects him. But the thing he likes to read about most is the Indians.

I tend to be just like him in that. I have always appreciated the histories of the Native Americans. In fact, this week we are hoping to take him to see some traditional Indian dances while we are in New Mexico. He’s pretty excited.

As we think about this history, however, I can’t help but reflect on how we showed the Native Americans our appreciation for how they accepted us onto their land. Sure, the pilgrims held a great feast and they ate alongside their native friends, but as time went on more and more “white men” came that did not appreciate the support and friendship that had been given to the white man in the past.

How did we as an invading civilization show our appreciation to those without whom we would have never survived this continent? We drove them out. We killed them. And, eventually we corralled those that survived into “zoos” where they can live how they want (albeit in a much restricted area), and we can go observe their native rituals.

In my opinion, that is the saddest story of the formation of this great nation. They were thankful for survival, but they weren’t grateful for the people who helped them survive. In fact, they didn’t even see them as people.

In our generation today, we have a struggle ahead of us. As I watch the youth of today grow, I see the same ungrateful attitude. This generation thinks they are entitled to everything they have. This is much like how the white people thought they were entitled to the land of the Americas.

“Thank You” is a phrase that is a strain to say for many in today’s society. Even more difficult is trying to list all the blessings given to them by God. In fact, not only are they not grateful for what they have been given, but there is a continual lust for more.

As a parent I struggle with this attitude in my own children. We are trying to help them understand what it means to be grateful. We are trying to help them remember to be thankful to others. We are trying to help them to learn contentment in a time of prosperity. But it’s difficult. Even at their young ages, it seems as this ungrateful attitude is embedded in their DNA.

In light of all that, we now find ourselves at the time of year that is one of my favorite holidays, Thanksgiving. Each year I get to see family members I haven’t seen in a long time. I usually have a chance to meet new family members as well. Then we sit and feast on a bounty that God has provided.

We have an opportunity and a responsibility to ourselves and our children to take the opportunity this season to inspire a change of attitude. This is a great time to stop the attitude of entitlement dead in its tracks and start an attitude of gratitude.

Thanksgiving shouldn’t just be a holiday: it should be a way of life.

“And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
(Colossians 1:10-14 emphasis added)

This holiday season, may you start a tradition that happens every day. May you be grateful for every breath, and may you inspire that attitude of gratitude in those around you.

God bless you, and Happy Thanksgiving!


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