HAPPY THANKSGIVING

Jennie Augusta Brownscombe, The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth, 1914, Pilgrim Hall Museum, Plymouth, Massachusetts
Jennie Augusta Brownscombe, The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth, 1914, Pilgrim Hall Museum, Plymouth, Massachusetts (from here)

Depending upon the the translation, some form of the word “thank” can be found in the Bible between 130 and 210 times. So it is fair to say the Bible has much to say about giving thanks and of the many reasons to give thanks.

Leviticus is largely about the ceremony involved in sacrifices, and it talks about attitude as well as procedure, substance as well as form.

Leviticus 22:29 Authorized (King James) Version (AKJV)

29 And when ye will offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving unto the Lord, offer it at your own will.

Thanks requires thankfulness. King David was a thankful man. Thus, he wrote many psalms expressing his thanks. One ends with these words.

2 Samuel 22:50-51 Authorized (King James) Version (AKJV)

50 Therefore I will give thanks unto thee, O Lord, among the heathen,
and I will sing praises unto thy name.
51 He is the tower of salvation for his king:
and sheweth mercy to his anointed,
unto David, and to his seed for evermore.

King David, a great king, saw God as a merciful, loving, and unfailing protector.

Imagine the Jews returning to Jerusalem after their long Babylonian captivity. They gave thanks to the Lord for His forgiveness and for allowing them to lay a new foundation.

Ezra 3:11 Authorized (King James) Version (AKJV)

11 And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the Lord; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid.

Daniel was one of those exiles, although it is not likely that he ever returned to his native land. Even as a high Persian official he endured threats to his life. What happened when the king he served, Darius, issued a decree against praying to any god except himself?

Daniel 6:10 Authorized (King James) Version (AKJV)

10 Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.

Trusting in the Lord, Daniel ignored the decree and continued to give thanks. To those who love Him, the Lord will give cause for thanks. So it has always been for the remnant of Zion.

Isaiah 51:3 Authorized (King James) Version (AKJV)

For the Lord shall comfort Zion:
he will comfort all her waste places;
and he will make her wilderness like Eden,
and her desert like the garden of the Lord;
joy and gladness shall be found therein,
thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.

Those who give thanks in pride, however, find their prayers unwelcomed by God.

Luke 18:11 Authorized (King James) Version (AKJV)

11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.

That Pharisee prayed with himself, not to God. Instead of extolling our own virtues, we give thanks to God for the virtues of others.

2 Thessalonians 1:3 Authorized (King James) Version (AKJV)

We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth;

We give thanks as our Lord did, in humility.

Mark 14:22-25 Authorized (King James) Version (AKJV)

22 And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body. 23 And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it. 24 And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many. 25 Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God.

Jesus, humbling Himself in obedience to the Father, gave thanks for the bread and the wine. Then He celebrated the sacrifice He would make on our behalf so that we might not know the second death.

1 Corinthians 15:50-58 Authorized (King James) Version (AKJV)

50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

So it is that today we continue a tradition, thankful for the opportunity to live in a land founded by a great many thankful pilgrims, pilgrims thankful for the providence, the mercy, the grace, and the love of our Creator.

WITHOUT HONOR THERE CAN BE NO PEACE

preamble to the constitutionThere are two ways of looking at honor with respect to peace.  Pride drives us to say no peace without honor.  In other words, unless our opponent offers conditions that guarantee our self-respect, we won’t quite fighting.  That’s a frivolous way of looking at honor.

The second way of looking at honor with respect to peace has to do with honor as a virtue. How is honor a virtue? Well, there is some ambiguity in that matter.

Dr. Samuel Johnson, in his A Dictionary of the English Language (1755), defined honour as having several senses, the first of which was “nobility of soul, magnanimity, and a scorn of meanness.” This sort of honour derives from the perceived virtuous conduct and personal integrity of the person endowed with it. On the other hand, Johnson also defined honour in relationship to “reputation” and “fame”; to “privileges of rank or birth”, and as “respect” of the kind which “places an individual socially and determines his right to precedence.” This sort of honour is not so much a function of moral or ethical excellence, as it is a consequence of power. Finally, with respect to sexuality, honour has traditionally been associated with (or identical to) “chastity” or “virginity”, or in case of married men and women, “fidelity”. Some have argued that honour should be seen more as a rhetoric, or set of possible actions, than as a code. (from here)

In our society rank still exists. So people with power, because of their pride, still demand honor. For the most part, however, we expect people to earn honor by gaining a reputation for virtuous conduct and personal integrity. At least, that’s the theory. Nevertheless, we still honor the powerful. Why? Some among us do fear the powerful, but the more serious issue is that we no longer share a common code of honor. Instead of honoring virtuous conduct and integrity, many of us will just as happily honor power, wealth, and fame.

Western Civilization once shared a common ethical system based upon the Bible. Most people of European descent understood the Bible to be literally true, and they believed all of the Bible was the word of God. During the Protestant Reformation, if anything, such sentiments about the Bible grew even stronger.  However, the Protestant Reformation also set in motion an opposite trend. Instead of the Roman Catholic clergy being the sole interpreters of the faith, Protestantism made it possible for anyone to decide for themselves the meaning of Bible. In fact, these days we can decide what the Bible means without having ever read it. Hence, Western Civilization’s shared code of honor (or ethics) is slowly dissolving into gibberish.

Consider an obvious controversy.  The Bible clearly condemns homosexuality as a sin. Nevertheless, many mainstream Christian churches don’t have a problem with same-sex marriage. Is there any practical way to condone homosexuality based upon what the Bible actually says? No, but once we decide feelings matter more than the truth what the Bible actually says does not matter. We can be a Christian and even say the Bible says homosexuality is okay.

How does this sort of integrity relate to peace? Virtuous conduct, especially as it relates to integrity, requires an unwavering respect for the truth. Otherwise, peace is logically impossible because we cannot work out and maintain the compromises that make peace possible.

Consider what a compromise involves. People meet. They discuss their objectives and their differences. Then they reach an agreement that sorts out their objectives and their differences so that each party to the agreement gets most of what wants at the cost of some objectives it cedes to the other parties.

What is the key to a successful compromise? Well, good negotiators help, but the main ingredient is usually honor (that is, a high degree of integrity). Each of the parties to a compromise has to be willing to honor the agreement as written.

The Constitution, for example, is a compromise. Because of the compromises it contains, the Constitution allowed the 13 original colonies, each a small country with its own interests, to come together as a federation.  The Constitution worked because most of the citizens of each of the colonies fully expected their leaders to abide by the document as written.

Unfortunately, the integrity of our people is not exactly what it use to be. Now many of our leaders regard the Constitution as a Living Constitution.

In United States constitutional interpretation, the Living Constitution (or loose constructionism) is the claim that the Constitution has a dynamic meaning or that it has the properties of an animate being in the sense that it changes. The idea is associated with views that contemporaneous society should be taken into account when interpreting key constitutional phrases. (from here)

What is the problem with a Living Constitution? If the compromises in the Constitution are “living compromises”, then what are the compromises? Why would anyone want to be party to a compromise that can be arbitrarily changed by the “other side”? What good does it even do to put agreement on paper if after a period of time the agreement can be arbitrarily changed by unelected judges?

We can discuss how we think the Constitution has changed, but all we can know is what something in the Constitution meant the last time the Supreme Court issued a ruling. Tomorrow? Who knows? Yesterday? Well, it seems history is just so beyond us. Only highfalutin experts can rightfully have an opinion, but consider these examples. Before the Supreme Court’s decisions related Social Security, Obamacare, or to same sex “marriage”, would any of those things have been legal? Were they legal in the several decades before each suddenly became legal? Was the Constitution actually changed to make them legal?

Let me close this post with one last observation. In a very real sense, our Constitution is a peace treaty. Search The Federalist Papers for the word “peace” and you will get 175 hits. Sometimes the writers spoke of the need for a Constitution to maintain peace with other nations. Each colony on its own was too weak to easily defend itself. Often, however, the writers also worried the colonies would fight among themselves, and they were right. Because they could not agree about the issue of slavery, in spite of the Constitution there was war between the states.

What we honor matters.

2016 POST ELECTION STRATEGY AND TACTICS – PART 1

ChristianknightAfter President Barrack Hussein Obama’s second election as our president, I wrote a series that starts here: FINDING PEACE IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE 2012 ELECTION — PART 1. That was a frankly Christian and Conservative perspective on what I considered a devastating defeat, that is, devastating from a human perspective. I was not alone. With others I went through the stages of grief. Then we started planning for the future.

Victory, such as it is, presents similar issues. It seems our Lord has a sense of humor. Four years ago nobody anticipated the election of President Donald J. Trump. We would have found the idea laughable, and most people still don’t know what to make of it.

Just as we are not altogether in our defeats, we are not unified in victory. We are always too busy scratching our heads, wondering. How did the *&%$#@! did that happen? Whether we have victory or defeat, it seems events drive us accept the fact that God is in charge.

So can we do? We can serve as our Lord’s hands and feet. In His Name, we can each can make a personal commitment to change the world for the better. Make of it what you will, but here is mine.

What Is A Commitment?

When we make a commitment, we need to define three things.

  • A Goal. To make a meaningful commitment, we have to commit ourselves to a defined purpose, an achievable goal.
  • A Strategy. To pursue a goal effectively, we must have a strategy. To achieve a goal, we have to enumerate the factors that must come together that make goal fulfillment a possibility.
  • Tactics. Every great undertaking is accomplished through the dedicated efforts of so-called little people. In a war, we call the little people soldiers. In war groups of soldiers work in unison by implementing squad, battalion, divisional,… tactics. In politics, we call the little people citizens. What citizens do to implement the overall strategy and achieve the goal we call political activism.

The Goal

Defining my goal begins with how I identify myself.

  • Why am I a Christian? I believe Jesus is who He said He is. I believe He died for our sins and that He rose from the dead.  I believe Jesus is God. I believe God is three in One: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I believe that through Jesus God gave us an example. Therefore, I strive to be a worthy disciple of Christ.
  • Why am I a Conservative? I believe God is God. I don’t believe any of us is God. I don’t believe any of us are wise enough or good enough to rule the rest of humanity as an all-powerful monarch.  Jesus will do so, but not one of us. Therefore, instead of trying to run other people’s lives, I work to protect the God-given rights of my family, friends, neighbors, and countrymen.

To spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to fulfill The Great Commission Jesus gave us, we need a stable and efficient government.  To protect our God-given rights, including our right to hear and live by the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we need a government designed to protect those rights. Therefore, as my goal I seek to protect the constitutional republic given to us by the founders of this nation.

To Be Continued

In Part 2 we will enumerate the factors that must come together that make goal fulfillment a possibility, and we will examine why each of those factors is necessary for the fulfillment of the goal.

SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER, REVISITED

communicateWHAT IS SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER? is one of my more popular posts. I believe the dialogue I had in the comments section with Keith DeHavelle largely explains that. Whenever  commented, my readership always increased.

Due to health issues, is now a “retired” blogger — and missed. Fortunately, his wit and wisdom still survives on the Internet and with his family and friends.

Because of the popularity of the expression “speaking truth to power” and its widespread abuse, I hope WHAT IS SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER? also has merit because it explains the origin and meaning of the expression. Therefore, when a commenter suggested that I reblog that old post, I could not resist the flattery.

Debbie L

I had an email about you liking a comment and it had your “Truth to Power” post tagged in it, from 2013. I first heard that term when I was working on a government project. I didn’t understand what she meant, so I am glad now I know! And how funny, I just heard that term again when we accidentally had on the news….we are trying to not listen to it! The comments were closed on it, but it’s good and you may want to reblog is since the left are using that tern of late regarding the election…. (from here)

We both communicate and think in words. Each word represents a set of concepts and beliefs. We use words to bring order to our concepts and beliefs. We use phrases, sentences, and paragraphs so we can be more specific and exact about our concepts and beliefs. Then we communicate our concepts and beliefs with those words. Therefore, to communicate properly, we must understand the meaning of words. Otherwise, we will confuse other people about our beliefs. Otherwise, more devious people will use our confusion over words to manipulate and twist our thoughts and beliefs.

From This Last Week