The Path to Thanksgiving

For a very long time Thanksgiving has been my favorite holiday. Even though it is somewhat secular in practice and today seems to be more overshadowed by the need to go shopping before the meal is even digested, it is clearly a lasting testimony to how the early settlers were believers in a Heavenly Father who not only watched over them, but guided and provided for them. While not all of the actions of early American history may exemplify the divine law of “Love thy neighbor”, it is very clear that they truly believed that the Hand of Providence was with them and that they were subjects to the Creator and Sovereign of the Universe.

Jewish tradition has always used one particular Psalm as “THE” Psalm of Thanksgiving. The Psalm is Psalm 100 and I have included it below:

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the lands!

Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!

Know that the LORD is God! It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him, bless his name!

For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. (Psalm 100)

Sometimes it is difficult to be thankful for anything when our current state of affairs may not always seem to be playing in our favor. Maybe you have felt rejected or forgotten. This is most often a choice, arguably a subconscious one, and you have the power to change whatever it is you are feeling. Once a person learns to control their emotions instead of letting their emotions control them, they obtain the balance in life that leads to happiness. Once a tight rein has bridled the passions, a clear course can be drawn to a life that is more fulfilling. Of the many gifts we have been given, our ability to choose (or free will ) is perhaps the greatest of them all. It is that gift that enables us to forge our own path and chart our own course. The path of life is a narrow one and there will always be forks in the road that may throw you off course. Sometimes the path less traveled leads to where you want to go and sometimes the destination is merely an entrance to yet another path. Whether you choose to walk alone, or pick up the lamp at your feet to light your path, is up to you.

God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well. – Voltaire

(Only on The Quest will you see the Bible and those against it woven together for a common message)

Today marks the 2nd Anniversary of this blog and I want to thank all of you for being on this Quest with me. I hope that all of you enjoy a very Happy Thanksgiving with your families.

The love of a Father

I am fortunate to be the father of three beautiful and healthy children.  Looking at them I see innocence, potential, ambition, beauty, love, and a host of other wonderful things.  Experiencing their births made it very clear to me that this world we live in, and all of us in it are all part of a grand design.  That in some definitive way there is a purpose for each and every one of us and that our Creator gave us our own intelligence and a moral compass to guide us.  We just have to listen and act. 

Being a father has encouraged me to work harder and push myself more than I ever would have had I not been their dad.  A real father does all he can to support, love, and protect his kids – at all cost.  We recently watched 2 movies that had fathers that were elevated to a deistical level and I could not help but connect the dots to our Creator.  The 2 movies are Clash of the Titans (with Liam Neeson) and Tron (with Jeff Bridges).  The two of these fathers did not want to sacrifice their sons at the expense of themselves or others.  Zeus tells Persius that he wanted to win but, not at the risk of losing a son and Kevin Flynn (the father) in Tron sacrificed himself to save his son. 

As a father, I can say without a doubt that I would give my own life to save my kids and under no circumstance would I ever consider sacrificing them.  This brings me to my moral and theological conflicts with the current religion of Christianity. 

What kind of father would restrict his own children from the knowledge of good and evil (or ability to reason)?

What kind of father would give up control of his children to an evil and cruel person (satan)?

What kind of father would destroy his entire creation (the Flood)?

What kind of father would select only a few of his children as his chosen children (Jews and the Christian doctrine of Predestination)?

What kind of father promises his children land but, subjects them to 400 years of slavery followed by 40 years of aimless wandering in the desert?

What kind of father tells his children to slaughter every man, woman, and child that you find in the land he promised you?  All the while knowing that these same people being slaughtered are his own children as well…

Fast forward a few centuries and this same father sends another son (to Christians this one is his only son) to be tortured and brutally executed to pay for the sins of the rest of the world? 

Well, not my God.  I know what some of my Christians friends are saying – Jesus was God.  Well, no, he wasn’t God.  He was a man.  If he were God then who did he pray to so often? Who did he fall down on his knees to beg for strength in the Garden of Gethsemane?  Who did he cry out “My God, My God, why hast though forsaken me?” to when he was dying on the cross?  Clearly he was praying to God, or as he so eloquently referred to him – our Father.

Let me tell you a secret, about a father’s love.  A secret that my daddy said was just between us.  Daddy’s don’t just love their children every now and then.  It’s a love without end amen. – George Strait, A Father’s Love.

Now, if by grace we are all saved why would a sacrifice even be necessary?  Our Creator is all-powerful and, if all loving, would he even consider eternal punishment for us at all?  Sure, as a father, I punish my kids when they mess up.  I take away the Xbox or the computer but, I would never punish one for the actions of the other. 

My conflict here is not with Jesus though.  I don’t believe his purpose was to die for me.  I think his message is pretty clear and I have spoken about it in prior posts and I will again speak of it now.  He spoke of love, kindness, charity, empathy, and emphasized the absolute necessity of doing good works. 

Why couldn’t the church just stick to what he taught? 

Why did this dogmatic system of the fear of hell and eternal damnation have to come about? 

It is an insult to the benevolence of the Creator to give the appearance of a bipolar tyrant, who can’t decide whether or not we are to be loved like children or suffer like slaves.  Now before I close this blog, I will use some text from the Bible that I believe perfectly describes our Creator. 

Psalm 19 (NIV)

 1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
   the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
   night after night they reveal knowledge.
3 They have no speech, they use no words;
   no sound is heard from them.
4 Yet their voice[b] goes out into all the earth,
   their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
 5 It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
   like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
6 It rises at one end of the heavens
   and makes its circuit to the other;
   nothing is deprived of its warmth.

 7 The law of the LORD is perfect,
   refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy,
   making wise the simple.
8 The precepts of the LORD are right,
   giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant,
   giving light to the eyes.
9 The fear of the LORD is pure,
   enduring forever.
The decrees of the LORD are firm,
   and all of them are righteous.

 10 They are more precious than gold,
   than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
   than honey from the honeycomb.
11 By them your servant is warned;
   in keeping them there is great reward.
12 But who can discern their own errors?
   Forgive my hidden faults.
13 Keep your servant also from willful sins;
   may they not rule over me.
Then I will be blameless,
   innocent of great transgression.

 14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
   be pleasing in your sight,
   LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

© Nelson Rose, The Quest for Light