What Do We Value In Times Of Distress?

by Tom Wacaster

Seventy-two hours before Hurricane Rita hit the Texas coast the warning was given to evacuate the Galveston-Houston area.  Not a few residents of Harris County had begun the evacuation several days earlier; others began packing bags and belongings as soon as the warning was given; still others delayed their departure for another 24 hours.  Those of us living miles removed from the threatened areas watched the media coverage, witnessing lines of automobiles attempting to move northward on Interstate 45, west on Interstate 10, or north on highway 59 - major evacuation routes in times of disaster.  After Katrina devastated the southern half of Louisiana and Mississippi a few weeks earlier, leaving in its wake massive flooding in New Orleans, the residents of Texas wanted nothing to do with what the victims of Katrina went through.  And so began the "exodus."  Major highways were clogged with more than two and a half million citizens fleeing the impending doom.  It turned into a monumental traffic jam, stretching more than 100 miles from Houston to Huntsville.  The pictures we saw on TV were astonishing, to say the least. 

What would you take with you if you were forced to flee your residence?  With short notice, limited space, and even less time, cars were packed and trailers loaded.  We learned that our massive evacuation plans in large metropolitan areas such as Houston needs some work.  But we also learned that people put stock in some of the strangest of "things" when it comes right down to saving what is really important to us.  According to a number of eye-witnesses, here are some of the things that Houstonians loaded into their cars, vans, and trucks, as they began their evacuation:  One man in a cowboy hat was seen with, what one witness called, "the biggest, ugliest recliner in the back of his pickup - nothing else - just this phenomenally ugly chair!"  A number of folks loaded up their trucks, attached second cars, boats, campers, and trailers - attempting to save as many of their material possessions as possible.  Many people brought their pets.  But what pets!  One man had a goat in a rather luxurious sport utility vehicle, chewing away at the seats and other items within its reach.   One woman actually was seen on the side of the road feeding her pet rat!  Why would anyone bring a rat?  Photo albums, ragged old quilts, the kids favorite blanket or toy - yes, these were the things people clung to in their time of distress. 

What did you notice about those "things"?  Maybe I'm missing something here, but most of the items that were reported as "top priority" in the list of things to carry were of no monetary value.  Most of that "stuff" was sentimental stuff.    One lady was reported to have gone through every room in her house, eventually picking out those things most important to her:  dishes, flatware, chipped and cracked old plates, bent spoons - things that described her own little world. 

But you know what?  All those "things" brought no comfort to that vast multitude of people caught up in the horror of the moment!  Some got fed up with the long lines at stations as they attempted to fill their automobile with gasoline.  Others became frustrated with the slow movement away from the impending face of danger.  It was what one writer described as "helplessness distilled to purity."  In the face of fear people reacted in different ways. Some became heroes; some acted like nothing more than animals. If I could venture a guess, I would say that those who put their trust in the "things" they carried with them were among those who turned on others in desperation, while those who valued life itself above all their material possessions were the same ones who helped others in need. 

The Bible has much to say about riches, wealth, and material possessions.  First, these are things that come from God, for He is the source of all our blessings.  "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights" (Jas. 1:17).  Second, material things are "uncertain" and "fleeting."  They can be blown away by a hurricane, stolen by a thief, or destroyed by fire.  Third, material possessions offer no comfort in the face of danger.  Many a man on the Titanic would have traded all he possessed for a simple life raft or boat.  Finally, those who are "minded to be rich fall into a temptation and a snare and many foolish and hurtful lusts, such as drown men in destruction and perdition" (1 Tim. 6:9). 

What if you and I had to depart with great haste from some impending danger? What would we carry with us?  Our computers? Televisions? Cash boxes, stocks and bonds, jewelry?  Or would we get our Bible, or some favorite commentary for reading and study?  It is a sobering question that comes to each of us:  "What do we value in times of distress?"

On A Hill Far Away

by Tom Wacaster

What is it about the cross of Christ that draws men to Jesus?  Surely it is not the fact that it was some instrument of death, for other means of execution remain to this day as symbols of only infamy and disgrace.  Who has ever written a song about the electric chair, or what poet has ever glorified the gas chamber or the hangman's noose?  But let men erect a cross in their yard, or display it upon a billboard, and immediately the attention of those who see that cross is drawn to one figure in history Who made that cruel instrument famous.  Let someone display an electric chair in the front of their yard and the onlooker might wonder why such a display.  But his attention would not be drawn to any particular figure in history.  But let a man put a cross in his yard and immediately those who pass by think of Christ and Christianity.  Even as I write these lines the ACLU is seeking to remove a war memorial in the state of California for no other reason than the fact that it is in the shape of a cross.  From the fields of Arlington Memorial Cemetery in Washington, D.C., to the beaches of Normandy, and around the world, grave yards have been graced with small crosses at the head of each tomb declaring the hope that men have in a resurrection - a resurrection found only in Christ, and made possible because of His death upon the cross.  Oh yes, "On a hill far away, Stood and old rugged cross, The emblem of suffering and shame..."  For 2,000 years the cross of Christ has cast its beacon of hope across the tumultuous seas of human misery and sin, and the message of the gospel is so closely associated with that cross that to speak of the one is to bring to mind the other.  It has been nine centuries since Abbot Rupert wrote the following tribute to the cross of Christ:

"We venerate the cross as a safeguard of faith, as the strengthening of hope and the throne of love. It is the sign of mercy, the proof of forgiveness, the vehicle of grace and the banner of peace. We venerate the cross, because it has broken down our pride, shattered our envy, redeemed our sin and atoned for our punishment.  The cross of Christ is the door to heaven, the key to paradise, the downfall of the devil, the uplifting of mankind, the consolation of our imprisonment, the  prize for our freedom. The cross was the hope of the patriarchs, the promise of the prophets, the triumph of kings and the ministry of priests. Tyrants are convicted by the cross and the mighty ones defeated, it lifts up the miserable and honors the poor. The cross is the end of darkness, the spreading of light, the flight of death, the ship of life and the kingdom of salvation" (http://www.rc.net/wcc/throne1.htm)

Dear friend, that cross, and all that it stands for demands some kind of response.  Men can ignore it, ridicule it, mock it, and seek to eliminate its presence, but in so doing they stumble over the One Who Himself said, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto myself" (John 12:32).  It has been more than twenty years since Lois Cheney wrote the following lines:

I once saw a cross so big
It was as high as the church
In front of which it stood.
It was made of railroad steel
And it was very dramatic,
And I was moved
And I was impressed
As I walked by and away from it.

I once saw a cross so lovely,
It was a work of art,
Carved and polished
It was made to look
Both strong and delicate,
And I was moved
And I was impressed
As I walked by and away from it.

There once was a cross
Not so high; not so lovely
It was not a work of art.
Rough, full of splinters
Uneven, unsymmetrical
Its simple  mystery
Unfathomable.
And I cannot walk by it
And I cannot walk away from it.




The Word of God Is Not Bound

by Tom Wacaster

Through the centuries skeptics have attempted to destroy or severely restrict the word of God. Jehoiakim took his penknife, cut the pages of God’s word, and cast them into the fire. When Antiochus Epiphanes became ruler in Syria in 175 B.C. he destroyed the temple, sold the people of Israel into slavery, and went about doing all within his power to do away with the sacred writings of the Jews. Emperor Diocletian decreed death for any person who owned a copy of the Bible. After two years he boasted that he had “completely exterminated the Christian writings from the face of the earth.” But when Constantine came to the throne and desired copies of the Bible be brought to him, within twenty-five hours fifty copies of God’s word were offered to the Emperor. Voltaire, the notorious French infidel, boasted that within one hundred years the Bible would be no more. It would not be long before the very press that printed the blasphemous prediction was used to print Bibles and the house in which he lived was later used by the Geneva Bible Society to store and distribute Bibles. Robert Ingersoll, famed American atheist of the 1800’s once held a Bible in his hand and boasted, “In fifteen years I will have this book in the morgue.” Within fifteen years Ingersoll was in the morgue, but the word of God lives on! Even today the atheist community is predicting that before this century comes to a close the Bible will be eradicated from the world.

Paul wrote these words to Timothy: “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, of the seed of David, according to my gospel: wherein I suffer hardship unto bonds, as a malefactor; but the word of God is not bound” (2 Tim. 2:8-9). Though men have for ages sought to bind the word of God, inspiration tells us that at the time of Paul the word was not bound, and history has attested to the eternal truth of those words. The simple fact is, men will never successfully bind the word of God. They may, from time to time succeed in keeping it out of the public’s sight and/or sound. But it cannot be silenced! I suggest to you the following reasons.

First, the word cannot be bound because you cannot rob it of its power. Paul declared in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” There is power in the word of God that cannot be eradicated, eliminated or expunged. The parable of the sower is recorded in Matthew 13:1-9 and Luke 8:4-8. In making application the Lord said that the “seed is the word of God” (Lk. 8:11). A seed may sit on a shelf or in a package for centuries, but once it is planted, it will produce life. It has been three decades since the Associated Press reported that some archaeologist discovered some remnants of fruits and nuts in their exploration of a Han Dynasty tomb, which dates back to the first century A.D. Seeds discovered in some of the pottery was taken and planted and it produced tomatoes. Such is the power of a seed; and such is the power of the Gospel.

Second, the word cannot be bound because you cannot restrict its preaching. In 1992 I had the opportunity to travel to the former Soviet Union. There were four Americans and one Ukrainian brother who labored for thirteen days in Barnaul. After completing that work we traveled overnight by train to Omsk. Our Ukrainian brother shared the compartment next to myself with a Russian soldier traveling to the same destination. When it came time to turn out the lights and bed down for the night’s journey to Omsk, I could hear brother Kalashnikov preaching to that soldier; I knew he was preaching to him because I could recognize certain words that are similar in both English and Russian. The next morning I asked brother Kalashnikov if he was preaching to his room mate, and he said “yes.” “Did he listen?” I asked. To which brother Kalashnikov replied, “What choice did he have?” Men may make it illegal to preach publically or at some open air meeting; but they cannot control what goes on the privacy of one’s home or with an acquaintance with whom we might have casual conversation. The word of God went forth in the first century with great success in spite of every effort on the part of Rome to stop the preaching. So it was then; so it will be in every generation.

Finally, the word cannot be bound because you cannot retard its progress. Speaking through the prophet Isaiah our Father said long ago: “For as the rain cometh down and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, and giveth seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isa. 55:11). Some years ago I came across a very interesting story. A lady of a congregation in Arkansas had sent a copy of a World Bible School lesson to a student in Africa. It was found in the roadway by another person, who then searched for the church of Christ in his village. He was baptized two days later. What makes the story amazing is the fact that the lesson was mailed seven years before it was found. Time did not retard the progress of the word, and it eventually found its way into the presence and then into heart of the precious soul who was desirous of learning the truth. The same point was illustrated in the following true story which was related to me almost forty years ago. Someone was evidently handed a tract about the Lord’s church; but he or she, for some unknown reason, threw the tract into the waste basket and it eventually ended up on the curb waiting for the garbage man to carry it away. When the garbage man picked up the container (that was in the days when such was still done manually) the tract fell out on the ground. The garbage man picked up the tract, put it in his pocket, later read it, and eventually contacted a church of Christ, leading to his obedience to the gospel. The reason I know the story was true is that it was told me by the garbage collector himself. Happenstance? Coincidence? I prefer to attribute it to divine providence. Such is the power of the progress of the Gospel.

When Paul wrote those beautiful words to Timothy he set forth an eternal truth that gives comfort and consolation to those seeking to carry the gospel to a lost and dying world. As you carry that word to others, rest assured that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

Separation

by Tom Wacaster

Ralph Nadar is credited with saying, “I don’t think meals have any business being deductible. I’m for separation of calories and corporations.”  In a humorous way Mr. Nadar captured the essence of this word “separation.”  Unfortunately, were someone to declare, “I’m separated,” most folks, were the person married, would immediately think of being separated from one’s spouse.  It may be that our culture of easy marriage and divorce has contributed to this being the most common use of the word “separated.”   

The “on line Bing dictionary” defines “separated” as:  “(1) living apart while married: no longer living together as a couple but still legally married; (2) positioned apart: moved apart so as not to be touching or connected, not together, or not in the same place; (3) divided: split into component parts.”  It is the second of these definitions that best represents the subject matter of this week’s article.   The Bible enjoins upon every child of God the sacred responsibility to “come out from among them, and be ye separate” (2 Cor. 6:17a).   That obligation is expressed in a number of ways throughout the Bible, both Old and New Testaments alike.   “Put away,” “put to death,” “repent,” and “be converted” are but a few of the expressions used by inspired writers to communicate this sacred obligation.   In addition words such as “holy,” “saint,” “sanctified” all express the state or status of being separated.   Using 1 Peter 2 as a backdrop, let me suggest to you some truths relative to our being “separated” from the world.  

First, our separation from the world is one of sacred duty.  “Put away therefore all wickedness, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speaking” (2:1).  Peter does not set forth an exhaustive list of all that is involved in our separation from the world.  In much the same way Paul lists the works of the flesh in Galatians 5:19-21.  Both of these passages are representative of those things from which we are to separate ourselves.   But in both cases, the responsibility lies with the individual.  Sin will not be eradicated by some divine infusion of strength and resistance to temptation, but by a self determination to do the will of God.  

Second, we enjoy a special status with God.  We are “newborn babes” and as such are expected to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord.  Spiritual growth is the product of time, opportunity, and effort all combined to produce the desired result.  While Peter does not address the time aspect here, the writer to the Hebrews did:  “For when by reason of the time ye ought to be teacher” (Heb. 5:12).   Moses is a good example of groth and maturity over a long span of time.  When Moses fled Egypt and came to the land of Midian you recall he encountered some ruffians at the well where the daughters of the priest of Midian had come to draw water.  After Moses drove off this gang of shepherds and watered the flocks of the women, the young women told their father that Moses was an “Egyptian” (Ex. 2:19).  But forty years later, when Moses returned to Egypt to deliver God’s people he was no longer looked upon as an Egyptian, but a Hebrew.  

Third, we feed upon spiritual milk in order to grow thereby.  That spiritual milk is “without guile” and provides the means by which we “grow thereby unto salvation.”  Paul rebuked the Corinthians for needing to be fed with “milk” and not “meat” (1 Cor. 3:1-3). Were Paul and Peter contradicting one another?  There is no disagreement between the two apostles.  One of the key words throughout the epistles of Peter is that of growth.  In the passage before us he was evidently looking at the Christian journey of his audience from the standpoint of the beginning of that journey; as babes, rather than full grown men.   Whereas Paul was looking at the church at Corinth as those acting like babes when they should have been mature.  

Fourth,  we enjoy a solid foundation.  The church was built upon the Christ, not men; a rock, not a pebble (Matt. 16:16-18).  In 1 Peter 2:4-8 we see the stone described and the stone discarded.  The description of our Rock of Ages is set forth in words that exude strength and power.  Our Lord is a “living stone,” pointing no doubt to His resurrection and reign.  But He is also “precious.”  The word “precious” translates the Greek word ‘entimos’ which means “honored” or “prized.”  Peter sets forth a contrast between what men might do with Christ, and what God has done through Him.  God contradicted man’s verdict, declared Jesus as the Christ by raising Him from the dead and exalting Him.   We sometimes say, “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.”  While the world may say there is “no beauty that we should desire him” (Isa. 53:2), our Father pronounced Him as “precious” and “chosen.”  The story is told that Michelangelo came across a discarded piece of marble. It had been ruined by some other sculptor and thrown into the scrap heap for some other use.  But Michelangelo looked it over, and saw in it his David.  He purchased it and turned it into one of his masterpieces. 

Fifth, we are a part of a spiritual house.  In fact, we are “living stones.”  Here Peter identifies the church as something other than the physical edifice which might appear on some street corner. The church is made up of the people.  As a house (2 Tim. 3:15), we are the dwelling place of God Himself, and Peter’s words suggest the wonderful fellowship we have with the Father, His Son, and the Holy Spirit. 

Sixth, we are described by special terms.  “An elect race,” “royal priesthood,” “holy nation,” and “a people for God’s own possession” all suggest distinction from the world.   In this wonderful description of God’s people we catch a glimpse of what we are (vs. 9), what we do (“show forth the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light”), and what we receive (“who in times past were no people, but now are the people of God: who had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy”).  

Separation!  We are separated from the world, separated  unto God, and we look forward to an eternal separation from the physical to the spiritual.  That, beloved, will be a wonderful day!

The Proliferation of Religion



By Tom Wacaster

When I was growing up I was blessed to sit at the feet of good and godly men who taught our Sunday morning high school class, Wednesday evening class, and an occasional but regular men’s training class.  It was during those six or seven years that I developed a desire to preach, a burning within my soul that would come to fruition immediately following my discharge from military service in 1970.   There were a half dozen young men who attended those classes at the Urbandale church of Christ in Dallas, and  each of us were blessed beyond measure from the training we received that would eventually lead to many of us being active teachers, preachers, and leaders in the Lord’s church.  While this is not the thrust of this week’s article I must pause and remind all of us that the classes at the local congregational level have a great influence upon those who sit at our feet. I doubt that those men who taught our classes at Urbandale had any idea what influence they would have on us  young boys who barely had a handle on life itself.  But I digress, and must get back to the intent of this article.  

I guess it was during those teen years that I began to grasp the magnitude of religious division, both in number and in the degrees of error embraced by the various denominations.  The number of religious divisions within so-called “Christendom” was astonishing.  The common number selected as a total of religious divisions was 250; but even then I suspected there may have been more.  Little did I imagine that within my life time that number would grow; in fact it would multiply many times over.   Investigation by the inquiring individual will reveal that the number of denominations in America now numbers into the thousands, and one figure being bandied about is in excess of 10,000.  How has this come about?   Why is it that people living in a country that has such deep roots in the Bible seem to care less about  such division?  The division in “Christendom” is bad enough.  Lets add to that the infiltration of eastern religions, pantheism, humanism, agnosticism, and dozens of other “isms,” and the religious landscape in our country is more like the idolatrous situation that existed in Athens when Paul arrived into that city than what we might think characterizes a nation that has its roots in Christianity.  Bobbly Liddell made this astute observation: 

One reason that current religions are where they are today is because many of their participants are the product of an educational system that has produced a generation (or two) of graduates who have been heavily influenced by atheistic Humanism and the false ideas of organic evolution, into thinking that there is no God and that truth is only relative, situational, and subjective...Bibles are looked upon as out of date oddities and are dusty and  hidden from view, even in the homes of religious people.  Knowledge of the Bible, that should have been learned at home, is woefully deficient, or entirely absent, and wolves in sheep’s clothing prey upon the biblically ignorant, spiritually weak, and defenseless.  We have jumped off the cultural cliff and are falling headlong into the abyss of immorality.  Yet every day the media assures us that there is a ‘new normal,’ far removed from the antiquated beliefs upon which our country was founded.  Modern America boasts of its tolerance and progressive enlightenment, yet silences God, forbidding mention of His name and His Word and public prayer to Him, and vilifies those who cry out against the sins of a country our President proclaimed is “no longer a Christian nation” (Spiritual Sword, In Times Like These, page 168). 

Some years ago I gave thought to keeping a tablet in my automobile and every time I passed one of those new independent churches that has put some attention getting name on their building, that I would add that to the list.  I never started that list and have on many occasions regretted not having done so.   A quick search on the internet lists an amazing array of churches in our city. Just to name a few of the denominations:  Anglican churches (2); Apostolic churches (7); Bible churches (18); Evangelical churches (11); Pentecostals (20); and Other churches (63).  Other names include, but are not limited to “Calvary Cathedral,” “Morningside Episcopal,” “Celebration Fellowship,” “Gospel Kingdom Church,” “Beautiful Feet Church,” “Victory Outreach,” “Harvest Assembly,” “Journey Church,” “Seeking God First Church,” “Greater Progressive Church,” “Great Prayer Tower Holiness Church,” “Love Sanctuary,” “Pilgrim Rest Church,” “John 316 Temple,” and “Denny’s Friends.”  It is enough to discourage even the most stout hearted in a search for some kind of stability and standard in matters of religion.

Most, if not all of the mainline Protestant denominations grew out of a background of deep seated belief in a particular theological system.  Though wrong in doctrine, those who came to the New World to seek freedom to practice their religious beliefs maintained a strong belief in the Bible and a sincere reverence for things spiritual in general and worship in particular.  But somewhere in the mid to late 1800’s reverence for God and a desire to pay homage to the Almighty began to give way to a self centered religion.  In the mid nineteenth century the frontier “revival” form of worship started to take on a “circus atmosphere,” and the main function of the public assembly shifted from an occasion for worshipping God to a focus on bringing in the “converts” and increasing the numbers.  John McArthur noted that these churches “were not trying to hit at the core of biblical faith; they were simply trying to make Christianity more palatable to a cynical world.”  Even the late and illustrious Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon sounded the warning of a shift away from a Biblical foundation to a “feel good” approach to religion.  His cries went unheeded.  What we are witnessing today in this mass proliferation of religions is the result of that trend which began in the late 1800’s and accelerated toward the end of the 20th century. Today identification with any particular religious body is not based so much on doctrine as it is on what that church can do for the individual.   If a church does not meet the self-centered demands of any particular member, that member simply starts another church, with a different name, and some kind of unique, catchy title, or some bizarre practice (moral or spiritual) that satisfies their immoral penchant or twisted way of thinking.  A good case in point came to my attention last week when I was directed to a web page featuring yet another church called “Beer And Hymns.”  It is a spin off of the First Christian Church in Portland, Oregon.  The author of this little tidbit of information described this new “church” thus:  “With mainline religious congregations dwindling across America, a scattering of churches is trying to attract new members by creating a different sort of Christian community. They are gathering around craft beer.  Some church groups are brewing it themselves, while others bring the Holy Mysteries to a taproom.  The result is not sloshed congregants; rather, it’s an exploratory approach to do church differently.”  The “pastor” of this church, Amy Piatt, believes that church is going to be “something different” and what it is to be “we are still finding out...But it’s lovely, God is still there, and that’s what’s most important.”  

Sensible, Bible loving seekers of truth recognize immediately that the above approach to “do church” is so far removed from the teachings of the Bible that we scratch our heads in utter astonishment.   But the “Beer and Hymns” church is a good example of how pragmatism, humanism, postmodernism, and will worship have contributed to a trend in which every man becomes a law unto himself, and the final outcome can be more proliferation of religion; all in the name of religion.  How sad!
~~~~~


Someday A Better Thanksgiving

by Tom Wacaster



It has been more than three decades since the late Adair Chapman shared the following story with his readers:  

As most families in the community were gathering around dining tables for Thanksgiving dinner, I stood with another family and a few friends who had quietly assembled in the small country cemetery to bid an earthly farewell to a young man who had  died in defense of his country.  Down the road, sounds of laughter and exchanged greetings between those who had come home for a holiday reunion seemed in cruel contrast with the suppressed sobs of the bereaved.   The simple graveside service over, we returned to the house where friends and neighbors had prepared dinner for the family. Sympathetic neighbors could provide food and speak words of comfort, but there was on thing they could not do.  They could not fill the empty chair that remained unoccupied during the meal.  As the little family ate in silence, the father turned his face and looked through the window toward the hillside where the beautiful floral arrangements would soon wilt, and slowly remarked, “Someday, there’ll be a better Thanksgiving.”

One week from tomorrow our nation will celebrate Thanksgiving Day.   It has been recorded in the pages of history, and the annals of Congress, that this nation of ours should set aside and recognize one day a year as “Thanksgiving Day.”  I cannot remember a single year that has ever  passed wherein I was denied the opportunity to observe this national holiday, and most of the time those days of celebration were spent with family.  This Thursday will be my 66th such occasion, even though the  first dozen years are not as vivid in my memory as the past dozen.  “Thanksgiving Day”!  What do those words mean to you?  What thoughts and memories do they conjure up in your mind?  To some, Thanksgiving Day is one of back-to-back football games, early morning Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade on television, the smell of turkey cooking in the oven, and left overs at days end.  To others it is nothing more than an  extended weekend, an extra day at the office, or an opportunity to spend some time in a lease waiting for  that deer to drop by your way so you can “bag” a six pointer, or tell about the one that got away.  And, sadly, to some it will be a day of ill health, loss of a loved one, or some tragedy that might strike at some unexpected moment in our life.  

Thanksgiving Day should cause us to pause and reflect on our good fortune and “every good gift and every perfect gift” that has come down to us “from the Father of lights, with whom there can be no variation, neither shadow that is cast by turning” (James 1:17). But it should also cause those who are God’s children to reflect upon that day when the “better Thanksgiving” will be bestowed upon us.   The words spoken by that bereaved father in brother Chapman’s story are the expression of those who hope in heaven, and look forward to that time when we shall be forever reunited with our spiritual family.   In that day God shall wipe away every tear from our eyes.  There will be no more death, sorrow, pain or suffering.  “Someday” we will sit down at a table so unlike the Thanksgiving Day table at which we will sit next week and join hands and give thanks to the Father in heaven.  “Someday” our thanksgiving will be expressed not just on one day, but throughout eternity as we bow at the feet of our Father.   Turkey and dressing will not fill our stomachs, but the fruit from the tree of life. 

After the celebration of Thanksgiving Day, many of us will bid farewell to our children, grandchildren, parents and in-laws who have come to enjoy the food and fellowship.  For some that farewell will be for only a few days; for others the time between visits will be months, if not years.  For some it will be the last farewell this side of eternity.  But “someday,” when the Lord comes again, “we that are alive, who are left, shall together with them be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:17). 

Wherever you happen to find yourself this year when our national Thanksgiving Day arrives, be sure to use the day for the purpose for which it was intended and give thanks to the Father Who has so richly blessed you.  And then take a few moments and remember that someday there will be a better Thanksgiving.