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Thanksgiving: A Time to Reflect on a Godly Heritage

The History

On the 22nd of this month we will celebrate Thanksgiving, a holiday that began in 1621 with a meal shared between the Native Americans of New England and the Pilgrims who had come to start a colony in the New World. The Pilgrims were looking to escape religious persecution in England and were having a rough time getting settled. While the first Thanksgiving celebration was based on the generosity of the friendly tribes assisting the Pilgrims, it was actually an event that helped to solidify a treaty between the local tribes and the Pilgrims.

The Pilgrims, who held to Puritan theology and who had a high view of Jesus Christ in salvation, later became the dominant group in the New England area and later established schools for learning that later became a major part of the Ivy League universities. The Great Awakening that took place in the 1740s laid a foundation for the American Revolution as people came to understand the concept of God-given freedom and how Christ brings freedom and liberty.

What About You?

As we celebrate Thanksgiving this year, I challenge each one of you to look at your life and your family and think long and hard about the heritage you are leaving your children. A childhood friend of mine recently posted on his Facebook page about leaving a godly heritage for our children and grandchildren. He asked, “If your kids take their children back to the church where they grew up, what will they say to those kids? What kind of memories will they have to tell them? Will they be able to tell them that Grandma and Grandpa were very active, encouraging to others, welcoming to those who came in off the streets needing salvation, worshipped with true, from-the-heart authenticity?” These are great questions. How would you answer? Are you faithful to attend weekly worship with your family? Do you set an example for your children in serving Christ in weekly worship? Do you have a take it or leave it attitude about worship? Can your children talk you out of attending weekly worship because they merely do not want to come? Are you content to let others serve simply because you are too “busy?” Do you minister to the needs of your neighbors and co-workers? Is there enough evidence in your daily life to convict you of being a Christian?

My Story

I am thankful for my Christian heritage. My father and mother have been faithful to the same church for 44 years. My dad leads the musical worship and serves as Sunday School Superintendent. My mother has been faithful to help clean the church, teach children, and to work with the ladies ministry. She and my father are faithful to call and check on those who are sick and absent. My grandmother, my father’s mother, was a faithful member of the same church. When she had seasons of sickness, she was always concerned about making sure that we delivered her tithe check each Sunday she could not attend. I would visit often with my grandmother because she lived across the street from me. During hot summer afternoons sitting in front of her window fan she would tell me about her brother Doc and how he read the entire book of John the night he surrendered his life to Jesus. She told me about the old brush arbor worship services that she and my grandfather attended in the early days of the holiness movement that came to that part of the country. She told me about their home on the Tombigbee river in Southwest Alabama and how the early holiness preachers would swim the river and spend the night with them in their home.

In weekly worship Grandma sat on the third row on the right side of the congregation. One evening during my senior year of high school I was at the back of the church after the benedictory prayer had been offered at the end of a revival meeting. People were visiting with each other and leaving the building. Our church pianist poked me and said, “Your grandma is getting blessed.” I said, “What’s happening?” I turned to look, and she was still in the third row with her hands raised to heaven, tears streaming down her face, caught up in the glorious presence of Christ. A few years later the vile illness of leukemia entered her body and greatly weakened her. While she was in the hospital people would come to visit her and would end the visit with prayer. She was an old-fashioned Pentecostal who would pray out loud with those who offered up prayer for her. Her enthusiastic spirit while suffering under this disease was an inspiration to many.

Steady and Consistent

It is my prayer that I will leave such a legacy for my children. Too many of us are looking to do something extraordinary and impressive, and when we fail at that we give up and do little or nothing for the Lord. The greatest thing we can do is to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands. (1 Thessalonians 4:11, ESV). We should also heed the following admonition. We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done. (Psalm 78:4, ESV). Lastly, the righteous who walks in his integrity—blessed are his children after him! (Proverbs 20:7, ESV) What kind of heritage are you leaving to the following generation? The future of your family, your church, and your nation is at stake!

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