Did You Know?

Eighteen men and no women have been

executed in the United States in 2018.

Holidays

Labor Day in the United States is a federal holiday celebrating the contributions the workers of the nation have made to making the United States the bountiful country it is.  Labor Day was made a national holiday under the administration of President Grover Cleveland, with the first national holiday being celebrated in 1894.  Labor Day is celebrated annually on the first Monday in September.  

 

For a relatively brief period of my childhood, my father belonged to a labor union.  As a child, Labor Day meant parades and picnics that provided unlimited amounts of the foods we cherish during the summer: grilled hotdogs, hamburgers, potato chips, potato salad, coleslaw, and, of course, ice cream.  As the day moved to evening - September is just 60-plus short days from federal, state and local elections - the politicians began arriving.  As the politicians started explaining why they should keep their elected offices, or be allowed to take another person’s office, the stark reality set in: fall was rapidly approaching, family barbecues were taking a sabbatical, school would start the following day, and the warmth cherished was yielding to the colors of fall and the hibernation that winter brings.  

 

The Bible teaches us to cherish the events of childhood, while instructing us to embrace the responsibilities of being an adult, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.  When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.”  (1 Corinthians 13:11, ESV)

 

As I matured, the importance of the Labor Day holiday began to change for me.  I learned that the labor movement in the United States began by seeking a uniform 8 hour work day.  Work 8 hours, recreate 8 hours, and rest 8 hours.  The labor movement sought safe working conditions and fair pay for the labor pool in the UnitedStates.  My view of labor never grew to exclude management, as the Labor Day picnic oratory would inevitably drift.  “Them against us” attitudes never seemed productive to me.  My Christian values superseded that way of thinking.  Whether labor or management, all should be guided by this simple Biblical principle: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.  You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24, ESV)

 

As a not so young man reflecting on the Labor Day holiday celebrations I have been privy to, I find the most important ingredient to productive labor force is recognizing Jesus Christ, which was missing in all Labor Day celebrations I attended.  Christianity is not a narrow philosophical concept, it encompasses all things and dictates all relationships.  It requires an examination of relationships based on caring for all mankind through a relationship with Jesus Christ.  That relationship, if genuine and not merely lip service, will produce a work force that will do its best work and an employer who will provide meaningful employment.  Are you thankful? “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Colossians 3:17, ESV)

 

No one can honestly not be impressed with the network of sanitation, transportation, education, health, food, and on and on and on that the American laborer has provided this country through their creativity, sweat, diligence, and unwavering desire to provide a wonderful life for themselves and all who call the United States of America home.  We thank the Lord for all those He provided to build the highways and byways, keep our country clean and healthy from the bazillion tons of trash we generate every year, those who farm to produce food for our city folk, for the doctors who treat the sick, to the lawyers who protect individual freedom, to the researchers who are diligently seeking a cure or a better way, to ——- the list is endless.  Like Charlie Cruise* would say, “It’s all connected.”  We truly are - for the betterment of our country.

  

All of us at The Forgiveness Foundation Christian Ministries wish you and yours a blessed Labor Day holiday and encourage you to invite Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of your life.  We also want to thank all of you for providing this nation, The United States of America, with an incredible standard of living - through Jesus Christ.  We encourage you to take a few minutes on September 4, 2016, to thank the Lord for the men and women whom He provides to do the labor that makes our county a wonderful place to live.  Pray for all American’s who are looking for work - that work will be provided.  As you pray remember the benefits from and blessings of labor that comes from Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

*A character from the television show Life

  

Regard (treat with honor, due obedience, and courtesy) your father and mother, that your days may be long in the land the Lord your God gives you.  (Exodus 20:12, AMP)

 

Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God commanded you, that your days may be prolonged and that it may go well with you in the land which the Lord your God gives you.  (Deuteronomy 5:16, AMP)

 

On Sunday, May 13, 2017, we celebrate Mother’s Day.  It is a day set aside to honor the mothers of the world and all that they do for their children.  It is a day to give back to them.  As Christians, we are commanded to honor, to respect our parents, always!  We should do this everyday, however there is nothing wrong with showering mothers with extra attention on their special day!  Twice in the Books of Law, Moses reminds the Israelites of the importance of honoring their parents!  Obviously, this was an important action before the Lord!

 

The commandment to honor our parents was not forgotten outside of the Law.  There are numerous references scattered throughout the Old and New Testament to showing respect towards one parents.  What better example than Jesus Chirst’s own words?

 

For God commanded, Honor your father and your mother, and, He who curses or reviles or speaks evil of or abuses or treats improperly his father or mother, let him surely come to his end by death.  But you say, If anyone tells his father or mother, What you would have gained from me [that is, the money and whatever I have that might be used for helping you] is already dedicated as a gift to God, then he is exempt and no longer under obligation to honor and help his father or his mother.  So for the sake of your tradition (the rules handed down by your forefathers), you have set aside the Word of God [depriving it of force and authority and making it of no effect].  (Matthew 15:4-6, AMP)

 

In this passage, Jesus was calling out the Pharisees for their hypocrisy.  The Pharisees held the Jews accountable for following the Law, which included honoring one’s parents.  Children, specifically the first son, was to provide for his mother, should her husband die.  It was part of obeying the law.  Yet the Pharisees approved of men taking the money which would have been used to provide for their mothers and instead giving it to God, through the Temple, through the Pharisees.  Which action is more honorable to the Lord?  Jesus clearly tells us.  He also shows us.

 

But by the cross of Jesus stood His mother, His mother’s sister, Mary the [wife] of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.  So Jesus, seeing His mother there, and the disciple whom He loved standing near, said to His mother, [Dear] woman, See, [here is] your son!  Then He said to the disciple, See, [here is] your mother! And from that hour, the disciple took her into his own [keeping, own home].  (John 19:25-27, AMP)

 

Jesus was doing the Lord’s work; dying on the cross for our salvation.  The pain He was in is something we cannot imagine.  Yet, in the midst of His pain and suffering, He continued to honor His Father, by caring for His mother.  Jesus was Mary’s first Son.  It was His responsibility to care for her (many scholars believe that by this time Joseph had died, as he is not mentioned).  Jesus knew that He would no longer be able to care for Mary on Earth, so he passed on the responsibility to a trusted disciple.  What an example Jesus set!  

  

Although the holiday of Mother’s Day may be recent, the idea behind it, honoring your mother, is far from new.  This Mother’s Day take time out to honor and celebrate your mother and all that she has done for you.  But do not let it end there!  Continue to honor her everyday! 

Celebrating Thanksgiving Around the World

 

Although traditionally associated with the United States of America, we are not the only nation to celebrate Thanksgiving.  Nations throughout the world also celebrate a day called Thanksgiving, often in their own way.

 

Canada celebrates Thanksgiving every year on the second Monday of October.  The first Canadian Thanksgiving celebration is believed to have occurred in present-day Newfoundland in 1578, 43 years before American started celebrating!  Like America, it began as a day to give thanks and celebrate a successful harvest.  You would probably recognize many of the dishes served, including pumpkin pie, sweet potatoes, and stuffing!  During the American Revolution, many of those loyal to England moved to Canada, taking with them many of the American traditions.  Unlike America, where it is a public holiday in all 50 states, Thanksgiving remains optional in several of Canada’s Atlantic provinces.

 

Grenada celebrates Thanksgiving every year on October 25.  Grenada’s celebration, however, bears no resemblance to that of the United States or Canada.  On October 25, this Caribbean nation celebrates the anniversary of the US led invasion of the island in 1983, following the murder of the Prime Minister Maurice Bishop.  The US led invasion overthrow the party responsible for Maurice’s murder.  Thanksgiving Day is considered a public holiday in Grenada, meaning banks and most business are closed.

 

Liberia celebrates Thanksgiving every year on the first Thursday of November.  Like Canada, the tradition came from the United States.  The nation of Liberia began in 1820, when freed black slaves returned to Africa, bringing with them the tradition of Thanksgiving.  Many of the foods, such as turkeys and pumpkins, have been replaced with local food items such as roast chicken and mashed cassavas, and are often served quite spicy.

 

The Netherlands remember those who came to Plymouth Plantation via the city of Leiden, where many births, marriages, and deaths were recording at the Pieterskerk (St. Peter’s church).  In commemoration, a non-denominational Thanksgiving Day service is held every year Pieterskerk on the morning of Thanksgiving Day in the United States.

 

Norfolk Island, an Australian territory, celebrates Thanksgiving on the last Wednesday of November every year.  The holiday was introduced to the island by visiting American whaling ships.  Prior to World War II, the United States used to celebrate Thanksgiving on the last Thursday of month, likely how Norfolk Island came to celebrate on the last Wednesday of the month.

 

Germany celebrates Erntedankfest, the Harvest Thanksgiving Festival, in early October every year.  The holiday has a significant religious component to it and is similar to the United States in that the celebration includes large harvest dinners and parades.  Oktoberfest, the Bavarian beer festival often coincides with Erntedankfest.

 

Japan celebrates 勤労感謝の日 (Labor Thanksgiving) every year on November 23.  The national holiday developed during the American occupation following World War II.  The holiday celebrates labor and production and giving one another thanks.  The Japanese celebration is also related to an ancient harvest ceremony.

 

Puerto Rico, a territory of the United States, celebrates Thanksgiving on the same day as the rest of the United States, every year on the fourth Thursday of November.  Similar to Liberia, Puerto Ricans have substituted traditional American food for native, local food including tastiness (fried plantains), turkey stuffed with mofongo, slow-roasted pavochon, roast pork and rice and beans, and, for dessert, tembleque (a cinnamon-coated coconut custard).

  

Britain, and numerous other nations, do not celebrate Thanksgiving, however they celebrate Harvest Festivals.  These festivals can occur at any time throughout the year, in accordance with the nation’s differing climates and crops.  In earlier times, farmers would often, at the end of the harvest season, enjoy a harvest supper and invite all those who had participated in the harvesting of crops to partake in the meal.  Often the celebration would include games.

How do you show love?

 

Valentine’s Day is often considered a secular holiday, although it is named after St. Valentine.  His story, however, is anything but romantic.  Little is known about his life, but it is commonly accepted that he was arrested for defying Roman laws and aiding Christians in many ways, including secretly marrying Christian couples.  He is thought to have been brutally executed by Roman Emperor Claudius Gothicus (Claudius II) on February 14, sometime during the third-century, after he refused to denounce his faith in the Lord.

 

On the day named after him, many people could not tell you who St. Valentine is or what he did.  In a day that is about celebrating love, many will show their love in shallow ways - through gifts and fancy dinners.  They fail to remember that love is easy to show when times are well.  Real love, unwavering love is shown during difficult times.  It is shown through sacrifice and the willingness to experience sacrifice because of that love.  It is the love St. Valentine had for his Lord.  It is the love our Lord has for His children.

 

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  (John 3:16, ESV)

 

No greater love has been shown throughout history than the love that God has shown for His children.  Throughout the Old Testament, God repeatedly showed His love by sparing the Israelites, forgiving them for wandering from Him, and giving them another chance (and another and another and another…).  In the New Testament, God showed His love in an entirely new way - He sent us His Son, His only Son, Jesus Christ, to earth, as a man, to die for us.

 

Who are you willing to die for?  Why would you be willing to die for them?  God’s love for us was so powerful that He was willing to sacrifice His Son, in order for us to, once again, be able to walk side by side with Him.  God’s love has been a constant throughout history; and will remain a constant in the future.  For He has promised, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  (Hebrews 13:5, ESV)

 

Valentine’s Day is just that, a single day.  But God shows His love to us everyday!  Our very salvation came through love!  As Christians, we are to emulate His example and show our love everyday!  In order to show that love, we must understand what love is.

 

Love endures with patience and serenity, love is kind and thoughtful, and is not jealous or envious; love does not brag and is not proud or arrogant.  It is not rude; it is not self-seeking, it is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; it does not take into account a wrong endured.  It does not rejoice at injustice, but rejoices with the truth [when right and truth prevail].  Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening].  Love never fails [it never fades nor ends]… And now there remain: faith [abiding trust in God and His promises], hope [confident expectation of eternal salvation], love [unselfish love for others growing out of God’s love for me], these three [the choicest graces]; but the greatest of these is love.(1 Corinthians 3:4-8a, 13, AMP)

 

The Apostle Paul beautifully describes love.  His description comes from his life experience; his personal experience of receiving God’s love.  It can be easy to forget that this man began his life by persecuting Christians - by advocating for their deaths!  Until the day he met Jesus on the road to Damascus.  Paul experienced the perfect, wholesome, unconditional love of God.  Through God’s love, Paul’s life was completely changed, becoming a leading figure in the early church, and writing the message we are studying today!

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