Sunday, December 15, 2013

Thanksgiving, Christmas—and Greed. Surprise Attack. Abraham’s Journey. Holy Days vs. Holidays. Living Beyond Today. Glenn Miller Disappears.


For "Scripture Sunday":

Thanksgiving, Christmas—and Greed


"So, I can’t help but wonder, Am I the only person struck by this? I’m talking about the paradox of this time of the year, the approximately one month from Thanksgiving to Christmas. I just find it amazing!

Here’s what I’m talking about: the fourth Thursday in November, the wonderful national holiday celebrated in the United States of America—Thanksgiving Day. What’s it all about? Gratitude, thankfulness, acknowledgement of divine blessing.

Here’s what President Abraham Lincoln, sometimes referred to as the father of the Thanksgiving holiday, proclaimed back in 1863:

“The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God. … No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.”

He then went on to “set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a Day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.” He recommended “offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings.”

Isn’t that wonderful? Gratitude. Humility. Recognition of God’s merciful blessings and favor. Never mind that for far too many Americans in the 150 years since that proclamation, Thanksgiving Day has devolved into little more than “turkey day,” or a day to watch football. At least it started out right, as a day of thanksgiving.

But then the paradox. This year it didn’t even wait till “Black Friday,” the day after Thanksgiving. For many retail establishments, it began on Thanksgiving Day itself: “Buy, buy, buy!” “Grab, grab, grab!” “Get, get, get!” Okay, so maybe it’s just because I’m a little older and bothered more by these things. Or maybe it actually is even more crass, even more aggressive this year. But this annual orgy of greed and grab seems to be more offensive and unpleasant in the year 2013 than usual.

image An example: At a Wal-Mart store in Elkin, North Carolina, fights broke out as one crazed shopper violently grabbed and shoved in a frantic consumerist push. For what? A TV set! And it didn’t even wait till the day after Thanksgiving. It was Thanksgiving night!  And this is about gratitude?

imageAnd so it goes on, just as it does every year, for one whole unpleasant month. Spend, spend and more spend. Stuff, stuff and more stuff. Grab and grab and grab—even with a little violence, if necessary. And for what? A day that supposedly commemorates the birth of the Savior of humanity, the

One who gave His life for all humankind.

Leave aside for the moment the fact that Christmas isn’t even mentioned in the Bible. Leave aside the fact that it has pre-Christian origins. Leave aside the fact that it’s really a pagan festivity, baptized under the banner of Christ.

Leave all that aside, and you’re still left with that grotesque contradiction, a month ending in a holiday that supposedly epitomizes the Christian way of life, but that really seems to culminate four weeks of greed and coveting. How sad!

Am I the only one? No, I’m really glad that I’m not. Most of my friends are aware of the non-biblical roots of Christmas, and they do their best to avoid all the commercialism and ugliness of a celebration that has become little more than one giant retail binge.

We’ve featured that information on this website before. We invite you to continue to read the material here on Life, Hope & Truth. And we invite you to consider the true way of life—one of selflessness and outgoing concern, not of grab and greed—described in the pages of your Bible.

For Life, Hope & Truth, I’m Ralph Levy."  Video and article at:

More crazy shoppers at:


Retail Workers Ask Themselves What Thanksgiving With Family Is Worth

"A manager from Office Depot, who like other workers asked that her name not be used for fear of getting in trouble with her boss, will be cutting her holiday short on Thursday. Many Office Depots will be opening on Thanksgiving this year.

"We will be open from 8 pm til 11 pm. It's only three hours but it's three hours too many… Thanksgiving is a day that should be spent at home, enjoying time off, or spending time with your loved ones. It makes me sad that retail locations value sales more than their associates these days... Why can't shopping wait till Friday? It's just one day. But in the world of retail no one thinks about families or considers the little people who have to be at work. All they care about is sales.""  More at:


Surprise Attack 

An Amazing Fact: "On December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. The number of Americans who died was 2,388, the number wounded was 1,178, and the number of ships sunk or damaged was 21.

Each year Americans commemorate Pearl Harbor Day in memory of the thousands who were injured or killed when the Japanese made their surprise attack on the American naval base in Hawaii. It was a major turning point in World War II. Though the number who remember that day becomes fewer over the years, many can still hear President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous address, in which he says December 7, 1941, will be “a date which will live in infamy.” Is it still remembered? About 4,000 people visit Pearl Harbor each day, and 1.5 million visit the USS Arizona memorial each year.

The attack lasted only 110 minutes, from 7:55 AM until 9:45 AM. Plans for the assault had been in the works for almost one year. Its code name was “Operation Hawaii” and was later changed to “Operation Z.” The Japanese chose to attack on Sunday morning because they believed the Americans would be less alert and more relaxed. When the Japanese commander Mitsuo Fuchida called out “Tora! Tora! Tora! [Tiger! Tiger! Tiger!]” when flying over Pearl Harbor, it was a message to the entire Japanese Navy that they had caught the Americans totally by surprise.

The language of Joel when describing the “Day of the Lord” sounds familiar to those who watched the attack on Pearl Harbor. It is a grim comparison. “Blow the trumpet in Zion, And sound an alarm in My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; For the day of the Lord is coming, For it is at hand: A day of darkness and gloominess, A day of clouds and thick darkness. … A people come, great and strong. … A fire devours before them, And behind them a flame burns” (Joel 2:1–3).
What a great and dreadful day that will be! For those who give their lives to Christ, however, it will not come as a surprise attack."
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. - 2 Peter 3:10


Abraham’s Journey to Canaan

Genesis 12:5  "Then Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people whom they had acquired in Haran, and they departed to go to the land of Canaan. So they came to the land of Canaan.

This verse gives us a bigger perspective of Abraham’s relocation to the land to which God was leading him. Abraham was not a lone, nomadic wanderer—but was actually a physically successful man who had attained a respectable level of wealth.

With his caravan, Abraham left Haran and headed southwest to the land of Canaan. This geographical area (presently consisting of much of the State of Israel and the Palestinian territories) was inhabited by the Canaanites, descendants of Noah’s son Ham (Genesis 9:18, 25; 10:15-19). The Canaanites were a pagan people who worshipped the false god Baal, and their religious and cultural practices would prove to be a continual problem for the descendants of Abraham.

A hint of the religious practices of the Canaanites is found in verse 6, which refers to “the terebinth tree of Moreh.” This was apparently a tree worshipped by the Canaanites and used as an oracle for guidance.

Trees were commonly used as objects of worship in ancient pagan religions. A remnant of these ancient customs remains in the modern Christmas tree tradition.

To learn more about Abraham and his life, read “The Faith of Abraham.”


Holy Days vs. Holidays

"Why aren’t most traditional religious holidays mentioned in the Bible? Paradoxically, why haven’t many heard of the holy days the Bible tells us to keep?

Christianity is based on the Bible. What does the Bible say about holidays and customs? God warned His people not to seek to learn how other nations worshipped their pagan gods: “You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way; for every abomination to the LORD which He hates they have done to their gods” (Deuteronomy 12:31).

Notice this reference that bears resemblance to the modern Christmas tree in Jeremiah 10:2-5: “Thus says the LORD: ‘Do not learn the way of the Gentiles; do not be dismayed at the signs of heaven, for the Gentiles are dismayed at them. For the customs of the peoples are futile; for one cuts a tree from the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the ax. They decorate it with silver and gold; they fasten it with nails and hammers so that it will not topple. They are upright, like a palm tree, and they cannot speak; they must be carried, because they cannot go by themselves.’”

This description of an ancient pagan worship of idols, with parallels to the modern Christmas tree custom, helps establish a critical premise from Scripture: God’s people are not to learn the ways of people who do not worship Him.

Some might respond “Yes, but that was thousands of years ago and that really doesn’t apply to New Testament Christianity, does it?” Consider what Christ said in Matthew 15:9: “And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.”"    Complete article at:


The program on WGN TV this morning:

Living Beyond Today

"The message on Beyond Today comes straight from the Bible. It can set your life on a new, better path. How will you respond?"

Transcript at:


On This Day:

Legendary bandleader Glenn Miller disappears over the English Channel, Dec 15, 1944:

"General James Doolittle of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF), hero of the daring "Doolittle Raid" on mainland Japan and later the unified commander of Allied air forces in Europe in World War II, offered the following high praise to one of his staff officers in 1944: "Next to a letter from home, Captain Miller, your organization is the greatest morale builder in the European Theater of Operations."

image The Captain Miller in question was the trombonist and bandleader Glenn Miller, the biggest star on the American pop-music scene in the years immediately preceding World War II and a man who set aside his brilliant career right at its peak in 1942 to serve his country as leader of the USAAF dance band. It was in that capacity that Captain Glenn Miller boarded a single-engine aircraft at an airfield outside of London on December 15, 1944—an aircraft that would go missing over the English Channel en route to France for a congratulatory performance for American troops that had recently helped to liberate Paris.

It would be difficult to overstate the magnitude of Glenn Miller's success in the years immediately proceeding America's entry into World War II. Though he was a relatively unspectacular instrumentalist himself—he'd played the trombone in various prominent orchestras but never distinguished himself as a performer—Miller the bandleader came to dominate the latter portion of the swing era on the strength of his disciplined arrangements and an innovation in orchestration that put the high-pitched clarinet on the melody line doubled by the saxophone section an octave below. This trademark sound helped the Glenn Miller Orchestra earn an unprecedented string of popular hits from 1939 to 1942, including the iconic versions of numbers like "In The Mood" (1939), "Tuxedo Junction" (1939) and "Chattanooga Choo Choo" (1941), as well as Miller's self-penned signature tune, "Moonlight Serenade" (1939).

The Glenn Miller Orchestra played its last-ever concert under Miller's direction on September 27, 1942, in Passaic, New Jersey, and shortly thereafter, Miller entered the Army. After nearly two years spent stateside broadcasting a weekly radio program called I Sustain The Wings out of New York City, Miller formed a new 50-piece USAAF dance band and departed for England in the summer of 1944, giving hundreds of performances to Allied troops over the next six months before embarking on his fateful trip to France on this day in 1944.

The wreckage of Miller's plane was never found. His official military status remains Missing in Action."



It was so cold outside that I wanted to get my hair washed and really dry, way before time to leave for church.  So I started getting ready early.  Usually, it doesn't matter, but we haven't had a long cold spell like this for years, especially this early in winter. 

Jay was going to church with me, and we loaded up some grub to take for the potluck.  When we got there, we plugged in the crock pot to let the chicken, veggies, and dumplings heat up during the service.

The Bible reading was the continuation of reading in Genesis, so it was from chapter 29:10 to chapter 32:1 about Jacob serving Laban for the hand of Rachel.  Laban deceived him and Jacob was married to Leah, Rachel's older sister.  Jacob had to serve Laban for another seven years to be married to Rachel.  Then it tells of the story of Jacob's flight with his wives, children, and the ring-streaked and speckled cattle, and dark colored sheep.  The other Bible reading was from Hosea 12:13-14:9 about Ephraim being rebuked for falsehood, and it also mentions Jacob's flight.

The song service was great, with Jeff on the steel guitar and Mary on her acoustic one.  The talk was about God's Beautiful Laws, with reference to several Psalms, and other Old and New Testament verses.  For once, Jay didn't fall asleep during the sermon. 

The dining hall is in a separate building, and we could tell that the temperature had dropped even more, as we walked over there.  There were lots of tasty dishes and we all had a great feast and fellowship during the potluck.  Jay said that he was so glad that he had gone to church yesterday.

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