In defense of Thanksgiving, here and abroad 

Commentary: In defense of Thanksgiving, here and abroad

Dixie Johnson Nov 1, 2022

Thanksgiving. Ah, Thanksgiving. That most American of holidays begun by the Puritans and their friends so many years ago and officially sanctioned by President Lincoln. It’s my favorite family holiday, so it was an especially hard time when I was living in a foreign country.

A friend who spent some years on a boat in Mexico ridiculed Americans who wanted to indulge in the traditional foods for the holiday when they could be eating wonderful Mexican food instead. Heck, they could have Mexican food every day so why was it so hard to understand why some of us wanted to enjoy the traditional menu on this special day?

The years I lived in Czech Republic and in Slovenia I had to try very, very hard to make the holiday live up to my fond expectation. Back in the mid-1990s, I taught in a Czech Gymnasia, a high school for bright students headed for universities, and I lived with a young Czech family. When the big day was approaching, I asked where I might buy a turkey. No luck, none were to be found; but I did learn that I could find frozen chickens in the small chest freezer at the nearby “potravinie” (grocery store). So off I went to choose a bird. I found one that looked fairly good-sized and set it out to thaw the night before our big dinner.

Horrors! After it thawed I could see that it was peppered everywhere with tiny pinfeathers.

“No problem,” said Ivan, the young husband, who was eagerly awaiting the fabulous feast I had promised. “I will pull them out with pliers.”

So he set to work and before long it looked more edible.

Then more horrors — the innards were not empty of innards. Martina, the young wife burst into raucous laughter.

“You bought a hen, not a chicken,” she, who was a medical student, said. “But no problem.”

She went to work removing with great curiosity and interest one egg after another after another after … well, you get the idea. Each succeeding egg was slightly smaller than the one before. That prolific hen contained a wealth of eggs.

At last, the oven was heated and the bird was ready. It roasted and roasted and roasted, yet it was tough as ever. Finally, Martina’s mother came up from her apartment downstairs and told us she knew what to do. She chopped bacon into slivers then cut small slits in the chicken and inserted the bacon bits. Back into the oven it went to roast some more. Before long it smelled delightful. It finally ended up slightly more tender, but nothing like what I expected. That was the day I learned the difference between a chicken and a hen.

Fortunately, the apple pie I made was delicious — the cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves I had brought from America made it special. Everyone wanted the recipe and, because some spices weren’t readily available in Czech Republic, I left mine for the family when I returned to the U.S.

A couple of years later, when I was teaching in Slovenia, I decided to fix Thanksgiving dinner and invite three other Americans who lived in various parts of the tiny country.

A week before the celebration, I stopped at a small market that had a nice meat counter to order a turkey. With my limited Slovene, I managed to arrange with the butcher for a small turkey of about three or four kilos. I was to pick it up on Friday, the day before my friends were arriving. My husband had sent from Idaho two boxes of Stove Top stuffing mix as well as a couple of packages of Craisins. What could be better than turkey, stuffing and cranberries? Apple and cherry pies would have to substitute for the pumpkin and mincemeat varieties. On Monday, I stopped to confirm that all was well and my turkey would be there by Friday.

“No problem,” the butcher said with a big smile, proud of his English.

Friday arrived. I stopped at the market after school on my way home. It was closed! And the sign on the door said it would be closed for several days. What? Panic!

Time for Plan B, but what was Plan B? I knew I’d not be able to find a turkey but maybe a chicken? I stopped at another market a mile or so away where, thank goodness, they had a large chunk of turkey breast. And I bought the whole thing.

“Do you want it sliced?” asked the butcher.

“No thank you,” I replied.

This surprised him since Slovenes generally purchase turkey in thin slices and fry it up as schnitzels.

It all turned out fine. I braised extra onions and celery to add to the stuffing mix and of course potatoes and gravy work great in any culture.

For breakfast the next morning, I devised maple syrup for our French toast out of sugar and water cooked up with a spoonful of maple flavoring (again brought from Idaho). Ah, all’s well when the tummy is full of good old traditional fare.

By the way, why was that first market closed? I stopped the next time it was open and the butcher apologized profusely. The market had been sold to a new owner and was closed for inventory. I never knew if my original turkey was there or not, but my friends and I never missed it.

Dixie Johnson, 79, of Grangeville, worked in three different European countries — Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovenia — in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Source: Commentary: In defense of Thanksgiving, here and abroad | Golden Times |




In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Overcoming Guilt

Are you burdened by your past? By pouring out your heart to God, you can find peace and freedom.

1 John 2:12-14

When we come to Christ in repentance and faith, all our sins are forgiven. They will never be held against us because Jesus took our sin and guilt to the cross and bore the penalty of God’s wrath on our behalf. When we’re quick to confess and repent of our sins, there’s no reason to hold onto guilt or live in shame. Yet sometimes we’re bound by self-reproach long after the feeling should have been resolved. 

Satan always looks for opportunities to accuse us. Sometimes his accusations are about transgressions we’ve already confessed. In such cases, God has fully forgiven us. But we must also forgive ourselves—otherwise we remain vulnerable to the torment of guilt as well as to Satan’s condemnation. 

So how can we tell where a feeling of guilt comes from?  God-given conviction focuses on a specific sinful action or attitude, whereas the enemy’s accusations are usually generalized and directed at us and our worth. Remember, his purpose is to degrade us so we’ll live in shame and uncertainty about God’s love.

Whether your sense of remorse is true or false, it needs to be dealt with quickly—the feeling won’t just go away. So stop running, and face the source of your guilt. It’s time to end your captivity and start walking in the joy of God’s forgiveness. 

Bible in One Year: Acts 21-22

Our Daily Bread — Thoughts and Prayers

Bible in a Year:

Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.

Acts 12:5

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Acts 12:4–11

“You’ll be in my thoughts and prayers.” If you hear those words, you might wonder if the person really means it. But you never had to wonder when Edna Davis said them. Everyone in the small, one stoplight town knew of “Ms. Edna’s” yellow legal pad—page after page, lined with name after name. Early each morning the aging woman prayed out loud to God. Not everyone on her list received the answer to prayer they wanted, but several testified at her funeral that something God-sized had happened in their lives, and they credited it to the earnest prayers of Ms. Edna.

God demonstrated the power of prayer in Peter’s prison experience. After the apostle was seized by Herod’s men, thrown into prison, and then “guarded by four squads of four soldiers each” (Acts 12:4), his prospects looked bleak. But “the church was earnestly praying to God for him” (v. 5). They had Peter in their thoughts and prayers. What God did is simply miraculous! An angel appeared to Peter in prison, released him from his chains, and led him to safety beyond the prison gates (vv. 7–10).

It’s possible some may use “thoughts and prayers” without really meaning it. But our Father knows our thoughts, listens to our prayers, and acts on our behalf according to His perfect will. To be prayed for and to pray for others is no small thing when we serve the great and powerful God.

By:  John Blase

Reflect & Pray

When was the last time you knew someone remembered you and prayed earnestly for you? Who is someone you can pray that way for today?

Jesus, thank You that I can bring every care to You and that You listen.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – The Words of a Fool

“The tongue of the righteous is as choice silver, the heart of the wicked is worth little” (Proverbs 10:20).

A fool desires to share his folly with others.

Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Wisdom, as defined in the Book of Proverbs, is living by divine standards, which implies accepting divine truth. But a fool rejects that. First Corinthians 2:14 says that “a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him.” To a fool, foolishness is wisdom and wisdom is foolishness.
That a fool rejects God’s wisdom is evident by the way he speaks. Proverbs 15:2 says, “The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable, but the mouth of fools spouts folly.” In other words, a fool is quick to air his opinions. Just as a bitter fountain produces bitter water, and a rotten tree produces rotten fruit, so also a fool produces foolishness—speaking on his own authority and generating his own opinions. The world is full of the opinions of fools—fools who have denied God in their living, who have become their own gods, and who mock the reality and consequences of sin.

A fool not only is quick to air his opinions but also propagates his foolishness to others. Proverbs 16:22 says that the instruction of fools is folly. The fool contaminates the rest of society with the same foolishness that damns his own soul. He leaves it as a legacy to his children, his friends, and all those who fall under the influence of his folly.

In contrast to fools, you as a believer are blessed to have the Spirit of wisdom indwelling you and illuminating your understanding of His Word. Your words to others are based on the wisdom of Scripture, not empty speculation. By bringing His Word to mind in every circumstance, you can speak words that are “like apples of gold in settings of silver” (Prov. 25:11).

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God for teaching us how we should speak—and not speak—through His Word.

For Further Study

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur

Joyce Meyer – Be Willing to Face Your Faults

Lord my God, if I have done this and there is guilt on my hands—if I have repaid my ally with evil or without cause have robbed my foe— then let my enemy pursue and overtake me; let him trample my life to the ground and make me sleep in the dust.

— Psalm 7:3-5 (NIV)

In today’s scriptures, David is being pursued by his enemies, and he boldly prays that if he has mistreated anyone, he would be justly punished and that his enemies would indeed overtake him. David is not afraid to face truth, for it is only truth that makes us free (see John 8:32). David had not mistreated his allies, but I love the fact that he was willing to face it if he had.

In this same psalm, David also asks God to arise in His anger and rise up against the rage of his enemies and decree justice for him (see v. 6). Then he boldly says, Vindicate me, Lord, according to my righteousness, according to my integrity, O Most High (v. 8). Some people could consider his reminding the Lord that he is righteous and a man of integrity to be prideful, but I believe David speaks this way because of his great confidence in God.

He was willing to be corrected if he had done wrong, and this gave him faith to claim God’s promises of deliverance from his enemies.

Prayer of the Day: Father, thank You that I can depend on You to correct me when I need it, but also to help me when I am in trouble.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – The Heart of the Matter

Just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

Hebrews 9:27-28

The ultimate statistic is that one out of one will die. Death is the only certainty of life. As Christians, while we may fear the event, we need not fear the outcome.

We need not fear for this reason: Jesus did not come merely to add to the sum total of our happiness or to offer us a leg up in life or worldly riches, but to save sinners and to rescue us from judgment.

The Bible teaches that God’s judgment and eternal punishment will fall on those whose names are not included in the Book of Life (Revelation 20:11-15). How, then, can we be sure that our names will be found in its pages? There is only one way: by believing in the Lord Jesus. We must look to Christ, who will freely pardon and justify those who come to Him in repentance and faith. And to come to Jesus is about more than mere intellectual assent, necessary though that is. It is not enough to be cerebrally tuned in to Christian doctrine. We must recognize our failure to treat God properly. We have denied and defied Him. We must surrender our lives to His loving authority and rely entirely on what Christ accomplished on the cross that we might find acceptance before God.

The heart of the matter is not whether we believe certain facts about Jesus or the Bible, or whether we’ve cleaned up our lifestyle. The question is, have we ever gotten so spiritually thirsty that we have said, “Lord Jesus Christ, give me Your living water so I may thirst no more”?

But what if Jesus turns us away? What if we’re not supposed to be in the Book of Life? Jesus addressed this fear Himself with a promise, saying, “Whoever comes to me I will never cast out” (John 6:37).

Do you realize the kindness of God’s invitation to you? Have you heard God’s call to take refuge in Jesus? Do you hear it afresh each day and take refuge in the shadow of His wings (Psalm 57:1)? May we say with the hymn writer:

I came to Jesus as I was,
Weary and worn and sad;
I found in Him a resting place,
And He has made me glad.[1]

For if we have taken refuge in the Son, we can know with certainty that He has borne our sins in His own death, and that when He returns, we will face not a fearful condemnation but a glorious welcome. And then we can hear the truth that “it is appointed for man to die” and find our hearts still at rest.


Psalm 49

Topics: Assurance of Salvation Faith Fear


1 Horatius Bonar, “I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say” (1846).

Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotional by Alistair Begg,

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – Don’t Get Lost!

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Have you ever been lost? Danny was only eight years old when he and his brother Steve got lost one day during their walk home from school. Instead of walking down the streets they knew well, they decided they wanted to follow a creek for a while, thinking it would take them toward home. But it didn’t. Instead, the creek went another direction. When Danny and Steve realized they were lost, they got a little scared. Finally, a man came by, and they asked him if he knew where their home’s street was, and he told them. When they followed his guidance, they were able to find their way back to familiar territory, and back home!

What Danny and Steve did is exactly what Proverbs 3:5 tells us not to do. They leaned on their own understanding. They thought they knew what they were doing, but they didn’t. This is how many people behave for most of their lives. They think they know what they are doing on their own. Instead of getting their guidance from the Lord, they go their own directions, doing things their own ways. And something always goes wrong – every time!

Why is that we always get confused or “lost” when we lean on our own understanding? It is because no one has the ability in himself to go the right direction, to do the right thing, on his own. The prophet Jeremiah admitted this fact to God when he said, “O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” (See Jeremiah 10:23.)

So, how can we ever be sure we are going in the right direction? How can we ever be sure we are doing the right things? If it is really true that we don’t have the ability in ourselves to go the right way or to do the right thing – then how can we get it? We must trust, honor, and obey the Lord. If we do, He will make sure we go the right direction and do the right thing. That is the promise of Proverbs 3:6. The Lord tells us all we need to know. He is the Giver of all the guidance and counsel we could ever need.

We do not have to plan our own paths – all we have to do is trust the Lord’s plans and obey what He commands. If we will honor Him in our decisions, rather than thinking we can make it without Him, then we will find He is worthy of our trust. Leaning on God, we can never get lost. The Lord’s guidance will always take us the right direction. It will always take us closer to “home” – always closer to Him.

God is the perfect Guide and Counselor, worthy of our wholehearted trust, honor, and obedience.

My Response:
» Am I acknowledging (honoring) God in all my ways, or am I mostly concerned about my own opinions and wishes?
» Does God know what He’s doing and what He’s going to do in my life better than I could ever know?
» How can I change my thinking and actions to show that I am trusting in, honoring, and obeying a perfect Guide and Counselor?

Denison Forum – Does the so-called “Respect For Marriage Act” threaten our religious liberty?

Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22).

The Senate voted this week to advance the so-called “Respect for Marriage Act” (RFMA). The legislation would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defined marriage for federal purposes as the union of one man and one woman. DOMA was adopted overwhelmingly by Congress in 1996 and signed into law by President Clinton.

The RFMA does just the opposite, requiring the federal government to recognize the validity of same-sex marriages in the United States. In essence, it makes the 2015 Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges into federal law.

In this sense, the RFMA changes nothing about the status of same-sex marriage in America. However, the legislation is raising enormous questions about First Amendment protections for those who support traditional marriage on religious grounds.

“Explicitly declaring the Bible is wrong”

On Monday, a bipartisan group of senators announced that they had crafted “commonsense language to confirm that this legislation fully respects and protects Americans’ religious liberties and diverse beliefs, while leaving intact the core mission of the legislation to protect marriage equality.” According to CBS News, the amendment “ensures nonprofit religious organizations will not be required to provide services, facilities, or goods for the celebration of a same-sex marriage, and protects religious liberty and conscience protections available under the Constitution and federal law, including the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”

In addition, it makes clear that the bill does not authorize the federal government to recognize polygamous marriage.

However, US Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) opposed the legislation and warned that it threatens religious liberty: “This legislation would enable activists to sue faith-based groups that provide vital services for our communities in an attempt to force them to abandon their deeply held beliefs about marriage, or close their doors.” He added, “The Respect for Marriage Act does not provide any meaningful benefit to same-sex marriages that does not already exist. It does significantly threaten religious liberty.”

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, chairman of the Catholic bishops’ Committee for Religious Liberty, likewise warned, “The bill will be a new arrow in the quiver of those who wish to deny religious organizations’ liberty to freely exercise their religious duties, strip them of their tax exemptions, or exclude them from full participation in the public arena.”

Matt Sharp, senior counsel with the Alliance Defending Freedom, also warned that the legislation could open Christians up to lawsuits at the federal level, noting that believers running businesses and charitable organizations could be at risk. He also questioned whether some Christian nonprofits could find their tax-exempt status in peril.

Rabbi Yaakov Menken, the founder of Project Genesis and the managing director of the Coalition for Jewish Values, said in a Tuesday interview that the RFMA is the federal government “explicitly declaring the Bible is wrong.” He noted that it allows “any private actor to initiate a lawsuit if a religious school wishes to recognize only traditional marriages.” In his view, the act “means exposing our community to a host of bad actors willing to engage in litigation.”

In a day when six in ten Americans say the legalization of same-sex marriage is good for society, we should not be surprised that Congress would follow suit. And we should not be surprised when those who defend traditional marriage must pay a price for our biblical convictions.

“In the world you will have tribulation”

I’ll respond by focusing on a biblical fact that may seem surprising or even unwelcome: suffering for our faith is an indispensable part of the genuine Christian life.

Paul stated his aspiration “that I may know [Jesus] and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (Philippians 3:10). The apostle spent time on his first missionary journey “strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).

If we are truly following Jesus, we must be going in the opposite direction from those who oppose Jesus. This is why our Lord warned his disciples, “In the world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33). And it is why, as Paul observed, “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).

I do not mean to suggest that we need to seek persecution. If we are faithful to our Lord, persecution will find us. Satan “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). If he considers you a threat, he will attack. If he does not consider you a threat, he will leave you alone.

Which should be true for true disciples of Jesus?

“When I am weak, then I am strong”

The time to prepare for persecution is before it arises. So, decide now that you will be faithful to your Lord today. Ask his Spirit to control and empower your life (Ephesians 5:18). Pray for the strength to refuse temptation when it strikes (1 Corinthians 10:13). When you “submit yourselves therefore to God,” you can then “resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

When your life and mind are surrendered to the Holy Spirit, you can claim Jesus’ promise: “When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you” (Matthew 10:19–20).

If you choose to pay a price to follow Jesus, you are in excellent company, for you can say with Paul, “I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).

Will you be “strong” today?

Denison Forum