Monday, November 23, 2020

The Thanksgiving Hand

Guest Post by Jim Beatty – a fellow Servant of Jesus Christ

Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart ~ Proverbs 3:3 KJV

The editors of Reader’s Digest wrote a touching story about Mrs Klein’s classroom of first graders. Mrs Klein asked her students to draw pictures showing what Thanksgiving meant to them. She didn’t think the kids would have much to be thankful for being as they lived in a deteriorating neighborhood. So she expected to get drawings of turkeys, thanksgiving dinner spreads and the like.

When the children turned in their drawings, Mrs Klein was taken aback when she saw Douglas’s drawing of a hand. Douglas was typically so forlorn and likely to be found in her shadow when they went to recess. When she asked the class what they thought this hand represented, one kid said, “the hand of God that brings us food”, another said “the farmer that raises the turkeys” and another said “I think it’s all the hands that help us, but Douglas could only draw one of them”.

In her pleasure at the class’s response, Mrs Klein started the class on another project when she realized she had almost forgotten to ask Douglas what the picture was actually about. So, so she leaned over his desk and asked him whose hand it was, and the boy replied, “it’s yours, teacher”.

It seems Mrs Klein had taken Douglas by the hand from time to time, as she had done with many of her students, but it had meant so much to Douglas and it turned out to be her thanksgiving.

The editors of Reader’s Digest didn’t explain in the story why this small gesture had meant so much to Douglas, and they never explained why he was “forlorn and likely to be found in her shadow at recess”.

I have to think of people I’ve known in my own life, while in school, working various jobs, at social gatherings and even just in daily life who seemed out of place, didn’t fit in and sometimes just seemed a bit forlorn. The ones I have helped along the way and the ones who, in my own selfishness, pride and arrogance, I didn’t.

This story applies to adults and senior citizens as well as to school kids and it shows how sometimes the smallest of deeds can make a big impact on someone. Sometimes all a person wants is a friend. In a verse that comes to mind, Jesus said in Matthew 10:42 “And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.”

I remember a good friend of mine saying that she instructed her kids, “if you see someone at school who sits alone and doesn’t have any friends, you be their friend!”

The bible has numerous examples of kindness to strangers and acquaintances alike, such as David’s kindness toward Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan in 2nd Samuel chapter 9, the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10, Paul’s shipwreck in Acts 27 and 28 where the islanders showed them unusual kindness. There are endless examples in scripture of God’s grace and kindness toward us, even though we don’t deserve it.

As people celebrate the national Thanksgiving Day holiday this year, let’s remember that thanksgiving isn’t all about us.

Quoting from Acts 20:35, “remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Let’s also remember Paul’s words in Colossians 3:12-13 “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbeareing one another and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any; even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.”

Being a friend, being kind and giving someone a hand could mean so much to someone who is forlorn.

The Book of Daniel Trilogy

Back in 2011, I wrote a series of three articles on Bible Prophecy called Are We Living in the Last Days?, The Study of Prophecy – in Perspective, and Present Living in Light of Prophecy.

Recently, I completed another trilogy on the Book of the Prophet Daniel. The first was an Introduction to the Book of Daniel. This led to two additional spin-off articles, the first being Interpretations and Fulfillment of the Visions and Prophecies of Daniel. For this article, I spent a few weeks combing through various commentaries and other resources such as the Encyclopedia Britannica to determine the various persons and events that fulfilled many of the prophecies from the seventh through the second century BC. I also attempted to explore the prophecies still to be fulfilled in our future. If you've always wondered about many of the strange images and predictions within the book, hopefully this article will shed some light on the subject. A knowledge of Daniel is essential to understanding almost all aspects of future prophecy, including the prophetic portions of the New Testament.

The Book of Daniel contains more prophecies that have since been fulfilled than any other book in the Bible. As I was researching the meanings, I couldn't help but be amazed at the detail and precision by which each phrophecy was fulfilled. Thus, the fulfillments have a strong apologetics application. Because we have so many prophetic visions that have already been precisely fulfilled in the past, we would expect the same accuracy for those visions concerning the future.

The final article in the trilogy was entitled The Seventy Weeks of Daniel 9 – Four Interpretations. In this article, I examined various interpretations and timelines for this prophecy from an Old Testament (Maccabean) view, a Preterist (Reformed Historical) view, a Covenantal (Reformed Futurist) view and from a Dispensational (Futurist) view, pointing out the similarities and the divergences of each view. The Seventy Weeks of Daniel is the key to helping us understand the basic timeline of historical and future events prophesized in both the Old and New Testament.

I initially didn’t set out to do another prophecy-themed trilogy, but it just happened that way. Incidentally, I’m now working on the Introduction to the Book of the Revelation and, wouldn’t you know it, I currently have two spin-off articles in progress on it as well. The first spin-off considers how various events (and their timelines) are interpreted from a Preterist, a Historicist, an Idealist (Allegorical), and a Futuristic view. The final article will discuss four major interpretive views of the Millennial Kingdom of Revelation 20.

I’ll add the links to the Revelation articles in a new post when finished. To God be the glory…

Saturday, November 14, 2020

When the Skies of November Turn Gloomy

Guest Post by Jim Beatty – a fellow Servant of Jesus Christ… a sinner who has turned away from a sinful lifestyle… writing in hopes of throwing somebody a life ring.

Webmaster Note: This past week marked the 45th anniversary of the event of which Jim writes. He sent the article late last year, but we saved it until now for posting. The image below comes from the US Corps of Engineers and is in the public domain.

Most of us know about Veteran’s Day and I’m sure everyone knows when Thanksgiving is. Those dates are usually marked right on the calendar for us, because they are important days that we should remember. But there’s another important day in November that’s not generally marked on our calendar, and that is November 10th, the anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald in 1975.

The Fitzgerald wasn’t one of the thousand foot “super tankers”, but a pretty big ship on the Great Lakes, with a length of almost 750 feet. Being what’s known as a “straight decker”, the Fitzgerald was perfect for hauling iron ore pellets, as she was that fateful night. Gordon Lightfoot took poetic liberties when he sang “They left fully loaded for Cleveland” when in fact, they left fully loaded for Zug Island, which is near Detroit, but I suppose you just can’t make Zug Island rhyme.

Captain McSorley was a veteran sailor with over 40 years experience and had taken command of the Fitzgerald only a few years earlier. It’s ironic that this was scheduled to be his final journey before retirement.

Lake Superior that night had waves of 35’, and the wind was about 60 miles per hour. The weather was so bad that the Soo Locks had been closed and the Coast Guard had issued a warning for all vessels to take safe harbor and to remain at anchor until the storm had passed.

The Captain of the Fitzgerald radioed that his ship was listing. They were taking water across the deck and both radars were out. The Steamship Arthur Anderson was following some distance behind, trying to guide them by radio to the safety of Whitefish Bay.

We know how the story ends. The Fitzgerald sunk suddenly... very suddenly in about 600 feet of water and all the men on board died.

I was working on the freighters in those days. In fact, we were safely at anchor in the lee of a small island on Lake Huron. But I remember from our lifeboat training that we were told, “There’s no need to panic, there’s no hurry, you don’t have to rush, it takes at least 45 minutes for a ship to sink. There’s plenty of time to get the lifeboats ready.”

But that’s not how it happened on the Fitzgerald that night. In fact, about a year later, I met a man who said he was working on the Arthur Anderson that night. He said it happened so quickly that with one sweep of the radar screen she was there, and the next sweep she was gone.

Gordon Lightfoot hit it square on when he sang, “The lake it is said... never gives up her dead... when the skies of November turn gloomy”.

You know, I have to wonder how many, if any, of those men had come to Christ at some time before that final journey. And I have to wonder how many of those men cried out to Christ with their last breath as they sank into that icy water.

Sometimes we get so caught up with the cares of the world and our own “stormy situations” that we forget about our relationship with God.

“Oh, you don’t understand! I’ve got to work a lot of overtime to pay off my student loans... or whatever. I don’t have time for that religious stuff right now”, or so we reason.

Others may be caught up in a lascivious lifestyle. Drinking and carousing, carelessly singing, “eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die!” Those poor spirits never even see the need to change their course, much less to get the lifeboats ready!

Others may think they can just put it off, “Oh, I’m a good guy and people like me. I mean, I go to church, you know... or at least sometimes. It’s not like you have to really follow all that stuff. Besides, I can always repent on my death bed. Certainly Jesus will wait for ME, won’t he?”

The trouble is, as the Edmund Fitzgerald shows us, sometimes the calamities of life happen so suddenly that we don’t always have time to even LOOK for the lifeboats. Proverbs 27:1 says, “Don’t boast about tomorrow, for a man doesn’t know what a day might bring”.

So the question is, “When should I change my course... when should I get my lifeboat ready?” Paul tells us in 2nd Corinthians 6:2, “And he said, in the favorable time, I listened in the favorable day, you needed salvation and I helped. Behold, THIS is the favorable time. Behold, THIS is the day of salvation”.

If there is anyone reading this message and has come to a point in your life where you see the need to change your course, you see that it’s time to get the lifeboat ready. I urge you to seek out competent biblical teaching, believe in the Word and repent from the world. Be baptized and receive the free gift of the Holy Spirit.

I urge you to seek out and build your relationship with the One who can calm the stormy sea. And I urge you to do this while it is still the favorable day, before one of life’s calamities can strike!