Thanksgiving 2017

By Jacob Toman

For some, Thanksgiving is a time of feast and family; for others, it’s a time of fellowship and congeniality with friends. While there are numerous traditions, myths, and legends surrounding the food, music, celebration, and history of an annual day of thanks, the common thread of thankfulness often prompts us to ask questions of ourselves and others during this season, questions like “what are you thankful for?” or “What are you grateful of?” Naturally, the answers are as varied as all of us who answer them: our material possessions, the beauty of the world around us, an act of kindness that someone else has done for us (the website Thnx4.org is a great place to see the things people talk about what they are thankful for; it’s essentially a public, online journal of thankfulness).[1]

The focus of these questions, and thus the answers we often give, usually center on the object of our thankfulness, rather than the origin of the object. Thankfulness can become a social commentary on moments, things, and memories, rather than an activity to denote gratitude. Some have hailed Thanksgiving as a secular holiday, a day in which no general direction is needed for thankfulness to be pointed.[2]

The national holiday many celebrate in the United States isn’t meant to be something abstract or ambiguous. Our thankfulness isn’t to be directionless. Thankfulness isn’t a sandbox game without guidelines, rules, boundaries, or directions. Thankfulness entails an attitude of gratitude by a receiver or beneficiary (the person thankful) towards the giver or point of origin (the creator of the gift or benefit).

In 1863 Abraham Lincoln institutionalized Thanksgiving as a national federal holiday with these words (bolded words my emphasis):

Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863
By the President of the United States of America.
A Proclamation.
The year that is drawing towards 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 even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. 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. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, 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. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.
By the President: Abraham Lincoln
William H. Seward,
Secretary of State[3]

The direction at the inauguration of Thanksgiving as a national holiday was to rejoice, give praise, and thanks. But this praise and thanks wasn’t directionless or aimlessly given in a happenstance circumstance. Regardless of your own political beliefs regarding Abraham Lincoln, one must acknowledge that he raises a pertinent question for you and I today. Rather than ‘What are you thankful for”, ask the question ‘Whom are you thankful towards”?

This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful towards 4 groups of people.

Firstly, I’m thankful to the great Creator, the God and Father of my Lord and savior Jesus Christ. I’m thankful for affording me the opportunity to share who Jesus is, and why he matters with gamers locally and globally.

Secondly, I’m thankful to my family. My wife for being the backbone and bedrock of my sanity. My children for being the spring of energy that is renewed every day. My parents for the faith they taught me with. My sisters for the example of godliness they set in my life. My in-laws for their ever present acceptance. And my extended family for their kindness and prayers.

Thirdly, I’m thankful to our staff at Gospel & Gaming. Michael is the eyes and ears of Gospel & Gaming, always seeking to be on the cutting edge of content. Ben is the heart and hands of Gospel & Gaming, ever present with those who lonely and in doubt.

Fourthly, I’m thankful to our supporters. Without the prayers, donations, and time of volunteers and committed believers, Gospel & Gaming simply wouldn’t exist. Thank you for making evangelism in gaming an important part of your lives.

 

 

[1] https://www.thnx4.org/about-thnx4

[2] https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/19/thanksgiving-a-holiday-fo_n_786254.html

[3] http://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/lincoln/speeches/thanks.htm

Thank You to our Veterans!

By Michael Mendis

Every year around this time, Americans celebrate Veterans Day, a day to honor those who have served in the U.S. military.  Gospel & Gaming has had the privilege of ministering to a number of military veterans, playing games with them, chatting about life, discussing difficult questions, and finding other ways to share Christ’s love with them.  Amongst our online gaming community, we have ministered to a dozen veterans from the Army, Marines, Navy, and Air Force; these people have served tours in places around the world, including Iraq, Afghanistan, and South Korea.

Ben Kieffer giving the Invocation during the Veterans Day service at LSC

Ben Kieffer giving the Invocation during the Veterans Day service at LSC

Jacob Toman giving remarks as a Chaplain during the Veterans Day service at LSC

Jacob Toman giving remarks as a Chaplain during the Veterans Day service at LSC

As a ministry, we also meet with the residents at Lake Saint Charles Retirement Community, and we serve a number of older veterans there.  Fellow G&G staffers Jacob Toman and Ben Kieffer minister to the residents at LSC regularly, through Sunday morning worship and mid-week discussion groups (click here to learn more about our ministry to retired gamers).  I recently had the privilege of attending LSC’s annual Veterans Day event along with Jacob and Ben.  Veterans Day is a particularly special day for the community at LSC; this year there were over three dozen veterans who were recognized during the event.  And it wasn’t only veterans who showed up for the service; many of the other residents, as well as friends and family of the veterans, were present as well.

The eagle on the front of this program was drawn by one of the regular attenders of our discussion groups at LSC!

The eagle on the front of this program was drawn by one of the regular attenders of our discussion groups at LSC!

So from all of us at Gospel & Gaming, we thank our veterans for their service to our country.  Their sacrifice has made it possible for us to do what we do everyday.  We are proud as a ministry to be able to serve and honor veterans, men and women who have already honored us with their service in the military.

Bible Study: 1 John 3

By Jacob Toman

This is part of a Bible study series where we are examining each chapter of 1 John and asking challenging questions about the text.  In addition to this series of articles, we’ll also be focusing some questions on our Twitter and Facebook pages, as well as in our sermons and other Bible studies we conduct with people in our community, around the book of 1 John.  We hope that this series will help you learn not only about this particular book of the Bible, but also how to better examine and benefit from God’s word.  Enjoy!

Not long ago my wife and I had some friends over who were waiting expectantly to announce their first child’s name. They said they have not decided on a name yet. When I jokingly suggested some whimsical and (what I thought) hilarious names, I drew sarcastic laughs and quick rejections to each suggested name. Names are often incredibly personal. Names go with us wherever we go.

What are some of the names you are known by? As you read 1 John 3, consider some of the names by which the author addresses his audience.

3 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears,[a] we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.
4 Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. 5 But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. 6 No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.
7 Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. 8 The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. 9 No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. 10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.
11 For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 12 Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters,[b] if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15 Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.
16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
19 This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: 20 If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 24 The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.

After reading 1 John 3, consider the following challenge questions

  1. What are some of the names the author addresses his audience by? (Hint: see verses 1, 2, 7, 18, and 21)
  2. According to 1 John 3, what is sin? (Hint: see verse 4)
  3. The author refers to children 6 times throughout 1 John 3. Who are the two groups of children the author mentions?
  4. What does love look like for the Author of 1 John 3? (Hint see vs 18)