November 24, 2017

Leftovers, Part 3

[This is the third installment of my trilogy on Thanksgiving.]

He was twelve-years-old when he became afflicted with anorexia nervosa and bulimia. It was due to earlier psychological trauma that slowly developed over time. There were compounding factors including impropriety by an elementary grade school teacher who would keep him in the classroom after the other students were dismissed for recess.

Anorexia/bulimia is a psychological disorder.

The condition manifested itself as the preteen entered the seventh grade. It was at Thanksgiving that year when he excused himself from the family table, went into the bathroom, and emptied his stomach into the toilet.

Fearing that his dark secret might be heard the boy would later sneak away and dig a hole in the family's sprawling back yard to ... well, you get the idea.

Within a year he had lost so much weight that the neighbors wondered if he had cancer. The boy's father knew something was wrong, but this kind of illness was not really discussed out in the open. His dad would feed him plates of peanut butter sandwiches, but afterward the boy would excuse himself and dig a hole.

His mother said later that if she had known there was a problem she would have sought counseling for her son.

Thanksgiving, for whatever reason, exposed the boy's psychological scars even into adulthood. It's just that he found it difficult to be thankful for anything.

That young man was me. I don't share this easily, but it may help you to better understand the tone of these articles.

Thanksgiving, today, means deliverance from years of suffering. The LORD reached down and lifted me up in the power of His spirit and by the precious blood of His son.

The holiday season is not about food and shopping, but about cleansing and healing. I truly am thankful to God for saving me.

That's the most I've written about this ... ever.

If you, or someone you know can relate, may I recommend another blog that discusses this issue with unbridled honesty.

Caralyn, at Beauty Beyond Bones, shares her courageous story of overcoming an eating disorder; and the Scriptures that inspired her recovery.

Her blog is pretty busy so you might begin here.

As for me, I just take the season one day at a time. The anniversary of my parent's death is next on the calendar (Hanukkah), and then comes Christmas.

I think what saddens me most about Christmas is that the world has done a pretty good job at removing Christ from the holiday.

It's a Small World at Disneyland opened this week displaying its Christmas facade. A Southern California newspaper posted an article criticizing Disney for the religious tone of the attraction:

Disney should know that the religious theming of the popular ride dismisses the attraction's designed message of an inclusive and diverse world.

The Christmas observance in my community was long ago replaced with a politically correct  winter celebration, but this is true in communities across the nation.

It is thought by some in the Messianic community that Yeshua was born on the 15th day of the seventh month of Tishrei (September-October on the Christian calendar) during the Feast of Booths, or Tabernacles when God came down and dwelt among us in the person of Jesus Christ.

I say, give the winter solstice back to the pagans. And there's a reason why we are not told the date of Jesus' birth. Besides the fact that it has been corrupted by paganism and idolatry, Jesus told us to remember his death (Luke 22:19).

Our eternal hope rests in his death and resurrection.

Copyright © 2017 Messiah Gate

November 23, 2017

Leftovers, Part 2

[This is a follow-up to my previous post, Leftovers.]

Well, I decided to go for a sunset bike ride at the end of a very quiet Thanksgiving Day. Two blocks away I came across a homeless woman sleeping on a bench in front of the gas station. There was a wheelchair at her side, and she was bundled up in a heavy wool blanket. 

As I rode by she called out to me. There was never a question in my mind that I would stop and turn around. I didn't ask myself, "What would Jesus do?" As I approached the bench I could see that she was an older woman. She had a soft, gentle voice.

Woman: Did you have a nice Thanksgiving?

-- Yes.

Woman: Did you eat lots of turkey and stuffing?

-- Well, no.

Woman: No? Do you live around here?

-- Yes, in the neighborhood.

Woman: You don't have a family?

-- My parents are deceased.

Woman: You don't have a wife, or children?

-- No.

Woman: You never got married? Do you have brothers, or sisters?

-- Two brothers, and one sister.

Woman: They don't live around here?

-- One brother and one sister live in the city.

Woman: And you couldn't spend Thanksgiving with them?

-- Well, they have their own families ...

Woman: I miss my family. Tell me, I'm not familiar with this area. Is there somewhere I could use a toilet and wash up?

-- There's a nearby park that has outdoor showers, sinks and bathrooms.

Woman: It's just that I'm so smelly. Could I use your bathroom?

-- Well, I would be uncomfortable ...

Woman: Do you have a car?

-- No.

Woman: I'm so old and tired, and I only have the wheelchair. What is the bus schedule here?

Just then a bus rolled by.

-- The bus runs on a holiday schedule. Have you contacted any of the churches, or shelters?

Woman: Oh, the shelters don't bother with old women only the young.

-- There's a Methodist church a block away. They served Thanksgiving to the homeless last night. The Presbyterian church will give you quarters to wash your clothes, and the Lutheran church can give you socks, blankets, or a coat.

Woman: I'm just tired. I think I'll stay here and get some rest. What's your name?

-- David.

Woman: Goodnight, David ... and Happy Thanksgiving. May God bless you.

The striking thing is that she never asked for money. As I rode to the corner I crossed paths with a homeless man I have known for ten years. He walks around all day pushing a bike that is loaded down with all of his earthly possessions. I told him about the woman around the corner, and asked if he had any ideas. We talked it over, and he agreed to speak with her. She sort of lurched up when she saw us coming. 

Woman: What's this? Who is he?

-- It's okay. He's a friend of mine. I asked him to speak with you.

After a five-minute conversation we decided she would be safer in the neighborhood rather than taking a bus downtown; and in the morning she could seek help at the Methodist church. The homeless guy took me aside and advised that I couldn't do anything more for her. I gave him a few bucks, and then asked the woman if she needed water, or food.

"No," she said. "I just need to rest. You have been so kind to me. God bless you, and Happy Thanksgiving."

As I started to ride off she asked, "What's your name, again?"

"David," I replied, "as in King David from the Old Testament."

"King David," she said, "you have a nice bike. You're really blessed, and so am I."

There is a hepatitis outbreak in our community's homeless population. Five hundred have been infected and nineteen have died. 

Who is my neighbor? A lesson learned in this season of thanksgiving.

Copyright © 2017 Messiah Gate


How was your Thanksgiving? I don't really observe the holidays, and I remember my mother saying to me once, "You're killing our family traditions." It broke her heart to tell me this, and it broke my heart to see her sorrow.

My parents passed away during Hanukkah (three years apart) so I don't feel especially festive this time of year though my heart and mind are comforted with the peace and joy of Yeshua HaMashiach.

If you think about it all of our traditions are very much external. The JPS Tanakh (1917) reads:

I hate, I despise your feasts, and I will take no delight in your solemn assemblies (Amos 5:21).

The LORD rejects empty praise. Thanksgiving offered from a disobedient heart is vain and worthless. Rather than setting aside one day of gratitude the LORD expects us to be thankful always. When you wake up and when you lie down give thanks to the LORD. 

A feast day could not erase the stench of Jacob's sins. The problem with the Law is that it could not absolve people of their transgressions. Israel and Judah were consumed by their idolatry. Not even a day of abstention (Yom Kippur) could atone for their offenses.

If your heart is right with God (in Jesus Christ) there is no condemnation in observing a day of Thanksgiving; and let's not forget that it was proclaimed as a day of prayerful recognition of God's blessings. 

Paul addressed those who abstain and those who observe:

One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God (Romans 14:5-6).

God is glorified either way. but not if your heart is otherwise disobedient. What is important to you on Thanksgiving -- turkey, football, shopping? It is all vanity if your heart is not centered on the LORD. Are you sincerely grateful, or is this just a day to plan your Black Friday assault on the mall?

The following tweets posted last year after the presidential election.

This is just something for you to digest along with that second slice of Thanksgiving pie, but one year removed and there remains strife and division. 

... the hearts of the sons of men are full of evil and madness is in their hearts throughout their lives, and afterward they join the dead (Ecclesiastes 9:3).

My friends, those who hate are already dead. If only our people were truly thankful ... and obedient.

Copyright © 2017 Messiah Gate

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