BulletinGold #95
November 2008   Vol 8 #9
 

Editorial
----by David Bragg
    A chill was permanently set in the air.  A stench contaminated each breath taken.  The echo of jangling chains drifted up the corridor as the passing guard occasionally blocked the meager light.  Weary eyes strained to see the words that filled an empty parchment sprawled on the table as a letter of joy sprang from a gloomy dungeon (Phil. 4:4).
     Norman Vincent Peale's message, so familiar to the twentieth century culture, was alive and well in that first century prison.  The power of positive thinking sustained Paul, a prisoner, as he preached the joy of Christianity to the Philippians.  He urged them to appreciate the natural joy Christ brings. Repeatedly in this small epistle the writer's mind returns to the fount of joy to find its refreshing attributes.
     Joy does not deny the actual but accentuates the ultimate. It is not preoccupied with the negative but focuses on the positive.  Paul's joy came from a personal walk with Christ, and just as it could not be driven away by flogging, it could not be confined to a dungeon prison (Phil. 1:21; 4:13).  His was a joy no chain could bind and no court could suppress.  It would be drowned by no adversity, crushed by no foe (Phil. 2:17; Col. 1:24).  Even in Paul’s unjust and merciless treatment in Philippi, he was thankful (Acts 16:20-ff).
    It is obvious as our nation anticipates the annual day of Thanksgiving that the real need is to develop the habit of daily thanksgiving (Col. 3:15).  Thanksgiving ought to be the natural expression of the true joy that can only be found in Jesus Christ.  May this year be the beginning of a lifestyle of thanksgiving, a daily, joyous embrace of life.  Like a lifesaver to a drowning man, Paul pleads with us to rejoice, especially when the storms of life rage about us.  Cling to joy.  Let it permeate your disposition.  Embrace it as an attitude for living and it will hold you up as you float to the safety of God's eternal shore.
    There can be no greater tragedy than to lose the joy of Christ in our life.  There is no defeat so bitter as the victory of a negative mind.

David Bragg, co-editor
www.davidbragg.org

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Panning for Gold
- Feature Articles:  


Returning Thanks
by: David A. Sargent

     Many years ago two boys were working their way through Stanford University. Their funds got desperately low, and the idea came to them to engage Paderewski, the great Polish pianist, for a piano recital. They would use the funds to help pay their board and tuition.  The great pianist’s manager asked for a guarantee of $2,000. The guarantee was a lot of money in those days, but the boys agreed and proceeded to promote the concert. They worked hard, only to find that they had grossed only $1,600.
     After the concert the two boys told the great artist the bad news. They gave him the entire $1,600, along with a promissory note for $400, explaining that they would earn the amount at the earliest possible moment and send the money to him. It looked like the end of their college careers.
     “No, boys,” replied Paderewski, “that won’t do.” Then, tearing the note in two, he returned the money to them as well. “Now,” he told them, “take out of this $1,600 all of your expenses, and keep for each of you 10 percent of the balance for your work. Let me have the rest.”
     The years rolled by -- World War I came and went. Paderewski, now Premier of Poland, was striving to feed thousands of starving people in his native land. There was
only one man in the world who could help him - he was in charge of the U.S. Food and Relief Bureau. He quickly agreed to help and soon thousands of tons of food were sent to Poland.
     After the starving people were fed, Paderewski journeyed to Paris to thank the man for the relief he had sent....
“That’s all right, Mr. Paderewski,” was his reply. “Besides, you don’t remember it, but you helped me once when I was a student at college, and I was also in trouble.”  The man’s name? Herbert Clark Hoover, 31st President of the United States of America.” *
     Paderewski, with great generosity and kindness, was able to help a couple of struggling college students. Years later, one of those college students was able to say “Thank you” by assisting Paderewski and his people in a great time of need.  It is a wonderful thing to be able to return thanks for a noble action done on behalf of another.
     Friend, something has been done for YOU!  You didn’t ask for it, but you desperately needed it.  It happened long before you were born, but you may still benefit greatly by the action of a loving, generous Person.
     "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
Because of OUR grievous condition due to our sin, the kind and loving Heavenly Father gave us His Son to die on the cross for our sins (Romans 5:8).  Because of this great Sacrifice, we may have forgiveness from our sins (Ephesians 1:7) and the gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23).
     How can we return thanks for this indescribable Gift and receive those blessings?  By our humble submission to His will: believing and trusting Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turning from our sin in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confessing Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and being baptized (immersed) in His name for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38).  Then we can continue to show our gratitude by seeking to live obediently to His will for the rest of our lives (John 14:15).
     Friend, a great thing has been done for you: Jesus died for you so that you might live.  Won’t YOU “return thanks”  by giving your life to Him? 

* Bits & Pieces, August 22, 1991

- David A. Sargent, minister for the church of Christ at Creekwood in Mobile, Alabama, is also the editor of an electronic devotional entitled Living Water."  To learn more about this excellent resource contact David via their website: http://www.creekwoodcc.org

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Thanksgiving - More Than A Holiday
by: Bob Spurlin

     The Continental Congress issued the first official Thanksgiving Proclamation made in America in 1777. Six national Proclamations of Thanksgiving were issued in the first thirty years after the founding of the United States of America as an independent federation of States. The fourth Thursday in the month of November has been assigned as the day we celebrate Thanksgiving in America. Thanksgiving in its various forms appears one-hundred-fifty-nine  times in the Bible. We would not have the opportunity to celebrate the "Thanksgiving" holiday if it were not for God creating the earth and all that is contained therein.
     We are told in Philippians that we are to be "anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God" (Phil 4:6). We are admonished to have an attitude of "thanksgiving" (Col. 4:2). The true attitude of thanksgiving is an attitude from our heart that says "I am truly thankful to God for everything that He has given me to enjoy and use while on this earth." Christians should possess the attitude of thanksgiving year round recognizing all that we have is from God, and as a result we are truly thankful!
     Thanksgiving is more than a day in which the consumption of food is our main focus. This holiday should prompt us to think of others.
     GIVE ATTENTION TO THE SICK AND SHUT-INS - Thinking about the shut-in, or sick person alone without a meal, and no one to care for him/her should stir a responsive chord within all of us (Mt. 25:34-40). David said, “For the needy shall not be forgotten, the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever” (Psalm 9:18). The needy, and the poor, whose expectation is from the Lord, are never forgotten. To see those sick and shut-in restricted to their homes, nursing home, or assisted living facility needs our compassion and attention. Many of these persons were stalwart Christians, who dedicated their lives to building up the church of the Lord. They remain valuable, worthwhile, and deserving of our time. For the last twelve years I have lived the life of a shut-in, and know firsthand of the unique problems this group has in managing the trials of life.
     James admonished his readers, “To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction,” (James 1:27). This exhortation includes orphans, widows-widowers, and also the sick and shut-in. The Christian admonition to visit means more than a handshake, or stopping by to exchange the pleasantries of the day. The inspired writer’s use of the word visit suggests, “supplying or care for those in need.” Those confined to home often suffer loneliness, isolation, and neglect compelling active Christians to fill this void. Good fortune has smiled on this shut-in with a devoted wife-caregiver, attentive family, and others that have reached out to lend their support. Sadly, this is not the general rule for many shut-ins as many are forgotten.
    GIVE ATTENTION TO THOSE LACKING THE BASIC NECESSITIES OF LIFE - We see on the national and local newscasts of those living in the wake of tornadoes, hurricanes, and flooding taking place. The loss of homes, businesses, and schools are often destroyed in the fraction of a few seconds. Hurricane Katrina quickly transformed the lives of thousands on the gulf coast to rubble. Many lost all their physical possessions with the blink of an eye. Families losing their homes and material things cannot compare with the loss of a husband, wife, or child.
     Coming to the help of those, as described above, brings out the best in the human spirit. Seeing Christians give assistance with their checkbook, and with personal items is an "odor of a sweet smell" (Phil. 4:18). Many have donated their time in building or repairing homes, businesses, and in scores of other ways. Those responding to such needs speak volumes of their concern. Proverbs 31 paints the picture of a worthy woman stating: “She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy (Proverbs 31:20). This is truly a woman of charity giving aid and comfort to the poor, unfortunate, and destitute. She knows that in every gift coming from God calls for us to give back to those in need.

     Beloved, as the Thanksgiving season approaches, let us reach out to those in our communities, neighborhoods, and elsewhere to give attention to those in need of the most basic necessities of life.
     GIVE ATTENTION TO THOSE SPIRITUALLY MALNOURISHED - Giving food to the physically malnourished is a worthy goal and we commend this activity. However, giving attention to those that hunger spiritually far exceeds the physical. Jesus said, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled” (Mt. 5:6). Jesus uses two of the most expressive words in the entire human experience, “hunger and thirst.” Hunger and thirst are terms signifying great desire. It would be difficult to find two words that convey the attitude we should have in obtaining the righteousness of God. These occur daily and when discontinued for any length of time certain distress and calamity will occur. Just imagine going days or weeks without food and drink? Peter writes, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word that ye may grow thereby” (I Peter 2:1). Newborns have a natural instinct, a yearning, or longing to sustain their lives. They know that only mother’s milk can supply the nourishment that will sustain their young lives.
     Reader friend, if we had the same desire for the Word of God as we do for a sumptuous meal, we would not be spiritually malnourished. Which bothers you most, missing Bible study and worship, or missing that favorite meal? What bothers you most, missing Bible study and worship, or your favorite football game, or athletic event? What bothers you most, missing Bible study and worship, or a fishing-hunting trip? These aforesaid questions put into perspective our attitude toward spiritual things.
     Countless souls in our community and neighborhoods are malnourished when it comes to receiving proper spiritual food. We would not consider taking spoiled food from the garbage can, and feeding it to those never having a proper meal. Fundamentally, we must take the gospel to them in its purest form leading each soul to the “bread of life” (John 6:35, 6:48).    
     So, as we sit down to eat that wonderful Thanksgiving meal with our loved ones, ponder those that are in need by showing concern and thoughtfulness. We wish you a Happy Thanksgiving to all our readers.

- Bob Spurlin, the "horizontal" preacher, has been bedridden with Multiple Sclerosis for a number of years, yet continues to faithfully serve his Lord through a number of avenues, most notably his writing.  In addition to his website, http://www.bobspurlin.com, you may contact Bob via his email: prechteach@aol.com (©2000-2006 BOB SPURLIN).


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Thanksliving - “Living Your Thanks" (Col. 3:17, 1 Thess. 5:18)
by: Gerald Cowan

 
     Remember the “magic words” we teach our children: please and thank you. Those words remain effective as long as we live, not only in regard to our human relationships, but also and especially in relationships with God. There are three aspects to consider.
     Receiving with thanks. “Thanks” is not payment for anything. It is only a statement of appreciation and gratitude for what one has received.
     Giving with thanks. A gratuity (a “tip”) is a way of saying thanks. It is not part of the bill and is not required. But when something extra is given with payment of what is owed, the one who receives it understands.
     Giving thanks. We should be truly thankful in every situation and circum-stance. We can give thanks in everything even if we cannot give thanks for everything. We can give thanks in adversity, and sometimes, since we are strengthened by adversity, we can give thanks for it.
     We probably need to redefine our blessings in order to understand them and be grateful for them.

- Gerald Cowan preaches for the Dongola church of Christ in Dongola, IL.  He may be contacted at Geraldcowan1931@aol.com

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Coping with the Holiday Blues
by: James C. Savage

     Soon the holidays will be upon us. For many people it’s a time of happiness and joy—as the old song goes, “’tis the season to be jolly.” For others, however, the holidays are only a reminder that life is no longer what it used to be; children have grown up, family members and friends have moved away, loved ones have died, illnesses have come along—many things have changed and the holidays are more to be endured than enjoyed.

     If you’re at a stage of life where things are going well and the holidays are great, good for you! Enjoy them fully! If you’re at a different stage and the holidays are not so great, here are a couple of tips that might help you get through them better.
     1. Structure your time, if you’ve recently lost a loved one, or loved ones cannot be with you during the holidays, planning ahead to fill your time with various activities might help. When we have “lots of time” on our hands, it’s easy to spend “lots of time” missing loved ones and feeling sad. Planning ahead of time—before the holidays get here—to volunteer at a hospital, a church activity, or a non-profit organization that feeds the homeless will help lessen the time you have to miss your loved ones.
     2. Eat healthy and exercise. Eating too many sweets and too much junk food, along with just sitting around, can make us feel depressed.
     3. Make a special effort to reconnect with an old friend, or with someone you’ve not seen or talked to for a while. Connecting with old friends can often bring back good memories that we have forgotten about, as well as help us fill our time in productive ways.
     4. Make a special effort to create a new friend. Think about someone else who might need some help through the holidays and make that special effort now—before the holidays get here—to invite him or her to do something special through the holidays. Doing something  to help a friend feel better often makes us feel better too.
     5. Make time to think about your loved ones. If you have lost loved ones during the past year, or if loved ones simply won’t  be with you during the holidays, it’s still important to take some time to think about them. Trying to stay busy that we won’t think at all about the people we are missing is usually counterproductive. It’s usually far better to allow ourselves time to think about them—even to grieve their being absent—but to do so knowing that after a limited amount of time we’re going to get up to do something else.
     Coping with the holiday blues is often as much about time management as much as anything else.  Deciding now—before the holidays arrive—how we will fill our time in productive and satisfying ways can be most helpful. Best wishes and God’s blessings for the upcoming holiday season.

—James C. Savage, Ph.D, LPCC, LMFT, Director of LifeStories Christian Care and Counseling Services, Mayfield , KY; via The Family Friend,  a monthly newsletter devoted to the family and edited by Lance Cordle and published by the Calvert City church of Christ, Calvert City, KY.  Lance may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.calvertchurchofchrist.com

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Nuggets and Quick Riches
-    misc. goodies this issue


George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation
Issued on October 3,1789

     "Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits and humbly to implore his protection and favor; and "Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness;”
     "Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the twenty-sixth day of November next to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto him our service and humble thanks for his kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of his providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which he has been pleased to confer upon us.”
     "And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a government of wise, just and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best"
     Though this has been in the bulletin before, it is worth putting in again. [
Ron Thomas]

- via The Lantern, Highway church of Christ, Sullivan, IL  Ron Thomas preaches for the congregation.  Visit their website as http://www.highwaycofc.com

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Thanksgiving Day Prayer
By Catherine Marshall
 
     Lord, Thou hast been bountiful.  As we look back over the years, how gracious Thou hast been, how tender Thy mercy, how warm and constant Thy love. 
     Create within us, our Father, that true gratitude that shall make this day of Thanksgiving one of redemption, when we shall think not of how much we can eat but of how thankful we ought to be. 
     So may we - all across this land today – act as recipients of God’s richest mercy and bountiful blessing, as we share with others.  May we, in gratitude, get on with the job of creating not only a nation, but a world in which all...shall have the right to seek happiness. 
   Help us to make that dream come true in our homes day by day, in street and office and school, and so live for which we pray. In His name, who created us a nation, we pray, Amen.

- From The Prayers of Peter Marshall, ed. Catherine Marshall; via THE SOWER, a weekly publication of the Arthur church of Christ, Arthur, IL. Ron Bartanen, who serves as minister and editor, may be contacted at - ron33dor@yahoo.com  You may also visit their website at http://www.arthurchurchofchrist.com

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My Thanksgiving Prayer
By Edd Sterchi

Father in Heaven,
I give you thanks for giving me...
...a beautiful world to live on,
...a blessed life to live out,
...beloved people to live with,
...a beneficial church to live in,
...a blissful heaven to live for...
...but most of all, I thank You, Father, for giving me a
benevolent Savior who has given me a new life in which,
by living through Him, makes the living worthwhile -
both now and forever. Amen.

- Edd Sterchi preaches for the Harrisburg church of Christ in Harrisburg, IL. 
He may be contacted at sterchi@midwest.net   You may visit their website at http://www.harrisburgchurchofchrist.org

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Rules For the Holiday Season
By Lance Cordle
 
     As we enter  the “core” of the holiday season, please allow me to remind us all of some things we can do to make and keep it a joyous time for us all:
     Be careful about your spending. Stick to a budget. Life does not consist in the quantity or price of things (see Luke 12:15).
     Do something  for others. Whether it is with a group or on your own, give a little extra to help someone in need. In your plans (parties, etc.), try to include those who may not have plans of their own (widows, singles, couples who live far away from family, etc.).
     Face your negative feelings.  If you are sad about a loved who is no longer alive, think about them and face the sadness, but end your contemplation with a reflection of the precious memories and the positive influence of that person on your life.
     Use part of you time to take personal inventory and set goals for the coming year. Try to avoid too much self-criticism, but be realistic in your evaluation. Prioritize and set some attainable goals (not too many at once) for yourself in the new year.
     Enjoy the happy moments. Try  to truly  savor the times of celebration. They will serve you well as sweet memories in the years to come.
     Count your blessings!!

- Lance Cordle, via The Family Friend, a monthly newsletter published by the Calvert City church of Christ, Calvert City, KY.  It is an excellent resource for articles relating to the family.  To learn more consult the congregation's website: http://www.calvertchurchofchrist.com

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Hearts of Gold
----poetry this issue


Thanksgiving

by: J. Randal Matheny

I thank you, Lord, for pain and trial,
  For these I seldom bow my head;
I much prefer the laugh and smile,
  Than bitter tears with humble bread.

I thank you, Lord, for lessons learned
  In testing knocks and wearied thorn,
For there I saw my forces spurned,
  And weakness on your strength was borne.

I thank you, Lord, for sorrow's want,
  For sundered heart and silent grief;
In these the self is frail and gaunt,
  From you flows mercy's cool relief.

I thank you, Lord, for a heavy weight,
  I bow my head in whispered prayer;
For under every burden's strait
  Your very presence meets me there.

- J. Randal Matheny, missionary and minister, is the publisher of Uplift, an on-line and e-mail devotional.  He may be contacted through this website:  http://randalmatheny.com/uplift/ When reprinting this material, please be sure to include the following:  Copyright (c) 2006 J. Randal Matheny All rights reserved. You may forward the email to friends as is. You may not alter it in any way or remove any text or attributions.

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Thankful . . . . . .
by: Carl Ciang

For the – Roses – In the garden
For the Depth of Life – Within – The cross
For the – Home – I hang my hat in
For the – Gain I have – Due to – His loss

For the – Friends – I now call – Brothers
For the – Referred to – As Sisters – Too
For the Reality – Of salvation
For – What I now call – God’s – Breathing room

For the – Family – I love – So dearly
For their – Sacrifice – That has made me – Whole
For the – Love – Poured down – from the Father
That now – Encapsulates – My very soul

For the – Job – That fulfills – My nature
As a – Breadwinner –So much – A man
For these – Words – That flow – So freely
Even through – Some – Fail – To understand

For the – Grace – That breaks – All chains – Now
Because – The Father – Loves us – So
For the – Freedom – To be – Praying
So that – You and I – Would – Know

That the – Father – God – Loves – Us – Dearly
And at the – Cross – He – Completely – Let is show

Yes. . . . . .

Our Father – God – Loves – Us – Dearly
And at the – Cross – He – Completely – Let it show

- Carl Ciangi, Northbrook, IL

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Thanks

Thanks to God for my Redeemer,
Thanks for all Thou dost provide,
Thanks for times but now a memory,
Thanks for Jesus by my side,
Thanks for pleasant, balmy springtime,
Thanks for dark and dreary fall,
Thanks for tears by now forgotten,
Thanks for peace within my soul,
Thanks for prayers Thou hast answered,
Thanks for what Thou dost deny,
Thanks for storms that I have weathered,
Thanks for all Thou dost supply,
Thanks for pains, and thanks for pleasure,
Thanks for comfort in despair,
Thanks for grace that none can measure,
Thanks for love beyond compare,
Thanks for roses by the wayside,
Thanks for thorns their stems contain,
Thanks for home and thanks for fireside,
Thanks for hope, that sweet refrain,
Thanks for joy and thanks for sorrow,
Thanks for heavenly peace with Thee,
Thanks for hope in the tomorrow,
Thanks through all eternity.

- Selected; via the weekly bulletin of the Harrisburg church of Christ in Harrisburg, IL.  Edd Sterchi serves as one of the congregation's ministers.  He may be contacted at sterchi@midwest.net   You may visit their website at
http://www.harrisburgchurchofchrist.org

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Be Thankful

Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire.
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Be thankful when you don’t know something,
for it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.

Be thankful for your limitations,
because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for each new challenge,
because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes.
They will teach you valuable lessons.

Be thankful when you’re tired and weary,
because it means you’ve made a difference.

It’s easy to be thankful for the good things. A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are also thankful for the setbacks. Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive. Find a way to be thankful for your troubles, and they can become your blessings.

- Author unknown; via the weekly bulletin of the Harrisburg church of Christ in Harrisburg, IL.  Edd Sterchi serves as one of the congregation's ministers.  He may be contacted at sterchi@midwest.net   You may visit their website at
http://www.harrisburgchurchofchrist.org

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Gold Mines
----quotes & sayings for bulletins and signs this issue

He who thanks but with the lips
Thanks but in part;
The full, the true Thanksgiving
Comes from the heart.
J.A. Shedd

Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action.
W.J. Cameron

“Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow.”
Edward Sandford Martin

"We can always find something to be thankful for, no matter what may be the burden of our wants, or the special subject of our petitions."
Albert Barnes

"Some people complain because God put thorns on roses,
while others praise Him for putting roses among thorns."
Anonymous

The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts.  No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving.  ~H.U. Westermayer

What we're really talking about is a wonderful day set aside on the fourth Thursday of November when no one diets.  I mean, why else would they call it Thanksgiving?  ~Erma Bombeck, "No One Diets on Thanksgiving," 26 November 1981

A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all the other virtues.  ~Cicero

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