Spiritual Communication

The function of satellite dishes gives us some insight into how spiritual communication works. A website gives a technical explanation of how satellites and dishes function:

“A satellite dish works in the same way as the reflector for a torch or car headlights. A signal is produced or reflected from a focal point. This signal then reflects off the large part of the satellite dish and travels towards the satellite.

“At the satellite, the signal reflects off another curved reflector towards a focal point where the signal is received. The signal is then amplified and sent back towards Earth using a different frequency.

Another website describes the necessary conditions for a satellite dish to work properly:

“There has to be a direct line of signal from the dish to the satellite in the sky to work . . . there can be no obstructions of any kind between the satellite and dish. The dish must be located in an area clear of trees, bushes, buildings or any other objects. It has to be mounted securely and completely level to function correctly. It must be set to the precise elevation degree needed.”

A third site explains why a satellite dish might not work:

“Satellite dishes need to be aligned very accurately to get a signal, because of the way the work and the frequencies that they use. It is not easy to align a satellite dish by eyesight alone or by looking at the direction of the neighbour’s satellite dish. An adjustment of a millimetre of two can be the difference between a good reliable satellite signal and no signal at all.”

What did you glean from these descriptions of satellite dishes? There may be more points of value, but I’ve chosen to mention five.

First, a signal must be produced by a satellite dish and be beamed into space.

Second, the signal must be aligned to a specific frequency and aimed at the correct location.

Third, the signal must be unobstructed.

Fourth, the signal cannot be borrowed from another dish or be the result of guesswork.

Fifth, the signal must be aligned correctly not only to send, but also to receive, a signal.

These lessons apply beautifully to personal prayer. Consider our five points in order.

First, prayer, in order to function, requires a person to pray. The prayer may be silent or spoken aloud, but it must be uttered intentionally by the individual. The Bible Dictionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints says that “prayer is a form of work” (Bible Dictionary, 753). Truly it is. In order to receive dividends, one must first put in the “work.” In order to receive an answer from prayer, you must first pray. Send your personal petitions, desires, concerns Heavenward just as a satellite dish sends a signal skyward. This is the first step to receiving an answer from God, just as a satellite beaming a signal to space is a prerequisite to receiving a signal and projecting an intelligible picture onto your TV.

Second, a satellite won’t function if it’s tuned into the wrong frequency. Your prayers, if not aligned to the proper spiritual frequency – a frequency defined and set forth in revealed scripture – won’t be very profitable. The Lord isn’t so concerned with the verbiage one uses in his prayers, and has consequently never instituted set prayers except in specific instances regarding collective rites However, He is concerned about the petitioner demonstrating proper principles, patterns, and attitudes.

For instance, a normal personal prayer should be addressed to God our Father and conclude in the name of Jesus Christ (Matthew 6:9). The prayer should be offered in childlike humility and with expectant faith, such as when Jesus, when praying before His disciples, said to the Father “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). They should be sincere and from the heart, not rote and repetitious (Matthew 6:7. Prayer should be a personal exercise hidden away from the world, not a self-serving spectacle for public consumption (Matthew 6:6, 16-21).

When your prayers are dialed into the correct spiritual frequency and our attitudes are properly sincere and humble, your prayers begin to reach the ears of your Father in Heaven who is eagerly waiting for you to learn how to approach Him, communicate with Him, and receive knowledge from His Spirit. Citing the Bible Dictionary again, it’s important to note that a huge factor in having the correct attitude for effective prayer hinges upon our understanding that we are the literal spirit children of the Heavenly Being to whom we’re praying:

“As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and we are his children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part (Matt. 7:7-11). Many of the so-called difficulties about prayer arise from forgetting this relationship. Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other” (Bible Dictionary, 752-753).

A little girl says her evening prayers by her bedside, accompanied by her dolls (including a Golliwog). Date: 1908

If we don’t want our prayers to bounce off the ceiling, as it were, we must remember who we are, that God is not some distant Being but a personal and very near Father who loves us, and that speaking to Him should be as normal as speaking to our earthly parents. When I served as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Russia, I sometimes encountered people who had never prayed before. Never. Not once. On one such occasion, after teaching a young man that God was His literal Father and that He should be approached in a familial and familiar manner, this childlike Russian began his first prayer: “Good day, Father.” It was a touching moment. That prayer absolutely reached Heaven. Every prayer tuned into the frequency of sincerity, humility, and familial love, will be heard and answered.

Third, just as a satellite dish won’t work if cluttered by branches or covered in snow or rain, distracted and cluttered prayers have diminished capacity. If we rush our prayers, fail to pray sincerely or humbly, or have hardened and cold hearts that would rather be doing something else, can we honestly expect to receiving amazing answers from God? He has given us a pattern for right living. If we disregard this pattern and disobey His commandments, we can’t help but reap a negative reward. Part of that ignominious reward is unanswered prayers and a break in the sweet communication with the Spirit of God.

Let’s be more explicit. If we watch porn, drink alcohol, harm another, quarrel with our spouse, or any other number of sinful behaviors, and then attempt to pray without regretting our actions, confessing them, and petitioning for forgiveness and the strength to be better, can we expect to be heard of God? You can answer for yourself.

I want to be clear, prayer is for sinners. We’re all sinners. Prayer is for the weak. We’re all weak sometimes. Prayer is for people who fall short. We’re all in that category. If we make a mistake, let a curse word slip, let our temper flare up, view an inappropriate video online, flip someone the bird in a fit of road rage, or any other number of misdeeds, prayers is actually the best thing we can do! That is, prayer is the best thing we can do in our lowest and most shameful moments if we sincerely regret our actions, do our best to repair the damage, and confess in full to the Lord and anyone else to whom it may be necessary.

A great man of God, a prophet of the Lord Jesus Christ, Lorenzo Snow, gave this encouragement:

“If we could read in detail the life of Abraham or the lives of other great and holy men we would doubtless find that their efforts to be righteous were not always crowned with success. Hence we should not be discouraged if we should be overcome in a weak moment; but, on the contrary, straightway repent of the error or the wrong we may have committed, and as far as possible repair it, and then seek to God for renewed strength to go on and do better. . . .

“. . . We must not allow ourselves to be discouraged whenever we discover our weakness. We can scarcely find an instance in all the glorious examples set us by the prophets, ancient or modern, wherein they permitted the Evil One to discourage them; but on the other hand they constantly sought to overcome, to win the prize and thus prepare themselves for a fulness of glory” (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Lorenzo Snow, 100-101).

If we find that our prayers are too distracted or rushed or if we know that our conduct has not lived up to the standards outlined in the holy scriptures, then the solution is, ironically, prayer. A sincere prayer asking for forgiveness and the strength to be better is worth more than most people comprehend. The moment we intentionally take a step back our Eternal Father, He sees the effort and runs to us, just as the father ran to his dejected and battered prodigal son (Luke 15:18-24).

Some of the best prayers of my life have been uttered in the aftermath of some stupid mistake on my part. It never ceases to amaze me how willing my Father is to run to me in my moments of weakness and error when I simply turn my heart to Him and attempt to pray from the bottom of my heart. However, I also testify that prayers have even more power when backed up by personal purity; for, as James said, “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16).

Fourth, just as one satellite dish cannot borrow a signal from another, we cannot live on borrowed Gospel light. We can’t subsist on other people’s prayers. Having other people pray in your behalf is wonderful, but their petitions can’t substitute for your own personal, private prayers. The prayer of a priest at a public meeting is insufficient. The prayer of a friend in a prayer circle is insufficient. The prayer of a spouse before bedtime is insufficient.

Our prayers must be be our own. They can’t be written for us by another. They can’t be read from a book. They can’t be regurgitated from memory. True prayer is specific, individualistic, and genuine. We must learn to send our authentic communications, longings, questions, desires, apprehensions, and concerns to our Father in Heaven. What troubles John across the street or Sarah down the road might not matter or apply to you. Your Father wants to know what matters to you. He wants to know what troubles you. He wants to know what questions you have for Him and what you need and desire in your life.

When we pray, we may fumble with our words; there’s no harm in that. Moses suffered from a speech impediment. Yet, he became an effective communicator through the medium of prayer. He poured out His mind and spirit to His God and His Redeemer and was blessed with miracles, revelations, and power. Our minds and hearts must be similarly bowed in an attitude of humility and sincerity. Our words must be our own and come from the heart. When our prayers come from the depth of our souls, they’ll find the right signal and won’t have to borrow anything from anyone. A personal conduit to Heaven will be opened that will, if you keep it open by righteous living, be a source of continual light and knowledge, comfort and love.

Fifth, just as a satellite has to be properly lined up in order to beam its signal to space, it must be aligned aright in order to receive a correct signal. Prayer is the same. Prayer is not a one-way form of communication. President Gordon B. Hinckley taught:

“Pray to the Lord with the expectation of answers. . . . The trouble with most of our prayers is that we give them as if we were picking up the telephone and ordering groceries—we place our order and hang up. We need to meditate, contemplate, think of what we are praying about and for and then speak to the Lord as one man speaketh to another. “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord” (Isa. 1:18)” (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Gordon B. Hinckley, 114).

Thinking of prayer like a two-way phone call can be helpful. If your environment is too loud, how effective is speaking on the phone? If raucous music or revelry drowns out the voices, how effective is a phone call? Many things can impede our ability to communicate with our Father. By the same token, many things can block His messages to us. Impurity, anger, insincerity, selfishness, hatred, ignorance, raucous music, irreverence, and a hundred other things, can deaden our spirits and diminish our ability to hear our Father’s communications, answers, and words.

The Holy Spirit is a bit finicky. He doesn’t like inappropriate situations, deafening music, cursing, immorality, anger, fighting, or violence. He avoids circumstances where He would expose Himself to these degrading influences. If we, therefore, put ourselves in these circumstances, how can we expect to hear the sensitive communications of the Spirit? How can we truly hear our Father if we’re surrounded by evil? How can we hear the small voice of the Spirit if we’re drowning it out with profane behavior?

Undoubtedly, this fifth step in the prayer process is the hardest. It’s been the struggle of my life to find out how the Lord speaks to me. He speaks differently to everyone. To one person, He speaks through dreams. To another, He uses His own voice. To another, He imparts subtle thoughts, hints, and feelings. Just as each person is different, so, too, is Heaven’s voice tailored to us as individuals. It’s our job to make sure our spiritual satellite dish isn’t cluttered or misaligned. If we want to receive information from God, we must be in tune with Him and His laws. There’s no other way.

I’ve drawn much inspiration from the rough-around-the-edges pioneer prophet Brigham Young. His heartfelt advice on prayer stirs me. I think you might benefit from it, too. I quote several of his statements, taking them from chapter three of John A. Widtsoe’s book Discourses of Brigham Young:

“Let every man and every woman call upon the name of the Lord, and that, too, from a pure heart, while they are at work as well as in their closet, while they are in public as well as while they are in private, asking the Father m the name of Jesus, to bless them, and to preserve and guide in, and to teach them, the way of life and salvation and to enable them so to live that they will obtain this eternal salvation that we are after.”

“When you get up in the morning, before you suffer yourselves to eat one mouthful of food, call your wife and children together, bow down before the Lord, ask him to forgive your sins, and protect you through the day, to preserve you from temptation and all evil, to guide your steps aright, that you may do something that day that shall be beneficial to the Kingdom of God on the earth. Have you time to do this? Elders, sisters, have you time to pray?”

“It matters not whether you or I feel like praying, when the time comes to pray, pray. If we do not feel like it, we should pray till we do. And if there is a heavy storm coming on and our hay is likely to be wet, let it come. You will find that those who wait till the Spirit bids them pray, will never pray much on this earth.”

“We may say that our work drives us and that we have not time to pray, hardly time to eat our breakfasts. Then let the breakfasts go, and pray, get down upon our knees and pray until we are filled with the spirit of peace.”

“If the Devil says you cannot pray when you are angry, tell him it is none of his business, and pray until that species of insanity is dispelled and serenity is restored to the mind.”

“If I did not feel like praying, and asking my Father in Heaven to give me a morning blessing, and to preserve me and my family and the good upon the earth through the day, I should say, “Brigham, get down here on your knees, bow your body down before the throne of him who rules in the heavens, and stay there until you can feel to supplicate at that throne of grace erected for sinners.””

May we each follow Brother Brigham’s sage advice and humble ourselves, get on our knees, and talk with our Father in Heaven. He’s waiting to hear from us. He loves each of us. He wants to hear about our lives, concerns, and desires. He can’t wait to bless us, enlighten our understanding, and draw us closer to Him as soon as we’re ready and make that first feeble step towards Him.

Just after writing these last lines, my ten-month-old baby girl woke up in the other room and started calling “Papa!” I immediately wet in to her, picked her up, and gave her a daddy-sized hug. Do we really think it’s any different with our Eternal Father when we raise our voices to Him? I witness with all the fervor of my soul that He loves to hear His children call Him “Father” and talk to Him!

To close, I remind you that the scriptures plead with us to pray and promise us unimaginable blessings if we do so in purity of heart. The Apostle Paul encouraged us to “come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). Who doesn’t need mercy and grace? If we approach God in prayer, it’ll be ours. The Apostle James also told us that “if any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not” (James 1:5). Again, who doesn’t stand in need of greater wisdom? And, finally, the Lord showed us repeatedly, by His perfect example, that we must pray. In one particularly touching instance, He showed His love for those who follow Him when He prayed to the Father in this manner:

“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. . . .

“I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. . . .

“Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.

“O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.

“And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them” (John 17).

If we want to know God, which is eternal life, we must pray. There’s simply no substitute for personal prayer. Talk with your Father in Heaven. Plead with Him on your knees. Pour out your soul to Him. He won’t be bored hearing about your troubles, struggles, concerns, and regrets. He won’t tire of your questions and seeking for truth. It will fill Him with joy to hear from you, His precious child. His Spirit will smile upon you. And, together with your Savior Jesus Christ, They will make Their abode with you (John 14:21, 23).

There’s true power in prayer. If you don’t currently pray, pray! Get on your knees and talk with you Eternal Father. Get to know Him. Declutter your life, turn down the volume, and clear the wax out of your spiritual ears. Speak and then listen. Ask and receive. And enjoy developing a truly beautiful relationship with your God as you speak to Him and listen to His responses. May God the Father bless you as you open your heart to Him in sincere prayer!

Zack Strong,
May 30, 2021

Give Thanks and Mean It

Each Thanksgiving, American families gather and gorge themselves on turkey, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie. They watch football, laugh together, and then go back and eat some more. In all the revelry, how many of us stop and remember the purpose of the holiday we’re commemorating? What are we supposed to be thankful for anyway? And is our gratitude verbal only or do we show it in our actions? This Thanksgiving, I make a plea for Americans everywhere to give thanks and mean it.

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Let’s start at the beginning – the purpose of the holiday. The designation of the fourth Thursday in November to be Thanksgiving was made on October 3, 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln. I rank President Lincoln as one of America’s top five worst presidents and one of the biggest violators of the Constitution to ever occupy the White House. However, he talked a good talk and his praise for God often waxed eloquent. His 1863 proclamation read in part:

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 . . . It has seemed to me fit and proper that [the gracious gifts of the Most High God] 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.”

From 1863 to the present, Thanksgiving has been annually observed on the fourth Thursday in November. The purpose of the holiday, ostensibly, is the same: To acknowledge that our blessings, deliverance, and prosperity come from Almighty God and to give our praise to Him for His mercy and watchful care over our People and Republic.

The practice of proclaiming days of thanksgiving, fasting, and prayer, however, dates back much earlier. They date back to the first years of white settlement in the New World. The practice became more formalized when on October 3, 1789, George Washington became the first president to call for a national day of thanks. I reproduce his presidential proclamation in full:

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 signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th 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 sincere 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 which we experienced 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 peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted—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 hath 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 several and relative 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 protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord—To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us—and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.”

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The purpose of the United States’ first Thanksgiving was for our People to give religious devotion to “that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be.” We were meant to express gratitude to God for his “signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of [the War for Independence].” Americans were intended to thank the Lord for the “tranquility, union, and plenty” which they enjoyed in their blessed country. Additionally, President Washington wanted the American People to “unite it the most humbly offering of prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations” for forgiveness of their “national and other transgressions.” This first day of thanks was intended to also “promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among . . . us.”

In other words, Thanksgiving was set apart as a day of religious service for the expression of gratitude, the increase of our faith in the Lord, the spread of wholesome Christian values, and a general increase in light and knowledge. It was a distinctly Christian holiday. Jesus Christ was its center. It was in His holy name that the American People were intended to offer their thanks and devotions to Almighty God.

Americans have more to be grateful for than any other people on the planet. In his Inaugural Address of April 30, 1789, President George Washington acknowledged this fact. He stated:

No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States. Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency.”

God’s hand was present not merely in the War for Independence. His influence was to be seen everywhere. He poured out His blessings upon the American People, guided us in creating our unique and unsurpassed system of law known as the Constitution, blessed us with order and industriousness, gave us power and influence, planted the standard of Christianity and religious devotion in our hearts, prospered us with fields and flocks and bountiful harvest and almost unlimited resources, and made of the most blessed People on the planet.

Modern leftists claim this is a “chauvinistic” attitude, but it’s the truth: Americans are the most blessed People on earth. After spending time in France as ambassador and touring Europe, Thomas Jefferson wrote home to his good friend and future president James Monroe:

“my god! how little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people on earth enjoy. I confess I had no idea of it myself. while we shall see multiplied instances of Europeans going to live in America, I will venture to say no man now living will ever see an instance of an American removing to settle in Europe & continuing there” (Thomas Jefferson to James Monroe, June 17, 1785).

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Anyone who has ever visited or lived abroad must make the same declaration. Nowhere I have ever lived or traveled, be it Russia, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Canada, Ukraine, Lithuania, or Panama, even comes close to matching the superior blessings we enjoy in the United States. Whenever I return to my country from abroad, I feel lighter and happier. There’s a unique feeling in America. There’s a current in the atmosphere that emits hope and solidarity with the great Freedom fighters of the past. You stand on soil trod by men like Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Madison, Adams, Henry, the Pilgrims, the Pioneers, the frontiersmen, and others. Yes, America is a blessed land – the Promised Land of God.

Despite our decaying culture, mob government, and imploding society – all brought about by communist infiltrators and apathy on the part of people who should be most concerned with maintaining our Republic – the United States is still the best country on earth. We have the most potential of any People. We have an unsurpassed heritage of Freedom and the example of the Founding Fathers to guide us. We have the greatest means of overthrowing the “rulers of the darkness of this world” (Ephesians 6:12) of any nation. We have tens of millions of people in whose hearts still burn the fires of Liberty. There are millions of Americans like me who love their Faith, Families, and Freedom and who will die before surrendering them. The Establishment be warned.

Now on to the second portion of this article. How do you show that you are grateful to be an American and that you are are thankful for your unrivaled blessings? I suggest three things each of us can do to show our gratitude by our conduct:

1) Become informed, alert, and aware

2) Vote correctly

3) Turn to God

The first thing we can do to show that we are grateful for the Liberty we’ve been given and the sacrifices our ancestors have made to hand us these blessings is to become aware of them. Despite living in the technology age and having the collective learning of humanity at our fingertips, we’re woefully uninformed. We don’t know our history. We’ve lost touch with our heritage, roots, and traditions. With a few exceptions, we don’t know the names of the figures who made America great. We don’t know their stories. We don’t know the sacrifices our People made to forge a well-ordered, prosperous, and free civilization on this previously barbarous continent. We take it all for granted.

Because we take for granted our Freedom, we ignore the threats to it. After all, if you don’t understand one, you can’t understand the other. We are oblivious to the forces chipping away at our rights, sapping our wealth, stirring up division, seeking for power over us, and transforming our government into an oligarchy of Elitists in which we – the average citizens – have no say.

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It is an insult to the purpose of Thanksgiving to continue on in our ignorance. President Washington pleaded for us to “promote . . . knowledge . . . and the encrease of science” in vain if we don’t take advantage of our means of education to learn correct principles, real history, and truth. Surely an indispensable part of giving thanks for the profound blessings our country has enjoyed is to be aware of the dangers that threaten to strip us of those very blessings. We must be alert. We must awaken. We must become aware of what’s going on in our community and society. And we must take a stand against all forces which would deprive us of those things for which we unite each November to give thanks – namely, our Faith, Families, and Freedom.

The second thing Americans can do to show their gratitude this Thanksgiving is to determine to vote correctly. And yes, there is a right and a wrong way to vote. Voting for candidates of any party whose principles and personal character conflict with the founding vision of America, with the principles of our inspired Constitution, or with that which is in our People’s best interest, is the wrong way to vote. And voting for individuals of any party whose principles and character are in harmony with the founding vision of America, most importantly with our inspired Constitution and the Christian values which undergird it, is the only correct way to vote.

Resolve this Thanksgiving to do everything in your power to ensure that the blessings you enjoy will still exist for the next generation to enjoy as well. You can help bring this about by removing from office all derelict representatives from their posts and replacing them with worthy stewards of our rights. Determine now to be more active in rejecting all parties, programs, and people whose principles conflict with those values and standards which made America great in the first place and caused our forefathers to institute solemn days of thanksgiving. Instead, use your inherent power to support only those ideas, institutions, and individuals which are truly American in character.

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Third, and most importantly, you can show your gratitude by turning more fully to God. No matter how committed you may be to the Savior, there isn’t a single person who can’t become more Christlike, more righteous, more selfless, more charitable, more loving, and more faithful. I have long been of the opinion that the only thing that can truly save our Republic is repentance. Repentance is the remedy we seek. Unless we repent, our society cannot survive.

What is repentance? To most, repentance is a scary word evoking thoughts of stiff punishment, cold tribunals, public shaming, profound embarrassment, and harsh judgment. This false conception was introduced to Christendom only after the martyrdom of the Lord’s apostles who knew better. The original sense of the Hebrew concept of repentance is “to turn.” To repent is to turn away from sin and to turn to God. It means to turn away from harmful practices – adultery, substance abuse, theft, murder, lying, and so forth – and to turn to good works, charity, compassion, faith, and love. Repentance is the most hopeful word in our language.

Repentance is not only the most hopeful word in the English language, but is also our most desperately needed act. It is the remedy to our society’s problems. Until we generously apply this remedy and become true disciples of Jesus Christ, things will continue to spiral out of control. This Thanksgiving, we can show that we are truly grateful for our blessings by recommitting ourselves to lives of purity and goodness. Our Savior “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38) and so should we. Emulating our Lord’s example expresses the ultimate gratitude.

For those who are not Christian, I commend to you a quote by the great Benjamin Franklin. He said: “A virtuous Heretick shall be saved before a wicked Christian” (Benjamin Franklin, “Dialogue Between Two Presbyterians,” April 10. 1735). However, I also invite you to “come and see” (John 1:39) what the Lord’s Gospel offers. It truly offers the abundant life (John 10:10). It is the only path that leads to eternal happiness (Matthew 7:13-14).

An additional word about national repentance, or turning to God, seems prudent as our society comes together to ostensibly worship God. In ancient times, the Lord told His people that if they repented, or turned from their incorrect traditions to correct and worthy ways, He would forgive them and prosper their land. He was anxious to forgive them and bless them, but that blessing depended upon their repentance, righteousness, and faithfulness. Note the marvelous blessings the Lord promises to peoples who turn to Him:

Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord . . . they are gone away backward.

Why should ye be stricken any more? . . . .

Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers. . . .

Hear the word of the Lord . . . give ear unto the law of our God. . . .

Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;

Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge [i.e. do justice to] the fatherless, plead for the widow.

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land” (Isaiah 1:4-5, 7, 10, 16-19).

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Similar blessings are pronounced in the more popular declarations found in the following passages of the Bible:

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 33:12).

This Thanksgiving, the most important thing we can do to express our gratitude is to humble ourselves before God, turn to His Son, and commit ourselves to living lives of goodness that harmonize with the commandments. We ought to, as the Father of our Country implored, “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 repent is to improve and rededicate our lives to the Lord. Let’s unite in recommitting ourselves, as a People, to our great God.

My fellow Americans, we have so much to be grateful for! We have more reason to give thanks than any other group of people who have ever lived. We are richly blessed. However, our blessings are beginning to dry up because we have allowed the sickness of sin to rot our culture, replace our Faith in Christ with trust in science and the faux “wisdom” of men, destroy too many our Families, and gnaw away at our Freedom under the law. Yet, notwithstanding the serious challenges that face us, we’re still the greatest society on earth and we have, without any doubt, the greatest potential of any people to overcome our challenges and shine again.

America was founded to become a shining city on a hill. We were meant to be a refuge for the oppressed of mankind – a haven for those who want to live in peace, breathe free air, raise their families without micromanaging, and worship God as they see fit. For a long time, this vision was a burgeoning reality. Because of our apathy, historical forgetfulness, and immorality, however, we have fallen to a large extent. In order to revive America, we must: 1) Become informed about our history and alert to the dangers threatening us; 2) vote according to principle and support only individuals, ideas, and institutions that conform to the unique principles of Americanism and the Gospel of Jesus Christ; and 3) turn our hearts back to the Lord and become a righteous People once again.

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I hope you will take the opportunity this Thanksgiving to teach your family the history of the holiday. Teach your children that our national blessings come from the Lord and that their continuation depends upon our faithfulness. Teach them to rely upon God and to kneel down and give thanks to Him. Teach them that Jesus is the God of this blessed land.

This year, as you gather with your families, give thanks from the bottom of your heart for everything the Lord has blessed you with and for everything He has blessed this country with. Give thanks for your God-given rights. Give thanks to live in the most incredible and prosperous nation on earth. Give thanks for the Constitution and its sublime principles. Give thanks for the unsurpassed heritage of Liberty we have as Americans. Give thanks for your Faith, Family, and Freedom. Yes, give thanks and mean it!

Zack Strong,

November 28, 2019