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Pastor Dean Freeze - Pastor Dean Freeze leads the First Baptist Church in Toledo, Oregon
Pastor Dean Freeze

"The Deanís List"                

Pastor Dean Freeze of the First Baptist Church in Toledo Oregon also is on Winds of Praise, KWPB 98.7 every Monday at 12:30pm Pacific time, teaching from God's Word.

The Deanís List

Can you smell the aroma of the turkey roastiní or pumpkin pie gently lofting through the house? How about the sound of the roaring crowd playing softly in the background from the Falcons vs. the Lions (12:30 p.m., FOX) or the Broncoís vs. the Cowboys (2:00 p.m., CBS). If not football, thereís always the 79th Annual Macyís Thanksgiving Day Parade on NBC. HeyÖmost of us have the day off, so letís celebrate Thanksgiving! If youíre not too full already just thinking about all the food weíll be eating, take a look at the top 10 myths about Thanksgiving

.MYTH # 1 The Pilgrims held the very first Thanksgiving

MYTH # 2 Thanksgiving was intended to be about family

 MYTH # 3 Thanksgiving was originally a religious festival

MYTH # 4 It was the Pilgrims who first ate turkey at Thanksgiving

MYTH # 5 The Pilgrims initially landed at Plymouth Rock, MA

MYTH # 6 Pilgrims built and lived in log cabins

MYTH # 7 Pilgrims dressed only in black MYTH # 8 Pilgrims and Puritans are the same thing

MYTH # 9 Puritans were prudes and didnít believe in pro-creating

MYTH # 10 Puritans hated fun in generalNormally, I allow you to view a list, draw your own conclusions and then perhaps comment on a few things. However, this particular Deanís List needs further explaining. So please allow me to elaborate! The very first Thanksgiving held in America is claimed to have taken place in San Elizario, TX near El Paso in 1598 a full twenty-three years before the Pilgrims held their now famous feast. However, on December 4, 1619 two years before the Pilgrims arrived, Virginians claim they were the first Americans to hold what we now call Thanksgiving. In their view, it's not the Mayflower we should remember, it's the Margaret. The Margaret brought 38 English settlers to the Virginia plantation in 1619. The story is that the settlers had been ordered by the sponsoring London Company to commemorate the ship's arrival with an annual day of thanks. Although few of us have ever heard of this Thanksgiving, President J.F. Kennedy officially recognized the Virginia plantation's claim in 1963 as the first Thanksgiving held in America.

 

How could Thanksgiving NOT be about family? Well, no matter who was actually the first to celebrate Thanksgiving, each feast described above was a celebration that included family members as well as other members of their community. Collectively they joined together to share in a meal where those present gave thanks to God for providing their needs and for many, sparing their very lives! This fact alone explains why Thanksgiving was not just about family. Instead it was more about community and enfolding those around who were of different cultures and races. We should follow their example and revive that part of the Thanksgiving tradition in an effort to extend our family and include those around us. God said in Matthew 22:39 to "love your neighbor as yourself". He didnít say to love only those who are like us or related to us.

Thanksgiving was not a religious festival though it was giving thanks to God and exposing the community to His love for them. Indeed, the feast was a harvest celebration. As for the food that was eaten at the Pilgrimsí Thanksgiving, we know that they didn't have corn on the cob, apples, pears, potatoes or even cranberries. However, it was not documented what the main course was or even if they had turkey. The only food we know they had for sure was venison. So how exactly did the "turkey tradition" happen? Historians believe this came about because the Victorians prepared Thanksgiving with turkey and they are the ones who influenced America to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. This took place officially in 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln issued his Thanksgiving proclamation.

Although itís fun to draw pictures of the Mayflower landing near the famous rock in grade school, the Pilgrims didnít actually land on Plymouth Rock. In fact, according to historian George Willison the account of landing on Plymouth Rock is simply false. Instead, it was more likely a public relations stunt pulled off by Plymouth townsfolk to attract attention. After all, the Mayflower left from Plymouth England on September 6, 1620 so it would make perfect sense to land in Plymouth, MA right? On the contrary, the Mayflower first made landfall at Provincetown, MA.

What about the log cabins? The fact is the Pilgrims didnít build log cabins. History records that the log cabin did not appear in America until late in the seventeenth century when they were introduced by the Germans and Swedes. Instead, the Pilgrims lived in wood clapboard houses made from sawed lumber. Not only that, but the Pilgrims did not dress in black or wear those funny buckles, weird shoes, or black steeple hats! Plymouth Plantation historian James W. Baker explains that in the nineteenth century, when the popular image of the Pilgrims was formed, buckles served as a kind of emblem of quaintness. The same can be said for the guns the Pilgrims are identified with. The blunderbuss was mainly used to control crowds not for hunting.

Whatís the difference between Puritans and Pilgrims? Clearly they were two different groups. The Pilgrims came over on the Mayflower and lived in Plymouth. The Puritans, arriving a decade later, settled in Boston. While both groups came to America for religious freedom, the main difference between the two groups is that the Pilgrims held on to the notion that the Church of England would one day reform. By contrast, the Puritanís came to America to escape the Church of England so that they could have freedom to worship God unrestricted. However, because the Pilgrims and Puritans came to America about the same time (from the same place) we often get them mixed up as President Ronald Reagan did when he once referred to Puritan John Winthrop as a Pilgrim!

Now that we understand the difference between Pilgrims and PuritansÖWhatís up with the Puritanís being so tight laced and opposed to pro-creating? Not true! Actually, they welcomed sex between a married man and woman as a God-given responsibility. For example, when one member of the First Church of Boston refused to have relations with his wife, he was expelled. Cotton Mather, the celebrated Puritan minister, even preached openly that God created woman as a helpmate for man and encouraged them from Genesis to be fruitful and multiply.

Puritanís hated funÖnonsense! Although H.L. Mencken defined Puritanism as "the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy" the truth is, the Puritans welcomed laughter and dressed in bright colors. Just as the Puritans followed Biblical principals, being a Christian is a decision to follow the example of Jesus Christ and to love and accept Him as Godís Son by faith. Speaking as a follower of Jesus, I can certainly vouch for my Christian brothers and sistersÖwe do have funÖlots of FUN! While following the instructions of Godís Holy Word is certainly a challenge and at times difficult, God created us to enjoy the earth and the people and other creatures on it. There is no joy like the joy of knowing, following and loving God.

Thanksgiving is about being thankful. We must all be thankful especially to God for our life and the freedom we have to worship Him. Please pray with me for those in foreign lands who donít enjoy the same political freedom we often take for granted here in America. These foreigners can only dream of celebrating Thanksgiving in a free land. The reality is, they are often persecuted or even killed for their faith in God. Pray especially for our military and specifically for their protection. These brave men and women are fighting to protect our freedom and to provide freedom for others. Take time to thank God for our freedom as Americans and realize that we all have the God given freedom as His children to choose to worship Jesus Christ and to be "free" from our sin and shame. This Thanksgiving, pray also for our Nationís leaders as they certainly need our daily prayers. Finally, pray to God and thank Him in the company of not just your own family, but also those around you who may not have a family to share dinner with. Invite them to give thanks to God together.

Thanksgiving is a GREAT holiday. However, over a period of time, the intent and the facts somehow got changed. Donít make the mistake of allowing your life and your commitment to Christ become a myth.


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