This week is American Thanksgiving. This is the moment we eat turkey and pumpkin pie. We gather with family we don’t see often. And, of course, we watch football. Thanksgiving is when we pause to remember the opportunities, liberty, and privileges we enjoy.
In essence, Thanksgiving is the moment we pause to remember. We intentionally reflect upon our lives, upon the last year, and upon the year to come. We pause to consider our current state, our current blessings, our current challenges. We think about where we have been, and where we are headed in life. And most importantly, Thanksgiving is the moment when we pause to be thankful.
The church where I serve as one of the pastors, Cities Church, recently went through the book of Leviticus. One of the things we see on display in the latter chapters of the book of Leviticus is God giving specific protocols for the people of Israel—protocols related to things like the Sabbath, the feasts, and the year of jubilee. These protocols are designed to force the Israelites to pause and to remember; specifically, to remember who God is and what he has done for them. God knows that remembering is a powerful thing.
This was on display for me recently on a family road trip a few weeks ago. My wife and I loaded up in our car, with our daughter and dog, to drive to Texas to spend time with my wife’s family. And while we were driving to Texas, we stopped in Oklahoma City and visited the Oklahoma City National Memorial, which was built at the site of the Oklahoma City federal building that was bombed in 1995. The memorial is sobering, heart-wrenching, and inspiring.
While we were there, I struck up a conversation with one of the park rangers. He gave us great insights. Then I asked him, “Why do we do these things? Why do we have memorials?”
He paused for a moment, as if he were stumped by the question. Then he said, “Well, when we remember, we act different.” When we remember, we act different! That statement captures the sentiment that is on display in the latter chapters of Leviticus, and also on display elsewhere in the Old Testament. God commands us to remember.
Deuteronomy 4:9: “Be on your guard and diligently watch yourselves, so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen.”
Deuteronomy 6:12: “[Do not] forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.”
Deuteronomy 8:2: “And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you.”
2 Kings 17:38: “Do not forget the covenant I have made with you.”
Psalm 106:7: “Our fathers, when they were in Egypt, did not… remember the abundance of your steadfast love, [so they] rebelled by the sea.”
The sentiment we see is that when we forget God, we are less likely to remain faithful to him, but when we remember him and his good works, we are more likely to remain faithful. Our remembering of him is one of the means God uses to keep us close to himself, to keep us from wandering into rebellion.
That is why every Christian ought to intentionally and proactively implement things into our lives that will help us remember God. Each of us ought to have patterns, rituals, traditions, and rhythms that remind us of the character of God and his kindness toward us. If we don’t have these types of things in our lives, we run the risk of forgetting. We ought to find practical ways to continually and daily remind ourselves of the goodness of God.
The more we remember him, the more thankful we will be and the closer we will walk to him. May we remember him during this Thanksgiving season. May we remember the God who rescued his people from Egyptian tyranny, the God who rescued us from the tyranny of death, sin, and the grave.
Kenny Ortiz, M.Div.
Associate Director of College Recruiting &
Assistant Professor of History and Theology
- Pray that our students would grow into mature adults who are willing and able to witness for Christ with wisdom and wonder, no matter what cultural pressures they might face.
- Pray for the potential students and applicants looking to join us in fall 2023.
- Pray for the admissions team and our recruiting efforts.
- Pray that the staff and faculty of Bethlehem College and Seminary would model hearts of gratitude for our students.
- Pray for the full funding of the Serious Joy Scholarships that support our students and faculty.