Thursday, January 3, 2013

A New Perspective on the Virgin Birth

My previous two posts relayed conversations I've had related to the virgin birth of Jesus - a stumbling block to some, Christians and atheist alike. Well, it seems I'm not alone in fielding questions on this topic. I subscribe to a daily email devotion named "Slice of Infinity" from Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. I  particularly like these devotions as they are not the light-hearted, simple, feel good devotions that are so prevalent. Rather they are deep, thoughtful and challenging. I recommend Slice of Infinity to anyone looking for deeper reflection on the Christian faith on a daily basis (

Anyway, today's devotion, entitled "Which Virgin Birth?" by Vince Vitale, explores the virgin birth in a very insightful way and from a different perspective than I'd ever considered. So, I commend his thoughts to you for further perspective on this subject:


A while back I received an email from a friend of mine, a retired Princeton University professor, in which he detailed some of his objections to Christianity, and in his last line—as if to trump all other considerations—he wrote, “Nor can I believe in a virgin birth.” No further argument. As if to say, it would be crazy to believe in such a thing.

It did make me think, why is it so often the virgin birth that we have the hardest time accepting? Why not Jesus walking on water? Why not him multiplying the loaves?

Maybe it’s because we’re happy for God to do what he wants with his own body, and we’re happy for him to give us gifts, but we get offended at the thought of a miracle that inconveniences us, that has a claim on our lives, that requires us to respond “I am the Lord’s servant,” as Mary did (Luke 1:38).

I thought to write back to my friend with reasons why perhaps he could believe in a virgin birth. But then I realized, he already does. In fact, every person is committed to a virgin birth, whether they realize it or not.

We find one virgin birth in Chapter 1 of Luke’s Gospel:

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:38).

Admittedly, this is out of the realm of the ordinary. But what exactly is the alternative?

My colleague John Lennox recently debated another Princeton professor—Peter Singer—who is one of the world’s most influential atheists. John challenged him to answer this question: why are we here? And here’s how Peter responded:

“We can assume that somehow in the primeval soup we got collections of molecules that became self-replicating; and I don’t think we need any miraculous or mysterious [explanation].”(1)

And I remember thinking, How does us somehow getting self-replicating molecules in the primeval soup not count as a mysterious explanation? That sounds a lot like a virgin birth to me.

Or take the brilliant Cambridge physicist Stephen Hawking’s latest attempt to propose an atheistic explanation for our universe: “. . . the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist.”(2)

Is that any less miraculous of a birth than the account from Luke Chapter 1?

We live in a miraculous world. Regardless of whether you are a theist, an atheist, or an agnostic, there’s no getting around that fact. It’s not a matter of whether we believe in a virgin birth, it’s just a matter of which virgin birth we choose to accept.

We can believe in the virgin birth of an atheistic universe that is indifferent to us—a universe where “there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference.”(3) Or we can believe in the virgin birth of a God who loves us so deeply that he came to be born among us and to live beside us, to call us “family” (Hebrews 2:11) and “friends” (John 15:15), and to give himself the name “God with us” (Matthew 1:23; Isaiah 7:14).

There is a depth of relationship that is only possible between people who have been through the worst together— those who have been there in each other’s suffering, those who have fought through disaster side by side, those who have sat beside one another in devastation with nothing left to say other than “I know exactly what you’ve been through, and I still love you and I still believe in you.” Because of Jesus, that depth of relationship is possible with God. That is what we celebrate at Christmas.

Growing up near New York City, one of my most vivid memories of Christmas is of homeless people begging on the street corners. And I would give some change if I had some. Imagine someone who offers to trade his home for a cold street corner, who instead of giving a few coins sat down on the street corner himself and handed over the key to his home.

At Christmas, Jesus literally comes and lives in our home—with all of its suffering, sin, and shame—and he shows us the home it will be, the home he is preparing—an eternal home where “[God] will wipe every tear from [our] eyes,” where there will be “no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (Revelation 21:4).

The way we accept this gift is with simple words: I’m sorry. Thank you.

I’m sorry for the times I’ve hid from you. I’m sorry for the times I’ve run from you. I’m thankful that you didn’t give up on me, but were willing to make even the greatest sacrifice in order to be with me. I want to be with you too, wherever that leads, not only this Christmas but always.

Vince Vitale is a member of the speaking team with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Oxford, England.

(1) “Is There a God,” Melbourne, Australia. 21 July 2011.
(2) Stephen Hawking, The Grand Design (New York: Bantam, 2010), 180.
(3) Richard Dawkins, A River Out of Eden (New York: Perseus, 1995), 133.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Two Conversations, Part 2

Yesterday I posted about the first of two conversations on the topic of the virgin birth. The conversation in yesterday’s post was with a Christian friend who didn’t believe in the virgin birth and didn’t think it really mattered anyway. Today’s post is about a conversation with an atheist friend. My friend, unlike many of those who are often referred to as the “New Atheists,” who are very judgmental, hostile, and vindictive in their tone and manner (unfortunately, reminding me of a few Christians I’ve known through the years), is generally quiet about his beliefs. He does not see that atheism is a belief system that itself requires faith in something. He sees atheism more as a believe system grounded on the absence of faith in anything. Perhaps one day I’ll have the chance to visit with him about the logical fallacy of that thought process, but that’s for another day.

It seems my friend views the world in a black and white manner, in which science is the sole arbiter of what is real and what is not. During our conversation I learned in his view the virgin birth is just one of many stories from the Bible which are counter to our understanding of how this world works and which therefore must not be true. He said that given the Bible is “full of these untruths,” then the religions that use the Bible or any part of it as their “holy book” simply cannot be true. Likewise, in his view, the concept of a god cannot be proven by scientific means, and until it is, he’s not going to accept that there is a god.  

In the previous paragraph I have summarized my understanding of my friend’s beliefs, and by doing so succinctly like this, I have stated them far more forcibly and bluntly than he ever would. He’s a nice guy who is not looking to pick a fight about religion and generally keeps his beliefs to himself and probably wishes others would too.

In the conversation I told my friend science was always my favorite subject in school, and I still enjoy studying and learning in certain scientific fields, particularly astronomy and physics, but I didn’t see science as the end all of what is real and what is not. I asked him why he did view things that way. He told me he felt a person can only reliably determine truth when something can be proven scientifically. He said he believes we have a tendency to make up “truths” for the things we cannot understand or do not want to accept. Therefore he has a general distrust of things that cannot be proven because he fears such things may be false concoctions of man. He also said he believes god was made up over time to serve as anything from a father figure to a villain to help us deal with the hard parts of life by running to god for shelter or by blaming god; thus relieving ourselves from responsibility when things go wrong. I asked him if he had read the writings of Freud and Marx where they expressed similar viewpoints on mankind’s need for a god. He told me he was a little familiar with them, but had never really studied them, which surprised and to some degree disappointed me.

I then asked him if he knew who discovered radioactivity. After a few second he recalled it was Madame Curie. I followed up asking him when radioactivity came to exist. He shook his head slowly and said he didn’t know. I could see the troubled look on his face when I pointed out that using his standard for what did and did not exist, that radioactivity didn’t exist until she discovered it. His response was that I was twisting his words a bit about his view of science as the determiner of what is and is not. I asked him to help me correct my understanding of his view on that, and he struggled in thought for a little bit and eventually, instead of responding to my request, he said something like “Well that doesn’t in anyway prove there is a god or that the virgin birth or other unbelievable stories in the Bible really happened.” I told him I agreed that it didn’t prove any of it. I was not trying to prove any of those things; I was trying to understand his view of science as the filter of determining what is real.

From here, we discussed what science is and that it is limited by what we can observe directly or find a way to measure. He agreed and pointed out in the case of Madame Curie, as soon as we developed the technology to be able to measure the existence of radioactivity we did so. I told him that may be true, but that radioactivity existed before it could be measured, which illustrates a limitation of science as a sole means of determining truth. I explained to him my viewpoint that science is the means by which we discover how things that exist work and sometimes how they came to be. I told him I believe God placed in mankind a desire to understand the universe in which we live, a trait that makes us different from the rest of life on Earth, and that I believe over time God reveals to us through common reason, occasionally through the minds of geniuses, and at times through technological advances an ever expanding view of the mechanics of this universe – from the sub-atomic level to the cosmological extremes. I also described how I believe science is our primary way for discovering how things work, but it is not, and I believe never will be, of great value in determining why those things exists or why they work the way they work.

He seemed receptive and interested, so I continued by asking him how he viewed the relationship between faith and reason. He said he views faith and reason as contradictory with each other…as opposites. He believes Christians are generally people going through the motions and emotions of faith and who have chosen not to think about why they believe what they believe and have rejected reason. Unfortunately, in many cases, I believe he has a point here. He said that either something is real, and can be established through reason, or it is not real and can only be accepted by blind faith. I agreed with him that many people share his view of faith versus reason, but I told him I see things differently.

To me, faith is not just belief in something we can’t prove true, and it certainly is not believing in something known to be false. Rather faith is dedicating oneself to an idea, a concept, or a viewpoint to the degree that it impacts who you are, how you make decisions, and how you respond to things. I told him that based on our conversation I thought he had a strong faith in science, with which he agreed. I said to me faith takes the resulting “hows” of reason and enables us to explore the “whys” behind them, and faith at times even enables us to postulate new “hows” that become the hypothesis science uses to advance. I see a false dichotomy between faith and reason, which seems to have only arisen in recent history. Through much of history, at least western history, many of our scientific discoveries and advances came from the endeavors of the clergy and others within the church. Admittedly, at times the church to its detriment resisted the discoveries of science, but such resistance was short-lived. I also pointed out that many of the universities and hospitals of today were established by faith-based institutions and have been the birthplaces of much scientific discovery and application.

I had hoped to explore with him various arguments for the existence of God, but I sensed it was time to draw this conversation to a close as it had already lasted quite a while and covered a lot of ground. So I acknowledged the time and in closing asked him if he was familiar with any such arguments. He wasn’t. I explained that of course these arguments do not prove the existence of God or necessarily even address God’s nature, but they do build a reasonable, logically sound case for a creator. I picked up a Post-it note and wrote the names of three of these arguments that have been impactful on my thinking, and I wrote the names of two books I asked him consider reading. The Post-it note read:

Cosmological - R.C. Sproul “Not a Chance”
Moral – C.S. Lewis “Mere Christianity
Teleological – Design in nature = Designer

I hope this conversation helps my friend and pray God guides him and all of us who seek truth.


As I wrote yesterday, I will write again today. I tell this story, not to toot my own horn, but to share with whoever reads this certain things God has been teaching me. In fact, many of the thoughts I shared here are things I’ve learned in recent years, so the only horn I’m tooting is God’s. I toot God’s horn to thank Him for opening my eyes to certain things (even if only in small glimpses) and for allowing me the chance at times to be a vehicle through which He opens others’ eyes. Whatever words I speak that help open others’ eyes are words given me by God. All too often, in looking back I see opportunities for conversations like these two that I have missed. Thankfully, that is not always the case.

Now, I think it’s time for Christmas dinner!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Two Conversations

 Twice this Christmas season I have found myself in conversations on a topic I don’t believe I have ever engaged in before, not in casual conversation anyway. Each conversation was with a friend – one a Christian the other an atheist. The topic: the virgin birth of Jesus.

During the first conversation (the one with the Christian), I heard my friend say something along the lines of “I don’t believe in the virgin birth. That really doesn’t make any sense to me, but it doesn’t matter because it’s not really important to the story of Christ anyway.” I knew my friend had been raised a Christian, attended church regularly and was not “new to the faith,” so in the instance in which he spoke those words, in fact, before he got them fully out of his mouth, my mind darted in two directions. First, why would someone who’d been a Christian for quite a while think that the virgin birth doesn’t make sense? Second, why would that person think that it didn’t really matter anyway?

Fortunately, time allowed the two of us to explore this topic a bit, so I asked him why the virgin birth doesn’t make sense to him. He looked at me a little surprised to find I must believe in this “ancient legend” of a virgin birth and that I apparently hadn’t thought through this before. His response was simply, “It’s not possible…that’s not how babies come to be.” I smiled as he went on to explain that in the past people weren’t as enlightened as they are now and he felt they made up this story of a virgin birth as part of declaring Jesus unique and from God.

Over the next several minutes, I led my friend through a series of questions to begin to explore what he believed. We discussed whether or not he believed God exists and if so, what God’s nature is. My friend agreed that God exists and that all else that exists was created by God (though he was quick to point out he didn’t believe the Creation Story is the literal story of how it happened, to which I let him know I agreed in that I didn’t think the Creation Story was ever intended to be a literal account of how God created the universe, rather an affirmation that God did indeed do so, and that it was good…at one point, very good). At this point, I asked him how it is “impossible” (to use his word) for the God who created the entire universe out of nothing to create a baby in a woman’s womb without the aid of a sperm cell? He looked at me like I’d just given him a V-8 face palm and answered something like, “Well, I guess that’s not so impossible after all.”

The conversation continued, and after confirming as a Christian he believed the Bible was the inspired word of God and is reliable, we discussed the prophecy related to the virgin birth, the scandal among certain people in Nazareth and Bethlehem surrounding the Mary’s pregnancy, and the tension and angst it brought to Joseph (and the fact that Joseph, though not having a full understanding of the biology of human reproduction, certainly understood “where babies come from” and that Mary’s pregnancy did not happen that way, so he was going to divorce her before God’s intervention via a dream).

We then discussed why he felt the virgin birth didn’t matter. He explained that he basically saw Christmas as a nice story, but that the only story that really mattered is the story of Easter. I told him I felt our Christmas hymns and songs, our nativity sets, and scenes from plays and movies may make the Christmas story seem like a nice story, but that when we cast those aside and read what actually happened in the context of Roman oppression, when we consider the stigma and ridicule that accompanied Mary’s pregnancy, the journey to Bethlehem late in her third trimester, the place and conditions of Jesus’ birth and the subsequent decree from Herod that resulted in the deaths of so many babies in Bethlehem, I have a hard time finding a “nice story.” I find “nice” in only a couple of brief scenes in this story. My friend said he’d never thought about it like that, but that it made sense and seemed much more realistic than how he had perceived the Christmas story.
More importantly, in our final few moments together, we discussed why the Christmas story, and in particular the virgin birth, is so important. Certainly, Easter is the central story of Christianity. It is the focal point of all that is written in the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments. However, if Easter is the story of a good man named Jesus being raised from the dead after being unjustly executed for largely political reasons, then there is no salvation or hope, except perhaps for that man named Jesus, to be found in that story. However, if God came to earth in the form of a man, being both fully human and fully divine, and if God in that form experienced fully the range of human emotion and frailty, yet He lived a sinless life, and then at the time of His choosing He offered himself as a sacrifice, a love offering, for all mankind, then the Easter story has the power to save and to transform us. The virgin birth is essential to fulfilling those “ifs.”

Jesus had to be both fully human and fully divine. If Jesus was not fully human He could not experience the full essence of what being a human is, including experiencing suffering and death. If Jesus was not fully human, the sinless life He lived would not have been meaningful in that it would not have been done on the same terms in which we all live. If Jesus were not fully divine, then His death and resurrection would be insufficient to atone for the sins of all people. (Maybe I’ll explore this last point more in a post closer to Easter.) The virgin birth is critical to the story for only by it is the baby Jesus both God and man.

As our conversation closed, my friend admitted he’d never really spent much time thinking through or studying these things. He had heard others he respected make the statement that the virgin birth was not real and was not necessary and they seemed reasonable and presented a “more sophisticated way” to understand the Christmas story, so he’d accepted them. It seems he fell in the same trap I know so many fall into: drawing “reasonable” conclusions before considering all the facts and applying logic to those facts, resulting in a set of “reasonable” conclusions that are contradictory and create an incoherent understanding.


I tell this story, not to toot my own horn, but to share with whoever reads this certain things God has been teaching me. In fact, many of the thoughts I shared here are things I’ve learned in recent years, so the only horn I’m tooting is God’s. I toot God’s horn to thank Him for opening my eyes to certain things (even if only in small glimpses) and for allowing me the chance at times to be a vehicle through which He opens others’ eyes. Whatever words I speak that help open others’ eyes are words given me by God.

And now for the second conversation…


Sunday, December 9, 2012

80 Years Ago Today

The date was December 9, 1932. It was a dismal time during the height of the Great Depression. Just weeks earlier, Franklin Roosevelt was elected President. On that day, a 15-year old boy in Texarkana, Texas, a member of Troop 1 of the Caddo Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America, completed his final requirement and thus earned the rank of Eagle Scout – the highest award in the Boy Scouting then as well as today. This boy likely had no idea of the significant impact that what he had learned and done to earn this honor would have on his life. Likewise, the founders and leaders of the Boy Scouts of America, an organization only seven years older than this new Eagle scout, likely could not fully appreciate the impact Boy Scouting would have on millions of youth or on the history and achievements of so many in the United States of America.

Why do I know this story, and why do I write about it? Because that 15-year old, new Eagle Scout is my father, Johnnye U. Foster.

I was one of five children born to him and my mother, Helen, and was the third of three boys. My older brothers, 19 and 18 years older than me, were each involved in scouting, and one of them earned the rank of Life. My father longed for at least one of his sons to become an Eagle Scout, and when my older brothers did not achieve that goal, his hopes were on me. I went through the Cub Scouting program with Pack 935 for four years in Vidalia, Georgia, earning my Arrow of Light award (the highest award in Cub Scouting) and then crossed over into Troop 935.

After I had earned the Tenderfoot rank, my father sat down with me on the back porch of our home and we talked about Scouting. He explained to me what earning the rank of Eagle meant to him and how looking back he could see how it impacted much of his life – from being valedictorian of the Forestry School at Louisiana State University when he graduated in 1940, to piloting B-24’s in 35 missions in Europe during World War II as part of the 453rd Bomb Group, to serving in the Texas Rangers (the Texas Forestry Service), to serving as State Commander for the Texas Chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, to a successful career managing wood treatment plants in several different locations in the United States – he realized that scouting had helped instill in him a work ethic, a self confidence and a determination that served him well throughout his life. He wanted me to have those same traits and sought to inspire me to earn the Eagle rank with both his stories and with an enticement which I thought at the time was a little strange, but which nevertheless caught my attention. He pulled a $100 bill out of his wallet (this was in 1974, when that was a lot more money than it is today) and told me he would give that to me as a gift if I earned Eagle.

I was motivated by that conversation (by both the comments about how earning Eagle could help shape my life as well as the $100), and I was active in Troop 935 for a total of about two years. While my troop was a good troop of about 20 scouts and two dedicated adult leaders, both those leaders worked for the same company, and both were transferred at the same time. My dad and others tried to step in as leaders, but work and other commitments prevented them from doing all that was needed to effectively run a troop, and the troop became inactive. As a result, I never made it past the 1st Class rank.

It was however, the memory of that conversation with my dad on the back porch as well as the experiences I had in Boy Scouts that led me, once I had a son, to choose Scouting as one of the key methods I would use to teach him and help him grow towards becoming a man. A journey I lead him on still today.

My son became a Cub Scout in September 2004 with Pack 56 in Lawrenceville, Georgia. In March 2008, he earned his Arrow of Light and crossed over to Troop 56, a wonderful troop with a storied history and great legacy for producing quality scouts. While I understood why my father was not able to be a scout leader for my Troop, I was thrilled when he tried to, and I wished that he could have been my Scoutmaster. As a result and since I had the ability to do so, I made the commitment to be an active leader in my son’s Pack and Troop. So, just as my son has been in Scouting for a little over eight years now, I too have been; first as his Den Leader and continuing as Den Leader all four years he was in Cub Scouting, as well as serving as Cubmaster and then Pack Committee Chair. Once we crossed over to Troop 56, I served as one of the Assistant Scoutmasters before becoming Scoutmaster January 1, 2011.

While I could end this story there, I’ve still not gotten to the best part. While I knew my father was an Eagle Scout, I never knew when he earned Eagle. I had guessed it was when he was 16 or 17, but that was nothing more than a guess. Well, last month, I was in the office of our Troop’s Council, the Northeast Georgia Council, and had a pleasant visit with a lady there named Martha Ann. The subject of my father being an Eagle scout came up while I was there, and as I walked back to my truck, I felt the urge to go back and ask her if there was a way to find out when my father became an Eagle Scout. I gave her all the information I knew, and she said she’d call the National Headquarters in Dallas, Texas and perhaps get back with me in a day or two and let me know if they could find the answer. By the time I’d made the 40-minute drive from that office home in heavy rush hour traffic, my mind had been distracted and moved on to other items. But as I walked in the door of my home, our phone was ringing. I noticed on the caller ID that it was the Council office calling, and I was elated when Martha Ann told me the National Headquarters had no problem tracking down my dad records, and she gave me the December 9, 1932 date.

So why is this the best part? You see, I went to the Council’s office that day, November 1st, in order to drop off my son’s Eagle book in order for him to be able to participate in the November Eagle Boards of Review, and on November 17th, just a couple of weeks after the day I learned when my father earned his Eagle, and nearly 80 years to the day after my father did so, my son became the first descendant of my father to become an Eagle Scout. So while it took a lot longer than planned, I believe my father can now look down from Heaven with pride that while none of his son’s achieved the goal he had hoped for, one of his grandsons did.

The Eagle soars again!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Give Thanks!

Giving thanks to God for His blessings is deeply rooted in American history. One of the thoughts that come to mind for most Americans when reflecting on Thanksgiving is the story we learned as children of the “First Thanksgiving” in 1621 (a misnomer, but that’s OK for now), when Pilgrims and Indians gathered to celebrate the first harvest of these new settlers in what is now known as Plymouth, Massachusetts. If we probe our memories deep enough, we also recall that President George Washington in 1789 issued a proclamation creating the first Thanksgiving Day formally set aside by the newly created Federal government of the United States of America. Despite that proclamation, it was not until 1863 during the Civil War that President Abraham Lincoln declared a national Thanksgiving Day. Thanksgiving has been celebrated annually in the United States as an official holiday since then. Interestingly (at least to me) in order to finally settle a two-year dispute between Democrats and Republicans that arose during the Great Depression related to the economic impact of Thanksgiving, in 1941 Congress tweaked the formal date of Thanksgiving to the fourth Thursday of November, as we know it today.

Washington’s and Lincoln’s proclamations (as well as the writings and speeches of many other Americans key in shaping and leading our country), reveal their clear and indisputable acknowledgement of God as creator, provider and sustainer. Regrettably, I believe most Americans educated in the last few decades aren’t aware of this perspective of God held by most of our country’s founders and leaders. Many in academia wish to remove God from American history, so in the face of the truth well documented in our country’s historical documents, these academicians recast the so-called First Thanksgiving as the Pilgrims giving thanks to the Indians for helping them survive, and they attempt to discredit many of our founding fathers as greedy, villainous slaveholders.

So, why this history lesson and editorial on God in American history?

Because the same motivations that seek to recast the truth of God’s providence and blessings in our country’s founding and history are also at work throughout our culture in attempting to diminish the importance of God, both corporately and personally, in our lives today. The same forces that wish to deny our country’s Judeo-Christian heritage also wish for a culture free of God. Regrettably, the views espoused by most who view God as a psychological projection of weak minded people and who view religion as a virus to be destroyed appear to have sunk deeply into the American psyche today. As evidenced by the most recent Barna study on Americans’ views on God and religion, a blend of materialism, naturalism and secularism have led America as a whole away from an overall cultural acceptance of the existence of God. Likewise, and perhaps even more harmfully, a false relativistic spiritualism continues to sweep our country leading its adherents to believe there is in fact a god and it is up to each person, in our his particular way, to find god. Unfortunately, these seekers of god are driven by their desire for a mixture of pleasure, mysticism and self betterment that in the end leads them to find a god of their own making – a god they ultimately find abides within themselves. A comparative study of this form of spiritualism and of Satanism reveals amazingly similar foundations and premises, except, of course, that the name of the object of worship changes to the believer himself.

So again, why do I write all this here at Thanksgiving?

I’m glad you asked! To be truly thankful requires a person to first accept at least a couple of truths. First, to be thankful, for other than the trivial pleasures and gestures of kindness one person may show another, a person must realize that life and all that comes with it is not created by happenstance, by fate or by mankind himself. If it were, then to whom, other than perhaps ourselves, should we be thankful? To be genuinely thankful for life itself and for the real blessings of life requires acknowledging a creative, sustaining, providential force. A force I choose to refer to as God.

Second, to be thankful, a person must realize he is not capable of living, in any real sense of the word, truly alone and on his own. Whether he realizes it or not, a person cannot survive in a psychologically healthy manner long-term without various acts of love and kindnesses being shown to him on a regular basis. Likewise, as he realizes this fact, his eyes are opened to the inter-connectedness of people in general in order for our basic physical, emotional, intellectual and social needs to be met.

When we come to the realization that all we have and indeed our very existence comes directly or indirectly from God, and we come to realize our innate need to be in relationship with other people, then, and only then, can we begin to be truly thankful for much anything.

So, let us:
Praise God from whom all blessing flow.
Praise Him all creature here below.
Praise Him above ye Heavenly host.
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

Let us “not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present [our] requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard [our] hearts and [our] minds in Christ Jesus.”

Let us also “be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for [us] in Christ Jesus.”