“We have staked the whole of our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government, upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.” —James Madison
Presidents Day is a day to celebrate the lives of Presidents Washington and Lincoln. America’s beloved first President was born, according to the Gregorian calendar, on Feb. 22, 1732. And America’s 16th President was born on Feb. 12, 1809.
In 1971, Congress decided to merge the birthdays into a one-day celebration and deemed that “Washington’s Birthday,” also known as Presidents Day, would be moved from February 22 to the third Monday in February.
“Believing that a representative government, responsible at short periods of election, is that which produces the greatest sum of happiness to mankind, I feel it a duty to do no act which shall essentially impair that principle.”—George Washington
“I leave you hoping that the lamp of liberty will burn in your bosoms until there shall no longer be a doubt that all men are created free and equal.”—Abraham Lincoln
“The only assurance of our nation’s safety is to lay our foundation in morality and religion.” – Abraham Lincoln
When Washington was leading his troops in the struggle for independence, he was greatly discouraged during the harsh winter the army was gathered at Valley Forge. A resident of Valley Forge, Isaac Potts, was walking through the woods when he heard a man praying aloud. He peeked through some trees to see that it was General Washington himself!
Isaac Potts later told his pastor, the Rev. Nathaniel Snowden, that the prayer he heard was “a plaintive sound” coming from a man in need of divine help. Mr. Potts went on to say that he saw Washington on his knees, his sword on one side and his cocked hat on the other. He heard Washington beseeching God for aid and direction. “Such a prayer,” Isaac said, “I never heard from the lips of man. I left him alone praying.”
Once again our nation is beset with great barriers to overcome. We are faced as a nation with many national decisions to make. As a nation we are poised on the precipice of bankruptcy and ruin. At such a time as this it is only fitting to once again fall to our knees and offer a plaintive sound of a nation in need of divine guidance and providence once again. So we beseech the God of Washington and Lincoln once again:
Lord of heaven and earth, we offer you our deepest appreciation for this blessed land. Stir up a sense of stewardship in every citizen so we all may care for our nation and each inhabitant of it.
We pray especially for our leaders. Prompt everyone in a position of authority, from local to national leaders, to strive for righteousness, justice and the welfare of all citizens.
Finally, we pray that we may be ever mindful of the psalmist’s teaching that “Happy is the nation whose God is the Lord …” (Psalm 33:12, NRSV). May that promise become real “from sea to shining sea.” Amen.
Almost from the very beginning of America the call to give thanks to Almighty God has been heard in the land. Even before the Pilgrims settled in Massachusetts the proclamation of Thanksgiving was sounded upon these shores.
One of the earliest recorded celebrations occurred a half century before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth in 1621. “A small colony of French Huguenots established a settlement near present-day Jacksonville, Florida. On June 30, 1564, their leader, René de Laudonnière, recorded that ‘We sang a psalm of Thanksgiving unto God, beseeching Him that it would please Him to continue His accustomed goodness towards us.”
In 1607, 13 years before the Pilgrims landed in Massachusetts, a group of 104 English men and boys began a settlement on the banks of Virginia’s James River. They were sponsored by the Virginia Company of London, whose stockholders hoped to make a profit from the resources of the New World. The community suffered terrible hardships in its early years, but managed to endure, earning the distinction of being America’s first permanent English colony.
In 1610, after a hard winter called “the starving time,” the colonists at Jamestown called for a time of thanksgiving. This was after the original company of 409 colonists had been reduced to 60 survivors. The colonists prayed for help that finally arrived by a ship filled with food and supplies from England. They held a prayer service to give thanks.
While none of these Thanksgiving celebrations were an official national pronouncement (no nation existed at the time), they do support the claim that the celebrations were religious. “Thanksgiving began as a holy day, created by a community of God-fearing Puritans sincere in their desire to set aside one day each year especially to thank the Lord for His many blessings. The day they chose, coming after the harvest at a time of year when farm work was light, fit the natural rhythm of rural life.”
In July 1776, the American colonists declared independence from Britain. The months that followed were so bleak that there was not much to give thanks for. The Journals of the Continental Congress record no Thanksgiving in that year, only two days of “solemn fasting” and prayer.
For much of 1777, the situation was not much better. British troops controlled New York City. The Americans lost the strategic stronghold of Fort Ticonderoga, in upstate New York, to the British in July. In Delaware County, Pa., on Sept. 11, troops led by Gen. George Washington lost the Battle of Brandywine, in which 200 Americans were killed, 500 wounded and 400 captured. Early in the morning of Sept. 21, another 300 American soldiers were killed or wounded and 100 captured in a British surprise attack near Malvern, Pa., that became known as the Paoli Massacre.
Philadelphia, America’s largest city, fell on Sept. 26. Congress, which had been meeting there, fled briefly to Lancaster, Pa., and then to York, a hundred miles west of Philadelphia. One delegate to Congress, John Adams of Massachusetts, wrote in his diary, “The prospect is chilling, on every Side: Gloomy, dark, melancholy, and dispiriting.”
His cousin, Samuel Adams, gave the other delegates — their number had dwindled to a mere 20 from the 56 who had signed the Declaration of Independence — a talk of encouragement. He predicted, “Good tidings will soon arrive. We shall never be abandoned by Heaven while we act worthy of its aid and protection.”
He turned out to have been correct, at least about the good tidings. On Oct. 31, a messenger arrived with news of the American victory at the Battle of Saratoga. The American general, Horatio Gates, had accepted the surrender of 5,800 British soldiers, and with them 27 pieces of artillery and thousands of pieces of small arms and ammunition.
Saratoga turned the tide of the war — news of the victory was decisive in bringing France into a full alliance with America. Congress responded to the event by appointing a committee of three that included Samuel Adams, Richard Henry Lee of Virginia and Daniel Roberdeau of Pennsylvania, to draft a report and resolution. The report, adopted Nov. 1, declared Thursday, Dec. 18, as “a day of Thanksgiving” to God, so that “with one heart and one voice the good people may express the grateful feelings of their hearts, and consecrate themselves to the service of their divine benefactor.”
It was the first of many Thanksgivings ordered up by Samuel Adams. Though the holidays were almost always in November or December, the exact dates varied. (Congress didn’t fix Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday in November until 1941.)
In 1778, a Thanksgiving resolution drafted by Adams was approved by Congress on Nov. 3, setting aside Wednesday, Dec. 30, as a day of public thanksgiving and praise, “It having pleased Almighty God through the Course of the present year, to bestow great and manifold Mercies on the People of these United States.”
When the nation was finally established the First House of Representatives on Thursday, September 24, 1789, voted to recommend—in its exact wording—the First Amendment to the states for ratification. The next day, Friday, September 25, Congressman Elias Boudinot from New Jersey proposed that the House and Senate jointly request of President Washington to proclaim a day of thanksgiving for “the many signal favors of Almighty God.” Boudinot said that he “could not think of letting the session pass over without offering an opportunity to all the citizens of the United States of joining, with one voice, in returning to Almighty God their sincere thanks for the many blessings he had poured down upon them.” and on October 3rd of that year President George Washington made the first Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation.
On October 3, 1863, Abraham Lincoln declared that the last Thursday of November 1863 would be set aside as a nationwide celebration of thanksgiving. His proclamation stated that:
“No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the most high God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy…. I do, therefore, invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday in November next as a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent father who dwelleth in heaven.”
Starting with Lincoln, United States Presidents proclaimed the last Thursday in November for Thanksgiving. Franklin D. Roosevelt changed the celebration to the third Thursday in November “to give more shopping time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. At this point Congress enacted the ‘fourth Thursday’ compromise.” Ever since this pragmatic and commercial approach to Thanksgiving was promoted, its original meaning has steadily been lost.
As a nation we owe a debt of gratitude to those who arrived here before us and set in place the practice of offering Thanksgiving to God for the preservation of this great nation. Without which I fear this young nation would have been lost before it even began. Although many today attempt to remove the foundation Religion played in the formation of this nation, it is quite clear to this reader that the Divine Providence of God was responsible for the very survival of these United States of America. Thanks be to God!
Random Ramblings from the Resident Raptor
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With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations. http://www.bartleby.com/124/pres32.html
malÂ·icePronunciation: \’ma-lis\ Function: noun Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin malitia, from malus bad Date: 14th century
1 : desire to cause pain, injury, or distress to another
2 : intent to commit an unlawful act or cause harm without legal justification or excuse.
What a different time we are currently living in. The current resident of the White Househas a tendency to turn people groups against one another. He has a propensity to promote envy and strife amongst fellow countrymen. In Lincoln’s time our country was facing a far worse problem than the one we are currently facing. The nation wasÂ torn apart by a vicious civil war. Brother was fighting brother and neighbor was at war with neighbor, both thinking they were in the right. Lincolnhad a vision of a unified nation, one nation under God. He was striving to keep the unity of the nationÂ together. After the war had ended, and many were wounded in the battle, a time of healing needed to take place.
Lincolncalled upon the goodness of our nation to bind up the nation’ wounds, to look out for each other, to forgive past errors and move forward. Today we have this constant refrain of how WICKED and BAD AMERICA IS. We have the President of these UNITED STATESendeavoring to divide this great country by stirring up class envy (the haves against the have nots) racial divisiveness, and political party bickering. This US VERSUS THEM mentality is not going to make this country stronger but only bring about it’s ruination.
For wherever there is jealousy (envy) and contention (rivalry and selfish ambition), there will also be confusion (unrest, disharmony, rebellion) and all sorts of evil and vile practices. James 3:16 (AMP)
Americahas it’s faults, many of which have been brought about by greedy men, and corrupt legislators. It has invaded all walks of life and can be found in all sectors of our society. We as a nation need to repent of our evil deeds and work toward a more perfect union. It takes all of us willing to overlook the faults and failures of a few and strive to uphold the basic moral foundation upon which this great nation was established. If we toss aside all that our founders envisioned when fashioning this new nation, then we toss aside all that it means to be America.
We are not like the rest of the world.Â We are not a clone of former states and civilizations. Over 200 years ago our forefathers birthed upon these shores a great new nation conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. We have all been endowed by our CreatorÂ with certain inalienable rights, that among these are the right to LIFE, LIBERTY, and the PURSUIT of HAPPINESS. We are not a nation that should seek to punish those who succeed, but remember it was upon this foundation of individual freedom that many have fought and died.
But if you criticize and attack each other, be careful that you don’t destroy each other. Gal 5:15 (GW)
It would appear that once again we are engaged in a great war to see whether this nation so conceived, can long endure. Our Constitutionand the rights it protects is being assailed by those who do not value the principles set forth therein. This was a Constitution which set forth to establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. The founding document of this great nation does not need to be interpreted, rewritten, amended, or reworded, it needs to be defended. It establishes the safeguards to our individual rights and freedoms. If the Constitution is shredded and destroyed, so too shall our rights as individuals vanish, and this nation will cease to be.
Our Constitution and its defense of individual rights, is being assailed from the White House to the court house. We see rioting in the streets as individuals are being vilified for their pursuit of happiness. Envy and malice was on full display when an angry mob of malcontents swarmed the homes ofÂ some of our fellow citizenry. The trespass against these citizens is a trespass against us all. We, as a nation, can not turn a blind eye as some in our society are vilified for achieving the American dream, and demonized for living the life that the Constitution guarantees for us all. If we continue this course of action of criticizing and attacking each other, then we as nation will be destroyed.
It is time we put aside our petty grievances and embrace once again the greatness of America and what she stands for. Liberty and justice for all. It is time we embrace LIFE and uphold LIBERTY and mete out JUSTICE with an eye toward heaven, knowing that we all are being judged by a higher and greater authority. The very authority recognized by our founders, which endowed us all with these INALIENABLE rights. Rights that need to be honored not abhorred. Rights which need to be protectedÂ not discarded. Rights for which our forefathersfought and died. We have been endowed with these rights from on high, but if we fail to acknowledge this endowment, then we do not deserve to retain it.
Let us therefore humble ourselves and pray that this freedom we so long enjoyed remains, and this nation and it’s government, thus established, will long endure. We do not need to remake America but we do need to REMAKE our citizenry. We do not need to RE-ESTABLISH another nation, we just need to REMEMBER ours, for the greatness she once stood for, and the freedoms she represents.
May this nation established by rule of the people, by the people, and for the people ever endure. And endure she will if in God we truly place our trust. May God continue to bless America.
“[It is a] great truth that industry, commerce and security are the surest roads to the happiness and prosperity of [a] people.” —Thomas Jefferson to Francisco Chiappe, 1789. Papers 15:405 http://etext.virginia.edu/jefferson/quotations/jeff0100.htm
But those who are waiting for the Lord will have new strength; they will get wings like eagles: running, they will not be tired, and walking, they will have no weariness. Isaiah 40:31 (BBE)
Along for the journey
American adults (age 18 and over) spontaneously named President Obama as the person they admire enough to call their hero in a Harris Poll that did not provide a list for respondents to choose from.
The Harris Poll, released on Thursday, was conducted on 2,634 U.S. adults between Jan. 12 to 19, 2009 – just ahead of President Obama’s inauguration
“The fact that President Obama is mentioned more often than Jesus Christ, should not be misinterpreted,” The Harris Poll clarified in its report. “No list was used and nobody was asked to choose between them.
Following Barack Obama, the next most popular, personal heroes are Jesus Christ, Martin Luther King, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, Abraham Lincoln, John McCain, John F. Kennedy, Chesley Sullenberger, and Mother Teresa, respectively, to round out the top 10 people Americans say they admire and would call their hero.
Respondents gave multiple reasons for their choice of heroes, including: doing what’s right regardless of personal consequences (89 percent); not giving up until the goal is accomplished (83 percent); doing more than what other people expect of them (82 percent); overcoming adversity (81 percent); and staying level-headed in a crisis (81 percent).
Only 14 percent of Americans said they admire either their mother or father enough to call them their hero. In contrast, nearly half (49 percent) said a public figure is someone they admire and consider a personal hero
By Michelle A. Vu
Christian Post Reporter
And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” And suddenly looking around they no longer saw any one with them but Jesus only. Mark 9:7-8
Peter, James, and John had their own chance for hero worship. One day Jesus led them up a high mountain to a place where they would be set apart by themselves. While there on the mountaintop, Jesus was met by Elijah and Moses who talked with Jesus a while. Jesus was transfigured before their very eyes. They watched Jesus’ garments become whiter than even Clorox bleach could whiten. Peter being ever impetuous, wanted to build huts for Moses, Elijah, and Jesus. While contemplating the idea of building these huts, a cloud overshadowed them and a voice cried from heaven saying; “This is my beloved Son, listen to Him.” When the cloud had lifted only Jesus remained.
One Solitary Life
Herein lies the basis for a Christian’s belief in God. Although taught by the prophets and lawgivers of old, it wasn’t until the arrival of Jesus on the scene, that all those ancient prophecies and stories took on fuller meaning. The only thing that sets our faith apart from the religions of the world is one solitary life, the life of Jesus Christ.
All religions have their laws and lawgivers. All religions have their prophets and holy men, but only Christianity has Jesus Christ. Some religions allude to Jesus as just another prophet. Thus this mountaintop experience set Jesus apart from both the law (Moses) and the prophets (Elijah) when the voice was heard from heaven saying “this is my beloved Son listen to Him”.
Peter, like many of us, wanted to honor all three men equally by building huts for them all. He wanted to show his appreciation and respect for these three men of God. He saw Jesus in the company of Moses and Elijah and viewed them equally. As a Jewish male, raised on the law and prophets, he grew to appreciate the history of Israel and to respect the great men of faith like Moses, Abraham, Aaron, and Elijah. Although Jesus continually called himself the “Son of God”, until this time, I am not sure the three men actually understood the importance of Jesus’ life and ministry. He was just considered a great man, or a prophet. Although Peter had alluded to Jesus as “the Christ, the Son of the living God” in Matthew 16:16, I still do not think the fullness of that revelation had registered with him.
Even though transfigured before their very eyes and shining with the glory of heaven, it wasn’t until after Jesus’ resurrection that Peter, James and John fully understood the whole purpose of Christ’s coming. They had heard the stories of Moses’ face shining with the Glory of God when he descended from Mount Sinai, in Exodus 34, therefore the fact that Jesus also shone with the brightness of God’s glory was not really anything new. And then having Moses and Elijah there with Jesus, made it seem like a reunion. Peter, James and John, may have thought of themselves as special in some way, to have been invited to this gathering of by-gone saints.
"Come and hear, all you who fear God. Let me tell you what he has done for me." - Psalm 66:16
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