America: Is it Time to Be Consumed with God?

By Tim Rowe

Are you consumed with God? What an intriguing and life-changing question! Or is God just another contact in your Rolodex of life that you mean to catch up with and try to fit Him in your schedule, but the busyness of life has just swept away this opportunity. It is unfortunate to say, but most of us are more consumed with our grocery list than we are with God. God has pressed this question into the very fiber of my soul, and as I examined my life with an open and honest eye I would have to say I have fallen woefully short of being consumed with God. We are consumed with our television shows, consumed with our music, consumed with our movies, consumed with our schedules, consumed with our careers, consumed with our education, consumed with our politics, consumed with our family, consumed with our health, consumed with our success but how many of us are consumed with God? We are just too busy for our Creator and would rather spend time at a Starbucks with some latte rather than in the throne room of the living God becoming intimate and acquainted with God Almighty. 

Just think of all the people we would offend if we were consumed with God! We would be labeled a wacko, a religious nut, an intolerant fool, a misguided idiot and an unenlightened, dogmatic jerk if we dared to be consumed with God.  We have so “evolved” in culture, science and behavior that we just don’t need to be consumed with God anymore or so we are told. Who needs God anymore as long as I have my iPod? Who needs God when I have the world at my fingertips from my computer in my cozy house? Who needs God when I have Netflix, iTunes, DroidX and Xbox? Who needs God when I can TiVo? God has to be more than just on our mailing list. God has to be more than just on our wish list. God has to be a living, burning fire in the depths of our heart. God has to be more alive, more real, more present, more close and more looked to than any earthly thing. An electronic device may fascinate you for a moment, but it can never bring you peace, love, joy or true satisfaction. It is a sad characteristic to this “enlightened” world that God is so dead in the hearts of people.  

We have a whole religious culture in society today, but God is most often a million miles away as its heartbeat long ago quit being synchronized to the heartbeat of God. Unfortunately there is no place where God may be deader than in the church. We rationalize that we go to church for 60 minutes a week and offer sporadic thirty-second prayers to God throughout the week and that is enough as I just have too many other things going on. My schedule is packed. I am overwhelmed with everything I HAVE to do. You just don’t understand. 

It is sad to say that there are Ten Thousand and Eighty (10,080) minutes in a week and Five Hundred Twenty Four Thousand One Hundred and Sixty (524,160) minutes in a year and we think we are doing God a favor if we spend sixty minutes of the over ten thousand minutes a week for Him or three thousand minutes a year of the over half a million available. Wow we are spending one half of one percent of our time with God, and we wonder why spiritual anemia and lack are rampant in our lives. We wonder why God is just not all that real to us and why we are so lacking of the demonstration of the power of God in our lives. We wonder why our heart is dead to God. 

God must become more to us then a fleeting thought or a desperate prayer when we are in trouble. God must become our life. God must become our passion. God must become what we chase after with an unrelenting tenacity of heart and soul. I dare you to be consumed with God and see how God will move to transform your life into the realm of the miraculous, the amazing and the extraordinary. Nothing compares to God, absolutely nothing. Nothing is more satisfying than Jesus Christ. We have settled for second best. We have been consumed with the counterfeit, the second-rate, the cheap thrill and the moment of glory.  We love to have our senses tickled with the latest fad. All the while God is crying out like in Isaiah 65 (Message Bible): 

“I’ve made myself available to those who haven’t bothered to ask.
I’m here, ready to be found
   by those who haven’t bothered to look.
I kept saying ‘I’m here, I’m right here’   to a nation that ignored me.
I reached out day after day to a people who turned their backs on me,
People who make wrong turns,  who insist on doing things their own way.” 
 

How long can a nation afford to ignore Him? Isn’t it about time that we seek God with our whole heart and find Him? He has and always will be right there with His arms stretched out towards us. He always invites us to come and turn to Him and experience life, joy and peace in a new dimension far above the glitter of the world. What is holding us back? What is preventing us from being consumed with God?                                      

Do you know that God is consumed with you? Do you know that God thinks about you all the time? Do you know that God’s love for you is immeasurable and unfathomable and to such a degree that it transcends human understanding? Do you know that God longs for you to fall into His embrace and to cleave unto Him with all your heart and strength? Do you know that God wants to be wanted by you, He wants to be loved, He wants to be cherished, He wants to be adored, He wants to be treasured, and He wants to be worshipped?  The Psalmist says that God’s thoughts toward us are so many and so wonderful that they cannot be numbered. 

God has always loved you no matter what you have done. God has always been there even in your darkest hour even though you may not have ever realized it. God will never give up on you for He is a loving God and not just a fickle person (Hosea 11). God will never quit chasing you for His love for you burns deep and true. God is pleading to you, please let me be your God, your everything, your reason for breathing and let me bear my mighty arm for you and show you my goodness and glory. God has never forgotten you, not ever, not even for a second. Don’t you want to know this God? 

Are you desperate for God or does God only enter the picture when you are on your last rope with nowhere else to turn? Do we place God on shelf only to take Him off the shelf when we have tried everything else? Do we realize deep inside of every man and woman is the intense desire to know His Creator because we were all made in the image of God. This hunger is never satisfied by things or people or addictions or success, but can only be quenched by an intimate relationship with God Almighty. Is your love for God all-consuming or as affectionate as a peck on the cheek? Have we allowed the routine of life to replace the adventure of knowing the only true God whose love is boundless, whose mercy is everlasting and whose grace is abundant? Are we too busy, to tired or just too lazy to spend time with God daily? Do we run to do everything else first before we even consider time with God?  

Do you know God gave everything so you could be brought as an honored son or daughter into the family of God? Would you give all you have to Him without reservation as act of devoted love? Let us cry out like Job “My ears have heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you!” Do you long to experience God on a deeper level? Do you long to enjoy God in all the richness of everything He is? Why not be consumed with God? You will never be disappointed from now throughout all eternity. He is calling you now to come to Him and experience the healing wholeness and deliverance that is available in His Son Jesus Christ. He crushed all captivity, sin and bondage and paid the ultimate price so we might live. Doesn’t he deserve everything? Doesn’t He merit all our passion, all our love, all our devotion, all our worship, all our priorities, and all our heart? How we could advance the kingdom of God if we were consumed with God! Do you dare to take God at His Word and be consumed with Him? Your life will never be the same and the lives of all those around you. It is time to take the leap. We have nothing to lose. Let’s be consumed with God from this moment forward. Let us cry out like David with a yearning heart:                                   

Psalm 65:1-8 (NIV): 

 1 You, God, are my God,
   earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
   my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
   where there is no water.

 2 I have seen you in the sanctuary
   and beheld your power and your glory.
3 Because your love is better than life,
   my lips will glorify you.
4 I will praise you as long as I live,
   and in your name I will lift up my hands.
5 I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
   with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

 6 On my bed I remember you;
   I think of you through the watches of the night.
7 Because you are my help,
   I sing in the shadow of your wings.
8 I cling to you;
   your right hand upholds me.

U.N. Anti-Blasphemy Proposal Meets Firm Resistance

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, and Open Doors are just some of the people and groups that have publicly denounced the proposed U.N. anti-blasphemy resolution that is expected to be voted on next week.

The Organization of the Islamic Conference, which sponsored the draft resolution, recently changed the term from “defamation of religions” to “vilification of religions.” But USCIRF chair Leonard Leo said the change is minor and “a distinction without a difference.”

“Having lost support on this issue over the past few years, the OIC is now trying to fool delegations into believing that the resolution has improved when it has not,” said Leo in a statement Thursday. “It … still erroneously conflates blasphemy or criticism of religious ideas with incitement to acts of discrimination or violence against individuals.”

Critics of the resolution compare it to a global anti-blasphemy law. They point to countries like Pakistan, where a Christian woman was recently given the death sentence for alleged blasphemy against the Muslim Prophet Muhammad, as example of how such laws are regularly grossly abused to target religious minorities.

Since 1999, the Organization of the Islamic Conference has annually sponsored the resolution and the U.N. has adopted a non-binding anti-defamation of religion resolution every year since 2005.

On Wednesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton publicly opposed the resolution during a press conference to announce the release of the annual State Department report on religious freedom around the world. She said the United States does not agree that protecting religious freedom means banning speech critical or offensive about religion.

“The United States joins in all nations coming together to condemn hateful speech, but we do not support the banning of that speech,” said Clinton. “Indeed, freedom of speech and freedom of religion emanate from the same fundamental belief that communities and individuals are enriched and strengthened by diversity of ideas, and attempts to stifle them or drive them underground, even when it is in the name and with the intention of protecting society, have the opposite effect.”

Open Doors, a ministry advocating on behalf of persecuted Christians worldwide, has been actively lobbying U.N. delegates to vote against the resolution. More than 200,000 Open Doors supporters worldwide have voiced opposition to the Defamation of Religions Resolution.

“It is incredibly sad and ironic that Pakistan has sentenced a Christian woman to death by hanging just days before a vote on the resolution at the United Nations that many countries are backing to purportedly protect religious freedom,” remarked Open Doors USA President/CEO Carl Moeller. “This sentencing should alert countries and individuals to the serious consequences of passing this resolution.”

The U.N. General Assembly’s Third Committee is expected to carry out a preliminary vote on Nov. 22 or 23. A final vote of the full General Assembly is expected in December.

On the Web: http://www.freetobelieve.info/ 

Courtesy of http://www.christianpost.com/article/20101120/un-anti-blasphemy-proposal-meets-firm-resistance/

Canadian Student Group Forced Off Campus for Pro-Life Views

A Canadian student pro-life club may disappear from campus after the governing student association ruled its pro-life constitution discriminates against pro-choice beliefs.

Carleton University’s Student Association has given pro-life club Carleton Lifeline an ultimatum: Change your constitution to embrace pro-choice values by Thursday or lose your certification as a campus club.

“It is ironic that they support choice and do not see that they not having an abortion is a choice,” Ruth Lobo, a student of the Ottawa school and president of Carleton Lifeline, told the National Post.

In the CUSA’s letter to the club, Khaldoon Bushnaq, vice president of international affairs, noted in an e-mail sent Monday that Carleton Lifeline’s constitution states “abortion is a moral and legal wrong.” By contrast, the CUSA holds that it supports a woman’s right to choose abortion and does not support efforts to limit or remove that choice.

“As a result, the club Carleton Lifeline cannot gain certification in that it had failed to provide a ‘written constitution, not in contravention of the CUSA Constitution, Bylaws, or Policy Manual,’” Bushnaq wrote.

Albertos Polizogopoulos, Carleton Lifeline’s attorney, said losing club certification will make it harder for the group to operate on campus. No certification means no university funding.

“They will not be allowed to book space to hold events and meetings on campus. They will not be listed in the campus list of clubs,” explained Polizogopoulos.

Campus certification is not the only problem for Carleton Lifeline. Five members of the group are also facing criminal trespassing charges after they tried to stage a genocide awareness display on campus grounds in early October.

The display was that of the Genocide Awareness Project (GAP), a traveling photo-mural exhibit sponsored by the Center of Bio-Ethical Reform. The mural juxtaposes abortion images with those of genocide. The GAP’s goal, as expressed on their website, is to expand “the context in which people think about abortion.” The project has traveled to several universities.

Carleton Lifeline sent the university a letter requesting permission to host the GAP outdoors. It was sent a letter permitting them to host the project indoors in, as Polizogpoulos described it, a secluded room.

Members of the group tried to hold the event outdoors, in conjunction with The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and were promptly arrested and carried off to jail.

“The Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees freedom of expression and prohibits discrimination on the basis of political beliefs,” asserted Polizogopoulos.

He says Carleton University, a government-funded school, must adhere to this right and also their own policy with similarly protects political speech.

As of now, Carleton Lifeline has not changed its constitution. Instead, Polizogopoulos says the group plans to appeal the CUSA’s decision through a process established by the university. Polizogopoulos is also representing the group in court. The students involved face possible fines for their activities.

Courtesy of http://www.christianpost.com/article/20101117/canadian-student-group-forced-off-campus-for-pro-life-views/

Religious Celebrations on Public Property Approved by Virginia Attorney General

www.LC.org

Lynchburg, VA – As communities plan for the Christmas season, Liberty Counsel reminds citizens of the opinion issued by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli that Christmas displays and Nativity scenes can be legally exhibited on public property. 

There is a great deal of misinformation about the legality of public displays and celebrations of Christmas. In anticipation of the holiday season, Delegate Bob Marshall requested an opinion from the Virginia Attorney General’s office regarding the legality of nativity scenes. 

In a detailed opinion, Cuccinelli shed light on the original intent of both the United States and Virginia Constitutions in regards to freedom of religion and concluded that the “establishment of religion” clause does not, in fact, compel local governments to restrict religious speech on public property. He further stated that the local governments themselves may recognize such religious holidays as Christmas, as long as religious symbols are accompanied by secular ones. 

In another section of his opinion, Cuccinelli addressed an issue that many Christian employees face throughout the year, dealing with the right of public employees to display religious artwork or symbols in their offices. He concluded that only under certain limited conditions could the government restrict the religious speech of its employees. Liberty Counsel applauds the work being done by the Attorney General of Virginia. 

Mathew Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel and Dean of the Liberty University School of Law, commented: “Christmas is constitutional. Christmas is a state and federal holiday. To celebrate or acknowledge the holiday season without Christmas is like celebrating a birthday party without the honored guest. Refusing to acknowledge Christmas while honoring every other conceivable holiday may well violate the Constitution.”

Can Being a Christian Cost You Your Job?

Craig Richter has had an outstanding track record as the principal of Foothill Elementary School in Santa Barbara, California. He has consistently achieved high performance evaluations, great rapport with parents, and increased student standardized test scores. Craig also values teachers and believes in honoring those who positively impact the lives of students.

 Click on image to see video

 

So when the organizers of the 52nd Annual Santa Barbara Community Prayer Breakfast enlisted the support of several local educators to endorse this inter-denominational and non-sectarian event honoring area school teachers, Craig elected to participate – on his own time, as a member of the community.

To help get the word out to local business owners, Craig appeared for 30 seconds in a three-minute promotional video, along with a Santa Barbara-area school superintendent and a local high school teacher. Craig identified himself as the principal of Foothill School, but did not mention the school district. Regardless, a school district board member who viewed the video on the Internet filed a complaint against Craig, wrongly claiming that he had violated the so-called “separation of church and state.”

The school district proceeded to place Craig on a disciplinary “performance plan” and has threatened to end his contract in March 2011. Craig contacted ADF for legal assistance and was referred to a local ADF-allied attorney who is now defending Craig’s constitutionally protected freedom of speech in an effort to help him keep his job.

Personally endorsing a prayer event that invites people of all faiths to honor teachers does not violate the U.S. Constitution. Nonetheless, Christians – like Craig – are increasingly being discriminated against and punished by their employers for expressing their religious beliefs outside of the workplace as private citizens.

Christians’ Careers in Jeopardy

For decades, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and its allies have used fear, intimidation, and disinformation to enforce the myth of the so-called “separation of church and state.” Although this term is not found anywhere in the U.S. Constitution, the opposition has instilled the widespread misperception that all religious expression must be banned from the public square.

As a result, government and secular employers are increasingly intruding on the God-given, constitutionally protected right of Christians to express their faith in public – even when they do so as private citizens.

ADF and its more than 1,800 allied attorneys across America are defending Christians – like Donald Mendell and Dr. Michael Campion – whose careers have been jeopardized simply because they expressed support of Christian organizations, initiatives, and values:  

  • Donald Mendell is a respected guidance counselor at Nokomis Regional High School in Maine, who has received awards and recognition for years of outstanding professional and community service. Don is also a Christian who expressed his belief that marriage is the union between one man and one woman by appearing in a television ad that encouraged citizens to vote in favor of Ballot Question 1, which would repeal a state law that fabricated same-sex “marriage.” Two counselors, who oppose Don’s beliefs about marriage, reported him to the state social workers’ licensing board.  
  • Dr. Michael Campion is a Christian psychologist who performed employment testing for the city of Minneapolis. After learning about Dr. Campion’s affiliation with a conservative Christian organization – the Illinois Family Institute – the city “suspended” him. And even though the city had no evidence that Dr. Campion’s work was flawed or biased – and an independent psychologist informed the city that Dr. Campion was clearly an expert in his line of work – the city terminated its professional relationship with his firm and hired a more expensive, less-experienced contractor to fill the position.

Even though Don’s and Dr. Campion’s religiously based activities occurred outside of the workplace as private citizens, they were still discriminated against and punished by the government for being Christian. And, had it not been for ADF legal intervention, they would have suffered severe consequences. Favorable rulings in cases like these are crucial, as they could have serious ramifications for the religious freedom of Christians across America.

Protecting Religious Freedom with Your Help

The opposition is working overtime to stop the spread of the Gospel. By taking legal action, they are intimidating Christians like you into silence in an effort to contain your faith within the walls of your church. With the generous support of Ministry Friends like you, ADF will continue to defend the constitutionally protected right of Christians to boldly proclaim the Truth without fear of punishment in the workplace – or anywhere else.

Will you stand with us to stop these attacks on religious freedom? Your best gift today will make a significant difference!

Courtesy of https://www.alliancedefensefund.org/Home/Detail/4438?referral=E1110C3F

Celebrating Thanksgiving in America

The tradition introduced by European Americans of Thanksgiving as a time to focus on God and His blessings dates back well over four centuries in America. For example, such thanksgivings occurred in 1541 at Palo Duro Canyon, Texas with Coronado and 1,500 of his men; 1 in 1564 at St. Augustine, Florida with French Huguenot (Protestant) colonists; 2 in 1598 at El Paso, Texas with Juan de Oñate and his expedition; 3 in 1607 at Cape Henry, Virginia with the landing of the Jamestown settlers; 4 in 1619 at Berkeley Plantation, Virginia; 5 (and many other such celebrations). But it is primarily from the Pilgrim’s Thanksgiving celebration of 1621 that we derive the current tradition of Thanksgiving Day.

The Pilgrims set sail for America on September 6, 1620, and for two months braved the harsh elements of a storm-tossed sea. Upon disembarking at Plymouth Rock, they held a prayer service and then hastily began building shelters; however, unprepared for such a harsh New England winter, nearly half of them died before spring. 6 Emerging from that grueling winter, the Pilgrims were surprised when an Indian named Samoset approached them and greeted them in their own language, explaining to them that he had learned English from fishermen and traders. A week later, Samoset returned with a friend named Squanto, who lived with the Pilgrims and accepted their Christian faith. Squanto taught the Pilgrims much about how to live in the New World, and he and Samoset helped forge a long-lasting peace treaty between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians. Pilgrim Governor William Bradford described Squanto as “a special instrument sent of God for [our] good . . . and never left [us] till he died.” 7

That summer, the Pilgrims, still persevering in prayer and assisted by helpful Indians, 8 reaped a bountiful harvest. 9 As Pilgrim Edward Winslow (later to become the Governor) affirmed, “God be praised, we had a good increase of corn”; “by the goodness of God, we are far from want.” 10 The grateful Pilgrims therefore declared a three-day feast in December 1621 to thank God and to celebrate with their Indian friends 11 – America’s first Thanksgiving Festival. Ninety Wampanoag Indians joined the fifty Pilgrims for three days of feasting (which included shellfish, lobsters, turkey, corn bread, berries, deer, and other foods), of play (the young Pilgrim and Wampanoag men engaged in races, wrestling matches, and athletic events), and of prayer. This celebration and its accompanying activities were the origin of the holiday that Americans now celebrate each November.

However, while the Pilgrims enjoyed times of prosperity for which they thanked God, they also suffered extreme hardships. In fact, in 1623 they experienced an extended and prolonged drought. Knowing that without a change in the weather there would be no harvest and the winter would be filled with death and starvation, Governor Bradford called the Pilgrims to a time of prayer and fasting to seek God’s direct intervention. Significantly, shortly after that time of prayer – and to the great amazement of the Indian who witnessed the scene – clouds appeared in the sky and a gentle and steady rain began to fall. As Governor Bradford explained:

It came without either wind or thunder or any violence, and by degrees in abundance, as that ye earth was thoroughly wet and soaked therewith, which did so apparently revive and quicken ye decayed corn and other fruits as was wonderful to see, and made ye Indians astonished to behold; and afterwards the Lord sent them such seasonable showers, with interchange of fair warm weather as, through His blessing, caused a fruitful and liberal harvest, to their no small comfort and rejoicing. 12

The drought had been broken; the fall therefore produced an abundant harvest; there was cause for another thanksgiving. The Pilgrim practice of designating an official time of Thanksgiving spread into neighboring colonies and became an annual tradition. 13 And just as those neighboring colonies followed the Pilgrims’ example of calling for days of thanksgiving, so, too, did they adopt their practice of calling for a time of prayer and fasting. The New England Colonies therefore developed a practice of calling for a day of prayer and fasting in the spring, and a day of prayer and thanksgiving in the fall.

The Thanksgiving celebrations so common throughout New England did not begin to spread southward until the American Revolution, when Congress issued eight separate national Thanksgiving Proclamations. (Congress also issued seven separate proclamations for times of fasting and prayer, for a total of 15 official prayer proclamations during the American Revolution. 14)

America’s first national Thanksgiving occurred in 1789 with the commencement of the federal government. According to the Congressional Record for September 25 of that year, the first act after the Framers completed the framing of the Bill of Rights was that:

Mr. [Elias] Boudinot said he could not think of letting the session pass 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. With this view, therefore, he would move the following resolution:

Resolved, That a joint committee of both Houses be directed to wait upon the President of the United States to request that he would recommend to the people of the United States a Day of Public Thanksgiving and Prayer. . . .

Mr. Roger Sherman justified the practice of thanksgiving on any single event not only as a laudable one in itself but also as warranted by a number of precedents in Holy Writ. . . . This example he thought worthy of a Christian imitation on the present occasion. 15

That congressional resolution was delivered to President George Washington, who heartily concurred with the request and issued the first federal Thanksgiving proclamation, declaring in part:

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. . . . Now, therefore, I do appoint Thursday, the 26th day of November 1789 . . . that we may all unite to render unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection. 16

That same year, the Protestant Episcopal Church (of which President Washington was a member) announced that the first Thursday in November would become its regular day for giving thanks, “unless another day be appointed by the civil authorities.” 17 Following President Washington’s initial proclamation, national Thanksgiving Proclamations occurred only sporadically (another by President Washington in 1795, one by John Adams in 1799, one by James Madison in 1814 and again in 1815, etc.); 18 most official Thanksgiving observances occurred at the state level. In fact, by 1815, the various state governments had issued at least 1,400 official prayer proclamations, almost half for times of thanksgiving and prayer and the other half for times of fasting and prayer. 19

Much of the credit for the adoption of Thanksgiving as an annual national holiday may be attributed to Mrs. Sarah Josepha Hale, the editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book, a popular lady’s books containing poetry, art work, and articles by America’s leading authors. For nearly three decades, she promoted the idea of a national Thanksgiving Day, 20 contacting president after president until Abraham Lincoln responded in 1863 by setting aside the last Thursday of that November. The Thanksgiving proclamation issued by Lincoln was remarkable not only for its strong religious content but also for its timing, for it was delivered in the midst of the darkest days of the Civil War, with the Union having lost battle after battle throughout the first three years of that conflict. Yet, despite those dark circumstances, Lincoln nevertheless called Americans to prayer with an air of positive optimism and genuine thankfulness, noting that:

The year that is drawing toward 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 can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God. . . . 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. 21

That remarkable Thanksgiving Proclamation came at a pivotal point in Lincoln’s spiritual life. Three months earlier, the Battle of Gettysburg had occurred, resulting in the loss of some 60,000 American lives. It had been while Lincoln was walking among the thousands of graves there at Gettysburg that he first committed his life to Christ. As he later explained to a clergyman:

When I left Springfield [Illinois, to assume the Presidency], I asked the people to pray for me. I was not a Christian. When I buried my son, the severest trial of my life, I was not a Christian. But when I went to Gettysburg and saw the graves of thousands of our soldiers, I then and there consecrated myself to Christ. 22

The dramatic spiritual impact resulting from that experience was not only visible in Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Day proclamation (and also his 1864 call for a day of prayer and fasting) but especially in his 1865 Second Inaugural Address.

Over the seventy-five years following Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation, presidents faithfully followed Lincoln’s precedent, annually declaring a national Thanksgiving Day (but the date of the celebrations varied widely from proclamation to proclamation). In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt began celebrating Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of each November, and in 1941, Congress permanently established that day as the national Thanksgiving holiday. 23

As you celebrate Thanksgiving this year, remember to retain the original gratefulness to God that has always been the spirit of this – the oldest of all American holidays. (Below are representative examples of the scores of Thanksgiving proclamations penned by various Founding Fathers.)

[Congress] recommended [a day of] . . . thanksgiving and praise [so] that “the good people may express the grateful feelings of their hearts and join . . . their supplication that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, to forgive [our sins] and . . . to enlarge [His] kingdom which consisteth in righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.” 24 Continental Congress, 1777 – written by SIGNERS OF THE DECLARATION SAMUEL ADAMS AND RICHARD HENRY LEE

[I] appoint . . . a day of public Thanksgiving to Almighty God . . . to [ask] Him that He would . . . pour out His Holy Spirit on all ministers of the Gospel; that He would . . . spread the light of Christian knowledge through the remotest corners of the earth; . . . and that He would establish these United States upon the basis of religion and virtue. 25 GOVERNOR THOMAS JEFFERSON, 1779

[I] appoint . . . a day of public thanksgiving and praise . . . to render to God the tribute of praise for His unmerited goodness towards us . . . [by giving to] us . . . the Holy Scriptures which are able to enlighten and make us wise to eternal salvation. And [to] present our supplications…that He would forgive our manifold sins and . . . cause the benign religion of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to be known, understood, and practiced among all the inhabitants of the earth. 26 GOVERNOR JOHN HANCOCK, 1790

 


Endnotes

1. Library of Congress, “Thanksgiving Timeline, 1541-2001” (at: http://www.loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/presentationsandactivities/presentations/thanksgiving/timeline/1541.html).(Return)

2. Library of Congress, “Thanksgiving Timeline, 1541-2001” (at http://www.loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/presentationsandactivities/presentations/thanksgiving/timeline/1564.html).(Return)

3. Texas Almanac, “The First Thanksgiving?” (at http://www.texasalmanac.com/history/highlights/thanksgiving).(Return)

4. Benson Lossing, Our Country. A Household History of the United States (New York: James A. Bailey, 1895), Vol. 1, pp. 181-182; see also National Park Service, “The Reverend Robert Hunt: The First Chaplain at Jamestown” (at http://www.nps.gov/jame/historyculture/the-reverend-robert-hunt-the-first-chaplain-at-jamestown.htm).(Return)

5. “Berkeley Plantation,” Berkeley Plantation, (at: http://www.berkeleyplantation.com/). (accessed November 17, 2008).(Return)

6. William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation (Boston: Little, Brown & Co, 1856), pp. 74, 78, 80, 91.(Return)

7. William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation (Boston: Little, Brown & Co, 1856), p. 95.(Return)

8. William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation (Boston: Little, Brown & Co, 1856), p. 100.(Return)

9. William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation (Boston: Little, Brown & Co, 1856), p. 105.(Return)

10. William S. Russell, Guide to Plymouth and Recollections of the Pilgrims (Boston: George Coolidge, 1846), p. 95, quoting from a letter of Pilgrim Edward Winslow to George Morton of London, written on December 21, 1621.(Return)

11. Ashbel Steele, Chief of the Pilgrims: Or the Life and Time of William Brewster (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co, 1857), pp. 269-270.(Return)

12. William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation (Boston: Little, Brown & Co, 1856), p. 142.(Return)

13. DeLoss Love, Jr, The Fast and Thanksgiving Days of New England (Boston: Houghton,, Mifflin & Co, 1895), pp. 87-90.(Return)

14. See the Journals of the Continental Congress (1905) for June 12, 1775; March 16, 1776; December 11, 1776; November 1, 1777; March 7, 1778; November 17, 1778; March 20, 1779; October 20, 1779; March 11, 1780; October 18, 1780; March 20, 1781; October 26, 1781; March 19, 1782; October 11, 1782; October 18, 1783.(Return)

15. The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States (Washington: Gales & Seaton, 1834), Vol. I, pp. 949-950.(Return)

16. George Washington, Writings of George Washington, Jared Sparks, editor ((Boston: Russell, Odiorne and Metcalf, 1838), Vol. XII, p. 119, Proclamation for a National Thanksgiving on October 3, 1789.(Return)

17. The American Cyclopaedia, A Popular Dictionary of General Knowledge, George Ripley and Charles A. Dana, editors (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1883), Vol. XV, p. 684, s.v., “Thanksgiving Day.”(Return)

18. See, for example, H. S. J. Sickel, Thanksgiving: Its Source, Philosophy and History With All National Proclamations (Philadelphia: International Printing Co, 1940), pp. 154-155, “Thanksgiving Day- 1795” by George Washington, pp. 156-157, “Thanksgiving Day – 1798” by John Adams, pp. 158-159, “Thanksgiving Day – 1799” by John Adams, p. 160, “Thanksgiving Day – 1814” by James Madison, p. 161, “Thanksgiving Day – 1815” by James Madison, etc.(Return)

19. Deloss Love, in his work The Fast and Thanksgiving Days of New England, lists some 1,735 proclamations issued between 1620 and 1820, in a non-exclusive list. Of those, 284 were issued by churches and 1,451 by civil authorities. Of the civil proclamations, 1,028 were issued prior to July 4, 1776, and 413 from July 4, 1776 to 1820. Of the church issued proclamations, 278 were issued before July 4, 1776, and six afterwards. These, however, are only a portion of what were issued; for example, the author personally owns hundreds of additional proclamations not listed in Love’s work. While the exact number of government-issued prayer proclamations is unknown, it is certain that they certainly number in the thousands.(Return)

20. Appleton’s Cyclopedia of American Biography, James Grant Wilson & John Fiske, editors (New York: D. Appleton & Co, 1888), Vol. III, p. 35.(Return)

21. Abraham Lincoln, The Works of Abraham Lincoln, John H. Clifford & Marion M. Miller, editors (New York: University Society Inc, 1908), Vol. VI, pp. 160-161, Proclamation for Thanksgiving, October 3, 1863. See also, The American Presidency Project, “Abraham Lincoln: Proclamation – Thanksgiving Day, 1863” (at: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index/php?pid=69900&st=&stl=).(Return)

22. Abraham Lincoln, The Lincoln Memorial: Album-Immortelles. Osborn H. Oldroyd, editor (New York: G.W. Carleton & Co, 1882) p. 366, Reply to an Illinois Clergyman.(Return)

23. The National Archives, “Congress Establishes Thanksgiving” (at: http://www.archives.gov/legislative/features/thanksgiving/); see also Pilgrim Hall Museum, “Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamations 1940-1949: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman” (at: http://www.pilgrimhall.org/ThanxProc1940.htm), Proclamation 2571: Days of Prayer: Thanksgiving Day and New Year’s Day, November 11, 1942, referring to a “joint resolution of Congress approved December 26, 1941, which designates the fourth Thursday in November of each year as Thanksgiving Day.”(Return)

24. Journals of the Continental Congress (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1907), Vol. IX, p. 855, November 1, 1777.(Return)

25. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Julian P. Boyd, editor (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1951), Vol. 3, p. 178, Proclamation Appointing a Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer, November 11, 1779.(Return)

26. John Hancock, Proclamation for a Day of Public Thanksgiving (Boston, 1790), from an original broadside in possession of the author.(Return)

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