Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A Thanksgiving Meditation


I’m technologically challenged. I’ve learned to live without my laptop (though some days/weeks it’s hard), so if I am to post anything regarding Thanksgiving, it will have to be today…right now…while I have accessed to my desktop computer.

One of my favorite things is to relish in the history of American Thanksgiving. I like to revisit the times when “thanksgiving” meant focusing on God and thanking Him for His blessings—not just a holiday with food and family. I’m not sure I really want to replace the Albert family football game with a three hour sermon “in ye meeting house” like those early Pilgrims did. But I do think we forget how seriously our former countrymen took thanksgiving occasions.

Consider, for instance, the town council of Charlestown, Massachusetts. The were having a rough time getting established in 1676, but on June 20 of that year, they convened a meeting to determine how they could best express their gratitude to God for the blessings they were experiencing. By unanimous vote, they instructed their clerk, Edward Rawson, to proclaim June 29 as a day of thanksgiving. It was the first time a governing body in America issued a Thanksgiving Proclamation. Here is what they said:
"The Holy God having by a long and Continual Series of his Afflictive dispensations in and by the present Warr with the Heathen Natives of this land, written and brought to pass bitter things against his own Covenant people in this wilderness, yet so that we evidently discern that in the midst of his judgements he hath remembered mercy, having remembered his Footstool in the day of his sore displeasure against us for our sins, with many singular Intimations of his Fatherly Compassion, and regard; reserving many of our Towns from Desolation Threatened, and attempted by the Enemy, and giving us especially of late with many of our Confederates many signal Advantages against them, without such Disadvantage to ourselves as formerly we have been sensible of, if it be the Lord's mercy that we are not consumed, It certainly bespeaks our positive Thankfulness, when our Enemies are in any measure disappointed or destroyed; and fearing the Lord should take notice under so many Intimations of his returning mercy, we should be found an Insensible people, as not standing before Him with Thanksgiving, as well as lading him with our Complaints in the time of pressing Afflictions:
The Council has thought meet to appoint and set apart the 29th day of this instant June, as a day of Solemn Thanksgiving and praise to God for such his Goodness and Favour, many Particulars of which mercy might be Instanced, but we doubt not those who are sensible of God's Afflictions, have been as diligent to espy him returning to us; and that the Lord may behold us as a People offering Praise and thereby glorifying Him; the Council doth commend it to the Respective Ministers, Elders and people of this Jurisdiction; Solemnly and seriously to keep the same Beseeching that being persuaded by the mercies of God we may all, even this whole people offer up our bodies and souls as a living and acceptable Service unto God by Jesus Christ."


The Continental Congress on November 1, 1777 issued a proclamation, stating within it that “…it is the indispensable Duty of all Men to adore the superintending Providence of Almighty God; to acknowledge with Gratitude their Obligation to him for Benefits received…”

The next year the Continental Congress set “…the 30th day of December next, to be observed as a day of public thanksgiving and praise, that all the people may, with united hearts, on that day, express a just sense of his unmerited favors; particularly in that it hath pleased him, by his overruling providence, to support us in a just and necessary war, for the defense of our rights and liberties…”

The following year (1789) they “…recommended to the several states, to appoint Thursday, the 9th of December next, to be a day of public and solemn thanksgiving to Almighty God for his mercies, and of prayer for the continuance of his favor and protection to these United States…”

In modern times, it has been our Presidents, more than our Congresses, that have offered proclamations inviting Americans to give thanks to God.

George Washington started the tradition writing: “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…” and in responding to the request of Congress for a national day of thanksgiving, Washington stated:
I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

Lincoln, as the 16th President asked Americans to “set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens…”

Eloquent words of thanks to God are pretty well relegated to the past. President Bush’s proclamation failed to call us to give our thanks to God for His blessings. In pluralistic America, many don’t want to be too precise in acknowledging the exact source of our prosperity and freedom.

So let us revive an old tradition; that of praising and thanking God for His manifold blessing upon our country. Let us gratefully acknowledge His gifts to these United States of America.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A Thought from Psalm 103

Bless the LORD, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
2 Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:
3 Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
4 Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
5 Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.

6 The LORD executes righteousness
And justice for all who are oppressed.
7 He made known His ways to Moses,
His acts to the children of Israel.
8 The LORD is merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.
9 He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.
10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor punished us according to our iniquities.

11 For as the heavens are high above the earth,
So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
12 As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father pities his children,
So the LORD pities those who fear Him.
14 For He knows our frame;
He remembers that we are dust.

15 As for man, his days are like grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
16 For the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
And its place remembers it no more.*
17 But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting
On those who fear Him,
And His righteousness to children's children,
18 To such as keep His covenant,
And to those who remember His commandments to do them.

19 The LORD has established His throne in heaven,
And His kingdom rules over all.

20 Bless the LORD, you His angels,
Who excel in strength, who do His word,
Heeding the voice of His word.
21 Bless the LORD, all you His hosts,
You ministers of His, who do His pleasure.
22 Bless the LORD, all His works,
In all places of His dominion.

Bless the LORD, O my soul!



This is one of my favorite Thanksgiving Psalms. Though the word “thanks” is not used, the psalm certainly reveals many reasons why we should be grateful to God. Foremost among them, is that He does not remember our sins. Through His Son Jesus, He has removed my transgressions from me. I will bless the Lord for this kind act!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Battle of Agincourt, Shakespeare and Missouri’s Clone-to-Kill Amendment 2

If you haven’t yet heard, Amendment 2 was approved by Missourians. As of this writing, the Secretary of State has listed the results of 3672 of Missouri’s 3734 precincts. The amendment received 1,059,202 yes votes (51.1%) and 1,013,850 no votes (48.9%).

So unless those remaining 62 precincts are extremely lopsided, we lost.

Nearly 200 years after the famous Battle of Agincourt, where King Henry V battled the French near the port city of Calais, William Shakespeare in 1599 put poetic eloquence into the mouth of King Henry in a rousing speech that has become known in drama circles as St. Crispen’s Day Speech.

King Harry had recaptured several cities in Northwestern France that once had been in English possession. His military campaign weakened his troop strength because of the distance from England and disease. The English were blocked from escape by overwhelming French numbers near the field of Agincourt. Their prospects bleak and morale low, here is the speech Shakespeare put into the lips of King Henry V:

St. Crispen's Day Speech
William Shakespeare, 1599

[Enter the King]

WESTMORELAND. O that we now had here
But one ten thousand of those men in England
That do no work to-day!


KING. What's he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin;
If we are mark'd to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God's will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
God's peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call'd the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam'd,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian.'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispian's day.'
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb'red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.


We have now a band of brothers--pastors and laypeople who have “spilled their blood” in a noble battle. It didn’t work out for us quite like it did for the English on St. Crispen’s day. But we fought valiantly. Already, political scientists across Missouri are scratching their heads, wondering how this election came so close considering the vast sums of money Mr. Stowers poured into the campaign. Statistically, we should have been trounced. We weren’t. We were motivated only by truth and love for our fellow man. There were no promises of profits awaiting us, only ridicule that we would be so cold-hearted as to oppose cures for suffering and sick people.

I am happy and proud to have fought this battle alongside of such wonderful, precious, courageous and stalwart people.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

VOTE!


"Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual--or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country."



[Samuel Adams, The Writings of Samuel Adams, Harry Alonzo Cushing, editor (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1907), Vol. IV, p. 256, in the Boston Gazette on April 16, 1781.]


For more quotes on voting and the political process visit the Wallbuilders website .

Monday, November 06, 2006

A Multi-headed Beast


I don’t know if it was a compliment or a slam when Connie Farrow, spokeswoman for the Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures, recently told David Lieb of the Associated Press “Our opponents are a multi-headed beast, and we've yet to see all of its [sic] faces."

Working for the Coalition, I know Ms. Farrow is accustomed to seeing only the face of Jim Stowers (and maybe his wife Virginia) who has bankrolled virtually the entire cost of promoting Amendment 2 (nearly $30 million). Ms. Farrow is right for a change. Amendment 2 is so riddled with deceptions, immoralities and inconsistencies that there are a host of opponents, ranging all the way from traditional Christians like the Missouri Baptist Convention, to liberal feminists like Hands Off My Ovaries.

But I think to see the beast Ms. Farrow should locate a looking glass.

It is the Coalition’s amendment that bears beastly qualities. Opponents of Amendment 2 seek to protect human life, not clone it to kill it to research it to manipulate it to profit from it. It is not beastly for persons with diseases and injuries to oppose a proposal that potentially might offer them cures. It is sacrificial and honorable for them to oppose it. They rightly see the immorality of destroying human life to supposedly benefit human life and they are willing to suffer with their diseases rather than see human life degraded into a research commodity.

Neither is it beastly to protect women. We are already rushing to protect women who might find themselves in difficult financial circumstances and become lured into giving their bodies to researchers for promises of money. Risks of egg harvesting are present and given the astronomical need for female eggs to accomplish the needed research, the statistical numbers of women who will face health problems is alarming. Rather the beast is on the other side—viewing real women with names and faces and life stories as mere egg donors to be enticed into extraction by the promise of dollars.

And what beastly quality is exhibited by protecting Missouri taxpayers from having to fund this immoral practice? Or preserving the legislative process, allowing for reconsideration and even oversight of public spending? What beastly attribute is exuded by preserving 45 sections of the Missouri Constitution (3 of which are within the Bill of Rights), sections which may well be changed, repealed or modified if Amendment 2 is approved?

We are multi-headed to be sure. But we are no beast. Join me tomorrow in slaying the real beast facing Missouri and vote NO on Amendment 2.