Monday, April 30, 2012

National Day of Prayer, 1775

Shortly after the Battles of Lexington and Concord which marked the beginning of the War for Independence, the Second Continental Congress assembled in June of 1775. Part of their deliberation included issuing a proclamation establishing July 20, 1775 as a National Day of Humiliation, Fasting, and Prayer. Their proclamation reads as follows:
As the great Governor of the World, by His supreme and universal Providence, not only conducts the course of nature with unerring wisdom and rectitude, but frequently influences the minds of men to serve the wise and gracious purposes of His providential government; and it being, at all times, our indispensible duty devoutly to acknowledge His superintending providence, especially in times of impending danger and public calamity, to reverence and adore His immutable justice as well as to implore His merciful interposition for our deliverance: This Congress, therefore, considering the present critical, alarming and calamitous state of these colonies, do earnestly recommend that Thursday, the 20th day of July next, be observed, by the inhabitants of all the English colonies on this continent, as a day of public humiliation, fasting and prayer; that we may, with united hearts and voices, unfeignedly confess and deplore our many sins; and offer up our joint supplications to the all-wise, omnipotent, and merciful Disposer of all events; humbly beseeching Him to forgive our iniquities, to remove our present calamities, to avert those desolating judgments, with which we are threatened, and to bless our rightful sovereign, King George the third, and [to] inspire him with wisdom to discern and pursue the true interest of all his subjects, that a speedy end may be put to the civil discord between Great Britain and the American colonies, without farther effusion of blood: And that the British nation may be influenced to regard the things that belong to her peace, before they are hid from her eyes: That these colonies may be ever under the care and protection of a kind Providence, and be prospered in all their interests; That the divine blessing may descend and rest upon all our civil rulers, and upon the representatives of the people, in their several assemblies and conventions, that they may be directed to wise and effectual measures for preserving the union, and securing the just rights and privileges of the colonies; That virtue and true religion may revive and flourish throughout our land; And that all America may soon behold a gracious interposition of Heaven, for the redress of her many grievances, the restoration of her invaded rights, a reconciliation with the parent state, on terms constitutional and honorable to both; And that her civil and religious privileges may be secured to the latest posterity. And it is recommended to Christians, of all denominations, to assemble for public worship, and to abstain from servile labour and recreations on said day.
This was the first call to prayer on a national level. Cities and colonies had issued such proclamations. For example, Boston issued a city wide call for fasting and prayer and September 8, 1670. Ten years later, the colony of New Hampshire was calling for a statewide “day of humiliation”. But the 1775 proclamation marks the beginning of a legacy of calling on God for His aid in national affairs. While this particular proclamation shows deference to England (unlike the harsher proclamation of the following year in 1776), it does draw the readers’ attention to its address toward “Christians”. Unlike the contemporary call to “persons of all faith”, the founders rightly understood the “Christian” heritage of this country. This Thursday, May 3, marks the 61st Annual National Day of Prayer, which, although it was practiced for hundreds of years, was enshrined into law in May, 1952. I hope you’ll plan to spend much of the day in prayer.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

North Korea: Christians Must Worship in Secret

It’s hard to imagine that this is what most North Koreans face on their way to worship. Tomorrow, I’ll pass gas station attendants, doughnut buyers and one guy by a Jiffy Lube who will be waving a sign for an early morning special. But if I happen to pass a law officer, I’ll only check my cruise control and not breathe uneasy like Christians in North Korea will. They pass several police and army officers and citizen informants to gather secretly, yet reverently to worship the Eternal King. Open Doors USA President and CEO Dr. Carl Moeller explained that in effect, North Koreans are forced to worship their leaders, the late Kim il-Sung, Kim Jong-il and current ruler Kim Jong-un, as gods. "So scrutiny of the estimated 200,000 to 400,000 brave underground Christians has increased during the last few months. Some have been thrown into prisons. There are 50,000 to 70,000 Christians of the estimated 150,000 to 200,000 people living under horrific conditions in those prisons. Also, many North Koreans are chronically malnourished and unemployed," Moeller said. I’ve learned much during this week of prayer for North Korea. Certainly much more than I’ve articulated through this blog. I can’t believe the number of videos on the web from suffering Christians of North Korea. I would recommend getting this report, North Korea: A Case to Answer—A Call to Act, from Christian Solidarity Worldwide. I know very little about the organization, but the report is very helpful in opening our eyes to the evil faced by these courageous Christians. I am grateful for the freedom I have and I am deeply burdened for the harsh and evil reality my brothers and sisters in Christ in North Korea have. May God protect them as they honor Him. And may He soon end their suffering.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Grant's Final Victory

After his victorious triumph over the Confederacy during the Civil War and bit past his two terms as President of the United States, Ulysses S. Grant was snookered by Ferdinand Ward and James D. Fish, two financial hucksters. They had used the President’s name to garner investors’ trust in a partnership in which Ulysses Grant’s naiveté would prove devastating. Eventually, he lost his own small fortune and his reputation to financial scandal. Soon after this devastation, the former president was fighting for his life against throat cancer, trying to finish his memoirs for a financial parachute for his wife, and a lasting legacy to a grateful nation. The author, Charles Flood, does a masterful job of linking the dying of an era with the dying of Grant. It’s an amazing book of a prominent American’s struggle against financial ruin, sickness and scandal. And, in a bit of irony, the man who conquered the South in his life, united the Nation in his death. Grant was a very imperfect man, but one with whom it is very easy to relate. This is an excellent book.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Yodok Prison Camp of North Korea

Open Doors has called for a week of prayer for Christians in North Korea. One of the horrors of North Korea is the Yodok Prison Camp. North Korean officials deny its existence but it is very much a reality. According to
North Korean Christians aren't simply killed for their faith in Christ. They are pulverized with steamrollers, used to test biological weapons, shipped off to death camps or shot in front of children, while newborn babies have their brains pithed with forceps in front of their mothers. Crimes against humanity reminiscent of Auschwitz and Treblinka to which the world declared "Never Again!" more than 60 years ago are being perpetrated today against the North Korean Christians.
Amnesty International has this video on the prison camp: Please pray for all suffering people of North Korea, especially Christians who are faithful to their God.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Week of Prayer for North Korea

North Korea is the darkest and deadliest place for a Christian to live in the world. In this nation of 26.5 million people, communists rule with such ruthless constraint as to make the old Soviet KGB seem benign. While most its citizens are suffering due to the inane policies of the government which have provoked subsequent United Nations boycotts, Christians are particularly brutalized. Open Doors, a Christian organization that monitors world-wide Christian persecution and ministers to those suffering, has launched North Korea prayer week for this week of April 23-27, 2012. I encourage you to pray for this nation, and specifically for our brothers and sisters in Christ who suffer and die there. The church is growing, but it is hard pressed. Would you pray this week? You can sign up here to get more information, or just add this need to your prayer list.