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Monday, November 23, 2009

A History of Thanksgiving in America

A History of Thanksgiving in America
From: Jonathan Falwell
Date: November 18, 2007

It was a bitter two-month sea journey the Pilgrims endured on their passage from England to Plymouth Rock.  Upon landing, they gathered for a prayer service before setting out to build shelter.  They were severely unprepared for the harsh New England winter that was approaching.

After that winter of 1620 killed almost half of their population, the Pilgrims were befriended by members of the Wampanoag Tribe.  The Indians taught the naive colonists about fishing, planting and hunting, thereby ensuring their survival.  When the fall of 1621 began to set in, they had reaped a bountiful harvest and preserved enough food to allow them to survive the coming winter, thanks to their Indian neighbors.

As an expression of their thanks to God, the colonists hosted a three-day feast to celebrate the harvest and the transformation of their fortunes from the previous winter.  This meal today is thought of as the first Thanksgiving.

In the years to come during the fall, the governor of each New England colony would declare a day of Thanksgiving so that the people could prayerfully thank God for supplying their needs.

In 1777, the Continental Congress decreed that all 13 colonies were to jointly celebrate victory over the British.

Twelve years later, the first national Thanksgiving occurred.  The Congressional Record for September 25, 1789, Elias Boudinot issued a resolution stating: “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 ….”

The resolution was delivered to President George Washington who wholly concurred with the request, declaring: “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 26tj day of November 1789 . . . that we may all unite to render unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection.”

Days of Thanksgiving were celebrated on varying dates throughout the nation for the next several years.  It was not until 1863, following the 30-year effort of Godey’s Lady’s Book editor Sarah Joseph Hale, that a National Day of Thanksgiving was declared.

In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln declared a National Day of Thanksgiving in hopes of bringing healing to a land that had suffered greatly in Civil War.

He set aside the last Thursday in November, declaring: “We often forget the Source from which the blessings of fruitful years and healthful skies come … No human wisdom hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God … I therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States … to observe the last Thursday of November as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.

In 1841, Congress established the fourth Thursday of November as a national holiday.

Thanksgiving is the perfect time to understand the Judeo-Christian history of our nation.  Our forefathers were not uneasy about openly thanking God for His blessings or beseeching Him in times of trouble.  Our nation is deeply rooted in Christianity and candid expressions of faith.

I urge readers across the nation to ensure that their children and grandchildren understand the Judeo-Christian heritage of our nation.  There are many who wish to ignore and/or rewrite our history as our nation further embraces secularism.

I am thankful for this nation and for the God of the Bible who shed His grace on us, beginning with the landing of the colonists at Plymouth Rock.

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Friday, October 16, 2009

How much a prayer weighs

Special Grocery List

A poorly dressed lady with a look of defeat on her face, walked into a grocery store.

She approached the owner of the store in a most humble manner and asked if he would let her charge a few groceries.

She softly explained that her husband was very ill and unable to work, they had seven children and they needed food.

John Longhouse, the grocer, scoffed at her and requested that she leave his store at once.

Visualizing the family needs, she said: 'Please, sir! I will bring you the money just as soon as I can.'

John told her he could not give her credit, since she did not have a charge account at his store.

Standing beside the counter was a customer who overheard the conversation between the two. The customer walked forward and told the grocer that he would stand good for whatever she needed for her family. The grocer said in a very reluctant voice, 'Do you have a grocery list?'

Louise replied, 'Yes sir.' 'O.K' he said, 'put your grocery list on the scales and whatever your grocery list weighs, I will give you that amount in groceries.'

Louise hesitated a moment with a bowed head, then she reached into her purse and took out a piece of paper and scribbled something on it. She then laid the piece of paper on the scale carefully with her head still bowed.

The eyes of the grocer and the customer showed amazement when the scales went down and stayed down.

The grocer, staring at the scales, turned slowly to the customer and said begrudgingly, 'I can't believe it.'

The customer smiled and the grocer started putting the groceries on the other side of the scales. The scale did not balance so he continued to put more and more groceries on them until the scales would hold no more.

The grocer stood there in utter disgust. Finally, he grabbed the piece of paper from the scales and looked at it with greater amazement.

It was not a grocery list, it was a prayer, which said:

'Dear Lord Jesus, you know my needs and I am leaving this in your hands.'

The grocer gave her the groceries that he had gathered and stood in stunned silence.

Louise thanked him and left the store. The other customer handed a fifty-dollar bill to the grocer and said; 'It was worth every penny of it.

Only God Knows how much a prayer weighs.'

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Clay balls

Photos from a potter's village in Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast)
Anonymous by email:

A man was exploring caves by the seashore. In one of the caves, he found a canvas bag, full of small hardened balls of clay. Someone had rolled clay balls. Then baked them in the sun. They didn't look like much. Intrigued, the man took the bag out of the cave. As he strolled along the beach, he threw the clay balls one at a time out into the ocean as far as he could.

He thought little about it, until he dropped one of the ugly clay balls. It cracked open on a rock. Inside was a beautiful, precious stone!

Excited, the man started breaking open the remaining clay balls. Each ball contained a valuable jewel. He found thousands of dollars worth of jewels in the clay balls he had left.

Then it struck him. He had been on the beach a long time. He had thrown maybe 50 or 60 of the small clay balls, with their hidden treasure into the ocean waves. Instead of thousands of dollars in treasure, he could have found tens of thousands of dollars worth of jewels. He had just thrown them into the sea!

It is like that with people. We look at someone, maybe even ourselves, and we see only the external clay vessel. It doesn't look like much from the outside. It isn't beautiful. So we discount it.

We see ourselves or that other person as less important than someone more beautiful, stylish, well known or wealthy. We have not taken the time to find the treasure hidden inside that person.

There is a treasure in each and every one of us. We need to take the time to get to know and love others. We need to ask God to show us how He sees us and other people. Then, the clay begins to peel away. The brilliant gem begins to shine forth.

May we not thrown away a fortune in friendships, because the gems were hidden in bits of clay. May we see the people in our world as God sees them.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Enlightened Perspective by Andy Rooney

Amazon.com books by Andy Rooney
Andy Rooney, an American radio and television writer, has the gift of saying so much with so few words.

I've learned .... That the best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person.

I've learned .... That when you're in love, it shows.

I've learned .... That just one person saying to me, 'You've made my day!' makes my day.

I've learned .... That having a child or a dog fall asleep in your arms is one of the most peaceful feelings in the world.

I've learned .... That being kind is more important than being right.

I've learned . .... That you should never say no to a gift from a child.

I've learned .... That I can always pray for some one when I don't have the strength to help him in some other way.


I've learned .... That sometimes all a person needs is a hand to hold and a heart to understand.

I've learned .... That it's those small daily happenings that make life so spectacular.

I've learned ... That under everyone's hard shell is someone who wants to be appreciated and loved.

I've learned .... That to ignore the facts does not change the facts.

I've learned .... That love, not time, heals all wounds.

I've learned .... That the easiest way for me to grow as a person is to surround myself with people smarter than I am.

I've learned .... That everyone you meet deserves to be greeted with a smile.

I've learned ..... That no one is perfect until you fall in love with them.

I've learned ... That life is tough, but I'm tougher.

I've learned .... That opportunities are never lost; someone will take the ones you miss.

I've learned .... That one should keep his words both soft and tender, because tomorrow he may have to eat them.

I've learned .... That a smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks.

I've learned .... That everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness, and growth occurs while you're climbing it.

I've learned .... That the less time I have to work with, the more things I get done.

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

God lives under the bed

I envy Kevin. My brother, Kevin, thinks God lives under his bed. At least that's what I heard him say one night. He was praying out loud in his dark bedroom, and I stopped to listen, 'Are you there, God?' he said. 'Where are you? Oh, I see. Under the bed...'

I giggled softly and tiptoed off to my own room. Kevin's unique perspectives are often a source of amusement. But that night something else lingered long after the humor. I realized for the first time the very different world Kevin lives in.

He was born 30 years ago, mentally disabled as a result of difficulties during labor. Apart from his size (he's 6-foot-2), there are few ways in which he is an adult. He reasons and communicates with the capabilities of a 7-year-old, and he always will. He will probably always believe that God lives under his bed, that Santa Claus is the one who fills the space under our tree every Christmas and that airplanes stay up in the sky because angels carry them.

I remember wondering if Kevin realizes he is different. Is he ever dissatisfied with his monotonous life? Up before dawn each day, off to work at a workshop for the disabled, home to walk our cocker spaniel, return to eat his favorite macaroni-and-cheese for dinner, and later to bed.

The only variation in the entire scheme is laundry, when he hovers excitedly over the washing machine like a mother with her newborn child. He does not seem dissatisfied. He lopes out to the bus every morning at 7:05, eager for a day of simple work. He wrings his hands excitedly while the water boils on the stove before dinner, and he stays up late twice a week to gather our dirty laundry for his next day's laundry chores.

Saturdays - oh, the bliss of Saturdays! That's the day my Dad takes Kevin to the airport to have a soft drink, watch the planes land, and speculate loudly on the destination of each passenger inside. 'That one's goin' to Chi-car-go! ' Kevin shouts as he claps his hands. His anticipation is so great he can hardly sleep on Friday nights. So goes his world of daily rituals and weekend field trips.

He doesn't know what it means to be discontent. His life is simple. He will never know the entanglements of wealth of power, and he does not care what brand of clothing he wears or what kind of food he eats. His needs have always been met, and he never worries that one day they may not be. His hands are diligent.

Kevin is never so happy as when he is working. When he unloads the dishwasher or vacuums the carpet, his heart is completely in it. He does not shrink from a job when it is begun, and he does not leave a job until it is finished. But when his tasks are done, Kevin knows how to relax. He is not obsessed with his work or the work of others.

His heart is pure. He still believes everyone tells the truth, promises must be kept, and when you are wrong, you apologize instead of argue. Free from pride and unconcerned with appearances, Kevin is not afraid to cry when he is hurt, angry or sorry. He is always transparent, always sincere.

And he trusts God. Not confined by intellectual reasoning, when he comes to Christ, he comes as a child.

Kevin seems to know God - to really be friends with Him in a way that is difficult for an 'educated' person to grasp. God seems like his closest companion.

In my moments of doubt and frustrations with my Christianity, I envy the security Kevin has in his simple faith. It is then that I am most willing to admit that he has some divine knowledge that rises above my mortal questions. It is then I realize that perhaps he is not the one with the handicap. I am. My obligations, my fear, my pride, my circumstances - they all become disabilities when I do not trust them to God's care.

Who knows if Kevin comprehends things I can never learn? After all, he has spent his whole life in that kind of innocence, praying after dark and soaking up the goodness and love of God.

And one day, when the mysteries of heaven are opened, and we are all amazed at how close God really is to our hearts, I'll realize that God heard the simple prayers of a boy who believed that God lived under his bed.

Kevin won't be surprised at all!

Sorry, we don't know the source of this lovely story.

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Saturday, April 4, 2009

Speed Trap in Charlotte

President Ronald Reagan and first lady Nancy Reagan greet Graham at the National Prayer Breakfast of 1981
President Ronald Reagan and first lady Nancy Reagan greet Graham at the National Prayer Breakfast of 1981
Billy Graham was returning to Charlotte after a speaking engagement. When his flight arrives, there is a limousine waiting to transport him to his home. As he prepares to get into the limo, he stops and says to the driver, 'You know, I am 87 years old and I have never driven a limousine. Would you mind if I drove it for a while?'

The driver says, 'No problem, Rev. Graham. Have at it!'

Billy Graham gets into the driver's seat. Soon, they head off down the highway. A short distance away is a rookie North Carolina State Trooper operating his first speed trap. The long black limo glides by him going 70 in a 55 mph zone. The trooper pulls out and easily pulls over the limo. He gets out of his highway patrol car to begin the procedure.

The young trooper walks up to the driver's door. As the window rolls down, he's surprised to see who's driving. He immediately excuses himself. He returns to his patrol car and calls his supervisor.

He tells the supervisor, 'I know we are supposed to enforce the law. But I also know that important people are given certain courtesies. I need to know what I should do, because I just stopped a very important person.'

The supervisor asks, 'Is it the mayor of Charlotte?'

The young trooper says, 'No sir, he's more important than the mayor.'

The supervisor asks, 'Oh, so is it the governor of North Carolina?'

The state trooper says, 'No sir, he's even more important than our governor.'

The supervisor finally asks, 'Well then, who is it?'

The trooper says, 'I think it's Jesus, because he's got Billy Graham for a chauffeur!'

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