Tag Archive | Civil War

The Tragedy and Triumph of Thanksgiving

Consider these words…

The year that is drawing towards 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 cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God…

lincolnWith these words, written on October 3, 1863, Abraham Lincoln began his Thanksgiving Day Proclamation that set aside the last Thursday* of November as a national “day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father Who dwelleth in the Heavens“.

President Lincoln then went on to say…

And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

Such words of gratitude, thankfulness, praise, humility, and repentance. But to understand how profound these words were (and still are), you must understand the context of the times (and year) in which they were written…

  • May 1-3, 1863: The Battle of Chancellorsville (30,500 casualties (killed, wounded, or missing))
  • May 18 – July 4, 1863: The Siege at Vicksburg (37,532 casualties)
  • July 1-3, 1863: The Battle of Gettysburg (over 46,000 casualties)
  • September 18 – 20, 1863: The Battle of Chickamauga (34,624 casualties)
  • September – November, 1863: The Chattanooga Campaign (14,508 casualties)

IMG_5195When President Lincoln penned these words, our nation was engulfed in the heart of the violence, bloodshed, and tragedy of the American Civil War. Yet, President Lincoln chose to find goodness. He chose to look forward with hope to a future of peace, prosperity, and promise. In spite of the hopelessness, despair, death, and destruction that consumed the nation between 1861 – 1865, President Lincoln looked back to better times, and had faith that such times would return.

Maybe this Thanksgiving, you are experiencing anguish, heartbreak, loss, anxiety, or feelings of hopelessness. I know that kind of pain is very real, and have experienced it myself. But, I also know of a Savior who bore all of our hurt, pain, anguish, and sin, and now lives victoriously, having conquered all of this and more. The prophet Isaiah put it this way…

Surely He took up our pain
    and bore our suffering,
yet we considered Him punished by God,
    stricken by Him, and afflicted.
But He was pierced for our transgressions,
    He was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on Him,
    and by His wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
    each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on Him
    the iniquity of us all. ~ Isaiah 53:4-6 (NIV)

Life is as tough as nails. God never promised us an easy road, and He never promised us a fair shake. But, Jesus DID give us this promise…

“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace.
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart!
I have overcome the world.” ~ John 16:33 (NIV)

Tday-TurkeyXSo this Thanksgiving, if your life is joyous, be thankful for that, and for all of God’s many blessings.

But if you are struggling and sorrowful this Thanksgiving, take heart. Know that the Father loves you, that He is “near to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18). Call to Him now… “the God of all comfort” is just a breath away.

From our family to yours, may you have a blessed Thanksgiving.

* In December 1941, the date for Thanksgiving was officially changed to the fourth Thursday in November.

#HonorMemorialDay

For about 240 years, Americans have shed their blood for the cause of freedom.

From places like Lexington and Concord to Gettysburg to Appomattox Station, the blood of patriots has been shed on American soil, fighting for a young nation’s heart and soul.

IMG_5209

When the United States had established itself as a world power, our brave men and women were once again called upon, and shed their blood fighting against dictators and tyrants with
names like Mussolini, Hirohito, and Hitler.

IMG_5189

While American citizens enjoyed the safety and security of life at home in places like Wichita, Dallas, Boston, and Tacoma, American soldiers gave their lives in previously unheard of places with names like Chochiwon, Ia Drang, Haditha, and Kamdesh.

IMG_5195

On Memorial Day, we honor the sacrifice of these brave American heroes who saw the cause of freedom as something worth defending, worth their sacrifice. We remember those who gave the last ounce of devotion to the ideals and principles enshrined in documents
like The Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution.

IMG_5187

Today… we remember.

IMG_5210

…It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God,
shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people,
by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
~ Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863
from The Gettysburg Address

IMG_5202

As We Remember

Flags & Graves2

Today, we in America will observe Memorial Day. This day was first observed as Decoration Day, and originated after the Civil War, as a way of remembering the over 600,000 Union and Confederate soldiers who were killed during that horrific conflict which pitted brother against brother, neighbor against neighbor, and countryman against countryman. While the aftermath of that conflict was a  wounded nation brought back together, and many other brave American men and women have since fallen in wars and conflicts around the globe, we as American citizens must be ever mindful of the price that was paid, and ever vigilant as watchmen to protect the freedom for which they died.

As we today honor those who have fallen in battle, I am reminded of a letter penned by President Abraham Lincoln to a widow, Mrs. Lydia Bixby, whose sons had died fighting for the Union army…

Dear Madam,

I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle. I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save. I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.

Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,

A. Lincoln

Iwo JimaOn this day, as we go about our family gatherings and picnics, please take a moment to remember the solemnity of this day by offering a prayer of thanksgiving for those who gave their lives so that you could be free, as well as a prayer of comfort for those who are still grieving a loss unimaginable by most of us. Let us remember that those who gave their full measure of devotion for the cause of freedom are not nameless and faceless, but are husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, and friends.

Thank you heroes, for your service and sacrifice. We owe you a debt we cannot repay.

May God bless America.

Flags & Graves

Freedom’s Holy Light

Lady LibertyA sailor was on his way out of Algeria aboard a ship that contained a sick missionary. Right before the missionary died, he pointed his hand toward the distant horizon and spoke prophetically: “There lies a land there where the seas wash. There is a native people there that have never heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

When the sailor finally arrived home, he told his son – and later his grandson – what the missionary had told him. When the grandson grew older, he also became a sailor. He remembered the old missionary’s words, and wrote many letters and diary entries expressing his desire to see the inhabitants of that land convert to Christianity.

The land the missionary spoke of was America.

The sailor’s grandson was Cristoforo Colombo, or as we know him, Christopher Columbus.

KS77810From the very beginning, our nation had, at it’s very core, a foundation centered on faith in God. While liberals and history revisionists would like to erase every mention of God from the history books, there is no denying the reliance our Founding Fathers placed on The Almighty. Don’t believe me? Listen to them, in their own words…

“The general principles, on which the Fathers achieved independence, were the only Principles in which that beautiful Assembly of young Gentlemen could Unite, and these Principles only could be intended by them in their address, or by me in my answer. And what were these general Principles? I answer, the general Principles of Christianity, in which all these Sects were United…”
~ John Adams, 2nd U.S. President

“God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever…” ~ Thomas Jefferson, 3rd U.S. President

“Let us then, unite in offering our most grateful acknowledgments for these blessings to the Divine Author of All Good.”~ James Monroe, 5th U.S. President

“The hope of a Christian is inseparable from his faith. Whoever believes in the divine inspiration of the Holy Scriptures must hope that the religion of Jesus shall prevail throughout the earth.” ~ John Quincy Adams, 6th U.S. President

I could go on and on… and on.

The 4th verse of the song My Country, ‘Tis of Thee sums up the prayers and petitions of these great men appropriately…

KS77849

Our fathers’ God to Thee,
Author of liberty,
To Thee we sing.
Long may our land be bright,
With freedom’s holy light,
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God our King.

Freedom’s Holy Light still burns brightly in America…

That Holy Light which was ignited in the hearts of her Founders, kindled by the dreams of her citizens, fueled by the blood of her soldiers, and sustained in the hearts of her children. It was the Holy Flame that burned brightly during two Great Awakenings, at the Cane Ridge Revival, the Finney Awakening, in the streetlamps of Azusa Street, and in the eyes of Billy Sunday and Billy Graham. It is that Guiding Light of God’s love that guided the Pilgrims to the shores of New England, kept freedom’s dream alive in the cold of Valley Forge, illuminated the heart of Abraham Lincoln during the dark nights of the Civil War, was the fire of freedom in the face of imperialism following December 7, 1941, and was the light of hope in the darkness of September 11, 2001.

It was the fire that blazed in the forge from whence came
the timeless inscription on the Liberty Bell:

“Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.”
~ Leviticus 25:10

So… let freedom ring.

Let the sound of freedom be heard in the cries of repentance of the people of God. Let the church rise and once again be the vessel that unashamedly bears the message of forgiveness and hope that the world needs to hear.

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where
the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” ~ II Corinthians 3:17

No amount of legislation or Supreme Court rulings will change America… only the cross of Jesus can bring real change.

No amount of political correctness will change a single heart… only the love of Jesus can turn a heart of stone to a heart of flesh.

No amount of wealth-redistribution can force an ounce of compassion… only identifying with the tears of Jesus can break our hearts for a dying world.

It’s time for we as American Christians to wake up, get up, and go. It’s time for us to get on our knees and pray for a breakthrough… in the White House, the Statehouse, the schoolhouse, and the churchhouse. It’s time for us to be salt and light, look the world squarely in the face and say, “This is going to sting, but THIS is the truth, and the truth will set you free.” It’s time for us to BE the revival we have been praying for, and put our lives out there for that which He gave up His life. It’s time for us to stop asking for God to bless America, but for we as Americans to start blessing Him – through obedience, sacrifice, and holiness.

On this July 4th, I leave you with the words of President George Washington, from his Inaugural Address of 1789:

“In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own; nor those of my fellow-citizens at large, less than either. No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States.” KS77759

May America bless God once again.

“I will bless the Lord at all times: His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” ~ Psalm 34:1