THANKSGIVING - ALMOST FORGOTTEN
ALMOST FORGOTTEN by the merchants who
have sold out their Halloween candy and costumes
and are just decorating for Christmas sales, is an
annual observance uniquely American: Thanksgiving
Day. Isn't it sad that we who have so much for which
to be grateful set aside only one day out of 365 to
say "Thank you, Lord, for all your blessings." This
year, along with the turkey and pumpkin pie, pause
briefly and do exactly that. Forget for just a few
minutes the depressed stock market, and thank God
for all the good things in life, not only today but every
day. Have a joyous Thanksgiving Day!
- - - - - - - -
ON NOVEMBER 5 OUR LOCAL PAPER
HEADLINED "CHANGE HAS COME."
BUT IS THAT TRUE -- HAS IT?
Good question . . . but first let's actually pause for
those few minutes as suggested above, and give
some thought to Thanksgiving Day, and what it
We could involve politics in such a consideration
and ask the politicians' frequently posed question:
"Are you better off than you were four years
ago?" Or even one year ago. That is really a way
of inviting a person to "count your blessings." And
such an exercise invariably results in an over-balance
on the plus side. (As a personal note, this writer finds
his final evaluation predominately positive.)
And this is what the Bible expects us to experience,
as expressed in Psalm 100:4-5: "Enter into his gates
with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise;
be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the
Lord is good..."
The thanksgiving element is a very frequent one in
the Bible's instructions to believers . . . and this one,
for example, is particularly applicable to the present
economic situation: "Do not be anxious about any
thing, but in everything, by prayer and petition,
with thanksgiving, present your requests unto
God." (Phil. 4:6, NIV)
John Newton's great hymn from 1779 offers some
memorable thoughts, "Come, my soul, thy suit
prepare: Jesus loves to answer prayer... Thou art
coming to a King, large petitions with thee bring;
For His grace and power are such, none can ever
ask too much."
A few years ago, in 2000, a little book became a best
seller, world-wide, The Prayer of Jabez. Without
debating its message, a utilization of the alphabetical
usage could result in another title, The Promises of
Jesus. His promises, and the fulfillment of them, are
very much at the heart of the meaning of Thanksgiving
Day for Christians.
And let us never forget that this day of remembrance
and thanksgiving is truly an American institution,
"There is one day that is ours. Thanksgiving Day
is the one day that is purely American." ~ O. Henry
(William Sydney Porter), 1917. And in the present
century, author H.U. Westermayer reminds us, "The
Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts.
No Americans have been more impoverished than
these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of
On October 3, 1789, President George Washington
(as have other presidents since) proclaimed the first
Thanksgiving Day in these words, "Now therefore
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..."
And now on the subject of "Change," we have
not forgotten that his constantly repeated use of the
word "Change" was a major factor in the election of
Barack Obama. The later and probably more effective
version was "Change you can believe in." This theme
has entered current day Americanese -- on sale on a
national basis are bumper stickers with this slogan:
I'll keep my guns, freedom and money - you can
keep the "Change."
But day by day the announcements of the selection
of members of the new administration seem to be
demonstrating that the president-elect is choosing his
people from the past. Starting with Vice President
Biden, a long time veteran of the Washington political
scene, and as one veteran politico after another is
announced (mostly from the Clinton administration),
the only "change" in the formation of a very typical
administration staff appears to be the inexperienced
national political novice -- the president-elect himself.
But it is still too early to judge. He hasn't done anything
yet -- right or wrong. We will get through the agony
of indecision as to what breed of dog he will buy . . .
or which private school his children will attend . . . or
what Michelle will do to redecorate the White House.
Until we have seen how those momentous decisions
are handled, and until he actually begins to be the
president, let's hold back the criticism. No president
-- not even FDR -- ever took office with as many
serious national and international problems staring
him in the face as will Barack Obama. But he is our
elected president, and he needs our prayers. The
time for criticism, reaction and restoring America to
the nation which we as Christians believe it should be
will come later.
Meantime, our friends just across the ocean
are already experiencing what may soon happen to
us here in America. Headlines from the British press
tell the story:
"Government plays down Christmas for fear of
"Active Muslims to outnumber Christian church
members by 2049"
"Planned London mega-mosque would be biggest
religious building in Britain"
"Archbishop calls incorporation of Muslim
shariah law in British legal system 'unavoidable'"
"Britain 'no longer Christian,' says influential
Real statistics backup the stories behind the headlines.
Overall Sunday church attendance in Britain declined
from 3..7 million in 1998 to 3.2 million in 2005 --
slightly less than 6% of the population. At these rates
church attendance will drop to below 5% by 2015.
Sinclair Lewis' old familiar novel "It Can't Happen
Here" comes to mind, and as much as we would like
for it to be true, given the prevailing trends in America,
that negative can be changed to the positive: "It Can
Happen Here." The Church can no longer stand idly
by and watch the increasing acceptance of abortion
killing innocent babies and homosexual "marriage"
destroying the Bible-ordained concept of marriage.
Make no mistake about it: what is happening in
Britain, not only can but very probably will happen
here. A reactivated Church of Jesus Christ, obedient
to the Great Commission, can restore this nation to
what the founders intended it to be.
We have followed with great interest the moves
within the American Episcopal Church toward the
rejection by Bible believers of the liberal, unorthodox
positions as exemplified by the ordination of an
openly homosexual bishop, Vicki Gene Robinson of
New Hampshire. Now four dioceses have dropped
any association with the American church, and a
convocation in Wheaton, Il. has been scheduled for
December 2-3 at which time the constitution will be
presented for a new province within the Anglican
Communion -- the North American Anglican Province.
The Archbishop of the new province will be the
deposed Episcopal Bishop of Pittsburgh, the Rt. Rev.
The Archbishop said concerning the December 2-3
convocation "One conclusion of the Global
Anglican Future Conference held in Jerusalem
last June was that the time for the recognition
of a new Anglican body in North America had
arrived. The public release of our constitution is
an important concrete step toward the goal of a
biblical, missionary and united Anglican Church
in North America. We want to claim our place as
members of Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans...."
At least one bishop of the Anglican Communion has
reacted unfavorably to establishing of a new and
orthodox province. Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate
of the Anglican church in Canada, objected with
typical liberal reasoning, "What's quite disturbing,
in my opinion, about this proposal is the
determination to create a province based on
theological grounds, rather than based on mission
and geographic location." That objection says a
lot about the position of the liberals within the
Anglican Communion -- that theology is not as
important as geographical location
And a quote from the ultimate Founding Father:
"The propitious smiles of Heaven can never be
expected on a nation that disregards the eternal
rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has
ordained." -- George Washington, 1789
Some Random Afterthoughts . . .
Makes you wonder about the First Amendment:
At Yuba Community College in California, student
Ryan Dozier was stopped from handing out Christian
literature on campus, charged with a criminal act, and
threatened with expulsion. The college allows "free
speech"on campus two days a week, between 12:00
and 1:00 Pm, with permission required two weeks in
advance. Attorneys from Alliance Defense Fund are
representing Dozier. As Doug Giles, wrote in his
column on Nov.23: "Christians can’t even say
'Merry Christmas,' cheer on traditional marriage,
or champion the life of an unborn baby without
being called Hitlers, haters of humanity and
intolerant bigots of other people’s values." That
weird "separation of church and state" concept
fostered by the US Supreme Court is still with us --
never forget that -- as if the ACLU will let you!
Just by way of interest, at least 3 examples
of "turn-arounds," or something like that, were in
the news this week. (1) Bob Jones University, a well
known fundamentalist school in South Carolina made
public apology for its long term racist attitude, which
forbid inter-racial student dating, and refused to admit
blacks to the student body. The dating rule ended in
1971, and the admission rule in 2000. The apology
read, "We failed to accurately represent the Lord
and to fulfill the commandment to love others as
ourselves ... we are profoundly sorry."
(2) A Vatican publication says the late British rocker
John Lennon is forgiven for once saying the Beatles
beat Jesus Christ in popularity. The London Sunday
Times of London reported an editorial in the Vatican
newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, absolved
Lennon for his 1996 comment, in which he said,
"We're more popular than Jesus now; I don't know
which will go first, rock 'n' roll or Christianity."
(3) And former NAE president and mega-church
pastor Ted Haggard, disgraced two years ago in a
sex-and-drugs scandal, returned to a church pulpit
in Illinois, this time as a Christian businessman who
didn't confess to being a sinful human being, but
blamed his fall on being molested in second grade
and apologized again.
And from another of our Founding Fathers:
" Let divines and philosophers, statesmen and
patriots, unite their endeavors to renovate the
age by impressing the minds of men with the
importance of educating their little boys and
girls, inculcating in the minds of youth the fear
and love of the Deity… and leading them in the
study and practice of the exalted virtues of the
Christian system.” -- Samuel Adams, 1790
JUST TWO MONTHS UNTIL INAUGURATION DAY
WITH JUST TWO MONTHS UNTIL NEXT
INAUGURATION DAY, PEOPLE ARE
BEGINNING TO ASK QUESTIONS
AND ACT CONCERNED
Since November 4, Election Day, we have adopted
a "wait and see" approach to the administration of
our new president, reminding our readers that as yet
he hasn't done anything, good or bad. All we know
for sure are the promises he made during the l-o-n-g
campaign. But politicians' "campaign promises" are
often forgotten immediately after they are made. That
is a fact; it is part of the American political system.
But suppose, just for a moment, that president-
elect Barack Obama actually does fulfill the promises
-- the pledges to the American people -- which were
made during the campaign.
First of all, any such fulfillment is still two months
away, almost to the day -- January 20, 2009,
Inauguration Day. Other significant intervening dates
include one with a very unique determination: "the
first Monday after the second Wednesday in
December" -- this year it is December 15 when the
Electoral College votes to actually elect the new
president. And then those votes have to be counted
in a joint session of Congress, which will occur on
January 6, and then, two weeks later, Barack Hussein
Obama will be formally sworn in as the President of
the United States. Only then can he begin to fulfill or
ignore the campaign promises.
Already, observers are concerned about what
may happen after January 20. In the New Media
Journal, Lance Farchok, expressed the concern that
Christians must share: "Our opponents, the Socialist
Democrats, have considered themselves at war
with America for a very long time. Obama has been
careful to candy coat it with words like “hope”
and “change” ... Their hatred of us is palpable in
their literature and their public comments... there is
a malevolent nihilism in all they do, a destructive
urge that seeks to undermine all that has come
before--culture, history, religion, tradition, custom,
honor, even morality."
There are many causes for concern. For example,
there is Obama's oft repeated campaign promise that
he would pull all combat troops out of Iraq within 16
months of taking office. This promise may come back
to haunt him. Even now as "president-elect" and in
two months as the president, he is going to face great
pressure to abandon his pledge to withdraw. The
possible confrontation with the military command
may well be the most dramatic event of Obama’s
first few weeks in office. He may never have had
any real intention of pulling out before the job in Iraq
is done. But he made that promise again and again,
and it may be that he will have to fulfill it. To do so
will require great boldness, decisive action and skillful
diplomacy But as one observer said, "It will also
require an incredible amount of stupidity." Either
way, it is a matter to cause us grave concern.
Then there is our relationship with Israel. It is
only about a month since Jesse Jackson spoke about
the change in US policy toward Israel under an
Obama presidency. At the World Policy Forum in
Evian, France, and as reported in the New York Post,
Jackson said that although, "Zionists who have
controlled American policy for decades remain
strong, they will lose much of their clout when
Obama enters the White House." Jackson
promised fundamental changes in U.S. foreign policy,
and said the most important change would occur in
the Middle East, where "decades of putting Israel's
interests first" would end.
More recently, a senior Obama adviser told the
London Times that Obama will throw his support
behind a 2002 Saudi peace initiative that calls on
Israel to revert to its pre-1967 borders in return for
official diplomatic recognition by the Arab world.
Under the plan, among other conditions, Israel
would restore the Golan Heights to Syria, and
Palestinians would be allowed to establish a state
capital in east Jerusalem. Again, in just these
preliminary reports there is case for concern.
And this doesn't touch on moral issues such as
replacing traditional marriage and the family, the
basic unit of our society, with "same-sex marriage."
But remember that In 1996, Congress passed the
Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which was
signed into law by Bill Clinton and which defined
marriage as between one man and one woman. But
candidate Obama promised that repeal of DOMA
would be one of the first acts of his administration.
However, in recent years voters in 30 states have
added state constitutional amendments establishing
traditional marriage in their states, by an average
majority of nearly 70%. In this last election three
states adopted such amendments, prompting a
nationwide protest by homosexual militants who have
attacked churches and individual Christians who dare
to stand for the Biblical standard, and to accept the
votes of the American people. As president, Obama's
action on this issue is another cause for our concern.
Chuck Colson, writing in Breakpoint, Nov. 13, said:
"This is an outrage. What hypocrisy from those
who spend their time preaching tolerance to the
rest of us. How dare they threaten and attack
political opponents? We live in a democratic
country, not a banana republic ruled by thugs."
And his promised support of "abortion rights" is
another matter of concern. As a candidate, he told a
Planned Parenthood conference that the first thing he
would do as President would be to sign the Freedom
of Choice Act (FOCA),.introduced in Congress in
2004. It would remove all restrictions on abortion in
the United States, both on the state and federal level.
Besides going against all Christian standards, this
action is strongly opposed by the Catholic church,
many of whose members voted for Obama. This is
a matter of serious concern for all Christians.
And those are just a few items on the agenda of
the new president which concern us as Christians,
even though action on them -- and others -- is still
two months or more in the future.
A change in presidential spiritual advisors seems
to be in the works. Peter LaBarbera, anti-homosexual
activist, comments, "It looks like Billy Graham has
been replaced by a gay bishop." The London Times
reports that Obama sought out New Hampshire
homosexual bishop Vicki Gene Robinson for advice
during his presidential campaign. Robinson says in their
three private conversations, Obama voiced his support
for "equal civil rights" for homosexuals. We Christians
may be concerned, but must wait to see what happens.
And not from an American Founding Father:
We cannot expect the Americans to jump from
capitalism to Communism, but we can assist
their elected leaders in giving Americans small
doses of socialism until they suddenly awake to
find they have Communism." -- Soviet Leader,
Nikita Khrushchev, 1959
Not worried about "small doses" of socialism?
Perhaps we should be just a little concerned.
But from a real Founding Father: "No country
upon earth ever had it more in its power to attain
these blessings than United America. Wondrously
strange, then, and much to be regretted indeed
would it be, were we to neglect the means and to
depart from the road which Providence has
pointed us to so plainly; I cannot believe it will
ever come to pass." -- George Washington, 1788
Some Random Afterthoughts . . .
In Minnesota, comedian Al Franken is facing a
voting recount in his race with Republican Senator
Norm Coleman. Two years from now we may see
another show business personality in a senate race if
MSNBC news host Chris Matthews decides to run
against Republican Senator Arlen Specter in
Pennsylvania. Matthews says that he has always
wanted to be a senator, and it just so happens that
his TV contract expires next year.
Speaking of MSNBC ... the network was recently
victim of a hoax, but one to which they gave great
publicity. It concerned the story that vice presidential
candidate Sarah Palin thought Africa was a country
rather than a continent. False. The so-called "expert
in international affairs," Martin Eisenstadt -- also said
to be a Fellow in the Harding Institute -- was invented
by two hoaxers. And the "Harding Institute" is nothing
but an Internet website set up in 2007. The nation's
elite news services do not seem to improve with age.
Another way to solve the problem of diminished
church attendance. The Associated Press reports
that one suburban church is hoping to solve its
shrinking membership problem not by changing the
message, but by changing the buildings. A church in
White Plains, NY -- St. Bartholomew's -- plans to
remove two dozen pews from the sanctuary creating
a more intimate setting. According to the rector,
"Changing our sanctuary space changed the way
people feel in the church. It's an important start."
Exodus of Bible believers from Episcopal Church
escalates. The theologically conservative Diocese of
Fort Worth, TX, has voted to split from the liberal-
leaning Episcopal Church, USA -- the fourth diocese
to do so in recent weeks. About 80 percent of
clergy and parishioners in the diocese supported the
break. Bishop Jack L. Iker laid blame for the split
on what he described as "a church that is increasingly
unfaithful and disobedient to the word of God... it
is time to say enough is enough." A new Bible believing
American Anglican church appears to be on the horizon.
And from a Founding Father, and a signer of the
Declaration of Independence, "Patriotism is as
much a virtue as justice, and is as necessary for
the support of societies as natural affection is for
the support of families." -- Benjamin Rush, 1773
THE ELECTION IS OVER
OK -- THE ELECTION IS OVER. NOW WE
TURN TO SOME OTHER NEWS ITEMS
OF INTEREST TO US AS CHRISTIANS
After the longest presidential election campaign in
our nation's history, with the votes counted and the
final decision made, we have a president-elect who
received more votes than any other president, some
8 million more than Ronald Reagan in his second
term -- which was until this year the largest popular
vote ever. And President-elect Obama accomplished
something that neither presidents Clinton or Bush had
each done in their two elections -- he received a
majority, more than 50%, of the votes cast.
The reaction among those who did did not support
Obama has been quite clearly and strongly expressed,
at least in the messages reaching our email address.
Many are sarcastic and critical, some are racist, one
went so far as to say that what happened was not
God's will. But probably an equal number were
resigned to the fact, or at least the probability, that
America has slipped from slightly right-of-center,
past center and into a left-of-center political, cultural,
social, economic and moral life style.
Much has already been written, and other similar
articles will follow, confirming the media bias in favor
of Barack Obama over John McCain. In retrospect,
even the writers and commentators who were active
during the campaign admit to employing that bias. But
all that is past history. The internet feature "Infidels are
Cool," on November 9 summarized the situation well:
'There will come a time in the year ahead when
either Obama’s unexamined past will come back
to haunt him, or his inexperience and tentativeness
in foreign affairs will be embarrassingly apparent,
or his European-socialist agenda for domestic
programs simply won’t work. And as public
opinion falls, what will MSNBC, the New York
Times, the editors of Newsweek, a Chris Matthews
or the anchors at the major networks say?"
But for now Mr. Obama is president-elect. He
will not take office for 69 more days. He has not
yet done anything as president. After he takes office,
if he makes mistakes or either does things wrong or
does wrong things, we will be among the first to say
so, loudly and clearly. But for now our responsibility
as Christians is not to criticize and condemn, but to
pray for God's help for this new, inexperienced
young man who faces the greatest problems any
incoming president of the United States of America
ever faced. This is not something we just thought up.
The Bible so directs us in these words: “I exhort
therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers,
intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for
all men; for kings and all that are in authority,
that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all
godliness and honesty." (1 Tim. 2:1-2)
Religion played an important role in the election
we have just gone through. His strong efforts to
appeal to religious voters paid off for Obama.
Overall, among religious voters, Obama ran well
ahead of McCain, 52% to 46%. Among Catholics,
Jews, other religions and unaffiliated, Obama won by
substantial margins. McCain was victorious among
Protestants, other Christians, Evangelicals and non-
Evangelicals.. One of the key religious or moral
issues -- same sex marriage -- saw constitutional
amendments succeed in Arizona, California and
Florida, although in California the homosexual
minority, with ACLU in the lead, is mounting legal
appeals to have the vote of the people overturned.
This same split on moral values is reflected in actions
within the Episcopal church where another diocese --
the diocese of Quincy, Illinois, has voted to leave the
Episcopal church. The dividing issue is allegiance to
the Word of God, and the ordaining of homosexuals.
This is indicative of the increasing conflict on these
moral value issues which we may expect to see under
the incoming left-leaning government at the Executive
and Legislative levels.
Speaking to this issue, Tony Perkins, president of
Family Research Council, believes the results of this
election can be attributed in large part to the fact that
the church in America has failed to address sin within
itself as well as in society. Perkins also believes (as
we also warned in last week's issue) that Christians
in America should prepare for persecution. "We are
going to see, I think, unprecedented attacks against
our faith through measures like the hate crimes
legislation in the Employment Non-Discrimination
Act. We're going to see attacks on innocent
human life through the Freedom of Choice Act ...
And I think even our freedoms are going to come
under attack." It must be remembered that during
the campaign Mr. Obama promised that he would
use his power to support the Freedom of Choice Act
which will enhance the use of abortions, and would
eliminate the Defense of Marriage Act. Perkins says
Christians are going to have to be resolute in defense
of what they know to be right.
A leading voice for Liberals, Norman Lear, the co-
founder of "People for the American Way," has sent a
warning to his fellow liberals that "the Republican
Party will take a hard turn to the extreme right."
The warning continues: "The Right is already
planning the revitalization of the Conservative
movement. Without a strong progressive
movement keeping the wind at the Obama
administration's back, our constitutional values
will not be realized as policy, and our electoral
gains will be short lived." The battle lines are about
to be redrawn between the left-leaning Liberals and
Hillary Clinton's "vast right wing conspiracy." We
succeeded before . . . now we need to regroup, and
return to the front once again, setting aside and moving
on from our recent defeats. At stake is the kind of
America we used to know, and which our Founding
Fathers intended it to be.
And never forget or ignore what those founders
said: "The general principles, on which the Fathers
achieved independence, were . . . the general
principles of Christianity."-- John Adams, in a letter
to Thomas Jefferson, June 28, 1813
A Few Random Afterthoughts . . .
A "foot in mouth" remark, and an apology from
the President-elect. In a press conference when he
was asked if he had contacted former presidents,
he responded he had been in touch with living ones,
and then added: "Hey, I didn’t want to get into
a Nancy Reagan thing about doing any séances."
His statement was not true -- it was First Lady
Hillary Clinton who admitted to having a séance in
the White House in which they summoned the spirit
of Eleanor Roosevelt. Mrs. Reagan had sought
information from astrology after her husband was
shot in the hope she would learn something to protect
him. It is reported that Mr. Obama phoned Mrs.
Reagan, and apologized for his erroneous remark.
"Green" Initiatives are gone with the wind. In
local contests all over the country, most environmental
initiatives were defeated on November 4. The wind
energy plan to create electricity, so strongly touted
in repetitious TV ads by oil legend T. Boone Pickens,
failed when voters faced the economic impact of the
windmill process. The conclusion: nuclear power is
clean energy, and we don't have to depend on having
a sunny or windy day to have the process work.
A thought for your next sandwich lunch: Last
week S. Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-fil-A
shops, was awarded the William E. Simon prize for
philanthropic leadership. Starting with a single shop
in 1967, the chain has grown nationwide to to over
1,400 restaurants. The company's vision statement
is: "To glorify God by being a faithful steward of
all that is entrusted to us and to have a positive
influence on all who come in contact with
Chick-fil-A." In line with that principle, all of their
restaurants are closed on Sundays.
To relieve any concerns, the White House said
this week that the recent bail-out of financially
troubled firms is not socialism. “We’re very, very
far away from that line of socialism, wherever
that’s drawn out there,” White House spokesman
Tony Fratto said. And Speaker of the House Nancy
Pelosi made it clear it was just a matter of clothing
colors, saying:“Today, the Democratic leadership
discussed how ...to use cutting-edge technology
to transform blue-collar jobs to green collar jobs
for generations to come.” It's good to learn that!
Oh, in case you didn't notice -- At his first news
conference on Nov. 7, Obama stood at a podium
bearing a sign that read: “Office of the President-Elect.
Also, his Web site, Change.gov, bears the words
“Office of the President-Elect” at the top of its home
page. Thus, Barack Obama has created a stir by
proclaiming that he heads an office that does not
A first century BC quote fit for our time: "The
budget should be balanced. Public debt should
be reduced. The arrogance of officialdom should
be tempered, and assistance to foreign lands
should be curtailed, lest Rome become bankrupt."
-- attributed to Marcus Tullius Cicero, 55 BC
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