Tag Archives: god

President Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Day Proclamation

Lincoln Thanksgiving Day

God’s divine appointments are always amazing to me. In my normal daily chronological reading through the Old Testament this morning, I ended up reading 1 Chronicles 16, a chapter just about giving thanks, which contains David’s thanksgiving song to the Lord. It was a divine appointment at least for me, and a great reminder that today we give thanks TO our creator and Lord. Not necessarily for what we have physically, but for what God has done in our lives, and yes for the blessings he has abundantly supplied.

Thanksgiving should not be an “American” thing, and when this day was first made into a holiday, Lincoln said as much as well. This is the day for the world to give thanks to God, and in his own words, I give you:

President Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Day Proclamation

Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

This is the proclamation which set the precedent for America’s national day of Thanksgiving. During his administration, President Lincoln issued many orders similar to this. For example, on November 28, 1861, he ordered government departments closed for a local day of thanksgiving.

Sarah Josepha Hale, a 74-year-old magazine editor, wrote a letter to Lincoln on September 28, 1863, urging him to have the “day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival.” She explained, “You may have observed that, for some years past, there has been an increasing interest felt in our land to have the Thanksgiving held on the same day, in all the States; it now needs National recognition and authoritive fixation, only, to become permanently, an American custom and institution.”

Prior to this, each state scheduled its own Thanksgiving holiday at different times, mainly in New England and other Northern states. President Lincoln responded to Mrs. Hale’s request immediately, unlike several of his predecessors, who ignored her petitions altogether. In her letter to Lincoln she mentioned that she had been advocating a national thanksgiving date for 15 years as the editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book.

he document below sets apart the last Thursday of November “as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise.” According to an April 1, 1864, letter from John Nicolay, one of President Lincoln’s secretaries, this document was written by Secretary of State William Seward, and the original was in his handwriting. On October 3, 1863, fellow Cabinet member Gideon Welles recorded in his diary how he complimented Seward on his work. A year later the manuscript was sold to benefit Union troops.

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

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. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, 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. 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, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

… and so it is today. We celebrate with food and family today, and give thanks to our creator and savior that he is truly Lord over all.


  1. Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, edited by Roy P. Basler.
  2. Abraham Lincoln Online: Writings and Speeches

Seeing Our Next Team Off to Uganda Today

Cornerstone Church Uganda Team Leaves for Atlanta

Cornerstone Church Uganda Team Leaves for Atlanta

Today instead of going on the trip to Uganda with the team from last year, I got to see them off to the Atlanta airport. It was a sad goodbye for me personally since I’m staying behind, but I know God is going to work among these eight people pictured above over the next week in Uganda. This team is going to build on so many other teams that have already gone and come back, intent on sharing the love of Christ with others in a culture and context far different from the comfortable life we live in the western world.

You can see a little more about what the trips are like from my previous posts in the Uganda tag, and if you want to follow along with this particular team you can follow April Olive’s blog as she updates throughout the trip. I can’t wait to hear about their trip, it is quite an experienced group of travelers with a heart for the people of Uganda.

Learning Discipleship Through the Eyes of Jesus

Cornerstone Church Staff Discussing Discipleship at 3DM

Cornerstone Church Staff Discussing Discipleship at 3DM

I spent this week with some of our staff at a conference in Atlanta. The past few days for me added to or confirmed with me part of an ongoing study I have about “what is the church?” I last posted about it here: What is the Church? 10 Things the Bible Says About the Church, but this week was focused on discipleship.

This group (3DM) we started to explore months ago doesn’t have a new program, or some new secret way to make disciples, they walked through how Jesus did this. That means this was really more like a workshop than a conference, and there wasn’t a step-by-step process by those Type-A’s can take away and say “this is how you do it.” That’s what made this different than the host of Christian conferences we all love to attend.

I’m not actually sure how to completely process everything presented to us over the last three days. It was a great starting point to learning how to create disciples, not how to create the church. If there was a quote for church staff and leaders that stuck with me, it was this.

Make disciples and it will build and create the church. Build a church and you aren’t necessarily creating disciples.

This is completely backwards from what our American church is. Our consumerist church of the 21st century is certainly a place where we can go on Sunday’s to consume a church product, but is it a place we create disciples as Jesus commanded us to do in Matthew 28? It turns church on its head because it is a scary place for church staff, and a freeing place for followers of Christ. I have heard it said countless times that church is not a building it is the people, but that’s a hard thing to live out when we place so much emphasis on doing church in that traditional church building.

That’s the raw unfiltered understanding of the last few days, it’s not anything ground breaking, but creating disciples is what we are called to do, building the church building is a place where we believers gather to worship on Sunday, not the place where we evangelize the unchurched.

The Day Evil Became Visible

Photo by Wilfredo Lazaro of the Memorial Lights on 2011

Photo by Wilfredo Lazaro of the Memorial Lights on 2011 with the new World Trade Center building in red, white and blue colors under construction

What does this day mean to you at this point eleven years later? Each year I look back at what Deborah and I were doing on this day in wonder and amazement, remembering details I would never remember on any ordinary day. Every year I look for photos I took on that day of us watching the news hour after hour from Philadelphia, PA where our motorhome was parked, and every year I am amazed that I didn’t take one single photo. Not only did I not take a single photo that day, but I didn’t take another photo until we landed in the Cayman Islands on October 1st a few weeks later. I had been a photographer for almost 10 years at that point, taking thousands upon thousands of photos, and yet on this one day, and for weeks to come all I could do was watch things unfolded on the news. Now, we see photos of two beams of light shooting into the night sky where buildings use to be.

This was the day I presume for many that evil became visible. Even though the fall of man took place long ago, for many of us who often choose to ignore the evil in the world, this day it was impossible to ignore. For me and my friends growing up in the 80′s and 90′s we knew nothing of this type of evil in the world. We were past the great wars of Nazi Germany and Pearl Harbor, and beyond Vietnam. Sure I remember Bush senior sending some planes over to Iraq, but that seemed to be over quickly, and besides, we seemed to have won. We knew nothing of the true existence of pure evil that comes from Satan out of hatred for others.

That reality changed of course on September 11, 2001. Now more than a decade later I can still turn on the news and see the events unfold exactly as they did when I was watching them years ago since networks rerun the coverage over and over again, thinking somehow those who were old enough to remember will have forgotten.

Today we think of pure evil and Satan as being those terrorist who flew planes into our buildings and killed “innocent” people, but we all posses the evil of every sin ever known to man. To Jesus and the Apostles the evil of Satan was much closer than some unknown terrorist, the evil was from not looking to God for everything. Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man” (Matthew 16:23).

I don’t know what this day means for you at this point, for me it is still a day of remembering those who died, and that yes, evil does exist, and it is ever-present, and closer than we would ever care to think, only squelched by turning our hearts to God. If you look closely there are some amazing stories of people who turned to God during those horrific days, and some day I really hope to visit the memorials in Washington and New York.


[An interesting site for research and photos of that day is the 911 digital archive.]

Malone Kaak Senior Photo Shoot for 2013

Malone Kaak Senior Photo Shoot for 2013

I’d like you to meet one of our local seniors, Malone Kaak, who came out to our farm a few weeks ago for his senior photos. As I mentioned on a previous senior photo shoot post I don’t normally do senior photos, but this was my other exception for the year. Malone was a great sport and put up with everything we threw his way, I’m sure for his mama’s sake, since moms are really the point of doing senior photos anyway, right. There is one thing I know, moms love photos of their kids. I love the last shot of the two of them sitting on the swing together, that ended up being one of my favorites of the afternoon.

To me one of the many great lines written in the book of Psalms is this four line poem from Psalm 139.16:

Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.

All of our stories are different, individually crafted by God, but Malone has a great story of perseverance in a world of uncertainty. A story I have related to well over the last few years. If you want to read more about Malone just head over to his mom’s blog and start back a few years into the archives. God has an exact plan for each of us, down to the exact day, and on this day, it was for us to share the afternoon with Malone.

5 Reasons Why We Should Still Read The Book of Leviticus Today

Studying the Book of Leviticus

Studying the Book of Leviticus

I just finished reading the Book of Leviticus this morning for the second time this year on my quest to finish two canonical readings for 2012. In honor of that reading, I have finally published my next list page (see my list of lists), called the 613 Mitzvot Laws or Commandments of the Old Testament, many of which are found in the book of Leviticus.

Leviticus is one of those books that Christians tend to want to ignore, while those in the opposite camp tear it apart Hebrew letter by Hebrew letter. About a year ago I actually debated with another Christian about the worth of even reading this book, and he was convinced there was nothing of importance or worthy in Leviticus for us to read today. This was no uninformed, unintelligent Christian, he has a PhD, is a leading scientist in his field, and has a heart for important social justice issues, but Leviticus was not for him (nor really any of the Pentateuch). At that time I did a lousy job at explaining why this book, and every one of the 66 books of the canon, are all still very important and relevant to read in the 21st century. Since that conversation I’ve never really been able to rectify my lack of knowledge in Leviticus and reasons why it is important to read.

This second go-round I started reading Leviticus back on August 14th and finished up today, August 21st, so reading the entire book does not take that long if you read a little bit each day. I will say, Leviticus is not a very difficult book to read, but it is a difficult book to understand, especially in light of our culture today. We are so far removed from the customs of the sacrificial systems and just overall life during the 13th-15th century B.C., it’s very hard for us to understand, within the proper context, how to apply Leviticus to our life today without reading, study, contemplation, and meditation on these 24 chapters.

So here are a few reasons why all Christians should still read this book today. I’m going to skip the obvious reason of because it is part of the canonical Bible, and go on to others, but this is first and foremost. We should read it, because it is part of the writings given to us by God himself through Moses.

Reasons We Should Still Read Leviticus Today

1. It’s the Enemy’s Favorite Book to Tear Apart (Think Shellfish, Polyester, Tattoos, and Homosexuality)
They, the enemies of Truth, call it a book full of contradictions and hypocritical living. This is generally because they don’t understand the book in context any more than we do, but they can read the obvious to make stupid arguments like Christians still eat pork and wear polyester, therefore homosexuality is not a sin (see Homosexuality, Polyester, and Shellfish for reasoning behind this tired debate).

Apologetically speaking, we should know what this book says, because it is used as an excuse for everything under the sun in the 21st century. The book has a great narrative that is often overlooked by the fact that it is a list of laws. These “laws” range from capital punishment for adultery, to not cutting your hair, to laws on homosexuality, to not getting a tattoo because it follows the evil Canaanite tribal practices. Why is it acceptable for Christians to get a tattoo, or eat pork, but not put adulterers to death? Understanding this book in proper context shows exactly why some laws are historically customary for their culture and time, and why some are moral obligations that transcend time.

2. The Theological Holiness Code Developed in Leviticus is Still Used Today
In 1 Peter 1.15-16 the Apostle Peter says, “but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” That is a direct quote from Leviticus 11.44, which is then repeated several times such as in Leviticus 19.2. In seminary circles this is called the “Levitical Holiness Code” from chapters 17-27. It mainly deals with the idea of sanctification, the idea of holiness affecting how one lives in the covenant community.

For Christians today living in the 21st Century, the New Testament applies to Christians using the same principles of life stated in 11:44, and many of the “holiness codes” still show us what is displeasing to God (cf., 19:11-18, 35-36). On the other hand, as noted above, there are also symbolic aspects of the holiness code we no longer follow such as prohibiting garments of two different kinds etc.

3. To Understand How the Work of Christ Saves the Soul
Studying Leviticus today gives us an extremely important understanding of the sacrifice that Jesus made as the Christ when he died on the cross. The animal sacrificial system may be totally foreign to us now, but this enables the 21st century reader to understand why Christ’s sacrifice is one of salvation.

4. The Festal Calendar of Israel in Leviticus Shaped the Christian Calendar We Still Use
The three main festivals, or sometimes called the national pilgrim feasts of Israel, are the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Harvest, and the Feast of Booths. Most of our modern day church denominations from Baptist to Catholic still follow these festivals. These celebrations today find their climax in the corresponding days known as Good Friday, Easter, and Pentecost.

5. Because Without Leviticus the Other 65 Books Don’t Make Any Sense
Every book is intertwined with every other book. This is a huge reason to me. If you are reading Kings or Nehemiah, or one of those other “important” books, you are reading part 11 or part 16, but you never read part 3. Knowing and understanding Leviticus is crucial to understanding any of the other books, just the same as reading and studying Kings is important to reading Matthew.

What sense does Christ being crucified on the cross make without knowing how the sacrificial system works? I understand you can watch the Lord of the Rings or the Star Wars movies out of order and you can still understand them individually, but don’t they make a whole lot more sense as a whole?

So there you have it. Five reasons why Leviticus is important for us to read today. I know these points aren’t developed very extensively, but it that wasn’t really the point.[1]


[1] Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008).

The Future of Cornerstone Church is in Your Hands, No Pressure

Cornerstone Church Kids Staff

Cornerstone Church Kids Staff

Any of you who know me well know I don’t post too often about kids stuff, but today was a banner day for the future of our kids at Cornerstone Church. I have been to a lot of churches over the last 40 years, and I have visited churches who have very little evidence of kids in the building. While I’m not a “kids person” per se, this is a sure sign of a church with a hard future ahead of it, and the Church body itself needs it’s kids.

Over the last 3-4 weeks our kids staff, shown above, along with a host of other people, implemented a plan they had worked on tirelessly over the summer months. Meeting after meeting to go over every painstaking detail transformed the hallways, classrooms, and worship space for every little soul from new borns to our youth, and for kids who haven’t even been born yet. Think about the transformation in terms of a franchise. We love franchises all over the country because they are consistent, stable, and we know what we are going to get when we go into the building. We want our kids at every site to have the same worship experience no matter where they are, to have a consistent, stable, feeding on the word of God, while being surrounded by a community of believers.

In a very fragile time in history for the Church in our culture, this makes me excited for the future of the Church body. Investing in our kids is investing in the future of God’s Church. I’m thankful for these five ladies, and all the other people who worked so hard to make today happen, especially for the kids who have never walked into one of our children’s areas at Cornerstone Church. The future of Cornerstone Church, and the Church body as a whole, is in the hands of these woman above, but it’s also in the hands of every single individual who follows the teachings of Jesus. When you give to a child, you have given it to Christ himself.

New Walls and Floors in the Kids Area

New Walls and Floors in the Kids Area

Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge

Sun Rise on St George Island, FL

Sun Rise over the Gulf of Mexico on St George Island, FL

It didn’t take me as long to come up with an image for “merge” this week as a part of the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge (Merge), but it also looks like one of the more popular posts from the traffic as well. A sunrise might be a little more cliché than my previous posts, but we just got back from the beach, and this is what you shoot at the beach. I also have an extreme fondness for sunrises and sunsets. Twice a day we get such a unique view of God’s creation, and no two are ever the same. Last year I watched two sunrises and almost three sunsets in about a 24-36 hour period when I flew from Atlanta to Africa (which I actually don’t think I have posted yet).

I love the topic of photographically showing merge. There is no better way (to me) to photographically exhibit the topic of merge than a sunrise or sunset over the ocean, except perhaps a heavy fog. The night merging into the day. All the colors merging and blending all into one. Then the horizon disappearing or reappearing, marking a change in time from one day to the next. This shot was taken yesterday looking out over the Gulf of Mexico from St. George Island, FL just about 30-45 minutes after sunrise, just about the time all the color in the sky and water faded into dull blues. It was just as peaceful in person as it looks in the photo above.

I’m going to do another post later with just photos from St. George, so for now, here is my version of “merge” for this week. Be sure to check out some of the other entries below.

Other Related Posts:

  1. Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge « Ruth E Hendricks Photography
  2. Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge | Four Deer Oak
  3. Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge | Denise discovers…
  4. Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge… | Mirth and Motivation
  5. Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge « City Life Picture

John Newton’s Poem The Kite

15' Kite At Annual Kite Festival in Blackpool (UK) by David Nightingale

15′ Kite At Annual Kite Festival in Blackpool (UK) by David Nightingale

I came across this poem by John Newton in a book I was reading the other day and had to share it. John Newton is the pastor, write, and poet who’s more famous lyrical writing came when he wrote the hymn Amazing Grace.  In the theme of sophistication through simplicity, this poem is amazing. Only four lines, and yet so profound.

The Kite by John Newton

Were I but free, I’d take a flight,
And pierce the clouds beyond their sight,
But, ah! like a poor pris’ner bound,
My string confines me near the ground.

I love that. Such a symbol of how we want to live our lives sometimes, let me free of this thing that has me tied down to the ground, yet if we were released, we would crash and burn. Sometimes those things that make us feel tied to the ground are the things that God uses to hold us up. I can think of so many things over the years I thought, if I just could get rid of this or quit that it would allow me to do other things, and more times than not, I was in that place or situation for a good reason.


photo credit from 500px by David Nightingale at http://500px.com/photo/1295537

Weekly Photo Challenge: Growth

Project 365 [Day 253] God Gave the Growth

1 Corinthians 3:6-7 :: God Gave the Growth

This is part of the WordPress weekly photo challenge, on growth, and as with each week, I try to figure out what 95% of everyone else will be photographing, and I eliminate those as possibilities. This time it took me almost a week to find some unique way to photograph “growth” in a way that wasn’t a plant growing or a flower blooming. It’s like trying to photograph a concept, and was actually much more difficult than I anticipated. The word growth has some type of organic regenerative something, like the process of photosynthesis or a child growing into a teenager and the like. So, instead of an example of growth as seen in the form of life, I give you the concept of growth, as explained by Paul’s letter via 1 Corinthians 3:6-7. One of my favorite pieces of wisdom from Paul, and one that really shows a unique perspective true growth.

I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.

The word growth in this context is a Greek word used here by Paul, αὐξάνω, which is a phrase that roughly translates “to make” or “to cause growth.” It can be used as a noun or verb meaning multiplication or growth, primarily the term involved the natural reproduction, but always under God’s direction and control (Lv. 26:4; Dt. 7:13; Ps. 67:6).That’s sort of a long explanation for a photo, but so be it, what’s a good blog post without a little bit of etymology.

Below are some other examples of this week’s photo challenge of growth. There are some great examples there as well, if you did the weekly post, leave a comment, I would love to check out your post as well.

Related Articles

  1. Weekly Photo Challenge: Growth « My Tropical Home
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  4. Weekly photo challenge: Growth « The (Urban-Wildlife) Interface
  5. Weekly Photo Challenge: growth « Movin’ on
  6. Weekly Photo Challenge: Growth | IsobelandCat’s Blog
  7. Weekly Photo Challenge: Growth « Wilderness Escapades
  8. weekly photo challenge: growth | catbird in america
  9. Weekly Photo Challenge: Growth « PhotoCrazy
  10. Weekly Photo Challenge: Growth | RyNaRi

1P. A. Blair, “Increase” In , in New Bible Dictionary, ed. D. R. W. Wood, I. H. Marshall, A. R. Millard et al., 3rd ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 505.