Tonight we went over to the Crafty Christmas at The Railyard in Opelika. This was the first “Crafty Christmas Craft Show,” which is a fundraiser for BigHouse Foundation, a non-profit ministry in Lee County, AL that supports foster care families. The show was held Thursday, November 29th from 6-9pm at the Cotton District on Railroad Avenue in downtown Opelika, and of course, they had some of my favorite live local performs to bring an extra bit of excitement only they could accomplish.
The turnout looked great, and it was the first time I had been able to get over to The Railyard, a really neat venue just across the railroad tracks from the main downtown area. Above are just a few of my favorite shots of the band, and yes, this was a fundraiser in the form of a craft show, so there was a lot more there than just the guys pictured above, but they were my favorite crafted art. Have a good weekend wherever you might be this November 29.
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
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.
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.
I can’t believe it’s almost Thanksgiving again. I haven’t had a chance to post here nearly as much as I would like over the last few weeks, but that’s been the story of my days lately. Every time I get so busy running from meeting to meeting something bumps into me with a little perspective, like this letter above from our girl in Uganda.
I love reading these letters from Joanita, our sponsor child in Uganda. They mean a lot to both of us, even more so since I have had a chance to meet her a few times and know where she lives and where she goes to school. Every time we get a letter from her she makes sure to let me know that she is praying for us, and that blows my mind. I can’t really think too deeply about this because after a while I’m just dumbfounded about what we complain about, and even more what things take up our time here in this land of plenty.
When I read her letters it makes me stop and think about who is praying for me, and who am I praying for? Is it a trivial passing glance or have I made time today for things that are eternally important, not just the mundane task driven daily routine that is so hard to break out of at times. Even though she will probably never know how much I appreciate her prayers just knowing that a little girl 10,000 miles away who sleeps on a dirt floor is praying for me humbles my day.
I have been voting since 1988, and I really can’t remember ever waiting in line, ever. There is just something a little different about the election this time around. It seems like each candidate is already resolved to their fate, but seeing this kind of turnout is awesome. If you are an eligible voter in our country today, and you didn’t vote, shame on you, go vote. Regardless of party affiliation or particular ideology, people in our country have given their life so that all of us can freely vote our conscience on this day, and it’s our responsibility to do so. My polling station was busy. As you can see from the photo above, there were a lot of people in line, but it didn’t take long, and wasn’t too long a wait for the freedom to vote.
Over the past several months I have been trying to finish one of the greatest books ever written on discipleship, The Cost of Discipleship, by Bonhoeffer and he had some really incredible things to say about our process today. If you have access to this book, go read chapters 12 and 13 and read it in context of today’s world with the understanding that he wrote that during one of the reigns of the most evil leaders the world has ever know. His other epic book, Ethics, starts off with this explanation, which I find so pertinent to our world today.
The Christian does not live in a vacuum, but in a world of government, politics, labor, and marriage. Hence, Christian ethics cannot exist in a vacuum. The reality is not manifest in the Church as distinct from the secular world; such a juxtaposition of two separate spheres is a denial of God’s having reconciled the whole world to himself in Christ. On the contrary, God’s commandment is to be found and known in the Church, the family, labor, and government, with a responsibility for the institutions of the world.
Meaning… neither candidate we see today may be our perfect choice as Christians, but we don’t live in a perfect world, and we only have one perfect candidate, Christ himself. We have to live in the world we are placed, not stick our head in the sand. This article published by Religion Today says it very well, Evangelicals Want Moral Government But are Ignorant of the Bible, and the point is we need to become as knowledgeable about God’s word as we are about Obama or Romney.
This was my prayer for our election this morning: “Lord I pray for this election, that you will make your choice clear today, that your will be done, even if that means letting this country go deeper into the depths of hell before it finds its way out, and finds its way back to you.” For some reason David’s words when we prayed for deliverance in 2 Samuel 22 seem relevant to the state of our country at this point in history. We should do as he did and earnestly “call upon the Lord.”
I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised… for the waves of death encompassed me, the torrents of destruction assailed me, the cords of Sheol entangled me; the snares of death confronted me… in my distress i called upon the Lord; to my God I called. 2 Samuel 22.
I hope you voted today, or are planning on voting today. This vote has historic consequences, as all elections do, but the world seems poised, seems to be on the cusp, of a time where we are still not too far gone, but can very easily fall over the edge. That edge, or cliff, is a combination of all kinds of things from war in the middle east to an economic crisis like we have seen in Greece.
For me, the edge or cliff is the erosion of faith in our country. A country that now receives more missionaries than it sends, where we continue to move into complete pluralism, where Christians themselves no longer stand for Gospel truths, and are no longer convicted to call sin, sin.
So regardless of who you vote for, have a reason for choosing a particular candidate, and go vote. This is not something to take lightly, nor something to brush off as unimportant. As Christians we have a call to be involved in the world we live in, to be a part of the process, not just as an armchair quarterback.
Last week I did a photo shoot with this little guy and his family. I love his countless expressions, his pure innocent adoration of his father, and the love he has for his mother. Here are a few shots from that day on one of the last warm days for a while. We just barely have enough leaves on the ground to make it somewhat fall like, but being the first of November, fall is finally here.