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The Ghosts of Christmas Past -- 1941
By Dr. Jeff Sanders

It was not a merry Christmas.  Pearl Harbor was still digging out from the drubbing the Japanese Imperial Navy had delivered to our Navy and Army.  The Japanese were running rampant all over Asia, and our Army in the Philippines was being pummeled by crack Japanese troops.  There were no rescue operations on the books, and within five months 10,000 US troops (and 40,000 Filipino troops) would surrender and be marched off into brutal captivity.  

It was not a merry Christmas.

And on the other side of the globe the German army was at the gates of Moscow.  It seemed that the Soviet Union (the Allies newest ally) would be finished off by the Nazis.  In North Africa, Rommel's panzer divisions were rolling over British troops.  It seemed as though darkness was going to win.  Time to give up, right?

That was not the attitude in America.  Americans were so enraged at Japan's treachery that even three weeks after Pearl Harbor there were lines wrapping around city blocks...filled with young men eager to defend America and defeat the Axis powers.

It was not a merry Christmas.  But soon enough, in a few years, a merry Christmas would return.  

Wednesday, November 29, 2017, 02:39 PM

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The Ghosts of Christmas Past--1776
By Dr. Jeff Sanders

On July 4, 1776 our nation the United States of America was born.  It sure was a great day.  Followed by months of relentless defeat.  Under the command of General Washington, the Continental Army was driven out of New York and New Jersey in a series of disastrous battles. By December the Americans were down to just over 2000 armed troops and they were hunkered down in a miserable encampment in Pennsylvania.  Enlistments were soon to expire.  General Washington had to do something dramatic to inspire his men to keep fighting.

So he hatched a plan to take his men on a three pronged attack across the Delaware River on the night of Christmas Day and attack the Hessians (German mercenaries hired by the British) the next day.  

So how do you spend the Christmas season and Christmas Day?  Grumbling about the crowds and crass materialism?  Whining about the presents you didn't get?  Washington and his little army spent their time crossing an ice choked river, then marching through an actual blizzard in near white-out conditions to get to their destination.  

Next time you're tempted to complain, remember the bloody footprints in the snow left by Washington's men as they marched to face down the Hessians in battle.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017, 07:16 PM

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Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation (Part 2)
By Dr. Jeff Sanders

"By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.  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-- and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the manysignal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them a opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness...

...that we may then unite in most humble offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and bdssech him to pardon our national and other transgressions-- to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually-- 

 

To render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a government of just, wise, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and oveyed-- to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us) and to bless them with good government, peace and concord--To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us-- and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be the best.

Monday, November 20, 2017, 06:25 PM

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George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation
By Dr. Jeff Sanders

It was October 3, 1789.  Our first president had been in office for only eight months.  Everything was so new and different in a new Republic operating under a new Constitution.  Both houses of Congress had just recently urged President Washington to issue a formal proclamation asking Americans to observe a national day of thanksgiving, acknowledging God as the giver of every good gift to the new nation.

Let that roll around in your head for a few minutes.  Both houses of Congress got together to do something.  There were no political parties at the time-- dividing up our nation into Left  or Right.  They agreed to do something good for our country!  They said we should all thank God for our many blessings!

Wait a minute.  Where was the ACLU suing them for violating the First Amendment and the "separation of church and state"?  Didn't they know the Constitution???

Yes.  They did.  Many of the Congressmen had just written the US Constitution about 18 months before.  And Washington had been the president of the Constitutional Convention.  If anyone knew the Constitution and what it meant, it was these men.  

And they saw no conflict at all in urging people to pray to the God who gave them good government and a bountiful land.

Sunday, November 19, 2017, 09:36 PM

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The Contributions of Luther's Reformation
By Dr. Jeff Sanders

This October 31 is the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the church door in Wittenberg.  He had no idea that day that he was sparking a titanic revolution; he hwritten everything in Latin and all he wanted was a lively debate with his fellow monks.  It didn't turn out as he expected, and the world is much different now because of what he believed.  How different is the world?  What did his Reformation give us?  

1.  Mass literacy, massive Bible translation, and free schools for the public.  Because Luther believed that everyone can understand the Bible without the aid of specially trained clergy, he believed everyone should have the Bible in their own language.  This is why he translated the Bible into German, basically creating the modern German language.  And Protestants ever since have believed in getting the Bible into the language of almost every language and tribe on earth.  So, if you have a copy of the Bible in Swahili or Uyghur...you can thank Protestsnt missionaries inspired by Luther.  Also, the idea of free schools for everyone?  Thank Luther (and later the Pilgrims and Puritans who borrowed his idea).  Everyone needs to be literate...so they can read God's Word.  And that's the idea that created public schools, folks!

2.  Congregational singing, exegetical preaching in the common language, and a pastoral family.  Before Luther most singing in worship services was done by the priest and a trained  choir.  Luther believed everyone needed to sing.  He even wrote songs based on scripture so everyone could learn truth while singing (his most famous hymn being "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God").  Luther also brought back the centrality of preaching the Word of God.  Instead of picking out a verse here or there and spiritualizing it to mean whatever, he believed in preaching through whole books of the Bible, one verse at a time, following the normal rules of grammar and historical context.  And Luther married Katherine von Bora, thus establishing what a Protestant Minister's first ministry should look like.  Rather than just talking about marriage, Luther lived it out and modeled it before others.

3. Representative, limited government.  Luther believed that the Bible taught no intrinsic spiritual distinction between the pastor or parishioner.  He believed in the priesthood of all believers...all are equal before a holy God.  And no human authority, whether it is a king or cleric has any right to forbid you from following God as your conscience dictates.  As Luther said while he was on trial: "My conscience is held captive to the Word of God".  Well naturally people all over Europe started thinking, "if we are all equal, and even the king has no power over my conscience, then maybe there are things the King has no authority over?" And that's where we get this idea of limited government.  The king is not above the law.  He is equal to us all, as we are all equally accountable to the ultimate King--God Almighty.  And if we are all equal, then maybe...just maybe we can govern ourselves and elect our own representatives?  You see where this is going.

An invading army can be stopped, but not an idea whose time had come. It was time for Martin Luther.

 

Monday, October 30, 2017, 05:30 PM

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Past Posts

The Ghosts of Christmas Past--1776
11/28/17
Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation (Part 2)
11/20/17
George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation
11/19/17
The Contributions of Luther's Reformation
10/30/17
The Valley of Vision
10/29/17
Why ISIS Lost in Syria and Iraq...For Now
10/26/17
Some Things I am Grateful For
10/22/17
Gettysburg National Park
09/30/17
12 Years A Slave
09/29/17
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