New York, 3 October 1789
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 many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”
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 previous to their becoming a Nation—for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war—for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed—for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted—for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us; and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech 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 wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed—to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto 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 best.
Given under my hand at the City of New-York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.
Article by Greg Stier
Youth ministry is often dismissed as something less than strategic in far too many churches. Some even view it as a kind of glorified babysitting. In their thinking, teenagers need just enough games and God to keep them coming back….until they are old enough to make a difference in the church. The unspoken implication is that teenagers aren’t “real members” until they are old enough to have jobs, give offerings and serve in the big boy/big girl roles of the church. But Jesus didn’t wait for the disciples to get out of their teen years to appoint them as “real” apostles. He appointed them to lead the charge while they were still in their teen years. Do you find that hard to believe? Then check out Matthew 17:24-27 where Peter, Jesus and the disciples go to Capernaum but only Peter and Jesus pay the Temple Tax. If you cross reference this passage with Exodus 30:14 you’ll see that this particular tax, originally the Tabernacle Tax, was only applicable to those 20 years and older.
All the disciples were there but only Peter and Jesus paid the Temple Tax. That means that, 11 of the 12 apostles, were teenagers when they began to follow Jesus. Why in the world would Jesus choose mostly teenagers to lead the charge for the most important mission in history? Wrestle with that question! How can you utilize and mobilize the teenagers in your youth group for community-wide impact like Jesus did? Wrestle through that question too!
Here’s a few realities to think about as you do:
1) Teenagers come to Christ quicker than adults.
Almost 70% of those who trust in Christ as their Savior do so by the time they are 18 years of age. Let that sink in for a moment.
If I was a businessman and I knew that 70% of those most likely to purchase my product were 18 years old and younger, then I’d put at least 70% of my marketing dollars into reaching them. But most churches do the complete opposite!
The typical church focuses the majority of their marketing (aka “outreach”) dollars into reaching the adults in their communities for Christ. From Christmas pageants to Easter outreaches to special sermon series, the majority of our church-wide efforts and budgets are put into reaching adults for Jesus. Meanwhile, the majority of youth ministries across the United States today are vastly underfunded. I talk to youth leaders from coast to coast who have to scrape and scrap by to raise enough money to for camps, conferences and curriculum. With a lot of prayer and a little duct tape, they generally pull it off. But they have to work extra hard to make it happen week in and week out (fundraisers, letters to parents, etc.) It’s a shame so many youth ministries are undervalued and underfunded. Down deep inside, there must be an inner voice that whispers in church leaders’ ears things like, “Well adults are the ones who are going to fund this church, not teens or children.”
But since when did church outreach become about building church budgets? As the church our currency comes in the form of souls saved, not checks cashed. And, because teenagers are far more open to the Gospel than adults are, we must, as the Southern expression goes, “get the gettin’ while the gettin’s good.”
Three things not to say when responding to severe criticisms of Christianity
NATASHA MOORENOVEMBER 21, 2019
A commenter going enigmatically by “notme” once responded to my rundown of a controversy over Scripture classes in schools: "What has religion got to offer but War, Intolerance/hatred (of other religions and minority groups),and poverty? religion should not only be banned from classrooms but from the whole planet"
I faithfully reproduce the comment as is, grammatical warts and all, keyed in, I imagine, in the first flush of a righteous indignation. They’re common accusations, straight out of the New Atheist playbook. Religious belief is irrational, snarling, psychologically and socially stunting. In the enduring formulation of Christopher Hitchens in God Is Not Great (2007): “Religion poisons everything.” But underneath the cynicism, the absolutism, sometimes the smugness, I wonder if what I’m really hearing, often, is: pain. The pain of someone who sought grace in a church community and instead found judgment and guilt. The pain, perhaps, of someone who invested their trust in a Christian group or friend only to meet with hypocrisy or cruelty. If I listened with more imagination and humility, what I might hear is the lashing out of the wounded.
Both have a terrible legitimacy. Christians have, after all, tortured heretics, burned witches, hoarded wealth, propped up slavery, rubber-stamped colonialism, expelled or massacred entire Jewish communities, silenced women, persecuted gay people, and moved known child molesters from parish to parish. These are not accusations; they are history. And not only history. You don’t have to look far – probably not much further than the murky corners of our own hearts – to see the same old uglinesses cropping up today: the self-righteousness, the love of respectability and comfort, the inertia and cowardice, the militant certitude, the blindness to inconvenient truths, the fear of difference, the fear of losing power, the fear of change or challenge.
On the Other Hand...
And yet, if the gospel is true, it is nothing less than the master story of life on this planet; the reconnection of fallen, broken creatures to their Creator and his purposes for them. If it is true, won’t it work? Even allowing for the tenacity of sin and the bumpy work of sanctification, won’t it change things, for the better, and observably – not just for the reconnected, but with ripples travelling far beyond them?
There’s plenty of evidence that this is exactly what’s happened in our world over the last two thousand years. That as followers of Jesus did love their neighbours as themselves, turn the other cheek, care for the least of these, forgive as God forgave them, and let their light shine before others, the world changed dramatically. (Read More)
By Mel Johnson On January 14, 2019
Sir Anthony Hopkins is one of the most well-known actors of our time. For years, he was a well-known atheist, too. But all of that changed when a woman at an AA meeting challenged his disbelief with one, simple question. That was the beginning of the inspiring Anthony Hopkins testimony!
No matter how successful someone may seem from the outside, we all have our own internal struggles. During the earlier years of Anthony Hopkins’ career, he found himself in his own battle with alcoholism. Anthony’s addiction started “innocently.” He adopted a worldly mindset and drank because “that's what you do in theater, you drink." But as is the case too often, the social pastime soon took over his life. By 1975, Anthony’s drinking had spiraled out of control. "I was hell-bent on destruction," the award-winning actor recalled. "It was like being possessed by a demon, an addiction, and I couldn't stop. And there are millions of people around like that.”
Sir Anthony Hopkins realized he needed help. So, he turned to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Up until then, Anthony Hopkins had been an atheist. But during an AA meeting, a woman asked him a simple question. "Why don't you just trust in God?" It’s not something Anthony had ever tried. But as desperate as he was, he thought, “Well, why not?” Deciding to believe and trust in God was the moment everything changed for the desperate actor.
“I could not stop [drinking], but I just asked for a little bit of help and suddenly, pow. It was just like, bingo," Anthony Hopkins recalled. Miraculously, Anthony says the craving to drink was taken from him, “never to return again.” And he’s believed in God ever since, working day after day, year after year, to grow in his faith. When asked in a CNN interview with Piers Morgan if he believed in God, former-atheist Anthony Hopkins replied wholeheartedly, “Yes, I do. I do.”
Years after finding faith, Anthony Hopkins is regarded as one of the greatest actors of our time. In fact, he earned the title of Sir Anthony Hopkins when Queen Elizabeth knighted him in 1993, for his contributions to the performing arts. As such an esteemed actor, Anthony was invited to speak to a crowd of nearly 500 high school and college students at the annual Leadership, Excellence and Accelerating Your Potential conference (LEAP). And he shared with them the dangers of confirming to the world. “If you chase the money, it’s not gonna work. And if you chase success, it’s not gonna work.”
In fact, in a separate interview, Anthony opened up about how unfulfilling success alone is: You know, I meet young people, and they want to act and they want to be famous,” and I tell them, when you get to the top of the tree, there's nothing up there. Most of this is nonsense, most of this is a lie. Accept life as it is. Just be grateful to be alive." After sharing how he was saved from the depths of alcoholism, Anthony Hopkins explained the power our words and our beliefs have over our lives. He also touched on how God can use anything, even our biggest messes, for good. “I believe that we are capable of so much,” Anthony said to the students. “From my own life, I still cannot believe that my life is what it is because I should have died in Wales, drunk or something like that. ... We can talk ourselves into death or we can talk ourselves into the best life we’ve ever lived. None of it was a mistake. It was all a destiny.”
While Anthony Hopkins has, at times, played characters who are truly evil, the actor lives out his real life with Christ in his heart. He’s been an atheist before finding God and now he just feels sorry for atheists, comparing a life of disbelief to “living in a closed cell with no windows."
"I'd hate to have to live like that, wouldn't you?” Sir Anthony Hopkins asked. What a beautiful reminder the Anthony Hopkins testimony was of the hope we have through Jesus!
By Stephen Altrogge
What comes to your mind when you hear the word legalism? The Pharisees? Those old folks in your church who hate rock n’ roll and cards? Your weird, Fundamentalist uncle? Westboro Baptist Church?
What Is Legalism, Really?I tend to think of legalism in pretty black and white terms: Legalism is trying to earn God’s forgiveness and acceptance through my obedience rather than through the finished work of Christ. Bam! Problem solved, legalism identified, on to the next. And while that may be the technical, dictionary definition, I’m beginning to learn that legalism is much slimier and more slippery. It shows up in odd places, unexpected and unwelcome. It slides into the nooks and crannies of my heart. It’s an expert con man, pretending to be my friend and convincing me to give up the free grace of God for a much heavier burden. But legalism always carries with it certain symptoms. It’s like a disease. It may not be easily detectable, but if you know what to look for, you can usually spot it and root it out.
One of those primary symptoms? Becoming irritable and frustrated at God’s grace poured out to others.
LEGALISM IN THE VINEYARD Remember the story Jesus told of the workers in the vineyard? Some worked all day, busting their backs in the hot sun after being told they would receive a day’s wages. Others worked half a day, some worked a quarter day and a few only worked an hour. At the end of the day, they all received the same wages. The men who worked all day were seriously ticked off:
Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house… (Matthew 20:10-11)
The workers thought they deserved more because they worked more. It was simple mathematics and economics to them. They were angry at the master for being gracious to those who worked for only an hour. Even though they got a completely fair wage, they were furious that those who worked less got more than a fair share. When they saw grace, it grated against them. (Read More)
By just about every metric there is for music, entertainment icon Kanye West’s latest album “Jesus Is King” is an unmitigated success. After scrapping “Yandhi” earlier this year, West moved forward with “Jesus Is King,” which dropped Oct. 25 and became his ninth consecutive album to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, an all-genre survey. West is now tied with Eminem for the highest number of records to debut at the top of the chart.
The “Closed on Sunday” rapper also made his first appearance in Billboard’s faith-based surveys. The Gospel-infused album rocketed to the top spot on both the Top Christian Albums and Top Gospel Albums charts. West’s first Christian album sold 264,000 equivalent album units in the U.S. in the first week, which ended Oct. 31, according to data from Nielsen Music. Of those sales, 109,000 were physical record sales while the rest were streaming purchases. “West is the latest artist to cross to No. 1 on the faith-based tallies after first establishing stardom at other genres,” reported Billboard. “Among others, the King of Rock & Roll, Elvis Presley, and country icons Alan Jackson and Reba McEntire all boast Top Christian Albums No. 1s since the start of 2017.” (Read More)
If his conversion is sincere, is there any doubt that he’s “free indeed”? In Edgar Allen Poe’s harrowing short story, The Premature Burial, a cataleptic man worries that his bouts of unconsciousness will be misinterpreted by the medical establishment as a sign that he has died, and that he will accordingly be buried alive. In one particularly jarring moment in the story, the narrator is awakened in the dark after a cataleptic episode:
At length the slight quivering of an eyelid, and immediately thereupon, an electric shock of a terror, deadly and indefinite, which sends the blood in torrents from the temples to the heart. And now the first positive effort to think. And now the first endeavor to remember. And now a partial and evanescent success. And now the memory has so far regained its dominion, that, in some measure, I am cognizant of my state. I feel that I am not awaking from ordinary sleep. I recollect that I have been subject to catalepsy. And now, at last, as if by the rush of an ocean, my shuddering spirit is overwhelmed by the one grim Danger — by the one spectral and ever-prevalent idea. When the narrator opens his eyes, he regains his faculties one by one until that horrible moment when he announces: “I am cognizant of my state.”
Woke, if you like.
Religious conversions tend to proceed the same way. The convert is taken first by impulse, the inborn instinct toward the supernatural, the soul’s longing for purpose. Next, thought: the rationalizing of the spiritual impulse, earnest contemplation of the divine. Then, memory and subsequent dread, recalling and lamenting one’s former self. The convert confronts “the one grim Danger — by the one spectral and ever-prevalent idea” that he might be lost, damned, or otherwise beyond hope. Then, as it does for Poe’s narrator when he realizes he is actually in the “cabin of a small sloop lying at anchor in the stream,” comes relief.
Kanye West’s conversion has followed the same basic schema. First, West felt the urge for meaning. After his hospitalization in 2016 for psychosis and bipolar disorder, West left the hospital starving for something that would give him order and purpose. That impulse begot the thought that perhaps the one worthy of worship was other than Kanye West. The rapper announced that his faith required his “being in service to Christ,” and “radical obedience” to God — a radical departure from the self-obsessed Ye of years past.
HELSINKI, Finland - A Christian politician from Finland will be interrogated at police headquarters Friday in a hate speech investigation for sharing a Bible passage on social media. Päivi Räsänen is a member of the Finnish Parliament, and she's under investigation for committing a so-called hate crime after she posted a Bible verse aimed at Finland's state church for promoting the homosexual lifestyle. "In my tweet, I directly cited Romans first chapter and verses 24 to 27 and posted the picture of the passages from the Bible," she told CBN News.
The Austin Independent School District (AISD) has adopted a sex-ed curriculum that is far from educational. The program instructs children as young as eight to avoid "non-inclusive" language like "mother" and "father." Fifth and sixth grade students will talk about sexual orientation, HIV and the idea of gender being a spectrum. Also, seventh and eighth graders will be shown how to use condoms. Dr. James Dobson, president and founder of the James Dobson Family Institute, is urging parents to stand against the teachings and become more involved. "Government entities like the Austin Independent School District are failing our children through this harmful indoctrination. But they are only empowered to do so because we as parents and citizens have failed to accept our familial and civic responsibilities," Dobson said.