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Archive for November, 2008

A Thanksgiving Proclamation

Lincoln’s 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation

Taken from the collection of Lincoln’s papers in the Library of America series, Vol. II, pp. 520-521.

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 unequalled 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 had 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 battlefield; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness 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 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.

—Abraham Lincoln

This excerpt was taken from Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember by Barbara Rainey. You can read some sample material online:

November 27, 2008 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Holidays,Life / Doctrine,The Christian Life | Author: Crossway Staff @ 8:14 am | 0 Comments »

Grumbling or Gratitude?

Does it ever seem surprising to you that God made the Israelites wander in the wilderness for forty years because they grumbled? My kids may have spent thirty minutes in their rooms for griping, but forty years? What a severe discipline! Ouch, it seems harsh.

God clearly is not pleased with grumbling. It doesn’t make Him happy to hear His children complain constantly. Sound like any children you know?

Being grateful is a choice. It’s not a feeling dependent on our circumstances, as we clearly see in the Pilgrims’ lives. They believed that God was in control— “Providence”, they called it. They responded to the circumstances of their lives with a perspective that said, “God has allowed this for our good.”

John Piper has written in his book A Godward Life: “Remembering our dependence on past mercies kindles gratitude. Gratitude is past-oriented dependence; faith is future-oriented dependence. Both forms of dependence are humble, self-forgetting and God-exalting. If we do not believe that we are deeply dependent on God for all we have or hope to have, then the very spring of gratitude and faith runs dry.”

Gratitude is what we express when we take time every Thanksgiving Day to remember God’s past mercies and provisions and then pause to thank Him for them.

The stories of those who have gone before us inspire our faith. When we consider those great saints listed in the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11 or our Pilgrim forefathers or those men and women we know in recent times who have modeled great dependence on God, our faith is stretched and increased. Their example of placing all hope in Jesus Christ encourages us to do the same.

Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Those who sailed on the Mayflower knew their Bible well. They were convinced that God existed and could only be pleased through faith (Hebrews 11:6).

Someone has said, “Faith is a firm conviction, a personal surrender, and a conduct inspired by your surrender.” The Pilgrims were totally surrendered to God, and they believed that He was leading them to the New World. So they went, confident that He would guide and provide.

The Bible is full of verses on giving thanks. Our problem in America is not that we don’t know we are to be thankful, but often we choose to complain instead. The Psalms contain a number of verses that call thanksgiving a sacrifice:

Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving. (Psalm 50:14)

He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me. (Psalm 50:23)

Let them also offer sacrifices of thanksgiving. (Psalm 107:22)

To You I shall offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and call upon the name of the LORD. (Psalm 116:17)

Why is it a sacrifice to give thanks to the Lord? Because being thankful forces us to take our eyes off ourselves and put them on the Lord. Giving up our self-focus is the kind of denial that pleases God.

As a nation, we have inherited a remarkable gift in our freedom to worship, but we have strayed far from our roots and heritage. We must return to the faith of our fathers. Developing a heart of gratitude is the beginning step in growing a stronger faith. Remember what God has done and believe that He will take care of us in the future.

This excerpt was taken from Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember by Barbara Rainey. You can read some sample material online:

November 25, 2008 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Holidays,Life / Doctrine,The Christian Life | Author: Crossway Staff @ 9:21 am | 0 Comments »

Interview with Author Colin Creel on Calling and Career

Graduating college. Landing that first job. Considering a job change—or even a career change. When we find ourselves at such crossroads, it’s important to stop and reflect before taking the next step.

In Crossroads, author and teacher Colin Creel gives help for navigating the murky waters of career and calling by looking at the biblical view of calling and offers practical guidelines on seizing career opportunities.

Crossway recently interviewed Colin about callings, career, and his most recent book:

What inspired you to write Crossroads? How does it relate to your first book, Perspectives?

Colin Creel: One of the sections in my first book, Perspectives, focused on career and many readers asked if I would elaborate on that section. In addition, like most young people in their thirties, I was re-thinking aspects of my career.

The words “calling” and “career” are sometimes used interchangeably. Can you help the audience to distinguish between the two?

Colin Creel: Each person has two callings. Our primary calling is as a child of God and our secondary callings (teacher, mom, coach, business person) only have meaning because we belong to God. There is no division between the secular and the sacred.

In the first part of the book, you boldly state that “work is a gift.” Many people might balk at this statement. Care to explain what you mean?

Colin Creel: Work is not a curse; rather it’s a gift from God in order for us, his children, to join Him in serving as stewards of His land. The fall tainted this wonderful gift. God placed Adam in the Garden to work it and take care of it (Gen 2:15). His first “work” was to name all of God’s creatures. Nowhere in Scripture does God curse work; rather He cursed the ground (Gen 17). It’s a small distinction, but a very important one. Work gives us meaning and helps us to restore the world the way God envisioned it.

Throughout Crossroads, you explicitly and implicitly assert that there are no accidental occupations. Share how you arrive at this conclusion.

Colin Creel: I have many friends who devalue their work because they believe the lie that if they are not in “full-time” ministry then they are not truly serving God. This is simply not true. God created each of us with a reason and a purpose. There are many roles to play, and each one must play his role in order for the body to function effectively.  Full-time ministry is much like marriage…if you can envision yourself doing anything else or marrying anyone else then you should probably not go down that road.

You emphasize the importance of mentoring. Some readers are not currently exploring their calling and career; they have found both! Can you explain to them a little bit about the importance of mentoring? How does one start?

Colin Creel: It’s hard to travel wherever you haven’t been. A mentor serves as a guide and a sounding board. Mentors have a vision for you. In my life there have been many people who believed in me. It’s amazing what we can do when someone says, “I know you can do it.” In order to choose a mentor, I would look for the following:
•    A natural rapport with the person
•    Someone who models well those characteristics you admire
•    A person who is willing to help
•    Someone who will provide opportunities and have benchmarks of success for you

You include bits of what you call “seasoned advice” throughout the book. Explain what these sections are. Is there a particular bit of advice that was most interesting or helpful to you, personally?

Seasoned advice is wisdom from discerning men and women who can look back on their lives honestly and share morsels of truth. The wisdom comes from a wide array of people, like Shaunti Feldhan, Josh McDowell, Max Lucado, and singer Tammy Trent. Each person’s story is unique and will hit people differently, but my wife’s favorite comes from Laurie Smith, the energetic red head from Trading Spaces. I appreciate the wonderful story of a friend of mine who decided to change his career in his 30s. He was a lawyer who decided to go back to medical school. In order to apply he needed to take some additional classes. One night he was sitting at his kitchen table trying to study for a test as well as take care of his two kids. His wife was at a church retreat and he hit the wall. He was exhausted and basically cried out to God, “God, if this is what you want me to do, I need a clear sign from you.” Biblically, he knew he shouldn’t ask for signs from God, but he was at his wits’ end. Moments later the phone rang. A voice said, “Bill, we’ve been praying about it and we believe you are going to make a fantastic doctor. We would like to give you $125,000 to pay for your medical school.”

We all know about the economic obstacles that face job seekers. What types of spiritual temptations may they also encounter?

Colin Creel: The obvious temptations are the desire for money, power, and influence, but the subtle ones are stewardship and maintaining your character and your integrity. Many people live in the gray, so it’s difficult at times to discern right from wrong. The Bible is our standard, not our peers.

What is one piece of advice you could offer this generation?

Colin Creel: Think soberly about how you define success. How we define success serves as a critical question in our journey. It drives many into careers they loathe while others meet life where it meets them…that place where their giftedness matches their vocation.

Colin Creel serves as dean of junior boys at Wesleyan School in Norcross, Georgia, where he also teaches Bible and coaches swimming. Previously he worked as assistant director of admissions at Wake Forest University, where he earned his Master’s degree in communications and worked extensively with various college ministries. Crossroads is a sequel to his book Perspectives: A Spiritual Life Guide for Twentysomethings.

November 7, 2008 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Book News,Interview,News | Author: Crossway Staff @ 7:27 am | 0 Comments »