Category Archives: General
“Nancy and I are very pleased to extend our warmest greetings and best wishes to all those gathered from across the land for this historic “March for Life.” This nation was founded by men and women who shared a strong moral vision of the great value of each and every individual. America has come to symbolize that belief for the rest of the world.
“But the tragic United States Supreme Court decision which legalized ‘abortion on demand’ in 1973 severely tests our moral commitments. You are assembled here to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision and to march and pray for its reversal. We join with you in that hope and plea. The abortion decision was a tragedy, and we have the responsibility to do all we can to protect the unborn children.”*
President Reagan’s affirmation of the “March for Life” and his defense of the unborn is a lost episode in American history.
Read and Reflect: Read Proverbs 24:11-12 and reflect on the admonition to rescue those being led to slaughter and compare that to the victims of abortion.
Prayer: Father, we praise you for leaders who courageously stand for the dignity of human life, born and unborn, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
*Source Citation: David R. Shepherd, ed., Ronald Reagan: In God I Trust (Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1984), 103.
“The President, commander in chief of the Army and Navy, following the reverent example of his predecessors, desires and enjoins the orderly observance of the Sabbath by the officers and men in the military and naval service of the United States. The importance for man and beast of the prescribed weekly rest, the sacred rights of Christian soldiers and sailors, a becoming deference to the best sentiment of a Christian people, and a due regard for the Divine Will demand that Sunday labor in the Army and Navy be reduced to the measure of strict necessity.
“Such an observance of Sunday is dictated by the best traditions of our people and by the convictions of all who look to Divine Providence for guidance and protection, and, in repeating in this order the language of President Lincoln, the President in confident that he is speaking alike to the hearts and to the consciences of those under his authority.”*
President Wilson’s Executive Order, following General Washington and President Lincoln’s earlier examples, is another lost episode in American history.
Read and Reflect: Read Exodus 20:8-11 and reflect on the Fourth Commandment and compare that with the words of President Wilson’s Executive Order
Prayer: Father, we thank you for a day for rest and worship. We also thank you for leaders who recognize the same, in Jesus’ Name.
*Source Citation: James D. Richardson et al eds., A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, 20 vols., (New York: Bureau of National Literature, Inc., 1893, 1923), 17:8433.
General Robert E. Lee was born on January 19, 1807. Lee was the son of Major General Henry “Light-Horse Harry” Lee who famously eulogized George Washington but whose financial troubles haunted young Robert. Home-schooled as a child, Robert E. Lee went on to graduate second in his class at West Point and later distinguished himself in the Mexican-American War. At the age of 46, Lee experienced a spiritual awakening and was confirmed at Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia on July 17, 1853.
With the nation on the verge of civil war in early 1861, Lee had privately denounced secession as “revolution” and a betrayal of the vision of the Founders. During the first days of the war, President Abraham Lincoln respected Lee so highly that he had an aide offer Lee command of the defense of Washington, DC as a major general. Lee agonized over his decision, finally resolving out of a deep sense of loyalty to defend his home state of Virginia. He resigned from the U.S. Army and joined the Confederacy.
Ironically, Lee was of the opinion that “slavery as an institution is a moral and political evil in any country,” saw a day when it would be eradicated, and hoped that violent means would not be necessary to bring about emancipation. On December 27, 1856, Robert E. Lee wrote to his wife from Fort Brown, Texas concerning the slaves and slavery:
“How long their subjection may be necessary is known and ordered by a wise and merciful Providence. Their emancipation will sooner result from a mild and melting influence than the storms and contests of fiery controversy. This influence, though slow, is sure. The doctrines and miracles of our Saviour have required nearly two thousand years to convert but a small part of the human race, and even among the Christian nations what gross errors still exist! While we see the course of the final abolition of slavery is onward, and we give it the aid of our prayers and all justifiable means in our power, we must leave the progress as well as the result in his hands who sees the end [Isaiah 46:10]….and with whom a thousand years is as a single day [2 Peter 3:8].”*
Robert E. Lee’s hope that God would bring an end to slavery, in His way and in His time, is another lost episode in American history.
Read and Reflect: Read Isaiah 46:9-10 and reflect on God’s omniscience, declaring the end from the beginning.
Prayer: Father, you are indeed God, there is no other and there is none like you. You alone can declare the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done. Your counsel will stand in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
*Source Citation: Fitzhugh Lee, General Lee (New York: D. Appleton, 1894), 64. Bracketed items added.
Baron Charles Montesquieu was born on January 18, 1689. Montesquieu was a French political philosopher who greatly influenced eighteenth century political thought, particularly in colonial America. Unlike Voltaire and Rousseau, Montesquieu had a biblical worldview and his works were the second most quoted in the writings of the Founders behind only the Bible. In 1748, the Baron wrote The Spirit of the Laws, in which he stated:
“God is related to the universe, as Creator and Preserver; the laws by which He created all things, are those by which He preserves them….
“Man, as a physical being, is like other bodies governed by invariable laws. As an intelligent being, he incessantly transgresses the laws established by God, and changes those of his own instituting. He is left to his private direction, though a limited being, and subject, like all finite intelligences, to ignorance and error…”*
Because of his biblical belief in the sinfulness of mankind, Montesquieu introduced what was considered to be a revolutionary concept of government. He advocated for a division of monarchical power:
“In every government there are three forts of power: the legislative; the executive… The latter we shall call the judiciary power.”*
Baron Montesquieu favored a separation of these powers to guard against tyranny and thus guarantee individual freedoms. His nascent concept of the three branches of government, later adapted by the Framers of our U.S. Constitution, is based on a biblical concept found in Isaiah 33:22: “For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; it is He who will save us.”
Interestingly, a study was done of the writings of the Founders to find source quotations and thus discover their inspirations in developing the American system of government. The most quoted source was the Bible (34%) and the most quoted book was Deuteronomy. The second most quoted source was Montesquieu (8.3%). Leaders of the European Enlightenment, often credited with being the source of the Founders on government, such Voltaire and Rousseau, the famous French Philosophes, barely show up statistically. When they do, the Founders often quote them in a negative light. It is the Bible first, then Montesquieu they cite most often.* The biblical basis for our governmental system of checks and balances formulated by Montesquieu and applied by our Founders is a lost episode in American history.
Read and Reflect: Read Isaiah 33:22 and reflect on these three roles of God and compare them to the three branches of American government.
Prayer: Father, praise you as Judge, Lawgiver, and King. We thank you for this thought-leader who was so influential with the Founders, who applied the Biblical concept of the sinfulness of humankind to the separation of powers in government. Raise up leaders like them, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
*Source Citation: Baron Charles de Montesquieu, The Spirit of the Laws, 2 vols.., (Edinburgh: A Donaldson and J. Reid, 1762, 66), 1:1-3, 164-65; See also Donald S. Lutz and Charles S. Hyneman, “The Relative Influence of European Writers on Late Eighteenth-Century American Political Thought,” American Political Review 189 (1984): 189-197. Donald S. Lutz, The Origins of American Constitutionalism (Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press, 1988), 141.
Founding Father Benjamin Franklin was born on January 17, 1706 and baptized at Old South Church in Boston. Born to a candle-maker of modest means, Benjamin was 15th of 17 children. He attended Boston Latin School for two years, but his family could not afford to provide him with further education, so he began an apprenticeship with a printer at age twelve. In 1723, he moved to Philadelphia and became a printer by trade but he became so much more. He taught himself five languages and was an inventor, writer, scientist, philosopher, statesman and diplomat.
Franklin initially gained literary acclaim through the annual publication of his Poor Richard’s Almanac (1732-57). In 1743, he helped found the American Philosophical Society. His experiments in electrostatics led to the well-known kite experiment which proved that lightening was a form of electricity. His invention of the lightning rod earned him honorary degrees and yet he refused to patent it, preferring instead to give it away for the common good. He invented bi-focal glasses, the rocking chair, the Franklin stove, etc.
Benjamin Franklin organized the first postal system in America, serving as the Deputy Postmaster General of the colonies. He established the first volunteer fire department, a circulating public library and the lighting of city streets in Philadelphia. He helped found the University of Pennsylvania, a hospital, an insurance company, a city police force, and in 1747, the first militia. In 1754, he helped organize defenses in the French and Indian War.
Benjamin Franklin was Pennsylvania’s delegate to the Albany Congress and acted as its agent in London. He served on the committee that produced and he later signed the Declaration of Independence. He then served as a diplomat to France, and was largely responsible for France joining the Revolutionary War on the side of the colonies. In 1785, he became the President (Governor) of Pennsylvania. He signed the Treaty of Alliance, the Treaty of Peace, the Articles of Confederation, and the United States Constitution. He supported the abolition of slavery and was appointed the first president of the first anti-slavery society in America.
Benjamin Franklin never became an orthodox Christian and reportedly experienced several moral failures. Yet he was publicly supportive of biblical Christianity. The seal for the Philadelphia hospital he founded depicted the story of the Good Samaritan and cited Luke 10:35: “Take care of him and I will repay thee.” In July of 1776, Benjamin Franklin was appointed to the committee to draft a national seal and proposed a rendering of “Pharaoh…passing thro’ the divided waters of the Red sea in pursuit of the Israelites…Moses who stands on the shore, extending his hand over the sea, causes it to overwhelm Pharaoh. Motto: ‘Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.’”* Franklin also stood in the midst of the contentious Constitutional Convention and called those assembled to return to God in prayer lest they be like the builders of Babel, quoting Psalm 127:1: “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.”*
Though Benjamin Franklin was not an orthodox Christian, he promoted biblical truth and values for the common good and that is a lost episode in American history.
Read and Reflect: Read Psalm 127:1 and reflect on that verse and compare it to the building of a government, which is how Dr. Franklin applied the verse.
Prayer: Father, we lament with Benjamin Franklin, who at the Constitutional Convention asked: “[H]ave we now forgotten that Powerful Friend? or do we imagine that we no longer need His assistance?” We pray for a swift return to you, O God, who governs in the affairs of men, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
*Source Citations: See the hand-written note image at http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/religion/f0402as.jpg; James Madison, Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1987), 210.