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Category Archives: General

 

Lost Episode for February 25

Ronald Reagan CroppedOn February 25, 1984, President Reagan explained in a radio address:

“From the early days of the colonies, prayer in school was practiced and revered as an important tradition. Indeed, for nearly 200 years of our nation’s history, it was considered a natural expression of our religious freedom. But in 1962, the Supreme Court handed down a controversial decision prohibiting prayer in public schools.

“Sometimes I can’t help but feel the First Amendment is being turned on its head. Ask yourselves: Can it really be true that the First Amendment can permit Nazis and Klu Klux Klansmen to march on public property, advocate the extermination of people of the Jewish faith and the subjugation of blacks, while the same amendment forbids our children from saying a prayer in school?…

“Up to 80 percent of the American people support voluntary prayer. They understand what the founding fathers intended. The First Amendment of the Constitution was not written to protect the people from religion; that amendment was written to protect religion from government tyranny…

“The act that established our public school system called for public education to see that our children learned about religion and morality. References to God can be found in the Mayflower Compact of 1620, the Declaration of Independence, the Pledge of Allegiance, and the National Anthem. Our legal tender states, “In God We Trust.”

“When the Constitution was being debated at the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin rose to say, ‘The longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see that God governs in the affairs of men. Without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel.’ He asked: ‘Have we now forgotten this powerful Friend? Or do we imagine we no longer need His assistance?’ Franklin then asked the Convention to begin its daily deliberations by asking for the assistance of Almighty God…

“But now we’re told our children have no right to pray in school. Nonsense. The pendulum has swung too far toward intolerance against genuine religious freedom. It is time to redress the balance.

“If ever there was a time for you, the good people of this country, to make your voices heard, to make the mighty power of your will the decisive force in the halls of Congress, that time is now.”*

President Reagan’s call for a Constitutional Amendment to restore Prayer to Schools is a lost episode in American history.

Read and Reflect: Read Psalm 32:6-7 and reflect on the confession of the psalmist that the godly will pray to God and compare it with the focus President Reagan placed on prayer.

Prayer: Father, to you we pray because you are God and there is none other. You are my hiding place. You shall preserve me from trouble. You shall surround me with songs of deliverance, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

*Source Citation: David R. Shepherd, ed., Ronald Reagan: In God I Trust (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1984), 77-79.

 

Lost Episode for February 24

GW President closeupOn February 24, 1794, President Washington wrote to the Rev. James Muir, pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Alexandria, Virginia, responding to a request for renewal of what had become an annual support of a school for orphans:

“I have received your letter of the 12th instant, and will direct my manager, Mr. Pearce, to pay my annual donation for the education of orphan children, or the children of indigent parents, who are unable to be at the expense themselves.”*

Washington went on to ask Rev. Muir for a more complete report as to how the denotation was making a positive impact on these young lives. According to Washington historian and biographer Jared Sparks, Rev. Muir responded with a detailed accounting of each of the children who were assisted in their education by President Washington’s donation to the school. Sparks elaborates on Washington’s donations:

“For many years he had given fifty pounds a year for this purpose, which he continued till his death; and by will he left to the trustees of the Academy in the town of Alexandria four thousand dollars… ‘for the purpose of educating orphan children…’ This sum was bequeathed in perpetuity…”*

The fact that President George Washington gave a regular donation to a church for the purpose of caring for orphans shows that he took this biblical responsibility seriously, and it is another lost episode in American history.

Read and Reflect: Read James 1:27 and reflect on the description of pure and undefiled religion by James in light of George Washington’s investment.

Prayer: Father, we thank you for the example of George Washington, who gave to support a ministry to orphans and who wanted to know about each one he helped. May we take this biblical responsibility to heart as well, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

*Source Citation: Jared Sparks, ed., The Writings of George Washington: Being His Correspondence, Addresses, Messages, and Other Papers, Official and Private, Selected and Published from the Original Manuscripts, with a Life of the Author, 12 vols. (Boston: American Stationer’s Company, 1837), 10:393-94. See the footnote for the complete explanation.

 

Lost Episode for February 23

Josiah QuincyPatriot leader Josiah Quincy was born on February 23, 1744. He became a lawyer and was an ardent advocate for liberty in his speaking and writing. His most notable work was Observations of the Act of Parliament Commonly called the Boston Port Bill with Thoughts on Civil Society and Standing Arms (1774). Josiah Quincy was sent on a mission to England to argue the cause of the Colonists in 1774, and during his return trip he died at sea on April 26, 1775. In response to the closing of the Boston harbor by the British in 1774, Josiah Quincy declared:

“In defence of our civil and religious rights, we dare oppose the world; with the God of armies on our side, even the God who fought our fathers’ battles, we fear not the hour of trial, though the hosts of our enemies should cover the field like locusts. If this be enthusiasm, we will live and die enthusiasts.

“Blandishments will not fascinate us, nor will threats of a ‘halter’ intimidate. For, under God, we are determined that wheresoever, whensoever, or howsoever we shall be called to make our exit, we will die free men…. A crown of joy and immortality shall be his reward.”*

Josiah Quincy recognized that the coming war involved not only civil but also religious rights and he believed that the God of armies was on our side. That is a lost episode in American history.

Read and Reflect: Read Psalm 44:1-8 and reflect on the words of the Psalmist and compare them to what Josiah Quincy wrote.

Prayer: We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us, the deeds You did in their days, in days of old. We pray that You would continue to be with us, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

*Source Citation: Evert A. Duyckinck and George L. Duyckinck, ed., Cyclopaedia of American Literature: Personal and Critical Notices of Authors and Selections from Their Writings from the Earliest Period to the Present Day Portraits Autographs and Other Illustrations, 2 vols., (New York: Scribner, 1855), 1:252.

 

Lost Episode for February 22

John Adams - YoungerOn February 22, 1756, future Founding Father John Adams made the following entry in his diary:

“Suppose a nation in some distant Region should take the Bible for their only law Book, and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited! Every member would be obliged in conscience, to temperance, frugality, and industry; to justice, kindness, and charity towards his fellow men; and to piety, love, and reverence toward Almighty God. In this commonwealth, no man would impair his health by gluttony, drunkness, or lust; no man would sacrifice his most precious time to cards or any other trifling and mean amusement; no man would steal, or lie, or in any way defraud his neighbor, but would live in peace and good will with all men; no man would blaspheme his Maker or profane his worship; but a rational and manly, a sincere and unaffected piety and devotion would reign in all hearts. What a Utopia, what a Paradise would this region be.”

Founder John Adams envisioned the perfect society having the Bible as its basis. That is a lost episode in American history.

Read and Reflect: Read Colossians 3:1-17 and reflect on the contrasting deeds of the “old man” and that of the “new man” and compare them with some of those listed by John Adams.

Prayer: Father may the “word of Christ” live in us in all of its richness so that we shun the evil deeds of the flesh and celebrate the positive deeds of the Spirit-filled life, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

*Source Citation: L.H. Butterfield, ed., Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, 4 vols., (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 1961), 3:9.

 

Lost Episode for February 21

Older Thomas JeffersonOn February 21, 1825, in a letter to Thomas Jefferson Smith, the son of a friend, Thomas Jefferson gave the admonition:

“This letter will to you be as one from the dead. The writer will be in the grave before you can weigh its counsels. Your affectionate and excellent father has requested that I would address to you something which might possibly have a favorable influence on the course of life you have to run and I too as a namesake feel an interest in that course. Few words will be necessary, with good dispositions on your part. Adore God. Reverence and cherish your parents. Love your neighbor as yourself. Be just. Be true. Murmur not at the ways of Providence. So shall the life into which you have entered be the Portal to one of eternal and ineffable bliss.”

Jefferson’s biblically sound advice is another lost episode in American history.

Read and Reflect: Read Mark 12:28-34 and reflect on Jesus’ conversation with the scribe and compare that with some of the advice Thomas Jefferson gave.

Prayer: Father, we are grateful for the Scriptures that teach us how to have a right relationship with you and a right relationship with each other. May we follow the Great Commandment, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

*Source Citation: Thomas Jefferson Randolph, ed., The Writings of Thomas Jefferson: Memoir, Correspondence and Miscellanies from the Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 4 vols., (Boston: Grey and Bowen, 1830), 4:413.

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