A Time Of Thanksgiving

harvest 2I am thankful for the life we have here in America. It is amazing on so many levels. No other country in the world has been blessed like this nation. Our foundations were forged in the fires of freedom that generations fought, bled and died to secure. Most people know that the first roots on the soil of this land were put down by the Pilgrims. What they don’t know is that they were seeking a place to raise their children away from the bad influence of Holland. They had fled to Amsterdam, Holland from persecution in England during the early part of 1606, and finally settled in 1609, in Leiden, Holland. By 1620 it was clear that the religious liberty encountered in Holland was negatively counterbalanced by a political and social climate tolerant of everything. This meant there were no clear spiritual standards to live by, and Holland’s liberty had become a cesspool of mixture, lacking moral fiber and clear absolutes.

The Pilgrim’s, who were Calvinists, had uncovered a fatal flaw in what they thought would be a place of promise and opportunity. They realized that tolerance, without spiritual truth, produces a society with no reason to establish moral clarity. They saw first-hand how unbridled liberty, negatively influenced their children, and destroyed the fabric and spiritual life of the culture. Historian, Jeremy Dupertuis Bangs, uncovered what most people were never taught in school. He wrote 800 pages of historical evidence that shows the Pilgrims saw the seductive pull of unrestrained liberty as a bigger threat than the intolerance of England’s religious elite. This was the compelling force that finally drove them to one conclusion; it was better to face the possibility of death, in an untamed new world, than stay in the old world and watch their children be pulled away from God by the unrestrained liberty of a tolerant, and increasingly decadent society.

Thus, In the first week of September 1620, a band of 102 sojourners left Holland in a ship called the Mayflower. It sailed west-southwest for 66 days, crossing stormy seas as it headed for what is now the area of Virginia. They had been granted permission by King James, to plant a new colony in the fertile land south of the Hudson River. Here they would establish a place to live in ordered peace, free from the godless influence of the unrestrained liberty they had encountered in Holland. During the first week of November, as they began to approach the east coast of America, near Long Island, dangerous shoals were encountered and rough seas came up that took them 240 miles north of their intended target. On November 11th, 1620 they found safe harbor in what is now Provincetown, Cape Cod.

Five of the group had died during the 66 day trip, and they knew others, 45 to be exact, would die the first winter in Plymouth. However, before leaving the ship to establish their colony at Plymouth, the Mayflower Compact was signed by the leaders of the group. It’s design was to establish a clear biblical foundation and Christian spiritual focus for the life they all agreed to build together. After signing this covenant, they went ashore, and established the Plymouth Colony.  With the help of Squanto, an english speaking indian, 51 men and 2 women survived the winter. The next Fall, after having an abundant harvest, they thanked and gave glory to God and celebrated the first Thanksgiving.

Below are the words of the Mayflower Compact, which is our national foundation. As you read it, let each word sink in. No matter what you may have been told in school, this is the truth behind our great nation. It was built by those who wanted to protect their children from ungodly influences. More than that, the Pilgrims wanted to worship and glorify God in all they did from a place of Biblical liberty. That liberty had to be based in Christianity because it would give them the moral foundation needed to stay pure and free. This Thanksgiving, be sure to thank God for what He did in 1620 and what He is still doing in America today! We are truly a blessed nation in so many ways.

The Mayflower Compact

The Mayflower Compact was a unique document drawn up as a “covenant” between the Pilgrims and God in heaven. A covenant is a God-ordained agreement between a people and God. It is a sworn allegiance that will not be broken in order to establish the will of God in that place. This covenant acknowledged the Pilgrim’s strong Christian faith, their desire to do all things for the glory of God, and their desire to honor the earthly powers that released them to fulfill their vision. When we consider these factors, perhaps America would do well to return to these basics if we want to secure the continued blessing of God for future generations. That idea certainly is food for thought!

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“In the name of God Amen· We whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread sovereign Lord King James by the grace of God, of great Britain, France, & Ireland king, defender of the faith, having undertaken, for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith and honor of our king & country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northern parts of Virginia· do by these present, solemnly & mutually in the presence of God, and one of another, covenant, & combine ourselves together into a civil body politick; for our better ordering, & preservation & furtherance of the ends aforesaid;

and by virtue hearof, to enact, constitute, and frame such just & equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, & offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet & convenient for the general good of the colony:  unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.  In witness whereof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cape Cod in the 18th year of the reign of our sovereign Lord king James of England, France & Ireland, and the 54th year of reign of Scotland. The 11th of November Ano: Dom 1620″

With these words a new, a God centered government was established in America “for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith. May we return to this foundation once again!! Happy Thanksgiving from our house to yours..

An Unexpected November

Here in the Northeast, November can be like a lion or a lamb. What I mean is, it can be a day filled with raging blizzard conditions or as mild as a wet spring day. Today just so happens to be more a of lamb day. It is November 6th, 58 degrees outside, windy and raining. Hardly what I would call a normal Fall occurence in the foothills of the Adirondacks. In fact, it’s been so warm that ninety percent of the leaves are yet on the ancient ash trees in my front yard, and half of those are still green. This November day is totally unexpected, but I will take it over what we have had in the past.

In years gone by, there was several major storms by now, and snow would be piled high in our yard. The furnace and snow blower would both be running full-time, and I would have to start each morning by warming up our vehicles and scraping ice and snow off the windshields. The snowplow crews would already be racking up overtime, and we would be glued to our television sets to see what businesses or schools had closed for the day. Kids would be knocking on my front door looking to make money by shoveling my sidewalks, and sand trucks would be coating the roads to keep cars from sliding into each other, or into the ditch.

But what am I looking at on this November day? I see a gentle rain soaking the road and the lawn. I see summer Kale still healthy and growing bigger in my garden. I see a light coating of orange leaves on the yard and many more yet to fall off the trees in the week or so ahead. I hear strings of geese flying overhead, and watch them circle around, wondering if it’s Spring or Fall. I see people in summer shirts, shorts and flip-flops walking along with umbrellas, enjoying this warm, wet day. It’s just amazing how things  can be so different from one year to the next.

Why do I bring all this up? I bring it up because we often think our current situation is all that there is. We become so locked into the here-and-now, that we forget how quickly every circumstance can change. Year to year, month to month and even week to week the most horrendous things in life will give way to a time of clarity, peace and personal blessing. Just as one November can be full of blizzards and heating bills, another can be blessed with mild temperatures and warm rain. What makes all the difference is just a simple mater of time.

Like it or not, never forget that time is the great divider. One season of life can be full of distress, disappointment and discouragement. Bills can pile up, people can betray you and relationships get broken. Soon enough, another season will come along and it’s just the opposite. Money comes in, friends show up to help and we feel comfortable again with the life we have. All we had to do was allow enough time to pass, and keep a good attitude until the process finished. Once things run their course and a new season arrives, if we choose to, we can move on. That, my friends, is the key. Moving on is a choice that is totally up to you.

Some people get so locked into the emotions of a bad season, that the emotions hold them captive. They become a prisoner to what was, and are never able to live in the joy of what now is. This captivity will keep its death grip on them until they are willing to let it go. What I mean is, the emotions you hold on to, eventually hold on to you. The feelings a nasty season evokes, that you don’t let go of, the people and events you will not forgive, will grip your life and blind your ability to see anything but what went wrong. This means you are forever locked into the feelings of a nasty November, and will never be able to enjoy the beauty of the mild one that is right outside your window.

The nasty November’s of your past only have power over your life, if you give it to them. Forgive those you must, and let go of what happened in the past. Remember, the truth about the past is that you can’t change it, but it has the power to change you! In light of this, my question for you today is quite simple. Why wouldn’t you want to let go of the past and live the life of freedom God created you to have? Only you can answer that all-important question. Now, why don’t you go out and enjoy this beautiful November day!

 

 

Different Than We Imagine

History is often not as kind as we might like to believe. Our vision of a simple, hardworking, agricultural people, living off the land in an idyllic setting is more fantasy than fact. The reality is that ideas, beliefs and traditions in past ages have frequently proven to be strange, odd and somewhat horrifying to our modern way of thinking. Things certainly are different from what we imagine them to be, and that difference, be it driven by love, ignorance, fear, superstition or knowledge, is what moves us forward or sends us back.

Human history has been filled with the drama of generations struggling for significance, and the out-working of that struggle is what has pushed everything into the present. Take, for instance, the fact that in Medieval times someone accused of an offense, often faced a “trial by ordeal,”. That is, they were forced to stick their arm into a vat of boiling water. If their arm emerged unscathed, it prove their innocence. How about the “witch trials” that began in Salem, Massachusetts and spread due to ignorance, superstition and fear. In this case it was a “trial by fire”. The one accused of being a witch was tied to a stake in the public square, wood was piled around them and set on fire. It was believed that those who were innocent would be protected from the flames, like the three young men in the Book of Daniel. An estimated 600,000 “witches” died this way globally.

Fortunately for us, there have been changes in our way of thinking, living and governing. The systems now in place in most countries, and the laws that protect most people, seem to work substantially better than the above. That being said, the one thing that has not changed from one millennium to the next is the need for good character. The ideology and laws of democracy don’t produce it, the false conformity of socialism does not create it, and the terror imposed on the victims of the Islamic state does not bring it into being. Good character is not something that can be imposed from the outside. That’s because it is an internal condition of the heart and thoughts that reflect in the outward behavior.

Good character does not come by way of force, just like human nature does not conform well to rules and regulations. Change, real change, is always an internal issue of the human condition. It is the manifested truth within us that is revealed by what we do, and what we say when no one is looking. We can hide who we are for a while and we can fake things for a short time, but eventually what is living and breathing within us will come out. Unfortunately, self-reformation never lasts last very long. It always fails because we as humans, always fail. That is exactly why the latest self-help gadgets end up collecting dust in a back room, or get tagged in a garage sale. Natural effort will never remain committed long enough to achieve the permanent results we all desire.

The kind of change everyone needs, runs deep into the core of who we are and what we believe. Genuine change is not a quick fix, or a fast, easy solution. It is an inner revolution that brings an upheaval to an old thought pattern, or ingrained habit. This kind of revolution releases us from the guilt of past mistakes, and gives us the strength to press on, even when we fall short. What I am talking about sets people free to be who they really are. It gives fresh hope for today and fresh vision for the future. It is a radical conversion of the soul, heart and the mind that comes to the one who has surrendered to a truth that is greater than the one that has falsely defined them.  I have had such an experience, and so can you!

My personal revolution came when I encountered Jesus. He turned my world upside down, inside out and front to back. He was so different, so sacrificial, so pure, so right, so other. He gripped my heart and mind, touched my soul and spirit, and reordered my thoughts and emotions. His love was a powerful and relentless agent of change. It came after me like a cleansing flood that would not be satisfied until it had me… all of me…. at every level. Through that flood of grace and truth, He restored me back to my original design, and that’s when I began to understand the heart of my Designer.

From the day I surrendered my life to Him, that incredible revolution never stopped its work in me. It has taken me to foreign countries, taught me how to love the unlovable, given me the boldness to fearlessly proclaim the truth, and shown me how to forgive the unforgivable. It has carried me when I was too weak to walk, guided me when I was too confused to move, and strengthened me when I was too tired to press on. This is what it means to live a surrendered life to the Lordship of Jesus, and it is simply amazing. There is nothing else like it in all the earth.

Living a genuinely Christian life is very different from what I imagined. It is filled with challenges and tests. There are great failures and amazing victories. There are blunders and mistakes, followed by insights and revelations that are beyond words. Those of us who live this life not perfect, we are forgiven. We seek God for clarity but still do make our mistakes. He shows us how to make things right when we mess up, and we learn how to obey HIs voice. We serve those we meet the best we can, with what we have, and He graciously gives us more. It’s a place of perfected balance between the constant weakness of our humanity and the endless strength of His divinity.

 Yes, real Christianity is indeed very different from what I thought it would be. I am not strangled by rules and regulations, but I am constrained by the Love of God that sets me free to be who I was designed to be. I am not searching for the mysterious will of God, but I have a liberty and an excitement to do what He places within my heart. There is clear focus, purposed vision and genuine anticipation for what He and I will do next. I am not wrestling with the endless stain of sin, but I am wrapped in His robe of righteousness and walk in purity and power.

All of this came simply because I laid aside my narrow, preconceived ideas of an old, dead religious system, and embraced the living reality of how much Jesus loves me, and what He did for me. What about you? You may be sick of the hypocrisy of religion, and the old religious system that never provides the clarity, assurance or strength that conquers sin. You may have turned your back on all of it because there were no real answers, and way too many unanswered questions. If so, I have good news for you today. Look to the simplicity of Jesus and all you have wondered about will be answered by all He is. It’s just that simple!

Surrender and give your life to the One who Gave his life for you. Turn from the things that never satisfy but they have taken you from God. Begin your life again and live their new life the way He intended. He will enter into everything you do, heal your heart and pour His love into every area of need. Don’t settle for second best any longer, because a much better choice is available if you take it. It’s up to you! If you want more info on what it means to live for Christ, send me your address. I have some free materials that can help you on  your way. My email is: wemmons@gmail.com. Have A Great Day!