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Thank God for Fighting Fathers

November 22nd, 2011 4 comments

I love reading about the birth of our great nation. In the battle for our nation’s freedom, there were many moments when crushing defeats and seemingly insurmountable challenges gave rise to tidal waves of despair. Thank God for spiritual fathers who knew how to fight! In the heat of the battle, they stood strong. When others wilt, quit, or concede, spiritual fathers persevere and they inspire others to do the same.

In an article published on Thanksgiving Day 2008 in the Wall Street Journal, author Ira Stoll described the historical context for the first national celebration of Thanksgiving under the heroic leadership of Samuel Adams. He wrote:

In July 1776, the American colonists declared independence from Britain. The months that followed were so bleak that there was not much to give thanks for. The Journals of the Continental Congress record no Thanksgiving in that year, only two days of “solemn fasting” and prayer…

[The war effort was going poorly. Many Americans were wounded, captured or killed by the British]. Philadelphia, America’s largest city, fell on Sept. 26. Congress fled…to Lancaster then to York… John Adams wrote in his diary, “The prospect is chilling, on every Side: Gloomy, dark, melancholy, and dispiriting.”

On this pivotal day in late September, 1777, the fifty-five year old Adams stood before his colleagues and offered these words of encouragement:

“If we despond, public confidence is destroyed, the people will no longer yield their support to a hopeless contest, and American liberty is no more. Through the darkness which shrouds our prospects, the ark of safety is visible. Despondency becomes not the dignity of our cause, nor the character of those who are its supporters…”

He went on to challenge the delegates:

“Let us awaken then, and evince a different spirit, – a spirit that shall inspire the people with confidence in themselves and in us, – a spirit that will encourage them to persevere in this glorious struggle, until their rights and liberties shall be established on a rock. We have proclaimed to the world our determination “to die as freemen, rather than to live slaves.” We have appealed to Heaven for the justice of our cause, and in Heaven we have placed our trust. Numerous have been the manifestations of God’s providence in sustaining us. In the gloomy period of adversity, we have had “our cloud by day and pillar of fire by night.” We have been reduced to distress, and the arm of Omnipotence has raised us up. Let us still rely in humble confidence on Him who is mighty to save. Good tidings will soon arrive. We shall never be abandoned by Heaven while we act worthy of its aid and protection.”

He turned out to have been correct… On Oct. 31, a messenger arrived with news of the American victory at the Battle of Saratoga. The American general, Horatio Gates, had accepted the surrender of 5,800 British soldiers, and with them 27 pieces of artillery and thousands of pieces of small arms and ammunition.

Saratoga turned the tide of the war — news of the victory was decisive in bringing France into a full alliance with America. Congress responded to the event by appointing a committee of three that included Samuel Adams, Richard Henry Lee of Virginia and Daniel Roberdeau of Pennsylvania, to draft a report and resolution. The report declared Thursday, Dec. 18, as “a day of Thanksgiving” to God, so that “with one heart and one voice the good people may express the grateful feelings of their hearts, and consecrate themselves to the service of their divine benefactor.”

Samuel Adams led as a spiritual father. He spoke with courage and resolve. He reminded the delegates of God’s faithfulness and encouraged them to set their eyes upon “Him who is mighty to save.” He spoke prophetically, “Good tidings will soon arrive,” when nothing but the stark reality of defeat was in sight. And he challenged them to “act worthy” of heaven’s aid and protection.

Each one of us has the opportunity to “father” or “mother” in our sphere of influence. What report is in your mouth? Are you constantly whining about the way things are? Do you complain about your present situation? Are you negative, cynical and jaded in your perspective?

If so, you have just devalued your worth as a spiritual father or mother. No one wants to follow someone who is prophesying gloom and despair. No one wants to follow a person with no vision for a better future and no faith in God’s power to bring breakthrough.

In the face of great obstacles or overwhelming circumstances can you stand before your family, friends or colleagues and declare, “Good tidings will soon arrive!” Never underestimate the power of a father’s words.

Courageous Living: The Context of Courage

November 21st, 2011 No comments

Life requires courage. Each day we are faced with difficult challenges and demanding choices. This is simply life. Jesus told His disciples:

Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, NLT)

It’s the trials and sorrows that challenge us to be men of courage. Every challenge, each trial, asks us an important question:

”In who or what will you place your faith and confidence?”

You see, life is war. The battleground is the human heart. In what will you place your trust? This is why Paul challenged his spiritual son, Timothy, to…

“Fight the good fight of faith” (I Timothy 6:12, NKJ)

The fight is over where you place your faith in the face of life’s “many trials and sorrows.”

War demands courage. We have to face our fears. We must engage our enemies. We must…

“Be men of courage…” (I Corinthians 16:13)

Sometimes we think that courage is the same as fearlessness. However, just the opposite is true. In fact, fear is a pre-requisite for courage. Courage is never required until you are forced to face something you fear!

Courage reveals who and what we fear. Courage reveals what we truly value most.

Most people value themselves. They live for their own survival and well-being.

That’s why this life, filled with trials, difficulties and fears, provides the perfect context for courageous living. This fallen world is the crucible that reveals what we love the most and who we trust the most.

What is a challenge you are facing right now? How does it reveal who you love and trust most?

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