Thanksgiving History

A brief history of Thanksgiving to share at your family gathering:

The first Thanksgiving Day began after the harvest of November 1621.  Governor William Bradford of the 1620 Pilgrim Colony, in Plymouth, Massachusetts proclaimed:

“All ye Pilgrims with your wives and little ones, do gather at the Meeting House, on the hill… there to listen to the pastor, and render Thanksgiving to the Almighty God for all His blessings.”

U.S. Presidents continued through the years to proclaim a day of Thanksgiving to God.        In October 1863,  240 years after that first Thanksgiving at Plymouth, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed an annual “National Day of Thanksgiving on the last Thursday of November, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.” 

President Lincoln said:  [It is]  “…announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations are blessed whose God is the Lord… But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, by the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own… It has seemed to me fit and proper that God should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people…”


Do President Lincoln’s words ring true today?  Have we forgotten God?     Have we vainly imagined that our own superior wisdom has made us what we are today?  Or rather, what we used to be?   Is our nation not spiraling downward and away from the God who created us?

It is not too late to turn back to God now, this very day.                                                 Go to:

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Ten Reasons We Know the Bible is True

As a volunteer Bible study facilitator in our local jail, inmates have asked,  “Just because you say the Bible is true, how do we know for sure?”

I appreciate people who are thinkers. After all, who am I?  So if I get that question, I have my list of some of the ways we know the Bible is God’s Word.

The Bible tells us in many places: “The Word of God is living and active (Hebrews 4:12). “All Scripture is God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16).   The word of our God endures forever (Isaiah 40:8).” The gospel is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes (Romans 1:16). These are just a few.

But, in addition to what the Bible says ab­­­out itself, there are books on the subject. One of my favorites is Josh McDowell’ s classic, The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict. One of my favorite websites for accurate information on faith and the Bible is: .

Ten reasons we KNOW the Bible is true:

  1. The Bible is unique:  Sixty-six books, written over 1600 years, in three languages (Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek) by 40 authors from many walks of life, from kings to peasants. It has hundreds of controversial subjects, yet all writers are in harmony and in agreement.
  2. Archaeological findings substantiate the Bible’s truth.
  3. Scientific evidence: In Job 26:7 we read that “God suspends the earth over nothing.” How did Job know that the earth hung in space? The Holy Spirit must have told him. Moreover, we know that Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492 when people then believed the world was flat. Yet 900 B.C. Isaiah wrote that God sits upon the circle of the earth.” The word circle here means a globe or sphere.
  4. The historian Josephus, a contemporary of Jesus, but not a follower of Jesus, wrote about Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.
  5. Fulfilled prophecies – 300 prophecies about Jesus Christ in the Old Testament are fulfilled in the New Testament. Some of the most well-known: Isaiah 52 and 53, and Psalms 22.                                                                                                                                               In Genesis 12:7, God promised that the land of Israel was to be for Abraham’s descendants. When they were later disobedient God prophesied 22 times that He would scatter them among the nations if they didn’t turn from their sinful ways. They didn’t and they were scattered as He promised. In 1948 the land of Israel was returned back to the Jewish people for the second time in history.  No other nation in the history of the world has been scattered from its homeland and then returned! Israel has done it twice.                                                                                                                                                      In  the book of Daniel we read about the coming of the four great kingdoms:  from Babylon, to Medo-Persia, to Greece and to Rome centuries before some of those kingdoms came on the scene.   It’s interesting that the writings of Buddha and Confucius lack any predictive prophecies about the future. In the Quran, Mohammad prophesied that he would return to Mecca. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy which he did fulfill.
  6. Jesus accepted the Bible as God’s Word: John 10:35, Matt 5:18, Matt 15:3, Matt 22:31, Mark 7:13 and Luke 24:27, 44, among others.
  7. The Bible has not changed over time.   The Dead Sea Scrolls found in 1947 were proof that the Old Testament writings are the very same today as when they were written.                                                                                                                                               Muslims claim the Bible has been changed.  Mohammad lived 600 years after Christ. There are authentic manuscripts in the original Greek and Hebrew languages available today which date from centuries before the coming of Mohammad. These manuscripts can be compared to our present-day Bible. It’s the same. “The Bible has survived in a purer form than any other great book – a form that is 99.5% pure,” according to Norman Geisler’s Introduction to the Bible. 
  8. The indestructibility of the Bible—for thousands of years there have been many attempts to destroy it.
  9. The Bible writers endured great persecution for what they believed. They were eyewitnesses to Jesus’ resurrection or His existence and held to their story even until death.  According to  Matthew was slain by a sword in Ethiopia. Thomas was stabbed with a spear in India. Matthias, the apostle chosen to replace the traitor Judas Iscariot, was stoned and then beheaded. John survived being boiled in oil and was later banished to Patmos.  Andrew was crucified on an x-shaped cross in Greece.  Peter was crucified upside down. Bartholomew, also known as Nathanael, was martyred for preaching in Armenia, Paul was beheaded at Rome by Emperor Nero. Would anyone endure such torture for a lie?
  10. MOST important: The evidence of changed lives in the followers of Jesus.
  •  For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.     2 Peter 1:21
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Bedtime Devotions with Kids

When our kids were small, we watched very little TV—and none in the evenings. By 7 PM the kids were fed, bathed and sitting in our bed waiting for story time and prayer.

I’d read children’s devotionals and Bible stories. Sometimes I’d share something exciting I’d learned from my own Bible study. Together we read all the Chronicles of Narnia—twice. We went through the entire Family Bible Library—twice.  We read every Ethel Barrett book I could find.  Every evening in early December, I’d read the Christmas story from Luke 2.  By the time Christmas arrived the kids were reciting it with me from memory.

In addition to Bible reading and prayer, we often sang praise and worship songs to God. We also read The Sugar Creek Gang series—exciting adventures of kids who are following Jesus in their everyday lives.  We read The Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

We kept this routine until our son was a freshman in high school. He told me one day he simply didn’t have time!  It was true, he didn’t. He had homework, team sports and church youth group.  Most importantly, by then he was doing his own personal devotions.

I praise God that I was able to spend those important early years molding the minds and hearts of our children. Today it blesses my heart as I watch them training up their children in the same way.


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Thanksgiving Leader

My favorite definition of a leader is this:  One who sees a need and does something about it.

My friend Candace is not your typical leader. She is quiet and somewhat timid. But she recognized a need, was sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s prompting and did something about it.

Candace works for a large corporation. Every Thanksgiving season the company hosts a Thanksgiving dinner for the employees and their families. Even though it’s a secular institution, she felt bothered that no prayer of thanks was offered at a dinner focused on Thanksgiving.

She went to the president of the corporation and asked if she could say a prayer of thanksgiving at their Thanksgiving dinner.  What a surprise when he said, “Yes!”

So in fear and trembling, Candace was obedient to God. She later said that when she walked to the podium and took hold of the microphone, she actually felt the hand of God on her back, holding her up.

Before 250 people Candace acknowledged God and thanked Him for blessing their company. She thanked God for their employer and for the fact that they had jobs when so many are jobless. She ended her prayer in the name of Jesus.

Even though this happened several years ago,  prayer at the annual Thanksgiving banquet is now a tradition, offered up by different employees.

It isn’t easy to be obedient to God, yet Candace was.  She will never know until she is with the Lord, just how much her obedience affected others.  God honors our obedience!

  •  If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. James 4:17  He [Jesus] replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”   Luke 11:28
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Big Brian—The Gentle Giant

Brian was big—yet I knew he was gentle. At 17, he began sharing his new faith with the other incarcerated teens. Sometimes because of his size, the younger ones felt compelled to agree with him.

One night he was waiting for me with two 14-year-olds he’d recruited. I asked them a few questions and began sharing with them about Jesus and His love. Both appeared uncomfortable and restless. So I asked why they had come.

“Brian said we had to come. He said we needed it.”

I told them if they wanted to leave, they could be excused. They both left.

I then told Brian that I appreciate his zeal for God. “You and I both know these guys need the Lord in their lives.  But if they don’t recognize the need for themselves, we cannot push it—that’s not God’s way. They know where you stand. Your job is to stay close to God, study His Word, pray for these guys, be kind to them and to others.

“You, Brian, have experienced the power of God in your life. So have I. We both yearn for others to know the love of God as we do. This is good.

“There are some angry guys who live here. You are setting an example for them, because of the Holy Spirit living in you. He’s been giving you self-control and patience—you  don’t even get in fights anymore! The other guys see that.  You’re having an effect on their lives whether you know it or not.

“Years from now there will be men who remember that Brian had inner strength he received from God. Years from now they may decide, ‘Perhaps it’s time to start following Brian’s example.’ You will never know until you get to heaven, how many lives you have influenced for God.”

  • For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.     2 Peter 1:8

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Man Down! Lock Down!

There were eight incarcerated minors attending my Bible study, when the nurse arrived to distribute medication. Two of my guys excused themselves to take pills and quickly returned.

Big Brian was seated next to me. Ten minutes after taking his pills he said, “Something’s wrong—I’m gonna be sick.”

I said, “Maybe you should go to your room.” I watched as he slowly walked 20 feet to his door and then collapsed on the floor!

I ran to him. He was unconscious, but breathing. While checking his pulse, the loud speaker began blaring “Man Down! Lock Down!”

I looked up to see all the minors in the day room, including those in my Bible study, face down on the floor, with their hands clasped behind their backs. The day room suddenly filled with deputies running in to assist from other units, expecting a fight or riot.

Brian began to regain consciousness but felt nauseated. I stepped aside as the nurse had returned to assist. The deputies returned to their posts.

I was impressed with the discipline of those teenagers. Nobody said, “Face to the floor!” The minors knew what to do, aware of the consequences of not obeying rules.

I later learned that the dosage of Brian’s anxiety medication had been increased that evening. It was apparently too strong.

It is not unusual for teens incarcerated for the first time to be frightened and homesick. Some have never before been away from home.  Brian was one of the big, strong guys who quietly wept in his room at night, unable to sleep. Medication was then prescribed.

Often when I get one of these first-timers, they feel they’ve messed up their lives. Even though they may be unchurched, they recognize the hope that is in Christ. That was Big Brian: He recognized early on, his need for God’s forgiveness and grace, and gave his life to Jesus.

It was a delight for me to observe Brian’s dramatic change.  It was just a short time before his anxieties disappeared and he no longer required medication. He became an excellent student of the Bible and a model prisoner.

  • The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba Father.”    Romans 8:15
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Praying for the Persecuted Church

Two months ago some of us started a weekly prayer meeting to pray specifically for the persecuted Church and the world.

In addition to our time of evening prayer, some of us make it a day for fasting–as we are able.  Fasting was an expected discipline in both the Old and New Testament eras. For example, Moses fasted at least two recorded forty-day periods.  Jesus fasted 40 days and reminded His followers: “when you fast,” not if you fast.

We keep up-to-date by checking with organizations that post prayer needs. They monitor worldwide persecution and reach out to those who are suffering in restricted countries.  Some of the more well-known are Open Doors, Voice of the Martyrs, 8thirty8, ChinaAid and Samaritan’s Purse.

The following is Opens Doors’ current Watch List of the top 50 countries where it is the most difficult to be a Christian. Beginning with the most severe:  North Korea, Somalia, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Sudan, Iran, Pakistan, Eritrea, Nigeria, Maldives, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Yemen, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Central African Republic, Qatar, Kenya, Turkmenistan, India, Ethiopia, Egypt, Djibouti, Myanmar, Palestinian Territories, Brunei, Laos, China, Jordan, Bhutan, Comoros, Tanzania, Algeria, Colombia, Tunisia, Malaysia, Mexico, Oman, Mali, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Indonesia, Mauritania, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait

Researchers calculate that 4,344 Christians were “killed for faith-related reasons” in 2014, which is “more than double the 2,123 killed in 2013, and more than triple the 1,201 killed the year before that,” reports World Watch Monitor (WWM).  By far the largest number of deaths occurred in Nigeria, where 2,484 Christians were killed; the next deadliest country for Christians was the Central African Republic (CAR), with 1,088 deaths. The remaining three deadliest countries were Syria (271 deaths), Kenya (119 deaths), and North Korea (100 deaths).

Prayer is not easy, but we are commanded to pray.  Prayer takes discipline. I find that praying with others keeps me focused and faithful. Many Christians are uncomfortable praying aloud, but I encourage them to come and silently agree with our spoken prayers. God knows our every thought and hears our silent prayers.

  • Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.    Colossians 4:2
  • But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face,  so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.    Matthew 6:17-18
  • SONG:  HUG THEMLyrics by Liana Wendy Howarth; Music by Kathleen
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Christian Persecution

What is it exactly? Christian persecution is hostility experienced as a result of one’s identification as a follower of Jesus. Beatings, physical torture, isolation, rape, severe punishment, imprisonment, slavery, discrimination in education and employment, and even death are examples of the persecution experienced by many.

Every November churches worldwide, set aside one Sunday to fast, pray and to remember our brothers and sisters suffering for their faith.

What do we pray? We pray that God would raise up a new bold generation that is able to face persecution.   We pray for an outpouring of steadfastness in their faith and their testimony. We pray for God to sustain the believers and provide them with water, food, shelter and medicine.  We pray churches would be planted in the midst of war. We pray that those imprisoned would have opportunities to share their faith with inmates and even with their persecutors. We pray that God would work through the suffering church, that they could be a light in the darkness around them. We pray that God would bring to their memory promises from His Word that would encourage them and others. We pray for joy and peace in the midst of pain.

Pastor Richard Wurmbrand was imprisoned and tortured by Communist authorities in his native Romania for 14 years. While in prison, he envisioned a ministry that would focus on the plight of the persecuted Church, raise a voice on its behalf and provide encouragement and assistance to suffering believers.

His 1967 book, Tortured for Christ, provided an account of the brutality he and other Christians suffered at the hands of Communist oppressors. It opened the eyes and hearts of Christians in the West who had never before heard of the atrocities happening to believers living in Communist nations.

“Prison was hard, terrible, but it would be wrong to say that it was only hard and terrible. It had its beautiful side and, at times, the joys we had in prison were such that I wouldn’t have changed place with Queen Elizabeth.” Voice of the Martyrs Founder, Richard Wurmbrand (1909 – 2001).

  •  Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.   Hebrews 13:3
  • To learn more about Voice of the Martyrs:
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Do You Work for the Church? No, I Work for God!

When we travel with Cheryl and Ken, we like to distribute our foreign language Jesus booklets as we prayer-walk. While our husbands follow behind, Cheryl and I will pray for the homes we pass, and then have fun sharing the Lord with those we meet on the street. Often one of us will be praying while the other is engaged in a dialog.

One young man carrying his suitcase approached a cathedral as we were walking out. I offered him a booklet, “Would you like to read about Jesus?”

He asked, “Do you work for the church?”
“No. I work for God.”
“I thought so.” He took the booklet, sat on a bench and began reading.

We approached a man selling ice cream and asked if he’d like to read about Jesus.
He looked at the booklet and asked, “Where did you get this?”
“I brought it from America, and it’s for you!” He immediately began reading.

A vendor at a flea market said, “I am a Jew—I am not interested in Jesus.”
The vendor in the next booth overheard her and quickly came over.
“Is it Christian? I like!” We handed it to her.

I approached a sad-looking man sitting on a bench and simply showed him the booklet. He shook his head, “No, No!”
I continued to hold it so he could read the cover.
As he looked more closely he smiled, “Yes, Yes!”

Is it always so easy? No. Some people are simply not interested.
It’s not us, but the One we represent who is being rejected.
We smile and move on. Our job is to give out the Word—and let God do the rest.

  • This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.     1 Timothy 2:3-4
  • SONG:  STORY OF A DREAM – by Kathleen
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Every Trip a Mission Trip

Just think — a river cruise mission trip!  What a privilege and joy to accompany our friends, Cheryl and Ken on such an adventure. Frankly, whenever Cheryl and I are together, it’s always a mission trip!

The cruise director said she was an “uninformed Catholic” who knew little about her own religion.  She asked us questions and we gave her a simple overview of the Bible and God’s plan of salvation.  She appreciated receiving our literature, and arranged for us to hold an on board Bible study for the passengers—even announcing it over the PA system!

One lady who attended wanted to give her life to Jesus. “All my life I have been searching for God and didn’t know how to find Him.” Afterward she and her husband joined us for dinner—with a list of questions. We exchanged emails to continue follow-up.

The ship’s 28-year-old pianist said he wanted to know God personally, but he also loved the world.  “If I become a follower of Jesus, I’m afraid I’d have to change my lifestyle.”

I thought, “Hmmm. It’s the same problem everywhere!”

One of the ship’s officers was a Christian and took some of our booklets. Later he said he shared them with the crew and asked if we had more booklets in the different languages of his crew.  We did!

One of our tour guides, a professed atheist, became a good friend.  When the tour ended the four of us took him to lunch and gave him some persuasive evidence for the existence of God.  Still he did not change his mind. When we said goodbye, I shook his hand and then held his hand in both of mine.

I looked into his eyes and said, “You may be an atheist now, but Jesus is alive. He loves you and He is coming back. When He returns the Bible tells us that every knee will bow before Him—even yours. Would you think about that?”

He smiled and said, “I will. Thank you.”

  • It is written:  As surely as I live,  says the Lord,  every  knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.     Romans 14:11
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