Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

True Origin of Thanksgiving

For Christians, Thanksgiving means more than just turkey and football. Most of us have a vague notion that this holiday began when the Pilgrims invited their Indian neighbors to dinner to thank God for his provisions. But there really is much more to the story.

The Atlantic crossing in the fall of 1620 had been an extremely difficult journey for the Pilgrims. For two months, 102 people were wedged into what was called the “’tween decks”—the cargo space of the boat, which only had about five-and-a-half feet of headroom. No one was allowed above deck because of the terrible storms. This was no pleasure trip, but only one person died during the voyage.

The Pilgrims had comforted themselves by singing the Psalms, but this “noise” irritated one of the ship’s paid crewmembers. He told the Pilgrims he was looking forward to throwing some of their corpses overboard after they succumbed to the illnesses that were routine on such voyages. But as it turned out, this crewmember himself was the only person on the voyage to become sick and be thrown overboard. God providentially protected His people.

A little-known fact about the Mayflower is that this ship normally carried a cargo of wine; and the wine spillage from previous voyages had soaked the beams, acting as a disinfectant to prevent the spread of disease.

During one terrible storm, the main beam of the mast cracked. Death was certain if this beam could not be repaired. At that moment, the whole Pilgrim adventure could very easily have ended on the bottom of the Atlantic. But, providentially, one of the Pilgrims had brought along a large iron screw for a printing press. That screw was used to repair the beam, saving the ship and all on board.

After sixty-six days at sea, land was sighted off what is now Cape Cod, Massachusetts. But that was not where the Pilgrims wanted to be. They had intended to establish their new colony in the northern parts of Virginia (which then extended to the Hudson River in modern-day New York), but two factors interrupted their plans. The winds had blown them off course, but they also learned that some other Englishmen who wanted to settle in the same northern part of Virginia had bribed the crew to land them somewhere else.

Once again God was in charge and the Pilgrims were right where God wanted them to be. Had they actually landed near the Hudson River, they would have most certainly been attacked by hostile Indians. Instead, there were no Indians on Cape Cod when the Pilgrims made landfall there.

Many years before some local Indians had captured a Frenchman on a fishing expedition in that region. Just as he was about to be killed, the Frenchman told the Indians that God would be angry with them, would destroy them all, and would replace them with another nation. The Indians boastfully told him that his God could never kill them. However, when the Pilgrims landed in that same region, the land had already been cleared and the fields had already been cultivated, but those Indians who had prepared the land had nearly all died of the plague a year or two earlier.

Despite this provision of safety from hostile Indians, the Pilgrims barely survived their first winter on the Cape. Only four families escaped without burying at least one family member. but God was still faithful.

In the spring of 1621, He sent Squanto to them, an Indian who could speak their own language and who offered to teach them how to survive in this strange new land.  Squanto was one of the few Indians from that area who had not died of the plague.

He had been captured as a young man and taken to England as a slave. During that time he mastered the English language; and then had been freed and returned to his native territory shortly before the Pilgrims arrived.

Probably the most important thing Squanto taught the Pilgrims was how to plant the Indians’ winter staple crop—corn. The Pilgrims thanked God for this wonderful helper, but they also shared with Squanto the most valuable treasure they had brought with them from England—the Gospel. Squanto died within a year or two after coming to the aid of the Pilgrims, but before his death he prayed that he might go to be with their God in Heaven.

Other Indians whom Squanto had introduced to the Pilgrims were also impressed with their God. During the summer of 1621, when it appeared the year’s corn harvest would not survive a severe drought, the Pilgrims called for a day of fasting and prayer. By the end of the day, it was raining. The rain saved the corn, which miraculously sprang back to life.

One of the Indians who observed this miracle remarked that their God must be a very great God because when the Indians pow-wowed for rain, it always rained so hard that the corn stalks were broken down. But they noticed that the Pilgrim’s God had sent a very gentle rain that did not damage the corn harvest.  It was that same miraculous corn harvest that provided the grain for the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving meal with their Indian friends and helpers.

Today, many of our public school children are taught that we celebrate Thanksgiving because the Pilgrims were thanking their Indian neighbors for helping them; but the evidence of history shows that on that first Thanksgiving Day the thanks of both Pilgrims and Indians went to God for His great goodness toward them all.

But the story does not end there.Even though the Pilgrims hosted the first Thanksgiving dinner in America, the holiday itself actually has its origins almost 170 years later, after the Revolutionary War had been won and our American Constitution had been adopted.

In 1789, Congress approved the Bill of Rights, the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution. Congress then “recommended a day of public thanksgiving and prayer” to thankGod for blessing America. President Washington declared November 26, 1789, as the first national day of prayer and thanksgiving to the Lord. Another 75 years later, after the Civil War ended, President Abraham Lincoln established the last Thursday in November as a day to acknowledge “the gracious gifts of the Most High God” bestowed upon America.

Every president did the same until 1941 when Congress officially made Thanksgiving a national holiday. Now that you know the true story, this Thanksgiving make sure that your children learn it too. Let us all join with generations of Americans before us in giving thanks to God for blessing our country.

by Attorney David C. Gibbs Jr.

May 4, 2006 Posted by | Thanksgiving | Comments Off on True Origin of Thanksgiving

Church series: The Church and the World

The Church and the World walked far apart on the changing shore of time.

The World was singing a giddy song and the Christian a hymn sublime.

“Come, give me your hand,” said the merry World, “And then walk with me this way.

But the good Church hid her snowy hand and solemnly answered, “Nay,

I will not give you my hand at all, and I will not walk with you.

Your way is the way of eternal death and your words are all untrue.”

“Nay, walk with me a little space,” said the World with a kindly air.

The road I walk is a pleasant road and the sun shines always there.

Your way is narrow and thorny and rough, while mine is flowery and smooth. Your lot is sad with reproach and toil, but in rounds of joy I move.

My way, you can see is broad and fair and my gate is high and wide.

There is room enough for you and me and we’ll travel side by side.”

Half shyly, the Church approached the World and gave him her hand of snow and the false world grasped it and walked along and whispered in accents low.

“Your dress is too simple to please my taste. I have gold and pearls to wear; rich velvets and silks for your graceful form and diamonds to deck your hair.”

The Church looked down at her plain white robes and then at the dazzling World, and blushed as she saw his handsome lip with a smile contemptuously curled.

“I will change my dress for a costlier one,” said the Church with a smile of grace. Then her pure white garments drifted away, and the World gave in their place

Beautiful satins, fashionable silks, roses, gems and pearls; and over her forehead her bright hair fell and waved in a thousand curls.

“Your house is too plain,” said the proud old World, “let us build you one like mine with kitchen for feasting and parlor for play- come sit with me and dine.”

So he built her a costly and beautiful house; splendid it was to behold.

Her sons and daughters met frequently there, shining in purple and gold.

And fair and festivals, frolics untold were held in the House of Prayer;

And maidens bewitching as sirens of old with world winning graces rare.

Bedecked with fair jewels and hair all curled; untrammeled by Gospel or Laws; to beguile and amuse and win the World some help for the righteous cause.

The Angels of Mercy rebuked the Church and whispered, “I know thy sins;”

Then the Church looked sad and anxiously longed to gather the children in.

But some were at the midnight ball, and others at the play, and some were drinking in gay saloons, and the angels went away.

And then the World spoke in soothing tones, “Your loved ones mean no harm merely indulging in innocent sports.” So she leaned on his proffered arm

And smiled and chatted and gathered flowers and walked along with the World; while countless precious souls were lost and into hell were hurled.

“Your preachers are all too old and plain,” said the gay world with a sneer.

They frighten my children with dreadful tales which I do not like to hear.

They talk of judgment and fire and pain and doom of darkest night.

They warn of a place that should not be spoken in public to ears polite.

I will send you some men of better stamp,  more brilliant, gay and fast, who will show men how they may live as they wish and go to Heaven at last.

The Father is merciful, great and good, loving, tender and kind.

Do you think He’d take one child to Heaven and leave another behind?”

So she called for pleasing and gay divines, deemed gifted, great and learned, and the plain old men who had preached the Cross were out of the pulpits turned.

Then Mammon came in and supported the Church and rented a prominent pew and the preaching and singing and social events soon proclaimed a gospel new.

“You give too much for the Gospel,” said the World, “Far more than you ought to do. Though the lost need to hear of Calvary‘s Love, why thus need it trouble you? 

Go take your money and buy rich robes and horses and carriages fine; and pearls  and jewels and dainty food; the rarest and costliest wine. 

My children, they dote on all such things,  and if you their love would win, you must do as they do, and walk down the Broad Way they are in.”

Then the Church, her purse strings tightly held, gracefully lowered her head and simpered, “I’ve given too much away; I will do so, sir, as you said.”

So the poor were turned from the door in scorn; she heard not the orphans cry; and she drew her beautiful robes aside as the widows went weeping by.

And they of the Church and they of the World journeyed closely heart to heart.

And none but the Master who knoweth all could discern the two apart.

Then the Church sat down at her ease and said, ” I am rich and with goods increased.

I have need of nothing and naught to do, but to laugh and dance and feast.”

The sly world heard her and laughed within, and mockingly said aside,

“The Church has fallen, the beautiful Church, her shame is her boast and pride.”

Thus her witnessing power alas was gone and perilous time came in;

The times of the end, so often foretold: of pleasures and form and sin.

Then the angels drew near the Mercy Seat and whispered in sighs her name and the Saints, their anthems of rapture hushed, covered their heads with shame.

A voice came down from the hush of Heaven and from Him who sat on the Throne.

“I know thy works and what thou hast said, but alas thou hast not known

“That thou art poor and naked and blind. Thou hast ceased to watch for that Blessed Hope, hast fallen from zeal and grace, So now, alas, I must cast thee out and blot thy name from its place.”

But out of the side of the harlot church, while she sleeps in indolent shame,

Are taken the  remnant who keep God’s Word and honor His holy name.

By the Word of their testimony and Blood of the Lamb, they overcame the World.They prayed for the day when their enemy strong, would in the  abyss be hurled.

And those who keep their garments clean, shall walk with Him in white.

In the day when He comes to claim His own, to make up His jewels, pure and bright.

**********

  

This poem, written by H Jahnke, was given to me over forty years ago by one of my aged Deacons,  Bert Wanner,  when I pastored  Pequea Baptist Church in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  I understand  and appreciate it more today then I did back then.

May it’s sobering message be a constant warning to us of how Satan and his evil world system constantly works as leaven to infiltrate and permeate the Church and conform it to its standards.

Note  that the use of the word gay throughout the poem is used to describe the state of being  happy, bright and carefree.  Only in the last few decades has the term  been perverted to apply to homosexuals. 

May 4, 2006 Posted by | Church Series | Comments Off on Church series: The Church and the World