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November 1999 Newsletter

November 1999

THE THEFT OF THANKSGIVING

There is a holiday that is rapidly being removed from our collective memory in America. It is sandwiched between Halloween and Winter Break (dare we say Christmas?). The reason for its purposeful removal from the American memory is that Thanksgiving, more than any other American holiday, reminds us of the gracious hand of Almighty God providentially establishing our nation to be a "city set on a hill." It was God Himself who guided our Pilgrim forefathers, whose hearts were set free by the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to this land. It reminds us that this was a land preserved for those to whom the Bible was an open book. Yes, Thanksgiving reminds us that America was providentially preserved for a people who were governed internally and externally by the Gospel of Christ. It was preserved for a people who would be a light into the world and proclaim that there is another King, one called Jesus.

It was not the French or the Spanish that colonized America, though they were the greatest colonizers of the time. No, God had other plans. America would be preserved for those whose hearts had been set free by His Word.

It was in tiny England in 1381 that John Wycliff, the morning star of the Reformation, translated the Bible into a language that the common man could read. The spiritual darkness and superstition that covered the earth because the Bible had become a closed book was now giving way to the glorious light of the Gospel. It was Wycliff's followers, called Lollards (derisive term meaning idle babblers), who taught the common man how to read the Bible that he might discover for himself the Jesus of the Scriptures.

One hundred and fifty years later, the fire kindled by Wycliff and his Lollard preacher boys was fanned into a raging blaze when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church door at Wittenburg, declaring sola fide, sola Scriptura, sola gracia. Only by faith, only by Scripture, only by grace, can a man be saved from eternal damnation. The Bible was becoming an open book. Liberty was in the air. The devil shook.

With the advent of Guttenburg's printing press the Bible was rapidly becoming read and known by the common man. Persecution from the Church and State however, made reading the Bible a very dangerous thing to do. The Lollards were burned at the stake for teaching people to read it. Henry VIII of England ordered William Tyndale and all of his books with him burned at the stake in 1536. Tyndale was branded a religious heretic for translating the Bible into English. His last words before being consumed by the flames were, "O Lord, open the King of England's eyes."

God, who answers prayer in surprising ways and directs the heart of a king, closed the eyes of Henry VIII and opened the eyes of all England to the Bible. It was Tyndale's translation of the Bible that, 12 months after his death, became the official Bible in England. That’s right! Henry VIII, the merciless persecutor of William Tyndale, had broken from the Church in Rome and needed an official Bible for the Church in England. Unbeknownst to him but known by God he chose Tyndale's Bible. The Bible Henry sought so vehemently to destroy became the Bible that caused men in England to yearn for the true liberty that sets men free from sin and tyrannical churches and kings.

By 1600, the Bible had been read by several generations of those who were called Separatists and eventually would be known to us as Pilgrims. Their hearts had been set free by Christ. They desired to pass this heritage to their children that they too would live as free men under the Gospel of Christ. King James of England (better known as "Dirty Jamie" to the common people) mercilessly harried them and ultimately drove the Pilgrims from England. They fled to Leyden, Holland, where they spent 11 years but realized that they were losing their children to the culture in Holland.

They purposed in their hearts, for the advancement of the Gospel of Christ and to save their children, to traverse the mighty Atlantic Ocean and come to a new land. Here they could raise their children in the fear and admonitions of the Lord unencumbered by the Church of England or her perverted king.

They arrived on the shores of this continent in November 1620. Half of them died that very first winter. But the providential hand of God, which brought them safely across the Atlantic, also provided for them an Indian who could speak fluent English, Squanto. Squanto had been kidnapped by the Spanish as a teen years before and was brought first to Spain where he was sold into slavery and then to England. In England, Squanto learned the English language and learned about the God of the Bible. He earned his freedom and after 11 years made his way back to America. It was Squanto who, after that first horrible winter in 1620, befriended the Pilgrims and taught them how to fish, hunt, and plant corn. Without Squanto it is unlikely that any of the Pilgrims would have survived. The God of history at work.

Squanto was a gift from Almighty God to help the Pilgrims. They knew it and gave thanks. Listen to the prayer of William Bradford, Governor of the Plymouth Plantation: "Thank you Lord for sending Squanto to us. We know your hand has been upon him throughout all of his trials, and that You have prepared him to be our guide and friend in a time of great need. Squanto is your living answer to our tears and prayers." The Pilgrims believed that, just as Joseph in the Bible had been sold into slavery, Squanto had been sold into slavery so that he could be used by God to save the Pilgrims from starving. What man had intended for evil, God had intended for good to save many lives (Gen 50:20).

God had preserved this continent for a people who were governed both internally and externally by His Word. He provided for the Pilgrims all that they needed to bring Him glory. How does one bring glory to God? In the words of Jesus, "I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do." Jn 17:4. One brings God glory on earth by completing the work He has given us to do. Simple, isn't it?

This is exactly what our Pilgrim forefathers did. They brought God glory on earth by completing the great task He had given them to do. It was costly to be sure, but where would our world be today without the nation they founded? The Pilgrims viewed their lives as "stepping stones" upon which future generations might trod as they followed hard after Christ. The whole world began to recognize that America was indeed "a city set on a hill." It brilliantly displayed for all the world to see that there is a God, that He has revealed Himself in the person of Jesus, and that He honors those who honor Him.

Thanksgiving, more than any other American holiday, points us directly to Christ and His providential hand in our national history. It points to the fact that this was a nation founded by Christians. It points to the fact that our governmental system was built upon biblical principles. It points to the fact that the inalienable rights of men such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness were given by God and not by governments. It points to the fact that individual liberty to know God and worship Him freely must be the bedrock of good government. No other form of government has allowed the common man the individual liberty to pursue and complete the work God gave him to do.

Thanksgiving points to the fact that there is another King, one called Jesus! "Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." II Cor 3:17

This is why the devil hates Thanksgiving! This is why he is busying himself revising American history in school textbooks. He is terrified that we might remember the manifold works of Christ in the establishment of America. The devil has pulled out all the stops to steal Thanksgiving from the American memory in the same way he killed those who translated the Bible into English. He must remove those witnesses and the evidences of God's hand at work in our history lest we remember who we are and why we were brought to this continent.

The devil knows very well what will happen to him when we remember who we are and why we are here. He knows that, when our hearts are set aflame by the purposes of God, we will crush his hoary head with the Gospel of peace (Rom 16:20). He may bruise our heal but we will crush his head. Thanksgiving, that great day of remembrance, points to God and His manifold workings on man's behalf. It reminds us that we are beholden to Him and to no other. It reminds us that He is the sovereign of the cosmos and that apart from Him we can do nothing. The devil knows very well what will happen to him when we remember who we are and why we are here. He knows that, when our hearts are set aflame by the purposes of God, we will crush his hoary head with the Gospel of peace (Rom 16:20). He may bruise our heal but we will crush his head. Thanksgiving, that great day of remembrance, points to God and His manifold workings on man's behalf. It reminds us that we are beholden to Him and to no other. It reminds us that He is the sovereign of the cosmos and that apart from Him we can do nothing.

With this as your background, it is our very great privilege to present to you the new Bible Reading Schedule for the year 2000. Join us on this liberating journey through the Bible!


TAKING THE GOSPEL TO THE GATES IN BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA

Theology became biography in the streets of Birmingham, Alabama, as the saints gathered in the Name of Jesus to storm the gates of hell. We began our national kickoff of Scriptures in School on Friday, September 17, 1999 at the Hoover High School in Birmingham. Twenty kids joined us outside the high school to announce their intention to bring their Bible to school with them from now on. Our latest report from Dave Lackey confirms that there are now over 100 Hoover students bringing their Bible to school with them. These students are praying together before the beginning of every school day and praying over each classroom. Hallelujah!

Reports from all over the country are amazing us as to the holy boldness that is filling the hearts of this next generation. The students are praying in the Name of Jesus before football games in Texas, Louisiana, and New Mexico, even though the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has promised severe penalties for praying.

Nationally, the students are meeting at the flagpoles in hundreds of schools everyday to pray for their classmates and teachers. They are wearing T-shirts with logos like "Fayetteville-Manlius Hornets pray before they play." Even the parents are joining the battle and praying with their kids. Moms and dads are wearing the T-shirts too. Can you imagine? God is being brought back to school through the students and their moms and dads. The gates of hell are not prevailing in the public schools any longer because simple Christians are living out their faith in school. The Gentle Revolution is on! Theology is becoming biography and the public school has become the battlefield.


JOHN REYES SHINING BRILLIANTLY IN LYNCHBURG CITY JAIL

Our good friend John Reyes is continuing his great work in the Lynchburg City Jail. Bible studies are going on nightly and men are meeting Christ in the very last place they would expect to find Him. It is amazing how our Lord is using this courageous young college student. There is more than enough evidence to convict John Reyes of being a Christian.

He could use our help right now as he has financial needs, rent to pay, and school bills to take care of. Indeed, John is a missionary for our Lord and is paying a great price. This is John's senior year at Liberty University and he has no way to finance his last semester of school. Perhaps the grace of God would move you to help John in this matter. Please send your gifts to John's home church in Lynchburg. Faye and I are writing our check today to help John. Please make your check payable to Grace Orthodox Presbyterian Church and indicate in the left-hand corner that it is for John Reyes.

Write and support John
Letters: Donations:
John D. Reyes Grace Orthodox Presbyterian Church
L.A.D.C. 1021 Federal Street
P. O. Box 6018 Lynchburg, VA 24504
Lynchburg, VA 24504

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE HAS REFILED ITS F.A.C.E. SUIT IN DAYTON, OHIO

On February 10, 2000 the United States Justice Department will again take us to court for violations of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances law (F.A.C.E.). On its face this ludicrous law is an attempt to outlaw the Christian message at local abortion mills. God so confused the Justice Department attorneys in the first go round that they could not even establish who was in Dayton, Ohio during the alleged event that supposedly violated F.A.C.E. Please pray for the department's continued confusion.

Keep pressing the gates in Jesus Name

Flip Benham
Director