Monday, July 3, 2017

HISTORY OF THE 4TH OF JULY & FIVE FACTS WORTH NOTING

BRIEF HISTORY OF THE 4TH OF JULY

Taxation without representation!"  That was the battle cry of the 13 colonies in America that were forced to pay taxes to England's King George III with no representation in Parliament.  As dissatisfaction grew, British troops were sent in to quell any signs of rebellion, and repeated attempts by the colonists to resolve the crisis without war proved fruitless.

On June 11, 1776, the colonies' Second Continental Congress meeting in Philadelphia formed a committee with the express purpose of drafting a document that would formally sever their ties with Great Britain.  The committee included Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Roger Sherman and Robert R. Livingston.  The document was crafted by Jefferson, who was considered the strongest and most eloquent writer.  (Nevertheless, a total of 86 changes were made to his draft.)  The final version was officially adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4.

The following day, copies of the Declaration of Independence were distributed and, on July 6, The Pennsylvania Evening Post became the first newspaper to print the extraordinary document.  The Declaration of Independence has since become our nation's most cherished symbol of liberty.
 
On July 8, 1776, the first public readings of the Declaration were held in Philadelphia's Independence Square to the ringing of bells and band music.  One year later, on July 4, 1777, Philadelphia marked Independence Day by adjourning Congress and celebrating with bonfires, bells and fireworks.

Congress established Independence Day as a holiday in 1870, and in 1938 Congress reaffirmed it as a holiday, but with full pay for federal employees.  Today, communities across the nation mark this major midsummer holiday with parades, fireworks, picnics and the playing of the "Star Spangled Banner" and marches by John Philip Sousa.


FIVE FACTS WORTH NOTING


1. It is America’s biggest non-religious holiday.

2. America celebrates July 4 as Independence Day because it was July 4, 1776 that the members of the Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia and adopted the final draft of the Declaration of Independence.

3. In 1777, Philadelphians remembered the 4th of July by ringing bells, firing guns, lighting candles and setting off firecrackers.

4. When the War of Independence ended in 1783, July 4th became a holiday in some places – Boston being one of them.  Speeches, military events, parades and fireworks marked the day.

5. In 1941 Congress declared July 4th a Federal Holiday.  Today it is celebrated throughout America in every State. 



Saturday, June 17, 2017

THINGS GOD DOESN'T KNOW



Things God Doesn't Know


Greetings from the Adirondack Mountains in Lake George, NY!
I wasn’t sure which subject line to use.  How do you word, contrary to traditional thought, "God doesn’t know everything?”  I think the gentlest approach to this subject could be worded, “Things God Doesn’t Know.”  You ask, “What are they?”
The subject was provoked by a discussion at the ROTL Cabin in Cleverdale, NY, eight miles north of Lake George.  It started out as a discussion about the heart and God saying, “The heart is deceitful above all else, who can know it” (Jer17:9).  That led to the times in the Bible when God tested a man’s heart to see what was inside of it. 
It was my Bible reading just before traveling 306 miles to upstate NY.  I read where God left Hezekiah to find out what was in his heart (1Chron32:33).  Then I thought of when God said to Abraham, after He had asked him to sacrifice Isaac, “Now I know that you fear God … .”  Here is yet another example involving Abraham.  Just before God sends the angels to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, He says to Abraham, “I will go down and see if what I have heard is as bad as I am told.”  Yes, you heard correctly.
So, this is how I imagine this.  Let’s say God sees everything that happens by watching 37 trillion channels.  One of them is Sodom and Gomorrah.  He chooses not to watch the S & G Channel because it is filth.  But his journalists (angels) keep reporting to Him that it’s debauchery.  God then decided to check it out.  The aftermath—He wipes it out, including all of the people with the exception of Lot and his two daughters.  Are you following my thinking?
Back to God knowing the heart.  After I read how God left Hezekiah exposing his pride, I cried out, “LORD, don’t leave me to myself.  I don’t trust my heart.  If you leave me I would come to ruin.  LORD, stay by my side.  Lead me not into temptation; deliver me from evil.  Fence in my heart.  You are all I have.”  (Now, I have been given much, but when it’s all said and done, He is my all and all.)
There's one more thing God doesn’t know—our sins.  When we receive Christ and embrace Him, His righteousness covers ALL of our sins—past, present and future (Col3:22).  Yes, He who knew no sin became sin in our behalf (2Cor5:21).  Scripture is clear God does not remember our sins (Heb8:12) for “as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”  Got it!  He doesn’t know our sins—they don’t exist. 
Okay, long enough!  Right? 
As for this past weekend, Word On The Street, our Thursday Youth group presented Angels and Demons Continues.  Powerful!  Our oldest grandson, AJ (age 11), entered the world of theater and drama for the first time. 
In Jesus,
PB
Loyalty is a man’s best friend. Josh 1:9 & Heb 13:5/JBS

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

THE HISTORY OF VALENTINES DAY

Tuesday, February 14th, is Valentines Day.  However, it is not always celebrated on February 14th in other parts of the world and cultures.  In the Eastern Orthodox Church, St. Valentine is recognized on July 6.  In addition, the Eastern Orthodox Church observes the feast of Hieromartyr Valentine on July 30 (it has more than one Valentine).  For our purposes today we’ll stay with February 14th.  

Have you ever wondered, or asked yourself, “How did we get this holiday?  What is the history of Valentine’s Day, and why do we celebrate it in America? 


Here is a brief history of Valentines Day and the man Valentine.  Why is Valentines Day expressed in the current celebration of yummy chocolates, lovely cards, and sparkling engagement rings?  What is the real story behind such a highly-retailed celebration?

Some say the day is named after a bishop named Valentine, who was stationed in the Roman Empire when Claudius II was the Emperor.
Claudius thought that unmarried men made better soldiers, so he decided to make it a law that young men could not marry.  Around 270 A.D., Valentine took pity on the ostracized soldiers who were not permitted to marry or see their sweethearts.


He became an advocate of these young lovers and began to perform secret marriages.  He was soon found out and jailed.  Emperor Claudius II attempted to convert Valentine to worship the Roman gods, but Valentine refused.  Instead, he tried to convert Claudius to Christianity. Unsuccessful, Valentine was sentenced to be executed on February 24, 270.

Another version of the history of Valentines Day tells that Valentine fell in love with his jailer’s daughter.  Just before his death, he sent her a note and signed it “from your Valentine.”

An aura of romance surrounded his demise and those who knew about it spread the tale.  Bishop Valentine became Saint Valentine with his fame extending to England and France.

After his death, Valentine became known a “Patron Saint” (special guardian or ‘sponsor’).  Some considered him the spiritual overseer of an annual festival in which young Romans would distribute cards of affection to those they wished to formally see.  This festival was held each February 14.  There are Valentine cards in museums worldwide that date back to 1415.



February has been the month to celebrate love ever since the Middle Ages.


Friday, February 3, 2017

POLITICAL CHILD'S PLAY


Whoever dreamed God would use Donald J. Trump to reveal the hearts of men. Truly "God's ways are not our ways, nor His thoughts our thoughts—they are far above ours." Isaiah 55:8

The hatred is indescribable. What the media wants us to believe it is that the majority of America is protesting, revolting, and disagreeing with his executive orders.  This is not true!  In actuality it is less than a third of America who disagrees. All legitimate polls show that 66 percent, or more, agree with the President's executive orders (all within 10 days of being elected). 

Here's my take: I think it's because the media, newspapers, much of Hollywood, Democrats, and whoever else opposes President Trump cannot believe they lost.  It is so hypocritical!  The so-called 'tolerant' have revealed themselves as intolerant. Those who tell us we're to 'love' have revealed themselves as the haters. Those who call "the right" bigots have revealed themselves as 'bigots'.  The reason why it is just now being revealed is because they have gotten their way for decades, now they are not.  In my opinion and that of 90% of American's polled, they have revealed themselves as spoiled elitists who didn't get their way and now they are throwing a temper tantrum.

I heard a “democrat strategist” on NPR the other day say it will take "the left" 15 years to recuperate; the American people now believe that the Democratic party is the party of the elite and not that of the "common working man." 
Recall what God told Israel when they went into captivity: "Seek the peace and prosperity of this city ... for if it prospers, you too will prosper." Jeremiah 29:7  

By the way, I did not vote for Donald Trump nor did I cast my ballot for Hillary Clinton.  However, God establishes kings, thrones and kingdoms (Daniel 2:21 & 4:17).  Seriously, whoever dreamed Donald Trump would be God's choice? Pretty amazing isn't it?  Now, let's pray that God uses the next four years, or more, to put the God of the Bible and Christianity where it belongs in our culture.  

Pray for our President, his cabinet and our leaders—national, state and local, that they would govern in righteousness and walk in the fear of the LORD, and we would be ONE NATION UNDER GOD.


Friday, October 14, 2016

FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE 2016 ELECTION

FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE 2016 ELECTION

I hear it. You hear it. It goes something like this: “You mean to tell me that out of 324 million people these are our choices for the President of the United States? It’s embarrassing!” And, in my humble opinion—it is.

Could any of us have dreamed that we would be casting a vote for the highest office in the land and our choices would be: A foul-mouthed childish clown who alienates nearly everyone and a smug crook so corrupt that she takes a hammer to her cell phones and servers and lies to the American people saying, “What difference does it make?” (I know, that statement was made in reference to Benghazi, but it’s this candidate’s attitude toward everything.) 

I cannot judge the heart of a man or woman. That is God’s jurisdiction. But, God often reveals one's motive, which we have all seen at least once in our lifetime (if we have any years to our credit).

This is my take, and I could be wrong, but this is how I see it:

Hillary is as disingenuous as they come - smug, dishonest, calculated, self-serving, and the list goes on. I won't waste your time enumerating them ... far too many. She opposes the God of the Universe on issues that He established at Creation, issues that are pertinent to the health and welfare of all of us worldwide—the sanctity of life and same-sex marriage. To God, these are not negotiable. They are life and death—literally. These may be issues of choice to a society that has elevated itself above the I AM, but they are not issues of choice to Him.

Our leaders, whoever they may be—President, Senate, Congress, Governors, Mayors, etc.—cannot applaud and approve that which opposes the very laws of life and nature and not pay a heavy and severe consequence. “Authority” has been established by God (Romans 13:1), when someone opposes and live in disobedience to His laws, he or she profanes the very office God has sanctified to be holy.

What happened to the days when our Presidents would call a day of National repentance, crying out to the God of Heaven for mercy? Do we now view God and what He has established for the welfare of humanity a nuisance—in the way of how we want to live? Is God in the way of our pride and rebellion? By not humbling ourselves before Him are we not saying: We know more than He knows. He’s outdated. We want Him relegated to four walls…and those four walls had better not expand beyond their borders. They want us to believe that reading the Bible is like watching TV in black & white. Funny, how we forget that the God who wrote the Bible is the same God whose words appear in red. Yes, God wrote the black print as well as the red.

Trump, with all of his baggage—narcissism, bragging, name-calling, IMO is more genuine. (Maybe it's because he hasn't been polished-up by 30 years or more of living in the political world.) But he’s a buffoon. My ten year-old grandson has more self-restraint. Seriously! What button will he push next? Who will he alienate and insult next? I do agree with many of Trump’s policies, today, but who really knows what they will be tomorrow? What experience does he have that qualifies him to oversee two congresses and 325 million people?  At first I thought, “This is a good thing. He’s not beholden to either party, is a negotiator, can’t be bought, etc.” To me all those good things, if you know what I mean. But time has certainly revealed he builds walls not bridges (no pun intended); and bridges are necessary, as President Reagan demonstrated, to solve “gridlock” and provide solutions to problems facing ALL Americans regardless of party, color or economic strata.  

Now, we could address party policies…and that is a legitimate argument—there are so many issues at stake: SCOTUS appointees, life in the womb, same-sex marriage, immigration, trade, health care, school choice, etc. If you choose to vote policy that is between you and God; I take no issue with that. This article was not about party policies, it was about the office of President.

So, for whom am I voting? I must cast my ballot for the person I believe best exemplifies Jesus, best exemplifies Christian values, and best summarizes what is dear to the heart of God—and to me that person is Mike Pence. So, I’m writing in my Presidential Candidate. I know the arguments for and against that, but I have to vote BEFORE GOD, not before, or for, man. Some would argue it’s a vote for Hillary—God forbid. Wrong! It’s a vote to “DO RIGHT and Give the Consequences to God.” (Hey, I heard that somewhere before.)

Respectfully,
J. Bruce Sofia, M. Ed, D. D.

NOTE: The Gloucester County Community Church has launched 40 days of Prayer, 24-7, asking for God's will to be done God's way to His ultimate purpose and glory. Feel free to join us. Go to gcccpray.com and click on the 40 Days of Prayer Banner and pick your time slot.

NOTE2: The opinions expressed in this article are mine, and may or may not express the opinions of the GCCC Staff, Board or its membership.





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