Lincoln’s Proclamation of Thanksgiving

George Story - Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln’s Proclamation of Thanksgiving

Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

This is the proclamation which set the precedent for America’s national day of Thanksgiving. During his administration, President Lincoln issued many orders similar to this. For example, on November 28, 1861, he ordered government departments closed for a local day of thanksgiving.

Sarah Josepha Hale, a 74-year-old magazine editor, wrote a letter to Lincoln on September 28, 1863, urging him to have the “day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival.” She explained, “You may have observed that, for some years past, there has been an increasing interest felt in our land to have the Thanksgiving held on the same day, in all the States; it now needs National recognition and authoritive fixation, only, to become permanently, an American custom and institution.”

Prior to this, each state scheduled its own Thanksgiving holiday at different times, mainly in New England and other Northern states. President Lincoln responded to Mrs. Hale’s request immediately, unlike several of his predecessors, who ignored her petitions altogether. In her letter to Lincoln she mentioned that she had been advocating a national thanksgiving date for 15 years as the editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book. George Washington was the first president to proclaim a day of thanksgiving, issuing his request on October 3, 1789, exactly 74 years before Lincoln’s.

The document below sets apart the last Thursday of November “as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise.” According to an April 1, 1864, letter from John Nicolay, one of President Lincoln’s secretaries, this document was written by Secretary of State William Seward, and the original was in his handwriting. On October 3, 1863, fellow Cabinet member Gideon Welles recorded in his diary how he complimented Seward on his work. A year later the manuscript was sold to benefit Union troops.

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation

george-washington-pictureWashington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation

October 3, 1789

Following a resolution of Congress, President George Washington proclaimed Thursday the 26th of November 1789 a day of “public thanksgiving and prayer” devoted to “the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be.” Reflecting American religious practice, Presidents and Congresses from the beginning of the republic have from time to time designated days of fasting and thanksgiving (the Thanksgiving holiday we continue to celebrate in November was established by Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War and made into law by Congress in 1941).

In setting aside a day for Thanksgiving, Washington established a non-sectarian tone for these devotions and stressed political, moral, and intellectual blessings that make self-government possible, in addition to personal and national repentance. Although the First Amendment prevents Congress from establishing a religion or prohibiting its free exercise, Presidents, as well as Congress, have always recognized the American regard for sacred practices and beliefs. Thus, throughout American history, Presidents have offered non-sectarian prayers for the victory of the military and in the wake of catastrophes. Transcending passionate quarrels over the proper role of religion in politics, the Thanksgiving Proclamation reminds us how natural their relationship has been. While church and state are separate, religion and politics, in their American refinement, prop each other up.

Thanksgiving Proclamation

Issued by President George Washington, at the request of Congress, on October 3, 1789

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favor, able interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other trangressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go. Washington

What So Proudly We Hailed – Excerpt 1

One Christian family, one old boat, one test of faith to stay alive. <p>

Imagine what would happen if eighty percent of the United States were without power for three or four months.

All banking and commercial transfers locked up; funds inaccessible.

Wholesale and retail distribution shut down; no computers to manage sales.

Passenger and freight lines grind to a halt; no electricity for the fuel pumps.

No cell phone or landline service; systems down indefinitely.

And the worst aspect of all; a total breakdown of law and order.

This is the setting of James Howard’s novel, What So Proudly We Hailed.

The unthinkable has happened; a limited nuclear missile strike has destroyed the power grid beyond any immediate repair. The protagonist, Jason Ribault, sensing the societal breakdown to come, flees with his family in an old cabin cruiser to wait out the worst of the chaos behind the deserted barrier islands of the South Carolina coast. There they listen to unfolding events on a short-wave radio, not the least of which concerns a hostile political and religious influence that seeks to seize control of a nation struggling to right itself once again.

Pursued by their own immediate dangers, the family is pushed farther and farther into the desolate salt marshes where they find other families in hiding. Eventually, anxious to unite with a family member in danger, they turn back into the chaos, to see the full extent of what has happened to the America they knew.

Electric with page-turning suspense, What So Proudly We Hailed is an eye-opening book every American must read.

Over 4500 copies sold!

“With recent headlines…this tale, which seemed implausible a few months ago, suddenly appears frighteningly possible. Fast-paced and filled with action…readers will enjoy this chilling thriller in which taking out the grid means take out America. 5 Stars.” – Harriet Klausner, #1 Amazon Reviewer

“James Howard knows his material…the concept of a nuclear attack from North Korea is a little too uncomfortably real to allow the reader to put this novel down once begun…fast-paced…story idea is a shocker and Howard makes it work well…4 Stars” – Grady Harp, Top 10 Reviewer for Amazon

“James Howard has taken some incredibly deep and complex Bible prophecy and with a masterful touch of the pen has unpackaged them in a gripping, modern day story that makes the concepts easily digestible and palatable to today’s readers. I recommend this novel highly.” – Michael Lewis, Senior Pastor, Cathedral of Praise Church

“This book should make anyone think about the principles upon which this nation was founded – and cling to them.” – Representative Mike Pitts, S.C. House District 14

“I recommend this book…excellent story…timely and well thought out.” – Kirk Lowe, Screenwriter

“James Howard has an amazing way of holding a person’s interest. What So Proudly We Hailed is excellently written and I thoroughly recommend it to any and everyone.” – Mike Lowry, Associate Pastor, Northwoods Assembly Church

“I was on the edge of my seat. As I read it I kept wondering, if this really happened, what would we do?” – Barbara Haile, author and inspirational speaker

“This story is amazing…” – Shannon McNear, Novelist and Zone Director, American Christian Fiction Writers

“James Howard’s talent for storytelling is superseded only by his faith.” – Amanda Capps, author/editor/publicist


About the Author

James Howard is a veteran of the US Navy where he worked with nuclear weapons. He has also spent the last twenty years working in various aspects of heavy industry, including electrical power generation and distribution, and has learned much about our nation’s power grid. These experiences, combined with his devoted study of Bible prophesy, world history, and Islam, make him uniquely qualified to write this novel.


 What So Proudly We Hailed

 James Howard


Author’s Note

On October 31st, 2006, at 12:15am, I experienced a disturbing dream. In it my son and I were on our way home from a store at night and saw a large glow in the sky to the north. I also saw a long contrail illuminated in the glow where a missile had passed. In the dream I knew that a nuclear attack had begun. (The details of this dream form the opening chapter of this novel.) I awoke stunned with fear, and with a question ringing in my head, “What would you do? What would you do?”

The question did not imply, “What would you do if you had thus and so?” But rather, “What would you do with what you have in your possession right now?” As I thought out the implications, I got up and began taking notes and outlining themes. Two hours later, I had the framework for what would become this novel.

I make no claim to divine intervention, inspiration, or prophecy. All I know is that I have felt an ongoing urgency to write this novel, and get it into as many hands as possible. For some it may present a new way of looking at world events, and for others it may serve as a wakeup call to prepare, still others may enjoy it purely as entertainment. I welcome you to read it and draw your own conclusions. God bless you.

James Howard

February 26, 2010


Chapter One

“An alien sun rising in the north.”

Jason Ribault stood up straight and stepped back from the hull of his boat where he had been sanding a patch of fiberglass repair material. He stretched, arching his back to loosen the stiffness, and groaned. Looking down the hull along the waterline he surveyed the four other sanded patches and the corresponding piles of white powder on the ground below. He sighed and wiped the sweat from his brow, leaving a streak of white across his forehead. Around him the shadows were beginning to lengthen and the chorus of insects in the woods beside his home was getting louder. A cicada buzzed from a nearby tree.

From the house Jason heard the screen door slam shut and turned to see his fifteen year old son Brian leap down the front porch steps and walk across the yard toward him. The young man’s jeans and tee shirt accentuated his narrow frame and he jerked his head to clear the long hair from his eyes before he spoke.

“Mom wants to know if you’d take me to the store to get some stuff for school.”

Jason sighed again and looked down at his white powdered legs and feet. “Can’t she take you?”

“She’s making dinner.”

Jason nodded. “All right. What do you need anyway?”

“A poster board and some other stuff for a project.”

“A project? They’ve got you doing projects already? School’s just started.”

“I know, right?”

“When’s it due?”


“Tomorrow? Why did you wait until the last minute?”

“I didn’t. It’s all done. I just have to mount it on the board.” Brian smiled and jerked his head again. “When I get my license I’ll be able to drive myself to the store.”

“I can’t wait,” Jason said, rolling his eyes. “Let me get cleaned up.”

As Brian returned to the house, Jason gathered his sandpaper and tools and canteen and headed for the garage. At the deep sink he washed the dust from his arms and neck. The door to the kitchen opened and Jason’s wife Valerie stepped down into the garage.

“Thanks for taking him,” she said. “I hated to ask, but I can’t leave the dinner on the stove for that long.”

“That’s okay. It smells good.”

“You’ve got something on your forehead,” Valerie said, tapping her own forehead with her index finger.

Jason rubbed his face, and then glanced at his wet hand before rinsing it again. “Thanks.” He took a nearby towel and began to dry himself.

“Hey,” she said, “what’s my Penguins towel doing out here?”

“I don’t know. Someone took the one I had here before.”

“Hand it here. I don’t want it to get filthy.”

“Huh!” Jason handed her the towel. “You act like they won the cup or something.”

“They did. How’s the boat coming?”

“Slow, as usual. With the days getting shorter, there aren’t enough daylight hours after work to get anything done.” Jason looked out past the garage doors to where the cabin cruiser lounged on its trailer in the front yard. “It’s already September and I still haven’t got it painted, yet. Another summer gone and we’ve never camped out in it even once.”

“I’m sure you’ll have it done by next summer.”

“Yeah, but who’ll be here to go out with us? Kathy’s always on the go with work and school. Jeremy’s always at Ruth’s. Before you know it Brian’ll have his license and will be gone as well.”

“I’m not going anywhere,” Valerie said, “so you have at least one crew aboard.”

Jason looked up at her. “I am glad for that.”

Valerie came down the steps and stood next to him as she studied the boat, now becoming a shadow against the backdrop of trees. “I think once you get the boat in the water, they’ll make time to come camping with us.”

“Yeah. Maybe I could kidnap Ruthie aboard. That’ll bring Jeremy.”

Valerie started to reply when Brian came down the steps. His hair was neatly brushed, he wore a new shirt, and an aroma of aftershave wafted in his wake. “I’m ready. Let’s go.”

Valerie exchanged a glance with Jason and said, “Youins hurry back. Dinner will be ready in about twenty minutes or so.”




Jason adjusted the ball cap on his head as he steered his extended cab truck down the road. Above him the stars began to twinkle across the darkening sky and scattered clouds. He dimmed his headlights for an oncoming car, then said to Brian, “Are you meeting someone at the store?”

“No,” Brian said, with unmasked irritation. “I just don’t like to go someplace, like, all sweaty and everything.”

Jason suppressed a smile. “Sorry if I look kind of ratty. I just thought it would be a quick trip.”

“It’s not about you, all right?”

Jason sighed aloud. Here we go, he thought. He pulled into the parking lot of the large discount store and found a place not too far from the front entrance.

“Are you sure this poster board is all you’re going to need?”

The kid flung his hair to the side with a jerk of his head. “Yes, that’s it.”

“You don’t need any tape, or glue, or anything like that?”

The son drew in a breath to speak, paused, and said, “I’m not sure about the tape. I might need some tape, too.”

Jason nodded. “Let’s just get whatever you think you need now.” He removed the keys and unlocked the door. “I don’t want to have to come back out.”

“All right.”

They headed for the store entrance and briskly made their way to the aisle where the school supplies were. As Brian thumbed through the poster boards, Jason stopped to look at the pens on display. He looked up when a woman with a shopping cart came around the far end of the aisle and called to him.

“Hey, Jason!”

“Hey, Pam. How are you doing?” They met with a friendly hug. “Where’s Derek?”

The two spoke for a few moments as Brian collected what he needed, then carried his supplies over to where a couple of teens were looking at a display of DVD’s. They looked up and smiled as he approached and the three began to converse.

“We’re kind of taking a break right now,” Jason said, “But we plan to join another group in January.”

“Let us know which one and we’ll join it, too.”

“Will do.” Jason glanced at his watch and looked around him. “Well, I guess I’d better get… Where did he go?”

“I think he’s over there,” Pam said, pointing.

“Ah,” Jason said. “Well, give Derek a hug for us and keep in touch.”

“I will. Take care!”

Jason walked quickly over to the DVD rack. “Come on son. We’ve got to go.”

Brian parted company with his friends and followed his dad to a nearby register. They paid for the items and headed out of the store. They put the items in the backseat of the truck and drove out onto the road.

“Who were those kids you were talking to?”

“Just some kids from school.”

“What were they talking about?”

“Nothing. Just school stuff.”

The two rode in silence as the road passed through a wooded area. In the absence of streetlights and businesses, something caught Jason’s attention in the sky. He turned his head left and saw, through the trees, a vivid, unnatural yellow light that grew rapidly in intensity, as if an alien sun were rising in the north.

“What’s that?” Brian asked, staring out the driver’s side window.

Jason didn’t answer. He divided his attention between the strange light and the road, and as the trees thinned, he saw that it was brightest toward the horizon. Then suddenly it began to fade. Before the light was completely gone, he noticed a single contrail, a gash across the sky from the southwest to the center of the glow at the horizon. Jason could tell by the thick, puffiness of the contrail that it had not come from a jet flying at high altitude, but rather by an object entering the earth’s atmosphere.

A prickly feeling spread across Jason’s scalp.

Then the light faded completely, and the sky grew black once more.

“What the heck was that?” Brian asked again.

Jason knew. Though his eyes returned to the road, his mind reeled with the implications. The contrail had explained all.


“Uh,” Jason said. “We need to go home and check the news.”

“Was it the mill?”

Jason drew in a breath to speak, but only shook his head and exhaled again.




Ten minutes later, Jason pulled into the driveway of their home and parked the truck next to his boat trailer. The house brooded darkly against the backdrop of woods except for the glimmer of a single candle in one of the front rooms. A wavering flashlight beam shone from the front door. Leaving Brian to gather his supplies from the backseat, Jason got out of the truck and jogged across the front lawn. Valerie, her face a pale blur against the black of her hair, directed the flashlight beam toward Jason’s feet as he came up the steps.

“How long have the lights been out?” Jason asked.

“About ten minutes or so. I nearly broke my neck trying to find a flashlight.”

“Did you see that weird glow in the sky?” Brian asked, coming up the steps.

“No. What glow?”

They all stepped inside where the smell of dinner on the stove still hung in the air. Jason went to the television set out of habit and pushed the power button. Then he sighed loudly and turned to Valerie. “We need to get a radio on.”

“What’s going on?”

“We were coming home and saw this bright yellow glow in the sky,” Brian said.


Jason moved into another room. “Do we have any more candles?”

“Yes. Wait! What’s going on?”

Jason picked up the lit candle on the dining room table, but as he did so the power restored and the rooms became bright once again. He waited to see if the lights would stay on, then brought the candle into the living room and placed it, still lit, on the mantle above the fireplace. He turned to face Valerie. “We need to get the TV on.”

“Honey, first stop and tell me what’s going on.” She grabbed his arm as he reached for the TV remote. They both sat on the couch.

“Um, I’m not sure.” He bit his lower lip. “There was this glow in the sky, like a bright, searing yellow. And above us I could see a contrail where something had passed overhead, in a line straight to the glow.”

“Like a plane?” Valerie asked.

“No, like a….” He hesitated. “Like maybe a missile or something.”

“A missile?”

“You mean a nuclear missile?” Brian asked.


“Are you sure?” Valerie asked.

“No. We need to turn on the news.” He switched on the television and the satellite receiver and went to the program guide. He tried the main news channels, but most of them were running their regularly scheduled programs recapping the news of the day.

“Try Fox,” Valerie said, and he did so. On that channel a blonde woman was talking to a person by phone line.

“…so while we have no estimate of damage or casualties at this time, the hope is that because it was a semi-rural area the loss of life might be limited.”

“And how widespread is the power outage?”

“From what we can tell right now, the southern and central portions of the state are completely without power.”

“So cities like Miami, Tampa, and Orlando and their surrounding areas are blacked out?”

“Yes, that’s correct.”

Valerie pointed to the screen. “Look at the words on the bottom.”

At the bottom of the screen scrolled, “At six forty-seven p.m. EST a large explosion occurred in Central Florida causing power outages throughout the state.”

“That’s what you saw?” Valerie said.

Jason shook his head. “What we saw was to the north.”

The newscaster concluded her phone call, then spoke to the viewing audience. “For those of you just joining, there are reports of a massive explosion that occurred in northern central Florida. We have no details as to the cause of the blast, nor of the extent of the damage, but the explosion seems to have triggered power outages across the state.” She paused as she read from a monitor at the desk. “Uh, this just in. Moments ago a similar explosion was reported outside the city of Charlotte, North Carolina. Widespread power outages are occurring in that state as well.”

“Is this a nuclear war?” Brian asked, his voice anxious.

“I don’t know,” Jason said. “I’m not sure what it is or who’s doing it, or why. But I’m worried this may be just the beginning.” He stared at the screen. “And if it’s just the beginning, we’ve got to prepare. Right now.”

“Prepare?” Valerie asked. “How do you prepare for something like this?”

“We go out and prepare as if a hurricane was coming. Water, canned goods, etc.”

Just then the front door opened and a slender young woman dressed in the black pants and white blouse of her work outfit walked in. She tossed back her long brown hair and set down her purse and bottled drink. “Have you guys heard anything about some explosions going on? We lost power at work and….”

“Shhh!” Jason gestured with his hand. “It’s on right now, Kathy. Watch!” The young woman sat on the couch with the rest of the family.

The newscaster continued. “At this time we are going to join our affiliate station in Charlotte to see what is going on there.” A man’s picture came on the screen. “Patrick, can you tell us what is happening in the Charlotte area?”

“Charlotte?” Kathy exclaimed.

“Shhh!” Valerie said.

A man’s voice, crackled with static, came over the speakers. “Yes. We’ve been speaking to several eyewitnesses who saw the blast and all of them describe what appears to have been a nuclear detonation. They saw an extremely bright flash of light followed by the sound of a thunderous explosion and a telltale mushroom shaped cloud. There are many reports of blindness caused by the flash of light, and also many people reported feeling a blast of hot air many miles from the explosion.”

“Was it a direct hit on the city?” the newscaster asked.

“No. The city itself was spared the brunt of the explosion, but, unfortunately, some of the outlying towns and suburbs have been destroyed.”

“Oh, my God,” Valerie whispered.

“What about Uncle Terry and Aunt Rhonda?” Brian asked.

“We’ve got to make preparations,” Jason said. “We’ve got to get ready.”

“What about Uncle Terry and Aunt Rhonda?” Brian asked again, more insistent.

“Oh, that’s right!” Kathy said. “Uncle Terry and Aunt Rhonda live there! What’s going to happen to them?”

“Kathy, listen!” Valerie said.

Just then the power blinked, but came on again. Jason looked up at the lights, then he stood and shut the television off. “We’ve got to go right now. We can’t wait.” He turned to face his family. “I’m sure Uncle Terry and Aunt Rhonda will be all right. We don’t know what area was hit. You know Terry. He’ll take care of them both well enough. And that’s just what we’re going to do.” He pointed to Valerie. “Get your purse. Let’s go.” He turned to his daughter. “Kathy, get on the phone and call our relatives. Don’t stay on long, just check in and see if they’re all right. The numbers are in my Palm Pilot on my desk. Let them know we’re okay. Tell them they should prepare as if for a hurricane. Brian, come with us.”

Valerie grabbed her purse and the three of them headed for the door. Jason called back, “Keep the TV off until you make the calls.” Then they went out to the truck. Hailedfrontcover


Can Christianity and Environmentalism coincide?

Can Christianity and Environmentalism coincide?

Revelation 11:18 –

King James Version (KJV)

18And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.

In the past I’ve heard references from those who array themselves against the Gospel that Christians don’t care about the environment. I’m sure they could find examples to support this assertion, but by and large I’ve found it to be false. Christians, who by definition have a relationship with Jesus Christ through His Holy Spirit and by the Scriptures, are admonished not to be greedy, not to lust after what doesn’t belong to them, etc. I wonder where such an assertion comes from?

In Genesis 1:28 we read where God told Adam and Eve to “subdue the earth” and have dominion over “every living thing”, but in the light of other scriptures this reads more like a call to stewardship than to wanton destruction.

As we read in the Book of Joshua, when the Children of Israel came into the Promised Land, it was divided by lot to each tribe, family, and household. (Incidentally, the Nation of Israel was the only nation God instituted from scratch, which gives us good insight into how He would have us conduct our national affairs!) Everyone was given a parcel of land to farm, or if they preferred they could lease it out to someone else for up to 7 years. Respect for the land was enforced by the prohibition of farming for 1 year out of 7, allowing the land to have its Sabbath, or rest. Disobeying that decree was one of the reasons Israel was punished and removed from the Promised Land. They had violated the prohibition for 490 years. When they were carried away into Babylon, they stayed there for 70 years, allowing the land to finally enjoy its Sabbaths.

Christians understand that the world was created by God, and thus see His artistry in every bird, tree, animal, plant, fish, insect, etc. God values all life. The Book of Revelation (5:13) shows that God’s throne is surrounded by living creatures, praising and glorifying Him. On earth they are His living, self-reproducing works of art.

But the strongest example of how God feels about the earth is found in Revelation 11:18, where God promises to “destroy them which destroy the earth”. A Christian, having a relationship the Lord, coupled with a desire to study Scripture, cannot help but to develop a deep respect for the earth and all life thereon. People are allowed to utilize its resources, but should take only as much as they can personally use. The idea of ravishing and thus depleting the stocks of food or mineral resources in order to become vastly wealthy should be repugnant to any Christian. Those who do so are not only in defiance of God’s Will, but are in peril of his wrath to come. There must be a balance between need and greed, and may we successfully strike that balance when we ask for God’s guidance. God bless you.

– James Howard,

Author of the novel What So Proudly We Hailed

And Glimpses of my Friend the King at

Both available on Amazon!

3 Ways to be Happier All the Time

The other day someone asked me why I was so happy all the time. Now anybody who knows me closely knows that I’m not happy ALL the time, but it’s true that I’m generally I’m a happy person. (By happiness I mean a deep, grateful contentment coupled with joy in life and people.)

But it wasn’t always this way for me. In fact for most of my life I haven’t been very happy, but I am now. Rather than give some glib (but true) answer like “happiness is a choice,” I wanted to define it, not only for my friend and anyone else who may read this, but also for myself as a way to celebrate my journey. I decided to write down my thoughts and call it –

3 Ways to be Happier All the Time

1) Find Jesus –

This one has to be first. I had happy times before I met the Lord, but I never had real lasting happiness. There were always ups and downs and it seemed like there were a lot more downs. Jesus put me in an informal training course to be more like Him, and He is generally a happy person.

Now when I say find Jesus, I don’t mean to go join a church, or just read a Bible, or just pray a lot. All these things can and should happen when you meet Him, but they are the consequence of knowing Him, like contentment, not the means. To meet Jesus is to accept Him as your Lord and Savior, receiving the gift of salvation He purchased for you on the cross. When you do that you will be born again and (this is the good part) His spirit will come and live in your heart. Jesus is not some religious concept, nor is He just an historical figure, but He is ALIVE. Anyone who truly knows Him knows the reality of this fact. He loves you and accepts you and wants to share your life with you. He knows your innermost wants and needs and dreams and would like to help you achieve them. And He has a great sense of humor. And He’s a perfect gentleman, he’ll never ask you to do something embarrassing or demeaning. He might ask you to step out in faith, to grow you as a Christian, but you’ll be the better for it. He is the great first step to a life of contentment and fulfillment.

2) Deal with your stuff –

If you’ve ever spent much time on the planet Earth (and most of us have) then you’ve probably been hurt at one time or another. Some of us have been hurt badly, or repeatedly, or both. Some people have been hurt severely. These hurts, especially when done to us as children, may be very deep and usually become scarred over. The scarring over may help us to move on, but like a wound that has not been properly cleaned and bandaged, the damage begins to fester under the skin. It may even appear to be normal, but if it is pricked all the ugly pus will gush out, usually on the person who pricked us. This person may be someone who we love and/or who loves us and may have had no idea what was coming. The reaction of this gush of ugliness is often to wound that person, starting a brand new cycle of hurt and scarring.

The key is to be able to go back and deal with these issues, to confront them and make peace with them, and forgive. In this way our past hurts will no longer have a bearing on our present and future. We won’t have to keep reliving painful cycles that self-perpetuate. Those things being dealt with, a life of peace, contentment, and joy begins to take root. Not only will present difficulties have less of an effect, but also we will be in a stronger position to be able to help others.

I recommend a book called “Making Peace With Your Past” by Timothy Sledge. It’s a workbook that is best done in a support group, but can be done alone. Having Jesus in your life makes the process a lot easier as He can help you see the true issues and be there to salve the wounds and heal your heart, mind and spirit. I did this group for a few years at my church and it made all the difference in my life, and the life of my family. (It was remarkable to me how many people came to the group who had children. It seems that our childhood issues always rear their heads when we have children of our own.) Dealing with my past issues was a vital step on my path of happiness.

3) Find your Purpose –

In light of reading the first two ways, it might seem that nothing more was needed for a life of fulfillment, but for me something seemed to be missing. God tends to work with us in layers. When we conquer a struggle within ourselves He graciously gives us time to savor the victory, but after a while He leads us to a new area that needs attention. Overall His goal is to make us more Christ like, and that is an excellent place to be, but it takes time, awareness and effort. Luckily, it happens to be his great pleasure and we get the opportunity to bask in His love and kindness in the process. It’s a total win-win!

I had conquered much in the way of Christian growth and overcoming past issues, but still couldn’t help but to feel that there was something out of place. I had prayers and dreams as yet unfulfilled and God was anxious to answer them. As Jesse Duplantis says, “People, we’re not waiting on God, God’s waiting on us!” I had a dream inside that I had given up on and God was ready to help me conquer that, too.

You see, each one of us is wired with certain abilities and when we are performing those abilities we are happy. God put these abilities in us and is pleased to see us achieve great things in them. This is not to say that one’s God-given ability is a direct ticket to the top, but it means that we will find a joy and a drive that enables us to study it and work at it far longer than others who don’t possess the same gift.

Take music for instance. Learning to play a musical instrument is HARD. To play at a basic level is difficult enough, but to play with such mastery and expression that we are able to touch others is supremely hard. It takes a great devotion of time and effort. Most people without that gift will dabble in it for a while and then quit, but someone with a gift for music will find joy and fulfillment in the perseverance. They will keep pushing at it until they achieve the musical mastery they strive for. God is excited to watch the transformation. He celebrates it! You might say His entertainment is watching us fulfill the gifts He’s placed in us.

I knew what my gift was, but it seemed too lofty for me. I couldn’t believe that I could ever be successful doing my dream so I settled for something else to pursue in life. Now, all of my life experiences are important, and each one has helped mold me into the person I am today, but often I felt as though I were living someone else’s life. At one point I tried out the dream, and even got great feedback from people I had touched, but it had not been a commercial success. I was disappointed and began to question my calling. One day my wife and I were alone painting in my sister’s home (still under construction – like me) and I was asking God what my efforts had all been for if the end result was failure? My wife was in another room listening to Praise and Worship music and soon after came to me, spattered with paint and with tears in her eyes. She said she had felt the presence of God and that He wanted her to tell me something. She said that my gift was how I worshipped God, and that was how He received it. I think that is true for all of us in whatever gift He has given us.

I did spend sometime casting about, trying to find a place where my gift would fit. And truly I still have not achieved the level of “success” I had dreamed about, but I’m on my way. I still am working my old occupation, but I spend 2-3 hours a day working in my gift and I can tell you, I’m truly happy. My wonderful wife understands this and allows me the time to do it. In my peace and contentment I shower her with love and happiness and I can say we are so happy in our marriage that we are quite silly in love still. That is the cup overflowing. It overflows for those around us, as well as the world at large. Find that place in yourself, and you’ll change the world around you for the better.

I encourage you to take a look at my story and see if anything you’ve read applies to your life. Peace, joy, fulfillment and contentment are God’s will for every one of us. May God richly bless you by helping you find yours. – James Howard