Was George Washington a Christian?

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Throughout history, people have known the founding father of the United States, George Washington was a man of faith. Recently his reputation as a Christian has been tarnished, not because any new documents have been discovered, but because some historians are going out of their way to prove our founding fathers did not rely upon God. It has become politically incorrect to consider George Washington as any more than a Deist, someone who believes in a distant God who doesn’t interfere with the plans of man.

This theory became popular in 1963, when Professor Paul Boller wrote a book, George Washington and Religion. Professor Boller wrote, “Broadly speaking, of course, Washington can be classified as a Deist.” But the evidence that Washington was more than a Deist is overwhelming. To debunk this theory, Peter A. Lillback wrote a biography based on fifteen years of research called George Washington’s Sacred Fire.

Here’s a few things that prove George Washington had a strong Christian faith in God:

At age thirteen, Washington transcribed and memorized 110 Rules for Young Gentlemen, written by Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits in the 1590’s. They teach man is God’s servant who lives not for self, but for others. They became a part of his character.

When Washington was twenty, he wrote prayers to say each morning and evening. On Sunday mornings he prayed, “…pardon, I beseech Thee, my sins; remove them from Thy presence, as far as the east is from the west, and accept me for the merits of Thy son, Jesus Christ…”

Captain Washington, at the age of twenty-three, was caught in a surprise ambush by the French and Indians near what is now Pittsburgh. Every British and American officer was shot but Washington even though he rode numerous times back and forth across the battlefield. He later wrote to his brother, “By the all powerful dispensations of Providence, I have been protected beyond all human probability or expectation, for I had four bullets through my coat, and two horses shot under me, yet escaped unhurt, although death was leveling my companions on every side of me.” Later, Indians testified they had singled Washington out, but their bullets had no effect on him. They were convinced an Invisible Power was protecting him.

As Commander and Chief of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, on July 2, 1776, General Washington told his troops: “The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage of this army. Our cruel and unrelenting enemy leaves us only the choice of brave resistance or the most abject submission. We have therefore to resolve to conquer or die.”

As Commander and Chief, he pushed for army chaplains and required church attendance among the soldiers.

Seven weeks later, British General Howe had trapped Washington and his 8,000 troops on Brooklyn Heights, ready to crush them the next morning. Washington gathered every vessel from fishing to row boats and spent all night ferrying his army across the East River. By morning many troops were still exposed to the British. This gave the British a chance to win the war. But the fog that almost always lifts from the river in the mornings, that day, stayed thick and covered Washington’s retreat until the entire army escaped.

In 1777 at Valley Forge, a dozen soldiers died a day in the freezing cold. They lacked supplies such as blankets or shoes. A Quaker named Isaac Potts reported seeing Washington on his knees in the snow praying aloud for his beloved country. He thanked God for exalting him to the head of a great nation which was fighting at fearful odds. Potts told his wife, “Till now I have thought that a Christian and a solider were characters incompatible, but if George Washington not be a man of God I am mistaken, and still more I shall be disappointed in God does not through him perform some great thing for this country.”

On May 5, 1778 Washington learned the French would join America as allies. The General told his troops, “It having pleased the Almighty Ruler of the universe to defend the cause of the United American States, and finally to raise up a powerful friend among the princes of the earth, to establish our liberty, and independence upon a lasting foundation, it becomes us to set apart a day for gratefully acknowledging the divine goodness…”

While encamped on the banks of a river, Washington was approached by Delaware Indian chiefs who desired their youth be trained in American schools. In Washington’s response, he first told them that “Congress… will look on them as on their own children.” He then commended the chiefs for their decision: You do well to wish to learn our arts and our ways of life and above all, the religion of Jesus Christ. These will make you a greater and happier people than you are. Congress will do everything they can to assist you in this wise intention.

In 1781, General Washington’s southern army defeated a detachment of British troops. Lord Cornwallis was infuriated and began pursuing the outnumbered Americans. He waited the night at the Catawba River, which the U.S. troops had crossed just two hours earlier. Miraculously, a storm arose during the night causing the river to be uncrossable for five days. Cornwallis nearly overtook Americans at the Yadkin River, but another flood arose, allowing Americans to escape.

The French navy seized control of the Chesapeake Aug. 30, 1781, driving out British ships. Washington rejoiced and besieged Cornwallis’ stronghold at Yorktown. With no ships to escape upon, Cornwallis surrendered.

Washington wrote Congress, “I take a particular pleasure in acknowledging that the interposing Hand of Heaven…has been most conspicuous and remarkable.”

During the oath of office, when Washington became president, he chose to take the oath with a Bible. As president, Washington often spoke on the importance of prayer and signed the first official Thanksgiving Day Proclamation in US history. It is clear that faith in God was very important to President Washington and that he was a Christian.

Nathan Hale: America’s First Martyred Spy

by Tamera Lynn Kraft
Long before the days of the CIA and Cold War, even before the spies of the Civil War, our nation had a network of spies that rivaled any spy agency of today. The leader of this spy ring, the Culpeper Ring in New York City, was Benjamin Tallmadge, an officer in the Continental Army. One reason Tallmadge may have been so driven to create this spy ring is because his best friend from college, Nathan Hale, was hung as a spy on his first intelligence gathering mission in New York.

Nathan Hale was born in Connecticut in 1755. Before his fourteenth birthday, he and his brother, Enoch, were sent to Yale University to get an education. Nathan’s father was a minister and planned for Nathan to follow in his footsteps.

At Yale, Nathan became close friends with Benjamin Tallmadge and William Hull, a man who worked with Tallmadge. Hale’s university days created in him a desire to be free from the rule of the British Crown as it did with most of his contemporaries. When he graduated, instead of becoming a minister, he took a job teaching at a private school in East Haddam.

When war broke out, Hale was reluctant to join the army, but at the urging of Tallmadge in a letter, joined up in 1775. For the next year, he saw no action. It disturbed him because he felt he was doing nothing to further the independence of the American Colonies.

In September, Washington was desperate for intelligence about the British troop movements in Manhattan. That information would determine his next move. He asked for volunteers. At that time, most didn’t consider spying a respectable occupation, and nobody was willing to volunteer for such a dangerous mission. Nathan Hale, who was eager to do something to help his country, stepped up and said he would do it.

Hale snuck into Manhattan and got the information he needed. Before heading back, he stopped at a tavern where he was recognized by Robert Rogers, commander of Rogers’ Rangers. Earlier, Rogers had attempted to get free passage behind enemy lines, telling Washington he was a patriot. His real intentions were to spy for the British. Washington denied his request, but during that time, he had seen Hale in uniform.

Rogers needed proof Hale was a spy and invited him to his home where he informed Hale that he was a patriot. Hale fell into the trap, and was arrested. After admitting he was a spy, he was sentenced to hang by General William Howe.

When Hale was at the gallows, the last sight he probably saw was New York City burning. A fire had started accidently, but knowing it would help the Americans, many patriot civilians started more fires or did things to slow the British in putting out the fires. Many of these patriots were captured and executed. The fire did stop the British from taking up residence in the city.

Hale’s last words were immortalized as the sentiment of American Patriots. “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” This quote is reported by Tallmadge and Hull, Hale’s friends who were not present at the execution. The quote is probably a condensed quote of what he really said. Hull and Tallmadge were at the site shortly after the execution to facilitate a prisoner exchange and talked to a British officer, John Montresor about what Hale’s last words were. Others reported other things Hale may have said, so his speech was longer than the reported quote.

Frederick MacKensie, a British officer, wrote this diary entry for the day, “He behaved with great composure and resolution, saying he thought it the duty of every good Officer, to obey any orders given him by his Commander-in-Chief; and desired the Spectators to be at all times prepared to meet death in whatever shape it might appear.”

Whatever the case, at his death, Hale was a patriot and the first American spy executed for his exploits of bravery.

Theodore Roosevelt Jr. – D-Day Hero

Every man who fought on the beeches of Normandy during D-Day is a hero. On June 6th, 1944, the largest military seaborne invasion in history took place on the Western Front in France. By late August, all of France had been liberated, and within less than a year, the Nazis faced total defeat. Here is the story of one of those heroes.

Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. (Ted) was the eldest son of President Theodore Roosevelt. When he was born in 1887, his larger-than-life father was just beginning his political career. The younger Roosevelt graduated from Harvard in 1909 and became a successful business man.

When America went to war during World War I, Ted, a reservist, was called to duty and became volunteered to become one of the first soldiers to go to France. There he was known as one of the best battalion commanders in his division. He was so concerned for his men, he once paid for them to all have combat boots with his own money. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his bravery.

After the war, he went back into business and became one of the founders of the American Legion. He remained in the military reserves and took advanced officer’s training. He also served in politics and was the assistant secretary of the Navy for a while.

In 1941, shortly before World War II, Ted returned to active duty in the Army and was promoted to a one star general. When he was assigned to the D-Day task force in 1944, he wrote letters to Major General Barton asking to be allowed to take part in the invasion. His requests were denied numerous times because Barton believed he wouldn’t survive. Finally Barton relented and allowed Ted to lead the battle on Utah Beach.

During the invasion, Ted was one of the first to land on the beach and led his men with courage and calmness. He stood on the beach leaning on a cane reciting antidotes about his father to his troops to steady their nerves. After discovering they had drifted a mile from the invasion site, he said, “We’ll start the war from right here.” Sometimes he worked under fire as a self-appointed traffic cop, untangling traffic jams of trucks and tanks all struggling to get inland and off the beach. One GI later reported that seeing the general walking around, apparently unaffected by the enemy fire, even when clods of earth fell down on him, gave him the courage to get on with the job, saying “if the general is like that it can’t be that bad.”

Roosevelt Jr. died of a heart attack on July 12, 1944, shortly after the D-Day invasion. He was buried near Normandy, and his brother Quentin, who was shot down and killed during World War I, was re interred there. During his time in the military, Roosevelt Jr. was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Cross, Army Distinguished Service Medal, four Silver Star awards and the Legion of Merit. Years later, when General Omar Bradley was asked to name the single most heroic action he had ever seen in combat, he said, “Ted Roosevelt on Utah Beach.”

Today we honor Theodore Roosevelt Jr. and every other brave soldier who died during the D-Day invasion.

The History of Saint Patrick

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

St. Patrick’s Day, March 17th, is a day everyone loves to celebrate by wearing green and having parades, but most don’t know the spiritual significance of the man named Patrick. It is a story of adventure and mystery.

Patrick was born in Kilpatrick, Scotland in the year, 387. His parents were Romans living in Britain and named him Maewyn Succat. At the age of fourteen, Patrick was captured by a raiding party and taken to Ireland to herd sheep. Ireland, at that time, was populated by pagans and druids. Patrick, during his captivity, learned the language and culture of Ireland. He also used his captivity to grow closer to God.

Six years later, at the age of twenty, Patrick had a dream from God to leave Ireland. In the dream, he was told to escape to the coast. When he arrived at the coast, a ship from Britain was waiting for him. He returned home to his family.

Later Patrick studied for the priesthood, became a bishop. He had a vision of the people of Ireland begging him to return and tell them about Jesus. Patrick became a missionary to Ireland and preached the Gospel throughout the land. He lived there for the rest of his life, and many were converted. He died on March 17th, 461.

There are many legends surrounding Patrick. Because there are very few snakes in Ireland, one legend says Patrick banished the snakes. This legend has a grain of truth in it if you consider the snakes paganism that plagued Ireland. By the time Patrick died, Ireland was on its way to becoming a Christian nation. Another legend says an Ash tree would grow wherever Patrick poked his stick into the ground.

The reason the shamrock is used to represent St. Patrick is because he used the shamrock to illustrate the trinity. Since the shamrock is green, that color is also used to represent Ireland and St. Patrick’s Day.

Moravian Christmas Traditions

img_1022By Tamera Lynn Kraft

In my novella, A Christmas Promise, I write about Moravian missionaries in Schoenbrunn Village, circa 1773. The Moravians brought many Christmas traditions to America that we use to celebrate Christ’s birth today. Here are a few of them.

red room with christmas-tree and colorful gift - rendering

The Christmas Tree: Moravians brought the idea of decorating Christmas trees in their homes in the early 1700s, long before it became a popular tradition in the United States.

 

Illustration of Christmas candle lighted with wreath isolated on white background done in retro style.

Christmas Eve Candlelight Services: Most churches have Christmas Eve services where they sing Christmas carols and light candles to show Jesus came to be the light of the world. The Moravian Church has been doing that for centuries. They call their services lovefeasts because they also have a part of the service where they serve sweetbuns and coffee – juice for the kids – and share Christ’s love with each other. For candles, Moravians use bleached beeswax with a red ribbon tied around them. The white symbolizes the purity of Christ and red symbolizes that His blood was shed for us.

The Moravian Star: In the 1840s at a Moravian school, students made 24 point stars out of triangles for their geometry lessons. Soon those Moravian stars started making their way on the tops of Christmas trees. The star as a Christmas tree topper is still popular today.

The Putz: The putz is a Christmas nativity scene surrounded by villages or other Biblical scenes. Moravian children in the 1700s would make a putz to put under their Christmas tree. Today, nativity scenes and Christmas villages are popular decorations.

achristmaspromise_medA Christmas Promise

By Tamera Lynn Kraft

A Moravian Holiday Story, Circa 1773

During colonial times, John and Anna settle in an Ohio village to become Moravian missionaries to the Lenape. When John is called away to help at another settlement two days before Christmas, he promises he’ll be back by Christmas Day.

When he doesn’t show up, Anna works hard to not fear the worst while she provides her children with a traditional Moravian Christmas.

Through it all, she discovers a Christmas promise that will give her the peace she craves.

“Revel in the spirit of a Colonial Christmas with this achingly tender love story that will warm both your heart and your faith. With rich historical detail and characters who live and breathe on the page, Tamera Lynn Kraft has penned a haunting tale of Moravian missionaries who selflessly bring the promise of Christ to the Lenape Indians. A beautiful way to set your season aglow, A Christmas Promise is truly a promise kept for a heartwarming holiday tale.” – Julie Lessman

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A Moravian Christmas in 1773

achristmaspromise_medA Christmas Promise

By Tamera Lynn Kraft

A Moravian Holiday Story, Circa 1773

During colonial times, John and Anna settle in an Ohio village to become Moravian missionaries to the Lenape. When John is called away to help at another settlement two days before Christmas, he promises he’ll be back by Christmas Day.

When he doesn’t show up, Anna works hard to not fear the worst while she provides her children with a traditional Moravian Christmas.

Through it all, she discovers a Christmas promise that will give her the peace she craves.

“Revel in the spirit of a Colonial Christmas with this achingly tender love story that will warm both your heart and your faith. With rich historical detail and characters who live and breathe on the page, Tamera Lynn Kraft has penned a haunting tale of Moravian missionaries who selflessly bring the promise of Christ to the Lenape Indians. A beautiful way to set your season aglow, A Christmas Promise is truly a promise kept for a heartwarming holiday tale.” – Julie Lessman

A Moravian Christmas in 1773

By Tamera Lynn Kraft

img_1022In the wilderness of Ohio in 1773, a small band of missionaries and Lenape Indians celebrated Christmas at Schoenbrunn Village, the first settlement in Ohio. They’d come to this wilderness and started the village a year earlier to preach the Gospel to the Lenape, also known as the Deleware.

The missionaries, both white and native families moved from a town in Pennsylvania called Bethlehem. Moravians had come to Bethlehem years earlier when a preacher named John Wesley had donated the land to them. But the Lenape had been forced west as more white men had moved into the area, so the Moravians decided to move west with them.

Life was hard in Schoenbrunn. Cabins were quickly made and community gardens were planted that included beans, corn, and squash. Most villages also planted potatoes and turnips next to their cabins. The rest of their food came from hunting. But the real danger came from the many Indian tribes surrounding the village, some of them hostile.

img_1023They didn’t have time to build a fence to keep out varments and the first Ohio church until Spring, 1773, but they did manage to build a school, the first built in Ohio. The school taught both boys and girls, a first for the colonies, how to read the Scripture in their native language and in English. The Moravians printed a Bible in the Lenape language.

The village council was led by David Zeisberger and including white Moravians and Lenape converts. The rules for the village were established by the Lenape Christians. These missionaries did not consider the native converts to be beneath them but instead brothers in Christ.

vector-christmas-candle_f1gwjyl__lAfter a year and a half in Schoenbrunn, the villagers were excited to celebrate their first Christmas. They had many traditions that we still use today. They would have a candlelight Christmas Eve service called a Lovefeast. During this service, they sang Christmas hymns, shared sweet rolls and coffee together, and prayed for each other. The service concluded when they gave each child a bleached beeswax candle and a scripture to hang on their trees at home. The white candle symbolized the purity of Christ and the flame showed that Jesus is the light of the world. A red ribbon would be wrapped around the candle to symbolize how Jesus shed His blood for a lost world.

schoenbrunn-cabinIn every home in Schoenbrunn, families decorated artificial Christmas trees with candles and papers with scriptures written on them. The trees were made by putting together a wood frame and decorating it with real pine branches. The family would also make a putz, a nativity village that included the nativity scene, the wise men, and other Biblical scenes and place it under the tree. Most Moravians gave small gifts at Christmas, but resources were so limited that the children in Schoenbrunn were happy with their candles they received at the church. After a Christmas feast, the family would read the verses hung on the tree and talk about God’s blessings at Christmas.

Schoenbrunn Village has been restored and is open to tourists. Find out more at this link (http://www.ohiosfirstvillage.com) .

 

10 Quotes from Great Awakening Preachers

featherThe United States of America was born out of the Great Awakening that took place in the 1700s. Men like the John and Charles Wesley, Jonathan Edwards, and George Whitefield preached as America turned to God. Revivals and Awakenings have happened a number of times sense then. America is at a crossroads. It needs another Great Awakening like never before. Here are 10 quotes from some of the preachers of that first revival in America.

“It is a poor sermon that gives no offense; that neither makes the hearer displeased with himself nor with the preacher.” — George Whitefield

“The care of the soul is ‘a matter of the highest importance;’ beyond anything which can be brought into comparison with it.” — George Whitefield

“If you are going to walk with Jesus Christ, you are going to be opposed … In our days, to be a true Christian is really to become a scandal.” — George Whitefield

“God’s purpose for my life was that I have a passion for God’s glory and that I have a passion for my joy in that glory, and that these two are one passion.” — Jonathan Edwards

“Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.” — Jonathan Edwards

“Prayer is as natural an expression of faith as breathing is of life.” — Jonathan Edwards

“To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here.” — Jonathan Edwards

“Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not whether they be clergymen or laymen, they alone will shake the gates of Hell and set up the kingdom of Heaven upon Earth. — John Wesley

“Catch on fire, and people will come for miles to see you burn.” — John Wesley

“Once more, Never think that you can live to God by your own power or strength; but always look to and rely on him for assistance, yea, for all strength and grace.” — David Brainerd