As we are taking time this special Thanksgiving Season to be thankful for friends, for family, for our own good health, and to Almighty God for His Wonderful Blessings, there is another very important someone to be thankful to, and one last Thanksgiving lesson to be learned. Every time I find myself reading the true account of that first Thanksgiving celebration by the pilgrims I am taken aback by those simple people and the not-so-simple obstacles that they had to overcome to even survive and to help grow us our America. And today, amidst all of our thankfulness, we need to be thankful to all of those Americans who have gone before us who helped give us our great nation.

You see, most always, good things don’t come by accident or good luck – most good things are made to happen, and they start with a quest, a vision. The Bible says that “Where there is no vision, the people perish”, and it is truly those dreams and aspirations and desires for a better life, a better America, that keep us going forward to make it better.

Some today in America seem to have given up on that vision. But the best words we can hear today are the words of Pilgrim John Winthrop. All that time ago, hundreds of years ago, when America had not even been formed yet, all the way back in the early 1600’s, John Winthrop was the governor of that small band of Pilgrim settlers. Now, think about this – Winthrop and the others there didn’t even know if they would survive, they had no crystal ball telling them what would happen to a future America, but John Winthrop did have a vision for America, and he believed that it was up to them to help make it happen. This is what John Winthrop said all of those years ago. He said:

“Now the only way to provide for our posterity is to do justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God. We must delight in each other; make others’ conditions our own; rejoice together, mourn together, labor and suffer together, always having before our eyes our commission and community in the work, as members of the same body. The Lord will be our God, and delight to dwell among us, as His own people. For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause Him to withdraw His present Help from us, we shall be made a story and a by-word throughout the world.”

These are powerful words, and two of our U.S. Presidents, Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan, they both saw Winthrop’s vision; and, even more, they both saw our responsibility as Americans – to conduct ourselves, our nation, in such a way that we become a shining example to the world, to be a city on a hill, a shining beacon of light, leading others in the way. To rejoice together, mourn together, labor and suffer together; to invite God as our Lord to dwell among us, to lead us, and to be thankful.

But how does it all happen? How do we be this shining example, this beacon of light leading others in the way? Can we do it by enacting more laws, collecting more taxes, and spending more money? Do we do it by more education and government programs? Absolutely not – none of those are the foundation to help make us a better nation. No, bettering our America begins with you and me – in our hearts. We must realize that we truly are all in this together – and each of us must carry our part of the load. How? By the way we conduct our own lives.

So, this season, this Thanksgiving Season, let us all not seek to have more to be thankful for; instead, let us seek to be more thankful for what we do have.

Dear Lord, help us this day to see the vision, to be that shining example, to praise you, and to be thankful.

About Jerry Stewart

I am a story teller. Since 1998, I have been telling the true stories of our nation and those Americans gone before us.  To say the least, these stories have been well received by Americans, both young and old.  So, here’s where the stories have taken me.  In 1998, I was broadcasting my stories on just one radio station in Washington State.  Today, from Texas 15 years later, these programs are now broadcast through a syndicated radio network to over 400 radio stations all across America, with literally millions of listeners.

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“The Most Famous Tea Party in History”

    We’ve all heard of the Boston Tea Party, but few really know just what happened. The year was 1763 and Great Britain had just ended a war known as the “Seven Years War”, and this war had driven the British government so deep into debt that a series of tax laws were passed to help pay that debt – and these laws made their way to America.

Now, the way the colonists saw it was that they had no say or representation in their national government, and, therefore, Parliament had no right to tax them. This is where the saying came from, “no taxation without representation”.

Well, in 1766, Parliament passed what is called the “Declaratory Act”. This act gave the British government the authority to legislate the laws and rules for the American colonies, and in all cases the government had the final authority.

So, colonist groups began to organize at the grassroots level and they formed patriotic clubs and organizations known as the “Sons of Liberty”. They would use these club meetings to talk through their unfair circumstances and they began to send delegates and representatives to the British leaders to try and convince them that what they were doing was not for the good of the people. But the British government had their own ideas as to what was best for the people, so most of the time they would not even listen.

Starting to sound a little too familiar?

    So as the different Liberty groups in each city began to form and grow, they found themselves linking up with other city groups causing them to become bolder in their speaking out. In the City of Boston there was a famous elm tree where the Sons of Liberty would meet. This tree came to be known as the “Liberty Tree” and it became a rallying point for the growing colonist resistance against the British rule. Soon each city and community began to pick their own liberty tree as a meeting spot as a symbol of their individual liberty. As these liberty groups began to me in large numbers and the attendance began to grow, in their attempt to stop these meetings, the British government ordered that holding any meetings not authorized by the government was against the law. So, the Sons of Liberty members began to meet in secret.

Well, the struggle continued between the colonists and the British government with more and more laws being enacted. What seemed to be the final straw was that in 1773, a new act, the “Tea Act” was passed, placing a heavy tax on all tea transported to the colonies. Shortly after the Tea Act was passed, a number of ships entered Boston Harbor carrying on board hundreds of thousands of pounds of tea. When the local liberty group heard of the ship’s arrival, they sent a message to the ship’s captain not to unload the tea because they would not pay that tax. But the local British authorities would not budge, so there sat the three ships in Boston Harbor.

Now no one knows for sure who really planned that “tea party” or who the real leaders were, but one night somewhere between 30 and 130 Men thinly disguised as Indians boarded the three ships and, over the course of three hours, dumped all the tea into the harbor – this dumping of that tea became known as the “Boston Tea Party”. Interestingly enough, later that Tea Act was actually repealed, but the damage had already been done, and the people had determined that their government would not listen to them – and they began to move for independence.

So, here’s my question for you, “Are the events in our lives which make us wake up and act – are they good or bad?” It was patriot, Edmund Burke, who said, “He who wrestles with us strengthens our nerves and sharpens our skills; our antagonist is our helper”.

But this one thing we do know – if the British government had not pushed the colonists too far, well, today, we might still be speaking with a British accent.

And one last thought, “What should “We The People” be doing today if we feel we are not being heard?

And are mere protests enough? You tell me.

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