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President James A. Garfield

James A. Garfield, twentieth President of the United States, resigned as an elder of the church of Christ in 1881 to take office. It is reported on that occasion he said, “I resign the highest office in the land to become President of the United States.”

Thirty years earlier at age 19, he was planning to take a riverboat trip with friends. He recalled, “But two days before we intended to leave, I injured my foot while chopping wood. It was only a small cut, but the blue dye in the homemade socks I wore poisoned the wound, and I was compelled to stay at home. While my friends were on their journey, a powerful preacher came to our town to hold revival meetings. I was invited, and since I didn’t have anything else to do, I decided to attend. The message touched me deeply, and as a result, I surrendered my heart to the Lord and was baptized into his kingdom.”

Eight years later in 1853, he began preaching. He ended his first sermon saying, “Jesus will come again, not as the babe in helplessness …but as King of kings and Lord of lords.” It was reported that attention to his sermons was intense and the stillness most profound. He baptized people into Christ, married people, spoke at funerals. He preached ~ primarily well-received revivals ~ until he entered Congress in 1863.

The first week after his inauguration as President of the United States, a member of his cabinet insisted on an urgent meeting at 10:00 Sunday morning to handle a threatened national crisis. Garfield refused to attend because he had a more important appointment. The cabinet member demanded to know what it was. The president replied, “I will be as frank as you are. My engagement is with the Lord to meet Him in His house at His table at 10:00 tomorrow, and I shall be there.”

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