There is no finality to the Christian LIfe this side of eternity. Leonard Ravenhill

Monday, December 6, 2010

Footprints On the Sand

My dad and I were discussing the other night about what makes someone great. What are the ingredients of a hero? This world we live in worships the affluent, those with athletic prowess, those with exceptional beauty, and those with power. But are these the things that really create a heroic individual. In days gone by heroes were those had self-sacrificial love for others. They were those who were brave and courageous and fought worthy battles. They lived honorably and exhibited Godly character.


I was recently struck with the fact that we have lost this heroic, courageous dimension in our modern 21st century, while at a library book sale. As I perused the shelves, which contained mostly juvenile volumes, I was surprised by how many of these books were about courage, bravery, valor, and those who did worthwhile daring deeds. I began to realize that sixty and seventy years ago this sort of valiant vocabulary was commonplace. Kids still grew up with the stories of Revolutionary war heroes, and Civil war greats, and they admired men like Theodore Roosevelt.

But that was then and today the story is very different. Today we don't read of "Those Who Dared" or "Stories of Courage and Valor" , we buy our kids "Diary of A Wimpy Kid". We have fostered in the children of this generation a weakness and puniness, with no moral rectitude or brave fortitude. We have a culture of enervated young men who possess no strong virility, and a society of young women who don't understand their honorable position. Boys don't look up to men like George Washington today, they look to males like Kobe Bryant. Girls don't look up to heroines like Abigail Adams, they look up to the likes of Miley Cyrus. Is it really any wonder that our society is so messed up?

We need heroes again, real heroes. Men like Stonewall Jackson, William Wilberforce, and Booker T. Washington. Women like Martha Washington and Pocahontas. Men and women who call us to be better, who beckon us to higher things. Fathers and Mothers, brothers and sisters can also be great heroes. And, of course, as a Christian, Jesus Christ is the ultimate hero, the one by which all other "heroes" are measured.

So in a society that no longer has heroes to admire, but idols to worship, look up to those who are truly heroic. Look up to those who are truly great and be a hero yourself. Remember what Longfellow wrote in his "A Psalm of Life",

"Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labour and to wait."

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Good Life

This Thanksgiving season I have been pondering the many things that the Lord has blessed me with. One of those things that I am very grateful for is my family. While many people, especially young adults, do not see their family as a great blessing I do. As a matter of fact being with them is the greatest joy of my life. Some prefer to be with friends, but for me my family has always been my closest friend. Some run with their buddies, I have to, but they have been my Dad and my little brother. My mother and sister have not been distant acquaintances, but close companions. We as a unit, as a team have marched along through valleys and climbed up mountains.

I have been taught the Bible lovingly and patiently and diligently for many years. I thank God for this. One of the things that I enjoy doing most is discussing the Bible with my family. I love the many hours that we sit around the living room talking of our precious Lord.

We play games together. We take hikes through the woods. We watch our favorite movies together. We read books together. We cook together. We sing in the car together. We discuss everything from politics to theology. We laugh together. We cry together. All in all we are so happy together.

Some think wealth and power make a life worth living, but for me to be with my family and one day to start my own is the good life.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

John Rogers' Courageous Stand

Years ago my Dad gave me a quote from a man named John Rogers. It said "Our weakness and inabilities break not the bond of our duty." I thought it was a great quote, but I didn't know anything about him at the time. Since then I have learned some about him from Foxe's monumental volume.

John Rogers was the first English martyr during Queen Mary's(better known as Bloody Mary) reign in the mid 16th century. He was a very important part of the English reformation. He assisted William Tyndale and Myles Coverdale in bringing out an important version of the Bible, known as the "Matthews Bible". He courageously stood against against the aberrant doctrine of his day as taught by the Roman Catholic church, and boldly proclaimed the truth of God's Word. For this he would die.

Rogers unflinchingly marched to his death confident not in his own strength but God Almighty's. It was in Smithfield, England, February 4,1555, that this stalwart of the faith became the first of many martyrs during Queen Mary's reign. He left his wife and his many children in the care of the God, trusting in His love and grace. He died a good soldier of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Smithfield

I can hear the fire crackle, and see the flames light,
As a man pays the price for doing what is right.
Men of stature, men of wisdom, men of renowned,
Smithfield, tabernacle, holy place, hallowed ground.

Theirs something greater they found out than even life,
When heresy was embraced and anti-christ rife.
Doctrine was a muddle, unorthodox at best.
Rogers took the step, paved the way for all the rest.

Smithfield where they gave their blood for Christ's verity.
Their they lit a candle for friends and progeny.
Other giants 'cross the land, to embraced the stake,
So that real truth would triumph, not some awful fake.

No need to be ashamed stand up with head held high,
Live for Him right now, so that for Him you would die.
Go put your armor on and grab your sword and shield,
Wage war with all hell at the battle of Smithfield.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Changing the Political Landscape

Here are some selections from an article written by President James Abram Garfield in 1877. The subject of the paper was the centennial of our American congress. His insight is perceptive and his warnings should not be ignored today.

"...now, more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand those high qualities to represent them in the national legislature... Now, as always, Congress represents the prevailing opinions and political aspirations of the people.

The most alarming feature of our situation is the fact that so many citizens of high character and solid judgment pay but little attention to the sources of political power, to the selection of those who shall make their laws.

In a word, our national safety demands that the fountains of political power shall be made pure by intelligence, and kept pure by vigilance; that the best citizens shall take heed to the selection and election of the worthiest and most intelligent among them to hold seats in the national legislature; and that, when the choice has been made, the continuance of the representative shall depend upon his faithfulness, his ability, and his willingness to work.

In Congress, as everywhere else, careful study—thorough, earnest work — is the only sure passport to usefulness and distinction.

Congress must always be the exponent of the political character and culture of the people; and if the next centennial does not find us a great nation, with a great and worthy Congress, it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces which are employed to select the men who shall occupy the great places of trust and power."

It is up to us to change the political landscape of this nation by being active. Jesus said, "Occupy till I come", so lets get involved and be salt and light within this dark and perverse land. Elect bold candidates who are characterized by wisdom and soundness of mind.

 Remember Election day November 2.
 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Qualifications for Liberty

As Election day is nearby I thought it would be helpful to remind us of some things to keep in mind as we go to the polls. The Word of God says, "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people." Alexis de Tocqueville echoed these words of Scripture as he observed 19th century America,

"I sought for the key to the greatness and genius of America in her harbors... in her fertile fields and boundless forests; in her rich mines and vast world commerce; in her public school system and institutions of learning. I sought for it in her democratic Congress and in her matchless Constitution.

Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power."

Mr. de Tocqueville then adds almost apocryphally, "America is great because America is good, and if  America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great."

We would do well to remember these words. We will never be great again as a nation as long as we try to live devoid of character and ignore the principles of the Holy Scriptures.

Along similar lines, the 18th century British statesman Edmund Burke, made some very telling remarks . He observed  France and the bloody revolution that ensued within its borders in the late 1700's. He decried their lack of morality and decency. With his hand on their pulse he diagnosed their problems. He wrote in 1791,

"Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites; in proportion as their love of justice is above their rapacity —in proportion as their soundness and sobriety of understanding is above their vanity and presumption; in proportion as they are more disposed to listen to the counsels of the wise and good, in preference to the flattery of knaves. Society cannot exist unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere, and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters. "

If we have no morality we are not worthy of liberty, for that liberty will only degenerate into anarchy. Many do not understand that liberty is a gift from God. Remember the beautiful words of the Declaration of Independence, "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are ecreated equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

Liberty is a gift from God. It is only when we are in subjection to His law that we will find true freedom. The founders of this nation had a watchword, "No king, but King Jesus." It is only the truth that will set you free. (John 8:32) Any other starting point will only give you grand illusions of freedom, charlatans will offer you hope and change but all that they really offer is a tenuous grand delusion.

Remember the salient words of Ronald Reagan, "If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God then we will be a Nation gone under."


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Captives

"...take every thought captive to obey Christ..." (1 Cor. 10:5)

Recently in family devotions we were reading 1 Samuel 13. This is a tragic chapter in the annals of Israel's history. The people of Israel were enslaved. They had been ruthlessly overcome by the Philistine army. The Philistines, Israel's arch-enemies, had taken away the Hebrew's freedoms and caused them to be utterly dependent on their power. The Philistines made no hesitation in completely conquering the Israelites, by governing their commerce and individual strengths. Lets look at this passage in more detail.

"Now there was no blacksmith to be found throughout all the land Israel, for the Philistines said, 'Lest the Hebrews make themselves swords or spears.' But everyone of the Israelites went down to the Philistines to sharpen his plowshares, his mattock, his axe, or his sickle, and the charge was two-thirds of a shekel for the plowshares and for the mattocks, and a third of a shekel for sharpening the axes and for setting the goads. So on the day of the battle there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people with Saul and Jonathan, but Saul and Jonathan his son had them." (1 Sam. 13:19-22)

This story is the shameful account of what the consequences can be for a nation that rejects God. The Israelites again and again proved themselves to be devoted to their personal comfort and pleasure, and not to the will of Almighty God. Remember the book of Judges? It is a graphic portrayal of a nation rejecting God time and time again. What we have is a constant pattern of: 1. Rejection of God's law. 2. Retribution; God punishing the people. 3. Regret, or an apology on the peoples part. 4. Redemption; God rescues the people. 5.Renewal; they return to God at least temporarily.

In 1 Samuel 13 we see the children of Israel oppressed once again. I want us to notice several important points within this story. The Philistines took away the Israelites chance of military prowess. They took their swords and spears from them, and then made sure that they could not craft new ones, by removing all the blacksmiths from the land. By removing the blacksmiths, the Philistines also made Israel dependent on them for their agricultural endeavors. The further advantage of this of course, was that the Philistines made profit off of Israel by charging them for blacksmith services. Furthermore, when the men of Israel came to battle the Philistines, only two men among them had a sword. Clearly the Philistines had the upper hand.

I believe this generation of Christians is facing a very similar predicament in the spiritual realm. We have allowed our minds to be subjected to worldly philosophies. The "church" has accepted and even embraced postmodern ideology. The problem with this is that theology never changes. Truth is always truth, it never deceives us by portraying itself as anything else. When Pilate asked, "What is truth?" he did not realize that the essence of truth was standing before him. Truth is not a what, but a who. Christ said, "Thy (God's) word is truth." (John 17:17) Jesus was the embodiment of that Word.(John 1) If God is immutable, then truth is unchanging and has no expiration date. We are not in need of a new culturally compatible theology. Such ideas from saboteurs of the faith are vapid and nonsensical. We don't need new roads just old paths.(Jer. 6:16) We don't need "new" truth, we need as Francis Schaeffer called it "true truth".

Christians need to stop allowing the world to capture our blacksmiths. The church has let the world reign supreme in cultural matters: science, politics etc. This must come to an end. Do not allow the world to set the standard. Do not willingly hand over your swords, so that you become their helpless subjects. Stand up for truth. Do not become beholden to this world, as Israel was to the Philistines. Do not become captivated with the the things of this world. Church people too often become enamored with the things that this world dangles in front of them. They look at what the world has and what it does and they foolishly envy their position.

Christian marketers have done much to harbor this fleshly desire to be like the world in a Christian way.  They imitate the world, they mimic it at every turn. They become racy and edgy in a somewhat generic way. If the world has it the Christian needs a sanitized version or a religious counterpart. Worldly slogans are "Christianized", and everything from tape measures to breath mints are somehow sold as Christian material. They copy their pagan music styles and make them religous. They want a certain image so they get "Christian" tattoos. All in all the church wants to be acceptable to the world so they aggressively try to duplicate it.

But the question is, since when is Christianity supposed to be tolerable to the world? Jesus said He came not to bring peace but a sword (Matt.10:34), and to bring fire on the earth.(Luke 12:49)  Jesus said that there would be an undeniable distinction between those who are on His side and those that are not. The gospel was never intended to be acceptable to a sinful, pagan world.

The church must not go to the world for advice or any sort of counsel. "Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help... but do not look to the Holy One of Israel or consult the Lord!"(Is. 31:1) And also, "Learn not the way of the nations..."(Jer. 10:1) The church cannot submit to the world on anything. Do not go up to Philistia and become slaves to their system. Beat your plowshares into swords and wage war. The church must not allow itself to become captivated by the alluring temptations this world is offering it. Instead of allowing the "uncircumcised Philistines" to have territory in our minds and hearts, we must drive them out of the land. Christians must not be taken captive by the world, instead we must start taking everything captive and bringing it under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. He is Lord whether we recognise it or not, so lets start living like He truly is Lord over every area of our lives.

"See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ." (Col. 2:8)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Blast Off!

So here it goes. This would officially be the "pilot post". The first post, I hope of many. I have never done this before, and never really dreamed that I would be. I guess for me this is sort of like an experimental discovery mission off into an unknown universe. As someone who is light-years from being technically savvy, I guess that this is more like a giant leap than a small step. So buckle up (or whatever it is you do on a space shuttle) and get ready for an adventure. I can almost feel the heat of the rockets, their rumbling approach is ringing in my ears. The countdown has begun, lets go and plant the flag of Christ where it has been forgotten. The time has come, 3...2...1...!

Well anyway, all drama aside I hope that this blog proves itself to be an incubator for thoughtful contemplation. We dwell in a culture that is morally decadent. The majority of the society around us is desperately devoid of character and virtue. The primary reason we are in this predicament I believe, is because we don't think. As a whole Americans do not think on their own. We have obediently placed our brains in jars and allowed the ungodly, liberal elite to replace them with artificial pre-programmed centers of thought. We are not encouraged to think for ourselves, we are actually discouraged from taking such avenues. (more on this in subsequent posts)

I believe that we need to start a reformation of ruminators. To ruminate is to "chew the cud; meditate or muse; ponder" Out here where I live I see cows daily, and if you watch them you will observe that they are always almost methodically chewing. Their jaw is constantly moving. Slowly but steadily, it's ruminating.

That is what we as Christians need to be doing. Thinking. Thinking. Thinking. We do not need to be ignorantly bemoaning as the Scarecrow, "If I only had a brain." We have a mind given to us by God our Creator, but sadly we have foolishly leased it out to the world and its anti-Christian ideas.

We need to do as Christ commanded and "love the Lord your God... with all your mind."(Matt. 22:37) We need to be an army of thinkers who are boldly taking "every thought captive to obey Christ."(2 Cor. 10:5) The Word of God speaks in principle to everything that we could ever deal with. As Christians we need to be bringing a Biblical worldview to the table. When we deal with issues whether the may be scientific, historical, political or moral, the Bible has answers as to how we should approach them. So lets start a reformation right here in 21st century America. Be a reformer who boldly stands up for what is right.

This would be my exhortation to you: Think, and think again, and think some more, and never ever stop thinking.

Oh, and by the way... BLAST OFF!