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Archive for November, 2012

Using Zechariah 4:10 as his text, my good pastor reminded us this week to not despise the day of small things.  Despite our personal weaknesses and the seeming helplessness at times of God’s people, God is yet building his Church and continues to direct the affairs of men toward his sure and glory-evoking ends.

 

Not despising the day of small things is the theme of Maryellen St. Cyr’s very timely post. She builds on the thanksgiving of a personal favorite of mine, Charlotte Mason, to inspire us to raise our souls to rejoice in the everyday graces of God.

 

My Soul Rises

When I think about Thanksgiving I think of a people or a person whose soul rises beyond the temporal to the eternal.  The soul surveys a thousand good things from common life and ascends in praise. “How good is life, how joyous it is to go out of doors, even in the streets of a city! Surely a pleasant thing it is to see the sun! How good is health, even the small share of it allotted to the invalid! How good and congenial all the pleasant ways of home life, all family love and neighborly kindness, and the love of friends! How good it is to belong to a great country and share in all her interests and concerns! How good to belong to the world of men, aware that whatever concerns men, concerns us! How good are books and pictures and music! How delightful is knowledge! How good is the food we eat! How pleasant are the clothes we wear! How sweet is sleep, and how joyful is awaking!” 1

This is indeed an example of a rising soul! Yet, a rising soul is not a soul that rises only in appreciation for everything that pleases the self. The rising soul also emerges on an ascending path towards God in the midst of a world of suffering. The soul ascends in spite of the pain, in spite of the fear and in spite of the loneliness.

A heart full of thanksgiving surveys all of life. This way of being moves one on an emerging path to the presence of God – Excelsior!

Mason, Ourselves, 192.

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Joe Rigney, Assistant Professor of Theology and Christian Worldview at Bethlehem College and Seminary, distributed the following letter of analysis, charge, and encouragement in the wake of our recent national election.  I am so grateful for his thoughts and clarity.

________________________

“Last week Americans went to the polls to participate in our biennial electoral ritual. Evangelicals were rightly disappointed in the election of President Barack Obama. During the campaign the president vocally, clearly, and persistently advocated for same-sex marriage and abortion on demand, and a majority of the American people rewarded him for it. For many of us, it was a stark reminder that there are millions of our fellow citizens who embrace the culture of death (or who at least are not sufficiently provoked by it to vote against politicians who endorse it).

“As I watched the election returns come in and it became clear that the American people had embraced a larger, more intrusive federal government that tramples on religious liberty, that celebrates what God hates, and that refuses to protect the weakest among us, I wrote down a number of thoughts and questions that I’d like to share with you. These reflect my own views only and not necessarily those of BCS as a whole.

  • We seem to be witnessing the triumph of envy, resentment, and blame-shifting in American culture. The President ran ads saying that Romney is “not one of us.” He stirred up crowds with “voting is the best revenge.” For his entire first term, he blamed America’s woes on George W. Bush, House Republicans, the Japanese Tsunami, and so on. And 51% of the American people rewarded him for it. Class warfare worked. Demonizing success worked. And perhaps it worked because many of us are full of envy and resentment ourselves, and because we hate to take responsibility for our actions. If the culture is eight months pregnant with a particular sin, then the church is five months pregnant and starting to show.
  • This looks to me like a “father hunger” election. A fatherless generation is looking for a Father in Washington. The President won single women by 38%. The President, as a man abandoned by his own father, is in a unique position to appeal to the needs, desires, and fears of the fatherless (there’s a deep connection between father hunger, sexual “freedom,” and envy). He put out a famous ad about the life of Julia, a single woman who has most of her needs provided for her by the federal government, from high school through old age. In the liberal vision, the State replaces the father as the direct provider for the family. I predict that the State will make a lousy dad.
  • This election is a further flowering of the 1960’s sexual revolution (and associated movements). The media, government schools, universities, and culture-makers are overwhelmingly progressive and hostile to the gospel and the Scriptures. As someone said, you can’t fight a culture war if you don’t have a culture. It seems to me that figuring out what a godly culture is and cultivating it within our churches and communities is one of the chief challenges for Christians.
  • Some day President Obama and all those who support the murder of unborn children will stand before the God who gives life. That’s a terrifying consolation.
  • A hermeneutical question for Bible-believing Christians: Does God still judge nations today for specific sins, and do we have the ability to recognize his intentions in historical events? Natural disasters, willful blindness of leaders, societal disintegration: are these God’s judgment for specific sins and how can we know? It seems to me that recovering our prophetic voice means learning to stand in God’s council and then to interpret the present time in light of God’s authoritative word.
  • A practical question for Bible-believing Christians: Will we continue to hold the line on the Bible’s teaching on sexuality and gender in the face of increasing hostility, opposition, and marginalization? Will we continue to be the 7,000 who don’t bow the knee to Baal?

“Here’s what I’m preaching and praying for myself in light of the downward trajectory of this country:

  • Love your wife. May she never desire to look to the State for provision and protection.
  • Love your [children]. May they never pray in their hearts, “Our Father which art in Washington.”
  • Teach your students. May they think and feel and live like Christians all the way down.
  • Pray for the mercy and justice of God. May His kingdom come and His will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
  • Remember that there are only two ways to live and two ways to die. And in God’s world, faithful death always leads to resurrection.
  • Cultivate a genuine counter-culture where God has planted you. Generational love and faithfulness; honor to godly authorities; wise husbands and fathers who provide for their households; strong wives and mothers who don’t fear what is frightening; care for widows, orphans, and the unborn and their mothers; and a readiness to give gospel love when the Lie comes undone.
  • Hope in God and laugh at the time to come.

Gladly trusting in the Lord of history.”

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Lindsay Carron's Rorschach for America

Encouragement for God’s people when “the strength of those who bear the burdens is failing.”  When “there is too much rubble” and “by ourselves we will not be able to rebuild the wall.”  (Nehemiah 4:10)

 

1.  KNOW WHOM TO FEAR

* “Do not rebel against the Lord and do not fear the people of the land. (Numbers 14:9)

* “Do not be in dread or afraid of them.”  (Deuteronomy 1:29)

* “You shall not be in dread of them, for the Lord your God is in your midst, a great and awesome God.” (Deuteronomy 7:21)

 

2.  CONTEND

* “Be of good courage, and let us be courageous for our people, and for the cities of our God, and may the Lord do what seems good to him.” (2 Samuel 10:12)

* “Remember the Lord who is great and awesome an fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.” (Nehemiah 14:9)

* “Contend for the faith…For certain people have crept in unnoticed…ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” (Jude 1:3-4)

 

3.  OUR CHARGE UNTIL CHRIST RETURNS

* “Engage in business until I come.” (Luke 19:13)

* “Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning…you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Luke 12:35, 40)

* “We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work.” (John 9:4)

* “To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.” (Ephesians 6:10-18)

 

4.  OUR PROMISE

* “The gates of hell shall not prevail against [the Church].” (Matthew 16:18)

* “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. (Revelation 22:12)

 

 

[Painting: Rorschach for America by Lindsay Carron;

thank you to Dana Young for his verse compilation.]

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2 Samuel 10:12

Be of good courage, and let us be courageous for our people and for the cities of our God, and may the Lord do what seems good to him.

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I am heart-broken today…

 

I am heart-broken for the unborn who silently plead for rescue from their mothers;

 

I am heart-broken for the financial weight my children and grandchildren will bear in taxes (direct and indirect) and the resulting decrease in funds they will have to meet their needs and pursue their happiness;

 

I am heart-broken for America as she trades her character of overcoming and horizons for a character of jealousy, covetousness and victim-hood;

 

I am heart-broken for our grandchildren and the messed-up concepts of family and marriage that we’ve dealt them;

 

I am heart-broken for myself and our aging parents as our healthcare will NEVER compare to what past generations have expected and appreciated (where will my Canadian friend and his family go now?);

 

I am heart-broken for the loss of freedom in our country as conscience and conviction of principles are denied expression and legal protections;

 

I am especially heart-broken because I fear America is under judgment (and why in the world not?) as God removes his protections from us, giving us over to our reprobate minds.  Yet much of the American church is busy about building their “mega” empires and is opting for a palatable, feel-good, ego-centric gospel instead of sackcloth and ashes.

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