I admit, in my lifetime I have not seen this country so divided. I lived through a potion of segregation and saw the end of Jim Crow. I recall when Martin Luther King was assassinated and can remember motorcycle gangs roaring down the streets of Baltimore following the assassination. Yet, somehow this country largely pulled together to stand for right. Petty differences were laid aside in hope of a uniting nation. King, in part, sought to draw people together by reason of a common thread. That thread was that we were, and remain, of the same substance. That substance remains in that we are all human beings made in the image of God. Because of that there is more to bind us than to divide us.
I clearly recall the time this nation was attacked. Our towers in New York were destroyed. The Pentagon was a target and another plane went down in Pennsylvania. All of a sudden there were United States flags everywhere. The people of this land began to stand shoulder-to-shoulder. A return to God began to be the mantra of the hour. We were all United States citizens and there would be no force to break that bond. Unfortunately, this bond of unity would not last. The ugliness of divisiveness would soon rear its ugly head. All of a sudden everyone was to blame except those perpetrating the most horrendous acts.
Now, not long after those tragic events we had an election. The election was legally won and our new President will soon take office. Yet, there are some that see reason to be divisive and call the soon to be Head of State illegitimate. Others have chosen not to attend the presidential inauguration by reason of the false rhetoric of an illegitimate election. These words and actions have only served to divide a nation that is already in the worst state of harmony that I can recall in my lifetime. Well, enough of this divisiveness already!
Frankly, the Church has not acted much better. Perhaps this is why the country is acting so untoward. It is high time the Church began to remove the ridiculous rhetoric of divisiveness and rancor and began to pull together according to the Word of God. There is no room in the House of God for division. There is much room for love. After all, men will know that we are brothers by our love. That love is not merely a purported love for God. No, it is action taken which shows that we love each other. This could mean helping a family in need of help. It may mean lending a shoulder to cry on. That love might also me demonstrated in helping to heal the hurts of the past. No matter how that love is demonstrated it serves not to divide. Instead, true love serves to unite. This is the ministry of those that love; reconciliation.
The example of love demonstrated by the Church is a love that is apt to spill into the world. Even so, the love the Church demonstrates is really a type of love provided by the Godhead. The fact is that God so loved the world that He gave His son. The Son so loved that He gave His life. The Holy Spirit so loves that He dwells in man. Love is a reciprocal matter that has not time to entertain divisiveness. Love is not familiar with rancor. Instead, love seeks to reconcile broken people to those who have been hurt and damaged by the abomination of hate.
King was right. One’s pigmentation is not a matter that should be considered in any instance. Instead, we should look to the heart of man as God does. We live in a strong nation and ought not to be divided by the vitriolic and visceral verbiage of those that choose not love. The divisive nature of some in this country is only causing a divide that could bring about the downfall of this great nation. This is unacceptable and far from Christ-like. Enough of this divisiveness! It is time we broke the bands of this that binds us and remember the part of King’s dream that can and must be more than a dream. He looked forward to the day when we all can join together and not just sing the old Negro spiritual but actually walk in the words – Free at last, free at last. Thank God, almighty, we’re free at last!
The greatest thing about celebrating the birth of Christ is the joy we have in knowing His gift to us is life!
There are many different thoughts on celebrating Christmas, and I find it something that seems to bring conflict to many who follow Christ! While many believe that practicing what originally began as a pagan celebration is wrong, the fact is that Christians turned it into a day to celebrate the birth of Christ. Others find it wrong that we celebrate birth at all. The birthday was not something that was celebrated by early Jews.
We are not instructed in the Bible to celebrate the birth of Jesus, but it is notable that the birth was noted in the Bible itself with the honoring of the baby by Angels declaring His birth, by Wise Men looking for Him and bringing gifts to celebrate His coming and recognizing the importance of His future Kingship. The gospels do not give us a date of His birth, and yet they do emphasize the importance…
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Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the LORD: “The LORD looked down from His sanctuary on high, from heaven He viewed the earth, to hear the groans of the prisoners and release those condemned to death.” So the name of the LORD will be declared in Zion and His praise in Jerusalem when the peoples and the kingdoms assemble to worship the LORD. Psalm 102:18-22
Isaiah 9:2-7 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as men rejoice when dividing the plunder. For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor. Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire. For to usa child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. Andhe will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will…
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Comfort, comfort my people says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.
A voice of one calling: “In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
A voice says “Cry out.” And I said, “What shall I cry?”
“All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the…
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In light of some of the problems that plague the United States many have either forgotten or have never know what the “American dream” is really about. There is a considerable lack of understanding of why our founding fathers fled the oppressive hand of one, King George. Well, there is little sense in rewriting the history books. However, it serves great purpose to examine two points of interest in respect to the founding of the United States as it relates to the American dream.
Item one – The matter of religious freedom under King George was much less than a misnomer. One had to essentially celebrate his way or no way. This is to say that King George preferred a State religion. It was, in a manner of speaking, a type of the bondage held by the Romans over the Jews. The Israelites were not allowed to worship God as they desired. They had to worship predicated upon the desires of the ruling authority. This was the problem between King George and those that sought freedom.
The real American dream had much to do with religious freedom. The preamble of the Constitution of the United States points to our Creator. It is our Creator that affords us the freedoms outlined in the Bill of Rights. The chief freedom is that of religion (or Christianity) as seen by our founding fathers. The 1st Amendment says in part that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…” Hence, part of the American dream is one that allows the free worship of God without interference from Government. Note, the Amendment says nothing about freedom from religion, as some purport. Instead, the Christian need not hide or celebrate in private. He has every right to worship God publically without fear of governmental retaliation.
Still, there are those that seek to destroy Christianity. Christians are the only group of people wherein it is politically correct to offend and attack. Christians are the only ones forced to acquiesce to things contrary to the teachings of Scripture. Moreover, when Christians stand for godly virtues they are called everything but the children of God. Well, this is not what the founding fathers had in mind and this is not pleasing to God. The question, then, is where is the American dream for Christians desiring only to please God?
Item two – Article One, Section Eight of the Constitution discusses taxation. This is important because King George had no trouble imposing high taxes on the people. Among the taxes imposed on the young Colonies were the Tea, Quartering and Stamp taxes. None of these taxes did anything to aid America (not yet the United States) but served only to bolster the British desire. This was, in essence, theft of labour. This is why taxation, as outlined in the Constitution, was designed to be limited in scope and for the specific purpose of defending the homeland. The exact verbiage in part is, “The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States.”
Now, some argue that taxes should be high. Some even seek to biblical reason for such actions. While it is good and wonderful for the people to be generous and give of their labour it is not encumbered upon the Government to force such generosity. This is tantamount to slavery. Instead, part of the American dream is a dream to work and be successful. Some will fail and others will not. This really does not matter; the pursuit of happiness means there will be a struggle and that struggle comes in many forms. Financial stability, without an oppressive tax system, goes a long way to securing the American dream.
Many things can be addressed and the Constitution can be juxtaposed with Scripture on many fronts. And that is the point – freedom and the real American dream is a dream of worshipping God, even with our money, away from the oppressive hand of King George and the like.
Working in a maximum security prison with hardened inmates I get to see a lot of things. One of the things I see regularly is men walking around with walls so thick that it would take bulldozers to penetrate those walls. Yet, when I bring those same men in my office to speak with them the frailties begin to shine through. The walls are really a front because in the prison setting showing any sign of weakness could mean life or death.
My point is that while many put on strong fronts mankind is extremely frail. We are frail because we need to realize that we exist because of the strength of God that resides in those of us that rely and trust on the Lord of our Salvation. Despite this there are some who see themselves as strong and that they should be strong for those around them. This idea seems strange because it suggests that one should live outside what he is in order to present as something he is not. Let me explain.
My work as chaplain means that I have to deal with people in all stages of life. One stage is sickness. You see, very recently a young man, not yet in his thirties, suffered a stroke while on the unit. This young man was rushed to a local hospital and I was notified. I quickly notified the family of the disease ridden young man. From there I determined I would visit him in the hospital and find a way to authorize a family visit. The warden was quick to approve the family visit and my plans to visit were being finalized.
At the appointed time I went to the hospital. Family members were there before I was. The young man, while conscious, was not very responsive. Family members and friends were apparently broken as they saw the helplessness of the young man and their own weaknesses. Out of well meaning one family friend advised the mother to be strong for the young man. This, in my view, is the problem. The mother had no ability to be strong. Her young son was lying in a hospital bed with no sure prognosis. He was moving yet not communicating. A young man who might have been thought strong was quite frail and frail indeed.
The mother could not contain herself. She was unable to stay in the room. He son was not only a ward of the state but also a ward to the trouble that rests in his body. She would not be comforted. She could not be comforted. Her human frailty began to break forth the more she considered the dire state of the son she loved. It was not within her to be strong. It was only within her to weep and morn. Her weakness allowed her to be human.
When we consider biblical characters Paul might be said to be amongst the strongest. His evangelical tours proved to be more than undetermined weak people could consider. The strength of Paul was enough to move him forward. The weakness of Paul allowed him to trust God. This idea of the weakness of Paul is amplified in II Corinthians chapter twelve. Paul’s continued reliance on God caused him to realize just how weak he was. It was also opportunity for the strength of God to be realized in frail man.
With this, I would encourage all to lay aside the idea that we should be strong on every count. As I left that hospital room and headed back to the prison my weakness began to come forth. It was all I could do not to cry. This was coupled with the fact that the day before I attended the funeral of a family member of a co-worker. Yes there are times when we must reach down in order to pull some who have given in to weakness. Even so, we are only able to pull because of the strength of God that resides in us. Do not be ashamed of the frailty of humanity. Instead, in frailty allow the strength of God to pour in and through you.