Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.
But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven. Matthew 10:33
I’m reading the memoirs and letters of General U.S. Grant, something I’ve meant to do for a long time. I am struck how things are now as they ever were. The issues have changed, but the behavior of people is much the same.
There was a force at Camp Jackson just outside St. Louis whose command, at least, was sympathetic to the Southern States. They were well-positioned to capture the United States Arsenal there, gaining much materiel for the Southern cause. For reasons Grant himself couldn’t fathom, they never moved on that objective and were eventually captured and imprisoned.
What I found fascinating in all of this and more is how vocal those of the rebellion were against the silent voices of Unionists. Following is a very short excerpt from the St. Louis affair.
Up to this time (their capture) the enemies of the government in St. Louis had been bold and defiant, while Union men were quiet and determined. The enemies had their headquarters in a central and public position…from which the rebel flag was flaunted boldly. The Union men had a place of meeting somewhere in the city, I do not know where, and I doubt whether they dared to enrage the enemies of the government by raising the national flag outside their headquarters. As soon as the news of the capture of Camp Jackson reached the city the condition of affairs was changed. Union men became rampant, aggressive, and, if you will, intolerant. (emphasis added)
Elsewhere Grant relates how Missouri, for example, was a slave state, but failed to vote in favor of secession. Still, they were represented in the South’s congress. With the intent of the few thwarted, when the pro-south governor died, his lieutenant rightly assumed the governorship, but then simply issued executive orders declaring them part of the Southern secession, despite the will of the people by vote!
In the late 20th Century and on through the present day, the United States has been in the process of secession from God. This is a movement that has been led by a vocal minority while Christians, afraid of a confrontation, have remained silent. We find ourselves now at a point where homosexuality is not regarded as a sin, that evolution is accepted fact despite scientific proofs to the contrary, and so many minds have been swayed by the one-sided discussion that Christians find themselves on the outside looking in.
Who’s doing all of the talking? The atheists, who, by the way, believe in God and are simply angry at Him for some reason. If there is no God, if what anyone believes makes no difference when we die, what in the world are they so up in arms about? People with that much fervor have a lot of belief!
Meanwhile, we’ve sat in our pews all comfy with our hymns and orders of service and tried to just hope and pray this will all pass by. Our opposition has more faith and commitment than we do! Despite our familiarity with at least a few favorite Bible passages, we don’t ACT on them! We all know is that we are to put on the armor and weapons of God’s Word, but only in an intellectual, ethereal way. How many of us are willing to actually swing that sword and take a shot on the armor in real life?
We’ve been quiet and let the minority sway the minds of our friends and our children! OUR CHILDREN!!
It seem good always gives evil a head start by standing by as if it’ll all be OK in time. Always. Every time evil gets a bigger head start before good finally decides it’s a real fight after all. World War II was a lot closer than you might think, especially in the Pacific. Our navy was saved from its own errors, even stupidity, but for dumb luck. Providence, actually. With a capital, “P.”
Lest I sound too preachy, I have to say I’m writing this to myself as much as anyone. When, for example, was the last time I asked someone not to use Jesus’ name in vain while talking with me? Memory fails. And I’m ashamed that it does. I’m resolving to change that on any number of issues. When I hear something that isn’t right, I need to find a way to speak up and speak out in a loving, Christian way, but speak up all the same.
I invite you to pick an issue. Just one. Decide what you’re going to do or say about it. Get armored up in advance and then do something about it the next time that issue comes up. If you don’t, well…
…who’s doing the talking then?
I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. 1 Corinthians 16:21
See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand! Galatians 6:11
I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you. Colossians 4:18
I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand, which is the distinguishing mark in all my letters. This is how I write. 2 Thessalonians 3:17
I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. Philemon 1:19
Paul had a vision problem, probably a left over from his conversion experience on the Road to Damascus:
And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus,[b] who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.
It is thought that he normally dictated his letters, which make up most of our New testament Bible. You’ll see the five references above where Paul made the effort to write the letters himself. He even references his disability, mentioning how large/distinctive his handwriting is in the case of his letters to Galatia and Thessalonica.
What was the point? It came to me on Reformation Sunday when Pastor had borrowed a Lutheran bible that was printed at the time of the Reformation. It is over 500 years old, and it is a physical connection for us to that time. People lined up after the service to get a glimpse of this old Bible up close!
It’s amazing how a physical artifact can make a connection between people!
I remember once seeing a shoddy, old pencil in a display case at the Hayes Presidential Museum in Fremont, Ohio. Looking at the display card, I saw that it was the pencil used by Generals Grant and Lee to sign the surrender at Appomattox, effectively ending the Civil War. WOW! Out of everything I saw there that day, that’s the one thing that really made an impression on me; a pencil. A really cool pencil!
So getting a letter from arguably the greatest of the apostles in his own handwriting would have an impact.
Emails. They’re easy, fast, and inexpensive…not counting the equipment and internet access needed! I used to write a lot of letters to friends over the summers between years at college. There was always a gathering around the student mailboxes during the school year every day to see if we got a letter from home, relatives…ANYBODY! Or maybe we just got “airmail”; an empty box.
The last time I visited The ‘Berg I don’t think there were any mailboxes. No need for them in the electronic age, I guess.
But then I got a letter from a friend a few months ago, and it was such a pleasure. A real letter in someone’s own handwriting! I mean, who does that anymore?
So I made an adjustment this week. I got a box of blank notecards. I sent one to the group that went to Haiti and made a presentation on it last Sunday. I just wanted to say thank you in a tangible, personal way.
This morning a I sent another card with a very brief note to a friend and her three grown children who lost their husband and father a few months ago. I continue to pray for them, but a thinking-of-you, handwritten note will have a much greater impact than a too-easy email.
This is part of a bigger imperative; doing things for people! Jesus was very plain that we should do good things for others, especially widows and orphans, the disadvantaged and defenseless.
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27
14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. James 2:14-17
If you really want to say hello to someone, say it in handwriting. Don’t go cheap, buy a card, and just sign it. Write something from you. Send it by snail mail. Stamp and everything.
Let’s…get personal. Again!
For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
How appropriate after yesterday’s article abut prayer!
Do you ever go to pray alone in the sanctuary of your church? This is something I began doing occasionally and have been amazed at how praying in God’s house is so much better!
Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought.3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’
4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”
6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:1-8
I pray. Not as often or as regularly as I should, but I do. In the early ‘80’s I started using a daily devotional called Portals of Prayer by Concordia Publishing. I started keeping a list of people and issues to pray about. I still use Portals of Prayer, and I still keep a prayer list. There are people on that list I haven’t seen in years. Terrence, for example. I only met him once, but he had a huge impact on me, and I continue to pray for him. I came to understand that God orchestrated our meeting through an Elaborate Plan; of that there is no doubt. That was in 2015. I still pray for Terrence.
I pray for America and our deliverance from the continuing slide away from God and our founding principles. I pray for the faithful remnant of Christians that have not relinquished their faith, that they are protected and strengthened. Meanwhile, the discrimination against us grows.
I pray for people who are sick and not likely to recover. I hold out prayerful hope that the cancer will be vanquished, that damaged minds will be recovered, that a more merciful death be given since death must come at some point. I don’t see that ground has been gained so far, but I keep praying.
Am I a fool? No. Clearly, we are to continue to “bother” God with our prayers. Many cases exist of prayers answered, of cancers and diseases being healed in this age. I’ve gone from extreme loss back to a good life, not too unlike Job. Things do get better sometimes. Other times the dark side wins.
Jesus healed hundreds if not thousands of people. They’re all dead now, but His mercy shone as a glimpse of a greater mercy to come.
I pray for mercy in this life. I pray for the healing and recovery of a number of people. Some prayers are simply for continued well-being, for salvation, a softened heart to accept Jesus as Savoir, or whatever the need might be. Prayers for some people have gone on for many years. Some short term issues are added and dropped off as things change.
Do I sometimes get tired of saying the same prayers for the same people year after year? Yes, there are some days when I look at my list and sigh. But I gather myself, remembering the persistent widow of Jesus’ parable, and come to God yet again.
Sometimes I just name the people and picturing in my mind what I’m asking for them because I words feel inadequate. Finally, when I reach the end of my list again, I wrap it all up with the Lord’s Prayer. I say it as slowly as I can, stopping after each part and looking at the people’s names, praying that part for them.
Then I close my Bible with the list tucked safely in its pages and put it on the shelf for tomorrow for my next appointment with The Almighty.
9 “This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’
14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.