Thursday, May 30, 2019

Onward Christian Soldiers

  One of the more humorous comments recorded of a soldier during the American Civil War was this one.
"You can tell a person's rank in the Union Army by looking at the seat of his pants. If he has no holes in his pants bottom he is probably a Captain. If he has one hole he is a Lieutenant, and if he has two holes on his backside you can be sure he is a Private"
  What was that enlisted man, (who was probably a private himself ) trying to say? I believe the meaning is obvious.  What he was so eloquently insinuating was that it is the Enlisted Men that were doing most of the fighting. The common soldiers were the ones taking the brunt of the hardships in the many of the campaigns and on the endless battlefields. It was not the President, nor Congressmen, or even the high ranking Generals out on the front lines. It was the former farmers, store clerks, butchers, bakers, fishermen, blacksmiths and a thousand other professions, young and old, plodding down muddy, deadly roads, in hopes of victory.
  A Confederate soldier once wrote in a letter to his folks back home these words, " I never shoot at an Officer. I only shoot at Privates. I figure it's the Privates that are the ones I have to worry about. They're the only ones doing the fighting."  Even President Abraham Lincoln had some fun joking about the importance of his generals. On hearing a report from the battlefield that one of his general had been captured along with a hundred horses he remarked, "I am sorry for the horses. I can make a Brigadier General in five minutes, but its not easy replacing a hundred horses."
  Now I am not saying that high ranking leadership is not important in a conflict. Planners and Decision makers are a strategic element for any battle and they are men of courage too. But I am in agreement with those voices from both sides of the Civil War on this simple point.  It is the common, everyday warrior, no matter what his station or education in life that makes the difference in the battle.
  That powerful fact is clearly proclaimed over and over in the Scriptures.  Paul writing to the Church in Ephesus states, " God gave the Church Apostles, Prophets, Evangelist, Pastors and Teachers." These are the leadership of the Body of Christ, the generals, the officers (so to speak) for the churches. However, what do they exist for?  They are there to equip the foot soldiers, the frontline troops, for the battles ahead.  Paul continues by saying, " they are for the perfecting, equipping of the saints for the work of service."  Eph. 4:11,12
  To the Church at Corinth he wrote, "God has chosen the foolish things to confound the wise, the weak things of the world to confound the things the world calls mighty."
1 Cor. 1:27
  The spiritual battles in this world will not be won solely from the pulpits of grand cathedrals, or from the pens of skilled christian writers, not from golden throated gospel singer, nor from celebrated television evangelists.  The strongholds of the enemy will be brought low by spirit equipped, fearless, uncompromising, determined christian foot soldiers. the PRIVATES of Christ's Victorious Army.

Monday, May 27, 2019

The Unfinished Dash

Every Memorial Day in the United States, you can drive past any cemetery and observe a common sight.
There upon the manicured landscape, stand teary eyed visitors, come to honor the fallen.  The names on the headstones are all different, but each one shares the same simple message. On the granite surface, carved for generations to read, are a date of birth and the date of the loved one's death. There is also another chisel mark to acknowledge, there in a simple straight line between the two dates, is a dash. The date of our birth is important to be sure, as is the date of our departure from this life.
But the dash represents a person's life, from first breath to last gasp. It is a silent mystery known partially to a few souls, but of course known completely by God.
It cannot be emphasized strongly enough to say that the dash is the most important part of our existence. It's not the country of our birth, or the length of our days on Earth, not even the place of our death that really matter.  Here is the main question we all must answer.  What did we do with our life?  What noble, unselfish, merciful, loving, sacrificial acts are going to be recorded silently within the Workman's stroke called, the Dash?  One of Abraham Lincoln's famous quotes was this, " In the end, it's not the years in your life that counts. It's the life in your years."
For you and I, we need to take an honest inventory of our lives. The Bible cautions us with this truth, " Tomorrow belongs to no man."  How long is our DASH? No one knows, but God.  The wisdom of the Book of Psalms says it like this, "Lord, teach us to number our days that we may present to you a heart of wisdom." Ps. 90:12
It is never to late to start changing what is going to be written unseen by future generations within our dash.  We need to start today, now, this moment. The writer of the Book of Ecclesiastes said, " The person who keeps looking at the clouds will never sow, and never harvest." Ecc. 11:4 
If you are reading this blog, you still have a dash to fill up with a good life that blesses others and pleases God.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Make Sure To Read Inside The Covers

Growing up many of us have heard the expression, " You can’t tell a book just by its cover."
How often have we been too quick to make a judgement without knowing all the facts, or made general statements about an individual without really knowing the person. There is a wonderful nugget of wisdom found in Proverbs 18:13
 'He who answers a matter before he hears the facts--it is folly and shame to him.' 
A current more common way to say it is like this, "There are two sides to every story." Abraham Lincoln fell into this trap early his life.

   The religious views of Abraham Lincoln are a matter of interest among scholars and the public. Lincoln grew up in a highly religious Baptist family. He never joined any organized Church, and was a skeptic as a young man. Lincoln was turned against organized Christianity by his experiences as a young man witnessing how excessive emotion and bitter sectarian quarrels marked yearly camp meetings and the ministry of traveling preachers. It was the inconsistencies in some church people and with certain church leaders that turned him off to the Church in general. It was the young Lincoln who stopped at the 'Cover' and in my opinion, he did not take a closer look inside the book.'
How many have become disillusioned at the flawed examples of God's people, and therefore labeled the whole thing called 'Christianity' as unworthy of further inquiry? Just Like Lincoln did.  Paul speaks on this matter in his Epistle to the Romans.
Ro. 2:23,24   "You are so proud of knowing God's laws, but you dishonor him by breaking them. No wonder the Scriptures say that the world speaks evil of God because of you.""

True, Christians at times have been a poor advertisement for the Gospel, or for the Person of Jesus Christ. But not all!
Take a moment to look beyond the shabby soiled cover, and take a sincere look by prayer at the real story. You will find that Jesus will reveal himself. And He will not disappoint you. It is in those times of deep need and genuine searching, that the Lord will make His wonderful presence and story known.

Lincoln frequently referred to God and had a deep knowledge of the Bible, often quoting it. Lincoln attended Protestant church services with his wife and children, and after two of them died he became more intensely concerned with his Faith.
Although Lincoln never made a public profession of Christian belief, several people who knew him personally claimed that he was a believer in Christ.
During his 1846 run for the House of Representatives, in order to dispel accusations concerning his Christian beliefs, Lincoln issued a handbill stating that he had "never denied the truth of the Scriptures". He confessed to believe in an all-powerful God, who shaped events and, by 1865, was expressing those beliefs in major speeches.   "HE TOOK  TIME TO LOOK INSIDE THE COVER"

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Starting to Blog Again

The reason for beginning this blog is in these troubled times we need to find strength and answers.  One of
those ways is to look to the past and see how others found victory and peace.  I can't think of a better example than the life of Abraham Lincoln.  As the months go on we will let the life and words of Lincoln help point us to where he found his strength because the ghost of Lincoln still speaks, because the God of Lincoln still speaks.

Many Americans don't realize that Lincoln actually instituted many forms of public recognition of God that we take for granted today.  During his presidency, he declared more days of prayer, fasting and thanksgiving than any president before or since.  And, few realize that our traditional Thanksgiving celebration became a national holiday only after Lincoln's proclamation in 1863.  Yet despite this pious pedigree, Lincoln was not actually committed to orthodox Christianity until close to the end of his life.

Then, in 1862, Lincoln's life took a dramatic turn.  The war was not going well for the Union, and Lincoln was being savaged in both the Yankee and Confederate press.  Personal tragedy struck as well, when his beloved son Willie died suddenly.  Lincoln's wife, Mary Todd, after the death of her son suffered great bouts of depression which caused her to turn to spiritism and seances--but her husband instead sought his solace in the Bible.  Confronted with the loss of little Willie and yet another devastating Union defeat at the second Battle of Manassas, a humbled Lincoln finally embraced Christ.  "My own wisdom seemed insufficient," he wrote to a friend.  I was "driven many times upon my knees  by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go."

Facing the country's disunity and the slavery issue, Lincoln saw no easy answers.  He became convinced that blame for the war lay on both sides.  Faced with the realities of the miserable conflict, he resigned himself to God's providence.

It was the horrors of war that forced him to seek refuge in God; and in Him was where he found true peace.  Lincoln's words speak for themselves.  He told a friend: "When everyone seemed panic-stricken, I got down on my knees before Almighty God and prayed.  Soon a sweet comfort crept into my soul."

Lincoln's comfort and peace came from a daily relationship with God.  Hopefully these blogs and your own personal time with God will bring you the same peace and comfort.