Hardy Jesuit missionaries had success in 17th century mission work among the Canadian Indians where Recollect priests failed. One reason consisted of the Jesuit decision to evangelize the “more prosperous and stable Hurons.” The Jesuits believed that any of them martyred while serving God would be immediately welcome in Heaven. They also saw evangelism as a long-term effort. They also focused on their work, not getting involved in land speculation or furs. They also proved capable of suffering torture. One Jesuit returned to the Hurons after being captured by Iroquois. Under torture he lost four fingers. Huron braves immediately valued the priest. He couldn’t read or write, the brave said, but seeing the priest survive the torture of losing his fingers removed doubt about his religious zeal.
However, Jesuit or Protestant, missionaries fought a losing battle in bridging the cultural divide between Europeans and Indians. Indians had no use for Jesus as the Single way to God. They also disliked any absolutism in belief and behavior. To them, Indian belief offered an equal choice. If warned that their belief was false, they shrugged nonchalantly.
Nor did they accept a divide in the after-life. They imagined a kind of “happy hunting...living... continuous existence doing what they had been doing here....” That’s why they had chosen items put in the grave with them. They envisioned fields of corn for them and acres of grass for their ponies in the after-life...and bartering among friends and fishing to their heart’s content.
Many Hurons, glad to build a chapel for study and worship, resisted living a new way, such as avoiding ritual cannibalism, premarital sex and gambling. One chief lamented that he didn’t expect God to expect so much of him. American Colonies, 107-111
All this sounds similar in the 21st century. –End Part I-
A woman worked in a steel foundry during WWII. She advanced to operating a 50 ton crane. She noticed very little absenteeism in the foundry, herself as an example. In fact, she was never absent, but not because she always felt well and never poorly. Like everyone, she had off days, like a headache. She wanted to stay home, but the vision of soldiers and sailors overseas fighting, or pulling dangerous duty, kept getting her out of bed, whenever she didn’t feel like it. She found that once on the job, she felt O.K. The Homefront, 132-133. I can say the same for Judy when still working. She might have to take Tylenol to get TO the day, but nothing kept her FROM the day.
Being a Christian is often like that. We don’t always feel like serving; or always want to have faith; or always want to be “on duty”; or always want to accept tough challenges. Like Royalists returning to power under Charles II, and after Cromwell, we sometimes want an easier life than Jesus imposes. But when we think of seeking an easier way, we consider Jesus, the Author and Completer of our Faith He left Heaven with God. He lived among us. He met every need confronting him. He loved even those hating him. He forgave even those killing him. His example is what motivates us to leave our laziness and get involved with him in life. When we do, we realize that Christian discipleship is always easier than self-centered living. The very willingness to persevere in serving equips us with the energy God needed to continue.
As a wagon train in 1864 stopped by the Platte River for lunch, they noticed a few Indians in the distance riding back and forth, charging, then retreating. Since the train’s horses had wandered into the valley away from the wagons, the Indians’ behavior seemed threatening. When the few Indians first seen became many Indians rising from hiding places, and racing on ponies towards the grazing herd, it was clear they intended to stampede the horses.
Anna Dell Clinkenbeard’s father stood in front of his wagon, at the head of the rest. Seeing the danger he quietly called his two grazing horses to come, and they instantly obeyed. As he led them back towards his wagon, other horses they passed in transit turned and followed until other men in the train rushed forward to secure their mounts.
By the time the onrushing Indians came to the train they found armed men awaiting. Foiled in their desire to steal, they became docile. Had it not been that Anna’s dad coolly and quickly called his horses, then marched them back through the others, disaster may have supervened. We cannot tell when the action of one, or a few, people can change the day. Diary – Anna Del Clinkenbeard – Journey Across Prairies to Oregon. From The Paper, November 28, 2013.
Lilly Diabetes – a company that provides options and resources for diabetics—planned to sponsor three drivers in a NASCAR race in Wisconsin this week. It revoked its sponsorship of one race driver because of a “racially insensitive remark” allegedly made by his father in 1980! The father denied being the source of the remark. San Diego U-T, 8/25/18. Note: that remark was apparently made in 1980—38 years before! Note also: it was the driver’s father, not the driver, who supposedly made it.
Why do American manufacturers flee terror-stricken—run scared—from comments spoken by a citizen speaking his piece 38 years ago? Then punish the man’s son by withdrawing sponsorship of his race car? Which, by the way, didn’t keep another firm from sponsoring him?
Isn’t 38 years too long to hold a grudge? And isn’t it a fallacy to punish a son for the possible wrongdoing of his father? How can we claim to be so mature and so tolerant of different views, yet be so easily offended by “politically incorrect views?”
It’s disgusting that a statement made 38 years before should punish the person NOT GUILTY of saying it. That’s guilt by association, the very charge civil libertarians make against law-enforcement personnel in ethnic communities. Yet, the very same people are demanding that judgment 38 years later.
That isn’t the worst of the hypocrisy. The very people loudest in condemning the 38 year old remark, because it offends their values, every day hear, and very likely use—the name of both God the Father and his Son Jesus in profane ways! How can they be so insensitive when hearing and using the name of the Great God and his Great Son blasphemed minute by minute—yet be so sensitive to an apparently racist remark a generation ago?
We have a nation of loud-mouthed profaners of God in Christ, who feel no guilt. Who make a fine distinction in their defense: they have a right to free speech when they profane God’s Name, but no one has the right of free speech to make racial comments about anyone else. We dishonor God but honor each other! We conveniently substitute political correctness for morality. Thus, we’re guilty if we say something unkind about each other but guiltless if we profane Almighty God! Jesus correctly said we accept praise from others but we don’t have the love of God in our hearts John 5:41-42.
Nevertheless, God will not forgive those who use his name profanely, vainly and carelessly. He will not forget those who so casually exalt themselves and unceremoniously dismiss him as an irrelevancy.
On June 22, 1881, a saloon in Tombstone, Arizona, decided a barrel of whiskey was too bad to drink. They rolled the offending barrel into the street to prepare for its return to the manufacturer. They popped the bunghole to measure the amount still in the barrel. Unfortunately, a man in the group lit a cigar and a spark from it fell into the bunghole. A massive explosion began a fire that turned four downtown city blocks of wooden buildings into ruins.
Unscrupulous owners of the Townsite Company immediately hired loafers and drifters to move on the vacant lots—possession being 9/10 of the law—and it seemed that Tombstone would experience another kind of explosion, with fire erupting from pistols. The dispossessed owners demanded protection. Ben Sippy, then town chief of police had left town on June 6 “for a two-week leave of absence.”
They turned to Virgil Earp as his temporary substitute. He proved more than adequate for the challenge. With a posse of trusted deputies, including brothers Morgan and Wyatt, Virgil visited every lot in dispute to warn each lot-jumper to vacate and let the court decide who owned it. When some refused and retired to their tent, the posse lassoed the tent poles and dragged the tent into the street. The jumpers grumbled, but complied.
For this action, Virgil Earp was hired as permanent chief of police. In addition he kept his part-time position as U.S. deputy marshal. The Last Gunfight, 167-169.
Judy and I tried to make birthdays happy occasions for her mother Helen and father-in-law Al. On her 80th I enclosed $5, $10 and $20 bills in envelopes and asked her to relate the Bible chapter representing each: for example $20, for the Ten Commandments, Exodus 20. That was while Grandma could still think reasonably clearly. All the while she struggled through the texts to get the money, Al sat in his chair beaming.
For Al’s 90th I gave him the amusing The Bad News (TBN), The Good News (TGN) list of scenarios.
TBN-You’re a sinner-----------------------------TGN-Jesus has forgiven you
TBN-You’re 90 years old ---------------------- TGN-You’ll live forever
TBN-It won’t be in Lindsay ------------------- TGN-It won’t be in Lindsay
TBN-You’ll leave many friends behind ----- TGN-You’ll greet many more ahead
TBN-Life here hasn’t been easy -------------- TGN-Heaven will never be hard
TBN-Some people here have been difficult --TGN-No one there will be
TBN-I’m going to be there too -----------------TGN-With all the people, you won’t see me much
TBN-There won’t be any chocolate to eat---- TGN-There won’t be any veggies to eat
TBN-Alaska won’t exist-------------------------TGN-You won’t miss it
TBN-Helen won’t be saying “Huh?”---------- TGN-She won’t be hard of hearing any more
TBN-Helen won’t be your wife---------------- TGN-Kinda like now, she’ll be your sister
TBN-Helen won’t do the washing------------- TGN-Your robe of righteousness won’t need it
TBN-Helen won’t wait on you hand&foot--- TGN-You’ll be doing that for others
TBN-There won’t be any Western novels or movies
TGN-There will be life abundant, real, exciting and stimulating
Birthdays are sometimes difficult to bear, especially as we get older. Making merry on the occasion; making merriment the emotion can emphasize celebration, not endurance.
The train carrying Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show to winter quarters in 1901 collided with another locomotive. Several persons died in the accident. More than a hundred were injured, among them Annie Oakley, Geronimo’s “Little Miss Sure-Shot.”
Husband Frank Butler pulled her unconscious from the wreckage. In the hospital afterwards he paced the room, always returning to her bedside, watching. She teetered between life and death that night. He saw a remarkable transformation as she did. Her thick chestnut hair began to change color. It continued to change over the next 17 hours. At the end of that time the doctors said she would survive but might not walk or shoot again. At the end of that time, her chestnut hair had turned white. She did walk again. She did shoot again. Two years later she appeared at the traps of a New Jersey gun club. She called, “Pull”, instantly cradled the gun to her shoulder and splintered the target. Annie Oakley smiled and said, “...Good as ever!” But she was never again the chestnut-haired woman. Without her knowledge, under duress she had never before experienced, those 17 hours hovering between life and death aged her body, if not her shooting skill. Crisis can prematurely age us. Great American Folklore, 491-492.
The six-year old boy stood still before his father, not looking in his eyes as dad encouraged him on his first day of school. Stone-cold fear and uncertainty stayed in his eye when dad left and until first-day experiences banished them. San Diego U-T, 8/16/18
Phyllis and Clyde Johnson’s boy didn’t want to leave home for his first day of school. Mom stood outside in the yard, arm extended toward him, ordering him to leave. He tried to return a number of times; her stentorian commands refused his request. Off he finally went. When he returned that afternoon, an entirely new boy, he bounced in delight all over the yard and house.
Dawn’s grandson stood at the van’s door, arms dropped at his side, eyes sad before the inevitable: a new school year had begun. His puckered lips could have cried had it prevented the inevitable. Since it didn’t, he surrendered to school days. 8/18
Then there was the little boy in Lincoln, Illinois, August, 1942. He didn’t know why mom accompanied him that day as they walked from home. She hadn’t been doing that. He didn’t know what it meant when she led him into a classroom of Central Grade School. Or what mom had in mind when she talked to the teacher—Miss or Mrs. McGrath. Nothing of finality dawned on him until she finished with the teacher and turned to him, hugging him and telling him goodbye. In a terror of abandonment he threw his little arms around her legs and begged her not to go, in fact, begged to return home with her.
Whatever the year, 1942 or 2018, the first day of a school year marks a tragedy in most kids. As that little urchin in 1942 learned, however, they get over it and one day—eventually—like that little boy, learn to love learning.
Then, of course, there’s always the exception. Gene and Audrey’s great-granddaughter ws accompanied to school by her mom the first day. Not long after both arrived, the little girl proudly announced, “OK, Mom, I’m fine. You can go home.” That’s when parents suddenly realize that their child is growing UP! Indeed, that’s when parents would rather STAY than be DISMISSED.
The denouement of the series. Jesus has multiple joys and excitement for those who outdistance their past or present limitations and go forward to him. That may mean we have to alter present behavior, minimize irreplaceable relationships from the past and assume accountability in discipleship we previously shunned. If we rise to the challenge and dare to go forward with him, we’ll wonder only why we didn’t do it sooner and didn’t do it better.
But what if we won’t go forward to him and with him in his new, difficult life? First, he allows us to stay where we are, where we’re comfortable, where we decide when and how to serve, where we accept the challenges we feel are within our capability.
Second, his willingness to honor our free-will doesn’t include his decision to retreat to our position. THAT he will never do. When he seeks servants of his new life, to be an example of his superior life, to walk or run or crawl forward to his higher level, he chooses those willing to change, wanting to change and paying the price to change.
The challenge to individual Christians, then: determine that you’re not going back to what you were. Indeed, determine that you’re not even content to be what you are. You’re determined to go forward to whatever Jesus has for you. If others we know insist on remaining in the comfort of old lifestyles, that’s their right, but don’t make it your problem. Jesus possesses excellence he’ll share with all who go forward with him. If others join, they share. If we go alone, we gain the advantage. Whatever, go to Jesus and stay with him. Advance into his greater life, however incrementally; and into his Infinite, Mysterious Presence, however fearfully. Above all go to and stay with Jesus. –Fini-
Whether choosing between danger ahead, and safety behind, God orders his people to go forward. The blogs this week came from the writer’s personal experience.
The old story, probably apocryphal, is told about Augustine. He truly led a dissolute life; searching in every nook and cranny of life for meaning. In despair he turned to Jesus: SUCCESS! One day a former female associate passed him. He didn’t acknowledge her. With feminine pertinacity she accosted him: “Augustine, it is I.” “I know, but it isn’t I,” came the reply.
The story seems apocryphal because Augustine wouldn’t have stopped by denying his former life. He would have encouraged the woman to discover Christ’s forgiveness in repentance and baptism.
That challenges us to turn into a witness what begins as a personal relationship with Christ. The message of Christ should always be forwarded to others, not cocooned inside our own experience. The very changes Jesus makes in us prove a stalwart testimony to those who knew us beforehand. While an example is worth many words, Jesus never simply set an example; he always employed words to substantiate and explain it.
A simple principle should guide our witnessing: the impact it makes on us as we deliver it. If it increases our confidence, and impresses the prospect, maintain it. If it continually falls on wayside soil, without result, sow in another soil.
What is our short or long term goal as a Christian? What kind of disciple do we want to be a year, or five years, from now? Extrapolate into those years what we presently are. Will our present views, relationships and habits lead us forward to the goal, however incrementally; or leave us diverted from it, a failed-witness because we didn’t correct thoughts and behaviors that kept us from the Christ-likeness we wanted to possess but didn’t take time to cultivate in daily life? -End Part III-