In 1804 a group of New England senators conspired to split New England and New York from the U.S. When asked to be the military leader, Alexander Hamilton refused. The conspirators turned to Aaron Burr, who hesitated. He wasn’t ready for the step then, though in 1806 he led an effort to seize Spanish possessions and establish himself as the king of a southern confederacy.
When Hamilton refused the appeal in 1804, Burr urged him to reconsider. When Hamilton said he had too much morality to make such a decision, Burr replied, “General, all things are moral to great souls.” Internet
There’s only a baby step from saying “great souls” make their own morality to saying “any interest group willing to be loud enough, persistent enough and public enough” can get their own view of morality accepted and tolerated!
The Women’s Liberation movement is one of those causes. The Liquor industry in America is one of those causes. The homosexual/lesbian lobby is one of those causes. The One World, “Washington Can Do It All Good, with No Harm” advocates of socialized everything is one of those groups. The Humanist Manifesto authors, who remove God from their thinking, and elevate human thought as the final arbiter, is another.
Wherever God’s Son asserts his authority, Satan claims his instead. The contest is uneven, however. Jesus holds ALL Authority, in heaven and on earth Matthew 28:18-20. That leaves NONE for anyone else, including the devil and all his underlings in and out of government, business, the unions, the military, the universities, et al. It includes all who consider themselves above God’s eternal word. Which cannot change because his Eternal SON—his Living WORD, authors it.
When Jesus returns to claim the victory he won at the Cross and the Tomb, “on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory,” Matthew 24:30, God’s elect will shout themselves hoarse in exaltation, but “all the nations of the earth will mourn,” Matthew 24:30b, Revelation 1:7e. The redeemed delirious with joy because they humbled themselves before Christ’s authority. The nations mourning and despairing, but without repentance, Revelation 9:20-21, because they arrogated to themselves HIS PLACE, declaring that “all things are moral to great souls.”
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After the Revolution Boston formed militia companies. One, called the Hussars, allowed only the financially and socially prominent to belong—with good reason: equine equipment itself cost $800. The captain sat his white charger as he drilled the men. The Sea Fencibles paraded armed with cutlasses and pikes. Others called themselves New England Guards and Independent Cadets.
Often called to non-existent crises, they went with aplomb. Once, called from a dancing class, a member had to march in dancing pumps. When not marching, they attended “military academies,” one of which specialized in “Cane Fighting,” since it was the weapon of choice when Federalists and Republicans attacked each other. They even marched during the War of 1812, not to fight, but to enjoy the bountiful feast afterwards.
The Regulars naturally held them all in contempt. While the militia paraded for show, the Regulars did the necessary fighting. Bullfinch’s Boston, 236-238
When Jesus sent the Twelve, and later the Seventy, to represent him in Israel, see Matthew 10:1 and Luke 10:1ff, he considered them regular infantrymen armed with spiritual weapons to confront, engage and WHIP satanic forces. They went to SHOW his presence by OVERCOMING Satan.
It isn’t hard for Christians to make a good SHOW on Sundays. In fact, in copying the entertainment world, we excel. The fact is, however, we SERVE when scattered as we WORSHIP when gathered. Bold and sure as we feel when among Christians, Jesus demands we act as bold and sure among the unsaved.
You may read his scorching indictment of leadership hypocrisy in Matthew 23. It isn’t hypocrisy he attacks in Christians, but our reluctance to BE during the week what we SEEM in worship. For Jesus equips us to WORK as well as SHOW! To have substance equal to our appearance.
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A.C. and Emily Craig left Chicago by train August 25, 1897, headed for the Klondike gold fields. The guide hired by their group promised to have them in Alaska in six weeks. Not much later, his rosy promise fading, he deserted. To make a long and interesting story short, the six-week trip turned into a two-year odyssey. By the time they arrived the Rush was over. The Craig’s nevertheless stayed on in Alaska. (A picture on page 50 of Klondike Women, Melanie Mayer, author, looks very much like the writer’s mother. Except that Mom was prettier.)
The story relates to us spiritually. Jesus promised to get us into Heaven, into God’s Very Presence, into eternal life. Not at the cut-rate prices so freely offered in many religions and not a few churches. But at the cost of self-denial, the scariest teaching in the Gospels since it takes aim at our jealously-guarded self-will. And not only at the cost of self-denial, but of relentless faithfulness till death Mark 13:12-13.
Entering into God’s rest remains possible because it’s THERE, whether we enter or not. It’s available, whether we seek it or not Hebrews 4:9-11. But God warns us we can’t force our way in by the dint of human works and worth. Or by some specious religious experience that delights us but offends GOD. It’s guaranteed if we come to Jesus; confess our sins; are baptized, asking him to remove our sins. Then live faithfully in self-denial, aware that his GRACE compensates for our failures to obey, even when you try. Heaven can be achieved if we seek it through the WORTHY Christ of God. No one who trusts in him will ever fail to enter the Father’s HOUSE.
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U.S. Cavalry pushed across the Staked Plains on a punitive expedition against Comanches. On picket duty one night a trooper secured himself to his mount with a lariat that he made fast to his body. He remarked that his horse couldn’t stray if securely tied. The precaution cost his life. A buffalo herd thundered towards the troopers that night. The spooked horse ran away, dragging the hapless trooper to his death.
Sent back to Astor in New York with dispatches from Astoria, Oregon, John Reed stuffed them in a tin case he soldered and strapped to his shoulder. The sight of the box attracted the attention of Indians lurking on the fringes of the travelers. Considering it “great medicine” by being so carefully guarded, they grew obsessed with its importance.
They attacked the sleepers at night, cut it loose from Reed, slicing his head in five places when he resisted. The very precaution taken to protect the box nearly cost Reed his life and did cost the important news for Astor. (Apology to readers. These are true stories, but I have no present access to the sources.)
These examples of excessive preparation in earthly causes condemn our careless attention to discipleship. When have we ever been so dependent on God that we over-pray? Or so generous in giving that we over-pay our tithes? Or so determined to gain his wisdom that we over-read God’s Word? Or so concerned about souls that we over-witness to the lost?
As Jesus said in his parable of duty, Luke 17:1-10, “So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’” Duty itself summons our best, and beyond. Love of God never reaches a saturation point where we can do no more.
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While Solomon urged us not to wish for the “good old days,” experiences in memory and life sometimes arouse us to “remember when.”
Turner Classic Movies had a program based on old movies about Dawson, Alaska, before and during the Alaskan Gold Rush. The films had been preserved in permafrost. They showed life in Dawson 1897 to the middle 1920’s.
So there Judy and I were, on September 9, 2018, sitting in our Oceanside living room watching films about Dawson Canada from 1897-1920’s. The irony struck me. People in Dawson packed theaters in the early 1900’s to see what was happening in the outside world. And we in the outside world were fascinated by what was happening in Dawson in the last decade of the 19th and early decades of the 20th century.
Or consider: in the manner of many others, we visited New Salem State Park when living in Illinois. There we saw how simply Abraham Lincoln lived as a young man. The writer may be mistaken, but it seems the movie Young Mr. Lincoln had him re-visiting New Salem from Springfield after it had been abandoned and broken.
In many ways the “good old days” keep recurring. And nothing in our determination to “forget the past and focus on the future” will ever eliminate those recurrences. –End Part II-
Believers in Christ have a Faith anchored in the Past; Geared to the Present; and Fixed on the Future.
I looked at the seniors in attendance at our twice-monthly meetings at Cypress Court. I saw accumulated years of experiences worthy of relating, if only they could share them. From which younger people could learn valuable life-lessons, if only they were teachable.
Christians also have past experiences with Jesus that bolster their daily faith. We remember when we were lost in sin and when Jesus saved us. When we enjoyed church services in small, quiet places—and large, noisy churches.
Ahead of us a new body awaits, in a new world, focused entirely on God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit, blessed Three in One. Sorrows will then leave for good, never to return. And ecstasies will begin, and last forever. Tears will dry and laughter will continue. Loved ones in Christ preceding us will welcome us, never to be apart again, ever, eternally. In those noisy, joyous reunions, and new acquaintances, we’ll experience an everlasting JOY.
Let us remember our past. Anchored in God’s eternal word, it cannot change, giving us stalwart, permanent teachings. Let us embrace the present. The Holy Spirit reminds us that even now we are God’s children and temple. And let us anticipate the future in a perfect body fit for a perfect world and people. That future casts a glow over our everyday life—that grows brighter as we draw closer to it—until, beyond the darkness of death its light bursts upon us with blinding whiteness—to be broken by God’s love into every color we know now and colors we can only imagine. Then...after that...well, you’ll just have to be there to appreciate it. –Fini-
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Ecclesiastes 7:10: “Do not say, ‘Why were the old days better than these?’ For it is not wise to ask such questions.” Maybe not, but it’s endemic in us to do so.
In reality, as I have proof aplenty in my file, the Past keeps coming back to us. It’s never so far removed that it isn’t quickly retrieved. Even if you’ve ever had a memory, that’s the past returning, however briefly. Yesterday was our past, and any multiples of it a more remote, but a still pervasive presence. A newspaper clipping of an event from yesteryear; a 90 year-old veteran of Pearl Harbor addressing school children about his experiences; Greek or Roman jewels or monies being unearthed in an English pasture: the Past returning. Nevertheless, Solomon urged us to avoid a fixation on the past. He could have profited by researching and living by his father’s faith in God had he not been so involved with wives and wealth.
This writer has a volume called The Good Old Days—They Were Terrible. It’s adapted from the expansive Otto Bettman Archives. It details sober appraisals of life in an early America that inspired inventors to create better ways to live, to provide adequate medical care, to avoid sicknesses. Let one example suffice. Villages and cities dealing with manure from hundreds and thousands of horses welcomed the horseless carriage whose only waste was gas fumes. Until horses became a means of entertainment, not necessity, their waste built piles that hooves minced into fine particles. Which became dust clouds driven by winds into open windows of the communities, settling over tables, chairs and dishes. –End Part I-
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In business or basketball, in hospitals or homes, excellence means climbing to a higher level and advancing to a greater distance. It’s almost always a future event since it doesn’t exist in the past and hasn’t in the present. ONLY when the innovative leader appeared.
Jesus came as the exponential innovator in Israel and history.
In a day that considered the rich automatically blessed by God—who could be saved if they couldn’t, the disciples asked?, Mark 10:26, Jesus declared wealth a decided danger to the spiritual life. Contemporary Judaism decided that beggar Lazarus should consider a feast any scraps wealthy Dives threw him. Jesus instead said Dives went to Torment after dying and Lazarus into Abraham’s bosom.
In a day when simply being a descendant of Abraham seemed to assure spiritual privilege, Jesus preached repentance to all Jews so they could enter God’s kingdom Mark 1:14-15. In a Judaism that considered Samaritans foul-reprobates, polluting sacred Jewish blood with pagan blood, Jesus declared a SAMARITAN his model neighbor Luke 10:33. In a day when every Jew felt burdened by Roman soldiers, Jesus called a Gentile, Roman military leader the embodiment of faith unparalleled in Israel Matthew 8:10.
Suddenly, wherever Jesus went in Israel, or beyond, he touched lepers while under the curse, removing it; he valued the blind, touching their eyes to sight; he welcomed invitations from tax collectors, and even imposed on one to be his host, eating food Pharisees considered toxic; and humbled himself before women to accept their financial support, while other males choked back their disgust.
Jesus re-organized the whole social pecking order, putting first those the social leaders considered last—and LAST the aristocrats who put themselves FIRST. And Jesus didn’t care what the up and out thought or demanded. The social elite made no impression on him, much as they threw themselves at him by argument, questions and demands. Common people, especially little ones ferried by their mothers, HAD his attention merely by being anywhere close.
When the elite suffered, everyone consoled with them; were they not worth sympathy? When the poor and brokenhearted suffered, only Jesus appeared and comforted by cleansing and restoring. He stood by them, cheering them, supplying strength to their weakness and solutions to their problems.
Not for him the apparel or appearance of worldly wealth. The rich would have dressed him like their kind, from their own closets, had he been willing. Instead, coming from God, his Father’s Glory shot from every blink of his eyes; in every word spoken grace flooded from every glance and nod. What could anyone add to Deity when he chose to become a Man? He’s the One who could, and did, change all life by giving his life as our model.
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Prior to the battle at Fredericksburg in December, 1862, General Stonewall Jackson visited a family friend in Winchester, Virginia. He had dinner with them, and the doctor’s children climbed all over him as he reclined, loving the attention received. That put a human face on “Old Blue Light”, the man whose blue eyes shone with fury in battle.
Jeb Stuart sent, via an officer on his staff, a new uniform coat for Jackson. He was loathe to wear it, with its gold braid. However, when other Valley friends provided new boots, trousers and hat, the General acquiesced.
When Jackson returned to his battle position at Fredericksburg he noted a difference in his troops. Instead of the wild applause, and Rebel Yell usually shouted when he appeared, lukewarm clapping occurred. Not that the men had lost their enthusiasm for their chief. It was the new clothes! They were accustomed to the homespun Jackson in battered hat on Little Sorrel. The finery didn’t translate into Jackson. Nor did the new horse that temporarily replaced Little Sorrel. Stonewall Jackson as Military Commander, 170-171, 174
Some people, even the famous, can’t be as easily recognized when out of their usual habit, clothes and relationships. Jesus never had that problem. Wherever he appeared, and however many men with beards were seen, or wore the same kind of clothes, Jesus remained “head and shoulders above” anyone else. Power exuded from him as heat from the sun and strength from the wind. May it always be that Christ’s disciples bear his regal presence in their habits, speech and behavior. Amen.
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During the Normandy D-Day landings, 6 June, 1944, British war correspondent Richard Dimbleby—you have to love those British surnames; and their refusal to change or Frenchify them, àla some Americans—saw a French peasant. Though much closer to where bullets flew and shells exploded than Dimbleby, the old man worked by himself harrowing the field behind his horses. Up and back they walked, held under his control. Straight ahead he looked, to the end of his field, where he turned the team and plodded back, up and down the field, straight ahead the look. Reader’s Digest, WWII
To eliminate the fear that comes from Christian service; to keep our minds on Christ’s expectations of us, not on the cost of serving; to trust him to use our witness, whatever happens to us in the process, Scripture calls us to rivet our gaze on Jesus Hebrews 12:2. As he boldly fixed his eyes on God’s purpose, contemptuous of the dangers assailing him, we as stalwartly gaze up and ahead, to him in Heaven and ahead at his work here. Whether besieged by troubles, or working in quietness, Trust God. Believe in Christ. Don’t be afraid. Stay calm. Remain focused on the Author and Finisher of Faith. Anything less will find us vexed by the complex issues tormenting the unsaved.
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