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Archive for June, 2021

June is “Pride Month.” But isn’t pride the opposite of humility?

We are to fly the rainbow “Pride Flag” or “Pride Banner.” But what does it mean? What is its history?

Vexillology (a strange-sounding word) is the study of flags and their meaning and symbolism of color and design. Stephen Black, the Executive Director of First Stone Ministries, studies vexillology. He is aware that the Bible speaks of flags and banners. For example, “There is a victory banner over sin and death for those who love God.” There are “banners in Scripture of love” and “of salvation.” Banners, says Stephen Black, “represent something significant.”

It is for this reason that Stephen Black writes, “I have been cringing for years at the sight of any pride banner and at what some naively call a ‘rainbow banner.’ Ever since knowing Christ and leaving homosexual sin, I’ve had disdain when I see pride flags flying. It is a recoiling idea to me that this pride banner supposedly communicates ideas of diversity, love, and God’s rainbow. This so-called ‘Rainbow Flag’ or ‘Rainbow Banner’ or ‘Pride Flag’ is the symbol of the sin of pride.”

The “Pride Banner,” explains Black, is said to have been created by Gilbert Baker, “a known drag queen and flamboyant homosexual from Chanute, Kansas. Gilbert Baker was inspired by the known pedophile, Harvey Milk. Milk encouraged Baker in 1978 to create the flag for a symbol of ‘gay rights’ and as a prideful display of homosexuality for the San Francisco ‘Gay Freedom Day Parade.’ Both Harvey Milk and Gilbert Baker are known in the gay community for their outrageous promiscuity and for their prideful display of their homosexual activity.”

All of this takes on special meaning to Stephen Black who, in 1983, left homosexuality “and the chaos that surrounds it.” He says he has never seen “a more decadent display of pride, perversion, pedophilia, transgenderism, sadomasochism and now, even the pride of bestiality” in the U.S.

The “Pride Flag” is not God’s rainbow. Its six veins of color, says Stephen Black, “represent the number of man . . . man doing his own will when left to himself, and not the will of God. . . . This flag of pride is the symbol of revelry and self-indulgence. It has nothing to do with God.” Instead, it is man doing “what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).

There are “so-called ‘gay Christian’ advocates,” says Stephen Black, “who desire to add another colored stripe to make it a seven-color flag.” Seven is often biblically understood to signify God’s completion or perfection. Six falls short of seven. Do these “gay Christian” advocates believe that God will bless or approve a “Pride Flag” with seven colors?

The Christian needs to remember God’s bow in the sky and what it signified. The world had been so corrupted by revelry and self-indulgence that God could no longer bless it. The pride and arrogance of man was followed by destruction. (Proverbs 18:12) Eight humbled people were saved by faith. And when they saw God’s rainbow of infinite colors in the sky, they knew it did not represent pride, but promise. “I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant . . . “(Genesis 9:13-15).

June is “Pride Month.” We are told to celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride and fly the Pride Flag. But pride is the opposite of humility. Puffed up and prideful conceit—in homosexuality or heterosexuality or sensuality or selfish desires—separates us from God.

BUT! There is a different banner… a banner of promise and hope. The Lord Jesus is our banner. He is our “robe of righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10). Therefore, may all of us—yes, all of us—humble ourselves “under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7).

Linda Bartlett (6-22-21)

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There are threats all around us. There is a virus and an experimental “vaccine.” There is a border crisis that includes drug and human trafficking cartels. There is the military might of China. There is critical race theory that has infiltrated schools and churches. There is an assault on children through abortion, transgenderism, and same-sex “marriage.” There are enemies both foreign and domestic. How can we carry on with “normal” things of life with all of these threats?

In the fall of 1939, C.S. Lewis gave a sermon called “Learning in War-Time” to the congregation at the Oxford University church of St. Mary the Virgin. World War II had begun. The question he wanted to help people answer was: What use is it to carry on with studying, learning, and “normal” things during wartime?

C.S. Lewis said, “I think it is important to try to see the present calamity in a true perspective. The war creates absolutely no permanent human situation; it simply exaggerates the permanent human situation so that we can no longer ignore it. Human life has always been lived on the edge of a precipice. Human culture has always had to live under the shadow of something infinitely more important than itself. If men had postponed the search for knowledge and beauty until they were secure, the search would never have begun.”

Lewis continued, “We are mistaken when we compare war with ‘normal life.’ Life has never been normal. Even those periods which we think most tranquil . . . turn out, on closer inspection, to be full of crises, alarms, difficulties, emergencies. Plausible reasons have never been lacking for putting off all merely cultural activities until some imminent danger has been averted or some crying injustice put right. But humanity long ago chose to neglect those plausible reasons. They wanted knowledge and beauty now and would not wait for the suitable moment that never comes.”

What is it that Lewis says “exaggerates . . . the human situation?” Thomas P. Harmon writes, “It is our perception of the importance of death. War changes our perspective by bringing what is potentially very far from us to being potentially very close to us, so does a pandemic. But the relative proximity of a thing does not radically change its nature. War and disease do not change whether we are going to die; they only change when we might die.”

This, writes Harmon, is not meant “to frighten, but rather to embolden. If a thing is worth doing outside of Covid-time, it is still worth doing in Covid-time. As Lewis said, ‘The war will fail to absorb our whole attention because it is a finite object and, therefore, intrinsically unfitted to support the whole attention of a human soul.’ The same can be said of disease. Learning and study, to be sure, have at their highest point the fixing of our attention on the infinite: God and the things of God. Those are things most worthy to absorb our whole attention, whether we are under imminent threat of death or not.”

When “the omnipresent media” constantly blares “dread signals into our brains,” writes Harmon, “a culture of death-deniers” is more easily tempted into anxiety and fear of the future. But C.S. Lewis wrote, “Do not let your nerves and emotions lead you into thinking your predicament more abnormal than it really is.” (Source: “Reading C.S. Lewis in the Times of Covid” by Thomas P. Harmon, 10-16-20.)

So, what is the Christian to do? We can work according to our vocations of father, mother, son, daughter, neighbor, or laborer. We can combat fear by turning off the TV. We can be disciplined users of the internet, recognizing the enormous amount of information it offers but not letting it be a substitute for God’s Word and discerning brothers and sisters in Christ. We can leave the future, as Lewis said, “in God’s hands. We may as well, for God will certainly retain it whether we leave it to Him or not. Never, in peace or war, commit your virtue or happiness to the future. Happy work is best done by the man who takes his long-term plans somewhat lightly and works from moment to moment ‘as to the Lord.’ In times of challenge and uncertainty, we can offer hope and the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Savior who defeated sin and death.

May we pray to be a faithful pilgrim… through this life to the next… in Jesus’ name.

[Note: The above was written for the May 2021 edition of Christian Citizenship.]

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On May 27, 2021, the Barhite family barn burned unexpectedly and quickly to the ground. My nephew, Lance, together with his wife, Kelsey, had recently restored the barn my grandpa built.

My brother Steve was the first to see flames boiling out the back of the barn. He and Lance did what they could and moved equipment out of harm’s way, but the 70-year-old barn could not be saved. Beside the barn was the family’s thriving garden. The hoop building melted away and much of the promising crop for Barhite Produce was destroyed. Two fire departments answered the call, but there was little to be done except protect the newly remodeled house. The fire, stoked by a strong wind, was so hot that some of the siding had already melted.

With deep sadness I watched the smoke billow away from the ruins of my grandpa’s barn. But I was thankful, too. There were no injuries or loss of human life. Because the family farm matters to my brother and nephew, something new will be built on old foundations. Later that evening, I wrote the following to my nephew and his wife:

Dear Lance and Kelsey,

There are a great many “growing up” stories about my grandpa’s barn. I have memories of activities inside and out with my grandparents, brother, and cousins. Lance, you have childhood stories, too. And a dream. That dream became reality as the two of you poured yourselves into restoring your great-grandpa’s barn for your own family business. The fact that you would do this brought great joy to my dad, your grandpa. Can you count how many times he drove out to see your progress? Do you realize that by wanting to bring life back into the barn his dad had built, you paid your grandpa an extraordinary compliment?

Standing next to you this morning, I said my own sad good-bye to what may have seemed an ordinary structure to most people. But the two of you saw it for what it was… a barn built by a man who had only a little money but a big respect for family, agriculture, and honest labor. Generations were blessed in the shadow of that barn.

Do you remember, Lance, what you asked my dad just a few days before he died last November? You wanted to know what he would like to see accomplished on the Barhite farm. You asked, “If you could do anything you wanted, what would it be?” His thoughts mattered to you. But your thoughts–and what you will do with those thoughts–mattered to him. Your grandpa was content knowing that his grandson would do right.

I’m thankful that your grandpa didn’t have to watch the barn burn today. But if he would have been there with you, I think I know what he would have done. He would have turned to you, his dear grandson, and with just the hint of a quivering voice, he would have said something like this: “It was a fine building. But only a building. It is gone now, but the character of my dad who built that barn lives on in you.”

Lance and Kelsey, you will look out where that white barn stood and mourn its loss. You wanted your sons to grow up in the shadow of that barn. But who knows the plans of the Lord? Who can imagine what He has in store? My grandpa never intended to move away from the farmstead of his dad and grandpa. But a Depression hit hard. And a war followed. Doing what was necessary, your great-grandpa settled his family in a new place. In time, with a small inheritance from his mom, he built a barn.

Life is like that. Settling… and unsettling. Building… and rebuilding. Adjusting… and readjusting. I am thankful the two of your want to raise your sons on the family farm. And I have every reason to trust that God will continue to show you how.

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