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Posts Tagged ‘history’

people in churchOur “progressive” culture avoids any return to the past.  Questions and dialogue about traditions — or beginnings — are not generally welcomed.  This is arrogant… and deadly.

Until we go back to or re-visit things of the past, how will we know what works and what doesn’t?  Why we are where we are?   Until we re-visit our beginnings — either as human beings or as people with a particular worldview or ideology — how will we know who we are, or upon what we stand, or why?  If I see that my culture is in decay, can I really be of help to family, neighbors, or community if I don’t know why I believe what I say I believe or do what I do?  Many of us speak of what is “traditional” (in worship, marriage, morality, etc.), but if we can’t explain it, how can we defend it when someone wants to tamper with it?

For this reason, I am extremely grateful to my pastor.  Some people see him as “too catholic” or “inflexible.”  Some ask, “Why do we have to sing old hymns?”  Or, “Why do we have to use a liturgy?”  Or, “Why do we have to learn creeds or attach ourselves to the doctrine of a bunch of dead Europeans?”  Some wish he would just “lighten up” and “get with the movement of our day.”  Oh, how thankful our little flock should be that our shepherd resists the “movement of our day” in order to teach us why Christian Lutherans believe what they believe and do what they do.

My pastor has been gifted with a pair of worldview glasses that help him contrast God’s Word with the ways of the world.  My congregation is blessed — whether it knows it or not — because our pastor is not afraid to return to the past.

In his book, A Free People’s Suicide,” Oz Guinness writes,

A return can be progressive, not reactionary.  Each movement in its own way best goes forward by first going back.”

What does Guinness mean?  National, church, or even family  renewal happens by going back to its beginnings.  To its reasons for being in the first place.  Martin Luther knew this.  The Puritans knew this.  Thomas Jefferson knew this.  History, writes Guinness, “shows that when it comes to ideas, it is in fact possible to turn back the clock.  Two of the most progressive movements in Western history — the Renaissance and the Reformation — were both the result of a return to the past, though in very different ways and with very different outcomes.”

It is, in fact, a law of physics that things are preserved from destruction when brought back to their first principles.  Guinness calls this innovative thinking “outside the box” because it is “back to basics and not a mindless espousal of the present or a breathless chase after some purported future.”  Guinness states,

The most creative re-makings are always through the most faithful re-discoveries.”

I am a Biblical Christian of the Lutheran bent living in a hurting world.  For the sake of my grandchildren, I need to help re-build, in church or society, by re-discovering things of the past.  There is no embarrassment or intellectual shame in this endeavor.

So, thank you my dear pastor, for taking me back so that I might better move forward.  Thank you for helping me re-make what is good and right and true by re-discovering who I am.  Upon what I stand.  And why.

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Centennial, the 1970s mini-series, is viewed in our house every ten years or so.  It is the movie version of James Michener’s novel and the re-telling of history as he thought it might have happened.   Many of the events are historically accurate, but the characters are fictional.  The loosely woven story has a strong message.  Knowing who we are and from where we come matters.  Each character in history plays a vital role in shaping the present and the future.  Remembering mistakes of the past help us to not repeat them

My brother and I have a special interest in the movie because three of our cousins played bit parts with actors Richard Chamberlain, Robert Conrad, and Lynn Redgrave.   There is humor in Centennial.  One easily identifies with this character or that.  There are heroes and villians.  Some powerful emotions are evoked by actions clearly defined as right or wrong.  Hopeful or deadly consequences result.

Centennial is more than just a good movie.  It’s evidence that modern people want a connection with their past.  Their heritage.  Their roots.  Then why, I wonder, do so many modern people reject their history as documented in the Bible? 

The events recorded in Scripture are documented by Jewish and non-Jewish historians.  The characters are real.  The tightly woven historical account has a strong message.  Knowing who we are and from where we come matters.  Adam told of his creation to his sons and grandsons and great-grandsons.  Living long in those days before the flood, a 500-year-old person would have a lot to tell!   Characters in the Old Testament played a vital role in shaping the present and the future.  The brothers of Joseph were so jealous they sold him into slavery, but Joseph became the most powerful man next to Pharoah in Egypt and rescued his family and a nation from famine.  Remembering mistakes of the past help us to not repeat them.  King David murdered so that he might take a fellow soldier’s wife as his own but, before confessing his sin, his bones wasted away and his strength was drained.

There is humor in the Old Testament.  One easily identifies with this character or that.  There are heroes and villians.  Some powerful emotions are evoked by actions that are clearly defined as right or wrong.  Life or death consequences result.

Some people say, “The New Testament speaks to me, but the Old is, well, just old.”  They may say, “I like the story about Jesus.  I like knowing I am loved and, if I sin, have the promise of forgiveness.  I like  knowing that Jesus was a friend of the poor.  That He healed the sick.”   But, every bit of recorded history in the Old Testament leads to and prepares for Jesus Christ.  Without the Old, there is no New.  

Most of us long for a connection to the past.  To know from where we come.  Why we are the way we are and do what we do.  To know hope in each new generation.  That is the reality of the Old and New Testaments of Holy Scripture.  It is the eye-witness account of men and women who knew the Promised Savior before and after His death and resurrection.  They told their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren… who told us. 

The Bible is His-story:  History.  Real people in history.  Their stories connected to ours.  As real characters connected to His story, we choose to pass it on —  or not.  To connect others to their history — or not.  To tell them who they are and why they matter — or not.

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Yesterday, California’s Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law legislation that requires the state’s schools to teach the contributions of people who are lesbian, bisexual, “gay,” and transgender.

S.B. 48 makes California the first state in the union to pass such a law.  It was authored by Senator Mark Leno of San Francisco, a homosexual.  The law requires textbooks be re-written to include information about LBGT Americans and “present them in a positive light.”

Students as young as six will be affected.  Parental notification is not required.  Parents cannot opt their children out.

The governor says the bill prohibits “discrimination in education.”  He stated that “history should be honest.”

For the sake of honesty:

  1. What is the driving force behind this law?  What is the desired outcome?  Who does it benefit?
  2. To whom are children entrusted: their parents or the school?
  3. If parents teach God’s Word to their children because it protects them from harm, why would the governor, teacher’s association, or school want to contradict parents?
  4. Why does the bill prohibit teachers and textbooks from telling students that homosexuality is a risky lifestyle?  The practice of homosexuality carries with it the highest rate of HIV/AIDS and other STDs, high cancer rates, and earlier deaths.

It has always been a good thing to teach young people about the contributions of earlier Americans.  But, honestly, where is the textbook describing the contributions of George Washington the heterosexual?  Clara Barton the heterosexual?  Martin Luther King, Jr. the heterosexual?

Apparently S.B. 48 is California’s eighth school sexual indoctrination law forcing itself on parents and children.  What will this trend in sexual trail blazing leave behind?

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For centuries, the rule of the sea was “women and children first.”  Survivors of the sinking ship, Titanic, remember men who gave their lives so that women and children might live.  Whether Christian or not, these men were influenced by a teaching that had shaped their thinking and behavior.  Their sacrifice modeled that of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:25).

In 1996, another ship sank off the coast of Indonesia.  Men on board this ship saved themselves first.  Women and children died that men might live.  This is the inevitable consequence of forgetting or rejecting Jesus Christ.

Jesus did more than speak about humility and service.  He demonstrated it (John 13:12-17).  With His example, He established a pattern for men and women to follow.  A hero of titanic proportions is a man who practices self-control for the sake of a woman.  A husband who covers his wife with his name.  A father who rescues his child from death.

Ninety-three percent of the abortions performed in the U.S. are for convenience.  Studies show the top three reasons for abortion are:

  • “A baby at this time would interfere with work, school, or other responsibilities.”
  • “I cannot afford a baby.”
  • “I do not want to be a single parent,” or “I’m having problems” with husband or partner.  (Source: The Alan Guttmacher Institute, 1/97, A. Torres and J.D. Forrest, “Why Do Women Have Abortions?,” Family Planning Perspectives, 1988)

When it appears the ship is sinking — and life hangs in the balance, God desires that men step forward.  Engage deceit with Truth.  Do battle for the honor of women and lives of children.  Adam, the first man, failed.  He was silent.  Unwilling to engage.  Lead away from death.  His passivity left woman vulnerable.  His rib exposed.  A target.  At risk.  When he joined with her in sin, he forever changed the course of history.  Children would pay the highest price.

Indeed, they do.

But, must they continue to pay with their lives?

No.  God brought hope to Adam and Eve with a promise.  The promise was kept when Jesus Christ sacrificed His life on the cross.  Became the Savior of the world.  Proclaimed victory over Satan.  Gave men and women authority over lies and deceit.  Jesus Christ  removed all reasons for any parent to sacrifice the life of their child.

Today, men bring order out of chaos every time they remember and use God’s Word.  Choose life over death.  Involve themselves with the teaching and disciplining of children.  Deny themselves for the mother of their child.  Lead away from danger with a servant’s heart.  Deposit sin baggage at the Cross of Christ.  Forgive as they have been forgiven.  Re-build.

This is titanic love.

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“Science . . . contemplates a world of facts without values,” wrote William Inge, but “religion contemplates values apart from facts.”

What is “religion?”  Doesn’t everyone have a “religion,” a worldview upon which they stand?  True to their “religion” or worldview, don’t they practice it “religiously?”  My worldview determines how I see and respond to everything.  Faith in my worldview compels me to study and weigh facts.  It also compels me to set higher standards (values).  Together, these facts and values determine how I think, live, and treat myself and others.

My worldview tells me that science/facts and “religion” (faith)/values are not exclusive of one another.  The atheist and I both put our faith in something; then we, true to our faith, practice it.  The atheist doesn’t want to believe in an authority higher than himself.  I, however, have discovered that when I place myself on the throne of “authority,” I put myself and others at risk.

Facts are necessary.  Facts include more than science but also history and consequences of behavior.  My faith in God’s Word of Scripture, for example, is not without fact.  The Bible is fact.  It is recorded history.  It is eye-witness accounts.  Father telling son or Jew telling Gentile.  The Bible is backed up by facts.  Archeological evidence and scientific documentation abound.  My worldview impresses upon me the need for such facts over and above feelings and opinion.  I cannot trust my feelings.  They change with mood and circumstance.  My opinion is biased.  The law of gravity, on the other hand, is fact.  So are history and experience.  So, while I may feel like jumping off the roof of my house, it serves me well to remember that when my dad jumped off the roof of a barn, he broke his arches.  The law of gravity, together with history and experience, are beneficial to me.  Faith enters in for both the atheist and myself as a Christian, most especially when something happens that we didn’t see or can’t explain.  Both the atheist and I will act as people of faith: faith in something.  I didn’t see my dad jump off the barn.  I didn’t hear his cry.  Even though I can’t explain exactly what happened, I have faith in what my dad told me.  Faith in his words prevents me from a foolish (and painful)  jump.

Let’s assume, as Richard Dawkins insists, that there is no creator.  No creator of all that ever has or ever will exist; no creator of persons (bodies, minds, and souls); no creator of boundaries for the function, care and protection of those persons; no creator of conscience; no creator of all things right, honorable, merciful, and true.  In such a world, I become the “authority” of my life and Dawkins becomes the “authority” of his.  But, what values do we harmoniously work with for the benefit of community?  My values will be shaped by my “god” (me) and his will be shaped by his “god” (him).

Let’s be honest… and willing to expose our core faith.

Someone like Dawkins doesn’t want to acknowledge the Creator God who brings order out of chaos.  He resists the valid conclusion of both faith and science that Someone higher than himself exists.  Yet, in reality, he’s putting his faith in something.  Himself!  His core faith is himself!  He may claim to wrap himself in science and demean those of faith.  Nevertheless, he is practicing his faith.  And his values, like all values, flow out of his faith: whatever he believes in.

Science and facts divorced from faith and values?  No.  All are interrelated.  The more I study God’s Word and the more I am informed by facts — of biology, anatomy, archeology, and history, the more I recognize God at work.  Intelligent and orderly design.  “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.  For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.  So they are without excuse” (Romans 1:19-20).

At the end of his life, Charles Darwin reflected on his work and confessed, “I was a  young man with unformed ideas.  I threw out queries, suggestions, wondering all the time over everything; and to my astonishment the ideas took like wildfire.  People made a religion of them.”

Louis Pasteur declared in one of his lectures, “Science brings man nearer to God.”

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