Archive for the ‘God and Country’ Category

Revival’s Sacred Strife

In my study of the Great Revival of 1800, in the area in which I live (Sumner County, TN), I have found some significant things to be evident…

-While there were excesses, it is generally agreed that a genuine move of God occurred.  The Great Revival of 1800 laid a poweful foundation for the states of Tennessee and Kentucky by which to stand. Its effects are still felt today (good and bad).

-There were three major denominations involved… Baptist, Presbyterian, and Methodist.

-Just a decade before, ministers had been lamenting the sad state of affairs in KY and TN — even all the South.

-There were three phases of the Awakening…

1740-1760 Presbyterian Revival
1760-1770 Baptist Revival
1770-1776 Methodist Revival

… there were hints of “revival” here and there in the 1780′s and 90′s.  Somewhere between 1796 – 1805 the Spirit of Revival had reached a “fever pitch” — and in 1800 all three major denominations were as one in the spirit of revival. One major key to corporate revival … unity in spirit. A oneness. “One accord” as the Bible says.

Excesses marked the revival, for sure.  However, among the excesses were miracualous heart-changes — emotional and not so emotional…

1. Passion was renewed as unto God.
2. Souls were saved — and the church of the South was built.
3. The people truly were “doing life together”.
4. A renewed fervor in prayer was exacted in the revivals.
5. People came to the church with great expectation… that they might actually hear a Word from God.
6. The churches worked together, and when that ceased… the revival ceased.

However we define “revival”, we must agree something happened to those people… and among other things that something, was God!  I close with some defining words from Kierkegaard (as applied to revival)… for “revival” begins with “the war within a person’s soul”. It is a “sacred strife”... “Oh whoever you are, pay heed to this sacred strife. This alone is the strife of eternity.”

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Cold October Rain (repost from 10/24/06)

Adoniram Judson, America’s first foreign missionary, had lost it all. In his efforts to reach the unreached Burmans with the gospel…, he had lost it all! His first child born dead and buried at sea; his second,  little Roger, didn’t even see his second birthday; his wife Ann and shortly afterward his daughter Maria… all parted from this world. He had received word from home that his father (also a minister) had passed on…  Adoniram lost it all.

Adoniram, had endured the Death Prison and Oung-pen la. He had labored long and hard to the glory of the King. It was seven years before he saw his first convert, Maung Nau. He had learned the Burmese language. He had labored long at a Burmese translation on the New Testament (more than ten years). While in prison the transcript had been lost, but thankfully later found. He had forsaken all to come to Burma. He had seen much pain, much toil, and much death. He was now weary in his journeys. He simply walked into the woods and disappeared for a whole year. A deep dark depression would linger a long three years in his mind.

On October 24, 1828, the second anniversary of his wife, Ann’s death, Adoniram wrote:

“It proves a stormy evening, and the desolation around me accords with the desolate state of my own mind, where grief for the dear departed combines with sorrow for present sin, and my tears flow at the same time over the forsaken grave of my dear love and the loathsome sepulchre of my own heart.”

…it was a cold October rain that beat down on the heart of Adoniram that night.

On October 24, 1829, the third anniversary of his wife, Ann’s death, Adoniram wrote Ann’s surviving sisters:

“Have either of you learned the art of real communion with God, and can you teach me the first principles? God is to me the Great Unknown. I believe in Him, but I find Him not.”

It would not be until mid-December of that same year, Adoniram learned that his brother, Elnathan, had died at the young age of thirty-five on May 8, 1829. His brother had never made a confession of Christ so far as Adoniram had known. Where is God in all of this? But now, the report would come, this sad state of soul in Elnathan had changed, and at his death, he suddenly raised up, clasped his hands, and with a countenance of joy, cried out, “Peace! Peace!”  Of this, Adoniram wrote his sister, Abigail, “When I read this account I went into my little room, and could only shed tears of joy….”

In tragedy God spoke to Adoniram about his tragedy. God is always there. He saved Elnathan’s soul, just as he had all the other dear ones in Adoniram’s life. God was there! When the cold October rain gets you down — know that God is there! I don’ have all the answers — but this I know, He is there!

2010 Update: Brandy’s Grandaddy died October 24, 2010. He was buried October 27th on a cold rainy October afternoon.  I repost this as a result of the contemplations of the day. Today is the 36th anniversary of my own mom’s untimely death when I was just six years old (the same age as my son).  The picture above is a picture of Ann Judson and my own wife, Brandy in one of those old-time portraits taken when we were first married.  Pretty cool!!!

The Wall of Separation

The First Ammendment of the Constitution of the United States of America:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or
prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of
speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to
assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The Separation of Church and State is nowhere to be mentioned in the Constitution or the First Amendment.  “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” is nothing more than a protection of religion against the evermore power-hungry government of the State.  However in our modern day environment, that has come to mean, “Let’s ban the church, prayer, and the Bible from our public buildings and properties”.

Few want to talk about the “or prohibiting the free execise therof” part of the amendment (of which a “free press” is connected).  In this same sentence we see the protection of the press from the cancerous cords of government corruption, as well as the more favorable prospects of religious freedom.  The government in fact, is told they are not to pursue legal and official statuses with the church, and the church is then, in turn, granted the same freedoms and priveleges as the press. That is the First Amendment.  Therefore, if “Seperation of Church and State”, is upheld based on this amendment, then so should a “Separation of Press and State”.    And yet, the press is attacking the church, through this oft’ times misquoted and misapplied passage in the Constitution.  I say, “No prayer, no press… no religion, no reporter… no Church, no commercials (meaning political ads or otherwise)”.

Once An Arafat Man: A Book Review

Taysir Abu Saada, or Tass, as he is commonly known in the states today, is a a twenty-first
century Apostle Paul. In his excellent book,“Once An Arafat Man”, Tass recounts the true story
of an angry Palestinian who hated Jews and Christians. He felt it his personal destiny to be the
“butcher” that cut these infidels out of the human story. With a radical passion for the eradication
of Christians and Jews and a sincere desire to win back Palestine for his people, Tass believed Allah
smiled approvingly as he relentlessly hunted down the enemies of the Palestinian people. Tass was
anall-or-nothing kind of guy – just like the Saul of the Bible who “breathed murderous threats”
toward a people he hated.
Through an incredible series of events, Tass, finds Jesus in Kansas City – a bright light, a voice,
and a change of heart (sounds an awful lot like the Apostle Paul to me). In the same manner as
his Arafat days – Tass approaches his new found relationship with Christ with a reckless abandon.
He finds himself on an assortment of dangerous missionary journeys – and watches in awe as his
God made a way when there was no way.
Incredibly, Tass then becomes an adamant supporter of Israel, while at the same time, having a
heart for his own people’s devastation in the Gaza Strip. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit,
Tass and his wife, Karen, founded an adventurous ministry, “Hope for Ishmael”.In the First
Century, the Apostle Paul had to convince the church that Jesus loved the Gentiles, and now,
2000 years later, Tass reminds the Gentiles that God still loves Isaac and Ishmael too!

“Once an Arafat Man” is action-packed, compassionately generous, and ever insightful.
Tass captures the essence of personal change – that only Jesus can pull off – and, the best
part is, you are invited to go along for the ride with him. I would highly recommend this book
to all – to followers of Christianity, Judaism, or Islam; this book was written for you – and
you might just find that it changes your life.

A Colorblind Society?

Is God really colorblind?  The Bible says that He is no respecter of persons.  The Bible even says, “there is no Jew”, “there is no Greek”, “there is no Gentile” in the sight of God.  So, perhaps.

But then, God did create the universe and all that is in it.  He didn’t create the worlds and leave them stark, bland, dull, or without life.  He gave us beautiful flowers, an assortment of trees, majestic mountains, oceans of seas, stunning sunsets, the faithful sunrise of the morning, a multiplicity of stars, and hundreds of thousands of snow flakes that each have their own individual and personal imprint.

The Bible says that He returns for the nation(s), plural.  The picture John the Revelator gives us is one of a fantastic Olympic-style parade and celebration.  It seems the nations will march in under one banner – that of Jesus Christ!  The truth is, there are true believers in Jesus all over the world.  The diverse ethnicity of the Kingdom of God started in Acts 2, carries on into our day, and will reign supreme for all of Eternity!  So, perhaps not.

Religion, Reparations, and the Republic

Disclaimer: I admit, I could be wrong in my assessments here – I welcome discussion, as these are just thoughts that have been bouncing around in my head for the past several months…

I’ve been pondering American history of late.  Reexamining our path trodden.  I’ve come to understand that American Progressivism has led us down a dangerous and predictable road.  From the time of Teddy Roosevelt and then Woodrow Wilson, up to FDR, and the Bushes, Bill Clinton, and the current administration we have been led away from our “ancient landmarks”, as the psalmist calls them.  The three great subjects of our schools in America had as its foundation, our history, our faith, and our Constitution.  Since, the early Twentieth Century’s Progressive Movement, has effectively rewritten our history, ousted our God, and trampled our Constitution.  We are a nation without scruples.

Abraham Lincoln has always been a favorite president of mine.  That is, until these past few months as I have rethought what I know of him.  I had been taught, in my Midwestern hometown, the Civil War was about slavery.  I have since learned, by countless sources, that slavery was on its way out prior to the war.

I know that Charles G. Finney had to prod and prod to even get Lincoln to address the abolition of slavery.  When it became politically expedient the Civil War, which was in reality about State Sovereignty, suddenly became very concerned with the issue of freeing slaves.  A modern day example of this is the  current War with Iraq.  We did not go in to free thousands of Iraqis.  We invaded Iraq because Saddam Hussein led the International World to believe he had weapons of mass destruction.  I have no problem with the real reason, and I love the fact that we freed a people in bondage to a cruel dictator, but the truth is, they were just a tack-on.  As is the case with Lincoln and slavery.

It is no secret that Lincoln quoted the Bible often.  As a preacher of the gospel, I love that.  And yet, a closer look at Lincoln’s life reveals that he was a selective follower of the gospel.  He would pick and choose the parts he liked.  Rumor has it that he later made a true decision to follow Christ, of which I am hopeful.  The fact remains, Lincoln, as did later presidents, used religion to further their political ideals.

My point being, Lincoln might have served us better had he been honest in his dealings with slavery.  Perhaps an exit plan would have been in order.  If reparations were to be made, his day would have been the day to make that happen.  These men and women were uneducated, unemployed, and without property.  No wonder their ancestors lived in abject poverty for the next 100 years.  It’s only been within the last 50 years or so that the African American Community has begun to rise above the fray of slavery and build successful lives (and that is not to say that all have).  Unfortunately, reparations 150 years after the fact are not only not possible but inconceivable in the frame work of justice.

We have seen the deteriorating of the United States as a whole as State’s rights and Federal intrusions on our freedoms clash.  We have witnessed Government bailouts and even takeovers in a land where we never thought it possible.  We have seen a clever and not-so-covert attack by our Federal Government on our faith, our freedom, and the traditional family unit.  Perhaps, Lincoln’s win in the solidarity of the states preserved our nation as a whole, but in the long run, it may very well be our ruin.