Shine on Me

30 04 2015

Image result for civil war

More Americans died in the Civil War than in all the other wars in which the United States has been involved, combined. Families lost husbands, fathers, and sons. Some 26 percent of the men in the South perished in the struggle, and by the end of the war many women and children there were literally starving. Those years, 1861-1865, were marked by intense suffering all over the United States.
Yet during the war the South, and particularly its army, was swept by revival, as many thousands came to know Christ. Against the background of suffering and spiritual renewal, a letter found on the body of a Confederate soldier shows how, in the darkest times, the light of God shines on us.

I asked for strength that I might achieve.
He made me weak that I might obey.
I asked for health that I might do greater things.
I was given grace that I might do better things.
I asked for riches that I might be happy.
I was given poverty that I might be wise.
I asked for power that I might have the praise of men.
I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life.
I was given life that I might enjoy all things.
I received nothing that I asked for.
All that I hoped for.
My prayer was answered.

365-Day Devotional Commentary





Slavery in the Bible

9 04 2015

Am I Not a Man and a Brother? abolitionist medallion by Josiah Wedgwood

It is a good question asked by believers and unbelievers alike- “how come the Bible permits slavery”? How would you handle that question? Lawren Guldemond gives some helpful insight.  Pastor Dave

By Lawren Guldemond

In several of his letters, the Apostle Paul gave instruction that Christian slaves should be obedient to their masters, and Christian masters should be fair in ruling over their slaves.[1] Those letters are part of the Bible. Adversaries like to point this out and argue that the God of the Bible is in favour of slavery, and is therefore despicable and morally inferior to modern secular humanists.

If God is real and good, and the Bible is His Word, why doesn’t the Bible contain denunciations of slavery rather than apparent endorsements?

First of all, the Bible does prohibit slavery in its absolute form. Exodus 21:16 proscribes the death penalty for those who enslave others, and for those who buy the kidnapped victims of such slave traders. In his first epistle to Timothy, Paul reaffirms this by including enslavers in a list of denunciations (I Timothy 1:10).[2] Deuteronomy 23:15-16 prohibited giving runaway slaves back to their masters, and commanded that they be given refuge instead. If a master struck a slave and knocked out a tooth or blinded an eye, the slave went free (Exodus 21:26-27). If a master beat a slave to death, it was commanded that the master be punished (Exodus 21:20). Furthermore, the laws of Jubilee (Leviticus 25) mandated that everyone in bondage be set free every seventh year. Taken together, these limitations prevent the kind of unbridled despotism that slave owners practised in the antebellum American South. Observe that every one of these commandments was violated by those who ran the transatlantic slave trade and the southern cotton plantations.

The “slavery” allowed for in the Bible is not equivalent to the absolute slavery imposed on Africans in the New World.[3] The biblical model is better understood as indentured servitude. In a typical case, a free man who is struggling and failing to make a living as an independent farmer on his own land might decide to become a bondservant to a prosperous farmer in order to gain food security. According to Paul Copan:

We should compare Hebrew debt-servanthood (many translations render this “slavery”) more fairly to apprentice-like positions to pay off debts—much like the indentured servitude during America’s founding when people worked for approximately 7 years to pay off the debt for their passage to the New World. Then they became free.[4]

It was a provision for the welfare of those who became bankrupt, that they should become servants to others who were financially stable and competent and could therefore provide for them, in return for their service in labour. Biblical jubilee laws (Leviticus 25) mandating debt forgiveness, release of bondservants, and the restoration of farmland back to the family that had sold it all served to prevent those who fell into debt bondage from being trapped in that estate permanently. (For further reading, see the lengthy discussion of the nature of servitude in Hebrew society and the Gentile societies that surrounded them in the Ancient Near East (ANE) on Glenn Miller’s Christian ThinkTank website)





God’s Megaphone

11 01 2015

God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains.It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.

C.S.Lewis





A Fresh Start

31 12 2014

It happened almost 100 years ago to one of Ohio’s finest. At around 5:30 in the evening on Dec. 10, 1914, a massive explosion erupted in West Orange, New Jersey. Ten buildings in Thomas Edison’s plant, were engulfed in flames. Between six and eight fire departments rushed to the scene, but the chemical-fueled inferno was too powerful to put out quickly. The damage exceeded $2 million ($23 million in today’s dollars), the buildings were insured for only ¼ million because they were made of concrete and were thought to be fireproof. Destroyed were many of Edison’s inventions, prototypes, notes, and history (would catch millions in today’s auctions), as well as factories, inventory, and offices. The next morning, Edison looked at the ruins and said, “There is great value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up. Thank God we can start anew.” Edison was quoted in The New York Times as saying, “Although I am over 67 years old, I’ll start all over again tomorrow.” And he did. Came roaring back. After just three weeks, with a sizable loan from his friend Henry Ford, Edison got part of the plant up and running again. His employees worked double shifts and set to work producing more than ever. Edison and his team went on to make almost $10 million in revenue the following year. His kind of tragedy would give most people a heart attack or cause great sadness and despair when realizing they would have to start all over again at 67 years old. Yet, instead of wallowing in his own misfortune Edison looks at the catastrophe as a new beginning, a way to start fresh, unhindered by past mistakes. As we begin the New Year, rejoice with me that the God of mercy goes before us no matter what fire comes up in our life.
“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool. Isaiah 1:18





Opportunity

29 12 2014

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Suffering

15 11 2014

The iconic story of suffering is in the Biblical Book of Job. Everything was going along smoothly for Job, then BAM, his whole life is turned upside down. All of his children died, his wealth dissipated, his health was taken, his friends became his critics, children laughed at him, his credibility in town went to zero, his wife wanted him to curse God and die. Emotions were raw, his mind was clouded by unanswered questions, his body exhibited open purifying sores, his spirit was broken and bleeding.  He cursed the day he was born and wanted God to take his life. The suffering was just too hard to take “What did I do wrong?” And yet he could not think of anything that merited such harsh treatment. He was a good man…God even said he was! His life was coming apart at the seams, but he made it to the other side of suffering. When he got there, he was changed! Suffering is like that, it will either make you bitter or better

Corrie ten Boom was a Christian from the Netherlands during the time of the Jewish Holocaust in her Nazi-occupied country. She and her family saved many Jews, sending them on to freedom. They created a secret hiding place in their home and when the timing was right, they covertly sent them away. This went on for about 4 years until a snitch went to the Gestapo, Corrie was in her 40’s. They sent her dad, sister, and herself to a concentration camp. Dad died within 10 days. She and her sister Bessie were transferred to the most infamous of all concentration camps, Ravensbruck. Jews were gassed and incinerated on a daily basis. Bessie died from the horrid conditions. Yet Corrie made it to the other side of suffering and was found to be a useful servant to the church. She became a better person because of her suffering as she taught us all of love, forgiveness, and priorities God gave her a wisdom that could only be forged in suffering. She has many memorable nuggets of wisdom, such as…

“There is no pit so deep, that God’s love is not deeper still.”
“You can never learn that Christ is all you need, until Christ is all you have.”
“Hold everything in your hands lightly, otherwise it hurts when God pries your fingers open.”

Peter talks a lot about suffering in his first epistle and gives advice on how we could make it to the other side of suffering. Verses like 1 Peter 5:10, “But the God of all grace, who has called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that you have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.” Suffering will last “a while”, with no particular time attached. Sometimes it results in calling us to “His eternal glory” (heaven); sometimes it makes us a better person. Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?

Suffering happens, it cannot be avoided, but it will be more tolerable if we realize that it is being used by God to bring us to a greater maturity. And even if our suffering kills us in the end, we have the hope of Heaven. Look at the life of Bessie and Corrie ten Boom. They never lost their hope.
A person is well-nigh finished when they lose hope

I do not know your situation of suffering but can I be your biggest cheerleader? You can do this.





The Brick

25 09 2014

A young and successful

Executive was traveling down a neighborhood street,

Going a bit too fast in his new Jaguar. He was
Watching for kids darting out from between parked
Cars and slowed down when he thought he saw
Something.
As his car passed, no children appeared.
Instead, a brick smashed into the Jag’s side door!
He slammed on the brakes and backed the Jag back to
The spot where the brick had been thrown.
 The angry
Driver then jumped out of the
Car, grabbed the nearest kid and pushed him up
Against a parked car shouting,
 ‘What was that all about and who are you? Just what
The heck are you doing? That’s a new car and that
Brick you threw is going to cost a lot of money.. Why
Did you do it?’ The young boy was apologetic.
‘Please, mister….please, I’m sorry but I didn’t
Know what else to do,’ He pleaded. ‘I threw the
Brick because no one else would stop…’ With tears
Dripping down his face and off his chin, the youth
Pointed to a spot just around a parked car. ‘It’s my
Brother, ‘he said ‘He rolled off the curb and fell
Out of his wheelchair and I can’t lift him up.’
Now sobbing, the boy
Asked the stunned executive, ‘Would you please help
Me get him back into his wheelchair? He’s hurt and
he’s too heavy for me.’
 Moved beyond words,
The driver tried to swallow the rapidly swelling
Lump in his throat.. He hurriedly lifted the
Handicapped boy back into the wheelchair, then took
Out a linen handkerchief and dabbed at the fresh
Scrapes and cuts.. A quick look told him everything
Was going to be okay. ‘Thank you and may God bless
You,’ the grateful child told the stranger. Too
Shook up for words, the man simply watched the boy!
Push his wheelchair-bound brother down the sidewalk
Toward their home..
 It was a long, slow
Walk back to the Jaguar. The damage was very
Noticeable, but the driver never bothered to repair
The dented side door. He kept the dent there to
Remind him of this message: ‘Don’t go through life
So fast that someone has to throw a brick at you to
Get your attention!’ God whispers in our souls and
Speaks to our hearts. Sometimes when we don’t have
Time to listen, He has to throw a brick at us. It’s
Our choice to listen or not.