November 30, 2008

I Sought the Lord

I sought the lord, and afterward I knew
He moved my soul to seek Him, seeking me;
It was not I that found, O Savior true,
No, I was found of Thee

Thou didst reach forth Thy hand and mine enfold;
I walked and sank no on the storm-vexed sea,—
'Twas not so much that I on Thee took hold,
As Thou, dear Lord, on me.

I find, I walk, I love, but, O the whole
Of love is but my answer, Lord, to Thee;
For Thou wert long before-hand with my soul
Always Thou lovedst me.

Author unknown

November 28, 2008

Riverside Park - Another reason to love Lynchburg

It's been a while since I have written a post about how much we love living in Lynchburg. Today I will fix that, and will at the same time explain today's blog header photo. I guess I should get the header photo out of the way first—it is David standing next to an old boundary wall that surrounded a Lynchburg country club swimming pool about a century ago.

This old country club is now a wonderful park owned by the City of Lynchburg, and that is the topic of the rest of this post. Yet another reason why we love living in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Kim and David, walking one of the park trails

Thanksgiving morning David and I decided to get out of mom's hair while she was being a cooking machine, so we decided to go to a local playground. As we were pulling out, David requested that we visit another playground called Riverside Park. It's a nice playground and and park, so I agreed and we headed about a mile past the first playground and went to this large and beautiful city-owned park.

The park is an old country club from the early 20th century and is absolutely beautiful. The playground is quite large and has some great equipment on it that kept David happy for quite some time. As David played, the mother of a couple other boys playing there gave me the history of the park.

Kim and David enjoying
the view from an overlook garden

So today we went back to the park and took Mom with us. On the advice of the mother we met yesterday, we walked to the far side of the park, which ends on a high mountainside above the James River. From multiple lookouts built along the edge of this park, you can enjoy a gorgeous view of the mountains that surround Lynchburg and you can watch the trains passing by underneath or crossing the high and expansive railroad bridge that traverses the James River.

There is an old abandoned railroad steam engine in the park, an old swimming pool (no longer containing water) that looks like it may have been built in the late 19th century, a huge stone gazebo containing two picnic tables, and the remains of the boat that carried General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson from the place of his death (Manassas, Virginia) to Lynchburg for a horse-drawn carriage funeral procession.

David standing at a wall that surrounds the remains
of the old country club swimming pool

We were amazed at the wonderful trails, gardens, and overlooks that were built in the 1930s and earlier at this park. Lynchburg just continues to amaze us with its love of beauty and its respect for God's creation and for Lynchburg's citizens.

The Prize

Philippians 3:8-11
"Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!"

As I've grown older in the Lord, I've realized that Heaven isn't our prize. Eternal life is not the prize. Our reward is Jesus Christ—being with Him, in Him, like Him. Getting to know Him is the chief goal.

As we grow into Him, He will make us like Him. That is just so exciting to me. But thinking on this also begs some haunting questions of me: What is the object of my affection? Is it Jesus Christ and better knowledge of Him or is it my love of the flesh and fulfilling its desires? What is the driving passion in my life? What is it that my heart and my flesh follow after each day? Pray for me, as Paul prayed for the Philippians:

"And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God."
—Philippians 1:9-11

All I once held dear, built my life upon,
all this world reveres and wars to own,
all I once thought gain I have counted loss,
spent and worthless now compared to this.

Knowing You, Jesus, knowing You.
There is no greater thing.
You're my all, You're the best, You're my joy,
my righteousness; and I love You, Lord.

Now my heart's desire is to know You more,
to be found in You and known as Yours,
to possess by faith what I could not earn,
all surpassing gift of righteousness.

Knowing You, Jesus, knowing You.
There is no greater thing.
You're my all, You're the best, You're my joy,
my righteousness; and I love You, Lord.

Oh, to know the pow'r of Your risen life,
and to know You in Your suffering,
to become like You in Your death,
My Lord, so with You to live and never die.

Knowing You, Jesus, knowing You.
There is no greater thing.
You're my all, You're the best, You're my joy,
my righteousness; and I love You, Lord.

Knowing You, Jesus, knowing You.
There is no greater thing.
You're my all, You're the best,
You're my joy, my righteousness;
You're my all, You're the best,
You're my joy, my righteousness;
You're my all, You're the best,
You're my joy, my righteousness;
and I love You, Lord.

—Graham Kendrick

November 27, 2008

Ending the day with thanksgiving

Saint John of Avila (1500-1569)

One act of thanksgiving when things go wrong with us is worth a thousand thanks when things are agreeable to our inclination.

Remember the day’s blessings; forget the day’s troubles.

The story of Thanksgiving

Continuing in perpetual thanks

William Shakespeare

I can no other answer make but thanks and ever thanks.

Robert N. Rodenmayer

There are three kinds of giving: grudge giving, duty giving, and thanksgiving. Grudge giving says, “I hate to,” duty giving says, “I ought to,” thanksgiving says, “I want to.” The first comes from constraint, the second from a sense of obligation, the third from a full heart. Nothing much is conveyed in grudge giving since “the gift without the giver is bare.” Something more happens in duty giving, but there is no song in it. Thanksgiving is an open gate into the love of God.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon

It was a divine song which Habakkuk sang when in the night he said,

Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. (Hab. 3:17–18)

No man can make a song in the night of himself. He may attempt it, but he will find that a song in the night must be divinely inspired. Oh, Chief Musician, let us not remain without song because affliction is upon us; tune our lips to the melody of thanksgiving.

John R. MacDuff

Cultivate the thankful Spirit! It will be to you a perpetual feast.

Forever thankful

John Henry Jowett (1864–1923)

Life without thankfulness is devoid of love and passion. Hope without thankfulness is lacking in fine perception. Faith without thankfulness lacks strength and fortitude. Every virtue divorced from thankfulness is maimed and limps along the spiritual road.

William Wordsworth (1770–1850)

May silent thanks at least to God be given with a full heart;
Our thoughts are heard in heaven.

William Shakespeare (1564–1616)

O Lord! that lends me life,
Lend me a heart replete with thankfulness!

A heart always prepared to give thanks

Paul Stromberg Rees

If thankfulness arises through prosperity, well and good. But what are you going to do when the prosperity fails? If thankfulness springs up through health, well and good. But what will you do when disease makes you bedridden? Must you then become glum or bitter? But now, supposing it is through our dear Lord Christ that you cultivate the fine art of thanksgiving, then what? Then money in the bank, however useful, does not have me at its mercy: if I lose it, I can still offer thanks.

A Thanksgiving poem

I thank thee for a daily task to do,
For books that are my ships with golden wings,
For mighty gifts let others offer praise—
Lord, I am thanking thee for little things.
I thank thee, God, and like a child
Rejoice as for a Christmas gift,
That I am living—just alive—
Just for this human face I wear,
That I can see the sun, the sea,
The hills and grass and leafy trees,
And walk beneath the host of stars
And watch the lovely moon above.

—Matthias Claudius (1740–1815)

In everything give thanks!

Erwin W. Lutzer

It’s only when we choose to give praise for the rough spots in life that we will begin to see them from God’s perspective. If we don’t give thanks in all things, we are living in unbelief, for we are assuming that our circumstances are not controlled by a God who loves us! I’m not saying that you should give thanks for sin, but you can thank God for how he will use that sin to teach, to rebuke, or to challenge you.

Charles Swindoll

Just the word thanksgiving prompts the spirit of humility. Genuine gratitude to God for his mercy, his abundance, his protection, his smile of favor. Life simplifies itself.

Happy Thanksgiving

Charles Haddon Spurgeon

O Lord God, help us now really to worship You. We thank You for this occasion. We bless Your name for setting us apart now and always. Lord, will You shut the door upon the world for us? Help us to forget our cares. Enable us to rise far above this world. May we get rid of all its tendencies to drag us down. May the attractions of these grosser things be gone, and may You catch us away to Yourself.

Philippians 5:6-7

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Ezekiel Hopkins

A thanksgiving–day hath a double precedence of a fast–day. On a fast–day we eye God’s anger; on a thanksgiving–day we look to God’s favor. In the former we specially mind our corruptions; in the latter, God’s compassions, therefore a fast–day calls for sorrow, a thanksgiving–day for joy. But the Lord’s day is the highest thanksgiving day.

Seeking a thankful heart

Henry Ward Beecher

Pride slays thanksgiving, but a humble mind is the soil out of which thanks naturally grows. A proud man is seldom a grateful man; he never thinks he gets as much as he deserves.

C.H. Spurgeon

Do you think, Christian, that you can measure the love of Christ? Think of what His love has brought you—justification, adoption, sanctification, eternal life! The riches of His goodness are unsearchable! Oh, the breadth of the love of Christ! Will such a love as this have half our hearts? Will Jesus' marvelous loving-kindness and tender care meet with but faint response and tardy acknowledgment? Oh my soul, tune your heart to a glad song of thanksgiving! Go through the day rejoicing, for you are no desolate wanderer but a beloved child, watched over, cared for, supplied, and defended by your Lord.

November 26, 2008

Turning the world upside down

A few years ago the Christian music group Truth sang a song titled "Living Life Upside Down." The words were quite good, dealing with some of the issues in our contemporary culture that seems to no longer know right from wrong. In particular, this song addressed the issues of marital fidelity/divorce and abortion.

Here are the words of that song:

John has a new way of looking at life
He's tired of his job, of his kids, and his wife
He says the secret to his success was in leaving and finding himself
Now he's someone to somebody else
You say we've risen to a new age of truth
You're calling it a spiritually godly pursuit
But I say...

What if we've fallen to the bottom of a well
Thinking we've risen to the top of a mountain
What if we're knocking at the gates of hell
Thinking we're heaven-bound
What if we spent our lives thinking of ourselves
When we should have been thinking of each other
What if we reach up and touch the ground
To find we're living life upside-down

We've got a new plan for saving the earth
While unborn children are denied the right to birth
One baby's blessed, another cursed
Have we made this world better or worse
Now that the life of a tree comes first?
You say we've risen to a new age of light
You're telling me what used to be wrong is now right
But I say...


Good words, but I wonder if part of our upside down world is the fact that we Christians are looking at the world and forgetting that Satan rules this world—not us. Is it so surprising that sin is rampant in the world of unbelievers? Is it a strange thing when people who don't recognize God undervalue the lives of others, and even their own lives?

Romans 1:28–32
And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

This morning as I read the Bible I came across and interesting passage in Acts 17. Paul and Silas were in Thessalonica as they journeyed around sharing the gospel message with those who had not yet heard. Paul went into the local synagogue and for three weeks straight, he presented the scriptures to the Jews in the synagogue. He showed them that the long-awaited Messiah was Jesus Christ. Quite a few of the local Jews from the synagogue were persuaded and believed.

Within three weeks Paul had the local religious people in such an uproar that they incited a crowd to violence. The story from scripture continues here:

Acts 17:5-7   But the Jews were jealous, and taking some wicked men of the rabble, they formed a mob, set the city in an uproar, and attacked the house of Jason, seeking to bring them out to the crowd. And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also, and Jason has received them, and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.”

I found the crowd's accusation against Paul and Silas to be quite interesting. "These men who have turned the world upside down...."

I think this passage is showing us that we are not to look at the craziness of a debased world as being upside down—it is, in fact, the way we should expect the world to be. It is instead our job as Christians to turn the world upside down by pointing the way to Jesus Christ.

Evangelism is not always easy, but it is always necessary.

November 25, 2008

What changes in 100 years?

I received this in an email from my father and thought it was interesting. So here it is:

What a difference a century makes!

Here are some statistics for the Year 1908.

  • The average life expectancy was 47 years.
  • Only 14 percent of the homes had a bathtub.
  • Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone.
  • There were only 8,000 cars and only 144 miles of paved roads.
  • The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.
  • The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower!
  • The average wage in 1908 was 22 cents per hour.
  • The average worker made between $200 and $400 per year.
  • A competent accountant could expect to earn $2000 per year, a dentist $2,500 per year, a veterinarian between $1,500 and $4,000 per year, and a mechanical engineer about $5,000 per year.
  • More than 95 percent of all births took place at HOME.
  • Ninety percent of all doctors had no college education! Instead, they attended so-called medical schools, many of which were condemned in the press and the government as "substandard."
  • Sugar cost four cents a pound.
  • Eggs were fourteen cents a dozen.
  • Coffee was fifteen cents a pound.
  • Most women only washed their hair once a month, and used Borax or egg yolks for shampoo.
  • Canada passed a law that prohibited poor people from entering into their country for any reason.
  • Five leading causes of death were:
    1. Pneumonia and influenza
    2. Tuberculosis
    3. Diarrhea
    4. Heart disease
    5. Stroke
  • The American flag had 45 stars.
  • The population of Las Vegas, Nevada, was only 30!
  • Crossword puzzles, canned beer, and ice tea hadn't been invented yet.
  • There was no Mother's Day or Father's Day.
  • Two out of every 10 adults couldn't read or write.
  • Only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated from high school.
  • Marijuana, heroin, and morphine were all available over the counter at the local corner drugstores. Back then pharmacists said, Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind,regulates the stomach and bowels, and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health.
  • Eighteen percent of households had at least one full-time servant or domestic help.
  • There were about 230 reported murders in the entire U.S.A.

November 23, 2008

Confident Expectation

Some Sundays when none of us have a ministry responsibility, we'll get a dozen Dunkin Donuts and head over to a local lake. There we have a family worship time. Since our church has various services/Sunday school times and we have separate schedules, we rarely get to worship together at church. So we like to take those ministry free Sundays to do something special.

Last Sunday, we got a late start, and we were just too hungry for donuts. We wanted some meat for our bones. So Dad took us to Bojangles and got us some egg and cheese biscuits. We drove down the road a piece, sat in the shade of a tree, and ate our very yummy biscuits.

As we prepared to pull out onto Main Street, our eleven-year-old asked his dad, "which way do you have to turn to go to the park?"

"Left," dad answered. You see, Ben had an expectation at this point—a request of sorts that he just didn't want to ask straight out. He wanted it to be his dad's idea, but surely we couldn't break a tradition. We always have donuts at the park on Family Day. When traffic cleared, dad turned right.

"Why are you going right?" Ben asked. No answer from Dad. Pressing a little further, he asked, "Where are we going now?"

The Fuller Family

At this point, I step in and say, "Ben, maybe you should just patiently wait to find out what Dad is doing." It was only a few feet down the road when Dad made a right turn into the Dunkin Donuts parking lot. Now the other kids are starting to catch that expectant hope. The comments range from "is he doing what I think he's doing?" to "Nah, they're just getting their coffee." Once we're at the drive-thru, there's no question anymore, they all get it. There's going to be a resurrection of a tradition, if you will. We're going to get our Dunkin Donuts for Family Day.

Once we got to the park, we enjoyed our donuts and orange juice that we'd brought along from home. Mom and Dad enjoyed their coffee, too. Then we opened the scriptures to John 11 (each child has their own copy of the scriptures so that they can read along while Dad reads aloud).

As we read through the chapter, I had some thoughts about Martha that I just couldn't shake. What did Martha know, and when did she know it?

John 11:21–27
"Lord," Martha said to Jesus, "if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask." Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." Martha answered, "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" "Yes, Lord," she told him, "I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world."

After Lazarus' death, Jesus comes to Bethany, and Martha comes out to meet him. She has some questions for Jesus.

She tells Jesus that she knows he had the power to heal Lazarus. She may even be telling him that she is disappointed that he didn't come sooner. However, Martha tells Jesus something that doesn't sound like a complaint, but instead sounds like a veiled request. "I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask." She has an expectation, but she doesn't want to push Jesus, don't you think? "I know Lord, that you can raise my brother from the dead if you want to."

Jesus' response further supports this: "Your brother will rise again."

Martha's heart skips a beat—is he really saying what I think he's saying. Do I dare hope?, "I know, Jesus, that he will rise the last day." (but I really want you to raise him up today. Do I dare ask him for such a thing?)

Jesus comforts Martha, "I am the ressurrection and the life. I'm here. You don't have to wait until the Last Day. You see, Lazarus believed in me, and even though he is dead, he will live again. Do you really believe all this Martha?"

"Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, God's Son—the promised one who has finally come."

Jesus doesn't weep after his interaction with Martha. Martha runs off, not weeping, but full of expectation. She fetches Mary to send her out to Jesus. Mary arrives. Her response—the one who sat at his feet rather than fussing over the preparation for the meal—is not like Martha's. She starts out the same, but that's where the similarity ends. She fell at his feet and said, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died" (John 11: 32, 33).

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.

There is a definite contrast here. Martha comes with hope, Mary comes in total grief. Mary had no thought of what Jesus could do, and so she was devastated that he hadn't come to heal Lazarus. Can't you hear her thoughts? "You have healed so many, couldn't you have healed your own friend? Why do you hear the pleas of strangers and just ignore your friends? Why weren't you here for us?"

Jesus sees Mary and all her friends in distress—it deeply troubles him. "They don't get it. Won't they ever get it? Shouldn't they be expecting something?" and he weeps. He weeps at the grip of sin on this world and its consequences. He orders that the stone be moved.

Martha comes back with one more try at Jesus—that sense of "do I dare hope?" Martha says, "He stinks by now, doesn't he? You don't REALLY want that tomb open, do you?" She is like a race horse, anticipating the opening of the gate. Is he about to do what I think he's about to do? Will he really do THIS, HERE?? Jesus' answer to Martha shows that he knows what she's asking, and he gives her the straight answer—"Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?"

You know, we all remember Martha for her foible at the dinner party. We remember that he scolded her, gently, for being too concerned with earthly things. I think Martha got it. That scolding really hit home. She knew who he was—he was no ordinary man, he was the Messiah, the Son of God. And since she knew who he was, she knew what he could do. She had a confident expectation, just like Abraham when he was about to sacrifice Isaac. She knew that Jesus was not only capable of healing the sick, but also able to raise the dead, and she approaches him with that question. But she doesn't want it to be her idea. She wants what Jesus wants, but still, she wants her dead brother alive. It is here that Jesus gives Martha's song to us—she got it when everyone else didn't!!

Just like Ben wanted his Dad to keep our donut tradition, Martha really wanted Jesus to do something special for her, but she didn't really want to request it. She wanted it to be Jesus' idea. Still, through her questions, she let Jesus know what she was hoping, and He did not disappoint her.

How about us? Are we expectantly waiting for God to do something extraordinary in our lives today? Do we really believe that Jesus is the resurrection and the life? If so, shouldn't we expect something awesome to happen today?

God may not choose to heal the sick loved one, or raise a dead brother, but He truly has something special for us that will reveal His glory. We may have to wait, like Mary and Martha did, for that glory to be revealed. It may not be a four-day wait—it may be four decades. But don't ever give up hope—keep expecting God to do great things. He will not disappoint us!

November 22, 2008

Turning our hearts back to God

Colonists came from many lands and arrived at many different times to build what eventually became the United States of America. Jamestown, Plymouth Rock, and other now famous landing points were colonized over a period of many decades.

The colonists came from all levels of society—the spectrum ranging from slaves and indentured servants to the wealthiest members of society. They came from a variety of nations, each having it's own culture and traditions. And although many colonists did not own much more than the clothing they wore, they did not come empty-handed. They came bearing ideas, philosophies, heritage, tradition, and culture from their native lands.

When the delegates at the 1787 Constitutional Convention put pen to paper, they were not trying new and untested concepts. These founders of our nation were intelligent, well-educated, and widely read. And they combined the best ideas they had read about governments and citizens and used these to establish a government for the United States.

So, it would be reasonable to ask who influenced those founding fathers? What ideas had the most impact on the formation of our government? Which books did our founding fathers read and which philosophers and theologians did they respect? To which theological, philosophical, and political systems did they subscribe?

Dr. E. W. Smith wrote:

If the average American citizen were asked, who was the founder of America, the true author of our great Republic, he might be puzzled to answer. We can imagine his amazement at hearing the answer given to this question by the famous German historian, Ranke, one of the profoundest scholars of modern times. Says Ranke, "John Calvin was the virtual founder of America....

These revolutionary principles of republican liberty and self-government, taught and embodied in the system of Calvin, were brought to America and in this new land where they have borne so mighty a harvest were planted, by whose hands?—the hands of the Calvinists. The vital relation of Calvin and Calvinism to the founding of the free institutions of America, however strange in some ears the statement of Ranke may have sounded, is recognized and affirmed by historians of all lands and creeds.

E.W. Smith, quoted by Loraine Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination

George Bancroft, one of the leading historians of the nineteenth century called John Calvin the "founder of America," and added, "He who will not honor the memory and respect the influence of Calvin knows but little of the origin of American liberty."

Many, if not the vast majority of colonial Americans came from Calvinistic backgrounds. John Calvin died just 50 years prior to the historic Mayflower voyage to the New World. And Calvin's unique two-pronged theology, encompassing both a world view and a view of human nature, had a strong impact on our founding fathers as they sought to establish an effective government.

Total Depravity

The Calvinistic concept of Total Depravity strongly influenced the checks and balances that our founders built into our governmental system. They knew quite well the evil that man is capable of, and they sought to limit the damage that any one man may do.

Priesthood of Believers

The biblical Reformed concept that each person is able to directly approach God without an earthly intermediary or priest impacted our founder's views of education. As Martin Luther had said just a century earlier, "every plowboy should be able to read and interpret the Scripture for himself rather than be bound to follow the interpretation given to him by his priest, for he himself is responsible to God for his own soul."

This idea gave rise to the belief that every plowboy must learn to read. as a result, Protestant (especially Reformed/Calvinistic) societies strongly encouraged universal education.

John Eidsmoe's Christianity and the Constitution describes one of Thomas Jefferson's commissioned studies into the value of education:

Around 1800 Pierre Samuel Dupont de Nemours, founder of the famous Dupont lineage in America, conducted a study on education in America on behalf of Thomas Jefferson. He concluded: "Most young Americans ... can read, write and cipher. Not more than four in a thousand are unable to write legibly—even neatly." He compared the low rate of literacy throughout the world to the relatively high literacy rate in the United States, England, Holland, and the Protestant Cantons of Switzerland. He attributed the different to the fact that "in those countries the Bible is read; it is considered a duty to read it to the children; and in that form of religion the sermons and liturgies in the language of the people tend to increase and formulate ideas of responsibility." He went on to say that for the most part, education in America was accomplished in the home through reading Bibles and newspapers.

John Eidsmore, Christianity and the Constitution, p. 22

The Basis for our Law

The Calvinistic recognition of God's absolute sovereignty over all creation and of man's depravity had a direct and strong impact on the early formation of our judicial system and on our early laws. This was especially apparent in Puritan New England.

Covenant Theology

As laid out in Samuel Rutherford's famous Lex, Rex, all rulers derive their authority from God, whether they recognize that fact or not, and God gives this authority to rulers through the people they govern. The people are responsible for forming a government and for choosing the man who is to lead that government.

2 Samuel 16:18, "Hushai said to Absalom, Nay, but whom the Lord and the people, and all the men of Israel choose, his will I be, and with him will I abide"; Judges 8:22, "The men of Israel said to Gideon, rule thou over us"; Judges 9:6, "The men of Shechem made Abimelech king"; 2 Kings 14:21, "The people made Azariah king."

Limited Government

Limited government formed the basis for early America's resistance to the British government. Samuel Rutherford stressed the importance of a limited government. The people, acting under the will of God, gave the civil government only limited authority, and that authority was conditional—they reserved the right to terminate their covenant with the ruler if the ruler violated the covenant (republican) terms. Under this system the ruler is acting without legitimate authority if he violates the laws of God and nature by suppressing the basic liberties of the people. In such instances he is not to be obeyed. In fact, he is to be resisted. Our founding fathers believed that it is the Christian's duty to resist—by force, if necessary.

States Rights

The Calvinistic influence of Congregationalists, Baptists, and some Presbyterians, influenced the concept of local governance by the people most directly affected by the governance. So the States were granted far more local authority than the centralized federal government.

Voting for Change

Fast forward to today. Our nation has just pursued the platform of "Change," presented by President-elect Barack Obama. And it is quite clear that a change of course is needed in our nation. But a change back to the governance of Bill Clinton is not the change we need.

The change our nation needs is to return to a Calvinistic understanding of the role of government as provided by God for the protection of the people. We, the people, need to demand righteousness from our government. And recognizing God's supreme authority over all of creation, we Christians must pray for our nation and our nation's leaders. The God we are praying to has told us that "The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will" Proverbs 21:1.

Lack of automotive maintenance

I guess this is what happens if you don't change your oil every 3,000 miles.

November 21, 2008

Blog Header - November 22, 2008

I took this photo on the way to Grandma's house for Thanksgiving in 2007. Kim's parents live in the mountains and we stopped on the way to look at this beautiful scene. Since this coming week is Thanksgiving week, I thought now would be a good time to share this photo.

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 20, 2008

An Ordinance

To Dissolve the Union between the State of South Carolina and other States United with Her under the Compact Entitled "The Constitution of the United States of America."

We, the People of the State of South Carolina, in Convention assembled, do declare and ordain, and it is hereby declared and ordained,

That the Ordinance adopted by us in Convention, on the twenty-third day of May, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-eight, whereby the Constitution of the United States of America was ratified, and also, all Acts and parts of Acts of the General Assembly of this State, ratifying amendments of the said Constitution, are hereby repealed; and that the union now subsisting between South Carolina and other States, under the name of "The United States of America," is hereby dissolved.

D. F. JAMISON, Del. from Barnwell, and Pres't Convention

November 19, 2008

Blog Header - November 19, 2008

This is one of our apple trees ... and, oh yeah, a few of our regular deer visitors checking to see if there are any apples on the ground below. The deer have gotten quite used to us and even wander in the yard directly in front of our door as we walk out of the house. A couple days ago a deer was checking out the trash can our son had taken to the road for pickup. As our son left the house to walk to the bus stop, quietly leaned back in the door and said, "Come here."

We went to see what was up and there was the deer, standing about 20 feet from our front door and staring at us. When we didn't move he got bored and slowly walked around the car in our driveway and wandered along the side of our house toward the back yard.

I guess we're just too boring to be scary.

Augustine and Pelagius? Calvin and Arminius?

November 18, 2008

Welcome Mary Fuller

I have enjoyed getting reconnected with friends through Facebook. I've especially enjoyed reconnecting with friends from my college days. It's fun to get reacquainted and caught up on almost 30 years of news since the last time I saw these people who meant so much to me long ago.

Mary (left) and her college roommate, Lynne

One of these friends is Mary—a musician and fellow concert choir member in the early 80s. Yes, that would be the early days of the Reagan administration. The infancy of the personal computer. Before cell phones, before DVDs, before MP3s—even before CDs. We used to listen to music by rubbing a needle on a piece of vinyl. Weird stuff. But I digress.

I have recently become reacquainted with my friend Mary from those days when we were just beginning to form our theology, philosophy, and politics. And as we have gotten reacquainted I have been reminded of why Mary (okay, she was Mary Lou back then) was my friend in school—she's a fascinating and very intelligent person with a unique ability to make others think.

And so, I have asked Mary to contribute to this blog. I hope you'll find her as fascinating as I always have. And I hope she'll make you think, just as she makes me think.

So without further rambling, I introduce you to my friend, Mary Fuller.

Mary now

The Road Less Traveled

I was ten years old when I learned that there are two roads in life: one is wide and leads to destruction; one is narrow and leads to eternal life. When I heard of these two roads, I knew I was not on that road that led to eternal life.

I had grown up in a home where the name of Jesus was an exclamation, not a name to be revered. The culture in which I lived was one of self-centered living. The philosophy by which my family lived seemed to be, “If it makes you happy, do it!” regardless of the consequences. If life had continued on as it was, I would never have had the opportunity to hear the Good News of salvation. Yet, in His mercy, God sent a messenger to me.

While I was quite young, my mother brought in extra cash by babysitting for other working moms. One particular mother, Mrs. Jean Palmer, offered to take me to church with her on Sundays, and my mother allowed me to go. Her son Andy was just a year younger than I, and I would read his Sunday school take home papers to him. Those early church experiences were positive. I specifically remember one Sunday when I was invited up to the front of the Jr. Church class. My new friends sang Happy Birthday to me, and I was allowed to pick a prize from a wicker basket. I pulled out a pocket mirror with a picture of Jesus knocking on a door. I still have that mirror. So when, as a fifth-grader, I was given an opportunity to attend release time classes at that same church, I was eager to do so, especially since it meant I could get out of Mrs. Spitulnik‘s fifth grade classroom for an extra hour each Thursday!

My release time teacher was the pastor’s wife, Mrs. Bailey, and her assistant just happened to be Mrs. Palmer! I spent the first few months soaking in the Bible stories and memorizing scripture verses, working hard to win the prizes she offered. Then, one week when she told the story of the two roads, I immediately knew which road I was on, and I very much wanted to start walking on the road that led to eternal life. After class, I asked my friend Doreen how I could know I was on that road. She wasn’t sure exactly how to explain it, but she encouraged me to stay after class the following week and ask Mrs. Bailey to show me the way.

That following week, I did stay and talk to Mrs. Bailey. I don’t remember the lesson she taught that day, I was too eager for class to be over to pay much attention. She explained to me the ABC’s of salvation. I first needed to admit that I was a sinner. That wasn’t difficult...I knew I wasn’t righteous! Next, I needed to believe that Jesus came to earth as a baby, died on the cross for my sins, rose from the dead, and was now living in Heaven preparing a place for me. After sitting in her class all those weeks, I knew it was true, and I did believe it. Then I needed to confess my sins to God and my faith to men. We knelt that day in an upper room of the church, and I asked Jesus to forgive me of my sins, and give me the gift of eternal life. Mrs. Bailey prayed for me, too, that God would strengthen the faith in me, and do what I asked Him to do.

I left that room, ran down the street to catch up with my friend Doreen and exclaimed, “I did it”. I wrote in my diary, “today I decided to follow Christ. Let’s see what happens.”

Ephesians 3:20–21
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

What has happened since that day is incredible. I left that road of destruction, and began walking on the path of eternal life. Mrs. Bailey patiently discipled me. Several adults in my church spent time teaching me in the principles of God’s word, and patiently watched and coached me as I grew in God’s grace. Amazingly, I was even able to attend Bible College—the first in my family ever to attend college, and it was there that I developed an even greater hunger for God’s Word and God’s Way. After graduation, I moved to a city in New York to take a job as a Christian schoolteacher, and it was there I began dating my husband.

As a young girl, I had prayed that God would give me a Christian home in which to live, and that is precisely what He has done. I have a sensitive, godly husband who leads his family in serving the Lord. All four of my children have made a decision to follow Christ as their Savior, and they made those decisions right here at home. I am able to stay home with my children and teach them their school lessons from a biblical worldview. We enjoy each other's company and have long talks about spiritual things. God has done exceedingly, abundantly above anything I could ever have asked or thought to ask!

I have had the opportunity to serve in each of the local churches I have attended in both children’s and worship ministries. It is my desire to give back to the local church what so many others once invested in me.

As I look back at the road I could have taken, and the road that I would most certainly have been on had not God in His grace reached down and placed me on another, I realize that I have become God’s workmanship! My senior year in high school I taped a Robert Frost poem, “The Road not Taken” in the front of my Bible, and the last two lines sum up my walk with Christ perfectly:

“I shall be telling this with a sigh somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and I—
I took the road less traveled by,
and that has made all the difference.”

What can I say? I think it's funny

November 16, 2008

Blog Header - November 16, 2008

Today's blog header is just a little bit of Photoshop fun. Our family loves diners. They tend to really show the character of a town. So when we visit new cities and towns, quite often we seek out the local diner for breakfast or lunch and get a sense of the heart and soul of that town.

So I thought I'd use a photo from inside one of those diners for my blog header today.

If the Matrix ran on Windows

Wise words from Thomas a Kempis

Do not open your heart to every man, but discuss your affairs with one who is wise and who fears God. Do not keep company with young people and strangers. Do not fawn upon the rich, and do not be fond of mingling with the great. Associate with the humble and the simple, with the devout and virtuous, and with them speak of edifying things.... Seek only the intimacy of God and of His angels, and avoid the notice of men. We ought to have charity for all men but familiarity with all is not expedient.

Sometimes it happens that a person enjoys a good reputation among those who do not know him, but at the same time is held in slight regard by those who do. Frequently we think we are pleasing others by our presence and we begin rather to displease them by the faults they find in us.

November 13, 2008

It's not just opinion and preference

I have recently had a few conversations about church music with folks who fall back on the "well, it's all a matter of opinion" defense. The conversations go something like this:

"I don't particularly like this song."

"Why not?"

"It's just not well-written" or
"The music doesn't fit the words" or
"The words are shallow" or
"This sounds like something from Teletubbies"

"That's just your opinion."

I don't believe that quality music is a matter of opinion. And when we are choosing music for use in the worship of almighty God, we must choose high quality music—whatever the genre of music our church uses.

Here are some thoughts from Bob Kauflin on what makes a song good or not-so-good.

Quote of the Day

Alexander Haig– Genius

"The only way that the Republican Party can hold the White House ... is to nominate a candidate who can win."

Alexander Haig, former Secretary of State and pundit

Blog Header - November 13, 2008

Today's header photo was taken on July 4th 2007 in the parking lot of the mall near Liberty University. A group of people from our church met in this parking lot below Liberty Mountain and waited for the Liberty University fireworks, which are quite good.

November 11, 2008

Is our freedom in danger?

U.S. Rep. Paul Broun

"Those who fail to learn from history are destined to repeat it."

Although most of us have heard and recognize the wisdom of this statement, we seem to forget this wisdom when we are in the midst of an election cycle. We get caught up in the emotional arguments presented by the candidates and stop thinking about what's truly best for our nation.

This warning from Georgia Congressman Paul Broun should give us pause and drive us to our knees in prayer.

November 10, 2008

What I'm Reading - November 10, 2008


Today's Bible Reading Luke 22, John 13

I'm also reading:
Solomon Among the Postmoderns   Peter J. Leithart
Blood of the Fold   Terry Goodkind

I've mentioned Terry Goodkind before [Wizard's First Rule and Conservatism from an unexpected source] and thoroughly enjoy his writing. But Blood of the Fold has been a particularly interesting read so far.

Just after I graduated from high school, a friend recommended that I read Atlas Shrugged by Ayne Rand. Atlas Shrugged is a fantastic novel that lays out essential fiscal Conservatism. If you don't understand the Conservative mindset, Atlas Shrugged would be a good place to start to research why Conservatives (fiscal Conservatives) think the way we do.

Blood of the Fold strikes me as being very similar to Atlas Shrugged in it's explanation of the dynamics of fiscal Liberalism. I am about half way through the book and have found three very clear presentations of fiscal Conservatism as an argument against proposed fiscal Liberalism. The dynamic affect of each of these differing points of view is discussed clearly and fiscal Conservatism, so far, has won the debate.

A very interesting book indeed.

November 08, 2008

Blog Header - November 8, 2008

Today's blog header was a photo I took outside the Sequoia Restaurant in Washington, D.C. Surrounded by flowers and a tall and slender artistic tower, this fountain forms the centerpiece of the outdoor restaurant seating area for quite a few restaurants on the Potomac waterfront.

This is a beautiful area of Washington, D.C., and is situated very close to such famous locations as the Watergate Condominiums and the C&O Canal.

November 07, 2008

Rising or setting?

U.S. flag flying in front of
the National D-Day Memorial

During the Constitutional Convention, President George Washington sat in a chair known as "The Rising Sun Chair." A depiction of the sun was carved into the back of this chair. Legend has it that when the president stood, revealing the image of the sun Benjamin Franklin asked if this represented the rising sun or the setting sun with regard to the fledgling American democracy.

A friend referred to this story this morning when she saw the flag photo I took at the National D-Day Memorial (seen above). Another friend of mine joined the "Barack Obama is not my president" group on Facebook this morning. The combination of these two things this morning formed a catalyst to my thinking regarding the recent election.

It is clear that I did not vote for Barack Obama. I have strong disagreements with him on myriad issues. I am very concerned about the future of our country.

1 Timothy 2:1-2
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.

But if I refuse to recognize him as my president, I am contributing to a spirit that could destroy our nation.

May God grant us each the grace to recognize that God has placed a new leader over our nation and fall into the appropriate position of submission to this God-ordained authority. We live in a free nation that allows us the right to disagree vocally with our president, and I plan to do so if he does things I disagree with. But he is still my president and deserves the respect that is inherent with the office.

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.
—Romans 13:1–12

November 05, 2008

Full recovery

Now, this is awesome!

Well, now. Here's some further information that you might want to see concerning this video. Thanks Rev. E. Scott Hart.

Blog Header - November 5, 2008

Today's blog header is a photo I took of our pastor's daughter about a decade ago. She was graduating from high school and wanted some unique senior portraits. We spent the day taking portraits indoors and outdoors in multiple locations and ended up with quite a few nice shots.

The location for this portrait was Prince William Forest Park in Prince William County, Virginia. This is also the park my sister got married in. It's a beautiful place with some gorgeous scenery.

November 04, 2008

I Praise Your Name

The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.
—Job 1:21

Praise the Lord! He is in control. And at times he must punish a nation for their rejection of him. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Praise Your Name

Le Monument aux Morts - National D-Day Memorial

Le Monument aux Morts, created by sculptor Edmond de Laheudrie (1861–1946), was dedicated on May 16, 1921 in memory of the forty-four men of Trévieres, France, who died in World War I.

During the Normandy invansion, shrapnel or a round struck the head of the figure and removed her face below the upper lip and most of her throat.

The statue at the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia, is a recausting of Laheudrie's sculpture. This recasting preserves the World War II damage that still disfigures the World War I original still standing in France.

According to the National D-Day Memorial Foundation, this statue's prominent placement in Edward R. Stettinius Jr. Parade, the component of the National D-Day Memorial that symbolizes the journey from the hedgerows of Normandy to the new frontlines of the Cold War, "delivers a sober lesson on the transcience of victory and the fragility of peace."

Election Day!

It's election day. Pray for God's guidance. Consider carefully the stands of each of the viable candidates. Vote for the one whose platform more closely conforms to the directives of scripture.

Our salvation is not found in politics. But we must not ignore the importance of our civic duty and the impact of the Christian faith upon our votes.

God bless America!

November 03, 2008

Obama's advice - Vote McCain

The day is here. Go out and vote for McCain—now.

Tribute to Eisenhower

The D-Day Memorial is a tribute to the day the Allied Forces breached the European defenses of Adolph Hitler's war for world domination. I'm afraid that our nation does not remember this day and I'm afraid that we have forgotten our tremendous debt of gratitude that is owed to the soldiers who stormed these beaches and turned the tide of the war.

The pictures in this post are of the statuary presenting busts of the United States generals and advisers. The focal point of this grotto is the large domed tribute to General Eisenhower. The statues and busts in the memorial are 125% of life size, so the 5'2" Eisenhower is shown at 7 feet tall. The impact this man had on the outcome of the war makes me think that his statue is a bit too small, even at this enlarged size.

Underneath the domed roof over Eisenhower's head is a tiled representation of the D-Day invasion planning map. Looking at this map and the statue of General Eisenhower and considering the sacrifice made by the young men who were willing to sacrifice themselves in order to stop the spread of evil in the world is truly a moving experience.

D-Day: It is hard to conceive the epic scope of this decisive battle that foreshadowed the end of Hitler's dream of Nazi domination. Overlord was the largest air, land, and sea operation undertaken before or since June 6, 1944. The landing included over 5,000 ships, 11,000 airplanes, and over 150,000 service men.

D-Day Planning Map

After years of meticulous planning and seemingly endless training, for the Allied Forces, it all came down to this: The boat ramp goes down, then jump, swim, run, and crawl to the cliffs. Many of the first young men (most not yet 20 years old) entered the surf carrying 80 pounds of equipment. They faced over 200 yards of beach before reaching the first natural feature offering any protection. Blanketed by small-arms fire and bracketed by artillery, they found themselves in hell.

When it was over, the Allied Forces had suffered nearly 10,000 casualties; more than 4,000 were dead. Yet somehow, due to planning and preparation, and due to the valor, fidelity, and sacrifice of the Allied Forces, Fortress Europe had been breached.

From the D-Day Memorial tour brochure

Read my wife's post about The Bedford Boys.

Aiming at the wrong target

This morning as I booted my computer and prepared for the day's work, I turned on the TV to watch the morning's news. One of the reports this morning discussed the fact that a liberal talk show host has called for Joe the Plumber to be killed [video - caution—profanity laced].

I was amazed at how far someone would take their political ideology. But even more I was shocked that someone would target the entirely wrong person in their political anger. If you really hate John McCain, why turn against Joe the Plumber, whose only fault was that he asked a political candidate a question and got an answer?

John 12:9-11
When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.

Then I opened my bible to begin my devotions and I read John 12, which contains the verses in the callout box. The chief priests really hated Jesus. Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead, which had brought some celebrity status to Lazarus. People were coming to the Jesus rallies to see Lazarus. So the chief priests, who hated Jesus and didn't want people to believe him, turned their sights on Lazarus. Lazarus had not raised himself from the dead. We have no record of Lazarus preaching the gospel to any great extent. But he was under the threat of death because his very existence caused people to be interested in Jesus' teachings.

I guess things have not changed so much.

Be sure to vote tommorrow. But remember not to get your sights focused on the wrong target. This world (and this nation) is not our home. We should vote and we should choose the man who will be best for our country and whose policies most closely parallel scriptural mandates. But we cannot put our hope in a political candidate.

My hope is in the Lord
Who gave Himself for me
And paid the price for all my sins
At Calvary

November 02, 2008

National D-Day Memorial - Bedford, Virginia

Yesterday our family visited the National D-Day memorial in Bedford, Virginia. Bedford is very close to Lynchburg but is more rural and surrounded by higher mountain peaks. It's a beautiful small town with wondrous character.

We visited Bedford in September [post about Bedford] during their Centerfest Fall Festival and were impressed with the beauty of the town and the friendliness of the people who live there—all 6,000 of them. Well, we didn't actually meet all 6,000 of them, but the ones we met were great and very hospitable.

So why was a town of 6,000 residents chosen to host the National D-Day Memorial?

Bedford proper may be seen in the background

Our tour guide explained to us that on June 6, 1944 (D-Day), nineteen young men from the town of Bedford died storming the beaches. In 1944 Bedford had fewer than 3,000 residents, so the number of soldiers from Bedford who died on that day were the most per capita deaths from any one town in the United States. For this reason, Bedford was chosen as the location for the National D-Day Memorial. The gorgeous natural surroundings are an additional reason that this memorial is so beautiful.

I'm going to post a bit more over the next few days and share a few more photos with you. I'll also provide some links to the National D-Day Memorial web site so you can plan your trip to this outstanding memorial.

November 01, 2008

Blog Header - November 2, 2008

Today's blog header was taken during our family's summer vacation in 2007. We stayed at Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort and this photo was taken from in front of our room. This is the largest of Disney's seven resorts and is absolutely wonderful. There are many cabins situated around a very large lake (the lake shown in the blog header). There are seven swimming pools plus a large pool at the town center.

We were treated like royalty there and although the resort is the largest Disney resort, it never felt crowded. In fact, it seemed very quiet and peaceful all the time.

If you ever get a chance to take an extended vacation at Disneyworld, consider staying at one of their resorts. The prices are great and the location can't be beat, since you're already right there at Disneyworld. We didn't go back to our car a single time after we arrived until the final day when we packed up to leave. It's a wonderful family time.

Quotes to consider this election season

From the blog WI Catholic Musings, where I found the letter from Holocaust survivor Lori Kalner, here are some quotes that we should all ponder as we head toward Tuesday's elections.

"Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it."
—George Santayana

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
—Edmund Burke

"Better be despised for too anxious apprehensions, than ruined by too confident security."
—Edmund Burke

And one more quote—this time from the wisest man in the history of the world, King Solomon:

Proverbs 21:1   The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.

An uneducated electorate

Raisin' McCain - John Rich