Saturday, June 27, 2009

Is the USA a Christian Nation?

There’s been a lot of talk lately about whether the USA is a Christian nation.
I wonder what brought that up? Oh yeah, Barack Hussein Obama!
He was telling some people of Muslim nations that we aren't a Christian Nation. Do you think they understood that coming from their culture and worldview? Probably not.
If anything they probably though, "Good, its not Christan, that much easier for it to become Muslim."
Anyway, I guess it depends on what you mean by Christian. Is the country made up of born-again Christians? No. Is the charter and constitution of the USA the Bible? No. Does the constitution state we are a Christian nation? No.
Were we founded by a group of people whose views of the world and what government should be were informed by Christian teachings? Absolutely Yes. This does not mean that each founding Father was a born again Christian. But even the Deists among them were surrounded by, and respected the Christians. This does not mean philosophers like Hume and Locke weren't influential as well. But then, we might trace their influences back the Reformation and rediscovery of scripture.

Listen to these quotes:
Sam Adams, the father of the American Revolution wrote: “I…recommend my Soul to the Almighty Being who gave it, and my body I commit to the dust, relying on the merits of Jesus Christ for a pardon of all my sins.” That doesn’t sound like a deist to me but a Christian.
John Hancock, remember his large signature at t5he bottom ofr the Declaration of Independence? “I, john hancock, … being advanced in years and being of perfect mind and memory – thanks be given to God – therefore calling to mind the mortality of my body and knowing that it is appointed for all men to die (Heb 9:27), do make …this my last will and testament. Principally…I give…my soul into the hands of God that gave it: and my body I recommend to the earth…nothing doubting but at the general resurrection I shall receive the same again by the mercy and power of God."
Then Patrick Henry, remember, ‘give me liberty or give me death’?
“This is all the inheritance I can give to my dear family. The religion of Christ can give them one which will make them rich indeed.”
I know that Jefferson and Franklin said and wrote things that were less than Christian, but they were definitely influenced by the teachings of Jesus. Ben Franklin used to go hear Jonathan Edwards preach his famous sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of and angry God.”
I also know that not all the people that came to America came for religious freedom. Some came to worship the way they wanted to but didn’t want to give others the same privilege. Roger Williams, the first American Baptist, had considerable trouble with the authorities because he wasn’t an Anglican or a Congregationalist. And also because he thought the gospel should be taken to the Native Americans and they shouldn’t be treated as 2nd class humans.
But by the time the framers of the constitution came around, some important things had bubbled to the surface of the American experiment. Just like crude oil would change the world a century later something else was changing the political status quo: Namely Freedom. And where did they get it?
I don’t think they got it from the ancient philosophers who supported freedom for the elite ruling class. I don’t think they got it from the Muslims or Catholicism.
I believe they got it from scripture.
How about Freedom in Commerce?
Leviticus 25:14 says, “And if you sell ought to thy neighbor, or buy ought of thy neighbor’s hand, you shall not oppress one another:
Or Rom 15:26 For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make contributions for the poor saints at Jerusalem. So they gave as they “Pleased.” That means voluntary.
How about Freedom in Justice?
Ex 23:6 "You shall not pervert the justice [that is] due to your poor in his lawsuit. Says the poor person whould get what is justly his. But 3 verses before it says, Ex 23:3 nor shall you be partial to a poor man in his lawsuit. In other words the rich, the poor, and anyone in between ought to receive true justice. So I guess it doesn’t matter what your status is, how much money you have, or whether you’re white, black, or Hispanic. Justice is justice!
Now there was a problem interpreting the freedom that the US constitution provided and we fought a war and got rid of the horrible blight of American slavery. That wasn’t so much an issue of freedom as it was respecting our fellow man as a human being. As a result it became a terrible affront to freedom. But we began to fix that in the 19th amendment!
We also have the Freedom to be poor just like in the Bible.
Pro 21:17 Whoever loves pleasure will be a poor man; he who loves wine … will not be rich. And, Pro 14:23 In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.
In one verse of the Bible you find the freedom to own property and the freedom to work! Lev 19:9 "When you … harvest your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. 10 And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, nor shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the LORD your God.
You see God provided for property ownership – YOUR harvest and YOUR vineyard. But He also provided for the poor, And He provided that the poor should Work. We need to be careful though, because God also said, Pro 14:31 Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him. There is a time to give to the poor, especially those who cannot work.
God is a champion for the poor. Jesus came and preached the gospel to the poor. And He is especially concerned with the poor and oppressed. And when the government oppresses its own people so that they cannot enjoy the fruit of the own labors1 its still oppression. But our constitution calls for freedom.

And we are free from Tyranny. God didn’t want His people controlled by Tyrants, And we get to vote and change our government regularly so that no one gains a hold on power to the detriment of the country and its freedoms.
And if anyone does become a tyrant and oppress the people, we can vote them out, or even impeach them and remove them office if necessary! THAT is freedom, and it is consistent with the word of God.
And maybe most important of all, we have the freedoms to believe and say what we believe. In ancient Israel God expected all the descendants of Jacob to believe in Him and obey His laws. But He knew that unbelievers would come into their land so He said, Lev 19:34 You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.

That is how we as Christians should treat the alien in our land as well. I’m not saying ignore the law, but we are to love our neighbor as ourselves!
And all of this reflects the Freedom we have in Christ!
Free from the Moses’ Law which is like a tyrant to the soul.
Free from the bondage of sin so we are not slaves.
Free from to try and fail because we are forgiven.
Free to be poor, but we’ll pay a price for it.
And Free to be blessed coming in and going out!
And all of this freedom was purchased not by the blood of soldiers on a battlefield, but by the blood of our savior on a cross. Is He your savior today? Are you truly free?

On a very Fine VBS, OR, How to entertain 4 year olds thru 6th graders for a week and have them come back every day.

My grandson, God love him, can be a pill. Not malicious, and not the loudest or shortest attention span by any means. But mix some of that with him and he's a whirlwind! James is 7 and always quick to calm down when you call him on it. Not so with some others.
There are the quiet ones too. Two little boys, twins, looked about 7 or 8, never said a word all week. I saw them staring at the videos with little kids singing and do hand motions and saw them barely moving their hands but not singing. I have to wonder about them. Their mom seems very nice and personable.
Some of the little girls and boys were just sweetness personified.
Some of them need a swift kick.

One boy who obviously is ADHD and generally a happy kid taught me a little though.
I can understand when he occasionally hollers in frustration, or suddenly takes off running around the room. I often feel that way myself.
But I learned that they can also be willfully disobedient in a calm, thoughtful kind of way. That's when I get a little ticked. I know he is genuinely ADHD and that probably has some effect on his disobedience, but I've seen him obey and then later disobey and I think he can control that. And I'm not above getting in one's face at times like that.

I also have a tendency to sarcasm which I know is lost on the little ones. When a boy who always likes to show us how smart he is and talk louder than everyone else suddenly doesn't know something, I act aghast. "WHAT you don't know this?" I know, I know, doesn't help.

A couple of the "little" girls are nearing middle school age and truly becoming young ladies. They don't tend to be the ones wearing Hannah Montana everyday. But sweet, demure, thinking, and processing, and closer to adulthood. Quite delightful.

Then there's the spiritual side of things. Many kids SO want to please their teachers. They can be very spiritual. Is it possible that in trying to please teachers they can be more open to the urgings of the Spirit? I think maybe so. I don't doubt that the Spirit can do as He pleases even with the less compliant but compliance isn't a bad thing right?
And then you see a couple of kids who seem to be moving beyond that level. I can;t know but when a little girl says, "I believe in God and all that but I haven't ever really given my life to Him and I want to be sure I'm a Christian." You have to think just maybe that's God at work on her heart and mind. Its rewarding! Cause this VBS stuff is a lot of WORK!

Friday, June 19, 2009

A Periodic Table of the Elements of God (Periodic or eternal?)

It was a silly little assignment I gave myself. Create a Christian version of the periodic table for a decoration for our VBS. (Is there a better name than vacation bible school out there? Generic enough to use every year but without the words vacation or school?) Anyway, it turned into an education Project. What do I list, whats not important enough? How do I arrange it? Is there a Acid/Base continuum in spiritual matters?
So this is what I did:

You'll notice the bright yellow cells are the godhead. The Pink columns under them are not restrictive to the attributes of each deity personage but are suggestive. For example, the fruit of the spirit are listed under HS the Holy Spirit, with the exception of Faith and Love which are in the first column because of their importance.
The light blue areas on the right are man's responses, but there is an astericked footnote pointing out that God enables these responses.
Then the bridging purple cells are the things God does on man's behalf, for his good, and for God's glory.
OK, so I don't have the final judgment of mankind and the lake of fire, so sue me. I wanted to convey the "good news" of God and While He is Holy and Sovereign, Jesus came to seek and save the lost. That's good news, right?
I've copyrighted it and I would like to use it for teaching. Something like Sa=Gr+Fa.
But it is rather inadequate isn't it? I mean how do you confine all that Christ has done for us in salvation in just a few purple squares. How can you put Love in a square like its some discrete amount reduced to its most basic state. Love is much more faceted and convoluted than that yet it does have this basic component; doing whats best for another.
So if you would like a better version of this I can send the Excel file or the bmp and you can use it. Just ask me. OK, you can also make 4 reproductions of it, that's all, no more!
Maybe I can get lifeway or Group or somebody to reproduce it and market it. $$$$$. Or not.
But I do think it would be a good educational tool!
What do you think?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

My Baby Got Married

It came off without a hitch! Not the wedding, this burden of responsibility for my daughter's well-being spiritually and socially and physically, etc. It just slid right off! Robert Whiting caught it, put it on his shoulders.

Of course the emptiness I feel will take some getting used to. And the weight may not seem much to him now cause he's "in Love." But the weight will get heavier, and my incredible lightness of being will become more normal, and we'll all slip into this comfortable relationship of friendly adults of equal status and place. Ya THINK?

Father's with son's tell me its easier that having daughters. Maybe, but I don't know. Maybe father's with sons just relax a little more than they should. From meeting Robert's parents I have the feeling they took a very active role in son's and daughter and I'm not sure they distinguished a lesser or greater task of raising them in the fear and the admonition.
I think it comes back to parental effort a lot. But then what do I know? I never had a son.

I have 3 son's now, by marriage of course. We talk basketball, and programming, and machinery, and, now and then, on rare occasions, about marital relationships. NONE of which am I an expert on or even very knowledgeable about! But the convo's are different than with the girls. Its more manly. And for that, I thank my daughters for not marrying girly men.

Oh, and the wedding was great, too! Everyone did their jobs very well! Even my oldest grandson James who was in his first wedding as ring-bearer. (No not like Frodo!) He was sharp, handsome, and well behaved and all around a lot like His grandfather!

Rebecca was radiant with beauty and warmth and love and maturity. Robert looked good too. All my daughters, natural born and adopted, were gorgeous! All the men looked refined and supportive. My family came to the wedding in strong numbers and all behaved quite well-(whew!) The senior statesman, Papa pete was there and looked great too.

Oh, and then Denny and Willow and others helped Marney out immensely, working tirelessly to make it all a great success! I was also glad to see so many folks from Smithfield. What a treat!

All in all a great and wonderful day.

Then I awoke this morning around 7 and did something uncharacteristically spiritual. I sat on the edge of my bed and prayed for my baby daughter and her husband that their lives would be wonderful and happy!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

My Baby's Getting Married

What an odd feeling. My last of three girls is going to tie the knot.
This hasn't been the comedy of errors that hollywood likes to depict. Its had its laughs and tears and squabbles, but its been pretty clockwork. (Due to her and mom's planning.)
Of Course we can't afford the Wedding Planner, or the Wedding Singer, and there's no wealthy Father of the Bride.
But we have spent a lot for our budget.
But I think the most overwhelming thing is what a good couple they make.
Of course she's my baby, and alot like me, and she has her sister's help who've been this road recently. But its money well spent for a life full of happiness and bliss....right?

I was nervous. Both older daughter's husbands are good men. Could it happen again? Would we go 3 for 3?
I think we have. As Marney says, "He comes from good stock."
He seems to be a fine young man who truly cares for my daughter.

James Dobson once said that giving your daughter in marriage is like handing a stradivarius to a gorilla. I understand that. but I can see past that original feeling and see a good man.

Both parents have prayed for the partner their child would one day have. Seems the answers are about to be brought to fruitiion.