What kind of path are you leaving?

Checking in. I’m not dead. Just lots going on in the workplace and on the homestead. Some of you know we are moving from Brooklyn to Long Island next week. It’s a big move for us. As for the details, I wouldn’t even know where to start.  All I will say (for now) is that God has truly lavished us with unimaginable kindness and generosity. So, I’m getting ready.  In recent weeks I’ve been working on my Lawng Island accent.  Brooklyn to Lawng Island feels pretty natural and I think the transition will be an easy one.

Today I’m up to my eyeballs in bubble wrap, packaging tape, and boxes while listening to, among other things, MacArthur’s sermon series on Hebrews. I just heard him share a story that made me stop and run to the computer to look-up.  A quick internet search confirms there are a few variations but the heart of the message is the same. The path we walk matters because other people are following.  MacArthur tells it within the context of feeling weary and fainthearted in the struggle against sin. Hebrews 12:13 says, “make straight paths for your feet“. One reason to persevere and stay on that “straight path” is that our lives are bound with other people. It’s easy to think sin is only a personal matter between ourselves and God. At some level that’s true, but it’s certainly not the whole of it.

This is the story of a drunkard who left home for the pub one day in the snow.  Little did he know someone was following.

“One day in Switzerland a gentleman who was traveling was climbing up one of those steep mountains, and as he went he had to cut steps in the frozen ice and snow; step by step he went up, cutting them rather carelessly, when all of a sudden he heard a little voice below him.  “Father,” it said, ‘mind you cut an easy path, because I am following you.’ “(1)

Get it? We do not live in a vacuum. Every decision we make, public or private, has implications that go beyond the immediate.

Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 13and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. 14Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. 15See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; 16that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. 17For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears. (Hebrews 12:12-17)

So, that’s what I wanted to share.  Back to the boxes!  Admittedly, I’ve been in a season where, despite my desire to write, my best energies must be spent elsewhere.  That’s okay. I’ve learned to be content with the seasons of life and trust His providence.  Still, I hope to blog a little more in the future!  Tawk soon!

(1) The Church of England Temperance Chronicle, January 1882. London:  Wells Gardner & Co. Publishers. page 53 (Digitized Google Version).

The Role of the Church in the Civil Rights Movement

REPOST from January 12, 2012:

For many, yesterday was the start of a 3-day weekend to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr, the leader of the Civil Rights movement, and those who stood against racial segregation and inequality. History is replete with men and women of faith who, in the struggle to lay hold of the eternal, broke human tradition and brought about revolutionary change.  Indeed, our own American history is testimony to that.  We cannot speak of the founding of this great nation without acknowledging the relationship between independence from Great Britain and freedom of religion.  The founding fathers understood that the very root of independence is respect for others.  Yet, the actors on the stage of human history are imperfect men who, despite their greatness, sin and “fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23). Had the founding fathers acted in accord with conscience when the issue of slavery presented itself, this evil and all its ugly repercussions would have been dealt the death-blow.  Instead it spread like cancer.  Unconfessed and unrepented sin doesn’t just go away. I believe that if the founding fathers could speak today, they would confess this as their greatest failure.  Yet, the grace of God is greater and the eternal purposes of God, in the affairs of men and of nations, cannot be thwarted. God, at the frontline of every quest for freedom and justice, always has a people.

It is absolutely impossible to talk about the Civil Rights movement without acknowledging the church. Even the secularists agree. The church was the engine that powered the revolution. More than just a meeting place where strategy sessions were held, the community itself was a picture of the freedom being sought. There was unity among the members (Eph 4:3), direction from the pulpit (Tit 2:1), prayers for deliverance and protection (Phil 4:6), songs to rejoice in the God of their salvation (Eph 5:19), encouragement to persevere in the face of opposition (Heb 3:13), reminders to keep looking forward by faith to the city with foundations “whose builder and maker is God” (Heb 11:10). Men, women, and children received grace to be humble before God and bold in Christ. The church was the place where the principles of the Kingdom of God were up and running. Is it any wonder then that the church was the target of great white supremacist opposition?  More important, should it be any surprise that it was Christians, motivated by faith and Scripture, who were not only among the most ardent supporters of this movement, but who made up most of the leadership?

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is more than just another Federal holiday.  It is a time to thank God for the Civil Rights movement and the brave men, women, and children who understood that it was “for such a time as this” (Est 4:14) that they had been called. May we give glory to God for His providential hand in American history and for the members of the body who, by faith, stood for truth at great cost.

Without the guiding force of religion and more principles rooted in faith and Judeo-Christian ethics, the Civil Rights movement, and the broader freedom struggle, would not have become the cornerstone of social change in modern America.  Indeed, for the better part of a century the faith-based struggle to eradicate racial discrimination and injustice in the United States has been a major source of spiritual and more regeneration, of hope and renewal, for oppressed people across the globe. Though much work is left to be done, both at home and abroad, doing God’s work in Alabama, Mississippi, and other parts of the South through such worldly pursuits as sit-ins, freedom rides, and voter registration drives has spread the power and the glory of faith and righteousness to the end of the earth, giving a measure of hope to us all. 1

1 Dr. Bernard LaFayette, Jr, The Role of Religion in the Civil Rights Movement. Presented at the Faith and Progressive Policy: Proud Past, Promising Future Conference, sponsored by the Center for American Progress, June 9, 2004.

Ed Moore on Contending for the Faith

As political correctness continues to infiltrate the church, it’s worth noting there are no examples of political correctness to draw from in the Bible.  To the contrary, Scripture and church history are filled with men and women who stood for gospel purity in exceedingly adverse situations.  The Bible calls us to contend for the faith (Jude 1:3) against those who would corrupt or compromise it.  Why?  Because future generations are at stake (Galatians 2:5).  Because souls – yours, mine, and those around us are in the balance (1 Timothy 4:16). Because gospel truth, when undermined, will shipwreck your faith (1 Timothy 1:19) and destroy entire families (Titus 1:11). And finally, the message of the Cross, which is salvation through faith in Christ alone is utterly subverted when we make peace with the very falsehoods that sent Jesus to the cross.   Here’s a clip from Ed Moore, Senior Pastor at North Shore Baptist Church, on the importance of contending for the faith. If you would like to hear the sermon in its entirety, click here.

“The Gift Wrap and The Jewel”: A Poem by Wanda Goines

Not much else to add here that this beautiful woman hasn’t already captured.  Someone posted this on Facebook and I am smitten.  Meet Wanda Goines, a pilgrim on her way to Zion, going from strength to strength, till one day she appears before God (Psalms 84:7).

 

I looked in the mirror and what did I see,
but a little old lady peering back at me.
With bags and sags and wrinkles and wispy white hair
I asked my reflection, how did you get there?

You once were straight and vigorous and now you’re stooped and weak
when I tried so hard to keep you from becoming an antique.

My reflection’s eyes twinkled and she solemnly replied,
‘You’re looking at the gift wrap and not the jewel inside’
a living gem and precious of un-imagined worth,
unique and true, the real you, the only you on earth.

The years that spoil your gift wrap with other things more cruel
should purify and strengthen and polish up that jewel.

So focus your attention on the inside, not the out
on being kinder, wiser, more content and more devout.

Then, when your gift wrap is stripped away, your jewel will be set free
to radiate God’s glory, throughout eternity.

HT:  Marilynn I. (Facebook)