Did You Know?

Six men and no women have been

executed in the United States in 2017.

Holidays

He was an influential civil rights leader.  He was a pastor.  He was a husband.  He was a father.  He encouraged a generation.  He had a dream.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is most remembered as the civil rights leader.  What is often left out is that his ideas were rooted in Scriptures.  He was not simply arguing for racial equality, he was arguing for a world that would be flush with the glory of the Lord.

 

In one sermon entitled Paul’s Letter to American Christians, Dr. King styled his sermon as one of the many letters the Apostle Paul wrote.  He marveled at the leaps and bounds we have made in science and architecture and laments the failing moral and spiritual advancements.  The theme of the message comes from Paul himself, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2a, ESV).  Stand apart from the rest of the world; resist the earthly temptations that do not bring glory to the Lord, rather have faith in the Lord and allow Him to work through you.

 

Dr. King often drew from the Sermon on the Mount for inspiration, particularly loving your enemies (Matthew 5:44).  We are not to like our enemies, to tolerate them, to co-exist with them; we are to love them.  We are to love them without expecting them to reciprocate.  We are to be the stronger person, the person who does the right thing no matter what others do.

 

His most famous speech, the “I Have a Dream”speech is also rooted in the Bible.  The speech reaches its apex when Dr. King quotes for Isaiah 40:4-5:  “I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; ‘and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.’" Dr. King did not simply dream of a world with racial equality, he dreamed of a world where all would rejoice in the glory of the Lord. 

 

In his day, Dr. King was considered an extremist by many.  It was a title that he welcomed because he stood in good company with our Savior Jesus Christ, the prophet Amos, the apostle Paul, reformer Martin Luther, and former President Abraham Lincoln.   To Dr. King, the only question one had to ask themselves is what kind of extremist are you going to be?  For evil or for goodness?  For justice or injustice?

Columbus Day has become a controversial holiday in America.  Some view Christopher Columbus as a great explorer, who founded new worlds and brought science and enlightenment to “savages.”  Others view him as a man who brought disease, illness, and death to many civilizations.  Should we celebrate his discovery or should we mourn what his coming brought?  Perhaps we should do both.  

 

Part of the reason for the controversy is the way history was recorded.  When Columbus set sail on August 3, 1492, he was setting out to find a water route to Asia, as going overland was difficult and growing more and more dangerous.  Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain gave Columbus three ships, 90 sailors, and money for the voyage.  Over two months later on October 12, 1492, Columbus and his crew landed on an island in present day Central America.  Columbus mistakenly believed that he had reached India and called the natives “Indians.”

 

Columbus returned to Spain, declaring the voyage a success.  He also brought back gold, exciting others with dreams of becoming wealthy in a new land.  Columbus returned with 1500 hundred men, including priests and missionaries.  Columbus was to “Christianize” the natives of the new land, by orders of the King and Queen of Spain, just as they had cleansed and cleaned Spain through the Spanish Inquisition.  They thought that they were providing a service and later historical records continued this thought.  When history was first recorded, they looked at it through their own lives and experiences.  They failed to see the perspective of the so-called savages. 

 

Additionally, history failed to record several earlier journeys.  Columbus was obviously not the first person to discover the Americas, as civilizations had been living there for at least hundreds, if not thousands of years.  Columbus was also not the first European to sail to the Americas.  Viking Leif Ericson made the trip approximately 500 years before Columbus.

 

So what lessons can we, as Christians, take from this?  Be wary of recorded history.  It is recorded from one side of any event, often without giving thought to how the other side may view the event.

 

For inquire, please, of bygone ages, and consider what the fathers have searched out. For we are but of yesterday and know nothing, for our days on earth are a shadow. Will they not teach you and tell you and utter words out of their understanding? (Job 8:8-10, ESV)

 

Biblical history and history taught in secular schools are not two separate versions of history.  As parents, you can challenge your children to identify what events they learn about in school correlate with which events in the Bible.  Help your children examine the historical events in the Bible especially how those events relate to the teachings of the Bible.  

As a child in Sunday school, King David is larger than life.  He was a simple sheep herder, with many older brothers.  He likely never expected anything great to happen to him in his life.  Yet he grows up to become King of all twelve tribes of Israel!  He was a great king, uniting the tribes, defeating his enemies, the stuff of which legends are made!  A few years later, in youth group, your picture of David begins to deflate.  He was not perfect.  He had his sins.  In fact, he had some big ones: adultery and murder.  Yet he is remembered as a great king, because of his love for God.  When he sinned, he earnestly repented of his sins.  

 

As an adult, as a parent, as a father, your image of David may become yet a little more tarnished.  You see, David was not a great father.  Yes, David set an example for his children on having a relationship with the Lord, but did he explain the importance of that relationship?  Did he nurture and guide his children towards their own relationships as they grew?  It does not appear to be so, as David frequently failed to correct his children for their misdeeds, nearly leading the nation into civil war!  However, David also realized that he was to blame for his children's misdeeds.  

 

Near the end of his life, David actions as a father began to change.  He embraced Solomon as the new king, supporting the Lord's plan for him to build the Temple, the Temple which David had so desperately wanted to build.  On his deathbed, David gave his final advice to Solomon: When David's time to die drew near, he commanded Solomon his son, saying, “I am about to go the way of all the earth.  Be strong, and show yourself a man, and keep the charge of the Lord your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his rules, and his testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn, that the Lord may establish his word that he spoke concerning me, saying, ‘If your sons pay close attention to their way, to walk before me in faithfulness with all their heart and with all their soul, you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.  ’ (1 Kings 2:1-4, ESV)  David's final advice to Solomon was to rely on the Lord.  

 

In the end, David's advice was too little, too late.  Solomon failed to develop the close relationship with the Lord that David had and eventually turned from the Lord, worshipping other gods.  Do not leave your advice to your children until it is too late!  Learn from David's mistakes.  Start talking with your children about the Lord at a young age and help them grow and develop a loving and strong relationship with the Lord.  

 

Happy Father's Day!  

Labor Day in the United States is a federal holiday celebrating the contributions the workers of the nation have made to making the United States the bountiful country it is.  Labor Day was made a national holiday under the administration of President Grover Cleveland, with the first national holiday being celebrated in 1894.  Labor Day is celebrated annually on the first Monday in September.  

 

For a relatively brief period of my childhood, my father belonged to a labor union.  As a child, Labor Day meant parades and picnics that provided unlimited amounts of the foods we cherish during the summer: grilled hotdogs, hamburgers, potato chips, potato salad, cole slaw, and, of course, ice cream.  As the day moved to evening - September is just 60-plus short days from federal, state and local elections - the politicians began arriving.  As the politicians started explaining why they should keep their elected offices, or be allowed to take another person’s office, the stark reality set in: fall was rapidly approaching, family barbecues were taking a sabbatical, school would start the following day, and the warmth cherished was yielding to the colors of fall and the hibernation that winter brings.  

 

The Bible teaches us to cherish the events of childhood, while instructing us to embrace the responsibilities of being an adult, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.  When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.”  (1 Corinthians 13:11, ESV)

 

As I matured, the importance of the Labor Day holiday began to change for me.  I learned that the labor movement in the United States began by seeking a uniform 8 hour work day.  Work 8 hours, recreate 8 hours, and rest 8 hours.  The labor movement sought safe working conditions and fair pay for the labor pool in the UnitedStates.  My view of labor never grew to exclude management, as the Labor Day picnic oratory would inevitably drift.  “Them against us” attitudes never seemed productive to me.  My Christian values trumped that way of thinking.  Whether labor or management, all should be guided by this simple Biblical principle: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.  You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24, ESV)

 

As a not so young man reflecting on the Labor Day holiday celebrations I have been privy to, I find the most important ingredient to productive labor force is recognizing Jesus Christ, which was missing in all Labor Day celebrations I attended.  Christianity is not a narrow philosophical concept, it encompasses all things and dictates all relationships.  It requires an examination of relationships based on caring for all mankind through a relationship with Jesus Christ.  That relationship, if genuine and not merely lip service, will produce a work force that will do its best work and an employer who will provide meaningful employment.  Are you thankful? “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Colossians 3:17, ESV)

 

No one can honestly not be impressed with the network of sanitation, transportation, education, health, food, and on and on and on that the American laborer has provided this country through their creativity, sweat, diligence, and unwavering desire to provide a wonderful life for themselves and all who call the United States of America home.  We thank the Lord for all those He provided to build the highways and byways, keep our country clean and healthy from the bazillion tons of trash we generate every year, those who farm to produce food for our city folk, for the doctors who treat the sick, to the lawyers who protect individual freedom, to the researchers who are diligently seeking a cure or a better way, to ——- the list is endless.  Like Charlie Cruise* would say, “It’s all connected.”  We truly are - making our county great.

  

All of us at The Forgiveness Foundation Christian Ministries wish you and yours a blessed Labor Day holiday and encourage you to invite Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of your life.  We also want to thank all of you for providing this nation, The United States of America, with an incredible standard of living - through Jesus Christ.  We encourage you to take a few minutes on September 5, 2016, to thank the Lord for the men and women whom He provides to do the labor that makes our county a wonderful place to live.  Pray for all American’s who are looking for work - that work will be provided.  As you pray remember the benefits from and blessings of labor that comes from Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

*A character from the television show Life

  

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