History

150 years later

quoteNext week it will be 150 years since that terrible battle of Gettysburg. Over the weekend, we spent some time there visiting the  delightful little town. Only a few bullet holes gave evidence that such a terrible battle had been fought there. As we drove through the beautiful, rolling hills of the countryside, there wasn’t a sign of the tragedy anywhere. Sure, there were a few cannons and fences–but the human tragedy that played itself out those three days wasn’t seen on any of the faces around us. 150 years is a long time. Long enough to recover from the terrible human losses and financial setbacks.

As I wandered through the halls of the Visitor’s Center, those three days were played out vividly in my mind. I thought of the young boys who had given their lives by the thousands in this battle. I thought of the innocent farmers and townspeople who got stuck in the crossfire and lost everything they had. I thought of the thousands of people who poured into the town, looking for their loved ones after the terrible days were over. No matter which side you were on, the casualties were high.

I was about halfway through when I came across this quote written by a soldier named T.T. Fogle and taken from a letter to his sister: “O, sister, you folks at home have no idea what a soldier has to endure…I have been cold, hot, wet, dry, ragged, dirty, hungry, and thirsty, marched through clouds of dust, waded mud knee deep, and suffered from fatigue and loss of sleep.”

It reminded me of Paul’s passage in 2 Corinthians, where he talks about what he has endured for the sake of the cross–

in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.               ~2 Corinthians 11:26-27

That passage reminds me that we believers are soldiers in a battle. For a long time now, we have been able to hang around the edges of the battlefield, enjoying our accommodations quite nicely. But the battle here in this country is heating up considerably. It only takes a few moments of  internet surfing or tv news-watching to realize it. And we are being flanked on all sides — from the media, the lawmakers, and the so-called church, which has twisted Christianity into something that would be unrecognizable to the godly men and women who have gone on before us.

Are we prepared to fight the battle? Or are we still back in our tents playing games?

I make no prediction as to whether this country will survive this attack on its core values. That battle will be won or lost by the will of God.  But the fight, more importantly, is for the destiny of each human soul. The battle is raging in our homes, our churches, and our workplaces. Are we standing up for the truth? Are we willing to take a bit of ribbing or name-calling or even the loss of reputation to stand for what is right?

quote2I think we can join Sallie Myers, who said this a few days before the battle: “We may expect a battle both near and soon. God help us! For surely our cause is one of justice and humanity.”

The beauty and hope of this whole battle is the future! Just like Gettysburg has recovered 150 years later, so we, too, shall be fully recovered if we know Jesus Christ personally. The hope of eternity grows brighter and brighter as the battle before us grows more and more frightening. We know where we will be in 150 years. Let us hold on to that hope, as we fight in the trenches here.

To close, I leave you with this quote from the NY Times from those days, which profoundly describes the heated battle we are in for this country right now: “The contest touches everything and leaves nothing as it found it. Great rights, great interests, great systems of habit and of thought disappear in its progress. It leaves us a different people in everything.”

 

Wednesday Wisdom: Once Upon a Time

family prayer

When writing about the breakdown of the family in Communist China back in the early 1960s, Valentin Chu made this observation: 

“The family everywhere is a man’s source of strength and courage as well as his emotional harbor at times of natural disaster and personal misfortune.  In China it was even more so. It was society itself. The Chinese communists were acutely aware that their control of the people could never be effective unless the monolithic family system was destroyed, along with religion and conventional morals.”

Can you destroy the family without destroying pure religion and morals right along with it? Consider Mr. Chu’s words as you read the following excerpt–

Once upon a time, men were men, women were women, and both seemed to not only be okay with this, but they liked it quite a lot. More than a lot. They loved it. And they loved each other. All in a manner approved by the Southern Baptist Convention, of course.

Consequently, they loved their life. All of it. Not all of the time, maybe, but close enough to seem crazy from a contemporary perspective.

These men and women would come together to build homes; not the brick or wood kind, but the people kind. They would then seek to have and raise children. Many children. As many as they could have…and then they’d want more.

They loved their homes.

They loved their children.

They loved their God, and it was their love of and devotion to this God that had made all the rest of it possible. Life was good.

Older family members were lovingly tended to and taken care of by the younger. Their wisdom was treasured. Little boys and little girls basked in the glow of their stories, experience, and hard-earned depth.

They all lived, loved and laughed together.

They even ate together.

Are you feeling sick yet?

Is this all just a little too Little House on the Prairie for you? Or maybe a lot?

Don’t sweat it; that’s a normal reaction to the sight of God’s plan for families in action from a contemporary secular perspective. It happens all the time. It’s called “improper emotion sickness,” and while Dramamine doesn’t do much for this form of disorientation, there is a solution, so try to relax. We’ll get to it shortly.

This is just a hyper-Rockwellian fantasy spin on history, you might be thinking. But you’d be wrong. And I think you know it already. I think that we all do. All Common Believers, anyway.

We all know that God gave us something of matchless beauty and power in His ordination of the family, and that we, as we tend to do with every good and precious thing entrusted to our care, have profoundly trashed it in every way imaginable (and then some). So we like to pretend that those vivid, detailed family pictures painted in His perfect Word are completely detached from reality; rendered impossible by the “more factual” representation dictated by the prevailing views of the time in which we now live. We’d never say it out loud—God’s Word being “completely detached from reality”—but we definitely think it. And we act accordingly.

We divorce at rates in perfect harmony with the openly anti-Christian folk roaming the landscape. We pursue relationships and romance in the same distinctly unbiblical manners so highly esteemed and advocated by the culture. We know that homosexuality might technically be a problem, but we love Will & Grace. We value children like the culture, meaning: We murder and defend the right to murder innocent babies just as the world does.

When we do let them live, we abdicate our responsibility to raise and educate our children, instead shipping them off to government-controlled schools for Christ-less “education.”

We define success just as the world does, exalting the pursuit of careers, education, titles, cars, and houses well above the pursuit of a large and growing Bible-centered and happy home.

In short, we are the world. There is no discernable, substantive difference. So what is the solution to all of these profound problems and “improper emotion sickness” too?

Is it a new ten- or twelve-step program?

Maybe a cool set of acronyms to help you memorize a new ten or twelve step program?

Could it be a cool new hip and relevant ministry aimed at helping you realize your best family now by repainting your Christian faith with a bluesy, jazzy new perspective?

Nope.

It’s just the Bible. Sorry folks; that’s the only real thing I’ve got to offer here. (And no, I’m not really sorry at all…and you won’t be either.)

Buss, Scott Alan (2011-09-25). Fire Breathing Christians, R3VOLUTION Press. Kindle Edition.

This is the first time since I have started writing the Wednesday Wisdom post each week that I have used the same book two weeks in a row. I am about half-way through Fire-Breathing Christians, the Common Believer’s Call to Reformation, Revival, and Revolution. I find myself wishing that every Christian would read this book.  In a rather quirky and very readable writing style, the author educates the reader on many of the unbiblical teachers and movements of the modern-day church, using God’s Word as his grid.

 

Would I be ready for this?

 torture

What do the following people have in common:

Timothy, Symphorosa, Germanicus, Blandina, Ponticus, Felicitas, Perpetua, Cecilia,  Julian, Denisa, Alexander,  Epimachus,  and Agatha?

Any ideas? Are these names ringing a bell, somewhere from the deep recesses of your mind?

Every single one of these listed above (and thousands and thousands more) were martyred under the Roman government at one time or another. Here’s a quick rundown of how they entered heaven:

Timothy – reproved the idolatry of the people and was beaten with clubs so badly that he died from the bruises within 2 days.

Symphorosa – refused to sacrifice to heathen deities, along with her seven sons. She was scourged and then hung up by the hair of her head; after a time a large stone was thrown around her neck and she was thrown in the river.  All seven sons were fastened to seven posts with pullies and torn asunder, all their limbs dislocated; they were all eventually stabbed, except for the youngest who was sawed in half.

Germanicus – a young man, delivered to the wild beasts; he handled his death with such astonishing courage, several pagans were converted.

Blandina – Attached to a pole on the ground and exposed to the wild beasts for food; during this time her earnest prayers encouraged others; The wild beasts wouldn’t touch her. She was sent back to prison and forced to endure all kinds of torture, and then was eventually slain.

Ponticus – A 15 year old boy, who was in prison with Blandina and partook of the same sufferings and torture, eventually dying by the sword, as well.

Felicitas – A very pregnant young woman who, along with another lady named Perpetua, were forced to run between hunters of wild beasts and they were severely lashed; they were then stripped and thrown to a wild bull, where they were gored dreadfully, and then finally perished by the sword.

Cecilia – a young lady of good family, who converted her husband and brother, who were beheaded, and also the officer who led them to their execution, who was also beheaded; she was forced naked into a scalding bath for a considerable time; eventually she was beheaded with a sword.

Julian – He was put into a bag with serpents and scorpions and thrown into the sea.

Denisa – a 16 year old girl who was beheaded for her faith.

Alexander & Epimachus – beat with staves (plural of staffs), torn with hooks, and, at length, burned with fire.

Agatha – a godly and very beautiful Sicilian woman who caught the eye of the Sicilian governor. When put into a position to compromise her faith, she refused, and therefore she was “scourged, burnt with red hot irons, and torn with sharp hooks. Having borne these torments with admirable fortitude, she was next laid naked upon live coals, intermingled with glass, and then being carried back to prison, she there expired on the 5th of Feb, 251.”

____________________________________________

Perhaps I should have not written so many of these stories. I couldn’t decide which ones to use and which ones not to. There are dozens more and I am only a few pages in the book Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.

Here’s the thing — these were all REAL people. So, yes, they lived a long time ago but that doesn’t make them any less real. A 15 year old boy, a 16 year old girl, a pregnant woman, wealthy people, poor slaves, bishops, and beautiful women. All perished at the hands of evil men and women, whom Satan used in his efforts to douse the light of Christianity.

But it didn’t work! Here’s what it says regarding one of the persecutions: “but though the persecuting malice raged, yet the gospel shone with resplendent brightness; and, firm as an impregnable rock, withstood the attacks of its boisterous enemies with success.”

Fast forward 2000 years. Most of us have no clue what it means to suffer for Christ. Many of us wonder if we would choose to do so, if it really came to that.

I can’t help wondering if it will. Soon. Each year brings more and more persecution to those who stand firm on biblical Christianity. The persecution is nothing like those our persecuted brothers and sisters faced all those years ago, or even what many of our Christian brothers and sisters face in foreign lands. But if it comes, will we be ready?

I think it comes down to this: If you are a true believer in Jesus Christ, Christianity isn’t a religion, it is your whole life. There is no part that remains untouched by God’s grace and the Holy Spirit’s conviction.  We know that we are condemned to hell without Jesus’s death and resurrection and we won’t trade anything — not worldly reputation, material wealth, nor our very life– for it.

As I write this, I feel very weak as I read the sufferings of those mentioned above. I imagine my body being torn by hooks or burnt by scalding water or hot coals and I shudder and cringe. Lord, am I strong enough to withstand that?

But it’s not my strength that will see me through that day, should it come. It’s HIS.

The men and women who have died and continue to die for their faith in Jesus Christ do not do so on their own strength. They can’t sing and pray while being tortured on their human strength. Only God can supernaturally supply that strength. We are so far from needing that kind of strength in our own lives that it is a completely foreign thought to us.

Is it coming? I don’t know. I tend to think it is. We’d like to think that man could never become so evil again, but if we read recent history –of Hitler and Stalin and Pol Pot– or we follow current events–Sudan, Eritrea, and Iran, for example–we can see that men are still coming up with horrible ways to torture their fellow man.

Will I be strong enough to stand if that day comes to America? Only if I rest in God and draw on the strength that He will supply only to those who are truly His.

 

Find Foxe’s Book of Martyrs here.

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom: This World– Playground or Battleground?

624782_35801667This excerpt from A.W. Tozer needs no introduction. It is profound (as usual) and the truth of it rings in my ears. The frightening and serious ramifications of modern Christianity’s wrong view of the world are becoming more and more evident each day. 

Things are for us not only what they are—they are what we hold them to be. That is to say, our attitude toward things is likely in the long run to be more important than the things themselves. This is a common coin of knowledge, like an old dime worn smooth by use, yet it bears upon it the stamp of truth and must not be rejected simply because it is familiar.

It is strange how a fact may remain fixed, while our interpretation of the fact changes with the generations and the years. One such fact is the world in which we live. It is here and has been here through the centuries. It is a stable fact, quite unchanged by the passage of time, but how different is modern man’s view of it from the view our fathers held! Here we see plainly how great is the power of interpretation. The world is for all of us not only what it is—it is what we believe it to be. And a tremendous load of woe or weal rides on the soundness of our interpretation.

Going back no further than the times of the founding and early development of our country, we are able to see the wide gulf between our modern attitudes and those of our fathers. In the early days, when Christianity exercised a dominant influence over American thinking, men conceived the world to be a battleground. Our fathers believed in sin and the devil and hell as constituting one force, and they believed in God and righteousness and heaven as the other. By their very nature, these forces were opposed to each other forever in deep, grave, irreconcilable hostility. Man, our fathers held, had to choose sides—he could not be neutral. For him it must be life or death, heaven or hell, and if he chose to come out on God’s side, he could expect open war with God’s enemies. The fight would be real and deadly and would last as long as life continued here below. Men looked forward to heaven as a return from the wars, a laying down of the sword to enjoy in peace the home prepared for them.

Sermons and songs in those days often had a martial quality about them, or perhaps a trace of homesickness. The Christian soldier thought of home and rest and reunion, and his voice grew plaintive as he sang of battle ended and victory won. But whether he was charging into enemy guns or dreaming of war’s end and the Father’s welcome home, he never forgot what kind of world he lived in—it was a battleground, and many were wounded and slain.

That view is unquestionably scriptural. Allowing for the figures and metaphors with which the Scriptures abound, it is still a solid Bible doctrine that tremendous spiritual forces are present in the world. Man, because of his spiritual nature, is caught in the middle. The evil powers are bent upon destroying him, while Christ is present to save him through the power of the gospel. To obtain deliverance he must come out on God’s side in faith and obedience. That in brief is what our fathers thought, and that, we believe, is what the Bible teaches.

How different today. The fact remains the same, but the interpretation has changed completely. Men think of the world not as a battleground, but as a playground. We are not here to fight; we are here to frolic. We are not in a foreign land; we are at home. We are not getting ready to live, but we are already living, and the best we can do is rid ourselves of our inhibitions and our frustrations and live this life to the full. This, we believe, is a fair summary of the religious philosophy of modern man, openly professed by millions and tacitly held by many more millions who live out that philosophy without having given it verbal expression.

This changed attitude toward the world has had and is having its effect upon Christians, even gospel Christians who profess the faith of the Bible. By a curious juggling of the figures, they manage to add up the column wrong and yet claim to have the right answer. It sounds fantastic, but it is true.

The idea that this world is a playground instead of a battleground has now been accepted in practice by the vast majority of fundamentalist Christians. They might hedge around the question if they were asked bluntly to declare their position, but their conduct gives them away. They are facing both ways, enjoying Christ and the world, gleefully telling everyone that accepting Jesus does not require them to give up their fun—Christianity is just the jolliest thing imaginable. The “worship” growing out of such a view of life is as far off center as the view itself—a sort of sanctified nightclub without the champagne and the dressed-up drunks.

This whole thing has grown to be so serious that it is now the bound duty of all Christians to reexamine their spiritual philosophy in the light of the Bible. Having discovered the scriptural way, they must follow it, even if to do so, they must separate themselves from much that they had accepted as real, but which now in the light of truth is seen to be false.

A right view of God and the world to come requires that we have a right view of the world in which we live and of our relationship to it. So much depends upon this that we cannot afford to be careless about it.

—Excerpt from This World: Playground or Battleground? by A.W. Tozer

Wednesday Wisdom: The Gold and Ivory Tablecloth

 

This is one of my favorite stories. You may ask, “did this really happen?” as it seems so impossible.  I have always thought that it is a true story but cannot verify that for sure. However, no matter if it is or isn’t,  I have heard many miraculous true stories and I do know that anything is possible with God.

At Christmas time men and women everywhere gather in their churches to wonder anew at the greatest miracle the world has ever known. But the story I like best to recall was not a miracle — not exactly.

It happened to a pastor who was very young. His church was very old. Once, long ago, it had flourished. Famous men had preached from its pulpit, prayed before its altar. Rich and poor alike had worshipped there and built it beautifully. Now the good days had passed from the section of town where it stood. But the pastor and his young wife believed in their run-down church. They felt that with paint, hammer, and faith they could get it in shape. Together they went to work.

But late in December a severe storm whipped through the river valley, and the worst blow fell on the little church — a huge chunk of rain-soaked plaster fell out of the inside wall just behind the altar. Sorrowfully the pastor and his wife swept away the mess, but they couldn’t hide the ragged hole.

The pastor looked at it and had to remind himself quickly, “Thy will be done!” But his wife wept, “Christmas is only two days away!”

That afternoon the dispirited couple attended the auction held for the benefit of a youth group. The auctioneer opened a box and shook out of its folds a handsome gold and ivory lace tablecloth. It was a magnificent item, nearly 15 feet long. but it, too, dated from a long vanished era. Who, today, had any use for such a thing? There were a few halfhearted bids. Then the pastor was seized with what he thought was a great idea.

He bid it in for $6.50.

He carried the cloth back to the church and tacked it up on the wall behind the altar. It completely hid the hole! And the extraordinary beauty of its shimmering handwork cast a fine, holiday glow over the chancel. It was a great triumph. Happily he went back to preparing his Christmas sermon.

Just before noon on the day of Christmas Eve, as the pastor was opening the church, he noticed a woman standing in the cold at the bus stop. “The bus won’t be here for 40 minutes!” he called, and invited her into the church to get warm.

She told him that she had come from the city that morning to be interviewed for a job as governess to the children of one of the wealthy families in town but she had been turned down. A war refugee, her English was imperfect.

The woman sat down in a pew and chafed her hands and rested. After a while she dropped her head and prayed. She looked up as the pastor began to adjust the great gold and ivory cloth across the hole. She rose suddenly and walked up the steps of the chancel. She looked at the tablecloth. The pastor smiled and started to tell her about the storm damage, but she didn’t seem to listen. She took up a fold of the cloth and rubbed it between her fingers.

“It is mine!” she said. “It is my banquet cloth!” She lifted up a corner and showed the surprised pastor that there were initials monogrammed on it. “My husband had the cloth made especially for me in Brussels! There could not be another like it.”

For the next few minutes the woman and the pastor talked excitedly together. She explained that she was Viennese; that she and her husband had opposed the Nazis and decided to leave the country. They were advised to go separately. Her husband put her on a train for Switzerland. They planned that he would join her as soon as he could arrange to ship their household goods across the border. She never saw him again. Later she heard that he had died in a concentration camp.

“I have always felt that it was my fault — to leave without him,” she said. “Perhaps these years of wandering have been my punishment!” The pastor tried to comfort her and urged her to take the cloth with her. She refused. Then she went away.

As the church began to fill on Christmas Eve, it was clear that the cloth was going to be a great success. It had been skillfully designed to look its best by candlelight.

After the service, the pastor stood at the doorway. Many people told him that the church looked beautiful. One gentle-faced middle-aged man — he was the local clock-and-watch repairman — looked rather puzzled.

“It is strange,” he said in his soft accent. “Many years ago my wife – God rest her — and I owned such a cloth. In our home in Vienna, my wife put it on the table” — and here he smiled — “only when the bishop came to dinner.”

The pastor suddenly became very excited. He told the jeweler about the woman who had been in church earlier that day. The startled jeweler clutched the pastor’s arm. “Can it be? Does she live?”

Together the two got in touch with the family who had interviewed her. Then, in the pastor’s car they started for the city. And as Christmas Day was born, this man and his wife, who had been separated through so many saddened Yule tides, were reunited.

To all who hear this story, the joyful purpose of the storm that had knocked a hole in the wall of the church was now quite clear. Of course, people said it was a miracle, but I think you will agree it was the season for it!

Where are we placing our trust?

This week is going to be very indicative of the direction the majority of Americans want to take this country.  They will show this by voting for one of two very different men. Will we move towards Socialism or will we continue in the tradition of Capitalism? It is of huge concern to many and there is a tremendous divide between the two camps.  The question hangs in the air today: which direction will it be?

As I wait with nervous anticipation the outcome of Tuesday’s results – the 2012 United States presidential election – I  have to ask myself the question: Where am I placing my trust?

Is it in the man who runs this great land? Is it in the system of Democracy? Is it in the judicial system or in Congress?

Or is it in Someone who is so much greater than any of these?

When I stop and turn my eyes to the Word of God, I find there that God is the maker of the earth and heavens (Genesis 1:1).  He is the One who controls the comings and goings of Kings and Presidents (Daniel 2:21).  God watches over even the lilies of the fields and the tiniest sparrows (Matthew 6:25-30).

This would lead me to believe that God knows exactly what is going on in this country. He is not unaware of our concerns and fears. Isn’t that a comfort? I know it is for me. You see, if we aren’t careful we can find ourselves all upset about something over which we have very little control.  But what does that reaction show the world?

I would submit that it shows them that really, when it comes down to the nuts and bolts of living, we don’t quite trust God to know best.

Of course, we don’t always understand. Of course, it doesn’t always look best to us. But there is a huge tapestry that encompasses all of history. We are but a small part. We can’t see the whole thing.

As I write this, I feel like I am just writing clichès — the stuff we have all heard a million times. But does that make it any less true?

Perhaps we need to be reminded that God holds Tuesday’s outcome in His hand, no matter what it is.  Yes, we need to vote. Yes, we need to pray. But, after we have done all we can do, then we need to trust.  Let’s show the world that our trust in God is greater than our fear of man.  We know personally the One who controls the universe and nothing should make us waver!

Will you join me in showing the world that our hope is in the Lord?

Wednesday Wisdom: Are we digging our own grave?

We all remember Kirk Cameron as the immature teenager on Growing Pains. I love the fact that, not only has he become a born-again believer, but his profession of faith is so much more than words. The guy actually lives what he preaches! Imagine that?? I get his newsletter in my inbox and yesterday I received this article. I am including just a bit of it. You can click on the link at the bottom to read the whole thing. It seems to me that he has hit the nail on the head when it comes to the state of this nation. A very timely post, given that next week at this time, the election will be over:

I look around my neighborhood. I see bumper stickers on cars, political signs planted on street corners,  and I hear conversations at the coffee shop and soccer field that leave me feeling so… sad. I have the eerie feeling that  I’m watching my community and country dig their own grave. And they’re really killing themselves to do it. They’re putting a ton of effort into their work. They’re exhausting themselves to keep abortion legal. They think raising taxes and spending other people’s money is a good idea. They tirelessly work to be “loving and tolerant” of things that will hurt their own families and dishonor God. And the crazy thing is, I think most of them really do love America. But they don’t realize that in all their misguided efforts, they’re actually digging her grave.

On November 6th, those who vote will choose life or death for our many of our freedoms in this land. This presidential election outcome will have huge consequences. We have two men with very different ideas about what America should be. The right man could provide the fuel to get our country back on track, and the wrong man could prove to be the final nail in her coffin.

I can now speak from experience… digging graves is hard work. Especially when the name on the tombstone belongs to someone you love. Please don’t dig America’s grave. Learn the principals that have resulted in freedom, blessing, and the protection of God for 400 years. If we love America, we can avoid her early death through personal repentance, family prayer, and community action.

A wise president once said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction… If we ever forget that we’re one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under.”

Read more: http://kirkcameron.com/2012/10/are-we-digging-our-own-grave/#ixzz2As891W00

Wednesday Wisdom: 12 Ways to Ruin Your Children

My parents are moving and while going through some things, my mom found this short article she had cut from a local newspaper dated November 23, 1959. It makes you realize just how far we have strayed from common sense parenting.

Here it is, in its entirety:

The Police Department of Houston, Tex., is distributing a leaflet entitled “Twelve Rules for Raising Delinquent Children.” The New Era is reprinting the article in full, as a public service:

1.  Begin with infancy to give the child everything he wants. In this way he will grow up to believe that the world owes him a living.

2.  When he picks up bad words, laugh at him. This will make him think he’s cute. It will also encourage him to pick up “cuter” phrases that will blow off the top of your head later.

3.  Never give him any spiritual training. Wait until he is 21 and then let him ‘decide for himself’.

4.  Avoid use of the word ‘wrong’. It may develop a guilt complex.  This will condition him to believe later, when he is arrested for stealing a car, that society is against him and he is being persecuted.

5.  Pick up everything he leaves lying around–books, shoes, clothes. Do everything for him so that he will be experienced in throwing all responsibility on others.

6.  Let him read any printed matter he can get his hands on. Be careful that the silverware and drinking glasses are sterilized, but let his mind feast on garbage.

7.  Quarrel frequently in the presence of your children. In this way they will not be too shocked when the home is broken up later.

8.  Give a child all the spending money he wants. Never let him earn his own. Why should he have things as tough as you had them?

9.  Satisfy his every craving for food, drink, and comfort. See that every sensual desire is gratified. Denial may lead to harmful frustration.

10. Take his part against neighbors, teachers, policemen. They are all prejudiced against your child.

11.  When he gets into real trouble, apologize for yourself by saying, “I could never do anything with him.”

12.  Prepare for a life of grief. You will be likely to have it.

Wednesday Wisdom: Hell on Earth

Man-sitting-prison-480x357

I recalled again Richard’s words: Hell is to sit alone in darkness remembering past sins. Old memories burned like fire. You had no defense – no books, no radios, no distraction, no place to go when they came buzzing at you. Here self-deception ceased. Theories about new moral concepts didn’t help. Here you knew that the new morality was the old lasciviousness. Helena’s remorse was terrible. I knew what she was feeling. 

Nearly every woman in prison felt similar burning remorse. Nearly everyone was religious in some degree. Outspoken atheists surprised themselves by calling on God. Everyone wished to have her prayer heard.

But their prayers were wrong. It was like praying that two and two should be something other than four. Accumulation of sins can only bring unhappiness and remorse. It was over sexual feelings-adulteries, betrayals, abortions- that regret was most poignant. Women longed to talk about it and ease the pain. I remembered the words of David who had committed such a sin: “Blessed is he…whose sin is covered” (Psalm 32:1).  So covered by God that there is no need to uncover it before men.

This is from a book by Sabina Wurmbrand entitled The Pastor’s Wife. The book is Sabina’s story of her life and imprisonment under the communist regime in Romania. Her experiences are far beyond anything I could imagine. While she is at Labor Camp, a detestable and horrifying place, she tells of some of the women there who are without Christ.

As we read her reflections above, we can’t help but turn our thoughts inward. How about us? How would we fare languishing in prison or labor camp without any distractions? No iPhones, no computers, no TVs, no movies, no radios? Where would our thoughts turn when all we had to do was think during the dark, lonely hours in a room full of strangers? What sins would haunt us? What choices and decisions would we regret?

How would we find a spirit of gratitude and compassion amidst all of the turmoil and filth?  Could we sing praises in the midst of starvation?  Would we be thankful if we lacked almost every comfort we have now?  Could we maintain our Christian testimony while trudging over miles of plains to get to work and then baking in the hot sun, hoeing for the whole day, without any water?

And, as I read of her experiences, there was another question I had to seriously ask myself: How much of God’s Word would I remember if I were thrown into prison without access to a written copy? I felt ashamed to admit the truth.

I believe that in this day and age, we are so lost in our distractions. We drink and eat and take pills to medicate ourselves and our pain. We watch movies, read books, and go to concerts in an effort to escape our real lives. But what if our real lives – the lives we are living right at this very moment – is all that we have?  Sabina Wurmbrand goes on to talk about a society lady a few paragraphs later:

“What’s your conclusion?” she asked, brushing back her greasy hair with a gesture that belonged to her “smart-set” days. “You’ve seen it all- what do you think? For myself, I’ve only one thought left: if I could go free, I’d live happily on a crust for the rest of my life.”

Like many of her type, she had a deep sense of guilt for frittering her life away. Often she’s spoken to me hesitatingly, hinting at some inner torment that she’d like to reveal. 

Guilt for frittering her life away. Wow – that hit me hard.  Am I frittering my life away? Am I doing anything that matters with the time I have been given? This is such an important question to ask ourselves.

And, so, most of us sit here reading this thinking we would never find ourselves in prison or labor camp. This is America, after all. Who really cares?  How does this matter?  But I believe Sabina’s words beg us to answer two questions—

1. Am I deceiving myself?

2. What am I doing with my life that matters?

 

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