Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things."

Saturday, November 30, 2002

Conrad Richter is perhaps best known for his Light in the Forest, a novel on the predicament of a white boy raised by Native Americans during the early 19th century. The Light in the Forest is a bleak tale of prejudicial attitudes that has become popular among more liberal minded folks of recent years, especially those who tend to emotionalize the plight of modern Native Americans. But I don't want to talk about that book.

The Sea of Grass is a brief masterwork set in New Mexico in the late 19th century. It concerns the transformation of a vast cattle ranch and its owner due to the incursion of squatters. At the beginning, the Colonel's (yep, that's what the main character is called) ranch is a vast unfenced prairie as large as "Massachusetts with Connecticut thrown in." The Colonel is a larger than life figure, so used to living life on his own terms that he cannot fathom the changes on the prairie breeze, blowing in from the East in the form of poor folks who squat on chunks of his land, fencing and farming. Instead of adapting, he immolates the ones he loves most, including himself, in anger and intractability.

The novel is worthwhile for its plot, its beauty, its incredible mystery (right in the middle of it all is a profound and heartbreaking mystery), and its thought stimulation...

First with regard to the Colonel. If you've been associated with Berachah Church, then you know of Colonel R.B. Thieme, Jr., the Pastor of that great institution for more than 50 years now. This novel paints a Colonel that has many similarities to our own beloved Colonel, and is a worthy read just for that.

Second with regard to the Debate between environmentalists and developers. In an interesting twist, the Colonel of the novel represents the environmentalists, while the squatters portray the developers. Lots of conversation just waiting to happen over that one.

More Richter tomorrow or Monday.

Courage and Faith.
Great books:

This week I finished William Manchester's The Last Lion, his masterful first volume biography of Winston Churchill. It is much more than biography. Manchester's tome is a history of England during Churchill's time. One ungentle critic of Churchill's The World Crisis jested that it was an autobiography thinly masquerading as a history of the First World War. A plainer truth spoken by a critic would be difficult as a diamond to find. No, not regarding Churchill's book, but the history of Britain from the 1890s to 1950s is history masquerading as Sir Winston's biography. Every once in a while an old stoned-out hippie will proclaim, "Man, I was the 60s." Winston Churchill was Great Britain.

Read this book if you have the slightest interest in Churchill or Britain. You will laugh, cry, and gain insight on one of the great figures if not the greatest figure of the 20th century.

Friday, November 29, 2002

I really liked Michelle Malkin's Thanksgiving Prayer, but this one beats all others, both because of its originality and the content from an obviously mature believer in Jesus Christ.

"City of New York, October 3, 1789

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor, and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me "to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks, for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation, for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war, for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed, for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed, to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord. To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and Us, and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

George Washington

Thursday, November 28, 2002

An excerpt from Michelle Malkin's Thanksgiving Prayer, as written in Townhall:

"O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, we thank you this day for "Proud to Be an American" and "These Colors Don't Run," for "Let Freedom Ring" and "Of Thee I Sing," for "Every Heart Beats True" and for "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue."

For Purple Hearts and Bronze Stars, for Green Berets and Gold Stripes, for the 10th Mountain Division and the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, for the KC-130 Crew and the 101st Airborne Division, for the soldiers and SEALS and special forces who made the ultimate sacrifice this year, and for all who continue to protect and to serve, we give thee praise.

For the Border Patrol and citizens on patrol, for the National Guard and Guardian Angels, for the USO and the VFW, we thank you, O God, our creator and redeemer.

For the Pentagon rebuilt and Ground Zero restored and the faith of a nation renewed, for "Semper Paratus" and "Non sibi sed patriae," for "Never forget" and "Never surrender," for freedom from fear and freedom to dream, for free minds and free markets, for freedom with responsibility, we give thee praise.

For the Song of Solomon and the Prayer of St. Francis, for "the Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer," for "without vision we perish," for Proverbs 28, for John 3:16, for "The Old Rugged Cross," for "The Solid Rock," and for "What a Friend We Have in Jesus," we offer eternal thanks.

For "All men are created equal," for "Tear down this wall," for "Ask not what your country can do for you," for "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty," for "I swear to uphold the laws and Constitution of the United States of America, against all enemies foreign and domestic," we give thee praise."

I could add so much more, but the spirit of the prayer has it covered.

Courage and Faith

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

We watched episode six of Band of Brothers night before last. There is a great moment and great line when the CO of Easy Company is informed that Bastogne is about to be cut off by a German Panzer (tank) element. I believe it is Captain Winters who replies: "We're paratroopers, we're supposed to be surrounded."

I feel that way about Christians as well. "We're Christians, we're supposed to be suffering." In fact, it is a vital part of God's plan for our lives that we endure various kinds of sufferings on His behalf. Here are some thoughts that I developed from 1 Peter 4:

The warning, v.12. “Beloved do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, coming to you for testing, like a [some] strange thing is happening.”
(1) Undeserved suffering is a part of the Christian life.
(2) Therefore, it should be no surprise when you encounter it.
(3) Undeserved suffering is common for growing and mature believers. The fiery ordeal should be expected.
b. The exhortation to rejoice in such circumstances, v.13a. “But to the degree that you share in the sufferings of Christ, rejoice,”
(1) We can rejoice in this because it points to the reward that we will share with Him.
(2) The closer our lives mirror the sufferings of Jesus Christ, the more reason we have to rejoice.
(3) It indicates that our character has truly become Christ-like.
c. The certain extension of that joy to the judgement seat, v.13b. “in order that you might also rejoice exceedingly in the revelation of His glory.”
(1) The revelation of the glory of Christ includes judgment for church age believers.
(2) The excessive rejoicing will come not only because of the reunion, but because of the reward.
d. THE PRINCIPLE OF UNDESERVED SUFFERING, V.14. “If you are reviled in the name of Christ (for Christ’s sake), [it is] a blessing, because the spirit of glory and the Spirit of God rests upon you.”
(1) Undeserved suffering is an indicator that you are doing it right. It only comes to those who have the character of Christ.
(2) Therefore, it is a blessing because it locates your spiritual life. That is, it serves as a map and compass, determining your precise location in God’s plan.

Pardon me for not posting the last couple of days. I am taking some time off this week to get things done around the house and spend time with family.

Monday, November 25, 2002

I'm going to develop a Doctrine of Thanksgiving for, now get this: Thanksgiving. Yep pretty original huh?

I've finished with the re-write of the Doctrine of the Church for our (no longer) Basics series, and next I'm developing a brief Doctrine of Church Leadership, also for Basics. Looks like we're going to pass the one year mark and then some for my "few months" long Basics series. But the product should be exceptionally durable, useful for many years to help indoctrinate new believers at FRBC.

Then get ready for the Doctrine of Marriage.

The truth be told, though, I am eager to return to my life's work, the Life of Christ. I am determined to finish that before I die... to which some of you may reply, "So, what are you waiting for? Hurry up already!"