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Not Lepers

Youth Center at Shaw Air Force Base, SC, Author Airman 1st Class Diana Cossaboom, Source Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (ID 140225-F-OG534-916), (PD as work product of federal govt.)

And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, ‘Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean’ ” (Matthew 8: 2).

Poor Start

Once the way out of poverty, education is no longer seen as paving the road to a viable future.

With inner city schools devastated, children are no longer provided the tools necessary to cope with an adult world.  Basic math and language skills (vocabulary, grammar, punctuation) are foreign, as is the idea of gradual, steady improvement.

This is a poor start for anyone.

Few skills

As a result, young people raised in poverty possess few marketable skills.  This includes the “soft” skills of regular attendance and punctuality, associated with job readiness.

Without the opportunity to acquire such skills, inner city youth are condemned to menial jobs offering few opportunities for advancement.  Indeed, genuine opportunities may go unrecognized, since they would require time and patience which the young feel they cannot afford.

The work ethic is, also, undermined by the fact inner city youth see few models of success around them.  It is the drug dealer on the street corner who has cash.

Some choose to limit their options to public assistance.  But children are not born with such limitations on their dreams.

Crime and Drugs

Certainly, some are drawn to crime.  The streets offer the appeal of “fast money” in contrast to the time and effort required by legitimate employment. Many more individuals fall victim to crime, beaten into senselessness by the tragedy pervading their lives.

Mothers protest against the violence that has robbed them of their children, while daily still more children are gunned down or lost to the downward spiral of drugs.

The appeal of partying and drugs lies not only in the excitement they promise, but the temporary relief from reality they provide.  Some individuals choose this bleak road.

Read more…

Dayspring

“Head of St. John the Baptist” by Alexander Andreyevich Ivanov (c. 1847), Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Photographer Yorck Project (PD-Art, Old-100)

“…[T]he Dayspring from on high has visited us; to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1: 78-79).

The prophet, Isaiah, spoke of the Messiah as opening the eyes of the blind, and bringing the prisoners from darkness out into the light (Is. 42: 7).  Jesus healed the blind (John 9: 6-7), intentionally referring to Himself as the light of the world (John 9: 5).  The apostle, John, pointed out that no one since the beginning of the world had restored sight to those born blind (John 9: 32).

You may remember that John the Baptist, before he was beheaded, asked of Jesus from prison:

“ ‘Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?’ ” (Matt. 11: 3). Read more…

Evangelism in Today’s Vietnam

Vietnamese women, Author Bernard Gagnon (GNU Free Documentation License, CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic, and 1.0 Generic)

“Every weekend, Linh and her husband travel five hours by motorcycle to take the gospel to a village…known as a ‘Communist hero village’… [once] home to …soldiers who died fighting against the United States in the Vietnam War.  The villagers take great pride in the fallen heroes from their community and deeply treasure the communist way of life…

In country where most of the population practices ancestor worship, the veneration of those who fought and died for communism is considered a sacred duty.  The fallen heroes are viewed by some to be guardian spirits of the village, and their memory is invoked to promote nationalism and communist pride…

Linh’s family has…ties to communism.  Her father was a loyal Communist Party member and colonel in the Vietnamese military.  But when he and Linh’s mother became followers of Jesus, the military kicked him out…

On weekends, Linh goes house to house…sharing the gospel with everyone, male or female, young or old.  She works to establish and build relationships with them, understanding that she is not selling something but rather sharing Someone — Jesus Christ…

Since 2007, when Linh started visiting the village, more than 300 people …have accepted Jesus.

‘Before, nobody in that village accepted the Lord,’ Linh said.  ‘…That is why God moved me to go there.  Even though I was scared, I saw many lost people there so I knew I must sacrifice myself to preach the gospel.’

…Linh varies the times and days of her visits so authorities won’t know when to expect her.  She does her best to avoid villagers who oppose her and report her to the authorities, but she remains kind and loving when confronted.

‘Through persecution my faith in the Lord has become stronger,’ she said…”

-Excerpt from “Sharing Jesus in the Land of Fallen Heroes”, The Voice of the Martyrs Magazine, November 2018

Mayflower Compact

“The First Thanksgiving” by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (c. 1913), Library of Congress/Prints and Photographs Division (digital ID cph.3g04961) (PD-Art, Old-80; copyright not renewed)

A foundation stone for democracy on this continent, the Mayflower Compact was the first document under which the Plymouth Colony was governed.  The agreement, which established an elected authority all would obey, was signed in 1620 as the Mayflower rode at anchor in Cape Cod Harbor.

For the Sake of Freedom and Equality

The Pilgrims were actually comprised of two groups:  Separatists and non-Separatists.

The Separatists sought religious liberty, specifically the right to separate from the Church of England. They had initially emigrated to the tolerant Netherlands, but found the Dutch culture at odds with their own.

The non-Separatists — like many to follow them — sought economic and social opportunity, and the chance for a better life in America.

In the broadest terms, all risked their lives for the sake of freedom and equality. Read more…

A Time That Men Went Mad

Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial (detail), Boise, Idaho, Author Kencf0618 (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

David Joseph Lenio, the son of a wealthy Michigan banker, was acquitted of felony charges related to Twitter threats.  Lenio, a white nationalist and Holocaust denier who describes his ideal job as operating a gas chamber, had expressed the desire to kill school children and Jewish leaders [1][2].  Lenio received probation for the single misdemeanor of which he was convicted.

This is the world in which we live.

“Hear, O Israel:  the Lord our God, the Lord is One!” (Deut. 6: 4).

The witnesses to the Holocaust are passing away.  Lies are already being circulated that the Holocaust was a fiction.

Witness to History

In an effort to combat these falsehoods, the testimony of Holocaust survivors is being recorded to preserve the evidence of history.  The testimony of one such survivor, Abraham Secemski, can be found on You Tube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=echUqImqB9c.  It is riveting. Read more…

“What Bach Teaches Us” by Hugh Whelchel

“Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” is derived from the Cantata “Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben” (“Heart and Mind and Deed and Life”) by JS Bach.

“[The famous composer Johann Sebastian] Bach lived in Germany in the first half of the eighteenth century…[Bach] was an accomplished organist, yet the genius of his work as a composer would not be discovered until 80 years after his death.  This humble man, who [was later admired by Mozart and Beethoven and] would become the Baroque Era’s greatest organist and composer, wrote most of his music never knowing if it would ever be played by anyone other than himself.

Bach was not only a musician but also a theologian whose medium was music.  [Influenced by his Lutheran upbringing, Bach] clearly understood that one of his callings was to write music to the glory of God.  In fact, at the end of every one of his musical scores, he would write Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God alone).

An article in Christianity Today about Bach ends with the following quote:

‘But music was never just music to Bach.  Nearly three-fourths of his 1,000 compositions were written for use in worship.  Between his musical genius, his devotion to Christ, and the effect of his music, he has come to be known in many circles as “the Fifth Evangelist.” ‘

The Link Between Work, Worship, and Service

Bach understood the essential connection between work, worship, and service that many in the church today have forgotten. The Hebrew word avodah used in the Old Testament can be translated three ways―as work, worship, or service.

  • The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work (avodah) it and take care of it’ (Gen 2.15).
  • Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, This is what the Lord says:  Let my people go, so that they may worship (avodah) me” ‘(Ex. 8:1).
  • ‘…But as for me and my household, we will serve (avodah) the Lord’  (Josh 24:15).

Read more…

The Founding Fathers

“Signing of the Constitution of the United States” by Howard Chandler Christy (1940), US Capitol (PD-Art, Old-100)

It has become popular to blame religion for the ills of the world, and deny that this nation was founded on Judeo-Christian principles.

But the concept of “separation of church and state” was devised to protect religion from subservience to the state – not eliminate all reference to religion and morality from public discourse.

With this in mind, we would be wise to recall what our Founding Fathers had to say about morality and government.  Here are just a few examples.

“[I]t is impossible that any people of government should ever prosper, where men render not unto God, that which is God’s, as well as to Caesar, that which is Caesar’s.”

-William Penn, Founder of the Colony of Pennsylvania (1682)

“To grant that there is a Supreme Intelligence who rules the world and has established laws to regulate the actions of His creatures, and still to assert that man, in a state of nature, may be considered as perfectly free from all restraints of law and government, appears, to a common understanding, altogether irreconcilable.

Good and wise men, in all ages, have embraced a very dissimilar theory.  They have supposed that the Deity, from the relations we stand in to Himself and to each other, has constituted an eternal and immutable law, which is indispensably obligatory upon all mankind, prior to any human institution whatever.”

-Alexander Hamilton, principal author of the Federalist Papers advocating ratification of the Constitution, and first Secretary of the Treasury (1775)

“[I]t is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand.  The only foundation of a free constitution is pure virtue.”

-John Adams, Signer of the Declaration of Independence, and Second President of the United States (1776)

“I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth, that God governs in the affairs of men.  And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? …I therefore beg leave to move that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business…”

-Benjamin Franklin, Signer of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution (1787)

Read more…

Upon the Waters

“Moses in the Bulrushes” by Elizabeth Jane Gardner (1878), (PD-Art, Old-95)

But when she could no longer hide him, she took an ark of bulrushes for him, daubed it with asphalt and pitch, put the child in it, and laid it in the reeds by the river’s bank.  And his sister stood afar off, to know what would be done to him” (Exodus 2: 3-4).

When Moses’ mother, Jochebed, could no longer hide him from the Egyptian authorities bent on murdering Israelite male children, she placed him tenderly in a basket and delivered him to the Nile.

Trusting God

But Jochebed had not consigned her child to fate or the whims of Hapi, the pagan god Egyptians thought controlled the river.  Unwilling to see Moses murdered before her eyes, Jochebed had entrusted her beloved son to the care of God Almighty.

In doing so, Jochebed placed Moses’ welfare before her own.  She was undoubtedly aware that saving his life could mean her death.  The Egyptians were determined to keep the Israelite population down, which is why their ruthless policy was instituted.

A Woman of Compassion

Pharaoh’s daughter, Bithiah (who had the child drawn from the Nile) knew instantly that Moses was Hebrew.  In fact, she sent for a Hebrew wet nurse.  It does not, however, seem that Bithiah was aware the nurse summoned was Moses’ mother, Jochebed.  We know this because she paid Jochebed wages for her services.

The Bible praises Bithiah for her compassion.  Moses was raised in the royal household with all the advantages of a prince.

Silence and Distance

It is unlikely Moses realized that Jochebed was his birth mother, until he was again reunited with her as an adult.  We can surmise that Jochebed kept silent about their true relationship – and kept her distance from Moses, during the intervening years – in order to protect him.

Modern Day Parental Sacrifice

Despite the passage of time, any parent can understand Jochebed’s actions and intentions.  With few choices at her disposal, she quite literally cast her bread upon the waters, risking everything to give her child the chance for life.  Then she gave him up for his own good, sacrificing her happiness for his.

Not surprisingly, refugees at America’s border are doing the same today.  The ACLU (which has assumed responsibility for reuniting refugee children with the families from which the Trump Administration policy of “zero tolerance” separated them) reports that repatriated families are refusing reunification [1].

Parents who emigrated to the United States because of the violence and death in their countries of origin view the fact their children are now safe as consolation for the pain of separation from them.  This does not, of course, justify the policy.

Meanwhile, the Trump Administration is considering a new plan for families attempting entry at the border [2].   Under this approach – known as “binary choice” – migrants will be permitted to choose between remaining in family detention for an indefinite period that may last years as their legal case proceeds, or allowing their children to be removed to a government shelter where relatives or other guardians can pursue custody [3].

It is difficult to imagine a more heartbreaking choice.

Read more…

Autumn

Lost Maples Natural Area, Texas, Author Wing-Chi Poon (CC BY-SA 2.5 Generic)

Another Autumn is upon us.  The leaves are turning brilliant shades of red and gold, their beauty a simultaneous warning of the inevitable approach of Winter and a piercing reminder of our own mortality.

Once we could bravely face the future.  But our journey and the battles fought along the way have wearied us.  We are laden with sorrows and scars.

As we grow older, many of us feel our anxieties mount.  We dread the loss of loved ones.  We fear for our finances.  We envision ourselves being overtaken by illness – our faculties dimming, our strength gone.

There is some truth to this view.  We must all eventually let go of this life.

Christians though know that Spring follows Winter, that this life is only a precursor to the next.  The poignancy of Autumn heralds the glories of a new season and a new dawn with Christ.

READERS CAN FIND MY VIEWS ON ABUSE AND ABUSE-RELATED ISSUES AT ANNA WALDHERR A Voice Reclaimed, Surviving Child Abuse https://avoicereclaimed.com

Love Thy Neighbor

READERS CAN FIND MY VIEWS ON ABUSE AND ABUSE-RELATED ISSUES AT ANNA WALDHERR A Voice Reclaimed, Surviving Child Abuse https://avoicereclaimed.com