Archive for January, 2013

Why I Don’t Make New Year’s Resolutions — The Puritans Expressed It Well

Friday, January 4th, 2013

It’s that time of year again, although if I DID make New Year’s resolutions, by this, the third day of the New Year, I would be certain to have already broken at least one.

I imagine it’s the same for you.  If it’s not, you either don’t make any resolutions, or you are at a place in your Spirit-sanctification that’s quite a bit further than my own.  For that I praise God (and, if you wish I’d say “for that, I congratulate you,” then, well . . . you’ve sinned.  Join the crowd, friend). 

We all, if we are Christians sincerely seeking to know God and be conformed to the likeness of the Son, want to stop sinning.  We can’t, so we try to sin less.  We don’t.  So we try to set up resolutions, rules, regulations, and roads to righteousness to keep us pleasing to our God, who no doubt finds this gently amusing.  Perhaps now is a good time to share this from my favorite devotional, the treasure that is The Valley Of Vision from Banner of Truth Trust (1975), which borrows from the Puritans:

“My God, I feel it is heaven to please thee, and to be what thou wouldst have me be. 
O that I were holy as thou art holy, pure as Christ is pure, perfect as thy Spirit is perfect!
These, I feel, are the best commands in thy Book, and shall I break them?  Must I break them? Am I under such a necessity as long as I live here?

Woe, woe is me that I am a sinner, that I grieve this blessed God, who is infinite in goodness and grace! O, if he would punish me for my sins, it would not wound my heart so deep to offend him.  But though I sin continually, he continually repeats his kindness to me.  At times I feel I could bear any suffering, but how can I dishonour this glorious God?  What shall I do to glorify and worship this best of beings?

O, that I would consecrate my soul and body to his service, without restraint, forever!  O that I would give myself up to him, so as never more to attempt to be my own, or have any will or affections that are not perfectly conformed to his will and his love!

But, alas, I cannot live and not sin.  O, may angels glorify him incessantly, and, if possible, prostrate themselves lower before the blessed King of heaven!  I long to bear a part with him in ceaseless praise.  But when I have done all I can to eternity I shall not be able to offer more than a small fraction of the homage that the glorious God deserves.  Give me a heart full of divine, heavenly love.”

Seek God, love Jesus, listen to the Spirit, and know that relying on your own efforts to “be better” will virtually guarantee that you sin more than your striving heart can bear.  Believe me, I write for myself as much as for anyone else.

I have a problem with language — basically, I was raised in a family where we swore like sailors.  We never used the F-word, nor took the Lord’s name in vain, but everything else was fair game in the dialect of the Emerine household when I was a kid.  At 52, I still struggle with speech that is not pleasing to God, speech peppered with casual, indifferent vulgarities that I scarcely notice.  They don’t even SEEM like “bad words” — that is, when I notice them.  But coarse language displeases God — not “strong language,” which is necessary in these times and is woefully lacking in a Church nurtured on the dulcet tones of “niceness” and not the soul-stirring melody of courage, but “bad language.”  That I’ve been using bad language since I was six doesn’t make it OK now, just more entrenched.

So I’ve found the words above painfully true in my own life.  When I’m walking filled with the Holy Spirit and at peace with the unfolding of God’s work in my life, I notice that I tend to hardly ever drop a bomb of any letter.  But set out to try to not swear anymore, or so much, or between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.m, or when I’m wearing green, or if anyone’s with me? 

I’ll sound like Richard Pryor by the time my coffee cup is empty.

So, because I know you know how this feels, I offer these words — for us, for the Glory of the Lord Jesus, in the service of God, powered by the Spirit who loves us and works within us. 

Peace to you this year.

A Good and Decent Man, Home Now With The Lord

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

We lost our Uncle Gale this morning.

He was the husband of Aunt Carol, about whom I wrote last month, and he lived a life marked by grace, touched by the power of the love of God.  The cancer proved to be too strong, and my only sadness is that I didn’t get to see him over Christmas, when I had to stay back home in Moscow because of my shingles. 

But as sure as I’m typing on a Dell laptop, as certain as my little dog is on the couch next to me, I’m confident that — and comforted in knowing — that Gale is in the eternally strong arms of Jesus Christ. 

We’ll all see him again.  I suspect that in days to come that’ll bring me more comfort than it does now, when it’s raw.  I would appreciate your prayers for his wife, daughters, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, as well as for the dozens and dozens of people whose lives he touched for the Lord Jesus. 

Happy New Year, And Happy Anniversary Of One Of This Nation’s Greatest Acts Of Righteousness

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

The Emancipation Proclamation
January 1, 1863

A Transcription

By the President of the United States of America:
A Proclamation.
Whereas, on the twenty-second day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, a proclamation was issued by the President of the United States, containing, among other things, the following, to wit:

“That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.

“That the Executive will, on the first day of January aforesaid, by proclamation, designate the States and parts of States, if any, in which the people thereof, respectively, shall then be in rebellion against the United States; and the fact that any State, or the people thereof, shall on that day be, in good faith, represented in the Congress of the United States by members chosen thereto at elections wherein a majority of the qualified voters of such State shall have participated, shall, in the absence of strong countervailing testimony, be deemed conclusive evidence that such State, and the people thereof, are not then in rebellion against the United States.”

Now, therefore I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, by virtue of the power in me vested as Commander-in-Chief, of the Army and Navy of the United States in time of actual armed rebellion against the authority and government of the United States, and as a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion, do, on this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and in accordance with my purpose so to do publicly proclaimed for the full period of one hundred days, from the day first above mentioned, order and designate as the States and parts of States wherein the people thereof respectively, are this day in rebellion against the United States, the following, to wit:

Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, (except the Parishes of St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, St. John, St. Charles, St. James Ascension, Assumption, Terrebonne, Lafourche, St. Mary, St. Martin, and Orleans, including the City of New Orleans) Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, (except the forty-eight counties designated as West Virginia, and also the counties of Berkley, Accomac, Northampton, Elizabeth City, York, Princess Ann, and Norfolk, including the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth[)], and which excepted parts, are for the present, left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued.

And by virtue of the power, and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons.

And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self-defence; and I recommend to them that, in all cases when allowed, they labor faithfully for reasonable wages.

And I further declare and make known, that such persons of suitable condition, will be received into the armed service of the United States to garrison forts, positions, stations, and other places, and to man vessels of all sorts in said service.

And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution, upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God.

(end of text)

Now, keep in mind that I live in Moscow, Idaho, a place made famous in the last decade or so when our most influential pastor, Douglas Wilson, insisted in his execrable “Southern Slavery As It Was” that American slaveholding — the entire institution:  the kidnapping, rape, racial basis, perpetuity, dissolution of families, violence — was entirely compatible with Biblical doctrine and Christian righteousness.  He identifies as a paleo-Confederate and is popular with the current-day Stars ‘n Bars “Sothrens” who insist that the American South constitutes a separate, Christian, “Anglo-Celtic” cultural, patriarchal homeland.  And in recent months, he’s reiterated his general support for the idea of secession — for any one of the 50 states deciding, no doubt because of the “tyranny of Obama” that Wilson assures us exists, that it may revolt against the State.  Because Wilson has argued that the Civil War was an example of “Northern aggression” by “godless abolitionists who hated the Word of God” and then persecuted the “Christian” South, he remains open to charges that the idea of a new Civil War is not of any particular concern to him. 

And while I find that despicable — theologically, socially, politically, and morally — at any time, it’s especially so today, the 150th anniversary of the official end of the utterly indefensible practice of chattel slavery.

I celebrate today because it evinced a strongly moral character often lacking in our nation’s collective history.  That the anniversary happens to be January 1 simply tells you, dear reader, that the Prevailing Winds that blow against ecclesiastical unrighteousness and gust in the direction of true Christian doctrine and practice will continue. 

May our great God and Savior grant all of you prosperity, peace, and continued conformation by the work of the Spirit toward the character of the Lord Jesus.

The Emancipation Proclamation
January 1, 1863

A Transcription

By the President of the United States of America:
A Proclamation.
Whereas, on the twenty-second day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, a proclamation was issued by the President of the United States, containing, among other things, the following, to wit:
“That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.
“That the Executive will, on the first day of January aforesaid, by proclamation, designate the States and parts of States, if any, in which the people thereof, respectively, shall then be in rebellion against the United States; and the fact that any State, or the people thereof, shall on that day be, in good faith, represented in the Congress of the United States by members chosen thereto at elections wherein a majority of the qualified voters of such State shall have participated, shall, in the absence of strong countervailing testimony, be deemed conclusive evidence that such State, and the people thereof, are not then in rebellion against the United States.”
Now, therefore I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, by virtue of the power in me vested as Commander-in-Chief, of the Army and Navy of the United States in time of actual armed rebellion against the authority and government of the United States, and as a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion, do, on this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and in accordance with my purpose so to do publicly proclaimed for the full period of one hundred days, from the day first above mentioned, order and designate as the States and parts of States wherein the people thereof respectively, are this day in rebellion against the United States, the following, to wit:
Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, (except the Parishes of St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, St. John, St. Charles, St. James Ascension, Assumption, Terrebonne, Lafourche, St. Mary, St. Martin, and Orleans, including the City of New Orleans) Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, (except the forty-eight counties designated as West Virginia, and also the counties of Berkley, Accomac, Northampton, Elizabeth City, York, Princess Ann, and Norfolk, including the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth[)], and which excepted parts, are for the present, left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued.
And by virtue of the power, and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons.
And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self-defence; and I recommend to them that, in all cases when allowed, they labor faithfully for reasonable wages.
And I further declare and make known, that such persons of suitable condition, will be received into the armed service of the United States to garrison forts, positions, stations, and other places, and to man vessels of all sorts in said service.
And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution, upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God.