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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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Who Is Rich?

DrGaryNorth

Dr. Gary North

In The Words of Gary North:

Most Westerners are rich in the opinion of Asian farmers. Yet most Westerners do not think of themselves as rich. They do think of Asian farmers as poor.

Then who is rich? We think: “The guy three rungs up the financial ladder.” So does he.

The richest people on earth are residents of Western semi-capitalist nations. They enjoy a standard of living that kings in 1900 would not have dreamed of.

Think of medical care. Kings lost children to killer diseases that are no longer a statistical threat in the West. Kings did not have high fidelity stereo music at their disposal. They did not have movies. They did not have cell phones. They did not have air conditioning. They did have anesthetics (1844). They were somewhat better off than kings in 1840.

What did they have that you don’t have? They had servants. They had summer palaces. They had yachts. They had mistresses. Would you trade places with any of them?

Yet most Westerners dream of getting rich. By the standards of history, they are indescribably rich. By the standards of rural Asia, they are indescribably rich. The rich do not perceive this.

Rich is a matter of perception. The rural Indian does not dream of becoming American middle-class rich. He dreams of becoming Mumbai middle-class rich.

“I want to go to America,” said a childhood friend of Dinesh D’Sousa in Mumbai. “Why?” D’Sousa asked. “Because in America, poor people are fat.”

The Conversion Of Congressman John Randolf

John Randolph

John Randolph

John Randolph of Roanoke was a Congressman under Presidents Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, and Jackson. He also served the nation as a US Senator and diplomat. He speaks here of his conversion to Christianity:

“I have thrown myself, reeking with sin, on the mercy of God, through Jesus Christ His blessed Son and our (yes, my friend, our) precious Redeemer; and I have assurances as strong as that I now owe nothing to your rank that the debt is paid and now I love God – and with reason. I once hated him – and with reason, too, for I knew not Christ. The only cause why I should love God is His goodness and mercy to me through Christ.”

“I am at last reconciled to my God and have assurance of His pardon through faith in Christ, against which the very gates of hell cannot prevail. Fear hath been driven out by perfect love.”

“[I] still cling to the cross of my Redeemer, and with God’s aid firmly resolve to lead a life less unworthy of one who calls himself the humble follower of Jesus Christ.”

Mind Your Own Business

adam smith

Adam Smith

Quoting economist Adam Smith (1723-1790):

“The statesman who should attempt to direct private people in what manner they ought to employ their capitals, would not only load himself with a most necessary attention, but assume an authority which could safely be trusted, not only to no single person, but to no council or senate whatever, and which would nowhere be so dangerous as in the hands of a man who had folly and presumption enough to fancy himself fit to exercise it.”

Whitefield On Ingratitude

george-whitefield-picture

George Whitefield

In the words of George Whitefield:

That which has the greatest tendency to excite the generality of fallen men to praise and thanksgiving, is a sense of God’s private mercies, and particular benefits bestowed upon ourselves. For as these come nearer our own hearts, so they must be more affecting: and as they are peculiar proofs, whereby we may know, that God does in a more especial manner favor us above others, so they cannot but sensibly touch us; and if our hearts are not quite frozen, like coals of a refiner’s fire, they must melt us down into thankfulness and love. It was a consideration of the distinguishing favor God had shown to his chosen people Israel, and the frequent and remarkable deliverance wrought by him in behalf of “those who go down to the Sea in ships, and occupy their business in great matters,” that made the holy Psalmist break out so frequently as he does in this psalm, into this moving, pathetical exclamation, “that men would therefore praise the Lord for his goodness, and declare the wonders that he doeth for the children of men!”

His expressing himself in so fervent a manner, implies both the importance and neglect of the duty. As when Moses in another occasion cried out, “O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would practically consider their latter end!” Deut. 32:29.

I say, importance and neglect of the duty; for out of those man thousands that receive blessings from the Lord, how few give thanks in remembrance of his holiness? The account given us of the ungrateful lepers, is but too lively a representation of the ingratitude of mankind in general; who like them, when under any humbling providence, can cry, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” Luke 17:13. But when healed of their sickness, or delivered from their distress, scarce one in ten can be found “returning to give thanks to God.”

And yet as common as this sin of ingratitude is, there is nothing we ought more earnestly to pray against. For what is more absolutely condemned in holy scripture than ingratitude? Or what more peremptorily (absolutely, emphatically) required than the contrary temper? Thus says the Apostle, “Rejoice evermore; in every thing give thanks,” 1 Thes. 5:16,18. “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God,” Phil. 4:6.

On the contrary, the Apostle mentions it as one of the highest crimes of the Gentiles, that they were not thankful. “Neither were they thankful,” Rom. 1:21. As also in another place, he numbers the “unthankful,” 2 Tim. 3:2 amongst those unholy, profane person, who are to have their portion in the lake of fire and brimstone. (Sermon, Sunday, May 17, 1738 Psalm 108:30-31)

The Christian Church Needs Real Men

spurgeon4In the words of Charles H. Spurgeon:

Wherever discouragement comes in it is dreadfully weakening. I am sure it is weakening, because the prophet was bidden to say three times to the governor, high priest, and people, “Be strong.” This proves that they had become weak. Being discouraged, their hands hung down, and their knees were feeble. Faith girds us with omnipotence, but unbelief makes everything hang loose and limp about us. Distrust, and thou wilt fail in everything; believe, and according to thy faith so shall it be unto thee. To lead a discouraged people to the Holy War is as difficult as for Xerxes’ commanders to conduct the Persian troops to battle against the Greeks. The vassals of the great king were driven to the conflict by whips and sticks, for they were afraid to fight: do you wonder that they were defeated? A church that needs constant exhorting and compelling accomplishes nothing. The Greeks had no need of blows and threats, for each man was a lion, and courted the encounter, however great the odds against him. Each Spartan fought con amore; he was never more at home than when contending for the altars and the hearths of his country. We want Christian men of this same sort, who have faith in their principles, faith in the doctrines of grace, faith in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost; and who therefore contend earnestly for the faith in these days when piety is mocked at from the pulpit, and the gospel is sneered at by professional preachers. We need men who love the truth, to whom it is dear as their lives; men into whose hearts the old doctrine is burned by the hand of God’s Spirit through a deep experience of its necessity and of its power. We need no more of those who will parrot what they are taught, but we want men who will speak what they know. Oh, for a troop of men like John Knox, heroes of the martyr and covenanter stock! Then would Jehovah of hosts have a people to serve Him who would be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. (Sermon 1918)

 

Christianity And Reason

benjamin_franklin

Benjamin Franklin

Written by Gary DeMar:

Almost every modern critic of America’s Christian heritage makes the claim that America was founded solely on Enlightenment principles as they get to define them. For evidence they refer to Benjamin Franklin. . . .

Franklin was influenced by Cotton Mather’s Essays to do Good, “which perhaps gave me a turn of thinking that had an influence on some of the principal future events of my life.”Franklin gives considerable attention to the issue of the moral life in his autobiography (not that he was always moral). . . .

Mather was a Puritan minister who believed and taught “that the power and opportunity to do good, not only gives a right to the doing of it, but makes the doing of it a duty.” Mather saw good works as the reasonable outworking of faith. The Bible says as much: “faith without works is dead” (James 2:20, KJV). Mather’s influence on Franklin can be seen in the actual wording of Franklin’s Autobiography where he acknowledges belief in God and resultant good works: “I never doubted, for instance, the existence of the Deity; that he made the world, and govern’d it by his Providence; that the most acceptable service of God was the doing good to man; that our souls are immortal; and that all crime will be punished, and virtue reward, either here or hereafter. . . .”

Many historians believe America was founded on the principles of the Enlightenment because of the emphasis on reason by a number of thinkers of that era. While it’s true that most Enlightenment thinkers elevated reason to the position of a secular god, reason, logic, and science were staple disciplines among early Christian thinkers that gave rise to science. “The language of Europe and America had as its common feature an emphasis on calm, rational discourse, but we must not confuse this with rationalism,” the belief that reason alone was the basis for all knowledge. By the time Franklin came along, there had been a long history of scholarship in the colonies that rested on the foundation stones of Special Revelation, reasonable inquiry, and scientific investigation. . . .

Continue reading. . . .

James Manning On An Annual Baptist Meeting

James_Manning

James Manning

Quoting James Manning:

“I rejoice that the religion of Jesus prevails in your parts; I can tell you the same agreeable news from this quarter. Yesterday I returned from Piscataway in East Jersey, where was held a Baptist annual meeting (I think the largest I ever saw) but much more remarkable still for the Divine influences which God was pleased to grant. Fifteen were baptized; a number during the three days professed to experience a change of heart. Christians were remarkably quickened; multitudes appeared.” (Member of the Continental Congress)

Muppet Existentialism In Song?

Reagan On A Balanced Budget

reagan-at-durenberger-rallyQuoting President Ronald Reagan:

“It’s about time we constitutionally mandate the Federal Government to do what every American family must do, and that is balance its budget. That doesn’t mean taking more out of your pocket by raising taxes. … We the people, deserve to know that our jobs, paychecks, homes, and pensions are safe from the taxers and regulators of big government.”

 

The Need For Discernment

wolfIn the words of John Murray:

A shepherd protects his sheep from their enemies. Wolves enter in among the sheep. The wolves which harass the church of God are emissaries of false doctrine and of evil practice. Satan is never out of his diocese and his specialty is to destroy the pure witness and the fellowship of the church of God. Perhaps there is no more ominous feature of members of the church than the lack of discernment; they can listen to what is good and true, and to what is bad and false, without discrimination. If we are to live in a world where the enemy is active and error is rampant, we must be imbued with a good measure of critical faculty, and here the elders in tending the flock must cultivate for themselves, and inculcate in the members of the church, that sensitivity to truth and right, so that they and the people will be able to detect the voice of the enemy.

Jesus said of His sheep, “a stranger will they not follow,

for they know not the voice of strangers” (John 10:5).

But this discernment does not operate in a vacuum, and it does not act mechanically; it acts in the context of intelligent apprehension and understanding of the truth. (Collected Writings of John Murray, v1)

A Thanksgiving Thought

parting of red sea

The Parting of the Red Sea

In the words of Tim Zingale:

As we gather this evening to celebrate the day of Thanksgiving which comes upon us tomorrow, our thoughts turn to the Pilgrims who came to America and celebrated what we have regarded as the first Thanksgiving. But as you heard the first lesson read this evening from Deuteronomy, the first Thanksgiving was really celebrated by the Israelities as they moved into the promised land. God told them as they came into this land flowing with milk and honey, they were to take the first fruits of the ground, place them in a basket and take it to the priest. There they were to relive through the words of that speech which begins, “A wandering Aramean was my father; and he went down into Egypt and sojourned there, few in number; and there he became a nation, great, mighty and populous,” God’s deliverance in their lives. Because God had delivered and blessed them, God asked them to return to Him the first fruits of the ground, to give thanksgiving to Him for this act of deliverance in their lives. For the Israelities, their thanksgiving was seen in the action of God as He delivered them from Egypt and brought them into this land flowing with milk and honey. The Pilgrims gave thanks for the deliverance which came to them during their first year on the North American shore. They were delivered from hunger by a good summer crop, they were delivered from war by peacefully living with the Indians, they were delivered from cold by building strong sturdy homes, we could go on and on. Deliverance brought thanksgiving into their hearts.

Can we think of Thanksgiving as deliverance for us?? Think about that for a moment?? Usually, when we think of this time of Thanksgiving, we list all those things we are thankful that we have or been blessed with. But what about being thankful for all those things we have been delivered from, that we don’t have to experience?

Read more. . . .

Christianity And John Witherspoon

john-witherspoon

John Witherspoon

John Witherspoon was a president of Princeton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and a Ratifier of the US Constitution. He held strong views on the importance of the influence of Christianity upon American civil society:

“It is very evident that both the prophets in the Old Testament and the apostles in the New are at great pains to give us a view of the glory and dignity of the person of Christ. With what magnificent titles is He adorned! What glorious attributes are ascribed to him!… All these conspire to teach us that He is truly and properly God – God over all, blessed forever!”

“[I]f you are not reconciled to God through Jesus Christ – if you are not clothed with the spotless robe of His righteousness – you must forever perish.”

“[H]e is the best friend to American liberty who is the most sincere and active in promoting true and undefiled religion, and who sets himself with the greatest firmness to bear down profanity and immorality of every kind. Whoever is an avowed enemy of God, I scruple not to call him an enemy to his country.”

Thanksgiving: An American History

20071121-first-thanksgivingFrom the research and writing of David Barton:

The Pilgrims set sail for America on September 6, 1620, and for two months braved the harsh elements of a storm-tossed sea. Upon disembarking at Plymouth Rock, they held a prayer service and then hastily began building shelters; however, unprepared for such a harsh New England winter, nearly half of them died before spring.  Emerging from that grueling winter, the Pilgrims were surprised when an Indian named Samoset approached them and greeted them in their own language, explaining to them that he had learned English from fishermen and traders. A week later, Samoset returned with a friend named Squanto, who lived with the Pilgrims and accepted their Christian faith. Squanto taught the Pilgrims much about how to live in the New World, and he and Samoset helped forge a long-lasting peace treaty between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians. Pilgrim Governor William Bradford described Squanto as “a special instrument sent of God for [our] good . . . and never left [us] till he died.”

That summer, the Pilgrims, still persevering in prayer and assisted by helpful Indians, reaped a bountiful harvest. As Pilgrim Edward Winslow (later to become the Governor) affirmed, “God be praised, we had a good increase of corn”; “by the goodness of God, we are far from want.” The grateful Pilgrims therefore declared a three-day feast in December 1621 to thank God and to celebrate with their Indian friends – America’s first Thanksgiving Festival. Ninety Wampanoag Indians joined the fifty Pilgrims for three days of feasting (which included shellfish, lobsters, turkey, corn bread, berries, deer, and other foods), of play (the young Pilgrim and Wampanoag men engaged in races, wrestling matches, and athletic events), and of prayer. This celebration and its accompanying activities were the origin of the holiday that Americans now celebrate each November. . . .

America’s first national Thanksgiving occurred in 1789 with the commencement of the federal government. According to the Congressional Record for September 25 of that year, the first act after the Framers completed the framing of the Bill of Rights was that:

Mr. [Elias] Boudinot said he could not think of letting the session pass without offering an opportunity to all the citizens of the United States of joining with one voice in returning to Almighty God their sincere thanks for the many blessings He had poured down upon them. With this view, therefore, he would move the following resolution:

Resolved, That a joint committee of both Houses be directed to wait upon the President of the United States to request that he would recommend to the people of the United States a Day of Public Thanksgiving and Prayer. . . .

Mr. Roger Sherman justified the practice of thanksgiving on any single event not only as a laudable one in itself but also as warranted by a number of precedents in Holy Writ. . . . This example he thought worthy of a Christian imitation on the present occasion.

For more information click here. . . .

Whitefield On Thanksgiving

george-whitefield-picture

George Whitefield

From the pen of George Whitefield:

Numberless marks does man bear in his soul, that he is fallen and estranged from God; but nothing gives a greater proof thereof, than that backwardness, which every one finds within himself, to the duty of praise and thanksgiving.

When God placed the first man in paradise, his soul no doubt was so filled with a sense of the riches of the divine love, that he was continually employing that breath of life, which the Almighty had not long before breathed into him, in blessing and magnifying that all-bountiful, all gracious God, in whom he lived, moved, and had his being.

And the brightest idea we can form of the angelical hierarchy above, and the spirits of just men made perfect, is, that they are continually standing round the throne of God, and cease not day and night, saying, “Worthy art thou, O Lamb that wast slain, to receive power and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing.” Rev. 5:12.

That then, which was man’s perfection when time first began, and will be his employment when death is swallowed up in victory, and time shall be no more, without controversy, is part of our perfection, and ought to be our frequent exercise on earth: and I doubt not but those blessed spirits, who are sent forth to minister to them who shall be heirs of salvation, often stand astonished when they encamp around us, or find our hearts so rarely enlarged, and our mouths so seldom opened, to show forth the loving- kindness of the Lord, or to speak of all his praise.

Matter for praise and adoration, can never be wanting to creatures redeemed by the blood of the Son of God; and who have such continual scenes of his infinite goodness presented to their view, that were their souls duly affected with a sense of his universal love, they could not but be continually calling on heaven and earth, men and angels, to join with them in praising and blessing that “high and lofty one, who inhabiteth eternity, who maketh his sun to shine on the evil and on the good,” and daily pours down his blessings on the whole race of mankind. (Sermon, May 17, 1738 Psalm 108:30-31 “Then art they glad, because they are at rest, and so he bringeth them unto the haven where they would be. O that men would therefore praise the Lord for his goodness, and declare the wonders that he doeth for the children of men!”)

Congressional Contempt For The Constitution

Quoting economist Walter E. Williams:

“Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi’s constitutional contempt, perhaps ignorance, is representative of the majority of members of both the House and the Senate. Their comfort in that ignorance and constitutional contempt, and how readily they articulate it, should be worrisome for every single American. It’s not a matter of whether you are for or against Congress’ health care proposals. It’s not a matter of whether you’re liberal or conservative, black or white, male or female, Democrat or Republican or member of any other group. It’s a matter of whether we are going to remain a relatively free people or permit the insidious encroachment on our liberties to continue. … In each new session of Congress since 1995, John Shadegg, R-Ariz.,) has introduced the Enumerated Powers Act, a measure ‘To require Congress to specify the source of authority under the United States Constitution for the enactment of laws, and for other purposes.’ The highest number of co-sponsors it has ever had in the House of Representatives is 54 and it has never had co-sponsors in the Senate until this year, when 22 senators signed up. The fact that less than 15 percent of the Congress supports such a measure demonstrates the kind of contempt our elected representatives have for the rules of the game — our Constitution. If you asked the questions: Which way is our nation heading, tiny steps at a time? Are we headed toward more liberty, or are we headed toward greater government control over our lives? I think the answer is unambiguously the latter — more government control over our lives.”

Read more. . . .

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