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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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  • Recommended Reading

The Trivialization Of “Old Glory”

This article, by Neil Brian Goldberg, expresses the growing concerns which have led to the establishment and popularity of the Tea Party movement in our country. Neil offers a rational defense of the Americans involved in the Tea Party movement and reminds all Americans of the vision of our Founding Fathers and our patriotic duty to uphold the Constitution:

Our American flag is the symbol of freedom. It stands for all that is great and noble about our nation. The American flag recalls victory over tyranny and great deeds of charity, rescue, courage, and devotion.

Those who wave it in celebration, or in protest against injustice or encroachment of the God-given rights and liberties this great flag represents, do so with these very feelings and fierce convictions in their hearts and minds.

When the flag waves high, the Spirit of America rises in every soul who knows what it is meant to stand for and what has been sacrificed so it may continue to freely wave.

Today, unfortunately, we have new leaders with a different attitude — operating with disdain and an intellectual snobbery toward all we cherish and revere.

Continue reading. . . .

To Be A Christian

Quoting J. R. Miller:

Instead, then, of yielding to discouragement when trials multiply and it becomes hard to live right, or of being satisfied with a broken peace and a very faulty life—it should be the settled purpose of each one to live, through the grace of God—a patient, gentle and unspotted life—in the place and amid the circumstances He allots to us. The true victory is not found in escaping or evading trials—but in rightly meeting and enduring them. The questions should not be, “How can I get out of these worries? How can I get into a place where there shall be no irritations, nothing to try my temper or put my patience to the test? How can I avoid the distractions that continually harass me?” There is nothing noble in such living. The soldier who flies to the rear when he smells the battle is no hero; he is a coward.

The questions should rather be, “How can I pass through these trying experiences, and not fail as a Christian? How can I endure these struggles, and not suffer defeat? How can I live amid these provocations, these reproaches and testings of my temper, and yet live sweetly, not speaking unadvisedly, bearing injuries meekly, returning gentle answers to insulting words?” This is the true problem of Christian living.

Jefferson On Government Power

Quoting Thomas Jefferson:

“In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.”

A Memorial Day Sermon By John Sayers

Today we look backwards upon our history with wonder and with gratitude to God. We look forward to a destiny that will bring the kingdoms of this earth and the kingdom of heaven into closer communion. Our tongues break into song and our souls into thanksgiving as we contemplate the mercies which have been our lot. When dangers threatened relief was always near. When discouragement came to our people, the heavens opened in brightness above us and the bow of promise spanned the continent. . . .

The War of the Revolution determined and settled our political status among the peoples of the earth. The confederacy, which followed the Declaration of Independence, demonstrated the weakness of the foundation upon which we expected to build. The Constitution of 1789 welded the states together into an unbroken and unending chain of common interest. The War of 1812 strengthened our national bond, unified the people, and proved to the world our ability to maintain our rights. . . . Step by step we have ascended the heights which no other nation has reached. . . .

Today in this memorial service, we remember our beloved died for their part in the solution of the great problems of humanity. Not only did they freely offer themselves upon their country’s altar – a sacrifice for the great interests of the present – but by their blood they became the oracle and prophet of the future. . . . So we come on this Memorial Day to record our indebtedness to the patriotic soldiers, pay our homage for their bravery, express our sympathy with their sufferings, and our admiration for their achievements, pledging ourselves to stand loyally by the institutions for which they nobly died.

As we gather on this day – to us a day of sad and pleasant memories, a day of instructive retrospect and of profitable anticipation for a glorious future – we meet with our dead here in this quiet God’s acre, there in National Cemeteries, or perhaps far away in lonely and forgotten spots where friendly hands have never strewn flowers. From all these hallowed places- yea, even from the depths of the sea – our dead comrades keep watch over the nation’s honor. We are here today, a grateful multitude, to pay such a tribute as we can to the heroes who did so much for us. We strew flowers of beauty upon their grassy mounds and speak words of love and kindly remembrance; we shed tears of sorrow for the departed and express words of sympathy for the bereaved as though but yesterday they had passed out of our sight. We seem today to live over again the eventful past. We hear again the bugle call echoing over the hills; we see the sad partings and the long farewells; victory and defeat, bereavement and earth, all pass before us in review. Our spirits hold communication with the comrades of long ago. We know that in the body they will not again answer roll call this side of the Pearly Gates, but their influence will live until the reveille of the resurrection morning shall bid them rise for the great review. . . .

It has been said that the particular genius of this memorial season is that while other holidays praise institutions, this glorifies men, honors the private citizens and the seemingly obscure soldier. Walter Scott described Old Mortality as going through the cemeteries of Scotland, chiseling anew upon the tombstones the names that time had well nigh obliterated [from Sir Walter Scott’s “Old Morality,” in Tales of My Landlord (Edinburgh: 1816), Vols. II-IV]. Asked to explain his zeal for the memory of these worthies, the old man replied that he wished to see the heroes of yesterday march forward side by side with the youth of today. That nation suffers a great calamity whose children and youth have separated themselves from yesterday’s battlefields and victories and have forgotten to honor the memories of their fathers – the sages and statesmen from whom they have received a priceless heritage. . . .

To the Christian people of this country, the broad and humanizing advantages of republicanism ought to be incentives to more virtuous activity and stimulants to higher patriotic requirements in our politics – they should be to the goodness and intelligence of the country an earnest pledge for the redemption of the ballot from unholy contamination. Let absolute truth (and that embraces all that is righteous in governments and in men) be the grand ideal that this nation shall hold up before the world. . . .

Christ, the Exemplar, whilst the originator of new ideas for human conduct, was also the collection of many of the old and useful which had been abused and misapplied. For the doctrines of revenge and retaliation, He gave us that of forgiveness of injuries. For the cure of dissensions and unhappy differences, He gave us due consideration for the opinions of others. For social wrongs, He gave us purity of life. For the peace of the state, He gave us respect for magistrates and rulers and obedience to the laws. For civil progress, He gave us trust in God and brotherly kindness in our daily intercourse with men. He restrained our evil tendencies by a reiteration of the Ten Commandments. He softened our natures by the Beatitudes and enlarged our lives and increased our hopes by the new commandments that He gave us. He taught us the wondrous idea of love with the Divine assurance that it was the all-powerful principle for good – “the fulfilling of the law” [Romans 13:10]. How the cross, as the emblem of that Christianity, has been revered and loved throughout the civilized world. . . .

And so on this Memorial Day we must not forget the sources from which have come these national blessings. We go back in our history and thank God for the Puritan spirit and for that deliverance from religious oppression which brought to our shores the Mayflower and its heroic company who sought upon our soil freedom to worship God. We are thankful, too, for the prayer and song which hallowed Plymouth – a prayer whose strains still linger upon the New England air and will forever be wafted upon the winds back and forth to the utmost boundaries of our Union. . . .

[B]eloved, may the God of peace that brought from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. [Hebrews 13:21]

Read this entire sermon here. . . .

The History of Memorial Day

On May 5, 1868, Major General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic (an organization made up of Union Veterans) set aside May 30th as Decoration Day to commemorate fallen soldiers by adorning their graves with flowers. General Logan’s order declared: “We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance….Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.”

That year, 5,000 gathered at Arlington National Cemetery to attend commemoration ceremonies presided over by General and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant. This was the nation’s first major tribute to those who fell in the Civil War, and at that time small American flags were placed on each grave (a tradition that continues today).

However, the decoration of graves actually began before General Logan’s official order, and some two dozen locations claim to be the site of the first Memorial Day observance. The majority of these sites are in the South, where most of the casualties of the Civil War are buried.

For example, both Macon and Columbus, Georgia, as well as Richmond, Virginia, each claim to have begun Memorial Day in 1866; and Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, claims that it held the first observance in 1864. However, one of the first documented sites to hold a tribute to the Civil War dead took place in Columbus, Mississippi on April 25, 1866. A group of women who were placing flowers on the graves of Confederate soldiers (casualties of the battle at Shiloh) noticed the destitute graves of the Union soldiers and also decorated their graves with flowers. The first community-wide observance occurred in Waterloo, New York, on May 5, 1866, with a ceremony to honor local Civil War veterans. (A century later in 1966, President Lyndon Baines Johnson and Congress declared Waterloo to be the “birthplace” of Memorial Day because of that earlier observance.)

By the end of the 19th century, the observance of May 30th as a day to honor the Civil War dead had become a widespread practice across the nation, but after World War I, the tribute was expanded to include all American military men and women who had died in any war. Memorial Day has been acknowledged as a national holiday since 1971, when an Act of Congress established its observance on the last Monday in May.

In 2000, Congress passed the “The National Moment of Remembrance Act,” asking all Americans to pause at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence in remembrance of all those who have died in military service to America. (Information may be found here. . . .)

Rejecting The Gospel

Charles H. Spurgeon

Charles H. Spurgeon wrote:

When the gospel was first preached, instead of being accepted and admired, one universal hiss went up to heaven; men could not bear it; its first preacher they dragged to the edge of the cliff, and would have sent Him down headlong; yes, they did more-they nailed Him to a cross, and there they let Him spend His dying life in agony such as no man has borne since. All His chosen ministers have been hated and abhorred by the worldly; instead of being listened to, they have been scoffed at; treated as if they were rubbish, and the very scum of mankind.

Look at the holy men in the early days of the church, how they were driven from city to city, persecuted, afflicted, tormented, stoned to death, wherever the enemy had power to do so. Those friends of men, those real philanthropists, who came with hearts big with love, and hands full of mercy, and lips pregnant with celestial fire, and souls burned with holy influence; those men were treated as if they were spies in the camp, as if they were deserters from the common cause of mankind; as if they were enemies, and not, as they truly were, the best of friends. Do not suppose that men like the gospel any better now than they did then. There is an idea that you are growing better; but the heart within is still the same. The human heart of today dissected, would be just like the human heart a thousand years ago; the gall of bitterness within that breast of yours, is just as bitter as the gall of bitterness of Simon of old. We have in our hearts the same inherent opposition to the truth of God; and hence we find men, just as in the past, who scorn the gospel.

Controversy And The Christian Life

Quoting John Piper:

Can controversial teachings nurture Christlikeness? Before you answer this question, ask another one: Are there any significant biblical teachings that have not been controversial? I cannot think of even one, let alone the number we all need for the daily nurture of faith. If this is true, then we have no choice but to seek our food in the markets of controversy. We need not stay there. We can go home and feast if the day has been well spent. But we must buy there. As much as we would like it, we do not have the luxury of living in a world where the most nourishing truths are unopposed. If we think we can suspend judgment on all that is controversial and feed our souls only on what is left, we are living in a dreamworld. There is nothing left. The reason any of us thinks that we can stand alone on truths that are noncontroversial is because we do not know our history or the diversity of the professing church. Besides that, would we really want to give to the devil the right to determine our spiritual menu by refusing to eat any teaching over which he can cause controversy? (The Pleasures of God: Meditations on God’s Delight in Being God, Revised and Expanded Edition, Multnomah, 2000, p. 121-22)

James Madison On Government

James Madison

Quoting President James Madison:

“It has been said that all Government is an evil. It would be more proper to say that the necessity of any Government is a misfortune. This necessity however exists; and the problem to be solved is, not what form of Government is perfect, but which of the forms is least imperfect.”

Playing God

Mark R. Rushdoony

Adam and Eve believed the lie of Satan in seeking to make themselves gods. Much of man’s history is a record of recurring attempts to establish a kingdom of man in opposition to the Kingdom of God. Mark R. Rushdoony writes:

Mankind is, after several millennia, still trying hard to make good on Satan’s promise that man can ascend to the status of deity, that he can “be as gods, knowing good and evil.” A god does not know good and evil in a merely intellectual sense: he knows it because he determines or decrees it. Man’s ongoing sin is, by its very nature, his quest to rule as a god.

Sin makes man want to decree, to decide authoritatively as a sovereign, autonomous power. Man playing god must manage to circumvent the authority of the God he seeks to dethrone, or at least diplomatically manage Him as an equal. Sometimes man’s god-playing takes the form of a lawless anarchism, a defiance of any authority other than himself. More often man’s rebellion seeks strength in numbers, and men gravitate toward a group to exercise their self-rule. No form of lawlessness will be tolerated for long; a collective order will soon enough prevail. The result of rejecting a transcendent authority is the emergence of an imminent authority, the state.

In order to see statism as a revolt against God, we need to see it as the Kingdom of Man, a perversion of the Kingdom of God. Man was created for a purpose, to fulfill a greater plan, to operate in terms of a higher meaning and direction. What man in sin denies to God, he tends to appropriate to himself. Man feels compelled to determine a purpose, to act in terms of his own authority. Man transfers not only the right, but the power of predestination to himself. The result is some form of statist power that seeks to make this order real. Dominion under God is perverted into the dominion of man. The Kingdom of God is rejected in favor of the Kingdom of Man. Man was constitutionally designed to work, and when he exercises dominion apart from God, his efforts become the outworking of his sin nature. He proceeds with religious fervor to destroy his world in an attempt to remake it into one better suited to sinners. When other men or reality get in his way, some ugly scenes unfold.

Continue reading here. . . .

Even Some Conservatives Drink The Politically-Correct Kool Aid

Geert Wilder

It is sad to see fellow conservatives, such as Charles Krauthammer (FOXNews commentator), follow the path of other Muslim apologists in his criticisms of Geert Wilder’s warnings concerning Islam. But then we also know that a large share of FOXNews was purchased by a leading member of the ruling family of Saudi Arabia, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. He is now the second-largest shareholder of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., FOXNews’ parent company.

The problem that Wilder has faced all along is how to persuade people that certain fundamental attributes of Islam define it as a violent ideology of conquest. Many Muslims have claimed that they engage in jihad (a religious war waged to advance the cause of Islam at the expense of unbelievers) because Islamic scriptures command them to do so. Have the relevant Islamic scriptures been misinterpreted?

Bill Warner of the Center for the Study of Political Islam has carried out a groundbreaking statistical analysis of Islamic doctrines. He concludes that about sixty-one percent of the contents of the Koran are found to speak negatively of unbelievers or call for their violent conquest. Only 2.6 percent of the verses of the Koran are noted to show goodwill toward humanity. In addition to this, about seventy five percent of Muhammad’s biography (Sira) consists of jihad waged on unbelievers. So let’s be reasonable and throw out the so-called “selective interpretation” arguments that claim that the Muslim holy book or its “verses are being taken out of context.”

The evidence that Islam is an intolerant religion that drives its followers on a violent conquest of unbelievers seems apparent. If such doctrines are propagated, they will lead to increased violence directed at non-Muslims. It is no secret that the Muslim extremism of past years is directly correlated with government-linked Saudi charities to spread Islam around the world.

Osama bin Laden has demanded a condition for the terror attacks against America to cease: “I invite you to embrace Islam.” Muslims have also been driving millions of non-Muslim minorities out of Islamic countries during the last sixty years. This is a hard truth that our leaders and news media have consistently chosen to ignore. In response to the looming threat against human rights and freedom, the American government’s policies towards the Muslim world appear to have been dreamed up in “Fantasy Land.” Our assumptions have been based on the wishes and false premises that the followers of the “religion of peace” can be assimilated into the secular-progressive worldview of Washington’s political and intellectual elitists.

Dissent Is Politically Correct When. . . .

Monica Crowley

Quoting Monica Crowley:

During President George W. Bush’s two terms, you couldn’t drive far without seeing a particular bumper sticker: “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.” Now that Democrats control the White House and Congress, the left treats dissent as the lowest form of treason. When the left agitates over government policies, it’s considered righteous anger. When the right – and much of the center – agitate, it’s painted as the rantings of the criminally and violently insane.

We Are All Going, Going. . . .

J. C. Ryle

From the sermons of J. C. Ryle:

We are all going, going, going, whether eminent or unimportant, gentle or cruel, rich or poor, old or young. We are all going and will soon be gone.

Beauty is only temporary. Sarah was once the fairest of women, and the admiration of the Court of Egypt; yet a day came when even Abraham, her husband, said, “Sell me some property for a burial site here so I can bury my dead.” (Genesis 23:4) Strength of the body is only temporary. David was once a mighty man of valor, the slayer of the lion and the bear, and the champion of Israel against Goliath; yet a day came when even David had to be nursed and ministered to in his old age like a child. Wisdom and power of the brain are only temporary. Solomon was once a marvel of knowledge, and all the kings of the earth came to hear his wisdom, yet even Solomon in his latter days played the fool, and allowed his wives to “turn his heart after their gods.” (1 Kings 11:2)

Humbling and painful as these truths may sound, it is good for all of us to realize them and take them to heart. The houses we live in, the homes we love, the riches we accumulate, the professions we follow, the plans we formulate, the relations we enter into—they are only for a time. “What is seen is temporary.” “This world in its present form is passing away.” (2 Corinthians 4:18; 1 Corinthians 7:31)

The thought is one that ought to awaken everyone who is living only for this world. If his conscience is not completely seared, it should stir in him a great searching of his heart. Oh, be careful what you are doing! Awake to see things in their true light before it is too late. The things you live for now are all temporary and passing away. The pleasures, the amusements, the recreations, the profits, the earthly callings, which now absorb all your heart and drink up your entire mind, will soon be over. They are poor fleeting things that cannot last. Oh, do not love them too much; do not hold on to them too tightly; do not make them your idols! You cannot keep them, and you must leave them. Seek first the kingdom of God, and then everything else will be given to you. “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Oh, you that love the world, get wisdom! Never, never forget that it is written, “The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” (Colossians 3:2; 1 John 2:17)

The same thought ought to cheer and comfort every true Christian. Your trials, crosses, and conflicts are all temporary. They will soon come to an end; and even now they are working for you “an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Corinthians 4:17) Receive them patiently; bear them quietly; look upward, forward, onward, and far beyond them. Fight your daily fight under a steadfast conviction that it is only for a little while, and that rest is not far off. Carry your daily cross always remembering that “what is seen is temporary.” The cross will soon be exchanged for a crown, and you will sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of God. (Sermon: “Eternity!)

Al Gore: The Grinch That Stole The Graduation Celebration

Recently, Al Gore gave a commencement address that was anything but inspiring. This was a day for graduates to be excited and motivated about their futures. Instead, Gore was unbelievably depressing.

E. M. Bounds On Spiritual Leadership

E. M. Bounds

Quoting E. M. Bounds:

The very heart of this disgraceful apostasy, this dethroning Christ and enthroning the devil, is to remove the Holy Spirit from His leadership in the Church and put in unspiritual men as leaders to plan for and direct the Church. The strong hands of men of great ability and men with the powers of leadership have often displaced God’s leadership. The ambition for leadership and the enthronement of man-leadership, is the doom and seal of apostasy. There is no leadership in God’s Church but the leadership of the Holy Spirit. The man who has the most of God’s Spirit is God’s chosen leader, ambitious and zealous for the Spirit’s sovereignty, ambitious to be the least, the slave of all.

The Duty Of All Nations

Quoting George Washington:

“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 favors.”

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