Chaplain Corps marks 237th anniversary
Religious Support Office
On July 29, 1775 Gen. George Washington signed the general order authorizing the position of one chaplain for each regiment in the pay of junior captain. Thus the Chaplain Corps was born.
Over the last 237 years, chaplains and chaplain assistants have faithfully served Soldiers, families and civilians of the United States Army on and off the battlefield with the same vigor and inspiration as those first chaplains did over 200 years ago.
In Stephen E. Ambrose’s book, “D-Day June 6, 1944,” the 2nd Ranger Battalion hit the beach with their chaplain, Father Joe Lacy. The Rangers described Lacy as “a small, old, fat Irishman,” and they doubted that he would be able to keep up with them, yet Father Lacy insisted on going with them.
On the transport to Normandy, Father Lacy told his rangers, “when you land on the beach and you get in there, I don’t want to see anyone kneeling down and praying. If you do I’m going to come up and boot you in the butt. You leave the praying to me and you do the fighting.”
On the beach the rangers saw Father Lacy go down to the water’s edge and pull the dead, dying and wounded from the water and put them in relatively protected positions. He didn’t stop at that, but prayed for them and with them, giving comfort to the wounded and dying. A real man of God.
On Sunday, we celebrate the 237th anniversary of the Chaplain Corps. George Washington and the Continental Congress decided early on that their Army needed the spiritual guidance and prayer of religious clergy. From the beginning chaplains have sought to help Soldiers and families deal with the difficulties of Army life. Three key roles of chaplains through the years are to care for the living, comfort the wounded, and honor the dead. This is reflected in our motto “For God and Country – Pro Deo et Patria.”
Chaplains go into our nation’s conflicts to fulfill this role. Before hitting the beaches of Normandy, Lacy clearly laid out the roles for himself and his Rangers…You fight, I’ll pray. During the fight, the Soldiers didn’t have time to pray. Yes, some will throw up a quick prayer when the shooting starts, but their purpose and mission is to fight, or provide communication, or supply other troops depending on their specialty and training. The role and the burden of prayer belong to the chaplain. As a non-combatant, he or she does not carry a physical weapon to shoot at an enemy. Instead the chaplain is armed with the spiritual weapon of prayer.
Prayer is an active activity. On the beaches of Normandy, Lacy did not stay aboard a ship to pray for his Soldiers. He was on the beach with his Rangers. He did not crouch in a hole protected from gunfire. Again and again he braved gunfire to pull wounded, dying and dead Soldiers to safety. Then he prayed for them – giving them comfort and blessing in a very painful and fearful environment. Thus, chaplains in the United States Army must bear the burden of prayer – “For God and Country.”
Happy 237th birthday, Chaplain Corps!
This week, I am proud to celebrate the 237th birthday of our Army.
For 237 years, our Soldiers and their Families have been the strength of our great Nation in peace and at war. This week, across the Nation, we will be celebrating our Army and the remarkable men and women, past and present, who have embraced our Nation’s call to Service.
On June 14, 1775, our Nation’s leaders established the Continental Army. This act brought the militias of the Thirteen Colonies together in their revolt against the oppressive rule of the British – thus beginning our Army’s rich heritage of meeting the needs of our Nation and defending her citizens.
The hodge-podge of farmers, shopkeepers, tradesmen and scholars of America’s Continental Army faced a formidable opponent. The odds were not in their favor, but our Soldiers made up for what they lacked with patriotism, astounding perseverance and dedication to the ideals of freedom.
Whether crossing the Delaware River in 1776 or the English Channel in 1944, our Army forbearers demonstrated through their actions that the American Soldier will bear any burden for the cause of freedom and their fellow citizens.
Today, America’s Army is engaged in nearly 150 countries around the world, on 6 of 7 continents, with over 94,000 Soldiers deployed today and 94,000 forward stationed. Our Nation depends on its Army to defend the shores of our homeland, defeat enemy forces abroad, and help with recovery efforts in the wake of natural disasters so that the American people may enjoy the fruits of freedom and live in peace.
We have the best equipped, best trained and best led Army in history, and it is because of the 1.1 million professional Soldiers who serve in the Army, Army Reserve and Army National Guard, as well as the dedicated service of our Army Civilians. Their hard work, commitment and professionalism have enabled our Army to stand firm when others might waver, to be a beacon of hope to those who desire freedom and to endure the agony of war because our Nation asked us to sacrifice.
It is our Army’s professional competence, moral character, and resolute commitment that truly defines us as professionals and guarantees our sacred trust with the American people. It is a solemn responsibility that we must always strive to maintain.
Once a young man or woman joins the Army and takes the oath to support and defend the Constitution, they enter into a sacred trust with their Nation. And whether they serve one enlistment or retire from the Army they will always remain a Soldier. Army Strong!
Tip #1: Buy a bunch of $1 games and toys at the dollar section of the super market or at the dollar store.
Tip #2: Pack items in different bags for easy access. For example, one bag for books, one for videogames, one for coloring books and crayons (by the way, get washable crayons and avoid any coloring stains), one for DVDs, one for snacks, etc. You get the idea.
Tip #3: Pack small snack bags for each child. That way you’ll reduce the chances of having food spilled all over the car and avoid fights.
Tip #4: Bring bottled water instead of juices and sodas. Juices and sodas have the potential to make a very sticky mess out of your car.
Tip #5: Don’t over hydrate your passengers, or else you’ll be making bathroom stops every hour.
Tip #6: If the drive is really long, we suggest dividing it into two days by staying at a hotel with a pool. Your kids will get to unleash their excitement, and you’ll get to take a break from being the road manager.
Tip #7: Have teenagers? Encourage them to make a fun project out of the trip. They can take photos and brochures to scrapbook with, or they can make a documentary that you all can enjoy (and maybe laugh at) when you get back home.
Tip #8: You want your pet to feel good too. Bring his pad/blanket/pillow so he feels comfortable, and pack their favorite treats and toy.
Tip #9: Bring baby wipes – they clean everything! (Well, almost)
Tip #10: Get some exercise during your stops. Get yourself and your kids running and jumping while at a restroom stop to get the blood flowing and release some of that stored energy.
Life is full of unexpected moments. As I am slowly preparing to leave for a few months of training, I am beginning to appreciate those moments as they arise. Today on my way to pick up the kid at school, I saw the Clydesdales were stopping at the agricultural center for the night. I brought the kid back to see the horses and to pet the dalmatian. She was so excited and showed pure joy on her face.
God is good to allow us to be parents to experience a taste of God’s love for us. It was a good day and I am glad I could share it with her.
Below is my second guest blog post. To think this all started because I shared my experience of sharing in Friday prayers at a local mosque. God is good!
(What follows is a guest post written by Rev. Tim Baranoski, who hails from Cameron’s hometown. We came across Rev. Tim because of a post he wrote over at Non-Prophet Status, and are delighted to have him here at FLP. Please see his bio at the end of the this post for links to his own blog and Twitter. The second part of Cameron’s “What does it mean to be evangelical?” will be posted later this week, as will the end to Greg’s “Kingdom” series. In the meantime, sit back and enjoy FLP’s first guest blog!)
What is the greatest hindrance to Christianity in our country? This is a question that is bound to elicit a variety of answers depending on whom you ask. Possible answers would include: the mass media, popular culture, materialism, bad government policies, other religions, etc. A missionary had the occasion to put this very question to the great Mahatma Gandhi, “What is the greatest hindrance to Christianity in India?” His answer was swift and decisive: “Christians.” It is said that the world would be a more Christian place today were it not for the Christians. The Christians that constitute a hindrance to Christianity are not the real and committed ones, of course, but those who bear the name Christian but, judging from the way they talk and behave, no one would suspect they have anything to do with Christ.
“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.” – Mark 9:50 (NIV)
I like to think of the numerous Christian denominations as simply flavored salt. We all have the same goal and the same basic beliefs – though we do tend to argue over minor nuances of things like baptism and the Eucharist. We are the same faith but then we are simply different flavors.
But then I have to wonder – are we really the salt of earth? Our theological differences lend themselves to exclusion from churches and public criticism of one another. It is no wonder Christians are criticized from those who the outside – if I was an outsider I am not sure I would want to be part of this group either.
Worse than how we treat each other is how we treat people in faith traditions. Of course, I am referring to Muslims especially. For reasons that stem from the events of September 11, we have lumped anyone who prescribes to the Islamic faith as a “terrorist”. We shun them, criticize them, and exclude them from as much as possible. We work hard to prevent Mosques from being built in our communities out of fear and ignorance. Is this what Jesus would want?
Now before you begin to stone me for being a heretic, I need to clarify that I am a Jesus-follower. I am an ordained minister in a Presbyterian denomination. I believe the only way to salvation is through Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I will not waver in this belief. It is a conviction and the one according to which my life is lived.
However, that does not mean I need to hate non-Christians. Jesus went out of his way to reach out to sinners and non-Jews. He ate with them. He talked with them. He loved them. I can do the same as well. In my ministry, I have had the opportunity to share in Friday prayers at a local mosque. It was an incredible experience but I do not think for one moment that I compromised my beliefs. Instead, I believe I planted the seed that as a Christian, I am willing to engage in conversation and to learn from one another. I believe showing respect to other beliefs is important because it allows a dialogue to continue. If I am too busy hating people for what they believe then I cannot show the love of Jesus to them. Mother Teresa once said, “If you judge people, you cannot love them.” We as Christians are too busy judging others rather than loving them.
It’s one thing to criticize and another to share solutions. I think there are many things we can do as Christians. I strive to live my life according to words that St. Francis of Assisi is purported to have spoken, “Preach Jesus always and when necessary use words.” As I said earlier, I have participated in Friday prayers at a local mosque on several occasions. I look forward to participating them in the future. The result of my participation? An open dialogue between myself and Muslims. I have learned more about the Islamic faith through these conversations then I ever knew. I appreciate their faith to the point that I have developed a new respect for their beliefs. Earlier, I stated clearly my beliefs but that doesn’t mean that I cannot respect another person’s beliefs either. Instead, I have a better understanding in which to engage in conversation.
It is the conversation that is the key to the whole issue. If we talk with one another, we begin to see as others see and we can no longer judge them in our ignorance. A remarkable thing happens – we understand them and we see that others, though they may believe differently, are really not that different from us.
The passage from Mark I quoted earlier comes in a larger pericope in which Jesus is teaching that it is okay if other people cast out demons in his name. After all, we are all salt just different flavors. What if we begin to see other faiths as yet another flavor of salt. I know there is only one way to God but there are many ways to Jesus.
In my mind interfaith relations are loving people – all people mind you – as Jesus did. It is through that love that we begin to let the light of Jesus shine (the other part of the salt) and we begin to truly do the work of God in this world. Let’s not judge others but love others. Let our love shine as a light and let our salt of faith flavor all we do.
Here are some simple (and mostly cheap) ideas for having a great summer with your family.
Make Your Own Popsicles
Kids (and grown up kids) love popsicles, so why not spend some time in the kitchen with the family and make a batch? Here’s how to do it.
While you are making your frozen treats you can turn it into a learning experience as well. Here is the history of the popsicle, and for those kids who always ask “how?”, here’s the science behind freezing.
Take A Train Ride
There is nothing quite like riding a train. You get to meet some interesting people while enjoying a journey through beautiful landscapes. Train rides can last from hour-long tours to multi-day, cross-country trips depending on your level of desire and how much you are willing to spend.
Here is a list of some of the best day trips in the US. Here are two from Tennessee as well (TVRM and TCRM). For those families with smaller children, Thomas the Train offers rides all over the country every year.
Go On A Nature Hike
You’d be surprised by how many nature trails are within a short drive. They offer great quality time with the whole family.
Here is a website with all of the nature trails in the US National Park system.
While you are on the way to your nature trail of choice here’s a link to the history of the US National Parks. It may make for an interesting discussion.
Without a doubt your hike will include amazing scenic beauty and hopefully some wildlife. It can be a lot more fun if you know what you are seeing. Here are some guides to help you identify trees, flowers, birds and other wildlife.
Have A Water Fight
One of the best sights in the world is seeing your child’s face light up when you join in on a “kids game”. Surprise them by drenching them with a huge water gun. (Do it inside your house and really blow their minds).
Please enjoy these ideas. Check back often for more ways you can Take Back The Summer.
via WEEK 1 IDEAS.
An interesting take from Kurt Willems on a controversial idea that is taken out of context in the Bible.
I grew up in church. Not a typical middle class, white picket fence, awkwardly perfect church goin’ family situation, but in church nonetheless. Most of what I recall from those early childhood and teenage years bring memories of good things. People genuinely taught me that loving Jesus matters more than anything else in the world. The world, after all, is corrupt and the place we truly long for is far, far away – heaven. So we are to love Jesus and hate the world.
Now, this is not hatred toward the people on earth. I did not grow up going to a church that taught that we ought to tell outsiders how much they suck, but that this “world is not my home, I’m just a passin’ through.” World and physicality = bad. Jesus and spiritual bliss in a distant heaven = goal of the game.
This distinction came with a subset of beliefs about the destiny of God’s world. Eventually this planet would be destroyed and we Christians would “fly away” to heaven at the rapture of the church. Certain Christians understood the timing of the rapture as it corresponds to the book of Revelation differently than others, but no one ever denied the imminent return of Jesus to evacuate the church out of earth. Today, there is a group that believes that they have calculated the exact date of this escape from earth: Saturday, May 21, 2011. This sect does not represent most of those who believe in rapture, but what they have in common is that a day is coming when this world will be “Left Behind.”
What I’ve come to realize is that the church of my youth probably had the rapture all wrong. You see, the Bible flows from Creation (Gen 1-2) to Renewed Creation (Rev 21-22). This is the narrative of Scripture. Nothing in the text (if read in its proper context) alludes to the actual complete destruction of the planet. This world matters to the Creator and because of this, the world as a whole ought to matter to us. Physical / earthly realities such as social injustice, violence, hunger, preventable sickness, are destruction of nature are invitations to the church of Jesus to get our hands dirty and proclaim that this world matters (even in its broken state)! Christ will complete creation upon his return, uniting heaven and earth for the life of the age to come!
The famous “rapture” passage is found in 1 Thessalonians 4.15-17 and reads:
According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.
This passage, when placed in the larger context of the chapter, is answering questions that Christians in Thessalonica had concerning death. What has happened to our loved ones who have died before the return of Christ to earth? What is theirs and our ultimate destiny? Paul’s answer: bodily resurrection at the return of Christ to earth! Not an escape into the sky*…
In this passage, Paul borrows two specific images from the Old Testament that would have been familiar to Jewish converts and Gentiles who were familiarizing themselves with the Hebrew tradition. The first of these that Paul employs in the text has to do with Moses who comes down from Mount Sinai with the Law with the great blast of the trumpet. The second image is taken from Daniel chapter 7 where the “one like the son of man” and the community he represents is vindicated over the enemies of the people of God. Clouds here symbolize the power and authoritative judgement of God about the rescue of his people. This idea now seems to be applied to Christians who are facing various forms of persecution.
Finally, there is a third image in the text that comes from outside of the canonical context. This is the image of an emperor who visits a city. The people of that region would have gone out to meet him to usher him into their home in a royal procession out in the open air. This, Paul seems to apply to the church who will usher in their King into the new creation.**
Rapture, as it is popularly understood, is nowhere to be found in this “rapture” passage. Christ will return, to resurrect, to purge, to heal, and to ultimately establish the eternal kingdom of God on this earth. That’s it.
So, will the Rapture happen on this coming Saturday May 21st, 2011? Well, not the kind of rapture that folks at Family Radio are talking about. Christ certainly can return whenever he wants, but I am not counting on it this coming week. I wonder how the Family Radio followers will feel on Sunday? I pray that rather than lose their faith in Christ, that they will leave behind radical fundamentalism and discover a hope-filled faith of New Creation!
After a couple of weeks of dialogue it is clear to me that the primary issue in the debate over Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived is not about what Bell is saying, but how he says it.
I suspect many felt poked in the eye by the way Harper and Rob decided to market Love Wins. I suspect Bell intimidates some because he is part of a culture they do not understand and cannot control (that culture is urban, postmodern, and discovers the truth more naturally through questions, sarcasm, and intuition than through the systematic presentations of the top Christian publishing house).
And let’s not kid ourselves, I suspect the fire behind the debate is often about envy and resentment of a very talented man, about our own inability to get a hearing in the public square, and about the fear that new ways of talking about Jesus might trump what some have preached for decades.
These issues are big, but they are not only about doctrine. The issues at hand are about culture and control, about how the theology of emerging Christians will be defined, and about the continuing fight between postmodern and modern expressions of Christianity. This seems clear to me now, for I would like to defend the following claim:
There’s not one controversial idea in Love Wins that is not clearly voiced as a real possibility by the most popular evangelical writer of the last century, CS Lewis.
Lewis and Bell hint at a number of theological possibilities in their writings that cut against what we might call the majority opinion, including: the possibility that those in hell might journey toward the grace of God after death, the possibility that those who have not heard the name of Jesus might find salvation in and through the image of Christ in their own pagan stories and myths, the possibility that some will eventually receive God’s grace freely after death, the possibility that hell is about bigger things than God’s wrath, the insistence that the metaphors describing what Jesus’ cross accomplishes and how his work is applied to us are culturally subjective, and that some ancient pictures of the atonement may be too confusing to help us right here, right now. All of these lines of thought were in Lewis’s writings before they were in Love Wins.
Let’s look at one example. Though I [Jeff Cook] do not hold the following position (I’m an annihilationist regarding hell), consider how Lewis, like Bell, advances the possibility that those in hell might one day journey toward the grace of God after death. Lewis writes, “I would pay any price to be able to say ‘All will be saved’ but my reason retorts, ‘Without their will, or with it?’” Notice in this and other quotes like it, the salvation of a soul is not dependent on God’s will, but the will of the damned. In the same vein, he wrote, “I believe that if a million chances were likely to do good, they would be given” (The Problem of Pain, 110). This is a confession that God wants to save all and would provide such roads if God thought they’d work.
As such, Lewis’s leaves the gates of heaven wide open through the way he structures reality in The Great Divorce. He frequently insistented that Hell is locked from the inside, and continually insists that hell is self-chosen—all of these point to the possibility that one day some of the damned may choose to be restored, and that God may welcome them like a prodigal son through the saving work of Christ. In fact, both Bell and Lewis argue, “Humanity is already ‘saved’ in principle; we individuals have to appropriate that salvation” (Mere Christianity 156). As such, I see every reason to think that Rob has an identical ontology of hell to CS Lewis, Rob however has more faith in the ability of some to eventually repent, that is the only real difference between them—and it is a belief about people not about God and God’s desires.
So I ask, Is there one idea in Love Wins that is not already grounded in word or metaphor in the writings of evangelicalism’s best-selling author? If not, then certainly Lewis—a far more substantial and influential thinker than Rob to modern American Christianity—has been worthy of our fire for decades now.
But that’s just it. The debate over Love Wins is not actually a fight only about doctrine. It is about angst caused by different cultures and philosophical precommitments. It’s about language and how we articulate what is real. It’s about the acceptance or rejection of postmodern ways of expressing what is most vital to us. It is about two cultures crashing together like a cold and warm front and causing a storm. Sure Rob is throwing theological hand grenades in that trailer and on the back cover, but as he rightly says in the intro to Love Wins, he’s not claiming anything new. We would be wise to pursue the real dialogue—the more important dialogue—at hand in American Christianity. We need to openly converse about postmodernity and modernity, their effect on doctrine, and especially how Christians who assume very different epistemologies can actually champion each other instead of drawing pistols every time they disagree in this new century.
The three monotheist religious traditions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, have more in common than in contention. All three believe God is one, unique, concerned with humanity’s condition. Each takes up the narrative of the others’ — Christianity and Islam carrying forward the story begun in the Hebrew scriptures of ancient Israel that define Judaism.
Christianity affirms the vocation of Israel after the flesh, and Islam affirms the validity of the antecedent monotheist revelations, regarding Muhammad as the seal of prophecy and the Quran as a work of God.
Falling into the genus of religion and forming a single sub-species of theistic religions, the three monotheisms among all theistic religions bear a unique relationship to one another. That is because they concur not only in general, but in particular ways. Specifically, they tell stories of the same type, and some of the stories that they tell turn out to go over much the same ground.
Judaism, with its focus upon the Hebrew scriptures of ancient Israel, tells the story of the one God, who created man in his image, and of what happened then within the framework of Israel, the holy people. Christianity takes up that story but gives it a different reading and ending by instantiating the relations between God and his people in the life of a single human being. For its part, in sequence, Islam recapitulates some basic components of the same story, affirming the revelations of Judaism and then Christianity, but drawing the story onward to yet another climax.
I don’t know about you, but the way I greet the morning sets the tone for my entire day. I can either begin the day with a sense of anticipation or with a sense of dread. When I accept this day as a gift from God, never to be experienced again, filled with challenges to be met, possibilites to be explored, lessons to be learned, battles to be fought, treasures to be discovered, and growth to be realized, I want to be all there. I want to be completely tuned in to the One who’s orchestrating it. I don’t want to miss a beat. Much easier said than done.
I need lots of help, so one of the things I do is pray in the morning. I set my focus on the One whose lead I purpose to follow. I love using the prayers of godly men and women, who have crossed the finish line of life, as a springboard for my own prayers. Here is one of my favorites:
THE PRAYER OF SAINT PATRICK
(The Breastplate – Lorica – of Saint Patrick, 5th Century)
I arise today
Through a mighty strength,
the invocation of the Trinity,
Through the belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of Creation.
I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth with his baptism,
Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial,
Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension,
Through the strength of his descent for the judgment of Doom.
I arise today
Through the strength of the love of Cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In prayers of patriarchs,
In predictions of prophets,
In preaching of apostles,
In faith of confessors,
In innocence of holy virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.
I arise today
Through the strength of heaven:
Light of sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock.
I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me,
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptations of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone and in multitude.
I summon today
all these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel merciless power that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul.
Christ to shield me today
So that there may come to me abundance of reward.
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
I arise today
Through a mighty strength,
the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness,
Of the Creator of Creation.
His name is Bill. He has wild hair, wears a T-shirt with holes in it, jeans and no shoes. This was literally is wardrobe for his entire four years of college. He is brilliant. Kind of esoteric and very, very bright. He became a Christian recently while attending college.
Across the street from the campus is a well-dressed, very conservative church. One day Bill decides to go there. He walks in with no shoes, jeans, his T-shirt, and wild hair. The service has already started and So Bill starts down the aisle looking for a seat.
The church is completely packed and he can’t find a seat. By now people are really looking a bit uncomfortable, but no one says anything. Bill gets closer and closer and closer to the pulpit and, when he realizes there are no seats, he just squats down right on the carpet. (Although perfectly acceptable behavior at a college fellowship, trust me, this had never happened in this church before!
By now the people are really uptight, and the tension in the air is thick. About this time, the minister realizes that from way at the back of the church, an Elder is slowly making his way toward Bill. Now the Elder is in his eighties, has silver-gray hair, and a three-piece suit. A godly man, very elegant, very dignified, very courtly. He walks with a cane and, as he starts walking toward this boy, everyone is saying To themselves that you can’t blame him for what he’s going to do.
How can you expect a man of his age and of his background to understand some college kid on the floor? It takes a long time for the man to reach the boy. The church is utterly silent except for the clicking of the man’s cane.
All eyes are focused on him. You can’t even hear anyone breathing. The minister can’t even preach the sermon until the Elder does what he has to do. And now they see this elderly man drop his cane on the floor. With great difficulty he lowers himself and sits down next to Bill and worships with him so he won’t be alone.
Everyone chokes up with emotion. When the minister gains control, he says, “What I’m about to preach, you will never remember. What you have just seen, you will never forget. Be careful how you live. You may be the only Bible some people will ever read.”
It is entirely reasonable for Christians to analyze the theology of President Obama, but it is troubling to hear so many state publicly that his faith is not Christian but is instead he’s a Muslim.
By Dan Gilgoff at CNN.com:
President Barack Obama gave an unusually personal speech about his religious faith on Thursday, saying that “it is the biblical injunction to serve the least of these that keeps me going and keeps me from being overwhelmed,” in address to a prayer breakfast in Washington.
The speech, delivered at the National Prayer Breakfast, comes on the heels of public opinion surveys that show only a minority of Americans know that Obama is a Christian and that a growing number believe he’s a Muslim.
“My Christian faith has been sustaining for me over the last couple of years and even more so when Michelle and I hear our faith questioned from time to time,” the president said Thursday, referring to his wife. “We are reminded that ultimately what matters is not what other people say about us but that we are true to our conscience and true to our God.”
“When I wake in the morning, I wait on the Lord, I ask him to give me the strength to do right by our country and our people,” Obama said later. “And when I go to bed at night, I wait on the Lord and I ask him to forgive me my sins and to look after my family and to make me an instrument of the Lord.”But the fact is that many Americans don’t believe this:
Nearly 1 in 5 Americans believes Obama is a Muslim, up from about one in 10 Americans who said he was Muslim in 2009, according to the survey. It was conducted in July and August by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.
Fewer than half of Democrats and African-Americans, core components of Obama’s political base, correctly identified Obama as Christian.
President Obama spoke honestly about themes in his prayer life:
On Thursday, Obama spoke at length about his prayer life, saying his prayers fall into three categories: for those who are struggling, for personal humility, and to be closer to God.
“Faith reminds me that in spite of being one very imperfect man I can still help whoever I can, however I can, wherever I can for as long as I can,” Obama said of the first kind of prayer, “and that somehow God will buttress these efforts.”
“The second recurring theme in my prayer is a prayer for humility,” Obama said later. “God answered the prayer early on by having me marry Michelle.”
“The challenge is to balance this uncertainty and humility with a need to fight for deeply held convictions,” he continued. “I pray for this wisdom very day. I pray for God to show me and all us the limits of our understanding.”
With regard to his third kind of prayer, Obama said the recurring theme “is that I might walk closer to God and make that walk my first and most important walk.”
In 2011 we observe the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible. The story of how and why King James authorized this version as head of the English Church is beautifully told by Adam Nicolson in God’s Secretaries (2003#. The work began in 1604 when a small group of Puritans approached the king and pleaded for a common Bible that would unify England after a century of religious conflict that was punctuated by torture, beheadings, and the burning of dissidents. Because James, son of the Catholic Queen Mary, had been raised in Scotland by a household governor who was Presbyterian, these particular Calvinists hoped that the Geneva Bible would become the preferred translation. However, the Geneva Bible in English, which was the first “study Bible,” contained numerous marginal notes and translation decisions that diminished the power of the bishops and the king. So the Anglican bishops outmaneuvered the Puritans and persuaded the King to back a revision of the Bishop’s Bible, which was based mostly on the work of William Tyndale, who had been burned alive for translating the Bible into English. The revision work took seven years, completed in 1611, and was complicated by the continued religious oppression of Puritans. The Puritans began fleeing execution #including inquisitions led by the head of the King James translation committee) and boarded ships for a new world.
For two centuries in America the Geneva Bible competed with the King James Bible as the preferred Bible translation for Christian people. By the mid 1800s the Methodists and Baptists were spreading west across the land on horseback with the King James Bible, and they were planting thousands of churches that emerged out of massive revivals. They taught people how to read, by using the King James Bible as a core textbook. By the twentieth century, they were building universities and hospitals, as well as starting thousands of Sunday schools.
Even as the language of the King James Version (KJV) was thoroughly embedded in the American Protestant culture by the twentieth century, many words no longer held the same meaning that they did in the 1500s, when Tyndale coined hundreds of the terms. So the KJV underwent modest revisions to update some of the archaic language. However, a revision process with the Bible apparently preserves more than 95 percent of the prior edition. As a result a “woodenness” in the language is more apparent over time. It gets harder to read and takes more explanation to understand. It requires a college degree to feel comfortable with the complex sentences. It does not sound natural. The root cause of awkwardness is the use of English idioms and images that typical people do not actually use in everyday communication. This happens when the translator tries to produce a word order in English that is driven by the word order in Hebrew or Greek. Therefore, instead of reading English in Sunday morning worship, or in the Sunday school, we are reading “Biblish,” which sounds like a foreign language. It’s no surprise that most minds wander.
To get a truly fresh and accurate rendering in the common English of our era, the best available biblical scholars and writers started fresh with the ancient languages. We questioned words and images and idioms that no longer mean what the Hebrew and Greek meant. Here are examples of change that readers will see in the summer of 2011 when the Common English Bible is fully published:
- Instead of nobles (a term based in English feudalism), we often translate officials.
- Instead of referring to a noble person, we often refer to an honorable person.
- Instead of atonement (a word that Tyndale made up, at-one-ment) we prefer forms of reconcile or reconciliation.
- Instead of “ark of the covenant” we prefer “chest containing the covenant.”
- Instead of “vessels of the temple,” we prefer “temple equipment.”
- Instead of beginning thousands of sentences with the connective particle “For,” we prefer to let modern English syntax convey these connections.
- Instead of “repent” we prefer “change your heart and life.”
- Instead of using a vocative “O” thousands of times before Lord (O Lord) or God, we removed O, because it’s not present in Hebrew or Greek, and we do not speak with it in natural discourse or sing with it in our contemporary musical expression. Check out the Psalms, which read beautifully without the “O” when Lord or God are well placed in the poetic syntax.
- We use contractions because that’s how we talk to each other.
Some Bible readers find change jarring. They think that archaic language is dignified language or that Biblish has gravitas that ordinary people must accept for an hour on Sunday. Yet when we come to the words of the Bible through fresh eyes, the stories and expectations come alive as if for the first time. Our passion is restored for reading and understanding God’s instruction or teaching. The Word then draws more people to know and love God. You and I are sent out:
“to do justice,
embrace faithful love,
and walk carefully with your God.” (Micah 6:8 CEB)
The three things that will likely trip you up more than anything online will likely be your tongue, your temper, and intolerance for other people’s views, tastes, principles, beliefs, and behaviors. Here are 30 biblical truths to help you stay focused and call on heaven in a minute. Keep them handy. Don’t just read them, mediate on them, pray about them and ask God to make them personal and real to your specific situation.
Tongue: What you say will echo throughout eternity, so getting control over your tongue (words) online (and elsewhere) is critical.
- And my tongue shall talk of your righteousness and of your praise all the day long. ~ Psalms 35:28
- The mouth of the righteous talk of wisdom, And his tongue speaketh justice. ~ Psalms 37:30
- My tongue also shall talk of thy righteousness all the daylong. ~ Psalms 71:24.
- The tongue of the wise utters knowledge aright; but the mouths of fools pour out folly. ~ Proverbs 15:2
- A gentle tongue is a tree of life; but perverseness therein is a breaking of the spirit. ~ Proverbs 15:4
- Whoso keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps his soul from troubles. ~ Proverbs 21:23
- By long forbearing is a ruler persuaded, And a soft tongue breaks the bone. ~ Proverbs 25:15
- The north wind brings forth rain: So doth backbiting tongue an angry countenance. ~ Proverbs 25:23
- Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking guile. ~ Psalms 34:13
- Death and life are in the power of the tongue; and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. ~ Proverbs 18:21
Temper: If unchecked, your temper will cause you to sin, spark division, and destroy opportunities to love and minister to others.
- He who is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who is quick-tempered exalts folly. ~Proverbs 14:29
- He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city. ~Proverbs 16:32
- This you know, my beloved brethren. But let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; ~James 1:19
- A fool always loses his temper, but a wise man holds it back. ~Proverbs 29:11
- A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. ~Proverbs 15:1
- A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but the slow to anger pacifies contention. ~Proverbs 15:18
- Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear…~ Ephesians 4:26-32
- But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self control. ~Galatians 5:22
- Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. ~Romans 12:21
- By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” ~John 12:35
Tolerance: Since the Internet is buzzing with 1.6 million people a day, chances are your level of tolerance will be challenged around every corner. Extend acceptance to those who hold different beliefs than you. Tolerance does not mean you’ve compromised, it simply means you are gracious.
- . . bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. ~Colossians 3:13
- And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” ~John 8:7
- And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean.” ~Acts 10:28
- Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. ~1 Peter 3:8-11
- A Song of Ascents. Of David. Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” ~Psalm 133:1
- With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, ~Ephesians 4:2
- But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, ~1 Peter 3:15
- I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. ~Revelation 2:2
- And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” ~John 8:7
- But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just. ~ Luke 14:13-14
What area do you need to work on as you connect with others throughout the day?
From Andy Crouch’s insightful piece about Steve Jobs:
As remarkable as Steve Jobs is in countless ways—as a designer, an innovator, a (ruthless and demanding) leader—his most singular quality has been his ability to articulate a perfectly secular form of hope. Nothing exemplifies that ability more than Apple’s early logo, which slapped a rainbow on the very archetype of human fallenness and failure—the bitten fruit—and made it a sign of promise and progress……
teve Jobs was the evangelist of this particular kind of progress—and he was the perfect evangelist because he had no competing source of hope. In his celebrated Stanford commencement address (which is itself an elegant, excellent model of the genre), he spoke frankly about his initial cancer diagnosis in 2003. It’s worth pondering what Jobs did, and didn’t say:
No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It’s life’s change agent; it clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now, the new is you. But someday, not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it’s quite true. Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice, heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.This is the gospel of a secular age. It has the great virtue of being based only on what we can all perceive—it requires neither revelation nor dogma. And it promises nothing it cannot deliver—since all that is promised is the opportunity to live your own unique life, a hope that is manifestly realizable since it is offered by one who has so spectacularly succeeded by following his own “inner voice, heart and intuition.”….
But the genius of Steve Jobs has been to persuade us, at least for a little while, that cold comfort is enough. The world—at least the part of the world in our laptop bags and our pockets, the devices that display our unique lives to others and reflect them to ourselves—will get better. This is the sense in which the tired old cliché of “the Apple faithful” and the “cult of the Mac” is true. It is a religion of hope in a hopeless world, hope that your ordinary and mortal life can be elegant and meaningful, even if it will soon be dated, dusty, and discarded%2
From CBE by John Kohlenberger. John R. Kohlenberger III (ThB, Multnomah Bible College; MA, Western Seminary) is the author or co-editor of more than four dozen biblical reference books and study Bibles, including the awarding-winning NIV Exhaustive Concordance and The NIV Bible Commentary.
What do you think of the NIV 2011? the TNIV?
The new year 2011 will see some major landmarks in English Bible translation. This is the 400th anniversary of the publication of the Authorized or King James Version, the most widely-used English Bible translation in history. Also due to be released this year is a revision of the New American Bible, the most popular modern Catholic translation. But perhaps most anticipated is the new edition of the New International Version (NIV), the bestselling English Bible of the last thirty years.
Many are familiar with controversy surrounding the release of the Today’s New International Version (TNIV) in 2002 and 2005. The TNIV was intended by the Committee on Bible Translation ([CBT] the group of scholars who maintain and revise the NIV) to be a revision of the NIV. However, the inaccurate and often inflammatory criticism of the use of inclusive language in the TNIV moved the International Bible Society ([IBS] the translation sponsor and publisher of the NIV) to release the TNIV as a separate translation and maintain the 1984 edition of the NIV as it was.
On September 1, 2009, a press conference held by CBT, Biblica (the new name for IBS), and Zondervan announced that the 1984 NIV would be revised and the 2005 TNIV discontinued. Some interpreted this to mean the TNIV was a failed experiment and the old NIV would just be freshened a bit. What was actually stated was that the CBT would reconsider every change that the TNIV introduced to the NIV, in light of external feedback, so that the 2011 revision of the NIV would actually be a revised TNIV.As part of their process, to ensure that they were accurately reflecting common English usage, the CBT initiated a relationship with Collins Dictionaries to use the Collins Bank of English, one of the world’s foremost English language research tools, to conduct a major new study of changes in gender language. The Bank of English is a database of more than 4.4 billion words drawn from text publications and spoken word recordings from all over the world. As a result, many of the gender language changes introduced in the TNIV were verified and retained, some texts revert back to the 1984 NIV, and others are handled in a completely different way. Most notable patterns are:
Singular subjects can be resumed by plurals to avoid the use of “he” or “him”: Psalm 1:1 “Blessed is the one”; 1:3 “That person is like . . . whatever they do prospers.”
“Mankind” is used far more frequently in English than “humankind,” so “humankind” is not in the NIV 2011: Genesis 1:27: “So God created mankind in his own image, / in the image of God he created them; / male and female he created them.”
The phrase “God and man” as a pair is still the majority English use: Luke 2:52 “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” However, human beings collectively are usually referred to as “people” or “human beings,” not as ‘man” or ‘men.”
As in the TNIV, Junia is still female and an apostle (Rom. 16:7) and Phoebe is still a deacon (Rom. 16:1-2).
In New Testament books, at the first occurrence of “brothers and sisters” (usually just ‘brothers” in older English translations), there is a significant new note: ‘The Greek word for brothers and sisters (adelphoi) refers here to believers, both men and women, as part of God’s family.”
Interestingly, the signature NIV/TNIV rendering “sinful nature” for Greek sarx is now the traditional “flesh” in all but two verses. This is a major change from the entire history of the NIV and I think will be welcomed by holiness denominations and others.
Although the print edition of the NIV will not be released until later this spring, the entire translation is available online at http://www.BibleGateway.com. There is also significant information at http://www.Biblica.com. Both sites have the extremely helpful document, “Updating the New International Version of the Bible: Notes from the Committee on Bible Translation.” This has much more information and many more examples that I can include in this column.
If you want a wealth of information, visit http://www.slowley.com/niv2011_comparison/. This site has a comparison of the full texts of the 1984 NIV, 2005 TNIV and 2010 NIV organized book-by-book and verse-by-verse.
I believe the 2011 NIV is a major improvement to the 1978/1984 NIV that incorporates the majority of the scholarly and gender language changes of the TNIV. I pray that it will be embraced by readers of the English Bible, egalitarian and hierarchicalists alike.
Note: I encountered the following posting earlier today and it makes a lot of sense. For those of you in churches, these will make sense. If you want to read more, visit Dave Rudd’s blog (link at the bottom).
Each of these “truths” about Michigan’s football program is somewhat true in many churches. I’ll leave it to you to connect the dots.
1. They want to apply yesterday’s solutions to today’s problems.
- Hiring a “Michigan Man” seems to be the number one priority of most Michigan fans. No one seems to care about hiring the “Right Man.”
2. They think it’s important to make sure the “important” people get what they want.
- It seems to me that everything about UofM coaching decisions, from firing Rich Rod to hiring whomever, has been driven first and foremost by making the right people happy.
3. They aren’t willing to pay the steep price for healthy change.
- Rich Rod probably would have turned the program around had he been given more time and not been resisted from day one. And his forward approach probably would have set them up for the future better than anyone would have anticipated. But even though he turned in progressively better seasons each year, no one was willing to pay the price.
4. They’re stuck in the past.
- Bo Schembechler’s style of football wouldn’t work today. Tressel would own him also if he didn’t change. Anybody know why Joe Paterno continues to be so successful? BECAUSE HE CHANGED!
5. The program is being destroyed by “factions”.
- Too many different groups have too many different ideas about the direction of the program. No one is willing to be flexible, and no one is willing to give anyone else freedom to set a direction. No one is willing to submit their own will to the wisdom of another person.
Almighty and merciful God, it is only by your gift that your faithful people offer you true and laudable service: Grant that we may run without stumbling to obtain your heavenly promises; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.