America, the Land of Liberty


Everywhere we look these days it seems like there is someone else screaming about the injustices of the United States.
  • We were terrible to the blacks
  • We were terrible to the native Americans 
  • We were terrible to the poor
  • We were terrible to the Chinese 

Turns out Columbus was a bad person. So was, the way many tell it today, Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln. Oh forget it! It’s useless trying to name all the scum that has surfaced in the history of the US.

But I listened to the final episode of a podcast called Revolutions. The host did not publicly note the significance of this, but he did remark that, in 1848, at the bitter end of all the world revolutions of that year, all of those failed revolutionaries fled for their lives to, you guessed it, the United States.

Truth be told they weren’t the only ones making their way to America. They came from Spain, France, Russia, Ireland, Germany. Name the place, name the culture, name the race, creed or religion and you will find people from them who came here for a better life. Did it work out for everyone? Of course not. Success in life is not guaranteed by governments, no matter how beneficent. But they did come and they did have a chance, and many more of them than not did improve their place over where they had been.

No one has ever claimed the earliest people in our country were perfect. But I for one am thankful for the country they created and I am thankful to be a part of it.

“I pledge allegiance to the flag
Of the United States of America
And to the Republic for which it stands
One nation under God, indivisible 
With liberty and justice for all”

Marvin McKenzie
In the fields

Predisposed Faith

I read a piece the other day where the author said that, though he believes in God, he understands that for those who don’t believe to use the truth of the Bible as a basis of proof or an evidence of fact automatically shuts them off. He therefore chooses not to reference God or the Bible in conversation with those people. 

To his article someone commented something along the nature of, “I don’t mind someone claiming to believe in God. What shuts me down is when they insist upon believing something in the Bible that has been scientifically proven false.”
Here’s the thing, there is nothing in the Bible that has ever been scientifically proven to be false. 

Nothing in academia, outside of mathematics and some mechanical sciences has been proven true.{1} Nothing
  • Not archeologically 
  • Not anthropologically
  • Not historically 

Nothing 

Not even evolution. Though evolution is almost universally accepted in the scientific community there is a great deal of disagreement in evolutionary theory. That is, as much as the atheist and agnostic hates to admit it, because there is no scientific proof for it. No one has ever observed or replicated an evolutionary process. 

Fact is, there is far more scientific evidence of the truthfulness of the Bible. The agnostic and atheist either refuses to accept the evidence or else, the thing that is much more common, they are ignorant of the evidence, choosing to listen to the theories of others rather than to search answers for themselves. 


To believe or disbelieve are both acts of faith. One faith is predisposed to accept those parts of the Word of God that has not been proven because God has proven Himself so many times before. The other faith is predisposed to disbelieve all of the Bible, most likely because they do not like the consequences of the reality of a living God. 

[1}  I’m sharing the link to an episode of Stuff You Missed in History Class today. This episode features Mohenjo Daro, an ancient city in the Indus river valley of modern day Pakistan. The entire program is fascinating but I chose to link it here specifically for the quote they give at the end of the show by George F. Dales in which are these words, “It is not uncommon to discover that yesterday’s fact is one of today’s discarded theories.”
Check it out at, https://www.missedinhistory.com/podcasts/mohenjo-daro.htm

Trouble With Baptist History

When the Baptists in England first won the toleration of the government they quickly began to position themselves as mainstream Christians and gain more than toleration. They wanted respect and the approbation of their neighbors. 

Among their efforts to gain this new position were:
A strongly Calvinistic doctrinal statement.
It made them sound like not much more than immersing Presbyterians
A denial of any connection with Anabaptists, especially those of the continent.
English Baptists, along with most of the British Isles, had a distasteful view of the Anabaptists. It seems obvious to me that their view was because of the tainted representation they had received from the Catholics and more recently the continental
Protestants who had long experience with them. Theirs was almost a cultural disgust of the Anabaptists. They had refused to accept the authority of the baptisms of the Catholic and Protestant churches for centuries. That they had always existed was not contested. What was contested was whether they were a unifying factor within all of Christendom. Anabaptists had always been schismatic in their view, insisting on a different sort of church than mainstream Christianity had ever held. Anabaptists had also been noted for their insistence on a different sort of Christianity. They preached a converting kind of faith. They preached that those who were believers were to be born again and that this new birth would result in a growing sanctification and a life of purity. This tenacious distinction between the Anabaptists and the catholic church, whether the Roman version or the Protestant one, had given the world of Christendom a bad taste for the Anabaptists.

Today we still find that this bad taste exists. 
Oftentimes in the writings of those who still dislike them and their history, choosing to believe that they were never a genuine form of Christian faith, frequently by those who would like to know our Baptist roots but find that the Anabaptists were not just like we wished them to be. I find that many modern Baptists, even those who claim to trace their roots back through the Anabaptists have a limited view of who the Anabaptists were. A lot of the reason is because it is a lot of work to read primary and secondary sources to discover as much as is possible about them. Most of us only know what we have read in summary type works like that of Robert Sergeant, Phil Stringer and others like them. 
Books of this nature, while giving us a general outline of Baptist History, don’t allow us to tackle some of the more challenging problems with Anabaptist history. When we do delve into the works of those whose work provides some detail we come face to face with the hard to swallow truth that
One, we are not much like most of them
Two, they were broadly different among themselves

This is readily understandable:
  • They had no common way to be trained
  • They generally only had portions of the New Testament
  • They believed strongly in soul liberty - the right and responsibility of each believer to study the Scriptures and worship God according to the dictates of his or her own conscience


Our true heritage from the ancient Anabaptists is not really a set of doctrinal distinctives, although those distinctives , in a general way exist; what we inherited from our Anabaptist forefathers is
  • A conviction that Christ alone saves through faith alone
  • A conviction that the Bible is true, without error and profitable in every Word
  • A conviction that the gates of hell have not prevailed against the Church Jesus built and
  • A conviction that each human being must be given the liberty to know the Scriptures and stand before God as he or she believes the Bible tells them to.
Marvin McKenzie
In the Fields

Many Americans Prefer A ‘Higher Power’ To The God Of The Bible

A recent article in Huffington Post is entitled, "Many Americans Prefer A ‘Higher Power’ To The God Of The Bible, Study Finds." 

It goes on to say that only 10 percent of Americans do not believe in some sort of spiritual force. It’s just that they don’t want to believe He is the God who is described in the Bible.  

Many of those who reject the God of the Bible have an incorrect understanding of who God is. Some of them have rejected not the God of the Bible but a misunderstanding of the God of the Bible. Some have not rejected the God of the Bible but their own perceived terms of how a person comes to know that God. 

The article claims that this belief in something bigger exists even among atheists agnostics and “nothing in particulars.” (I kid you not. That is the title of this third group. Pew Research has labeled them, “Nones.”) They believe in a higher power but “a new study from the Pew Research Center shows that for a significant number of Americans, “God” is not the God of the Bible.”
Here is the thing. None of them can provide any evidence for what they believe. The God of the Bible, on the other hand, has provided that evidence in the Bible and proven it to be true through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. There is so much intrinsic and extrinsic evidence that the record of the Bible is true that it requires far more faith to discount it than to believe it. The key to all of this is that faith is something passed to us. We don’t just have it. 

The faith of the born again Christian was given to Him by God

The faith of the atheist, agnostic and “nothing in particular” - he got his faith from - “nothing in particular.”



A Crabby Perspective


A friend of mine recently gave me this illustration. He said he was out fishing for crabs and needed a bucket. He couldn’t find one with a lid but the guy he was going crabbing with told him, “ You won’t need a lid. Crabs are losers. “ He promised he would see what he meant once they got their first crabs. Sure enough he said, they were losers. As soon as a crab started to climb out of the bucket another crab would pull him back down. 

The illustration has obvious lessons doesn’t it? Don’t let the people we hang around pull us down. 

But those lessons depend on one huge presupposition, that being in the bucket is a bad thing. Admittedly, it seems bad. The crab is going to get cooked and eaten if he stays in the bucket. That sounds bad except that I believe he was created for that very purpose. Perhaps his crabby friends are only helping him fulfill one of the chief reasons for his existence. 
I understand the analogy and even agree with it. But I do see another lesson from a different perspective. We need people in our lives who help us fulfill the purpose for which God created us. The corrupted nature of man constantly strives to climb out of the will of God and make themselves something God never intended, to be their own gods, the masters of their own destiny. Thank God for those people who remind us to stay in the will of God. 

In this respect I see a few buckets a person is best to stay in:
Marriage
God has designed marriage to be one man and one woman for a lifetime. There are numerous temptations that make us seem like this bucket is small, confining and maybe dragging us down. We need friends to keep us in our bucket. 

Work
If a man won’t work neither should he eat. We would like to rationalize that to refer to the ne’er do well. The man who climbs his way to financial independence or works his way to an early and prosperous retirement must be excluded, right? I am not so sure. To become financially able to serve God more freely is certainly advisable. To become free enough to spend time and money in a vacation for the rest of one’s life would be a terrible waste of God’s will. 

Church 
It is impossible to put a group of people into a tight community like a church without some disagreements and disputes. The devil would love to convince the Christian that he could do better without the confinements of the local church. The matter of fact is that God created that church specifically to provoke us to love and Good works. Someone needs to keep pulling us into the unity of the local church. 

I’m not criticizing the first application of the illustration. We would do best to avoid friendships that pull us down into sin. But the friend who keeps us in the will of God is no loser. 

Our Nation's Flag at Half Mast

Our nation's flag is at half mast today — an action meant to recognize the useless violence upon the victims and families of the Las Vegas shooting.
These were innocents. Moms, Dads, Sons, Daughters, Brothers and Sisters murdered for - whatever the reason, it is no good reason.
Details are sparse at this early hour. We have no clue why or how a man was able to gather a collection of guns into a high rise hotel room where he killed fifty eight and injured another five hundred fifteen that we have knowledge of so far before turning the gun on himself.
Police, FBI and Homeland Security will investigate. They will do their best to find out why he did what he did, how he did what he did and what we might do to prevent such acts in the future.
For now all we can do is pray for those in the hospital and the families of those who have died. Our President, in a speech given shortly after the shootings, offered words of Bible and of comfort for the victims. He did one other thing - he ordered the flag representing our nation to be flown at half mast.
This is why refusal to stand at our national anthem is such a wicked thing. This is why it is not an issue of free speech or a statement of moral injustice. This is why Americans have reacted so negatively to the movement of disrespect.
This flag represents - us.
It represents those who have gone before us. Those who left home and loved ones to create a new home is this land. Those who dreamed of a new kind of government, one built on the principle that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights. Those who fought and died for that new government. Those who brought it into being. Those who forged the Constitution and the Bill of Rights
It represents the soldiers. Men and women who, for these two hundred forty-one years, have defended those principles. It represents the law enforcement personnel, the legislative, judicial and executive branches of our country who have made it to function.
More than that, it represents - us.
Common Americans who live and work right here - in the United States of America . Christians and non-Christians alike who get educated, get jobs, get married and raise kids, grow old, and die.
When we salute the flag we give honor not merely to the principles America was built upon but the people America is composed of.


Did the Devil Do it?

When my oldest son was very young he did something to get himself in trouble. After his discipline he grew agitated and told me he was mad at the devil for making him do that thing he was in trouble for. I responded by sternly as I recall telling him not blame the devil for that. He had done this thing all in his own. 

A couple of weeks ago I reached out to a preacher friend I knew was facing a trial. I merely said I was praying for him and expressed the sentiment "May God be glorified." He responded to me that people are too quick to give the devil credit for hardships. He believed trials were of God and he was determined only to acknowledge God in his trouble. 

So does the devil do anything or not? Is it God who sovereignly oversees all things so that even trouble is of the Lord?

The answer is yes and yes 
  • Yes, the devil does attack, harass, harangue, oppress and try to discourage us
  • Yes, the Lord oversees every facet, every aspect of our lives. Nothing happens except that: 
  • God knows, 
  • God allows and 
  • God uses it in His plan

Whether we see the devil in it or the Lord is most often a matter of perspective. It is generally, I think, healthier to attribute all things to God and to trust that He has our best at heart. But there are times when, for whatever reason, we best focus on Satan and give him a sober eye. 


I doubt we ever do well to criticize those who see some circumstance from the opposite perspective as we. Likely there is truth in both perspectives. We would do better to consider the other's perspective so we see the whole picture. 

America, the Land of Liberty

Everywhere we look these days it seems like there is someone else screaming about the injustices of the United States. We were terri...