Friday, May 30, 2014

Encouragement to Warriors

I recently heard a clip of the president's commencement speech to the graduates of Westpoint.  I must say that I was more than disappointed, but in a state of disgusted shock. 
Politics is a dirty business, and I don't like to discuss politics because no one has ever been argued into a political point of view or the Kingdom of God!  Proverbs 18:19  As I rolled the speech in my mind I thought to myself:

   If I were the commencement speaker what would I tell the West pointers?

So, this is what I would say:

ladies, Gentlemen, Graduates ....... officers
You represent the finest of the United States military.  A tradition which goes back to the sacred historical beginnings of our republic.  The finest officers that the Army has had  come from these halls.  With this commencement, you will enter active duty, and start a new phase, which is some ways is similar to where you have come from . . .at the bottom of the officers totem pole.  Some of you will serve your required time and return to civillian life, others will have a good army career and others will continue to retirement and help shift and steer where our military goes beyond our years.  

I am only here with you today (as president) and will soon be a wistful memory.  We are both servants of our beloved country and owe it a debt to serve.  But beyond that what do you really owe?  there is a debt to fulfill your Army commitment, and also a debt to the traditions which now live in you as West pointers.  You owe your Country, West Point and most importantly yourself!  You owe yourself the debt to be strong in adversity, humble in learning and proficient in leadership remembering always the humility of serving through leadership.

Remember who you owe:

Your Traditions
Your Country

Fight on Warriors!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Memorial Day

One of the things I strive for on my blog is to give heed to traditions and where they come from.  I believe that in both Religious and secular life, traditions are similar to a binding force or better stated a beehive.  I prefer the  beehive analogy because it gives us a structure, contributes to nature and is sweet to the taste.  It even enlightens the eyes (of the mind and spirit as well as the physical eyes).  However; the down side is, that if you step out of line with traditions or try to disrupt and destroy them, just like a beehive you will get swarmed with angry defenders of the colony!

We find the roots of our American Memorial day starting after the Civil war.  Incidentally, the American Civil war still ranks as the war with the most American casualties of any conflict.  Originally called remembrance day, it was a day to decorate the graves of the dead from that war.  Later, it has been used to remember all that were once with us.
Tragic Prelude by John Steuart Curry: Original in the Capital in Topeka, Kansas

I understand that in Asian culture (Specifically as I know Japanese and Korean culture)  the aged are respected and the dead are venerated.  Some cultures will even pray to dead ancestors.  As odd as this seems, there is a similar Catholic tradition; that being the communion of the Saints.  When we recognize the contribution and influence that our ancestors had on shaping our present world, it doesn't seem that the East and West are too far apart in some philosophical perspectives!  the American Civil War shaped this country in many ways.  Some were good (Abolition and equal rights for all) and others bad (Jim Crow laws and ambivalence to our fellow brothers and sisters politically and ideologically).

In the final result, as far as today is concerned, we shouldn't judge the people of the past too harshly, and definitely not to 21st century standards.

We cannot change the past, we can only learn from it and be the best we can be today.

Honor our heroes of war and our loved ones who have died.  Remember the legacy that they have left us as one people: Americans!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Biblical Church Part 7

We were discussing Doctrines last time.  So, how does Doctrine affect the church?

How does this affect the Church?
The list i shared last time is meant as a guide and not all inclusive.  I have seen churches get hung up on their favorite version of the Bible, others on a dress code, and others on music, and one in particular was hung up on Church governments that can vote a pastor out of a church. (Oh, I have deep psychological scars from that one!!)

In the Christian church, there arises a problem that is well seen from the outside.  That is division.  Sometimes there may be slight differences in belief, but as time between the generations and  traditions progress, a divide grows between how a church movement started and where it is today.   From my observation,, it appears that the church founders prayed and trusted God that future generations (If they were trained correctly) would seek God and make the best decisions.  One reason why we have so many different branches in the protestant faith was the Protestant reformation starting in Europe in 1517. Geographical and cultural barriers segregated the European Protestants for the most part.   In the last 200 years we see that the closer to the break with the Catholic church, the more traditional and ritualistic some denominations tend to be.  Other differences today are caused by disagreements, wars and just plain old sin.  A more important reason for divisions is the fact that people forget about Jesus.  With Jesus Christ at the center, we have love, control, and sound judgment; or we should have. St Paul spent most of the first Epistle to the Corinthians dealing with divisions and calling their attention to real love!

A view of where some of the branches of Protestantism came from

I once heard a story about how two Baptist ministers were discussing the beginnings of the Baptist church.  One said ti started with John the Baptist.  The other minister stated “No do you remember when Abram and Lot argued about the land before them and they parted ways? . .  . that was the beginning of the Baptist church”  Yes, that is a joke that is better understood by Baptists but it makes a point. Divisions over trivial things and the natural human propensity to drift away have made the church, to outsiders, a place of hypocrisy and division.   I have seen a lot of division over small doctrines that were constantly brought up, then covered over with statements like “… well The Bible says”  or “…I'm’ just saying that . . “  or “Well, those that are perfect in Love nothing shall offend them”  A lot of scriptures can be thrown out in a conversation that are true but out of context.  Even when the intent is well meaning, the wisdom seems to be gone!  Some of the arguments seemed to create a moral higher ground for one party and a way of making another group conform.  Some doctrines are highly damaging to the church, such as the belief that we may live in a life of habitual sin, even to the point of no return and still be Biblically right.  I cannot support this doctrine due to the overwhelming amount of evidence in the Bible that says to do!  The extreme of this would be that we must live a life of such sanctification that we behave and look so different that we drive people away.  I have seen both extremes.  It makes us look silly, spiritually bi-polar and disorganized before the world. We will probably never overcome our bias towards traditions, but the very least the church can do, as a whole, is get along, play nice and not bad mouth another church.

Your Brother in Christ
And  Senpai in Karate 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Biblical Church Part 6: Doctrines

This week I would like to look at the tangible things that make up the Biblical Church.
                                          Doctrine   -   Outreach   -   Education

When the word doctrine is used, it almost sounds odd, but in this post I would like to discuss three things:
  • What is doctrine
  • Why is it important
  • How does it affect the church

The Theologian D.C Hodge once stated:  “Let no man think error in doctrine a slight practical evil”   Doctrine is a word that many have heard, but can be often misinterpreted.  A definition I was given in Bible College, by an older minister with a heavy South Dakota accent told us “Brothers… if you remember nothing else, remember that Doctrine, simply put, means teaching”.
These are not just any teachings, because post-modern America is rife with cults and movements that take one Bible verse and use it out of context for reasons other than true faith.  The teachings we speak of are those revealed in the divinely inspired word of God (The Bible).  Now it is easy to say that anything that men put together is a doctrine, and that may be true to some extent;  But interpretation and doctrine are not the same thing.

And now we enter into the mind field of semantics!

Doctrines, as I stated are divinely inspired truths in the Bible.  These are the things that there is an abundant amount of evidence in the Bible to support. 
These doctrines can be:
  1. Spelled out literally IE thou shalt not....
  2. An Example  "... I rise early to meditate on thy precepts"
  3. By inference  ". . .  “Nadab and Abihu offered strange fire”

Why is it important

An illustration I read compares doctrines in a church to the course and direction that a ship is sailing in.  A ship with a clear objective and course will result in a crew that is active and disciplined to reach a destination, compared to a ship that is drifting with no course or objective.  If we consider that I stated in my first article that love keeps a church bound together, then let us think of that glue as the caulking and joints on the ship that keep it together, and doctrines as the course. These teachings define who we are, what we believe among us, and what we intend to teach and pass on to the future generations to continue the work of God.   
There are certain fundamental teachings (doctrines) that all Christian churches should believe in.  I do not claim that this is an exhaustive list, but here we go:

  •  The Bible is the absolute Word of God
  •  God is sovereign
  •  Jesus is the Only-begotten Son of God
  •  The Trinity
  •  Salvation in Jesus alone
  •  We should become more Christ like as we progress through life
 Tomorrow, I would like to finish this article and discuss how it affects the church
Your Brother in Christ
And  Senpai in Karate