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The Founder's Backbone

Not too long ago I was struck by two incidents that measured how we as a culture are increasingly losing the mettle to stand for our convictions.

 

The newly crowned Miss USA was asked if she believed that health care was a privilege or a right. She was also asked if she were a feminist. Her answers were contrary to the power of the new beast in our culture and within 24 hours she was forced to bow the knee and recant.

 

A West Point graduate, Army flight surgeon and war hero was nominated to be the Secretary of the Army. Shortly thereafter, the beast forced him to withdraw because of his stated beliefs. In this case, he didn’t recant, but it is becoming clearer that we are entering a period in which convictions contrary to the beast’s are going to come under fierce attack and possibly disqualify one for significant positions in our culture and even inhibit the commercial right to buy and sell.

 

Thankfully, the founders weren’t so squeamish. Thankfully, they had a backbone.

 

Fifty-six men signed the Declaration of Independence, which we celebrate today. The beast in their day was the mighty power of King George and his supreme army and navy. Though the founders believed in their convictions, they knew that the beast would consider it treason, the penalty for which was death. This provided for a most somber and solemn pause in the assembly. It was in the gravity of that moment that Benjamin Franklin quipped something like: “Well gentlemen, we must all hang together or most assuredly we will all hang separately.”

There was no doubt in their minds that to stand up to the beast would prove costly. And cost them it did.

Of the fifty-six, five were captured, tortured and put to death. Twelve had their homes burned down. Two lost sons. Nine died in the ensuing war with the beast. Carter Braxton signed as a wealthy trader and died in rags. Thomas McKeam and his family were driven underground and ended up in poverty. Eight had their properties looted. Thomas Nelson directed the cannon fire on his own beautiful estate, which the British General Cornwallis had converted into his headquarters. After destroying his own home, he died bankrupt. Francis Lewis’ home and property were destroyed and his wife captured and thrown in prison where she died. His son died in British captivity as well. A few months after signing, John Hart was driven from his home where his wife lay dying. He was hunted and hid in caves only to finally return to find his fields and grist mill laid to waste, his wife dead and his thirteen children gone. He died shortly thereafter of exhaustion and a broken heart. Richard Stockton died a broken man after being betrayed by a loyalist, imprisoned, and beaten, returning eventually to find his home gutted. Only days after signing, Lewis Morris found his 2,000-acre farm ravaged, his cattle butchered and his family driven away. Similarly, Arthur Middleton, Edward Rutledge and Thomas Heyward were captured while their estates were burned to the ground. Heyward’s wife died, watching it all.

 

These men had backbones. They did not recant. They did not retreat. They pledged their “lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor” so that a nation built on new foundations might provide liberty to its people. They lost their lives and their fortunes, but not their sacred honor.

 

Today we fight a new beast. Do we have the same resolve? Are we willing to pledge our lives and fortunes, our sacred honor? Or will we capitulate, bow the knee and take the easy road?

This week, the beast was attempting to force a university in Oklahoma to bow the knee and remove the crosses and Bibles from its chapel. In Denver a baker still battles the beast over his Christian convictions. No question, the beast is huge, his claws are sharp, his teeth are lethal.

But so, too, was King George.

Do we have the backbone to stand?

The Remnant remains for a reason.

 


0 19

The True State of Our Union

Our President will offer, on Tuesday, his State of the Union address. However, it will most likely not be a true state of our nation, but rather another political posturing speech, just like we have heard for years, from both Republicans and Democrats. This is unfortunate, for our nation needs a true, honest assessment of where we are as a culture. It is in that spirit I offer my humble perspective. This is what I would wish for the President to say as he stands before Congress and the American people:

...

To the people of this great country, I offer to you my honest assessment of the state of our nation…and it is not good.

We are greatly blessed in America. We have abundant resources, rich farmland, and beauty beyond description: from the Grand Canyon to our waterfalls, from our mountains to our coastlands. We have been blessed with great people: people who have come here from all the nations of the earth, seeking the American dream. They have been hard working, good people, courageous in the face of trials and heroic in the face of enemies.

We have been blessed with more than we can enumerate. And, I suppose, the Hollywood and political style would have us gush and fawn over each other in our lofty positions and applaud all kinds of supposed accomplishments as if these blessings come from our own making. It would be in keeping with most of our recent State of the Union addresses to therefore give you a long list of all the grand things that the Federal government needs to do for the American people and to smile and look into the camera and assure them that we are taking good care of them...and things are going quite well.

But they are not.

We are not healthy…

Nor are we strong.

In fact, I believe we are now, more than ever before in the life of this nation, vulnerable to destruction.

This has not come as the result of an external power or force. It has not come from our current war with terrorism.

I do not speak of our military might, but I speak of the state of this nation’s soul.

We hang over a perilous ledge…at best, we are sliding into an insignificant oblivion.

We are in a state of decay…we are rotting away from within.

We have succumbed to a deep selfishness. It is eating away at our character, our strength and our core like an aggressive, unchecked cancer.

Despite all the current cries for secularization, we were founded with a clear belief that the health of this nation would rest upon two foundations: religion and morality[1]. This was not to be understood that religious particulars would be legislated, but that we, as a nation, recognized the fundamental existence of God and His declaration of things that were right and things that were wrong, and that the citizenry would then govern themselves according to those transcendent laws. It was this self-government that allowed for a minimum of civil-government and therefore a maximum of personal freedom…freedom to work hard and to enjoy the fruit of one’s labor…to use that fruit and selfless efforts to raise a family and to aid one’s neighbor in distress.

This was the American dream.

In our great foolishness, we have now discarded those foundations.

We have traded self-government for self-indulgence. We have traded transcendent Truth for self-centered identity and self-centered lust. The desires of the heart now trump any notion of divine righteousness.

We have tossed aside these critical Foundations…Foundations that for years sustained and propelled us into being the greatest nation in the world. Now we chase the mirage and illusion of self-gratification and false notions that right and wrong are determined by the individual…by man himself. And these false notions are now supported and propagated by all the centers of influence in our culture: Hollywood, media, academia and even the President, the Supreme Court and Congress.

And, as with every lie and deceit, its promises are false. Instead of selfishness bringing us happiness and pleasure, it reaps us strife and groaning. In the end, a self-centered culture is a hateful and violent culture…a culture seething with the seeds of its own destruction.

Our cities teeter on the brink of bursting into riots and flames. We can no longer stroll safely at night on our streets. Our families are no longer secure in their homes. Our children are no longer safe in their schools.

Our pursuit of selfishness and hedonism has brought the true state of our nation to one that is filled with violence.

We lead the world in crime. We commit approximately 10 million crimes every year…nearly 26,000 every day[2]. No other nation comes close to us.

Every day we murder 40 people and rape 320[3].

As such, we also lead the world in incarcerations. Of all the prisoners in the world, we account for 25% of them. Our prisons are overflowing[4].

The backbone of our culture, our families, are in serious trouble.

For every 7 marriages this year, there will be nearly 4 divorces.[5] And when we have babies, fewer are within the security and nourishment of a mother and father. Half of our first babies are born to unwed mothers; a third of our children live without a father[6]; if you are a black baby conceived in this nation, the odds are greater that you will be aborted than that you will be born alive[7]. Since 1973, we have killed 55 million of our babies, about a million a year, and we abort more of our offspring every single day than the terrorists murdered in the World Trade towers on 9/11[8].

The true state of our Union should cause us to weep.

We lead the world in producing pornography. 90% of the world’s pornography comes from our nation[9]. We are sexually addicted and obsessed. Our movies and music and media are awash in what was once considered sinful and vile.

The state of our nation is truly shameful.

We have lost our sense of morality and it is costing us dearly. Try to imagine this next statistic: in one year, we will contract 20 million sexually transmitted infections. That’s 54,000 people infected every day…a fourth of them are teenagers.[10] This is well beyond a level that we should label as an epidemic and plague—but we don’t speak of these things because it would dampen our lust for sexual freedom and reduce ticket sales at the theater.

We are the world’s leading user of illegal drugs[11]. Approximately one in ten of us is addicted to alcohol or drugs[12]. Every day, our drinking and driving snuffs out the lives of 28 human beings[13]. We spend $50 billion federal dollars every year fighting illegal drugs while we spend $100 billion a year using them[14].

We are a nation of self-centered addicts.

Our drug and alcohol addictions lead the world, but they are nothing compared to the astounding percentage of our people who have sexual addictions…people who are addicted to pornography or addicted to gambling or video games or other pathologies that have a death grip upon us, destroying our lives, our families and our fruitfulness.

This, too, is a national epidemic.

We are sinking fast into mental numbness and dumbness as well. Out of the top 22 developed countries, our upcoming millennial generation ranks dead last in math, dead last in problem solving, and near dead last in literacy. This is a continual decline over decades. After four years of college, our Millennials score no better than high school seniors in Japan or Finland or the Netherlands. Researchers call our Millennial scores “abysmal”[15].

Instead, our teens consume nearly 9 hours a day of entertainment on smartphones or TV[16]. By the time they are 18, our children will have witnessed approximately 400,000 murders on TV and by the age of 21, they will have spent 10,000 hours playing video games[17].

Even the future state of our nation does not look promising.

We adults aren’t much different. We average nearly 6 hours a day in front of the television…a big screen TV that is most likely on a credit card. Our personal consumer debt is over $2.5 trillion. The average family owes $16,000 in credit card debt. Our students owe $1.3 trillion in school loans[18].

But the biggest runaway spending is found in Washington.

The Federal debt is beyond imagination. Our debt has gone from $7.3 trillion in 2004 to over $18.8 trillion today with no sign of slowing down. This debt is now higher than our GDP—the total of ALL the goods and services produced in our country. We pay almost $230 billion a year in interest on that debt. The debt load on every taxpayer in America is now over $157,000[19].

But, in reality, the $18.8 trillion debt is a phony number. The real debt is found in our unfunded obligations, obligations to pay things in the future like Social Security and Medicare. This is the real debt of our nation. We currently have unfunded liabilities that total over $100 trillion dollars….a debt load of $1 million dollars for every taxpayer in our nation[20]. It is more than the total of the ENTIRE world’s output. This debt is beyond understanding. It is a house of cards awaiting a puff of wind to blow it down.

Are we so blind that we cannot see any of this?

Despite the political posturing, we have fewer people in the workforce today than in 2000. We play with numbers to keep a respectable unemployment figure by moving millions of people into a growing pool of what we call “not in the labor force”…currently over 90 million[21], but the reality is that many of them are of working age who desire to be employed full-time but the jobs are not there. That may partially come from the fact that we also have the largest trade deficit in the entire world[22] and that our high corporate tax rate is causing businesses and jobs to move to other countries[23].

All of this is transforming our nation into an ever-increasing welfare state. Over half of our people receive redistribution benefits from the Federal government. Few Americans are saving wisely and 76% of our people are living paycheck to paycheck, which means over three-fourths of our nation are loaded with debt and are one paycheck away from financial disaster.[24]

How can we be so foolish?

We are increasingly becoming a nation of dependents and wards of the State. We are becoming slaves to a Federal Beast that grows without restraint.

The power and reach of the Federal government has become unrecognizable by our founding standards. The President and Supreme Court craft laws in defiance of the Constitution. The President thumbs his nose at the Constitution’s requirement to get Senate approval for foreign treaties. [I can guarantee that the President’s State of the Union that will be delivered Tuesday will be filled with political posturing, back patting, and that everything proposed will lead to a larger and more powerful Federal Beast. And in so doing, our people will descend deeper and deeper into dependent wards, and with it, our productivity will continue to shrivel and dry up.]

And in all of this, we simply turn a blind eye and go back to our TVs and smartphones…because we are addicted to our self-centeredness.

Our military has increasingly been stripped of any notion of Absolute truth…a military that was once feared by enemies, but cheered by the liberated French. Why? Because they carried a belief in an absolute moral foundation. No longer. Our military academies and military services have become a playground for social policies and political correctness and there is growing list of incidents that are creating a very “hostile” environment for the religious freedom of military members in order to crush the notion of Transcendent Truth....leaving only "State" truth.[25]

Nothing should frighten us more than to think that we would desire to build a military or police force that believes truth lies within their own heart or within whatever orders are handed down from the State…that might is what makes right.

We have an enemy that has attacked our homeland and yet we are too squeamish to label the worldview behind it. We cannot bring ourselves to acknowledge the existence of evil nor the existence of sin because to do so is to acknowledge a Transcendent truth that exists beyond our self-centered fantasy. Instead, we look for environmental causes of evil behavior and point a finger at guns while we ignore the violence and sex and hedonism in our movies and music. Hollywood or the media is never held accountable, nor the educational system or public policies that continue to destroy our families and our culture.

And we are back to the heart of the issue.

For the true State of the Union lies here, in the selfish casting off of the Transcendent for the temporary; seeking our hedonistic pleasure for today while selling our souls and our future.

Do not be fooled. Selfishness eventually spawns hatred and violence. If you do not affirm me, I will spew such animosity toward you that you will be swept away with its fury. If you do not bake me an affirming cake, we will destroy your bakery. If you do not take affirming photographs, we will destroy your studio. If you do not allow a man who identifies as female to use the women’s restroom, the state of Washington will now shut down your business. If you do not affirm my self-selected gender identity with the proper pronoun, New York will now prosecute and fine you a quarter of a million dollars.

Our selfishness has reached the level of stark absurdity…backed by legal and political tyranny.

Somewhere in all of this, the founding generation must be shaking their heads in disbelief at what is happening to this nation. Our selfishness and rejection of absolute Truth is sucking us into a monstrous whirlpool that leads downward to utter darkness.

We are committing cultural and national suicide and yet we continue to affirm and gush over each other and party while the nation crumbles beneath our feet.

Does anyone care enough to fight this?

Does anyone care enough to stand?...to stand for what is right…for what is true…for what is good?

The Governors of the States must stand against the tyranny of the Federal Beast, but it must be the people who will stand and say no to the path that we tread. For the true State of the Union, which hangs by a thread, can be changed only if the people demand a change.

But the change must begin within.

If we continue to pursue our pleasure and entertainment, if we continue to abdicate our responsibility for the health of our families and this nation, if we continue to allow Hollywood and academia and the media and the Government to lead us down this path, then we, as a nation, are going to die. And the death may come in a night…it may come so swiftly that the world will stand in awe at our downfall.

But health will not come over night. We live in a fallen world where you catch diseases quickly, but you don’t catch health. You can fall and break a bone instantly, but healing it takes a lot of time. If we are to regain our health, if we are to restore what is broken, it will require the courage and strength and long-term commitment of the people…if we still have the character to do so. It will come by first falling to our knees in repentance before the God who made us…the God who gave us a land flowing with milk and honey…the God who has sustained us through war and countless trials…the God before whom we now stand and shake our fist in His face. It will come by an examination of our personal lives and the pathologies that infest our social systems. It will come by both individual and national commitments to that which is True. And it will come by a sustained walk of turning back to the God to whom we owe all things…to the God who can reduce us to rubble with one puff of His breath.

And if we do not, may God have mercy on us and our children.

...

Though the state of our Union is perilous, Remnant, there is a reason why we remain. It is for this time that we have been preserved. May we stand for Truth in the times in which we live.

Pray, dear Remnant, for repentance, Tuesdays, noon eastern.

 

[3] ibid


0 19

Good Friday: Vilifying the Good

In the new release “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” we will be treated with one of our culture’s common threads: vilify all things good.

In the movie, the delightful tradition of a “hero” is once again sacrificed in an attempt to destroy the notion that there is anything truly transcendent…all appearances of good are tainted with evil. We have a penchant for turning heroes into men of shame; sowing seeds of doubt about the righteous warrior; making us suspicious of the saint; dubious of the honorable knight.

This is the enemy’s playground. The world, the flesh, the enemy, and the gravitational pull of a fallen world will continually attempt to make us think that truth and good and honorable and righteous and faith and love and virtue and honor and valor and even male chivalry are to be suspect, to be doubted, to be viewed with skepticism, sensing some selfish and evil agenda hidden behind the veil.

  • All cops are corrupt no matter how much good they do.
  • Pastors are all con men especially when they smile.
  • Corporations and CEOs are cheating scumbags.
  • Politicians are all con men.
  • Men are deceitful buffoons.
  • Christians and Christianity is hateful, homophobic and racist.
  • Absolute truth is an intolerant and bigoted notion.

The attack upon good is not new.

Satan convinced Eve that God was oppressive.

Elijah was charged with “troubling Israel”.

Stephen was stoned; Daniel was thrown to the lions; Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were put in the furnace, Jeremiah in the stocks; John beheaded; David hunted; the Disciples martyred; the righteous tortured, mocked, imprisoned, stoned, sawn in two, put to the sword.

This is the lot of Right in a fallen world.

But never so much as when the Man of Righteousness was vilified. He was accused though He did no wrong; He was mocked though He was pure; He was scourged though He was perfect; He was crucified though He was blameless.

The world hates right; it hates good; it hates truth and true love; it hates purity and innocence; it hates the wonder of divine marriage; it hates the exclusivity of true sex and one God and absolute Truth.

We celebrate this day, not because we are sadistic, but because of the One who demonstrated true agape love for those who were His enemies. He did not revile, though He was reviled.

The hymn says “It was His love that kept Him there” and it was, for He could have called upon a legion of angels at least or He could have breathed out a word and wiped the entire universe out of existence.

But He didn’t.

And now His Remnant remain in a world that continues to hate what is right and good. It will continue to try to make Batman selfish and Superman vindictive. It will make us suspicious of cops and pastors and husbands and businessmen, not that they are without sin, but with the objective to destroy the design.

It will continually paint believers with all kinds of evil colors and charge us with increasing crimes of the cultural covenants.

But He was crucified and satisfied the wrath of God for us.

Yet the wrath of the world remains and we remain subject to it. But the wrath of the world is nothing compared to what we deserved.

So, we endure with perseverance, changing what can be changed, ever pursuing righteousness in all of life, yet recognizing that the wrath of man is not directed at us, but at Him and all things good.

“And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap, if we do not grow weary.” Galatians 6:9


0 6

Healer: Yahweh-Rapha

When we are sick, there is nothing we want more than to be restored to health. I can think of several times in my life when I was so sick (Lima, Peru and Cairo, Egypt) that I ashamedly admit I thought it would be better to die. That’s how “bad sick” it was. I can remember lying out in a field during pilot training after a bad parachute landing with my shoulder way out of joint. I thought I was going to die from the pain. I HOPED I would die from the pain!

But these are just physical ailments.

Much worse to be emotionally sick or spiritually sick and feel as if there is no way out. Increasingly, more people, especially young people, are seeking to “escape” life through suicide because they feel so emotionally sick (lonely, isolated, unloved, worthless) that death is the only way they think they can be “healed”. Others try to escape through alcohol or drugs or entertainment or any number of ways to attempt to numb the pain or mask the negative emotions that seem overwhelming at times, trying to pull us into a black hole.

Ah, but there is balm in Gilead. There is a great Physician… the God who heals.

If you were to tally up all of the miracles of Jesus and then classify them, by far the largest category would be His role of healing people. Here is one of the great understatements for which the Scripture is so famous:

“And Jesus was going about in all Galilee… healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people… and they brought to him all who were ill… and He healed them.” Matthew 4:23-24

Think about this: “every kind of disease and sickness … and He healed them”. Cancer? He healed it. Withered arms? Healed. Diabetes, hemorrhages, bad hearts, kidneys, gout, blindness, mute, deaf? All healed. Every kind of disease and sickness. Including the demoniacs… people who were physically, mentally and emotionally impaired due to a spiritual force. Healed by the Great Physician… Yahweh Rophe or Rapha, as it is more popularly known.

There are more than sixty references in the Scripture describing God as Yahweh-Rapha, the God who heals or restores. One of the early ones is in Exodus 15. Here is the back-story:

The children of Israel were in misery, slaves in Egypt until God intervened and restored them to freedom. God showed Himself mighty before their eyes, through the miracle of plagues, release from the captivity of a hard-hearted Pharaoh, crossing the Red Sea on dry ground, destroying Pharaoh’s army, and leading them with what must have been an eye-popping, jaw-dropping cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. No one has ever had more open, physical evidence of God’s miraculous desire and power to restore than did the Israelites.

But they soon started to grumble and complain.

They travelled through the desert of Shur for three days without water until finally coming to what was probably a set of springs, looking cold and delicious. But the water was bad, “bitter” as can be found in similar locations in Saudi Arabia today. And the hearts of the people then turned bitter too and they began to whine and complain, “grumbling against Moses”. So Moses went to the Lord and prayed and God gave Moses a medical “instrument”, a piece of wood, which he threw into the water and it was restored and became “sweet”. God then told them that if they would listen and follow Him, He would keep them from all the plagues He had brought upon the Egyptians, for He was their healer… literally, “for I am Yahweh-Rapha”, the first time this name of God is used. And it was Yahweh-Rapha who had Elisha use instruments of a jar and salt to purify the bad water in Jericho (2 Kings 2:21) and flour to cleanse the poisonous stew (2 Kings 4:41).

As I write this, we are praying that God will use the instruments of human physicians to heal our dear friend of cancer. We desire for this to happen now, but we know that all of those in Christ will be ultimately healed, in the day of restoration, when the God of Restoration, Yahweh-Rapha, will restore everything.

And, ultimately, the real healing that we need is not physical, for our deepest and most serious disease is spiritual. Jesus made this connection plain:

On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners. Mark 2:17

Through Jeremiah, God spoke of how the Israelites had an “incurable” wound, that there was “no healing for their sore” and their “injury” was serious. But He wasn’t speaking of a physical wound or sore, He was talking about their spiritual state:

“… your iniquity is great and your sins are numerous.” Jeremiah 30:14

After speaking of Judah’s rebellion, sin and iniquity, calling them evildoers, sons who act corruptly, abandoning the Lord, despising the Holy One of Israel, God says of them:

“The whole head is sick, and the whole heart is faint.” Isaiah 1:5

David cried for healing from the Lord, but it wasn’t for physical ailments:

I said, “Have mercy on me, Lord; heal me, for I have sinned against you.” Psalm 41:4

In Psalm 147:3, it is Yahweh-Rapha who “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

In one of the great passages concerning Christ’s work on our behalf, that He has healed us of our wounds… not physical wounds, but the spiritual sickness that would have separated us from God forever:

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

Many, unfortunately, misunderstand this passage and make it apply to our physical ailments, when it is so clearly speaking of Christ healing us of our transgressions and our iniquities. Nowhere are we promised, in this fallen world, to be free from its ubiquitous pull toward decay. But much of our maladies are caused by spiritual rebellion. It is here that we can find rest for our souls, if we would let go of our hold on the world and what it offers, and turn to Him. Every one of our negative emotions are birthed in our belief in the lie that if we can just get our own personal script fulfilled, we will be happy and content and pleasured. But the world around us continues to step on our scripts and sometimes just downright trashes them. As long as we desperately fight for our own scripts, we will be doomed to anger, disappointment and the host of dark emotions that follow.

Are you brokenhearted? Is your soul downcast? Does a darkness pervade you from within?

There is a balm in Gilead.

Do you feel lost and alone, isolated? Are you filled with dread and fear? Does guilt or bitterness eat at your heart?

Does your past weigh upon you so heavily that you can barely take another step? Are you sick with sorrow or despair?

Behold! Yahweh-Rapha, the God who heals!

Draw near to Him… gaze upon His face.

Do not neglect the instruments of healing that He has decreed for us. Meditate upon His Word; call upon Him in prayer; and do not forsake the deep fellowship of the saints.

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

 


0 6

Faithful

In 1936, a humble shepherd in Montana became ill and was taken to the hospital. His dog, Shep, refused to leave his side and remained at the hospital doors day and night.  When the shepherd died and they put his coffin on a train, Shep was there at the depot, whining terribly as the train and his master departed without him. For the next five years, Shep remained faithfully at the tracks. He met every train, four times a day, running up and down the cars, examining every person who got off, looking for his master.

There are many stories about dogs being faithful to their masters. Maybe this is one reason God made dogs... to teach us.

It has been said that faithfulness is one of the most critical characteristics a human being can posess and yet, in an “all about me” culture, it is one that is unfortunately waning. It is in these times that we turn our attention to the One who is forever Faithful.

Sometimes, when thinking about the nature of God, it is helpful to ponder what it would be like if God did not possess a particular attribute. This is one of those cases. We are quick to confess or even sing songs about the faithfulness of God, but rarely do we spend time meditating upon it or what it would mean if He were not faithful. Were we to sufficiently do so, I suppose it would bring us to our knees in thankfulness and deep gratitude.

The word “faithful” is somewhat unique, for it does not seem to follow the normal suffix pattern: meaning a “fullness” of something. “Joy-ful” means that someone is full of joy…  so, too, “helpful” and “thankful”, “doubtful” and “sinful”, etc. As Christians, we are a “hopeful” people, meaning we are full of, and filled with, “hope”… or we should be.

But to say that God is full of “faith” because He is “faithful” doesn’t sound right. And it shouldn’t because the “faith” in “faithful” has a different meaning than we are normally used to. It is best illustrated in Deuternonomy 32:15, where God declared to Moses that he would not enter the Promised Land because of his actions before the people at the waters of Meribah-kadish.[1] In speaking this, God said that Moses had “broken faith” with the Lord. Here the word “faith” is used to mean a commitment to a covenantal relationship. God had raised up Moses and put him in a special position of leadership. He was a representative, a messenger, an ambassador of God to the people. Moses was therefore in a “faith” relationship with God and he broke that faith when he acted in a way that did not, as God said, “treat Me as Holy in the midst of the sons of Israel”.

If we were honest, we would have to confess that we daily, if not more frequently, “break faith” with God, for we who are new creatures in Christ, sons of the living God, having God as our Father, are now witnesses, ambassadors, representatives of Christ to the world around us. When we, as sons and daughers, act in a way that is contrary to the nature of our Father, we “break faith” with Him. That is why we are in daily need of His forgiveness by the eternal sacrifice that cleanses us from all sin. This is, indeed, amazing grace!

But though we are not, God is fully faithful in everything that He does. He is true to His Word. He is true to His promises. He is true to His covenants and all of His purposes and plans.

This is why we are a people of hope. For if God were not faithful, we would be a most miserable lot. There would be nothing to trust in, nothing to hang on to, nothing to look forward to… for if God were not faithful, there would be no heavenly Jerusalem awaiting us nor a resurrection after death. There would be no hope of a time where sin will be no more, where tears are wiped away, where the lion does indeed lie down with the lamb and the viper does not strike. There would be no end of death, the grave would still sting and my constant sin would forever condemn me.

But God is faithful and always will be. To be otherwise would be to deny Himself and this He cannot do:

… if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself. 2 Timothy 2:13

Great is His faithfulness.

Amen and amen.

 

P.S. Shep remained faithful until the end. After years of greeting each train, fed by the depot staff, Shep grew old and began to lose his sight and his hearing. He was eventually struck by one of the trains and died. There is a statue honoring him at the Benton train station to this day.

To some extent, there is a parallel here. Our humble Shepherd also physically departed our world. May we be just as faithful awaiting Him.

 

Verses to contemplate throughout the week:

He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he. Deuteronomy 32:4

In all that has happened to us, you have remained righteous; you have acted faithfully, while we acted wickedly. Nehemiah 9:33

For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. Psalm 33:4 Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Psalm 36:5

Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. Psalm 86:11

But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. Psalm 86:15

I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations. Psalm 89:1

Who is like you, Lord God Almighty? You, Lord, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you. Psalm 89:8

For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. Psalm 100:5

He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them— he remains faithful forever. Psalm 146:6

This is what the Lord says— the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel— to him who was despised and abhorred by the nation, to the servant of rulers: “Kings will see you and stand up, princes will see and bow down, because of the Lord, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.” Isaiah 49:7

Ephraim has surrounded me with lies, Israel with deceit. And Judah is unruly against God, even against the faithful Holy One. Hosea 11:12

“See, the enemy is puffed up; his desires are not upright— but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness— Habakkuk 2:4

But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. 2 Thessalonians 3:3

… if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself. 2 Timothy 2:13

I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. Revelation 19:11

 

[1] If you recall, this where God told Moses to “speak” to the rock and it would bring forth water. Moses got caught up in himself and his anger, saying “shall WE bring water out of this rock again for you!?!” and instead of speaking to the rock, he struck it, as he did earlier in the Desert of Zin (Exodus 17). Moses struck the rock twice, probably because it didn’t work the first time. Paul tells us in 1 Cor 10:4 that the Rock was Christ… a typology that Moses had obviously disrespected by his actions.


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