Verse of the Day

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Second Sunday after The Epiphany

Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
On Point
Someone asked, where do the quotes come from?  The answer is from the people who uttered them.  But, how did you find them?  Oh, that.  Some from Bishop Jerry, many from Rev Bryan Dabney, a few from other places, some from Rev Geordie Menzies-Grierson, but overall mostly from Bryan.  He always has a few great ones to share.  On to the On Point quotes –

TO MARY WILLIS SHELBURNE: On how to rehearse for death and how to diminish fear.

17 June 1963

Pain is terrible, but surely you need not have fear as well? Can you not see death as the friend and deliverer? It means stripping off that body which is tormenting you: like taking off a hair- shirt or getting out of a dungeon. What is there to be afraid of? You have long attempted (and none of us does more) a Christian life. Your sins are confessed and absolved. Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave it with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.

Remember, though we struggle against things because we are afraid of them, it is often the other way round—we get afraid be- cause we struggle. Are you struggling, resisting? Don’t you think Our Lord says to you ‘Peace, child, peace. Relax. Let go. Underneath are the everlasting arms. Let go, I will catch you. Do you trust me so little?’

Of course, this may not be the end. Then make it a good rehearsal.

Yours (and like you a tired traveler near the journey’s end)
The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume III

I think we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious.
Then retired President Thomas Jefferson
letter to William Ludlow, 1824

If the president alone was vested with the power of appointing all officers, and was left to select a council for himself, he would be liable to be deceived by flatterers and pretenders to patriotism."
Roger Sherman
to John Adams, 1789
Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us?...
Malachi 2:10

I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
St. John 10:11

No man would refuse to enter a lifeboat because he did not know the specific gravity of bodies; neither would a starving man decline to eat till he understood the whole process of nutrition. If you... will not believe till you can understand all mysteries, you will never be saved at all; and if you allow self- invented difficulties to keep you from accepting pardon through your Lord and Saviour, you will perish in a condemnation which will be richly deserved.
Charles H. Spurgeon
19th century English Baptist theologian and author
(All of Grace, p. 59)

Welfare not only correlates with social failures, it causes them. And it doesn’t just cause them in our own country. Third World activists complain that Western aid destroys local capabilities and cripples domestic economies while promoting a culture of corruption and violence. The best evidence of that may be in the world’s biggest welfare state in the Palestinian Authority where the locals know how to do little except make demands and threaten to kill everyone if they don’t get what they want... Institutional determinism promotes learned helplessness. It teaches people that their failures can only be remedied by blaming someone else. And that can never lead to success. Without individual responsibility, all that’s left are institutional subsidies for failure and there are only so many companies that can be bailed out and only so many individuals who can live off the welfare state without the entire economy collapsing past the point where it can subsidize them.
Daniel Greenfield
21st century American commentator
(Why People Fail, 1-13-14)

Leave no room for the Devil. Be too busy for him. Have no time and no place for him. Vacant places invite him. The Devil loves a vacuum. A very busy person himself, he does his biggest business with those who have no business.
EM Bounds
19th and 20th century American pastor and author
(Guide To Spiritual Warfare, p. 133)

... On January 19, 1807... [was born] Robert Edward Lee... the less-than- longed-for fifth child of a mother in uncertain health and reduced financial straits struggling essentially alone to maintain the facade of family in a home that was never hers. The infant’s father was a war hero in a war that had been over for a quarter century. He was desperately in debt, in flight from his creditors, and apparently oblivious to the realities of his fading fame... Some time during the summer of 1810, Ann, Harry, and their four children left Stratford and moved into a small house... in Alexandria... [The Lee] family legend has little three-year-old Robert returning one last time to his mother’s room where he was born and spent much time... to bid goodbye to the two angels represented in iron at the back of the fireplace.
Emory M. Thomas
20th century American historian
(Robert E. Lee: A Biography, pp. 29-31).

Each Sunday there are Propers: special prayers and readings from the Bible.  There is a Collect for the Day; that is a single thought prayer, most written either before the re-founding of the Church of England in the 1540s or written by Bishop Thomas Cranmer, the first Archbishop of Canterbury after the re-founding. 

The Collect for the Day is to be read on Sunday and during Morning and Evening Prayer until the next Sunday. The Epistle is normally a reading from one of the various Epistles, or letters, in the New Testament.  The Gospel is a reading from one of the Holy Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  The Collect is said by the minister as a prayer, the Epistle can be read by either a designated reader (as we do in our church) or by one of the ministers and the Holy Gospel, which during the service in our church is read by an ordained minister or our Deacon Striker.

The propers are the same each year, except if a Red Letter Feast, that is one with propers in the prayerbook, falls on a Sunday, then those propers are to be read instead, except in a White Season, where it is put off.  Red Letter Feasts, so called because in the Altar Prayerbooks the titles are in red, are special days.  Most of the Red Letter Feasts are dedicated to early saints instrumental in the development of the church, others to special events.  Some days are particularly special and the Collect for that day is to be used for an octave (eight days) or an entire season, like Advent or Lent.

The Propers are found on Page 111-112 with the Collect first:

The Second Sunday after The Epiphany.
The Collect.

LMIGHTY and everlasting God, who dost govern all things in heaven and earth; Mercifully hear the supplications of thy people, and grant us thy peace all the days of our life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Dru Arnold read the Epistle for today, which came from the Twelfth Chapter of Paul’s  letter to the Romans beginning at the Sixth Verse. As Paul often does, he gives guidance on what God would have us do.  He notes that each of us have differing talents, skills and resources.  What God wants us to do is use all of what He gave us to further His will and His way, so that we might be truly happy here on earth.  To be gracious and hospitable to those around us, to remember each of us are equal in God’s eye.

AVING then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; or ministry, let us wait on our ministering; or he that teacheth, on teaching; or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate.

Hap Arnold read the Holy Gospel for today which came from the beginning of the Gospel according to St. Mark, the First Chapter, beginning at the First Verse.  This is the very first of the New Testament, a New Covenant or agreement with God.  It tells the story of “the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”  It talks of John the Baptist, who God sends as His “messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.”  And the people came to John “and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.”  But, as a harbinger the One to come, John told them of the One coming “ the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose.”  He told them of the Holy Ghost.  When Jesus, in His submission as a man to God came to John for baptism, as he came out of the water, “the heavens opened, and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him: and there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

HE beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; as it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. And there went out unto him all the land of Judæa, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins. And John was clothed with camel’s hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey; and preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose. I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost. And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan. And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him: and there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

Sermon – Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and Action
Today’s sermon brought the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and is partly contained in the forewords above.

 Consider these words from the Collect:

… hear the supplications of thy people, and grant us thy peace …

In the Collect, we are asking God to listen to us and give us His peace in our hearts.  God is perfect.  He hears us when we pray, God hears us when we call Him.  This Collect is really to remind us that when we pray to Him, we need to listen to Him.  To often we ask Him what to do, when He tells us what He wants us to do, it is not what we want, so we don’t hear.  After all, there are none so deaf as those who will not hear.  So, the question is not, Does God hear our supplication?  Rather the question is, Do we hear His answer and abide by it?  Do we listen when His answer is not what we want but what we need? We think that he doesn’t answer, but that is often because we are deaf to His answer through our own condition of being poor, sinful creatures that need His forgiveness desperately. What we really need to do is stop our wanting thoughts and to listen to what we need, His Guidance. To do that,we must open our hearts and minds; and let Him in. He will not force His way in. It takes action on our part to let Him in.If we open our hearts and minds, then we will hear Him. Will we let him in to our hearts for this to happen? It has to start with us letting Him in, and then we will hear His answer loud and clear.

We all have some talent; each has something they do better than others.  Paul reminds us for the church, on any organization for that matter, to succeed, we must do what needs to be done, working hard, honestly, cheerfully, looking for no public praise, being kind to all.  Everybody needs to utilize their talents according to the needs of the church, not to somebody elses talents, but their talents. Everybody has a talent of some sort, be it musically, talking (being good with communication). Almost anything else that can be used for His Glory is a talent. Sometimes, we fail to remember that for the team to be successful, each person needs to do the job they do best to the best of their ability; not necessarily the one they like best the way they want to do it at the pace they enjoy.  Not just saying you are doing your best when your half, quarter or not at all best, but full “best” ahead as it were! The reward of a job well done in and of itself should be sufficient.  It does not matter to God who gets the credit, what matters to Him is that we get the job done and to do it right! We should not be giving of ourselves to God, so that we can get praise and recognition.  That is not giving; it is selling. And that would not be truly giving from the heart as is God’s desire.  That would be using the talents He has loaned to us for our own wants and ends, which would not be becoming of the Christians we are called to be, the New Men we are called to be.

At the same time, though we should not look for praise for our own work (though we may appreciate it, we should not dwell on it too long, lest we get swollen heads!), we should look for reasons to praise and encourage others.  We need to recognize hard work, sacrifice, thoughtfulness and talent in others, remark on it and praise the use thereof!  That which is rewarded most is that which grows best. Reward the good, so that we may reap the goodness of our works!

Even God Himself, looking on His Son’s baptism remarked for all to hear, “Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

How oft do we praise the actions of others?  To often we are quick to criticize the failings of others.  It is in our nature, part of our human nature, our free will condition that we must fight against with His help. We must understand that while it is valuable to know when we fall short, people strive the most for praise of those whose opinion they value.

When you hear those words, “Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” remember to use them yourself.  Lead others to God, don’t point the way.

Be of God - Live of God - Act of God

Roy Morales-Kuhn, Bishop and Pastor - St. Paul's Anglican Church - Anglican Orthodox Church
Rev Roy is pastor of the biggest AOC parish West of the Mississippi and was consecrated today as a Bishop and is in charge of the Diocese of the Midwest.  Roy will be a great bishop and continue as a great pastor, nothing less is in him.

Second Second after Epiphany
19 January 2014

The Epistle; Romans 12: 6 - 16
The Gospel Mark 1:1 - 11

Humility and glory; quiet dignity and greatness; being a servant and being the God of the Universe. In our scripture readings today we see all of these concepts juxtaposition in so many ways. How can the God of Creation also be a servant of man?

How can one so exalted be so humble and meek?

To answer some of these paradoxes and seemingly conflicting ideas, we need to understand the plan, the grand plan of God, the creator. Why did he send his only Son, in utmost humility, born in a lowly place, and yet born to fulfil all prophesy about his coming? Down through the ages the prophets foretold his coming, where, and even how, but only those who believed seemed to understand what it all meant. And sometime even they didn’t, as we see the questions Peter and some of the other disciples kept asking Jesus about the coming of his kingdom.

What are we to understand? If you read over the “inventory” of talents that believers are ‘gifted’ with, you can begin to understand what we are to do.

A. Prophesy ; now that the canon of Scripture is closed, prophesy could be interpreted as a person who can see what may happen if certain actions are taken OR not taken. True Biblical prophets were and are 100% correct. They were not partly right, somewhat right, they were dead on right. That which they prophesied came true. We have that evidence in the whole Advent season. We see it as read in the Old Testament and fulfilled in the New, time and again. Because of this 100% record of fulfillment, we can also believe that all prophesy yet to come will also be fulfilled 100%. Jesus Christ will return one day to set-up his Kingdom that will have no end.

B. Serving; service is in all things Christian, whether you are a nursery worker, cook funeral lunches, a door greeter, a vestryman, or just volunteer at any worthy cause. Service is everywhere. The apostles were called upon so much to serve, that they finally had to set aside a group of young men to do that work, the deacon became a vital member of the church body, he was able to help with taking care of the physical needs of the church body, while the apostles would take care of the spiritual. The deacon, priest and bishop are also servants to the people for the furtherance of the Kingdom.

C. Teaching; very much like service, teaching can be time consuming, but very fulfilling. To teach you must have a certain amount of patience, an ability to share ideas, information, directions, and concepts. In the realm of Sunday School, or preparing for Confirmation, one must be able to convey the Word of God to the student in a way that is both loving and yet firm. The importance of our belief and the importance of being able to give reason for why and what we believe is the best defense against heresy. Heresy that is sweeping the Church today, taking with it many “soft” believer, people who don’t understand their faith or are unable to defend against the wiles of the Evil One as presented by every day life. Good teachers can be found, a good teacher can also be cultivated, a talent that many times lies dormant, simply because no one asks that person to help in the teaching process.

D. Encouraging; a really daunting task. To be able to get a person or people encouraged about their lot, to help them see that there is a way out of what seems a hopeless mess, this is a talent. I have known people in my life who have stepped in and given me a boost, shown me that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, there is a way to see this crisis through, and even survive, not only to the next day but for the rest of my life. These encouragers are so important, especially today, they not only help us on the way, but they pray for us, they hold us up to the Throne of God, seeking His help in our journey. One of the strongest talents of an encourager is the ability to guide kindly and yet firmly, to pray without ceasing, and to always seek God in the endeavor they are encouraging. One of the best examples of encouragers are the ‘prayer-partners’ such as what we see with the AOC prayer bulletins issued from the National office almost everyday.

E. Contributing; one who has can help those who don’t. Notice St. Paul writes to give generously, but not all. One who has the talent to make and multiply wealth is to share, but not bankrupt themselves, otherwise they will be of no use to anyone. Wealth in the Bible is not condemned, it is the worship of wealth, the love of money, the hoarding of coins that is condemned, not wealth. Christ reminded us that the poor will be with you always. He also reminds us to help them, not condemn them. Again, a tension but not an impossible task, one can be wealthy and be a Christ follower. Be wise with your wealth, it will not go with you when you are gone.

F. Leadership; very short and sweet. Govern diligently. To be on guard for corruption, evil doings, to follow the civil laws as they prevent chaos, but most especially to be diligent, which sounds more like following the law of the land, without corruption. Lead the people. We see this concept outlined in the ordering of deacons, priest, and bishops. But it also applies to those who help the church function on a day to day basis, monthly, annually and in many cases as long as the church endures here on earth.

G. Mercy; showing mercy as St. Paul writes. Being able to forgive, being able to see the positive in a person, especially if they have fouled up once or twice. It is so hard to be merciful, if we are quick to condemn and hold people accountable for something, that in most cases is not that important. Remember the parable of the talents, and the debts one fellow has with his boss, his boss forgives him of his debts, then the forgiven turns on one below him and is without mercy on the debt the fellow below him owes the forgiven. And remember the boss then comes and rectifies the situation, he without mercy is cast out.

Let us think upon our talents, think about those things we are gifted with from our Creator, then pray that God gives us an opportunity to act upon these gifts and to use them to the Glory of God.

Let us pray:

ather, we ask that you illume us with your Holy Spirit, help us to see what work we have been set aside for, the work that you have for us to do, for the advancement of your Kingdom, give us the sense of urgency, the need is great, the workers are few. These things we ask in the Name of God the Father Almighty, Christ Jesus his Only Son, and the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life, now and forever, Amen

“ As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith”

Rev Bryan Dabney of Saint John’s Sunday Sermon
We are fortunate to have Bryan’s Sunday Sermon.  If you want people to come to The Truth, you have to speak the truth, expouse the truth and live the truth.    This is really a good piece and I commend it to your careful reading.

Second Sunday after Epiphany

In his epistle to the Romans, the apostle Paul posed this question: Is There Unrighteousness with God? (9:14). The short answer is an unequivocal, No. To the born-again Christian, such would be as clear as a wide-open blue sky; but to those of the unregenerate, it would be perceived as shallow and overly simplistic.

As to the question before us, Is There Unrighteousness with God?, the apostle responded forthrightly, God forbid (v.14). St. James reminded his readers, Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man... Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning (1:13 and 17).

The Jews tried to use a similar line against God in Ezekiel’s day when the prophet noted, Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal (18:25). Their complaint was that God was being unjust in not giving their good deeds any standing if they did not continue in living righteously but had succumbed to iniquity. The whole message of Ezekiel 18 was that God’s justice required a person to keep his statutes all the days of his or her life and not just part of the time. If a person did what was right at the beginning of his life, then he should do so for the duration, for if he slipped into wickedness, then all the good he had done would not count at all. God expects his perfect will to be done— all the time.

Returning to Romans 9 we read, For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy (vv. 15-16). God desires all to turn unto him, but he will not save the unjust apart from their repentance and acceptance of his only begotten Son. In Romans 8:33 we read, Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justified. Only the truly penitent sinner who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved. Only a person who has sincerely recognized the error of his or her ways will receive God’s gift of pardon. And while it is true that prior to being born again of the Spirit, such persons will remain in their sins and trespasses— fit subjects of God’s righteous judgment; nevertheless, upon their regeneration they were saved immediately and eternally. That is the essence of the believer’s position: eternally secure and safe in the hand of the Saviour. And though this state of eternal security can be of great comfort to the believer— as he cannot slip out or be taken from the Master’s hand— it does not preclude him from erring. It also does not prevent a righteous and holy God from dealing with that wayward soul in a chastising judgment, apart from an heart-felt confession of his sins.

St. Paul observed that, If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work (II St. Timothy 2:21).Those who are predestined to glory must first see the need to be cleansed, and that is in keeping with the very words of Scripture, for God hath chosen us in [Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love (Ephesians 1:4). That said, God will not save us unless we heed his calling to, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (St. Matthew 4:17). The Bible teaches us that the sovereign nature of God is not perverted or diminished by the will of man. And so it follows that the will of God for us in election is an affirmation of his sovereign authority in the very nature of our own choosing.

Consider Article XVII of our Articles of Religion wherein it is affirmed that, “Predestination to Life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby (before the foundations of the world were laid) he hath constantly decreed by his counsel secret to us, to deliver from the curse and damnation those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation, as vessels of honour...”

God is not unjust to forgive us our sins when we ask him to do so in the name of Jesus Christ, neither is he unjust to refer to all who come to Christ as his elect and chosen. Now, nothing in Scripture tells us how this divine choice is made, for as we read in Article XVII, “he hath... decreed by his counsel secret to us.” Ergo, if it is a secret, then we ought to respect the reticence of God and avoid needless and senseless speculations.
In his work, The Principles of Theology: An Introduction To The Thirty- Nine Articles, W. H. Griffith Thomas observed that, “... there will always be an element of mystery in the relation of two wills in the universe, Divine and human. Christian people undoubtedly revolt against any view implying that the majority of the human race are everlastingly lost and only a few saved. Nor will any refuge be found by those who know and follow Scripture in the thought of purgatorial or purifying fires, which cannot be found in the Bible. [But] no careful and honest reader of Scripture can believe for an instant that all human beings will be saved, for, if the Bible teaches anything distinctly, it clearly shows that there are those who, through their own deliberate choice, remain outside the circle of the saved.”

In a similar vein, Dr. Henry M. Morris offered the following: “[The Word of God makes] it very clear that the substitutionary death of Christ is sufficient to |take| away the sin of the world (John 1:29), that salvation and eternal life are offered as a free gift of God's grace to anyone who will accept it, and that anyone who will may come! It is only the voluntary act of our own wills that is required, but there are many of whom Jesus must say: Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life (John 5:40).”

And Charles Spurgeon once noted that, “... If your life is unholy your heart is unchanged, and if your heart is unchanged you are an unsaved person. If the Saviour has not sanctified you, renewed you, given you a hatred of sin and a love of holiness, he has done nothing in you of a saving character. The grace which does not make a man better than others is a worthless counterfeit. Christ saves his people, not in their sins, but from their sins.” He also stated that, “... The Holy Spirit makes men penitents long before he makes them divines; and he who believes what he knows, shall soon know more clearly what he believes.”

Let us also consider the words of the apostle Peter who reminded his readers that, The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (II St. Peter 3:9).

And our Lord warning to the Jews of his day is apropos: O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! (St. Matthew 23:37).

It is clear from the above quotations that the choices before us are indicative of our destiny. If we choose to reject the truth of Christ, then we lose heaven. If we choose to embrace the truth of Christ, then we obtain God’s everlasting felicity.

There is therefore no unrighteousness with God because he has given to us the gift of his grace if, and only if, we believe on his only begotten Son and accept him as our Lord and Saviour (St. John 3:16-18).

Returning to Romans 9, we find that, For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will. Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? (vv.17-20).

Yes, God has a sovereign will. Yes, God has the authority to harden and to soften as the case may be. But such does not automatically infer that God loses his sovereignty over his creation through his allowance of human choice. God can do as he pleases and, in every case, he would not be unrighteous because he cannot be unrighteous. Whatever he does, he does with his nature in mind. God does not change. He was, is and shall always be, the Lord of all creation and of all life. He holds all authority, might, dominion and majesty. He is the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.

When we hear comments such as, “God is unfair,” or “God is too harsh,” we ought come back with, “Where did you get this idea that God is any of those things?” Usually, the person offering such comments will have only a vague grasp of the truth of the scriptures and so their rationale will be tenuous at best and contradictory at worst. The baby Christian, the carnal Christian, the neophyte, and the like, might find a Bible verse to throw back at you like a bomb or hand grenade, but its effectiveness cannot bear the truth of a properly presented text of Scripture offered in answer to their poorly informed understanding of the precious tenets of our Christian faith.

In no way, shape or form is our God unrighteous or unfair. God is caring, considerate and loving beyond the earthly meaning of those words. Our mortal language fails in its ability to adequately project the real meaning of what God has in store for all who truly believe on Jesus Christ as their Saviour and Lord (I Corinthians 2:9). So let us go forth this day and live the victory which Christ won for us at the cross. Let us rejoice that our God is wholly righteous and sovereign in all things. And let us also go forth in thanksgiving and praise to our heavenly Father for the gift of his unmerited favor towards us.

Let us pray,

ather, we come before thy throne beseeching thee to look with favor upon us; forasmuch as we have accepted thine only begotten Son, so help us to live within thy perfect will; and this we ask in the name of him who came into the world to save sinners, even Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Have a blessed week, Bryan+

Robert E. Lee’s Birthday
The more you read about Robert E. Lee, the more you will come to appreciate his greatness as a human being and the forces that tore at him during the Civil War.  For him, the war was not an issue of slavery, which he felt was not only wrong, but at its natural end in the United States.  For him the issue was the rights of states and the republic. 
Gen. Robert E. Lee's birthday is a legal holiday in North Carolina. North Carolina in 1892 made the birth date of Robert E. Lee a legal holiday in the State. Like Washington before him, he led Americans, including North Carolinians, in battle in their second War of Independence in defense of their homes, inalienable rights and liberty.  He considered his State of Virginia as his country, and the South as his home.
Explaining his actions in a postwar letter to R.S. McCulloch Lee wrote:
"Every brave people who considered their rights attacked and their constitutional liberties invaded," it ran, "would have done as we did. Our conduct was not caused by any insurrectional spirit, nor can it be termed a rebellion; for our construction of the Constitution under which we lived and acted was the same from its adoption, and for eighty years we had been taught and educated by the founders of the Republic, and their written declarations, which controlled our consciences and actions. The epithets that have been heaped upon us of "rebels" and "traitors" have no just meaning, nor are they believed in by those who understand the subject, even at the North…"
General Dwight Eisenhower said of him in 1960:
"General Robert E. Lee was, in my estimation, one of the supremely gifted men produced by our Nation. He believed unswervingly in the Constitutional validity of his cause….he was thoughtful yet demanding of his officers and men, forbearing with captured enemies but ingenious, unrelenting and personally courageous in battle, and never disheartened by a reverse or obstacle.
Through all his many trials, he remained selfless almost to a fault and unfailing in his belief in God. Taken altogether, he was noble as a leader and as a man, and unsullied as I read the pages of our history. From deep conviction I simply say this: a nation of men of Lee's caliber would be unconquerable in spirit and soul."
British Field Marshal Garnet Joseph Wolseley said of Lee:
"I believe he will be regarded not only as the most prominent figure of the Confederacy, but as the Great American of the nineteenth century, whose statue is well worthy to stand on an equal pedestal with that of Washington, and whose memory is equally worthy to be enshrined in the hearts of all his countrymen." This estimate is based upon a criticism of his character as a man, a soldier, and a Christian citizen. As a thinker and man of intellectual powers little has been said of him, and yet, intellectual power, associated with moral purity, are the true spring of greatness."
  After Virginia and other Southern States had made Lee's birthday a legal holiday:
"The anniversary of the birth of Robert Edward Lee was again observed throughout Virginia on January 19th, 1892. In many of the cities and towns there were military parades, and the banks and public offices in all were closed. The Confederate Veterans Corps of the city of New York, and the Confederate Army and Navy Association of Baltimore, Maryland, each commemorated the occasion by a banquet with reverential exercises. The day is now by statute, a legal holiday in the States of North Carolina and Georgia as well as Virginia, and the day was observed in Raleigh and Atlanta, and doubtless in other Southern cities…
Business in the Richmond city offices was at a standstill yesterday and matters at the Capitol yesterday were dull. Many wholesale houses closed their establishments at noon and the freight depots of the railroads were also closed after that hour. The scholars of the public schools had half-holiday, and the banks were closed throughout the day. Although the intensely discomforting weather materially interfered with the proposed open air demonstration, it could not dampen the ardent regard in which the memory of the glorious leader is held.
In Richmond, Mayor Ellyson spoke:
"Ladies, Comrades, and Fellow-Citizens: We have met today under the auspices of Lee and Pickett Camps to do honor to the memory of one of Virginia's noble sons. Robert E. Lee is forever enshrined in the hearts of his countrymen, and as we contemplate his virtues and heroism we are made better and purer men, and I trust the time will never come when Virginians shall fail on this, his natal day, to recount the valor and patriotism of their greatest chieftain, whose noblest aspiration in life found its completest realization in the doing of his duty to his God, and his fellow man.

There is no danger, comrades, that the men who wore the grey will ever prove recreant to the principles that actuated them in time of war, but there is danger that our children may, and so we wish on these recurring anniversaries to tell of the chivalrous deeds of such leaders as Lee, Jackson, Stuart and Pickett, and to teach coming generations that the soldiers of the Southern Confederacy were not rebels, but were Americans who loved liberty as something dearer than life itself."

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