by Michael Homula Today’s Biblical Truth at Gettysburg post is written by my good friend and brother in Christ, Jim Lamason. Jim will be involved in the retreats we will lead to Gettysburg and he is an expert and author on New Jersey regiments in the Civil War and at Gettysburg. - Michael Homula The history of the United States of America is filled many notable personalities. From the founding fathers through the intervening years into the present day. Most of us know of these men – Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Ford, Rockefeller, Roosevelt, Eisenhower – the list goes on and on. However, and perhaps most importantly, the history of the United States is also filled with “common” men. Men who were born, raised, had families and served this nation with steadfastness, courage, honor, and duty. Most of them relied on a deep faith in God that gave them the strength to endure incredible hardship and do extraordinary things in times of great strife and war. Unfortunately, most of these men remain unknown to most of us. One such man, long forgotten along with those who served with him at Gettysburg, is Robert McAllister. Born in 1813 of Scottish descent in Juanita County, Pennsylvania, outside of what we know to be State College, his dad was a farmer and his mother raised young Robert and his brother Thompson. Growing up in a household with a Christian faith as the center piece, the core values of faith in God and Jesus Christ served him well. He grew up doing the usual things that young boys and then men did during this time in our history. Hard work, daily devotions and prayer time with family developed in the young man a rock solid foundation that would serve him all of his days. Notably, through the four long and bloody years of the American Civil War.Philippians 3:14: “Forgetting what is behind I press on towards the mark, the upward call in Christ Jesus.” Those two words, “press on”, became Colonel McAllister’s watchword for the night of hard marching to the fields just south of Gettysburg on the night of July 1, 1863. The following day, July 2, found McAllister and his regiment on the Emmitsburg Road among the farm structures of the Klingle (Klingel) family farm, absorbing the brunt of the Confederate assault as it rolled up the Union line. McAllister and his regiment were steadfast as they held their own alongside men of two other Union brigades. It would cost the 11th New Jersey dearly.
The regiment lost every officer above the rank of 1st Lieutenant and, by the end of the day, was commanded by John Schoonover, the regimental bookkeeper. McAllister would recover from his wounds at Gettysburg and return to duty by August of 1863. He would rise to the rank of Major General by the end of the war. The Army would pester him to stay but he would muster out in July of 1865 and he would die on February 26, 1891 at the age of 78. What can we can take from McAllister’s life and his faith? Perseverance. In the face of incredible odds, both in his life and the horror of the battlefield, McAllister persevered – buoyed by his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Stewardship. In the battles of life, just like the battles of war, God requires us to put to good use all He has given us and all He has taught us. McAllister put his faith to good use through his actions, and the care and discipline of his men. This not only enabled them to perform courageously and well in combat, saving many lives, but McAllister’s acts of faith and love spread a fire of revival through the entire Union Army that led to lives saved for eternity. Robert McAllister’s life, courage under fire and skill as a Christ following leader of men are a living testimony. His life matched his faith and belief in Jesus Christ. His actions reflected the light, life and love of Jesus. Does yours? - Jim Lamason Author of the forthcoming book Into the Vortex of Fire - an historical novel about the 11th New Jersey in the Gettysburg Campaign.
by Nathan Buck Have you ever had extra of something? Whether it was just a little or way more than you can ever use – what did you do with it? How you decided to handle that “extra” could reveal if you value control, or freedom. FREEDOM is a 7-letter word that means you are able to make choices without constraint or restriction, and carries with it the understanding that you are free from being slave to anything or anyone. The amazing thing about freedom is we can use our freedom to choose slavery, or restriction, or control. In fact we often do use our freedom to try and control others. Instead of using freedom to promote freedom, we often use freedom to create slavery under our expectations and desires. Jesus shares two parables that I think illustrate this for us personally, and for the Church as a whole. Check these out in Luke 12:13-21 and Matthew 13:1-23. Do you notice a contrast between how “seed” or “grain” is handled? In Luke 12, God directly confronts the man who decided to build bigger storehouses for his extra grain. The core of the parable is in regard to selfishness – greedily storing up for one’s self, instead of seeing if there is a need God intended to meet through providing the “extra.” The man didn’t even acknowledge that God provided the extra grain, and just made plans to store it all for himself. Now let me add a twist to this story for a moment. What do you suppose would happen if this man did decide he should share his grain? If it was already in the storehouses, who would be in charge of getting it out, deciding whom it went to, deciding how much went to whom, etc? All that extra grain would have to funnel through his hands, controlling how much, to whom, and to where the grain would go. Why controlling? Because he already views the grain as HIS grain – he feels it belongs to him, and it is housed on his property. No matter how noble his conscience grew, his hand would still be controlling the flow of “his” grain. A heart that seeks to store up, and silo up, what God provides as extra is a heart that will definitely control where that extra goes. And isn’t that exactly what we have done with our faith? Haven’t we siloed up the blessings and gifts God has given us into sterile religious buildings? Sure we offer grace and love, and maybe even share bits of our God story with others in our daily lives, but there is always a hook to come back to the “storehouse” – the silo – for more. In essence we have inadvertently built bigger barns to store God and God’s love and transforming power. We have stashed away the music and the art, the prayer, the blessings, the fellowship, and the discipleship in our storehouses. We have even begun to believe that the “real” God stuff happens only in the church barns and church silos. Real followers of Jesus always stop by the church silo every 7 days or less to get their God fix… right? Now before I go any further, let me affirm that community and community worship is a healthy and can be a vibrant part of our walk with God. It can and should happen. But the fullness of community (sharing life together), and worship (celebrating God’s worth) cannot and should not be contained within a religious building. In fact, that is what was so different about Christianity to begin with – God being alive and living in the hearts of His followers by His Holy Spirit. All other religions had gods who lived in temples or were worshipped at altars, and God through Jesus Christ transformed even that part of His relationship with His people – so that every believer would be the temple of God’s presence. The Bible specifically refers to our bodies as the “temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). There was never intended to be a church silo, or church barn/temple for God after Jesus. When God first interacted with Abraham and then later all of Israel, He used what they knew to help them grasp who He is and how to live with His presence among them. Then he redeemed even the broken cultic idea of gods being worshipped in temples, to create a people who were free to live and worship by the power of His Holy Spirit within them. So the CHURCH is the people, the followers of Jesus Christ, not the buildings. And sharing our faith, community, worship, and God stuff is meant to be everywhere that we are, not just in a 7-day cycle of religious gatherings. Look at how Jesus talks about the Kingdom of God in Matthew 13. His picture of the seed is not something to be stored. Seed is meant to be sown. You cannot sow seed in a barn or silo… well I suppose you could, but it would be meaningless – barns/silos are meant for storing, not growing. The Farmer sows his seed… where?... where?? EVERYWHERE! The Kingdom of God is meant to be present and shared everywhere. Jesus doesn’t focus on the seed provided; He focuses on the soil. God provided the seed; God can always provide more seed. The Kingdom of God is never short on seed. Jesus points out that it is the condition of the soil (our hearts) that is important. The soil will either allow the seed to grow, or challenge/kill the seed. The soil doesn’t come to the farmer and ask for seed. The farmer doesn’t do a soil survey before sowing seed there, he doesn’t lecture the soil about letting seed grow, and he doesn’t throw the seed at the ground as hard as he can to force the soil to take it. The farmer sows the seed, the seed is meant to be sown, and wherever it can grow, it will. Do you see the contrast? Take a moment and ask yourself the following:
- Do I believe what I have is mine, or is it from God and for His purposes?
- Am I living in the freedom Jesus describes as the Kingdom of God – or am I stuck in the silo?
- What would be a good first step for me to live, worship, and share my faith like the farmer Jesus described in Matthew 13?
1. Metabolizes proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, thus providing energy and nutrients (this in and of itself is a very long list of functions—metabolizing each of these various compounds)
2. Produces proteins and monitors the supply and demand of proteins
3. Stores vitamins, minerals, and sugars (again, a long list of different things stored)
4. Filters the blood and helps remove harmful chemicals and bacteria
5. Creates bile which breaks down fats which is stored in the gall bladder
6. Helps to assimilate and store fat soluble vitamins such as Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E and Vitamin K as well as Vitamin B-12
7. Stores extra blood which can be quickly released when needed as it can shunt whole blood with all of its constituents into the general circulation (it has approximately 15% of all blood in the body at any given time)
8. Creates serum proteins and constructs blood protein which maintain fluid balance and act as carriers
9. Helps maintain electrolyte and water balance
10. Creates immune substances such as gamma globulin
11. Breaks down and eliminates excess hormones
12. Provides blood clotting factors
13. Breaks down ammonia and other toxins created in the colon by bacteria which aids in preventing death
14. Helps to maintain blood pressure
15. Constructs cholesterol and estrogen
16. Reconstructs hormones
17. Synthesizes urea
18. Interconverts amino acids
19. Constructs 50,000 systems of enzymes to govern metabolic activity throughout the body
20. Removes damaged red blood cells and will take this on as the primary site for this if the spleen is absent
21. Converts the thyroid hormone thyroxine into its more active form triiodothyronine (inadequate conversion may lead to hypothyroidism, chronic fatigue, weight gain, poor memory and other debilitating conditions)
22. Creates glucose tolerance factor from chromium, niacin and possibly glutathione (GTF is needed for the hormone insulin to properly regulate blood-sugar levels)
23. Removes some fat-soluble toxins from the body
24. Activates B vitamins into their biologically active coenzyme forms (virtually every nutrient must be biotransformed by the liver into its proper biochemical form before the nutrient can be stored, transported or used in cellular metabolism)
25. Stores copper and zinc
26. Manufactures carnitine (the only known bionutrient which can escort fats into the mitochondria where they are used to generate ATP energy) from lysine and other nutrients, converts lactic acid from a toxic waste to an important storage fuel (the liver will take lactic acid from the bloodstream and convert it into glycogen)
27. Serves as the main glucose buffer, preventing high or low extremes of blood sugar
28. Converts essential fatty acids such as GLA, EPA, and DHA into the lipoprotein, main poison-detoxifying organ in the body (why it can be harmful to take pharmaceuticals). This list goes on and on, but the important thing to note is that nearly every one of these functions cannot be done by another part of the body and without nearly every one of these functions, you cannot live. So this makes me ponder the possibilities of it being the result of a series of accidental copy mistakes in the genetic material of our ancestors. Is it possible that this chemical factory that takes on 1/3 of our blood supply every minute and generates, breaks down, regulates, or in some fashion has an influence on nearly every chemical in your body exists in its current form by a natural process that was nothing more than errors in code? Without anyone one of these functions, the human being would not be very happy and would likely die in a short period. The liver is a marvel.
by Logan Ames I think it’s safe to say that our culture is and always has been obsessed with the idea of kingship. Two of the most popular board games out there, chess and checkers, involve kings as the most powerful pieces. Popular movies and books involve kings or the quests of others to gain kingdoms. We have a popular fast food restaurant called Burger King whose slogan tells us what we all want to hear, that we can “have it our way”. As kids, we played a game called “King of the Hill” long before it was a TV show. A popular song from several decades ago was called “King of Rock”. Sports are no different. This month, the favorite in the NHL Stanley Cup Finals was the Los Angeles Kings and the best basketball player in the world, who also happened to play in the NBA Finals, is affectionately nicknamed “King James”. In other words, we give our attention to just about anything that has the word “king” in it. Ultimately, most of us probably wish we could be king or queen of something. Stop and think about why that is. If you could be king or queen, what would be the best part of it for you? Sure, the money and material wealth would be nice. But I know for me, the thing I’d enjoy the most is getting to make the rules, not just for myself but also for all those under my authority. I’m sure I’m not alone in this. If you get to make the rules, then no one can tell you what to do and anyone who disobeys you experiences the consequences. It may at times seem like people are getting away with things they shouldn’t, but they always end up reaping what they sow because of the laws set by the king. God’s natural law is certainly at work in one very interesting book of the Bible. I say that it is very interesting because God is actually not mentioned even one time in it. I’m talking about the Book of Esther, so named because it is the story of the rise of a Jewish captive girl all the way to queen of the powerful Persian Empire. Esther is not her birth name, but was given to her in captivity. Take time to read and familiarize yourself with the story. I will try to give some highlights, but there is so much I will have to leave out. Parts of the story will absolutely disgust you and even make you question why God would allow them. But let’s face it – sin is disgusting and sometimes the WHOLE picture is needed to see how God’s natural law is at work. The story takes place after God has already allowed the Jews to be taken captive because of their disobedience. When the enemies of God and his people have the power, bad things happen. King Xerxes gets angry when the current queen disrespects him and essentially removes the throne from her. He then orders that all the beautiful virgins within his realm be brought to the palace, where they will undergo a year of beauty treatments just for the one night they will each go in and sleep with the king. The virgin who pleased the king the most would be named queen (2:4). I’m not going to sugarcoat this. Whether it was legal in that kingdom or not, this is rape. Esther was a captive girl whose parents had likely been murdered, and the only family we know of that she had left was her cousin, Mordecai. Now she was in a foreign land, controlled by those who do not worship God, and was forced to sleep with a crazy king. This is where many of you wonder how a loving God could allow such atrocities in the life of an innocent girl. Let me say again that natural law says there are consequences for not obeying God. There is no evidence that Esther’s consequences were a direct result of her own sins, but what happened to her and many other innocent Jews was in fact a direct result of the nation’s disobedience toward God and his laws. But even in the midst of their oppression, God and his law were still at work. The king was pleased with Esther more than anyone else and he made her queen (2:17). She didn’t know it yet, but God was using her submission to the evil worldly authority and the wickedness of the captors to bring Esther into a position where she could save the Jews from being wiped off the face of the earth. Mordecai, also a captive Jew, enters the scene and we see that he sits outside the king’s gate. He uncovers a plot by the king’s officers to assassinate King Xerxes. Trusting that God is still in control over the whole thing, he tells of the plot rather than let the evil king die. His actions to save the king are written down, but nothing is done for him at the time. Instead, one of the king’s arrogant nobles, Haman, is honored. The king issues a decree that everyone kneel down and pay Haman honor, but Mordecai refuses. This enrages Haman to the point that he essentially becomes Hitler way before Hitler’s time. He seeks to kill all Jews and has a gallows built 75 feet high on which he plans to hang Mordecai. He makes a deal with the king and all of these evil plans are put into an edict. Mordecai hears of the edict to kill all the Jews and asks for Esther’s help since she has been elevated to such a position. Esther initially expresses fear, knowing that even approaching the king without being invited is punishable by death unless he extends the golden scepter (4:11), which serves as a foreshadowing of Christ, who allows us to be spared from the wrath of the King. However, Mordecai shows his faith and dependence on the natural law of God, who promised to bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse Israel (Genesis 12:3). He tells Esther that if she chooses to remain silent, she will not be spared but “relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place” (4:14). What faith! Did God speak to him on this matter? It’s possible, but it seems to me that Mordecai just had faith that King Xerxes isn’t the TRUE King, and that the true King’s will is going to be done no matter what! His reminder of that truth spurs Esther to courage and heroism. She decides to go to the king, saying, “And if I perish, I perish” (4:16). The rest of the story shows how God was in control even when it appeared that King Xerxes and Haman were. The king can’t sleep one night and asks an attendant to read him the record of his reign, probably to satisfy his vanity. In the midst of this, he is reminded of how Mordecai exposed an assassination plot. He realizes Mordecai was never honored and orders Haman, the very man who built a gallows on which he was to hang Mordecai, to pay honor to Mordecai. Haman is obviously upset and tells his friends and wife about it. Even they have begun to see that you don’t mess with the natural law of God. They tell him, “Since Mordecai, before whom your downfall has started, is of Jewish origin, you cannot stand against him – you will surely come to ruin!” (6:13) They recognized that, even with all the wealth and power of the world, they were up against God and they had no chance. His purposes will be fulfilled no matter what! The king grants Esther peace for all of her people and asks who had arranged to have them killed. When Esther reveals it was Haman, the king is filled with rage. Haman chooses to beg Esther for his life and in doing so, appears to be falling on top of her. The king then orders Haman to be hanged on the very gallows he had planned to use for Mordecai (7:10). It doesn’t end there. The king issues a new decree that authorizes the Jews using force to attack those who had planned to destroy them, and it “just happens” to be for the same day that Haman had originally had the king issue a decree giving them a right to kill the Jews. Wow! God might not be mentioned in the book, but the good and bad consequences related to those who adhere to natural law and those who don’t could not be more obvious! Just in case you are wondering, King Xerxes was not spared his consequences. In terms of leadership for his people, he was a failure. His people were mostly destroyed by the Jews. His reign as king was then cut short by his assassination by one of his guards. The book ends with the telling of how Mordecai, who once put on sackcloth to mourn what was legally ordered to happen to all the Jews and sat at the king’s gate every day, was exalted to second in command of the entire kingdom. When trials and troubles were at their worst, the faith and courage of Mordecai and Esther rested on God’s promises and his natural law that determines what will happen FOR those who obey him and TO those who don’t. It should be a lesson for us in the world today as we look around and see the degradation and destruction of the world. It may seem like things keep getting worse, but our choice is still the same – to obey God or to go against him. If we disobey, God’s natural law says we can’t win, no matter what temporary comfort we receive. If we obey, his natural law says we can’t lose, no matter how desperate our circumstances seem. Let us remember that God is the true KING over all and his will SHALL ALWAYS be done.
by Bill Seng Reason 4) Prophecy The Bible reveals truths about the future that continue to be verified. One must be very careful in interpreting Scriptures that were not fulfilled in Biblical times, but simply going through the prophecies that were fulfilled and recorded in Scripture is quite amazing. There are a lot of prophecies that were fulfilled throughout Scripture, so I will give you a good sampling of some that I found to be especially noteworthy. In Genesis 15, God makes a covenant with Abram. When Abram falls asleep, the Lord tells him that his descendants will become slaves in a foreign land, but that he would deliver them (15:13-14). This prophecy was fulfilled in the days of Moses when God sent plagues and the Israelites were led to safety through the Red Sea. The prophets Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Zechariah predicted the fall of Tyre and Sidon (Ezekiel 26, Zechariah 9). Some of the fascinating facts about these prophecies are that (1) King Nebuchadnezzar failed to conquer Tyre and Sidon. Nebuchadnezzar, himself, was a very powerful king and the fact that these cities endured through his attack is amazing. (2) After Nebuchadnezzar’s siege, the inhabitants of Tyre moved to an island and built 150 ft. walls! (3) But along came a certain military genius by the name of Alexander the Great, who laid siege to the city for seven months. Alexander fulfilled the prophecies that the city would be completely destroyed and laid to waste. Jesus made several predictions throughout his ministry among his disciples, but his most noteworthy prophecy (other than his death and resurrection) was that of the destruction of the Temple of God in Jerusalem (Matthew 24:2). His prophecy of the destruction of the Temple was fulfilled in 70 A. D. as the Jews attempted an uprising against the Roman government. The Romans sieged Jerusalem, resulting in people starving to death, and they ultimately took the city and completely annihilated the Temple. Now, what about today? One must be careful in interpreting the fulfillment of prophecies today. Isaiah 66:7-8 reads, “Before she goes into labor, she gives birth; before the pains come upon her, she delivers a son. Who has heard of such a thing? Who has ever seen such things? Can a country be born in a day or a nation brought forth in a moment?” Many people take these verses as a prophecy concerning the rebirth of Israel, which happened in 1948. Strangely, it appeared as though Israel had been reborn in a day. To me, it seems as though most of the specific prophecies of the New Testament were in relation to the Second Coming of Christ. Because of that, some of the prophecies have yet to be fulfilled. However, many warnings were given to the disciples that were fulfilled both in their lifetime and ours. For instance, John 16:2 states, “They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God.” In the book of Acts, Saul oversaw the murder of Christians because he believed his condemnation of Jesus’ followers was in obedience to God. Muslims have believed that Christians are deceived by Satan and to carry out judgment against them is a service to God. In India, the Hindu extremists persecute and murder members of the Church because they believe they are serving their gods. Jesus’ words were spot on. Romans 1 states a recurring pattern for people and nations that reject God. It states that they suppress the truth that is clearly seen (18-20). It says that they claim to be wise but become fools (22) and that they exchanged the truth of God for a lie (25). As a result, it reveals that God gives unrepentant sinners over to all sorts of depravity with an emphasis on homosexuality and the worship of created things (24-31). Romans 1 closes with a horrifying revelation that the people doing such wicked things are well aware of God’s commandments and not only violate them but commend those who also violate God’s law (32). I think America is in big, big trouble. To close, I want to remind the reader that the unfulfilled prophecies in Scripture are in relation to the Second Coming of Christ, which will be at the end of history. Some people might mock the notion that Jesus is returning to judge the world, and they claim that the Bible’s prophecies concerning the end have already failed. I would urge you, if you are one of these people, to heed the words of Peter: “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). God’s delay in bringing judgment is for our good so that the full number of those who would repent do actually repent and confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Much more could be said about the fulfillment of prophecies in relation to Scripture, but this is just a brief overview to give you an idea about why I believe the words of the Bible. Books of the Bible like, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, etc., were accepted as being inspired by God because their words of prophecy were indeed fulfilled, and not just in part. Their prophecies were 100% accurate to the finest detail, meaning that they had to be inspired by God. If the prophets of the Bible were correct about events that were already fulfilled, should we not trust their words in relation to future events? Should we not trust that the Bible itself is divinely inspired? (Some of the information for this blog was taken from Ray Comfort’s book Scientific Facts in the Bible, 2001, Bridge-Logos Publishers. Pgs 39-41)
by Michael Homula When Jason DeZurik and I first began to sort out what God might have planned for the Biblical Truth at Gettysburg ministry at Worldview Warriors, I was stirred deeply. I had been leading men to Gettysburg for nearly 10 years on mini-retreats and they were fun, educational, spiritually enlightening and just great fellowship. But, I knew they could be so much more. When I started writing this series, I shared that it was my heart’s desire to be in conversation with Christians about the extraordinary events and the lives of our brothers and sisters in Christ during the days leading up to, during, and after the epic Battle of Gettysburg. In this conversation, it is my earnest hope, we will find ourselves challenged to live out our faith in a more actionable and effective way. “a conversation with the dead about what we should value and how we should live,” (David Harlan). As Christ followers, we can’t settle for less. Genesis 32 tells how Jacob wrestled with God the whole night through, telling the Lord, “I will not let you go unless you bless me!” (v. 26). I can’t begin to fully uncover the depth and intent of that story’s meaning, but I think of it often when I walk the fields and study the people, places and events that forever changed our nation at Gettysburg. Rowan Williams, the former archbishop of Canterbury and an accomplished historian, encourages us to believe “that there will always be gifts to be received from the past.” We must seek them persistently and relentlessly. Like Jacob, we must resolve not to let go until the Lord has blessed us. I am NOT suggesting that we pray for special revelation from God, asking him to disclose hidden meanings from the past. I can find nothing in scripture that the Holy Spirit will reveal American history to us but the Bible is clear that the Spirit is given in order to convict us of “sin, and righteousness, and judgment” (John 16:8). The purpose of wrestling with the past, again in this context the people and events at Gettysburg, until the Lord blesses us is to study history in such a way that it ultimately exposes our hearts. Our ultimate aim is not to simply understand the past for its own sake or vainly attempt to distill lessons from the past that help us get what we want in the present. No, our ultimate goal is to see both God and ourselves more clearly, to the glory of God and for our sanctification. The goal is to get wisdom. As Proverbs 4:7 puts it, “Wisdom is the principal thing.” If wisdom is our goal, we must figure out how to scrutinize the past so that it will lead to a more intense and Godly scrutiny of our hearts in light of God’s Word. This is exactly what it means to have a Christian historical view. To think about history as Christ followers. The weight and intensity of the past at Gettysburg is jarring. It is palpable. You can see it, hear it, feel it, taste it and smell it as you walk the fields. It is not easily described and unless you have been there you can’t fully appreciate it. When we walk the battlefield we can feel the nearly tangible presence of the 170,000 men who clashed there, and the 2,200 inhabitants of Gettysburg who dealt with the aftermath. I don’t mean literally that their spirits hover there (despite the ridiculous number of “Gettysburg Ghost Tours” that exploit the hallowed ground financially). There is something deeply spiritual about walking the ground of a famous historical event. Walking over the ground at Gettysburg, “heart-drawn to see where and by whom great things were suffered and done for us”, connects us to those whose footsteps we follow. It is an experience that will jolt us out of our own narrow frame of reference. Just ask Jason. Gettysburg, the landscape and the stories of the men and what they did there, has a way of suddenly making us feel small. That is a good thing because an integral component of wisdom is self-knowledge, and self-knowledge ought to lead to great humility.
by Nathan Buck When you see a tree, or a flower, or a particularly eye-catching fern – what crosses your mind? I mean after you appreciate its cool, beautiful, or mesmerizing appearance, what thought comes next? Do you just go on to the next item in your day? Or do you stop and wonder about how that life form got there? Do you think about how all of its cells work together to give it shape, and keep it alive? Do you reflect on the theory of evolution and wonder what this life mutated from – or is mutating into? Have you ever pondered the growth of something? Not just the mechanics of growth, but the unique ability to GROW! Seed becomes sprout, become seedling, becomes juvenile plant, becomes reproductive organism that thrives, provides food or shade or pleasure, and spreads its seed to give life to other organisms. GROWTH is transformation, from a seed, to a life form. GROWTH is amazingly resilient in the face of adversity. GROWTH is steady unrelenting progress toward maturity. GROWTH is uniquely beyond our control to cause. Think about it. Even with genetic manipulation of plants and animals, we can create all kinds of things. We can even bond pesticides to plant DNA (which in my opinion is a major health hazard). But for all that we can create, all that we can stimulate, we cannot CAUSE growth. No one can claim they made something grow – it is a uniquely Divine activity. Only God causes growth. I love to walk in my garden in the summer time; it’s actually a time of reflection and worship for me. Sure I did a lot of work to prep the soil, kill the weeds, fertilize the seeds and plants, but I cannot cause anything to grow. So, each day when I can see another leaf grow, another vine or branch or flower, another fruit or vegetable, I recognize it is God at work. God is CAUSING growth to happen in the life forms He designed. Why is this an important thing to reflect on? It reminds me, that I am not God. It’s a simple, observable, natural law that indicates there is a power beyond me who brings life. That power revealed Himself through creation, and through directly interacting with people. God almighty is the LIVING God. Only a living God can provide life and growth. And He revealed his love and plans for relationship with us, through Jesus Christ. Take a moment to read and reflect on Psalm 104.
- Pay attention to how many things are uniquely from God’s provision for us.
- Do you give God credit and thank Him for all that He has provided?
- Do you even acknowledge God can and does provide our very existence? I pray that God’s Holy Spirit will meet with you as you read Psalm 104 – and that you will grow.
SOURCE: U.S. Dept. of Justice
--children living in two-parent households with a poor relationship with their father are 68% more likely to smoke, drink or use drugs compared to all teens in two-parent households.
“Without two parents, working together as a team, the child has more difficulty learning the combination of empathy, reciprocity, fairness and self-command that people ordinarily take for granted. If the child does not learn this at home, society will have to manage his behavior in some other way. He may have to be rehabilitated, incarcerated, or otherwise restrained. In this case, prisons will substitute for parents.” SOURCE: Morse, Jennifer Roback. “Parents or Prisons.” Policy Review, 2003 The bottom line to this is that Dads are a gift to their children. As a father, you must realize that your presence is a gift to your child. Fathers represent a lot more than just a paycheck to a child; they represent safety, protection, guidance, friendship, and someone to look up to.
These men were soldiers, scourging one who had done no evil. A man innocent of all of the charges for which he was accused. They beat him and laughed at him. “So you think you’re a king, huh?” They stripped him of his clothes and beat him some more, laughing as he writhed in pain. “If you are a king, then you ought to dress like one too!” They clothed him in a purple robe. Purple, the color of a king; the color of robe that Caesar wore. “There, now you look like a king! But wait…one thing’s missing.” They unveiled a horrid contraption. A crown. But not any old crown, a crown of thorns.
Such a contraption could not have been forged in the depths of hell. Its menacing barbs threatened any who would dare even touch it, let alone wear it. The wood was splintered and dirty, as though it were nothing more than scrap. As the Son of man looked upon this device, he reminisced upon its origin.
He remembered where thorns came from and why they existed. It was not his doing that menacing accessories like thorns would come about, but mankind’s wickedness. Mankind in its infancy defied him a long, long time ago, in a garden that no longer existed. It was paradise, but it was lost.
God spoke to the man and his wife, “Your work has brought suffering and death upon this world! Therefore, your suffering will be multiplied as you must harvest your food among thorns. Thorns will characterize your world, even the simplest pleasures of your lives will be ruined by these thorns that invade your world. You might think that you have somewhere to rest your head or a safe haven to lay your body, but you will encounter peril around every corner from this day forward. And at the end of your life, the ground, which you cultivate, the ground, that gives you food, the ground which brings you life will be your place of rest. You are nothing but dirt without me. But, I will be your King and I will bring you salvation.”
He was their King and he would fulfill his word. They placed the crown upon his head. The pain was almost numbing. It was enough to make one hope for an early death. But not him. He was their King, and this was the most that his subjects had acknowledged him since he created them. They had to use sticks to fit the crown onto his head. Just touching it was pricking their fingers, drawing streams of scarlet to drip from their hands. As the thorns penetrated his skin and pierced his brows, he saw through this mockery.
Demons in the background whispered in their ears and provoked them to go just a little further. “Beat him,” they whispered. “Spit upon him…mock him.” The demons took great joy in this scene. They laughed and jested as their King, barely conscious, fought to sit upright. Blood pouring down his forehead; body ravaged and broken. “You cast us out by the thousands, and now you barely cling to your life. Where is your Father? Where is he? Will he protect you? He has no power over us! You belong to us now!”
They forced him to his feet and into the court. They brought him before his nation, clothed in humiliating royalty. He was dressed as the king they deserved: broken, bloody, and humiliated. The greatest of them should be lucky to achieve such a status. And yet he stood before them and took their insults and endured their threats. Though he had no dignity before them, he was fully dignified. Though they stripped him of his royalty, he was the only one clothed in majesty.
The demons poked and prodded from behind the scenes. “Come on Son of God, exercise your power! You did it once, let’s see you do it again. Extinguish their fire with a flood, perhaps. Or how about you call down your legion of angels; yes, call down Michael, your servant to slay these evil doers. Or even better, consume them with this holy fire that burns inside of your heart. Look at this worthless, pathetic, rabble. You are a King, are you not? Judge them. Show them your wrath. Send them to Hell!”
As he was to his accusers, so he was to his provocateurs: silent, patient, and unmovable. In his conscious daze, he made out two words, “Crucify Him!” his sentence was pronounced. They mounted him with a cross and sent him on a journey to Golgotha, the place of the skull. Some say that this was where Adam Fell and where Jacob saw the ladder to heaven. To the Holy One of God, it was a bridge between heaven and hell.
All along the way, dragons spewed their flames and jackals nipped at his heals. The entire world had turned against him. He was wretched, but still clothed as their King, wearing his crown of thorns. The unseen world paraded along with him on his death march; gleefully believing that this was it. God had lost and the world was theirs. Death was the master. Death was the victor. Satan triumphed and he would rule God’s world.
They climbed the hill and flames shot from its plateau. The people on the hill were immune to it at this point because they were used to living in the searing heat produced by the flames of hell. They could endure the flames so long as they were in the presence of God, and this man, that was more like a lamb being led to its slaughter, was the residence of God on earth. His crown was worthy of his people. Thorns, pain, and death.
He was mounted on the cross as the wretched harlequins waltzed around him; flinging salt and vinegar at him to enflame his wounds. He was sin, not they. Even God had turned his back on this man, how could they possibly suffer any consequences for their devious acts toward him? Finally, his body beaten and his spirit exhausted, he let out one more mighty cry, “IT IS FINISHED!” And for the first time, everyone was still, everyone was silent. The demons stopped dancing, the people stopped shouting. The dragons stopped roaring and the jackals stopped barking. He had one last thing to say and it was what they had all been waiting for: “Father, into your hands I commend my Spirit.” And with those final words, he died. There was a moment of silence, of disbelief and then they started rejoicing.
But their rejoicing lasted no more than a second. Blackness covered the earth and an earthquake shook the world. The ground began to split and divided the holy temple in two, rending its curtain that divided man from God. The demons were no longer laughing; they were lamenting. “God is angry and he seeks to destroy us!” one of the evil spirits cried. “He has broken his word, it is not yet our time!” complained another. Chaos broke out as the people and spirits dispersed.
When the darkness cleared, a handful of people remained. They kneeled at the cross, sobbing, weeping at what they had just experienced. But the evil was gone. The darkness was gone. And the veil was gone. Their King, upon the cross, still wore the crown of thorns. He was high and lifted up, just as the prophets had said. Gazing upon his dead, naked body, they gathered the courage to bring him down. They knew not what the future had in store for them, but what they had just experienced would be seared into their minds for all eternity.
Before, he was their son, their brother, their teacher; what they just witnessed elevated him above that. He was certainly dead, but the power of his death silenced all of his mockers and sent them running in panic. Some in the streets were even declaring that the saints of old had been awakened from the dead. What just happened? They did not recognize this man, despite dressing him in the image of their king. He was the King that molded them into his image. As these disciples and Roman guards gazed upon this corpse as it descended, they could not help but to notice the crown of thorns on his brow and ask, “Was this truly our King?”
by Michael Homula Last week, I shared the story of Father William Corby blessing the famed Irish Brigade moments before they plunged headlong into The Wheatfield to check the Confederate advance. The fight for The Wheatfield at Gettysburg on July 2, 1863, has long been one of the most confusing and misunderstood engagements. I will make no attempt to clear up the confusion in a blog post (you will have to sign up for one of our Biblical Truth at Gettysburg retreats to get that). The Wheatfield stands out as one of the bloodiest places in American military history. In only a few hours of fighting, the 19 acre field of wheat changed hands between the North and South six times with some 4,000 casualties. The veterans who survived called it a “whirlpool” of battle because regiments on both sides were seemingly sucked into a vortex of confusion, chaos and carnage.
Come to the mercy seat, fervently kneel;
Here bring your wounded hearts, here tell your anguish;
Earth has no sorrow that heav’n cannot heal. When I sit in the middle of The Wheatfield today, this is the voice I hear. Taking the past seriously, especially as those who follow Christ, means putting our own lives to the test (James 1:2-4). The conversations at Gettysburg, in places like The Wheatfield, do just that, pressing us with hard, uncomfortable questions: What do we value? In what do we hope? Where do we find meaning? The answers, etched in granite stone and marble on monuments dotting the fields of Gettysburg – written by the blood of men who gave their lives – are noble. No doubt. However, they are also earthbound and temporary. Vastly more challenging, far more convicting, much more comforting, supremely hopeful is the response on the lips of the unknown soldier whose voice one can still hear if we have ears to hear. Sung in darkness amid death and despair, it is both historical occurrence and spiritual metaphor, an echo of God’s invitation to a bruised and hurting world. Come to the mercy seat, fervently kneel…