Monday, December 21, 2009

An overlooked Anniversary

Dec. 16th is Beethoven's birthday, and this year, the 65th Anniversary of the barrage that opened the Battle of the Bulge, "Hitler's Last Gamble"
Today, when you feel cold, remember the summer uniforms many of our soldiers still wore while defeating four SS Panzer Divisions, and all the Wehrmacht reserves that the Nazis could hide west of the front line in the Ardennes.
Dec. 21st saw the supposedly weak, undisciplined children of democracy (U.S.Army V Corps) holding the Elsenborn Ridge against fierce and determined assault by Hitler's 12th SS Panzer Division. While the SS is often remembered for their consummate ability to kill unarmed prisoners, this was the Waffen (armed) SS, still composed mostly of volunteers, armed with automatic weapons and backed by dozens of the dreaded Tiger tanks, probably the best heavy tank of the war. Their 55 ton weight limited their range and mobility, and the German factories, though highly productive, couldn't build them fast enough to make a difference. I suspect this was of no comfort to your average 19-year-old draftee, shivering in a foxhole.


Fragments for today: Manna? A hearty meal? Just what God knows I need!

"Clouds & thick darkness surround Him
Righteousness & justice are the foundation of his throne."
Though we can't see God DIRECTLY
we know that TRUTH is underneath.
God's character:
essential righteousness, holiness, perfection
and justice: its outworking in the visible world. (God, and God alone, defines justice; all else is a lot like a child whining "That's not FAIR")

Also of comfort today:
"...these have come so that your faith, which is of greater worth than gold, may be proved genuine and result in Praise Glory&Honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. "

There is a PURPOSE here; God's glory.

Finally, from the Westminster Chatechism:
What is our purpose on Earth & in Heaven?
Glorify God & enjoy him forever: Praise, Glory and Rejoicing

To the praise of his glorious Grace

Monday, December 14, 2009

God, who created every people, and nation, and language

Perhaps I should entitle this
"My Italian Grandparents"

I tried out a couple of different churches while in college, and one of my pastors said something insightful that is relevant to how we pray. After the sermon, I told him something I'd heard once about shameful divisions within Christendom, and too many denominations and so forth. While he didn't have a lot of time at the end of the service to discuss this with me, he did take the time to point out that many of the denominations actually enrich our understanding of God's truth, in that they illuminate our understanding of what Scripture teaches. He had attended a well-known a conservative seminary in the South, so of course he wasn't referring to anything that was clearly against the teaching of Scripture. But his wisdom has helped a lot when thinking of what divides us, or seems to, when we pray.

. In my tradition, group prayer was a “Prayer Meeting” and prayers were simultaneous, and usually out loud, so while we may have heard one another's voices, we weren't really listening to one another. This is fine, if each person was seeking God in an expectant atmosphere, as in Acts 2. But it inadvertently led to carelessness in one's choice of words; it was easiest just to repeat what others were saying, especially if they themselves were being repetitive. Furthermore, we were in reaction to liturgical worship, so anything that sounded like a crafted prayer was quietly frowned upon—even if it was just a quotation of the church's prayer book, the Psalms!

. Thus, even a public prayer during Sunday worship, usually by an elder or a deacon, was unlikely to be memorable—except for a pious old saint who prayed in Italian, his one recognizable word sounding like “City JAIL-uhh.” Perhaps he was always interjecting two words in English (on behalf of his friend who had to sober up every Saturday night in a cell, sort of like Otis in the Andy Griffeth Show?) More likely, this was a four syllable Italian word that he found quite useful as he poured out his heart to the God who created every people, and nation, and language.

He and his wonderful wife (who gently chided me as “my little bambino” whenever I would sneak up on the platform to play after the service) are looking down on us from Heaven as we pray. As much as I'm looking forward to hugging them again, and finishing my Italian lessons, it will be nothing compared to the unity and awe we will share as we cast our crowns before Him in eternal praise, with all the saints from every age.

Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, 1824-1863

He was a mediocre student and
a terrible teacher.
But each time he married, it was to the
daughter of a college president.

On August 4, 1853, Jackson married Elinor Junkin (1825-1854), daughter of Dr. George Junkin (President of Washington College) and Julia Miller Junkin.

On July 16, 1857, Jackson married for the second time. His wife was Mary Anna Morrison (1831-1915), daughter of Robert Hall Morrison, the retired President of Davidson College.