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By Stan Gale — 1 year ago
Every “bad” thing is purposed for our spiritual growth. The things that fill our lives, our closets, our pantries, our agendas that we appreciated to a degree become consecrated through our new eyes of faith to see the hand of our God who gave them to us. We learn to give thanks in all things, even for the shirts and socks and winter jacket.
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (Rom. 8:28, NKJV)
There it sat. Too big to fit under the twinkling Christmas tree, but glittering right there beside it. A brand new, shiny red Schwinn bicycle, the Cadillac of bikes in its day. I was thrilled. But when it came to my other presents – shirts, socks, a winter jacket – not so much. I may have been alone in my disappointment in receiving clothes for Christmas, but I doubt it.
This was in a day when parents would wait until Christmas to buy things for their children. “Maybe you’ll get that for Christmas,” was their tease. The prospect certainly tided me over. The wait made it special. Involved was more than a present; it was a dance.
That’s not the way our heavenly Father has ever approached His gift giving. Jesus reminds us that our Father gives us good gifts if we ask Him (Matt. 7:11). And He doesn’t just wait until Christmas. Every day is filled with good things from the hand of our God. We need only open our eyes to behold His mercies morning by morning, each sunrise revealing an array of blessings.
Moreover, God’s gift giving not only pertains to some things; it extends to all things. Paul explains: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28). The lives of God’s children are filled with indications of His presence, waiting to be unwrapped through the eyes of faith.
This notion that all things are good might cause us to scratch our heads, especially when we consider how many bad things sometimes happen in our day. Clothes for Christmas might have been a bad thing to a young me, but at least I had a good thing or two to make up for it.
By Derrick Brite — 1 year ago
The local church is where we commune with Christ in means of grace, but it’s also the primary context where the fellowship of the communion of saints takes place. It’s not enough to sit on the sidelines or watch a livestream; we need the community of believers that stirs us up “to love and good deeds” (Heb. 10:24) and offers encouragement as we await the day of judgement (Heb. 10:25).
Several years ago, I went hiking in the Smokies with a group of friends. This wasn’t a trail I was familiar with, and I wasn’t in the best of shape at the time. I soon began to lag behind the group. They would always return for me to try and encourage me and walk with me. My pride would always reject their help because, “I know what I’m doing. I don’t need your help. I can go at it alone.” Soon they got so far away I could no longer hear them, nor did I know exactly where I was headed. I had no idea of the impending dangers that were awaiting me.
It wasn’t long until I came upon a long stretch of brush and weeds that were waist high. As I hacked my way through as best I could—stubborn and defiant as ever—I was greeted by an unmistakable sound: a rattle. I look up to see a large rattlesnake laying across the trail. Thankfully, my friends were standing-by; they had stayed back in order to guide me past the pain I would have otherwise suffered.
Unfortunately, there are many who are ignorant of the danger that they’ve placed themselves in by trying to make their heavenly pilgrimage apart from the local church. We face a far greater threat than a rattlesnake; we stand against the smooth-talking serpent of Genesis 3, one who “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). Surely Satan lies in wait for those Christians who think they can go through this life on their own resolve. As George Swinnock once said, “Satan watches for those vessels that sail without a convoy.”
There’s a reason that the writer to the Hebrews sounds the alarm to warn those who are struggling not to forsake “assembling together, as is the habit of some…” (Heb. 10:25). Why? Because neglect of the gathering is a step down the slippery slope to apostasy. A Christian who is purposefully isolated from the context of a local church is foreign concept to the New Testament.
By Helen Louise Herndon — 1 year ago
Slavery was never black and white, involving only Whites enslaving Blacks. It was multiracial just as most evils existent today are multiracial. It’s time to correct America’s history. It’s also time to cease promoting racial division based on the falsehood of America’s “original sin” and its selective omission of facts about all the oppressors and practitioners. If we fail to correct how we teach history, we will reap untold and potentially horrific consequences.
We’re experiencing an increasing racial divide when there should be a remarkable decrease. What is the basis for this historical anomaly, given that American has no more prejudicial race-based laws? No race currently faces legal obstacles to equal justice and opportunity. The most likely culprit for the divide is the simplistic, inaccurate approach to American history in our schools.
When people try to explain the racial divide, they offer many reasons: Critical Race Theory, which divides everyone into oppressed/oppressor categories; the Black Lives Matter movement; politicians pandering to receive ethnic-based votes; or the emphasis on police actions involving race. Something deeper is involved.
Americans are taught that slavery is America’s original sin.” Wrong. Slavery was not America’s “original sin.” It existed before any White or Black person arrived. Native Americans practiced it before they ever came along—but even then, it wasn’t their “original sin.” Slavery is humankind’s sin.
In elementary and secondary schools, slavery is now and has long been taught very simply: American slave owners were White and slaves Black—period. Students learn slaves were shipped from Africa, without any focus on who caught them, enslaved them, or sold them to Europeans to be shipped to Europe or the Americas.
Only after school ends do some learn the whole story. I broadened my knowledge by reading “Unspoken Reality: Black Slaveholders Prior to the Civil War,” co-written by Yulia Tikhomirova and Lucia Desir at Mercy College. Tikhomirova is Russian and Desir is Black. They draw upon and include information from Black historians and scholars (e.g., John Hope Franklin, Larry Koger, and Carter G. Woodson, et al.). The truth is Blacks were also slaveholders.
American slavery begins in Africa. Black Africans, chieftains, and Arabs were the main participants and oppressors of the enslaved. They captured, kidnapped, enslaved, and sold millions of Black Africans into slavery. Millions were sent to Europe and the Americas and millions more to the Middle East and North Africa.