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FEBRUARY 16 – Understanding Hearts
1 Kings 3:9 Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?
An understanding heart is what is needed today. To often we are critical without understanding the desire of God or understanding the situation that has occurred. I am not suggesting that we let sin slide without proper measure. I am suggesting that we are too presumptuous sometimes.
An understanding heart seeks God and the will of God. When we understand the will of God and apply His law and judgments we then discern between good and evil. This understanding heart will seek the knowledge needed to correctly handle a problem or situation.
An understanding heart seeks wisdom from above to make application here on earth. Our actions with our loved ones and friends and others need to be “seasoned with grace” and applied with the “salve of love.” How often we harm instead of heal.
Let us, like Solomon, pray for an understanding heart.
|Christians Need Not Apply
Posted: 09 Oct 2015 04:28 PM PDT
Editor’s Note: This is a well written article. But sadly, like many political commentators on the right, he conflates the whore of Rome with true Christianity.
Written by Selwyn Duke
“Haters of humanity” was the charge leveled against Christians in early first-millennium Rome. Thus impugned because they didn’t want to participate in the empire’s pagan festivals, they suffered a plight common to those swimming against their civilization’s tide: persecution. Of course, even in a nation that appreciates freedom of speech and religion, stigmatization of certain groups is inevitable. For as someone once pointed out, stigmas are the corollaries of values: If certain things are to be valued, it follows that their opposites will be devalued. As an example, you cannot value economic freedom highly without devaluing communism. Ergo, stigmas are necessary. And since they’re the flip side of values, what a civilization chooses to value is of utmost importance.
So when Rome valued paganism, it quite naturally devalued Christianity. But this would change. Jesus’ faith was legalized in 313 A.D., and in 380 it would become the empire’s official religion. And it would so infuse and shape the West that the Occident would become known as Christendom and the United States’ first president would say, “To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian.” For, in fact, Christian character was once considered integral to everything.
Change in America
But a change has been afoot in America. It has been happening quickly, so quickly that few people, even most astute culture warriors, fully appreciate what’s occurring. It has been hard not to hear of Kim Davis, the Rowan County, Kentucky, clerk jailed for contempt of court after refusing an order to issue “marriage” licenses to same-sex couples. She has been cheered by the Right and chided by the Left, portrayed as both a Christian hero and an oath-breaking zero. And not surprisingly, most of the debate has centered on the legality of her stance. Davis is, of course, defying a court order. But while U.S. District Judge David Bunning, who sent the clerk to prison, has said, “Oaths mean things,” what of the Supreme Court justices who, in issuing the unconstitutionalObergefell v. Hodges faux-marriage ruling, clearly violated their oath to uphold the Constitution? Should one submit to a rule of lawyers contrary to the rule of law? Of course, Davis is also defying Kentucky governor Steve Beshear, who has ordered state clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. And states do have wide-ranging powers under the Constitution. Yet even a governor doesn’t have the legitimate power to violate his state’s constitution. As to this, the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer recently wrote in “Clerk the Only One Obeying the Law” that the courts have no constitutionally granted power to strike down law and then pointed out:
Here’s how the Kentucky constitution reads:
[“]Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Kentucky. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized.[”]
… Thus Kim Davis would actually be breaking the law and violating the constitution of the state of Kentucky by issuing same-sex licenses.
Bottom line: Kim Davis is the only one in this sorry saga who is following the law and the Constitution.
When she took her oath of office, it was an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the constitution of the state of Kentucky. She did not take an oath to uphold the rulings of the Supreme Court, especially when submitting to such rulings would require her to violate her oath to uphold the Constitution.
In the above Fischer is merely echoing Thomas Jefferson, who wrote in 1819 and 1820 that to give “to the judges the right to decide what laws are constitutional and what not, not only for themselves in their own sphere of action but for the Legislature and Executive also in their spheres” makes our Constitution “a complete felo de se” (suicide pact) and “would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy.”
Davis, however, has mainly cited not man’s but moral law in her defense. While her lawyer has appealed her case (and lost) based on freedom of religion, she unabashedly told Judge Bunning, “God’s moral law conflicts with my job duties,” reported CBSDC/AP. “You can’t be separated from something that’s in your heart and in your soul.”
And whether it’s the rule of lawyers or of law, this reality cannot be ignored. No moral person places statesmen or the Supreme Court before the Supreme Being; this is why while many will emote about “the law” when it serves their ends, Americans have a long history of violating it with the understanding that, as Augustine of Hippo put it, “An unjust law is no law at all.” The antebellum abolitionist and civil-rights movements, for instance, involved defiance of the law. And, in fact, our very nation was founded on resistance to law, on a bold act of nullification — of the law of the British Empire.
Height of Hypocrisy
Then there’s the matter of imperious would-be masters who make hypocrisy an art form. Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign may be listing because of her illegal use of a private e-mail server to conduct government business, but this didn’t stop her from tweeting about Davis on September 3, “Officials should be held to their duty to uphold the law — end of story.” And her former boss, Barack Obama, boldly violates federal immigration and other laws he finds inconvenient, as he ignores “sanctuary cities” and localities that violate federal drug laws (which are unconstitutional, though this certainly isn’t a factor for “unconstitutionalists”).
And particularly apropos is the case of openly lesbian Dallas County Judge Tonya Parker, who said in 2012 that “she refuses to conduct marriage ceremonies for straight couples until same-sex couples can also wed,” reported New York’s Daily News at the time. Of course, given that judges may refuse to perform marriages, Parker’s case wouldn’t involve the kind of “violation of civil duty” of which Davis is accused. Yet it is perfectly analogous to another recent case, that of Marion County, Oregon, Judge Vance Day. Like Parker, Day decided to stop doing weddings altogether — in his case, nearly a year ago — over the faux-marriage issue. Like Parker, his reason is that the current law conflicts with his sense of right and wrong. Unlike Parker, however, his problem is that he didn’t want to feel pressure to “marry” same-sex couples after a 2014 federal court ruling expressing the belief that faux marriage should be government sanctioned in Oregon.
And, unlike Parker, Day is now being investigated by a judicial-fitness commission.
Notable here is that the Ohio Supreme Court’s Board of Professional Conduct just issued a ruling in August on the very same matter, stating in part, “A judge may not decline to perform all marriages in order to avoid marrying same-sex couples based on his or personal, moral, or religious beliefs.” Absolutely striking. A judge can refuse to perform marriages — but not for politically incorrect (e.g., Christian) reasons — and not to avoid performing faux marriages. So when Parker exited the marriage business because she thought such unions should be endorsed by government, it was hardly a blip on the radar screen. When Day does so because he believes such unions shouldn’t be, he’s investigated as unfit for office.
When considering all the above, it’s clear that laws and standards are being applied selectively — but, actually, not all that inconsistently. Just consider another example from the judicial-standards front, when earlier this year the California Supreme Court prohibited state court judges from belonging to the Boy Scouts merely because, at the time, the organization reflected Christianity in banning open homosexuals from serving as troop leaders. Or consider the case of former Atlanta fire chief Kelvin Cochran, who was fired early last year after writing a Christian book entitled Who Told You That You Were Naked?, in which he briefly touched on homosexual behavior. Now ponder what Lifesite’s Jonathon van Maren related in February about a trip he had just taken:
In Budapest … our tour guide stopped on the steps of the St. Stephan Cathedral to explain how the Hungarian Communists “dealt with” the Christians. It wasn’t that you couldn’t be a Christian, she said. You could pray at home, worship at home with your family, even get baptized and go to church. However, you had a choice. “You could either be a Christian,” she told us, “or you could be successful.”
So when GOP presidential contender Mike Huckabee recently tweeted “Kim Davis in federal custody removes all doubts about the criminalization of Christianity in this country,” perhaps he wasn’t being literally accurate. After all, churches aren’t yet being shuttered. But implicit in everything that’s occurring, with a wink and a nod, is that old message: You can be Christian — or you can be successful.
And leftists have said this in so many words. Not that long ago a number of stories were in the news about Christian bakers who refused to bake cakes for faux weddings. And if you read Internet comments, you’d observe a common sentiment: “If you can’t do the job, you can’t have the job.” The problem is that any and every “job” is increasingly being defined as requiring absence of Christian principle. The quoted standard tendentiously places the onus on the Christians, but here’s what is really being said: “You’ll conform to our agenda — or we’ll destroy you to the point of pennilessness.”
A good example is couple Aaron and Melissa Klein, former owners of the bakery Sweet Cakes by Melissa in Gresham, Oregon. They were forced to shut down their business in 2013 after refusing two lesbians a “wedding” cake and being charged with discrimination. But this wasn’t enough for the sexual storm troopers. Because earlier this year administrative judge Alan McCullough fined them $135,000 and ruled that the funds will go to the lesbians for “emotional, mental, and physical suffering.” The government perhaps wanted to persecute in private, though, because Oregon labor commissioner Brad Avakian “placed an effective gag order on the Kleins, ordering them to ‘cease and desist’ from speaking publicly about not wanting to bake cakes for same-sex weddings based on their Christian beliefs,” wrote the Daily Signal in July. This apparently is part of Avakian’s attempt to “rehabilitate” the Kleins, which, stated their lawyer, Anna Harmon, he made clear was his goal with “those whose beliefs do not conform to the state’s ideas.”
The good news is that, with the help of Christian relief organization Samaritan’s Purse, far more than the fine amount has been raised for the Kleins’ cause. Yet granting relief to those targeted for “rehabilitation” is becoming a monumental task. As Samaritan’s Purse reported in April in a piece entitled “Persecution Against U.S. Christians On the Rise”:
In Indiana, a small-town pizzeria owned by a Christian family closed its doors after receiving death and firebombing threats after the owner said in a television interview that he would not want to cater a gay wedding because it would conflict with his faith.
In New Mexico, the state Supreme Court ruled that a photographer could not refuse to shoot gay ceremonies — even though Elaine Photography owner Elaine Huguenin said that she would happily photograph gay customers, but her faith forbid her from doing so in a context that seemed to endorse same-sex marriage.
In Washington state, a florist was sued for discrimination by the government because she could not in good conscience create custom arrangements for a same-sex ceremony.
It should be noted that this is unprecedented in American history. Government has long trumped freedom of association under the pretext that businesses, though privately owned, are nonetheless “public accommodations.” Yet what we’re seeing now is a huge step beyond: not merely forcing businesses to serve certain classes of people, but forcing them to service certain types of events. The analogy has been drawn, almost to the point of hoariness, that the above examples are akin to compelling a Jewish or black businessman to service a Nazi or KKK affair. The reality is, of course, that no one would even consider such tyranny. Nor did it faze media, politicians, and activists when pundit Steven Crowder produced a video earlier this year of Muslim bakers in Dearborn, Michigan, refusing to provide faux wedding cakes. But when Christians do it, they’re haters.
And this double standard is everywhere. Just consider again the aforementioned ruling by the Ohio Supreme Court’s Board of Professional Conduct. Reporting on the consequences for judges “who stop performing all marriages to avoid marrying same-sex couples,” CBS News wrote that they “may be interpreted as biased and could be disqualified from any case where sexual orientation is an issue.” Yet who doesn’t have biases? (Note that unlike a “prejudice,” a “bias” can be positive, negative, or neutral.) Did Judge Tonya Parker not exhibit a bias when refusing to perform marriages in the name of homosexual activism? And what of Supreme Court justices Elena Kagan, an open lesbian, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, both of whom officiated at faux weddings? Inferring bias, critics such as Representative Steve King (R-Iowa) say they should have recused themselves from the Obergefellcase and suggest they could be impeached for not doing so. Liberals have, of course, scoffed at the notion, but is it substantially different from the Ohio board’s position? Putting their own biases aside when ruling on law — just calling balls and strikes, as Chief Justice John Roberts put it — is a challenge for all judges, not just a subset. It is quite possibly the most important part of their job and one that, as recent history illustrates, too many jurists are failing at miserably. So the scrutiny received by judges such as Vance Day is not due to their having that universal thing called “bias.” It’s due to their having that increasingly unfashionable thing called a Christian worldview.
Putting Christians in Their Place
This is why all the discussion about whether Kim Davis is “breaking the law” misses the deeper and more important point: What does it say about our civilization when laws and standards — or, at least, how the powers-that-be wish to interpret them — preclude authentic Christianity in the halls of government and the marketplace? It says that while Justice David Josiah Brewer could write in an 1892 Supreme Court ruling of “a volume of unofficial declarations” and “mass of organic utterances” stating “that this is a Christian nation,” it can no longer rightly be said. The once stigmatized is now valued, and the once valued is now stigmatized.
This inversion of virtue and vice was predictable — and predicted. In their 1990 book After the Ball: How America Will Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of Gays in the 90’s, homosexual activists Hunter Madsen and Marshall Kirk called for the valuing of homosexuality, prescribing a desensitization of Americans to homosexuality via a “continuous flood of gay-related advertising,” a “conversion of the average American’s emotions, mind, and will, through a planned psychological attack, in the form of propaganda fed to the nation via the media.” Furthermore, they said that once homosexuality was normalized, those who would “still feel compelled” to oppose it would be “cow[ed] and silence[d] … as far as possible” and that if homosexual activists can “produce a major realignment solidly in favour of gay rights, the intransigents (like the racists of twenty years ago) will eventually be effectively silenced by both law and polite society.”
And what do we see today? Christians called haters and bigots, hate-speech laws in most Western lands prohibiting criticism of homosexuality, and the stifling of dissent via economic pressure. And the homosexuality agenda is an ideal vehicle through which to devalue Christianity. Just consider, for instance, that the Catholic Church has defined teaching stating that same-sex attraction is “disordered” and homosexual acts are objectively evil. Moreover and contrary to what some may suppose, this teaching cannot change; even Pope Francis, whom the media has portrayed incorrectly on the matter, has said as much. And, of course, any traditional Protestant will take the same position.
And the folly of doing otherwise is easily illustrated. What is one supposed to say? Adultery is a sin, fornication is a sin, self-gratification is a sin, watching pornography is a sin, but homosexuality is … what? A lifestyle choice, like living on a houseboat? This is why I’ve often noted that the homosexuality activists aren’t asking for equal treatment, but preferential treatment, and it is an untenable position. For accepting homosexual behavior isn’t just accepting homosexual behavior: It’s accepting the complete collapse of the Christian model (and this applies to certain other faiths as well) for man’s sexuality. This is just one reason why no faithful Christian can even consider accepting homosexual behavior.
And this is the reason Christianity cannot be valued if the homosexuality agenda is. Once people accept that calling homosexual behavior sinful is “hateful” and “bigoted,” they will consider Christianity a hateful religion. And “Voila!”: At this point you have successfully placed the faith and its churches in the same category as hate groups, such as the Nazis, Aryan Nations, or the Ku Klux Klan, and made them grist for the Southern Poverty Law Center’s HateWatch page. And this makes clear the economic persecution facing Christians. After all, what prospects does an open and avowed Nazi or Klan member have for getting a high-paying job?
And what else lies ahead? Just as asteroids have a trajectory that enables scientists to accurately predict their future location, a culture also has an observable trajectory. Should we remain on ours — and only powerful applications of energy can alter a great body’s path — a further perversion of the “separation of church and state” myth may be used to completely exclude Christians from serving in government; in this, Kim Davis’ plight is a portent of things to come. On the same basis, Christians may one day even be prohibited from voting or from receiving government benefits (after all, “religion mustn’t influence government,” and public money mustn’t fund religious entities). Far-fetched? Well, if you’d told people in 1954 that in a few generations homosexuality would be celebrated and Christians who opposed it castigated, they’d have called you crazy.
But, of course, the story of man is quite crazy. This is why modern times have seen the murder of priests in 1920s Mexico and during the Spanish Civil War, and why Christians were regularly persecuted under Marxist regimes and suffer in the Mideast and elsewhere today. In accordance with Jesus’ warning, “You shall be hated by all men for my name’s sake,” Christian persecution hasn’t been an anomaly in the annals of man but a recurring theme. And what recurs the world over can occur anywhere — even over in our world. For as homosexuality and other un-Christian elements continue to be valued, Christianity will correspondingly be devalued. And, as the communists and Romans proved, when this happens enough, Christians may be thrown into gulags or the mouths of lions. After all, haters of humanity are fair game for most anything.
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“And he shall judge the world in righteousness, he shall minister judgment to the people,” Psalm 9:8.
Jesus is not only the tenderhearted God of mercy, coming to town in peace, riding on a donkey; He is also the righteous Judge who will rule with a rod of iron. He will come again wielding the sword of God riding on a warhorse, stomping the grapes of wrath in the winepress of God’s judgment. Personally, as a boy I knew my stepfather loved me unconditionally, but I was scared out of my wits of his old Navy belt which he rarely had to use. That belt symbolized judgment; therefore, even though I loved him, I respected his boundaries. I was usually chicken where pain was eminent.
In Psalm 9, David compares his pagan enemies to his own reign, depending on God’s leadership. David’s life strategy was when the Lord judges the world in righteousness, David would not be depending on his own righteous behavior; his confidence would be in the righteous Judge sitting on the throne.
Regardless of how hard religious people work to turn Christianity into a tiptoe through the tulips lifestyle, one cannot close his eyes to the fact that God’s Word makes it clear. Christ will come again with all His saints bringing God’s judgment upon the ungodly (Jude 14, 15). We need to be sure we are the ones following Him in white robes, not those out front on the receiving end of His sword.
Every sin has its own consequence. Therefore, since the wages of sin is death, the Judge must pass the sentence of death. But, He offers to believers the gift of eternal life through Jesus, the righteous Judge.
IN OTHER WORDs
If the Judge be for us, who can be against us?
Twelve Baptists in Prison at One Time
John Waller wrote the following letter from the Urbana Prison, Middlesex County, Virginia, on August 12, 1771, at the height of the persecution of Baptists in America. There were twelve Baptists in prison at one time, and it gives insight as to their treatment as well as the success of their ministries while incarcerated. “Dear Brother in the Lord, at a meeting…at Bro. McCain’s, last Sat. while Wm. Webber was preaching from James 2:18, Capt. James Montague, a magistrate came running toward him…followed by the parson of the parish and several others. The magistrate and another took hold of Bro. Webber, dragging him from the stage, delivered him with Brethren Wafford, Robert Ware, Richard Falkner, James Greenwood, and myself, into custody, and commanded that we should be brought before him for trial.
Bro. Wafford was severely scourged, and Bro. Henry Street received one lash from one of the persecutors…we were examined for firearms. We were charged with mutiny against the authority of the land. Finding none, we were asked if we had a license to preach in this county; and learning we had not, it was required of us to give bond and security not to preach anymore in the county, which we modestly refused to do, whereupon after dismissing Brother Wafford with the charge to make his escape out of the county by 12 o’clock the next day on pain of imprisonment, and dismissing Bro. Faulkner, the rest of us were delivered to the sheriff and sent to close jail, with a charge not to allow us to walk in the air until court day. Yesterday we had a large number of people hear us preach, some great ones heard us preach on the new birth.
The post 224 – August 12 – This Day in Baptist History Past appeared first on The Trumpet Online.
“Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way,” Romans 14:13.
Paul joins the idea of judging a brother to putting a stumbling block in one’s way. Paul was writing to people aware of the arguments over holy days and eating meat offered to idols which could be bought cheaper in the market place.
If we cannot do something without worrying about it, it’s best not to do it. If we violate our conscience, that is sin. Often the things that make us feel guilty have nothing to do with morals, but are merely preferences foisted upon us by the culture that raised us. “Stumblingblock” comes from the Greek word scandalon from which we get scandal.
Jesus taught that if the Bible doesn’t clearly forbid something, and it is not harmful, illegal or immoral, don’t make a big deal out of it. “But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering. But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God. Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse. For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you” (1 Cor. 11:15-19).
When people go to church to find fault and squabble with worshipers, God does not take it lightly.
When the king is coming to town and you come across stumbling stones in the road, cast them to the side and straighten up the place …that you may be found in love at His appearing.
THE ESTIMATE OF WORTHY
Dr. E.T. Winkler, one of the most distinguished men among Southern Baptists, intellectual, scholarly, and consecrated, whose name still lives in the annals of the denomination and who, on several occasions, had antagonized and defeated extreme propositions introduced by J.R. Graves, wrote in The Alabama Baptist, of which he was then editor, and just after one of those direct conflicts had occurred in the Southern Baptist Convention at St. Louis in 1871:
“Extreme as the views of Dr. Graves have been regarded by some, there is no question but that they have powerfully contributed to the correction of a false liberalism that was current in many quarters many years ago.”
Dr. S. Boykin has these kind words to say of Dr. Graves:
“He is a preacher who insists strongly upon water – that is, baptism and baptism properly administered – yet he places the blood of Christ above water. In play of fancy, in power of illustration, in earnestness of denunciation, in force of logic, in clearness of presentation, in naturalness of delivery, in boldness of thought, and at times tenderness of spirit, he hardly has a peer.”
A certain presiding judge in the city of Memphis, when on “brief” day, in lecturing the bar upon the importance of clear statement of propositions, once remarked:
“The gift is as rare as genius, but is still susceptible of cultivation. Of living ministers I know of no one who possesses it in a higher degree than Dr. Graves of the First Baptist Church in this city. He lays down his propositions so clearly that they come with the force of axioms, that need no demonstrations – you can see all through and all around them.”
The Nashville American:
“Dr. J.R. Graves, one of the most quiet and unassuming men in the Convention, is a great landmark champion and upholder of the most strictly Baptist principles. He formerly lived for many years in this city, but is now living in Memphis, editor and proprietor of The Tennessee Baptist.
A paper published in Macon, Georgia, has this to say of Dr. Graves:
“As an orator he is very powerful, and as a writer he unites strength, pointedness, and clearness. He is fearless where he thinks himself right, as he generally does, and boldly avows his sentiments and opinions though they may differ much from those of others.”
In the Georgia Baptist Convention, Honorable Joseph E. Brown, the Governor of that state, said:
“There is one man who has done more than fifty men now living to enable the Baptists of America to know their own history and their principles and to make the world know them, and that man is the brother to my righ,”
bowing to Dr. Graves, who was seated in the convention.
Dr. John H. Boyet, a prominent minister of the South, wrote upon the occasion of Dr. Graves’ death, saying:
“There was something in Dr. J.R. Graves grander than ever shone out in his writings. He was a hero in the defense of the Baptist faith, but he was a greater hero than that – he could take a young and trembling brother by the hand and help him up.”
At Dr. Graves’ death, Dr. R.C. Burleson sent this wire to Mrs. Graves:
“Ten thousand Texans mourn with you the loss of your now sainted dead.”
As showing the estimate which the denomination put upon Dr. Graves, the following letter is here inserted:
Domestic Mission Room
October 14, 1853.
“Dear Brother Graves:
“Doctor Fuller having declined the appointment of this Board as missionary to New Orleans, we deem it to be our duty, under the instruction of the Convention to make every effort to secure the services of some minister who shall be able to build up the cause of our denomination in that great city. Our minds have been directed to you, and you have received the appointment, with a salary of three thousand dollars. I herewith send you a commission. What say you, my dear brother? Will you go for us? An early answer is desirable.
J.H. DeVOTIE, Cor. Sec., pro tem.”
While living he was followed and feared, hailed and confided in as a great teacher and leader, and denounced, if not shunned, as a disturber of religious peace. Three-fourths of a century have passed since his public career began and thirty-five years have borne their message into the confines of eternity since he fought his last battle, but his name is still fresh among his brethren, his labors still producing fruit, his teachings still discussed, and his influence still widely felt. The echoes of his voice still linger in the valley and responses to his battle cry are heard on many sides, while condemnations of his life work are not infrequent and often severe.
These things could not have occurred with an ordinary man; with any but a heroic, persistent, intensely, and earnestly sincere man of ability, whose life purposes were seen with a clear vision and pursued with unfaltering step; whose inner soul responded to the appeal of old Ignatius which has bee rendered:
“Stand like an anvil while the stroke
Of stalwart men fall fierce and fast;
Storms but more firmly root the oak,
Whose brawny arms embrace the blast.”
That such a man living and dead, should be misunderstood; that in the impetuosity of his life battle, with watchful antagonists on every hand, should have sounded a consistent and valiant note in which no dullness should confound his utterances, and that prejudice should misconstrue his teachings and adverse criticism should adduce odious conclusions from his arguments is no more than might be expected. And throughout the Baptist denomination today the question is still asked with intensity and answered diversely, “Was J.R. Graves’ life a blessing or a blight – for good or for harm?” The answer to this question can be given only by a review of his life and his teachings by one who knew him well and labored beside him for many years, and such is our purpose in undertaking this too long delayed biography.
The true biography of a man is not simply the record of his birthday, his school days or his death day. These but mark the boundaries of the field where he wrought. How he toiled, what were his struggles, his defeats and his victories, his triumphs and his failures, how he was influenced by his surroundings and how far he influenced all those around him, how vital truth, eternal verities impressed him and how he impressed these on those he met with. These, could they be given, are his life picture, his inner soul voiced in actions that never die.
They were given four days to prepare for trial
The trial of Veniamin Markevich, the pastor of the independent Baptist church in Ordzhonikidze, Russia took began Jan. 24, 1983 and ended on Feb. 2nd. The other two pastors on trial with him were Veniamin Chistyakov, and Vasily Mikhin. They were given four days to prepare for trial. The testimony of witnesses made it clear why the KGB had to silence them. One teacher said, “Our school has a great atheistic program, but because of the activities of the defendants, practically nothing comes from it.” Of course as these cases went in the past, the outcome was already determined and the sentences pre-set, and the elderly judge ready to rubber stamp the verdict. Politically, an important change had just taken place in Russia. Leonid Brezhnev, leader for 18 years had just died, and the central committee had just appointed Yuri Andropov as General Secretary. He had been the head of the KGB, and in speeches had lashed out at the Western powers, and he had called for a stronger show of force and this was a part of this effort internally. Pastor Mikhin received three years, Pastor Chistyakov four, and Pastor Markevich received five. It took one-hundred days to transport Pastor Markevich from the Caucasus to Yakutia in Siberia. Somehow his wife was able to find his location and traveled 600 miles to see him. She was allowed thirty minutes with him. However their families learned to trust God and continue with their lives under these trying circumstances. He learned that his daughter was to wed Pastor Chistyakov’s son. He was moved from time to time to different prisons, but by the grace of God he was released eight months early in Feb. 1987.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, adapted from: This Day in Baptist History III (David L. Cummins), pp. 67-68.
“She became “more than a conqueror.”
The verdict against Valentina Saveleva, a Russian believer was handed down by a Russian judge on Jan. 28, 1983. Her long trip began that would deliver her to a distant prison camp near Irkutsk in Siberia. Valentina was a secret courier of Christian literature who was arrested in Jan. 1982. As a 27 year old college graduate, her future looked bright, but from her detainment she knew that she would receive five years in the Russian penal system. The brilliant defense that she presented meant nothing to the puppet judge. The KGB had already determined the sentence and she made that clear to her court appointed atheistic attorney. He interrogator became interested in her Bible and especially wanted to read the trial of Jesus. After the sentencing the miserable journey took a month to reach Siberia with stops at several remote cities along the way like Pyatigorsk and Aktyubinsk. Russia formed the art of “Diesel Therapy”, before it ever caught on here in the US. She finally arrived at the prison camp at Bozoi on March 3, 1983 which is known as the “Valley of Death” where living conditions were desperate but Valentina lived victoriously. Continual efforts by the KGB to break her spirit and will were in vain. She had a resolute assurance that she was right were God wanted her, and though she suffered greatly, he provided grace for every trial. Valentina persevered, and she became “more than a conqueror.”
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. IIII: Cummins, pp. 57-58.
Joh 8:32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
Here is a promise that truth is available to us. The greatest hindrance to truth is what we already perceive as truth. We have been taught in the past to believe certain things and these things have become truth to us.
Because of this we then judge the bible according to what we have been taught and what we feel or feel we have experienced. The Bible was given to judge us and how often is it that we have ignored that judgment and proceeded with our preconceived notions and wrest the Bible to our way of thinking.
Now many have claimed to be religious or spiritual. The interesting truth is that we are religiously and spiritually inefficient and often Satan has used his most effective tool called deception. He will deceive unbelievers into ignoring or dismissing the reality of God and their personal need for a personal relationship with the “King of Kings” and “Lord of Lords”.
Satan confuses the Christians by distorting the basic truths of Christianity. He does not mind a little Bible truth mixed with a lot of ignorance because then truth is absent. By this mixture of truth and error he leads Gods people to accept evil and sin and righteousness has been destroyed.
The truth shall make you free. Free from ignorance, and the bondage of sin. Free to have an unhindered relationship with our Saviour and Lord. Free to communicate with God about our needs and our excesses. Free to live a life of honor and glory.
May we live this day in truth.