Archive for July, 2014

We Ought To Remember

Posted: July 23, 2014 in Politics

Mounted inside the lower level of the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty is a bronze plaque. On this bronze plaque are engraved the words of a poem by Emma Lazarus. The poem is titled “The New Colossus.” It reads as follows:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

The character of a nation is both formed and revealed by what it remembers. Some whit renamed the 4th of July “Blow stuff up but not your fingers Day.” Is that all Independence Day has become. Just an excuse to blow stuff up? On the morning of the 4th my oldest child asked me what I felt when I looked upon our nations flag. After a moment’s thought I answered, “Sadness.”

It seems that we, citizens of the United States of America, have lost our past. The last stanza of Emma Lazarus’ poem are very poignant to me. Unless you are full blooded Native American, you are here thanks to the sentiment expressed in The New Colossus. My ancestors left “ancient lands” for a variety of reasons. They all came to the U.S. for one reason: Freedom. The freedom to make for oneself and ones family a better life. Freedom to live up to one’s full potential. What happened to the attitude of inviting the “tired…poor…huddled masses…[t]he wretched refuse…the homeless” which is expressed in these lines? Instead we now say, “Keep your problems. We might take your wealthy and self-sufficient, your well-educated and skillful, if they can prove their worthiness to set foot on our soil.”

I don’t imagine our past as some glorious utopia. The ancestors of my African American friends came as unwilling immigrants, not into a land of opportunity as my ancestors did, but into a land of bondage and servitude. And though freedom from ownership was technically won in the 19th Century, recent events have proven that equality and freedom from oppression has still not been realized. Our nation’s policy toward Asian immigration has always been broken despite the clear benefits such immigrants have provided the U.S. The treatment of the native population by European settlers and particularly the U.S. government has been, on the whole, negative.

These things too we ought to remember. We ought to remember our own past and the lives our ancestors sought or fought for in this land. In every arena there have been those who truly believed, as our Declaration of Independence states, that “all men were created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” We ought to remember that most of us are the decedents of tired, poor immigrants who benefited by an open door policy. And we ought to declare boldly and clearly to all peoples and nations:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

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Verses from Today’s Reading

Posted: July 22, 2014 in Faith

Below are some verses from my scripture reading today that leapt out at me. They reminded me to trust in God, to dedicate myself to the study and application of His Word. These passages also reminded me of the times in my own life when I was at peace even though circumstances were difficult because I was dwelling in His Word, abiding in Christ.

Isaiah 40:8
The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever.

Isaiah 40:14
Whom did he consult,
and who made him understand?
Who taught him the path of justice,
and taught him knowledge,
and showed him the way of understanding?

Isaiah 40:28
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable. 

Isaiah 40:29-31
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.

Isaiah 41:10
fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. 

Isaiah 42:8
I am the Lord; that is my name;
my glory I give to no other,
nor my praise to carved idols.

The Scent of Legacy

Posted: July 13, 2014 in Family, Life

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I’m reading one of the ministry books my grandfather allowed me to plunder from the library he built over an extensive ministry career. As I read it I noticed the very smell of his library accompanied this book. Just holding it takes me back to his office and a scent that I’ve come to associate as “Opa”.  I am so thankful for the legacy that he has created and for his allowing me to benefit from the library he assembled.

Legacy

Posted: July 11, 2014 in Faith, Family, Life

My grandfather (Opa I call him) was a pastor and missionary. His father (Matt Bunyan Smith) was also a pastor. This week I spent time going through my grandfather’s library. He has a plethora of excellent books which still speak today (just because a book is old doesn’t mean it’s outdated). In several I found inscriptions from his father. One particular book was given to him on Christmas day in 1949.

Today I read a post by a somewhat distant cousin. He wrote about my great-grandfather’s life and ministry. As is described in the post, M. Bunyan Smith was a pastor of a poor church in a poor section of town and served faithfully for many years. He was a humble man, serving his Lord and without meaning to, setting an example, establishing himself as a beacon for a great-grandchild he would never meet.

Here is a link to the article on M. Bunyan Smith by his grandson Fred Smith.

An Unremarkable Life

11 Things I am Thankful For

Posted: July 6, 2014 in Life
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“Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 5:19b-20 ESV)

This is by no means an exhaustive list, nor in any particular order. These are just a few of the things that I am thankful for at this moment.

  1. A wife who works so hard to take care of me and the children.
  2. The way my children hug me when I leave for work and cry out excitedly when I come home.
  3. Friends who will cover needed pastoral duties while I am on vacation.
  4. Parents who raised me in the Christian faith.
  5. A God who has called me to be His, has justified me, and refuses to give up on the process of sanctifying me.
  6. A House big enough for my large family.
  7. Grandparents who have supported me over the years spiritually and financially.
  8. A company which is willing to allow me to work remotely so I can pastor this church.
  9. A church willing to call a young(ish) visionary.
  10. My youth pastor who invested in me.
  11. A mentor pastor (and friend) who showed me how to shepherd God’s people.